Some of our frequent commenters have recently made fairly explicit claims against/challenges to the Christian Faith, especially as it intersects community. For one, in responding to my earlier headlining of a response to his claims, Sev has now gone on record:
Sev, 2: >> where some Christians imply that the faith as a whole has suffered the same level of religious prejudice as, say, the Jews I’m bound to say that’s an exaggeration to put it mildly. [–> in fact, Pew has noted in recent years, evidence that consistently indicates that the most persecuted religious group in the world is Christians, of course, such is tellingly severely under-reported in the major global media.] How many members of the US Congress now, or have ever, admitted to being atheist or just non-believers? What are the chances of a non-believer being elected to public office in the US? This suggests that Christians of various stripes have had their hands on the levers of power in this country – although not just this country – for a long time. It is a truism that people who have exercised power for a long time are very reluctant to give it up and very resentful when circumstances force them to relinquish it. >>
Similarly, in replying to a side-note on Jawa’s posting of Alexa rankings in the Oscillations thread in which I noted that
[KF, 144] >>Jawa, since c 2015 – 16, there has been a major cold civil war and culture conflict development in the USA. That has sucked Oxygen out of almost any specialised issue. It has not changed the foundational significance of worldviews, logic and first principles and linked foundations of science issues, or of origins issues . . . >>
. . . EG has claimed:
EG, 148: >>we are slowly catching up with the rest of the world. We are slowly realizing that some of the Christian values that we have taken as “gospel” for the last couple centuries [–> note, the severely truncated history] do not hold up to scrutiny. Men can no longer insist that their wives be subservient to them. We can no longer deprive homosexuals of happiness, employment, career advancement and equal treatment in society. We can no longer judge women who enjoy sex with multiple partners different than we do men. We can no longer treat pregnant teens as fallen women. We can no longer deny services to inter-racial couples or homosexual couples and claim religious freedom as an excuse to discriminate. This is a civil war that is long over due.>>
Our civilisation, now usually styled Western Civilisation [and which formerly self-identified as Christendom], has been under increasing worldviews conflicts for generations, a conflict dominated by the push of evolutionary materialistic scientism and its fellow travellers. Where of course scientism blunders when it suggests that that Big-S Science dominates or even monopolises serious knowledge. As Lewontin summarised the attitude, science is the only begetter of truth. But patently, all of this is on worldviews questions and requires issues in logic, epistemology, ontology and metaphysics.
That is, matters of truth and knowledge are inescapably matters of philosophy and indeed even the claim that Science dominates truth/knowledge and warrant is a philosophical claim not a scientific one. Dressing ideology up in a lab coat does not change its core nature.
Likewise, questions of core morality are inherently philosophical, and Ethics is a major philosophical discipline, accordingly.
Now, once ideology enters, so does politics and in the present context, the controversial figure, US President Trump will come up. However, the issues at stake are civilisational, not partisan-political. That is the context in which I think it necessary to headline the exchanges and some considerations (which will necessarily be at some length, to respond to particular claims), as will now follow.
First, in the same thread, I responded to EG:
KF, 149: >> nope, as a civilisation we are re-learning a very old lesson (likely the hard way), as Plato warned us about ever so long ago:
Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,360 ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .
[Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-
[ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]
These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,
[ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]
and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].
All that has changed is there is a strong push to move us to evolutionary materialist secularism and fellow travellers.
As you know, a central test is the ongoing holocaust of our living posterity in the womb, which per Guttmacher-UN figures is proceeding at about another million per week. That indicts us globally as utterly morally bankrupt.
A sounder approach, less fraught with hazards for our civilisation would be to recognise that we are inescapably morally governed creatures. That starts with implicit premises in your argument, which your evolutionary materialism [–> from later assertions EG seems to be a fellow traveller . . . no material difference] would overthrow: first duties, to truth, to right reason, to prudence, to sound conscience, to fairness, to justice etc. Discard those and we don’t have a discussion or argument or even a quarrel. Just, a fight as to who will impose their will.
Of course, nowadays, the idea that there is such built in law is “controversial,” but only because some people do not want to face the implication of our being under moral government. Having to bridge IS and OUGHT, only feasible at reality root. And requiring that the source of worlds is inherently good and utterly wise.
But in the end, the choice is that or suicidal nihilism . . . .
And since you have again specifically attacked the Christian faith, I point you here, to a discussion on its core warrant at 101 level. I suggest to you that unless you have a very good argument as to why that warrant fails, you are being dangerously irresponsible. Your grounds for such a confident manner dismissal are ______, and why they hold water in the teeth of evidence as just linked is _______ . Let’s hear your very good reasons, especially i/l/o the minimal facts considerations.>>
Let me add, Feb 14, a video documentary by Lee Strobel:
So far, EG has not responded to the challenge as regards core warrant for the Christian faith, pivoting on the challenge to explain minimal facts regarding the history of Jesus of Nazareth acknowledged by an absolute majority of scholarship.
Let us tabulate:
Obviously, the serious alternatives today — after the failure of the classical Deistic objections — will be the historic Christian claims and some form or other of [psychologically, quite implausible] collective hallucinations. EG is invited to respond.
Turning to Sev, I found it necessary to reply on points. First, I took up the persecution talking point:
KF, 4: >>A quick note on one point that caught my eye:
[Sev:] where some Christians imply that the faith as a whole has suffered the same level of religious prejudice as, say, the Jews I’m bound to say that’s an exaggeration to put it mildly.
First, the 20 centuries of persecution of Christians speak for themselves, in the voice of a horrifically long list of martyrs and confessors. And, in recent years, Christians have been the most persecuted group of people in the world; though of course it does not suit the agenda of major media houses in the increasingly Anti-Christian (not merely post Christian) West to headline and seriously, regularly discuss the problem.
Secondly, persecution was not my primary concern. My concern is the rise of a radical secularism that opens the door to nihilism while undermining rights. No, serious concerns over rights, justice, moral principle and the roots of law in our morally governed nature cannot responsibly be dismissed as in effect complaining over lost prestige and privilege.
And that is what was done in almost so many words.
Let’s remember your characterisation:
the [Christian] faith playing the victim because they are aggrieved that they no longer have the prestige, social privilege and political power they once enjoyed
I added a highlight to show maybe the worst piece of loaded language in your remarks; used, in a turnabout, blame the victim projection. Those are ill-advised, dismissive fighting words that enable a clear and present injustice; you urgently need to reconsider and retract.
And BTW, entrenched- bigotry- against- Christians- and- linked- career- busting- and- worse- sometimes, in the Academy and key professions, the Media and Education systems as well as Government is a serious problem. (It is an interconnected, interdependent, mutually supportive whole.)>>
I hope that we can all agree that persecution is persecution, and that it is inappropriate to blame the victim. In that context, it is also inappropriate to suggest that as other groups have been persecuted, we can in effect dismiss the seriousness of concerns regarding ongoing persecution of the currently most persecuted group. [Alas, the unborn have not been allowed to be born and form or join a group.] Persecution is wrong, whoever the target is, and currently, globally, Christians have been target number one.
I then took up his further points, step by step, a day or two later. This is also where, reluctantly, I have had to speak to specific use of Mr Trump by Sev. In so responding, I make no partisan claims and my core concerns for the US as leading nation in our civilisation are across the board:
KF, 7: >>Let me take some time to remark on further points raised, as these may give some insights on the worldviews and cultural agendas clash confronting our civilisation:
>> How many members of the US Congress now, or have ever, admitted to being atheist or just non-believers?>>
1: Trivially, a significant number, now and in recent years. That is or should be a commonplace, acknowledged fact.
2: More profoundly, this inadvertently echoes the concerns Plato raised, and which are likely lurking as unacknowledged issues connected to sound governance.
3: Namely, that manifestly — and inescapably, we are morally governed creatures under built-in OUGHTs; starting with the sort of duties to truth, to right reason, to prudence [so, to warrant], to sound conscience, to innocent neighbour (and even guilty ones) . . . to fairness and justice. Where, justice is probably best understood as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. Where, too, one may not justly claim a right save one is manifestly in the right. Such, for instance, partly reflects thinkers from Cicero to Locke and Blackstone and partly draws out further implications.
4: These all point to a need to bridge the IS-OUGHT gap as a core worldviews challenge. Post Hume, we know that can only be done in the root of reality, on pain of ungrounded ought. Which, requires that the independent (so, necessary) being at the wellspring of all actual and possible worlds, must be adequate to be such. This requires inherent goodness and utter wisdom, and yes, this pivots on the existence of an order of creatures who are morally governed and significantly rationally, responsibly free.
5: Which, is why we are in material part morally rather than wholly dynamically-stochastically governed. Mind carries with it moral government and transcends the limitations of GIGO-constrained causal-chain driven computational substrates. As Plato pointed to in The Laws Bk X, we are self-moved first cause agents, having rational animality, i.e. there is reason to speak of us as embodied, living, rational, responsible, significantly free souls.
6: And though such is often scanted and actively suppressed today by dominant elites influenced by evolutionary materialistic scientism, that perspective is deeply intuitive and ineradicable.
7: Moreover, the frame of thought naturally leads to understanding the only serious candidate — just do the comparative difficulties i/l/o our readily understood status of being morally governed with built in law of our nature — to be that wellspring of reality. Namely, the inherently good and utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being; one worthy of our loyalty and of the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good that reflects our manifest nature.
8: This is not religious dogma, it is worldview roots analysis pointing to a baseline ethical theism as a natural worldview for one who takes conscience, mind and responsible freedom seriously.
9: Such a view is deeply — and quite explicitly — embedded in the Common Law system and in the US DoI and Constitution; making it foundational to modern liberty and democracy. Though, of course, many today would react dismissively and/or have been aggressively and systematically indoctrinated to think otherwise.
10: Notwithstanding, instinctively, a great many people understand — and devastatingly bloody record of history compellingly substantiates — that dominant governing elites who reject that implicit consensus are exceedingly dangerous. This is Plato’s point in The Laws, Bk X, and it runs right through to the current ruinous warping of institutions and professions of the high ground of culture in support of the ongoing holocaust of our unborn living posterity and linked evils such as the porn-perversion plague typified by the issues that are emerging surrounding that leading web enterprise of perversity, Pornhub.
>> What are the chances of a non-believer being elected to public office in the US?>>
11: Again, trivially, quite good. Recall, non-believer includes one who is theistic as to worldviews but uncommitted as to life choices. In Scripture, we are warned that the very devils know there is but one true living God, and shudder as they contemplate their fate. In short, the pivotal issue extends beyond abstract worldview propositions to the challenge of repentance, renewal, revival and reformation. I would hazard a guess that a significant fraction of the leadership of the US is or has been — for many decades — non-believers in this proper sense.
12: Where aggressive, militant atheism is concerned, such tends to be associated with habits of communication and behaviour that would make it unlikely for such to become top level officials, at least in a reasonably democratic body politic. Such are most likely to seize power by revolution or usurpation and their behaviour is precisely what has given such aggressive militancy a bad reputation indeed.
>>This suggests that Christians of various stripes have had their hands on the levers of power in this country – although not just this country – for a long time.>>
13: The subtext insinuation of improper seizure of and clinging to power amounts to conspiracism. I suggest, a more balanced understanding of the history of our civilisation including the roots and history of the US Republic will be in order.
>> It is a truism that people who have exercised power for a long time are very reluctant to give it up and very resentful when circumstances force them to relinquish it.>>
14: Error and linked insinuations of illegitimacy carried forward
>>That assumes that Christianity is a victim.>>
15: I specifically responded to your rhetorical pattern of tainting and blaming the victim, for cause, in these terms:
[OP:] What is interesting here is the structure of the dismissive rhetoric, which turns rights and justice concerns into “playing the victim” as one is “aggrieved” that the Christian Faith has somehow lost “prestige,” “privilege” and “social power.” Immediately, we can recognise a familiar rhetorical pattern, blaming the victim by first demonising him [see, two can play the rhetoric game, especially if one is familiar with how fallacies work!], but that is not a primary concern just now.
What is, is the underlying vision of moral government and law, thus rights, fairness and justice, also duties to truth, prudence, right reason.
For, what lurks just beneath the surface of Sev’s rhetoric here [as a “typical” representative of such views], is the familiar pattern long since exposed and rebuked by Plato, in The Laws, Bk X (as was noted a few days ago). That is, when one resorts to evolutionary materialistic scientism [and even setting aside the question of how one then gets to a credible, rational, responsible and significantly free mind on such premises] one reduces moral government to “the highest right is might,” which then leads to ruthless factions grabbing power and imposing their will.
Obviously, if that is all that there is, then of course, those who formerly held greater prestige and power but are now denigrated have nothing to appeal to as “justice,” “truth,” or “fairness,” they lost the power struggle and that’s that.
Nihilism, in one word.
Which, is instantly absurd.
Were my fellow blacks simply whining because they lacked social prestige and power when complaints were made against slavery, then Jim Crow [and its like, the colour bar], etc?
Worse, “rights,” “fairness,” and “justice” have now become little more than rhetoric appealing for power. Words, weaponised into means of manipulating the generally dumb public to gain a new power advantage.
For, on such views — and in the practice of those who go along as fellow travellers, there are no enduring principles of right or justice, there is only power struggle with the lurking matter of the preservation of favoured races and classes in the struggle for life. Complete with H G Wells’ twist in Time Machine, that if one becomes sheep for the table of the dominant class and species, then one may be kept as a useful herd animal and preserved as a food source. (Sheep, notoriously, are stupid but they are not about to die out, as they are tasty and provide wool.)
Of course, we usually do not recognise when we have made such a fatal step too far into absurdity.
. . . and I have further documented that Christians, in fact, are the most persecuted group in the world today. (The unborn, victims of the worst and ongoing holocaust, alas, have been robbed of even being born.)
>> It is equally possible that Christianity – or some Christians at least – are playing the victim card in the same way as white nationalists. >>
16: Fallacy of guilt by invidious, gratuitous association. It also suggests an implicit, profound demonisation that views the Christian faith and/or Christians as being what is wrong with our civilisation.
17: That in turn raises the question of Dawkins’ notorious mischaracterisation and bigotry that those who differed with his preferred views and agendas were ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. There is a reason why most sensible people have rejected the aggressive so-called New Atheists.
>>They present their group as being endangered by some poorly-defined external threat in order to solidify their existing supporter base and to scare others into joining it. It’s an old tactic and often an effective one.>>
18: The bloody, ruinous history of radical secularists since the French Revolution up to the ongoing holocaust of the unborn is concrete and specific enough to expose this suggestion as empty projection.
>>Scapegoating some “other”, such as “evolutionary materialistic scientism”, as a threat to social stability or racial or cultural or religious or political purity is arguably a much greater danger.>>
19: Again, loaded language. “Scapegoating” is not a responsible response to an analysis that in outline has been on the table since Plato in The Laws, Bk X, and in a circumstance where said evolutionary materialism (latterly, clad in a lab coat of Scientism) can first be readily shown to fail the comparative difficulties test as a worldview
20: Plato’s response, suitably annotated, is still highly relevant — and too often side-stepped:
Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,360 ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [SNIP, already present and linked]
>> We have only to look at the treatment of the Jews in Nazi Germany for an example of to what end such an approach can lead.>>
21: Fallacious, further tainting and demonisation by utterly uncalled for invidious association with Hitler. FYI, Hitler was demonstrably anti-Christian. In the memory of the White Rose martyrs (who first exposed the holocaust) I call you to correct your misperceptions.
>> And it is the group which deploys such an approach effectively that often goes on to become the faction which seizes power and holds on to it by using whatever “might” they have at their disposal.>>
22: Further building on unfounded invidious, tainting, demonising associations. Do you realise that you here suggest that Christians are the moral equivalent of Hitler’s demonic mas murderers? I think a reconsideration is more than called for, especially i/l/o the relevant history of our civilisation.
23: Further to such, it is obvious that if a significant number of people with this sort of warped perception of Christians, Christianity and the history of a Civilisation once generally termed Christendom were to gain power, Christians would have reason to be concerned that hunting season has been declared on them. Please, think again.
>>Is it fair or just that members of one faith have exercised almost untrammeled political power in the US since the state was created? No, it doesn’t amount to a full-blown theocracy but quietly, in the background, it hasn’t fallen far short of one. >>
24: Again, the pattern emerges; where of course repetition reinforces error. A better balanced assessment of the history of our civilisation is clearly called for.
>>Would you be so tolerant of it if the faith had been Islam?>>
25: The history of Islam and its embracing of a claimed divine imposition of will — as opposed to the balance that emerges from the premise of a built in law of our nature evident to sound, honest reason — has been very different from that of the Christian faith. The further insinuation of association with Islamic terrorism and Islamofascism, is also a further fallacy of invidious association.
>>And to suggest that Christianity has somehow “lost the power struggle”, at least here in the US, is absurd. >>
26: Red herring led away to a strawman caricature. I spoke specifically to the implications of worldviews that imply that might and/or manipulation make ‘right’/ ‘truth’/ ‘warrant’/ ‘knowledge’/ ‘justice’/ ‘rights’ etc, specifically echoing a line of thinkers since Plato. In that context, there are no rights beyond what one has won by power. That is what you need to answer, and it is what you ducked.
>>When Christians are minority in Congress>>
27: In any serious sense of “Christian,” that has long been the case.
>>and the majority are members of other faiths or openly atheist then you might have a case>>
28: Notice, the further dodging of the issue of a worldview unable to bridge IS and OUGHT thus being amoral and opening the door to nihilist factionalism. And that is the case that by rhetorically diverting attention from you wish to avoid addressing on the worldview merits. Revealing.
>>or openly atheist>>
29: Only likely in something like Communism, as explained.
>>but, until then, it is plainly Christianity that still has the better of the power struggle.>>
30: Really? The ghosts of 63 million unborn children and counting at another 1/2 million or so per year who do not have a vote or voice as they were robbed of the first right, life, need to be heard on this matter.
>>As, for example, in the case of Donald Trump and the Christian evangelicals. >>
31: This blog is not a forum for political discussion and politicking, however, given context above and invidious comparisons made, this is already a serious smear that Evangelical Christians (a significant minority in the US) are here being pushed into the same boat as Hitler et al, along with a particular leading American politician who seems to have sponsored evangelicals as part of the hinterland deplorables despised by the radically secularist coastal and urban elites.
32: It further seems that much of the patently overwrought rhetoric exposed above reflects the reaction of said elites to what they view as a peasant uprising by the ballot box; something echoed in the 2016 US electoral map by counties.
[Let me add the recent UK Brexit election result, showing a similar coastal/urban centre vs hinterlands contrast, but with a major regional party in Scotland. Notice, similarly, Boris Johnson is a controversial populist, though of course the UK is far more radically secularised than the US. The point is, peasant uprising:]
33: I suggest as a first remedy, that we look beyond the surface to the worldview issues at stake on the further illumination of history.
[I can add here, a modification of Schaeffer’s analysis:]
[Also, let us note, the mountains of influence picture:]
>>Trump cares nothing about truth or lies, his only concern is that the words he says influence his listeners to go where he wants them to go an do what he wants them to do.>>
34: Political projection. I would suggest that a more balanced picture would be that the power elites of the US and our civilisation in general are in serious violation of the built in moral law that starts with inescapable duty to truth. This particularly includes the media and educators.
35: Notice, [your implicit] appeal to the built in law of our morally governed nature. As part of worldviews analysis, kindly address its import.
>>And in promoting the belief that Trump was, in some way, chosen by God, his evangelical supporters are arguably guilty of both blasphemy and idolatry.>>
36: Actually, no. Rom 13:1 – 10 is very clear that governors are God’s servants tasked to uphold the civil peace of justice. In historic context, 57 AD, including Nero Caesar. The challenge is for them to live up to such. Where, the issue and theology of rulers gone bad is a key root of the American Revolution, Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
37: So, while uncritical support of any political leader is wrong, there is warrant to see a figure who may help restore a situation — such as the generation-long plight of the rust belt — in a favourable light; notwithstanding serious character flaws. For specific instance, the favourable view of the Pharaoh of Joseph or the generally positive view of a Nebuchadnezzar or a Cyrus or Nehemiah’s relationship with a later Persian King are not to be equated to blanket endorsement.
38: Thus, while there is cause for critique of Mr Trump and those who support him in some degree, that needs to be balanced and fair. In particular, one should look askance at the obvious resort to Star Chamber tactics, perversion of Constitutional provisions to remove leaders guilty of crimes comparable to treason and the gleeful participation of a major cross section of the media in slander and obvious political dirty tricks. (Note, it is because of UD’s context that I will not delve on details. Serious analysis substantiating the above can be found elsewhere.)
>>That and the almost complete collapse of any resistance to Trump from within his own party are a measure of how much he has corrupted both the faith and the Republican Party.>>
39: Little more than projection, cf. the above. If instead there were an analysis of the rise of widespread corruption, incompetence and marches of folly stemming from mutiny on the ship of state, Ac 27 has something to say. Across the board.
>>No, we must somehow abandon the comforting belief that it is even possible for us to be in possession of some absolute truth.>>
40: Do you wish to imply that it is not 100%, undiluted, untainted truth that 2 + 3 = 5 or the like? If not, you would be well advised to understand that we can know certain limited truths with utter certainty. In many cases, truth is self evident and undeniable or inescapable on pain of patent absurdity. These are plumbline truths that allow us to test our views and knowledge claims otherwise.
41: Your tone above amply illustrates how the first duties of responsible reason are indeed inescapable, self evident truths. They are controversial only because they are inconvenient to anti-theism. A sign of its absurdity.
42: Beyond such plumbline truths lie objective truths, which may be warranted to degrees of reliability such that we entrust serious matters to their soundness. And subjectively experienced truth is not opposed to either objectivity or even absoluteness.
43: What is legitimate is to be concerned that finite, fallible, morally struggling and too often ill willed creatures can close minds and hearts to well warranted correction. But that fault is not confined to hinterland deplorables in the US or the UK, even when such are engaged in an uprising by ballot box against the ensconced elites and their comfortable establishment.
>>We should not set Science on a pedestal as our only begetter of truth>>
44: That is the error of Scientism, and it is deeply embedded in the more or less respectable view of Naturalism, which is what “evolutionary materialistic scientism” describes. Notice, what Monod stated in the TV interview which builds on his 1970 book, Chance and Necessity:
[T]he scientific attitude implies what I call the postulate of objectivity—that is to say, the fundamental postulate that there is no plan, that there is no intention in the universe. Now, this is basically incompatible with virtually all the religious or metaphysical systems whatever, all of which try to show that there is some sort of harmony between man and the universe and that man is a product—predictable if not indispensable—of the evolution of the universe.— Jacques Monod [Quoted in John C. Hess, ‘French Nobel Biologist Says World Based On Chance’, New York Times (15 Mar 1971), p. 6. Cited in Herbert Marcuse, Counter-Revolution and Revolt (1972), p. 66.
>>any more than we should look to the Bible or the Koran for the same thing. >>
45: No responsible, significant Christian thinker presumes that the Bible holds monopoly on truth; just think, there is no statement therein that 2 + 3 = 5, there is no divinely ordained set of weights and measures, though there is a strong endorsement of just weights and measures. And indeed, there is a strong endorsement of the common sense view that there is a built in law of our morally governed, sound conscience and sound reason guided nature.
[Let me add a chart of Aquinas’ summary;]
[and again, a similar summary of the line of thought:]
>>We should question the findings of science just as we should question what is preached to us from the pulpit. The will and the power to question is ultimately our best defense against tyranny,>>
46: Again, you imply those first duties of reason. Address their worldview import, please.
>>You seem to be supporting the position that a populace is entitled to rise up and overthrow – by force of arms if necessary – what they perceive to be an unjust government.>>
47: Do you notice that you duck the ballot box, which was precisely won for us by hard fighting?
48: Similarly, you resort to the language of subjective perception, when such an uprising beyond the ballot box would only be justified under extraordinary circumstances. In fact, the best summary of my view is in the US DoI. Any reasonably educated person should instantly recognise this connexion, on the right of revolution as last resort when remonstrance fails:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God [–> notice the appeal to built in law of our morally governed nature] entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident [–> appeal to first, self-evident principles of justice], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator [–> inference to ethical theism in a generally Judaeo-Christian context] with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers [–> Govt’s first duty is justice, which BTW immediately discredits power games pivoting on Star Chamber proceedings, as — on fair comment [cf Dershowitz et al] — we just saw in the US Congress Intelligence Committee] from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.
49: Note the immediately following appeal to history and facts:
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
>> But how reliable is the judgement of popular sentiment?>>
50: A Constitutional Republic with significant democratic aspects casts heavy weight on the responsible informed judgement of the people. For cause.
>> What if they are ignorant of much that their government actually does for them?>>
51: This is the precise reason why the massively evident, longstanding failure and propagandistic trends of education and media alike are a betrayal of the interests of our civilisation.
>> Isn’t that the message of Plato’s “ship of state” parable, the dangers of an ignorant hoi polloi seizing control of the ship of state because they do not – and maybe even are not able to – understand how competent and benevolent the existing administration actually is?>>
52: You misread Plato [in Ship of State] here. Hoi Polloi are the Captain, befuddled and drugged by those seeking to usurp power and loot the stores. It is the corrupt, incompetent politically active ruthless factions and the sophists who back them that he identifies as the mutineers. He also warns that many will misunderstand the sound teachings of right reason and/or will pervert such in service to mutiny.
53: The US framers, concerned about this built in many checks and balances. That is why the US is not a pure democracy, to the point that the people vote for electors who then vote for a President, forcing now 50 local elections held concurrently. Similarly, a popular, short term house is balanced by an upper house of ambassadors of the states, two per. This way, no few power centres acting in concert can dominate the whole, the pivot of the Connecticut compromise. More can be said, but this outline is enough.
54: The judgement on competence and benevolence is left to an audit by general election every four years.
>>As I have said many times before. I do not – and cannot – rule out the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligent design but neither have I seen compelling that it actually happened.>>
55: There is more than adequate scientific evidence in the coded algorithmic (thus purposeful) language in DNA and in the linked fine tuning of a cosmos that enables C Chem, aqueous medium cell based life. Multiply by the existence of morally governed creatures as a requisite of responsible reason and science and it is decisive. Save, to those locked into Monod’s a prioris.
>>At root, the greatest danger to ourselves is fear. We should not fear questions, divergent opinions, threats to our power or reputation or religious beliefs.>>
56: Principled concern informed by the sort of issues and insights above are not irrational fears.>>
I trust that we may be able to have a more balanced discussion going forward. END
F/N: As the issue of how to manage change and conflict is on the table, I will draw on some charts I use in strategic change consultations. First, on the change challenge:
That is the more “theoretical” framework, here is how we can use these ideas in a stakeholder consultation process, if people are willing to recognise the need to change or reformation and are willing to commit to such — at least as a critical mass:
I am now pessimistic that we will be willing to move beyond the business as usual path locked in by dominant factions who hope to benefit from it (and are likely blind to the signs of the times regarding potential disaster), until we have gone off the cliff as a civilisation, yet again. I again point to the need to go back to truly foundational questions on the sort of issues that are on the table now.
Notice, especially, Machiavelli’s hard-bitten counsel.
Santayana’s is similar, that history teaches two lessons. First, that those who refuse to learn its lessons doom themselves to repeat its worst chapters. Second, by and large, we refuse to learn from history.
From this we come to Marx’s corollary: history repeats twice over, once as tragedy the next time as farce. (He had in mind the chain of disasters that happened to France in the 100 years from the storming of the Bastille, and particularly the two Napoleons.)