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Darwin at Columbine

In a recent post Denyse O’Leary linked to a news story coverning Pekka Eric Auvinen, the Finnish student who killed eight in a shooting spree at his school.  Apparently Auvinen was an ardent Darwinist who considered himself to be an instrument of natural selection.  He wrote:  “I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgaces of human race and failures of natural selection.”

One of O’Leary’s interlocutors more or less accused her of cherry picking her data to push her personal religious agenda.  Apparently this person believes this case is an aberation, and it is unfair to suggest a connection between Darwin’s theory and a school shooter’s self understanding as an instrument of natural selection.  Not so. 

As the attorney for the families of six of the students killed at Columbine, I read through every single page of Eric Harris’ jounals; I listened to all of the audio tapes and watched the videotapes, including the infamous “basement tapes.”  There cannot be the slightest doubt that Harris was a worshiper of Darwin and saw himself as acting on Darwinian principles.  For example, he wrote:  “YOU KNOW WHAT I LOVE??? Natural SELECTION!  It’s the best thing that ever happened to the Earth.  Getting rid of all the stupid and weak organisms . . . but it’s all natural!  YES!” 

Elsewhere he wrote:  “NATURAL SELECTION.  Kill the retards.”  I could multiply examples, but you get the picture.

It was no coincidence that on the day of the shootings Harris wore a shirt with two words written on it:  “Natural Selection.”

I am not suggesting that Auvinen’s and Harris’ actions are the inevitable consequences of believing in Darwinism.  It is, however, clear that at least some of Darwin’s followers understand “survival of the fittest” and the attendant amorality at the bottom of Darwinism as a license to kill those whom they consider “inferior.”  Nothing could be more obvious.

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167 Responses to Darwin at Columbine

  1. The problem is that in a naturalist universe, it just doesn’t matter. Atoms in motion interacting with other atoms in motion. It logically leads to no moral imperatives with no way to judge these actions as either right or wrong, good or evil.

  2. We should stick to attacking materialism on it’s merits. Using the actions of a diseased and confused mind to attack atheists and biologists comes across as shrill and unnecessary. Do we really want to go there when, as Christians, we don’t wish to be tarred with Menachem Korn and Eric Rudolph. We should, as asked, do unto others as we would have them do unto us

  3. BarryA,

    I hate to be the dissenter here, but I have a quick question: why did Harris, Klebold, and Auvinen kill themselves, then?

    Darwinism may be to blame for a lot, but they were no more acting out Darwinism than Baruch Goldstein was acting out Judaism at the Cave of the Patriarchs.

  4. “The problem is that in a naturalist universe, it just doesn’t matter. Atoms in motion interacting with other atoms in motion. It logically leads to no moral imperatives with no way to judge these actions as either right or wrong, good or evil.”

    Well, I suppose that depends on how we use the word logical. Clearly, it does not lend itself stictly to an IF/THEN proposition, as in, “if it rains, the streets will get wet.” We cannot say, IF Darwin/then Columbine.

    HOWEVER:

    I have spent years trying to explain to those not initiated in philosophical jargon the vital and decisive difference between two words— “necessary” and “sufficient.” Darwin was necessary for the Columbine tragedy, but not sufficient. Knowledge is necessary for virture, but not sufficient. Faith is necessary for salvation, but not sufficient. If people would only make that distinction, our world would improve dramatically overnight.

    What we can say is this: If no Darwin/no Columbine. If no Darwin/ no holocaust.

  5. I think what went on in Finland, and what has went on in other similar situations, is an important but delicate subject.

    No, I don’t think ‘darwinism’ led to these shootings. But I do think some popular treatments of evolution – that it means life (or the conditions of life) is purposeless, or only the strong survive and that anyone who dies has been justly ‘weeded out’ – are in play. Maybe even the modern culture that largely laughs at death and the “Darwin Awards” mentality help.

  6. We should stick to attacking materialism on it’s merits. Using the actions of a diseased and confused mind to attack atheists and biologists comes across as shrill and unnecessary.

    You can try to be polite/political all you like but in the end basic logic and the truth have to enter into things somewhere. As the philosopher David Stove noted:

    …Adolf Hitler found or thought he found an authorization for his policies in the Darwinian theory of evolution. He said, for example, that “if we did not respect the law of nature, imposing our will by the right of the stronger, a day would come when the wild animals would again devour us–then the insects would eat the wild animals, and finally nothing would exist except the microbes. By means of the struggle the elites are constantly renewed. The law of selection justifies this incessant struggle by allowing the survival of the fittest. Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature.”
    …it is perfectly obvious that accepting Darwin’s theory of a universal struggle for life must tend to strengthen whatever tendencies people had beforehand to selfishness and domineering behavior towards their fellow humans. Hence it must tend to make them worse than they were before, and more likely to commit crimes: especially crimes of rapacity, or of cruelty, or of dominance for the sake of dominance.
    These considerations are exceedingly obvious. There was therefore never any excuse for the indignation and surprise with which Darwinians and neo-Darwinians have nearly always reacted whenever their theory is accused of being a morally subversive one. For the same reason there is, and always was, every justification for the people, beginning with Darwin’s contemporaries, who made that accusation against the theory. Darwin had done his best to separate the theory from the matrix of murderous ideas in which previously it had always been set. But in fact, since the theory says what it does, there is a limit, and a limit easily reached, to how much can be done in the way of such a separation. The Darwinian theory of evolution IS an incitement to crime: that is simply a fact.

    (Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors
    of Heredity and Other Fables of Evolution
    by David Stove :106-109) (Emphasis added)

    If your focus on the reaction of atheists or biologists is adhered to then basic logic and facts may be censored based on whoever gets the most offended about things. I’ve seen ID types compared to Holocaust deniers and people don’t seem to be concerned that they might get upset about it. Perhaps the difference is that people get more upset and offended about the truth than propaganda or lies. So they get more upset when something is said that they think is true which they do not like than when something is said that they know is false as a means to ends that they would like.

  7. I hate to be the dissenter here, but I have a quick question: why did Harris, Klebold, and Auvinen kill themselves, then?

    A Darwinian view of organisms is that natural selection filters out the weaker because they die, which becomes a part of the process which supposedly results in constructing the stronger and/or more fit. How it is possible to get “selection” and construction out of processes of reproduction and destruction isn’t clear, and in fact Darwin was sometimes more honest in his language and called the process natural preservation instead of “selection.” In a way the Darwinian mind has already killed itself to get life from death so it is difficult to see things from its irrational and psychotic perspective in the end. However, to the extent that the hypothetical goo typical to Darwinism is reasonable one might say that on their own terms they felt that they had served their purpose in life as natural born killers “selected” by their Mommy Nature to be so naturally enough. After naturally selecting to prove their supposed manliness it’s time for the effete little fellows to crawl back into her womb.

  8. Darwinism is not “necessary” for such events. There are tales throughout history of people losing control and killing multiple people. The word berzerk originally related to a Norse warrior of this type. In the Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge, a “warp-spasm seized Cúchulainn, and made him into a monstrous thing, hideous and shapeless, unheard of.”

    In the Bible, Samson kills 30 men for cheating on a riddle and seems to be characterized by uncontrollable rage. (There is no mention in the Bible that he enacts that particular slaughter at God’s command.) I have already mentioned Baruch Goldstein, who killed Palestinians for no reason.

    To attribute the sickness of two modern berzerkers to Darwinism is to warp a historical tragedy to make a point. I’m sorry, but this is unworthy of us.

  9. specs, read the last paragraph of the post again. I’m not “attacking” anyone. I’m merely pointing out a fact.

  10. getawitness, read the post again. I did not attibute Harris’ and Auvinen’s actions to Darwinism. The point of my post is that they did.

  11. 11

    I wonder if it makes sense to make a point out of what any deranged person gives as a reason for an outrageous act. I understand the temptation regarding Darwinism and its undoubtedly unhealthy implications, but being myself a Christian believer, I think it would be awful easy for the atheists–especially the New variety–to ascribe all sorts of terrible things to Christianity, just because some deranged person says that God told him to commit some heinous act.

  12. Barry, I read your final paragraph and I have to say I find it hollow. No, you are not attacking anyone in particular. But, you are using this as bludgeon against the nameless, faceless materialist mob. And why? Because it suits our ends.

    We get upset when the “New Atheists” paint us with the same brush as sick individuals who warp Christianity to suit some nefarious end. And so we should. And so we should not engage in the same broad brush behavior we otherwise decry. Neither you, nor I, nor Denyse have the first idea whether Auvinen was truly a committed Darwinist or just trying to using word juxtapositions that he thought was clever when he wrote that he was “a cynical existentialist, anti-human humanist, anti-social social-Darwinist, realistic idealist and god-like atheist.”

    To exploit this tragedy in the name of the war on materialism is unseemly and, IMO, poor witness.

  13. Go here for the fact that the school shooter’s video has been removed from the ‘Net. HOWEVER, so far unpurged sources of actual info are linked. (No guarantees. If the spin bin arrives while I’m asleep in Eastern Standard Time, well, that’s life in the materialist paradigm.)

    Let me also say that I have had to borf tons of posts at the Post-Darwinist over the last few days from angry materialist atheists, demanding that I assent to the view that materialist atheists are not murderous, or not compared to Christians.

    Shucks, whodauthunkit? Like, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot – all just misunderstood, man!

  14. getawitness, read the post again. I did not attibute Harris’ and Auvinen’s actions to Darwinism. The point of my post is that they did.

    Murder has been part of the human condition long before Charles Darwin ever graced this globe. Any philosophy can be warped to justify it. If you were not wanting make an equivalence between Darwinism and murder, why even mention it at all?

    I am sorry if I am harsh, but we should be praying for the victims not parading their corpses out in our continuing war on materialism.

  15. Go here for story updates. Stuff is getting removed from the ‘Net.

  16. Great points Barry.

    Something a lot of people don’t know – since it’s been deliberately avoided by Darwinist controlled media – is that the ones who were killed at Columbine were asked beforehand if they believed in God or in Jesus Christ. If the answer was yes they were immediately shot.

    A couple of books have been published on these specific ‘martyrdoms’. For example rachel joy scott or cassie rene bernall and here

    I’ve heard atheist Darwinists tell me they would like to kill every Christian leader in the world and similar displaays of hatred such as one may find written just about every week on PZ’s site or the PT site.

    Darwinian fundamentalists are a menace to society and human rights. (The inverse of the CofE’s inanities!) In their minds might is right – i.e. the strongest & fittest must rule – indeed it is one of Darwinism’s key concepts.

  17. Specs,
    Although any philosophy can be twisted to mur^dering ends. I think the Germans of world war 2 slau^ghtering over 14 million (in the name of a “master race” i.e. Darwinism) and the Soviet Union slau^ghtering an estimated 60 million of their own people, under a publically atheistic philosophy, speak for themselves…NEVER has the Christian philosophy been twisted to match anywhere near such brutality in its 2000 year existence.

  18. BarryA, apparently your post is very easy to misread. StephenB says “Darwin was necessary for the Columbine tragedy, but not sufficient,” and you don’t find that worthy of correction. But I am reprimanded for pointing out that there’s nothing Darwinian about their behavior?

    I say it’s a sin to try and score debate points from a tragedy while parents are still in mourning and before the children have even been buried.

  19. If materialism is true, and a Darwinian process is the key to advancing our species, then why is it wrong to kill weak, stupid, or otherwise defective humans? If natural selection (death) is what elevated us above viruses, insects and wild animals, then why are Darwinist murderers dismissed as “deranged” or “berzerk” for taking the Theory of Evolution seriously?

  20. It might be true that “Darwinism was necessary, but not sufficient, for the Holocaust/the Columbine shootings/the Auvinen killings.”

    Even so — what would need to be shown is that that’s true in any stronger or more interesting sense than “the invention of the Wright brothers was necessary, but not sufficient, for 9/11.”

  21. Russ, I’m not arguing for Darwinism or materialism here. Far from it! I just think that it’s wrong to make a philosophical point out of this tragedy, especially so early. I also think it’s clear that berzerk behavior is part of our common fallenness.

  22. But Intelligent Design is not opposed to the idea of natural selection. Natural selection is an obvious fact. So why get political about it?

    I believe in ID, and I see no reason to attack the aspects of Darwin’s theory that are true.

  23. Just a quick comment:

    I appreciate all of the people who have stood up for both compassion and rational argument in pointing out the pernicious fallacies encapsulated in the underlying premise of this post. Being an evolutionary biologist is no more correlated with the performance of evil acts than being simply a human being. Otherwise it would be a trivial exercise to point out that evolutionary biologists are over-represented in prison populations.

    That said, I would also like to point out what Darwin himself said about the “struggle for existence”:

    “I should premise that I use the term Struggle for Existence in a large and metaphorical sense, including dependence of one being on another, and including (which is more important) not only the life of the individual, but success in leaving progeny [emphasis added]. Two canine animals in a time of dearth, may be truly said to struggle with each other which shall get food and live. But a plant on the edge of a desert is said to struggle for life against the drought, though more properly it should be said to be dependent on the moisture. A plant which annually produces a thousand seeds, of which on an average only one comes to maturity, may be more truly said to struggle with the plants of the same and other kinds which already clothe the ground….In these several senses, which pass into each other, I use for convenience sake the general term of struggle for existence.”

    Does this sound like an incitement to mass murder of innocents? Then how about this:

    “When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them” [emphasis added]

    Asserting that evolutionary biology has any necessary causative relationship to school shooting is logically no different than asserting that the Old Testament justifies the mass murder of “seven nations”, including all of their innocent women and children. Neither of these assertions remotely qualifies as science, nor (as previous posters have correctly pointed out) as elementary logic, nor as any form of ethics.

    Is this blog for discussing science or for propaganda and character assasination? Just curious…

  24. “Murder has been part of the human condition long before Charles Darwin ever graced this globe. Any philosophy can be warped to justify it. If you were not wanting make an equivalence between Darwinism and murder, why even mention it at all?”

    Obviously, social Darwinism holds that the “fittest” should survive, which is a current version of the old argument by Greek sophists that “might makes right.” There should be here no argument here about whether social Darwinism was decisive for Columbine or the holocaust, because obviously it was. The only points to be argued are these:

    1) Can we hold the “science” of Darwinism in any way responsible for “morality” of social Darwinism?

    2) Can we hold social Darwinism accountable for social misfits who use it to rationalize their outrageous behavior?

    To the first point, I submit that the answer is yes. Darwinism blurs the distinction between the animal and the human. The operating principle to this “science” is that the species are ALWAYS changing, which means, in effect, that there is no such thing as a human species or a human nature. If there is no such thing as human nature, then there can be no such thing as human morality. Thus, there is no reason to treat humans any better than animals. Darwinism frees us from morality because it provides “scientific” verification that we are not special. If were not made in the image and likeness of God, we cannot be special and deserve no special treatment.

    To the second point, we must also answer yes. In the final analysis, every human being is responsible for his or her outrageous behavior. But the belief system that inspires and justifies that behavior is decisive. Most madmen are made, not born, and the best way to make one is to fill his head with a comprehensive world view that denies the inherent dignity of the human being. Liberalism, Communism, Nazism, Darwinism, and Islam all reject the notion that we are made in the image and likeness of God. That is why all five lead to tyranny, deprivation, and murder. The difference is, Darwinism is the only one of the four that claims to be a “science.” It was very easy for Marx, Lenin, Hitler, and the little Hitlers at Columbine to legitimize their actions on the grounds that the laws of science trump humanitarian values.

  25. Social Darwinism is clearly no more a “science” than National Socialism is “socialism.” Social Darwinism was neither invented nor advocated by Charles Darwin. On the contrary, it was an outgrowth primarily of the philosophy of free-market capitalism as advocated by Herbert Spencer.

    Furthermore, neither Charles Darwin nor any evolutionary biologist of my acquaintance has ever advocated either mass murder or any other form of “social Darwinism.” So linking the two is not science by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it any form of rational logic. It is character assasination and propaganda via guilt by association, pure and simple.

    Finally, if a God is necessary for moral and ethical behavior, then Buddhists and most other followers of most eastern religions are neither moral nor ethical. Again, having been a practicing Zen Buddhist for over three decades (in addition to being a long-standing member of the Ithaca Monthly Meeting of Friends/Quakers), I find such an assertion both empirically vacuous and personally insulting.

    Again, is this the kind of discussion IDers think qualifies as science? Clearly, as the majority of the comments above indicate, the answer is “no”, and I am personally reasured that we will eventually be able to have a rational discussion of the pros and cons of both evolutionary biology and ID as science, so long as character assiasination and propaganda are recognized as such and not resorted to by those dedicated to the search for understanding of nature.

    Indeed, some of those reading this may be aware that I am fond of using a falling rock as a paradigm example of a purely natural “non-teleological” process. However, the same cannot be said about a stone that has been cast first…

  26. StephenB,

    If I may respond?

    It is not quite right to say, as you do, that “Darwinism blurs the distinction between the animal and the human.” It would be better to say that, if Darwinism (or something like it) is true, then there no distinction between the human and the animal to be drawn — none at all.

    Or, to put it slightly differently but to more polemical effect, one could say that there is a distinction between humans and other animals, but that distinction is no different in kind from the distinction between any animal and all the other animals. In other words, the difference between humans and chimps is real — perfectly real — but of no greater metaphysical significance than the distinction between, say, squirrels and chipmunks.

    Robert Foley wrote a great paleoanthropology textbook called Another Unique Species. His subtle but devastating point is that, yes, of course, humans are unique — but then so are all other species!

    (It is sufficiently clear by now, I hope, that the real problem of “squaring the circle” is not one of trying to reconcile Darwinism with theism — that’s actually rather trivially easy — but one of trying to reconcile Darwinism with humanism.)

    However, this is not quite the problem for morality that you make it out to be. For all a consistent Darwinist need argue is that morality itself has evolved. So here the question could be posed as: are there behaviors elsewhere, among other species, which could be considered evolutionary antecedents of human morality? And if one considers the behavior of bonobos, chimpanzees, dolphins and whales, it seems to this Darwinist that a plausible answer is “yes.”

    Is it really morality? Well, no — at least, I don’t think so. I tend to think that morality, much like language and culture and technology, is unique to humans. It is part of “the human adaptation” — part of distinguishes Homo sapiens from all the other unique species.

    Admittedly, this very likely means that morality is a human affair, not a cosmic one. It means that the nature of morality is not inscribed into the fabric of reality. And to a person of faith, especially a faith of ‘ethical monotheism,’ this is very likely a disconcerting prospect, to say the least. But it is a prospect that I, and many others, find is no obstacle to living a moral life.

  27. “It means that the nature of morality is not inscribed into the fabric of reality.”

    Indeed, this was precisely the point made by T. H. Huxley in “Evolution and Ethics” and made a part of standard ethical theory by G. E. Moore a century ago. As they (and I) concluded, morality and ethics are not “natural” at all; they are purely and simply a product of human rationality, guided (but not justified) by human empathy.

  28. As whether social darwinism or christianity is “responsible” for the greater degree of mass murder, I was under the impression that any number of murders of innocents should be considered immoral. Or is morality only about numbers, and not about right and wrong?

  29. A minor correction:

    Oddly enough to some people, the United States Constitution doesn’t mention “taking life” nor does it declare murder illegal, any more than it declares or establishes the United States of America as a “Christian nation.” The founding fathers were quite certain that these were matters most appropriately addressed by the states, and so were quite deliberately left out of the Constitution. Instead, that document is almost completely devoted to setting out the limitations on the federal government, a fact that seems to have gotten mostly lost over the past two centuries…

  30. I wonder if Shakespeare was a closet Darwinist?

    In Henry VI his amusing character ‘Dick the Butcher’ famously says:
    “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
    Seems like a good way to improve the gene pool to me…

    (It’s a joke, BarryA, a joke. Don’t sue me. :))

    (While we’re (sort of) on the subject of fitness and survival characteristics, and since there’s a lawyer in the house: Q: What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of 50? A:’Your Honor’)

  31. Re #21:

    Assuming the premise that moral behavior necessitates God does not mean followers of Eastern Religions are inherently immoral, it just means their beliefs are misguided. I think you’re getting too defensive.

  32. I dunno, this one makes even me a little queasy. If we make them responsible for the nutcase in Sweden, then their response would be “then you Christians need to take Andrea Yates”.

    Let’s just let mentally ill people be mentally ill, and not try to pretend they have any reason for their actions. Sometimes people are just nuts.

    As an interesting theological question, do people here think there is salvation for the mentally ill, if they commit their crimes after giving themselves to the Lord?

  33. Carl wrote, “Robert Foley wrote a great paleoanthropology textbook called Another Unique Species. His subtle but devastating point is that, yes, of course, humans are unique — but then so are all other species!”

    Carl, I can’t always tell when your tongue is in your cheek. If everything is unique then nothing is unique.

    Also, you wrote, “Admittedly, this very likely means that morality is a human affair, not a cosmic one. It means that the nature of morality is not inscribed into the fabric of reality.” (A nice turn of phrase, by the way.)

    I submit that morality can only be real if it is stable–something that Darwinism cannot allow, as I pointed out on #20. Morally speaking, I cannot hit a moving target, nor can a moving target hold me accountable. I can always say, “slavery, adultery, and slander may have debased us 100,000 years ago, but we have evolved past that point and entered into a new era.” But how do we discern the advent of that era, and how do we detect all the subtle environmental changes along the way, each one calling for a corresponding incremental change in the moral code?

    At each stage, whose subjective version of the new morality do we accept? If it is not inscribed in nature, then it is something we must develop and negotiate. What happens, as is bound to be the case, if we disagree over the finished product? Who becomes the final moral arbiter on matters about which everyone will have a different opinion? The answer is that some tyrant will provide the finished product for us. It is much better to derive our morality from the natural moral law, which is written in every human heart and made explicit in the Ten Commandments.

  34. I’ve said here already that I don’t think the Finland shootings can be pinned on Darwinists. But I do think one point stands that has to be dealt with by the New Atheists.

    If someone can point at Andrea Yates – as another poster here has cited – as ‘what kind of person can pop up if you allow religion to flourish’… then the Finland shooter is just one of many people who you have to allow as ‘what kind of person can pop up if you allow materialistic atheism to flourish’. Full stop.

    If you look at some atheistic arguments, you’ll see assertions that ‘If you believe there’s a life after this one, then you’ll have people running around doing horrible things because the only consequences they have to worry about are those in the afterlife. But if you don’t believe in an afterlife, that doesn’t work!’ But the response is, ‘If you believe that there will BE no consequences after this life, then you can do as you damn well please. You’re going to die anyway, so why live within limits!’ Both philosophies, taken to their extreme, result in some harsh permissiveness.

    So I think it’s important to point out, when things like this occur, ‘If you’re going to blame religious people for the exceptions where someone goes off-kilter in the name of religion, then we’re going to point out what happens when someone goes off-kilter with regards to materialism and atheism’. The New Atheist argument is invested in the idea that if religion continues to thrive, then now and then you get the equivalent of a suicide bomber. But one logical response is that if you allow any worldview to thrive, religious or not, you can get the equivalent of a suicide bomber. In Finland, once again, we see this is true.

    If we were in another, more reasonable time, we could be content to simply put this aside and make no points. In a time where Dawkins, Harris, and the rest are branding any theist as a potential nut waiting to happen, it’s worth pointing out that the world is going to have its share of nuts regardless of which worldview is in force. The NA argument fails.

  35. In a naturalist/atheistic worldview, it seems rather easy to see why killing others and yourself is no big deal. Atheist can make up all kinds of eloquent sounding B/S – but when it comes down to it, YOU are your own god. When your life here on earth is over, you cease to exist. Everything you did – good or bad really means nothing. The world you lived in and tried to give meaning to was just a spec of time on an insignificant spec of matter.

    When you die, you will have no memory. Time will continue its infinite and emotionless voyage into the future. Those who knew you or were affected by you will also die. All memories of you will be gone. All memories of what you’ve done will be gone.

  36. To begin; I am an atheist. I am happy to find as many people here with what I would call the correct mindset about this topic. That being that a nut is a nut, reguardless of what is floating around in their heads. There have always been people who go off track and kill and use what ever the currently “in” topic is in an attempt to explain it away.
    Now what to do about morality? My emotions about this school shooting tell me not to feel anger towards the shooter, but sympathy towards the families of the dead. I feel that I have a strong moral compass. I was taught right from wrong by my parents at an early age. I have never killed anyone nor had an honest desire to. I don’t steal and I have never cheated on my wife. I often feel empathy with those in the newspaper who have been wronged. I give money to aid the refugees of Durfur. In other words, I may disagree with you as to weather there is a supernatural deity or not, but that one point dose not make me a bad person.

  37. why did Harris, Klebold, and Auvinen kill themselves, then?

    Because Darwinists aren’t rational. Anyway, I thought Auvinen failed in his suicide attempt.

  38. tribune7 – he died in Töölö hospital as a result of his wounds. I think that means he succeeded in his attempt.

    BarryA and Denyse – along with some others here, I find it distasteful the way you are trying to twist this incident for your own ends. It is a tragedy, and I think our sympathies should be with the families and community of Jokela, rather than trying to score cheap rhetorical points.

    A few people have made good points here. Another I’d like to raise is that, yes, Darwinism is amoral. Hence, it can’t be used as a licence to act in one way or another – that would require some form of morality (or immorality!).

    Bob

  39. Bob, thanks for the information w/re to Auvinen.

    I’d note that since Barry has experience very close to being first hand in these matters, you perhaps should try to swallow your distaste and consider what he has to say.

    Also, it should be obvious that the amorality of Darwinism becomes the problem if it should become one’s world-view.

    If one subscribes to the claim that natural forces and radom events can explain all, one’s view of right and wrong becomes self-determined and, in that circumstance, it should be also be obvious that existence becomes Hell for all.

    And I’m not claiming that a belief in evolution — even macro-evolution, even common ancestry of all life — is synomyous with this Darwinian Naturalism.

  40. Nochange:

    As an interesting theological question, do people here think there is salvation for the mentally ill, if they commit their crimes after giving themselves to the Lord?

    That’s a no-brainer.

  41. To: StephenB at #4:

    …What we can say is this: If no Darwin/no Columbine. If no Darwin/ no holocaust.

    No, you can’t say that at all. The Columbine killers had no better understanding of evolution or to use the cultish-sounding word “Darwinism” than you people do. Case in point is poster #19. In natural selection, organisms get a chance to adapt and reproduce in their environment, in artificial selection humans do differential breeding on organisms to get the traits they want. People killing other people for these made up reasons that have nothing to do with nature.

    A “Darwinist” would also think that a better way to surive to pass on your genes would be to NOT go on those rampages which lead to one getting killed by police (or oneself!)

    You may also want to read Stephen Gould’s book Mismeasure of Man to find out about how flawed the “science” of eugenics is from the biologists standpoint. Or, even just ask a biologist or geneticist about what evolution is supposed to mean, instead of making up moral lessons from nature? They’ll likely tell you that morality isn’t supposed to be derived from nature; science describes what is, not what things are supposed to be.

    To Borne at #16:about Bernall…
    About the supposed Bernall martydom, she was apparently not killed for her faith.

    As for the supposed hateful remarks at Pandas Thumb and Pharyngula, are any of them even close to Ann Coulter’s I defy any of my coreligionists to tell me they do not laugh at the idea of Dawkins burning in hell.

    That’s it for now, I’ve gotta hit the sack.

  42. Ah yes, one more thing. Back to StephenB, if you want to know the real basis for the holocaust and anti-semitism, you may want to read Hector Avalos article.

  43. EDIT: Back in the paragraph when I said “…People killing other people for these made up reasons that have nothing to do with nature.” I should have ended that with, “has nothing at all to do with any kind of selection. If one were to read the writings of Darwin one would see that he’s not the kind who would support that kind of butchery.

    (told you I had to go to bed!)

  44. Allen_MacNeill:

    Let’s just set the record straight here.

    You quote Darwin but very incompletely.

    You also leave out the overall picture of the direct effects of his theory on the ‘inferior races’ hunters of the 19th century that slaughtered Aboriginal peoples for Darwinist labs.

    And let’s quote Charley more further: “Finally, it may not be a logical deduction, but to my imagination it is far more satisfactory to look at such instincts as the young cuckoo ejecting its foster-brothers, ants making slaves, the larvae of ichneumonidae feeding within the live bodies of caterpillars, not as specially endowed or created instincts, but as small consequences of one general law leading to the advancement of all organic beings–namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.”

    from Origin

    “The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life”

    – subtitle of Origin

    In the 1870 Anthropological Review, Max Muller classified the human race into 7 categories on an ascending scale – with the Aborigines on the lowest rung and the “Aryan” type supreme.

    What theory do you think he based this upon?

    Darwin’s “Descent of Man” is just full of the expressions “inferior” vs “superior” – in speaking of the different races of humans – or rather humans and sub-humans. Since blacks and Aborigines were, in his mind, not completely human.

    In 1876 the Social Evolutionist, H. K. Rusden, wrote : “The survival of the fittest means that might is right. And we thus invoke and remorselessly fulfill the inexorable law of natural selection when exterminating the inferior Australian and Maori races… and we appropriate their patrimony coolly”

    James Barnard, the Vice-President of the Royal Society of Tasmania, wrote in 1890: “the process of extermination is an axiom of the law of evolution and survival of the fittest.” There was therefore, he concluded, no reason to suppose that “there had been any culpable neglect” in the murder and dispossession of the Aboriginal Australian.

    University of Columbia historian Jacques Barzun wrote in ‘Darwin, Marx, Wagner: Critique of a Heritage’, “Darwin did not invent the Machiavellian image that the world is the playground of the lion and the fox, but thousands discovered that he had transformed political science… War became the symbol, the image, the inducement, the reason, and the language of all human beings on the planet. No one who has not waded through some sizable part of the literature of the period 1870-1914 has any conception of the extent to which it is one long call for blood …”

    As to your comment, “On the contrary, it was an outgrowth primarily of the philosophy of free-market capitalism as advocated by Herbert Spencer.” I suggest you consider this:
    Adrian Desmond and James Moore, in their book ‘Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist’ , wrote: “Social Darwinism’ is often taken to be something extraneous (to Darwin’s theory), an ugly concretion added to the pure Darwinian corpus after the event, tarnishing Darwin’s image. But his notebooks make plain that competition, free trade, imperialism, racial extermination, and sexual inequality were written into the equation from the start – Darwinism’ was always intended to explain society.”

    It’s always sad when Darwinists close their eyes to the facts to protect their precious theory from it’s own logical implications.

    But this is all you’ve done – as well as several others.

    Under atheistic Darwinism there can be found no viable reason, other than mere survival, to prohibit killing humans. Indeed, I listened to Darwinist scientist lecture on ethics and when the floor was opened for questions one gentlemen asked, “Is it wrong to kill humans?” The lecturing Phd. refused to answer!

    Suggest you check out this as well.

    BarryA’s logic and conclusion is right on – get over it.

  45. Social Darwinism was neither invented nor advocated by Charles Darwin.

    Worse, his reasoning led him to falsely described it as “fact”:

    At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon,
    instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

    Descent of Man by Charles Darwin, Chapter 6

    On the contrary, it was an outgrowth primarily of the philosophy of free-market capitalism as advocated by Herbert Spencer.

    As Darwin notes in the Descent of Man he agrees with “our great philosopher” Spencer with respect to the evolution of a moral sense in man, see chapter four.

    Furthermore, neither Charles Darwin nor any evolutionary biologist of my acquaintance has ever advocated either mass murder or any other form of “social Darwinism.”

    One could just as easily say that Nazi biologists never “selected” or advocated anything because they were just describing facts scientifically and when they made their selections about who was fit or unfit that was just natural selection in operation. That is the way they viewed themselves, amoral, beyond good and evil, so it’s rather ironic that you seem to be trying rationalize them out of their own philosophy.

    So linking the two is not science by any stretch of the imagination nor is it any form of rational logic. It is character assasination and propaganda via guilt by association, pure and simple.

    As David Stove pointed out it’s not a matter of vague associations and imagery, it’s a matter of Darwinian reasoning even if such reasoning is psychotic in the end and ultimately based on hypothetical goo of little consistency. For example, Darwin was lead to his racist statements not through reason and empirical evidence but by the way in which he began to cite his own imagination as evidence in order to merge and blur things together. Ultimately if you imagine ways of blurring things together long enough then your views will have no integrity, he began imagining things based on reasoning which did have some distinctions, it’s in the end that he turns more psychotic.

    Many writers here have tried to insist that Darwinian thinking was somehow warped in specific cases like this or in the general case of Nazism, a culture ruled by people like this student, yet how was it warped? One can point out the difference between Christian thinking based on Christian texts/specification, yet when one looks to Darwinian texts there doesn’t seem to be all that much difference between some effete passive aggressive scholar imagining things which suit themselves while insisting that they are merely describing “scientific facts” and those who say that they lost their mind because of the imaginary facts typical to Darwinian reasoning.

  46. Let’s just let mentally ill people be mentally ill, and not try to pretend they have any reason for their actions.

    There are patterns to the notion of mental illness than can and ought to be recognized. What should be pointed out first is that the notion of mental illness is typically about as defined as the notion of “evolution.” That’s why it is almost a contradiction in terms to begin with. Note that if something is mental then it’s all in your in your mind but if something is a “brain illness” then it ought to be treated physically based on known pathology, known lesions, etc.

    And that’s part of the problem here, people are failing to deal with the mentality, the thinking and the language typical to some minds and instead shift to speaking as if everything can be defined as a sort of illness of the brain by which some people are inevitably insane in the membrane. Some people may have a sort of illness of the brain and it seems likely that the answer is a combination of mind and matter, the action of one we would call evil and the other we tend to call “disease,” ironically we only attach that label to things which make our minds uneasy. At any rate, no known brain illness, lesion or damage is known to cause highly complex activities and planning such as bombing a school and so on, so it seems to me that one is left with the workings of minds, “insane” as they may apparently be.

  47. “Finally, it may not be a logical deduction, but to my imagination

    It seems that never has one man convinced so many to imagine so much, including himself.

  48. Back to StephenB, if you want to know the real basis for the holocaust and anti-semitism, you may want to read Hector Avalos article.

    Well, what do you think about it?

  49. Reynold Hall wrote:
    ” A “Darwinist” would also think that a better way to survive to pass on your genes would be to NOT go on those rampages which lead to one getting killed by police (or oneself!)”

    An implication of your response is that it implies what one does to pass on his/her genes is entirely relative; one person may decide to kill, another may not. Can one choice be right and another one wrong in a darwinian world?

    “People killing other people for these made up reasons that have nothing to do with nature.”

    How does something entirely formed by nature decide to disobey it?

  50. In re: (34)

    It is true that Internet-based communications do nothing to reveal either tongues or cheeks.

    1) “If everything is unique then nothing is unique.” Not quite. There is no more irony in “all species are unique” than there is in saying “all individuals are unique.” — that is, unique with respect to each other. I cannot carry a beat or dance with discernible rhythm; other people can. I can pun with machine-gun speed; other people cannot. Likewise, human beings can communicate by means of complex language and form abstract thoughts; other species cannot. But we cannot build nest with our teeth or hold our breath for hours underwater.

    (2) The stability of morality. It is true that morality is not “stable” as I conceive of it — nor would I want it to be. Among my various commitments is a commitment to the idea of moral progress. We know things about morality that were unknown hundreds or thousands of years ago — for example, we now know that slavery is immoral. The writers of the Bible didn’t know this — although they were morally advanced for their time in that they did think there were limits on how slaves should be mistreated.

    In any event, I would call this “cultural evolution” and not “natural evolution.” I don’t think that the past ten thousand years of human history can be reduced to Darwinian explanations. (You may gather that I’m not sympathetic to evolutionary psychology.)

    The interesting question, from my perspective, is this: how did natural mechanisms produce a species that is capable of cultural evolution?

    One of the reasons — actually, the main reason — why I disagree with Dawkins is that his gene-centered theory of evolution undermines his own best attempts to wrestle with this question. In order to deal with this question adequately, one would need a theory of evolution that focuses on the organism, not the genes, and that emphasizes how organisms can be creative — that they can respond to changes in their environment in a variety of ways, and can be remarkably clever and inventive.

    In other words — to collapse a lot of what I’ve saying into a short remark — I don’t deny or downplay human characteristics such as rationality, imagination, creativity, morality, or consciousness. Not at all! But where my “Darwinism” kicks into play is where I say, firstly, that all of these characteristics are “analog,” not “digital” — they are found in degrees — and secondly, that various degrees of these characteristics are found among some of the other animals.

    So my Darwinized humanism isn’t about denying any of these things in humans, on the grounds that they aren’t found in other animals, but about affirming these things in other animals, on the grounds that they are found in us, and while we’re different from the others, we’re not that different.

    We’re not visitors from another reality; we are part of the interlocking relations and histories of life on this planet, and we belong here.

  51. Quick follow-up: it may seem that I’ve contradicted myself in saying that we can find out things about morality — that is, discover moral knowledge — while at the same time holding that there’s nothing outside of humanity to determine what’s moral.

    My proposal is that the objectivity of morality is found in human social relations, practices, and institutions. And these are not subjective, because social reality does not depend on what is believed about it. (Although it also cannot be separated from the realm of subjective belief, either.)

  52. [...] incidents of students shooting up their schools and killing their fellow human beings. The essay Darwin At Columbine is not a casual reading of the incident at Columbine and the recent incident of a student in [...]

  53. When people do it- the selecting- then it is a case of artificial selection.

    These murdering morons were even too stupid to realize that plain and simple fact.

  54. Reynolds Hall:

    and mynym:

    You have both asked me to read the Hector Avalos article.

    I don’t want to be unkind here, but his commentary is absolute nonsense. There can be little doubt that it was written in a desperate attempt to draw a moral equivalency between Darwinism and the Judeo/Christian tradition. Almost every line contains an egregious error and an easily refuted mischaracterization. Here is just one example:

    He writes “Christianity is actually founded on moral relativism that is even more chaotic than secular systems of ethics. Ephesians 2:15 tells us this about what Christ did to the Law of Moses: “by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace.” In fact, from a traditional Jewish viewpoint, Christianity is founded on systematically destroying God’s laws as revealed to Moses, and so speaking of a Judeo-Christian tradition is also akin to speaking of a Capitalist-Marxist tradition.[6a]”

    That paragraph may set a new record for ignorance and dishonesty. Frankly, I can’t imagine how any educated person could get through the thing without laughing out loud.

    Jesus Christ was very explicit in his intention “not to destroy the law but to perfect it.” His intention was to create a law of love between God and creature which would transcend the “legalism” in the Old Testament. That means if one loves sufficiently, he will not NEED rules because, through love, he will rule himself. That doesn’t mean he has been given a dispensation from the demands of Biblical morality. A Christian may not BYPASS the Ten Commandments in the name of spirituality. On the contrary, he must keep them, improve on them, and “become perfect, as his heavenly Father is perfect.” It is the total opposite of “moral relativism.” Much less does it have anything to do with the “Capitalist-Marxist” tradition.

    I am not going to write ten pages refuting every point the man makes, because he simply isn’t worth it. Suffice it to say he has no credibility whatsoever.

  55. Carl Sachs has stated quite succinctly the mainstream position in both philosophy and the natural sciences vis-a-vis the relationship between morality and natural science:

    “the objectivity of morality is found in human social relations, practices, and institutions. And these are not subjective, because social reality does not depend on what is believed about it.”

    Exactly. This means that one does not need a supernatural justification for morality, any more than one needs a natural one. Anyone acquainted with the basic literature in philosophical ethics would know that both deontological and teleological ethics can be fully justified without resort to a supernatural or natural “lawgiver.” This was the whole point to Kant’s “categorical imperative” and to John Rawl’s “original position.” Both allow both individuals and groups to formulate and fully justify comprehensive systems of ethics without resort to supernatural or natural authorities.

  56. Don’t forget the 50 million and counting babies killed in America after it became a secular state. At 1.5 million babies killed a year, it won’t be long before this will be the worst mass murder in history. Ultrasound has removed any doubt that the unborn are persons. These babies would have lived if society followed the morality of the church instead of the amoral secular politicians, judges, and media elite. The logic is irrefutable and obvious – no religion, no morality.
    Darwinists do not want to accept the facts, but that is nothing new. Just because they want an egotistical life without any obligation to anyone other than themselves doesn’t mean we should suppress the truth. And what hypocrites they are. How many times have we heard ID isn’t science by the people that fire scientists if they publish ID papers?

    Does anyone ever wonder way there are 20+ million illegal (permanent?) immigrants in America at this point in its history? Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the world.

  57. Carl wrote, “My proposal is that the objectivity of morality is found in human social relations, practices, and institutions. And these are not subjective, because social reality does not depend on what is believed about it. (Although it also cannot be separated from the realm of subjective belief, either.”

    Carl, it seems to me “a” (a kind of) morality, which could be extracted from social interactions, is different than “the” morality, which cannot. In other words, “a” morality is subjective and “the” morality is objective. I submit, then, that “subjective morality” has more to do with whether it is created or discovered and less to do with the problem of whether it is generated from the individual or the group.

    I contend further, that the law of the excluded middle applies here. Either morality is discovered or it is created; either we are conforming to a unchangeable code outside ourselves, or we are developing an arbitrary one for some reason other than morality, such as survival, power, convenience, or tradition. That would mean, of course, that we can’t make it up as we go along–no matter how sophisticated our rationale may be. Either we conform truth to desire, which is objective morality; or we conform desire to truth, which is moral relativism.

  58. “(2) The stability of morality. It is true that morality is not “stable” as I conceive of it — nor would I want it to be. Among my various commitments is a commitment to the idea of moral progress. We know things about morality that were unknown hundreds or thousands of years ago — for example, we now know that slavery is immoral. The writers of the Bible didn’t know this — although they were morally advanced for their time in that they did think there were limits on how slaves should be mistreated.
    ….
    Quick follow-up: it may seem that I’ve contradicted myself in saying that we can find out things about morality — that is, discover moral knowledge — while at the same time holding that there’s nothing outside of humanity to determine what’s moral.
    My proposal is that the objectivity of morality is found in human social relations, practices, and institutions. And these are not subjective, because social reality does not depend on what is believed about it. (Although it also cannot be separated from the realm of subjective belief, either.)”

    I’m sorry, but you are still contradicting yourself. If “the objectivity of morality is found in human social relations, practices, and institutions”, how can these things progress? If society is what objectifies morality, it cannot progress, since there is no goal, nor can it obtain new knowledge about what is moral, since ther is no moral knowledge outside of it. And, by the way, what makes you say that ending slavery was progress, rather than a step backwards?

  59. Allen MacNeil wrote, “Exactly. This means that one does not need a supernatural justification for morality, any more than one needs a natural one. Anyone acquainted with the basic literature in philosophical ethics would know that both deontological and teleological ethics can be fully justified without resort to a supernatural or natural “lawgiver.” This was the whole point to Kant’s “categorical imperative” and to John Rawl’s “original position.” Both allow both individuals and groups to formulate and fully justify comprehensive systems of ethics without resort to supernatural or natural”

    Of course, one does not need the resort to the supernatural or natural to justify morality. Societies can socially construct any code they choose, and that is precisely the problem. I will not bother to provide the obvious examples –about the many groups and societies who have “justified” the most outrageous behaviors with no tempering influence from the natural moral law. Putting that problem aside, and it is a big one, we must also take into account the inter-societal dynamic. What happens when society A socially constructs a morality that society B finds intolerable? By what standard do we arbitrate their differences? We can hardly appeal to an objective standard of justice, because we have already conceded that no such standard exists.

    Further, we must face the problem of societal integrity. By what standard do we grant rights and take them away from members inside each group? Since God will not be granting the rights, they will have to come from the state. What happens if person A decides that abortion is murder and person B decides it is nothing but an inconvenient medical procedure. By what standard do you establish a civil law that must finally accept one view and reject the other as the law of the land? Do you take a poll? Do you ask a university professor? What happens if the courts determine that some individuals are not fully human and therefore unworthy of freedom? What happens when society’s rulers decide that it is you that should be marginalized, persecuted, or even put to death? Will you then appeal to a objective moral law that supersedes the power of the state in order to save your own life?

  60. StephenB,

    “What happens when society’s rulers decide that it is you that should be marginalized, persecuted, or even put to death?”

    This is an interesting question that got me thinking. It seems to me that the answer to this question (as to all your questions) is it depends. There are, for example, many rulers in power today who are marginalizing, persecuting, and executing various groups of people, and I am not doing anything about most of them. In some cases I would take action: write a letter, engage in protest — even, in some instances, seek to fight or perhaps kill the ruler or his minions. And yet, I’m not doing anything about them right now. Do I appeal to absolute moral standards in making my decision? Again, it depends.

    Similarly, in some cases regarding morality I will appeal to an absolute standard. In other cases I may take a poll. For example, I don’t want to criminalize homosexual behavior in the United States, even though it violates Christian morality and even though it was illegal in most states only a few decades ago. I might appeal to absolute standards in talking with an individual about the practice, but I don’t use such standards in deciding whether homosexuality should be legal or illegal.

    My point is this: the answer to “what should we do about moral questions,” including even what to do about expressions of absolute evil, remains it depends just as much for the Christian as for the materialist. Everybody’s stuck in the same fallen world, with limited options and competing demands on our lives and consciences.

  61. I made a huge reversal error in the last sentence on #57. What I meant was this: Either we conform desire to truth, which is objective morality; or we conform truth to desire, which is moral relativism.

  62. Stephen, I’d like to introduce a distinction in my defense between “objective” and “absolute.” Something is objectively true (or false) if the truth (or falsity) is independent of what is believed to be the case. Something is absolutely true (or false) if the truth (or falsity) does not change with respect to historical or social context.

    It is, by now, somewhat easy for us to see scientific theories as objective but fallible. That is, scientific truths are objective — they are independent of what is believed about them — but not absolute — since they could turn out to be wrong when further evidence is revealed, more experiments conducted, etc.

    In the case of science, it has by now become second nature for us to see how something can be objectively true without being absolutely true. We no longer require certainty or necessity as criteria of scientific knowledge, and this is, in my view, a good thing.

    The core of my proposal — which is, I hasten to add, not at all original! — is that

    a) we should think of morality as being like science, i.e. objectively true but not absolutely true;

    b) thinking of morality in these terms is consistent with thinking that morality is, like science, an activity undertaken by human beings;

    c) a naturalistic and “Darwinian” understanding of human beings does not undermine the objectivity of science or of morality. (However, it may undermine the ‘absoluteness’ of science or of morality, if ‘absoluteness’ can only take a supernatural or non-natural form.)

    Owen Flanagan, a philosopher of mind and of moral psychology, writes in The Problem of the Soul: Two Visions of the Mind and How to Reconcile Them about “ethics as human ecology.” I find this very attractive, though I would want to modify this view to include a more explicitly historical orientation. (Flanagan has also just written The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World, which looks very interesting. Even those skeptical of the project might want to take a look at it — by considering what one of the best ‘on the other side’ has to say, you’ll be in a better position to say what’s unsatisfying or inadequate about it.)

  63. Allen –Anyone acquainted with the basic literature in philosophical ethics would know that both deontological and teleological ethics can be fully justified without resort to a supernatural or natural “lawgiver.”

    Define “fully justified”.

  64. From Amazon’s description of The Really Hard Problem,

    “Eudaimonics, systematic philosophical investigation that is continuous with science, is the naturalist’s response to those who say that science has robbed the world of the meaning that fantastical, wishful stories once provided.”

    Who, exactly, is saying that? Who has ever said that? No theist makes this argument – it’s a (usually) atheist charicature of what they think theists are ‘really’ saying when they object to atheist materialist (Mind you, not just materialist, not just atheist, but specifically atheist materialist) descriptions of reality.

    I mean, maybe this book is filled with brilliant ideas – maybe it has just a few, but are still worthwhile – but the summaries get it off to a bad start.

  65. Summaries are written by editors, not by authors, and are meant to sell books. I agree that it’s badly done.

    I’m happy to “sell” Flanagan on the strengths of those books of his I have read (Consciousness Reconsidered and parts of The Problem of the Soul). I’m not endorsing The Really Hard Problem, since I haven’t read it yet.

  66. getawitness @ 3

    why did Harris, Klebold, and Auvinen kill themselves, then?

    To avoid punishment in this life, of course. And because they had already created for themselves the only sort of immortality they had learned to value, i.e., fame/notoriety. Perhaps they thought of suicide as a win-win situation.

    Too bad for them that there is life, and judgement, after death.

    StephenB @ 55,

    if one loves sufficiently, he will not NEED rules because, through love, he will rule himself.

    Very well said! Thank you.

    Allen_MacNeill @ 56,

    I started to read one of John Rawl’s books but stopped about a quarter of the way through. His grammar and punctuation were so poor that I got tired of trying to figure out what he was talking about.

  67. All:

    Pardon A few footnotes:

    1] CS: we should think of morality as being like science, i.e. objectively true but not absolutely true

    H’mm, as in seeking to say of what is,t hat it is, and of what is not, that it is not, but sometimes falling short so being open to correction ands development?

    Taken in this sense, objectivity is not contradictory to there being a moral reality that our moral reasoning seeks to conform to. And such moral reality can in principle be described by a series of accurate statements that jut happen to state the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

    Our problem is to access such reliably as finite and fallible creatures.

    the further problem of evo mat views, is that they end in elf referential incoherence, on trying to account for mind and morality as a key function of mind. This was discussed at length in say the Aug 20 Darwin thread.

    2] Darwin, might makes right and eugenics-genocide-democide

    The above cites at 45 – 46 should suffice to show that the point that CD was the first Social Darwinist is well established, and that the links onwards s to the evolutionary materialism or at least Darwinism anchored tyrannies of C20 is not a myth.

    As the post in mod I made on the consequences thread will show once released, Rummel has totted up the resulting democide totals to 212 millions.

    3] thinking of morality in these terms is consistent with thinking that morality is, like science, an activity undertaken by human beings

    H’mm, but the natural sciences rest on the principle that there is a real physical world to be explored. So, this analogy implies that there is credibly a similar real moral world to be explored.

    but, as that may well have “unacceptable” implications — cf Koukl here at an introductory level — that is often resisted. But at the expense of self-contradiction.

    the challenge of reformation in the teeth of social consensus shows just how that happens, being a form of quarrel writ large and appealing to inherent value and fairness due to the respect for that value.

    4] a naturalistic and “Darwinian” understanding of human beings does not undermine the objectivity of science or of morality. (However, it may undermine the ‘absoluteness’ of science or of morality, if ‘absoluteness’ can only take a supernatural or non-natural form.)

    In short, if we try to redefine science as only dealing with evo-mat approved accounts of the world, if the world is not rooted in the materialist cascade of evolutions from hydrogen to humans, it will necessarily depart from being even possibly accurate to reality.

    A very big question is being begged.

    5] KJV cite out of context

    In 23, Prof MacNeill tries to invite inference to immoral equivalency by citing an OT statement out of Biblical and situational context. I suggest readers interested in looking at that context – pardon this Patrick et al — look here.

    6] EZ, 27: our God-less [US] constitution, & Mac Neil 30: the United States Constitution doesn’t mention “taking life” nor does it declare murder illegal, any more than it declares or establishes the United States of America as a “Christian nation.”

    Here it would be worthwhile to pause and look at the STRUCTURE of said Constitution as a Grand Statement-style legal document:

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty [a covenantal not a legal concept, cf the relevant calls to prayer and penitence of the founding Congress . . .] to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America . . . . [Main Body, Arts I - VII] . . . . Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven [cf here Rom 1:1 - 5 for what it means to be curently in the year of "our Lord" XXXX] and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth [cf here US DOI 1776, 2nd paragraph]. In Witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names. . . . . [AMENDMENTS].

    As can be shown, this structure firmly sets the US Constitution in the double-covenant, Judaeo- Christian framework of nationhood and government under God.

    Specifically, the US Constitution of 1787 — despite many hot denials and one-sided legal and historical revisionism to the contrary — as the 2nd covenant that seeks inter alia to secure the blessings of liberty from the God who as repeated declarations and calls to prayer of the Founding Continental Congress state across the entire revolutionary era, forgives sins that forfeit such blessings and restores such a state of prosperity and progress, through the merits of Jesus Christ. [Cf my summary notes here for an introduction.]

    GEM of TKI

  68. Allen — any more than it declares or establishes the United States of America as a “Christian nation.” (30)

    Allen, the U.S. Constitution declares Jesus to be Lord i.e. http://www.law.cornell.edu/con.....gners.html

  69. tribune7,

    I assume you’re referring to the phrase “in the year of our Lord.” But although it would be nice to think so, it strains credulity to believe that the signers of the Constitution, which was written quite deliberately without any mention of God, wanted to smuggle Jesus in through the conventions of the calendar. That would be undignified and un-Christian.

  70. that the signers of the Constitution, which was written quite deliberately without any mention of God,

    It looks like they screwed up at the end then, huh? :-)

    wanted to smuggle Jesus in through the conventions of the calendar.

    Smuggled in?? It seem rather bald and straightforward to me.

    As far as conventions of the calendar, the 1763 Treaty of Paris (ending the French and Indian Wars) dates itself “Done at Paris the tenth day of February, 1763.” See http://www.solon.org/Constitut....._1763.html

    The Magna Carta dates itself “the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign”. See: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall.....carta.html

    And five years after the signing, France tried to scrap the whole established system of dating events.

    There certainly was no requirement of convention that the phrase “Year of Our Lord” be used.

    But it was, hence it is infinitely more accurate to say that Our Constitution establishes us as a Christian nation by that simple phrase, than it is to claim the Consitution is a “godless” document.

  71. Actually, it seems it was convention. Jesus is not ever named in the Constitution, nor is the bible. Why, if it’s a christian document as you claim.

    http://candst.tripod.com/tnppage/arg10a.htm

    http://candst.tripod.com/tnppage/arg10.htm

  72. Getawitness, The Declaration of Independence doesn’t even use the phrase “Year of Our Lord”

  73. Reynold Hall — you say it was convention and cite a webpage from a group call “Separation of Church and State” as an authority, which makes its case with what rather little authority.

    I cited a foundational docutment of Anglo-American civilization is which the phrase is not used for dating; a contemporary document does not use the phrase as for setting its date.

    Further, I noted it does not appear in the Declaration of Independence.

    Jesus is not ever named in the Constitution,

    So who does “Our Lord” refer to in your opinion?

  74. tribune7,

    Actually, the 1763 Treaty of Paris does refer to “the year of Grace 1763.” It’s in the link you provided.

    As for the Magna Carta, that’s 1215, which may be too early. According to Wikipedia,

    “Though the Anno Domini dating system was devised in 525 it was not until the 8th century that the system began being adopted in Western Europe. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, even popes continued to date documents according to regnal years, and usage of AD only gradually became more common in Europe from the 11th to the 14th centuries. In 1422, Portugal became the last Western European country to adopt the Anno Domini system.”

    The fact is that “in the Year of our Lord” is a widely used convention. Obviously they’re not going to refer to “the year of our reign” — that’s a monarchial system of dating that is tied to specific regimes (something the Founders were kind of against, no?)

    I fail to see the signficance of the absence of the phrase in the DoI.

    As a Christian, I’m always perplexed at the idea that America was founded as a Christian nation. The Kingdom of Heaven is not of this world.

  75. Hi Trib

    The link you refer to in 74 is stronger than that, as a look at 68, point 6 will show.

    It also ties back into the point of this thread, on the moral implications of evolutionary materialism-anchored secularism, which BarryA shows — as an attorney concerned with the case — was a factor in the thinking and actions of the Columbine murderers.

    Note in particular, how the murderers specifically asked certain students on their faith at gun-point, and if they confessed to faith in Jesus, murdered them; as Borne points out and links in 16. This ties into the implications of the sort of rhetorical hostility to Bible-believing Christians that is — sadly — now increasingly common in your society and across the wider west, especially in the often heard slander that we are inevitably would-be tyrannical theocrats and a danger to liberty.

    For, unwarrantedly and ill-foundedly harsh, mind-poisoning rhetorical accusations and slanders have consequences, potentially deadly consequences when they — as is inevitable –get into the hands of those who are a little less restrained than most of us are.

    So, setting the record straight on the actual major historical contribution of practicing Christians and those strongly influenced by that faith to the rise of modern liberty is important.

    So is removing the question-begging redefinition of “Science” and of “Science Education” that tries to take science out of being an open-minded empirically anchored inquiry into the nature of reality, to being in effect the best evolutionary materialist account of the rise of the cosmos from hydrogen to humans. Such a closed-minded power game is not harmless, as in a great many minds, not being “scientific” is tantamount to being an irrational, potentially dangerous threat to the community.

    This blog as a whole is largely about the second of these issues, so we need not go into further details here. Likewise, there has been enough discussions on various threads since say the Aug 20 Darwin thread, for us to see why there is a serious issue that evolutionary materialism is a worldview that — on evidence and argument that need to be taken seriously — too often tends to undermine the impact of morality and moral restraint in the community. So this angle too doesn’t need much more underscoring.

    On the first point, though, let us specifically observe that the STRUCTURE of your Constitution is that of a Grand Statement-style legal document, and that statement begins in part by speaking of securing the blessings of liberty.

    An instance on what that means in the late C18 context in which your Constitution was written and ratified, let us cite here just one of many cases — the usage in the 1777 call to a national day of thanksgiving:

    It is . . . recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States, to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise; That with one Heart and one Voice the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favour, and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD, through the Merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole; to inspire our Commanders both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE; That it may please him to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People and the Labour of the Husbandman, that our Land may yet yield its Increase; To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand, and to prosper the Means of Religion for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom which consisteth “in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.”[i.e. Cites Rom 14:9]

    Of course, there are many more similar declarations across the whole US founding era. So, in that sort of historical context, securing the blessings of liberty in the year of OUR Lord 1787 [which also immediately identifies just who the Lord in question is] is clear enough, methinks.

    BarryA has done us all a favour to expose a link that was by and large suppressed in media coverage. We need to think about this, soberly and prudently.

    GEM of TKI

  76. Carl wrote, Stephen, I’d like to introduce a distinction in my defense between “objective” and “absolute.” Something is objectively true (or false) if the truth (or falsity) is independent of what is believed to be the case. Something is absolutely true (or false) if the truth (or falsity) does not change with respect to historical or social context.

    To Carl–

    we are in complete agreement with the DISTINCTION between “absolute morality” and objective morality, but, in my judgment, your DEFINITION of “objective” is compromises the meaning of the term.

    To everyone—

    I realize that many philosophers have used this “soft” approach to objectivity, but there is no way it can work. Here is what they are saying and why I strongly disagree with it. The argument goes something like this: “I am not “creating” my morality as I go along because I “discover” it in my community (institution, society, history, nation etc.), which is, itself, a ‘social reality.’ Thus my morality is not subjective, because it is, in a sense, derived from a source outside of my mental own framework. That means that I am not really making it up as I go along.”

    What is really happening, though, is this: The problem of “I am making it up” has been transferred to “we are making it up.” The subjectivity persists, because “we” are not really discovering anything’ we are only “creating” a morality by aggregating all the other individual moral creations into a synergistic whole. Besides, as I pointed on another post, the synergy doesn’t really happen. No two individuals will agree completely on even one aspect of morality, so someone must arbitrate those differences. But to successfully navigate through that arbitration, the arbitrator must call on some standard of justice that resides outside of all parties, including the arbitrator. Otherwise, the arbitrator or arbitrators (state, court, consultant) will simply be imposing his or their own personal prejudices on the proceedings. For a more detailed explanation, consult my post #60.

    So how does this tie in to Barry A’s post? In keeping with the “soft” definition, Hitler and his henchmen, in concert with a 20th century German zeitgeist, can socially construct a genocidal ethical system and call it objective morality. Hitler did, after all, transcend his own mental framework to draw upon the collective “wisdom” available from the social reality of which he was a part. And yes, Darwinism was a decisive factor in informing that social reality. It seems, then, that there is only one way out. We must dispense with the soft definition and call on an objective reality that transcends all parties.

    The answer isn’t at all that hard to find; it’s just hard to face. There is an objective moral standard to which we all will be held accountable and from which there is no escape. It is written in nature and on every human heart. America’s Founding Fathers called it the “natural moral law,” while Moses presented it as the Ten Commandments. For CS, Allen, and others, itpresents “epistemological difficulties;” for Jefferson and Co, it was a “self-evident truth.”

  77. Actually, the 1763 Treaty of Paris does refer to “the year of Grace 1763.”

    That would be the signature of the French king, not the effective date of the document, which neither uses A.D. nor Year of Our Lord.

    Further, note that the signarture of the British king does not use that phrase, and, I think, neither does the Spanish king as I understand that Buen Retiro is a place name, but I’m willing to stand corrected.

    The fact is that “in the Year of our Lord” is a widely used convention.

    And I’m not disputing that. I’m merely pointing out that it is not a required one. It could have been omitted without controversy — (i.e. see the DOI).

    Obviously they’re not going to refer to “the year of our reign”

    If they were going to keep British convention they would have said in “year of our Republic” or “the year of Independence”.

    As a Christian, I’m always perplexed at the idea that America was founded as a Christian nation.

    As a Christian, I’m always perplexed that some find that values and cultures don’t matter. America was a nation founded on Christian values, more so than any other in the world, and it prospered greatly.

    As Jefferson said with regard to the teachings of Jesus, “There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man. ”

    Ben Franklin said one of his goals was to imitate Jesus (and Socrates).

    Further, Christian values have subtleties one might not consider at first blush. The separation of church and state is based on “Render on Ceasar”.

    And do you really want to live in a place where the laws don’t account for mercy as well as necessary order?

    And do you really want those in authority not to be told they are sinners just like the rest of us?

    If so, cultural and educational reinforcement are necessary for this to happen, and even then don’t expect perfection.

    And if not I don’t want to live in the land you envision.

    Regardless, “Year of Our Lord” appears in the Constitution and specifically refers to Jesus.

  78. Tribune7,

    “As a Christian, I’m always perplexed that some find that values and cultures don’t matter.”

    To whom are you referring? I’ve never said anything of the sort, and you’re making a lot of judgments about me. Meanwhile, you’re hanging an enormous weight on a terribly thin peg (“Year of our Lord”) that is obviously a widely used convention at the time, and that is appended to a document that deliberately did not mention God directly anywhere.

    I’m glad, however, that you seem to accept that the Magna Carta example is not to the point

    Kairosfocus,

    I always enjoy reading your posts. There’s a lot to consider there. I have a small question of fact about Columbine: I’ve heard that there’s considerable question about whether Cassie Bernall was targeted as a Christian, or whether she was asked anything about believing in God. I thought that another girl, Valeen Schnurr, who survived the massacre, was the one asked that question. But maybe the Borne is the person to ask about that.

  79. KF— great ponts, as always.

    (and that should have been Render unto Caesar)

  80. getawitness: Tribune 7: Reynolds Hall:

    The United States was founded under the auspices of a Creator God, and was not conceived as a secular nation. Only the Judeo/Christian ethic contains the necessary theology to harmonize God’s revelation with the Declaration of Independence. If we are to be “endowed by Our Creator with certain inalienable rights,” then two conditions are necessary:

    1) GOD’S TRANSCENENCE

    God as creator is the final moral authority on all matters of civil law and therefore his authority supersedes that of the state. That means that God grants basic rights (not imaginary rights) and the state is in the business of making sure that it stays that way. (Obviously, our government has betrayed us in this respect) Any right the state could grant, the state could take away. Unfortunately, that is what is happening today. The only way a right can truly be inalienable and natural is because God confers it.

    2) GOD’S IMMANENCE

    We are all made in the “image and likness of God” and therefore deserve to be free. Inasmuch as we possess a “God-like conscience,” we are capable of knowing the natural moral law and acting on it. That means that we can govern ourselves without the need of rulers, tyrants, or kings. We are, however, obliged to acknowledge our capacity for self-government as a function of our “inherent dignity as human beings.” (Obviously, we have betrayed ourselves in this respect).

    Thus the natural moral law which reflects both God’s TRANSCENDENCE and God’s IMMANENCE “informs” but does not “dictate” the codes and standards for the civil law. There is no “Biblical law” (as in a parallel to Islamic Sharia law) but only Biblical principles which can serve to guide us, and they work only insofar as we honor them.

    Judeo/Christitianity is the only belief system that recognizes both 1) The authority of God and 2) the dignity of the human person.

    All other world views fall short.

    Islam recognizes the authority of God, but it rejects the dignity of the human person.

    Eastern religions recognize the dignity of the human person but they reject the authority of God.

    Atheism/Darwinism rejects both the authority of God and the dignity of the human person.

    That is why we will all eventually lose our freedoms if we continue to allow atheists and Muslims to dilute our cultural heritage.

  81. I’m always perplexed that some find that values and cultures don’t matter . . .”I’ve never said anything of the sort,

    I’ll let you clarify — upon whose teachings were the cultural norms and values of the United States, based at the time of its founding?

    and that is appended to a document

    It is not “appended” but, rather, part of the document.

    that deliberately did not mention God directly anywhere.

    Deliberately? You think they put that “Year of Our Lord” thing in by accident, do you?

    I’m glad, however, that you seem to accept that the Magna Carta example is not to the point

    ??? I think you missed the point.

  82. StephanB — There is no “Biblical law” (as in a parallel to Islamic Sharia law) but only Biblical principles which can serve to guide us, and they work only insofar as we honor them.

    That’s a very interesting observation. I guess one can claim that the Pentateuch as a Biblical law, but when added to the rest of the OT — in which numerous ceremonial transgressions are forgiven by the Almighty while more intrinsic sins are not– even that becomes apparent that the spirit counts for more than the letter.

  83. tribune7,

    “I’ll let you clarify — upon whose teachings were the cultural norms and values of the United States, based at the time of its founding?”

    Depends what you mean by “founding” (the Declaration is one time, the Constitution is another). But first I’d say that any group’s cultural norms and values are based on a lot of things of which “teachings” are almost always a distinct minority. So, briefly, American cultural norms and values at the end of the eighteenth century are a mix of (among other ingredients) Christian belief (variously interpreted and practiced) both Protestant and Catholic, longstanding English cultural traditions, Enlightenment philosophy, the writings of John Locke, mercantilism emerging into capitalism, institutionalized racism and the slave trade, post-Renaissance individualism, institutionalized misogyny, fear of the natives, a misplaced sense of entitlement, etc., etc. Lots of good and lots of bad, like any set of cultural values in this World.

  84. Tribune 7:—”That’s a very interesting observation. I guess one can claim that the Pentateuch as a Biblical law, but when added to the rest of the OT — in which numerous ceremonial transgressions are forgiven by the Almighty while more intrinsic sins are not– even that becomes apparent that the spirit counts for more than the letter.”

    Yes, I like your instincts here about the spirit and the letter of the law.

    In one respect, we can say, “yes there is a ‘law’ to the extent that we must take seriously the mandates that apply to personal salvation. On the other hand, there is no “prescription” for establishing a hierarchy of civil mandates than cannot ever be changed.

    The natural moral law never changes, but the civil law must always be changing. Thus, we can successfully manage the chaos of an ever-changing law only from the non-chaotic vantage point of the never-changing moral law. Alas, our leaders still do not get this.

  85. tribune7,

    The use of “the Year of our Lord” is not accidental but trivial. Here’s an example: my great-grandfather was an atheist, but he used to send printed Christmas cards to all his relatives every year. I inherited some. They never actually mentioned Christmas but “the Holidays” (back in the 1930s, he was the kind of person Henry Ford used to complain about as waging a “war on Christmas.”) But they did refer to “1933 AD” and so forth (AD for Anno Domini, “Year of our Lord”). Much as I might wish my great-grandfather was a Christian, he wasn’t. I can’t do anything about that. His use of AD was a convention. The use of “Year of Our Lord” in legal language of the 18th century is routine (though not required.) It is also a convention.

    We seem to have left the original subject of this post, but I’m not too sad about that, as I still think it was an abuse of tragedy to score debate points.

  86. Depends what you mean by “founding” (the Declaration is one time, the Constitution is another).

    An 11-year difference.

    But first I’d say that any group’s cultural norms and values are based on a lot of things of which “teachings” are almost always a distinct minority.

    And you would be wrong. “Teachings” guide culture and values not vice-versa.

    But they did refer to “1933 AD” and so forth (AD for Anno Domini, “Year of our Lord”).

    Did your grandfather print the cards himself?

  87. tribune7,

    “‘Teachings’ guide culture and values not vice-versa.”

    There we differ; though I don’t think culture and values entirely determine ‘teachings,’ I don’t think our values and cultures are a result of teachings either.

    “Did your grandfather print the cards himself?”

    Great-grandfather, and yes. They were all custom-designed cards: he wrote the text and his wife (who was an artist, my step-great-grandmother after his first wife died) created the pen-and-ink illustrations.

  88. I don’t think our values and cultures are a result of teachings either.

    Once upon a time ministral shows were common here. White guys would put on blackface and act like fools. Amos and Andy — which was based on the same concept — was the most popular radio show, and a popular TV show. It was an intrinsic part of our culture.

    That sort of thing would not be accepted today. Why? Because it was taught that it was insulting and demeaning. Teaching changes, and always trumps, culture.

    Great-grandfather, and yes. They were all custom-designed cards: he wrote the text and his wife (who was an artist, my step-great-grandmother after his first wife died)

    And your step-great-grandmother was an atheist too, right?

  89. tribune7,

    “Teaching changes, and always trumps, culture.”

    There’s a mutual reinforcement, but I think ideology is mainly acquired without conscious teaching.

    “And your step-great-grandmother was an atheist too, right?”

    I think so, but she was pretty quiet. He was a virulent atheist, however, to the point that he refused to attend his son’s wedding if it was in a church (his fiancee, my grandmother, was a nominal Methodist). They were married in a courthouse.

    If you think that “A.D.” was my step-great- grandmother’s coded Christian insertion, that’s even weirder than transforming the Constitution into a Christian document because it uses a common convention of dating.

  90. There’s a mutual reinforcement, but I think ideology is mainly acquired without conscious teaching.

    And I disagree completely.

    If you think that “A.D.” was my step-great- grandmother’s coded Christian insertion,

    I have no idea. OTOH, if your great grandfather was such a virulent atheist I would not dismiss the use of the letters as trivial — assuming he knew what they meant.

    that’s even weirder than transforming the Constitution into a Christian document because it uses a common convention of dating.

    It is far weirder to say that it is a “godless” document or “does not mention Jesus” when the phrase is in there for all to see.

  91. Janice:

    Thank you for your kind words.

  92. GAW:

    I see your: transforming the Constitution into a Christian document because it uses a common convention of dating

    Kindly examine the gross structure of the document, as I excerpted and discussed in no 68, point 6. Then also, see the onward context in the various actions of the founding Continental Congress, which was a continuing context for all the documents from circa 1774/5 to about 1787-9.

    In no 76, I cited one example of those actions, which clearly shows why the Constitution uses “OUR Lord” in dating itself, in a context where the Constitution seeks from its outset to secure “the BLESSINGS of liberty” to the US, and to pursue justice [cf here Rom 13:1 - 10 onhow Ceasar is God's servant to do us good especially by promoting justice, i.e. that is the line between him and God in the classic quote on rendering -- indeed, taxing power (the root of the loaded question Jesus was answering) is predicated on the duty of pursuing this task, in Rom 13].

    As I have repeatedly noted and have linked and discussed, blessings is a covenantal term, tying back to the Biblically anchored, Reformation understanding of the dual covenant of nationhood and government under God. Cf the recent Library of Congress exhibition for much more.

    It is worth excerpting their summary remark on introducing an extensive collection of relevant documents:

    The Continental- Confederation Congress, a legislative body that governed the United States from 1774 to 1789, contained an extraordinary number of deeply religious men . . . both the legislators and the public considered it appropriate for the national government to promote a nondenominational, nonpolemical Christianity . . . . Congress was guided by “covenant theology,” a Reformation doctrine especially dear to New England Puritans, which held that God bound himself in an agreement with a nation and its people . . . The first national government of the United States, was convinced that the “public prosperity” of a society depended on the vitality of its religion. Nothing less than a “spirit of universal reformation among all ranks and degrees of our citizens,” Congress declared to the American people, would “make us a holy, that so we may be a happy people.”

    To see why this is an objectively based, accurate summary, kindly follow up the link and the onward links to many original documents across the entire founding era; many of them available as facsimilies.

    Any interpretation of the US Constitution and DOI which does not comport well with what is EXPLICITLY and REPEATEDLY stressed in the cumulative set of these and related documents, is plainly without objective foundation — though it is evidently increasingly the consensus view of today’s highly ideologised, secularist- influenced intelligentsia. Maybe, the time has come to demand to know why such evidence is plainly systematically excluded from the textbooks.

    In short, Perry Miller was plainly right in Nature’s Nation, p. 110, when he said:

    Actually, European deism was an exotic plant in America, which never struck roots in the soil. ‘Rationalism’ was never so widespread as liberal historians, or those fascinated by Jefferson, have imagined. The basic fact is that the Revolution had been preached to the masses as a religious revival, and had the astounding fortune to succeed.

    What he needed to add, methinks, is that CONGRESS, through official proclamations, was doing a lot of that preaching and calling to penitence as a basis for revival and blessing through “the merits of Jesus Christ,” including those of independence, victory and prosperous, virtuous peace.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: I think you may find it helpful to glance at this.

  93. StephenB, you wrote:

    That is why we will all eventually lose our freedoms if we continue to allow atheists and Muslims to dilute our cultural heritage.

    Could you expand on this? All the interpretations I come up with are profoundly disturbing.

    kairosfocus,

    Thanks for your comment. I agree with you on a lot of that history, but I’m not sure that it is salient to my point. Let me give you an example. When he became the first President, George Washington was required by Congress to report to Congress on the state of the union, a new form (as the government itself was a new form). Did he invent a new way of doing that? Yes and No. The State of the Union was in a sense a new kind of speech, but President Washington fell back on the monarchical form known as the “King’s Speech” to Parliment, and Congress responded in a form that looked a lot like the “echoing speech” traditionally given by Parliment back to the King. A person could look at that history — as well as a lot of the other trappings of monarchical tradition — and say, well, looks like deep down the American government is just like a Parliment/King system. But it wasn’t. That’s what I think you’re doing with the traditions that informed the (secular) governmental structure of the U.S.

    Of course the founders drew language, understanding, and ideas from their Christianity. I’ve never said they didn’t! But the structure of government is secular, and resolutely so.

    Reference on the “king’s speech” issue: K.M. Jamieson, “Antecedent Genre as Rhetorical Constraint.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 61 (1975): 406-15.

  94. Correction: for “required by Congress,” read “required by the Constitution.” Sorry.

  95. Getawitness — But the structure of government is secular, and resolutely so.

    I don’t think anybody disagrees with you albeit that secularism was guided by Christian thinking and no way was it in opposition to it.

    The problem is that it persons have acquired power to interpret our structure of government as one in which the belief in God, and Christianity, should be opposed.

    If one of Dawkins books should be taught in one of our high schools, no court in the country would ordered it removed.

    That wouldn’t be true of Dembski’s works.

    And obviously that applies to the Bible — the book that has most influenced our culture — as well.

  96. tribune7,

    The Bible is taught in public schools. There’s even a curriculum.

    I honestly don’t see how my belief in God is being opposed by our secular government. Your speculation about Dembski and Dawkins is just a great big “what if”?

  97. I honestly don’t see how my belief in God is being opposed by our secular government.

    What action does your belief in God compell you to do?

  98. Pray, go to church, give, etc. Same as most Christians in America. If you’re trying to question my faith, why don’t you tell me some way that the government is oppressing your beliefs?

    Of course, some actions prompted by my beliefs would be opposed by the government. For example, I am too old to be in the army but would have refused to serve when I was younger. When I signed my Selective Service pre-registration, I got all my C.O. paperwork in place, just in case. If In the event of the draft’s returning, the government could have recognized me as a C.O. or jailed me. In a sense that would have been an oppression of my Christian practice. But that kind of persecution is precisely what Jesus told his followers to expect. Why would we expect anything else?

  99. from getawitness:

    StephenB, you wrote: That is why we will all eventually lose our freedoms if we continue to allow atheists and Muslims to dilute our cultural heritage.

    ——”Could you expand on this? All the interpretations I come up with are profoundly disturbing.”

    What are you disturbed about–the loss of freedom or my “insensitive” remark?

    Both secularists and Islamists have their own agenda, and neither is compatible with the concept of natural rights as found in Declaration of Independence. Neither likes the idea that our rights come from God. Both would prefer to disestablish the founding father’s formula for liberty which rests on two principles: 1 the authority of God and 2 the dignity of the human person.

    Since atheists renounce the authority of God and Islamists renounce the dignity of the human person, each has an interest in undermining Christianity, which upholds both. That means that, for the moment, they are on the same side. That will change, of course, if either manages to establish hegemonic control of the culture.

    Naturally, not all atheists and Muslims share this militant attitude. Many, in fact, just want to be left alone. But the fact remains that there is a culture war going on and the combatants and the battle lines are very well established. Part of the secularist agenda is to convince the gullible that there is no conflict at all.
    The sad truth is, our own government has become complicit in advancing this anti-freedom, anti-Christian agenda. Even now, congress is seeking to establish “hate crime” laws which would silence Christians from public utterances about Biblical moral principles. The very same people who uprooted one-hundred year old displays of the Ten Commandments are now installing foot baths for Muslims in airports.

  100. Same as most Christians in America

    Actually, a lot of Christians feel it is appropriate to, well, witness.

    And to speak out against wrongs.

    For instance if someone or something — maybe even a school — is telling children promiscuity is normal and acceptible (we are nothing but mammals afterall) there is an obligation to contest that.

    Or if something — maybe even a school — is saying homosexuality is just fine, there is an obligation to contest that.

    Or if something — say a public funded TV network — is saying the Bible is just a book of myths, there is an obligation to contest that.

    Of if something — say a legislature — appropriates tax money for Planned Parenthood to promote abortions (and promiscuity), there is an obligation to contest that.

    Or if a school or college should teach their charges that anyone who thinks all can’t be explained by random, material events is not reasonable, there is an obligation to contest that.

  101. Getawitness –Your speculation about Dembski and Dawkins is just a great big “what if”?

    Name me one book defending atheism (or neo-paganism) that has been declared unconstitutional for reading w/o commentary in a public school.

    Name me one book defending the existence of God that has not.

  102. Reynold Hall:
    Pointing anyone here to anything Hector Avalos, the most inane drone of all the inane drone atheist dupes around, is not going to score you any points.

    The man is a lame reasoner, self-contradicting and he always loses debates with W.L. Craig.
    Not to mention that his whole turn to atheism was based personal trauma in regards to the manipulations and sufferings he lived as a child preacher.
    He’s thus now on the war-path against all religion and hypocritically makes his living as a prof. of religion! Now THAT is a travesty.

    Talk about psycho-emotional reasons for denying the evidence of the existence of a designer!!

  103. —Getawitness — But the structure of government is secular, and resolutely so.

    Western jurisprudence is grounded in the Christian concept of the “atonement.” “Consent of the governed” is an idea that came from the book of Judges in the Old Testament, where the Israelites did indeed, choose their own judges. The idea that we are “Endowed by Our Creator with certain inalieable rights” follows from the theological belief that we are “made in the image and likeness of God.”

    Is that what you mean by secular?

  104. Maybe I shouldn’t take anything for granted. The words, “We are endowed by Our Creator with certain inalieanable rights (which I mistyped as inalieable) does indeed come from the Declaration of Independence. I don’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence here. Quite the contrary. I am outraged on behalf of those who were cheated out of a decent education by secularists who rewrite history to serve their own ends.

  105. Reynold Hall:
    “As for the supposed hateful remarks at Pandas Thumb and Pharyngula, are any of them even close to Ann Coulter’s”

    1. What does Ann Coulter have to do with this?
    2. I highly doubt any of her so-called “co-religionists” actually do laugh at such an idea. Or in fact the same idea applied to any other lame-brained atheist who, like Dawkins, is a proselytizing TV evangelist type with no more logic than a turd and a ton of ulterior motives.
    3. I suspect that, as usual, she was making one of her extremely vicious ‘jokes’
    4. You want worse than Coulter? Why do suppose there is a worse or a better in the first place?
    Atheism has no grounds for objective moral values at all.

    “No ultimate foundations for ethics exist, no ultimate meaning in life exists, and free will is merely a human myth. These are all conclusions to which Darwin came quite clearly….
    There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either. What an unintelligible idea.” William B. Provine – From a debate between him and Phillip E. Johnson, Stanford University, 1994

    When you finally figure out that atheism, admittedly having no ultimate foundations for ethics, can have no real foundation for any ethics at all then come back and lecture us on Ann Coulter’s morals.

  106. So many comments.

    StephenB [100], “What are you disturbed about–the loss of freedom or my “insensitive” remark?”

    I don’t know how you would fight “allow[ing] atheists and Muslims to dilute our cultural heritage.” Legislatively? Would you treat atheists and Muslims differently in law?

    “Even now, congress is seeking to establish “hate crime” laws which would silence Christians from public utterances about Biblical moral principles.”

    I’m against all criminalization of speech. As I understand hate crime laws, however, they simply add to an already defined crime; they don’t criminalize speech as such. Feel free to correct me by citing the legislation under consideration.

    Tribune7 [101], I’m all for free speech, so we agree there (though it seems you doubt my faith if I don’t agree with you on some specifics of morality or science). I’ll say there is not an absolute argument to contest the wrongs you mention all the time, or else you would be doing that right now instead of reading this! But anyway, I’ll agree that there have been times when a school has gone overboard: it’s as wrong for a school authority to say homosexuality is “just fine” (when has that happened?) is it is for a school authority to say homosexuality is “wrong” (that seems to happen a lot).

    tribune7 [102], you write

    Name me one book defending atheism (or neo-paganism) that has been declared unconstitutional for reading w/o commentary in a public school.

    Name me one book defending the existence of God that has not.

    What an odd request! I can’t think of a situation where a book defending atheism has been read without commentary in a public school. Are teachers reading Dawkins or Hitchens to their classes?

    StephenB [104], the historical roots of our jurisprudence don’t make our government “Christian” any more than the historical roots of December 25 make the celebration of Christmas “Roman.” The DoI does indeed refer to “unalienable” rights (not “inalienable”) given by our Creator. Reference to the Creator is helpful, rhetorically speaking, because it leapfrogs over the authority of the King. The particular phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is of course a variation on a phrase of John Locke — who was a Christian like every other philosopher in England of the time but whose own philosophy is hardly an expression of Christianity.

  107. it’s as wrong for a school authority to say homosexuality is “just fine” (when has that happened?) is it is for a school authority to say homosexuality is “wrong” (that seems to happen a lot).

    Huh? Why? Homosexuality is behavior that is wrong. Why would it be controversial to say such?

    And one example w/re to public schools giving a stamp of approval: http://www.gsanetwork.org/resources/start.html

    I can’t think of a situation where a book defending atheism has been read without commentary in a public school.

    The loudest controversies involving anti-Christian morality being taught as acceptible were Heather has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate.

    Neither has been found to be unconstitutional although parents have managed to force them out at times via their school boards.

    Are teachers reading Dawkins or Hitchens to their classes?

    How do you know they are not? We can be confident they would not be unconstitutional, which is the point.

    And, of course, Freud and Marx have been taught in our schools without it becoming an issue for federal courts.

  108. tribune7, you must be kidding.

    “Huh? Why? Homosexuality is behavior that is wrong. Why would it be controversial to say such?”

    Any individual may say it. I can say it, you can say it. Good for us! What should not happen is for a public school to declare it so, since it is not illegal (in America, anyway). Nor should a school declare it moral. School systems should be neutral on such questions in a pluralistic society.

    “The loudest controversies involving anti-Christian morality being taught as acceptible were Heather has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate.”

    First, those books do not promote atheism, so it’s irrelevant to my question. Second, in the cases I have heard of, those books were not “read without commentary in the classroom.” They were opposed because they were available in school libraries.

    “How do you know they are not? We can be confident they would not be unconstitutional, which is the point.”

    We can be confident of no such thing. In fact, I would say that if teacher read The God Delusion to a class without commentary or (worse) with approval, that teacher would be fired and sued. And rightly so. Still, at the moment the case you pose remains utterly hypothetical. As to Freud and Marx, neither is taught or read by teachers “without commentary” in the public schools.

    Next time you respond to my questions, try not to shift the goalposts or create imagined scenarios.

  109. tribune7, one more point: your link to the GSA network is also irrelevant since that is not a public school or public organization. It can organize in public schools, yes, just like Bible clubs can do.

  110. School systems should be neutral on such questions in a pluralistic society.

    That would really depend on whether some absolute moral code exist. If one does then every institution should be captured to that code, don’t you agree.

    Should a public school be neutral with regard to racism? Intolerance?

    They were opposed because they were available in school libraries.

    Nope. The most well-known controversy involved “The Children of the Rainbow, aimed in part at teaching grade-school children “positive aspects,” as the curriculum put it, of homosexual family life” http://findarticles.com/p/arti.....i_13366243

    In fact, I would say that if teacher read The God Delusion to a class without commentary or (worse) with approval, that teacher would be fired and sued.

    I would say that is wishful thinking. What book promoting atheism has ever been ruled unconstitutional to teach/read etc. in a public school.

  111. tribune7,

    “If [an absolute moral code exists] does then every institution should be captured to that code, don’t you agree.”

    Not unless we can agree on what that absolute moral code is.

    “Should a public school be neutral with regard to racism? Intolerance?”

    See above: there is broad social agreement that racism is wrong. There is not broad social agreement that homosexuality is wrong.

    “The Children of the Rainbow” is a case from 14 years ago in which the right side won. So, hardly an example of widespread oppression. Meanwhile, despite what you say, the prime fight over books like Heather Has Two Mommies remains whether they should be in the library at all. The American Library Assocation lists it as the 11th most challenged book in the decade from 1990-2000.
    “What book promoting atheism has ever been ruled unconstitutional to teach/read etc. in a public school.”

    Until you come up with an example of this actually happening, this remains unworthy of response.

  112. See above: there is broad social agreement that racism is wrong.

    So according to your belief system “right and wrong” is a matter of “social agreement”?

    Meanwhile, despite what you say, the prime fight over books like Heather Has Two Mommies remains whether they should be in the library at all.

    So you agree that homosexuality should not be presented in a positive fashion by our public institutions?

    “What book promoting atheism has ever been ruled unconstitutional to teach/read etc. in a public school.” . . . Until you come up with an example of this actually happening, this remains unworthy of response.

    IOW, you don’t know of any.

  113. tribune7,

    “So according to your belief system “right and wrong” is a matter of “social agreement”?”

    Not according to my belief system. But in terms of law, on issues where reasonable people disagree, yeah. That’s what the social contract is all about in a diverse society.

    “So you agree that homosexuality should not be presented in a positive fashion by our public institutions?”

    I think institutions should respect the broad range of views on the subject. Public institutions should not condemn a person for saying homosexual behavior is a sin, but neither should they condemn someone for having a different view or for being gay. But when did this become a disquisition on how I would design a school system?

  114. StephenB [100], “What are you disturbed about–the loss of freedom or my “insensitive” remark?”

    Responding you wrote, “I don’t know how you would fight “allow[ing] atheists and Muslims to dilute our cultural heritage.” Legislatively? Would you treat atheists and Muslims differently in law?”

    If you could answer the first question without changing the subject, I could go on to the second.

  115. StephenB,
    Sorry if I wasn’t clear. As a Christian, I’m disturbed about the probable loss of freedom for non-Christians your insensitive remark seems to entail.

  116. Not according to my belief system. But in terms of law,

    It’s not illegal (yet) for a school to teach homosexuality is wrong. And if it was shouldn’t you try to change it, maybe even civilly disobey it, out of love of neighbor.

    And on the other thread did you pick up were BarryA was describing how a particular teacher was agressively teaching Nietzsche, a noted atheist?

    Nobody is saying it was unconstitutional.

  117. ——getawitness wrote ], the historical roots of our jurisprudence don’t make our government “Christian” any more than the historical roots of December 25 make the celebration of Christmas “Roman.” The DoI does indeed refer to “unalienable” rights (not “inalienable”) given by our Creator. Reference to the Creator is helpful, rhetorically speaking, because it leapfrogs over the authority of the King. The particular phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is of course a variation on a phrase of John Locke — who was a Christian like every other philosopher in England of the time but whose own philosophy is hardly an expression of Christianity.”

    No, I’m sorry, that is simply not the case. The reference to a Creator God has a very specific purpose. It dramatizes the fact that our rights come from God and not from the state. Anything the state can give it can take away. You keep looking for reasons to deny the obvious.

    The term Christian nation is meaningless; I don’t know why you keep using it. We certainly do not want a theocracy but neither to we want a Godless government either. Why does everyone always have to approach this matter from an extremist vantage point. The founding fathers wanted neither a union of church and state nor a RADICAL separation.

    Tell me this, are you aware that, at the time in question, most of the states had “established religions?” The purpose of the establishment clause was to get the federal government out of the business of intruding in state business, including the business of whatever the state wanted to do with religion.

  118. If BarryA really thinks that teacher has blood on his hands, he must have some evidence. He can sue without even raising the constitutional question (tort law and constitutional law being different subjects).

  119. —-getawitness wrote, StephenB,
    Sorry if I wasn’t clear. As a Christian, I’m disturbed about the probable loss of freedom for non-Christians your insensitive remark seems to entail.

    Fair enough.

  120. StephenB, I’m aware that many states had state churches. Countries develop unevenly: the DoI declares all men equal yet chattel slavery persisted almost a century longer and institutionalized racism for another century after that.

    As for state churches, I’m very glad individual states no longer have them. Why, are you hoping they’ll come back?

  121. Getawitness –He can sue without even raising the constitutional question (tort law and constitutional law being different subjects).

    Of which you appear to have equal understanding.

  122. tribune7, that responds to my point, uh, how? I’ll tell you what I don’t understand: your red herrings, pointless hypotheticals, and shifting goalposts.

  123. I’ll tell you what I don’t understand: your red herrings, pointless hypotheticals, and shifting goalposts.

    There are no red herrings, pointless hypotheticals or shifting goalposts.

    You say Heather Has Two Mommies is only found in libraries forgetting that there was a famous attempt to make it part of a curriculum (never found to be unconstitutional, btw)

    You refuse to say which atheist books have been found to be unconstitutional and insist that atheism can’t be taught constitutionally in public schools. When BarryA reveals first-hand knowledge that it was, you — um move the goalposts — and ask why he doesn’t sue completely ignoring the matter of standing.

    You say (112) that we Christians should not insist on our institutions following an absolute moral code “unless we can agree on what that (that) absolute moral code is” i.e. that we can only insist on teaching that homosexuality is wrong if there broad social agreement to do so, ignoring that it is minorities — often mocked — insisting upon adherance to the truth that causes social agreement to come about.

    You take offense when none is meant, then judge others rather harshly.

    There is a lot you don’t seem to understand.

  124. tribune7,

    Good gracious.

    “You say Heather Has Two Mommies is only found in libraries forgetting that there was a famous attempt to make it part of a curriculum (never found to be unconstitutional, btw)”

    No, I very specifically said that in cases I had heard of, it was an issue of libraries. I also pointed out that the book was in any event entirely irrelevant to your point about atheist books, since it’s not an atheist book (a rebuttal you ignored). I also pointed out that the one case you mentioned was over a decade old and that that book is routinely challenged in libraries: my point, which stands, it that is the removal of the book from libraries, or censorship, that is the primary focus of controversy, and not the alleged indoctrination (again, all this being irrelevant because the book has nothing to do with atheism.)

    “When BarryA reveals first-hand knowledge that it was” etc.

    His “first-hand knowledge” is apparently not worth his doing anything about except for maligning a teacher who may still be teaching. One person’s anecdote does not make a case.

    “You refuse to say which atheist books have been found to be unconstitutional”

    Are you kidding? It’s a pointless demand. No books have been found unconstitutional, besides certain kinds of pornography.

    “You say (112) that we Christians should not insist on our institutions following an absolute moral code”

    They’re not “our” institutions, or not ours only. There are competing values at work: tolerance (which you laid claim to a while back) being one of them. Am I going to insist that schools teach my views on sexuality? No way. Am I going to insist that they don’t teach against them? You bet.

  125. No books have been found unconstitutional, besides certain kinds of pornography.

    Moving the goalposts again? We are discussing what may be constitutionally read/taught in schools.

    Am I going to insist that schools teach my views on sexuality? No way.

    Why not if you are right? And if you are not right why don’t you change?

  126. getawitness wrote, “As for state churches, I’m very glad individual states no longer have them. Why, are you hoping they’ll come back?”

    No. I am refuting your politically correct notions of history which, if I am reading you right, will remain with you in spite of any evidence to the contrary. Have you forgotten how we arrived at this point? I didn’t raise the issue about established churches because I want them to come back, I was showing that Christianity was the dominaning principle for government and civil law. For some reason, you keep wanting to deny it. Your last question relates more to your perception of my motives than any rational response to the points being made.

  127. “We are discussing what may be constitutionally read/taught in schools.”

    Sigh. First, “read” and “taught” are two things. I’ve already pointed out that the Bible can be both read and taught. Second, your request still does not make sense.

    “Why not [insist that schools teach my views on sexuality] if you are right?”

    Because we live in a pluralist society, and reasonable people differ on such issues.

    And I’m the intolerant one?

  128. StephenB,

    I’ve said that the government is and should be secular. Not the nation. No establishment of religion, no faith test for office. I’ve also agreed that Christianity played an important role (though there were plenty of other influences, and I don’t see what’s at stake by insisting it was “dominant”) in the early history of the government (though we apparently differ on the extent). Do we disagree here? Not unless you are claiming that the form of government was Christian (as I believe others here have claimed) or that government should favor religion over non-religion or Christianity in particular.

  129. StephenB,

    Sorry — the equivocation between nation and state was BarryA’s [47], not yours. Apologies.

  130. Sorry again: 47 in the other thread: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-147649

  131. I’ve already pointed out that the Bible can be both read and taught.

    Aggressively as Nietshze was at Columbine? Teaching Nietshze’s atheism as truth is constitutional. Teaching the Bible as truth is not.

    Because we live in a pluralist society, and reasonable people differ on such issues.

    A couple of ways of pondering that statement.

    The first is that that you are saying there is no absolute moral law and that it is best to agree to disagree since it really doesn’t matter what one believes or how one behaves as long as it doesn’t affect you.

    The other is there is an absolute moral code but you are not certain as to what it might be.

    So you think homosexualty and promiscuity might possibly be morally acceptible?

  132. ——getawitness, “I’ve said that the government is and should be secular. Not the nation. No establishment of religion, no faith test for office.”

    No, I submit that the government did and ought to return to its two religious principles: 1) The authority of God 2) The dignity of the human person. It is the only philosophy on which freedom can endure. You can’t build freedom on atheism. Nor did the founding fathers want to.

    what I am describing is not a Theocracy or anythkng close to it. You keep avoiding the religious language in the Declaration of Independence. It is there for the reasons I mentioned.

    You can have religious principles upon which law is built, without having “religious laws.” The distinction is absolutey crucial. Two extremes are bad–1) religious laws (such as Islam) or no religious laws or no religious principles (as in atheism). Both are to be avoided.

  133. StephenB,

    “Teaching Nietshze’s [sic] atheism as truth is constitutional. Teaching the Bible as truth is not.”

    Again, all I’m stuck with is one person’s anecdote that this happened one time. I don’t know that it happened. It doesn’t merit a response.

    “A couple of ways of pondering that statement.”

    More than a couple, actually. The one you missed is the plain meaning: that not all moral issues, no matter how closely I hold them, should be given the authority of the state.

  134. Getawitness

    StephenB (sic) “Teaching Nietshze’s [sic] atheism as truth is constitutional. Teaching the Bible as truth is not.” . . . Again, all I’m stuck with is one person’s anecdote that this happened one time. I don’t know that it happened. It doesn’t merit a response.

    IOW, it challenges your worldview hence you don’t have to think about it.

    Further:

    No way one can interpret the the phrase “because we live in a pluralist society, and reasonable people differ on such issues” as “not all moral issues, no matter how closely I hold them, should be given the authority of the state.”

    Actually, I think it is far more fair to say that your statement that “not unless we can agree on what that absolute moral code is” and your requirement of “broad social agreement” for action is ceding authority to the state in defining what is moral.

  135. tribune7,

    Sorry about confusing you with StephenB.

    But no, it doesn’t challenge my “worldview.” It’s an event that may or may not have happened. That’s all. I don’t even know why you consider it something I should respond to.

    About the role of the state in moral issues, we appear to disagree, but I do not think you have represented my views fairly. Let me explain it this way: I think giving to charity is a moral issue. However, I do not think it should be required by law. Am I thereby ceding authority to the state in deciding what is moral vis-a-vis charitable giving? Hardly: I’m saying that not all moral issues are things the state should arbitrate. I don’t understand why that’s hard to comprehend.

  136. Getawitness — Let me explain it this way: I think giving to charity is a moral issue. However, I do not think it should be required by law.

    I agree with you completely. OTOH, it is appropriate for schools, whether funded by the government or not, to teach that being charitable — helping those in need whether giving to an organized charity or an individual– is good.

    Further, I hope we agree that it would be vile for a school to teach that being charitable is bad.

    Further, if a group of students, whether on their own or with a teacher’s encouragement, start a “Looking Out For Number 1″ Club in which selfishness, greed and coldly ignoring the needy are exalted, we Christians would speak out against it.

  137. “Further, if a group of students, whether on their own or with a teacher’s encouragement, start a “Looking Out For Number 1? Club in which selfishness, greed and coldly ignoring the needy are exalted, we Christians would speak out against it.”

    But there are in fact such clubs. They’re called Objectivist clubs, and they follow the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

  138. “Further, if a group of students, whether on their own or with a teacher’s encouragement, start a “Looking Out For Number 1? Club in which selfishness, greed and coldly ignoring the needy are exalted, we Christians would speak out against it.”

    But there are in fact such clubs. They’re called Objectivist clubs, and they follow the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

  139. But there are in fact such clubs. They’re called Objectivist clubs, and they follow the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

  140. sorry — I got an error message on my machine.

  141. Since my long, link-filled replies (for further reading) aren’t getting through, I’ll just post the link to where I did post my reply. I’m not asking anyone to look at anything else on there, except my reply.

    here

  142. Let’s see how many links can actually get through here (same problem as on scienceblogs, it seems)

    Borne at #103

    Pointing anyone here to anything Hector Avalos, the most inane drone of all the inane drone atheist dupes around, is not going to score you any points.

    The man is a lame reasoner, self-contradicting and he always loses debates with W.L. Craig.
    You mean the christian apologist? I keep thinking that ID is supposed to be secular, and that you guys haven’t figured out his identity. Oh well, just a coincidence, I’m sure.

    As for your love of logic, I’m sure you’d like to see how William Craig has let logical reasoning slip here


    Not to mention that his whole turn to atheism was based personal trauma in regards to the manipulations and sufferings he lived as a child preacher.
    He’s thus now on the war-path against all religion and hypocritically makes his living as a prof. of religion! Now THAT is a travesty.

    Talk about psycho-emotional reasons for denying the evidence of the existence of a designer!!

    Well, since you reject psycho-emotional reasons for “denying” someting, how’s about you get in touch with the blog writers here and tell them that their linking evolution with lack of morality (completely fallacious, by the way) is just a set up for a psycho-emotional reason for “denying” evolution? After all, you are the one who says that atheists are the ones with no grasp of logic…

    How’s about showing some of the “evidence for the existence of a designer” in the first place?

    As far as I know, no ID research papers have been written. Just thouroughly refuted books that are marketed straight to the public.

    See The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design Review on the Panda’s Thumb, and Icons of Anti-Evolution – The Essays on the New Mexicans for Science and Reason website.

    All I’ve heard is a lot of huffing, puffing and mudslinging. Not even an attempt to refute, examine, or even mention the historical evidence that Avalos has shown which shows the religious basis for antisemitism.

    BTW, Avalos is far from the first one to find that information either.

    As for the stuff about “Darwinism and mental illness” I found on your blog?

    Since the comments are closed there, and none are shown, it’s obvious that I can’t deal with that on your own site.

    I’ll have to see if I can deal with that elsewhere.

  143. getawitness –But there are in fact such clubs. They’re called Objectivist clubs, and they follow the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

    While an Objectivist would call by-right charity bad (as would St. Paul), it is my understanding they don’t object to helping the needy or advocate ignoring the needy.

    But let’s say my understanding is incorrect. Do you know of any Objectivist clubs and do you speak out against them?

  144. Whoops. That link should have led to the Cognitive Dissonance and True-Believer Syndrome section of that site. It has an example of Craig’s logical thinking.

  145. Yes I know of some Objectivist clubs (both high school and college), and no I don’t speak out against them.

  146. Reynold Hall:
    You say, “bull”.

    You are way off in your response.
    1. Did you ever actually read Descent of Man yourself? Rather than referring us to talkorigins.org or PT’s ubiquitous tripe? Have you ever actually read anything other than PT and cie.? The words inferior and superior litter the pages of Descent.

    You cannot escape the racist implications of Darwin’s theory.
    You could not possibly miss his entirely suspicious views on women and blacks.

    Does this prove the point of this thread? No. Nor was it the intention. My intention is to point out your erroneous readings of what others say. You read your own wayward thoughts into it all.

    I suggest you check out Dr. Weirkart’s book ‘From Darwin to Hitler’ with his responses to Darwinist critics here

    There are at least 10 other books on the history of the subject that support his work. All the bull spouted by TO or PT etc. will never change the historical reality. Ask the people who were there and wrote books on it. Ask Arthur Kieth.

    Your own comments regarding his historically accurate rendering are pathetic indeed. Pure ignorance and more denial. You may as well deny there ever was a holocaust.

    The you further tie yourself up in mere denial (the typical Darwinist response to truth) with your remarks:
    “It seems the Sternberg case and others were blown out of proportion by you people. ”
    Indeed? It must never have happened then eh! Ask him yourself! The list Darwinist persecution, black-balling, discriminations and totalitarian attitudes is large indeed. Overwhelming evidence.

    “About Columbine: According the the sheriff’s report, no one was killed for their religion…”
    Indeed? I suggest you go to the parents of the victims and tell them your pathetic little version and let them tell you theirs.

    All you have done is continue to prove why we say that Darwinists, especially atheist Darwinists, live in denial of evidence and reality.

  147. getawitness — Yes I know of some Objectivist clubs (both high school and college), and no I don’t speak out against them.

    OK, maybe it’s because Objectivists really don’t ascribe to the evil I described– and I don’t believe they do — and you ought not to speak out against them.

    BUT, I posited in post 137 a group of students starting a “Looking Out For Number 1? Club in which selfishness, greed and coldly ignoring the needy are exalted and noted that a Christian should speak out against them.

    You said “there are in fact such clubs. They’re called Objectivist clubs”

    So you don’t speak against them because you:

    1. See nothing immoral about exalting selfishness, greed and coldly ignoring the needy?

    2. You are a um, coward?

    3. You were trying make a rhetorical point without fully thinking about it and Objectivists don’t match the criteria I set?

    I’ll be charitable and assume 3.

  148. getawitness — Yes I know of some Objectivist clubs (both high school and college), and no I don’t speak out against them.

    OK, maybe it’s because Objectivists really don’t ascribe to the evil I described– and I don’t believe they do — and you ought not to speak out against them.

    BUT, I posited in post 137 a group of students starting a “Looking Out For Number 1? Club in which selfishness, greed and coldly ignoring the needy are exalted and noted that a Christian should speak out against them.

    You said “there are in fact such clubs. They’re called Objectivist clubs”

    So you don’t speak against them because you:

    1. See nothing immoral about exalting selfishness, greed and coldly ignoring the needy?

    2. You are a um, coward?

    3. You were trying make a rhetorical point without fully thinking about it and Objectivists don’t match the criteria I set?

    I’ll be charitable and assume 3.

  149. 4. The clubs I know of are not in my sphere of influence and so my voice would be ineffective. In any event our entire culture exalts greed, selfishness etc. There are more effective ways to behave. Everybody picks their battles.

  150. 4. The clubs I know of are not in my sphere of influence and so my voice would be ineffective. In any event our entire culture exalts greed, selfishness etc. There are more effective ways to behave. Everybody picks their battles.

    OK, but in that case, those who do opportunity to give battle to these clubs, would certainly have your approval, right?

  151. Reynold Hall, “All I’ve heard is a lot of huffing, puffing and mudslinging. Not even an attempt to refute, examine, or even mention the historical evidence that Avalos has shown which shows the religious basis for antisemitism.”

    Well, not exactly. Although I didn’t address the topic of anti-semitism, I did comment on his reasoning and his overall approach, albeit in an incomplete way. What is your response to what I wrote at #55

  152. Borne wrote to Reynold Hall , “All you have done is continue to prove why we say that Darwinists, especially atheist Darwinists, live in denial of evidence and reality.”

    Borne, I think this is what they call the “no concession policy.”

  153. StephenB
    My reply to that and to what Borne had posted earlier was linked to in the SFN link that I had in my previous post to him. This site is NOT a good place to post more than one link, it seems. Such comments never make it. Same as in ScienceBlogs, I’ve noticed. Nevertheless, I’ll just re-post here what I said to you there:

    StephenB at #55
    A lot of bluster here, where you “refute” a part of the guy’s work that didn’t have a thing to do with the actual reason for my bringing him up In the first place: The real reasons for the holocaust and anti-semitism. One would have thought that if Avalos’ work was so easily refuted, you’d have chosen to refute that part of his essay, you know, that deals with the reason I brought him up in the first place? Instead you deal with one paragraph that deals with some opinions about what the religion means. The guy he quoted is speaking about that point from the Jewish perspective; you’re coming at it from a Christian perspective and just asserting that that perspective is right. I couldn’t care less, that has virtually nothing to do with the majority of the essay which deals with anti-semitism.

    The very next paragraph he starts dissecting Weikart again, yet you leave that alone. Why?

  154. Since this site doesn’t like links or long replies I’ll just try posting my response back on that other site. You guys can read it there.

  155. Reynold Hall wrote, “StephenB at #55
    A lot of bluster here, where you “refute” a part of the guy’s work that didn’t have a thing to do with the actual reason for my bringing him up In the first place: The real reasons for the holocaust and anti-semitism. One would have thought that if Avalos’ work was so easily refuted, you’d have chosen to refute that part of his essay, you know, that deals with the reason I brought him up in the first place? Instead you deal with one paragraph that deals with some opinions about what the religion means. The guy he quoted is speaking about that point from the Jewish perspective; you’re coming at it from a Christian perspective and just asserting that that perspective is right. I couldn’t care less, that has virtually nothing to do with the majority of the essay which deals with anti-semitism.”

    In other words, you have no answer for my objections. As I pointed out in the post, I don’t take the time to refute everything someone says if he is demonstrably dishonest and incompetent. Avalas lies and makes up things. My job was to record that fact in as few words as possible and then move on. That’s exactly what I did. Obviously, you are OK with lies if the person that tells them promises to advance your cause. That speaks volumes about you. Sadly, you miss the broader irony. If someone misrepresents the Judeo/Christian ethic, either out of confusion of malice, that person is hardly in a position to pass judgment on its social impact.

  156. StephenB

    In other words, you have no answer for my objections.

    I gave you my answer, you just ignored it. Let me try again.

    “The guy he quoted is speaking about that point from the Jewish perspective; you’re coming at it from a Christian perspective and just asserting that that perspective is right.”

    All that’s happened is Judaism has a different point of view about what “jesus” did to the law than what christians do. That’s to be expected. How do you claim that they’re lying? (Avalos took the Judaic view, and you accusing him of lying, so…)

    StephenB
    As I pointed out in the post, I don’t take the time to refute everything someone says if he is demonstrably dishonest and incompetent. Avalas lies and makes up things. My job was to record that fact in as few words as possible and then move on.
    Problem is, is that you have not demonstrated that Avalos “lies and makes up things”. Even the part you were complaining about was referenced from some other author.

    What’s really important, his material about the history of xian anti-semitism remains untouched by you, while you ID characters keep harping on about Darwins’ supposed links to the holocaust.

    Even if you were able to show that he was wrong in that little snippet you quoted, you still have to show that the material he cited about the christian links to anti-semitism are wrong. Something you have not done

    You do know that Avalos is not the only one to do research into that subject, right?

    Try reading Martin Luther’s “On the Jews and Their Lies”. Avalos did, I did, you did not, obviously. Or how about historian Dagobert Runes’ book “The Jew and The Cross”? Need any more books to read? Or are you just going to dismiss them as “lies”, with no evidence given as such, also.

    StephenB
    Obviously, you are OK with lies if the person that tells them promises to advance your cause. That speaks volumes about you.

    Let’s see here: You dismiss the facts given by someone who’s done actual research, and who has listed his sources (which you’re free to lookup to check his facts) on some unjustified accusation that he lies and makes his facts up.

    You then, characteristically of creationists, start acting self-righteous in your pronouncements of my character.

    Here’s an idea: Why don’t you do some research and read those books I mentioned?

    Or are you going to accuse Martin Luther of lying too? He was one of Avalos’ sources after all.

    In order for you to show that Avalos is lying you’re going to have to do a lot more than just making bald assertions. You have to show that his sources are wrong, since that’s what he based his essay on.

  157. —-Reynolds Hall: “You then, characteristically of creationists, start acting self-righteous in your pronouncements of my character.”

    In rereading my comments, I find that I did make a rather snippy remark about your willingness to accept what I believed to be a dishonest account. I retract that comment. I also find that I described Hector Avalos’ work as dishonest when I obviously have no way of knowing what his intentions were.

    Beyond that, I can only tell you that his work is full of errors. If you did not find my first two or three examples persuasive, then it will not profit me to add to the list. My guess is, most disinterested people who read my post #55 will recognize that I know what I am talking about and that I need not continue offering examples. If you had found my examples unpersuasive and had told me why, I might have be motivated to add to the list.

    As it is, I could flood the internet with 10 or 15 examples, including the arguments presented for christian anti-semitism and creationist rationale for abortion, many of which (not all) are ludicrous. But you could just as easily dismiss them as you did the first two. So, I think I will just let it go for now.

    By the way, I am not a creationist. But I’ll leave it to you to decide whether you should take back that erroneous and judgmental comment.

  158. Sorry, but I merely calls them as I sees them. In how you attacked someone who criticized the common (YEC and ID) claim that darwin was necessary for someone of hitler’s attitudes.

    So, you’re not an YEC creationist. What about an ID creationist. (or cdesign proponentist)?

    If you had found my examples unpersuasive and had told me why, I might have be motivated to add to the list.
    I did, but you disregarded it. So, why bother?

    The examples of christian anti-semitism (which is why I brought Avalos up in the first place) are abundant enough and documented enough that you’d have to somehow show that Martin Luther (author of “On the Jews and Their Lies”) was not a christian; you’d have to discredit historians like Dagobert Runes whose mother died in the holocaust; you’d have to dismiss Hitler himself when he said how much he admired Martin Luther (Darwin wasn’t mentioned in his book); you’d have to ignore the the Nuremberg testimony of Der Sturmer editor Julius Streicher who said that if Martin Luther were alive then, he’d be in the dock with them, because they just did what he originally suggested.

  159. you’d have to ignore the the Nuremberg testimony of Der Sturmer editor Julius Streicher

    Let us not ignore the testimony of Julius Streicher:

    The teaching of Christianity has stood in the way of a radical solution of the Jewish problem in Europe…

  160. you’d have to ignore the the Nuremberg testimony of Der Sturmer editor Julius Streicher

    Let us not ignore the testimony of Julius Streicher:

    The teaching of Christianity has stood in the way of a radical solution of the Jewish problem in Europe…

    Oh heck, here’s the link:

    a href=http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/streicher_remarks.html”

  161. The trenchcoat mafia killers at Columbine weren’t atheists, they were satanists:

    1) TCMer Eric Dutro walking around the school cafeteria telling people that “Satan loves you”(Kelly Beer, 6106) in the spring of ’98.

    2) Courtney van Dell, aka ‘devil girl,’ wore barettes in her hair to make it look like she had horns. Said to be a ‘wikken’(sic) or a devil worshipper(Kristi Mohrbacher(1010), Jessica Lucero(1508 ), Leigh Ann Clark(2723)).

    3) The students seeking shelter with Clement Park worker Steve Ogle(1056) told him the perpetrators were TCM and were “satanists”.

    4) Jecoa Catt(1364) told IO that the TCM were satanic.

    5) Jason Jones(1474) observed the TCM playing ‘magic’ cards in the cafeteria, which were about the devil and about power.

    6) Lacey Shotts(1651) said she believed the TCM students were ‘devil worshippers.’

    7) Jen Smull saw Robert Perry at a halloween party dressed as a worlock(1827).

    8 ) Student Perlman(4054) said Joe Stair used to come to woodshop class with a book he called ‘the devil’s bible’.

    9) Prior to 4th hour on 4-20, Nicole Ray(4144) saw a male TCMer in the science hall, with his hair fashioned ino devil’s horns.

    10) TCM associate Nathan Dykeman’s bedroom wall was supposedly covered with devil posters(4630).

    11) Nathan Dykeman says Harris called him ‘devil man’.(10710)

    12) Daniel Burg(5838 ) told the IO that “…the TCM–they’re like satanists.”

    13) TCM leader Chris Morris told Mark Hengel(5899) “I don’t believe in God. I follow Satan’s Commandmants.”

    14) Sara Lutes(6821) says the TCM were satanic, and that they wore satanic symbols on their shirts, underneath their trenchcoats.

    15) Chris Hooker, 18, said they were “satanic individuals.”
    “We’d see them every day. They’ve threatened to kill people … but nobody thought that was serious,” Hooker said.

    16) Library Intern Mary Ziccardi(13647) spent one week at CHS in November of ’98. Says Eric Harris “looked like the devil” and may have worn black lipstick.

    17) Teacher Mr. Long(EP24-17) said he kicked TCM associate Joe Stair out the computer class for accessing satanic sights. This happened last year.(1998)

    18 ) TCM associate Eric Ault(10645) told the IOs that “they were into satanic worship.”

    19) Jennfer Harmon(8835): “…one of their friends-’Becka’-was waiting for the devil to take over the soul.”

    20) Brooks Brown(USAToday.com): “They’re(TCM) all big on anti-God Satanism. They are really just ‘pure hate’.”

    21) What kind of music did the TCM like? ‘Devil’ music according to Brandi Wiseman(4751).

    22) Trista Fogerty(1420): TCM were satanic, when she first got to CHS friends told her to avoid the group.

    23) Nicole Markham(8794): “Harris was into…heavy satanic music.”

    24) Nicole Lawson, sophomore(3526): (TCM associates)”Stephanie(Kinny) and Kelly(Schwab) would draw “fnords” on the black board. Fnords are little symbols that were servants of the devil. They would draw a whole bunch of them. They did it when no one was looking.” ['fnord' is thought to stand for 'for no other reason, discord']

    25) TCM associate Chuckie Phillips(10866) internet code(Puterfnord@…) name was meant to represent a servant of the devil.

    26) Dustin Harrison(6577): “Dustin said (Redacted) ‘scared me to death’ because Dustin had heard that (Redacted) was a member of the “Hells Angels” satanic group and said that this satanic group is into human sacrifices. Dustin said that (Redacted) was very verbal about his desire to kill people.”

  162. A question for Barry A:

    Why did the families of the victims not file civil lawsuits against the other members of the trenchcoat mafia(TCM) that were identified by witnesses as participants in the massacre?

  163. Arbitrator Home Based Business…

    There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. ~ Albert Einstein…

  164. [...] over a year ago, a young Finnish social Darwinist killed himself and eight others , in an event reminiscent of Eric Harris at [...]

  165. [...] and Pekka Eric Auvinen, the young Finnish social Darwinist shooter (2007) , to say nothing of Eric Harris at Columbine. While some have pointed to these examples of the harm done by pop Darwinism, [...]

  166. […] the videotapes, including the infamous “basement tapes.”  As I have written before (see here), Harris was a thoroughgoing disciple of Darwin, and it was no coincidence that on the day of the […]

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