Green Room

DO we have the right to disobey Islamic law?

posted at 3:54 pm on September 20, 2012 by

My Green Room colleague Laura Curtis asked yesterday whether we should have the right to disobey Islamic law, and her post understandably got a lot of interest.

I would like to suggest that we need to pose the question a different way, because how we answer it will depend on how it is asked.  I believe the correct question is: Do we have the right to disobey Islamic law?

That’s how the philosophers of America’s founding would have put the question.  They saw rights not as things we “should” have, but as things we do have.  These rights are unalienable, regardless of whether anyone else thinks we “should” have them.  They are not up for debate.  They are an endowment from God, and the limited set of unabrogable natural rights that inhere in each of us may not be breached by human governments or other human agency.

The list of rights in the Declaration of Independence is very short:  life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  The Bill of Rights enumerates rights which may not be abridged, and specifies certain protections for the people (e.g., against unreasonable search and seizure and against self-incrimination in a court proceeding).  The First and Second Amendments lay out clearly which rights the government of the United States may not infringe:

Amendment I:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II:

A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

The Founders would have said that they crafted the First Amendment because men do, inherently and indisputably, have the right to free speech and the free practice of religion.

They did not exclude the possibility that state and local governments might place limits on speech, nor did they consider it inconsistent that several of the states had state-sponsored churches (denominations) at the time the Constitution was ratified.  But the Founders’ concern was with limiting the federal government, and the chief counterweight they invoked to do that was the natural, God-given rights of men.  They had a conscious idea of meaning in nationhood – the concept of a “national idea” that transcended the particular and detailed administration of civil life – and that national idea was of government so carefully limited as to guarantee but not infringe on the people’s rights.

America’s Founders had arrived at this idea of government through a philosophical evolution peculiar to the West.  Judaism, secular philosophy, and Christianity all contributed to it.  The Protestant idea of individual choice – individual response to God, individual salvation, the “priesthood of believers” referred to in 1 Peter 2:5-9 – became the culminating principle on which the Founders proposed to base a national government that did not regulate the people’s moral or spiritual lives.  If each person has a moral choice of his own, so the thinking went – if each person stands before God as an individual, and chooses to accept or reject – then it is not the business of human government to interpose itself in that dynamic.

It is important to note here that the fundamental premise of the Founders, who were almost all Protestant Christians (but included Catholics and Jews), was different from the premise of globalist Islam.  There had been a time in Western history when monarchs and would-be emperors conceived themselves to be warriors for God, advancing the Kingdom of Jesus Christ through the sword.  The underlying assumption was that humans were to effect the universal acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ – an end-state against which the forces of evil constantly interposed themselves.

The rise of an armed, distinctive organization in the Christian West coincided with, and was in part prompted by, the armed expansion of Islam from the 7th to the 10th centuries.  Islam was and remains a universalist creed, with a vision of an end-state in which all the world submits to Islamic unity (“submission” and “unity” being the typical translations of the word Islam in Western languages).  But Christianity, through the great upheaval of the Protestant Reformation, and the Counterreformation of the Catholic Church which followed, detached itself over time from ideas of earthly empire and forcible expansion.

Christians today don’t conceive of the eschatological culmination laid out in Biblical prophecy as something they have to try to bring about – and certainly not through the means of the armed state.  Whether Catholic or Protestant, Christians believe fundamentally that while the church is and should be a positive influence in the world, God’s relations with men are not brokered by the state.  Rather, they must be respected by the state, must be honored as a positive influence in the people’s lives, and – from the standpoint of regulation or other law, and certainly from the standpoint of assessing religious doctrine – must be left alone.

These ideas underlie the quintessentially American view that government – and the national government in particular – must not seek to repress or punish speech about God.  We are all going to say things others find offensive, whether it’s sophomoric atheists calling Christians “Christofascists” and mocking our “Sky God,” or Christian leaders proclaiming that God doesn’t hear the prayers of Jews, or Jews proclaiming that the Messiah hasn’t come yet – or, indeed, anyone of any faith (or none) saying that he doesn’t believe Mohammed was a prophet of God.

Restricting religious, philosophical, artistic, or intellectual speech is inherently a slippery slope.  There is no way to do it safely.  Today Islamic radicals may riot over ridicule of Mohammed, but it will not stop there.  The day will come quickly when a Christian or Jew who simply rejects Mohammed as a prophet of God – however quietly or respectfully – will be considered to have defamed Mohammed and Islam.  Yet faithful Christians and Jews must reject the Mohammed proposition.  It cannot be accommodated in their relations with God.

The American Founders had the answer to this, an answer derived from centuries of learning, thinking, inspiration, and painful adjustment in the Judeo-Christian West.  The answer is that human government does not broker or settle these issues.  It punishes rioters, regardless of why they riot, and it protects the lives and rights of citizens with whom the rioters disagree.

Government may affirm what is obvious and true, such as that the United States is traditionally a Christian nation, or that Israel is and should be a Jewish state.  Muslim nations are free to affirm their Islamic identity.

But the American way, based on centuries of the study of God, is to honor and protect above all the freedom of each individual to approach God as seems best to him, even if that means ridiculing (or simply rejecting) the religious beliefs of another.  This is not a light or transient principle, something that should or must fold under pressure.

It is a unique way for religions and denominations to live in peace.  It is the best thing the world has ever found, in terms of a political attitude toward religion and freedom of speech.  It deliberately and specifically invokes the provision of God; it is not a secular idea.  It is only in the last 30-40 years that Americans have lost their sense of that.

Our American idea is of a nation protecting the people’s most important God-given freedoms.  Our idea is not transnational, globalist, or eschatological.  Our idea thus acknowledges the limitations of human government and force, which cannot bring about anybody’s “kingdom of God.”  I affirm that the American principle is true and right.  We do inherently have the right to “disobey Islamic law.”  We have the right to approach God as each of us individually sees fit, including rejecting the idea of Him.  It is not our government’s job to tell some to be silent in order to satisfy others.  It is our government’s job to protect our rights and keep the peace.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at The Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Weekly Standard online, and her own blog, The Optimistic Conservative.

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Your blind faith in the wrongness of Christianity …

fadetogray on September 29, 2012 at 11:44 AM

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Your post raises more than one interesting point, but just to get started:

Are you an Inquisition Denier?

Your blind faith that there is nothing wrong with Christianity, in particular, and religion, in general, does not take account of the facts involved.

Steve Stoddard
on September 29, 2012 at 12:40 PM

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Are you asserting that The Spanish Inquisition is a valid representation of Christianity?
You can’t find anything like it condoned in the Bible.
The fact that some Christians (or pseudo-Christians) attempted to impose a tyrannical control over a populace by means of “doctrines and commandments of men”, in the name of Christianity, doesn’t disqualify or invalidate Christianity.

But I don’t believe that’s your problem with Christianity, anyhow. You’re still dodging the question:

I think the most likely explanation is that I don’t agree with your view of human nature (as being inadequate to life without “supernatural guidance”).
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Steve Stoddard on September 26, 2012 at 1:19 PM

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Steve’, can you explain how that last line of yours isn’t saying “I am my own God”?
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listens2glenn on September 26, 2012 at 4:07 PM

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listens2glenn on September 29, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Your blind faith that there is nothing wrong with Christianity, in particular, and religion, in general, does not take account of the facts involved.

This is quite fascinating. I have said I do not even consider myself a Christian due to my disagreements with Christianity about the nature of God running so deep, yet you say I have blind faith there is nothing wrong with Christianity.

You are either a true fanatic or a troll.

fadetogray on September 29, 2012 at 2:33 PM

If you think about it, your religion can’t be very strong if you think it needs the government to “honor it as a positive influence.”

Honoring it as a freely chosen belief is one thing. But it is not within the proper scope of government to declare that we must hold religion as a “positive influence” — especially since it so very often is quite the opposite.

Government should keep its hands off religion. (And vice versa.)

Steve Stoddard on September 29, 2012 at 2:43 PM

… you say I have blind faith there is nothing wrong with Christianity.

–fadetogray on September 29, 2012 at 2:33 PM

Okay, so if you aren’t a Christian, do you also reject blind faith in religion altogether? If so, you might be on the right track.

Sorry if I was thrown off by your apparent attempts to defend Christianity in particular. But you need to notice that I did not restrict my remarks only to Christianity, but was criticizing religion, per se (with Christianity as only one example).

Your superficial and misdirected retort doesn’t cut the mustard.

Steve Stoddard on September 29, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Is there a particular religion, fade, that you want the government to declare to be a “positive influence,” or just any and all religions in general?

Steve Stoddard on September 29, 2012 at 2:56 PM

I have said I do not even consider myself a Christian due to my disagreements with Christianity about the nature of God …
–fadetogray on September 29, 2012 at 2:33 PM

Is that simply a matter of blind faith (i.e., religious faith) on your part? Do you think only blind faith can lead to disagreements about religion — so that I cannot possibly have any reasonable argument with, say, Christianity, simply because you don’t have any?

Steve Stoddard on September 29, 2012 at 3:01 PM

You are either a true fanatic or a troll.

–fadetogray on September 29, 2012 at 2:33 PM

Is that a case of projection? Or merely an attempt to deflect attention?

Steve Stoddard on September 29, 2012 at 3:09 PM

If it’s truly “blind”, then it’s NOT faith.

Faith and trust are not the same thing.

Trust grows gradually from an interactive relationship between any two or more parties, unless or until one of the parties breaks the trust. If neither party breaks the trust, then it goes until the death of one or more of the involved parties.
Trust can be “blind”, if it is exercised (or given) without a developed relationship.

Real “Faith” comes only from God.
.
But I’d rather deflect the conversation to something else:

I think the most likely explanation is that I don’t agree with your view of human nature (as being inadequate to life without “supernatural guidance”).
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Steve Stoddard on September 26, 2012 at 1:19 PM

.
Steve’, can you explain how that last line of yours isn’t saying “I am my own God”?
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listens2glenn on September 26, 2012 at 4:07 PM

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listens2glenn on September 29, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Government may affirm what is obvious and true, such as that the United States is traditionally a Christian nation,…

Except that the United States is most certainly NOT a “Christian nation.”

At most it might be a country in which many Christians happen to live. But people of other religions (and some without even any religion at all) also live here. And the legal principle of the United States is that all citizens are equal before the law — utterly regardless of their religious affiliations.

The proper principle of government is that religion makes no difference; is simply doesn’t matter.

The U.S. never has been a “Christian nation,” and cannot legally be one. (Of course, Medicare and Obamacare are also unconstitutional — so I guess we are seeing that people just don’t give a damn for the Constitution any longer. Under the current circumstances, I would feel safer if the Christians rather than the Muslims took over. But I would still prefer freedom from religious rule.)

Steve Stoddard on September 29, 2012 at 7:06 PM

If it’s truly “blind”, then it’s NOT faith.

It can only be religious faith if it is blind faith. Religion is otherworldly as opposed to being about understanding of the real world. The essence of religion is closing your eyes to reason and reality; there is no other way to believe in the supernatural.

Steve Stoddard on September 29, 2012 at 7:32 PM

It can only be religious faith if it is blind faith. Religion is otherworldly as opposed to being about understanding of the real world.

Steve Stoddard on September 29, 2012 at 7:32 PM

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Nope; I stand by my statement: “Faith is not blind. If it’s blind, then it’s not faith.”
.
Do you altogether reject the “paranormal”?

listens2glenn on September 29, 2012 at 8:14 PM

Government may affirm what is obvious and true, such as that the United States is traditionally a Christian nation,…

Except that the United States is most certainly NOT a “Christian nation.”

At most it might be a country in which many Christians happen to live. But people of other religions (and some without even any religion at all) also live here. And the legal principle of the United States is that all citizens are equal before the law — utterly regardless of their religious affiliations.

The proper principle of government is that religion makes no difference; religion simply doesn’t matter.

The U.S. never has been a “Christian nation,” and cannot legally be one.

Steve Stoddard on October 1, 2012 at 1:09 AM

The U.S. never has been a “Christian nation,” and cannot legally be one.

The USA is a secular nation designed by Christians who recognized that while their view of Christian philosophy would make a good foundation for a country of almost all Christians, different religions (or sects within a religion) vying for control of the state was one of the most devastating destabilizing influences in any society and often led to tyranny.

Today America is a nation mostly made up of people who nominally call themselves Christian but have no real interest in Christian philosophy. That is why the culture has been deteriorating so rapidly, and it is why we are so incredibly screwed. It is why we are able to elect someone so clearly unfit as Obama to be their President. Obama is a moral relativist, big time. There is no way a population of actual Christians would have ever elected him.

fadetogray on October 1, 2012 at 8:29 AM

Steve Stoddard on October 1, 2012 at 1:09 AM

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fadetogray on October 1, 2012 at 8:29 AM

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If the fact that we’re “NOT a Theocracy” is your definition of “secular”, fine. I can live with that.

But the United States IS the breadbasket of The Gospel Of Jesus Christ to the whole world.
Further, I absolutely assert that without the overwhelming influence of Christianity, the United States would never have been conceived as a country or become the world superpower that we are.
.
Oh, and this:

I think the most likely explanation is that I don’t agree with your view of human nature (as being inadequate to life without “supernatural guidance”).
.
Steve Stoddard on September 26, 2012 at 1:19 PM

.
Steve’, can you explain how that last line of yours isn’t saying “I am my own God”?
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listens2glenn on September 26, 2012 at 4:07 PM

listens2glenn on October 1, 2012 at 1:11 PM

If the fact that we’re “NOT a Theocracy” is your definition of “secular”, fine. I can live with that.

I should have said, “The USA is has a secular nation government designed by Christians…..”

But the United States IS the breadbasket of The Gospel Of Jesus Christ to the whole world.
Further, I absolutely assert that without the overwhelming influence of Christianity, the United States would never have been conceived as a country or become the world superpower that we are.

I agree.

fadetogray on October 1, 2012 at 4:44 PM

If the U.S. really were a product of Christianity, that would raise the question of why did they take over 1700 years to get around to it? Why did they waste all that time on nonsense like the 10 Commandments, the virgin birth, life after death, geocentricism, etc.? (Not to mention the Holy Roman Empire, the Inquisition, Crusades, Divine Right of Kings, etc., etc., etc.)

The “Christianity therefore America” notion is an example of a post hoc fallacy (with a big dose of wishful thinking).

Steve Stoddard on October 1, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Christianity was a necessary ingredient, but insufficient by itself. Without it, populations believe things even further from reality, often wildly psychotic pathologies like Islam or socialism that would never have tolerated the kind of blasphemies early modern science regularly did.

We know this for an historical fact. That is what the masses of people do. People believe things. For all of its flaws, Christianity fills up a big space in the human psyche that usually goes to Very Bad Things.

Also, I see you repeat the lie about the Crusades being a bad thing. The Crusades were a direct response to a great evil that was sweeping across the world largely without resistance. Without the Crusades, Islam would have swept Europe. Lights out. Forever.

You do not hold Muslims to the kind of standard you want to hold Christians. In your childlike fantasy world you imagine Islamic overlords would have been just as tolerant, or even more.

fadetogray on October 2, 2012 at 10:22 AM

In your childlike fantasy world you imagine Islamic overlords would have been just as tolerant,…

Islamists are known for murdering girls by trapping them in burning buildings. Christians are known for burning people, too. Islamists behead people; Christians lynch them. (Cf. Pearl, Bruno, the Klan, etc.)

They do each seem “just a tolerant” as the other. (Fortunately for the modern world, Christianity has backed off significantly.)

Steve Stoddard on October 2, 2012 at 2:24 PM

… wildly psychotic pathologies like Islam or socialism …

Or Christianity back in the time …

Steve Stoddard on October 2, 2012 at 2:27 PM

You miss the point entirely, Steve. Aggressively so. Of course there were and are very bad people who called themselves Christian and did terrible things they claimed were in the name of Christianity.

That has nothing to do with whether or not the Christian philosophy is superior to/better than/more moral than the Islamic philosophy, which is the basis for saying one is better than the other.

It is self-evident that the Christian world has been massively more successful in bringing forth comprehension of the world around us and betterment for mankind. It is up to you to prove the Christian philosophical outlook had nothing to do with that.

Christian role model to the masses: The Son of God sacrificed himself to save us from our sins.

Islamic role model to the masses: The Prophet of Islam slaughters hundreds of people by his own hand and orders the direct mass murder of many endless thousands more (many, many millions if you include after his death). He lives like a self-indulgent materialist king. He has many ‘wives’ including a six year old (consumated at nine). He orders apostates to all be killed.

And you are having difficulty figuring this out? What are you, a moral relativist?

fadetogray on October 2, 2012 at 4:08 PM

He lives like a self-indulgent materialist king.

Why do you believe such a description applies to Muhammad but not to Rodrigo and Cesare Borgia?

Muslims are wicked, but Christians get a pass?

Steve Stoddard on October 2, 2012 at 6:09 PM

It is self-evident that the Christian world has been massively more successful in bringing forth comprehension of the world around us and betterment for mankind.

That isn’t at all “self-evident,” but you are free to try to make a case to support your assertion. If you think it is worth supporting.

Steve Stoddard on October 2, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Christian role model to the masses: The Son of God sacrificed himself to save us from our sins.

Not only is that utter nonsense, there is certainly nothing in there to promote the wonders of science and freedom.

(Come to think of it, why isn’t that just a “license to sin” — since the sinning is all pre-paid?)

For one thing, it is morally wrong to make somebody else pay for your sins. For another, it is absurd to feel that just because you consider yourself a sinner, that somehow proves that everybody else is a sinner, too.

I think it is a terrible “role model” to promote the notion that the good must die so the wicked may live.

Steve Stoddard on October 2, 2012 at 6:29 PM

The Prophet of Islam slaughters hundreds of people by his own hand and orders the direct mass murder of many endless thousands more …

Isn’t that basically the same as the God of the Bible (and his sidekick Moses)?

Isn’t that just the way of Gods? Was there ever a God that wasn’t a jealous God? An insecure God?

Steve Stoddard on October 2, 2012 at 8:56 PM

As far as I recall, Moses and Muhammad actually existed, while of course no God, Jehovah, Allah, or whatever, is literally possible.

Steve Stoddard on October 2, 2012 at 9:56 PM

What are you, a moral relativist?

–fadetogray on October 2, 2012 at 4:08 PM

What exactly do you imagine a “moral relativist” to be? Someone who doesn’t believe in supernatural powers and original sin?

This seems to be your idea of “Christian philosophy vs Islamic philosophy”:

The Son of God sacrificed himself to save us from our sins…. The Prophet of Islam slaughters hundreds of people …

In other words, while the “Prophet of Islam” shows himself to be a terrible sinner, the “Son of God” declares everyone but himself to be a sinner.

So, what religion offers is a life of sin. Well, I don’t buy it.

I go back to pre-Islamic, pre-Christian times: I side with Aristotle that man is a rational animal.

Steve Stoddard on October 3, 2012 at 12:35 AM

Why do you believe such a description applies to Muhammad but not to Rodrigo and Cesare Borgia?

Muslims are wicked, but Christians get a pass?

Muhammed is the Islamic role model. Jesus is the Christian role model. Only an idiot would declare the Borgias to be Christian role models.

Isn’t that basically the same as the God of the Bible (and his sidekick Moses)?

Yes, the Old Testament isn’t much better than Islam (I’ve even been seen on Hot Air arguing at some length that Moses was a monster), and Christians who concentrate on the Old Testament kind of miss the whole philosophical point, now don’t they?

As far as I recall, Moses and Muhammad actually existed, while of course no God, Jehovah, Allah, or whatever, is literally possible.

Of course they are possible. Just not the anthropomorphized versions of them, as I have pointed out before.

What exactly do you imagine a “moral relativist” to be? Someone who doesn’t believe in supernatural powers and original sin?

No. If you don’t know what it means, look it up. You argue exactly like one, and most of them are fanatical socialists who believe most humans think and act like Jean Luc Picard rather than Peggy the Moocher, when the opposite is true.

I go back to pre-Islamic, pre-Christian times: I side with Aristotle that man is a rational animal.

People were rational before Christianity came along? That is about the craziest, most grossly reality disconnected idea I have ever heard.

fadetogray on October 3, 2012 at 1:26 AM

As far as I recall, Moses and Muhammad actually existed, while of course no God, Jehovah, Allah, or whatever, is literally possible.

Of course they are possible. Just not the anthropomorphized versions of them, as I have pointed out before.

Yes, it is important to understand that “God” is a fictional character, that the supernatural is not in any way real.

Steve Stoddard on October 3, 2012 at 1:36 AM

Jesus is the Christian role model.

And what is the message supposed to be? Sin and you’re saved, but get sacrificed if you don’t sin?

Why would any reasonable person wish to be like either Muhammed or Jesus? Is “kill or be killed” your view of the essence of life?

Steve Stoddard on October 3, 2012 at 1:41 AM

What exactly do you imagine a “moral relativist” to be? Someone who doesn’t believe in supernatural powers and original sin?

… look it up.

You asked the question, so I figured you had some idea of what you meant by it. If you don’t wish to be forthcoming, I suppose we’ll have to live with that.

If you think it means “fanatical socialist,” then I certainly don’t qualify — since I think individual rights are an objective absolute that no government has the right to violate (not even in a “Christian nation”).

And isn’t socialism the Christian ideal: sacrifice the productive to the non-productive?

Steve Stoddard on October 3, 2012 at 1:57 AM

I side with Aristotle that man is a rational animal.

People were rational before Christianity came along? That is about the craziest, most grossly reality disconnected idea I have ever heard.

-fadetogray on October 3, 2012 at 1:26 AM

Sorry to hear that.

Steve Stoddard on October 3, 2012 at 3:41 AM

Yes, it is important to understand that “God” is a fictional character, that the supernatural is not in any way real.

That is nonsense. The supernatural is just that which we have not yet figured out.

And what is the message supposed to be? Sin and you’re saved, but get sacrificed if you don’t sin?

Why would any reasonable person wish to be like either Muhammed or Jesus? Is “kill or be killed” your view of the essence of life?

Apparently you lack sufficient brainpower to see the moral difference between the principals and why the difference in role models for the masses would create different kinds of societies.

If you think it means “fanatical socialist,” then I certainly don’t qualify — since I think individual rights are an objective absolute that no government has the right to violate (not even in a “Christian nation”).

And isn’t socialism the Christian ideal: sacrifice the productive to the non-productive?

No, I do not think that is what it means, but that is how it generally manifests itself.

I also do not believe any government has the right to violate our individual rights. You continue to miss the point. It was Christians who came up with that bizarre idea we hold that you regard as so obvious yet is not believed by the overwhelming majority of people on the planet. Islamic societies could not originate the concept, since the thinking of their citizens is based on very different views of humans and government.

Global opinion regards our notion of individual rights as a form of superstition.

Sorry to hear that.

Your understanding of the pre-Christian world is apparently nonexistent. Did you read yourself a bit of Plato and Aristotle and then think you know something about what was happening back then?

fadetogray on October 3, 2012 at 6:24 AM

The supernatural is just that which we have not yet figured out.

Actually, it is nature that we haven’t figured out everything about. The supernatural isn’t actually there.

Steve Stoddard on October 3, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Or were you trying to make a riff on Heisenberg? It’s supernatural as long as it is not observed, and observation collapses it into nature??

Steve Stoddard on October 3, 2012 at 5:15 PM

Why would any reasonable person wish to be like either Muhammed or Jesus? Is “kill or be killed” your view of the essence of life?

Apparently you lack sufficient brainpower to see the moral difference between the principals and why the difference in role models for the masses would create different kinds of societies.

So your answer is that while no reasonable person would want to be like Muhammed or Jesus, that doesn’t make any difference because there aren’t any reasonable people?? (Except maybe you?)

Steve Stoddard on October 3, 2012 at 5:19 PM

I side with Aristotle that man is a rational animal.

People were rational before Christianity came along?

-fadetogray on October 3, 2012 at 1:26 AM

Before, during, and after.

Unfortunately, Christianity has been largely known for its condemnation of the rationality of human nature. Even the denial of it in the Doctrine of Original Sin.

Burning scientists at the stake was quite an irrational undertaking. But that’s religion for you (Christian, Islamic, or whatever).

Steve Stoddard on October 3, 2012 at 6:27 PM

“Because each new generation of children is taught that religious propositions need not be justified in the way that others must, civilization is still besieged by the armies of the preposterous. We are, even now, killing ourselves over ancient literature. Who would have thought something so tragically absurd could be possible?”

Steve Stoddard on October 3, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Actually, it is nature that we haven’t figured out everything about. The supernatural isn’t actually there.

If someone in ancient Mesopotamia cobbled together a battery, and he could shock people with it, everyone would have considered it supernatural. The supernatural is the inexplicable. What is inexplicable depends upon your reference frame. To the people of that time the shocks would have been inexplicable and so “supernatural” even though they were plainly happening.

So your answer is that while no reasonable person would want to be like Muhammed or Jesus, that doesn’t make any difference because there aren’t any reasonable people?? (Except maybe you?)

There are billions of people who consider those two the most perfect role models. That it does not seem reasonable to you is fine, but that you are in denial that others do think it is far more than reasonable shows some serious disconnection from reality on your part.

Humans are chattering apes. They are no more naturally rational than chimpanzees.

You are a good case in point. You believe what it makes you feel good to believe rather than what the evidence of your senses has been screaming at you about people since you were born. It makes you feel so much safer to believe in the religion boogeyman than to recognize the obvious nature of your fellow humans.

fadetogray on October 3, 2012 at 8:46 PM

Humans are chattering apes.

–fadetogray on October 3, 2012 at 8:46 PM

That may seem like an accurate self-assessment to you, but it is nuts to apply it to all humans as such.

Maybe you want to feel that way to try to excuse the unreasonable things you’ve been saying — but I don’t buy it.

Steve Stoddard on October 3, 2012 at 8:58 PM

Humans are chattering apes…. the obvious nature of your fellow humans.

–fadetogray on October 3, 2012 at 8:46 PM

Okay, so you think of yourself and other people as “apes.”

I don’t buy it.

I’m not an ape. Nobody I know is an ape. (I don’t even believe that you are an ape; I think you will have a hard time proving that you are.)

Steve Stoddard on October 3, 2012 at 9:50 PM

I’m not an ape. Nobody I know is an ape.

Your ignorance is appalling. I can understand religious nuts who think the bible is literal truth and are in denial about evolution not getting it, but a self-styled hard headed realist like you ought to at least have a clue.

Humans are bipedal apes with language. They mainly use the language for lying to eachother and to themselves.

And, btw, I am a compassionate optimist who loves humanity. People can be absolutely astonishing …. especially when you understand they are apes.

fadetogray on October 4, 2012 at 12:19 AM

You may love apes, but you have a really grotesque “disconnected-from-reality” view of people.

My “ignorance” may appall you, but you don’t appear to be ready to deal actual human beings, so I think that can explain your problem.

And your “religion is for apes” outlook still cannot rescue Christianity from its ignoble history and philosophy.

Steve Stoddard on October 4, 2012 at 12:32 AM

Remember the old saying: “Real men know they’re not apes!”

Steve Stoddard on October 4, 2012 at 3:01 AM

My “ignorance” may appall you, but you don’t appear to be ready to deal actual human beings, so I think that can explain your problem.

You are projecting, Steve. Unrealistically high expectations are what make it so difficult for you.

And your “religion is for apes” outlook still cannot rescue Christianity from its ignoble history and philosophy.

Other than your blind faith in natural rights, you fail miserably to rise above your ape nature. You make it grossly evident every time you fail to recognize what is actually said about Christianity and how it is better to have it than not have it. You keep insisting on measuring it against the ludicrous standards that you set for it, utterly failing to recognize actual, observable human nature and historical reality.

You are highly irrational. Christianity might do you a great deal of good. Or it might not. Judging by your discussion here, you would be a literalist. You are already halfway there with your denial of biological reality.

fadetogray on October 4, 2012 at 8:41 AM

BTW,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ape

fadetogray on October 4, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Maybe Obama should try that in the next debate: “Romney and Ryan are apes!”

Steve Stoddard on October 4, 2012 at 3:45 PM

You are highly irrational. Christianity might do you a great deal of good.
—fadetogray on October 4, 2012 at 8:41 AM

If (as it certainly appears) you mean to equate “irrational” with “non-Christian,” then I have to agree that I am “highly non-Christian.”

And, another thing I’ve noticed is that I can’t be an ape either, because you apes are so sweet tempered and gracious — and I’m surely not.

Steve Stoddard on October 4, 2012 at 8:53 PM

… and Rodney Stark, a sociologist of religion at Baylor University. For instance, Stark, the most prominent contemporary proponent of this view, devotes a chapter of his book For the Glory of God to the idea that Christianity laid the philosophical groundwork for the development of modern science, writing, ‘Christianity depicted God as a rational, responsive, dependable, and omnipotent being and the universe as his personal creation, thus having a rational, lawful, stable structure, awaiting human comprehension.’

“Although many of the 17th-century scientists had such a conception of God and the universe, this is no ground for attributing the rise of science to Christianity. Scientists were not studying the ‘supernatural’ realm; they were studying observable nature, the identity of things, and causal relationships. And they were employing not faith but reason, observation, logic.

“Had scientists tried to ground science in religion, they would have been utterly stifled. Where would they have turned? To God? He can’t be observed; this is both a tenet of religion and a simple fact. The only place scientists could have turned to ‘ground’ science in religion is the Bible. What would they have found there?

“The Bible certainly does not present God as ‘rational, responsive, and dependable’ or the universe as ‘having a rational, lawful, stable structure’ that is open to ‘human comprehension.’ The Old Testament presents the natural world as created by a supernatural being who acts frequently to intervene in his creation, to make things act in contradiction to their natures—by, for instance, stopping the sun and moon from moving, turning a woman into salt, and making a bush speak. Likewise, the New Testament presents a world full of supernatural, unscientific, causally impossible events—from Mary being impregnated by a ghost, to Jesus walking on water, to a dead man rising from the grave. (And this is to say nothing of the moral atrocities perpetrated by God in the Bible—from His exterminating most of the human race in a flood to his torturing Job.) The whole Christian worldview entails the subordination of reality, identity, and causality to the whims of an alleged God for whom there is no evidence and who is therefore to be accepted on faith.

Steve Stoddard on October 6, 2012 at 5:16 PM

People can be absolutely astonishing …. especially when you understand they are apes.
–fadetogray on October 4, 2012 at 12:19 AM

There are those who agree with you:


Egyptian President Muhammad Morsy … said, “The Koran has established that the Jews are the ones in the highest degree of enmity towards Muslims.” He continued, “There is no peace with the descendants of apes and pigs.”

Steve Stoddard on October 19, 2012 at 5:44 PM

As Americans, we should have a duty to disobey “Islamic Law.”

Steve Stoddard on October 23, 2012 at 1:24 AM

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