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The real battle is...


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Initial post: Oct 14, 2012 8:59:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 14, 2012 9:04:28 PM PDT
Found this old quote from my dear atheist friend, James Longmire, and thought it was worth repeating:

"The real battle is between those who believe they have a mandate to impose an authoritarianistic 'moral' code upon everybody, and those who believe in the principle of 'live and let live'."

"The real divisions are about tolerance/ intolerance, and the exclusion and dehumanization of those 'outside the group'. Both of these are dependent on empathy, or the lack thereof."

I found JL's quote on this thread: http://www.amazon.com/forum/religion/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx1M9TK6UGAX6EO&cdThread=TxPBNR9CTV3VEF
(It was preserved because I had written his quote in one of my posts.)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2012 9:20:36 PM PDT
AWK,

I wonder whether it would be useful to attempt to look at the conflict, mentioned in Mr. Longmire's first paragraph cited above, from the point of an hypothetical opponent. Let's say this opponent sees the conflict thus:

"The real battle is between those who believe they have a mandate to do exactly as they please without regard to other people or their values, and those who believe in the principle of a stable and well-ordered society."

In parallel, then:

"The real divisions are about peace/ anarchy, and the inclusion and embracing of our own family, friends, and allies. Both of these are dependent on loyalty, or the lack thereof."

That is, admittedly, a rough translation but does it offer an insight of any kind? I don't know; at this point in time I'm to close to it to tell.

Posted on Oct 14, 2012 9:54:39 PM PDT
'probabilist says:
'As an example: if your tribe -- meaning people whom you depend on -- finds some action very offensive or angering, then you will likely find it "immoral".'

- DonJennings, in the thread titled
"Can materialist motives drive moral action?"

Posted on Oct 14, 2012 9:55:20 PM PDT
'probabilist says:
------------------------------------------------------
I don't think it is family groups, but larger tribal units. The argument goes like this: human beings (and their evolutionary predecessors) found group living enhanced the survival probability of individuals; for groups to remain cohesive there had to be "rules" by which all individuals operated; those rules are what we now call "morality."

The evidence for this is necessarily very indirect, and I don't doubt that there are some surprises in store. But LH's notion of family as the source is probably true in that the basic instinct to care for infants and protect spouses is a form of moral behavior. But these are directly explainable by simple natural selection. Our elaborate group morality is a bit less direct and (correspondingly) less binding. The history of mankind seems to be rife with examples of people breaking the basic moral rules (the stuff of most drama and poetry).
------------------------------------------------------

- DonJennings, in the thread titled
"Can materialist motives drive moral action?"

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2012 9:56:00 PM PDT
Wow.
I have never looked at it this way before, Charles.
Hunh.
Anarchy vs order...
or freedom vs totalitarianism. (?)

Patriotism vs treason...
or inclusion vs exclusion. (?)

I want to reflect a bit on your post. I think I'm going to come back to this, though...

Thank you, Charles! You've got things sparking around in my brain - I love when that happens!

Posted on Oct 14, 2012 9:57:09 PM PDT
'probabilist says:
Honeybee Democracy
by Thomas D. Seeley
(Princeton University Press, 2010)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2012 9:57:23 PM PDT
Wow again!!!
Thought-provoking posts!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2012 9:58:37 PM PDT
'probabilist says:
,.-)

Posted on Oct 14, 2012 10:00:26 PM PDT
'probabilist says:
"You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."

- Anne Lamott
(as quoted by Ferbilini)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2012 10:01:42 PM PDT
Oh! I LOVE this quote!!!
Wonderful!

Posted on Oct 14, 2012 10:18:44 PM PDT
'probabilist says:
_____________________________________
Enki wrote [on the thread titled
"What is Jesus actually trying to do in the Gospel stories?"]:

-----
Victimizers should be held responsible for the harm they do. They have an obligation to restore, as best they can, whatever they have taken or destroyed. There is no need to hurt or imprison them, neither of which benefits the victim.

That's what the Bible says. If someone steals from someone, he must return what he stole, plus an extra for the inconvenience he has caused. If someone wounds someone, he must do whatever he can to restore the person to the condition he was in prior to being wounded. And so on.

Jesus said for you to go and be reconciled to the person who has "aught" against you. That means, someone whom you have wronged. And the way to be reconciled is, first of all, to do your utmost to undo the wrong.

Some wrongs cannot be undone. You cannot revive the person you have murdered. You cannot restore the destroyed reputation of the person whom you have slandered. All you can do is throw yourself on the mercy of the wronged person. You can proclaim the virtues of the person you have slandered to as many people as possible. You can visit the grave of the person you have murdered and beg forgiveness. Alas, you cannot restore either to his/her former condition. But you do what you can. You do not blithely assume that Gd has cleansed you. IT IS NOT ABOUT _YOU_!!! And it need not be about Society either, although it is also important for people to live well together in community. But primarily it is about the person whom you have hurt, the person whom you have wronged. It is about caring for the well being of that person. It is about being loving to the person despite having wronged him/her. And the "law" is not about being legalistic. It is about finding the most loving way to be reconciled to the one you have wronged.

Remember that the Hebrew Bible, like the ancient near east in general, did not deal in abstractions or generalities as the ancient Greeks did. The Hebrew Bible deals in specifics. It gives examples. Instead of saying "love your enemy" and leaving us to wonder what that means, it says, "If you see the donkey of him who hates you fallen under its burden, you shall surely help him unpack it, lift it up, and repack it." That tells a specific thing you can do that is loving. It gives at least one other example of loving behavior towards an enemy, but I am blanking on it at the moment. But I hope you get the idea.

As for the victim, it is true that the more heinous the wrongdoing, the more important it is to avoid holding on to anger or resentment. Anger or resentment will eat the victim alive, and the sad irony is that the more right he is, the more justified is his anger, the more it will harm him. The victim needs to let go and move on. That is how HE gets inner peace.
_____________________________________

Posted on Oct 14, 2012 10:23:15 PM PDT
'probabilist says:
_____________________________________
Tzila wrote [on the thread titled
"7 reasons why religion is a form of mental illness"]:

-----
The teachings of love for God and love for neighbor, of giving without asking in return, of not being angry without knowing the other side of the story, of not judging/criticizing, not calling people idiot or stupid, of going the extra mile, of loving children. And that if you're going to spread some good news, spread the good news of the kingdom of God, that you are loved and can enter the kingdom of heaven (a peaceful state of mind) right now by adopting a loving attitude toward others. That is the good news of the gospel.
_____________________________________

Posted on Oct 14, 2012 10:24:38 PM PDT
'probabilist says:
_______________________________________
S. Hendrix wrote [on the thread titled
" 'We Don't Need Freedom of Religion' "]:

-----
This is absurd. Freedom of religion is not a pass that allows all religious principles or practices of a religion to trump other laws. Freedom of religion does not grant special rights, it preserves the right to freely practice and observe the religion of choice in concordance with the established laws of the state and it prevents the state from making laws designed to target particular religions or practices.

There are limits to the free exercise, practice, of religion, just as there are limits to the freedom of speech.

Am I allowed to sacrifice a cow on my balcony in NY?

Am I allowed to make an offering of a burnt lamb in Central Park?

Am I allowed to carry and grow and use marijuana, if it is part of my religion?

Society did not pass a law that gave free and total practice to freedom of religion. Freedom of religion has limits.

The Court has clearly ruled that "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices."

In the US freedom of religion does not allow polygamy. Why?

Freedom of religion does not allow gay marriage in the US. Why?

What if my religion holds that I must marry in order to be right with God, and that same sex marriage is fine in the eyes of my church? Sorry, can't legally do it in most states.

What if my religion allows marriage to an 11 year old? Nope, can't do that either.

The practices of religion are restricted.
_______________________________________

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2012 10:37:32 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 14, 2012 10:39:10 PM PDT
"As for the victim, it is true that the more heinous the wrongdoing, the more important it is to avoid holding on to anger or resentment. Anger or resentment will eat the victim alive, and the sad irony is that the more right he is, the more justified is his anger, the more it will harm him. The victim needs to let go and move on. That is how HE gets inner peace."
Yes. I think this is very true.

I once watched a documentary about the death penalty. It showed this couple whose daughter had been murdered. They'd chosen to focus on their daughter's death, rather than her life. Their whole lives were wrapped around her murder. These "nice" people had let their daughter's murderer change who they were. They spent their lives traveling around the country, going to executions and celebrating when convicted killers were put to death. It was so sad and pointless and such a waste.

And I've come to believe there comes a time, when the "guilty" person has got to move on, too.

Edward A. Kimball writes: "It won't do you a particle of good to enter upon a career of self-condemnation. Remorse never got anybody into heaven. A sense of regret and all that sort of thing is not the process. The process is reform; it is change; it is correction...There is no merit in suffering. The only merit there is is in transformation. I have found people carrying along their agony because they thought it was entirely proper to be everlastingly berating and condemning themselves. You will never get to heaven that way...There is nothing rational in self-condemnation. One may condemn the error, but not himself - never himself."

If you think of heaven and hell as states of mind, rather than literal places, then the hatred that the parents of the murdered girl felt towards her murderer was keeping them in hell, and keeping them out of heaven.

(Here's a blog I wrote about my own thoughts about some of this stuff: http://madcapchristianscientist.wordpress.com/?s=guilt )

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2012 8:59:49 AM PDT
Okay, this is what I'm thinking... (and Lord knows this could change at any time)...

I'm thinking the key to determining what should be "tolerated" and what should not lies in the harm that one's actions and choices might cause to others.

For instance: Will sex between consenting adults of the same gender in the privacy of their own home cause harm to me or mine? Will marriage between same-sex couples in any way hurt me or my family or my own marriage? Nope, I don't think so. On the other hand, would it cause harm to others if we try to deny same-sex couples the same right to marry the person they love as other consenting adults in our society? Yes, I believe it causes harm to exclude our fellow citizens from the same rights to marriage as everyone else in our society.

Another question: Will someone else's belief in an anthropomorphic god, or non-belief, in any way harm me or mine? Nope, a person's beliefs concerning a god or gods doesn't cause harm. The PRACTICE of those beliefs might cause harm to others (attempting to deny civil rights to those who don't share the same beliefs, denying schoolchildren the right to learn about the workings of science in a public school, sacrificing virgins, and stuff) - and practices that are harmful to others should not be condoned or allowed.

Regarding the question of loyalty: Loyalty has its uses, for sure. But maybe - in order for the human race to survive - the time has come for people to expand their loyalties to include... well... this is going to probably sound really naive, but I think the "good will to ALL" idea can never be over-rated. If tribal loyalties ever served a purpose in society, I'm not so sure they do any more.

Charles, I have a really hard time understanding why some people are drawn to an us-against-them way of looking at the world. There is a sort of an elitest, exclusive, country club mentality out there - and I've seen it amongst both Christians and atheists - this idea that one group is somehow smarter, better, superior to the other. I suspect that people who look at the world that way are maybe insecure (?) - they have a need to belong to a pack/herd/club of fellow believers (or non-believers) who will pat them on the back and applaud them and tell them how cool they are. And they seem prone to ganging up as a pack and attacking lone individuals - people who have the courage to step apart from the masses and have their own thoughts about stuff.

I might agree more with the beliefs or non-beliefs of the people in the pack, but I think I have more respect for the person who has the courage to stand alone (whether or not I agree with her).

Posted on Oct 15, 2012 9:05:11 AM PDT
The real battle is the one within yourself. The moment you try to control the behavior of others instead of your own, you have just lost the battle.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2012 9:14:04 AM PDT
AWK,

For your consideration...

Yours: "... some people are drawn to an us-against-them way of looking at the world."

Mine: It seems to be an innate inclination, awareness of which can help us to overcome its more deleterious effects. Notice that your message, itself, implies such a bias; you're clearly putting yourself in the "we don't do this" group. The inclination to create "us-and-them" categories can be accurately descriptive or it can be illusory; where it transitions from one to the other is hard to determine. Its seeming clarity and objectivity, not to mention its specious explanatory power, are very seductive. Again, awareness of this inclination is our best defense against it.

Again, loyalty has its uses and abuses; where does the transition happen? This is where the "us-versus-them" arises; each group wants to draw their "line in the sand" at different places and the space between the lines is the size of their disagreement.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2012 9:16:50 AM PDT
Mr. Myers,

Brief, helpful, elegant, and to some extent, accurate.

My reservation is for those cases where parties must agree to control their own behavior, which is sometimes a result of each allowing him/herself to be controlled.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2012 9:29:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 15, 2012 4:32:30 PM PDT
Charles,

" Notice that your message, itself, implies such a bias; you're clearly putting yourself in the 'we don't do this' group."
Crap. I know. And even as I was typing it, I realized that I was doing that. It is really hard to get around it, isn't it? As individuals, we need to be able to distinguish right from wrong to set a moral course for ourselves - but in doing that, we're making judgments, aren't we? In my case, I'm judging judgmentalism - which is like that looking-at-a-reflection-of-a-reflection-of-a-reflection of myself thing.

So. Hunh.

Okay. Let me put this out there: I know who I am, I think - I know my weaknesses (and lord knows they are innumerable) and my strengths (yes, I do actually have some) - and I'm more inclined to have public fun with my weaknesses than I am to tell everyone else the ways in which I'm superior to them. And one of my weaknesses (or strengths, I guess, depending on how one looks at this) is a real exasperation with people who have the need to put others down, point fingers at others, and waste time with the blame game (I know - I'm doing it again - putting down people who put people down - oh, the irony). It just seems like an incredible waste of time to me. And really boring, too.

But to get back to the tolerant/intolerant thing...
There's a saying that a lot of wise people use on here - the one about the fist and the nose? I like that one a lot. :)

Karen

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2012 9:48:30 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 15, 2012 2:05:28 PM PDT
AWK,

When I'm teaching others to drive defensively, I sometimes talk about stereotypes noting that they are useful for helping us have expectations and direction, but are not absolutely reliable. I summarize this in the phrase, "give yourself the benefit of self-doubt;" let stereotypes frame issues for you, but don't expect the fit to be perfect. "Us-versus-them" is, after all, a system of stereotypes -- useful but limited. The lesson of modern science is to let reality speak for itself and to respect that voice.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2012 10:42:50 AM PDT
Astrocat says:
Karen, terrific post. Thanks.

Posted on Oct 15, 2012 10:58:40 AM PDT
MLC says:
I think we need to define the word "tolerance" before we can talk about what we will tolerate and what we won't. Some people seem to define it as not disagreeing with anybody about their beliefs, but, to use the phrase in the original post, letting people live as they want and believe as they want.

However, the traditional definition of tolerance simply means this: Being respectful of someone with whom you disagree. That doesn't mean NOT pointing out to them the flaws in their belief systems or lifestyles. That doesn't mean just letting people do as they want.

And, quite frankly, the people who rant the most about tolerance are generally the least-tolerant people by either definition! LOL!

Personally, I am intolerant of anything that keeps people from knowing the one true God and receiving the salvation of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I will respectfully disagree with anybody who purports anything that will keep people from the Lord.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2012 5:57:15 PM PDT
I have no problem with people disagreeing with the opinions and beliefs of others. I do have a problem with people causing harm to others who have different opinions and beliefs than them. I do have a problem with bigotry. I do have a problem with people who want to deny equal rights to those who are different than them, or hold different beliefs.

If you and I were to have a conversation about the "one true God" and "the salvation of Jesus Christ" we might find we disagree with the particulars of those beliefs - I might, for instance, tell you that, for me, the "one true God" is, simply, Love. I might tell you that I believe Jesus' mission here was to show us how to work out our own salvation - but not to do the work for us, or to relieve us of our own responsibility to become more Christ-like. Would our disagreement mean that we were intolerant of each other? Nope.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2012 5:59:40 PM PDT
(Thanks, Nancy!)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2012 6:10:54 PM PDT
Charles,

You're right, of course - stereotypes are sometimes useful. But I think when people use stereotypes to define big groups of people, and to spread hatred and prejudice about those people - well, that I don't think is helpful at all.

Karen
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Discussion in:  Religion forum
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Initial post:  Oct 14, 2012
Latest post:  May 15, 2013

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