Truth Doesn’t Evolve

January 2, 2011

No value is true today that wasn’t true one thousand years ago. It’s wrong to murder now, and nothing about the way the universe progresses can make murder right. If enslaving a man for the color of his skin is wrong today, then it was wrong 200 years ago and will be just as wrong 200 years from now.

True ideas originate from a different place than culture, so they are independent of fashion, history or evolution. Aristotle’s Law of Non Contradiction (A cannot be both A and not A at the same time and in the same way) wasn’t invented by Aristotle, it was revealed by him. We were operating under the Law of Non Contradiction and will always operate under this law, because like all true things, it wasn’t created by culture.

If anything, almost every true thing that has ever existed was campaigned against by various cultures throughout man’s history. Different cultures have believed that man can be enslaved because of the color of their skin or that Jews were the source of the world’s problems or that a child should be sacrificed to ward off evil spirits.

This is why I shrug when culture is at odds with some of my values. Given culture’s terrible track record at getting things right I should hope it opposes at least some of my values.

There is no attribute of culture that can keep it from changing while there is no attribute of the truth that can move it one way or another. You can’t improve on a true ideal.

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122 Responses to “Truth Doesn’t Evolve”

  1. Lynn Maudlin Says:

    “It used to be wrong, but now it’s okay! I guess I can’t rely on what the people say
    If they don’t know the truth, if they don’t have the light, if they don’t know Your heart–
    Help me line up with You, line up with You, line up with You, my Lord” © 2003 Moonbird Music Co.

    Truth doesn’t evolve. How very unrelativistic of you!

  2. Ian Says:

    If culture is so bad at getting its moral laws correct, what guarantee do we ever have that we’ve even come close to the “correct” ethical stances? What clout is there to the argument that “murder is wrong”, as opposed to “in 10,000 years some banana slug will prove that murder is in fact the nicest thing you can do for someone and the only truly ethical act”? Just a gut feeling? By your logic it’s totally possible that all modern and historical human ethics are completely wrong, and they always have been and they always will be. Hell, it’s possible we NEVER get even CLOSE to what’s right.

    Far be it from me to question the Lord’s plan, which is by its defining nature impossible for us to wrap our minds around, but it seems unbearably cruel to have “right” and “wrong” be rubber-stamped from the big bang onward, and we (the only creatures bound by our benefit of free will to benefit or suffer from these standards) just have to bluster around blindly hoping we were born into a time and place that lucked into the right ethical stances. Consider Dante’s poor guide Virgil, in his own words the “Gentlest father”, who is barred from heaven merely because he was born before the coming of Christ, so he had no way of knowing what the correct path was. Are God’s laws are like pieces in a game of battleship, and our ability to be good is just a cruel game of chance with unbearably high stakes?

  3. Will leFey Says:

    What if A = √4?

    2 ≠ -2, after all.

    • CMW Says:

      psh! Time to math you up, boy. :p

      Square root is a method, so whenever you have a square root radical, it is always implicitly + or – the square root of what’s inside. Square root is also the inverse of x^2. But, since this inverse is *not* a function, and, as you say, yields two different y values for a single x, we have defined the range of square root to be y >= 0. Therefore, we now have a function. But, that implicit + or – out in front still yields the correct two answers. So, A = √4 is saying, “A is either +2 or -2,” but not at the same time, of course, since *when* A = -2 in A^2 it will yield 4, and *when* A = 2 in A^2, it again yields four. Still works for Aristotle because A != -A, but rather, A = 2 or -2. Two separate inputs merely yield the same output.

      Huzzah! Math to the rescue! Sorry if I nerded anyone to death.

      • tennapel Says:

        I think you just impressed me to death.

      • CMW Says:

        Hah! Thanks, Mr. TenNapel! Glad to know all that tuition money I’m spending is going towards impressing someone. And to think I blew off math in elementry school to watch Earthworm Jim cartoons. Something came full circle somewhere just now, didn’t it?

    • craftyandy Says:

      everything has free will. Maybe you should stop seeking answers to things no one knows the answers to and find out what is true and accepting what the human race doesn’t know instead of filling in the holes with mystical beings.

  4. legendaryjman Says:

    “Far be it from me to question the Lord’s plan, which is by its defining nature impossible for us to wrap our minds around, but it seems unbearably cruel to have “right” and “wrong” be rubber-stamped from the big bang onward, and we (the only creatures bound by our benefit of free will to benefit or suffer from these standards) just have to bluster around blindly hoping we were born into a time and place that lucked into the right ethical stances.”

    The problem I have with this statement is that we are not blustering about blindly. All throughout the old testament God was leading mankind by the nose with what they needed to do. Even back to when he told Adam to not eat from the tree of life. It is pretty clear cut on what is right and wrong when God is telling you to not do something.

    Then the world got so big that God brought on the 10 commandments.

    – No other gods before him, no false idols
    – Do not make yourself an idol
    – Do not take the Lord’s name in vain.
    – Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
    – Honor your father and mother
    – Do not murder
    – Do not commit adultery
    – Do not steal
    – Do not lie
    – Do not covet your neighbor’s stuff

    That is God telling us what is right and wrong. He said do not do these things. If we do them we are wrong. Jesus then showed up and expanded on them, but he did not replace them.

    The point I took from Doug’s post is that human opinion and moral standing is wrong. We will not ever get it right, ever. The only truth, the only measure of right and wrong comes from God. This truth has never changed, while man’s opinion on things will alternate weekly.

    • will leFey Says:

      They may be gods, but we are the arbiters of our destiny.

      • craftyandy Says:

        Why is “thou shall not rape” not one of the ten commandments? According to the bible it was required that a non virgin girl who is raped must be married to her rapist. When did the bible say slavery was wrong? Or selling your daughter as a sex slave is wrong? Just going to pretend the old testament never happened right?
        If the only truth comes from God then we will never get it. The human race found all it’s knowledge on their own by asking questions, challenging the status quo and not by praying to the invisible man in the sky for the answers to just fall from the sky. The bible has been wrong on almost every scientific account and it fails as a moral guide.
        People didn’t need the ten commandments to realize that murdering one another is not beneficial to society.

      • Kenny Says:

        “Thou shalt not commit adultery” pretty much has rape covered. Biblical adultery is lust, not just cheating on a significant other. Rape is also a covetous act. So it actually falls under not one but TWO Commandments.

  5. Lynn Maudlin Says:

    Ian said, “Consider Dante’s poor guide Virgil, in his own words the ‘Gentlest father’, who is barred from heaven merely because he was born before the coming of Christ, so he had no way of knowing what the correct path was.”

    With *great respect* for Dante, this is his concept and isn’t Biblical: Romans 1 emphasizes that God’s reality is evident from within creation and in Romans 2 Paul observes that we are judged according to our exposure and God has no partiality. Obviously none of us can know exactly how it works for those who never had the privilege of hearing the gospel but I expect it relates to Jesus’ account of the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) and Ephesians 4:7-10 referencing back to Psalm 68:18. From this collection of scriptures we see that even before the Resurrection (and possibly after; timing outside of our temporal birth-life-death framework may well include additional dimensions) and the Great White Throne Judgment (from Revelation 20), there is some kind of righteous/unrighteous divide (the ‘bosom of Abraham’) in Sheol and that Jesus descended into the grave where He took ‘captivity captive’ – I believe He rescued those who were perishing without Him, those who (for whatever reason) weren’t able to make a free choice about Him here in this life.

    After all, a kind of blindness came upon the Jews in order to give Gentiles a chance to get into the kingdom. How could that possibly reflect God’s heart toward His own chosen people? I suspect, like Saul on the road to Damascus, most will have the scales drop from their eyes and be liberated to actually see their Messiah – and that may well happen after they’ve left *this* life where the name of Jesus and the historic anti-semitism of the church and replacement theology, etc., have effectively blinded them.

  6. Sven Says:

    I wonder how someone who believes in a book that says the earth is 10.000 years old when its 4.6billion years old, can preach about truth?


    • I wonder how someone who claims I believe a book says the earth is 10k years old can preach about truth to someone who preaches about truth. The overwhelming charity you display in characterizing my beliefs tells me our conversation is going to be fruitful and worthwhile.

      • Sven Says:

        It’s hard to tell from text alone, but I’m going to asume you where being sarcastic. I asumed another thing.. That since you are christian, you’d actually believe in the bible. That is the book I mentioned. Since I am an atheist and that same book says I’ll burn in hell. It kind of makes me anxious towards people that think theres a big man in the sky.
        Though I’m sure you nitpicked the parts you like from the new testament to believe in. So it’s all good son! Quit fruitfull up untill now I’d say.


      • I am a Christian, so it’s wise to assume I believe in the Bible. I also don’t think there is a big man in the sky. I don’t see what makes you so nervous about someone thinking you could burn in hell. Is it supposed to sooth me knowing you think there will never be anything in the afterlife and my body will just be eaten by worms before being repurposed into more meaningless molecule arrays?

        How are you so sure I’ve nitpicked on the parts of the Bible I like? I can tell you that I believe a whole lot of things I don’t particularly like. Between the two of us, if I was going to make up something to believe in, I’d go for the one where I look at porn, eat pizza, watch TV, disrespect people, basically indulge myself until I die with no repercussions for anything I ever did. Talk about a man-made myth.

        Survival of the fittest would be my wet dream, along with every other 2-bit totalitarian who ever slithered out of the primordial soup.

        Go read the diversity of belief on the 6 day creation theory. I have read volumes and volumes of books written by Christians who argue that the earth is very old, and the creation took place over millions of years. Your characterization of Christianity doesn’t exactly lend credibility that you know what the hell you’re even rejecting.

        “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.” – G. K. Chesterton

      • Sven Says:

        You call yourself a christian because you believe in the word of god ( big man in sky) that is written in the bible. If you chose to look for answers outside of the bible, and find these answers suit you more, why still associate yourself with that club?( A club that rapes children in their churches) Eventhough millions of people believe in the same thing does not make it more true. If I believed, in my heart, for 100%, that I was a chicken. And all the people around me believed the same.. wouldn’t I be a chicken? Ofcourse I would. But that is not what I consider truth. Truth is indeed measurable.

        And yes. I think it is a comforting thought to know that after you die It is over. I embrace life because I know there is nothing after this. Life is a beatifull thing, Why spend it preparing for something that is not going to happen.
        I feel comforted in knowing I’ll be gone, instead of having my conciousness floating in endless space for the rest of eternity. I imagine getting extremely bored…
        You should take pride in knowing you will leave behind children that will remember their dad for what he was, and they will try to live by your word. Passing it on to new generations. That is the purpose of life.

      • Sven Says:

        Oh I forgot my Quote:

        “There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can’t prove that there aren’t any, so shouldn’t we be agnostic with respect to fairies?”
        Richard Dawkins


      • Sven,
        if I found the best answer that conflicted with the BIble I would go with that, but I haven’t yet. The Bible gets the big things so right: what is man? Who is this God? What is the problem? What is the solution? Those who oppose the Bible’s answer and try to offer better answers fall woefully short of my standards.

        Even if the church uniquely rapes children (and it doesn’t) it wouldn’t tell me anything about the answers in the Bible. It would show a weakness in my argument if you said, “Doug, this atheist has the bones of the missing link.” and I answered, “But I just found a group of atheists that rape children so why believe in those bones?” You’d be right to question the merit of my argument as I rightly question you.

        Eventhough millions of people believe in the same thing does not make it more true. If I believed, in my heart, for 100%, that I was a chicken. And all the people around me believed the same.. wouldn’t I be a chicken? Ofcourse I would. But that is not what I consider truth. Truth is indeed measurable.

        “There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can’t prove that there aren’t any, so shouldn’t we be agnostic with respect to fairies?”
        Richard Dawkins

        I agree with Dawkins that we should be agnostic with respect to fairies, which is why I’m also agnostic about the Missing Link.

      • Daniel Says:

        Man, Sven… gotta learn how to argue. How about instead of ignoring all of Mr. Tennapel’s valid points, and misinterpreting things he’s saying to pathetically attempt to validate your senseless points, you actually read into what he’s trying to tell you. Even if you don’t agree, you might learn a little something about why he believes what he believes. He clearly at least can make a case for his beliefs that makes sense, unlike yourself. Also, quit with the blind assumptions about his beliefs that don’t apply to him whatsoever. Makes you come of all… assy.

    • Will leFey Says:

      There’s the truth (frowns and shakes head) and (perky!) the truth (smiles)!

  7. Doreen Says:

    I kind of feel sorry for you Sven; I am NOT a religious person, but I am a spiritual person, and I have spent the last 6 years studying religious texts from more religions than I care to name. I probably know as much as any peson with a Masters in Theology. Why do I pursue this with such rigor and zeal? Because I wanted to see first hand WHY human beings all over the world live like we are at odds with one another, and religion is one of the main hot buttons in the middle of all that strife. One thing I have learned is that semantics and miscommunication divide us MORE than the actual fundamental building blocks of our collective belief systems. Another reason that I pursue knowlege with an insatiable thirst is that it is my nature. I minored in Sociology and human beings fascinate me. Another thing I have learned is that even religions like Christianity and Buddhism, that are seem to be at polar odds from one another

    • Doreen Says:

      :hotspot dumped me:

      As I was saying, even religions that seem to have completely different foundations can coexist comfortably together.

      I feel sorry for people like Sven. His life must be completely empty if he can not see God everywhere around him. Horrible news like the Arizona massacre on 1/8/2011 makes headlines (and ratings) but miracles can and DO happen every day but people never hear about them.

      Athiests just LOVE to use evolution to attempt to disprove God; I prefer to believe in the hybrid.

      Either way this is all going completely off topic, as a result of comments left regarding Doug’s blog about Truth. It is fairly straight forward: truth doesn’t evolve. The values we collectively hold as socially defined by our norms, customs, and mores may (and often DOES) evolve, but TRUTH is constant.

      • Will leFey Says:

        The problem with gods is they can’t be disproved, despite all the inane things some Christians say.

      • tennapel Says:

        I must be one of those inane people. It’s easy to disprove what a god claims. One claim says “The law of gravity is the Creator God” another says “The God of Genesis is the Creator God”. Each can be tested to see if their claims are real.

        You need to read some books. Go find HUNDREDS of them, written by atheists on how Jesus never existed, or that the body was moved, or that the Gospel writers were in a drugged out haze.

        Despite what some inane atheists say to hide behind their weak arguments, you can disprove gods with some level of certainty.

      • Will leFey Says:

        I can’t think of any way to test the claim that the god of genesis is the creator god.


  8. …and if you can’t think of it, it must not exist?

    • Will leFey Says:

      Can you think of a test?


      • Specified complexity. It’s what SETA (Carl Sagan approved) did in the movie “Contact” to determine if a mind is behind space noise or not. If you text for randomness in the natural world but find language and coding like in DNA, you might just be onto the Mind.

        True science should be humble about what may or may not be found in the particles. To say that it cannot be proven false is to claim knowledge about both the particles and The Mind that shows a religious bias, not good science.

      • Will leFey Says:

        Specified complexity? Why not astrology? They’re both equally valid.


      • WHen a crime scene investigator finds a dead body, they can see look for specified complexity to determine if a murder happened or if it was by natural causes. They’ve used astrologers too, but specified complexity is a standard scientific method. Astrology not so much.

  9. Anthony Says:

    So, Doug, I assume this means you are against the literal six day creation model? If so, care to cite some of the books that took you that direction?

    I have read a lot of material from both camps, and usually those in the evolution camp, when trying to prove their point using the Bible, are forced to jump through all manner of hoops in order to make it fit. Many of these hoops end up invalidating the very book they attempt to validate!

    As you said, truth is truth no matter what. We just have to be honest enough to accept it once found.

    • tennapel Says:

      You can look into the works of Hugh Ross, though he gets a lot of flack for not being a Young Earther, he makes good arguments and is open to all sources of knowledge.

      What most don’t understand (some deliberately so) is that scientists who wonder about a Creator are not a monolithic group. They have many different stories and ideas and it shows how rigorous men are in their study of both scripture and science. I’m a big fan of Dr. Gerald Schroeder who says the 6 day creation is a historically correct perspective from God, while the billions of years is how we experience the same event. Check this out: Dr. Schroeder

    • craftyandy Says:

      yeah to bad most religious people don’t acknowledge it if it goes against what the bible says, they rather be willfully ignorant and arrogant in claiming they know what happens when you die and think and having faith in something is actual great when it means believing and agreeing with something as true when there is lack of evidence to even indicate it so.

  10. Pie Says:

    In an ideal sense, “truth” is universal and as such is constant over time, just as the total mass and energy in the universe is constant over time. The problem I see, as an ignostic, is that some truths are beyond us, and so we will NEVER be able to see the absolute truth. This is probably where relativism has its roots in, although it is ultimately a paradoxical belief as the assertion of ANY belief is an absolute one (as you made clear in the Relativist Dictators post).

    I would argue that mathematical and scientific “truth” is the closest we as humans will ever get to actual truth, although the very limits of the sciences (ie. Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem) imply that even they are imperfect.

    There is a LOT of stuff we don’t know and understand about our world. The fact that we understand as much as do is a marvel in and of itself. While we should always strive to achieve absolute truth about our world, it is prudent to realize that absolute truth is beyond us, and there’s only so much truth we can fathom.

    In short, I agree that there is an absolute truth that doesn’t evolve, but also that it is beyond the comprehension of humans and we can only approximate the truth.

  11. Doreen Says:

    Well said Pie!

    *tips her hat to Pie*

  12. Doreen Says:

    Most atheists and agnostics try to use science and logic to validate their opinions, and beliefs. What I can NOT, for the life of me, understand is the flawed logic they use. The very foundation of the arguments they employ has a huge flaw:
    A lose/lose outcome is the ONLY possible outcome when it is all said and done. BELIEF in the face of lack of evidence is the whole basis of the idea of FAITH.

    If you do NOT believe in God, and in the end you discover you were right, it’s over and you’re gone. IF you learn that you were WRONG all along, God turns you away, and it’s over (or worse, you end up in a hot place). What have you gained?

    If you DO believe in God, and in the end, you discover you were wrong, you have lost nothing. Afterall, your FAITH and beliefs have led you to live your life in an admirable manner. You treated people with compassion and kindness, you held high moral standards and you discovered that REAL wealth cannot be bought! If you learn that you were right, God welcomes you with a warm embrace.

    In short: BELIEVING costs NOTHING; a person has nothing to lose, and everything to gain in something as simple as believing. It is a Zero Risk, High Potential Yield investment that costs nothing, and anyone can get in on the ground floor at any time!

    • tennapel Says:

      Doreen, I don’t in any way put my belief in a lack of evidence. That makes faith moronic, and I’m a convinced Christian, not a faith-based one.

      Your argument is a repeat of Pascal’s Wager, where you have every reason to give Christianity a shot if you’re a gambler. I’m not a gambler, so I completely reject Pascal’s Wager.

      This may explain why you’re a spiritual person, but I’m not. I’m not a spiritual person, I’m a follower of Christ.

      • Doreen Says:

        I never said I wasn’t a Christian, just that many of my beliefs are not exactly mainstream. What I find hard to wrap my mind around is how someone who is as exceedingly well read as you apparently are could be so far off the mark in your assessment of what I said. Perhaps it was due to the fact that I just made the comment as a general comment (ie it wasn’t directed at you) because it was easier than trying to reply to BOTH Sven and Will. Then again, perhaps you are just used to people giving you a hard time because you love Jesus, and have prayed the Sinner’s Prayer, and you are walking the walk.

      • Doreen Says:

        Re: being a convinced Christian

        Even a convinced Christian operates on a foundation of belief and faith…unless of course you happen to be over 2000 years old.

        Perhaps your faith comes from the Bible, and there is nothing wrong with that at all, but my own personal basis for faith is much, MUCH more hands on. You see, THAT is precisely why theological discussions are so diverse and heated. Each one of us has their own personal and unique relationship with Our Creator (and yes, even the lack of a relationship IS a form of relationship). God is also dynamic, and is willing to meet each one of us on our respective level. Hence, the spiritual experience is a very subjective one.

      • Doreen Says:

        Re: “I’m not a spiritual person. I am a follower of Christ.”

        I would hope that statement is one of those oxymorons. As a Christian, if your experience is “not spiritual” you are missing a huge chunk of the essence of what Christianity IS.

        What else is there? Read the Bible as an instruction manual, go through the motions and follow all the “rules” until it’s time to leave this existence behind? That all sounds very static to me, not to mention what a waste of a lifetime.

  13. Lynn Maudlin Says:

    This was Pascal’s view. Of course, Paul had a different view: “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15:19).

    As is often the case, there is great tension within Christianity and we have to live and move and have our being within that tension; life is tension.

  14. Doreen Says:

    Pascal’s Gambit was something I studied in 7th grade, but the argument is not exclusive to Pascal. It’s as if he got credit for common sense. There are only two possible outcomes to a yes/no question. Atheists largely run on logic. When only two outcomes to a problem are possible, then hedging one’s position is a good idea. Period.

    In recent months, I have been going through this minimalist phase. I just feel the need to shed the excess bulk in life that is holding me back. Part of the process involves stripping things down to their essence, or their fundamental building blocks. So, you’ll have to forgive if I failed to state what I felt was obvious.

    • TenNapel Says:

      No worries. The internet is actually a really terrible place to debate ideas. I think I get where you’re coming from.

      • Doreen Says:

        The Internet isn’t my favorite forum for debates or discussions either. Pascal takes a more analytical and mathematical approach; when Blaise wrote it, the concept of probability theory was new and exciting. Mathematicians and philosophers were applying probability functions to nearly everything. Haven’t you ever noticed how impressed with numbers most non-believers are? I always enjoy when I can use the same numbers, science or reason to show that their arguments are fundamentally flawed!

        I state that I am not a religious person, because religion is man-made, and I choose NOT to follow Man’s wisdom.

        I have to admit that I just recently stumbled onto your blog; It was posted as a link on some website I visited while looking for more info about the staff that worked with Genndy T. I saw references to CatScratch there and followed some links and basically tripped on in. I always was a fan of your work, but I am truly impressed by your blogs and the level of thought behind them.

  15. TenNapel Says:

    “Haven’t you ever noticed how impressed with numbers most non-believers are?”

    No, I haven’t noticed that. Lots of believers are impressed with number and most non-believers I know are not impressed with numbers. Belief and disbelief are equal opportunity employers. It has nothing to do with interest in numbers.

    “I always enjoy when I can use the same numbers, science or reason to show that their arguments are fundamentally flawed!”

    Pascal’s Wager doesn’t use real numbers, real science, or real reason.

    “I state that I am not a religious person, because religion is man-made, and I choose NOT to follow Man’s wisdom.”

    Oddly, it’s man’s wisdom that all religion is man made. Good religion is God-made. Bad religion is man made.

    “I always was a fan of your work, but I am truly impressed by your blogs and the level of thought behind them.”

    That’s kind of you to say. Thank you.

  16. Doreen Says:

    As stated, I have been studying religious texts, and the communities of people that all believe in those respective texts for the better part of five years now. In that time, I spent a good amount of time unplugged from the Internet and have had theological discussions and debates with MANY people: Pastors, Priests, Rabbis, Imams, Deacons, Bishops, Shamen among them. I have encountered literally THOUSANDS of them, and I can tell you first hand that a GOOD deal of them will turn to numbers in some form or another, whether it be in a mathematical sense, or as a measurement of time (even distance with respect to the known universe). And it is fun to point out flaws in the basis of their logic and reasoning when you can metaphorically take the ammunition right out of their argument and use it to return fire. To say that belief and disbelief are equal opportunity employers is true, but kind of like stating the obvious (not meant in any way to imply disrespect or appear condescending) when I was clearly only referring to a distinct subset of the population: atheists.

    However, to claim that The Gambit doesnt use real numbers is not exactly valid. (Especially when it was directly infused with a probability function) “Is there a God?” Is a question that only has two possible answers regardless of what any individual or group of individuals believes.

    With respect to the notion of Good religion/Bad religion: Careful, THOSE are very subjective terms and ideas! “Religion” also a very qualitative term. It can have many definitions. First, the foundation: a set of beliefs that all followers adhere to. Then you have the rituals, customs, and mores that are put into play to honor those beliefs and provide the basis for fellowship. In any case, it has been my personal experience that God asks very little of us, and all that God wants is a relationship with us.

    And I meant what I said about your blog posts :-)

  17. tokranepo Says:

    Not to distract from the debating of beliefs, I merely wished to state my amazement at discovering the man behind some of my most favorite characters an quips shares beliefs similar to my own and does so with grace and patience in the face of some desperate opposition.

    You are an encouragement, I don’t wish to say anything more complicated. Also, thanks for your wonderful work, I have been enjoying Ratfist immensely.

  18. Doreen Says:

    Ratfist rocks. I still love GEAR and Catscratch tho….maybe I’m just partial to cats. Especially black ones named Mr. Blick!

  19. Sven Says:

    Heh Tokranepo, Must be nice to find out one of your hero’s has the same beliefs as you have and for that doesn’t feel sorry for you…
    Indeed the internet is a horrible place to have debates. People, as you have noticed, very easily create opinions about one another. I in fact do not have a meaningless life. I try to persue my art just like mr. Tennapel does. To me it does not matter if he believes in faries, leprechauns or christ for that matter. I’ll allways admire him for igniting that creative spark in me when I was a young child playing EWJ ( Ironicly I even got EWJ for my holy communion :p I was brought up catholic) I can only hope that one day I will get the opportunity to be even more succesfull in what I do, so loads of people will be able to enjoy my art. Though I can only achieve this by hard work.. Not by praying or hoping god will lend me a hand.
    Lastly I suggest If you want to seriously debate the excistence of god. Try and do that elsewhere. It isnt fair to do it here with all your minions barking behind your back..

    Peace and love!

    Sven ;)

    • tennapel Says:

      ” ( Ironicly I even got EWJ for my holy communion :p I was brought up catholic)”

      This, more than anything else, just made me really happy for creating EWJ.

      WHen I was a kid, I had the same love for Gumby, created by Art Clokey who was some kind of Pagan hindu thingy.

      • Lynn Maudlin Says:

        Ah, I still love Pokey… :D

      • sven Says:

        heh, Gues that planted the seed for what eventually would grow out to be the neverhood. :) I feel like drawing some EWJ’s again.. Its been to long since I put him on paper. Perhaps I’ll even do a Tennapel tribute peace. Hows THAT! ;D

  20. sven Says:

    *piece… Don’t mind the spelling. English is not my first language.

  21. Doreen Says:

    *retches up a hairball*

    *hisses*

    *detests the notion of being ANYONE’S minion*

    *detests the notion that one practices “barking” even more*

    Re: this not being the forum to debate the existence of God… I believe I said that a LONG time ago. Seeing as how the blog was actually about TRUTH, not God. As far as your life being fulfilling (which I am sure it is): It just seems to me that someone who never tried a Rainer cherry, but once had a Bing cherry wouldn’t exactly notice that they were missing out on something. Your upbringing explains a lot about your outlook. Regardless, stick to your art, the world could use some new cartoons…good ones that is! There’s a lot of good ones, but only a few great ones lately…of course there are some really bad ones too. Perhaps the only thing I have studied more than Sociology, Finance and Theology is the fine art of animation!

    BTW: doug, I think you may have some trouble with the “…chumped, chump” line. I think they used a similar line in FanBoy and Chum Chum. If I remember correctly, Boog tells FanBoy to, “Prepare to get chomped, chump!”


    • How does my upbringing explain a lot about my outlook. I was raised by one non-believing atheistic parent and another non-believing Christian Science parent, both of whom converted to Christianity after I did.

      And if you don’t mind, I’ll stick to whatever I’m inclined to. Your post isn’t exactly evidence that the world of theology is exactly overflowing with great minds. Perhaps the only thing I’ve studied more than fine art and animation is theology… and the arts were a lot better off when we were pursuing non relativistic definitions of truth, beauty and goodness. It’s unfortunate that this feat has largely only been managed under the church, but it also makes sense if given a second thought.

      ANd it’s “You got CHUMPED!” not chomped.

      • Sven Says:

        I think Doreen was directing that first part of the post towards me Doug ;)

      • Doreen Says:

        Sven got it right, the entire post was directed at him pretty much until the end, so you pretty much chumped yourself there Doug.

        I am fully aware of your ratfist commentary. but IF you would take your head out of your back end long enough to look at at animation that maybe isn’t yours, you’d have noticed that my point was this: it would be hard to take credit for something that was only one letter off from something already done. (ie “been chomped chump” and “been chumped chump” are too similar, ergo credit would be given to the FIRST writer as the creative inspiration. So in the end, I guess you were right… Theology isn’t brimming with great minds, but surely you were looking in the mirror when you came up with that one. Either that or you do just enjoy making your blog a hostile environment, because I know that wordpress does have an edit function that surely you could have used. Since you wanted to open THAT can of worms, I can only reiterate, theology is something I have undertaken kind of like a hobby; but the other 4 degrees I have earned with a 4.0 GPA spread over 416 credits would disagree with you.

      • BandyRandy Says:

        “Since you wanted to open THAT can of worms, I can only reiterate, theology is something I have undertaken kind of like a hobby; but the other 4 degrees I have earned with a 4.0 GPA spread over 416 credits would disagree with you.”

        You forgot to mention your A+ in Computer Science III :D

      • tennapel Says:

        We’re talking about college degrees? Oy.

  22. craftyandy Says:

    I agree truth doesn’t evolve. But the subjects you talk about there are always exceptions to. We consume life, animals and plants to live and so do they. It’s perfectly fine to murder someone in society if they threaten your life or walk in your house uninvited. Or if a person murders another person the state then murders them.

    In the middle east the majority considers it acceptable to murder a wife who dishonored you in some way, or to stone a person to death if they commit adultery.
    So yeah it depends on where you live and how you were raised. And it also depends on your level of education and understanding of the world around you, maybe realizing just how vast the universe is and how minuscule and insignificant their complaints against thins like sexuality and aborting fetuses are.
    As more people got smarter they became more considerate it seems granted there are always more stupid people then smart people and you have to bang things into their head like “racism isn’t a good mentality to have and truth is there is no ‘race’ genetically speaking.” before they even start to process things differently and self examine themselves and seems to have a cut off point when this can happen around age 30.

  23. Blampow Says:

    If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

    Because the LORD considers it a holy day, anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.’ (Exodus 31:12-15 NLT)

    ” … you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.” (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

    • tennapel Says:

      Once upon a time there was a cave man named WUNK. Not just any caveman, but one up your chain of ancestors that dates back to 100k years ago. He had a woman, again, your relative…perhaps mine too. Some man from another comes to take this woman, he grabs her pulls her away from the cave with his bare hands, but WUNK saw this happening and went over to his opponent and smashed him on the head with a rock. He kept hitting him until he didn’t move any more. THen he took his opponent’s belongings, fur coat, etc.

      Did WUNK commit murder? Notice, the cave woman was being taken just for friendship and comfort. If you don’t think it was murder, then why not? And should why shouldn’t we give WUNK the death penalty? It’s not that the truth changes, it’s that WUNK lived under a completely different economy than we did. We may be justified today in killing someone for touching our spouse’s arm, or perhaps it is wrong now, and was wrong then too.

      But bringing up scriptures from a different civilization doesn’t prove that the truth changes, rather it shows that we have changed. In today’s society with the law, civilization, police and lawyers, you can’t kill a man for touching your wife. With Ex, Lev, and Duet you are looking at the birth of civilization. We would find it weird to see scriptures from back then that read, “If a man invents a cave painting of Mickey Mouse, you shall not infringe on his copyright for 75 years until it becomes public domain.”

      I can see a time when it would be justified to put a person to death for disobeying the Sabbath law… the Sabbath law that was delivered in the same day as “Do not murder.” There was once a man at the start of our country who cursed the USA. A judge forbid him from ever stepping on US land again. He circled the USA but never got to come back again. Could you imagine that today? It was appropriate for them, and doesn’t serve the same purpose now. It’s still wrong to curse the country, and have idols, but the punishment isn’t warranted or helpful today.

  24. Blampow Says:

    “If enslaving a man for the color of his skin is wrong today, then it was wrong 200 years ago and will be just as wrong 200 years from now.

    True ideas originate from a different place than culture”

    First, let me say I’m a big fan of your stuff and only posted a heckling comment out of bafflement that our viewpoints are so far apart.

    Second, it seemed to me that the “doesn’t evolve” dig in your original post was a reference to young earth creationism, which I think you’re into, or at least sympathetic to.

    But the same book that brought you young earth creationism specifically tells you it’s okay to keep slaves if they’re born far enough away from your family. Which is exactly what you said was “always wrong” in your post.

    So why are you taking a book literally when it tells you about cosmology, but interpreting it through cultural context when it tells you about slavery?

    I just don’t get your adherence to these rigid religious ideas. Your post on Santa sounded great to me: Santa is a way of articulating a certain ideal, but shouldn’t be taken literally.

    Why do we have to cluster around the superstitions of our ancestors to have an excuse to be decent people in the present?

    And I admit I’m not following this new response. You seem to be saying that these weird old testament quotes were made with good intentions, but for a different cultural context: but –

    serious question time:

    – what *would* the Bible have to say to actually *be* wrong – wrong now, wrong then, wrong forever – that it hasn’t said? No “context” excuses?

    “Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.”
    (Numbers 31:7-18 NLT)

    “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again.”
    (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

    Again: I’m just a confused fan, don’t mean to be a jerk.

    • tennapel Says:

      “First, let me say I’m a big fan of your stuff and only posted a heckling comment out of bafflement that our viewpoints are so far apart.”

      I always welcome challenges, you being a fan means I’m getting a challenge from someone who at least has good taste in comics!

      “Second, it seemed to me that the “doesn’t evolve” dig in your original post was a reference to young earth creationism, which I think you’re into, or at least sympathetic to.”

      Not into it at all, but sympathetic, yes. I’m also not into Darwinism, but I’m sympathetic to that position.

      “But the same book that brought you young earth creationism specifically tells you it’s okay to keep slaves if they’re born far enough away from your family. Which is exactly what you said was “always wrong” in your post.”

      Okay, you didn’t know when you wrote this, but every time you use young earth creationism in these comparisons it’s not going to work, because I’m not one of those. And I could copy and paste 20 mainstream Bible commentaries on those O.T. verses, but I assume you can also use Google and a Bible concordance in the same way so I’m not going to bother.

      “So why are you taking a book literally when it tells you about cosmology, but interpreting it through cultural context when it tells you about slavery?”

      This is a great challenge because I actually have a huge complaint against the modern church that we generally do exactly this about issues and it’s wrong. But only White Supremecists still take the view on slavery today, and they’re wrong. Look up the Bible fights during the Civil War where one side used the scriptures to argue for slavery while the others used it against. The ones who argued for used those “pro slavery verses” and they were all poor scholarship who argued many other positions with same general ignorance of the way to read scripture… you have to read ALL scripture in context. Nobody who says the OT says we can hold slaves today is reading it in context, nor do they have even a basic understanding of the O.T.

      “I just don’t get your adherence to these rigid religious ideas. Your post on Santa sounded great to me: Santa is a way of articulating a certain ideal, but shouldn’t be taken literally.”

      I don’t hold to religious ideas because they’re religious. I hold to them because they’re true. Santa is a great idea, but he’s not actually delivering presents. The scriptures are making truth claims about real history and present day. I don’t find them rigid either.

      “Why do we have to cluster around the superstitions of our ancestors to have an excuse to be decent people in the present?”

      I know some decent people who don’t cluster around superstitions. The scriptures don’t claim to make good people… that’s Christopher Hitchens believes atheism does! The scriptures claim to make you forgiven, not make you good.

      “- what *would* the Bible have to say to actually *be* wrong – wrong now, wrong then, wrong forever – that it hasn’t said? No “context” excuses?”

      If it said God could sin, that would cover it. If it said that God made a round square, that would do it too.

      “(Numbers 31:7-18 NLT)
      (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)
      Again: I’m just a confused fan, don’t mean to be a jerk.”

      I think you’re anything but a jerk. This is normal challenging you’re doing here, completely within the realm of how two disagreeing people can acceptably argue. In fact, you’re particularly “not stupid” and gentle. That’s a big credit to you, given you clearly have a tough time with these verses and my belief in them.

      As I’ve said, context is king. The slaves were taken against civilizations where child sacrifice was practiced. If you conquered that city, you couldn’t keep their idols, and God had them kill off the women and children too. That’s right, there are even WORSE examples of brutality in the OT than you came up with.

      But the context is that this is a completely murderous world. Back then, every kind of brutality was committed, and God creates then develops the first law where the people were forbidden to worship pagan idols, forbidden from murdering, were ordered to be religious. The penalty for what we would consider a small infraction (eating shrimp) could be death. But shrimp-eating wasn’t what’s at stake. That’s why it’s particularly uncharitable to think God is obsessed with shrimp eating. It has NOTHING to do with shrimp, which is why the New T has God making Peter eat shrimp. “Well, which is it? Is God for shrimp or against it? He’s changing!”

      You could equally come up with a challenge against God forbidding Adam from eating fruit. Fruit?! Now I believe in a religion where man eats fruit and ALL OF MANKIND falls as a result and he is doomed to hell forever? Over fruit. Well, if you take words literally and refuse to try to figure out what’s actually going on in the scriptures then you can construct a God that is obsessed with fruit, shrimp, obeying the sabbath, etc. The context almost always reveals a deeper, more sensible teaching. It takes a little study, but it’s all readily available and pretty easy to find. Most atheists never get off their atheist web sites to get beyond picking verses out of context with no interest in what the Bible is actually teaching. It’s an amazing book.

      Most of the Christians I know believe the truth doesn’t change. They also believe that stoning gays would be wrong, and it has nothing to do with our wanting to compromise with culture. Now God COULD kill a gay for homosexual behavior today, but he could also kill me for lying and be just as justified.

      • L.R. Weizel Says:

        I find it insulting to equate the way in which a human being loves another to be on the same level as lying. This is why I never accept “love the sinner, hate the sin”.

        I’m sure some comparisons to paedophilia etc. will follow, but I’m sure you’ve heard the “consenting adults” thing before and ignored it. We can’t count kids that don’t understand what’s happening to them – of course it’s not always fair to group everyone by age either, a good reason to advance the fields of psychology and neurology. And no, I’m not against Polygamy, at least from a moral standing point, in theory. I have known genuinely Polyamorous people before.

        God could also kill you for wearing underwear that’s a cotton/polyester mix too, and be equally “justified”. It’s such a load of shit. Yes, you can take home some good lessons from the bible, despite it’s contradictions. But if you’re not going to acknowledge the flaws, people aren’t going to take you seriously.

        There are plenty of Christians who just let up on the “gayness is a sin” bollocks, because that’s all it is in the end of the day. Morals and ethics are complex, but nothing that doesn’t actually hurt anyone by and large should be “Wrong”. Having abstract morals is one of the big problems with religion, it’s inefficient and leads to all kinds of lunacy. You’ll find a lot of atheists will become more tolerant of your position once you do that, and you can disregard the ones that still have a rod up their ass.

      • tennapel Says:

        “But if you’re not going to acknowledge the flaws, people aren’t going to take you seriously. ”

        “People” is a pretty big group. More like, “People who believe there are flaws aren’t going to take me seriously.”

  25. Blampow Says:

    To rephrase/condense: your Wunk example works because Wunk was trying to protect his family – he just went overboard by our standards.

    But for some things to be true for all time, that “context” excuse has to be dropped: what *could* Wunk have done that would be wrong then and wrong now?

    • tennapel Says:

      Wunk could have gone over the that thief caveman’s home and killed every living being in the tribe for his attempted woman theft. That could easily have been wrong then as well as now.

      • Blampow Says:

        Okay, thanks for your thoughts. Having now read some of your past entries, it seems to me we share more approaches, preferences, moral codes, hopes, etc, than not – in effect, our functional approach to the world is similar – it’s just our approach to supernature (good word, incidentally) that’s different.

        I’m not a fundamentalist materialist: I see no reason reality should be amenable to our full understanding any more than it is to a chipmunk’s or slime mold’s. “Things stranger than we can suppose”, etc. I particularly like your idea of a pointedly “inhuman” God instead of the usual fuzzy flattery. More Lovecraft, less Hallmark.

        But it seems to me any talk of the origin/purpose of life/the universe is so far only on the level of extraterrestrial research: interesting questions. The current reasons to pick sides with Religious Group A which claims to have it figured out vs Religious Group B don’t seem nearly solid enough to me to justify assigning billion-year afterlife penalties to people who guess wrong largely because of how they were raised. I don’t know if you ever had friends from other parts of the world as a kid – India, China, etc – but I did, and it serves as inoculation to shrugging while imagining them being cast into hell or even purgatory by the millions despite leading good lives.

        ***

        I know you’ve downplayed faith in this comment section – you’re a “convinced” christian and not a hopeful one – but in earlier entries you talked about your skepticism/lack of faith as if it were a bad thing. It seems to me that ***”faith” is bad in principle***, and ***skepticism can only ever benefit any truth***: faith placed in a well-established concept is spitting in the face of the available evidence for it, and faith placed in a bad concept is … bad.

        ***

        While I get uncomfortable with the concept of “faith” in these nebulous, not-fully-charted-and-mapped-out aspects of the universe, I’m especially uncomfortable with exclusionary faith that creates an in-group and an out-group. I find it hard to imagine a Supreme Being being lonely, down on Themself, or vain – so I’m left unimpressed at the prospect of Them demanding that people exclusively be complimentary-pen-pals with Them and Them alone, at any cost.

        ***

        You mention that comfortably modern interpretations of the Bible’s most troubling passages are trivially easy to find: well, yes, but so are interpretations that say God wants us to hate fags, kill any group you can name, predict lottery numbers, shoot the president, etc… You can say your interpretation is better, and it may well be (*I* like it better), but the point is – as I understand it – only one book was divinely inspired. Only one was official merch – the rest are bootlegs, fanfic. Modern scholars aren’t writing Bible II. The old canon – with all its calls to slavery, genocide, rape, murder – is still The Big One, waiting for naive people to pick it up – the only component all groups of Christians have in common.
        ***

        Also – about “Modern Christianity”: of the two elements, “Christianity” and “modernity”, it seems to me that the “modernity” involved has a lot in common with the “modernity” involved in “modern” Islam, “modern” Judaism, etc: there’s a similar downgrading of supernatural elements from literal truth into fables/metaphors/poetry (you’ve said you’re not 100% on board with 7-day-creationism), and a relaxing of the most dangerous/divisive/random elements (genocide/slavery/rape – all the nasty stuff you alluded to – or just no meat on fridays, no shellfish, etc).

        If different religions are different flavours of coffee, modernism is the cream in all of them, which nonbelievers are just drinking straight.

        ***

        You’ve said the pro-slavery American south had “bad” scholarship when it argued the Bible supported slavery – but don’t you mean “obsolete” scholarship? Presumably, the ancient Hebrews *who actually did that nasty stuff* weren’t using “bad” scholarship to justify their actions – that was the correct level of scholarship for the times they lived in.

        ***

        Lastly: if, as you’ve said, it’s [1] an eternal truth that slavery/genocide/rape is wrong, [2] God was willing to endorse/condone slavery/genocide/rape against the background of a savage world – God was willing to tell his people to do bad things to achieve a greater good – then [3] it seems to me that, while the truth may not evolve, the church *does* evolve – to greater levels of truth as civilisation becomes less savage.

        If you stepped out of a time machine in front of an average Old Testament Hebrew and explained how you lived your faith, he’d take some convincing that you were part of his religious tradition at all – so how might *you* see a future member of *your* tradition?

        What if you took the time machine to explore Christianity in the Year Four Billion – and God was waiting for you with a bottle of champagne, finally revealing that all that talk of difference, exclusion, ingroup/outgroup, damned/saved was just a provisional method to keep people together long enough to build a solid civilisation and get along properly, at which point the various useful misdirections of the different religious traditions could be abandoned like a rocket booster?

      • tennapel Says:

        While I get uncomfortable with the concept of “faith” in these nebulous, not-fully-charted-and-mapped-out aspects of the universe, I’m especially uncomfortable with exclusionary faith that creates an in-group and an out-group. I find it hard to imagine a Supreme Being being lonely, down on Themself, or vain – so I’m left unimpressed at the prospect of Them demanding that people exclusively be complimentary-pen-pals with Them and Them alone, at any cost.

        All you’ve shown is that traditional Christianity is in your out-group. Are you uncomfortable with in-group out-group thinking or not? There is no neutrality, because being neutral is just another position. See the Dictatorship of Relativism.

  26. Blampow Says:

    Wow that looks long. Sorry, I was thinking about it for a couple of days at work and went a little overboard.

    Don’t mean to take time away from Earthworm Jim 4, feel free to skim at best.

  27. Chip Uni Says:

    Hey, Doug.

    I wrote a short response to your entries “Truth Doesn’t Evolve” and “Relativist Dictators” on LiveJournal.

    It’s about why truth comes with a context, and why that context is rarely an individual.

    I hope that you enjoy it. Keep up the excellent work with Ratfist!

  28. blampow Says:

    I didn’t mean “I belong to the group that hates groups:” I was trying to say “I think the positive aspects of religions (sense of meaning/purpose/morality/charity) are more shared than not, and the differences seem as unnecessary, unhelpful, and temporary to me as arguments over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or whether or not we can eat lobsters or have meat on fridays.”


    • That’s just a fancy way of saying that you hate the parts of religion that you think are unnecessary… you still put them in an out-group. Now either that’s a bad thing, and you should own it, or you should claim that when you do it, and others do it, that it’s a good thing. You want it both ways, and it’s nonsensical.

      The foundation of Christianity is the belief that Jesus is God, not that he was a nice guy. The foundation of Judaism is in conflict with the foundation of Christianity, the difference is key. Islam, as well as Mormonism, claim to be corrections on false, fallen forms of Christianity and Judaism. Buddhism denies the most important words of Christ that only his sacrifice is enough to cover sins.

      In short, what you dismiss as trivial about the differences in religions is crucial to their existence. And you just want them to agree with your mushy, vague description before you’ll bless them with your well wishes to even exist.

      Again, relativism forces one to become totalitarian. The person who claims “the positive aspects of religions” has basically judged every religion in the world with one giant, exclusivist sweep of the hand.

      • L.R. Weizel Says:

        I think the point is that most of those differences have little or no direct bearing on anyone’s day to day life, unless they make religious iconography for a living.

        Whether Jesus came here in a space ship or through a virgin might matter a lot to the religious in the same way that Organic webshooters upset Spider-man fans. It has a lot of implications for the tale to follow, and changes the structure quite a lot – but it’s still changing a structure that doesn’t physically exist in the here and now.

        I’m unsure how to explain this better.

  29. blampow Says:

    “Now either that’s a bad thing, and you should own it, or you should claim that when you do it, and others do it, that it’s a good thing. You want it both ways, and it’s nonsensical.”

    I’m no more a relativist than you are. Arguments against it don’t apply to me.

    I understand and agree with your objection to “the dictatorship of relativism” – which sounds very much like Jurgen Habermas’ concept of the “performative contradiction”, i.e. “all statements are false, all beliefs are relative, all language is meaningless”.

    Here’s the idea I meant to get across in that paragraph you quoted and also my last message: I have no problem with ingroup/outgroup thinking *in itself*. None. I just, specifically, think it’s unhelpful in the case of the “supernatural” elements of religions.

    You’ve said that what I think of as the unnecessary, divisive, supernatural elements of each religion – what they have in contrast instead of in common – are the defining features. To the degree that you’re right about that, I do think religions are unhelpful – but I feel about them, at worst, the way you *would* feel about factions of Christians arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin: people I could comfortably get along with tomorrow if they’d drop this silly disagreement, and only feel some eye-rolling impatience about now.

    “And you just want (religions) to agree with your mushy, vague description before you’ll bless them with your well wishes to even exist.”

    Pretty much – but I’d defuse the words “mushy” and “vague” in favour of “locally flavoured social clubs with common ethical rules”: if I seemed mushy earlier, it might just have been diplomacy (and I don’t mean to be rude now, I hope we can still disagree civilly).

    On the other hand, your disapproving use of words like “bless/well wishes/even exist”, and – elsewhere – absolutist/exclusivist/hateful/judgemental/totalitarian” suggests you think my “let’s get over these silly disagreements” stance towards religion is objectionable – but at least I think people should get along and see what they have in common – whereas you share all of my negative views of other religions, and then some.

    Thus, every one of those words’ negative implications applies to you *much* more than it does to me – unless you were just using those words to get me to own up to the responsibility of making judgement calls, based on your misperception of me as a relativist, which I hope I’ve corrected.

    ***

    It seems to me we both feel the same way about all religions on earth – that they’re just a bunch of unfounded superstitions accepted indifferently by each subsequent generation in any given area because it was easier than arguing – with only one exception on your part, which happens – by a coincidence which you must admit looks suspiciously convenient to an outsider – to be the one most popular/acceptable in the area you were born into (I realise your parents weren’t specifically Christians, but as I understand it, you were still born into “red state” America: I also realise you feel your adherence to your religion has caused you some difficulties, but compared to those you’d experience as an orthodox Muslim … it could have been worse).

    ***

    What, exactly, do you see as the “end game” for world religious differences? Will Hindus/Muslims/Jews just go on being wrong for all eternity, or get permanently segregated into the afterlife wastebin on judgement day? If the latter, how much does it matter if we’re nice to them in this life or not? They’re just confusing potential Christian converts by striking poses in the foyer to Hell, right?

    And if the former – if they lead good lives and suffer no bad consequences for getting what I think of as the “bonus question”/supernatural element of religion wrong – why do the distinctions between religions matter?

    • BandyRandy Says:

      “On the other hand, your disapproving use of words like “bless/well wishes/even exist”, and – elsewhere – absolutist/exclusivist/hateful/judgemental/totalitarian” suggests you think my “let’s get over these silly disagreements” stance towards religion is objectionable – but at least I think people should get along and see what they have in common – whereas you share all of my negative views of other religions, and then some.”

      What was objectionable in your original comments was the way you trivialize very real and legitimate epistemological and cosmological differences between different religions and worldviews. Saying “let’s get over these silly disagreements” demonstrates a basic contempt for the whole range of cultural differences beyond whatever is normative to you. Its the worst kind of supercilious provincialism.

      • blampow Says:

        “What was objectionable in your original comments was the way you trivialize very real and legitimate epistemological and cosmological differences between different religions and worldviews. Saying “let’s get over these silly disagreements” demonstrates a basic contempt for the whole range of cultural differences beyond whatever is normative to you. Its the worst kind of supercilious provincialism.”

        I’m trying to be a nice guy on this blog, to get along with people, to say only what I *would* say in person – so, in all friendly honesty, those words don’t look comfortable on you.

        But, as to the gist of your comment – “it’s arrogant to say the differences between religions are unimportant” – well, sure. It’s arrogant to say one’s own religion is correct and the others are hell-earningly wrong, too.

        It could even be seen as arrogant to string up separate protected playpens for world superstitions to coexist, as if what Doug rightly describes as inherently mutually contradicting views (as normally understood) were actually beautiful, sensitive pandas: if one is right, the rest or most of the rest are wrong: if none are right, why do we need them? Do the people of region X really need to take “pride” in the random inaccuracies their ancestors left them?

        More generally, your comment reminds me of Sam Harris’ comment (note: I’m not him and I’m not his mom: I’m not endorsing all of his thought, I’m just quoting this one line, so please don’t get ad-hominem by proxy) that there are only 3 basic ways to defend religion against rational criticism:

        1. To say that one’s own religion is right.
        2. To say that religions are too useful to discard.
        3. To say that the critic is arrogant/elitist/hateful/biased/racist/whatever

        You’re clearly a hard 3 – dipping a bit into “racist” with the “normative” dig (regional inaccuracies bother me because they’re dumb and unnecessary, not because I’m a closed minded racist – how much more racist is it to think “Those People need their silly little myths”?), but mostly sticking with arrogant/elitist.

        Aside from directing you to Doug’s own post on “The Dictatorship of Relativism”, I would just respond that “elitist” is what “accurate” looks like to “off-the-shelf-relativist-with-a-thesaurus”.

      • BandyRandy Says:

        Its a little funny how much you missed my point. My comment had nothing to do with the relative values of all the world’s ideas and beliefs. In fact, we’re on the same page there – I agree that not all views are equal, that most are by definition wrong, if one has to be right. The gist of your remarks is that the only reason people might disagree with each other is stupidity or belligerence, and therefore there can be no good reason for people to get their panties in a twist over these differences. I couldn’t care less about defending the worth of Sikhism or Islam to you – its your contempt for the people who hold these views, your belief that they could have no reasonable objection to somebody like you walking into one of their slapfights and telling them to “just get along,” that is arrogant.

        As for Sam Harris, 1. Every ideology does this. You’ve been doing this in here for going on two weeks now. 2. Nobody thinks their view is useful unless they already think its correct and right. Anybody going here first is already a relativist. 3. “Off-the-shelf-relativist-with-a-thesaurus” speaks for itself. Oh! Your acerbic wit has pierced me to the core! I am killed! Doctor, would you condescend to heal miserable me, or do you need to heal yourself first?

      • BandyRandy Says:

        In a nutshell, I’m saying its worthwhile for people to fight over beliefs. At least in so doing, you are forced to defend what you believe while acknowledging your opponent as a rational adult (pace the self-styled “rationalists,” atheism/secularism doesn’t have a monopoly on this. They can be just as irrational and brutal to their fellow man as the most militant Islamofascist or IRA terrorist). This is the line between civilized debate and uncivilized violence – treating your enemy with contempt, as something unworthy or incapable of holding a view even in opposition to yourself, is the root of ideological violence. To say that all disagreement is pointless is to refuse to engage your beliefs in conflict with your opponent’s, and to refuse to acknowledge their intellectual/moral agency. It says, by implication, that there is no need to convince your opponent of the goodness or worth of your views – it is sufficient that they meekly abandon whatever artifacts of their flawed cultures bring them in contention with yours. It is as much of a violence against human dignity as it would be to just descend into mindless brawling. That’s what my problem is with saying “lets get over these silly disagreements” – you may have couched it in “nice” terms, but you’re still effectively acting as an agent of the Dictatorship of Relativism.

    • tennapel Says:

      You don’t get to play the great ambassador card just for calling every religion “locally flavored social clubs with common ethical rules.” That’s not what my religion is, and it’s probably not what you’d call your own world view either. So it’s still essentially calling everyone a lie, only now you won’t be able to escape from calling yourself a living lie… the very standard you use. Most of all, it’s still totalitarian in nature, so my post is still relevant.

      I don’t think we have find common ground on similarities before we can get along. Muslims and Jews are monotheistic, book based religions so they have more common ground with my own, but I might get along with a Scientologist much easier than either of those. It’s not the common philosophical ground that binds us, but the level of humanity and warmth we share regardless of faith.

      I find the blending of ideology to remove offense an unnecessary relativist ploy, not great diplomacy. I think people should get along no matter how little they have in common. Getting along doesn’t mean idealogical similarity at all.

      I still don’t find your rejoinder about being raised “red state” appealing because at every step it would have been easier to have rejected Christianity. There are plenty of red state atheists, and certainly given my love of art and philosophy it would have been easier going. There’s still no explanation why anyone would choose Christianity because of ease or following suit of one’s culture. It doesn’t explain the tens of thousands of Muslims that convert to Christianity against their family’s and cultures wishes and won’t refuse the faith even unto death.

      I don’t find the cultural adherence to a religion suspect at all. It only shows how powerful a culture is as a teaching tool, and how worthless it is as a tool for divining truth. The fact that the academic claim that religion and morals are culturally relative is certainly an example of that bad idea being passed down by a fraudulent culture! Cultures do happen to get some things right, I learned that airplanes aren’t held up by magic from my culture as well as the idea that rape is wrong.

      I don’t know what God will do with other religions. It’s not my understanding to see where the little lines are drawn, my job in sharing the Gospel is talk about the big lines I understand were revealed to mankind. The biggest distinction is that we can’t pay for our own offense against a good God. It requires an adequate payment, determined by not only the Creator of the world, but by Him being the offended party. His requirement is life for life, he provides a sacrifice in my place, which is essentially Himself, and we line up to reject him and tell him how it really should be done. If Christ is not at least applied to people after death they have no hope. My religion just happens to be exclusivist and I have no problem with exclusivity, especially given most truths are very narrow and not very broad.

      I don’t know how important it is to be nice when telling the truth. I think there are good reasons to be nice besides for manipulating converts. Being nice is a virtue in and of itself even to the damned. But there’s nothing nice about agreeing with someone that 2 + 2 = 5. Would you rather have a nice math teacher that taught 2 + 2 = 5 but you failed the big exam or told by a mean one that 2 + 2 = 4 and you passed the exam? Obviously, the higher way would be the nice teacher that taught 2 + 2 = 4.

      “And if the former – if they lead good lives and suffer no bad consequences for getting what I think of as the “bonus question”/supernatural element of religion wrong – why do the distinctions between religions matter?”

      If your premise fails then so will your conclusion. It’s not a bonus question, so the distinctions matter. They are likely, critical. If you have good reasons to think it’s all just a big bonus question, then there you go. But you can’t also claim to be adhering to Christianity whatsoever. Probably not other religions either from what I gather of most of them.

      • blampow Says:

        DT: “So it’s still essentially calling everyone a lie”

        Well, “calling the supernatural elements of every religious person’s beliefs incorrect” – they may be mistakes instead of lies.

        DT: “Most of all, it’s still totalitarian in nature, so my post is still relevant.”
        Your post is absolutely correct – aside from the word totalitarian:
        “Totalitarianism (or totalitarian rule) is a political system where the state, usually under the control of a single political person, faction, or class, recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible.”

        I certainly don’t want to regulate people’s lives – I don’t “even” want to storm into their houses and force them to agree with me at gunpoint.

        On the other hand, I have no problem making universal statements and considering anyone who disagrees to be wrong, so I might be a “philosophical absolutist”:

        “2. (Philosophy) Philosophy
        a.  any theory which holds that truth or moral or aesthetic value is absolute and universal and not relative to individual or social differences”

        … but “philosophical absolutism” sounds like what you were promoting in the blog posting we’re commenting on: truth is true, forever, in itself, whether or not we get it right.

        How am I *more* totalitarian/absolutist/”bad” when I say people are wrong about their religions than you are when you say they’re wrong about their religions?

        To be clear, I’m not saying I’m *not* a philosophical absolutist: I totally am. I’m just wondering why you’re implying it’s a bad thing. Isn’t it what we both are?

        ***

        DT: “You don’t get to play the great ambassador card just for calling every religion “locally flavored social clubs with common ethical rules.” That’s not what my religion is,”

        Ah, misunderstanding: I wasn’t trying to describe what they *are* right now, I was describing what they *would have to convert into* in order for me to “bless them with my well wishes to even exist.”

        Of course, my current lack of well wishes doesn’t get any nastier than a “civil online disagreement”.

        But I certainly didn’t mean to be diplomatic: I was describing a condition that would have to be met.

        ***
        DT: “There’s still no explanation why anyone would choose Christianity because of ease or following suit of one’s culture.”

        Really? Not even slightly?

        What about someone from a blue state who’s basically Christian, but slightly too moderate for your tastes? What about Fred Phelps (godhatesfags.com)? His “church” is mostly just his family. What about the Amish or the Mennonites? They seem to pass a form of Christianity through family lines.

        DT: “I don’t find the cultural adherence to a religion suspect at all.”

        So you acknowledge it does exist – just not for Christianity?

        When you see Hindus raised by Hindus, Muslims raised by Muslims, and Christians raised by Christians – do you see 2 separate phenomena, or 3? What about when you see bad Christians (either too fundamentalist or not enough) raised by bad Christians?

        ***

        DT: “I learned that airplanes aren’t held up by magic from my culture”

        I would make a distinction between “culture” and “rationality/science/progress”: I think of culture as local flavours of food, clothing, architecture, marriage customs, etiquette, etc – and rationality as universal truths.

        The world is more interesting when people in different areas behave differently, but there are also some core concepts that everyone should take into account as the basis for variation:

        Science/rationality/critical thinking etc is “it’s healthy to wash your hands after using the bathroom:” culture is what colour you paint the sink. S/R/CT is cooking raw meat: culture is what spices you use.

        ***
        DT: “I don’t know how important it is to be nice when telling the truth.”

        I was referring more to “being nice to people who are going to be on fire for a billion years anyway:” really, there’s nothing you could do to them in life that would even be noticeable against that background, so why not torture them until they recant, or exterminate them so they can’t mislead their kids?

        I realise you wouldn’t do that: however, it’s the kind of train of logic a local, exclusivist supernatural belief *can* promote. By endorsing one brand of “faith”, you implicitly endorse the *style* of thinking: “these beliefs are more important than anything I can discover through evidence/science/rationality/etc.”

        To go a little further –

        DT: “I think people should get along no matter how little they have in common. Getting along doesn’t mean idealogical similarity at all.”

        Well … a nice idea, and I’m all for it, but …

        We’ve established that your God has officially endorsed rape/slavery/genocide explicitly on the basis of conflicting beliefs.

        I realise you interpret his commands to do that nasty stuff as a repealed set of laws, but I see the ideological distance between the Ancient Hebrews who did that stuff and you – and between you and more moderate Christians, incidentally – as a slippery slope that only people with no trace of supernatural certainty can be fully free from.

        (Note that I don’t say “supernatural speculation”: I have no problem with asking “what if” questions about supernature, but I don’t think we have enough data to be drawing conclusions yet)

        ***
        DT: “If your premise fails then so will your conclusion. It’s not a bonus question, so the distinctions matter. They are likely, critical. If you have good reasons to think it’s all just a big bonus question, then there you go. But you can’t also claim to be adhering to Christianity whatsoever. Probably not other religions either from what I gather of most of them.”

        Thanks for the clarity.

        Let’s say Christian Bob is 75% good, whereas Muslim Achmed is 76% good. Heaven/Hell, respectively?

        What if Christian Bob is a serial killer who recants to your brand of Christianity?

        The basic question: what percentage of heaven-admission is paid for by the academic part of the exam – i.e. the “beliefs” that have no relation to any experience to be had on earth, or the behaviours that have no impact on any other person/creature?

  30. Doreen Says:

    Blampow, you sound like a very smart person, and in response to your 2/20 post, it is precisely this type of thinking that has led to modern movements toward convergence among many religious groups. I predict that decades from now, you will see more hybrid groups like Jews For Jesus (I actually have a lot of respect for them) popping up.

  31. blampow Says:

    “they (should) meekly abandon whatever artifacts of their flawed cultures bring them in contention with yours.”

    It’s not one culture versus another, it’s “various specific supernatural misconceptions” vs rationality, which is above culture, the same way modern medicine is above different schools of witchcraft.

    “you may have couched it in “nice” terms, but you’re still effectively acting as an agent of the Dictatorship of Relativism.”

    How was I nice? I thought I was arrogant. How am I a relativist? I thought I wanted to pave their cultures over with my own.

    ***

    “In a nutshell, I’m saying its worthwhile for people to fight over beliefs.” Well, sure. That’s what we’re doing here, isn’t it?

    But when you talk about “fighting” over beliefs, do you mean “settling once and for all which ones make sense and which don’t,” or “happily cheering our arbitrary, mutually exclusive superstitions as they roll through the generations like mutually coexisting parade floats, granting us all dignity by the sheer fact of their separateness”?

    Because I’m all for the first option. In no way would I sneeringly deny a Sikh, Muslim, Christian, etc, a seat at the debating table: the only rhetorical move I’d make, which may have given you the wrong impression, is to start things off with a blanket statement that “all supernatural beliefs are equally wrong.”

    But that’s a “be-it-resolved” statement, a way to get things rolling – not a way to exclude people who hold those beliefs from the discussion.

  32. BandyRandy Says:

    “It’s not one culture versus another, it’s “various specific supernatural misconceptions” vs rationality, which is above culture, the same way modern medicine is above different schools of witchcraft.”
    I could type all of that out every single time… or I could just say “culture.” I don’t have all day to spend commenting on this blog – I have to practice word economy even at the expense of covering all the bases.

    “How was I nice? I thought I was arrogant. How am I a relativist? I thought I wanted to pave their cultures over with my own.”
    You said yourself “I’m trying to be a nice guy on this blog, to get along with people, to say only what I *would* say in person.” In that moment at least, you were playing the “nice guy” card. That’s what I was responding to. The Dictatorship of Relativism *does* want to pave over other cultures with its own. It does so from a position of smug superiority – only it can make absolute truth claims, and anything contradicting it is intrinsically inferior. Not that I’m saying you yourself are smugly superior – I don’t know anything about you. You can still be an agent of some force without wholly endorsing it or even in spite of your own intentions. Case in point, you thought I was arguing for moral relativism in your initial response, based on my choice of diction.

    “[etc…] happily cheering our arbitrary, mutually exclusive superstitions as they roll through the generations like mutually coexisting parade floats, granting us all dignity by the sheer fact of their separateness”?”
    Our Human Dignity is not derived from our beliefs. It often persists in spite of them.

    “the only rhetorical move I’d make [etc]”
    Your first rhetorical move is just fine so far as I’m concerned. To say that “All supernatural beliefs are equally wrong” is not quite the same as saying “Let’s get over these silly disagreements” – the former engages with your ideological opponents, the latter dismisses them summarily. That one expression is pretty much my only bone of contention with you. I am otherwise happy enough to sit back and watch other parties more interested in the topic duke it out.

  33. blampow Says:

    “”To say that “All supernatural beliefs are equally wrong” is not quite the same as saying “Let’s get over these silly disagreements” – the former engages with your ideological opponents, the latter dismisses them summarily. That one expression is pretty much my only bone of contention with you.””

    I’m happy to engage with opponents to help them get over silly disagreements.

    I do still say “rationality” is qualitatively different/superior to “culture”, though, not just another form of it.

    But I’m glad we’re settled. See you around.

  34. artemisgoldfish Says:

    I find it curious that the religious often use the word “truth.” It’s not a word I hear a lot, because I don’t hear a lot of people saying they definitely know how the world is. I only hear it from people who think they have a source which 100% undeniably confirms something.

    I always thought that the chronicles were poking fun at religious texts, I did bother to read all of it, but I guess this kinda ruins it for me. :(

    Oh well.

  35. Figgis Says:

    So if I’m looking for the truth, I should look to God?

    Tell me then, Mr. Tennapel, are God’s actions arbitrary, or is *he* guided by truth too?

    • tennapel Says:

      My argument for God using truth is similar to my argument for Him from matter. If there is such a thing as truth, then there must be such a thing as a God. All truth (like all materials) are God’s. If you are honest with yourself and follow either the truth in materials or the truth in philosophy you will find God. “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

  36. Ryan Says:

    Mister Tennapel, let me begin by saying that I greatly enjoy your works. I haven’t read your graphic novels, but I played (and still have) the Earthworm Jim video game, and I’m having a blast with Ratfist. Nothing you say here will change that; you’re not gonna lose a reader because we disagree on something, no matter how strongly we disagree.

    Secondly, nothing I say here is meant to be offensive or standoffish or insulting. I’ve been told many times that I come across as cold or angry when I don’t mean to. So please don’t take anything I say as an attack on you.

    It’s a little bit of a nitpick, but it’s incorrect to say that there is nothing true today that wasn’t true a thousand years ago. A lot of things that were true then are still true now, of course. The sun still exists. But a thousand years ago, we weren’t capable of performing transplants or anything similar. It’s true today that we have computers. It’s false a thousand years ago.

    Like I said, though, this is just a nitpick. The point of your argument was clear. I just think it’s important to get the details right.

    What you’re arguing here, as far as I can tell (and please correct me if I’m wrong), is that morals are universally true ideas because they weren’t created by culture. While I would agree (tentatively; I haven’t really gone into rigorous detail on the matter) that truths arising from non-human sources are universal, you don’t actually give any reason to think that morals come from non-human sources in this post. What makes you think that they do?

    • tennapel Says:

      Ryan, this is a great challenge! But you figured it out by the end, that when I said “the truth doesn’t evolve” I meant regarding morals. It obvious that time changes and materials change, if we could change the states of being time couldn’t move forward!

      For the sake of my argument I didn’t claim with certainty that morals don’t have a human source. I’m only arguing here that they don’t change. What makes me think they don’t come from a human source is because “morals” humans create do tend to change day to day. What humans come up with isn’t an eternal truth, we’re influenced by our culture, and the most permanent things have a claim of not coming from people. The Founders said they were just “self evident” even while owning slaves…and all of the Founder’s writings on slavery implied that they all did it but knew it was wrong.

      • Ryan Says:

        But morals do change. They change all the time. You can see it yourself.

        In the past, slavery was considered morally acceptable. Many cultures actually considered it to be /good/. By taking in slaves, they argued, they were giving these worthless people something to do with themselves. Murder is and was also considered acceptable in various situations. The most notable of these is war, but the death penalty could be considered another example. In the Wild West, one man gunning down another was considered acceptable if that man could produce proof that the dead man had wronged him. Frontier justice.

        Even today, morals are changing constantly. Gay marriage was considered immoral almost universally only a few years ago, and is still considered immoral by some today, even as it gains acceptance. Stem cell research, abortion, civil rights… all of these are moral judgments that our societies have made, and all of them have gone through large changes fairly recently. Whether or not you personally agree with the changed stance (or the original) doesn’t change the fact that society as a whole has altered its moral code.

        So what makes you think that they don’t change? Am I misunderstanding something?

      • tennapel Says:

        Ryan, you said that slavery was once acceptable, and I agree. But for morals to change you have to have believed that no only was slavery seen as good by society, but that it actually was good! If it was bad then and bad now then it hasn’t changed, society changed. And my post is not “Society doesn’t change.”

    • Lynn Maudlin Says:

      Ryan, not to quibble back at you, but *murder* has always been morally wrong – from the very first murder (Cain killed his brother Abel, although arguably it was manslaughter rather than premeditated murder). But the Law as given by God to Noah post-flood, to Abraham, to Moses, doesn’t say, “don’t kill,” (which would include war and the death penalty) but rather, “don’t MURDER.” In fact, God demands the blood of the murderer be shed (death penalty for murder) because the primary offense is against the *image of God* which is the human being – we’re REALLY not ready to deal with that one, as a culture, but it’s definitely part of the great Truth.

      • Ryan Says:

        Okay, so you want to differentiate between “murder” and “killing”? How do you do that, exactly?

        And what actual argument do you have to support the idea that murder is universally wrong?

      • tennapel Says:

        It’s better just to clarify your position, Ryan, and you can explain yourself. You’re saying there is no real difference between murder and killing. So a cop who shoots someone who was in the middle of strangling a baby is the same in your view.

        The man who has sex with his wife is the same as the man forcibly has sex with an 8 year old girl.

        There are no moral distinctions, you claim. We only have cultural preferences, and the idea that raping little girls is wrong is just an illusion, a cultural fashion in your view.

        So you tell me the difference between an employee and a slave, killing and murder, rape and sex. Your “society says” view of morality doesn’t describe what I think you intuitively know. That rape isn’t just the illusion of wrong, but it actually wrong, even if the whole world said it was right.

  37. Ryan Says:

    But that’s what I meant when I said that you were arguing that morals come from a non-human source.

    If morals come from a human source (culture), they change. So if what you’re arguing is that slavery has always been universally bad (that morals do not change, only our perceptions of them do), you are by necessity arguing that morals come from a non-human source.

    So what makes you think that they do?

    • Ryan Says:

      Oops. Meant that to be a reply. My bad.

    • tennapel Says:

      Because they exist. If there’s such a thing as morality, they can’t come from humans. If they did come from humans you can’t condemn cannibalism when a culture approved it. The fact that you think slavery is wrong, and don’t just think some other slave owning country ought to do so is proof that morals exist, which proves that man didn’t come up with it.

      • Ryan Says:

        They exist, but I would argue that they exist /subjectively/. They exist in the same way that beauty exists. It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

        I think that slavery is wrong, but I don’t think that there is some universal standard which backs that up. I /subjectively/ think that it is wrong. My subjective code isn’t proof of an objective one. That’s the non sequitur fallacy; the conclusion (that objective morals exist) doesn’t follow from the premises (that humans have moral codes).

      • tennapel Says:

        But you can’t have it both ways, so I’m going to pin you down on this.

        You don’t think that slavery is wrong, because you know there’s no such thing as wrong, which is why you let your culture arbitrarily call it so. You don’t mean that it’s wrong, you mean that your culture finds it out of fashion this week, and they could change tomorrow and that would be next week’s opinion on the matter.

        The non sequitur fallacy works both ways. One man’s modus ponens is another man’s modus tollens. Beauty doesn’t exist in the eye of the beholder, for in that case the object is arbitrary. The seer provides all of the opinion on the subject. So you don’t believe in real beauty any more than you believe in real morality.

        Using your moral system it’s a non sequitur to say that slavery is wrong in any real way that transcends your opinion or your culture’s opinion, which is a lot like saying, “We don’t like disco, and we think mint ice cream is better than strawberry.”

  38. Ryan Says:

    Hm. There’s no Reply button this time. Is there a limit to how long a reply chain can be? I’m new to WordPress.

    On the subject of disco, mint and strawberry, the problem with your analogy is that you appear to think that I am claiming that slavery /is/ wrong in any objective way. I’m not. I’m saying that I, /personally/, believe it’s wrong. Can society change its mind? Yes. Of course it can. It did so very recently, in fact. Does this mean that I also have to change my mind? No. Does it mean that I have to like or agree with what society thinks? No.

    Society thinks slavery is wrong right now. Your “flavor of the week” analogy is actually pretty apt. Societal morality changes very often. Is this necessarily something that I’m required to like? No.

    Your “real beauty” bit is also pretty much dead-on (assuming that by “the object is arbitrary”, you mean “beauty is arbitrary”; if you don’t, I’ve got no idea what you’re trying to say, because the object exists whether or not I think it’s beautiful). Beauty only exists in the seer’s opinion. I don’t believe in “real” beauty any more than I believe in an activity which is universally fun. I personally think tabletop war games are a blast, but I’m the only one in my family who thinks so. I think “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Coleridge is one of the most beautiful literary works of all time, but my girlfriend thinks it’s inane. It’s all opinion.

    I didn’t say that morality or beauty was “real” in any way which transcended my opinion. In fact, I said the exact opposite. I – and society as a whole – can still make moral judgments, but I can’t claim that I have divine fiat on my side to settle the argument. All I can do is try and talk the other guy around to seeing my point of view.

    • tennapel Says:

      “I’m not. I’m saying that I, /personally/, believe it’s wrong.”

      And you would never stop someone else from practicing slavery, because they personally think it’s right. If you do, then you’re claiming your personal feelings on the subject should become his objective position. So in the grand scheme of things, every many SHOULD make up whatever they feel and go with that and can’t tell others how to live. That’s the same thing as saying slavery is just another flavor of ice cream. You can’t really believe it’s actually wrong, because you know that actually wrong things aren’t determined by your personal feelings, and you judge the feelings of others all the time… as you should if my position is the true one.

      ” It did so very recently, in fact. Does this mean that I also have to change my mind? No.”

      But like society, you also change your mind about moral positions. So it tells me that what you call moral is just another way of saying, “This is how I feel this minute.” And I’d like to continue that thread, that there is really nothing objectively wrong with hunting the elderly for sport, because it’s really just like not caring for strawberry icecream that someone else loves. Neither person’s opinion should take precedent over the other.

      “Society thinks slavery is wrong right now. Your “flavor of the week” analogy is actually pretty apt. Societal morality changes very often. Is this necessarily something that I’m required to like?”

      Now you’re talkin’ Ryan! You’re almost there. Society’s random flavor of the week morality isn’t an actual reason to follow a morality. It must be grounded in something more significant. It’s why we hold up as heroes those people who died to end slavery when the rest of culture protected slavery. But here’s the key, you are just a small section of society, and just as society is flavor of the week, so it your own personal views of morality, and nobody should have an obligation to treat it like anything more than ice-cream flavors.

      So not only SHOULD society look to something higher for morality than just whatever the crowd does, so should the individual look for morality in something higher than just whatever they feel at the moment.

      ” Beauty only exists in the seer’s opinion. I don’t believe in “real” beauty any more than I believe in an activity which is universally fun.”

      Ever had sex?

      “I personally think tabletop war games are a blast,”

      Oh, never mind. You just answered my question.

      “I didn’t say that morality or beauty was “real” in any way which transcended my opinion.”

      Go tell your girlfriend that her beauty isn’t real in any way, that it was just your opinion and not rooted in the truth whatsoever and see how that works out. If you really want to rock your girlfriend’s world, find the attributes in her that transcend culture’s and your own personal feelings of what beauty is and tell her about them. She will begin to know that she is more like a goddess than an accident.

      “In fact, I said the exact opposite. I – and society as a whole – can still make moral judgments, but I can’t claim that I have divine fiat on my side to settle the argument. All I can do is try and talk the other guy around to seeing my point of view.”

      No, you are claiming absolute divine fiat. Only it’s worse, because you made yourself the sole God, you made your feelings and personal whim the book of law. And as soon as the other guy knows that you’re just projecting feelings and illusions, he has even less of a motive for coming to your point of view. Yours’ is the last one I’d consider as any kind of law that others ought to hold.

      • Ryan Says:

        “And you would never stop someone from practicing slavery, because they personally think it’s right. If you do, then you’re claiming your personal feelings on the subject should become his objective position.”

        No. I am saying that my personal feelings on the subject “should” (meaning that I would prefer that they did) become his /subjective/ position.

        “So in the grand scheme of things, every many SHOULD make up whatever they feel and go with that and can’t tell others how to live.”

        No. That’s the opposite of what I’m saying, actually. There is no “should”. There’s no law saying that you SHOULD X when Y, or SHOULD refrain from Z when Q. You decide for yourself.

        Anyone who is truly interested in being a “good” person – meaning that they are interested in behaving in a way that they can live with – will be at least willing to listen to someone else’s point of view. If one fails to change the other’s mind, the matter usually drops. In situations like slavery, where one or the other is unwilling to let the issue pass, they settle it some other way.

        Humans are accountable to their fellow humans.

        “You can’t really believe it’s actually wrong”

        “Wrong” in any universal, objective sense, no. “Wrong” in that it violates my personal code, yes.

        “you judge the feelings of others all the time… as you should if my position is the true one.”

        And also if my position is true. People judge one another whether or not morality is objective. This behavior can be expected under either system, and as such supports neither.

        “But like society, you also change your mind about moral positions. So it tells me that what you call moral is just another way of saying, “This is how I feel this minute.””

        Basically, yes. That’s an extreme simplification, but essentially correct.

        “And I’d like to continue that thread, that there is really nothing objectively wrong with hunting the elderly for sport, because it’s really just like not caring for strawberry icecream that someone else loves.”

        Right. The universe doesn’t care whether or not we kill each other. /Subjectively/, of course, most people – myself included – will find it wrong and offensive, and the offending party will be held accountable by the society in which he or she lives.

        “Neither person’s opinion should take precedent over the other.”

        Right.

        In the end, it comes down to what the majority thinks. This isn’t to say that what the majority believes is objectively correct, but that it’s the opinion that will win out in the end. Hitler’s extermination campaign and attempt at global conquest, for example.

        It wasn’t /objectively/ wrong, because there’s no such thing as objective morality. But it was considered /subjectively/ wrong by the majority of the rest of Earth’s population. Were the Allies any more in the /objective/ right than the Axis? No. They were, however, /subjectively/ right. Most of Earth wanted Hitler put down.

        “Society’s random flavor of the week morality isn’t an actual reason to follow a morality.”

        Right. “I’m following society” isn’t a good reason to follow a particular moral code. But that also doesn’t mean that society’s moral code (which is simply the amalgamation of the majority opinion) is necessarily bad.

        “It’s why we hold up as heroes those people who died to end slavery when the rest of culture protected slavery.”

        Not really. We hold them up as heroes because our society believes that slavery is wrong, and that therefore the people who gave their lives were heroes. It isn’t because morality comes from something else; it’s simply crowd rule.

        “But here’s the key, you are just a small section of society, and just as society is flavor of the week, so it your own personal views of morality, and nobody should have an obligation to treat it like anything more than ice-cream flavors.”

        Right. But they also don’t have the ability to treat /their own/ as anything more than that. All codes are objectively equal, but, like I said above, anyone who cares about being /subjectively/ good will be willing to talk about it. If they can’t change their minds, they are of course free to hold their own beliefs. But if their beliefs go against the majority, they’re not going to get what they want.

        “So not only SHOULD society look to something higher for morality than just whatever the crowd does”

        Why? Society /is/ the crowd. Society’s moral code /is/ the mob’s moral code.

        Another point which I think is rather critical here: whether or not you think society /should/ look to something which is “divine” or “higher” than human sources for morality, this does not mean that this objective moral code actually exists. That you want one doesn’t mean that there /is/ one. The universe is under no obligation to be nice.

        “No, you are claiming absolute divine fiat.”

        Then please show where.

  39. TenNapel Says:

    “No. I am saying that my personal feelings on the subject “should” (meaning that I would prefer that they did) become his /subjective/ position.”

    Gee, that’s kinda weak. Some Nazi is making lampshades out of a Jew and you can say is, “I would prefer that you didn’t do that.” The Nazi shrugs and says, “Big deal. I would prefer that you’d come help me make more lampshades.”

    That’s not a moral system. That necessarily makes you into a monster. Further, I’m positive if reality presented any of these situations to you that you wouldn’t act on your values, you’d act on mine. If you have a gun, you’d shoot that Nazi in the face, further, he would shoot you. People act on absolutes, even if their absolutes are wrong. To act as if everything is subjective doesn’t make them so, though when push comes to shove nobody acts like things are subjective… because they aren’t.

    “No. That’s the opposite of what I’m saying, actually. There is no “should”. There’s no law saying that you SHOULD X when Y, or SHOULD refrain from Z when Q. You decide for yourself.”

    Then shut up about commenting on my blog post. If you really lived your values, you’d never bother to challenge my position, because you’d be convinced that my position was literally equal to yours’. You don’t. I win. Welcome to the dark side. Do keep trying to convince of your position, because you confirm mine with every attempt.

    ” In situations like slavery, where one or the other is unwilling to let the issue pass, they settle it some other way.”

    THey settle it the correct way, but shooting the other guy in the face until he submits. You have the luxury of living within your value system so long as nothing is at stake. So long as we’re all just obese, watching porn and X boxing ourselves to death. But it is wholly unworkable once real moral conflicts arise, moral conflicts that were the normal experience of most of humanity.

    “Humans are accountable to their fellow humans.”

    Is this objectively true, or your feelings? If you mean it in some absolute sense, please change your opinion to mine.

    ““Wrong” in any universal, objective sense, no. “Wrong” in that it violates my personal code, yes.”

    Is anything that violates your personal code objectively wrong? Again, please agree with me and we can end this whole discussion. My personal, subjective code says that violating your personal code is chocolate ice cream. Any response you give is your love of strawberry ice cream. There is no qualitative, moral difference between liking strawberry over chocolate.

    “And also if my position is true. People judge one another whether or not morality is objective. This behavior can be expected under either system, and as such supports neither.”

    It’s not suspect to you that both systems act as if morals or object and not personal? It’s beyond suspect. It points to a truth we both intuit. You can announce it’s an illusion, but we both know it’s just your feelings talking so we have no real need to take your objections or rejoinders seriously.

    “Right. The universe doesn’t care whether or not we kill each other. /Subjectively/, of course, most people – myself included – will find it wrong and offensive, and the offending party will be held accountable by the society in which he or she lives.”

    I never once argued that the universe cares about anything. Morality can’t come from a rock. A rock doesn’t care if you rape it. That’s you bringing up the universe not me. I only said morals exist, you tied them to the universe.

    And we both know that almost nobody is held accountable to the things they do in the society they live. By your system it really doesn’t matter either way. To account for all sin or to account for nothing are equal in value.

    “In the end, it comes down to what the majority thinks. This isn’t to say that what the majority believes is objectively correct, but that it’s the opinion that will win out in the end. Hitler’s extermination campaign and attempt at global conquest, for example.”

    Nonsense. If the majority decided there would be no rape. But there is more slavery than ever before. And who cares, so long as the majority decides? If the majority decided to make sausage out of black people you would defer to their majority. So let’s leave majorities out of this. You don’t really care about majorities, it’s just a majority of people outlawing strawberry icecream.

    “Most of Earth wanted Hitler put down.”

    and it tells us nothing about right and wrong. Hitler is no more right or wrong than his opponents in your view. I’m trying to help you grasp your view better and you keep punting. Don’t reject it. Live it!

    “Right. “I’m following society” isn’t a good reason to follow a particular moral code. But that also doesn’t mean that society’s moral code (which is simply the amalgamation of the majority opinion) is necessarily bad.”

    It’s neither good nor bad. It’s just a majority of people liking strawberry over chocolate. Neither of us care what society says, so we shouldn’t bring it up here. The question isn’t that society takes positions, I’m saying that there is such a thing as an actual moral position and you’re denying that. Extending your personal feelings to society doesn’t solve anything. You literally see no moral distinction between Germany killing Jews and not killing them, in any moral sense.

    “Not really. We hold them up as heroes because our society believes that slavery is wrong, and that therefore the people who gave their lives were heroes. It isn’t because morality comes from something else; it’s simply crowd rule.”

    But your position is that the crowd or individual is no less moral for dying to protect or abolish slavery. Again, adding what the crowd says about anything sheds no light on the subject of morals existing and not changing. You say the worst form of racism is disliking a flavor of ice cream and I say that slavery is wrong now and then and always will be no matter if I believe it or all of society believes it. That is that slavery is wrong IN REALITY. It’s really wrong and is still wrong when the subject says it’s right.

    “Right. But they also don’t have the ability to treat /their own/ as anything more than that. All codes are objectively equal, but, like I said above, anyone who cares about being /subjectively/ good will be willing to talk about it. If they can’t change their minds, they are of course free to hold their own beliefs. But if their beliefs go against the majority, they’re not going to get what they want.”

    Again, this tells me nothing about morality actually existing. You just push it out to an entire society to confuse the matter. If you were in nazi germany and hid the Jews, you’d be punished by the majority, or by the powerful. Three people having a wrong idea doesn’t make it any more right than one person having a wrong idea. My position is that even one person having a wrong idea tells me nothing about an idea actually being right or wrong. We’re both in agreement on this, that the individual and society have no baring on the rightness or wrongness of an opinion. That only question is if something is actually right or wrong. I’m saying that a falling tree actually makes a sound in the forest even nobody is there to hear it. Our intuition tells us this is so.

    “Why? Society /is/ the crowd. Society’s moral code /is/ the mob’s moral code.”

    Which we’ve already discussed is no moral code at all. Unless you think it’s rational to put people to death for liking strawberry icecream. Your position doesn’t elevate feelings to real moral positions, rather it reduces every moral concern to mere fashion.

    “Another point which I think is rather critical here: whether or not you think society /should/ look to something which is “divine” or “higher” than human sources for morality,”

    There may be such a thing as a divine source of morality, but we already agree that there is no such thing as human sources of morality.

    “this does not mean that this objective moral code actually exists.”

    You should not believe in what does not actually exist. If you believe in an objective moral code, then you should believe in a God. Your own belief in a moral code is evidence that you do believe in a Divine Law Giver of some kind. You don’t like it, but that doesn’t make it cease to exist.

    ” That you want one doesn’t mean that there /is/ one.”

    I only want one because He exists. If He didn’t exist, I wouldn’t want one.

    “The universe is under no obligation to be nice.”

    …or Materialist.

    “Then please show where.”

    You’ve only put yourself in the position of the Creator God. You invent your own moral law. You didn’t get rid of God, you turned everyone into one. If you’re anti God you should at least start by hating yourself before going after the Judeo-Christain tradition.

    • Ryan Says:

      Two things: one, that tiki spaceman is going to give me nightmares, and two, it’s late here and I am coming off a caffeine rush so please excuse any ramblings. If I descend into gibberish, just ask for clarification.

      “Gee, that’s kinda weak.”

      “Weak” is also subjective. :P

      In any case, something being “weak” doesn’t make it wrong.

      “Some Nazi is making lampshades out of a Jew and you can say is, “I would prefer that you didn’t do that.” The Nazi shrugs and says, “Big deal. I would prefer that you’d come help me make more lampshades.””

      Essentially. Of course, these things tend to be worded much more strongly. Sometimes they are worded through weaponry. Hence, World War Two.

      “That’s not a moral system.”

      Correct. It’s simply what happens under a certain moral system.

      In fact, it’s what happens under /any/ moral system. Whether or not you are objectively right in saying that the Nazis were evil, the Nazis didn’t believe it. Again, hence World War Two.

      In the end, /all/ moral systems come down to this when people disagree. Even “objective” ones. No purportedly objective moral system has been universally accepted. Ultimately, they end up doing the same thing that subjective systems do: asking the other person to stop murdering babies, and then, when they don’t, hit them with a rock.

      “That necessarily makes you into a monster.”

      I don’t see how. Can you explain?

      “Further, I’m positive if reality presented any of these situations to you that you wouldn’t act on your values, you’d act on mine.”

      Well, no. I wouldn’t.

      Theoretically, I would shoot the Nazi in the face (in practice, I wouldn’t, because I’m a pacifist – or a coward, depending on your point of view; I don’t think war is necessarily bad, but I’d sure as hell be a conscientious objector if I ever got drafted. I might hit him for all the good it would do coming from my one-hundred-twenty-pound self, but I wouldn’t kill him). But this is because I, /personally/, believe that the Nazi’s actions are wrong, not because /you/ do.

      Our moral systems overlap quite a bit. This doesn’t mean that, when I act on one of these overlaps, I am using your system by default.

      “People act on absolutes, even if their absolutes are wrong.”

      Broadly correct, and that is exactly my point.

      Depending on how you define “absolutes” (here, I take it to mean “a moral axiom which I hold to be true regardless of its objective merit”), this holds true across all moral systems. People act on what they believe is right or wrong, /but what people believe varies wildly from person to person/. Each person has their own moral code.

      This is exactly in keeping with what we would expect in a universe where morality is subjective. However, it does not necessarily prove that there is no objective moral code that people are simply misinterpreting. It fails to disprove either side of the argument. Forgive me a momentary lapse into game-speak, but it’s a “null-tell”. It doesn’t give us any evidence either way. It could match with either scenario. So it can be ignored, and we can turn our attention to the things which actually have some bearing on the issue.

      “To act as if everything is subjective doesn’t make them so”

      This depends.

      Here we get into a bit on how objects are defined. I don’t know if you’ve heard this before, but it’s fairly simple if you haven’t:

      – Object A is defined as “the object possessing all qualities of object A and no others”. Fairly simple: my rug has the quality of being X feet long and Y feet wide with space-time position Z, and any rug which differs from those parameters (along with any others that the rug has) is not my rug.

      The operative phrase here is “and no others”. A subjectively moral universe behaves exactly as the universe we see (or I see, anyway) behaves. An objectively moral universe behaves in exactly the same way, except that one moral system is provably correct.

      If the entire universe acts exactly as though morality is subjective in all situations, then morality is, by definition, subjective. The way to prove the existence of objective morality is to find a situation where the universe behaves as though morality is objective /and where this behavior could not be present in a subjectively moral universe/.

      “though when push comes to shove nobody acts like things are subjective… because they aren’t.”

      Actually, people act exactly as though things are subjective. They do, however, often act as though they /believe/ that they aren’t.

      “Then shut up about commenting on my blog post.”

      If you’d like me to stop, all you have to do is ask. You don’t need to get snippy. I’m not here to offend or antagonize.

      “If you really lived your values, you’d never bother to challenge my position, because you’d be convinced that my position was literally equal to yours’. You don’t. I win.”

      Actually, I would try to challenge your position.

      I think you’re missing a rather critical point of subjective morality. Namely, it can be a tenet of subjective moral codes that it is a good thing (or at least not a bad one) to show others what you believe and why, and to attempt to talk them around to your point of view.

      A key point of most moral philosophy is that helping others is a good thing. If you really back your own moral code, you think that it would be a good thing for everyone to share it (for example, if you think shooting old people is wrong, you probably think that it would be a good thing for everyone else to agree with you, because there wouldn’t be anyone else shooting old people).

      In any case, I’m not here for the explicit purpose of winning converts. I’m here because I enjoy philosophy, and theological/ethical philosophy is one of the areas that really let you sit down and think for a while. I judged from your blog posts that you also enjoyed it. If I was mistaken, I apologize.

      It’s getting later as I type, so I’m going to snip out some parts that I feel I have already addressed above. If you think I’ve missed something important that you’d like an answer to, please let me know.

      “Is this objectively true, or your feelings?”

      It’s objectively true. If you do something other people don’t like, odds are you’re going to find yourself getting worked over in an alleyway with a length of rusty pipe. You can believe whatever you want. Just be prepared to accept the consequences for acting on it.

      “Is anything that violates your personal code objectively wrong?”

      No. Again, I do not believe that there is such a thing as “objectively wrong”.

      “It’s not suspect to you that both systems act as if morals or object and not personal?”

      That isn’t what I said. I said that /people judging one another/ is not suspect, and that /people in/ both systems act as if morals are objective rather than subjective is not suspect. It can be expected under either system. People can /believe/ that their morals are objective no matter whether or not they actually are, and subjectivists judge just as much as anyone else. They just judge according to a criteria which they freely admit has no objective merit.

      “It’s beyond suspect. It points to a truth we both intuit. You can announce it’s an illusion, but we both know it’s just your feelings talking so we have no real need to take your objections or rejoinders seriously.”

      Mister TenNapel, please do not attempt to tell me what I think or believe. Aside from the fact that you know nothing about me besides what I have typed in this comment thread, I could reply that you don’t really believe that morality is objective with exactly as much validity.

      As it is, I believe everything that I have posted here. Saying “you don’t really believe that” is not an actual rebuttal, and it’s beneath you. If you are right and I am wrong, so be it. You don’t need to posit that I am willfully deluding myself in order to attempt to establish your case.

      “I never once argued that the universe cares about anything. Morality can’t come from a rock. A rock doesn’t care if you rape it. That’s you bringing up the universe not me. I only said morals exist, you tied them to the universe.”

      Fair enough. I apologize. I’ve been getting ahead of myself – of course you don’t believe that morality comes from the universe, but from God.

      I don’t believe in a god, though, so I forgot to phrase things that way. Again, my apologies.

      “And we both know that almost nobody is held accountable to the things they do in the society they live.”

      Eh. More than a few, I think, but the system certainly isn’t perfect.

      “By your system it really doesn’t matter either way.”

      Objectively matter? No, it doesn’t. Subjectively, people care. Hence laws and the criminal justice system and the police.

      Is it perfect? No. But why would it be? Again, this would be the case in both an objectively moral and a subjectively moral universe (in this life, anyway; in an objectively moral universe, they might be held accountable in another one). Another null-tell.

      “Nonsense. If the majority decided there would be no rape. But there is more slavery than ever before. And who cares, so long as the majority decides? If the majority decided to make sausage out of black people you would defer to their majority.”

      On the contrary. I would do just the opposite.

      I never stated that I defer to the majority on moral issues. In fact, I said exactly the opposite of that on multiple occasions. I only said that /humans are held accountable by the society in which they live/.

      If I think grinding black people into sausages is a good thing, I can do that all day long without so much as a twang of guilt. But as soon as the people who think it’s wrong find out, they’ll be down on me like a sack of bricks.

      That’s all I’m saying.

      “and it tells us nothing about right and wrong.”

      About objective right and wrong, no.

      “Hitler is no more right or wrong than his opponents in your view.”

      Objectively, yes. In my actual view – as in, in my moral code – his actions were heinous.

      “I’m trying to help you grasp your view better and you keep punting. Don’t reject it. Live it!”

      I understand my position perfectly. I spent several years grappling with it after I first started really studying philosophy.

      I understand perfectly well that there is no objective standard to hold up to Hitler and Churchill and say “Hitler was worse”.

      I understand perfectly well that, when I say “Hitler was worse”, I’m doing nothing more than making a bunch of baseless assertions about what actions are “right” and which are “wrong”.

      I understand perfectly well that there is no objective standard which can be used to compare my view to another and say “Mine’s better”, that it really comes down to nothing more than which flavor of ice cream I prefer.

      I understand perfectly well that this means that a lot of people who do things which I would consider utterly despicable are going to get away scot-free.

      I have learned to live with it, because, to the best of my ability to discern, this is the way things are. Is it nice? No. But the universe is under no obligation to accommodate me. Things don’t have to be nice to be true.

      It’s gone three in the morning here, and I’m finding it hard to stay awake. I’ll break off here for now.

      TL:DR, for all you people out there who don’t care to read everything I say: You can talk about how nasty and bleak a worldview it is that I live in for as long as you like, but it doesn’t make you any more right. To show that morals have an objective standard behind them, you need to show that there is a situation in this universe where morals behave as though they were objective rather than subjective.

      As above, Mister TenNapel, if there’s any part of the post that I didn’t get to that you’d like a response to, please let me know.

  40. L.R. Weizel Says:

    Doug, didn’t you blast homosexuals for being an “Untraditional” group before?

    I am not a moral relativist. That doesn’t mean, suddenly and conveniently, US Christian Conservative viewpoints are what I should assume. Without some degree of logic and concept of utility, concepts the above group tend to lack, morals are useless.

    • tennapel Says:

      I never blast homosexuals as a group. Are you suggesting they’re all the same when it comes to belief in marriage?

      That doesn’t mean, suddenly and conveniently, US Christian Conservative viewpoints are what I should assume.

      I never said this either. You must be having a conversation with someone else.

      “Without some degree of logic and concept of utility, concepts the above group tend to lack, morals are useless.”

      Again with the group-talk. And a particularly ignorant framing of a group. If this is your utility, it doesn’t sound terribly useful.

      • L.R. Weizel Says:

        That’s what I meant – you briefly mentioned in an entry some months back that they were an “Untraditional group” partaining to marriage. But the idea of a constant truth disassociated with tradition contradicts this.

        I have read your blog many times before so I know the kind of viewpoints you’re espousing.

        And yes, from my experience, I have found that to be true of US Christian Conservatives. To even take an example for yourself; I remember you writing about the Constitution and why it made america better than europe. Here you called Europe a “Shit Hole”.

        What?

        That is pure delusion, and many european countries easily have a higher standard of living than the US, nor are they all grey, soulless communistic states, quite the opposite in some regards.

        It’s this kind of dissociation from reality that leads me to make such remarks. I’m not making them purely for the sake of being partisan. But you do have to deal with the fact that you are part of a group that is largely seen as exporting nothing but nonsense to the rest of the world.

      • tennapel Says:

        Some of my favorite people are Europeans. Thatcher, Churchill, Tolkien, Lewis, Chesterton… I read more Europeans than Americans. That should free you from any apparent blanket statement I might say about them.

      • L.R. Weizel Says:

        Also please note I “tend” to be careful with my language as you notice by me saying “tend”. “Generalisations” aren’t always a bad thing, if you’re marking them as generalisations and not absolutes, and actually have some rational reason for being made. I am saying there is a tendency amongst Christian Conservatives to disregard logic and utility, which there is, since it falls back on “god says this” or “tradition says this”.

        Neither of these concepts have much to do with logic or utility. You have to get in to them defending why God says that, why Tradition says this, meaning there was no point bringing them up in the first place.

        Of course, getting into those reasons are difficult, so we’ll annoyingly and relativistic-ally leaving it as “My viewpoint” for the time being, but I think I provided a good example of what I’m talking about above.

      • L.R. Weizel Says:

        “Some of my favorite people are Europeans.”

        Being of western culture that would be hard to avoid. I still clearly saw you say that europe was “Done” – https://tennapel.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/who-are-you-to-judge/

        Certainly some countries do appear to be “done” largely down to the actions of european banks, but most countries are doing just fine, and again, have a higher average standard of living than the US and will continue to do so for some time.

        And as I said too, there are many who really do believe europe is a shit hole. The basic republican/libertarian ideology of neo-liberal economics is in conflict with what’s really happening over here – I see a lot of lies(Well, bad reporting) being spread about Greece; they are actually relatively poor, and their government spending is EU average, so not more “bloated” than anywhere else, and government employment around OECD average. 1 in 5 greeks lived in formal poverty before the recession, and some have to survive on a pension of close to 400 euros – more or less impossible with rising costs of living.

        But the rest of europe? They’re managing. The EU may have to seriously rethink things to survive, Greece and Portugal et. all do provide a threat to that, but Europe as a place, a collection of countries, still has some great places to live.

        Making these kinds of remarks, even if they seem to be based on some shiny statistics, is something that is going to get people who actually live in Europe a bit miffed at you.

        I apologise, I was a little incorrect in that you called “The rest of the world” a hell hole, not europe(though it seems more or less implied). Really? Australia and New Zealand? South Korea is starting to look better and better. Japan’s obviously not too bad depending on where you live.

        Again these kind of remarks are what make American Conservatives look bad.

        For that matter, that whole article is awful. You’re entitled to your religious beliefs, but you have to accept some things are far easier to draw objective truths about. We “should” recycle because it’s wasteful not to and our landfills are full, and there are any number of reasons to keep our rivers clean.

        Perhaps you’ve relaxed your positions on some of these but I’m not going to hold my breath.

  41. BandyRandy Says:

    lol thread necromancy :D

  42. tennapel Says:

    Your ignorance of Christian Conservatives appears to be another tendency. It doesn’t fall back on “god says this”, it’s that God actually said it, making it perfectly logical to follow. It’s also a useful utility to do what the maker of everything tells you to do. You’ll find no higher credo for utility in your own pursuit of logic and utility. You must first demonstrate why it’s false or a necessarily conflicting foundation is true for your accusation to hold. You haven’t, and you can’t, because it’s your own view that is rooted in “I feel this”. You’ve only substituted “god” with “you”. If it’s illogical to believe God, then it’s at least as illogical to believe you. Justify yourself. …as if following utility isn’t merely another form of “tradition says this.” you follow a tradition of utility (though I would argue that your utility if far more of a faith than mine).

    “Of course, getting into those reasons are difficult, so we’ll annoyingly and relativistic-ally leaving it as “My viewpoint” for the time being, but I think I provided a good example of what I’m talking about above.”

    You certainly provided a good example of your viewpoint. No argument here.

  43. Lynn Maudlin Says:

    L.R. Weizel, if Europe is doing so well why are they reliant upon the American military to wage their war against Libya? Because basically since WWII, Europe has relied upon America to defend them against the encroachment of the USSR; with the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the USSR, Europe thought, cool, we don’t need to support NATO any longer!

    Basically, American taxpayers have been underwriting the European lifestyle by providing military security. Frankly, I’d like to see all that rolled back, I’d like to see foreign aid suspended, etc. But that’s my view: I think it’s stupid to borrow money from China in order to give it away in an attempt to bribe or influence other nations (“please like us!” we shouldn’t care whether we’re liked or not; being “liked” is highly overrated, when it comes to national security).

    But I’d like to see your support for this statement: “God could also kill you for wearing underwear that’s a cotton/polyester mix too, and be equally “justified”.” Trust me, God never directs the Jewish people to execute those who use “divers sorts” in garments, like wool and linen. There’s actually a relatively small number of things for which God directs stoning – and yes, a number of them are sexual (e.g., adultery, bestiality, male sodomy, rape under certain circumstances, fornication under certain circumstances, incest; obviously also for murder, for child sacrifice, witchcraft, *cursing their parents* – wow!!). We can learn a lot about God’s values by what He blesses and what He condemns – and while He calls wearing a garment of mixed linen and wool an “abomination” it is not punishable by death – not all “abominations” are equal.

  44. blampow Says:

    Mr. Tennapel,

    I don’t meant to stalk you or claim my right to your free time, but I just checked the inbox I use for this account and was reminded that my last post is still unanswered (you can ctrl +f for February 25, 2011 at 3:06 pm).
    Again: I have a lot of respect for your work. From what I saw of your blog, you also seem like a nice guy. And obviously you have every right to respond selectively.
    (shrug) But I still stand by everything I wrote, and it looks pretty accurate and respectful to me.

    At the very least, it would be a break from endlessly dealing with people insisting that consistent inputs of human behaviour have no correlatedly consistent outputs in terms of collective well being (which seems to be the stance of those insisting that “morality is relative”).

  45. icepick Says:

    Heh, didn’t take time to read all the comments, but just wanted to say I totally TOTALLY agree with you.


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