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Becky’s Lesson, a Viginette

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Friday, May 12, 2017
Hermann Göring High School
Brooklyn, New York

Wilhelm Johnson was at the top of his game.  He held a master’s degree in history from NYU and had spent over 35 years working hard to become a master teacher.  In all his decades in the classroom he had never stopped honing his skills.  Even now, at a time in his career when many of his colleagues had begun to coast toward retirement, Johnson worked into the evening every day, personally grading essays and polishing his lesson plans for the next day.  He loved his job and considered it a great honor and privilege that the Reich had bestowed on him the responsibility of molding young minds in the largest and most important city in the Bundesland of New York.

Johnson turned to the whiteboard at the front of his senior modern history class, wrote in large block letters “WATERSHED MOMENT,” and asked the class, “Who can tell me what a watershed moment is?”  As usual, Patricia Garland’s hand popped up as if it had a will of its own.  Garland was the highly-resented, curve-busting class gunner, but Johnson had to give her her due; she knew her stuff, and since hers was the only raised hand he said, “Miss Garland.”

“A watershed moment is a crucial dividing point in history where all subsequent events go one way or the other, a turning point.  It derives its name from a geographical watershed in which the water that falls on a particular side of a ridge drains to one river, and the water on the other side drains to a different river.”

“That is exactly correct, Miss Garland.  I see you have been reading ahead.”  Garland beamed; several of her classmates were unable to resist rolling their eyes.  Turning back to the whiteboard and tapping the phrase, Johnson said, “Today we are going to talk about the decision to replace Abraham Esau with Werner Heisenberg as the head of the German nuclear weapons program in 1940.  With the rather obvious exception of the Great Führer’s 1921 decision to assume his role in history by stepping up to lead the Party, the Heisenberg appointment was perhaps the most crucial moment of the 20th Century.”

From the back of the class, Brad Anderson piped up without raising his hand, “Surely Field Marshal Keitel’s decision to nuke London and Moscow in late 1943, causing England and the Soviet Union to surrender within days of one another, was more important to history than an obscure administrative shift in the German Army Ordnance Office.”

“Any fool can pull a trigger, Mr. Anderson.  Who is more crucial, the first user of a revolutionary new weapon, or the genius who invented it in the first place?  And in this case, timing was everything.  Under Esau, the German nuclear weapons program was at a standstill.  After the war we learned there was a competing program right here in the former United States called the ‘Manhattan Project.’  German scientists estimate the American research program was not that far behind and might have had an operational weapon as early as 1945.  That is why Heisenberg’s appointment was so crucial.  His combination of charisma, intelligence and hard work was just what the German program needed to get on track to beat the Americans.  He replaced Esau in February 1940 and began pushing for the Reich to throw its industrial might behind the project.  As a direct result of his efforts, Germany had an operational weapon by August 1943, and the rest, as they say, is history.  The weapon was literally unstoppable.  Within six months every one of Germany’s enemies had either surrendered outright or sued for peace, marking the beginning of Germany’s program for the unification of the world’s governments under Berlin’s leadership.  That obscure administrative shift, Mr. Anderson, was the very essence of a watershed moment.”

The bell rang; books began slamming shut a microsecond later, and students started shuffling toward the door.  Johnson called out to their retreating backs, “Don’t forget!  Quiz on Monday on the Great Führer’s 1947 decision to conquer Japan, his former ally.”

The next hour was Johnson’s planning period, and as the students made their way out of the room he walked over to his desk at the front of the room.  Before he sat down he heard someone clear their throat behind him.  He turned around to see Becky Schumann, perhaps his brightest student after Patty Garland, waiting to speak to him.

“Yes, Miss Schumann, how can I help you today?”

Becky looked up shyly and in a hesitant voice said, “Mr. Johnson, I have learned so much from you, and I wanted to take just a moment before the end of the year to thank you and tell you how much I have loved being in your class.”

“Why, thank you Becky.  That is a very nice thing to say and it warms the cockles of an old teacher’s heart to know he is appreciated.”

“Uh, you’re welcome.  I also hoped you could help me with a couple of questions I have been turning over in my mind as we studied the events of the last several decades this year.”

“I am happy to help if I can.  What’s on your mind?”

“Well,” Becky said so softly her voice was almost inaudible, “it’s about The Final Solution.”

“What about it?”

“Umm.  This year we learned that from its very beginning the Party opposed the Jewish-materialistic spirit, and when the Great Führer came to power in the 1930’s, one of the first things he did was start rooting the Jews out of positions of influence.  Then, early in the Great Unification War that began in September 1939, Reichsführer Himmler implemented The Final Solution to completely eliminate the world’s population of about 15 million Jews.  The Final Solution was deemed complete in July 1951 when the last known pockets of Jews were finally tracked down and eliminated.”

“Very impressive Becky.  With your grades I am not surprised, but it looks like you really have been absorbing history this year.”

“Thank you, Mr. Johnson.”

“So, what’s your question?”

“Well, um, I guess it is not so much a question as it is a doubt.”

“What are you doubting?”

Becky paused before answering.  She was obviously nervous, and Johnson was beginning to suspect why.  She took a deep breath and said, “Can I tell you something in confidence?”

“Of course, you can.”

“Well, um, you see,” Becky stammered in nervous agitation, “I know the Party requires Christians to adhere to Party-approved Positive Christianity.  But my parents adhere to Evangelical Christianity, and the other day we were talking about The Final Solution, because it was part of my lesson.  And . . . are you sure this is confidential?  I wouldn’t want my dad to get in trouble.”

“It’s OK Becky.  You can trust me.  This conversation is protected by student-teacher confidentiality.  Besides, you are one of my brightest students and I like you very much.  I would never do anything to hurt you or your family.”

“Oh, I’m so glad to hear that, because I really do need to talk this through with someone.”

“What is it you need to talk through, Becky?”

“Well, um, my dad, in this conversation, he said he thought The Final Solution was evil.”

There it was.  There was nothing for it now.  The cat was out of the bag.  Becky had implicated her father in sedition.  Johnson did not know the man, but he genuinely cared for his students, and he hoped he could take Becky by the metaphorical hand and lead her back to the true path.

“And what do you think Becky?”

“Well, I don’t know.  My dad and I talked about it a long time, and his arguments really has my head spinning.”

“Let’s talk about those arguments.  What does he say; why does he think The Final Solution was evil?”

“His argument is pretty simple really.  He says that killing a person for no other reason than that he has a different ethnic background than you is self-evidently evil.  It follows that killing 15 million innocent men, women and children for no other reason than that they were Jews is genocide, which is perhaps the greatest evil there is.”

Johnson was silent as he contemplated the radical extent of the anti-Party sedition that had just been revealed to him.  Becky’s father had as much as accused the Great Führer of committing “the greatest evil there is.”  It was breathtaking; he was momentarily stunned into silence.

“Did you remind him that no one at any level of government has raised the slightest question about The Final Solution for over 65 years, and I see no sign at all that is about to change?”

“Of course.  He said it doesn’t matter.”

“It doesn’t matter?  How in the world could that not matter?”

“He says that morality is not determined by headcount.  He says a moral choice either conforms to a transcendent objective moral standard or it does not.  And if it does not, even if every other person on the planet disagreed with him about whether The Final Solution was evil, he would be right, and they would be wrong.”

“Well, I hope you can see that it is pretty darned arrogant for him to set his own moral standard up as the only correct one.”

“He says it is not his standard, but God’s standard.  God commands us not to murder, and he says that every one of the 15 million Jews killed in the implementation of The Final Solution was murdered.”

Johnson’s head began to swim at the implications of what he was hearing, but with an effort of will he pushed that aside and said, “Murdered?  Really?  Murder is a legal conclusion.  Surely you know that The Final Solution was perfectly legal.  It was sanctioned by the duly-instituted governmental authorities everywhere it was implemented.  How could it have been immoral if it was perfectly legal?”

“That’s what I said, but dad said an action, even a legal action by a government official, that transgresses God’s law is still evil.”

“Well there you go; we finally get to the bottom of it.  If this God your dad talks about does not exist, then his law does not exist, right?”

“Sure, that seems obvious.”

“Beginning with Darwin in 1859 and continuing up to the present day, science has been advancing and religion has been retreating.  We have reached the point where science has displaced religion in every area of inquiry.  Science has finally proved that God does not exist.”

“Oh, I didn’t think about that.  But if God does not exist, where did the universe some from?  Why is there something instead of nothing?  I don’t see how the universe can account for its own existence.  Something creating itself from nothing does not make sense to me.”

“That’s a valid objection, but fortunately there is an answer.  Our greatest scientists tell us that because the laws of nature – like the law of gravity – exist, the universe can indeed create itself from nothing.”

“The laws of nature are something, not nothing.  Where did they came from?”

“Another good question.  And just this year one of our most famous physicists wrote a book answering it.  In a nutshell, he said the laws of physics are a brute fact that we simply must accept as a given.”

“OK.  So what you’re telling me is that science has proven God does not exist.”

“Right.”

“And a transcendent objective moral standard like the one my dad talks about can exist only if God created it.

“Right.”

“And since God does not exist, a transcendent objective moral standard does not exist.”

“Excellent.  You’ve got it.”

“But morality sure feels like a real thing.”

“Of course, morality is a real thing.  I never suggested otherwise.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.  I misunderstood.  If morality is real, where did it come from?”

“Here again, science has the answer.  Science has proved there is no God.  It follows there is nothing in the universe but particles in motion.  And from this it follows there is no objective morality.  Another of our greatest scientists says, the universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

“But, Mr. Johnson, that sounds like morality can’t exist.”

“You’re right if by ‘morality’ you mean the sort of ‘objective transcendent morality’ your dad talks about.  But that is not the only kind of morality there is.  You see, humans sit at the top of a grand evolutionary pyramid that has been built over billions of years.  And over the eons our ancestors developed by trial and error certain behaviors that helped them to survive.  Today, we call those survival-beneficial behaviors “morality.”

“And The Final Solution was one of those survival beneficial behaviors?”

“Well, it’s not quite that simple.  Science tells us that there are many kinds of good and evil, all determined by the norms in the society in which one happens to live.  In the case of The Final Solution, in a competition of war, German society prevailed over all other societies and therefore the moral prescriptions of German society are followed all over the world.  In other words – and listen very carefully to what I am about to say Becky – there is no place anyone can stand from which to judge the moral ideals of German society, because we are all in German society, and German society is where, by definition, all moral ideals come from.  In other words, The Final Solution was deemed good by German society, and it was therefore, by definition, good.”

“So it all turns on the fact that God does not exist.  Even if my dad feels very strongly that killing 15 million men, women and children for no reason other than that they were Jews is evil, he is wrong, because The Final Solution was good by definition, because it was accepted by society and there is no place outside of society to judge what it accepts as good.”

“Exactly.  I am glad you are getting it.”

“Thank you, Mr. Johnson.  It is such a relief to know that science has proved that the Party’s actions are always, by definition, moral, since the Party controls society.”

“Any time Becky.”

“And again, Mr. Johnson, I would hate for my dad to get in trouble.  This whole conversation is just between us, right?”

“Of course; set your mind at ease on that score.”

“Thank you again.  I will see you Monday.”  Becky smiled a little smile and seemed to heave a small sigh of relief as she turned and walked to the door.  Johnson watched her leave, and as the door closed behind her, he reached for his phone to call the Brooklyn division of the Gestapo.  “‘Greatest evil there is,’” Johnson murmured as he dialed.  “We’ll see what you think about that when your door is kicked down tonight.”

Comments
Hey DATCG @77 I didn't say "God “knew no such command would be obeyed…” I said "So at the end of the day God knew no such command would be UNIVERSALLY obeyed" Thats not an unreasonable claim since A) The Bible itself states and approves the saving of Canaanites in Jericho B) There have been almost no commands ever given by God in the Bible that were universally obeyed.mikeenders
March 9, 2018
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CR @76 "Of course Mike. It’s a fact that God knew the order wouldn’t be followed because it’s a fact that what happens is what God intends to happen? You could pretty much come up with a rationalization like that for virtually anything." Strawman. I made no such argument based on result. You rather desperately ignored the context of the answer. It wasn't that what happened was what God intended to happen but that God himself in the Bible makes it clear by his saving Rahab and including canaanites in his plan of redemption what he intended to happen - NOT a universal destruction. You are merely ignoring the incovenient facts of the narrative to get where you want to go. Standard materialist ploy. "you could probably prevent the holocaust via some other means, without resorting to killing Hitler. This is because Hitler’s decisions are comprehendible and therefore avoidable. Racists are made, not born." This is why I say atheists are such poor scholars in theology yet pretend to be well versed. To you sinners are not born but made and God must then intervene in the ways that you see fit. So every murder, rape, theft and atrocity is God's fault for not stopping it. He also cannot ever command his servants ever to administer jsutice. IOW Humanity has no moral responsibility to be involved. If I were sent back gun in hand with little Hitler in my gun's cross hair I suspect it would be because God felt that I should as a human have a vested interest in stopping the holocaust. As a human I think I would with perfect knowledge. Your beg that God must never ever use the natural means of a war to rectify evil is just that - a beg - not even close to a solid ratioanl argument. I suppose you would have to make the same argument for the death penalty. God should kill all murders on his own but why stop at killing? . Since its confining then it should be God that spares us the "pain" of locking people up for any crime. Lets throw away the whole judicial system because its "painful" to be involved in punishment. Yet it is our involvement in the implementation of our justice system that brings us to the acute understanding of both justice and evil and the nuances of the job that God has in having to deal with evil. Its our front row seat to learning at least one part of God's point of view. So to summarize - You object that at one time three thousands plus years ago men and women who took babies and killed them with their own human hands should have themselves (and the children they were training to do the same) killed by human hands. Its your view but given they got what they were guilty of its not a compelling argument against what in fact wasn't even close to genocide. "Of course, you probably think Hitler is just plain Evil" I do fine at expressing my own views . You do poorly with a cryustal ball trying to guess at my beliefs. Hitler was evil because he had the capacity to do good and chose not to do it - thats harldy "plain" evil. As for the whole Evil capitalization canard. Evil is either good or bad. Thats its own capitalization. Its people arguing for it to be grey that infested Germany in the 1930s and 40s. Their idea of good was pretty close to your own - no absolute capital E so why not bend it when necessary to suit your own race.mikeenders
March 9, 2018
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CR, You misattributed your quote in 76 to @mikeenders rather than Querius in 74. But this again just demonstrates what I've been saying about the "critics" here. They're not actually reading the posts here, but rather just picking out fragments to argue about. Pointless. -QQuerius
March 8, 2018
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#71 MikeEnders,
A) no genocide was ever committed. Canaanites continued to survive and some by DIVINE decree and acceptance (more on that later). Yes ones still in cities as Israel advanced upon them were to be killed as happened in war but all the cities of canaan knew they were coming and those who didn’t trust their gods against the true one could and probably did leave (with children in tow).
Correct, thanks for mentioning this. Tribes were not wiped out. Biblically across several books this is mentioned in different verses. It was not genocide. It was a use of figurative speech. It's war, it's descriptive and it can be figurative. As to stating God "knew no such command would be obeyed..." I'm not sure i'd come to same conclusion. It could be a figure of speech. Yes, they had those in hebrew language as well. And would explain the rest of the historic insight you share with Rahab and her family, etc. Meanwhile no one takes on the case of bombing Japan and President Truman.DATCG
March 7, 2018
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@mikeenders
Yes, I have strong scriptural, historical, and scientific evidence to back up my post.
Of course Mike. It's a fact that God knew the order wouldn't be followed because it's a fact that what happens is what God intends to happen? You could pretty much come up with a rationalization like that for virtually anything. However anyone trasported back in time to 1894 with a gun in his hand and a five year old hitler in front of him would have to think through some hard issues before walking away.
Except, you're not God, who would have other options. Even then, If you were just a finite human with a time travel device, you could probably prevent the holocaust via some other means, without resorting to killing Hitler. This is because Hitler's decisions are comprehendible and therefore avoidable. Racists are made, not born. Of course, you probably think Hitler is just plain Evil and your only option is killing him. I guess that's yet another example of how the idea of Evil, with a capital "E" leads to bad explanations that represent a failure of moral knowledge.
critical rationalist
March 7, 2018
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mikeenders @ 71, Nicely summarized! -QQuerius
March 7, 2018
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CR and rvb8, Yes, I have strong scriptural, historical, and scientific evidence to back up my post. But as I just demonstrated, you're not interested in enlightenment, only pointless argument and infinite skepticism. It's your funeral. And then you can try arguing with a loving entity who knows you inside and out. -QQuerius
March 7, 2018
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Well the Canaanites should have better armed and prepared themselves. Or even better they should never have pissed off the Israelis.ET
March 7, 2018
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@barry So, not only is there a statue of if limitation on genicide but it depends on how many were killed and the Israelites didn’t kill enough That’s arbitrary since, if it had happened 3000 years ago and there were no living survivors, that wouldn’t change a thing for you. It’s hand waving. Oh that’s right, you’re a justificationist and the slaughter of Cannonite women and childen by the sword was justified because the command was part of the Christian God’s “final solution”, which includes the Israelites taking the land he gave them by force.critical rationalist
March 7, 2018
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Still it might be time to put this canaanite alleged genocide claim to bed by citing key facts . I've yet to meet an atheist that had an above sunday school understanding of the Bible so some of these facts will probably be quite surprising. A) no genocide was ever committed. Canaanites continued to survive and some by DIVINE decree and acceptance (more on that later). Yes ones still in cities as Israel advanced upon them were to be killed as happened in war but all the cities of canaan knew they were coming and those who didn't trust their gods against the true one could and probably did leave (with children in tow). There was no subsequent command throughout the Bible to kill any and all canaanites wherever and whenever you saw them. This ignorance of materialists was recently exposed when it was all over the news how canaanite ancestry discovered by genetic research disproved the Bible (oops the Bible makes references to several canaanites after Joshua but no one bothered to read it.) B) Atheists seldom ever look at the contexts of the passages they use to make their argument. They love to quote Exodus 20:16-18 but they skip over the first part where God tells the Jews to extend peace to any city they come upon ( a positively new testament kind of command). Its under the clause of those who reject their offer of life that the command to kill canaanites comes (no doubt God knowing their heart and that they would not accept such an offer.) C) just as in our laws a universal law never forbad special circumstances on merit. We see that right out the gate when the very first Battle in canaan takes place. First things first? - saving canaanites. God commands the saving of a set of canaanites in the city. Men women and children - old and young - Thats right he commands it!! Rahab and all her extended family are spared and assimilated into Israel and she marries and likely had the distinction of being a great forebore of Guess who? Jesus the Christ (who also chose an apostle with the name Simon the canaanite). So at the end of the day God knew no such command would be universally obeyed, makes exceptions in the very first battle and sanctions and seemingly approves canaanites being in his son's ancestry and blesses a number of cananites thereafter. In providence and foreknowledge it allowed for canaanites to escape death, grow up to be apostles and particpate in his plan of redemption. One even listed in a hall of fame for faith in Hebrews 11 that would have to be the weirdest non genocide genocie ever. Of course atheist will still whine about the inclusion of children as if God should forego his knowledge of what he knew they would do (as is clear from all the passages was his concern - among the abominations? child sacrifice). However anyone trasported back in time to 1894 with a gun in his hand and a five year old hitler in front of him would have to think through some hard issues before walking away. Me? upon careful consideration I am quite sure I would pull the trigger for all the other five year old Jews in the 1940s. Its easy for men to whine on their ignorance of divine knowledge but its not a compelling argument against divinity. Especially when the best they can do is go back 3,000 years ago to find a (to them) questionable event because they have such a great continuity of love and compassion to overcome.mikeenders
March 7, 2018
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RodW, correction... "like Barry stated, was 3,000 years ago" Barry should be glad to to have lived so long a life ;-) I understand your take and it might surprise you I'm not defending God. He does not need defending by me. But you presume to know what you do not know in judgment of what you cannot comprehend. Thinking yourself higher than the Creator, your thoughts higher than He who created you. Least you think I'm judging you. I'm not. I once stood in your shoes and know these type of arguments intimately as I use to make same ones you are now making. They're not new, not more reasonable or logical and not true. And timing is very relevant. Or your own statements about society and culture have no meaning. You base your own morals: on this day, this time, and this society you live in to a "collective" group think. But if you lived then, using your own convoluted logic. You must admit you might have been one of the tribal members sacrificing babies to burn to death by fire. All because society commands you, not logic, not morals, but societal norms that change from generation to generation over time. Yet you ignore a central truth. That Christ changed all of this group think. He went against society morals, not with it. He was a revolutionary, not a group think follower. You think you can take these issues out of context and bring them forth to the 21st century you live in. OK, Question again, was President Truman justified to use atomic weapons against Japan? As a result of his command, many women and children died. Upwards to 129,000 people by estimates on Wiki not including radiation fallout. Or should President Truman have allowed tens of thousands of Americans die in endless war on islands fighting the Japanese? Who refused to stop? How many Americans would you be willing to let die? To an enemy avowed to kill you? Knowing you had a way to end it? As to abortion, will address it later. Tonight if time permits. One method to murder a baby is to burn them in the womb alive by saline solution, that burns tissue and skin. As the baby dies. I am glad you have some reservations. Gianna Jessen - Saline Abortion Survivor, Pro-Life Advocate, Singer, God's girl, Living the Impossible DATCG
March 7, 2018
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I love it when an Atheist resorts to theological arguments. It's not that they really disbelieve in God. They just don't like Him. And where did the science go? Isn't that what Atheists stand on? Why has it been thrown under the bus in favor of arguing about heaven? Andrewasauber
March 7, 2018
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CR @ 64 And CR thinks morality is only about solving moral problems. And if you are morally outraged by the existence of 13 million Jews, he cannot, for the life of him, come up with a justification for why you shouldn't round them up and kill them. Because he is against justificationism. That is why he he is desperate to change the subject and talk about Canaan 3,000 years ago. His position on Europe within living memory is embarrassing to say the least.Barry Arrington
March 7, 2018
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rvb8 @ 66: In which holy text? All assume exclusivity to their adherants only, reaching heaven; there is no room in Protestant heaven for Papists/Jews/Muslims/Budhists/Hindus/Canaanites(??), and vice,vice/vice/vice/vice/vice/versa. How do you know this?es58
March 7, 2018
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Wow Q, CR comes up with a logical argument, and you come back with computer games and Quantum Mech? And as for the, 'once you're in heaven God will reward just behaviour to all? No He won't! In which holy text? All assume exclusivity to their adherants only, reaching heaven; there is no room in Protestant heaven for Papists/Jews/Muslims/Budhists/Hindus/Canaanites(??), and vice,vice/vice/vice/vice/vice/versa. I'm really looking forward 'Q' to you showing these 'Humanist' passages of the Bible/Koran/Talmud.rvb8
March 6, 2018
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CR, Consider this. Have you ever played a computer game such as an MMORP game? Have you ever killed a character in a computer game? If so, why wouldn't you be tried for murder? You say, "Well, that's stupid. The person really didn't die. It was just the person's avatar and the game was a simulation." Ok, fine. Do you know that many researchers in the field of quantum mechanics see strong scientific evidence that what we consider material reality isn't reality at all? Apparently, it's very likely that we're living our lives in a simulation according to Science. You believe in Science, right? If we're living in a simulation, there's a very, very intelligent maker and controller of the simulation with a specific purpose. The purpose could very rationally be to demonstrate conclusively what kind of person you are. And I am. All of the people in the simulation die. Men, women, mothers, fathers, children, even baby ducks and trees. We all die. Some sooner some later. The simulation ends. Then, God judges people with absolute fairness. Canaanites and their children. Judged with fairness. White supremacists. Judged with fairness. Hitler, the Pope, and Jimmy Carter. Fairness. God also demonstrated mercy by suffering the most excruciating death by crucifixion (note the word derivative) in payment for the punishment you and I deserve--to provide mercy to those who ask for forgiveness, and justice to those who demand it. After God destroys the undeniable, heinous evil that's infected the human race, he will dry the tears of those who had to suffer and who asked for forgiveness. Those who hate God will not be forced to live in his loving presence. They will suffer the second death. The real one. -QQuerius
March 6, 2018
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@barry
I see the A-Mats still want to talk about Canaan 3,000 years ago instead of Europe within living memory. Telling.
Oh, I see. If everyone who when though it has died, it's no longer relevant? Is there some statue of limitations on genocide? Again, the story illustrates two justificationists arguing over which "final solution" is authoritative: the Christian God's or the Führer’s. They both include genocide. Apparently, Barry isn't against genocide, per-se, as long as it comes from the right authoritative source, as he hasn't condoned Yahweh's commands to commit it. So, it's not about the act itself, but the source. I guess you have to give it to him for being consistent justificationist.critical rationalist
March 6, 2018
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RodW: People seek means to justify their desires and actions. Nazis used the Bible where they could, but they also used The State, science, ethnicity, and Hitler's dapper face to do the worst things they could think of. They didn't need anything most A/Mats would refer to as "religion". We have secular law. Surely it contributes to order. But even the best laws can be buried under perverse case law or reinterpreted by a high court to serve evil means. Does that reflect upon the law itself, or upon its subjects and keepers? The Israelites suffered their enemies for years, decades even before they paid their debts, often as an existential necessity. It's a rough neighborhood, look at it now!LocalMinimum
March 6, 2018
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Andrew and John
But RodW, if collective interactions produce something like a genocidal state, or animal-worship, or a suicidal drug culture, or blah blah blah, how is collective interaction any better than anything else?
I'm not really comparing that to any other type of morality. This is where morality comes from and this includes societies that try to run thing based on a holy book. Religious morals are part of that collective effort more or less...and John, I'd agree that atheists in the West pretty much piggyback their morality from Christianity...or at least from more 'progressive Christians' such as I described above to LocalMinRodW
March 6, 2018
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They have to result from collective interaction, no matter how flawed you think that is.
But RodW, if collective interactions produce something like a genocidal state, or animal-worship, or a suicidal drug culture, or blah blah blah, how is collective interaction any better than anything else? We both know collective interactions aren't endowed with any special insight into anything. That you appeal to them just means you don't really have an answer to some difficult questions, and you are just abdicating your judgement- to people who might be more clueless than you are. Andrewasauber
March 6, 2018
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Why are our interlocutors so reluctant to lay all their cards on the table? Atheistic naturalism/ materialism has no transcendent basis for morals or meaning. So what you are left with is either personal or cultural (group think) relativism. The best an atheist can do is co-opt morality from some other traditional kind of morality. But how can moral relativism carry any kind of real interpersonal moral obligation? Only if morality has a transcendent basis can there be any kind of real interpersonal obligation. Can atheist live moral lives? Sure, but only in the conventional sense-- only if they co-opt morality from a non-naturalistic world view. Internet atheists will often use Christianity to attack Christians by saying, “That’s not very Christian of you.” Or, “what would Jesus do?” But you never hear anyone counter atheists by saying to them, “That’s not very atheistic of you.” Why? Because, atheism doesn’t have a basis for morality. We know that and so do they. So why all the pretension and posturing?john_a_designer
March 6, 2018
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RodW, are you still here? Having admitted that under certain circumstances you would be OK with genocide, I would have thought you would understand you no longer have any authority to speak on morality.Barry Arrington
March 6, 2018
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What? Not worshipping or accepting God is very different from worshipping false gods.
Its immoral to murder children and babies even if God does command you to do it.
Except for the fact that it isn't murder if God commanded it.
Morality certainly exists without God.
It can't.ET
March 6, 2018
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DATCG I'm curious about something. You say that that murder of the Canaanites was moral because God commanded it and -just as important- we know his reasons. They were killing babies and worshiping false gods. In the West abortion, which you consider murder is legal, and there are many non-christians and atheists who worship false gods or no god. The 2 conditions that justified the killings in the OT are present. Do you think killing every atheist would be justified as moral? If God wanted this how would you know? If a very charismatic preacher came along and said God spoke to him and commanded this would you be open to the possibility? Please answer truthfully. No one knows your name. Besides, we're all friends here.RodW
March 6, 2018
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He’s ignoring reality around him today while being angry about the past, like Barry stated 3,000 years ago
Barry is old but hes not that old I'm not sure who you're talking about but I can give you my take: Its irrelevant that the genocide of the Canaanites happened thousands of years ago. Whats important is that some religious people claim that it was ok to murder men women and children if god commands it. Its not. Its immoral to murder children and babies even if God does command you to do it. Now he can send you to hell for not obeying him but that doesnt make it moral to kill them. Its not. I think the morality of abortion is a very complex issue, especially when it comes to late term abortions. But it shouldn't be for religious people such as yourself. Abortion is moral if God is ok with it. How will we know if hes ok with it? We cant ask people because some will say he is ok with it and others will say he isnt' We have to look in the Bible and see if it says we cant do medical procedures to end pregnancies.RodW
March 6, 2018
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RodW, He's ignoring reality around him today while being angry about the past, like Barry stated 3,000 years ago. Plus, he misrepresented my comments as being a single statement in justifying God's command. It was not a single statement, nor was I justifying it. I was detailing information as they were written at the time, much of it biblical, including a quote about the fact the tribe was murdering innocent babies by sacrificing them to false gods by burning them to death. He seemed to missed that detail. And what amazes me is how so many people who do not believe there's a Creator can be mad at him if he does not exist to them. While simultaneously justifying the deaths of millions of innocent, defenseless babies in the womb in America today. It's a bit hypocritical, wouldn't you say? To kill a beating heart of a defenseless baby, that feels pain in the womb? To surgically stick a suction needle into a brain of a living baby and suck it out? No one wants to address that elephant in the room. Nor the fact that Margaret Sanger practiced the very same beliefs and eugenics as Hitler. Yet people award her. She targeted blacks, she spoke to the women of the KKK. Yet that is dismissed today by most who look the other way.DATCG
March 6, 2018
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Local @50 I'd break with my fellow atheists and agree with you that in some cases belief in God can inspire someone to be more moral. I think that believing that the creator of the universe loves you unconditionally helps you to rise above the crap and gives you a solid foundation for treating other people better even in adverse conditions. I've known people like this and Karen Armstrong describes them well in History of God. I think society becomes more moral when people such as this are given a voice and become moral leaders of a sort. I think this has generally been happening in the West for the past few centuries. But people such as this are rare. For most religious people their beliefs are a weapon to hit other people over the head with. They think we should follow the moral code of the Hebrews from ~700 BC.RodW
March 6, 2018
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Andrew I think its the opposite. When God or a King decides whats moral thats "might makes right". I think morals come from the society as a whole based on our nature- both the good parts and the bad parts- and our culture including religion The important point is that morals cant come from a God. Morals simply cant exist as arbitrary rules. They have to result from collective interaction, no matter how flawed you think that is. Morals cant be imposed on people anymore than love canRodW
March 6, 2018
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collective morals of a large group of people
This is textbook/blog page appeal to size. or could be the Bandwagon Fallacy. RodW, you are sliding right into Might Makes Right. Which is no kind of morality. Andrewasauber
March 6, 2018
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The most significant thing about the Holocaust, from the perspective of human history, is that the largely Christian-dominated powers in the mid-twentieth century thought it wrong and tried to prevent its recurrence. I know of no reason to think that cultures dominated by anyone with a good TV face will do better.News
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