Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Beyond Individualism – the imperative of Christian political engagement


His Grace was very interested to learn of a conference taking place in London this week – ‘Beyond Individualism – Why Civil Society Needs Christian Political Engagement’, with speakers including Phillip Blond, Lord Glasman, Professor John Milbank and the eminent Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali.

The event appears to tap into a growing exasperation over the Government’s conflicting and contradictory treatment of British Christians. On the one hand, churches and Christian groups are courted as partners in the ‘Big Society’ project (unsurprisingly so, given they have a centuries-old track record of building crucial social institutions and a continuing presence in serving their local communities through a network of parishes). On the other hand, the Government continues to pursue policies which make it nigh on impossible for Christians to participate in the ‘Big Society’ while simultaneously maintaining their Christian identity.

The conscience of the individual and the distinct ethos of Christian organisations are neither recognised nor respected by those who prioritise the inviolable creeds of equality and inclusion. Meanwhile, the Christian commentary on the fundamental building blocks of society – such as the nature of marriage and the status of the family – seems to fall on deaf (or deliberately blocked) ears. The suspicion is that the ‘Big Society’ isn’t really big enough to include Christians (unless, of course, they are prepared to leave their faith at the door).

All this spells problems for David Cameron’s flagship project: the danger is not only that an enormous and otherwise willing group of citizens is effectively excluded. More fundamentally, it is that the ‘Big Society’ project falls flat on its face precisely because of a refusal to engage with the reality that any successful manifestation of civil society requires a rich and robust common narrative, capable of delivering a shared collection of goals, values and motivations. Historically our Christian heritage has provided that, and it remains the only credible candidate for it. Government grants, initiatives and ‘nudges’ are certainly not a sufficient alternative.

So Christians are rightly concerned. Until these fundamental tensions in government policy are resolved there will be no rich, civil society. And, in the meantime, Christians will increasingly feel as though they are being sidelined, abused, taken for granted, exhorted to work hard on delivery but also to keep silent about their concerns over the direction of the whole project. At best, the situation stems from a fundamental failure on the part of government to understand that religion in general and Christianity in particular is a ‘public’ and not just ‘private’ phenomenon. At worst, it reflects a deliberate refusal to listen.

Such a state of affairs cannot be expected to continue. Perhaps the Coalition’s plans to ‘redefine marriage’ will provoke a rallying call. There are already signs that Christians will express their concerns at the ballot box. As His Grace has reported, a recent ComRes survey suggested that 57% of UK Christians will abandon the Conservatives over ‘gay marriage’.

Whatever happens on that issue, Christians need to consider how to strengthen their political engagement and this event provides an opportunity to do so. And perhaps it suggests a growing recognition of some of the fundamental challenges. That it has attracted ‘Civil Society’ thinkers from across the political spectrum is perhaps indicative of the realisation that engaging with these issues is not peculiar to one particular political hue but fundamental to the very concept of ‘civil society’ and successful manifestations of it. That the conference is a hosted by the European Christian Political Movement allows for the possibility that there are lessons to be learned from ‘Christian Democracy’ in other parts of the continent.

So, perhaps there are stirrings of something new. Perhaps this event will act as a catalyst for that. His Grace looks forward to seeing what emerges from it. If it leads to a more coherent and robust Christian presence in the political discourse, that can only be a good thing.

162 Comments:

Blogger G. Tingey said...

Ah "christian political engagement"
Burning people at the stake;
ensuring half the population (the female half) have no say in politics or anything at all, especially if it concerns the insides of their own bodies;
persecuting the wrong sort of believers;
telling misleading and balckmailing fairy-stories to a gullible population .....

Etc Ad nauseam as "Private Eye" would say.

The "conscience of the individual" is also contrary to most christian models.
It's the directives of the supposed elite in those organisations that counts. Usually murdering bastards like Dominic, Cyril of Alexandria, Bernard of Clairvaux, Jean Calvin and others too numerous to mention.

Then of course, there are the conflicting and warring desires and opinions of not only different christain sects, but those of other religions as well.
All the way from Opus Dei to the Wee Free (carefully omitting the Quakers, of course) and all the way from Shi'a to Alawite (carefully omitting the Sufi, of course) - ditto fully-reformed all the way to ultra-orthodix jewry.

All at war with each other, united in thier suspicion and murderous intent to rationalists, secularists and atheists, and determined to spread their poisonous lies.

Remember:


A set of testable Propositions


1. God is not detectable (even if that “god” actually supposedly exists)
2. All religions are blackmail, and are based on fear and superstition.
Corollary: 2a ] Marxism is a religion.
3. Prayer has no effect on third parties.
Corollary: 3a ] There is no such thing as "Psi".
4. All religions kill, or enslave, or torture.
Corollary: 4a ] The bigots are the true believers.
5. All religions have been made by men.


All the above are testable, by both observation and experiment.
Unless and until they are shown to be false, they must be taken as true, or at least valid, statements.

23 November 2011 at 08:36  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

So you complain about the "inviolable creeds of equality and inclusion" and then blow me down if you don't complain about Christians being excluded. I can only make sense of this if what you mean is this: Christians should be the ones doing the excluding!

23 November 2011 at 08:59  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

One wonders why Mr. Tingey keeps wasting his time here. I managed to tune out of his bitter ramblings a while ago, only to be brought back by the unnecessary length of this one.

Protip: if one clicks on the first line (next to "x said...") one can hide a post. What fun!

p.s. Atheists dislike Christians and are responsible for many deaths, ergo Ali Khamenei is an atheist! I can use circular logic with false premises too!

p.p.s. I find it juicily ironic that a 'rationalist' (when atheists call themselves that it does make me snigger) will rationalise (note that rationalisation is a logical fallacy) that Communism isn't an atheist philosophy because it was bad and only religions are bad.

23 November 2011 at 09:17  
Blogger Preacher said...

Lakester91.
I,ve had some good talks & debates with Atheists, granted, sometimes it can get quite heated, but we have recognised each others right to believe or not & we've parted on friendly terms of mutual respect.
The 'new atheists' Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennet & co are more Anti-Theist than atheist. Why? I don't Know, but attempts at sensible conversation or debate are futile.

23 November 2011 at 10:21  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr G Tingey 08.36, Corollary 2a is demonstrably false. Karl Marx had a beard, so does God. But that does not mean that Marx is God or vice versa.

23 November 2011 at 10:28  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

whitespacebug:
"Christians should be the ones doing the excluding!"

Precisely.
THAT is exactly why (or one of the reasons why) I'm an atheist.
The attitude of intolerant sectarian exclusion and hatred.

Lakester 91
Actually, I usually regard christians as deluded and to be pitied in their delusions.
As long as they don't try to tell me, or anyone else what to do, then as consenting adults, in private, what they do is NOT my concern.
I fear some christians (and muslims and communists etc) because they will insist on imposing their so-called values on me and other people, where it is none of their business.
Communism isn't an atheist philosophy.
It behaves, in every respect, like a religion, down to having warring sects, a set of holy books, and completely wrong predictions as to the world, and an un-natural straitjacket into which human behaviour must be fitted.
Oh and the state/religious persecution apparat that goes with all of the above.

Preacher.
Almost correct. Very good.
Yes, anti-theist, because on all the evidence, there isn't a big sky fairy....
And, of course,"god" wants what we want, as self-selected, self-elected "leaders" of whichever religion it is - how convenient!

Bluedog
Bloody grow up!
Marx made some very pertinent mid-19th C observations on society.
He then made a set of predictions, which are the basis of the communist religion.
All those predictions have proved false.
Yet there are still people who believe in communism.
Ergo, it's a religion.
( Apart from all the other markers for such, that is! )

23 November 2011 at 10:40  
Blogger William said...

I miss Graham Davis. He had manners and a sense of humour.

23 November 2011 at 10:55  
Blogger Preacher said...

Mr Tingey.
Please inform us all, how you can hate with such fervour a being that according to you doesn't exist?.
Please don't trot out the usual 'reason', that religion is responsible for all the evil in the World.
Perhaps I'm encroaching on sensitive areas for you. If so please forgive my impertinence in asking & forget my question. But I feel you are carrying a lot of anger & pain that manifests itself in hatred & bitterness. There is no need to reply as I feel that I can not help you in such a public arena as this & I feel that debate would encroach on the goodwill of our host & would prove futile at this point.
Instead please ponder on my response, I hope it helps & brings some enlightenment & relief.

Regards.

23 November 2011 at 11:05  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Tingey @ 10.40, if Marx's predictions are false, what does one make of his assertion 'Religion is the opiate of the masses'? Could it be that this statement is false too?

Incidentally, it was not until the US economist Robert Solow developed his model of economic growth, mathematically demonstrating the relationship between labour, capita and technology, that the economic justification for communism was defeated. Robert Solow was the 1987 Nobel Prize winner for economics and the Soviet Empire collapsed in 1989. Was Robert Solow more influential than Pope John Paul II? Not in the public mind, at least.

23 November 2011 at 11:14  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

You're Grace,
Those whom have not had the benefit of a personal encounter with God are bound to pour out their rhetoric against the believers jus as Saul did until his Damascus moment. From that point on, there was no way that he could not believe. We can only pray for those who scourge us and say DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO.
I intend to be at the conference mentioned and sincerely hope to hear some constructive comments rather than the usual platitudes that Christians in office are prone to do.
I went to the Christian Hustings in Westminster before the last election and frankly I was rather disappointed in the representatives from the three main Parties. The two Christian party representatives were far more positive but without any chance of being elected. The Christian Party with 71 candidates achieved an average of 263 votes. (The Monster Raving Looney Party with 24 candidates achieved an average of 278 votes). The Christian Peoples Party did better with, an average of 570 votes across 11 candidates. The average number of votes for Conservative candidates was 16,963.
These performances will do nothing to convince the populous that Christians are a viable force. Admittedly in 2010 there was a desire to get rid of New Labour rather than support some fringe party. The next time round we need to be ready to take advantage of the Anti-Government feeling that is being expressed across the whole spectrum of society.

23 November 2011 at 11:26  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

My Damascene moment came when I read the Second Tretise of Government, the foundational document of liberalism. The stunning truth is that there is absolutely no ethos of public service in liberalism itself. Read John Locke and it is apparant he assumed that Christianity would be the binding social glue which was absent from the political system he envisioned. It clearly never occured to him that liberalism itself would become a creed, but only an apparatus. In the past, liberalism has worked well, but only where it was regulated by common Christian values, be they evengelically held or merely a cultural Christianity. On its own, it doesn't work at all. What we get are politicians without vision whose policies are formed like supermarket managers going through the till rolls to see what's selling and then stocking the shelves with that product. How long more does anyone think western society (if it can still even be called 'societyl)can survive being run by people like our friend Mr Tingey above?

23 November 2011 at 11:33  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Mr Corrigan1 makes an excellent point that needs to be repeated again and again, as it gets forgotten again and again: "In the past, liberalism has worked well, but only where it was regulated by common Christian values, be they evengelically held or merely a cultural Christianity. On its own, it doesn't work at all." I have argued to secular Jewish friends and acquaintances that the liberalism they have embraced is not the brave act of personal liberation they imagine it to be, but a full conversion to an obscured and watered-down form of Christianity. Given the deer-in-the-headlights gaze and the open-mouthed expression this hypothesis triggers in the subjects, the proposition had never even crossed their minds.

However, as I steel myself to face the fire-brething dragon in Administration at our synagogue over our late membership fees, Mr Tingey's excellent Set of Testable Propositions looks like something I could definitely make use of....

23 November 2011 at 12:24  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Mr Preacher,

I didn't imply that all atheists are like Mr Tingey, and I'm sorry that it can be inferred. Perhaps I ought to differentiate between atheists and Atheists more clearly. I remember how annoying Mr Davies could be, but he often made good points and sometimes argued the case well (or maybe that's just nostalgia I don't know).

23 November 2011 at 12:33  
Blogger Jon said...

I don't really understand why the conference is specifically targeting "Christian political engagement". Have Christians been especially absent from politics so far? Don't they have men in tights in the Lords?! Or is this about Christian's failure to engage effectively (as per a previous point I made about Vatican PR advisers).

Also - I thought that the point of the Big Society was that people could engage in a multitude of ways to achieve things that would previously have involved a bureaucrat. If we're going to have to pass someone else's morality test to get in to the Big Society test, I'd probably be more comfortable with the bureaucrat, thanks.

23 November 2011 at 13:38  
Blogger Preacher said...

Lakester91.
No problems, I was just pointing out that the followers of Messrs Dawkins, Hitchen & Co don't really fit into the same mould as Mr Davies, who you so rightly say made good points that even if one disagreed with, were well reasoned & showed integrity.
The 'New' Atheists as they have become known are recognisable for their animosity to any form of religious belief, seemingly just because it exists. It seems their main ambition is to attempt to intimidate & attack any & all versions of Diety, but especially Christianity with childish taunts & names, with it seems the sole aim of being obnoxious.
Thus they are not truly Atheists, but Anti-Theists, simply anti God.

23 November 2011 at 13:47  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Preacher:
It is not hate.
It is disgust.
Disgust at lying con-tricksters such as "mother Theresa". Disgust at the corrution and manipulstions of the RC church. Disgust at the way muslims and christians treat women - as inferior breeding-cows.
And so on, and on and on ....

No, actually.
Religion is not responsible for all the ills of the world.
But there would be a lot fewer of those ills without religion and its persecuting bigotry.

You are correct that I am angry. I was brought-up CofE evangelical, remember - and it's taken me a long time to disentagle from the deliberate lies and blackmail of that. I understand ex-catholics and ex-muslims have exactly the same problems.

Bluedog
Marx's assertion was, at that time, perfectly true - as an observation.
Look at how long it took for the overweeing moral blackmail of the RC church in Ireland and Spain to be broken, for instance.
Your piece on Solow was very interesting, but the Soviet empire was already doomed - collapsed under the weight of its own suveillance, and economic illiteracy.

Mr Integrity:
What "personal encounter with Big Sky Fairy" ??
How can you have a personal encounter with a non-existent thing?
Rememeber: "Not detectable" - and in my opinion, because it does not exist.
I've asked this before:
Produce some objective evidence, or shut up, please?

Corrigan 1:
My start away from christianity was when my local vicar preached against proven scientific knowledge - helped by the revelation that my god-mother had shouted him down in his own pulpit, a few years earlier, for his narrow-minded preaching, which was grossly offensive to parishoners present.
Hint he was preaching "sins of the fathers" and the congregation-members had a Down's syndrome child ...
Euw.

Avi Barzel:
Codswallop
You are deluding yourself.
I hear this exact same crap from jews and muslims, that "liberalism" only works if Big Sky Fairy is inserted.
Well, it needs SOMETHING inserted, preferably where the Sun don't shine.

I note, as usual, that no-one is actually trying to dispute or disprove my testable propositions.
Interesting that.

23 November 2011 at 14:01  
Blogger William said...

Avi

Like your style. Presumably once you've applied the G Tingy Testable Propositions defence you could suggest to your synagogue administrator that they take an ecumenical approach and offer fee discounts for atheists? Although obviously from a safe distance given the fire breathing capabilities.

23 November 2011 at 14:17  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

There really isn't a contradiction here. The modern secular world thinks that religion has no place in the public square beyond social work. So religious organizations are expected to meet temporal needs and shelve their metaphysics in the process. And, no, they shouldn't complain about the connection between the metaphysics and the temporal effectiveness of their programs. The secular world doesn't want to hear about that issue. Religion should just be grateful for the small part it is allowed to play.

carl

23 November 2011 at 14:50  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

To Mr Tingey @ 14:01 Sorry but I have to ask was your vicar having a Glen Hoddle moment? Was he a secret believer in reincarnation and spiritualism then? I believe such things are frowned upon in Christianity as we don't really know what is ahead of us. How can he equate the sins of a previous life to be reborn in a disability in this life? Only these odd bod psychics or extreme evangelicals maybe I'm not sure could believe such nonsense.

23 November 2011 at 15:24  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

G. Tingey,
I could produce countless witnesses who would say the same as me. That they have had such a powerful and irrefutable experience of the presence and reality of God. The scriptures (which I presume you don’t believe) say that when Thomas only believed when he saw, Jesus said blessed are those that believe and have not seen. The spiritual is not something to be proven by mans means. It is a question of faith and if you do not have faith, you can’t believe. But that does not mean that God does not exist. Our legal system allows for evidence to be presented by witnesses. If the reality of Christ was to be taken to court, it would take years to hear all the witnesses supportive of Christ.
You may think me a moron but I know what I know and no one can make me change my mind or shut me up. One day you too might find that out for your self.

23 November 2011 at 15:49  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Mr Tingey,

Codswallop? I thought I'd heard them all. I like it!

Anyhow, not a deep thinker are you, Tingey? I mean, for an adherent to an ostensibly purely intellectual position? My guess...admittedly a wild guess...is that you are not a fan of infanticide, polygamy, incest, age-based euthanasia or cannibalism? All perfectly logical, culturally and materialistically defensible survival strategies utilized by all sorts of societies, pristine and advanced. Do attempt to compute the reason for your lack of enthusiasm for such seemingly sensible and successful solutions to overhelming material challenges, if it's not too much trouble that is.

Then, I see you throw down your worn gauntlet again: "I note, as usual, that no-one is actually trying to dispute or disprove my testable propositions." Well, duh; why on Earth should we? Within their self-enclosed and limited purview, your propositions are sound enough, pretty well unassailable, I'd even grant you. Your problem, though, again stems from intellectual laziness, sloppy spill-overs and inability to see that in applying empirically based research strategies to your Theory of Everything, your conclusions lead to just another, ehem, faith. You see...or perhaps you don't and won't...you are confusing scientific methodology, which is merely a way of knowing and achieving universally measurable results with universally applicable worldviews, dude. But a cluster of axioms, or even a fat and juicy paradigm still do not a weltanschauung make...es ist war, ja? Do let me know if all of this is all Greek to you and I'll try to crank things down a few notches, ok?

23 November 2011 at 16:04  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

William, some of the most loyal synagogue attendees, especially at the excellent luncheons with top-notch single malts, are atheists...or at perhaps to be polite, self-declared agnostics. Whether their spiritual or temporal needs are met, the synagogue still needs to pay its bills and their contributions, donations, pledges or volunteering are always welcome. Btw, anyone, Jew or non-Jew can attend synagogues for years, stuff his face with shmaltz herring and guzzle shot after shot of Laphroaig and no one will ask why they are there and demand or even mention membership fees. Once you commit and start joining various boards and such, it's a different matter altogether.

23 November 2011 at 16:28  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Carl Jacobs:
Wrong
The "modern secular world" thinks that religion has no place in the public square. AT ALL.
If you wish to believe &/or practice religion - that is your private privilege. It is not a matter for public places.
Mainly, of course, because there is no god.

Marie 1797:
No he was a "literalist", and refused to believe in the antiquity of this planet, nor in the way in which species' variation came about.

Mr Integrity:
And science has shown that such "witness" and "experience" cannot ever be trusted under any circumstances.
That is why it has evolved experimental tests and methods and checks, to attempt to prevent such appalling self-delusion.
You are, effectively claiming that science and its methods can say nothing at all about the so-called spiritual.
Which is a very bad delusion.
You plainly believe this complete tosh, and are not lying.
But, sadly perhaps, not a single word of it is true.

Avi Barzel:
Actually, I think quite a bit (one has to, to be able to get an M.Sc. apart from anything else)
Sorry.
Empirically based research DOES aplly to everything in this physical world in which we live.
If there IS anything else, how is it going to interact with this world? Except, erm, physically?
Answers on one side of the paper, please ....
NOTE: Physical world iuncludes, of course things not directly "seen" by our senses, but are nonetheless detectable by our instruments.
Like the electrons flowing through the computers we are currently using, for instance.
To communicate in ANY WAY AT ALL with human beings, any entity must use methods which humans can detect (I would have thought that was obvious).
Therefore, any "god" should be detectable, or at the least, its messages should be detectable.
De nada


EVERYONE.
Sorry, but "a set of testable propositions" is a posh name for one method for advancing any scientific hypothesis for evaluation, by observation and experiment.
That none of you seem have spotted this very basic and simple fact is very revealing of your ignorance.

23 November 2011 at 16:51  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Avi Barzel

you are confusing scientific methodology, which is merely a way of knowing and achieving universally measurable results with universally applicable worldviews

Sir, that was brutal. Not unlike watching a poor defenseless baby seal get clubbed. You should almost feel guilty.

Almost. ;)

carl

23 November 2011 at 16:58  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Avi Barzei, Brilantly put, even if it did come from the Nerw World.
Codswallop was a beer produced by a Mr.Cod. hence, Cod's Wallop. It usaully produced in a buff clay pot, stopped with a cork. It had lettering and decoration under the glazing and old bottles can often be found in the rubbish tips of early 19th Cent. homes.
By the way, no sign of that spanner I'm affraid.

23 November 2011 at 16:59  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

G Tingey

Empirically based research DOES aplly to everything in this physical world in which we live.

I await an empirical test for 'good.' Or are you willing to admit that 'good' does not exist in your conception of the world?

carl

23 November 2011 at 17:01  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Sorry Avi, I got my Codd's and my Wallops mixed up. There was a stoneware beer but Codd produced fizzy drinks in glass bottles with neck that contained a marble to keep the pressurised dink in. The beer drinkers were derogatory about this drink and so called it Codd's Wallop. (Codd's Beer).

23 November 2011 at 17:16  
Blogger William said...

Carl Jacobs

A cruel lurch into the metaphysical. Have a heart!

23 November 2011 at 17:18  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Meanwhile, the Christian commentary on the fundamental building blocks of society – such as the nature of marriage and the status of the family – seems to fall on deaf (or deliberately blocked) ears."

It's not just commentary though, is it? It's also demands and expectations. Of course, lobbying by special interests is part and parcel of it all but why should we 'listen' in particular to Christian 'commentaries' on some aspects of society but not Muslim ones on others? We're all citizens here. Moreover, if Christian 'commentary' leads to successful action on the nature of marriage and the status of families then why not storm ahead on divorce or co-habitation as well? Where's the authority coming from and from what principles?

"At best, the situation stems from a fundamental failure on the part of government to understand that religion in general and Christianity in particular is a ‘public’ and not just ‘private’ phenomenon."

I don't think there's any doubt that religion is a public phenomenon, the real question is whether it should be public in the collective sense or just private special interest groups operating in the public space. If the former then, again, why just Christianity? Why not Islam operating as a public phenomenon with Sharia Courts? Why not pollute our system of law with Islamic religious morality?

The answer will no doubt be a Christian appeal to tradition in some manner or other. But why? Undoubtedly, tradition informs our decisions but it's hardly a bulwark against all change or a rally cry to reinstate lost power. Afterall, women wouldn't have the vote if tradition was that necessary. No, we're a very different society than in (say) the 1950s where the Daily Mail would like us to still be living and it's not just minorities like gay people who cherish social changes either. I can't see Christian religionists trying to take away the established freedoms the majority now enjoy without a huge outcry.

23 November 2011 at 17:20  
Blogger William said...

Avi

Whisky and herring? Where do I sign?

23 November 2011 at 17:24  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Tingey
'God is Spirit' and not material. What instrument is there that measure his? Similarly, 'God is Love'. How will you measure this? And you assume only the physical senses are available for God's methods of communication.

23 November 2011 at 17:30  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

William

Whisky and ...?

Why not just mix gasoline and turpentine together? That has about the right consistency and taste for Whisky or Whiskey or whatever you call that foul-tasting concoction. How can you drink that stuff?

carl

23 November 2011 at 17:33  
Blogger William said...

Carl

In some cases I would concur, but Avi, siren that he is, sung of single malts. An entirely different beast.

23 November 2011 at 17:45  
Blogger Oswin said...

Mr.Tingey: have you now given up on cravats? You sound as one now sporting a detachable collar, and finding the stud bothersome? Undo your top button, God won't mind.

23 November 2011 at 18:10  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace

The Inspector remembers a time when the default position in this country was Christian. There were other religious faiths, but these adherents tended to be quiet.

Atheists aplenty of course, but they too were somewhat quiet. Rather a personal affair for them. Didn’t feel the need to shout it from the rooftops at every opportunity (…G. Tingey, hope you’re reading this…). Could well be what went on in the name of Christianity was accepted by all as common sense.

Anyway, the point is we can longer rely on the default, and regrettably, must join those other special interest groups, and the sooner the better. There you are, I’ve said it…

By the way, bravo Tingey for a spirited defence of your godless position today. What sport ! Makes a refreshing change from your usual tragic few lines...

Somebody mention Single Malt ? (note capitals, it’s the water of life, you know...)

23 November 2011 at 18:11  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Danj0

“Of course, lobbying by special interests is part and parcel of it all but why should we 'listen' in particular to Christian 'commentaries' on some aspects of society but not Muslim ones on others? We're all citizens here.”

Because we have to have a set of morals and values to follow to keep us in check and unless you want to go back to the 7th century and follow muslim ones Christianity is the most advanced and civilized and more appropriate for our core values.

“The answer will no doubt be a Christian appeal to tradition in some manner or other. But why? Undoubtedly, tradition informs our decisions but it's hardly a bulwark against all change or a rally cry to reinstate lost power. Afterall, women wouldn't have the vote if tradition was that necessary. No, we're a very different society than in (say) the 1950s where the Daily Mail would like us to still be living and it's not just minorities like gay people who cherish social changes either. I can't see Christian religionists trying to take away the established freedoms the majority now enjoy without a huge outcry.

Where does it say in the Bible that women are inferior and cannot have a vote? Women are equal human beings in the eyes of God. They have a brain and contribute as much to society as a man but in a different way.
Being gay does not enhance society. Heterosexuals do for the optimal survival of the species, so why should society bow down and allow your excessive demands? In fact if there is no core religion and you lot get to destroy the natural order of society with your demands thereby allowing other perversions to also receive equal status it wont take too long before we end up as rotten and diseased as the Greeks and then the Romans were.

23 November 2011 at 18:14  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Mr Tingey,

I know you're chomping at the bit for my nuggets of wisdom, and I don't mean to keep you waiting, but I'm inching towards Customs, where Homeland Security will have to determine whether your grinning, bearded and long-haired hero is tripping on ex, is a cheerful Al Qaida impatient for the 72 virgins, or is just a happy trucker who loves his work. And, there is a Michigan-based International with tinted windows trying to hog my spot in the lane.

The question I posed is not whether you think, but how deeply or thoroughly. Nor whether you have an M.Sc., either, which I trust you presented in an attempt to establish an assumption of depth rather than as a prelude to an argument from authority in addition to your usual straw men and red herrings.

"Empirically based research DOES aplly to everything in this physical world in which we live." Well, halleluyah and an amen to that, I suppose. It must be happy hour with a special on martinis where you are, given the stridency there. Shouted articles of faith are always interesting to me; this is a religion blog after all.

"NOTE: Physical world includes, of course things not directly 'seen' by our senses, but are nonetheless detectable by our instruments." Right-ho. Actually, you undoubtedly know far more of physics than I, so you probably mean that our instruments detect assumed effects of certain physical phenomena we still cannot directly observe, or something like that? Or I'm wrong and you can see and track a quark as it zips down the hall looking for the loo, as you call it. Or, that you can establish water-tight empirical protocols which will demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that this universe is what you believe it is...oops, perhaps I shoul say think it is...rather than, for example, a sophisticated gaming simulacrum played by an alien teenager or a dream you will wake up from in a few minutes/millenia/eons. And don't try that ole Occam's Razor on us, since that method too presupposes quite a bit...and came from a religious mind to boot.

"Therefore, any 'god' should be detectable, or at the least, its messages should be detectable." Ummm...I trust an M Sc degee in the UK entails an under4grad prerequisite or two in humanities, say Philosophy 101, if not an intro to religions? You've probably just forgotten that the root source of this here dispute is in the definition of the moniker detectable, right? Ooopsie-daisie!

But all this is fun and games. I'm not trying to convince you to adopt a religious view or suffer through a paradigm shift (those can hurt); that would actually be against my religion, believe it or not. I only hope to remind you that you're full of shit.

I note too that you haven't addressed why your ethical system is such as it is (hint: Judeo-Christian), as opposed to Meso-American, Egyptian or Inu). I mean, under your seemingly objective and totally secular outlook, there is no evident reason why you should reject turning an economically and socially useless grandma into freeze-dried soylent green and feeding her to hungry children in Africa, no?

23 November 2011 at 18:43  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Marie: "Because we have to have a set of morals and values to follow to keep us in check and unless you want to go back to the 7th century and follow muslim ones Christianity is the most advanced and civilized and more appropriate for our core values."

There seems to be a bit of circular reasoning in there but aside from that by observation we operate on shared ethics with any number of 'moral codes' underpining them. I dare say if you ask almost everyone in the street they will be unable to explain how their moral code is constructed but nevertheless think they have one. They're essentially 'normative', I think, and I'd go further myself and say that our reality requires that. I certainly don't want or need a Christian version imposed on me any more than I want a Muslim one. But that's the advantage of a philosophically liberal society, plurality can exist provided the State arbitrates between competing interests based on largely neutral principles. So, you get to pretend to be a Christian because it makes you feel English, Muslims can attend mosques and fast once a year, and I can have a sex life with another man. And we're all happy etc.

"Where does it say in the Bible that women are inferior and cannot have a vote? Women are equal human beings in the eyes of God. They have a brain and contribute as much to society as a man but in a different way."

You may note on rereading my comment that I was arguing about tradition there rather than Biblical exegesis about the status of women. Without a doubt, women wouldn't have the vote if tradition was the primary way we determine how we go on. In fact, women as a class would almost certainly be maintaining the home still while the men go out to provide for them. Except the likes of me of course, who'd potentially have a dual income. ;)

23 November 2011 at 18:45  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Avi: "I mean, under your seemingly objective and totally secular outlook, there is no evident reason why you should reject turning an economically and socially useless grandma into freeze-dried soylent green and feeding her to hungry children in Africa, no?"

If I were a women then I'd presumably extrapolate from being relatively young to being a grandma and realise that I would be suggesting someone doing that to me later in life which wouldn't sound good. A better example would be Christians turning Jews into soylent green on the basis that they wouldn't be likely to end up as a Jew. But then one might be inclined to see that Jews are essentially just like the rest of us and therefore feel empathy and sympathy arising from our self-awareness as a species. Or perhaps reason that if someone can reason in favour of turning Jews into soylent green then someone else might reason in favour of turning Christians or other groups into it too.

23 November 2011 at 18:57  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Crikey, I'm nearly at the point of stating the Golden Rule there. :O

23 November 2011 at 18:58  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Everyone: Judging by the excitement over beers and single malt...sorry Single Malt...my attempts at philosphy have whetted everyone's appetite and I picture beelines, like squiggly little con-trails, for quaint little pubs all over Albion. No drink for me until I'm back in my castle, although I will be visiting the duty-free.

DanJO, the error you are making is that we are rational creatures. That we are not, although over a sufficiently long period of time and with enough pressure from our environment, provided we win the natural selection game...we will make decisions that appear rational.

Canibalism, infanticide and euthanasia are not just ideas, but established survival strategies in use for thousands of years. In protein-poor environments or subjected to the mobile hunter-gatherer existence, your notions of ethics were foreign and, most likely, ethically repulsive. The toughts of weakings unable to value group survival. The people who resorted to them were just as human and empathetic as we are. The Nazis who did their nasty stuff weren't the chortling, ugly monsters we can easily imagine them as, but regular folks with families, pets and the love of a good beer as well. That we might be inclied this way or that way is of no help; they and people around them believed that by ridding the world of Jews, Roma, Gays and the disabled, they were saving civilization and humanity itself. The empathy and sympathy you put your dollars on are defined by the belief system around us. Statistically, it is unlikely that the horrors were all committed by certifiable psychopaths. The reality is that they were committed by people who rejected the "weak" and "corrupting" worlviews of Judaism and Christianity. No guesswork here; they described the process themselves.

23 November 2011 at 19:25  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Carl Jacobs, if you are still around. The Inspector’s brother came back from the USA where he had been working in defence, having been sent there by Australia. He arrived with a bottle or two of ‘Wild Turkey’ bourbon, which he shared with yours truly. Rather wished he hadn’t ! When it comes to distillation, the Scots, and only the Scots, have it; and even then, it has to be Single Malt. Bottoms up, old chap...

23 November 2011 at 19:53  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Avi: "The empathy and sympathy you put your dollars on are defined by the belief system around us."

No, they're biological. However, they're emotional responses and therefore only part of the way we reach decisions. As you say, environment is surely a factor in what we come up with but we can't stop being human i.e. a self-aware, emotional, rational, gregarious species.

What's the alternative? One can imagine an absolute, universal, objective morality and try to hold it up as the standard for everyone to follow but it clearly doesn't work. It didn't even work for Moses at a time when god could be bothered doing miracles!

In fact, as we can see from the last 1000 years of European history, being a Christian society does not mean that things like Insider-Outsider thinking don't occur. The ever-warring Christian nation-states and city-states demonstrated that rather well.

23 November 2011 at 19:56  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Carl Jacobs, "brutal"? Hmm, perhaps. In the Hobbesian universe the life of some half-baked ideas, like Mr Tingey's, will be nasty, brutish and brief, or something to that effect. Very Dawinian too, I guess.

Mr Itegrity, I forgot about that No 10. Found three more in various tool boxes. Thought I fixed the valve spacing, but no, still pinging, although not as bad as before. The wrench...spanner to you...will either wrap itself around the lawnmower blades in the spring (I'm waiting for snow to obscure my sloth) or will be dug out from its chronological stratum by future archeologists like those beer bottles you mention.

William, whisky and salty "shmaltz" herring fillets with onion on a cracker appear to be a uniquely North American Jewish oddity. A development on the Polish and Russian pickled fish and vodka combo, I think. The Inspector appeared to be apalled by this barbaric custom a while back, although he was too polite to say so. In most places very cold, blended whiskies are served, at our synagogue sinle malts have become the communal custom, although some die-hards and Canadian nationalists have been bringing our native Crown Royal rye whiskey. This will be seen as a heresy, but there are times I can do without the heavy peaty taste and prefer to knock back a neat Crown Royal, followed by a mini-canape of fish, onion and cracker. And, Carl, with deference to your Yank habits, bourbon seems to work well too. Heck, after a few le chaims, and when the scotches, whiskeys and bourbons have been emptied, we discovered plain gin, neat and straight, tastes surprisingly good as well. But I digress.

23 November 2011 at 20:14  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Avi, not appalled, just brought to his knees !

23 November 2011 at 20:21  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Mr Tingey,

You claim to have an MSc. yet you failed to mention in which field. I wonder why that could be...

Imagine a 2D world. A 3D being sees this world and enters it (that is to say, a plane of him does). He does amazing things that the 2D people can't explain, goes through several trials and tribulations before disappearing entirely. He can still affect the day to day happenings of this world whilst knowing everything that happens there (after all he has the advantage of an extra dimension). Of course to the people of the 2D world, it appears to be natural things happening by chance. Eventually the people of the 2D world start to deny the existence of the third dimension. It's existence is unprovable, they say, and it cannot be seen with the 2D eye or detected with 2D sensors. The 3D being appeared to them as a 2D being, so they assume that's all he was. Suddenly any of those who believe in the third dimension are religious loons who obviously have no idea about superior 2D science.

God created the world, and has an infinite dimension advantage over us. The image of God as simply a 3D being is due to our childish minds. You/we couldn't even imagine 4 dimensional object, let alone a being with infinite dimensions. Thinking that the processes of the Universe can be explained with scientific reasoning is sound: belief that 3D science can explain everything that exists outside our 3D world is as ridiculous as 2D people denying the existence of a third dimension.

23 November 2011 at 20:22  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

A stable and free society is not possible without a coherent and consistent ethic. Having a coherent and consistent ethic does not exclude people but it does exclude certain views. That is why we have prisons for bank robbers. However, the political elite of all persuasions attempt to be all things to all people while denigrating Christianity. Your Grace is right; for all the failures of individuals throughout history, it is Christianity which has been most successful in balancing the dignity of the individual with the stability of society. In Islam, there is no dignity – the Muslim who doubts is thereby sinning. The Buddhist or Hindu who is suffering must wait until their next reincarnation for hope of improvement. The African tribesman and the communist must submit to the demands of the tribe or collective. Fortunately for the G Tingeys of this world they can just make up their own rethic to suit themselves and tell us that all others are wrong. Admittedly, it is not easy to get the balance right but historically, Christianity has been the most successful. However, modern Christians seem to have the idea that we should not shout and complain. Your Grace is bucking the trend – may your leadership attract more followers.

23 November 2011 at 20:28  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

This is nuts; I haven't moved for nearly an hour and I'm estimating a dozen trailers before me. In the pre-9/11 days Canadian cars and trucks used to be usually waved through the border without stopping and if stopped, didn't need more than a driver's license or a birth certificate.

Yes, DanJO, empathy and sympathy are partially biological, especially in mammals, which makes sense of course. But in humans, they are mostly learned responses, which can be missed if they haven't passed on at specific stages and they are not specific to particular human situations. For example, specific socializing, infanticide in the form of abandoning a newborn to the elements, is a rather an easy thing in many cultures.

You say, "What's the alternative? One can imagine an absolute, universal, objective morality and try to hold it up as the standard for everyone to follow but it clearly doesn't work. It didn't even work for Moses at a time when god could be bothered doing miracles!" Well, I beg to differ...naturally. From my perch, the directives from Sinai, in the form of the Decalogue and the entire Torah are a contract between G-d and mankind. We are faulty humans, forever striving and slipping, but still higher than animals and higher than angels, burdened with the unique task of working in partnership with G-d to complete Creation and to sanctify the physical world, G-d's gift to humans. The evidence, for us believing Yids at least, is clear; adherence to the Laws leads to peace and a place in the Holy Land, failures bring problems. Pick your mechanism for how this works, assuming you even accept the argument, but in the end, we seem to be still around.

Movement again...yes, opening a new lane is a good idea. They get paid for thinking. Ta-dha for now. Time to drive and to try not to crush cute little rollerskates (4-wheelers) which will be soon be milling in front of my bumper on the highway. Bbl

23 November 2011 at 20:44  
Blogger William said...

Avi

Your description of moving from the scotches, whiskeys (sic) and bourbons onto neat gin smacked somewhat of desperation (and I wondered what price to keep the fee-paying "agnostics" happy ?), until I recalled that I have had a rather wonderful pickled herring where the pickler had been infused with juniper berries. So I imagine that shmaltz herring and gin go rather well together.

23 November 2011 at 20:47  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Avi @ 10.25, that's an exceptionally perceptive post.

There is no doubt that we all descend from cannibals. It is only with imptovements in technology that most human societies now have adequate nutrition. Otherwise it would still be a case of attack the neighbouring tribe, enslave the women and eat the warriors we didn't kill. It is truly said that the difference between civilisation and utter barbarism is seven hot meals.

What Mr Tingey cannot accept is that all successful human civilisations have developed a moral and ethical system that has been codified as religion. Western society is built on a fusion of Greco-Roman thought with the 4000 year old traditions and beliefs of Judaism. The result is called Christianity in its broadest definition. Quite how Christ's teaching can be described as blackmail is something Mr Tingey should explain.

Arguably, there are clear signs of the emergence of 'Christian' thought in Rome before the death of Christ. Try reading the Philippics of Cicero, which are full of comment that would not be out of place in political speeches today, particularly regarding the property rights of the individual.

23 November 2011 at 20:51  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

whisky and salty "shmaltz" herring fillets with onion on a cracker

Who would even conceive of that combination? It has to be a violation of the laws of nature and nature's God. Surely it must have started when two guys named Mike and Phil decided to play a joke on a community gathering and put out "salty herring fillets with onion on a cracker" as a snack. Somehow it becomes a right of passage - like jumping into a freezing lake in the winter. In any case, it explains the Whiskey. How else do you lower a man's natural resistance enough to get him to eat "salty herring fillets with onion on a cracker." Cauterizing the taste buds doesn't hurt either.

carl

23 November 2011 at 20:57  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Lakester91 “...that Communism isn't an atheist philosophy because it was bad and only religions are bad...”

Well done that man. Says it all about those who hate us believing types...

23 November 2011 at 21:02  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Avi: "We are faulty humans, forever striving and slipping, but still higher than animals and higher than angels, burdened with the unique task of working in partnership with G-d to complete Creation and to sanctify the physical world, G-d's gift to humans."

I don't see us as faulty humans, I see us as fully human i.e. a species in the present at the end of a long evolution. Part of being properly human is the so-called faults you see as deviation from your hypothetical notion of the perfect human. In that, we're no higher in any universal sense than other animals. Someone recently described me as not valuing life (by which he presumably meant human embryonic life and therefore, fallaciously by extension, people). It's a curious assertion, given that I was a vegan for about 20 years. That's one of the other ethical benefits of not being (say) Christian, one sees oneself as an inherent part of nature even though one lives in a human society with all the extra human-centric obligations and relationships that brings. It's actually been my observation that most Christians do not actually value life at all when it comes down to it. But then we don't share all our morals and ethics, or reach the same conclusions using our personal consciences.

23 November 2011 at 21:04  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0 “In that, we're no higher in any universal sense than other animals.”

AND

“It's actually been my observation that most Christians do not actually value life at all when it comes down to it. “

The Inspector is rather interested in what you’ve been drinking tonight, old chap....

23 November 2011 at 22:20  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Danj0
“You may note on rereading my comment that I was arguing about tradition there rather than Biblical exegesis about the status of women. Without a doubt, women wouldn't have the vote if tradition was the primary way we determine how we go on. In fact, women as a class would almost certainly be maintaining the home still while the men go out to provide for them. Except the likes of me of course, who'd potentially have a dual income. ;) “

I did note you were arguing about tradition and I agree with you that it's no barrier alone to regain the lost powers, the argument has to be based on Christ's teachings as well and the fact that that we have learned from history.

So you could afford to pay a gay tax then for the extra services councils provide for you like street markings, higher property prices, gay only venues, and extra burdens on the NHS. ;-)

23 November 2011 at 22:45  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

DanJO, you say, "I don't see us as faulty humans, I see us as fully human i.e. a species in the present at the end of a long evolution."

Obviously, we’re approaching things from slightly different angles. In my theological terms and from my perspective, we are faulty in comparison to G-d, whom we believe to be perfect, eternal and all-powerful. But don't worry about that, because even by your strictly secular measurements, you appear to be committing several anthropocentric fallacies here. What do you mean by "at the end of evolution?" A self-centred point in time, of course, but are you actually imagining a goal, progress or betterment? Are you going metaphysical on me here, DanJO?

Also, if we stick to the basics, we have quite a few anatomical...and let's not even get into behavioural...glitches too. It's, ehem, a bloody miracle we're still around...big, crazy brains notwithstanding, or in spite of them. And what of all the other hominid branches before us at this pinnacle of progress, as homo blogensis? Most simply ended as a chopped off stump somewhere on the old taxonomic tree. From your pure (puritanical?) material universe worldview, we have been here for such a short time, so why would you assume we are going to continue and not end up as ancient bones in strata?

You say: "...one of the other ethical benefits of not being (say) Christian, one sees oneself as an inherent part of nature even though one lives in a human society with all the extra human-centric obligations and relationships that brings." You’re right, there. Judaism, and I presume Christianity too, sees humankind as above all creation, separate and often in opposition to "nature." "Natural" and "non-natural"...another interesting conceptual construct I'd like explained from a strictly secular perspective. There is no word in biblical Hebrew analogous to the Indo-European originating word for "nature," which is of Pagan origin, naturally. What a curious semiotic mess we’re banging against here, eh? On one hand you see us as part of nature, on another as unnatural, and language is too semantically polluted to provide a neutral platform. O, what a mess!

Re the presumably high ethical standards of veganism, I’m curious, are you idealizing strict respect for all life, as in ahimsa? Or, do you distinguish between bacteria, gnats, and cute baby seals, for example. Would you save a teary-eyed Harp seal at the cost of a million fruit flies, t3wo million, a billion? (As an aside, no civilization ever decided on vegetarianism voluntarily, without ecological pressures, and there is no evidence that vegetarians are any less violent and warfare-prone.) I trust that you see where your presumed non-biblical, neutral and of course wholly objective, unbiased, equitable and non-anthropocentric morality takes us? Right back to worshipping trees and totemic animals, dancing to drums with our dicks a-swinging, copulating anything with an aperture and eating our buddies when times get tough, would be my guess.

And then you floor me (and get the Inspector to muse about liquor again): "It's actually been my observation that most Christians do not actually value life at all when it comes down to it. But then we don't share all our morals and ethics, or reach the same conclusions using our personal consciences." Hoo-wee, buddy, you're on your own here. I’ll leave that one to my fine-feathered Christian friends and watch the fireworks from the sidelines, I think.

23 November 2011 at 23:07  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Carl Jacobs
Brutal, yes, but also complete bullshit.
If it is not "Physical" where is it, and how do we connect with it - being entriely physical ourselves.
Remember that "mind" (if it exists - I think it does...) is purely an emergent property of brain.
No brain, no mind.
The brain is a purely physical object.

Too late to deal with later posts now, will return tomorrow afternoon.

23 November 2011 at 23:11  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

I've been giving ABC's post some thought, large Irish Malt Whisky in hand. (Inspector, shame on you for overlooking the true home of the 'water of life'!)

Anyway, capitalism was only made possible by protestantism. Without the "work ethic", individualism and the ideas of self sufficiency leading to the investment of surplus funds, rather than giving to "fecklesss beggars", it would never have taken off.

In my opinion, liberal capitalism is an unsustainable system. The 'free hand' of the market just doesn't do it. It works on greed and self interest. It rules out social responsibility and social justice as 'state interference'. How is this compatible with the message with the message of Christ?

Calvanism and puritanism laid the foundations for capitalism. At it core, capitalism is not founded on God's message of love, solidarity and social responsibility, so why are we surprised that Christianity has been marginalised?

Is there a way out? God alone knows! Maybe we are experiencing the death throes of man made systems of governance and economics.

Now I'm sounding like a fundamentalist - Heaven help me!

24 November 2011 at 00:44  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Looking forward to it, Mr Tingey; you and DanJ0 appear to be outnumbered here, so you need your rest.

Customs was slow and traffic annoying, but they let me through again! Decided on taking my mandated time off at a clean truck stop and I'm cooking din-din in the sleeper, chatting with family and enjoying a few posts. Of course, you folks are in your jammies having your milk and cookies by now, while I'm wired, bright eyed and bushy tailed. O well, got a brother-in-law in Vancouver, who'se still at his office, so time to bug him again.

Don't knock it 'till you tried it Carl Jacobs; it took a while for me to even try shmaltz herring, and thankfully more than half of our chaps in my synagogue avoid it (all the women ignore it for some reason, except for one of my daughters, a 10 year-old). More for me and the other real men. My new line: Real men eat shmaltz herring, lesser ones nibble at cookies.

Bluedog: Perceptive? Me? Not according to my wife. No, just recalled a corelation spotted in anthropology. Canibalism appears to be present where animal protein is less available due to environmental degradation or extinctions and shortages of fauna. The hypothesis was systematically developed by a cultural anthropologist, the late Marvin Harris, who popularized the notion in his Cannibals and Kings. Good book to get, along with his Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches. He looked at Aztec civilizations, I think, and some Pacific cultures, if I recall. This was in the 70s, and his hypothesis has yet to be seriously challenged. Essentially, Harris saw canibalism not as a supernatural or inexplicable evil, but as a rational human cultural response to challenging material conditions. As a scientist he did not and could not moralize, but here we see an example of DanJO's (and Russeau's) Man in Nature theme on steroids. In prohibiting canibalism and naming it as an abomination, the biblical message does not deny that it's rational or "natural." The Torah doesn't attempt to argue that canibalism and a whole host of other abominations may be ultimately self-defeating or destructive to a society and to humankind in the long term. They may or may not be; they appear even to have helped some to survive. The Bible only says that it's abhorent to G-d and that we are commanded to reject it. We accept such axioms on faith, and this drives our atheists friends utterly bonkers.

And, your "...the difference between civilisation and utter barbarism is seven hot meals" line is simply hysterical, and o so true, and so quintessentially British!

24 November 2011 at 01:31  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Avi Barzel

Don't knock it 'till you tried it

Yeh. That's what they said about Lutefisk. There is a reason the women in your Synagogue won't eat that ... stuff, ya know. You should pay attention.

carl

24 November 2011 at 02:51  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Re: G. Tingey's post of 23 November 2011 at 23:11

Let's play a game, shall we?

How many faith statements does it take to get to the center of an argument?

One: being entirely physical ourselves.

Two: Remember that "mind" is purely an emergent property of brain.

Three: The brain is a purely physical object.

Three! Three faith statements to get to the center of an argument.

carl

24 November 2011 at 03:02  
Blogger non mouse said...

Surely there's a reason why, in cultures worldwide, temporal Power People have allied themselves with any Powers that seemed to control their world? Didn't Power People always recognise, by necessity, that they could not control all natural forces: but they could exploit the mystery? Did they not call the uncontrollable and invisible aspects of these forces 'supernatural' (above/beyond nature)? Did they not, therefore, deploy false versions of these powers, such as alchemy and shape-changing?

Some other people, powered by Judaeo-Christianity, sought a way to Truth and developed genuine scientific method. So Power People nowadays promote "science," as that by which they know and control everything. As ever, how can anything else be permitted to know more, or be invisible, immortal, infinite, etc? So Power People still, like their predecessors, become as gods .... and "stellify" whomever they choose....

World-Wide-Webs facilitate so much for Power People. It's such an improvement over the crudity of goat-herders who physically practiced human sacrifice and cannibalism, and who danced orgiastically around metal statues--and developed the skills of weaving, in their spare time.

No wonder we're under such attack here today, then. Even though Power People have established the fact that no island is an island, a River of Words is weaving down from the Mountain of Knowledge. Power People can't take it kindly that their continent, is promoting both "Christianity" and "Democracy." As Your Grace says,"That the conference is hosted by the European Christian Political Movement allows for the possibility that there are lessons to be learned from ‘Christian Democracy’ in other parts of the continent." Post-modern web weavers are supposed to extinguish all such emanations from the physical brain.

24 November 2011 at 05:56  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Avi: "What do you mean by "at the end of evolution?" A self-centred point in time, of course, but are you actually imagining a goal, progress or betterment?"

I wrote "a species in the present at the end of a long evolution", not what you quoted at all. There's nothing of what you think in that. It means nothing special other than that we have evolved to where we are now.

"Also, if we stick to the basics, we have quite a few anatomical...and let's not even get into behavioural...glitches too. [...] From your pure (puritanical?) material universe worldview, we have been here for such a short time, so why would you assume we are going to continue and not end up as ancient bones in strata?"

I assume nothing of the sort. You're off with the fairies there, I think. The glitches, biological quirks, and the like are what I would expect from evolution. But that's what we are, I don't think there's any plan and therefore no deviation. If I were to design us from scratch then I would not design us as we are now, but hey. And we may well end up in history just as ancient bones in strata.

"I trust that you see where your presumed non-biblical, neutral and of course wholly objective, unbiased, equitable and non-anthropocentric morality takes us? Right back to worshipping trees and totemic animals, dancing to drums with our dicks a-swinging, copulating anything with an aperture and eating our buddies when times get tough, would be my guess."

You're away with the fairies again there I think. It bears no resemblance to the simple statement what I wrote. You write enormously long pieces of text in reply and I feel I ought to reply back but I'm going to have to let you bound on over the horizon as it's all way too far away from my actual position. Sorry.

24 November 2011 at 06:25  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Avi: "The Bible only says that it's abhorent to G-d and that we are commanded to reject it. We accept such axioms on faith, and this drives our atheists friends utterly bonkers."

I know that it drives certain Christians bonkers when I characterise (caricature, actually) Christian morality as "because god says so". They really don't like it, you know.

As for driving me bonkers, I'm a philosophical liberal and this gets us some way back to the article. I don't mind the religious believing what they like as long as they don't significantly harm others or intrude too much on other people's lives. In fact, I must allow that.

That some people say "because Allah says so" and others say "because YHWH says so" and yet others say "because Jehovah says so" and others again say "because our Trinity (to adopt a moniker) says so" is neither here nor there. For me, you're all weirdos but hey. As long as you're relatively harmless, essentially contained, weirdos it's fine.

24 November 2011 at 06:36  
Blogger Nowhere man said...

Well, the way things are going - gay marriage, failure to control borders, "positive" discrimination, rising indebtedness etc, I will be posting my membership card back to Cameron himself.

HE has allowed the LibDems to undermine our faith in the outcome of the election - they seem to rule the roost.

There seems now to be natural home for Conservatives. UKIP seems bizarre so where else can we go.

Cameron has disenfranchised around 40% of the population.

Quite an achievement.

24 November 2011 at 09:06  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

DanJO,

Ok. I got wordy in response to your notions about evolution and the meaning of "natural." My bad; I have no science training and struggle throught the concepts and terminology. But neither did you clarify your positions very clearly.

So, in a nutshell, that we are physically imperfect, from an evolutionary perspective should be a no brainer for someone who sees evolution as the only mechanism involved in creating humankind. Evolution through natural selection is a process which can lead a species to a dead end simply because it reacts and cannot anticipate and adjust quickly enough. Our anatomy exhibits dysfunctions evolotion cannot "correct." To look back and say "all's good" because we are here is silly; we may be here, sure, but we may be heading towards a dead end because, for example, our selection process has changed radically from our hunter-gatherer past (which covers about 99.9 of our history) and we are allowing for dysfunctional mutations to proliferate as never before.

Regarding the "natural" issue; I argued that canibalism, infanticide and euthanasia are "natural," frequently occuring strategies in human cultures, not to mention in many animal specie. You waffled on about our ethics being able to correct this on their own. Sure, assuming anyone saw a problem. So, my point is that no, what makes you oppose these is your Judeo-Christian heritage. Had you been raised in another culture and another time, you would have accepted these strategies as normal, sensible and moral, as millions of people had.

As for your problem with the fact that we religious types accept what "G-d says," the alternative is for us to accept what you, or what anyone with a big enough stick or more goats says. If we do the latter, we goners; it's that simple. An example: The strict, "because I say so" commandments to observe the Sabbath and the Laws involves a promise from G-d to keep my people around. Jewish groups which dropped the commandments for other ideas and practices quickly disappeared from history through assimilation or conquest. This process can even be obseerved in slow motion today. We may debate why or how this happens, but the fact is that I'm here, having just finished reciting my morning prayers in classical Hebrew and Aramaic (read from my laptop) but the Canaanites, Egyptians, Greeks, Babylonians and Romans who sought to tell us better are not. So, your point is?

24 November 2011 at 12:31  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Carl Jacobs:
"good"
How about ( = beneficial"?) or "healthy2, or "comfortable".
Come to that, can YOU define "good" without reference to the imaginary BSF?
You can't? Then you haven't defined it.
Alternatively, try going back to Socrates?

DanJO & others...
"marriage and the status of the family"
Well, there are OTHER religous ways of defining that, as well, usualyy with the womwn completely sunservient (as Saul of Tarsus insisted)
START HERE:
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-24013070-obedient-wives-club-urges-women-be-like-prostitutes.do
and prepare to be boggle.
IO just regard this a merely another piece of (muslim in this case) religious lunacy.

Dodo's way:
"'God is Spirit' and not material."
Thank you, you have just accepted my argument.
If there is such a thing as "spirit" then it has, by your own definition NO INTERACTION AT ALL WITH THIS WORLD.
Game over.
If there IS some interaction, then it will be phaysical, and therefore detectable.
OK - show, please?

At least someone seems to have finally grasped the argument!

Erm, err, Whiskies:
Highland and Island.
Talisker, Jura, Port Ellen. Springbank, Brora, Bruichladdich .....

OiG:
Yes, christianity was the default position, but we've learnt better now.
It is nothing resembling common sense.
I mean, the unoverse is governed by an invisible undetecable BSF, and a virgin gave borth and ....
Apart from cribbing off Egyptian legend (Horus/Isis/Osiris) of course.
Then there's the other rubbish, like the religion of "submission"...

Marie 1797:
"Christianity is the most advanced and civilized and more appropriate for our core values"
REALLY?
With the relegation of women in all christian socities, especially RC ones, the prurien interference in private sex-lives which are harming no third parties, the attempt to interfere in medical resaearch (something the churches have been doing since medicine revived, and are still at it) ....
It says in th NT that a amn is the head of a woman (Saul of Tarsus, somewhere) and the churches have resisted every single attempt at the "enfranchisement" (in the broadest sense) of women, everyuwhere, every time.
Never mind what they say - what do they do?

Avi Barzel:
Ignoring the ad hominem ...
Well, empirical research does apply to everything.
That is how we now we know so much more than we did 10, 50, 100, 500 years ago. And how things are "put together" and how they work and interact.
Sufficient, indeed to produce the computers and internet we are using.
Or would you reject all that empiricism, and go back to runners with cleft sticks, carrying scrawled notes?
I think not.

Models - yes, actually.
They work.
When they are shown to be faulty, or need correction, they are altered in the light of the physical evidence.
EG Newton was not "wrong" - it was just that relatavistic effects could not be observed at that time, given the sensitivity of instrumentation.
Incidentally, everyone..
IF the velocity-of-light ( "c" ) limitation IS in error, it's going to be very interesting.
Why?
Because the relationship between "electricity" and "magnetism" have c written into their equations - definitely fun stuff!
Never mind the appalling renormalisation problem, to which we appear to be no nearer a solution.
Yes there are problems - we're working on them
The religious claim NOT to have any problems, and rely on mysticism.
Which solves and produces nothing.
At all.

More ad hominem - please don't do it - argue the argument, or go away and have sex with a camel, OK?

Last sneer about Soylent Green:
Where did you get that idea?
You have put up a lying, false straw-man, that I have never proposed or suggested.
If you can't do anything better than generate deliberate lies about me, and my opinions, then you can DEFINITELY go and have sex with a camel!

24 November 2011 at 13:25  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

PART II - char-limit exceeded!

DanJO:
And what is wrong with the Rule Golden?
Well pre-christian in origin, and shown to be the most effective way of running any society.
Think "prisoners Dilemma + memory" ...
Always be nice first, trust first. If betrayed, THEN retaliate, then give the other a chance to behave sensibly, rinse and repeat.....

AND
Well, yes, christian societies, like that in the Cathar region of France, and Calvin's Geneva, and inquisition Spain, and ultra-cameronian scots'
Euw.

Avi B:
Hobbes was correct - his description was of a society that had no governence or self-control or control at all.
Which is why we have laws and rules and enforcers (police & courts) because there are always some who think they can cheat the Golden Rule.
You completely mis-interpret evolution, which I note seems to be common among the religious or the exploitative, and you call it "Darwinian" which is itself a give-away.
Lakester 91:
1st degree in Physics, Masters in Engineering.
I am aware of the dimensional analogy.
Now produce some evidence, please, pretty please?
Especially since various physicists and laboratories have been looking for this sort of thing for some time - nothing so far.
And, remember, there must still be some interaction at our 3-space+1-time dimensionality.

And, NO, the world was not "created", it condensed and accreted out of dust and gas and chondrites and metalloids and other small bodies orbiting the very young sun, as did all the other planets.
A completely naturalistic process, resulting in a planet ~4.5*10^9 years ago.
Shacklefree:
" Christianity which has been most successful in balancing the dignity of the individual with the stability of society"
Disagree most strongly.
It was only when christianity became subservient to the civil powers that stability and properity and freedoms began to emerge.
I suggest you re-read some history.
Agree with you about islam, of course, but then islam is 622 years behind, and it shows.

bluedog:
Actually there is doubt that we "all" descend from cannibals.
You've got it backwards.
Ethics and morality do not require a religion to back then up.
I note you acknowledge the input of pre-christian philosophers to the mix - an unusual move, especially since the "church fathers" (around Nicea, for instance) did their best to trash the "wisdom of the ancients".
And, I 'mmerely saying, a lot of the time - yes, that was then, this is now, and not only do we know more, we know better.
Which you refuse to acknowledge.
The actual teachings of Yeshua are probably NOT blackmail.
But the entire edifice of christianity is blackmail.
Do I really need to spell it out?
Especially since I've already mention the Cathars, and the inquisition, and Calvin ....

OiG
Communism is, as I've said before, a classic religion.
Based on false (and demonstrably false) premises, persecuting the competing religions (see above) etc...

carl jacobs @ 03.02
Well, so, there are NOT "faith" statements.
If they are false, you should be able to demonstrate that they are false.
Get on with it, or shut up, please.
Where is the non-physical component in a huuman - show please?
Similarly for the other factual statements.
All available evidence shows that my statements are true.
Produce some contra-evidence?

Which you can't (I think)

24 November 2011 at 13:26  
Blogger Jon said...

Marie - you don't want to go down the route of a gay tax.

As a woman, you are more likely to live a longer life than I do (at massive expense to the NHS in your final years) and also infinitely more likely to give birth than I am (also at great expense to the NHS). Your kids will require education, clothes, food etc. You're also more likely to claim benefits, and to flip around one of the problems with an unequal society, more likely to pay a lot less tax than I do over the course of your life simply because you earn less, in part because you're a woman.

How's about we instate a female tax, because you and your sisters contribute less, but require more?

It wouldn't be fair, and I can see that because I'm capable of empathy. Why can't you see that about gay people?

Incidentally, before you come back at me with your reproductive capabilities and suggest that your progeny will pay my pension - I don't have any expectations that the state will be providing such a thing by the time they let me retire. Additionally, this ignores the time value of money and many other factors which introduce uncertainty variables into the payoff matrix of me paying to help feed, clothe, educate and innoculate your kids.

24 November 2011 at 13:57  
Blogger William said...

G Tingy

""'God is Spirit' and not material."
Thank you, you have just accepted my argument.
If there is such a thing as "spirit" then it has, by your own definition NO INTERACTION AT ALL WITH THIS WORLD.
Game over."


Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

Core dump - Circular argument ERROR. Please play again. 

"If there IS some interaction, then it will be phaysical, and therefore detectable.

please provide empirical evidence for this statement OF FAITH!!!!

Game on!

24 November 2011 at 14:00  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Avi: "So, in a nutshell, that we are physically imperfect, from an evolutionary perspective should be a no brainer for someone who sees evolution as the only mechanism involved in creating humankind."

I've no idea where all this is leading. All I was doing was countering your religious belief that we are faulty against some cosmic yardstick you like to imagine exists with a rather more grounded description of the human condition.

"Regarding the "natural" issue; I argued that canibalism, infanticide and euthanasia are "natural," frequently occuring strategies in human cultures, not to mention in many animal specie. You waffled on about our ethics being able to correct this on their own."

You were asserting that there was no evident reason why we, those of us with a totally 'secular' outlook, should reject turning old people into soylent green when they were no longer useful. I gave you a stack of reasons and in doing so shot your assertion down in flames ... with very little waffling at all.

24 November 2011 at 16:59  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Avi: "As for your problem with the fact that we religious types accept what "G-d says," the alternative is for us to accept what you, or what anyone with a big enough stick or more goats says."

But in reality the latter is essentially what some of you religious people are doing, only you're trying to instill a belief that every thought we have and action we do is being recorded with the promise of reward or punishment at the end. Moreover, religious groups of different ideologies claim a variously different yardstick and judge. It's essentially moral relativism using competing absolute moral frameworks.

24 November 2011 at 17:05  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Avi: "Regarding the "natural" issue; I argued that canibalism, infanticide and euthanasia are "natural," frequently occuring strategies in human cultures, not to mention in many animal specie."

To run with this a bit longer, the usual religious argument is about moral relativism as though, somehow, that undermines anything moral which doesn't have a deus ex machina as a reference point. The argument usually ends up along the lines of "so anything goes!". But it doesn't in reality, does it, and it's an argument about undesirability rather than logical flaw. I'll write some more about your examples in a later reply I think.

Going back to issues of 'nature' and 'natural', one reason I brought that up was to show what I consider an undesirable product of adopting a Christian moral code: our resulting relationship with the natural world and other animals.

I notice Mr Jacobs has raised a point about the mind and the physical world again. Again, I'm inclined to ask in response whether the mental lives of animals exist in a separate non-phyical world (the spiritual world?) and if so why Christians don't seem bothered by (say) the industrial farming of animals. If that lack of concern is in question then ask yourself how many articles His Grace has written about the topic from a Christian perspective compared to the seemingly almost daily reference to the prospect gay marriage of non-Christians.

24 November 2011 at 17:19  
Blogger len said...

To understand why humanity is in the mess it is in (and has been for Centuries one has to understand why(and how) God created Man.For without this knowledge it is impossible to apprehend our present(pitiful) condition.The only 'natural man' to walk this Earth (in Gods eyes) was the Lord Jesus Christ, every thing and everyone else is 'unnatural' in God`s eyes.We have become so debased, so corrupted that it is only by looking at Jesus can we see what God`s original intention was when He created Man.

Man was created to be filled with the Spirit of God.(man was created in the image of God).One doesn`t need to look very far to see that man reflects more of the image of the 'god of this World' than the God of the Bible.

What went wrong....We did. When man rebelled against his Creator the Holy Spirit was withdrawn man became 'flesh' governed not by the holy Spirit but by his baser instincts( which were corrupted by his co- partner in rebellion against God 'the god of this World' himself.)All who are in rebellion against the God of the Bible come(whether they realise it or not)come under the authority of the 'god of this World' Satan himself.
So fallen man is controlled by his sin nature and the only way out of this fallen state is to die(in Christ) and be reborn(in Christ).

Fallen man resists this basic truth because he has become so accustomed to sinning that he accepts this fallen self as 'natural'and in reality can see no way out( even if desires it)

The only way out (as explained ) is through Christ otherwise you will die in your sins without hope.If you reject Christ(which is entirely your right) at least you should know exactly what you are rejecting.

This Gospel of hope, the gospel of deliverance from this corrupt World system,the Gospel which reveals God`s love for Humanity,this is what Christians should be holding out to all, hoping some will grasp this basic Truth.

24 November 2011 at 17:48  
Blogger len said...

comprehend not apprehend

24 November 2011 at 17:50  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Good grief, Tingey, you’ve addressed everyone who has failed to heed your wise counsel ! There’s none so blind as will not see, eh, old chap.

When you’ve got a bit of time, google the miracle at Fatima, in Portugal. See what you make of it. The Inspector particularly likes the “Great news mummy, me and him are going to die soon”…and they did !

24 November 2011 at 18:06  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

24 November 2011 at 20:26  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Tingey @ 13.36, the point you should accept is that human existence is not merely quantitative but also qualiatitive. It is impossible to detect any physical aspect of the qualiatitive using 'instruments'.

You say, ' I note you acknowledge the input of pre-christian philosophers to the mix - an unusual move, especially since the "church fathers" (around Nicea,sic, for instance) did their best to trash the "wisdom of the ancients".'

Inevitably the Roman province of Judea, where Christ lived and died, was influenced by Roman ideas. Christ himself says 'Render under Caesar the things that are Caesar's', as evidence of that fact. It is therefore reasonable to assume that some knowledge of Roman civilisation and values was implanted in Judea. The Romans were lousy imperialists if they failed in that particular exercise, and they are generally considered world class. The Council of Nicaea may have sought to eliminate earlier thought, but as they spoke Greek their expression was bound up with Greek thought.

What does seem significant is that the Bible does not mention democracy in either Testament. Given the short span of the original Greek democracy before being extinguished by the Macedonian kingdoms, this is possibly not surprising.

Regarding cannibalism, it was not until the 1920's that the practce stopped in what is now Papua Niugini. It is pure Western intellectual conceit or snobbery to suggest that your forbears where never cannibals. It is merely a matter of when.

We all came out of Africa, according to empirical evidence.

24 November 2011 at 20:29  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Inspector
I'm still waiting to discover from Mr Tingey, DiCHd, MSc just how we observe and measure Spirit and Love.

"God is Spirit"
(John 4:24)
"God is Love"
(1 John 4:8)

I know of no human instruments capable of seeing measuring the immaterial.

His answer was ridiculous claiming that God has to work by his empirical rules and in so doing will physically manifest Himself prove His existance according to scientific standards!

I think God will act in whatever He chooses and these ways just might not to suit our atheist friends demands.

24 November 2011 at 20:36  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dodo We measure the spirit with an optic, of course. Our Tingey is a doubting Thomas. Have thrown him Fatima as this might be the nearest any of us gets to ‘divine intervention’. To carry on from what you say, how do you measure contentment when many are are from it. The Inspector suspects that if there is no measuring device available, our man does not want to know anyway.

24 November 2011 at 21:24  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Inspector, it's tiresome discussing such issues of faith with a atheist, albeit one with .... wait for it .... tar, tra tra .... a MSc.

The existance of God is as plain as the nose on one's face. The real question is whether we can know God and whether and how He has revealed Himself to us. Ask that and you're on the right road.

24 November 2011 at 21:45  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Good grief! One of my posts has gone AWOL! I took such care writing it as well.

24 November 2011 at 21:49  
Blogger len said...

The' measuring device' of spiritual matters and proof of the existence of God is Bible Prophesy.

Bible prophesy could only have come from a being who lived outside of time and was Omniscient(namely God).

God gave Bible prophesies hundreds ,sometimes thousands of years before the events happened, some events are so precisely prophesied that there was NO margin of error.

So God gave ample evidence of His existence and even walked the Earth for a time, even then many denied Him despite all the evidence, so I suppose if someone does not want to believe they will simply disregard all the evidence.

24 November 2011 at 22:08  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dodo It’s surprising that anyone with an MSc should close their heart to anything they didn’t cover in their studies.

Lakester91, the Inspector has been there. He now composes on email new message and cuts and pastes. Has added benefit of spell checker (...take note Tingey)

24 November 2011 at 22:09  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

len, is that really your measuring rod? On that basis one might follow Nostradamus or the Kabala.

Scripture tells us Jesus had to explain and illuminate the Old Testament prophecies to His disciples on the road to Emmaus. And lets face it, today there is so much disputation about the meaning of scripture this is likely to scare any seeker away!

One must allow the agnostic scope to enquire and, as God says, "Seek and you will find".

Personally, for me, if one accepts there is a God, the only sensible, comprehensive explanation for His working, His creation, the existance of evil and our place and purpose here, is the Christian one.

I quess we all have different ways of finding our way onto the true path.

24 November 2011 at 22:41  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Inspector, not when one is so demon-strably closed minded and stupid!

24 November 2011 at 22:47  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Ps len
Have you studied the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima in 1917 and the Message of Fatima?

If not, you really should.

24 November 2011 at 22:51  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Mr Tingey,

Thank you for your thorough and considerate response. I so enjoy rgese meandering discourse.

I know you may think it unlikely, but between cavorting with camels and sacrificing to Sky Fairies, I somehow managed to pick up a layman's notion of what empirical research is and what it can accomplish. Thanks for trying to exlain, though. Anyhow, I now spy with my little eye the first strawman. Please note that nowhere did I even hint that I want to reject empiricism...especially if it would lead to writing on clay tablets or such. I've repeatedly claimed that I empiricism is a superior research strategy, although it is not the only way of knowing. I was actually addressing the specific issue of inference versus direct observation, but it seems it doesn’t matter now. Don’t you find it hilarious, though, that your grand epistemological declaration, "...well, empirical research does apply to everything" is actually a classical rationalistic statement, or fallacy if I may be a tad critical? Maybe not. I don’t have my mouldy old texts with me, and surfing right now would be a big hassle for me, but I’d call it a propositional and inductive conclusion, or in the vernacular with which you seem more comfortable: Something you pulled out of your arse.

Next come your red herrings: Models, velocity of light, the appalling renormalization problems (o, dear, what shall we do?), the humble admission that there are problems (has anyone complained lately?). Yes indeed, all fascinating...what's an M.Sc. for if you can't strut a little...but really, where are we going with this? Ah-hah, I know, back to another strawman and a stab at devastating reductionism: "The religious claim NOT to have any problems, and rely on mysticism." Perhaps I missed the empirical underpinnings of your statement, in which case I salivate for a clarification from you.

Next, more camels and complaints about ad hominems. Being in the religious camp, my research tools are limited to readings of entrails and knucklebones and I intuit an inexplicable aural eruption of anger from your local chakras, which is puzzling, because I was merely wondering if you are able to source your ethical system. Touchy subject for some, so my guess is, no, not really, you never gave that a thought, hence yet another suggestion from you that I copulate with a camel. I’m starting to suspect you’re trying to be insulting, Mr Tingey...or that you have an odd affivity for camels. Whatever turns your crank, but from a purely rhetorical perspective, the aggressive and crude approach only works if you have something really, really smart to say.

25 November 2011 at 03:45  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

DanJO,

Let me try to resolve the perfection confusion with a few sentences: G-d, in Jewish and Christian thought is assumed to be perfect. Mankind is not. This is in contrast to Animist (ie, Pagan) conceptions, where the gods display human weaknesses and imperfections. Then, out of the blue you say, "All I was doing was countering your religious belief that we are faulty against some cosmic yardstick you like to imagine exists with a rather more grounded description of the human condition." Excuse me? My religious belief? You are describing a Humanist concept of the Renaissance, Man as the Measure of All Things, and all that. But in bluntly describing the faults and failures of even the most heroic characters, including the Patriarchs, Moses, Israel’s kings and the entire people of Israel, the Bible repeatedly reminds us of our limitations...of our humanity. Basically, you couldn’t be more wrong about your assumption.

As for the soylent green thing, which seems to exercise Mr Tingey as well, drop that for a moment, since the emotional semiotics in that one appear to interfere with rational discussions. Let’s, instead look at your belief (I’m sorry, that’s all it is), that veganism is a rational and superior ethical stance, one which the religiously unencumbered secular mind would be able to arrive at independently. And yet, you didn’t, and that I can prove...sort of empiracally, for the sake of our angry Mr Tingey.

How? For over 99% of human history, there was no such thing as voluntary vegetarianism. If even thinkable, the very idea would have horrified people. In our desperate and still ongoing struggle for life-sustaining and humanity-building animal fats and proteins, anyone coming up with the notion of depriving people of meat, the most necessary and holiest of substances, as depicted in the earliest cave art, would have been deservedly tossed out of the band as a dangerous, immoral and evil lunatic who, by the way, wouldn’t have lasted very long on such a self-imposed diet of green crap in most climates. Hey, natural selection at work, you might say.

Your veganism, I regret to say, wasn’t a superior ethical choice reasoned out by morally superior minds, as you may imagine, but an amply documented fashion by the wealthiest and best-fed people in the most comfortable parts of the world. And it happened at a specific time in history, was limited to specific places in the world and depended on unique economic circumstances; i.e., historically unrecedented good times. So much for any notions about a pure, universal morality.

But if your faith is sustained by the belief that the vegetarianism craze is a reflection of a higher ethical level, "received" through the "spirit" of pure reason and through the "grace" of god-like compassion for all life, go right ahead, who am I may tread on other peoples beliefs? This is a religion blog after all, and we must all strive for ecumenical concord. Namaste, an'nah!/Peace, brother!

25 November 2011 at 05:34  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Avi: "Let’s, instead look at your belief (I’m sorry, that’s all it is), that veganism is a rational and superior ethical stance, one which the religiously unencumbered secular mind would be able to arrive at independently."

Unfortunately, I haven't said that or anything like it and therefore your entire comment is a waste of time. You're away with the fairies again I'm afraid. I know one usually has to make some assumptions based on a small amount of text but your assumptions become stratospheric almost immediately so that one can't even spot and correct the point at which there is misunderstanding.

25 November 2011 at 05:47  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Goodness, do you peole ever sleep? Are you trying to kill me? Hang on.

25 November 2011 at 05:51  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

"Someone recently described me as not valuing life (by which he presumably meant human embryonic life and therefore, fallaciously by extension, people). It's a curious assertion, given that I was a vegan for about 20 years. That's one of the other ethical benefits of not being (say) Christian, one sees oneself as an inherent part of nature even though one lives in a human society with all the extra human-centric obligations and relationships that brings. It's actually been my observation that most Christians do not actually value life at all when it comes down to it. But then we don't share all our morals and ethics, or reach the same conclusions using our personal consciences. (DanJ0 23 November 2011 21:04)

But apart from what you've actually said, I could have brought up vegetarianism as an example of ethics being dependent on derivative circumstances and beliefs which are, for all practical purposes indistinguishable from theologically derived conclusions. The difference is that I know my source, I can point to it by page number, while much of the time you haven't the foggiest about yours. And, thinking and writing are never a waste of time, toying with ideas, like....it's not all about you, you know. Now go away and good night, I need my sleep!

25 November 2011 at 06:05  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Avi: "Excuse me? My religious belief? You are describing a Humanist concept of the Renaissance, Man as the Measure of All Things, and all that. But in bluntly describing the faults and failures of even the most heroic characters, including the Patriarchs, Moses, Israel’s kings and the entire people of Israel, the Bible repeatedly reminds us of our limitations...of our humanity. Basically, you couldn’t be more wrong about your assumption."

Primarily I'm trying to include Christian belief as this is a Christian-oriented blog. However, at this risk of teaching pre-soylent-green grandmas to suck eggs, Jews 'sin' and seek forgiveness from their god as a result. It's the doing wrong against a cosmic yardstick that matters to me here, rather than (say) the Christian notion of 'original sin', and I can't see what you're complaining about in the italised piece you quoted. Surely it's implicit in your beliefs as a Jew?

F'sure, Christians think they live in a broken world which can't be repaired by man, which is very different to Jewish thought. I've also tried to be broad-brush about the notion of reward and punishment in religious thought, to cover Islam, Chrtistianity, and Judaism of various sorts. I think I've managed that without a gaff when I reread my comments back.

25 November 2011 at 06:19  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Avi: "But apart from what you've actually said, I could have brought up vegetarianism as an example of ethics being dependent on derivative circumstances and beliefs which are, for all practical purposes indistinguishable from theologically derived conclusions."

I stand by the whole comment you have quoted but that's rather different to the way you describe it. I'm not claiming anything reified there, it's simply a reaction to the way we live now based on a much, much wider set of values. In fact, I'm no longer vegan because it was competing with and distorting ethics from other areas, but the underlying theme remains: that other animals share characteristics we value highly and we are abusing them in industrial quantities. Is there even a Christian perspective on that other than that we are given dominion over or perhaps custody of them to use as we will?

So, the fact that we now have the luxury to get protein from other areas is, exactly as you say, the result of circumstances. In terms of beliefs, I'm sure even a committed vegan would be killing rabbits to eat or to protect his livelihood if he had to survive in the wilderness on his own vegetable garden. We are, on this underlying point, mostly in accord.

There's nothing of paganism or whatever you're imagining in what I'm saying or anything necessarily leading to it. Again, all I'm really saying is that we're just a very successful species within nature so far and Christian beliefs, based on nothing really tangible that I can see, raises us out of our environment and tries to make us something with special cosmic importance. In doing so, I think we lose our sense of a symbiotic relationship with the rest of the world and go on to abuse it.

You know, I've even known Christians who think we should be deliberately abusing the natural world in order to encourage their god's final intervention. Scary feckers! A less scary but more common version just intellectually write off other animals on the basis that in the cosmic spiritual war going on, they're just incidental. And I think that's pretty crap.

25 November 2011 at 06:51  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Finally, let me just make a all-encompassing statement for clarity. For me, morality comes from our values, which may be of irreducible types. Values don't exist independently from us, they arise out of our thinking. However, our thinking, in part, arises out of our biology and circumstances and therefore is both malleable but inclined in certain ways ... we are afterall a self-aware, emotional, rational, gregarious species with opposable thumbs. Hence, there will never be a single, coherent, consistent moral code for us to find but I would expect there to be moral themes throughout our history. I think values and morals and ethics are also subject to some sort of cultural evolutionary pressures, some leading to dead ends and some surviving through cultural changes. Assuming that our reality is not centred around us, all this suggests a sort of moral relativism but it's rather different that the simple, dismissive 'anything goes' label usually applied to it by religionists who want their own chosen moral absolutism.

25 November 2011 at 07:11  
Blogger len said...

'Morality comes from our values'

Well this could mean anything to anybody.

Hitler had a 'value' system,just as a a small example.

25 November 2011 at 08:00  
Blogger len said...

Dodo,

'Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.'(Amos 3:7)

(Why do you think this is?)

25 November 2011 at 08:07  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

We come to a central problem.
Faith is defined as belief without evidence.
I demand evidence.

William: NOTY a circular agrument.
You are caliming that "god" etc can be manifested/seen/expereince in this world.
OK - how - must be physical, in the braodes sense of the term - i.e. detectable.
De nada, again.

Well, detectable, physical interactions are all we have ever had or detected so far, and it always works every time ... please show cause why it should in any way be otherwise.
What I made was not a statement of faith, it was a statement of the sum of all past onservations, i.e. fact.
Nice try, no banana.


Morality, generally:
Does this include all the instances of individual and group and tribal murder and extermination, as described in the OT (Remembering the BoCP's exhortation that the NT is in no way discordant/disagreeing with the OT - to parpahrase) ???

OiG & other:
The "miracle of Fatima"
Really!
Stratosheric dust clouds, I think.
Do grow up.

Science has problems with shorty-lived phenomena - there are now set institutions and methods for trying to relicate such.
Ever heard of "ball Lightning"?
Many, many witness-reports, difficult to observe.
Now known to be genuine, usually associated with electrical storms, sometimes with thunderstorms.
Present knowledge of causal mechanism - not a lot ....

bluedog:
Agree with a lot of what you say, apart from an early sentence: " It is impossible to detect any physical aspect of the qualiatitive using 'instruments'"
Not so.
And, yes, our far-distant ancestors did come "Out od Africa".

Spairit, by definition will be undetectable, and therefore non-existent.
Love can bee seen by demonstration, if nothing else.
Try again.

Dodo's Way:
"The existance of God is as plain as the nose on one's face."
No, it isn't and you are either very badly deluded, or lying.
IF BSF's existence was that plain, we'd ghave detected it long ago.
Whereas thwe contrary is true - the more we see, the less BSF there is - none at all, in fact.

Ien:
"Bible prophecy"
Oh dear, what about koran prophecy, or guu's prophecy or brahma's prophecy, or ....
Do try harder.

OiG:
REMINDER - I'm an escaped believer - I've heard ALL the bullshit. (& I've read the deeply-depressin koran, as well - remids me of Ian Paisley on steroids)

Avi Barzel @ 3.45
AD HOMINEM
Make a point, or shut up.

Ien:
"Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.(Amos 3:7)"
Then why is this revelation NOT DETECTABLE?
Do come on - evidence?

25 November 2011 at 10:08  
Blogger William said...

G Tingy

"You are caliming that "god" etc can be manifested/seen/expereince in this world.
OK - how - must be physical, in the braodes sense of the term - i.e. detectable.
De nada, again."


Please provide empirical evidence showing that God must be physically detectable.

25 November 2011 at 10:45  
Blogger Preacher said...

G.Tingey.
O.K I know from your previous postings about your church past.
It seems that we may have passed each other on the way, you coming out, me going in.
I experienced the same anger about the rubbish that I was taught at school re: evolution etc as you feel about christianity, but I let it go as their was no point in letting the anger poison me.
I don't know the cause of your anger, but can understand how you feel.
As you can see from the postings, many of the 'christians' here feel just as strongly about certain beliefs held by other churches,that they perceive as wrong. But they haven't thrown the baby out with the bath water.
I hope that you have not jumped out of the frying pan into the fire, because I can almost feel how much you are hurt.
I hope you can find peace.

No more to say. Preacher.

25 November 2011 at 11:05  
Blogger William said...

Danj0

Are you saying that "anything goes" in a values-based moral/ethical system is incorrect given our current set of values, or that there are some things that will never be accepted in such a system?

25 November 2011 at 11:35  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

William, as far as I am concerned, values ultimately come from ourselves. If all humans die out then our values die with us. In principle, anything goes. In practice, I can't see that we as a whole would ever think that anything goes or that there are no limits to what is acceptable in a human society. Refusing to accept the notion that a god has established a universal moral code and revealed it to us to be written down by priests and visionaries in a religious book does not put us on a slippery slope to (say) killing and eating babies in times of famine.

25 November 2011 at 12:28  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

DanJO,

I glimsed your first post after my sad plea to be left alone to catch some sleep and forced myself to ignore it. Now I know with a cold certainty that yes, you were trying to kill me, to run my finely-tuned systems down and fry my synapses before reaching the safety of home. But on the road I take my mandated rest and sleep periods seriously. Religiously, you might say.

Quick observations at a much-better border crossing situation than before.

First, my apologies for my poor attempt at Tamil with the Namaste, an'nah, if anyone has noticed. Onwards; no complaints about the quote, DanJO; your conclusions about our relationship with the animal world are not entirely foreign to even Orhodox sectors, as there are vegetarians among us (although rarely vegans)...something I discover sadly now and then when invited to a private luncheon here and there. Traditionalists frown on rationales critiquing from humanitarian grounds for vegetarianism, as one can not urge prohibition or abstention on moral grounds for something which has been explicitly permitted. Those are muddy waters, but I'd say that while shehita/ritual slaughter may not be challenged, treatment of the creatures before slaughter is certainly a fair issue and I applaud those who take the time to defend the little creatures whose lives have been entrusted to us. However, Judaism doesn't (or shouldn't, as my super-Orthodox brethren need to be reminded) seek to get into one's head, and no one would dream of asking a vegetarian for his reasons. The original "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

As for your second post, I can agree with that, with qualification that while we are capable of arriving at moral positions independently, the danger of incrementally veering off is ever present. Hence my quip about grandma and soylent green. Civilizations that arrived at conclusions that canibalism, human sacrifice are perfectly acceptable did so with the belief, often on empirical evidence, that they were acting morally. It is why the numerous and complex requirements of the Torah don't apply to non-Jews. But the minimalist Noahide laws, the basics, do and they are meant to serve as guideposts and limits.

Tingey,

I must give up. I made several points, several times over, and can't simplify them further without crayons and kraft paper at hand. Judging by your non-responses and the inanity of your selective responses to others, you not only don't understand religion, you don't even have the basic analytical skills to put up a decent defense of materialism and atheism. With the help of symbolic semiotics, assuming that last resort would help, I'd sketch a cartoon of a red-faced, spittle-shooting Tingey-man hopelessly chasing his own tail to eventual exhaustion.

Inspector, after being hopefully readmitted back into Canada at the Peace Bridge border crossing (42°54′25.08″N 78°54′21.47″W or thereabouts), I'll be bobtailing happily on the Queen Elizabeth Way Hwy, through the Burlington Skyway Bridge, where from the truck's high cabin you can imagine you're flying, then up the Hwy 407 toll route (may not show up if your Atlas is of WWI vintage), onto Hwy 401 to a truck park near Dixie Road in Mississauga, from there with my little car back onto Hwy 401 going east, south on the Allen Express Way and home in plenty of time to pick up kiddies and prepare for shabbat.

25 November 2011 at 13:12  
Blogger William said...

Danj0

You call eating babies in a famine a slippery slope and yet the Danj0 of tomorrow may call it a moral imperative. I don't see how your values are any different from your opinions and I don't see how something can be called a moral if it is based on an opinion. In fact I don't see how you can setup any ethical/moral system without referring to some external absolute.

25 November 2011 at 13:25  
Blogger Jon said...

William;

The William of three thousand years ago would have been put to death (or whatever Deuteronomy's delight du jour was) for wearing garments of different threads. Now I bet you've got some lycra outfits in your wardrobe.

What changed?

25 November 2011 at 14:00  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

len asked ....

"'Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.'(Amos 3:7)

(Why do you think this is?)


It's a line from scripture that I fully endorse. The problem is that the prophets spoke often through allusion and poetry. Who can truely understand them? Their messages were delivered to the Kings and Priests in certain situations but sometimes they had future implications. Indeed, to a Christian, the whole of the Old Testament is read as a foreshadowing of Christ. However, the Jews would not agree.

And, of course, the bible warns us about false prophets and those who will twist the truth. Who has the capacity to discern these things?

For every New Testament and Old Testament prophesy of "end times" the interpretations are legion.

As I said, I start with reason about the existance of God and then the logical nature of the Christian understanding of Him, rather than quoting obscure bible passages that "prove" certain things. In my experience, this just turns people off!

25 November 2011 at 14:06  
Blogger William said...

Jon

Leaving aside whether the mixed fibres, unequal oxen etc were commands or proverbs warning against mixing God's laws with other people's laws, I would say that God has offered to pay the penalty of our transgressions Himself. Also, I do not pretend to fully know/understand the external absolute that I profess to base my morality on, but I do suggest that there has to be one on which to base any moral system.

25 November 2011 at 15:09  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Jon said, "William; The William of three thousand years ago would have been put to death (or whatever Deuteronomy's delight du jour was) for wearing garments of different threads. Now I bet you've got some lycra outfits in your wardrobe. What changed?"

Jon, you're referring to wool and linen combined in a single garment (linsey-woolsey), which makes it sha'atnetz, which is akin to non-kosher. It's a rule that still applies today, although not all of the Orthodox are careful about it. Nowadays it's usually a question of having the linen lining on suit jackets replaced with another material, as wool and linen are rarely mixed in modern fsabrics due to costs and physical incompatibility of the different fibres. There is no direct reason given in the Torah, but the two most common assumptions are that it's a derivative or relative of the prohibition against mixing of different kinds, or that perhaps it is a prohibition against wearing garments typically worn by Pagan clergy, an explanation held by Maimonides. I suspect the latter as the most likely, and further speculate on my own that the rule was meant to cover particular and identifiable garments, but just so there isn't any clever goofing around, the law covers the most important quality of those Pagan garments.

As for the death penalty, no, people didn't wind up getting executed in creative ways for mistakenly making or donning linsey-woolsey garments. Both Jewish oral traditions and modern historiography are unanimous on the point that the death penalty was rarely applied, required almost impossible-to-meet standards of evidence for an unlikely unanimous sentence to be passed, and was intended for repeated, blatant, and in some ways seriously and physically dangerous violations. What has changed is that since after 70 ACE, without the Temple-based High Court, the Sanhedrin, these laws could no longer be tried or penalized.

Our Inspector here once made a very good and memorable point in reminding us that the law codes of other peoples and religions were much more severe and were strictly or capriciously applied. It is not too long ago that people in Europe were subjected to draconian laws and horrifying punishments for all sorts of weird stuff and even in modernity, strict laws against the poor, for example, were applied with vigour and cruelty. Ditto for strange and cruel laws by modern atheistic regimes, such as the Paris Commune, Nazi Germany, the USSR and China.

25 November 2011 at 15:35  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

PS, Jon, I belatedly recall that the Temple High Priests wore a piece of garment that was linsey-woolsey, either a belt or a partial shawl. That sort of deflates my speculation above, opening the possibility for yet another one, namely that the law may have intended to stop confusing emulation or fraud through impersonation.

25 November 2011 at 15:44  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Indeed Avi, todays folk don’t know they’re born - off with their heads, what !

25 November 2011 at 17:20  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Always thought being a Vegan was somewhat akin to self flagellation. Only ever known one, the wife of a colleague. As white as a sheet she looked, as if she’d died during the previous hour. Impressive ages some of them live to, mind, but what a dietary price to pay ! The Inspector has an idea that they live so long as the body unconsciously decides that the ‘famine’ it’s going through isn’t going to last forever, and it’s determined to be around when the feasting starts - hams, chickens, gravy, beef, roast potatoes with goose fat, that sort of thing.

Just thought you should know that. You never know, it might even help, can't see how though. What !

25 November 2011 at 17:24  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Avi said ...

" ... the death penalty was rarely applied, required almost impossible-to-meet standards of evidence for an unlikely unanimous sentence to be passed, and was intended for repeated, blatant, and in some ways seriously and physically dangerous violations."

I can think of one very significant exception to this - circa 33 AD!

25 November 2011 at 17:39  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Inspector
Being a homosexual vegan male must surely be considered an example of double jeopardy!

25 November 2011 at 17:42  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

William: "In fact I don't see how you can setup any ethical/moral system without referring to some external absolute."

What's the actual problem there? Take utilitarianism for example. In practice, it's hard to operate but why does it need a god? It nominally has an objective basis.

Also, I think you're probably assuming that a moral system must be coherent and consistent. If so then why make that assumption at all?

I daresay if you ask almost anyone in the street how their notion of right and wrong is constructed for any given situation then they won't be able to tell you.

When I look at how we seem to morally reason in public, it seems to be a combination of things. One core aspect is a sort of utilitarian calculus, another is some sort of notion of inherent value.

25 November 2011 at 18:52  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Inspector, ROFLMAO! Best theory on longevity around! Tough to dismiss or experimentally falsify, that's for sure.

Dodo, that would be so, if one were to accept the historically unlikely, outright impossible actually, role of the Jerusalemites and the Sanhedrin in the Roman execution of one of the many thousands of crucified Jews you probably have in mind.

Good weekend, all!

25 November 2011 at 18:55  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Avi. Kind of you. never had a ROFLMAO thrown my way before...

25 November 2011 at 19:00  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Avi
Now you will have to expand on that comment when we get a chance to discuss it properly.

The standard Christian view is that the illegally convened Sanhedrin meeting condemning Jesus was a stitch up by the High Priest.

Enjoy your weekend.

25 November 2011 at 20:54  
Blogger len said...

'the imperative of Christian political engagement'

Well Jesus kept out of Politics 'render unto Caesar' and all that.
Any religious system which is linked to the State will eventually become corrupted by it.

Constantine is a prime example of this as he used 'religion' after corrupting it to further his political ends.

Christians are called to be ' salt and light' and this does not make them popular with a lot of people especially the' religious' and politicians!.

25 November 2011 at 21:36  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Len. Can’t see you as a vegan. You’re more the still warm rabbit type, what !

25 November 2011 at 21:57  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Inspector
Maybe. I can see your point.

"Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit ....."

25 November 2011 at 22:01  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Mr Dodo,

I can think of one very significant exception to this - circa 33 AD!

Mr Barzel is right. It was Pilate who put Jesus to death. They had to go to him because there was no case to make under Jewish law (well also because the death penalty had to be sanctioned by the Romans but there wasn't a case to make in Jewish law either).

We should note that just because some of the practisers of law are corrupt, does not mean the law is corrupt. This is actually an argument to make against this British Bill of Rights nonsense. We already have one (the law is currently satisfactory); it is the practisers/interpreters of the law that are the issue. The Pharisees became corrupt because they thought themselves, and were treated as, a better class of people. I doubt modern day Pharisees would suffer the same arrogance as those around during the temple era.

25 November 2011 at 22:38  
Blogger William said...

Danj0

" Take utilitarianism for example. In practice, it's hard to operate but why does it need a god? It nominally has an objective basis."

I wasn't arguing for a god per se. Measuring/defining the utility function would be difficult, as you suggest, and the results would be horrific but I think one could hang a moral system off of it. It's more the defining your morals from your own values that I find difficult to square.

25 November 2011 at 22:52  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Lakester91
The Sanhedrin condemned Jesus when He would not deny that He was the Son of God and actually affirmed it. Blasphemy in their eyes and worthy of death.

The Jewish leaders took Him to Pontius Pilate, and demanded that he kill Jesus for claiming to be the King of the Jews.

Mark 14:61 states that the high priest then asked Jesus: "Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am" at which point the high priest tore his own robe in anger and accused Jesus of blasphemy.

In Matthew 26:63 the high priest asks: "tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus responds "You have said it", prompting the priest to tear his own robe.

In Luke 22:67 Jesus is asked: "If thou art the Christ, tell us. But he said unto them, "If I tell you, ye will not believe". But, in 22:70 when asked: "Are you then the Son of God?" Jesus answers: "You say that I Am" affirming the title Son of God. At that point the priests say: "What further need have we of witness? for we ourselves have heard from his own mouth" and decide to condemn Jesus.

Being under the rule of Rome, the Jewish authorities had no authority to kill Jesus themselves so manipulated the Romans to do so.

25 November 2011 at 22:55  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Lakester91 “just because some of the practisers of law are corrupt,”

The Inspector can’t Hovis out of his mind: “It’s as good today as it always been”

25 November 2011 at 23:03  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

William: "I wasn't arguing for a god per se. Measuring/defining the utility function would be difficult, as you suggest, and the results would be horrific but I think one could hang a moral system off of it. It's more the defining your morals from your own values that I find difficult to square."

There's something quite intuitive about utilitarianism which is presumably why Bentham et al tried to champion it as a moral explanation/system and why people still seem to adopt it for moral reasoning in certain situations. But as you say, it's nominally flawed and leads to very counter-intuitive results when used as the sole method of moral reasoning.

As far as using my values (which you seem to see as opinions) are concerned, note my use of 'intuitive' in the previous paragraph. There's something intuitive in moral reasoning, I think; the reasoning is not purely rational by any stretch. There's also something shared in it, especially as we're products of our society. It's not as though I can say: "Today, I have decided beating up grannies and stealing their handbags is a morally good act."

26 November 2011 at 06:39  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

William:
"Please provide empirical evidence showing that God must be physically detectable."
Good point.
Well, everyone who is a believer says that the BSF has influenced them, and that said BSF exists.
If said BSF exists, and HAS INFLUENCED PEOPLE, then it MUST be physically detectable - otherwise it would have had no influence, would it?
Because the influence was a result of their detection of said BSF.
Why can't we see it then?

Preacher:
What rubbish about evolution?
Did you have a bad or ignorant or stupid teacher?
They exist - I've been a science-techer, and yes they are a real pain, and a danger to the children in their charge.
Evolution is proven true, in as afar as anything in science is proven true, ie. 99.999...99%

Avi Barzel
No you haven't tried.
You've resorted to Ad Hominem arguments EVERY TIME.
Now, either argue the case, or cease personal attacks, OK?

Dodo's Way
"I start with reason about the existance of God"
Really? What reason - given that the BSF cannot be detected, and is therefore either irrelevant or non-existent?
Also, as well-shewn by Monty Python, crucifixion was NORMAL in the Roman Empire - and frequent.
Euw.

26 November 2011 at 09:38  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Tingey
Reason, inquiry and faith - that's the 'proof' of God's existance. His very non-detectability allows us room to choose whether we believe in Him. It's a paradox isn't it? Imagine if you had no choice in the matter.

26 November 2011 at 10:39  
Blogger Preacher said...

G.Tingey.
Whatever. All History now. I hope it all works out well for you, when all is said & done, it's all about you & I enjoying our lives.

Have a good weekend.

Regards. Preacher.

26 November 2011 at 10:44  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"His very non-detectability allows us room to choose whether we believe in Him."

It also allows us room to choose Allah, or YHWH, or Jehovah, or Zeus, or Mithras, or Brahman. Well done you for feeling able to pick one out of the plethora thought up so far.

26 November 2011 at 10:55  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Of course, if you lived in Riyadh then it would probably have been Allah you 'chose' instead. ;)

26 November 2011 at 10:56  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

DanJ0
"What if?"

My mum used to say:

"If if and ands were pots and pans, there'd be no need for tinkers."

26 November 2011 at 13:09  
Blogger William said...

G Tingey

"Well, everyone who is a believer says that the BSF has influenced them, and that said BSF exists.
If said BSF exists, and HAS INFLUENCED PEOPLE, then it MUST be physically detectable - otherwise it would have had no influence, would it?"


Why? I claim that I love my wife and that this thing I call love influences me. Are you saying that love must be detectable? Are you saying that love does not exist? It cannot be detected, but its influence can. Perhaps this BSF that these people say influences them is a bit like love?

26 November 2011 at 17:47  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Dodo,

My statement will have to suffice such as it is. I know it's a meagre meal for you, but there is nothing I can expand on, as I already pushed that envelope beyond my comfort zone. I know of no authentic Jewish documents on Jesus of Nazareth, nor of any definitive secular historiographical sources to arbitrate between us on a discussion over events in the Second Temple period. This, then, leaves us without a neutral platform and the debate would turn into an exchange of conjectures or worse, a theological disputation over core Christian and Jewish beliefs. As you can see from the brief exchange between you and Lakester, things moved rather quickly straight to citations from Christian scriptures, right?

There is also the little matter of my being prohibited, by communal custom and rabbinic decrees, to engage in theological discussions or disputes with non-Jews. Even if that were not the case, I have no competence in this area. I also think that as a guest on a religious Christian blog, a guest who has never been challenged or approached, or made to feel uncomfortable by anyone here on religious grounds, I would be inexcusably rude and uncouth if I were to begin opining on or challenging others' beliefs. That certainly limits my participation in some of the discussions here, but as you can see from my acivity, there's hardly a shortage of topics for me to put my two cents in.

27 November 2011 at 02:24  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Avi
Fair enough, I can accept that.

Theology aside and accepting the absence of verifiable historical records, if the accounts in the Gospels are accurate my limited understanding of Jewish law is that this would indicate an abuse of due Judaic process.

I didn't appreciate Jews are prohibited from discussing matters of theology with non-Jews. Someone should advise Pope Benedict and the Chief Rabbi of this injunction! Personally, I wouldn't regard such contributions by you as either uncouth or rude. I also trust my question was not a source of discomfort to you.

Anyway, "Keep on Trucking" as we used to say in the late 1960's.

27 November 2011 at 11:30  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"There is also the little matter of my being prohibited, by communal custom and rabbinic decrees, to engage in theological discussions or disputes with non-Jews."

Blimey, I didn't know that either.

27 November 2011 at 15:00  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Dodo's way:
Reason - yes, tick the box.
Enquiry - yes, tick the box.
Faith - no - fail, and fail totally.
Faith is defined as belief without evidence.
Evidence - yes please - produce some to tick the box.
Still waiting.
See also quoted section at the end....

William:
Actually "love" probably is detectable -as electrical/chemical brain-function(s).
SOrry about that, to spoil your very nice try.

DanJ0 has it ...
On can pick any BSF, as listed, which one is the correct one ...

Again:
Believers appear to derive comfort from the statement that science cannot prove the nonexistence of god. They describe any attempt at such proof as an arrogant mistake. We are supposed to infer that an equal weight is assigned to the alternatives of existence and nonexistence, and that a believer is no less reasonable than a non-believer. It is amusing to extend this line of argument as follows by examples. Can a scientist, in his laboratory, perform an experiment demonstrating that there is no such creature as the mystical invisible pink unicorn? No. Can he deduce that conclusion from quantum mechanics, relativity, or the theory of evolution? No. Thus, is a belief in the mystical invisible pink unicorn intellectually respectable? No. Advocates of the science-cannot-disprove gambit are opening the door to an unnumbered host of unwelcome guests. The mystical invisible pink unicorn is only one example; don't forget the tooth fairy, or the Ming-period vase orbiting the Sun in an oppositional orbit, or …
Well?

27 November 2011 at 15:16  
Blogger William said...

G. Tingey

"Actually "love" probably is detectable -as electrical/chemical brain-function(s).
SOrry about that, to spoil your very nice try."


Firstly

I am not talking about "love", I'm talking about love. You will find much has been written about the phenomenon.

Secondly

Actually "BSF" probably is detectable -as electrical/chemical brain-function(s). So if you are happy to accept that level of proof for the existence of "love", then you should also (assuming you are interested in applying your methods consistently and don't have some historical bias getting in the way) accept the "BSF".

27 November 2011 at 17:21  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Tingey
Do you never, ever wonder what 'was' before the 'big bang' and how that event occurred? Science will never penetrate that little mystery.

So God cannot be definitively proven by positivist, materialistic methods. Wow! It took you an MSc to realise this?

I'm sure He is laughting at your vanity even now.

27 November 2011 at 18:38  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

William:
OK - get on with it.
We await experimental results with interest.
In the meantime ....

Dodo's Way:
Oh dear - what is to the North of the North Pole?
You question is equally meaningless.
Actually, science can't get back before (approx) 10^-28 seconds after the so-called Big Bang (it may be 10^-36 s, but, you get the idea...)

Generally:
I note all sorts of irrelevant (and afew semi-relevant) ideas are popping up, but no-one is actually addressing my points/questins/assertions.
As usual, diversionary wrigglings in vast quantities.
I'm not impressed.

27 November 2011 at 19:40  
Blogger William said...

G Tingey

"OK - get on with it.
We await experimental results with interest."


It is not my assertion that "BSF" needs to be demonstrated experimentally - it is YOURS! I was merely trying to discover what other things you require experimental evidence for before believing that they exist.

27 November 2011 at 21:00  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Dodo,

Seems like explanations are in order. Thank you for your concern, but no offense taken at all.

As for your first question, the Sanhedrin would not have been permitted to arrive at such a judgment. I may be wrong on the details, but from the little I know of the rules for the Sanhedrin, the judges were not allowed to meet after-hours and would not have been permitted to take into account feelings of crowds or anyone apart members of their quorum. To arrive at a conviction and to pass the sentence of death, there would have had to have been previous warnings issued by the Court, a minimum number of impeccable witnesses and other complexities for a guilty verdict, especially for a capital crime. Even if a sentence of death were to have been passsed, the execution could not have been crucifiction. During the various revolts and resistance to Roman laws, thousands of Jews were executed by the Roman government by crucifiction, an abhorent punishment typically reserved for political rebels against Rome, not for violators of Jewish religious law. None of the crucifictions of any of the Jews could have been legitimately approved by the Sanhedrin, especially since crucifiction results in a particularly horrible, painful and slow death, as opposed to a quick and painless one, as stipulated in the codes. The assumption that the Sanhedrin may have been incompetent or corrupt is, for me, a speculation of extremely low to null probability. An event such as that would have been of enormous religious consequence and would have been recorded and discussed for centuries, generating documentation.

As for prohibition against religious discussions, you might have noticed that Mr Tingey and I have been enjoying amicable and pleasant dsiscourses that may appear religious in nature. However, these are general disputes between the principles and implications of theism and atheism, not over religious particulars. I wasn't trying to turn him into a Bahai, for example, nor was he trying to make me into a Maoist.

The other point, the one which surprised DanJO as well, is over the prohibition against religious disputations. There are three reasons I know of for this. The first is that we are not allowed to receive religious instruction from members of another faith or from Jews not versed in the Law. The second is that we are not allowed to attempt to impose our beliefs on non-Jews or to attempt to convert anyone. The third and probably the most important one, is that under Islam and Christianity, Jews were compelled, from time to time, to hold official disputations which were always loose-loose situations. In either case, the community would get into trouble, either for insulting the dominant religion by "winning," or for "losing" and not admitting error and running to the nearest baptismal font or mosque. These disputations always ended in fines, book burnings, executions of the offending disputant...usually a well-known rabbinic scholar or a community leader... or expulsions or massacres. Each of these--reciving improper instruction, prosselytizing or endangering the community--are severe violations.
To all this I would add the principle of the inherent futility of religious debates. Two equally committed and rhetorically skilled individuals can not arrive at an agreement on any side of an issue, principally because there are fundamental disagreements over basic facts and interpretations. Regarding the Pope and Chief Rabbi Sacks, I'm not aware of any religious disputations between them. It's highly unlikely that these two urbane, knowledgable and brilliant men would have had such. Unless there was single malt around.

27 November 2011 at 23:00  
Blogger Dodo's Gay Way said...

Avi said ...

" ...the principle of the inherent futility of religious debates. Two equally committed and rhetorically skilled individuals can not arrive at an agreement on any side of an issue, principally because there are fundamental disagreements over basic facts and interpretations."

So much for Eccumenicalism!

Possibly true but so depressing when the major fault lines in the world today appear to be economic supported and reinforced by inter and intra religious disputes wedded to nationalism.

I note your comments on the trial of Jesus by the Snahedrin and their implications. Again, there wouldn't be too much point in engaging in a debate. I'm no historian and you will appreciate the significance of the Gospel accounts for the faith of Christians.

len regards himself as somethingof a historical expert, perhaps he can shed some historical light on this.

27 November 2011 at 23:45  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Dodo,

Goodness! Ecumenism isn't about converting the other party to one's own beliefs. From what I understand, it's about finding areas of agreement, identifying joint goals and facilitating tolerance and cooperation. Religious disputations over faith and doctrines, though, have exactly the opposite effect; they breed disagreement, resentment and suspicion. Not only is there a lack of common language and interpretation, but the majority of people will not understand the eggheady fine points, and go on personalities and dynamics.

I'm sure Len has views on the matter as we all do, but if you think about it and the history of the Len-Dodo disputations (between two brother Christians at that), you are not likely to accept them anymore than mine, right? If we are talking straight, material evidence-based history (already a difficult proposition), the lack of direct historical evidence can only produce conjectures, all probabably based on one's beliefs or particular outlooks, be they faith based or secular and theoretical. The bottom line is, though, that neither you nor I can or will accept that our scriptures, beliefs and traditions may be incorrect. This is what I meant.

As for implications regarding the trial of Jesus, the only ones I make are about clarifying the Jewish position on the matter. We do not accept the proposition that our Sanhedrin issued very odd and clearly illegal judgments, nor any historical or continuing guilt over Rome's killing of one of our own people. I cannot comment on what implications you feel compelled to consider and couldn't nor wouldn't attempt to advise you on that.

28 November 2011 at 00:31  
Blogger Dodo's Gay Way said...

Avi
If there be one God, then Eccumenicalism's end goal must surely be a shared understanding of Him and His revelation, arrived at through rational consideration of our respective Holy texts?

I appreciate the point you make
but Christians, Jews and Muslims would probably agree on moral imperatives but have murdered one another for millenia. Maybe an acceptance of our differences and our mutual rights to follow different paths is the best we can expect for now. At least we would stop murdering one another in the name of God!

As you and your people know full well there is a great potential for prejudice to hide behind theology in the issue of Jesus' trial and death. Nevertheless, and without intending offense, it is the Christian position that Jesus was the promised Jewish Messiah and He was rejected and condemned to death by the representatives of God's Chosen People and handed over to the Romans to be put to death. We believe this was preordained by God to demonstrate His love for us and also to offer Himself as a sacrifice to defeat the power of original sin. It also meant all mankind was offered salvation as the door was opened to Gentiles to become God's people too.

So,not much of a gap between us really!

Anyway, as you know my father was Jewish and I grew up with a love and respect for Jewish traditions and Jewish people. Christians and Jews can't both be right and yet our God is the same God.

One day Avi it will all make sense!

Shalom

28 November 2011 at 01:04  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Avi, I have to say your argument about the Sanhedrin was fascinating. I simply hadn't thought of that side of things, mainly I suppose because it doesn't really matter to me. I'm inspired to read around it now.

28 November 2011 at 18:22  
Blogger len said...

The trial of Jesus by the Sanhedrin apart from being a travesty was illegal by Jewish Law.

28 November 2011 at 19:22  
Blogger len said...

In the Jewish trial of Jesus Christ the Sanhedrin violated every single law of justice and jurisprudence known to them. They violated every single one of them willfully so that the trial of Jesus Christ is THE most unjust trial in human history. It has to be for this court condemned to death the only truly innocent person whoever lived. It is a mockery of justice. It is a violation of everything in their system of jurisprudence. The axiom of the Sanhedrin was this, the Sanhedrin is to save, not to destroy life.

Well, that wasn't true in this case. No criminal trial could be carried through the night, this one was. The judges who condemned a criminal had to have a day in between before the execution and they had to fast all day, they didn't. They killed Jesus the same day. There had to be witnesses who witnessed against Him, there were none. There had to be defence, there was no defence. There was not even any indictment, there was no arraignment, there was no crime. And that and many other compile a list of things they did to violate the laws that they themselves affirmed.

28 November 2011 at 19:37  
Blogger Dodo's Gay Way said...

len
Yes, we know this from the accounts in the Gospels. However, if you read what Avi wrote you'll see he questions the accuracy of the biblical accounts.

Of course we accept the truthfulness of the Matthew, Mark and Luke. Given the outrageous departure from Judaic processes, the challenge, from Avi's is that this would have attracted attention within Judaism for years to follow.

Is there any evidence outside Christian sources supporting the Gospel accounts of this trial?

In its absence we're left with a hypothesis of cover up by the High Priest and the Sanhedrin. Or alternatively with a loss of information following the destruction of the Second Temple. Neither of these theories can be proven and that is the point being made.

As Avi wrote:
"The assumption that the Sanhedrin may have been incompetent or corrupt is, for me, a speculation of extremely low to null probability. An event such as that would have been of enormous religious consequence and would have been recorded and discussed for centuries, generating documentation."

"We do not accept the proposition that our Sanhedrin issued very odd and clearly illegal judgments ...

28 November 2011 at 20:39  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Dodo,

Yes, I read a post of yours a few months back about your father being Jewish. Had your mom been Jewish, you would be considered considered a bona fide Heeb under Jewish Law and I would have been all over you like a limpet trying to entice, lure, cajole, drag or do whatever might work to bring you into the fold. However, Orthodox Judaism considers you a non-Jew and for me to bug you would have been not only tasteless, but forbidden as improper proselytizing and a form of opression of a Gentile, another big no-no. Also, your post was directed at someone else, so I didn't see it proper for me to comment on a personal matter. For whatever it's worth to you, and you may already know this, you actually qualify for Israeli residency and citizenship under Israel's Law of Return, and some branches of the liberal Reform (Masorti, in UK) and Reconstructionist movements would consider you Jewish, should you identify yourself so (somehow, I can't see you doing so, or joining those movements!). It goes without saying too, that had you been unfortunate enough to have been born in wartime occupied Europe, you'd have been riding a cattle car to somewhere in Poland under the infamous Nurnberg Laws definitions of Jewishness. My take on all this is, simply, that you are a good man and a good Christian, like many others here, and I can only hope and pray for more people like you.

In your exchange with len, you outlined my position accurately. I get the impression, though, that here you and len converge in your views (a small miracle indeed). You are bound by your faith, loyalty and belief in the integrity of your scriptures just as I'm to mine. While we may disagree on the role of the Sanhedrin, if any, this new-to-me position, that a Jewish High Court behaved illegally and uncharecteristically is far, far more preferable than the one that held all Jews, for all time, guilty of deicide.

But I agree with you about there not being such a gap between us, although for different reasons, I think. Consider the possibility that the free will the Almighty has gifted us with is not the curse we sometimes think it is, but is indeed, a precious gift which allows us and even invites us to see the world in different ways in order to accomlish different tasks we can't even guess at from wehere we stand. This is not a position most Christians and Orthodox Jews for that matter would agree with (Rabbi Sacks did get a bit of flack from traditionalists for similar opinions), but it's one that makes the most sense to me.

Shalom back to you.

29 November 2011 at 00:24  
Blogger Dodo's Gay Way said...

Avi
I have often wondered about the possibility of dual citizenship. My father's family fled the Iberia penninsula at the turn of the last century and settled in the East End. I have to say my father always said not all Jews who were personally responsible for Christ's death but their religious and secular leaders - the Sanhedrin and Herod. We are then into the realms of the accountability of whole nations for the actions of their representatives.

Pope Benedict has come out with some fairly unorthodox views about the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. I don't fully comprehend them as his writings are often amgiguous but he seems to have suggested that the Jewish understanding of scripture, within its own terms, should be regarded as acceptable and that Christians should no longer actively attempt to convert Jews. You can imagine, or maybe not, this has caused a few eyebrows to be raised. The evangelicals did go balistic as did 'traditional' Catholics. Benedict has also alluded to prophesies indictating Judiasm was preordained to survive until the fullness of Gentiles had entered Christianity and that it Judaism has a future role to play.

Mysterious things. Who knows the Mind of God?

Meanwhile we do our best and love and serve our God and our neighbour as best we can. The rest is out of our hands.

29 November 2011 at 01:13  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Dodo,

Pope Benedict's views did raise a few eyebrows this side of the tracks as well, especially among the traditionalists and, curiously enough, among the left-leaning liberals. Most of us, though, saw in this a welcome reaffirmation of the ongoing post-War Jewish-Christian rapprochement. A minority of my more excitable and mystically inclined brethren saw in this the beginings of a mass conversion or "return" of Christians to Judaism and the imminent arrival of the Messiah. Well, the Pope already wears a kippah, and with the ...uh,demographic... changes in the city of Rome, the tiny enclave of the Vatican is starting to look like a fancier version of an Israeli hill-top settlement overlooking Nablus. It's a funny world we've made.

The Law of Return initially applied to full Jews, but was amended in 1970 to include "a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew." Essentially, it does not require a person to be a Jew under Jewish religious law or a practicing Jew. The rationale for this amendment to the original 1950 statute is to extend protection and sanctuary to people who may not be actually Jewish, but are or may be persecuted or discriminated against for some manner of Jewishness. You do not, however, need to claim problems, as your status as a son of a Jew is enough.

A family friend, a fine young woman whose parents worked in an Evagelical (I think Pentecostal) non-missionizing organization in Israel returned with her parents to Canada as a teen, but even after a couple of years here couldn't hack it and applied to return to Israel as a non-Jewish immigrant. We were happy to assist her with references in getting her admission. Even though not required to do so as a non-Jew, she volunteered for the IDF and is currently serving as an officer near the Lebanese border. Israel is full of strange and wonderful people from all walks of life; go and see for yourself if you can.

29 November 2011 at 02:38  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Israel is full of starnge and wonderful people.
Yes, including the ultra-religious (remember the bigots are the true believers) who will bring Israel down.
Refusing women equal PUBLIC space, censoring advertising hoardings, and using the narrow political balance of power in the Knesset to forward their religous hatred and bigotry.
What a shame.

29 November 2011 at 09:15  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

O, go on, Tingey, the Haredi extremists are a small and noisy minority even among the Ultra-Orthodox, making a stink in a small section of Jerusalem. They are a local annoynace, but like others in Isarel, thy too have a right to express their views...if that's ok with you, that is. When they step over the line, there is the police and the very secular Israeli judiciary to deal with them.

The ones truly bringing the country down are the radical liberals and a lazy, secularized public which wants to pretend it's living in Holland or Sweden. What of the liberal judges, favouring Arabs with their knee-jerk liberalism when they squat, terrorize and destroy in the Galil, taking over swaths of the country and turning them into dangerous and disgusting no-go zones for Jews? Or the secular activists who trash their nation for European admiration and funding, the ones who have been willingly providing the fig-leaf for anti-Israeli and antisemitic policies? These are the secular, proudly atheistic "humanitarians" with their foreign-sponsored organizations which only represent EU agendas, and the navel-gazing (and thankfully aging) "post-Zionist" academics and journalists in Israel and all over Europe, dancing for cash ande asdoration by accusing soldiers, defending terrorists and urging boycotts on their own nation? Don't forget too, that it's secularists who are pushing Israel to give away the historic and strategically vital Jewish heartland for useless peace deals and international "guarantees."

Your puzzling anti-religious hatred is skewing your supposedly rational judgment and sense of proportion, Tingey. What a shame.

29 November 2011 at 13:17  
Blogger Dodo's Gay Way said...

Avi
Just so long as I don't have to be circumcissed or join the Army. Be much too traumatic for me at my time of life!

29 November 2011 at 13:20  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Oh, come now, Dodo, can't we have a little tip from you? Just close your eyes and think of England.

29 November 2011 at 19:26  
Blogger Dodo's Gay Way said...

Avi
Most certainly not!

Besides, I would be thinking of Eire - the other country where I can claim dual nationalITy. All you have to do there is share a good single malt and know to the lines to the 'Jolly Plough Boy'!

Can one have triple nationality?

29 November 2011 at 22:36  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Not even a little bit, eh? Scrooge.

I have three citizenships, lifelong residency permits in two European countries and a free range in the EU. Through my wife, I can apparently get a UK passport and residency as well...for as long as she'll keep me, I suppose. The black World Government helicopters haven't swooped down on me yet, so I imagine a scruffy little Dodo-fish will be ignored as well.

Funnily enough, with all this access, I'm not big into travel outside of our province and plan to remain in Toronto til I drop off the old tree. Apart from my work travel in the US and our trips to Israel, I'm only intersted in visiting England and Scotland (a houseboat trip along the canals around London, ripping around in an old MG on your country lames and long hikes in the Highlands whilst pulling a barrel of single malt). As for exotic places, give me a trip to Greenland for some sublime kayaking along the western coast fiords. The idea of vacationing in a hot Third World country, no matter the price, turns me off totally; I like the cold and our winters, hate heat and humidity, could live well without ever meeting another bug, I obsess about snakes and massive poverty and filth depress me. How so many of my countrymen vacation in Cuba, the Dominican or some other corrupt and scary nightmare of a scheiss-hole and manage to sleep well and enjoy themselves is beyond me.

30 November 2011 at 01:00  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Avi
I am of the opinion that Israel is in a bind.
The Haredi (sp?) are a symptom, not a cause, and I know, they are a tiny minority.
But like all religious nutters, they seem to be haviong an influence out of all proportion to their numbers.
They should be told to go home and shut up.
Israel's real problem can be phrased in one name: Netanyahu.
The man's a menace.
He is handing propaganda victories to fascist/nazi creeps like Hamas on a virtually monthly basis.

30 November 2011 at 08:51  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Tingey,

In part you are right; Netanyahu is a bit of a disappointmnent to this old-style Likudnik, although he did manage to hold his own against Obama and Biden when they engineered their fake swoon over Israel's "insult" by approving routine construction permits in the capital. Jerusalem. He appears to be the best of the lot, though. But no matter who's in charge in Israel, the crazy government structure with its myriads of single issue parties will always bring in coalition governments where extremists on all sides, from the Haredi (also Hareidi, Charedi) to the appeasing liberals, will always manage to screw something important up.

You are focusing on the wrong parties, though, focusing on the minor issues the Western media has settled on, while the real damage is occuring out of sight. It isn't the secular sector which is is doing the pushback or even complaining much, actually. The seclars are mostly uninterested in religious affairs as long as they are not unduly affected by them. Since the days of Ben Gurion, it is they who have been handing the Haredi their "due," out of some sort of a Fiddler on the Roof kind of romanticism, but mostly from laziness.

The real damage to Israel's security and stability...even its viability... comes not from segragated seating on a couple of Jerusalem bus routes or a ban on posters with half-naked women in Mea Shearim, but from the secular sector. Too embarrassed to accept the religious raison d'etre and historical claims for Israel's existence, it waffles instead about it being a refuge from the Holocaust or the only democracy in the Middle East, a kinda-sorta European-like Riviera on the other side of the Med. It is the seculars, with their hold on the media, academia and the courts, who are terrified of the "world community" and are letting the the Israeli Muslims and the "Palestinians," get away with murder...literally, at times. It is they who like to press the reset button on the land-for-peace suicide pact again and again, no matter the results, or non-results.

The only effective pushback against the two extremes, the authoritarian, Austro-Hungarian-flavoured ultra-Orthodoxy and the depressed, "post-Zionist" secularism, comes mostly from the the Modern or Open Orthodox, Religious Zionist block. Those would be the ones who mix secular with religious education (which in itself is more firmly grounded in tradition and history more than the Christian-influenced Hareidi approach), who balance work and study, who eagerly join the army and who combine traditionally observant lifestyles with engagement in the world. The situation is similar in the Diaspora as well, although here we, the knit-kippah "modernish" as we are contemptuously called by the growing and emboldened Hareidi, are outnumbered by the liberal Conservative and Reform, who in their assimilationist ignorance confuse us with the Hareidi and also won't talk to us. Between the Devil and the deep blue sea, I think is the expression you folks use. But simply stated, what you should bear in mind when looking at the situation through your own experiences in your part of the world is that Judaism in not a version of Christianity and Israel is not another European country.

30 November 2011 at 11:26  
Blogger Dodo's Gay Way said...

Avi
Not even a little bit - nothing to spare!

For a really good whiskey, note the 'e', never mind about the Highlands, go to Eire. No midges either biting your Jewish bum! Smaller country and, in my opinion, more hospitable. That said, it is still very traditional Catholic in the rural areas and your kippar may attract attention. Dublin and the larger cities is are great though. Also, there are no snakes at all in Eire - the legend is St Patrick sent them all packing.

What's the economy of Israel like just now? I can see certain benefits living there, not least the imminent collapse of Europe's economy. And, would there be many openings for Christian mental health professionals?

30 November 2011 at 12:40  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Are you kidding? My half-Scottish wife would put me in the doghouse if I trotted off to Ireland on my own in search of the fire water instead of sitting primly, sipping tea and mnching on scons with her relatives in Scotland. I have a red kippah someone gave me for some odd reason, and if I can borrow a collar, I can pass as a cardinal.

The economy in Israel is quite robust right now, weathering the edconomic climate quite well, although what will happen when the EU melts down is anybody's guess. English is widely used there, and is one of the official languages still, but I don't know what the situation with health care requirements and work availability is. Tel Aviv's Sourasky hospital which does medical tourism is one possibility I can think off. If you take the government's excellent Hebrew crash-program, Ulpan, you can function in the language within a few months. Few will care if you're a Goy, you won't be the only Catholic there for sure, and the Sabras will lump you, whether you like it or not, with the "Anglo" community, the North American and South African Jews. I would still advise a trip, though, as life in Israel may be more intense than what you're used to.

30 November 2011 at 13:11  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

PS, and if you stay in Tel Aviv, you can dress as a rainbow-hued fish and attend the annual Gay Parade in your quixotic battle to separate gay from Gay. It would be amusing to watch you flit to and fro, valiantly defending the virtue of your pink tail.

30 November 2011 at 13:21  

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