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Why They Left God Leaving churches that are "shallow, harmless, and ultimately irrelevant"
The Aquila Report ^ | 6-22-13 | Rod Dreher

Posted on 06/22/2013 9:02:59 AM PDT by ReformationFan

Following our 2010 debate in Billings, Montana, I asked Christopher Hitchens why he didn’t try to savage me on stage the way he had so many others. His reply was immediate and emphatic: “Because you believe it.” Without fail, our former church-attending students expressed similar feelings for those Christians who unashamedly embraced biblical teaching.

Larry Alex Taunton and his Christian foundation did a study of college students who are committed atheists, asking them why they chose atheism. What they learned is interesting. Excerpt from his Atlantic piece:

They had attended church

Most of our participants had not chosen their worldview from ideologically neutral positions at all, but in reaction to Christianity. Not Islam. Not Buddhism. Christianity.

The mission and message of their churches was vague

These students heard plenty of messages encouraging “social justice,” community involvement, and “being good,” but they seldom saw the relationship between that message, Jesus Christ, and the Bible. Listen to Stephanie, a student at Northwestern: “The connection between Jesus and a person’s life was not clear.” This is an incisive critique. She seems to have intuitively understood that the church does not exist simply to address social ills, but to proclaim the teachings of its founder, Jesus Christ, and their relevance to the world. Since Stephanie did not see that connection, she saw little incentive to stay. We would hear this again.

(Excerpt) Read more at theaquilareport.com ...


TOPICS: Apologetics; Evangelical Christian; Religion & Culture; Theology
KEYWORDS: atheism; christianity; christopherhitchens; collegestudents; shallow
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1 posted on 06/22/2013 9:02:59 AM PDT by ReformationFan
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To: ReformationFan

This is very common. Most atheists have bad religious experiences, or go through some sort of trauma that causes their disbelief.


2 posted on 06/22/2013 9:12:09 AM PDT by Viennacon
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To: Viennacon

Maybe so, but my money is on the concept that they love sin more than God....

Hence they chose to deny what they wish to dismiss liability for.


3 posted on 06/22/2013 9:17:29 AM PDT by Manly Warrior (US ARMY (Ret), "No Free Lunches for the Dogs of War")
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To: ReformationFan

The largest denominations are gravely misguided in their doctrine. This is why they fell under the spell of new world order, mostly the leftist contingent, which they now work for, either knowingly or unknowingly.


4 posted on 06/22/2013 9:19:03 AM PDT by PieterCasparzen (We have to fix things ourselves)
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To: ReformationFan
Why They Left God
Leaving churches that are "shallow, harmless, and ultimately irrelevant"

Not to pick on just one as they all are among the seven talked about in Revelation, but let's start with the oldest:

No matter what the upper management says, we have the Catholic church and Nancy Pelousy, predatory Priests and the acceptance and encouragement of homosexual lifestyle choices.

Where is God in those equations, other than being ignored or dissed?

If the only "God" part is forgiving sinners of their sins, why encourage the sin?

God has enough to save without encouraging more to join with the devil. We do that just fine all by ourselves. We don't need churches to help, though I'm sure the devil appreciates it.

Is the atheist foolish for judging the tree by its fruits? Perhaps, perhaps not.

5 posted on 06/22/2013 9:21:19 AM PDT by GBA (Here in the Matrix, life is but a dream.)
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To: ReformationFan

For the atheists I know, it comes down to two issues:
1. churches do not live up to their own values. They are boring not because they don’t have a rock band on stage (some do, and they may nevertheless be boring), but because the message itself has lost its vitality and relevance.

2. there is an element of coercion in many churches. Approval and ostracism are meted out based on the degree to which one “fits” in the millieu of the church. Many people go through a phase of their lives when they question their faith. This aspect of the churchgoing experience simply intensifies the doubt that there is any substance to religious belief.


6 posted on 06/22/2013 9:25:40 AM PDT by oblomov
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To: PieterCasparzen

I would say, “knowingly”, in the case of every major denomination.


7 posted on 06/22/2013 9:31:21 AM PDT by oblomov
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To: GBA

Nancy Pelosi may call herself catholic but she is not....a formal and public excommunication would not change that.

The beauty and miracle of Catholicism lies in the blessing of the Eucharist. It is not the age of the church but the miracle of Christ’s sacrifice and the gift that that sacrifice bestows in the heart of the believer at mass that helps the sinner find salvation. Are there sinners ( committing grave sins no less) at every level of the church...yes and yet Christ is present with them at every mass. Remember he surrounded himself with sinners during his human life here on Earth.... doesn’t it fit that He would keep company with sinners after His resurrection as well?

Where is God you ask in the Catholic church? He is in the tabernacle, on the altar and in the hearts of the faithful.

The fruits of the church lie not in vatican city..or the offices of the bishops but with the people who learn to love Jesus... their fruits are many if you are willing to look... by their deeds you shall know them.


8 posted on 06/22/2013 9:38:17 AM PDT by longfellowsmuse (last of the living nomads)
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To: Viennacon

But I have noticed that 100% of them suffer guilt and fear of judgement.

That’s why they accuse the church of being hateful, they don’t want to feel this guilt.

They don’t realize, even if they exceeded in removing the church from the earth, this guilt would persist. In their heart of hearts that they can’t deny, is the truth that this guilt can’t be relieved without God in their lives.


9 posted on 06/22/2013 9:50:47 AM PDT by dila813
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To: ReformationFan

In my case it wasn’t that the message was vague but that it was absurd. I tried to believe when I was younger because I thought that if you didn’t believe you were some kind of horrible person. I never could though. When I would ask questions that I thought the people should be able to answer they instead evaded them and told me I needed to have faith.

During my 20’s I continued to try and be a good Christian because that is what I had been indoctrinated with by the people I had grown up around. I prayed and prayed and suffered. As I got older, I examined the fundamental principles of Christianity and realized that they were wrong and that there was no rational basis to believe any of it. I eventually came to understand that it was all made up by men and I had never had to suffer with the anxiety all those years. On the day when I finally realized the truth, such a feeling of peace came over me. It was the feeling that had been described to me but which I never felt when praying to Jesus. Now I am at peace and I enjoy knowing that the world makes sense and I do not have to go through life begging forgiveness for an unearned guilt. And no I don’t think my life has no purpose or I can do anything I want to. I hear that all the time from Christians. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think this world is wonderful and so much is open to me to achieve and learn. I don’t believe I am evil by nature and need a moral code to keep me in check. I know that being moral is in my own rational interest and morality is a guide to help me achieve the best possible life.

I can’t speak for other atheists but so many on these forums seem to do just that. I just thought I would add my own experience.


10 posted on 06/22/2013 9:54:43 AM PDT by albionin ( ,)
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This article ties directly into this book:

“Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics”
By Ross Douthat
http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Religion-Became-Nation-Heretics/dp/1439178305/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371919749&sr=8-1&keywords=bad+religion+hardcover

http://www.amazon.com/review/R19AJ0K1SC6HVO/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm


11 posted on 06/22/2013 9:55:37 AM PDT by RBStealth
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To: albionin

I don’t know what Christian tradition you came from, but Christianity (other than some flake cults) has never regarded the world and creation as fundamentally evil.

Human nature tends to incline, naturally, towards selfishness, and that’s what evil is: it can be distilled as “I want this or that,” and it doesn’t matter how it affects other people’s lives.

The moral code which was given to us by God through Moses and then transformed from a negative ethic to a positive ethic by Jesus simply prevents individuals from feeling their own personal desires are supreme. These could be things like jealousy, a desire for your neighbor’s wife or money or even the neighbor himself, hatred or expedience in dealing with other human beings by killing them. etc.

This is called natural law. A lot of churches and even Jewish organizations have interpreted it badly. Some Jews got into tiny aspects of ritual law, while some Christian churches got into only one aspect of the overall Judeo-Christian view. That is, they focused on the human tendency to sinfulness (meaning selfishness) and ignored both the Redemption (that is, the way out of this) and the eternal drama of good and evil.

Protestant churches were way too subject to a sort of Jansenist view. But even the Catholic and Orthodox churches at times got way too involved in either their ritual or their social acceptability, so there is plenty of guilt to go around.

But look back at the message. It comes to us from God, through the Jews and also through the gentiles (the Greeks and Romans), distilled into God’s personal Revelation in Jesus, and can save the world.


12 posted on 06/22/2013 10:07:49 AM PDT by livius
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To: ReformationFan
You can’t get there through argument alone, at least not with most people. They need to see more. They need to see the faith incarnate in a meaningful way.

What is lacking here is the witness of the Holy Ghost and that will only be found when truth is taught.

There’s more, including the discovery that the high school years were decisive for these young atheists, in determining their religious (irreligious, I mean) path.

If our nation's children attend godless, compulsory, and government owned schools built on a socialist-entitlement model, they **WILL** learn to think and reason godlessly. They must just to cooperate in the godless classroom. How could it be otherwise?

And....These children risk learning to be comfortable with government compulsion. They also learn that any voting mob powerful enough to give them single-payer, tuition-free, and socialist-entitlement schooling is powerful enough to give them **lots** of "free" stuff!

85% of children from **highly active** evangelical homes are not active in their faith 2 years after graduating from high school. In complete contrast, homeschoolers were **95%** actives. BIG difference!

Finally...The author claims that the atheists were irreligious. Nonsense. All sentient humans have a religious worldview that is based upon belief because none of it can be proven. That religious worldview is either God-centered or godless. Neither of these religious belief systems or worldviews is neutral in content or consequences for the individual or for society as a whole.

13 posted on 06/22/2013 10:13:10 AM PDT by wintertime (Yuri Besmenov was a prophet.)
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To: ReformationFan

Jesus says that few are on the narrow way to heaven, while the highway to hell is one big traffic jam (modern translation of Matthew 7;13). Real Christianity is not popular because it is exclusive and so difficult that without the help of the Holy Spirit every day, we would all be lost.


14 posted on 06/22/2013 10:15:26 AM PDT by txrefugee
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To: albionin

Do you believe there is right and wrong? Not just what is expedient or serves the interests of yourselves or others but genuinely right or wrong?


15 posted on 06/22/2013 10:18:53 AM PDT by butterdezillion (,)
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To: albionin

The fundamental principle of Christianity is to love one another, as Christ did.

Jesus of Nazareth existed as a human.

The fundamental question becomes was Jesus divine and did he rise from the dead. Certainly it is possible to acknowledge the positive message he proclaimed even if one denies his divinity.

Christianity is not about feeling persecuted by the guilt of one’s sins.. It is about loving Jesus and following his example to love, while understanding we will always be sinners...Christ does not expect perfection from his followers ( remember Peter’s denial) We may have many atheists because the true message of Christ is missing from many of our churches.


16 posted on 06/22/2013 10:19:32 AM PDT by longfellowsmuse (last of the living nomads)
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To: butterdezillion

Of course I do. There is an objective right and wrong because there is an objective truth which comes from an objective universe.


17 posted on 06/22/2013 10:37:16 AM PDT by albionin ( ,)
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To: butterdezillion

You obviously didn’t read my post.


18 posted on 06/22/2013 10:38:45 AM PDT by albionin ( ,)
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To: longfellowsmuse

I suggest you look again.


19 posted on 06/22/2013 10:40:16 AM PDT by albionin ( ,)
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To: albionin

Christianity is NOT about wallowing in one’s sense of sin... but in perpetuating love...


20 posted on 06/22/2013 10:41:18 AM PDT by longfellowsmuse (last of the living nomads)
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To: longfellowsmuse

That is not a principle but an ethic. Ask yourself what the principles that ethic is based on.


21 posted on 06/22/2013 10:45:38 AM PDT by albionin ( ,)
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To: longfellowsmuse

I know what it is about.


22 posted on 06/22/2013 10:46:50 AM PDT by albionin ( ,)
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To: albionin

The message of Jesus to love one another is indeed a principle to live by...We all have the choice to believe or reject his divinity....and we all have our own personal reasons why we do so....

But to claim that Christianity is anything other than Christ’s desire for us to love one another, is a lie and a misrepresentation used to lead people away from his message.


23 posted on 06/22/2013 10:53:56 AM PDT by longfellowsmuse (last of the living nomads)
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To: albionin
In my case it wasn’t that the message was vague but that it was absurd.
Your first sentence said it all. You should have stopped there.
24 posted on 06/22/2013 11:04:53 AM PDT by Hiddigeigei ("Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish," said Dionysus - Euripides)
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To: Viennacon
To quote P.D. Wang, a Christian minister: "The Christian Church in America is a mile wide and an inch deep."

I love the Lord Jesus Christ, and I will love, serve, and follow Him to the best of my abilities and with the help of the Holy Spirit, all the days of my life.

But I think that American churches which proselytize a 'gospel' of 'cheap grace' and 'believe it-receive it' materialism are the greatest factor in repelling both earnest believers and seekers alike.

People who are spiritually poor, wounded, needy, desperate, and hungry are looking for the indestructible shelter of God's love and grace through the atoning sacrifice of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

But instead of gently receiving, accepting, and coming alongside these people, and showing them the redemptive, restorative love of Christ, the American church gives them a Valium.

God tells us in in His Word that the Church is the living Body of Christ. The Church is the only Christ that the world can see. Yet we have taken that wondrous, vibrant, glorious gift, denied the price God paid to found it, and stripped it of its holiness in order to 'get with the times' and fill more seats. We have removed the simplicity of God's truth and redecorated it with gaudiness, populated its pulpits with hypocrites, and turned the Gospel into a TBN-style freak show. We have taken the Bride of Christ and turned her into a prostitute.

Who in their right minds would be attracted to a monstrosity like that?

25 posted on 06/22/2013 12:14:30 PM PDT by 60Gunner (Fight with your head high, or grovel with your head low.)
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To: albionin

Albion, your unbelief is a good example of the free will that God grants us. He allows us to choose between good and evil, between right and wrong, between belief and unbelief, and also between a lukewarm belief and robust belief.

Many of us have traversed the road you are on. How many times I have prayed the old prayer, “Help thou mine unbelief!”


26 posted on 06/22/2013 12:23:54 PM PDT by Liberty Wins
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To: albionin
In my case it wasn’t that the message was vague but that it was absurd. I tried to believe when I was younger because I thought that if you didn’t believe you were some kind of horrible person. I never could though. When I would ask questions that I thought the people should be able to answer they instead evaded them and told me I needed to have faith.

During my 20’s I continued to try and be a good Christian because that is what I had been indoctrinated with by the people I had grown up around. I prayed and prayed and suffered. As I got older, I examined the fundamental principles of Christianity and realized that they were wrong and that there was no rational basis to believe any of it. I eventually came to understand that it was all made up by men and I had never had to suffer with the anxiety all those years. On the day when I finally realized the truth, such a feeling of peace came over me. It was the feeling that had been described to me but which I never felt when praying to Jesus. Now I am at peace and I enjoy knowing that the world makes sense and I do not have to go through life begging forgiveness for an unearned guilt. And no I don’t think my life has no purpose or I can do anything I want to. I hear that all the time from Christians. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think this world is wonderful and so much is open to me to achieve and learn. I don’t believe I am evil by nature and need a moral code to keep me in check. I know that being moral is in my own rational interest and morality is a guide to help me achieve the best possible life.

I can’t speak for other atheists but so many on these forums seem to do just that. I just thought I would add my own experience.


You said "I don’t believe I am evil by nature and need a moral code to keep me in check.". So don't believe you are "evil by nature", but since you don't define what evil is, you have no yardstick to measure by. Without a standard, a way of determining what is good and what is evil, how can anyone say whether they are evil or good ?

You add in that you "don't need a moral code to keep me in check", which is, in truth, advocating having no laws. After all, if people don't need a moral code to keep them in check, that means everyone will do the right thing at all times. Well, perhaps not everyone, so perhaps you say a moral code is needed for some people, but not good, moral atheists like yourself. How can society know who needs to be subject to a moral code, and who will be moral without a code ? And, without a moral code, how would we know a moral action from an immoral one ?

Your next statement shows the naivete taught in our educational system: "I know that being moral is in my own rational interest". Very often people do things that further their own ends at the expense of someone else. If you know for sure that you can get away with stealing a little here and there from the government or some big company, and no one will ever find out, (just think of the tens of millions of people cheating on disability or welfare programs), then your own purely rational interest is well-served if you help yourself to what's not yours.

If someone drops $8,000 and you pick it up, and you know for a fact that they have no idea where they dropped it, and no one will ever know that you picked it up - if you just clam up and keep the money - you are ahead by $8,000. That's acting in "your own rational interest".

Where in this as yet unspecified and undefined "atheist's moral code" does it say that taking money that's not yours but just "falls into your lap" is wrong ?

By what standard do you gauge whether something is moral or immoral ?
27 posted on 06/22/2013 12:44:15 PM PDT by PieterCasparzen (We have to fix things ourselves)
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To: PieterCasparzen

You have asked some good questions which deserve an answer. I am working right now but I want to sit down and read your post carefully so I can respond. I’ll answer you tonight.


28 posted on 06/22/2013 12:54:10 PM PDT by albionin ( ,)
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To: albionin
My dad would have agreed with you wholeheartedly.

In his opinion, most preachers were just beggars coming around asking for money in exchange for a ticket to heaven. He thought that if heaven was real, then any of those who had died, would have found a way to tell us about it, as some had promised in his day. None did.

I wish I had found the book "My Descent into Death, A Second Chance at Life" by Howard Storm before my dad passed away.

Howard Storm was an atheist college professor who had a near death experience and lived to came back to tell about it.

The experience radically altered his perceptions of reality and death, since, unlike many who experience the light and/or long dead relatives and friends coming to welcome them when they die, he went to the other place.

There are many books written by those from all ages and all walks of life who have experienced near death and come back and their stories are remarkably similar, despite their different ages, backgrounds and education.

You owe it to yourself to explore this more fully. I wish my father had.

29 posted on 06/22/2013 2:59:37 PM PDT by GBA (Here in the Matrix, life is but a dream.)
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To: longfellowsmuse
The fruits of the church lie not in vatican city..or the offices of the bishops but with the people who learn to love Jesus... their fruits are many if you are willing to look... by their deeds you shall know them.

Perhaps that church could use a refresher course and some sales training.

I only offer observations about those who make claims of authority, yet whose actions show a curious reluctance to lead by example and usually drive those in need away.

That seems harmful and contrary to their mission, but what do I know? Not much.

Fortunately, it's not hard to find God if you are willing to look for Him. He will help the earnest, as well as the wretched, to develop the ears to hear and the eyes to see.

30 posted on 06/22/2013 3:17:24 PM PDT by GBA (Here in the Matrix, life is but a dream.)
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To: oblomov

3. have a friend or relative that is gay. Have met 3 thus far that have said that to me.


31 posted on 06/22/2013 3:57:50 PM PDT by Wicket (God bless and protect our troops and God bless America)
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To: oblomov
2. there is an element of coercion in many churches. Approval and ostracism are meted out based on the degree to which one “fits” in the millieu of the church.

You got that right. I've seen it in Pentecostalism where you are judged as to your spirituality but whether you speak in tongues, fall down (slain), how exuberant you are in worship, to put it kindly, etc.

There are the have's and the have not's. It is a very judgmental atmosphere and I can see why people reject it.

The problem is, they end up rejecting God, not what is wrong in the local church body.

32 posted on 06/22/2013 5:36:31 PM PDT by metmom (For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore & do not submit again to a yoke of slavery)
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To: PieterCasparzen

OK I am ready to answer you now that I have had a chance to go over your post carefully. I’ll deal the first part of your post first.

You said: You said “I don’t believe I am evil by nature and need a moral code to keep me in check.”. So don’t believe you are “evil by nature”, but since you don’t define what evil is, you have no yardstick to measure by. Without a standard, a way of determining what is good and what is evil, how can anyone say whether they are evil or good ?

You add in that you “don’t need a moral code to keep me in check”, which is, in truth, advocating having no laws. After all, if people don’t need a moral code to keep them in check, that means everyone will do the right thing at all times. Well, perhaps not everyone, so perhaps you say a moral code is needed for some people, but not good, moral atheists like yourself. How can society know who needs to be subject to a moral code, and who will be moral without a code ? And, without a moral code, how would we know a moral action from an immoral one ?

OK. In the context of the bible evil would mean unfit for existence, since the punishment for sin is death. So according to the bible man in his fallen state is so wrong that he will die unless he changes his ways and not only die but be punished eternally. So I as an individual, am saddled from birth with this stain because of the actions of two people. I need to ask for forgiveness and atone for my sin or I will be burned in hell and be tormented for all of eternity. So by my nature I am unfit for existence. I would define evil as that which is wrong or harmful to man’s life. So according to the bible I am wrong by nature and my own nature is harmful to my life or evil.
When I said I didn’t need a moral code to keep me in check I was speaking to the nature of morality. Since I don’t believe I am unfit for existence from birth and need to be constrained from doing evil by the threat of punishment I view morality as a guide to help me choose the actions which will bring me the greatest happiness and success in life. What is a moral code and why do we need one. Morality is simply that which is right. Right for what, what is the standard by which we measure what is right? Well the standard depends on your purpose. Man is not like other creatures in that he has to choose his course of action in the face of many alternatives. So the primary choice, the one which precedes all others is does he want to live or to die. Since man has a fixed nature with fixed requirements for life that is the standard by which the good is decided on. So that which is harmful to man’s life is the evil and that which sustains man’s life as a human being in accordance with his nature is the good. The things which man practices to achieve the values he needs are virtues and the actions that harm his life are vices.
So a moral code of values is absolutely essential to every single man if he wishes to live and the standard to choose those values is his life and that which it requires according to his nature as man. Morality then is literally a matter of life and death. Laws are required in society because, unfortunately, some people choose death over life. The purpose of laws is to protect man’s rights and man’s life must be the standard of value used to determine what laws we put in place.

You said: Your next statement shows the naivete taught in our educational system: “I know that being moral is in my own rational interest”. Very often people do things that further their own ends at the expense of someone else. If you know for sure that you can get away with stealing a little here and there from the government or some big company, and no one will ever find out, (just think of the tens of millions of people cheating on disability or welfare programs), then your own purely rational interest is well-served if you help yourself to what’s not yours.

If someone drops $8,000 and you pick it up, and you know for a fact that they have no idea where they dropped it, and no one will ever know that you picked it up - if you just clam up and keep the money - you are ahead by $8,000. That’s acting in “your own rational interest”.

Where in this as yet unspecified and undefined “atheist’s moral code” does it say that taking money that’s not yours but just “falls into your lap” is wrong ?

By what standard do you gauge whether something is moral or immoral ?

OK, let’s look at this. The essence of your question is why shouldn’t I better my life by harming others whenever and where ever I can get away with it. Wouldn’t that be a neat trick to pull? The short answer is no.

To take your example of the dropped $8,000, what would be the essence of that action? It would be the attempt to gain or keep a value by fraud and force. The money is not mine by right. I didn’t earn it. It rightfully belongs to the other man unless he also stole it. Nothing can change that fact. Because reality exists independent of my thoughts and wishes, No matter how I might attempt to justify keeping the money, it will always be wrong. Would the money bring me any happiness? Not if my purpose is life. Say I took the money down and bought a new four wheeler. In your example you say that no one would ever find out but that is not true. I would know. Every time I used it I would know that I hadn’t earned it and it was not mine by right. If I bought food with it I would know with each bite that it was stolen. And there are much wider implications. How would I explain to my friends why I could suddenly afford four wheelers and lobster tails. Since reality is a consistent whole all facts are connected. I would be forced to lie about where the money came from, and then to concoct other lies to cover those lies until the truth would become my enemy and lying a virtue. If life and reality are my purpose then how can I achieve them by setting myself against reality? So the money could never be a value to me and nothing the money ever bought could be either. So the reason not to take the money is that it is not in my own rational interest. If I held that lying and cheating were a virtue and honesty a vice then what would my purpose be? What would I achieve by practicing those virtues and avoiding the vices of honesty and fairness? If I set myself against existence then what am I after? Do you think those people who cheat the welfare codes are happy or can ever be happy. No, they have forever cheated themselves from any chance at happiness or success. Ask yourself what their answer to that primary choice I talked about earlier is.

The principle involved is that honesty, the recognition of reality, is a virtue. The founders set this principle down in the declaration. They correctly recognized that man exists with certain inalienable rights. To violate any man’s rights is to violate every man’s including my own. So that is why fraud, rape, murder, stealing and all other forms of the initiation of force are wrong. It can never be in anyone’s rational interest to help themselves to what’s not theirs.


33 posted on 06/23/2013 9:45:44 AM PDT by albionin ( ,)
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To: GBA

I have explored it fully. I would have to take this man’s words on faith since I can’t verify what he experienced. There have been many experiments to try and verify these out of body experiences and none have ever produced any actual evidence.


34 posted on 06/23/2013 9:48:40 AM PDT by albionin ( ,)
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To: albionin
Yes, we take much on faith until we have the experience ourselves.

People just like us, who lived where we do now 200 years ago, would see our technology, which we now take for granted, as miraculous.

We could explain the science of the unseen around them, the vast electromagnetic spectrum for which we barely have the physical senses to comprehend even a sliver of, and all that has come from our new understanding of it, the silicon based electronics and software code, but they would know that we were lying to them.

We are generally doubting Thomases until we see it for ourselves. That is me.

So, I offer one more from my path, a book by a neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander who survived the unsurvivable and also came back fully intact, miraculous all by itself, to tell about it.

His book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife, is written from his point of view as a brain surgeon who, like many of his colleagues, clearly agreed with you prior to his own experience.

He and they also would have told you that there is no way anyone in his condition would survive it, and even if they did, there's no way they'd have much of a brain left, let alone fully recover a neurologist's education, training and experience.

As such, perhaps he is uniquely qualified to address your comment to me, should you be curious.

Personally, if I can't check it out myself, then I want to hear from those who have.

I've had many of his undergrad classes, so I understand the language and much of the basic brain areas/functions, and had some first hand experiences, so his experience and point of view was helpful.

Interestingly, he wrote his own experience down first, before exploring the vast library of other people's experiences, so as not to taint writing/documenting his understanding/explanation immediately afterward, while it was still fresh in his mind, with another person's terminology or experiences.

Howard Storm's book from his experience as an atheist was my first. Dr. Eben Alexander's book from a hard core, practical science/medical point of view was the third book.

The second book was from a child's point of view: Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo.

Todd Burpo is a reverend in a small town, so his point of view is Christian, but mostly of a father trying to help his dying son and then understand his son's remarkable experience.

For me, that's essentially three points of view, a hostile non-believer's, a practical scientist/Surgeon's and a more or less guile-less child's, all describing the same experience.

There are others, but I wanted to show that I have been doing some due diligence, as well as share some of what I have found.

Another book I've not had a chance to get back to is Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels by J. Warner Wallace.

At this point in my reading, he's written about his study of the events of the Bible from his point of view and training and experience as a homicide investigator.

He is showing me things I hadn't noticed before and I like having information, the more the better.

Though I've not read any of Lewis, I was especially taken by J. Warner Wallace's starting perspective when he began his investigation:

Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, is of infinite importance.
The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.
--C.S. Lewis

I had not heard that before, but couldn't argue with it. Nor could I say that I have fully explored something that could be of infinite importance, but I like a challenge.

I hope that I am not proselytizing or being aggressive with this post or this information.

I absolutely cannot stand religious aggression against me, especially by the newly born again who I tolerate and the fake preachers which I do not, so I hope I haven't morphed into either one of those with this post.

35 posted on 06/23/2013 11:31:43 AM PDT by GBA (Rubio and the Rinos have the GOP Whigging out.)
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To: GBA

I appreciate your comments and don’t take them as proselytizing. I too read a great many of those books about near death experiences. In the end I concluded that no matter how many of them I read I would still have to take the author’s word on faith. There are experiments being run right now to try to produce real evidence of these experiences and so far they have failed. I don’t know what is going on and neither does anyone else. To be honest I would like them to be true but that doesn’t make them true. When someone produces some real evidence and can verify these experiences I will believe. The same thing goes for alien abductions, past life experiences and M theory. No amount of eye witness accounts by themselves is sufficient evidence of anything. If all we had were eye witness accounts of the holocaust but there were no physical evidence such as bodies, ovens, prison camps, photos and movies then it would not be rational to believe in the holocaust.

Yes, many people do take much on faith but not me. Those Indians might well take my ipod or cell phone as magic but they would be wrong. Their’s would be an error of knowledge. They would be capable of learning the background knowledge to understand these technologies. I cannot fathom what technologies will exist 100 years from now. It will not be magic though but technology of which I would also have to learn the background knowledge of. Because we don’t know the reason for something, we are not justified to believe that it must be supernatural. Many of the things men used to attribute to supernatural forces have now been shown to be natural phenomenon.

I can argue with that C.S. Lewis quote. If Christianity is false it is of immense importance because ideas matter a great deal. All of history has been determined by ideas. Ideas are the most powerful force in the universe. The wrong ideas lead to destruction and the right ones bring about happiness and prosperity or at least the best chance of obtaining them. America was founded on some great and true ideas. Unfortunately some very evil ideas were also present right from the start of this country and those ideas are bringing this country down before our eyes. Ask yourself what those ideas are and where they are being taught and promoted. There is one fundamental idea that is false and is at the root of all of the major religions and also at the foundations of Progressivism, Natzism, Socialism, Communism and fascism and if we could just get rid of it once and for all it would bring about the greatest prosperity the world has ever known.


36 posted on 06/23/2013 2:43:35 PM PDT by albionin ( ,)
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To: albionin
Thanks for your reply and your thoughts. You remind me that some believe that science's ultimate contribution will be proof of God. Perhaps, if the world doesn't end first in some sort of natural or man-caused cataclysm and the story we were born into gets reset along with humanity.

I suspect we will have to agree to disagree for the remainder of our consciousnesses when we find out for certain.

Regardless of whether or not science is eventually able to support or disprove their theories regarding existence or the experience of Purgatory/Hades and of Jesus, as those NDEs document, I have read and experienced enough to support both faith and fear.

And, along the way, I have curiously found that "peace that comes from understanding" others have spoken of, but I had never experienced.

I think I had to live enough life first, the good, bad and the ugly, before whatever had blocked my understanding was lifted. For all of that, I am grateful. I asked and I did receive.

37 posted on 06/23/2013 3:09:19 PM PDT by GBA (Here in the Matrix, life is but a dream.)
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To: albionin
Let me start off by saying I'm not trying to be sarcastic, etc., - just trying to logically drill down to some points. I appreciate the time and thought you put into your writing.

I would define evil as that which is wrong or harmful to man’s life.

"wrong": undefined. "harmful": subjective. Example: I may think it's fine to sell my daughter into slavery, that it is for her own good and my own good. You may feel that I was wrong in doing that. Which is the "moral" position ? Upon what basis is the claim of truth made ?

I view morality as a guide to help me choose the actions which will bring me the greatest happiness and success in life.

"guide to help me choose": subjective.

Morality is simply that which is right.

"right": undefined.

Right for what, what is the standard by which we measure what is right? Well the standard depends on your purpose.

"standard depends on your purpose": subjective.

Man is not like other creatures in that he has to choose his course of action in the face of many alternatives.

Other mammals certainly can choose courses of action in the face of many alternatives. To eat, to sleep, to bite, to purr, to run, to run away, to stay home, etc. Mammals have actually saved the lives of their owners, e.g., waking them during fires, detecting low blood sugar in diabetics and seizures in epileptics. There are differences between man and other creatures, but facing and not facing choices is not one of them.

So the primary choice, the one which precedes all others is does he want to live or to die. Since man has a fixed nature with fixed requirements for life that is the standard by which the good is decided on.

"fixed nature with fixed requirements for life": life has fixed requirements at the bare minimum; much of life other than that presents myriad options. Morality would be the standard by which we judge whether the choices a person makes in the face of all those options are "right" or "wrong".

So that which is harmful to man’s life is the evil

"So that which is harmful to man’s life is the evil": if a soldier in battle falls on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers - sacrificing his own life - is that evil ?

and that which sustains man’s life as a human being in accordance with his nature is the good.

"that which sustains man’s life as a human being in accordance with his nature": a certain man and his wife go out to dinner in a big city, and, walking back to their car after midnight on a deserted street, they are accosted by a strong man with a knife. The husband is unarmed and there are no police around. The attacker grabs the husband's cell phone and smashes it. The attacker grabs the wife and drags her into an alley. The husband, seeking to "sustain his own life as a human being in accordance with his nature", goes off looking for police, leaving his wife to be beaten, raped and then stabbed to death. Were the husband's actions morally good ?

The things which man practices to achieve the values he needs are virtues and the actions that harm his life are vices.

"the actions that harm his life are vices": A certain man is a professional fisherman, the industry with the highest rate of occupational morality, (127 per 100,000 in 2011). He certainly could choose another career and simply fish as a hobby in a much safer environment if he enjoys fishing. Is his choice of career a vice, i.e., morally wrong ?

So a moral code of values is absolutely essential to every single man if he wishes to live

Mobsters and gangbangers have their own "moral code of values". Their life of crime rarely results in the death penalty any more. And only a small percentage are ever executed by fellow gangsters. Most criminals spend time in and out of jail, but die of natural causes. But I think few non-gangsters would agree that the gangsters have a "moral code" that is truly moral.

Laws are required in society because, unfortunately, some people choose death over life.

Most laws do not fall into the category of life and death, but are all sorts of minutiae. For example, doggy-pooh pickup laws are "required" only because people don't like picking up or stepping in the doggy-pooh of other people's dogs which has been surreptitiously deposited on their lawn. More a matter of cleanliness than life and death. Many times seemingly insignificant laws make a big difference in people's lives, in "quality of life", i.e., noise, congestion, business practices, etc., etc. Though arguably not "required", per se, many times most would agree with them.

The purpose of laws is to protect man’s rights

Laws either limit or require behaviors. There are many laws where saying or doing things is limited, where people can "be" is limited, people are required to do certain things at certain times, etc. IMHO, a more complete explanation would be that the law not only protects the rights of some, but curtails the rights of others when it resolves conflicting claims of rights. Without a just legal system, conflicting claims of rights are resolved by the "every man for himself" algorithm.

and man’s life must be the standard of value used to determine what laws we put in place.

Again, there are many laws that are not that beneficial or crucial to most people's lives, but most would agree with the laws being in place - parking laws, for example, keep the "not-so-smart-driver" from simply parking wherever they please and thus creating an enormous annoyance. Conversely, we have the laws that attempt to "prevent" crime by nowadays allowing evesdropping. While ostensibly to "save lives" from "terrorist attacks", ergo, the government would claim that it would meet the standard of being required to protect everyone's life, they turn America into a police state.

Continued...
38 posted on 06/23/2013 10:37:34 PM PDT by PieterCasparzen (We have to fix things ourselves)
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To: albionin
(continued response to #33) ... OK, let’s look at this. The essence of your question is why shouldn’t I better my life by harming others whenever and where ever I can get away with it. Wouldn’t that be a neat trick to pull? The short answer is no.

Ok, I'll read along to see "why" the answer is no.

To take your example of the dropped $8,000, what would be the essence of that action? It would be the attempt to gain or keep a value by fraud and force. The money is not mine by right. I didn’t earn it. It rightfully belongs to the other man unless he also stole it.

You say "It rightfully belongs to the other man unless he also stole it".

That is a moral "rule" - where are you getting that rule from ?

I was responding to this:

I don’t believe I am evil by nature and need a moral code to keep me in check. I know that being moral is in my own rational interest and morality is a guide to help me achieve the best possible life.

You are saying you don't need a moral code to keep you in check. You have no moral code. But then you say that it is wrong to steal. Who made the rule that it is wrong to steal ? Where did you get that rule from, upon what are you basing your moral judgement that stealing is wrong ?

If you respond with "stealing is wrong", then you're trying to prove that stealing is wrong based on your statement that stealing is wrong.

Would the money bring me any happiness? Not if my purpose is life. Say I took the money down and bought a new four wheeler. In your example you say that no one would ever find out but that is not true. I would know. Every time I used it I would know that I hadn’t earned it and it was not mine by right. If I bought food with it I would know with each bite that it was stolen.

Not everyone experiences guilt to the same degree; with some folks, it certainly appears that they have no guilt or shame. Plenty of folks gleefully live the high life with ill-gotten gains, are never found out and right up to the point of death exhibit no remorse. Since guilt and shame are not universally consistent, one cannot develop a universally consistent moral code based solely on obvserved evidence of guilt and shame.

How would I explain to my friends why I could suddenly afford four wheelers and lobster tails.

This of course only has to do with getting caught, which for millions of folks with ill-gotten gains never happens. Simple trashy folks (of any color) scamming welfare programs are nearly impervious to the law (which encourages them), while all the way up to billionaires who financially pillage whole countries glide around the world as our most respected citizens, so-called pillars of the community. They have a hard time getting convicted of just about anything because they have the government in their pocket, like virtual employees.

Perhaps your moral code is based on your own feelings of right and wrong, and the prospect of doing certain things produces feelings of apprehension, a feeling that those certain things are wrong. If that's the case, and that's what you base your moral code on, that certainly answers the question. The Bible tells us that God's law is "written in the heart", which explains feelings of guilt. However, if people subscribe only to their own thoughts and feelings as their moral code, then every man has his own moral code, as every man is in his own situations in life and reacts with his own thoughts and feelings.

The principle involved is that honesty, the recognition of reality, is a virtue.

Again, what are you basing this on ? Who wrote this ? Plato ? Aristotle ? Is it inherently obvious to you, so in fact this is your original idea ?

The founders set this principle down in the declaration. They correctly recognized that man exists with certain inalienable rights.

Most unfortunately, however, they did not cite any references explicitly, so all we have to go on is the Constitution itself. And the Constitution does not address morality.

To violate any man’s rights is to violate every man’s including my own.

Figure of speech.

So that is why fraud, rape, murder, stealing and all other forms of the initiation of force are wrong. It can never be in anyone’s rational interest to help themselves to what’s not theirs.

I asked "By what standard do you gauge whether something is moral or immoral ? "

You did cite the founding documents of America. In response, I'll simply say that they do not address morality; in fact, they read simply as a masterwork of secular humanism. It would take some time, but one could go through those documents from a Christian theological point of view and it would become painfully obvious. Simply using the word Creator is not enough to say that US law must conform to the Bible. The same could be said if one analyzed them from a Bhuddist point of view, Hindu etc. There would be plenty of room to comment on them, but they simply do not reference any particular moral framework.

Other than that, perhaps there is someone else's writing, e.g., Confucious, Aristotle, Adam Smith, specific cultural traditions, etc., that you could cite in defining a moral standard ? Otherwise, of course, your moral standard is simply that, your own, which no matter how sincere and heartfelt, implies that there is no objective moral standard, but it's "to each their own".

To restate the question, with stealing, to keep things straightforward - what is the moral standard which you adhere to that defines stealing as wrong ?
39 posted on 06/23/2013 10:42:52 PM PDT by PieterCasparzen (We have to fix things ourselves)
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To: ReformationFan

i canned religion for hot rods and drag racing 68 years ago and never looked back!


40 posted on 06/23/2013 10:52:46 PM PDT by dalereed
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To: GBA

Here in Kentucky Pastor Storm now, he wasn’t a Pastor at the time he visited our Catholic Parish told his story of being an atheist,it was compelling because you could feel his emotions of coming from what was someone who denied God and becoming a man of God who now preaches the Christian faith. We are all on a journey of faith rather we believe or not. For me growing up as a child I was always asking about God/Jesus now my family were not church going people but they had a sense of faith in Jesus as the son of God but could not find time to read the Bible or go to church. But for me as a kid, young child, I always talked to the Lord in my own way and sought him out,I went to so many different churches but until as an adult came into the Catholic faith I truly felt at home within the Sacred Liturgy. Many people today in this secular cultural find believing in Jesus/God as they perceive as a myth is degrading in their thinking process, they do not need anyone to tell them how or what to do with their life. While the church now or in the History of the church you will find people of sin along with great pious men and women, that is the nature of mankind. Saint Francis came into the church at a time when the Lord needed someone to rebuild his church, not the material building as Francis thought in the beginning but the spiritual life because while the spirit is willing the flesh is weak.


41 posted on 06/25/2013 9:18:21 AM PDT by red irish (Gods Children in the womb are to be loved too!)
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To: PieterCasparzen

I don’t have the time for a long response but I don’t want you to think that I ignored your post as it seems you spent a lot of time on it.

If I get the gist of what you are saying, it is that all reason is subjective and there is no objective standard to go by. What’s moral for one man different from what is moral for another. I went to great length to explain that there is an objective standard and that standard is man’s life. Man’s nature is a fact of reality and requires certain things. One of the most fundamental requirements is the right to produce, own and dispose of property. Without property rights man cannot operate. So it is wrong to steal because it violates a man’s right to property. I took the fact that the $8,000 was the property of the man who dropped it because your example would not make much sense otherwise. So if I read your example right, the ownership of the money is not a moral rule but a fact of reality.

As far as where I got my ideas, what does it matter. You seem to think the validity of an idea depends on the authority of the person speaking it. I went to great lengths to show you why honesty is always a virtue but you seem to think that it is a subjective matter, that lying can sometimes be a virtue. Don’t you understand that Whether I got caught or not has no bearing on the immorality of fraud or stealing. The good is not about what you can cheat and get away with when no one is looking. Its not about what is beneficial in the short term but what is the best action to take long term.

Bernie Madoff was undoubtedly one of of the most successful con artists in history. He got a lot of money from fraud. He got away with it for a time but the truth came out and he went to jail. I read that he has said that he is happier now in jail than he was when he was free and was able to spend all that money and I believe he is telling the truth.

I base all of my reason on the fact that reality exists independent of my thoughts and feelings. Reality is the objective standard by which I judge everything. No I don’t know everything but I don’t need to know everything in order to live life on Earth. What I need to know to decide right from wrong is readily available to me by observation of reality. Of course I can make mistakes and then it is my responsibility to make amends for them to the best of my ability.

So many religious people I have run into are so committed to the idea that morality has to come from some authority that they reject the idea that a rational morality is even possible. But reason is all we have.


42 posted on 06/27/2013 7:21:44 PM PDT by albionin ( ,)
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To: albionin
I went to great length to explain that there is an objective standard and that standard is man’s life.

I've never heard of that standard. Other people have other various other standards. (Stealing is ok, stealing requires cutting off the hand, etc.)

Why does anyone else besides you have to follow your "man's life" standard ?

Man’s nature is a fact of reality and requires certain things.

There were hundreds if not thousands of noteworthy philosophers in history. Descarte, Plato, Hobbes, Pascal, etc., etc., etc. There have undoubtedly been hundreds of millions of people no one remembers who have thought about man's nature and had their own ideas.

Does your idea of man's nature make everyone else's ideas obsolete ?

Why should everyone else conform to your moral standard of "a man's life" ?
43 posted on 06/27/2013 10:48:17 PM PDT by PieterCasparzen (We have to fix things ourselves)
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To: PieterCasparzen

No my ideas about man’s nature and about the standard of morality have to pass the same test as every other: correspondence to reality. That is there may be many different ideas about the nature of things but There is only one set that corresponds to reality. That is what man’s reason is for, to discover what is right and what is wrong based on his standard of value. Notice I didn’t say decide. One standard is right and all the others are wrong. I don’t expect anyone to accept mine on my say so. I expect them to think. If we disagree then reality will be the judge.

Yes there have been many philosophers who have put forward ideas about the nature of the universe and many of them are completely wrong and their ideas are destructive. Many are partially right and partially wrong. A few were mostly right and only partially wrong. No one is 100 % right because no one is omniscient. What every man must do is look at all the ideas from the past and his own ideas and validate them using reason and logic. The more correct a man’s ideas are the more enjoyable and successful his life will be. Since all knowledge is hierarchical, what man must not do is just take things on faith because it sounds good or it makes him feel good or most especially because others believe, no matter how many others believe. Man must integrate every new idea into his mind without contradiction. If a man holds contradictory ideas he should stop and root out the error in thinking because there always is one since a contradiction can’t exist in an objective universe. The law of identity forbids it.

Man does not have to hold his life as the standard of value and the fact is that the vast majority don’t. Christians certainly don’t. Christianity holds self sacrifice for the good of others as its standard of value. That is the complete opposite from mine so that is why I am not a christian.

It is reality that makes all ideas invalid except the right ones.

Not only should everyone hold life as their standard of value, but their own life as their highest moral purpose.


44 posted on 06/28/2013 5:31:22 PM PDT by albionin
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To: albionin

Ok, I took the time to look around at various philosophers. Could not quite place the selfishness coupled with the atheism.

After that, I looked around at other things, and then came upon it - would you be one who subscribes to the views of Ayn Rand’s objectivism ?


45 posted on 06/28/2013 8:38:25 PM PDT by PieterCasparzen (We have to fix things ourselves)
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To: albionin

Oh, never mind, I see you are.


46 posted on 06/28/2013 8:46:17 PM PDT by PieterCasparzen (We have to fix things ourselves)
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To: albionin

Interesting that throughout all my asking for what you were basing your morality on you kept mum on Ayn Rand and objectivism.

Why hide it ? Just say it, “I’m an objectivist”.

Just point me here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivism_%28Ayn_Rand%29


47 posted on 06/28/2013 8:52:25 PM PDT by PieterCasparzen (We have to fix things ourselves)
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To: PieterCasparzen

Yes I am an Objectivist. So what? Does that invalidate the ideas? I didn’t mention Ayn Rand because I wanted you to address the ideas themselves. Now why don’t you show me with logic and reason why the ideas I proposed are wrong. You tell me why it is wrong to steal, to lie, to commit fraud and don’t say because the Bible says so. That is a fallacious argument, the argument from authority. Give me a reasoned argument. Give me the base principles that underlie your position.

And by the way, I don’t accept Objectivism as true because of Ayn Rand, but because I see in reason that it is true. I don’t really care what you think of Her, I never met the woman.


48 posted on 06/28/2013 9:33:54 PM PDT by albionin
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To: albionin
I didn’t mention Ayn Rand because I wanted you to address the ideas themselves.

I understand that response.

You tell me why it is wrong to steal, to lie, to commit fraud and don’t say because the Bible says so. That is a fallacious argument, the argument from authority. Give me a reasoned argument. Give me the base principles that underlie your position.

This started out with me asking you about your moral code; if you'll permit me, then I can get to your question.

In post 27 I was asking about this comment:

I don’t believe I am evil by nature and need a moral code to keep me in check. I know that being moral is in my own rational interest and morality is a guide to help me achieve the best possible life.

I asked you this...

You said "I don’t believe I am evil by nature and need a moral code to keep me in check.". So don't believe you are "evil by nature", but since you don't define what evil is, you have no yardstick to measure by. Without a standard, a way of determining what is good and what is evil, how can anyone say whether they are evil or good ?

Now, I know you talked about property rights. And a "man's life", about which you said...

So a moral code of values is absolutely essential to every single man if he wishes to live and the standard to choose those values is his life and that which it requires according to his nature as man. Morality then is literally a matter of life and death. Laws are required in society because, unfortunately, some people choose death over life. The purpose of laws is to protect man’s rights and man’s life must be the standard of value used to determine what laws we put in place.

Permit me, perhaps I've found the objectivist answer to the question as to the basis of property rights. Hmmm...

It's man's happiness. Does it all go back to that ? I found this:

"Objectivism holds that there is no greater moral goal than achieving happiness."

Perhaps all your talk of a "man's life" was about that basic point that objectivism kind of rests on ? You know it's wrong if someone steals from you because it takes away from your happiness. You lost your nice thing, whatever was stolen. Is that it ?
49 posted on 06/28/2013 10:22:33 PM PDT by PieterCasparzen (We have to fix things ourselves)
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To: PieterCasparzen

No, No, No. Man’s happiness is not the basis of property rights. Are you serious? The basis of property rights is the fact that no one can exist without them. This is really basic stuff. I would say that happiness rests on property rights and not the other way around.

The founders said “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” were inalienable rights. Property rights are implicit in all three.

Man has to take care of his own needs first before he can help anyone else. To do that he has to be the beneficiary of his actions.

Yes, Objectivism holds that every man’s life is an end in itself, that happiness is his highest moral purpose and that he must achieve his happiness through rational means neither sacrificing himself for others nor sacrificing OTHERS TO HIMSELF but that is an ethic. Ethics is not a primary. It rests on metaphysics and epistemology.

Perhaps all your talk of a “man’s life” was about that basic point that objectivism kind of rests on ? You know it’s wrong if someone steals from you because it takes away from your happiness. You lost your nice thing, whatever was stolen. Is that it ?

“Perhaps all your talk of a “man’s life” was about that basic point that objectivism kind of rests on ? You know it’s wrong if someone steals from you because it takes away from your happiness. You lost your nice thing, whatever was stolen. Is that it ?”

Now I already gave you the principle involved for why it would be wrong to keep the money from your example so why are you asking me this?

Now I’ve answered your questions. I’d like you to answer mine.


50 posted on 06/28/2013 11:26:50 PM PDT by albionin
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