August 23, 2007

Christian Bails? [UPDATED]

Is Christianity — and by extension, a type of ethical “universalism” (be it secular liberalism or Christian charity) — responsible for the “successes” of Islamism as it works to spread itself?

Could be, I suppose — though I think Nietzsche once offered a similarly employed critique of Christianity, and the interpretive bungling on the back end of that didn’t work out too well for the Germans in the long run.*

Of course, Freddy had syphilis, let’s not forget — probably from doing very un-Christian things. Doubtful he would have made a fine master racer.

Besides: I thought Christ was both the lion and the lamb. At least, that’s what Flannery O’Connor used to assure me during the seances a few of us from the creative writing program would hold after a few tabs of acid and a bottle of cheap tequila.

Still, I suppose the question is worth pursuing: Does Christianity engender the kind of open-embrace of the Other that must, of necessity, sow the seeds for its own destruction? Or, to use Derbyshire’s formulation:

If there were a proposal to impose Sharia law in your town, who would you rather see riding to your aid: Christopher Hitchens, or Bishop Muskens?

— Hell, so long as we’re at it, we may as well add the Klan to that menu…

Or at least, Pat Buchanan.

(via Allah, who notes “a striking example” recently of Derbyshire’s concern made manifest)

****
update: Spencer replies to Derbyshire here.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 9:23am
111 comments | Trackback

Comments (111)

  1. If there were a proposal to impose Sharia law in your town, who would you rather see riding to your aid: Christopher Hitchens, or Bishop Muskens?

    Hell, at least give me more than a choice between an atheist with mild pre-BDS and an heretical Roman Catholic bishop.

    True Christianity is not a surrender circus. Ask the Muslims booted out of Spain 500 years or so ago.

  2. I assume you mean post-Reformation Christianity.

    It’s a tricky question. Given that the basic rationale behind the modern Nation-State set down at the Treaty of Westphalia was designed to avoid religious wars, I’d say that Christianity has, rather, conformed itself to that design, rather than there being something inherent in Christianity that produces that effect.

    The Hundred-Years War convinced Europeans that they had to abandon Heresy as a rationale for war. The mixed populations of Catholics and Protestants left by the war convinced most states to abandon Heresy as a capital offense. If Islam, for a time, adopted those views, (and I think you can argue that it did) that is clearly no longer the case.

    So yes, Christianity as it is practiced today, lacks the memetic antibodies to protect itself from Islamic viral attack, but the genetic material is there for those who wish to dredge it up, just as it was for Islam.

    I would expect to see a more muscular Christianity develop over the next century. Probably as more and more of the Catholic priesthood is derived from Africa and Latin America, you’ll see a Catholicism that’s more likely to fight back against incursions from Islam. The same strain in Protestantism will likely develop in the U.S. and South Korea.

  3. Give me Hitchens, working second chair behind Goldstein. We may not be able to hold off the Sharia, but dammit, it would be a far more entertaining discussion.

  4. Sharia? In my town?

    I’ll trust matters to my M1A if it ever comes to that.

    Amen.

  5. That whole Protestant Reformation thinger helped bunches, which I think is what Eric J is getting at. Inasmuch as there’s the idea out there that we enter the kingdom of G by grace alone. Not a good works deal. And G sent J that we might be redeemed. Meaning forgiven. For slapping the Other upside the head when they get out of line.

  6. “Does Christianity engender the kind of open-embrace of the Other that must, of necessity, sow the seeds for its own destruction?”

    Absolutely! I propose that we worship the cannibal god Moog. Moog does not embrace the Other, he eats the Other (Moog prefers his Other medium rare and with a touch of Worcestershire) and bids us to do the same. I can assure you that, once Moog worship becomes the norm, our problems with terrorism and illegal immigrants will be a thing of the past (and the prospect of going out for Mexican or Middle Eastern food will take on a whole new meaning)…although our tourism industry might take a hit.

  7. I’m with TheGeezer on this one. The question is absurd because it presupposes that atheist and religious are the true lines of separation when it comes to addressing Islamists, and the true line of separation is between those who see Islamists as an existential threat and those who do not.

    If I’m being attacked I don’t care about the antecedents or religion of those that come to my aid – all i care about is will they help me fight? Atheist, Christian, Norse Pantheon (Odin!) is irrelevant to the question “will you fight back?”

  8. J Brenner – We will have to find a spot for Moog in the Burge/Goldstein administration.

  9. 30 years war 1618-1648. (The Hundred years war was pre-reformation and between England and France).

    As nearly as I can make out, Islam is the religion of an armed camp that has been conducting a war against the rest of the world for 14 centuries. They were on their heels in the 19th and 20th centuries because of their inability to match European military technology and organization. But they have changed tactics and are back again and making good progress. Our job is to hit them hard enough to make them change their ways. If we can’t do that, there will be a real fire next time.

  10. If there were a Constitutional Amendment to allow the imposition of sharia law anywhere in this country, it wouldn’t pass. I’m more concerned with cowardly school administrators who think learning about Muslims is OK, but not those icky Christians and Jews.

    Submission is what a submarine crew does, not me.

  11. Sorry to tell you, but the general consensus is that Nietzsche’s syphilis was contracted while he was a military medic, due to unsanitary medical practices rather than from anything fun.

    It really seems like the sort of thing one ought to have the opportunity to earn, though, doesn’t it?

  12. I am never really sure why Christianity is brought into this in the first place. Jesus didn’t care about the affairs of man (the state) as it applies to this realm. He was only concerned about the affairs of man and how those apply to the Heavenly kingdom. Depeche Mode has been bantied about here lately, and the Lord our Savior was indeed, a Personal Jesus. Yes, countries that were Christian (i.e. run by Christians) in the middle ages and who fought the scurges of the musselman, said that by the “hand of God” they would repel the moslem hoards. But, at least as far as this Christian sees it, they were not defending in the name of the Lord, but in the name of their political/cultural lives. Which was absolutely fine and perfectly understandable. I don’t think we need Christianity to fight the modern muslim hoards. We need our resolve and the knowledge that our way of life is vastly superior to 7th century barbarism. IMO, we need to leave Christ out of it.

  13. The only thing worse than having syphilis is for there to be a general consensus about your syphilis.

  14. Alice –

    I know. I was just having a spot of fun. As my cartoon version of a Brit might say.

  15. [blah blah] Nietzsche [blah]

    That’s some Caric-quality shit, Jeff.

    Being essentially a foul-mouthed crank here, I won’t go all Nietzsche-scholar on you about this, but — short version: Believing Nazi propaganda is bad for you.

    With few exceptions (of the big names: Kaufmann, Deleuze, Bataille, Foucault, Klossowski, and Rorty (mostly)), the secondary literature is wormed — Russell and Derrida and their kids’, especially. Don’t catch it.

  16. Christianity draws lines of distinction between individuals and nations; it does not hold the same standards of behavior for both. Derbyshire is arguing from a position of ignorance – apparently he’s never read Romans:

    Romans 13:3-4
    3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. [emphasis mine]

    Blaming Christianity for the advances of Islam is foolish. In today’s world, you’d be better off blaming multiculturalism and moral relativism – those make it possible to condone and accept the barbaric actions of Jihadists.

  17. “Does Christianity engender the kind of open-embrace of the Other that must, of necessity, sow the seeds for its own destruction?”

    IMHO, No it doesn’t. While I think that the nature of the “love thy neighbor” and “they will know us by our love” aspects of scripture make present day Christianity look complicit in accepting other cultures and religion as a means to keep them close enough to convert, the bottom result is still the same. As a Christian, if I find that you don’t believe in God and Chirist it is my duty to present him to you in order to overthorw your way of thinking. I could candy coat it, but really, that’s my job in relation to the “other.” Sure, I’m doing it out of a sincere belief that Christ is the Son of God and that as a result he is the way to God and that God’s relationship with the individual is the key goal, but from outside of my perspective I’m essentially not respecting your religion, mode of thought or personal ethics because I truly believe that they are inferior to God’s.
    That being said, there are plenty of Christians that are “country club christians” that believe to some degree personally but don’t evangalize. I believe that while thier personal beliefs may very well be real, they allow for the “sowing of the seeds of destruction” that you see in order to embrace the “other” without a drive to altering thier religion because they lack the strength of thier convictions.
    I see my duty in regards to “others” the same as they do, in that we are supposed to love and befriend and treat people the way we would be treated, but I don’t back down from speaking about my beliefs. Is that confrontational? It can be. Can I, or even would I want, to be able to forcefully convert someone? No. Christainity doesn’t work that way, a person can only convert under free will. So I’ll argue, although it rarely ever works to try to “argue someone into the Kingdom of God”, and I’ll defend my faith.

    I believe that more than Christainity, “freedom” allows for the spread of Islam and that a lack of audacity on the behalf of Christians and meekness, politically correct academia fail to put up and reasonable competition for the intellectual and spiritual void in Western culture.

  18. that was suppose to be just “meek” but heel, the whole thing is a mine field of typos

  19. I think Bill Bennett said it best:

    Christianity’s record is indisputably spotted. But standing in eternal reproof of that record, crying hypocrisy and betrayal, is Christianity itself, quitessentially embodied in the example of Jesus. In the case of Islam, the charge of hypocrisy hardly applies–certainly not on the matter of religious violence. To put the issue at its starkest, there is simply no equivalent in the Koran to the New Testament’s admonishment to “turn the other cheek”; conversely, there is no equivalent in the New Testament to the Koranic injunction to “kill the disbelievers wherever you find them”.
    – William Bennett, Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism, 2002

  20. psychologizer –

    I’m not following you. Please elaborate, because if I’m making a mistake I’d certainly like to correct it. It’s been a while since I read Fred on resentiment and Christian slave mentality. But my jibe was more aimed at the way people have used Fred than at Fred himself.

  21. What Psychologizer was trying to say, I think, Jeff (and what I intended to say myself already) was that it’s silly to blame anything the Germans did this past century on Nietzsche.

    He was used as an excuse by the Nazis (and garbled in the process, what with the whole posthumous “Will To Power” thing).

    Nietzsche did, after all, call the Jews the best people in Europe, and despised German nationalism. The failings of Germany in the 20th century are better described as being despite Nietzsche’s works.

  22. In fact, I only thought of it after reading this in the Hot Air comments:

    Had Charles Martel not been victorious at Poitiers –already, you see, the world had already fallen into the hands of the Jews, so gutless a thing Christianity! –then we should in all probability have been converted to Mohammedanism, that cult which glorifies the heroism and which opens up the seventh Heaven to the bold warrior alone. Then the Germanic races would have conquered the world. Christianity alone prevented them from doing so.”

    (A Hitler, 1942)

  23. Sig –

    Yeah, I was just kinda making an offhand joke, but the (meta) point was that Christianity through Derbyshire is like Nietzsche through the Nazis.

    As I said above, the jibe was more aimed at those who have used Fred than at Fred himself.

    Who I also know didn’t catch his bug fucking sausages or some such.

  24. “I propose that we worship the cannibal god Moog.”

    Pfeh. Crom runs your fey god through with the riddle of steel, then returns to his stoic indifference about the affairs of Men.

  25. I’ve changed the line “similar critique” to “similarly employed critique” to make the point more clear.

    Thanks to Sig and Psychologizer for raising the issue. Sometimes I mistakenly believe the people outside my head can see what’s going on inside it.
    Or that they’ve read some of my previous shots at Derb.

  26. I’ll go with Hitchens, myself. While his anti-Christian rants are pretty abominable, as they say, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And nobody is a greater enemy of radical Islamism than Hitchens. In fact, it’s my humble opinion that Hitchens is every bit as fervent and religious in his atheism as a Templar Knight was in his Christianity. That makes for a powerful ally.

    Yeah, he may have turned to the Dark Side, but for various reasons, he’s also on our side. I’ll take him, just because he’s a verbal assassin. Sure, I hate it when he savages us, but when he lights into the bad guys, it’s a joy to watch.

    Kind of like, I don’t know…maybe Ray Lewis. You hate the guy, but if you’re a Ravens fan, he’s the greatest player of all time.

  27. I keep thinking of Empire of the Sun. The movie looked at your question the same way I do really. The Christians got imprisoned by the Other, but they persevered and survived, at the cost of a certain amount of innocence. The important thing was that there was a fantastic soundtrack, which is what helped them persevere. They weren’t trudging along without food or water in silence. The insight here is that it’s the popcultural memes that will have a much larger role to play in future negotiations among civilizations then specifically religious ones do. Or at least, that’s what passes for insight in my world. I’m kind of shallow though.

  28. I am always looking for the opportunity to say this, but I would rather have Odin-worshiping lovers of Norse Tree Gods and Black Metal Church burners on my side than the f’n Hajjis.

  29. Goldstein/Hitchens along with ale and meade for all.

  30. To the topic at hand:

    The problem is that Derb is extrapolating from a skewed sample of Western Christian clerics in the present age–the wretched Mahony, silly Muskens, et al., and assigning their fecklessness to the religion as a whole. Yes, there are plenty of Christians of a more progressive bent to whom the critique can apply. Where Derb’s analysis falls through is that he’s not accounting for the fact that the same leftist mindsets that dominate academia and the media also became entrenched in ecclesial bureaucracies (with some variation across the denominations, obviously).

    Try it this way. What if Derbyshire had cited Caricesque academics and said something along the lines of “Is education responsible for the successes of Islamism as it works to spread itself?” I think the flaw in his argument would be pretty obvious to all.

  31. I see you have my hobby horse all saddled up and ready to ride. I’m pretty sure I’ve made myself tedious on this subject here at PW in the past, so I will try to give the short version here. Hi-ho, Silver, away!

    Whatever you think the proper interpretation of the New Testament is, there is no question that most people regard the Sermon on the Mount as the distillation of Christ’s teachings. Refraining from moral judgment, loving one’s enemies, turning the other cheek, etc, are the hallmarks of Christian charity. Dying, not as a warrior, but as a sacrificial lamb to the venality of others, is what it truly means to be a Christian martyr. This is the consensus viewpoint, and has been for a long time. No amount of isolated, contradictory quotes from the Bible can change that.

    Further, if you trace the lineage of the progressive movement, you will find that it is rooted squarely in Puritan Massachussets. There is a direct link between the ideals of Christianity and modern socialism, Karl Marx notwithstanding. Marx himself was raised in the Christian church, not the synagogue. Socialism is nothing more than an attempt to put Christian ideals of charity and disdain for wealth into practice. Scientific socialism is just Marx’s pseudo-scientific justification of socialism, a secularization of distilled Christianity complete with the caveats necessary to justify “holy war.” The upshot being that the modern progressive movement didn’t arise in opposition to Christianity, but as an attempt to fulfill its fundamental ethics. Everything that we’re getting from the Left now is nothing more than Christian ethics taken to their logical extreme. When the right posits Christianity as the solution, it’s like prescribing rat poison as a cure for arsenic.

    Whooooa, hoss! That was a nice little gallop.

  32. What Psychologizer was trying to say, I think, Jeff (and what I intended to say myself already) was that it’s silly to blame anything the Germans did this past century on Nietzsche.

    He was used as an excuse by the Nazis (and garbled in the process, what with the whole posthumous “Will To Power” thing).

    Nietzsche did, after all, call the Jews the best people in Europe, and despised German nationalism. The failings of Germany in the 20th century are better described as being despite Nietzsche’s works.

    In fact, if you look more closely at the basis of the Nazi beliefs (William Shirer’s “The Rise And Fall of the Third Reich” is a must read for anyone who really wants to be taken seriously, and anyone who has not read that book and accuses another of Naziism should be immediately dismissed offhand), you will find that Darwin is the ultimate basis for the eugenic beliefs of the Nazis. It is ironic, then, that Darwin is a virtual saint of the Leftists.

  33. Oops, the blockquote should start at the beginning.

  34. Further, if you trace the lineage of the progressive movement, you will find that it is rooted squarely in Puritan Massachussets. There is a direct link between the ideals of Christianity and modern socialism, Karl Marx notwithstanding. Marx himself was raised in the Christian church, not the synagogue. Socialism is nothing more than an attempt to put Christian ideals of charity and disdain for wealth into practice. Scientific socialism is just Marx’s pseudo-scientific justification of socialism, a secularization of distilled Christianity complete with the caveats necessary to justify “holy war.” The upshot being that the modern progressive movement didn’t arise in opposition to Christianity, but as an attempt to fulfill its fundamental ethics. Everything that we’re getting from the Left now is nothing more than Christian ethics taken to their logical extreme. When the right posits Christianity as the solution, it’s like prescribing rat poison as a cure for arsenic.

    You’re totally dismissing free will as a component of this. Christianity advocates these virtues as a PERSONAL virtue. It always has. Marxism and Communism attempts to force these values on a mass of people. It’s coercion, and in all opposition to the Christian concept of free will (hint: when God made Man in His “image,” it wasn’t that we looked like him…it was that we had free will. It was precisely the fact that we were given free will that made Satan jealous, because God didn’t give the same to his angels). So the whole idea of these virtues of man as espoused by Christ, was that they were to be voluntary. There’s nothing voluntary about Marxism or Communism. There’s a marked difference, in my opinion.

  35. Oh, and on the immigration issue, the American Catholic bishops’ stance is pretty easily explained: in the main, the pool of illegals is overwhelmingly Catholic (however nominal). Given the not always happy experience of Catholic immigrants to these shores, it’s difficult to imagine them taking any other approach.

    And in Mahony’s case, it wouldn’t be overly cynical to see his grandstanding on immigration as an effort to shore up his standing in the wake of his coddling of pervert priests.

  36. Christianity, like liberalism, has been infected with the soft-headedness that comes with multiculturalism. Not all Christians, mind you, but many who profess themselves to be Christians know little of the doctrine they preach. Their moral authority is often undone by their own immorality. Therefore, they forgive everyone everything to excuse their own turpitude.

    In short, Christianity hasn’t contributed to the rise of Islam. Sin has.

    As an aside, the Christian claims membership in two kingdoms. Too many Christians these days believe, if they wish it hard enough, the earthly realm and the heavenly will be one and the same. 9/11 was a stark reminder that we do not, even in the obscenely blessed United States, live in New Jerusalem. That doesn’t mean that a good portion of the population doesn’t still bask in denial.

    Ultimately, I’d choose the guy who can name sin when he sees it. Christopher Hitchens might blaspheme, but he inadvertently allies himself with the light when he curses the dark.

  37. “You’re totally dismissing free will as a component of this.”

    I am no expert on theology, but I believe there are Christian sects with very muddled notions of free will. I’m thinking specifically of Luther. Let that slide though. I don’t see what that gets you. Yes, a philosophy that affirms free will is generally superior to one that does not, but does it make it better that your moral principles admonish you to practice pacifism and forgiveness by choice? If some men believe that they are destined by God or History to rule over you, and you believe that morality requires you to practice forebearance by choice, where does that leave you? Under the boot heel, no?

  38. “If some men believe that they are destined by God or History to rule over you, and you believe that morality requires you to practice forebearance by choice, where does that leave you? Under the boot heel, no?”

    Actually, no, it doesn’t leave you there. You’re still in the same place that you started before the heel was applied. As an individual, not a collective, you are under God’s authority and you appeal to it. In that, God may tell you to wait and deal with it, he may call another to deal with it, he might deal with it himself or he may tell you to deal with it. The Sermon on the Mount was delivered by the same Jesus that fliped the tables of the vendors in the temples and chased them out with a whip. It was the same Jesus that effectively ended shattered the Jewish culture of his time, as well. Jesus loved all men but he was not a respecter of persons or ideas that contradicted God.

  39. ethics taken to their logical extreme

    a philosophy that affirms free will is generally superior to one that does not

    And there is the crux missing from your initial wild ride.

    Applying logic to an ethical system will lead to all manner of excess when Reason (distinguishing good from evil) is absent or ignored.

  40. First, I would just like to say that is great to see Ardsgaine back in the saddle again (pun intended)! I, for one, welcome his diversity of opinion. If, at least, on this one great issue.

    For me, as I said in my first comment, Jesus has always been a personal savior. Now, you can choose to believe in Jesus’ divinity or not, but Jesus came not to save the earthly kingdom, but to save the souls of the people that make up that kingdom. His only concern was our souls and His Father’s Kingdom. I think we muddy the waters by saying that Christianity has to stop, at least physically, the advancement of the jihadist. No, IMO, that is compeletly up to western society in whatever apparatus that may entail.

  41. That Hitler quote was cribbing off Gibbon’s early line. Ironically, he was fervently working to use what he would call ‘untermenschen’ like the Egyptians, (Sadat, Nasser)Iraqi’s (Ghailani, Saddam’s uncle Tufa) and we can’t forget Circassians like Arafat’s uncle the grand mufti; so he was a little hypocritical on that score; until it was time to process them at the camps; for to quote Niemoller; there’d be no one left. Derbyshire, has
    become darn contrarian in his later years; just for the heck of it. He can’t deny the overt militarism of Islam from the Koran, toMohammed’s cleansing of the Khaybar and Yathrib communities, the conquests of Umar
    Khalid Walid. Yet he plays a more sophisticated version of the Amanpour
    game, seen this week on CNN.

  42. Among the ways of sorting the views of Christianity expressed in this string is the division between 1) those who view it fundamentally as a thought-construct (including philosophy, theology, metaphysics, ethics, etc.), and 2) those who view it fundamentally as a relation or sustained encounter between the believer and Jesus. Those in the second group will also have their own thought-construct, like the first group, certainly, but the central reference point for it will be this Person who has invaded the world and their lives. Thus they may both use the Bible, tradition, reason, logic, and their respective wills (whether free or not), but they will use them in somewhat different manners.

    For example, the first group will be in more danger of pushing one point of doctrine into dominance and extremisme (e.g., from Puritan morality to absract “godly” moralism, thence to some form of rational morality without God, and eventually to a “liberal” compassion that elevates irrational “non-offensiveness” above all else. The second group will have its own dangers.

    T&T

  43. “Applying logic to an ethical system will lead to all manner of excess when Reason (distinguishing good from evil) is absent or ignored.”

    Precisely! Or say rather that applying deductive reasoning to ethical principles not grounded in reality will lead to all manner of excess. But that sort of Reason is exactly what is missing from religion. Faith reigns, and interpretations of the Bible with it’s manifold contradictions is subjective. That very subjectivity, though, pushes one towards either the progressive camp, or the camp of the theocrat, towards relativism or fanaticism. It takes a strained reading to keep oneself in the camp of Reason. For example, how does one square the injunction to love one’s enemies with reality? Do you believe that there is a moral obligation to love the men who committed the atrocity of 9/11? By what twisted logic can you justify that passage from the Bible? That is not love, it is self-abnegation, and self-abnegation is the common goal of progressivism, Islamism, and Christianity. They only differ in the details.

  44. If some men believe that they are destined by God or History to rule over you, and you believe that morality requires you to practice forebearance by choice, where does that leave you? Under the boot heel, no?

    Christianity is not pacifist. Christ did not teach pacifism as a requirement for salvation. A moral self-defense, one which enagages ethics as it defends itself, is legitimate. The killing of the other who is trying to kill you is moral if there is no other way to stop the other from killing you. Morality does not require surrender. Morality may even require taking the other’s life!

    Sorry, I’m not sola scriptura. And I’m not double-predestination, either.

  45. “For me, as I said in my first comment, Jesus has always been a personal savior. Now, you can choose to believe in Jesus’ divinity or not, but Jesus came not to save the earthly kingdom, but to save the souls of the people that make up that kingdom. His only concern was our souls and His Father’s Kingdom. I think we muddy the waters by saying that Christianity has to stop, at least physically, the advancement of the jihadist. No, IMO, that is compeletly up to western society in whatever apparatus that may entail.”

    I agree. The question, then, is whether those who follow Christ’s example can take up the sword and defend individual freedom without becoming that which they are fighting. If they can, we’re cool. If they can’t, we’re hosed.

    The clue to whether they can is the track record of the Bush administration so far in this war. It has been apologetics and half measures throughout. Is Bush infected by progressivism, then? Or is it his Christian morality that demands that this be a war of liberation, marked by deference to enemy civilians, and concern for world opinion, rather than a ruthless war of self-defense?

  46. “Christianity is not pacifist. Christ did not teach pacifism as a requirement for salvation.”

    Well, I could be wrong. Let’s see…

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.”

    “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    No, I’m going to have to stand by my interpretation. I know you can find other quotes about swords and plowshares, and setting brother against brother, but the Sermon on the Mount has a consistent tenor, and I’m pretty sure it is taken to represent the culmination of Christ’s message.

  47. Btw, now that I’ve gone and read what Derbyshire is actually saying, I am in whole-hearted disagreement with him. Allowing open immigration through designated checkpoints along the border would not be a problem if we were fighting the war in the Middle East the way we ought to be, the way we fought WWII.

  48. “You’re totally dismissing free will as a component of this. Christianity advocates these virtues as a PERSONAL virtue.”

    Ardsgaine was talking about Puritan Massachussetts, even if he meant to comment on Christianity. Free will and the resulting requirement ofr “believer’s baptism” was what Puritans and other Calvinists hanged, and in other places like the Rhineland, tortured Aanabaptists and Baptist to death for. They don’t hold with it.

  49. “Christianity is not pacifist. Christ did not teach pacifism as a requirement for salvation.”

    “Well, I could be wrong. Let’s see…”

    Good call. Indeed you are wrong. An even better example of His position on the matter was when he was facing death and said he could call down 12 legions of angels if he wanted to stop things, but obviously didn’t do it. In that instance he was not submitting to Roman or Jewish violence, he was using it as a weapon for his own human sacrifice. “No man takes my life from me, etc…” Not at all the same thing as pacifism.

  50. “but the Sermon on the Mount has a consistent tenor, and I’m pretty sure it is taken to represent the culmination of Christ’s message.”

    Not among Christains, as far as I am aware of. As far as I know, the cricifixion and resurrection are considered the culmination.

  51. Wasn’t Jim the character Christian Bale played in Empire of the Sun? Maybe that leprechaun guy was right about this synchronicity thing.

  52. ethical principles not grounded in reality

    Please do not twist my words. Reason is the application of value judgements not the determination of reality.

    Regardless, either act requires some sort of leap of faith, although you will scrupulously avoid any such declaration as it is anethema to atheism.

  53. anathema, sorry

  54. That seems kind of arbitrary and doctrinaire, TD, the thing about what reason is. I suck at philosophy though. I’ve never had the chance to study it in the absence of shiny things.

  55. That same irreligious person, reading Spencer’s book, will likewise be startled by the author’s assertion that medieval and early-modern Roman Catholicism breathes the very spirit of rationality, and was the seed-bed from which modern science grew. To us pagans, it looks rather as though science only really got going when the power of faith had ebbed from its late-medieval high point; and then, it got going mainly in those north European nations that had embraced Protestantism after the Reformation.

    I don’t buy this idea that “modern science” appeared with a flash and a bang out of nowhere. Philosophy springs from culture, that culture was Christian. Without culture there is nothing. Scientists, philosophers, logicians, learn to read and write before they stand on the shoulders of giants. I think John Derbyshire neglects a debt owed to Christianity prior to his reference point, the end of the late Middle Age… St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Pierre Abelard, Vittorino da Feltra, John Colet, Desiderius Erasmus (!!!), Juan Luis Vives. Who was it who run the universities? Whom were the humanists of the renaissance; whom developed the (in the classical sense) liberal education? So the Church once banned Aristotle, then they lifted the ban and ever since arguably taught his works too much. I think in sum it is from the requirement of individual salvation that development of pedagogy and rationality spring at least in part.

    Nietzsche… criticized the transformation of a religion of gratitude to one of fear, and dived into Christianity as an expression or even a charicature of that change. In some respects Islam is even more so. On the other the calls for jihad are individualistic and chaotic.

    Thanks for the Adolf quote. Didn’t know he said that. Again I think the collectivist and centralized NSDAP wouldn’t work too well with Islam.

  56. I think the link in the post to Hot Air is wrong. This is the one about Mr. Derbyshire.

  57. Oh it certainly can be arbitrary, more so when your values are not well grounded in much of anything. But that’s part of the problem when athiest start talking about religion. It gets circuitous rapidly.

    It’s like people who want to redefine anarchy as the absence of government rule as opposed to the absensce of any form of order or rule. What they really want to do is argue the benefits of things like oligarchy without actually having to get specific.

    Doctrinaire, I’m not too sure about. Specifically yes, generally no.

    Meaning that if you talk about science, or reality in general, no it’s not doctrinaire, but if you talk about special relativity, or any other means of defining reality then it becomes extremely so. Likewise with a general discusion of religion v.s. the specifics of any given religion.

    It’s the whole Marcus Aurelius thing, how you define a something is part and parcel of how you value that something. Or, another way, we are all on the wheel until we reach enlightenment.

  58. Mostly you think on a whole different scale than I do. I am going to be on the wheel for a considerably longer time.

  59. I just don’t get it. Why would ya’ll spend so much effort theorizing if Christians are manly enough to defend themselves against radical Islam? There is lots of historical evidence from numerous wars that Christians have fought and died in great numbers in defense of America. I bet there’s a lot of American Christians fighting in Iraq now for that matter. No theorizing is needed to answer the question.

    The real question is will the Americans that are most biased against Christianity, the radical left, ever fight against radical Islam? Will the anti-Christian, anti-war left fight? I used to think they would, eventually, but I’m starting to wonder.

    The only Christians the anti-war left likes are the pacifist ones. Pacifist Christians are not the mainstream of Christians. Google it, people!

    Go ahead and whine about President Bush all you want but he’s the one saying no retreat, no surrender!

  60. Happyfeet –

    That’s the link that “Allah” goes to in the original post. There’s also a second link to Hot Air in which KP breaks out the Jesus thing wrt immigration.

  61. Oh – I got it. I was looking for more of a takedown is why I got mixed up. Derb is the guy that told Republicans to stay home in ’06. I’m having trouble forgiving him for that. He’s really going to have to buy me dinner or something.

  62. Happyfeet your comments on this blog are some of my favorites, we may view things differently, but you are way ahead of me on the karmic scale.

  63. To Ardsgaine on “Reason Missing from Religion”:

    1. All reason requires faith as its basis. Specifically, our belief that our data perceptions are reliable and our reasoning processes are valid are justified by experience, but not exactly based on it. See Michael Polanyi’s “Personal Knowledge.”

    2. Christians apply reason to religion as a response to Christ’s command to love the Lord our God with our heart, soul, MIND, and strength. Christianity is based on an encounter with a person rather than on philosophy, but Christians reason about what they believe. Although I am Reformed (Calvinist) by heritage and conviction, the Roman, Lutheran, and Anglican traditions are also known for applying reason as part of their devotion.

    T&T

  64. Happyfeet is always the ace of relievers. Wit breaks pride and sparks reflection. And he is everywhere…

  65. thank you, TD. Is it just me though, or does karma seems to demand a lot more faith than your average spiritual belief? Years and years pass it seems and they just never get what’s coming to them. The Dan Rather thing, though, that wasn’t nothing.

  66. thank you too sir

  67. “1. All reason requires faith as its basis.”

    *Sigh* Damn, I hate that argument. And it never fails to pop up in any conversation about God.

    “Specifically, our belief that our data perceptions are reliable and our reasoning processes are valid are justified by experience, but not exactly based on it.”

    If I accepted that confidence in the validity of the senses was based on faith, surely I wouldn’t be willing to concede that it’s in the same category as the leap of faith required to believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, all-benevolent, Creator-of-the-Universe. In fact, however, I don’t think that belief in the validity of the senses is based on faith. Our sense perceptions are reality. It is impossible to step outside that reality and critique it based on… what? How do you determine that an optical illusion is an illusion? By appeal to some other reality? No, by a closer examination of the sense data. The sense data do not lie, though. They show us reality. Whether that reality is refracted light, or a malfunction of the brain, or some other phenomenon, it is real. It’s reason’s job to interpret the data, but the data itself is always right.

    “See Michael Polanyi’s “Personal Knowledge.””

    Why would I do that, when I can crack open Kant and get the same argument?

  68. In my formulation Karma makes no demands, and in a sense it is the antithesis of faith in that one must not have any expectations for it to function or even exist. Consciously courting Karma is an exercise in futility.

  69. but the data itself is always right

    Then why does much of science rely on statistics and more specifically confidence intervals?

  70. Crap. I’ve been doing it wrong.

  71. “Go ahead and whine about President Bush all you want but he’s the one saying no retreat, no surrender!”

    I know, bless his heart, but he’s not saying “Victory at any cost,” and it’s putting our boys in an untenable position. I swear I didn’t think it was possible for a Republican president to repeat the mistakes of Vietnam, but he has done it in spades. We’re fighting with one-arm behind our back, and our left leg in a cast. Why? Because he does not feel morally justified in fighting for America’s self-interest. He had to convert this into an altruistic war before he could feel good about it. We’re fighting to liberate people who would just as soon cut our throats. Don’t get get me wrong. Establishing a liberal government there will be a fine thing, but you’ve got to defeat a country before you can rule it. You have to do what Sherman did in the South, and make them sick of war. We didn’t do that, and we’ve been paying the price.

  72. Crap. I’ve been doing it wrong.

    If by that you mean that you are accepting my advice on achieving Nirvana (not the band, although I can’t help you there either) then yes, you are probably correct.

  73. Careful Ards, you remember what happened to our host when we discussed the “more killin’ less chillin” approach to winning wars.

  74. “Then why does much of science rely on statistics and more specifically confidence intervals?”

    We were talking about sense data, not experimental data. There are lots of reasons why experimental data might be off, but “my eyes lied to me” isn’t one of them. Your eyes always tell the truth. You just have to know how to interpret what they say.

  75. Yes, I used to be more in touch with the whole zen thing. I read The Snow Leopard and Being There and the annoying Motorcycle one, and the one about Archery. I skipped the one about Pooh, it just seemed kind of twee. But I think I’ll revisit it. Well, I think I’ll start by reading the Dune books the kid wrote, and maybe go from there. Open for suggestions.

  76. Data is data, whether it is someone casually strolling the neighborhood or someone canvassing with a questionaire. The only differences are the application of methodology and intent. Surely those do not skew our perceptions do they?

    And if your eyes always tell the truth then why the need for spectroscopes?

  77. The Tao of Physics is one of my faves.

  78. “Careful Ards, you remember what happened to our host when we discussed the “more killin’ less chillin” approach to winning wars.”

    I’m not sure I was around for that, but I can just imagine the screams of outrage from the left. I’m not sure there’s a great deal of enthusiasm for inflicting massive casualties on the enemy coming from the right either, though. They have a tendency to cringe like whipped dogs when the left calls them a bunch of selfish bastards. “We’re not selfish! Look at all the schools we’re building in Iraq! Look at all the US soldiers who have sacrificed their lives so that the Iraqis can have a better life! We’re good, unselfish people, really!” It makes me ill.

    We’re going to have to get our asses handed to us by Iran before we will do what we have to do to end this thing. If we had a stronger sense of self-preservation we wouldn’t wait that long. We wouldn’t let them throw the first–wtf, the twelth!–punch.

  79. Fritjof Capra? Downloading it now – I’m heading into a 4-day weekend, so I’ll take a crack at it.

  80. Yep, that’s the one. It does have some limitations and gets criticized for being superficial to both Buddhism and physics but it’s still enjoyable and accessible to those not deeply schooled in either esoteric.

  81. That’s my speed, definitely.

  82. “Data is data.”

    No it isn’t. Gathering experimental data is a process that has to be consciously guided, and that introduces the potential for error. The operations of our senses are involuntary. We can choose to focus or not to focus, but we don’t guide the process by which light, sound, etc, are converted into data. It is a mechanistic process, and the data it produces is always caused by something real, whether it is an illusion, a delusion, or whatever. Making sense of it is not an infallible process, but the data itself is always valid.

    “And if your eyes always tell the truth then why the need for spectroscopes?”

    I did not say that our eyes are capable of seeing everything that exists, I said that everything they see is real. I’m wearing reading glasses. If I took them off, the text on the screen would appear blurry. That’s not false information. It reflects the exact condition of my eye lenses. Our eyes do not have to see everything in order to tell the truth, anymore than we have to know everything in order to tell the truth.

  83. before we will do what we have to do to end this thing

    Heh, like Churchill said, only after we have exhausted all the other possibilities.

  84. Gathering experimental data is a process that has to be consciously guided, and that introduces the potential for error.

    Consciousness of action creates the potential for error? Yet everything you see is real? Isn’t there an inherent contradiction there?

    And delusions, by definition are not real, that’s the part that separates them from any other belief.

  85. Well, I could be wrong. Let’s see…

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.”

    “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    No, I’m going to have to stand by my interpretation. I know you can find other quotes about swords and plowshares, and setting brother against brother, but the Sermon on the Mount has a consistent tenor, and I’m pretty sure it is taken to represent the culmination of Christ’s message.

    Your interpretation lacks context. Jesus was not preaching pacifism as a general principle. In that section of the Bible, as in others, he was speaking about what believers should do when they are persecuted for their beliefs.

    The entire Sermon on the Mount deals with how a believer should demonstrate their beliefs and how they should react when those beliefs are assauted. Indeed, earlier in the Sermon, Jesus says,

    5:10 Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    5:11 Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

    5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

    He then goes on to outline how, in their Earthly walk as believers, they must distinguish themselves, even above the outward righteousness of the Pharisees because the grace that has been given them also gives them more righteousness than those religious leaders.

    To say that Jesus was an ardent pacifist is to ignore his taking up of the lash against the moneychangers in the Temple. It also completely ignores the Biblical teaching of Jesus’ leading the armies of Heaven in his triumphant return. The “Christian as Pacifist” idea involves a stunningly wrong reading of the New Testament.

    But that, really, is besides the point. It is not the job of the Christian religions (and let’s remember that there is as much variety among Christian religions as there is among varieties of wildflowers) to resist Islamism. The Islamist’s fight is not really a religious one at all. It is purely a secular struggle to establish an earthly kingdom. Christians and non-Christians alike can see plenty of valid reasons to oppose that with all their might. As was mentioned earlier, thousands upon thousands of Christians have taken up arms, not to defend their religion but to defend America and the freedoms she grants, and thousands upon thousands will do so again if necessary.

  86. In my opinion the current state of affairs has much more to do with the wake of WWI and WWII than Christianity itself. Sure – fascism was defeated in WWII, but the victory was pyrrhic, at least for the European Nations which triumphed, and cast some valuable cultural attributes in a very bad light. The baby with the bathwater, as it were. Germany emasculated France and half of the Continent, and then the United States emasculated Germany and France – all by way of occupation. And the cost of the wars in lives, materiel, a sort of cultural stunting – all of these horrors changed the European character such that marshalling military forces became all that impossible, as evidenced by the French experience in Indochina, and perhaps with the exception of the brief Falklands War.

    At the same time, the lesson of WWII – and perhaps one that was all too simplistic – was that Nationalism and group identity is an abhorrent sin, only able to be absolved by the open embrace of everything different without an objective judgment as to its value relative to the dominant culture. Of course, as we have seen in the United States in as well, coddling of the post war baby boom generation has yielded a generation in which the martial character of its men is more than wanting. It is no coincidence that this generation was least faithful to its cultural inheritance of a Western, Christian culture. For those that remained Christian, many of the mainline Churches lurched leftward, making the fools’ bargain whereby they eschewed personal morality and discipline for broad notions of “social justice” including the nebulous ideas of “tolerance.” (“Tolerance”, if memory serves, was an invention of the Frankfurt School Communist think tank, Adorno in particular, if memory serves – who targeted the mainline Churches for subversion even before the war.)

    Perhaps, it could be said, it is the waning of a strong Christian culture – much of which was bound up with Nationalism – that is the cause of the current inability of the West to respond in kind to the Muslim menace. We never really had the problem of meeting them with appropriate and sufficient force in the past – as a matter of fact Christian Nations colonized much of their lands for a good period of time, not to mention driving them back when necessary.

  87. Don’t forget Observer-expectancy effect. The observer-expectancy effect (also called the experimenter-expectancy effect, observer effect, or experimenter effect) is a cognitive bias found in science that occurs when a researcher expects a given result and therefore unconsciously manipulates an experiment in order to find it.

    However, it’s the same thing that Pierce talked about in his pragmatic studies when you are cought off guard by a paper bag in a wind. Due to the movement you “see” and react to bag like it was a moving animal because it fits what you expect to see by expierence. After you register that it is a bag your behavior changes. Mirages are a good example too.

  88. “Don’t forget Observer-expectancy effect. The observer-expectancy effect (also called the experimenter-expectancy effect, observer effect, or experimenter effect) is a cognitive bias found in science that occurs when a researcher expects a given result and therefore unconsciously manipulates an experiment in order to find it.”

    This is kind of why I always take social science “studies” with a grain of salt.

  89. Even the briefest glance at Christianity would show that it is a lot bigger than Jesus. And Jesus is a lot more than the “Sermon on the Mount” so it really can’t be a “culmination”.
    When Jesus refers to punishment. he does so in terms of eternity.
    Better to drown yourself to stop a sin that hurts a child… etc. than to face an awful eternity.
    Jesus is a great guy, compassionate, willing to give people multiple chances but when you wrap your head around an eternity with gnashing teeth and the worm inside that does not die and the fire is not quenched; that is a big stick for such a nice guy.
    He doesn’t berate warriors, his father loves them with an intensity that would make Gen. Patton blush. He warns of a lion who would rip people apart and he tells them to resist, to defend themselves from its violent power with vigor, cunning and joy.
    He tells stories where the workers steal the produce and then kill the owners son. He asks what should be done to the rebels, the people answer they should be killed…. Jesus says “of course” rather than launching into a lecture on turning the other cheek. It is assumed that the assholes will die and that is a just outcome. It is assumed and then stated that the king has an army armed and ready that goes and applies rough justice.
    When Jesus talks about the “end times” he doesn’t say not to fight… he says do not lose heart, do not lose faith in God…. and don’t get caught beating the help and stealing lest the master rip you to pieces.
    I don’t think Jesus is a strict pacifist. He seems to see things as a little more fluid.

    Jesus would really have a problem with sharia (and all oppressive and repressive law).
    His favorite foils were the religious lawmakers. He stops a stoning of a woman. He mocks their response to his healing on the sabbath, and then shows up the next week to heal again and picks a fight about it. He tells them they are blind and full of shit
    He calls them out, he calls them names.
    He tells them that they will suffer throughout eternity if they keep being idiots.
    But if people want to only see “gentle Jesus meek and mild” go ahead.
    That is like taking the family, a frisbee and the dog to Omaha Beach on D-Day… a staggering misreading of what todays trip to the beach will bring.

  90. Some of the essential characteristics of YHWH and His Christ as revealed in the Bible are truth, holiness, and justice.

    Yes, He is merciful and patient, but the idea that the Christian God tolerates evil is blasphemous and a product of the modern, multiculturalist, amoral, secularist Left (whether wearing the cloak of “Christian” or not).

  91. You have to do what Sherman did in the South, and make them sick of war.

    Ardsgaine, are there any politicians who agree with you? Any living politicians currently in office? Just who are you going to vote for in the 2008 primaries? Bush has pulled the country as far toward self defense as he can. OK, if he were a better communicator maybe he could have done more but maybe you should take a look around your country sometime. Over half of it wants to hide under the bed from the “billion and a half muslims”. Almost no one agrees with you. How do you think stuff gets done in a democracy? You’re not one of the idiots that think the President can just wave his hand and do anything he wants, are you? How would you like to be President with this Senate, this CIA and this State Department just to mention a few groups that work to undermine the war effort every day?

    Thanks for ignoring my point about evidence vs. theory. Shows your questions about Christianity were not actually serious. Must have just been rhetorical. My bad.

    BTW, it just doesn’t matter if you’re right or not if you don’t have the power to get your ideas even tried. Politics is the art of the possible. I read that somewhere, once.

  92. Ards:
    One very large aspect to the “Communism is practically-applied Christianity” canard you dropped earlier in the thread is the (erroneous) assumption that believers in Communism commit to, namely: humanity is perfectible while on Earth. This is manifestly an anti-Christian view, since the presence of Sin directly contradicts this notion.

    Communism jumps right over the perfecting of Man and into a collectivist paradise, waving its collective (haw!) hand at the logical leap it just made over such a huge issue. To attempt to tar Christianity with the Communist brush is thus not only unfair but a blatant misreading of the fundamental error inherent in Communism’s basic tenets.

  93. Ardsgaine,

    It is a mechanistic process, and the data it produces is always caused by something real, whether it is an illusion, a delusion, or whatever. Making sense of it is not an infallible process, but the data itself is always valid.

    Even in normal circumstances the mind-eye combination interpolate quite a bit, then there’s amazing stuff like this.

    Arguments placing external reality in the realms of faith… any such proposition is unfalsifiable, there’s potential for imposing arbitrary relations by fiat. Hence, ought be distrusted.

    Re the relation between socialism and Christianity I tend to agree… good and evil, perfection and immortality through the State, love thy neighbour as thy self, meekness, utopia, puritanism, elevating the weak, the sacrifice of the individual, rejection of the material world, historical inevitability.

    “it is only in the Christian world that civil society attains perfection” — Karl Marx

    Socialism replaced the Christian God with the State, faith with (irrational) Reason, and viewed Christian memes through a collectivist lens.

    As others have pointed out, there are alternate and individualist interpretations of such memes which are also (logically) valid and as far as religion in general is a thought-construct, place socialism as a Christian schism.

    More on socialism the religion here.

  94. Meanwhile the self-loathing morass and abdication of will, judgment and action by European elites definitely flows from the socialst interpretaion, and so as you point out, Ardsgaine, more Christianity per-se would be like “prescribing rat poison as a cure for arsenic”.

  95. “Christopher Hitchens, or Bishop Muskens?”

    Charles Martel, King Jan III Sobieski, George S. Patton, and either Curtis LeMay or Bomber Harris.

  96. The bigger problem is the virus of relativism and how it has weakened the resolve of many clergymen to call evil, evil. They’ve taken something that was laid down in easy list form, the 10 commandments, then explained again and again, culmunating with the teachings of Jesus, and twisted it to fit the feel good PC crap of modern relativism.

    Remember the bible constantly calls on the strong to care for the weak. That means those that can, should prevent, as far as they can, harm from coming to the weak. In essence, I believe it is our Christian duty to fight the scumbags who would kill and enslave our fellow humans. No matter who they are be they islamists, communists, or christians.

    Too many of the christian churches have forgotten the true lessen of the Cain and Abel story. We are our brother’s keeper. It is up to us to protect him, physically as well as spritually. I’m not calling for a pattern of forced conversion, but a more muscular defense of our fellow beings. Sometimes the sword must be used to save a people from being wiped out. You are right that this imperitve must be controlled lest christians lose their way an become an evil to be stopped as well.

  97. Hulagu Khan

  98. “Consciousness of action creates the potential for error? Yet everything you see is real? Isn’t there an inherent contradiction there?”

    Not consciousness OF the action, consciously GUIDING the action. You have to actually read what I write in order to understand me. If I’m being unintentionally obscure, I don’t mind clarifying, but the above misunderstanding is a poor reading of what I wrote.

    “And delusions, by definition are not real, that’s the part that separates them from any other belief.”

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear on this part. I don’t mean that the content of a delusion exists independently of the mind, I mean that the delusion itself is a real phenomenon. Recognizing a delusion means being able to say that one set of sensory data is contradicted by another, that one represents something that exists independently of the mind, and the other is being produced by a malfunction in the brain. If our senses were not a valid means of collecting data, we could not make those determinations. All sense data would be unreliable. We can make those determinations, though, because we know that all sense data is evidence of something. It is always produced by a chain of causality, and we can trace the chain back to its source.

    If I haven’t convinced you at this point, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I don’t want to spend anymore time on this topic.

  99. “The Tao of Physics is one of my faves.”

    A small caveat: Physicists don’t generally think very highly of Fritjof Capra’s take on what particle physics, quantum mechanics, etc.

  100. “Your interpretation lacks context. Jesus was not preaching pacifism as a general principle. In that section of the Bible, as in others, he was speaking about what believers should do when they are persecuted for their beliefs.”

    Well, let’s hope the Islamists don’t do that, then.

    Look, to respond to several people at once, I’m not pulling this interpretation out of my nethers. It has a long tradition in Christian thought. Call it a misinterpretation if you like, but take that up with the Quakers, Anabaptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. My point is that Christianity is the philosophical source of pacifism in the West. More broadly, it is the philosophical source of altruism, of which pacifism is just an extreme example. As Christians, even if you don’t subscribe to the more extreme forms of non-assertiveness, you should be aware of how your avowed philosophy can undermine your willingness to fight the kind of war we need to fight. You might need to cross some of those little red words out of your big black book–or at least put your hand over them for the duration. You can point to the fact that Christian men were willing to do that in WWII, but that’s not worth anything if you are unwilling to do the same now.

    klrfz1 asks whether there are any politicians willing to do that, and I answer no, none that I know of. Even Giuliani is only talking about using all the “economic weapons” at our disposal, as if we weren’t already in a state of war with Iran. Politicians have to follow public opinion, though, or be replaced. Are you demanding a shooting war with Iran? Are you willing to see Teheran flattened rather than allow the Iranians to acquire nuclear weapons? If so, then yell it. Make them hear you.

    PS to Klrfz1: I’m one guy trying to respond to five or six people. Meanwhile, I have two kids to homeschool and feed, and housework to neglect. I can’t respond to every single point in everyone’s posts, and I’m not going to try.

  101. “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.”

    “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    No, I’m going to have to stand by my interpretation. I know you can find other quotes about swords and plowshares, and setting brother against brother, but the Sermon on the Mount has a consistent tenor, and I’m pretty sure it is taken to represent the culmination of Christ’s message.

    Yes, but he also said:

    “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” (Matthew 10:34)

    Not to mention throwing the money-changers out of the temple. Christ was not a complete pacifist.

  102. Good call. Indeed you are wrong. An even better example of His position on the matter was when he was facing death and said he could call down 12 legions of angels if he wanted to stop things, but obviously didn’t do it. In that instance he was not submitting to Roman or Jewish violence, he was using it as a weapon for his own human sacrifice. “No man takes my life from me, etc…” Not at all the same thing as pacifism.

    Correct…”you have no power other than that which has been granted you from far beyond.”

  103. Ardsgaine,

    Thanks for the comeback.

    I should have stated my points more clearly.

    We all handle data one way or another, and all of that requires some kind of interpretation. My interpretations depend on, among other things, the conditions and events of my life. Thus mine differ from yours. A society of completely color-blind people may dismiss talk about red and green and blue as so much nonsense. Others who are only partially color-blind may believe comments about fuschia and cerise that exceed their own experience because they have some small experience of color and have learned to trust those who have more.

    All of that involves both reasoning and faith. But deciding which data are valid and which are to be dismissed, and deciding which logical processes are valid or invalid, require that the decider vest himself in some construct. This “vesting” involves acknowledging a set of guides (personal or not) by which one is constrained and enabled; recognizing the form and content of the consequences of that acknowledgement; and then confessing or proclaiming or stating that this is what one holds to. (H/T to Karl Barth for that analysis of faith.)

    I mentioned Polanyi because he is 20th century, more accessible than Kant, post-Kantian in content, and I have read his stuff and not Kant’s. Another, shorter, good book is “Proper Confidence”, by Lesslie Newbigin. It addresses epistemology with specifically Christian questions, but is not a “devotional” book.

    T&T

  104. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” (Matthew 10:34)

    To say that they will not find peace by following him is not the same as advocating self-defense. It sounds more like he’s telling them that his teachings will cause men to persecute them. Then in the Sermon on the Mount, he advises them what to do about that.

    I believe someone above made the points that Jesus did not provide the sort of violent example that Mohammed did, and that he counseled his followers not to concern themselves with the governments of this world. They were to render unto Caesar, but not seek to establish a Christian kingdom, because that would not come about until his return. That in itself is a form of pacifism. It preaches acceptance of whatever tyranny is in place, and suggests that attempting to establish a moral government run by men is blasphemous.

    “Not to mention throwing the money-changers out of the temple. Christ was not a complete pacifist.”

    Let’s not confuse what Christ allowed himself with what his followers were allowed. Vengeance is God’s, right? Anyway, that was done to purify his father’s house, but when it came to self-defense, he abstained. Self-defense was not part of his teachings.

  105. “We all handle data one way or another, and all of that requires some kind of interpretation.”

    We were talking about the validity of the senses, not whether there can be one objective interpretation of sensory data. That would be a separate debate. My only point is that everything you know comes from the raw sensory data given by your five senses. You cannot step outside of that data set and critique it against something else, because there is nothing else to critique it against. We have no other awareness of the world that is more perfect than our five senses. What they give us is the only reality that we have.

    And that really is my wrap up.

    PS. If you have a choice between reading Kant and being waterboarded, I recommend the waterboard.

  106. And Saturday morning samuri movies, happy. Don’t forget them.

  107. Doug: This is manifestly an anti-Christian view, since the presence of Sin directly contradicts this notion.

    Point of order: there have certainly been Christian sects which believed in earthly perfectability (e.g., the Cathars). Sure, the Catholic Church called it a heresy, but they said the same about Lutherans. The only difference I can see is that the Lutherans and Calvinists won (or at least drew) the 30 Years War, while the Cathars lost the 20 year Albigensian Crusade decisively.

    Criticizing Ardsgaine’s position on free will grounds, however, is entirely on-point (although there the Calvinists might disagree).

  108. there are so many rats at home and i am looking for a really good rat poison,;’

  109. Archery is an age old game that requires lots of practice and focus if you want to excel on it. “*`

  110. i used to play archery but quit this sport after i got some elbow surgery.:*`

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