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5 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2010 - 10:27AM #81
SeraphimR
Posts: 10,290


Values that are reached by general consensus are not subjective.  We are social creatures that use the simple principles of reciprocal altruism and kin altruism to derive most of the ethics and rules that  a community requires.  The fallacy of religious ethics is that a set of old rules is declared transcendent of the human condition. That's great until things need to change, such as the gay rights and gay marriage issues that are in the news of late.  Modern scientific evidence has knocked down the old notions that some people would "choose" to be homosexuals, and that it is a conscious decision to be sinful and immoral.




So it is you that is a moral relativist!  Values reached by consensus are not subjective?  The consensus in the ancient world is that slavery is OK, so was it in fact OK then?  The consensus now is that slavery is wrong so now it is wrong?


Is it right to enforce morals reached by consensus on dissenters? 


In the Muslim world the consensus on woman's rights are very different than they are in the United States. 


Is genital mutilation OK in the Muslim world because of their consensus, or is it wrong despite their consensus?


If the religious right can, through political means, cause the consensus in this country to oppose gay rights, is it then OK?


---------------------------


By the way, what do you make of these people:


www.queerbychoice.com/


 

People with a mission to save the earth want the earth to seem worse than it is so their mission will look more important.


P.J. O'Rourke
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2010 - 4:45PM #82
Ralph.m
Posts: 159

Feb 25, 2010 -- 10:27AM, SeraphimR wrote:



Values that are reached by general consensus are not subjective.  We are social creatures that use the simple principles of reciprocal altruism and kin altruism to derive most of the ethics and rules that  a community requires.  The fallacy of religious ethics is that a set of old rules is declared transcendent of the human condition. That's great until things need to change, such as the gay rights and gay marriage issues that are in the news of late.  Modern scientific evidence has knocked down the old notions that some people would "choose" to be homosexuals, and that it is a conscious decision to be sinful and immoral.




So it is you that is a moral relativist!  Values reached by consensus are not subjective?  The consensus in the ancient world is that slavery is OK, so was it in fact OK then?  The consensus now is that slavery is wrong so now it is wrong?



You seem to be having a difficult time with the fact that there is a middle-ground between transcendent and personal or subjective!  It is in our dealings with others that we find real objective ethical standards, since we have to be aware of the desires and concerns of others. The fundamentalists usually eventually adapt to community standards, and then claim that's what the Divine intended all along. 


Slavery would be a prime example of this, since conservative fundamentalists quote the most progressive church leaders of two hundred years ago - the Abolitionists, as evidence that their religion condemned the practice of slavery. Only the far right white supremacists will mention the preachers who supported slavery, and split the Baptists, Methodists and other churches on the slavery issue. But a literal reading of scriptures written 2000 to 3000 years ago, do not indicate any understanding of personal rights.  The concepts of basic human rights developed very slowly over the centuries, and the religious authorities eventually had to adapt to the need for social change, rather than lead from the front.


The fact that entire groups of people can change their moral outlook over time shouldn't be troubling. Tribes that had moved into open plains and had no natural barriers for defense, had to develop warrior ethics that exalted combat, fighting and killing many enemies. This was necessary for their group's survival, and its influence is found right in the Old Testament that makes modern fundamentalists uneasy and turns them into scriptural relativists. But for the Old Testament Hebrews, it was likely a matter of smite or be smited.


Needless to say, warrior virtues have to be scrapped or toned down when settlements grew larger, especially when people started creating large cities.  And today, with a growing realization that are biggest problems are global, we need a global ethic for the first time in human history. Some religions are trying to adapt to this realization, but many reactionary fundamentalists are pushing back; advocating American supremacism, increasing the numbers of "white babies," and  no action on climate change.


Is it right to enforce morals reached by consensus on dissenters?



That all depends on the issue being discussed. The governing principle should be that if the "dissenters" are causing no harm to others, then they should have the right to practice their own values.  As a result:


1. Should slavery be allowed by a minority of slave owners? No, it is a fundamental violation of human rights.


2. Should gay marriage be allowed? Yes, according to Ted Olsen, who is part of a legal team that is challenging California's Proposition 8 - the Court has to find a secular case against gay marriage to justify preventing gays from the benefits of the institution of marriage....and providing other limited compromises, such as civil unions, do not justify the ban.


3. If gay marriage is allowed, should polygamy be allowed too? This is the card played by conservatives here in Canada, who tried to stop gay marriage, but there are clear examples of harm caused by polygamy, that have been tabled as evidence in an FLDS case in British Columbia.  


In the Muslim world the consensus on woman's rights are very different than they are in the United States. 


Is genital mutilation OK in the Muslim world because of their consensus, or is it wrong despite their consensus?



Yes, it is wrong because evidence that it causes great harm is a no-brainer. It is not exactly correct to call FGM a Muslim practice though, since it was adopted from local custom in East Africa and later migrated through Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other areas of the Muslim Wordl. But it is still not practiced by the majority of Muslims. It is an unfortunate example of religions adopting local custom, rather than imposing it. In the Muslim World, there are many groups trying to use education and other leverage against Mullahs to end the practice, so it's an issue that they have to work out themselves, and that should not be allowed by those who have moved to the West.


When it comes to other issues, like dress codes, that's more difficult to deal with, since a ban on burqas or hijabs means infringing on personal choice. A ban on burqas may be justified for security reasons because of the trouble it causes for determining identity, but a hijab ban, such as those that have been called for in certain schools, appears to come from religious discrimination similar to the problems full Khalsa Sikhs have when attempts have been made to ban turbans and kirpans.


If the religious right can, through political means, cause the consensus in this country to oppose gay rights, is it then OK?



There is a longstanding democratic tradition that the majority should not have the right to vote the minority's rights out of existence. The U.S. Founding Fathers stressed that principle greatly, and worked to design government so that the will of the majority would determine who leads, but the courts should be independent and strong enough to protect minority interests.


Needless to say, the religious right and the Neoconservative right have little or no respect for minorities that they disagree with. These are people who are authoritarian by nature, and keep hammering away the belief that the people have to respect "rightful authority."  As a side note, I suspect this is why so many right wing extremists were so worked up about President Obama's birth certificate.  They need to delegitimize his authority to lead to justify any possible anti-social actions against the government.  The forces on the far right are just a stone's throw away from fascism; and like all previous fascist movements, they use fear of foreigners, racial purity, nationalism, and religion to influence many people to support the narrow, selfish interests of a powerful, wealthy ruling elite. I hate to say it, but if things go really bad, the next Republican government will be the end of any real democracy in the U.S., and that will be bad for the rest of the world as well.


---------------------------


By the way, what do you make of these people:


www.queerbychoice.com/



I took a quick look at their site. A closer look reveals that there is not that much that is unique in their opinions. They seem to be really taking issue with the concept that sexual orientation is genetically programmed behaviour.  I noticed that many of their links are to older scientific and psychology articles written 10 to 20 years ago. 


On many issues (such as IQ and race) there was a contentious argument over nature vs. nurture for many years. It was treated as an all-or-nothing battle until more recent biologists started realizing that genes and environment work together, and cannot be separated. Genes set the parameters for future development, but environmental factors play a role in gene expression. Also, I didn't see anything about other physical factors, like the role that hormone levels in the womb may play in future sexual orientation. 


I would say that these people who are "queer by choice" have to start out with some basic level of same sex attraction, or they are just not going to make this choice in the first place!  The best understanding of sexual orientation seems to indicate that it is not a black/white issue. There are bi-sexuals in the middle ground who have varying degrees of same-sex and opposite sex attraction. 


As for their basic argument of being allowed to choose whether to live the gay lifestyle; I believe that they should be free to do so.  There have been so many people who have been forced to conform to society's expectations, and not allowed to live the way they would have liked to, that if someone decides to go gay, that should be up to them to decide without having to face life as a social pariah.

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5 years ago  ::  Feb 26, 2010 - 9:12PM #83
SeraphimR
Posts: 10,290


You seem to be having a difficult time with the fact that there is a middle-ground between transcendent and personal or subjective!  It is in our dealings with others that we find real objective ethical standards, since we have to be aware of the desires and concerns of others.




Yes, I do.  The post-modernists have convinced me of the lack of a middle ground.  

And it seems to me that if you can call my belief in a God that works through history a subjective belief, I can call your moral system a subjective belief.  Does this middle ground have a technical term, by the way?  I would like to look it up to assure myself that it is not an ad-hoc invention of your own.


As far as becoming aware of the desires and concerns of others, I have to question the efficacy of calling those who disagree with you "short-sighted", "evil", and "fascistic" in your quest to discover such "objective" standards.




The governing principle should be that if the "dissenters" are causing no harm to others, then they should have the right to practice their own values.




Why should I adopt that as the governing principal?  It is, as far as I know, just your subjective principal.

------------------------------------

You are probably correct that the Bible shows no understanding of individual rights.  And I am not convinced that "human rights" are all that good an idea.  It may well be that in the best of societies individual rights ought to be subordinated to the communities needs.  If you spend much time in the Far East you can find strong and happy communities where the idea of inidividual rights are basically non-existant.  In China I often observed that everyone in the neighborhood would gather in a park or plaza and chat with friends, do folk dancing, or tai chi, etc.

Which is the healtier community, the Chinese type, or the American individualists where families stay in with three TVs in different rooms with individual family members watching different soap operas or reality TV shows?

People with a mission to save the earth want the earth to seem worse than it is so their mission will look more important.


P.J. O'Rourke
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5 years ago  ::  Apr 11, 2010 - 5:32PM #84
William916
Posts: 12

As someone that has always been politically progressive by nature, my reading of the Bible leads me to the conviction of Jesus Christ as my Savior on the basis of his teachings and works such as the Beatitudes, healing the sick, ministering to the poor, and the parable that teaches us that we can not serve God and mammon.  I do want to strive to better live the words 'I am my bothers keeper'. 

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5 years ago  ::  Apr 12, 2010 - 4:28PM #85
Phantasm
Posts: 767

What then shall we do?  Since when has the entire human race agreed on anything?  Should we just read our Bibles and say, "Oh, well, it's just realitive, do whatever you want as long as you can justify it with some Bible verses?"  The issue is all about priorities.  What is going to be most important to us, and how far are we willing to go to get it?

The basic principles of Christ should frame the discussion.  His work was all about compassion, healing, and teaching.  There is redemptive work in his life.  There was redemptive work in the Old Testament as well. "Slaves" had rights and even privlidiges.  Could African slaves in America 300 years ago say the same?  Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo.  Methinks those slaves got the shaft.  Read part of a wiki article below:


Old Testament

In the book of Genesis, Noah condemns Ham and his descendents to perpetual servitude: "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers" (Gn 9:25). T. David Curp notes that this episode has been used to justify racialized slavery, since "Christians and even some Muslims eventually identified Ham's descendents as black Africans".[7]

Slavery was customary in ancient times, and some forms are condoned by the Torah[4]. In the Bible, Hebrews are forbidden to injure or kill slaves[8], force a slave to work on the Sabbath[9], return an escaped slave[10], or to slander a slave[11]. It is common for a person to voluntarily sell oneself into slavery for a fixed period of time either to pay off debts or to get food and shelter.[12] It was seen as legitimate to enslave captives obtained through warfare[13], but not through kidnapping[14][15] for the purpose of enslaving them. Children could also be sold into debt bondage[16], which was sometimes ordered by a court of law[17][18][19].

The Bible does set minimum rules for the conditions under which slaves were to be kept. Slaves were to be treated as part of an extended family[20]; they were allowed to celebrate the Sukkot festival[20], and expected to honor Shabbat[21]. Israelite slaves could not to be compelled to work with rigor[22][23], and debtors who sold themselves as slaves to their creditors had to be treated the same as a hired servant[24]. If a master harmed a slave in one of the ways covered by the lex talionis, the slave was to be compensated by manumission[25]; if the slave died within 24 to 48 hours, it was to be avenged[26] (whether this refers to the death penalty[19][27] or not[28] is uncertain).

Israelite slaves were automatically manumitted after six years of work, and/or at the next Jubilee (occurring either every 49 or every 50 years, depending on interpretation), although the latter would not apply if the slave was owned by an Israelite and wasn't in debt bondage[29]. Slaves released automatically in their 7th year of service, which did not include female slaves[30], or[31][32] did[33], were to be given livestock, grain, and wine, as a parting gift[34] (possibly hung round their necks[19]). This 7th-year manumission could be voluntarily renounced, which would be signified, as in other Ancient Near Eastern nations[35], by the slave gaining a ritual ear piercing[36]; after such renunciation, the individual was enslaved forever (and not released at the Jubilee)[37]. Non-Israelite slaves could be enslaved indefinitely and were to be treated as inheritable property.[38].


There's more where that came from.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_s...

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