Tuesday, November 13, 2012

EU secularism contra 'Christian extremism'


As Qoheleth observed, there is nothing new under the sun. Or, indeed, under the aggressive intolerance of the secular-humanist crusade for control of the European Union. Only four years ago, the Roman Catholic Primate of All-Ireland, Cardinal Séan Brady referred to ‘EU hostility to religion', noting that 'a succession of anti-family, anti-life and other anti-Christian decisions by Brussels has made it more difficult for committed Christians to maintain their instinctive support for Europe’, and he urged the EU ‘to review its pragmatic attitude that compromises essential human, moral and social values’.

The Cardinal criticised the EU for ‘promoting secularism at the expense of the Christian heritage of the vast majority of its member states’, and he warned that further progress along these lines will have ‘inevitable political and social consequences’. He called for the EU ‘to review its prevailing pragmatism that results in Christians being denied the right to intervene in public debates, or at least having their contribution dismissed as an attempt to protect unjustified privileges, such as the right to employ supporters of the Christian ethos of institutions like schools’. He said the same might be said of controversies over stem cell research, the status of same sex unions, the primacy of the family based on marriage, and the culture of life.

Dr Brady also warned that the founding ideals of the EU could not succeed unless public debate reconsidered more strongly our traditional moral values.

Clearly, such concerns go largely unheeded. Despite almost 2000 of a Europe built upon Christian notions of society, justice and general jurisprudence, history appears to be repeating itself in yet another church-state clash.

It is reported that Dr Tonio Borg, currently Malta’s Foreign Minister, is being considered for the post of European Commissioner. He is by all accounts highly qualified for the role, 'with academic qualifications in administrative and human rights law, and decades of experience in his country’s Justice and Home Affairs Ministries'. But there's a problem: Dr Borg is Roman Catholic.

And so the hordes of self-righteous secularists are mobilising to oppose his nomination, not because he engaged in fraud, corruption or nepotism. But because he adheres to his church's teaching on issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and divorce. Such views, it is posited, are antithetical to 'European values’.

It is a curious understanding of human rights and 'European values' which seeks to deny to the individual the right to hold a particular view on matters of sexual ethics or reproduction. Dr Borg is being subject to a coordinated campaign in exactly the same way as Commissioner-designate Rocco Buttiglione was back in 2004 - his 'sexist' and 'homophobic' views (ie adherence to orthodox Christian teaching) rendered him unsuitable in the eyes of the European Parliament to be an EU Commissioner, and so he was hounded out of an office he was never permitted to hold.

The European Parliament has a quasi-veto on all new Commissioners, and MEPs are being bombarded with letters, emails and tweets from supporters of the European Humanist Federation, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and the International Lesbian and Gay Association, who all oppose Dr Borg's appointment - for no other reason than his ‘extremist values’ (ie his faith). It is even more alarming that these lobby groups are funded by the European Commission itself (the ILGA reportedly receives 70 per cent of its annual budget from EU funds).

It appears that any expression - no matter how moderate or reasonable - which conflicts with the dogmatic intolerance of these lobby groups, constitutes ‘extremism’. This is neither liberal nor enlightened. There is in this secular agenda no respect for human dignity or solidarity, for it repudiates utterly all understanding of the human conscience informed by Christian theology and church tradition.

Radical secularists are seeking to inculcate the view that European values are not Christian values, or that Christian values are antithetical to and incompatible with European values. To be 'truly European’ one must hold to the Enlightenment ideal, and since Christianity belongs to the Dark Ages, there can be no place for the Pope's mouthpiece in the European Commission.

And so we arrive at a Test Act: the wheel has come full circle; there is nothing new under the sun. The Christian moral social contract which existed (at least through the lens of ‘Christendom’) is being replaced by a new liberal moral uniformity which is intolerant of the dissident and unorthodox. It seeks to impose itself in order to create social cohesion and control, under the guise of enlightenment and human rights. While the guiding principles of liberalism are respect for and tolerance of the ‘other’, secular-humanism is itself increasingly being seen to be disrespectful and intolerant of the illiberal. This is actually antithetical to ‘European values’. When we cease to tolerate benign dissent, we cease to act in accordance with the European ideal: indeed, we cease to be European.

Whatever the Charter of Fundamental Rights may say ('...respecting the diversity of the cultures and traditions of the peoples of Europe'), there is no space for Europe’s 'spiritual and moral heritage' in the arrogant secular-humanist worldview. Yes, there must be religious liberty, and freedom of thought and expression. But not for those who are appointed to public office, and certainly not if it breathes a word in defence of the unborn, traditional marriage or the family. 

It is ironic that those who so frequently complain about unjust discrimination and marginalisation often show themselves to be more vicious, intolerant and hateful towards those who are 'different' (ie Christians, who happen also to constitute the majority). It is perfectly possible for individuals to hold political, public or legislative office within EU institutions while professing a public commitment to the Christian faith. Indeed, liberal democracy is founded upon such principles. One must hope that MEPs understand this point, and pray that they don't crucify Tonio Borg as they did Rocco Buttiglione.

166 Comments:

Blogger Dave said...

A blind man on a galloping horse can see what's going in the eu, if he has taken up his cross.

Princes of Tyre.

13 November 2012 at 09:23  
Blogger The Gray Monk said...

Your Grace, the EU "Parliament" is merely the latest power base subsumed by the secularist/humanist/atheist socialisers whose ambition is to bring about the complete secularisation of the state from within. I draw your attention to the similarties set out in the Fabian Society's literature and the literature promulgated by the various others. I would also point out that Britain is far further along this road, and it's MEPs are by far the most vociferous in this campaign in Europe. No one daring to profess a Christian Faith in the UK is considered for any Civil Service post any longer, those MPs who dare to do so are pilloried in the media and as for the BBC ...

This not just an EU problem, it is primarliy an UK problem, the most vociferous campaigners against the appointment of Buttiglione came from the UK.

13 November 2012 at 09:42  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

This is very annoying, but what can we do about it?

Well, I did this.

I used the following website to write to all of my Members of the European Parliament:

http://www.writetothem.com/

You put in your postcode and it identifies your MEPs then takes you to a comments box in which you can add your message. The message is then forwarded to your MEP (you need to confirm this by email before your message is sent). I've never used the website before and am not connected with it in any way.

I sent the following message (feel free to copy it and use it if you wish, and forwar it to anyone else who might do so):

I am concerned at press reports that Dr Tonio Borg (currently Malta’s Foreign Minister), who has been nominated by his country for the post of the European Commission’s Health and Consumer Policy portfolio, is the subject of a negative campaign opposing his nomination on the grounds that he is a Catholic.

It seems that various secular campaigning groups, apparently including supporters of the European Humanist Federation, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and the International Lesbian and Gay Association, are campaigning against him. Nothing wrong with expressing an opinion, I would agree, but to actively campaign against somebody because they are a Catholic Christian is simply unacceptable. It is especially galling to note that these lobby groups are funded by the European Commission itself. I do not pay my taxes for ordinary people to be vilified for their entirely acceptable religious views.

I would be grateful if you would look into this matter and ensure that any campaigning against Dr Borg on the grounds of his faith is unsuccessful.

13 November 2012 at 09:50  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

Ars, thanks for the making it easy to write to me MEPs. I have just done so.

13 November 2012 at 10:39  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace,
You excel at these exposes of the secularisation of our society.
Why are the secular lobbyists apparently so successful? It would seem to me that the reason is really the failure of Christendom to follow our Lords command and preach the Gospel. Hence the balance of support for Christianity has waned and also an impression that Christians should be all loving and accepting all people. Funny, I don't remember the scriptures telling me that.

13 November 2012 at 11:31  
Blogger Edward Spalton said...

The Communist persecution of Christianity and the millions of martyrs it created are well known, if not well remembered.

It is often forgotten that the Nazi persecution of the Roman Catholic Church and, indeed, of all Christianity (apart from the perverted "German Christian" heresy which put swastikas on the altars) was very strong - and for very similar reasons to those of today's secularists. Documents show a determined campaign to destroy Church influence, particularly among young people in the name of "inclusivity" and "non discrimination" between members of the German racial community. They wanted to banish religion to the purely private sphere and to dictate the school curriculum, even in Church schools.

"We cannot recognise that the Church has a right to ensure that the individual should be educated in respects in the way in which it holds to be right. We must leave it to the National Socialist state to educate the child in the way it regards as right". (Church Affairs Minister Kerrl, Speech at Fulda 27 November 1937

There is a ghastly symmetry between the six million murdered Jews and the six million unborn children sacrificed in this country on the altar of secularism.

13 November 2012 at 12:24  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

There is a ghastly symmetry between the six million murdered Jews and the six million unborn children sacrificed in this country on the altar of secularism

Drama Queen or what? A disgraceful opportunistic use of such an analogy as far as I am concerned.

What is it I wonder, that makes you fret so much about secularism, which stands up for your freedom to - and my freedom from from your's or any other religion, while you remain silent on the very real threat of Islam, which if current attitudes prevail, will end up rubbing out Christianity in Europe altogether within a century or two.

But you don't have to wait until the final curtain; it's happening now, through supine ambivalence to the EU's brand of 'undemocratic democracy' and the demographic dislodgment of ethnic European cultural norms.

Secularism is not your enemy Mr Spalton - your enemy is Islam and selective ignorance; Islam and ignorance by spineless European Christians, sundry can't be arsed's and political oportunists who permitted it's cultivation and nurture within our borders.

Why I might ask, was there no outcry from your Church when Nato bombed your fellow Christians in Belgrade? Why no condemnation of the war crimes of Muslim Bosnians and Chechens against Serbs and East European Orthodoxy? Where is the united Christian outcry and outrage at the concerted and deliberate eradication by pan-Islamic regimes and terror groups of Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists just about anywhere in the world.

Get real man - if you want your religion to survive you'll need more secularism not less.

13 November 2012 at 16:16  
Blogger John Magee said...

Why is all this a surprise? The secular oriented EU has always made a point of avoiding any mention of the Christian roots of European Civilization. This has become an obsession since the dawn of the age of polical correctness and wanting to never "offend" Muslims or others including the self loathing young generation who won't honor their war dead of past wars.

Why hasn't the EU honored the "Founding Fathers" of European Civilization like the ancient Greeks, the Romans, Jesus Christ, or early Christians like St Benedict of Nursia?

God Bless Cardinal Ratzinger after he was elected Pope in 2005 for taking as his Papal name, Benedict, after the great Benedictine Monk and founder of Western Monasticism, St Benedict of Nursia, and also dedicating this saint as the patron saint of Europe.In April 2008, Pope Benedict XVI discussed the influence St Benedict had on Western Europe. The pope said that “with his life and work St Benedict exercised a fundamental influence on the development of European civilization and culture” and helped Europe to emerge from the "dark night of history" that followed the fall of the Roman empire.To this day, The Rule of St. Benedict is the most common and influential Rule used by monasteries and monks, more than 1,400 years after its writing.

The influence of St Benedict produced "a true spiritual ferment" in Europe, and over the coming decades his followers spread across the continent to establish a new cultural unity based on Christian faith.

13 November 2012 at 16:20  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

I shall write to the North West Regional MEP Nick Griffin, immediately

Expressing an interesting in becoming assimilated into the Borg

13 November 2012 at 16:38  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

It seems to me that the mechanism is explicitly designed to exclude people who are too much on the fringe.

13 November 2012 at 17:39  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...



Of course it would have been so much easier to resist secularisation if the Christian church in Europe was united. One suspects it will be the predominately protestant countries who will go down first, dragging the rest of Christendom down with them…

For some reason, the nordic countries tend to obey EU legislation to the letter, whereas the south spend a good deal of effort trying to evade the less attractive parts. For example, smoking in French bars. One has even heard today that Italy returned wanted suspects back to Gaddafi’s Libya, in direct defiance of the ECHR. The UK on the other hand lets a man with monstrous accusations made about him walk free. One can see how this kind of ‘efficiency’ as the NAZIs called it, will in due course finish off Christianity as an effective force in society.

It’s going to happen sooner or later, so why not sooner. Unless we can foment the notion of common sense. We can then tell the secularist minority where to go, including the elite who, apparently, would rather like to legally sodomize 14 year old boys. It’s rather astonishing that, at the moment, there is more chance of that happening than there is of faith schools maintaining a religious outlook.

Dumfounded really !





13 November 2012 at 18:03  
Blogger len said...


IF the EU is indeed the 'revived Roman Empire' then it will do as the Romans did under Caesar.

ALL Religions had to be approved by Caesar and only the[Caesar] approved religions were placed in the Pantheon.
Of course Biblical Christianity only gained Caesars approval when it had been 'modified' so as to not upset the pagans.Biblical Christianity is as much an offence today as it was then.
Can history be about to repeat itself has the' wheel finally turned full circle?.

13 November 2012 at 18:57  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Gentlemen, there is some hope though...

We Christians should make it clear that we want exactly what the muslims are entitled to.

There you go, that will tie them up in knots for years to come.

Tally ho !

13 November 2012 at 19:33  
Blogger Roy said...

Isn't it strange that as our "human rights" increase our freedom decreases? Are they inversely related?

13 November 2012 at 19:54  
Blogger bluedog said...

Your Grace, Our Lord moves in mysterious ways.

If the EU were a good and virtuous entity its citizens would be happy and prosperous. As it is the EU peoples, especially those subject to the Euro, are unemployed, miserable and impoverished. The godless EU will not survive much longer before the people of Europe arise to throw off its Satanic yoke.

So it is too with the BBC. After years of undermining the established order and promoting all manner godless pursuits, this house of perverts, apostates and heretics is at war with itself and cannot stand.

13 November 2012 at 20:01  
Blogger William said...

Your Grace

I note that Secular Europe Campaign are "for universal human rights". Can human rights be anything other than universal? Or perhaps they want to cover themselves should humans be found on other planets? Or perhaps they want to distance themselves from the ECHR which says that some prisoners have the human right to vote whereas others do not. As if some prisoners are more human than others. 'tis a minefield this human rights business.

13 November 2012 at 20:13  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Non resistance is futile, what !

13 November 2012 at 20:51  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

The alternative is to get out of the EU altogether....

13 November 2012 at 21:05  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Questions:

= Why is it the Catholic Church in the West who speaks alone and unequivocally against immorality?

- Why is it orthodox Catholic political leaders who face the 'Test Act' again?

This "new liberal moral uniformity" that is being imposed, and so intolerant of Christianity, is the consequence of individualism, freedom of expression and pluralistic democracy.

Ummmm ... and it all somewhat conradicts the notion that the European Union was and still is a Catholic plot to achieve its aim of temporal world domination.

Mr Rocco Buttiglione was leader of the Catholic, centrist political party, the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (UDC) at the time. He was also a close friend of the then Pope Blessed John Paul II.

Mr Tonio Borg is a Catholic conservative. He proposed entrenching into the Maltese Constitution the a banning of abortion - still a criminal offence in Malta. He opposed the introduction of a divorce law. Borg has also spoken against cohabitation and homosexuality.

13 November 2012 at 21:24  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

John Magee

Do you have a Saint Benedict Medal? It carries an abbreviation of the ancient Christian "Vade retro satana" on its reverse.

"May the holy cross be my light!
May the dragon never be my overlord!"


The full text reads:

"Let the Holy Cross be my light
Let not the dragon be my guide Step back Satan
Never tempt me with vain things What you offer me is evil
You drink the poison yourself."


I commend the medal to every Christian.

Not, I repeat, not as a goodluck or magic charm. Worn correctly, it is a means of reminding one of God, inspiring a willingness to resist evil and promoting a desire to serve God and one's neighbour.

Far better for the Government to issue these medals to every household rather than the other junk they circulate.

13 November 2012 at 21:53  
Blogger OldJim said...

Yes, Len,

I'm afraid this "Roman Empire come anew" will prove just as intolerant of my lot as of your "biblical Christianity", if not even more.

As time goes on I think you will be increasingly surprised to find which side of this argument we come out on - I only hope that it is a pleasant surprise for you.

On the one hand, it will mean that, whatever the reason you continue to regard Roman Catholicism as wrong-minded, you will have to drop the idea that evidence for its wrongness came from its associations. It is not and could not possibly be favoured by our secular overlords, or involved in this monstrous secularisation or paganisation or islamification of the west.

On the other hand, it will mean that you will have the peace of knowing that we mean all that we say. We are Christians, and we are with you in this fight, whatever our "in-house" disagreements.

14 November 2012 at 00:05  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

You are being most unreasonable OldJim!

This will entail a complete revision of the understanding of the Book of Revelation and a search for another meaning!

How can you reasonably expect over 500 years of belief to be set aside? If Rome isn't the 'Whore of Babylon', preparing the way for the Antichrist, then who the Hell is it?

This is all very counter reformation!

14 November 2012 at 01:33  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Or as a Dalek would say:

"Does not comnpute; does not compute .... "

14 November 2012 at 01:35  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

FOR THE ENJOYMENT OF ALL: Breaking News Your BBC Might Try to Kick Under the Cupboard and Succeed for a Few Days

By the insidious Avi Barzel Climate Fraud Muckracking Services Syndicate

Your Grace, if I may go off-topic very briefly...and perhaps rudely interrupt a looming scuffle between a number of communicants of yours... I'd like to notify you and all your faithful communicants here that the "Secret List of the BBC 28," locked away by one of your nation's creatively talented judges who conjured up a way to squash an ordinary FOIA request, has now been revealed. Blown wide open like rotting barn doors, actually. Legally too, thanks to the Wayback engine and excellent sleuthing by Maurizio Morabito of the Omnologos blog.

The story is breaking on Anthony Watts' science site at:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/11/12/breaking-the-secret-list-of-the-bbc-28-is-now-public/

To whet your appetite, YG, I note a Claire Foster of the Church of England on that list. O, and an Ian Wright of BP International among many "notable" others. If you have access to the Foster character, perhaps she'll break down in the Iron Maiden and fess up to you about whether she represented your Church. Or the Masons, since they seem to be getting the blame for everything. As for the BP chap, what a giggle it is to know that representatives of "Big Oil" secretly break bread with Greenpeace and other greenie characters.

I haven't been paying attention to the ongoing BBC paedophilia scandal at all, so perhaps someone who has can compare lists of names and tell us if there has been any Venn diagram-like overlaps going on. (Chortle)

As a quick summary, more of a teaser actually, here's a little something from Bishop Hill's blog:

We now know that the BBC decided to abandon balance in its coverage of climate on the advice of a small coterie of green activists, including the campaign director of Greenpeace. This shows that the “shoddy journalism” of Newsnight’s recent smear was no “lapse” of standards at all. BBC news programs have for years been poorly checked recitations of the work of activists.

14 November 2012 at 01:38  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

PS, Your Grace, if I may also plug one of your home-boys here, the intrepid Tall Bloke. That's the fellow who was harrassed by the Norfolk Constabulary after the Climate Gate 2.0. He blogged on the topic a few hours ago (and is now sound asleep):

http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/joe-smith-dangerous-news-twenty-eight-gate-begins/

As an interesting aside, the BBC thought to include an American consular official at its secretive all-day meeting of "28 scientists" (actually, someone counted only three, the rest being reps of pressure groups, environmentalist shills and PR wonks.)

How does this relate to the topic of this post? Your BBC is at the forefront in the battle against conservative and faith-based cultural norms and justifies its actions with the image of secularism as a positive, honest and clean force for Good. The paedophilia scandal and now this sham, which will hopefully also expand into an investigation of the judiciary are the latest nails for the coffin.

14 November 2012 at 02:33  
Blogger John Magee said...

Dodo

I will consider the St Benedict medal as he is one of the saints I most admire. Thank you.

The Benedictines never turn anyone from the doors of their monasteries in need of help, a place to sleep, or food. No questions asked. They see each stranger as Christ.

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Christian Monasticism (East and West). Especially the Benedictines with their motto "ora et labora" - "prayer and work".

During the 1500 years of their existence, the Benedictines became the leading guide in Western Christianity for monastic living in community.

You must be familiar wit the "Rule of St Benedict" which is much too long to post here.St Benedict's Rule organises the monastic day into regular periods of communal and private prayer, sleep, spiritual reading, and manual labour – ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus, "that in all [things] God may be glorified". In later centuries, intellectual work and teaching took the place of farming, crafts, or other forms of manual labour for many – if not most – Benedictines

Charlemagne had Benedict's rule copied and distributed to encourage monks throughout western Europe to follow it as a standard. Beyond its religious influences, the Rule of St Benedict was one of the most important written works to shape medieval Europe, embodying the ideas of a written constitution and the rule of law. It also incorporated a degree of democracy in a non-democratic society, and dignified manual labor.

Living in England Have you ever visited Buckfast Benedictine Abbey near Plymouth in Devon? I've never been there but have seen pictures of it. It's located in a peaceful valley and has been beautifully restored by the monks over the past almost 100 years on the site or a former Medieval monastery destroyed by Henry VIII. One monastery I have visited in the UK is Pluscarden Benedictine Abbey in Scotland near Elgin. Also located in a peaceful rural setting on the site of a former Medieval monastery and is beautifully restored.

Near here is one of the most famous Benedictine Abbey's and colleges in the USA, St Vincent's Archabbey, Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The monks offer a classical education based on the great books of Western Civilization as well as Greek, Latin and three modern languages. Please look it up (images too) on the web.

Pax vobiscum

14 November 2012 at 03:28  
Blogger John Magee said...

Lord Lavendon

The wise Swiss have done eveything they can to stay out of the EU. They've seen this all before.

14 November 2012 at 03:40  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

And back to the present topic, Your Grace, it occured to me that the situation for the religious in the UK may be rough, but is far better than it is here, in Canada. With abortion being totally off the table in any political discussion by any party eventhough it is entirely without limits or oversight and SSM is now an established institution which no one dares question or even debate, the various traditional religious organizations have given up the ghost, quaking alone in darkened corners, hoping they won't be noticed and hauled into the colliseum of some human rights-based challenge. And this without an EU!

14 November 2012 at 03:43  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

14 November 2012 at 03:44  
Blogger OldJim said...

Oh, Avi!

I think you misunderstand! Recently the majority of us Christians here have entered a new and fruitful era of rapprochement, leaving mere sectarianism behind us in a spirit of trust and in an effort to be more Christlike. I am being quite serious.

This doesn't mean we don't disagree doctrinally, nor that we won't say so quite pointedly at times. This is all par for the course and in a spirit of Christian truthfulness. No false or shallow ecumenism for us. Nonetheless, we're not being personal or nasty or deliberately getting each other's goat any more, or at least we're trying not to.

Knowing this, I thought and continue to trust that Len, being aware of my "form" on this, will know that my comment wasn't intended to be insulting or incendiary in the least, but perfectly in earnest. I really do hope he will find it a nice surprise and a source of peace to discover that us Catholics are to be by his side in this conflict, both because we'd have the honour of being comrades and because it would mean he would be reassured that we are at least trying to follow Our Lord, even if he continues to find our beliefs misguided. I also trust that if he thought that I was having a go he would tell me so, and I would of course apologise.

14 November 2012 at 04:06  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Greetings, OldJim, actually I'm getting used to the Orange vs. Green catfights here by now, although it took a while. When I first stumbled onto this site, my mouth dropped to see what I thought were the unreported beginnings of another religious war which was about to rend England once again. I was shocked. Shocked, I say.

Well, a week later, with no UN peace keepers camped out in front of Parliament, I realized that folks in the UK are a little more passionate and involved than others and that not just religion, but ideas carry more weight. A year later I began coming around the idea that perhaps squabbling is better than indifference. You see, here in Canada, the vast majority doesn't even know there is a difference between denominations.

I appreciate your concern and thank you for your thoughtful clarification but between you and me, my occasional tut-tutting is a pro forma response with which I maintain my role and thus support this site's traditions. Tradition, I found as well, is a bigger deal here than elsewhere!

Your Grace, regarding my little off-topic, a blogger by the name of "Gunga Din" on Watts' site noticed that Helen Boaden, BBC Director of News is currently suspended for her role in the paedophile mess. Time to get out the compass and make up that Venn diagram, I guess.

14 November 2012 at 04:35  
Blogger greenalien said...

How retarded is it to have a hateful, intolerant, bigoted platform and then accuse others of being intolerant and disrespectful towards it?

The whole blog post is written as if poor Christians are being oppressed by the horrifying secularist masses, intent on depriving them of their god given right to deny homosexuals their humanity, to prevent people from leaving their marriages, and prevent women from making basic morality decisions without interference of the state or pressure groups or religious fanatics.

The whole victimising post relies on identifying people, who want to deny others their basic rights and freedoms, as victims, on the basis that they can't execute their intolerant policies!

14 November 2012 at 09:44  
Blogger gresham58 said...

Anyone who thinks that devout Roman Catholics should be running their country should read this.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/14/ireland-woman-dies-after-abortion-refusal

14 November 2012 at 09:44  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr greenalien @ 0944, your torrent of adjectives proves nothing other than your apparent need to exaggerate your point.

His Grace runs a blog that thrives on the competition of ideas. Your post is just another point of dissent, nothing out of the ordinary, and as this is a Christian blog we try not to fall into the trap of hating those with whom we disagree. Can you do the same?

The feeling of this communicant, and possibly many others, is that a largerly unaccountable and self-appointed elite is trying to make changes to a well-ordered society that is based on an ethical system developed and proven over thousands of years. No compelling case has been made that these changes are necessary, other than emotional and insulting rants such as your own. The vast majority, 98.5% of the population to pick a figure out of thin air, is quite content to leave things are they are.

So it is not so much the masses who are secularist but a vocal minority of whom you appear to be a more than usually exciteable member. It would be mutually beneficial if you could at least appreciate that point.

14 November 2012 at 10:47  
Blogger William said...

greenalien

Have you read Cranmer's Law? You'll find it in the panel on the right. You seem to have ticked all the boxes in your first comment!

14 November 2012 at 11:09  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

gresham58:

Would that it were so simple (re:09.44). If a single tragic death apparently as a result of not receiving an abortion can "do" for pro-life, what does a single tragic death as the result of receiving an abortion do? It's ultimately an unhelpful token, which speaks more of either side's willingness to seize on whatever it can to annihilate the opposition's basis.

The reality is that in clean Western hospitals, the number of people who die from either situation are spectacularly low - though I realise that comes as no great comfort to their loved ones. The number of aborted infants, however, is rather more decisively stacked to one side.

(For the record, as I don't think we've exchanged on this subject before - I'm not a conceived-cells-is-a-person advocate, nor an out-and-out opponent of abortion regardless of any circumstances, but I would be comfortable describing myself as philosophically anti-choice, and generally view abortion as an occasional necessary evil rather than the sign of an enlightened society - though it certainly is a sign of an Enlightened society).

14 November 2012 at 11:41  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

greenalien:

" intent on depriving them of their god given right to deny homosexuals their humanity"

Interesting choice of words.

"How retarded is it to have a hateful, intolerant, bigoted platform and then accuse others of being intolerant and disrespectful towards it? "

I don't know. Do you mean to accuse Cranmer of hypocrisy by calling out bigotry in the EU, or do you mean to imply that Cranmer is the bigot, falsely accusing the EU of bigotry?

Either way, how have you arrived at your definition of bigotry?

14 November 2012 at 11:56  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Well argued, AIB.

Nevermind those guys, greenalien, they're trying to suppress the exercise of your basic and inalienable right given to all free men and women to say the word "bigot." So, you get right on back on that soap box of yours and write a post using the words bigot, bigotted and bigotry at least 50 times. His Grace has a special fondness for the word and I need His Grace's attention this-a-way so he can see my note above on a rather juicy development regarding the BBC. Try it, go on: Bigot. BIGOT! Bigot-bigot-bigot!!!BEEEEEEEEEEEEGOT! Rinse and repeat.

14 November 2012 at 12:06  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

gresham58,

this story has been all over the media here in Ireland this morning. The only conclusion reached is that right now, it is not at all clear why this woman died. You are quoting directly from the Guardian. By definition, you should know that your source is contaminated and the sincerity and motivations of the staff of that paper are questionable to say the least.

14 November 2012 at 12:07  
Blogger bwims said...

So if Turkey joins, how will they be able to have an EU commissioner who is a muslim? They are even more "sexist" and "homophobic" than Roman Catholics aren't they?

14 November 2012 at 13:27  
Blogger GordonHide said...

Opposition to the tenets of a religion does not constitute hostility towards adherents.

Catholics, along with other religions need to support state secularism if they are to maintain their religious freedom against all comers.

When you claim that Christians are denied the right to intervene in public debates I guess you might be complaining about laws recently introduced to stifle public expression of insulting or offensive views. Here I have to agree with you. Freedom of expression is too important to democracy to have it shackled in this way.

However your debating opponents, using their freedom to express themselves, must have the right to dismiss your contribution as "an attempt to protect unjustified privileges".

Your view that Christian moral values have persisted for 2000 years is rubbish. Morality, as it should, has changed significantly in 2000 years and continues to do so. I think it is changing for the better, clearly that is not your view. You must expect opposition in your attempt to turn back the clock.

If there is opposition to the appointment of Tonio Borg because if his moral view, I think it perfectly acceptable. A persons academic qualifications and relevant experience are not the sole criteria for hiring an administrator. If Doctor Borg renounced the tenets which are found inappropriate for a European administrator I am sure opposition would fade.

Nobody seeks to deny anybody the right to hold Catholic views but it is not reasonable for those who don't to support a candidate for a position where those views may affect the candidate's decisions.

It is perfectly reasonable for lobby groups to oppose the appointment of those the appointment of those whom they believe are antithetical to their wellbeing, whether this is a true refection of reality or not.

If the EU supplies funding to some of these bodies it is because they support minorities the EU deems disadvantaged in society.

Considering the funding the Catholic church receives from various EU governments which completely dwarfs EU support for all lobby groups put together and the fact that many of its tenets are viewed as hostile to the public good, I would be inclined to keep a low profile on that front if I were you.

Your characterisation of your views as moderate and reasonable and the lobbyists as dogmatic and intolerant is only an opinion. Many hold an exactly opposite opinion to this.

It is true that modern opinion views Catholic values as antithetical to and incompatible with European values. They are entitled to their opinion just as you are. They are also entitled to lobby for their opinion to be accepted in the halls of power, just as you are. Your complaint seems to be that their argument is accepted while yours is not. That's the way of the democratic process. Learn to live with it.

I have news for you. All moral codes of conduct are coercive of conduct which does not fall within the code. I note that Roman Catholicism still seeks to have elements of its own code enshrined in law. So don't complain when others take steps to ensure that their code of conduct, being the prevailing code, is adhered to.

I see you have tried to enlist Christians as the majority to legitimate your moral views when even the majority of Catholics, much less other denominations, do not adhere to the pope's teachings.

For my part I hope that you will come to see the light of human compassion and forget your lost glory from a time when humanity is more miserable and more ignorant.

14 November 2012 at 14:03  
Blogger GordonHide said...

Opposition to the tenets of a religion does not constitute hostility towards adherents.

Catholics, along with other religions need to support state secularism if they are to maintain their religious freedom against all comers.

When you claim that Christians are denied the right to intervene in public debates I guess you might be complaining about laws recently introduced to stifle public expression of insulting or offensive views. Here I have to agree with you. Freedom of expression is too important to democracy to have it shackled in this way.

However your debating opponents, using their freedom to express themselves, must have the right to dismiss your contribution as "an attempt to protect unjustified privileges".

Your view that Christian moral values have persisted for 2000 years is rubbish. Morality, as it should, has changed significantly in 2000 years and continues to do so. I think it is changing for the better, clearly that is not your view. You must expect opposition in your attempt to turn back the clock.

If there is opposition to the appointment of Tonio Borg because if his moral view, I think it perfectly acceptable. A persons academic qualifications and relevant experience are not the sole criteria for hiring an administrator. If Doctor Borg renounced the tenets which are found inappropriate for a European administrator I am sure opposition would fade.

Nobody seeks to deny anybody the right to hold Catholic views but it is not reasonable for those who don't to support a candidate for a position where those views may affect the candidate's decisions.

It is perfectly reasonable for lobby groups to oppose the appointment of those the appointment of those whom they believe are antithetical to their wellbeing, whether this is a true refection of reality or not.

If the EU supplies funding to some of these bodies it is because they support minorities the EU deems disadvantaged in society.

Considering the funding the Catholic church receives from various EU governments which completely dwarfs EU support for all lobby groups put together and the fact that many of its tenets are viewed as hostile to the public good, I would be inclined to keep a low profile on that front if I were you.

Your characterisation of your views as moderate and reasonable and the lobbyists as dogmatic and intolerant is only an opinion. Many hold an exactly opposite opinion to this.

It is true that modern opinion views Catholic values as antithetical to and incompatible with European values. They are entitled to their opinion just as you are. They are also entitled to lobby for their opinion to be accepted in the halls of power, just as you are. Your complaint seems to be that their argument is accepted while yours is not. That's the way of the democratic process. Learn to live with it.

I have news for you. All moral codes of conduct are coercive of conduct which does not fall within the code. I note that Roman Catholicism still seeks to have elements of its own code enshrined in law. So don't complain when others take steps to ensure that their code of conduct, being the prevailing code, is adhered to.

I see you have tried to enlist Christians as the majority to legitimate your moral views when even the majority of Catholics, much less other denominations, do not adhere to the pope's teachings.

For my part I hope that you will come to see the light of human compassion and forget your lost glory from a time when humanity is more miserable and more ignorant.

14 November 2012 at 14:03  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

I received a reply from one of my MEPs, below, name deleted as said MEP replied to me privately.

"Let me be clear that XXXX and his colleagues are not judging Mr Borg on his views. XXXX agrees with you that actively campaigning against somebody because they are Catholic is completely unacceptable and does not support the idea of rejecting Mr Borg's nomination purely on the basis of his stated views on various issues. XXXX's concern is in fact related to how these views translate into action. In other words, while Mr Borg is entitled to his own views, using such extreme views to define law and policy, and making it a case of conscience above any questioning, would likely prevent him from being an impartial commissioner for public health."


So there you have it:

• Borg is not being judged on his views
• He is not being complained against because he is Catholic
• His nomination should not be rejected on the basis of his stated views
• However, he can be rejected on the basis of how these views may translate into action
• He can therefore hold his own views but cannot use his views to make policy
• To do so would most likely prevent him from being impartial
• He is therefore, most likely, unsuitable

Makes perfect sense, I think. You are allowed to have an opinion as an MEP, but can only bring that opinion to bear in your job if it is an acceptable opinion. It is the EU which decides which opinions are acceptable. Note that Dr Borg has not been appointed yet, so no one can be sure that his opinions (euphemism for Catholicism) would be brought to bear – but better safe than sorry…


14 November 2012 at 14:15  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

There we have it, indeed, Mr Hendrik. In a nutshell. Your MEP has taken it upon himself to adjudicate what are "extreme views" and to lay claim to impartiality.

14 November 2012 at 15:18  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

Yes Avi, and not in a million years could he see that this is the case.

He has become, in his own mind, God...

14 November 2012 at 15:25  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Or, Mr Hendrik, his version of imitatio dei.

14 November 2012 at 16:31  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

GordonHide: "It is true that modern opinion views Catholic values as antithetical to and incompatible with European values. They are entitled to their opinion just as you are. They are also entitled to lobby for their opinion to be accepted in the halls of power, just as you are. Your complaint seems to be that their argument is accepted while yours is not. That's the way of the democratic process. Learn to live with it."

Indeed. On top of an appeal to tradition in order to head off anyone pointing to a potential Muslim candidate with a history of action and asking if his fundamentalist views would be a problem.

14 November 2012 at 18:27  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

A fair point, DanJO. Which is why it's best to leave the EU. The bureaucratic deadwood and the tangle of contradictory and illogical human rights policies they have woven will strangle you all with your own rope.

14 November 2012 at 18:37  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

I say Gordon Hide. A well reasoned objection to Cranmer is your post. Rather a joy to read, although few sentiments agreed with. You see, we have rather a
few self obsessed gay types who appear here and get somewhat tearful, and of course, the resident evangelical atheist who just gets angry…

Well done, that man.



14 November 2012 at 18:37  
Blogger Julia Gasper said...

Ars Hendrik us quite right about the effort being made to impose a single uniform code of ethics, not only of behaviour but also of actual opinion and thought, in the EU (and beyond - wake up to what is happening at the UN folks!)
The riots in Poland relating to this have not been mentioned on our state TV channels nor on ITV, but I do mention them in my blog today and you should all go and search for more information on the internet about the new intolerance and the new dictatorship:-
http://juliagasper.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/eu-hit-by-international-mega-strike.html

14 November 2012 at 18:45  
Blogger Julia Gasper said...

@ Lord Lavendon: Hear, hear!

14 November 2012 at 18:48  
Blogger len said...

The 'offence' of Christianity is that Jesus Christ claims to be 'the Way' and the 'Only Way' to God.

If Jesus had said I am' A Way' there would be no problem with Christianity.Of course He could not say that because Jesus is not 'a' way but' The Way'!.
This brings Christianity into conflict with all other religions because it proclaims them to be false.
The greatest danger to Christianity is that it will compromise with other religions I believe Constantine did this to an extent to' bring peace' to hold his crumbling Empire together.
Of course Christianity cannot unite with other religions with Christ because of the reason illustrated above but there is another way that all religions could unite(except Biblical Christianity which would be excluded... even outlawed)
|Catholicism has elevated 'Mary' to hold [almost.... and in some cases the same] position as Jesus Christ.
Muslims hold' Mary'in a revered position and it cannot be coincidence that the appearances at 'Fatima' coincide with the name of Mohammeds daughter?.

The 'Mary' of Catholicism is certainly not the humble Mary mother of Jesus.

IF and when this multi faith religion appears on the scene it will be a 'Christless' form of religion useless for the purposes of salvation but will be seen as a 'good idea'and a 'vehicle to bring peace and harmony' by those in power.







14 November 2012 at 18:48  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector, you seem desperate to try to cause trouble on every thread you can. Is your life so drab and empty and meaningless, and your self-esteem so low, that behaving like a complete fuckwit online is the only reliable way for you to get enough strokes (in transactional analysis terms) to get through the day. Wouldn't a homemade noose or a few boxes of paracetemol be better for you and everyone else in the long run?

14 November 2012 at 18:53  
Blogger Jack Sprat said...

Greenalien obviously comes from a planet where the life-form has very tiny brains.
He/she/it assumes that whatever the strident homo-porno-abortionists want is necessarily their "right" and other people's ideas simply do not come into the equation.
Please go back to where you came from! Stop butting into a Christian discussion site to rubbish Christian views, and display a contempt for the beliefs of other people.

14 November 2012 at 18:57  
Blogger Jack Sprat said...

PS It is high time that Cranmer purged his site of trolls like DanJO.

14 November 2012 at 18:58  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Oh do shut up, Harriet.

14 November 2012 at 18:59  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Or is it Monica today?

14 November 2012 at 19:00  
Blogger John Magee said...

GordonHide

"Morality has changed as it should"

Morality has not changed only the popular hedonistic secular culture has and it's retreated rapidly over the past 40 years to the worst aspects of the paganism of our ancestors 2,000 years ago.

Stealing, murder, lying, adultery,and other universal negative moral concepts are still the basic legal understanding of probably every nation earth which are punishable, in some way or another, by the courts even in the most liberal and secular nations.

Today's secular morality code and pop cuture has regressed to the degeneracy of hedomism of the last days of the pagan Roman Empire and we will see the same results in the collapse of Western Civilization sooner than we think.

The early Christians were hated then for their moral beliefs that were the exact opposite of the popular culture of the pagan Romans. They were killed for their moral values and beliefs. The Nazi's and Communists in the last century killed them for the same reasons. Once again Christians are hated today but the secular culture but not yet killed them physically. So far they "kill" them in the media by mocking Christ, trashing His Church, and sneering at traditional Christians of all denominations.

How could the creators who dreamed of a United Europe in modern times possibly imagine it could create a European association of nations and at the same time completely abandon it's Christian roots and ignore the myriad of indigenous European ethnic populations and overnight become a secular European empire without a soul?

It is a shame that the creators of the EU are still floundering without a written constitution. When they can finally get organized and try to write, which will not be an easy job, I hope they rediscover their classical European roots and study the United States Constitution which is based on the best ideals European Civilization from the time of the Ancient Greeks, Romans, the Italian Renaissance and The Age Enlightenment. This question of Mr. Borg's religious faith would not be any issue whatsoever had the EU a written Constitution with the following claus which is in the USA Constitution:

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; BUT NO RELIGIOUS TEST SHALL EVER BE REQUIRED AS A QUALIFICATION TO ANY OFFICE OR PUBLIC TRUST under the United States."

Of course bigots questioned JFK's Catholicism and Romney's Mormonism but that was the opinion of bigots and not the law.

The EU must write a Constitution and do it soon.

If Christians are not supposed allow their Christian beliefs to influence their interpretation of the law (laws which oddly enough may be based on Christian beliefs) I hope you are consistant and ask the same of Communists, secular humanists, and Muslims, and others in the future EU Empire.

14 November 2012 at 19:36  
Blogger OldJim said...

GordonHide,

No, opposition to religious tenets does mean opposition to adherents. Of course it does, this is a nonsense. If your secular ideology makes you think that opposition to legalising gay marriage, an institution that has never before existed, means opposition to gay people, and you almost certainly do, then it's disingenuous of you not to concede that opposition to the public expression of Christian Faith, an institution that has existed here for a very long time, is opposition to us.

What you mean is, you don't feel you are depriving us of anything licit by depriving us of some forms of expression in the public sphere, just as we don't believe we are depriving homosexuals of anything licit by depriving them of gay marriage. Consequently, there may be no personal animosity to us as people, just as we do not feel animosity to gay people as people.

"Catholics need to support state secularism if they are to maintain their religious freedom..."

It entirely depends what you mean by state secularism, my olde goose. Separation of Church and state in magna carta was there to protect the Church. A state wasn't to use the timeless, sacred authority of the Church to bolster their own temporal, faltering regime. The state was to leave public expressions of religion to the Church. In other words, no caesaropapism.

What it manifestly did not mean was that doctrines of the Church could not be followed in applying matters of state. Even the documents of the American Revolution do not give precedent for such a novel doctrine, in fact. This is a very recent turn of the screw indeed.

The rest of your post is remarkably lucid: we are dealing with two competing discourses, two moral codes of conduct, both of which will coerce. Very well. But this makes appeals like "Catholics need to support state secularism if they are to maintain their religious freedom" mewling mealy-mouthed nonsense. No more claims from you of secularism being a neutral, transparent container of all other creeds and religions. No more claims of a pluralistic framework for civil society.

You have made yourself very clear. Secularism is a competing discourse, with competing coercive moral claims.

"Entitlement to opinions" as a justification proliferates your piece. Only occasionally are you making reference to freedom of speech, when that criterion is appropriate.

One representative claim is that secularist lobby groups are entitled to "opinions" and to express them as they wish. The implication, note, is that "opinions" aren't merely justification for free speech, but the only qualification for things like the conduct of public lobbying. No question of the rationality of the lobbyists, of whether their behaviour is ethical. All that determines their right to act is "entitlement to opinion".

Yes, I think you've given us a very clear choice, and a remarkably forthright one. I hate it. Your worship of the mere passage of time makes me feel nauseous. And I will do everything in my power to reverse that clock and, once done, break the cogs out of the back.

14 November 2012 at 19:37  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Oh bless ! A communication from the true proprietor of this blog and indeed, the Archbishop’s ‘Supreme Governor’ if you will - DanJ0.

You seem perturbed of late, especially in the light there was a new man in your life a week or two ago. Don’t tell the Inspector, he had his wicked way, and moved on. You poor sod, but don’t give up on romance gay style. (Almost said ‘doggy style’ then, but that would hardly be appropriate and would have only infuriated you further)

Cheery pip old fruit !


14 November 2012 at 19:53  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector, it's simply that you and the other couple of cunts you group with here have pretty much trashed the threads on a daily basis for a year or more so that it's hardly worth contributing anything remotely meaningful these days.

14 November 2012 at 20:13  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

The Remembrance Day thread could have been an interesting side discussion, and finally one free of homophobic crap, about the politicisation of event but you had to jump in immediately when you saw my comment to cause trouble on there too.

14 November 2012 at 20:20  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

len said ...

"The 'Mary' of Catholicism is certainly not the humble Mary mother of Jesus."

*sigh*

So now you've become an overnight expert on Fatima! Was the miracle there and the message given to the world diabolic?

Our Blessed Lady, Mother of God, is in Heaven now with her Jesus,
Christ, the King.

14 November 2012 at 20:24  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

DanJ0

Language, please! There are ladies present. What disgraceful conduct.

14 November 2012 at 20:26  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0. YOU are the one who proudly announces he is gay every opportunity you get. You types can’t help yourself. Of the raft of problems you have, the biggest is to secure acceptance of your condition from an uninterested heterosexual public. For example, are you interested in the fact the bachelor Inspector sometimes goes to sleep semi dreaming that Fiona Bruce is in there with him. No didn’t think you would be. So there you go...


14 November 2012 at 20:27  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector, I doubt there's anyone here who doesn't think you're obsessed with homosexuality. Heck, it's been pointed out to you by some of the Christians here too. Even when the articles are not about it, which seems quite rare these days, you're straight in there. You must think about it almost constantly. I'm a self-identifying gay man and you seem to spend more time than me thinking gay thoughts. It's about time you were more honest with yourself, I think.

14 November 2012 at 20:35  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Here we go again ....

14 November 2012 at 20:40  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "There are ladies present"

One of whom spends half her time posting as a man.

14 November 2012 at 20:40  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "Here we go again ...."

I thought that on the thread below that I've just been reading. Yet another winner for you and your running mates.

14 November 2012 at 20:42  
Blogger John Magee said...

Inspector

Sometimes I think that when Gays came out of the closet it was like opening Pandora's Box.
They have become extremely anoying as I knew they would. When will they shut up and get on with their lives.

They at last have full equality. This shows how just our governments are. Now they have to deal with it and stop belly aching all the time. I am tired of their "in your face" behavior.

Another thing. Gays have to realize they are less than 3% of the population and not 15% or more they wrongly claim AND that every handsome straight male is secretly waiting to be seduced by the likes of Miss DanJO and his ilk ...

14 November 2012 at 21:01  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

John Magee: "Miss DanJO"

Yet another homophobic Catholic twunt.

14 November 2012 at 21:04  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

You know, I've just been watching the DIY SOS special for Children in Need on TV. Warm-glow stuff showing humanity at its best. Compare and contrast with what some of the Christians here are up to. Jeez.

14 November 2012 at 21:13  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Ladies and Gentlemen, esteemed guests, Archbishop, Your Majesty.

We are all present tonight to witness one of natures true wonders. When the erstwhile gay grub DanJ0 metamorphosesizes into a bitter and spiteful Old Queen. An amazing sight and something the Inspector believes, we will not forget. While ‘she’ finds her six legs, watch in awe as the creature justifies sodomy and his pal CS, always with a pleading and begging tone. We of course, must not only tolerate him and his kind, but stand back applauding as they corrupt marriage...


14 November 2012 at 21:20  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector, you're a never-married Catholic in his 50s who lives on his own. I think it's pretty obvious what you are, and why you're like you are here. The person who won't actually face it is you. You should thank the rest of us for civilising society so that if you resolve your internal conflicts then you'll be free to live harmlessly according to your true nature. Well, that's if you are actually capable of age-appropriate relationships after all this time, of course.

14 November 2012 at 21:27  
Blogger John Magee said...

Miss DanJO

Here's a poem dedicated to you. It's the first "poem" I heard on the street when I was a boy back in 1954:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue
I've got five fingers,
And one of them is for YOU!

It's not Robert Browning and may be juvenile but I mean it with all my heart.

:)

14 November 2012 at 22:03  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0, I think it's pretty obvious what you are, and why you're like you are here.

Keep it coming gay boy. The Inspector found exactly the same when he was posting at gay news, before being banned - “What the hell is a fella like you doing here when you don’t have to be”

The Inspector is a rather inquisitive type. Hence the name. He’s also interested in riots and their causes. By your feeble logic, that makes him a potential rioter.

This recent ex lover of yours. He hurt you, didn’t he...

14 November 2012 at 22:14  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

By DanJ0's 'reasoning' all bachelors living celebate lives on their own are repressed homosexuals.

Yep, gotta hand it to him. The man's powers of logic are exceptional.

14 November 2012 at 22:16  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Mr Magee

That poem wasn't a terribly good one. Also, it is capable of being misunderstood by the recepient.

Do try to be more sensitive!

14 November 2012 at 22:43  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Magee @ 22.03, a possible explanation for the current hyper-activity on this website by homosexuals and secularists lies in the moral collapse of the BBC.

Historically, the capture of the BBC by the Liberal-Left has been a masterstroke for them, enabling a tax-payer funded promotion of their ideals over several generations. Now all is in disarray following the Jimmy Saville scandal and the remarkable unresearched BBC attack on Lord (Alastair) MacAlpine, a former Treasurer of the Conservative party and confidant of Margaret Thatcher. Politically, the BBC is suddenly reduced to playing the equivalent of elevator music. This is a massive blow to the Progressive agenda as there is no comparable media exposure to that provided by the BBC for the Progressive cause.

Note too that His Grace is tweeting reports that UK PM Cameron has falsified the figures in favour of SSM following recent opinion polls. Another blow to the credibility of the Progressives. Not that Cameron is really an asset, more a liability these days.

14 November 2012 at 22:50  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Ha! Yes! Yes! Finally! Someone finally remembers the BBC at 22:50! (Jumping frantically up and down, waving both hands at passerby).

Yes, there's the Jimmy Saville thing, the attack on Lord (Alastair) MacAlpine, but the recently busted "BBC 28 Gate" has yet to make it on he news, I see. And that one is bigger than all of the others because it's a certified conspiracy which is unravelling as we chat.

See http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/11/12/breaking-the-secret-list-of-the-bbc-28-is-now-public/#more-74210

14 November 2012 at 23:48  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Do we know the nature of the conspiracy?

Was it a Jesuit inspired plot? Or Mason? Perhaps Jewish? Maybe all three!

A Catjudmas cabal operating somewhere near you ....

A mere list of names is no good.

15 November 2012 at 00:02  
Blogger Julia Gasper said...

I can't imagine why Cranmer goes on tolerating some very peculiar and gross people on this sites. A typical list of rules applied by other sites:-

1. Avoid profanities or foul language.
2. Stay on topic.
3. No ad hominem attacks.

Why not apply that here? It seems pretty reasonable to me. No need to mention names - no one can be in any doubt who the trolls are.

15 November 2012 at 00:08  
Blogger Julia Gasper said...

Inspector says to troll "Of the raft of problems you have, the biggest is to secure acceptance of your condition from an uninterested heterosexual public."
Wrong, what he wants to do is to foist his condition on other people like a flasher, impose it like someone shouting at a victim they have got pinned against a wall. He wants to inflict his own obsession on other people.
The more he does it the more obvious it becomes that he is maladjusted.

15 November 2012 at 00:12  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Julia Gasper said ...

"I can't imagine why Cranmer goes on tolerating some very peculiar and gross people on this site."

Welcome aboard!

15 November 2012 at 00:13  
Blogger Julia Gasper said...

If folks here do follow Ars Hendrik's good advice and write to their MEPs, it would be a good idea to paraphrase the letter or use your own words entirely. It would have more impact. And stop and think a moment about the last line. How can any MEP ensure that a lobbying campaign is unsuccessful? They cannot stop other MEPs from being influenced by thousands of militants all writing to their own MEPs.
What you ought to include in your letter is a protest against the public funding of these pressure groups which are intent on excluding others from the political process. Then write to your MP and protest about the same thing here!

15 November 2012 at 00:26  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Gasper: "No need to mention names - no one can be in any doubt who the trolls are."

I'm in no doubt, Harriet. In fact, it's tempting to expose one of the recent ones in a much more wide-reaching and more public way.

15 November 2012 at 00:29  
Blogger Julia Gasper said...

Inspector to troll, "You seem perturbed of late, especially in the light there was a new man in your life a week or two ago. Don’t tell the Inspector, he had his wicked way, and moved on. You poor sod...."

Oh dear, is that why the troll is in rather a foul mood today? I wasn't following the whole soap opera.
Wham, bam and then he didn't call. That's awful!

15 November 2012 at 00:33  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Harriet?

15 November 2012 at 00:38  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector: "The Inspector is a rather inquisitive type."

There's always the "I was researching for a book" excuse if you're stuck. It's been done before at least a couple of times.

15 November 2012 at 00:41  
Blogger Julia Gasper said...

From Urban Dictionary:-
An internet troll is a person who uses anonymity to cause frustration, anger, impatience or to generally be disruptive for no seemingly good reason EXCEPT to be that nuisance.
Most are souless bastards, touched by daddy/priest, and instead of coping with that trauma in a healthy way, take out their aggression, anger, impotence, frustration on others.
Trolls -
-have problems forming real-life relationships; have a hard time attracting members of the opposite/same sex,generally introverts. Though some are 'trolls-in-hiding', most are skill-less loners.

General troll behavior:disruptive forum posts; the posts are generally off-topic, or unnecessarily combative. Each contemporary popular website has its own sub-genre of troll

-can be male or female, mostly males, including the popular 'gender bender'44 yo man that acts like 14 yo girl

Recognize anyone?

15 November 2012 at 00:41  
Blogger John Magee said...

Bluedog

It's exactly the same on this side of the Gulf Stream. Our Version of the BBC is PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) which is partially supported by the tax payers. Since the early 70's its been dominated by the left and they whine when conservatives want their tax payer funding cut unless there is some balance in their programing. Of course the rest of our radio and TV stations are privately owned. When PBS refused to show an excellent Canadian documentary about Stalin's forced Ukrainian famine I stopped watching that network.

To give credit where credit is due the BBC has given the world some great stuff. I remember back in 1971 "Elizabeth R" starrring Glynda Jackson, "Upstairs Downstairs", "The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries" by Dorothy Sayers" and lots more wonderful TV entertainment we enjoyed here too. Especially the many mystery series adapted from famous British mystery writers from the past and modern writers too.

One of my all time favorite series was "Mapp and Lucia" by E.F. Benson. Another was "one Foot in the Grave" produced by the BBC? I am the American version of Victor Meldrew. He is my hero. "Keeping Up Apperances" was very funny. Onslow and Daisy are my kind of people.

Miss DanJO. Somehow I picture you in my mind's eye as a Hyacinth Bucket (viewers know it's pronounced "Bouquet") type of guy? Is this possible?

All this was good matrial but a government owned media needs competition.Other than PBS USA the media is all privately owned.

15 November 2012 at 00:53  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Urban dictionary is an interesting reference choice, Laurence.

15 November 2012 at 00:54  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Dodo, very funny. But real conspiracies are not, which is why there are all sorts of racketeering laws against them.

You'll need to read the link above and you can check out your countryman Tall Bloke's blog. Essentially the BBC violated its own charter by inviting a whole bunch of PR people, including an American consular official and a BP exec to devise ways of maniplating the news and pushing "climate change" as an emergency. Then they told a judge that they had a meeting of "scientists," and the judge put a publication ban on the members of the "cabal." The list...and some of the names are quite nteresting... got blown by an American blogger who dug it up, legally, from the Wayback engine; a website which archives websites.

But the guy who broke the story, Maurizio of Omnologos blog, has a a better summary than mine, one geared to lazy old birds like you:

http://omnologos.com/why-the-list-of-participants-to-the-bbc-cmep-jan-2006-seminar-is-important/

15 November 2012 at 00:55  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Laurence?

15 November 2012 at 00:58  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

John Magee: "Miss DanJO. Somehow I picture you in my mind's eye as a Hyacinth Bucket (viewers know it's pronounced "Bouquet") type of guy? Is this possible?"

Blimey, you're spot on. It's my obvious horror of the uncouth that's brought that image to mind, I expect. In return, I see you as a bit of a Rigsby from Rising Damp. Especially around people like Philip.

15 November 2012 at 01:04  
Blogger John Magee said...

Julia

During my former incarnations in long dead chat rooms I was often called a "troll". I always thought trolls lived in Norway under bridges over streams. They wore red hats, had hairy bodies, terribel teeth, and kidnapped little blond children on their way to their grandma's house. I am not from Norway and I do not usually wear a red hat and have never kidnapped chidlren.

Even so, your brutal discription of a classic internet "troll" has made me paranoid...

AND it's the funniest discription of one I have ever read. Julia. You get an A+!

15 November 2012 at 01:07  
Blogger John Magee said...

DanJO

I'm the real life spitting image Yankee twin of Victor Meldrew. He is, as I mentioned above, my hero.

Thank the Lord I am not your neighbor.

15 November 2012 at 01:14  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Now it has been suggested Mr Magee is a sleezy repressed homosexual too!

(Rather disturbing choice as Leonard Rossiter has recently been accussedof performing a "sex act" whilst watching a teenage boy being raped.)

Be warned, you can expect lots of future attention from DanJ0.

15 November 2012 at 01:16  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

You'll confuse poor Mr Magoo. He spends enough time googling historical facts for his monologues without being distracted trying to link Philip to your flight of fancy there.

15 November 2012 at 01:28  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Magoo, Philip is black and charming and educated while Rigsby is racist and none of those two things. There, saved you the trouble.

15 November 2012 at 01:32  
Blogger John Magee said...

Pardon all my typos. It's difficult for us old trolls to use these mini keyboards the rest of you use. My 5 inch long fingernails often get in the way when trying to type as fast as I think. Even the "hunt an peck" school of typing is difficult for us. A keyboard as wide as a piano keyboard would be nice.

15 November 2012 at 01:33  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I'll tell you what, I can't imagine where the widely-held stereotype of Christians being homophobic bigots comes from. It hardly seems fair, really.

15 November 2012 at 01:39  
Blogger John Magee said...

Miss DanJO

"Philip is black and charming and educated while Rigsby is racist and none of those two things."

Like most liberals you assume too much. You forget I have defended Gays being EQUAL citizens with full civil rights.

I am secure enough with who I am that I can laugh at myself (Victor Meldrew), and can admit I make mistakes (many typos) and will admit when I am factually in error.

Sure, I Google, but I have enough general knowledge from over 50 years of reading and life exprience that I know where to go to fill in the gaps so that I can post what I want to say here and be accurate. That's so geniuses like you can't call me a liar.

Anyone can Google but not everyone can use Google. Understand? I can connect the dots to get the information I need.

Any objections?

15 November 2012 at 02:03  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Tad defensive there, Magoo.

15 November 2012 at 06:39  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Right, I'm about done here I think.

15 November 2012 at 06:48  
Blogger GordonHide said...

@OldJim

It is true that people have been persecuted for their ideas. However, I don't believe that this is happening in this case. Coercion to conform to public morality does not constitute persecution. Has there been even one instance of a Christian being harmed or deprived of their rights because of their views?

Yes, what I mean by state secularism is that the government and its various organs treats all persons equally irrespective of of their philosophical position provided they obey the law.

Of course the government is likely to conform to the prevailing moral code of conduct which will be coercive of individuals who do not conform. This does not and should not mean that individuals are prevented from expressing opposition to the status quo as long as they don't break the law. I have already admitted that some bad law has been passed in recent times which tries to limit insulting or hateful expression. But even if such laws were not there you cannot expect the insulted to take it lying down and not respond in kind.

Of course as society becomes more pluralistic and accommodates more diverse philosophical points of view any one philosophy can expect its tenets to feature less and less in the law of the land.

You clearly have a view that the law and public morality will favour secularists, by which I mean in this case people of no religion. But people of no religion are as varied in philosophy as theists and will certainly not all be accommodated. You have to accept the fact that law and public morality will tend to reflect the majority position, or at least the plurality position. You could take comfort from the fact that persons of no religion do not coalesce into lobby organisations to any great extent. They are pretty well all rugged individualists. That means their voice in government will not only be muted considering their numbers but they will never settle on a common platform.

In jurisdictions where the Catholic faith predominates the government may well legitimately claim itself to be secular but that will not mean that Catholic moral principles will not generally predominate. I understand that in Ireland a non-Catholic woman has been allowed to die for want of an abortion. But she was not discriminated against. All women in her position would have met the same fate.

State secularism may not be your ideal in a largely non-Catholic or non-conforming Catholic population but it's better than all the alternatives that could realistically come to pass.

When Muslims form the largest practising religious group do you really want their tenets to predominate in government?

If the racist right gains control of European governments will you really be happy to see those people whose philosophy opposes them persecuted just for having a different opinion.

Lastly you seem to believe there is some standard of ethics outside of the control of society. I cannot help you here. If you do not understand that morality is dynamic and alters to meet the needs of dynamic societies you are always going to be disappointed on this front.

By the way, what on earth do you mean by my worshipping the passage of time. Is this an expression of your fear of the dynamic nature of the human condition?

15 November 2012 at 09:31  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"Yes, what I mean by state secularism is that the government and its various organs treats all persons equally irrespective of of their philosophical position provided they obey the law."

It's how this looks in practice that's the issue. If it means that religious people are only opposed for their convictions when they actually break with the law, then that's fair enough. A law outlawing prayer (to use a hyperbolic example) would be used to sentence those who actually did so, not those who might do so. Anyone with firm religious convictions is likely to hold to them even under threat of punishment.

The issue shouldn't be that - we should all be subject to the same law. The issue is whether it becomes the defacto position that anyone not wholly signed up to the prevailing philosophy is unfit to hold office. Secularists with no faith frequently advocate for a position not enormously removed from this (though it is always worth repeating the fact that many are equally opposed to draconian measures against believers). "You can believe what you want in private just don't let it influence the public sphere".

The problem is that for those who do possess strong religious convictions, it's not a hobby, but a way of living. For a Christian, the public/private division, as far as personal morality goes, is immaterial under an omniscient God. That doesn't mean that we should necessarily expect the law to reflect entirely our beliefs where they are not shared by the majority of citizens - but it does mean that the Secularist solution cannot work. All it can do, is act as a warning signal that working with particular agencies is likely to be increasingly difficult for believers. It's up to us how we choose to respond to that fact.

However, personally, I regard the example of Daniel to be the best. Because we do not recognise the secular philosophy, we will live as though Christian morality is in effect. That may mean being denied jobs, or even forced out of them, but it shouldn't stop us applying, or working. Neither should it be a rallying call to deliberately go an pray in the face of the King's advisors; work so that there is no excuse for criticism, and obey God.

15 November 2012 at 11:09  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

One further point: I accept that there are a number of strong benefits to having constitutional safeguards against particular ideological positions that are regarded as objectionable. However, I think that it is actually yourself who is being naive if you really believe they will prevent Sharia law coming into effect if the majority of the UK's population really was Muslim.

Constitutions are only as binding as the present generation wish them to be. Which is a curious oversight given your closing remark that there is no ethical standard outside of "the control of society". If you truly believe that, surely a future majority racist society would be, by definition, ethical on its own terms, even if it would be unethical to dinosaurs like you and I who don't go with the times.

15 November 2012 at 11:28  
Blogger OldJim said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

15 November 2012 at 13:56  
Blogger OldJim said...

AiB hits most of what I wished to say right on the head, which is not unusual for he is a smart chap

If you really mean that ethics is a "dynamic", purely positivist construction, then all you can possibly mean when you ask if I really "want" muslim tenets to predominate in government or whether I'll be "happy" to see suppression of minority opinions is precisely what you say.

It's not a matter of conscience that I or you or we must prevent these things from happening, and it wouldn't be a violation of conscience to passively obey them should they come along - we would merely be keeping up to date with this wonderful dynamic morality.

The problem is with us - it is not that these things would be contrary to reason or the moral law - if society were to say they were right then they would be right - it's that we humans find it quite hard to pick up new tricks, and so, unfortunately we'd continue to find the new dynamic morality distasteful or unable to make us happy.

Must be something wrong with us.

15 November 2012 at 14:00  
Blogger OldJim said...

But of course you do not think that Islam will take over the west or the the racist right will win it.

You said earlier that "Morality, as it should, has changed significantly in 2000 years and continues to do so. I think it is changing for the better, clearly that is not your view. You must expect opposition in your attempt to turn back the clock."

See, I'm an odd relic for imagining that there is a real morality really "out there".

You, on the other hand are a modern rational person because you believe that there is no absolute morality, that morality changes, and that it is changing for the better

See, to me, that moral relativism coupled with that implied absolute standard looks like palpable nonsense.

But you are a modern rational person who has gone well beyond my old fashioned logic, realising that logic is a dynamic thing, and that there is no absolute logic.

Nonetheless, your logic is newer and better. Despite there being no standard of logic.

Does that go some of the way to answering what I meant when I referred to "worshipping the mere passage of time"?

All modern whigs and secularists and atheists do. It is almost a rule.

15 November 2012 at 14:08  
Blogger OldJim said...

please note what I am saying

I am not saying that I know every detail of the moral law and how each law and right weighs against the other in perfect detail.

I am not saying that society cannot come to a fuller understanding of the moral law.

I am not saying that economic or social conditions cannot impoverish on the one hand and enrich on the other society's understanding and application of morality.

But to deny that there is such a thing as morality with a capital M, so that whatever prevails at the time goes, and then to insist that what prevails now is better than what prevailed before

that is to learn your morality neither from scripture nor from reason nor from stories nor from family, all of which are healthy sources

but to shut your ears to all of those and shout "there is no objective morality!" as though you were a sceptic

and then sit down cross legged in front of the throne of that monstrous insane despot, Time himself, who knows no inner logic or compulsion, and say "you know what is best"

And as though that weren't sufficiently scary, so many people now think like you that your mark on the history books will be entirely determined by this philosophy, so whilst at least the history you read was influenced by men and women who had beliefs in an objective morality, bits and pieces rubbing off on you even contrary to your beliefs, your children's history, which they in turn will worship, will have been written by and about men who did not believe in morality at all, and were entirely in thrall to the meaningless waves of the ravages of time themselves.

15 November 2012 at 14:25  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Yasher koakh*, OldJim.

---------
*Lit. "May your strength be firm," or "way to go."

15 November 2012 at 14:47  
Blogger Tim Idle said...

Malta's Borg sails through parliamentary hearing
Published: 14 November 2012
Tonio Borg, the Maltese nominee for the European Commission's health and consumer protection portfolio, sailed through a three-hour Parliamentary vetting yesterday (13 November) despite repeated questioning about his views on abortion and gay rights.

Published on EurActiv (http://www.euractiv.com)
Source URL: http://www.euractiv.com/health/borg-sails-parliamentary-hearing-news-516024

15 November 2012 at 17:08  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Just gotta give it to both AIB and Old Jim.

"Maith a dúirt, uaisle!"
(Well said, gentlemen.)

15 November 2012 at 19:31  
Blogger John Magee said...

Old Jim

A constitution can reflect moral law and have nothing to do with organized religion when it's foundations are based on universal laws of individual rights and privacy. It seems to me the EU wants to try and completely erase it's almost 2,000 years of Christian history in the name of what I call Uber Secularism.

If you would please take the time and read the United States Constitution, which has been working just fine for the past 223 years through enormous changes in that society. At least read it's first Ten Amendments, The Bill of Rights, which were written to protect the people FROM and all powerful government. I believe it's the first time in history a people have a document that protects them from their government...

Europe's difficulty is most of it's people have been used to until relatively recently and with few exceptions, one being Switzerland, having their leaders either a person (a monarch), the Church, or a dictator. Or a any combination of all three.

You can't have a completely secular society side by side with a monarchy. Monarchies are either supported by the church or the ARE the state church. A monarchy is also incompatable with secularism because a monarch represent the past and nationalist tratitions secularists what to demolish.

A EU Constution would have to erase the past. This of course would make dramatic changes in places like Britain, Italy, and parts of other countries where churches still enjoy special status. In Britian it would have to mean the eventual end of the Monarchy as it exists today.

People could rebel or start civil wars when they realize they will lose their national or regional identities to the EU megga state.

A few years ago in Roman Catholic Bavaria in Southern Germany and in RC Italy Muslim minorities went to German and Italian courts and tried to get crucifixes taken down from court rooms and schools. They failed. Under a secular EU Constitution they would have won and that tradition which represented the wishes of the majority would have vanished.

Can Europe give up the traditional religious aspects of their past? Do they want to? They will have to under a secular EU Constitution.

A written constitution that is just and allows no exceptions will last until the people are ready to allow their freedoms taken from them by a megga government which promises them the welfare state but only if the people are willing to cooperate with that same government knowing their benefits will be taken away. Europe is already a welfare state with the majority of the populations addicted to their welfare systems (we see the results of this with the riots in Greece and Spain).

The other propblem is political correctness. If this concept is to become part of a EU Constituion it's purpose is defeated from the beginning because no person or group can be favored (or discriminated against) by a just Constitution. We know today that Muslims will make demands for special status and exceptions and of course they will be given these things and that immediately makes a constitution that would cave into such demands worthless from the world go.

A just and lasting constitution can be easily made so perfect in it's first statements guaranteeing individual freedoms it needs never to be changed. Amendments would be allowed in the future by a majority of a 2/3'd vote of the the representitives of the people.

That is of course, if the people still matter. Look what happened when the Danes rejected the Maastrich Treaty in 1992.Then there whose those persnickety Irish who rejetced the Lisbon treaty in 2008.

15 November 2012 at 21:57  
Blogger GordonHide said...

@AnonymousInBelfast

The government will only take action if the law is broken. However, individuals or groups may take action,(within the law), if the prevailing moral code of conduct is infringed.

It goes without saying that if a government uses the law to unnecessarily infringe the freedom of individuals when said individuals were no threat to their fellows, we will all be on the barricades.

People may or may not be unfit to hold office. The question is do the elected representatives of the people believe an individual is unfit to hold a particular office because of his principles. They are often given the power to make that decision and that is legitimate.

In general democratic governments bend over backwards to allow religious conscience some leeway in obeying the law. But most politicians draw the line if other citizens or minors would be seriously impacted by a requested religious opt out.

It is true that state secularism only works to some extent. When the moral diversity of the population is too great the society will cease to function as a co-operating group and the government will, in the last extreme, use force to coerce the minimum level of societal co-operation required for society to operate effectively.

Any group in a civilised society will have the option of civil disobedience, but they must be prepared to pay the price for this.

I don't know how you got the idea that I was advocating constitutional safeguards against particular ideological positions. I've never considered the matter.

It is however true that some future racist society would undoubtedly appear ethical in its own terms. Witness apartheid South Africa.

However, I will have something more pertinent to say on possible future society morality later in the next post.

15 November 2012 at 22:46  
Blogger GordonHide said...

@OldJim

I shall answer your remarks as though sarcasm didn't exist

I do believe that moral codes of conduct are dynamic and pertain only to the group that operates them.

My comment asking if you would like to see Muslim tenets predominating in government was related to your cry for special consideration for your religious point of view. You base your demand on Europe's cultural history they would probably base theirs on being the religion with the most active supporters.

My point was that strict neutrality between groups, although by no means perfect, is a strong defence in maintaining both religious freedom and functioning democracy.

WE don't have to wait for the future to see what happens when some subgroup does not subscribe to the moral code of conduct in Europe. In the case of some Catholics today they believe that they as Catholics should get special treatment. Well that's not likely to happen but you have every right to advocate for it.

You are right that I believe the Muslims have no chance. I'm not so sure about the fascist right.

--See, I'm an odd relic for imagining that there is a real morality really "out there"--

Well, if the cap fits by all means wear it.

I understand that your understanding of how morality works is radically different to mine. I'm not going to try and set you straight. It would take too long and probably wouldn't work anyway.

Suffice it to say that you don't know enough about my moral philosophy, (if I can use that conceit), to criticize it as palpable nonsense.

Logic and mathematics are entirely human constructs. We wrote the rules and are unlikely to change them as these tools have proved amazingly good at modelling the real world.

I see now that your criticism about worshipping time had no basis in anything I actually said.

I don't insist that modern Western morality will always continue to improve but I think our most modern societies are improving in terms of the general wellbeing and that is in no small part due to the moral code of conduct in use. Of course I accept that the standard I use to compare different societies is itself relative to my own preferences.

Nevertheless there is more objective data. (That is objective in the sense that measurements can be applied to all the extant societies by different researchers and reasonable comparisons made).

In the last analysis the most effective moral system will give its operators a better chance of long term survival. In that sense only history can effectively arbitrate in this matter.

My view of morality is formulated using logic. My personal moral code of conduct is the one I share with other members of the society I live in. I am not aware that I have had any part in constructing its details.

Your ranting only betrays your ignorance about the real nature, purpose and mode of creation of a real, in use, moral code of conduct.

15 November 2012 at 22:50  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

How does one apply objective data to moral decisions? That's not a rhetorical comeback, but a serious question, as it seems to me the way in which we relate to evidence, and how we order knowledge underpins most endeavours at morality.

If you're interested, I'd be happy to outline why I don't adhere to a system of morality contingent primarily on objective evidence (I'll try and keep it brief I promise!)

You are correct that neither OldJim nor myself know enough about your moral code to make direct personal judgements, but if I might put it like this: we know enough from your posts about your hermeneutic approach to know that your understanding of what morality actually is is very different from our own (specific codes aside).

16 November 2012 at 00:51  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Re 21:57. Must admit, a good essay with some interesting and new angles, John Magee. Looks like you're having a ball on this site, aren't you?

16 November 2012 at 01:12  
Blogger OldJim said...

Mr Hide,

If my rhetoric seems unkind or I sound like I am "ranting" then I want you to know that it is not because I intend to disparage you. I do mean to disparage the view you seem to hold.

You are quite right that I might be insufficiently informed to critique your moral philosophy (yes, please do use those words, I should be much more worried if you did not), but I can only go on what I have read, and what I have read is indicative of a view I often encounter, and one which does make absolutely no sense.

"I think our most modern societies are improving in terms of the general wellbeing and that is in no small part due to the moral code of conduct in use. Of course I accept that the standard I use to compare different societies is itself relative to my own preferences."

Are they most modern because they have the higherst general wellbeing? Or do they have the highest general wellbeing because they are most modern?

And what does having the "highest general wellbeing" mean in any case? For if it means life for people is better by some absolute standard then you do have at least one absolute standard in morality - "a society which has the highest general wellbeing has the highest moral code"

then we need only unpick what "general wellbeing" means to you to find your own absolute morality.

Or perhaps a society with the highest wellbeing needn't have the highest moral code. In which case your objection will point the way to a second absolute principle.

But if you mean that the standard of "wellbeing" that you are using is the one relative to your own preferences, you cannot be using the word "moral" in any recognisable way at all.

"These societies are ones I like by relative mutable preferences more - I think in no small part because they have higher moral codes (i.e. ones that more closely resemble my own relative preferences)"

Isn't that a tautology at bottom in any case?

"Nonetheless there is more objective data"
Yes. But if you interpret it objectively...

well, look, if you say "economic conditions in Britain are objectively better for the average person than at any other time in its history, therefore society has improved"

you may think you are being objective without claiming an absolute moral code, but you are not. Properly philosophically parsed, "economic conditions are better" involves a value judgement on how economic conditions ought to be - i.e. an absolute moral judgement, and for you to say this suffices to prove that Britain is better now than it was involves a second value judgement.

16 November 2012 at 02:14  
Blogger OldJim said...

"In the last analysis the most effective moral system will give its operators a better chance of long term survival. In that sense only history can effectively arbitrate in this matter."

Again, scary worship of the mere passage of time, as well as overtones of the old pagan "might makes right"

Can I presume from your use of "long term survival" that you are bringing an evolutionary hermeneutic to bear on the issue?

The question then becomes "do you mean its operators individually, or corporately?"

If individually, then the best moral code will be to give the most effective public appearance of following the moral code, whilst surreptitiously exploiting our fellows. Perhaps we will help our kin, for the sake of our genetic inheritance, but we will ruthlessly exploit anyone else given the opportunity. This (defection) is the most effective strategy for an individual's long term survival.

If on the other hand you mean corporately, I would be interested to see how you can come to a mechanism for a corporate long term survival without invoking the long-defunct "group selection" theory.

Even then, a corporate group, of course, is only concerned with its members - again, there is no reason why they should not ruthlessly exploit members outside the group, and every reason why they should.

This particular "moral theory" seems on its own to precisely justify something like racism...

And of course the big point is that you are still not getting to the absolute relativity that you claim. You have just retreated to one objective moral claim about morality. Not "Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself." - and derive all morality from here

but rather "what would give its operators the greatest long-term survival?" - and derive all your morality from here

Surely you can see why I would find this troubling?

16 November 2012 at 02:28  
Blogger OldJim said...

In short, Mr Hide

This modern atheist rationality consists in the main of a retreat from and an insistence of the abdication of Reason in a whole set of domains in which she has historically presided.

For example, there is no good rational reason why we cannot apply rationality to metaphysics or to morality, so far as I know. It is just that the new forms of atheism prefer for these to be arational domains, and insist that there can be only preferences.

Of course it is reasonable not to apply reason in the domain of morality if that domain is not amenable to reason, but I have seen no demonstration of this. Rather, this new philosophy simply insists that the application is illegitimate, and, having passed through, insists there can be only opinion in morality and in philosophy. It prefers it this way.

Of course, this is entirely against the common instinct of humanity (and I do not feel contempt for the common instinct of humanity); and so at every turn even you who believe it come close to making "objective" claims.

Claims like "general wellbeing" or "objective standards" or "long-term survival"; sometimes even (and more nakedly) "modern" - as though these would suffice to make some objective claim without that objective value judgement you insist cannot be made.

it is only "long-term survival" of these that has any legs if your scheme is to be consistent - and only naturalistically i.e. the claim is not "I follow this morality because it is objectively better to ensure my/my family's/humanity's long term survival" but "whatever my rational beliefs about the morality I follow, in reality I follow it blindly because evolution has encoded in me a moral disposition that will enhance my long term survival"

Note that I don't see any evidence that that last will look anything like a "morality" that either you or I should recognise or wish to follow. Rank exploitation when we cannot be caught out will feature.

Earlier, when I pointed out your justification of any lobby group activity by the mere qualification of "opinion" - as though this activity were just an extension of free speech and required no moral checks and balances or other requirements - I thought I was pointing out something that seemed quite odd, and imagined that it was you justifying groups you agreed with, when you would be horrified if religious lobbying groups did the same thing.

I retract that implication; you are being consistent. There are no objective or reasonable moral claims, and so, just as in the sphere of human speech there can only be "free speech" (something I support because it is better than the alternative, not because all speech is reasonable or worthwhile; something your philosophy would seem to lead to seeing as a good in itself, given there is no rational or worthwhile speech on some topics, only differing relative preferences to express), in the sphere of human action there can only be "opinion", except where society chooses to bind it.

This is worship of might is right, this is worship of the preferences of the greatest number, this is worship of the passage of time, this is a dereliction of reason.

I am not attempting to slander you, I am not foaming at the mouth. I am being quite dispassionate.

16 November 2012 at 03:04  
Blogger OldJim said...

Mr Magee

I find your comments very interesting and you touch on a conflict within my heart.

You are of course a passionate and patriotic American. I value passion, I value patriotism and I value the values of the USA.

Nonetheless, you will have noticed the theme that I am harping on most strongly here: the whole "mere passage of time" thing.

I have disliked this most strongly since I found something I most disliked: whiggery, the ideology that first instantiated this belief that "things can only get better"

But of course American conservatism is whiggery. It is wholly of a piece with the English Commonwealth and the Glorious Revolution; historical instances I certainly could not praise unreservedly if I could find it within me to praise them at all.

And yet when whiggery ceases to be a subversive element within my own history and instead becomes the founding principle of your own "city on the hill" I cannot say other than that I feel some admiration for it.

It is a contradiction I am trying to make sense of in my own heart.

Avi, and Dodo
Thank you for your show of solidarity, I do indeed draw strength from it.

16 November 2012 at 03:25  
Blogger IanCad said...

Hardly enough time to read and even less to digest all the excellent epistles on this thread.

John Magee @ 21:57 has posted a terrific tribute to the US. Constitution, which has served its citizens so well.

However, I am a bit confused by his reference to the Bavarian/ Italian religious symbology which, under US law, would also be banned in all state funded schools and courtrooms.
Or, at least they would be if consistency were part of the legal system.
In the 2003 Supreme Court upheld Alabama's ruling removing the Ten Commandments from courts under their jurisdiction. A decision met with outrage at the time but now accepted as necessary to a land that values the liberties enshrouded in its constitition.

16 November 2012 at 09:07  
Blogger GordonHide said...

@AnonymousInBelfast

I think we are all consequentialists at least to some extent. We try to predict the outcome of our decisions. The much better quality of knowledge about the real world that we now have, (accumulating since the advent of the scientific method), radically improves any rational decision making we go in for, including moral decision making.

In addition to that better objective information about the real world helps us decide on our values.

16 November 2012 at 15:25  
Blogger John Magee said...

IanCad

I mentioned the Bavarian and Italian cases as examples of countries and regions having the right to still keep their traditions and cultural values based on their national or local laws. A handful of "offended" Muslim immigrants brought legal cases against the Bavarian State, which is part of the Federal Republic of Germany, and against the nation of Italy over crucifixes in school rooms and in court rooms. The Muslims lost. But they will try, try, try again in the future especially under a politically Correct EU Constitution geared to their needs as a "perscuted minority". My concern is that once there is a written EU Constitution which is in place with no guarantees of individual rights to protect the citizens of the EU from their gigantic bureaucratic monster state they will slip easily into a dictatorship of the bureaucracy.

All I did was suggest the writers of a future EU Constitution take a good hard look at the USA Constitution's first Ten Amendments which, as I said, guarantee the people protection FROM their government. Without the Bill of Rights the USA would have faded away long ago.

For some strange reason the EU seems bent on becoming a gargantuan state stretching from Norway to North Africa and from Ireland to Vladivostock. I can't see how it could grow to become so enormous without rapidly becoming a dictatorship willing to shut up all dissidents in that vast EU Empire and impliment a strict speech and thought code guided by political correctness.

The Swiss who have the oldest modern Republic after the USA just roll their eyes at all this EU megalomania stuff they see happening all around them. They refuse to join the EU and keep their reserve army well prepared and ready for anything.

If Russia ever joins the EU there would be ready made labor camps for those who don't go along with the EU "program".


17 November 2012 at 01:30  
Blogger John Magee said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

17 November 2012 at 02:21  
Blogger John Magee said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

17 November 2012 at 02:27  
Blogger GordonHide said...

@OldJim

I would have perhaps done better to use the phrase most technically advanced and most educated rather than most modern. After all in one sense we are all modern.

Wellbeing is of course largely subjective. Not everybody views things like happiness, personal freedom, education and tolerance as unalloyed good things. Perhaps a better measure would be the long term survivability of society if we had some way of measuring it.

I guess we can view the culture which has reached a hegemonous position in the world as probably having somewhat greater survivability than average.

I don't deny the possibility of absolute an absolute or objective standard for morality. I just don't see think anybody has successfully demonstrated such.

A moral code of conduct has utility. The more appropriate the code for a given society the more it will help effect societal co-operation and the flexibility of society to effect necessary change.

I guess if I could be persuaded of some objectivity of some aspect of morality it would be about utility in effecting long term survivability and not in the near universality of particular tenets.

Of course there are other factors that affect wellbeing but my guess is that a suitable moral code of conduct is the most important next to the technical ability to survive in a particular environment.

Your view that one has to have a preference for a particular moral code of conduct to define it as such if one doesn't have objective standards is nonsensical. Any system of behaviour which conforms to one or other of the dictionary definitions of morality could so reasonably be described.

I make no claims to objectivity except in so far as I believe that facts about the real world ascertained by the scientific method or other methods designed to exclude subjective preference can reasonably be described as objective.

Your view that recognition of the value of historical study represents "worship of time" is nonsensical.

That you see my ideas as a manifestation of "might makes right" is your own personal preference.

I would prefer to to categorise it as "effective long term co-operation through an appropriate moral code of conduct makes right"

It would be true that I believe that moral behaviour, like every other human characteristic, has its genesis in evolution by natural selection.

I meant by "operators" the group sharing the same moral code of conduct. Individual survival is enhanced by effective moral practices but individuals will sacrifice their personal existence if they believe the cause important enough. That too is part of morality. In evolutionary terms it is explained because in evolution by natural selection it is survival of the genes which is important rather than the individual.

I would note about your remarks on deception that the easiest and most consistently successful way of convincing your peers that you have their best interests at heart is to have their best interests at heart. If you are ambitious you will need the help and support of your fellows to succeed.

Gene selection is adequate to explain altruism. Group selection is not required.

It is obvious from history that groups have ruthlessly exploited non-group members to some great advantage. Modern advocates of moral behaviour often overlook this aspect of morality because, at least in the west, we tend to
have extended our "in group" to all humanity and even to those animals that can suffer, to some extent. Nevertheless we would suffer emotional overload if we cared as much for the suffering of every stranger an we care for our own families. Our social animal evolutionary characteristics have not evolved sufficiently to allow this.

17 November 2012 at 13:19  
Blogger GordonHide said...

@OldJim

It is obvious from history that groups have ruthlessly exploited non-group members to some great advantage. Modern advocates of moral behaviour often overlook this aspect of morality because, at least in the west, we tend to
have extended our "in group" to all humanity and even to those animals that can suffer, to some extent. Nevertheless we would suffer emotional overload if we cared as much for the suffering of every stranger an we care for our own families. Our social animal evolutionary characteristics have not evolved sufficiently to allow this.

Just as individuals can form a co-operating group sharing the same moral code of conduct so can societies. The moral codes of conduct which operates between societies may be different to those operating between individuals but they offer the same sort of co-operative advantages to participating societies including joint action against those societies that don't conform.

Yes, science tells me that, at least initially, moral behaviour among social animals existed in the world to enhance the survival chances of genes. Basically the whole can be so much greater than the sum of the parts. Co-operating individuals can achieve so much more than any number of rugged individualists. At this point in time I have seen no modern raison d'être for morality which supersedes this initial imperative. I'm open to suggestions which are backed up by the evidence.

If all this constitutes a claim of objectivity at least the scientific evidence and rational discourse back it up.

The reason you find this troubling is that you persist in misunderstanding its implications.

However, I have to admit that I am unable to use this information to produce a judgement on all individual human action. It's just too difficult to see what will turn out for the best in the long run in many cases.

So, because I must make moral decisions, I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that the general wellbeng, so far as I can judge it, will suffice to effect the purpose of moral behaviour.

While it's true that this view of morality does not require a god is is better described as an evolutionary explanation of observed moral behaviour.

I cannot speak for new forms of atheism but I believe the explanation for human morality that I have expounded here is rational.

Please confine yourself to what I have said rather than your view of "atheist morality" in general.

Far from being "against the common instinct of humanity" an evolutionary view of what is going on in moral terms is a more lucid explanation of human moral instincts than has previously existed.

Evolution tells us that the genes of our non-human social ancestors came through a very long school of very hard knocks. It would be surprising if they were not prominent in human moral behaviour today.

I can only repeat that you misunderstand the implications of an evolutionary view of morality. And I would add that if you accepted what is actually going on it would enable you to make better quality moral decisions. (Although of course that would entail your agreement as to the utility of moral behaviour).



17 November 2012 at 14:25  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

GordonHide:

Firstly, thank you for your replies. Secondly, it's probably worth saying now that debates like these have been known to run to hundreds of posts in the past. Quite obviously, there will come a point when that becomes a burden rather than a delight. To sum up the problem with this particular argument - it's not merely a disagreement over the content of views, but a fundamental disagreement between philosophies where the very nature of proofs that would be necessary to alter a position are in dispute. The likely event will be that nobody's minds will be changed - but as Carl Jacobs posted, there is still a value in making clear statements about one's position, and of course subjecting it to the rigour of debate.

That being the case, I'm sure OldJim will agree with me that should at any point you wish to cease posting on this subject, we won't childishly take it as a form of submission or retreat, nor do we expect you to go beyond what you feel is reasonable in responding.

---

That being said - I wrote the reply I'm about to post last night, before you replied to OldJim (but was away from an internet connection). I thought about modifying it - but I'll put it up as-is, on the basis that any points which you've covered already don't need repeating.

A minor point of order, though:

" Basically the whole can be so much greater than the sum of the parts. "

I'm not necessarily sure the philosophical basis for this phrase would support your use of it here, nor would it be particularly helpful in certain camps to a hermeneutic approach solely based on knowledge by induction. Aristotle's point in Metaphysics utilising an organic philosophy (rather than organic in a biological sense - though biology furnished him with essential metaphors), was not merely to endorse co-operative behaviour, but to resist the idea that the whole could be reduced to its constituent parts and still furnish adequate explanation.

In that sense, it is an anathema to classical empiricism, and certainly to the primacy of induction. However, it has increasingly been incorporated into modern theories utilised by the scientific community, precisely because it has encountered irreducible phenomena across a range of fields. The important thing insofar as this discussion goes, is to note that many of the scientists involved concede that, if irreducability holds as a concept, it must fundamentally undermine traditional materialist explanations of the world, and would, necessarily, demonstrate that the scientific method of induction would be unable to sufficiently account for it, on its own.

To students of philosophy, or the history of science, that won't be any surprise - the problem of induction remains perennially unresolved (not least because its resolution could not be achieved inductively, and so in a fashion that convinces positivists).

17 November 2012 at 18:59  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

GordonHide:

"The much better quality of knowledge about the real world that we now have, (accumulating since the advent of the scientific method), radically improves any rational decision making we go in for, including moral decision making."

Forgive me, but how does it improve moral decision making? It may result in increased accuracy, and it may throw open new moral realms with the knowledge we acquire, but it does not in itself improve any quality of morality, unless one posits that morality is reducible to accurate and effective decision making with regards to material outcomes.

A practical example, which you may be familiar with as it has been featured before on the BBC website. Scientific dispute over carpet bombing of civilians - the man who advocated it, Cherwell, did so based on fuzzy maths. The conclusion, from our Enlightened viewpoint: the problem was that one man had too much sway. Proper science would have said no to carpet bombing. Game set and match to people like yourself - Enlightenment values and science save Dresden.

Except that in advocating such a policy, it inevitably leaves open the possibility that there may well be circumstances in which the maths does stack up, in which scientists are in agreement that "this will work". What then? Is the scientific method actually any help in the question of whether or not we should carpet bomb civilians?

If one adheres fully to the position you outline, it will inevitably lead to a point where even asking that question is nonsensical. Value judgements are required to be stripped from such decision making in order to be properly objective, and the result is that in a vicious tautology “morality” ceases to regard anything except that which is arrived at by empirical observation. The situation above is reduced to a "morality" play about good and bad science, not good and bad decisions.

Now I imagine that you will be eager to refute my argument by stating that you would never be so reductive in your thinking, that I am in fact conjuring in extremis where you create in moderation. Quite so - I make no accusation that you would really see no moral difficulty in the mass destruction of civilians besides the cold empirical efficiency of the act regardless of whether you would support or reject the decision on other grounds. But it's those other grounds that take us back, more or less, to where we began. Science doesn't dictate your morality, you may argue, it merely informs and improves it. But informs what? Whence the remainder if it is not solely derived from empirical observation?

17 November 2012 at 19:00  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

[contd.]

There's always a faint paternalism in statements to the effect that one bases one's morality on "logic" and "objective data". The necessary implication is that others do not, or they do so imperfectly. If you do not allow empiricism to exclusively, and so reductively, dictate your morality, where is the difficulty in accepting that we might do the same, but to different results because of that remainder?

I allow empirical data to inform my decision making where the question is determinable by empirically-observed data. There isn't a neat division between this and my religious views, by the way - which I'd argue overlapped both empirical and non-empirical knowledge in any case. I'd strongly argue for the importance of understanding the philosophical limits of empiricism in a range of fields.

But that’s probably not enormously contentious unless you really are a die-hard positivist in the line of Dawkins and A. C. Grayling (the latter of whom borders on almost total uselessness – at least Dawkins can be informative and even inspiring when he’s discussing the intricacies of biological phenomena). When it gets down to it, it’s the “remainder”, the things we bring to bear in how we engage with evidence that really stirs at the bottom of this sometimes murky barrel of an argument.

The response I invariably hear the most is “why should I believe in your god when you have no proof?” This of course spectacularly misses the conclusions arising from examining the role of empiricism in the question of morality. There is no proof. There cannot be proof commensurate with the requirements of the scientific method. But as morality cannot solely be drawn from such proofs without reducing it to merely a synonym for empiricism, where else did we think the question would lead, except back to its own tail?

I would frame the question thus: “why do you believe what you believe?” and concurrently “why should I believe?” This puts the question of morality quite properly into another realm not of deduction, but, essentially, preference. Holding to a concrete morality is to posit not only that it exists, but more importantly still, that it is meaningful. Morality is about those big questions of real Justice, the triumph of love over evil, and the restitution of the injuries it inflicts. It plays out in the most moral realm of all of our daily lives.

If I ask, where is the proof that there is real Justice, what does it profit me to discover that after exhaustive searching, there is in fact no basis in fact for such a claim? Almost every religion on the planet is capable of telling us that much – the world is fallen. To believe in Justice is not to exchange the “Real world” for a delusion born of a wish to evade evil, it is to reject it.

Inevitably, because words like “evil” are at their core universal, it can give the impression that this always means morality is “big” where in fact faith is about the big within the small. Moral choices are meaningful in a universal way, but they do not require a cosmic stage. For those with rather more tangible power in the “Real world” this has always been problematic, both in the sense of comprehension and its implications. But it is precisely the quality of seeing anyone’s actions as holding universal meaning that flies in the face of the “consequentialism” you outline.

17 November 2012 at 19:08  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

There comes a point in extremis where a principally utilitarian approach can accept what was once unacceptable. It seems to me, that in such situations, the need to do refuse to do this is at its zenith. Again, that needn’t be in the context of literal self-sacrifice – though clearly that is the most instantly recognisable example. It is, in effect, the line which is drawn between behaviour and actions that will not be good regardless of the consequences. By the standards of utilitarianism this will always be arbitrary – though I would stress that I’m not using it in a pejorative sense. One important point: quite obviously, it is possible to have such a line and nevertheless cross it. However, the distinction lies in the knowledge that doing so was wrong and, thus, not justifiable - whereas utilitarianism may arrive at a justification for almost any action if circumstances are sufficient. Again, this isn’t to abandon the “Real world” out of a desire to evade suffering and material ills – rather it is essential to understand not only the moral evil that underpins such things, but also, grieviously, its presence within ourselves.

The TL:DR version of this is that faith is not a deductive operation. It does not set out, as science does, to determine via empirical observation the nature of the world around it. It is a way of living – a choice to live as though Justice and Love are real and universally meaningful. It has creedal underpinnings, but its outflow is in how one lives – how one relates to others, and how one behaves as if one is fully accountable for one’s actions, even when there is likely to be no material consequence for them.

17 November 2012 at 19:08  
Blogger bluedog said...

AIB @ 19.08, masterly!

17 November 2012 at 20:08  
Blogger GordonHide said...

@AnonymousInBelfast

I'm afraid I can't regard your "minor point of order" as anything other than nitpicking. There is nothing wrong with using the phrase in a synergistic sense in my view.

Unless you seriously wish to oppose the idea that socialisation among members of a species arose because co-operative activity enhanced the survival of their genes?

18 November 2012 at 00:13  
Blogger GordonHide said...

@AnonymousInBelfast

Is this a serious contention that having better information about a subject requiring a decision does not generally improve the decision?

Decision making is to some extent about being able to predict the future and thus assess the consequences of potential options. While good information about the world may not improve the objectives of your decision making it will certainly enable you to reject some options which in fact don't meet your objectives.

I never intimated that moral decision making could always be reduced to an empirical date driven selection.

The trouble with consequentialism is that you cannot be certain that your prediction of outcomes will come to pass. But, if you could not only be certain of the outcomes of all your options, including doing nothing, and also certain that your objective was an overriding moral one then If carpet bombing was effectively the least bad decision then it may be what you ought to do. However, you have your basic social instincts and emotions to contend with and also your culturally indoctrinated instincts and practises, So you would have to get passed them.

I think this is basically what you want to hear. Now you can criticise this view of morality on the grounds that it allows for very difficult decisions, at least in theory.

The fact that science is not the be all and end all of moral decision making is no excuse for not making good use of its fruits.

So how does a non-believer select his values? Well, for most of us, including believers, there's no selection of values to be made. We conform to the moral code of conduct of the group to which we belong or we don't. If we don't we must be prepared to bear the consequences. We should note that it doesn't really matter to the group what we think, what our mental reservations are, it only matters that we obey the prevailing code. Of course if you break the law then your motives become a matter of concern as society has to decide how to discourage you and anybody like minded from repeating the infraction and also how to protect other members of the society.

Now while the world's shakers and movers do have significant input to society's values they aren't always successful in this. Note the fact that most Catholics use contraceptives. That's because using contraceptives has much greater utility than not doing so, (or at least the average society member believes that to be the case). So here is a value adopted by society that isn't really a value at all. I'm afraid you'll find that most of morality is like that.

People change to different a practise if they find that the new practise has more utility and that it doesn't violate their basic social or culturally indoctrinated instincts. Changes in the prevailing zeitgeist often trigger changes.

The shakers and movers have the most influence when they change the law. Drinking and driving laws are a very good example of this. The vast majority frowns on this practise even if a drunk, driving on private land, is not breaking the law.

So I guess if you want to look where most of the apparently unchanging values come from it's either got to be the basic social instincts and emotions gifted to us by natural selection or culturally instilled values learned in the same manner as other information absorbed by the young. I think all this is largely the same whether or not you are religious.

18 November 2012 at 01:28  
Blogger GordonHide said...

@AnonymousInBelfast

"I would frame the question thus: “why do you believe what you believe?” and concurrently “why should I believe?” This puts the question of morality quite properly into another realm not of deduction, but, essentially, preference"

It may be that values are a matter of preference to some extent but if they lead to too many suboptimal decisions then the society will decline compared to others with moral codes of conduct more appropriate for their survival.

This seems to be a key difference between us. I believe that morality exists in the world because it promotes survival you believe its purpose is to delineate between some absolute standards of right and wrong.

I think I have the evidence on my side.

You're final cry that you don't have to justify your position because it's one of faith which is, apparently, its own justification makes one wonder why you engage in debate in the first instance.

18 November 2012 at 01:53  
Blogger OldJim said...

Mr Hide

Thank you for those last posts addressed to me. You seem to have taken care over the clarity and breadth of your exposition, and it shows in the quality of your argument. Leaving aside the philosophical analysis for a second, something I think AiB is doing a very good job in, I should like to look at the evolutionary theory you are using here.

Forgive me and correct me if I have misunderstood but we seem to have established the following things about your understanding of the evolution of morality

1) Group selection theory is untrue. Gene selection theory is true.

2) Gene mutation amongst competing individuals produced phenotypic cooperation

3) This phenotypic cooperation assisted genetic long-term survival

4) Therefore phenotypic cooperation is beneficial to gene’s long term survival (and so their carrier’s)

5) Therefore a set of moral claims does not simply have to be an arbitrary set of preferences, but can be justified by reference to its survival advantages.

6) Therefore the measure of morality is whether it confers survival advantages to an individual, which coincide with those of a society due to the benefits to both of phenotypic cooperation.

I follow the argument, and the steps seem sound if they are true.

The problem is that I do not believe 4) is true, and therefore I deny the validity of everything that follows.

I also do not believe any serious evolutionary psychologist or biologist is arguing for the truth of 4) the way you might think they are. The argument instead is that during the EEA homo sapiens was clustered in small groups in which most of the people with whom he interacted were likely to be kin. Genes coding for the basis of phenotypic altruism or cooperation therefore enhanced the chances of genetic survival of those individuals who carried them, because they would provide aid to and receive aid from their close kin, enhancing the likelihood of either or both reproducing. The nature of this phenotypic altruism is such that it generalises to non-kin because we have not adapted to discern non-kin from kin. In other words, non-kin altruism isn't an adaptation – it’s a spandrel.

18 November 2012 at 03:27  
Blogger OldJim said...

We are agreed that the butcher, the baker and the candlestick-maker have their survival value enhanced by their mutual cooperation – they can better structure their environment for themselves, their kin and their descendants because they are working together. But we are not agreed that their survival value is enhanced by their cooperating where they could defect. It might sound like a contradiction, but it is not. I benefit from scratching your back so that you will scratch mine, but the evolutionary imperative is to come up with a way of getting you to scratch my back without my expending valuable energy scratching yours. Kin altruism is a feature, not a bug. Non-kin altruism is a bug, not a feature.

It’s a consequence of our still not having adapted to larger, non-kin societal groupings. There is no way gene-selection theory can explain it as an adaptation. It can only explain it as a spandrel, and one that will eventually be ironed out.

So in a sense I can agree with you that evolutionary theory can be a compelling account of some of the mechanisms that lead to our morality. But you depart from the science when you imagine that these mechanisms are therefore adaptive. They are not. And so when you try to set up evolutionary theory as a justification of morality and not a mere explanation of its origin, you hit a brick wall. What Richard Dawkins always leaves out of his rose-tinted tv shows is the less rosy side of his understanding - evolutionary theory justifies exploitation and defection wherever we can get away with it – we’re just in a genetic stalling pattern right now because we haven’t yet adapted to large non-kin groups.

It follows that whilst evolution has led to non-kin altruism, non-kin altruism does not confer survival advantages and the evolutionary system over time will work hard to iron out this unfortunate and maladaptive state of affairs.

If you like, long term survival no more justifies non-kin altruism than it justifies disabilities. It explains both, in the sense that the mechanisms that contribute to (or even in your materialist understanding determine) both were by-products of successful adaptations. But evolution will work to undermine them given time, they are not adaptive.

If you want to defend anything resembling morality, you either have to support now-defunct group selection theory, or you need to argue that despite the accidental and maladaptive nature of its origin, now we have non-kin cooperation encoded in us it is sensible for us to retain a preference for it on those arbitrary grounds, or you need to justify morality using some other criterion than "long-term survival".

18 November 2012 at 03:36  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

GordonHide:

"Is this a serious contention that having better information about a subject requiring a decision does not generally improve the decision?"

No, it is to point out that insofar as it improves moral decision making it requires other faculties to determine how information is important. Else morality is reduced to science, and anything may, with sufficient circumstances be justified.

"I never intimated that moral decision making could always be reduced to an empirical date driven selection."

And you'll see that I predicted that, and explicitly stated I wasn't accusing you of that. The point of raising it was to demonstrate that if empiricism does not dictate your moral sense, but informs it, then your initial statements to the effect that objective data and logic are the basis of that morality, cannot fully account for what it is. If it can then be shown, contra the implications of that claim, that those of faith also allow empirically-arrived at knowledge to inform their decision making, the crux of the argument comes to rest not on science, but on how science is understood, and the extent to which we give it authority - which must, at this stage in the argument, be a matter not based on empirical evidence.

" Well, for most of us, including believers, there's no selection of values to be made."

Is there not? How did you arrive at the decision to regard the knowledge acquired via empirical observation as being better than any other sense or faculty? Merely passively, because the society around you told you this was the case?

Your strongest argument is by utility - you come to rely on empiricisim because it has enormous utility. Quite so. The scientific method was designed to produce knowledge that can be utilised. What else should we expect of it? Should we expect it to determine matters that are not principally of utility? You see, your argument on this point hinges on one of two possibilities: either that science is capable of expanding its horizons thus - though we would observe that in doing so, it should have to move from its narrow modern definition back to the medieval principle of scientia - or, and this is where it seems to me you have chosen to go, that we must narrow our understanding of morality to conform to utility.

Morality ceases to be empowered in any way to challenge not only what we do, but what our society does, and is instead reduced to merely repeating the world around it. Merely, a device for social conformity. That being the case, we have words to adequately describe these phenomena. Why do we need to refer to morality? What is it distinctively, if anything at all?

" I believe that morality exists in the world because it promotes survival you believe its purpose is to delineate between some absolute standards of right and wrong."

Do you in fact believe this? It seems to me you believe that societies survive, and that people seek out what has the most utility to achieve their ends, and then present this as morality. Does "morality" exist in the world?

You'll note, I made no such claim that morality exists in the world. Indeed it seems to me that any amount of research is very likely to tell us quite the opposite. The defining difference between the model you've outlined and mine is one of living as though one is accountable for one's deeds independently of being held to account by whatever society we happen to live in. What is the thing, if not morality, that prompts us not merely to take positive action, but to recognise when we do wrong? How should I know that the racist majority society I live in is wrong, if not by this faculty? What if the culturally instilled values are wrong, and there is no prima facie reason for my survival instincts to kick in?

18 November 2012 at 10:39  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Which leads us to this point:

"It may be that values are a matter of preference to some extent but if they lead to too many suboptimal decisions then the society will decline compared to others with moral codes of conduct more appropriate for their survival."

How does one determine what is suboptimal in a moral context? Your definition here seems to be based primarily on whether it works. My oven works (mostly), the gas ovens in Auschwitz worked (ah Godwin!); societies based on differing models of slavery worked for a very long time, our present society works on selling things (more or less, perhaps a little more of the latter). Incrementally we might say one works better than another – but this is to misapply evolutionary theory as ameliorating morality. It does not have to work perfectly, only enough to ensure it is repeated. There is no best, except reproduction. So long as it quite literally survives – that it has a mechanism for ensuring it is passed on – the rest is irrelevant. A terrifically evil society might find ways to flourish. Ah but, no, the Reich fell – it didn’t pass that test. But then again, we would say that: ours survived. The million-dollar question is, what if it was our society that was really terrifically evil? How we know? Why would we care?

You write that people are self-serving as if I am not aware of that fact (“I'm afraid you'll find that most of morality is like that.”). I should not be blind to that if only because I recognise that self-serving nature in myself. I, also, am quite capable of determining justifications to match my actions: but my understanding of morality is that that relationship between the two should be inverted, precisely because I recognise the ways in which I have sought to cover over my wrongdoing by claiming its utility. My faith is accountability to Someone Else, it is an acceptance that neither myself nor my society may know best simply because it is capable of surviving. It refuses to understand meaning as commensurate with utility, precisely because there are so many ways in which survival of one comes at the cost of another. It is not a rejection of utility, as you seem to have inferred, but rather an understanding that utility has a proper place, which it exceeds when it takes on the status of morality.

You're final cry that you don't have to justify your position because it's one of faith which is, apparently, its own justification makes one wonder why you engage in debate in the first instance.

Ah GordonHide. This is not my argument at all. My point is that I cannot justify my faith solely on empirical grounds, and that I should not, in any case wish to concede that those grounds are the only ones fit to judge worth.

18 November 2012 at 11:18  
Blogger Julia Gasper said...

Thank you John for the A+. I will put it on my CV I am so proud of it.
Our guest infidel says "So how does a non-believer select his values? Well, for most of us, including believers, there's no selection of values to be made. We conform to the moral code of conduct of the group to which we belong or we don't. If we don't we must be prepared to bear the consequences. We should note that it doesn't really matter to the group what we think, what our mental reservations are, it only matters that we obey the prevailing code."
Yes that's exactly how the Nazis hung onto power. "I vos only vollowing orders".
As for GordonHide's definition of morality as being behaviour that ensures the survival of the group: presumably this means that celibacy is immoral, so is homosexuality, and so are contraception and abortion? Morality would be served by slaughtering anyone not regarded as being in the "group"?

18 November 2012 at 12:28  
Blogger Julia Gasper said...

So morality has changed a lot in
2,000 years has it?
The 42 laws of Ma'at found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead which dates from at least 4,000 years ago. Some parts of the text are thought to go back 2,000 years earlier than that:-
I have not done iniquity.
I have not robbed with violence.
I have not stolen.
I have done no murder; I have done no harm.
I have not defrauded offerings.
I have not diminished obligations.
I have not plundered the neteru.
I have not spoken lies.
I have not uttered evil words.
I have not caused pain.
I have not committed fornication.
I have not caused shedding of tears.
I have not dealt deceitfully.
I have not transgressed.
I have not acted guilefully.
I have not laid waste the ploughed land.
I have not been an eavesdropper.
I have not set my lips in motion (against any man).
I have not been angry and wrathful except for a just cause.
I have not defiled the wife of any man.
I have not been a man of anger.
I have not polluted myself.
I have not caused terror.
I have not burned with rage.
I have not stopped my ears against the words of Right and Truth. (Ma-at)
I have not worked grief.
I have not acted with insolence.
I have not stirred up strife.
I have not judged hastily.
I have not sought for distinctions.
I have not multiplied words exceedingly.
I have not done neither harm nor ill.
I have not cursed the King. (i.e. violation of laws)
I have not fouled the water.
I have not spoken scornfully.
I have never cursed the neteru.
I have not stolen.
I have not defrauded the offerings of the neteru.
I have not plundered the offerings of the blessed dead.
I have not filched the food of the infant.
I have not sinned against the neter of my native town.
I have not slaughtered with evil intent the cattle of the neter.



18 November 2012 at 12:51  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Julia Gasper:

I think GordonHide is very likely to find Nazism entirely objectionable, and so too the impulse to literally destroy opponents. In that sense, it is uncharitable to accuse him of such when there is no reason for us to do so. The question really is whether he believes he believes this because the position is genuinely true, or merely because it is true for the society in which we presently live, and so passed on to him.

However, I couldn't help but go through that Egyptian list and realise with increasing horror quite how many of those statements I could not utter truthfully - the majority in fact. That, it seems to me, is the esential quality of a sense of morality worth a damn - one that can lay bare what we really are, and so reveal how distant we are from what we should be. We ought to be careful then, not to confuse morality with ourselves - it is something against which we are measured, and invariably found wanting. No Christian stands cleansed before God through their own efforts, but they do stand cleansed through Jesus Christ. Our measuring rod is Him, and its units are faith, hope, and love.

18 November 2012 at 18:24  
Blogger John Magee said...

Julia

As a Catholic Christian I must thank you for that beautiful post from the Book of the Egyptian Dead. Looks to me like those pagan Egyptians had a pretty good grasp on right and wrong and how to treat fellow human beings with love, kindness, and, respect long before Moses appeared on the scene.
I hope the self-rightgeous Jews and Christians here realize there was great moral good in pagan civilizations (ancient Greece and Confuscianism in ancient China are just two of many examples) before and during the creation of the Torah and the Gospels. I am, however well aware, pagan societies were not perfect and a lot of their customs I would find repellent today. Just as I find the mass slaughter of animals sacrified at the Temple in Jerusalem on High Holy Days before it's destruction in 60 AD and the ritual killing of animals by rabbi's tpday also revolting.

Any child today could be brought up on those values from the Egyptian Book of the Dead you posted and grow up to be a moral and responsible citizen .

Another ancient religion that taught goodness and love of fellow human beings were the Zoroasrians. The Zoroastrians believe that there is one universal and transcendent God, Ahura Mazda. He is said to be the one uncreated Creator to whom all worship is ultimately directed. Ahura Mazda's creation—evident as asha, truth and order—is the antithesis of chaos, which is evident as druj, falsehood and disorder. The resulting conflict involves the entire universe, including humanity, which has an active role to play in the conflict.The religion states that active participation in life through good deeds is necessary to ensure happiness and to keep chaos at bay. This active participation is a central element in Zoroaster's concept of free will. Zoroastrians usually pray in the presence of some form of fire (which can be considered evident in any source of light), and the culminating rite of the principle act of worship constitutes a "strengthening of the waters". Fire is considered a medium through which spiritual insight and wisdom is gained, and water is considered the source of that wisdom.

Ironically both Jews and Christians regard water as cleansing and both have candles in their temples and churches.

Dodo. No I am not a pagan. I am a Catholic Christian but I have the common sense to see the goodness and widom in these ancient faiths and their writings so don't drag me before the Inquistion please. Isn't the Church supposed to be tolerant today?

18 November 2012 at 18:32  
Blogger William said...

AIB

Your last two comments to GordonHide are excellent. The rigour, rationality and clarity of your discourse, in a domain where it is often difficult (as you mentioned earlier) to even agree the terms, are outstanding.

19 November 2012 at 11:37  
Blogger GordonHide said...

@OldJim

I'm afraid I'm a biology dunce. I can only examine the evidence from a more or less behavioural point of view. The problem with long term survival is that we cannot know for certain that a particular tenet will promote it. We can only use common sense. The other problem is that nobody chooses a tenet for its value in promoting the long term survival of genes.

You seem to have got bogged down in the idea that eventually society would be destroyed by cheaters because reciprocal altruism would break down.

My arguments against this are as follows:

Society has not yet broken down so it's a matter of so far so good.

Given the pace and nature of evolutionary change the ability to detect cheaters would advance alongside the ability to cheat with impunity.

It is not necessary for reciprocal altruism to promote other copies of the genes responsible. It is adequate for it to promote any genes which display this trait in the phenotype to ensure the trait survives.

Even if your analysis were correct, A society burdened by too many cheaters would fade in favour of those societies where cheating is still under control. We can note what must be a similar effect in modern societies with corruption. It is very difficult to see how a society where corruption is endemic can ever compete effectively with others in the long term.

Lastly, you seem to have overlooked that this type of change occurs by favourable mutation and this takes a very long time. So if moral systems were initially the result of co-operative traits in social animals they still have a very long time to run before the effect you postulate could come about.

I have to say that I don't understand what you mean when you say that I am trying to set up evolution as a justification for morality rather than an explanation as to why it exists.

My understanding is that natural selection justifies only that which will lead to survival of genes.

Even large non-kin groups are related. The continuation and enhancement of effective long term reciprocal altruism could be expected to increase genes which express that trait in the phenotype because the group is likely to be more successful than others where that doesn't happen.

The very existence of social animals demonstrates that over a very long period co-operative activity has advantages over competitive activity.

19 November 2012 at 21:58  
Blogger GordonHide said...

@AnonymousInBelfast

I don't believe I ever made a statement to the effect that "objective data and logic are the basis of morality". You are attacking your own straw man.

"How did you arrive at the decision to regard the knowledge acquired via empirical observation as being better than any other sense or faculty"

It's more objective because of the scientific method.

The theories that have been produced based on observation have proved robust and consistent in the predictions about reality they have facilitated.

Basically we can see that it works.

The fact that morality exists in the world because it has utility doesn't mean that we can expect science to tell us everything about the human condition.

Nevertheless whether it meets our personal preferences or not one of the criteria by which the practical moral code of conduct in operation evolves is the utility of any prospective change. Here I mean the personal convenience of the society concerned rather than some theoretical effect on long term survival.

I guess it's reasonable to assume that the basic social instincts and emotions will still be, on balance, promoting gene survival.

Culturally imprinted instinct is another matter. One is bound to get the situation where cultural practises should have been abandoned or superseded in favour of practises offering more utility in today's world but haven't.

It is in fact imperative that society's moral code of conduct is continually under pressure for change if the environmental circumstances in which a society exists are changing.

--"people seek out what has the most utility to achieve their ends, and then present this as morality"

Utility is only one of the factors that a tenet needs to become accepted by society.

--"I made no such claim that morality exists in the world. Indeed it seems to me that any amount of research is very likely to tell us quite the opposite"

?? - morality doesn't exist??

In the example of racism you quote. What tells you that this is immoral is you basic empathic instinct coupled with your life experience of those against whom racism is being perpetrated. For you greater familiarity with the strange has allowed your empathy to counteract your natural fear of the unknown. On top of this where once you might have been culturally imprinted with xenophobia now it is more likely you will be culturally imprinted with a distaste for obvious bigotry.

I used the term "suboptimal" to describe decisions which were less than ideal for society's long term survival. Just whether any particular decision is antithetical to long term survival we may not be able to discern. In any case that is unlikely to be our concern. In so far as we have the time to consider the moral implications of one of our decisions we will be concerned with whether the decision meets our objectives and falls within the constraints of our moral code of conduct, (in which we are unlikely to have had any personal input, outside of a decision to ignore particular tenets and risk exposure).

I don't believe I wrote that people are self serving and if I were to write that I wouldn't have meant it to mean selfish as you appear to have done. I think the very existence of society shows that people are, on balance, better described as co-operative. This is also self serving but perhaps not in the way you intended it to mean.

20 November 2012 at 14:48  
Blogger GordonHide said...

@Julia Gasper

--"As for GordonHide's definition of morality as being behaviour that ensures the survival of the group: presumably this means that celibacy is immoral, so is homosexuality, and so are contraception and abortion?"

We cannot know in many cases what behaviour will lead to long term survival. You should note that the Catholic church has survived longer than most groups and yet it practises celibacy.

--"Morality would be served by slaughtering anyone not regarded as being in the "group"?"

Just as the individuals of a group have a moral code of conduct so it goes also for groups within the larger whole. Societies are expected to conform to a code of conduct governing relations between member groups. Just as there are big advantages for individuals in conforming to the moral code of conduct of their group so there are advantages to extra-group co-operation including taking joint action against those groups that do not conform.

20 November 2012 at 15:57  
Blogger GordonHide said...

@Julia Gasper

Thank you for the Egyptian Book of the Dead list.

It's certainly true that many moral tenets stand the test of time and are all but universal. However the Egyptians of that time also did the following:

Kept slaves
Supported corporal punishment
Supported capital punishment
Practised misogyny
Killed prisoners of war
Started wars for profit and glory
exhibited strong xenophobia
Operated a stratified and rigid society with little chance of escaping one's assigned class
Practised more or less absolute despotism

So yes, morality has changed a lot in 2000 years.


20 November 2012 at 16:17  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

GordonHide

"I don't believe I ever made a statement to the effect that "objective data and logic are the basis of morality". You are attacking your own straw man."

Ah, my argument must not have been as clear as I thought it was. Your position has rested on two points. Firstly, that you have not been presented with any evidence of an objective reality:

"I don't deny the possibility of absolute an absolute or objective standard for morality. I just don't see think anybody has successfully demonstrated such."

It's safe to that this evidence would have to be arrived at empirically (or at least not subjectively) to satisfy this objection. Whilst you employ this principally to reject what you term "absolute morality", the consistent logical function of this argument is to reject any system of morality that cannot be "demonstrated" as existing.

It is an ontological necessity that if the burden of evidence is restricted to objective knowledge, any and all conclusions will be limited to what can be objectively demonstrated.

I have been open from the very first posts that I am not defending an objectively-arrived at morality that is compatible with the underlying assumptions of empiricism. This is not the same as rejecting empirical evidence.

The point arising from this which you've made directly to OldJim, and indirectly in your responses to myself, is that we do not adequately understand the scientific evidence, or are somehow in opposition to it. This has been the basis for your various claims that the differences between us lie in your acceptance of objective evidence, with the inference that we do not. ("The fact that science is not the be all and end all of moral decision making is no excuse for not making good use of its fruits.")

However, I have not made any claims to the science being in error insofar as it pertains to what is empirically knowable - in other words, insofar as its findings accord with the confines of the scientific method.

The plainest way I can illustrate this, is that it is the difference between observing the physical properties of a book - it's height, the consistency of the ink, the shape of the letters etc. - and the text. One is fully susceptible to objective investigation; the other is not. If I ask, "where did this object come from?" there are innumerable ways in which empirical investigation can be brought to bear. If I ask, "what does this text mean?" you will see very quickly that there is virtually nothing that science can furnish us with. This is not to say that this implies an opposition to science, or a refusal to listen to what it might contribute. The discovery, for instance, that the author's skeleton shows signs of leprosy might have an important effect on what the text means. But the nature of the question requires and produces an entirely different order of knowledge than the one which science can provide.

If someone insisted that the only knowledge that was "real" - or to use a better set of words: "important" or "meaningful" - was that which pertains to the empirical fact of the book, we should never read again. Quite evidently, nobody (or at least nobody I've met) makes this claim... with regards to books.

Now allow me to be absolutely clear to avoid any confusion: I am not accusing, nor have I at any point accused you of actually following this reduction of knowledge.

My point, however, is that if it has been demonstrated that you do not work from this reduction, then it follows that what you do work from cannot solely be reduced (by definition) to what is known through science, and so, that you also are working from another faculty.

20 November 2012 at 21:15  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

You are clear that you place scientific evidence at the heart of this. It informs decision making. I have also been clear about the way in which it informs mine – and have nodded towards the way in which increasing knowledge opens up new moral questions (in other words, I have not been arguing for a reduction away from science either). At this point we have two positions that both engage with empirical knowledge, but cannot solely be reduced to it. The difference between us is one of philosophy – of the nature and applicability of evidence, not the evidence itself.

This is more plainly demonstrated by addressing (again) a point you made earlier:

"This seems to be a key difference between us. I believe that morality exists in the world because it promotes survival you believe its purpose is to delineate between some absolute standards of right and wrong.

I think I have the evidence on my side.
"

The former position is primarily deductive and explanatory: it has observed a phenomena that carries the label “morality”, and attempted to explain this phenomena in terms of evolutionary theory. (I use “attempted” to flag up my understanding that scientific conclusions are always in flux depending on further investigation, not as a rhetorical slight.)

Critically, though, you have framed my own argument in the same terms. As a deductive explanation for how the phenomena labelled “morality” came about. You are correct in surmising that I believe morality should be the basis to delineate between good and evil, but not in treating it as if it were concerned with the same ontological operation. In fact, I have explicitly stated this by observing that the kind of morality I am advocating is very unlikely to be demonstrated as existing in the world.

You expressed some confusion on this point, so allow me to try and clarify. In a theological sense, I do see morality as “not of this world”, because I understand the world to be spiritually fallen. However, I don’t want you to get stuck on this point, mostly because going on your comments, it seems unlikely you would see the value or even wish to engage in a theological debate (though I am more than happy to if I’m wrong!).

The sense in which I wrote that point was not principally theological.

My point was in fact an exercise of logic. Empirical knowledge, by definition, is that which can be demonstrated to exist through objectively-observed evidence, which is to say, is common to all observers all things being equal. Were a clear and unmuddied distinction between good and evil possible to demonstrate as the cause of human morality, we should not be having this debate.
We could try and sit and iron out every difference of content, but to do so would miss the philosophical divide that results in many of those differences. The question is, how do we respond to discovering the world is a place where children are dying? The practical solutions are for the most part (but with exceptions) accessible to anyone. It doesn’t take any great insight or knowledge to realise that a starving kid needs to be fed. The vast majority of religions place altruism as a central virtue, but it is as much the case that there are atheists materially trying to do the same as there are religious adherents who do nothing at all.

20 November 2012 at 21:17  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

There is an important difference in the philosophical responses. To see empirical evidence as either the only “real”, or the principally “real” (as I have taken you to do) basis for decision making, above and beyond any other faculty that might inform it, is to have the limits of empirical evidence frame our response. In the first instance, we reject, as you have, alternative models of morality informed exclusively or principally by other faculties. In the second, our response will correlate with the nature of empiricism: the scientific method produces knowledge that can be utilised; a “morality” principally informed by it tends towards utilitarianism. You wrote:

"A moral code of conduct has utility. [...] I guess if I could be persuaded of some objectivity of some aspect of morality it would be about utility in effecting long term survivability and not in the near universality of particular tenets."

In fact you didn’t need to be convinced of the objectivity of utility at all – you started with it, if not consciously then as the assumption which underpins empiricism.

But, let us be fair: in such a framework, largely unhindered by other faculties, we might say that morality-by-utility minimizes harm and maximises the extent to which whichever group we are affiliated with (or perhaps, if we’re being generous, the whole human race) flourishes. We should still wonder, though, how exactly harm is defined, and where we determine the best end to be (and for whom) – or at least we should wonder if we remotely care about ethics.

In practice, this increasingly means that decision making (ideally) falls into the hands of those most immediate to the production of scientific knowledge. (I am not insisting that this is, in fact, currently the case in all places or on all issues, but that it is a reasonable consequence of the kind of utilitarianism you outline.) We all agree that it is a good thing to have our decisions informed by information. There is no reason not to welcome the extent that members of the scientific and academic communities are capable of producing that knowledge.

But precisely because we have agree that a person who made decisions solely on empirical evidence should do so reductively, there is always an extent to which such individuals bring what I described earlier as the “remainder” of their faculties.

I suspect you will be wondering why that should be a bad thing, or itching to tell me that I have once again misunderstood the consequences. Scientists aren’t, after all, known to be a spectacularly bad bunch on the whole, and we could always put into place certain constitutional safeguards to stop them running amok. We could even insist they merely inform decision making – rather than making it themselves.

20 November 2012 at 21:18  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

The critical thing is the very thing you have so kindly insisted on: objectivity. What is it? You helpfully provide the following:

I make no claims to objectivity except in so far as I believe that facts about the real world ascertained by the scientific method or other methods designed to exclude subjective preference can reasonably be described as objective.

We’re agreed on the scientific method – but you’ve “expanded” it to include anything that strips subjective preferences. This is of course, entirely appropriate, when one wants to produce objective knowledge. But what does it do when it is the philosophy which dominates moral decision making?

It strips subjective preferences.

This is of course an ontological tautology (that cannot in any case be proved inductively) – but more practically, and more importantly than that nitpick, is that it curtails the very thing you cite as the reason why “I” am against racism:

What tells you that this is immoral is you basic empathic instinct coupled with your life experience of those against whom racism is being perpetrated. For you greater familiarity with the strange has allowed your empathy to counteract your natural fear of the unknown.

Leaving aside the apparent ease with which you feel able to discern my “true” reasoning, all of these things are subjective. You additionally comment on the role of society – but that too, must be considered subjective insofar as it relates to how it influences my individual reasoning (we’ll have to leave the thorny debate over the “reality” of culture).

Now, I’m accusing you of “actually” wanting to strip empathy from decision making, because it seems to me quite patently that you don’t want to do that, and you don’t even think that’s what people really do. You questioned earlier why I bother to debate – I wouldn’t if I genuinely thought you thought like this (there wouldn’t be any point).

The problem with utility, though, is that it must always tend towards stripping such thoughts. Its response to suffering is that almost any action can be justified if the situation warrants it – and that the situation should best be determined dispassionately, as far removed from the subjective as possible. This allows people to make those “difficult decisions”, like carpet-bombing civilians.

20 November 2012 at 21:19  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Is it not curious, that when it comes to “difficult decisions”, the emotions we are most likely to discount as unhelpful are precisely those like empathy that might stay our hand? Having read the journals and minutes of the men who really did make decisions to carpet bomb civilians, I can say that whilst it was not uncommon to question someone’s ability to make a decision on account of their “sentimentality”, I have yet to come across somebody’s decision making being on account of their desire to blow up the enemy.

It’s not difficult to understand why – the “utility” at the time was war. Men of peace are no good in war. But there is underpinning utilitarianism a fundamental sleight of hand. We must judge dispassionately, on the basis of objective knowledge – and yet what is utility except subjective? You have yourself made the point regarding societies: the measure is the degree to which we relate to the one we’re in. What our culture deems important, the people it deems best placed to decide, and the people who aren’t either very much depends on where they’re looking. So whilst knowledge production is objective, and decision making dispassionate (even without needing to reduce it to draconian or callous), the values which frame both are never objective.

Subjectivity still rules the day – but it finds its fetish in what it deems to be of utility. So yes, it is self-serving, whether on an individual scale (where the most perfect example of a “closed-system” utilitarian is the sociopath) or on a societal one (where it would be sociopathic if an individual), and it is self-serving because even if does not reject empathy, it nevertheless sees the necessity of removing the “subjective” from decision making. In a sense, it is a inversion of the proper function of both the objective and the subjective: the objective is made blind to the subjective definition of utility it serves, and the subjective ceases to be a means of discernment and becomes merely the emergent “reality” from which no dissent is possible.

Well, not quite. Dissent is possible – but it must look outside both the subjective basis of utility which is enthroned in its particular society, and the restrictive norms of evidence created by the practice of objectively-informed decision making.

As one of my favourite computer games put it, “We must dissent”.

20 November 2012 at 21:19  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

***Sorry an important clarification:

Penultimate post:

"Now, I’m accusing you of “actually” wanting to strip empathy from decision making..."

Should read "I'm not accusing you..." - which should be clear from the rest of the sentence.

I'm really not ;)

20 November 2012 at 21:31  
Blogger GordonHide said...

I see myself as attempting to explain the phenomenon of morality with reference to the evidence. Where the evidence is insufficient I see myself as postulating ideas which do not contradict the evidence or ignore it.

I see you as apparently accepting the scientific evidence but ignoring some of its implications in favour of other explanations of a non-scientific nature, (that is not supported by scientific evidence and not necessarily consistent with it).

I have been remiss in using the word "utility" in two different contexts without making myself clear. Neither of these may directly correspond with what is generally known as utilitarianism.

I have tried to explain that morality arose as a complex trait like other traits because it improved the chances of gene survival. I have used the word utility in indicating that which supports that effect of natural selection.

I have also used the word utility to describe one of the reasons why people change what they see as the moral choice. For them the new tenet is more useful than the old to them personally, (whether they are basically selfish or altruistic).

Now I'm not sure which utility you were referring to when you said "In fact you didn’t need to be convinced of the objectivity of utility at all – you started with it" I suspect you were referring to the concept of utilitarianism as described in moral philosophy which I never meant to refer to at all. I certainly never indicated that it was the sole criteria for moral decisions as some advocates of utilitarianism seem to think.

I don't think that anybody makes decisions solely on their utility merely because assessing the utility of outcomes involves being able to predict the future and, insofar as time allows, the average person attempts to stay within the bounds of the moral code of conduct of the group to which they belong, or at least assesses the risk of not doing so.

I am not attempting to justify utilitarianism but to support the idea that utility is part of the moral decision making process. The fact that it occasionally might lead to carpet bombing is in my view some evidence towards the truth of my contention seeing as carpet bombing has existed in the real world.

Your contention that utility is self serving can't be justified. For an individual what has utility is that which serves their personal objectives. That will only be self serving if their personal objectives are self serving. Utility is neutral in this respect.

If I may hazard another attempt to define a difference between us: I am attempting to use scientific evidence and rational argument to describe morality as it actually is, you are trying to describe what you would like it to be.

25 November 2012 at 09:51  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

The simple problem is, GordonHide, that your position doesn't seem to me to tend towards making any kind of decision about what is good and bad. Don't get me wrong - that's better than utilitarianism, which I'm heartened to hear your not convinced by either. But you suddenly draw back at the final point. Instead of asking, of carpet bombing: was this right? or even is it ever right? (two very different types of question), you merely acknowledge it as prima facie "evidence" of morality. My question is, how do you know which evidence to include or exclude on that front?

Putting it basically, your approach does devalue the meaning of morality, precisely because it must negate any kind of philosophically arbitrary line between good and bad. Sparta's Agoge and slave culture gives an example of morality, Jesuit teaching in 19th Century Spain another, carpet-bombing Dresden a third.

All good and well to note the place of utility - but if that's not the whole, what's the remainder in your view? Your explanation of staying within the group view doesn't look much like any moral decision making I've ever encountered, either within myself or read of others. Yes, utility in the sense you define it will always play a role in decision making, and so by definition in moral decision making (given that it is not a category detached from the world), but it's the difference between the former general one and the latter specific one that doesn't quite appear in your argument.

"I am attempting to use scientific evidence and rational argument to describe morality as it actually is, you are trying to describe what you would like it to be."

Almost. You are describing, I'm choosing.

The difficulty lies in the "actually is" - which is the principal assumption of empiricism which underlies your arguments throughout.

25 November 2012 at 15:41  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

When you feel love towards another human being, you (presumably) experience it in more than one sense. In the immediate moment, it hardly seems fair to enquire of the rational mind, but afterward, in reflection, what goes on? You understand that what you experienced was the consequence of complex, but reasonably well-understood chemical phenomena causing synaptic and physiological responses in your body and brain. You may, if you come from a Social Sciences background, even be alert to the importance of setting and context to that experience. But you hold, at some stage, I suspect, an understanding that you have loved - a thing which cannot be wholly reduced to these things - even if it is too subjective to be taken seriously by the scientific mind.

The question of morality is very similar. At its core it is a matter of choice over which of these things to attend to most. Science can't attend to the subjective - it's outside of its ontological sphere. Quite simply, because it must render it objectively understandable, so losing its subjective quality - making it unfit even for descriptive purposes. Poetry manages far better.*

When you do science you necessarily strip the subjective. On reflection, "love" is merely the physical and chemical. When you apply this principle to morality, the resultant idea of "utility" is only neutral because it has been arrived at by stripping the subjective - not because it never possessed it, and does not continue to possess it. All you've done is put on a pair of glasses that filter out what science cannot adequately determine.

This is why I say that this approach is a choice - it may not be a conscious choice, but it is one that is imposed with the ontological apparatus that you employ.

That's the difficulty with the "neutrality" of utility - it can only be arrived at by choosing that certain other forms of knowledge are not "really real", or at least not any good for getting to what something "actually is".
___
* If you haven't come across it before, can I suggest Thomas Nagel's works on subjectivity and objectivity for a looksee. He deals very well, and in an entirely non-Post-Modern way, with subjective knowledge and the value of objective inquiry to its investigation.

25 November 2012 at 15:42  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

You contend that it is not self-serving, noting:

"For an individual what has utility is that which serves their personal objectives. That will only be self serving if their personal objectives are self serving." (my emphasis)

And here we come to it: the self. However much we might like to come up with a truly objective sense of utility (which would, in its purest form take account of humanity in the context of the entire universe), in the end what we always end back at is the self. It's the "personal objectives". I don't doubt that you could explain without any reference to the subjective every and all psychological occurrence. But you would be quite wrong if you subsequently claimed that those explanations completely accounted for "what they really are". Our "personal objectives" are always inextricable from our subjectivity.

But we blind ourselves to this, we blind the very focus of our objective descriptions, by choosing to discount subjective knowledge. By adopting the scientific method, not as a tool for investigating/producing objective knowledge, as an ontological position (which cannot be demonstrated objectively in any case), we go right into the position I outline above.

In layman's terms, the self is served by making the self a god. It comes down to personal objectives - the latter word linguistically colluding in the deception.

I do not live in such a world. I learnt enough from Hume to know that if the eye may be jaundiced with regards to the natural world, it may as easily be jaundiced to moral one. I choose to believe that love is meaningful - not that it is not also its physical and chemical symptoms, but that it is not merely those things (i.e. Holism; greater than the sum of its parts). I choose to live as though it was meaningful, as though Justice was meaningful. These things are subjective, but these things are also moral. They hold that the agoge and slaves had a moral meaning, that Jesuit teaching had a moral meaning, and that carpet bombing Dresden had a moral meaning - but they do not produce a map of this meaning that is uniform or "neutral".

On the contrary: moral meaning demands from us a choice regarding what is good and evil. It demands a response, and not merely a description. And it does so in a way that we cannot hope to so blithely put our faith in our "personal objectives", but rather submit them to the same scrutiny.

25 November 2012 at 15:42  
Blogger OldJim said...

Mr Hide

You wondered earlier what on earth I meant in talking of separating evolutionary processes as an explanation from their use as a justification

Your most recent post allows me to make that clear.

What you have offered is a purely descriptive analysis of some of the traits that subserve morality.

This is why you can say "The fact that it occasionally might lead to carpet bombing is in my view some evidence towards the truth of my contention seeing as carpet bombing has existed in the real world."

You mean that the fact that your model shows that carpet bombing can occur, and that in fact it does occur in the world, speaks to the verisimilitude of your model. I don't doubt it.

You have provided a model of some of the processes that underlie these moral processes, chiefly:

1)at bottom, a set of altruistic traits emerging from genetic coding, that are currently prevalent in human beings

2)groups that enforce various permutations of the expression of these traits ("Moral codes of conduct")in accordance as they seem to befit the environment the group finds itself in, whilst repressing others

Let's leave aside the old gene/group selection saw as irrelevant now. I would continue to dispute your characterisation of some of these processes as fundamentally unscientific, but they don't really bear on this discussion right now.

Aside from that, well and good, well and good, I dispute not a word, not a jot nor tittle.

Allow me now to offer an account of science.

Natural selection has equipped mammals especially and human individuals uniquely with a bias towards "seeing" cause and effect patterns. When I turn on the tap, out comes water, when I let go of a pen, down it drops, when I dance around a set of standing stones in the light of the full moon I become pregnant.

Sorry? You dispute that the last is "science"? But my dear chap, surely you are not an unscientific gentleman; you appreciate, surely, that human beings evolved to link causes and effects? That this is what science is?

And young girls do in fact dance around standing stones in order to become pregnant, believing the one linked to the other, and so my descriptive analysis accounts for more of the behaviour observed than does yours.

You seem to want to bring in unscientific processes like rationality to account for science, and additionally your model does not account for as much behaviour as mine. My model is better. QED.

25 November 2012 at 16:14  
Blogger OldJim said...

Of course I am not being serious. We both know that whilst it is true that our propensity to see cause and effect patterns in nature is a sine qua non for science to operate, it is not sufficient for good science. My descriptive account for "science" is merely a descriptive account of one process that underlies science proper, which involves the use of reason and so on and so forth.

Science is not merely cause/effect patterns coupled with people's preferences or estimations of utility or society's responses to environmental changes. It requires the use of a reasoning human mind, of models and theories and imaginative testing.

And so the whole crux of the argument is that AiB and I are arguing that a descriptive account of processes that underlie morality without reference to reason is not an account of morality proper.

The fact that my descriptive account of "science" also accounts for virginal moonlight dancing is a weakness for an account of science proper, because it cannot distinguish real science from bunkum.

And the fact that your descriptive account of "morality" also accounts for carpet bombing is a weakness for an account of morality proper, because it cannot distinguish real moral reasoning from bunkum.

25 November 2012 at 16:21  
Blogger OldJim said...

You have left yourself no means that I can see of determining the moral good or evil of a decision.

Following merely emotive or altruistic feeling, the "feelings" that we have evolved with, would be the starting place I suppose. As you said to AiB, "In the example of racism you quote. What tells you that this is immoral is you basic empathic instinct coupled with your life experience of those against whom racism is being perpetrated. For you greater familiarity with the strange has allowed your empathy to counteract your natural fear of the unknown. On top of this where once you might have been culturally imprinted with xenophobia now it is more likely you will be culturally imprinted with a distaste for obvious bigotry."

This is promising. So, follow your empathic feelings? No, we learn that: " If carpet bombing was effectively the least bad decision then it may be what you ought to do. However, you have your basic social instincts and emotions to contend with and also your culturally indoctrinated instincts and practises, So you would have to get passed them."

So, if our inherited feelings are something we occasionally have to get past in order to be moral, and are not morality itself, then what is?

The most likely possibility seems to be "the constraints of our moral code of conduct, (in which we are unlikely to have had any personal input, outside of a decision to ignore particular tenets and risk exposure).

Again, though, it is unclear why we should ignore particular tenets. Presumably because they are not in our self-interest.

But! You protest, we could also ignore them in favour of our own moral objectives. Ah ha! But how do we determine these moral objectives, if our "moral feelings" are faulty, and sometimes we need to overcome them?

Im afraid I think that it is useless for you Mr Hide.

You are going to have to address the possibility that reasoning might play a part in determining our moral stance, and that your not dwelling on that is the elephant in the room.

And once you have done that, the game is up and the moral relativism is over.

You said at the start that "Morality, as it should, has changed significantly in 2000 years and continues to do so. I think it is changing for the better"

Indeed you do, and this is nothing to do with your mere descriptive model of morality, which could no more determine the rightness or wrongness of a moral code than a cow could determine the presence or absence of a higgs boson. Once we get there, we have the real discussion, because then everything that AiB has been saying in the past five or six posts becomes very relevant to you indeed.

25 November 2012 at 16:37  
Blogger OldJim said...

Hello Aib :)

I didn't see you there

Mr Hide

I suspect that your reply will be that I am still not getting it and that the ultimate determiner of a moral code is its "survival value"

so let me recap why I do not think that this is an answer at all

-it instantiates itself in individuals as unmediated feelings, but they are feelings that you admit in your carpet bombing example must sometimes be "overcome" in order to be properly moral

- you admit you cannot simply work out rationally what would best contribute to survival value because

a) I have demonstrated that there is no good evolutionary reason to imagine that non-kin altruism will contribute to long term survival of individuals: selection may explain our current moral disposition, but it cannot justify our moral choices because we do not know that cooperation will in fact be conducive to survival long term.

b)you have said yourself that our knowledge of what will turn out to be good for survival is under-determined. You said "We cannot know in many cases what behaviour will lead to long term survival. You should note that the Catholic church has survived longer than most groups and yet it practises celibacy."

-Groups can try to compel, but people are free to resist. Whilst societies may adapt towards "long-term survival" (this looks a little too much like group selection theory for my tastes in any case), the individual has no way of knowing which society is best adapted - because that is under-determined. So individuals would just have to conform to whatever society they were born into and hope for the best?

"Long term survival" is not a sensible criterion for determining the morality of an act, nor are the genetically encoded traits that aim to aid it sufficient by your account to render an action "moral".

There must be something else that people use in determining moral acts.

That something else is reason addressed teleologically to the good of other people, or the ordinances of holy scripture, or philosophy. But this is something quite distinct from "long term survival", from genes, from scientific judgements, and from mere preferences.

You can have scientific judgements on one end (i.e. will doing this kill someone?) and "inbuilt cooperative traits" as grounding feelings (i.e. "I would be upset to kill someone), and societal norms to try to mediate (i.e. "In war you are allowed to kill someone) but if the "inbuilt cooperative traits" and the societal norms are at loggerheads, then, by your own admission, there is no obvious winner.

In which case we need some other process to mediate. Do you begin to see?

25 November 2012 at 17:01  

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