Uncommon Sense

September 15, 2018

Ethics and Morality without God

In a recent post on Daily Kos I read the following:

“I once said to a Native American friend that I thought that the Golden Rule was a perfect expression of social ethics, and before I could put the period on my sentence, he shot back, ‘No, it’s not … because if you’re a misanthrope who hates people and just wants to be left alone, you can behave that way in clear conscience. In my tribe, I have responsibilities to widows, orphans, and the ill. I have to hunt for those who can’t. That’s mutuality.’” (sfzendog)

This attitude toward the collective responsibility we all have, as well as individual responsibility, might be summed up in “love thy neighbor as thyself” but it isn’t made at all explicit in Christian ethics/morality.

Many people do not know that the “tithe” which has morphed into a fundraiser to support the church building fund and minister’s and staff’s salaries, was originally a tax. The Jews had a theocracy. Even when outsiders came in and established a new ruling structure, the Temple kept its own governing structure and the tithe/tax was a way to support widows, orphans, and the afflicted. That is what it was for, explicitly. The Jews had a structure in place regarding the collective responsibility of all to support those in need.

Christian ethics/morality on the other hand stops at “love they neighbor” and “turn the other cheek,” with little parsing of those instructions. There are clear signs that early Christians were communal (that means communists, Comrade). As Christianity was rewritten by pagans, that collectivism was written out. The Republicans are doing their damndest to wipe out collectivism in the U.S. right now, so this “battle” is quite longstanding.

We still haven’t answered the question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We are still trying to address mutuality.

Many studies on democratic socialist states show that as they collectively (through government) care for those less fortunate or less capable and just ordinary citizens, the less the need for religion in their population. It therefore seems that religion has a vested interest in opposing government providing basic support for their people. The widespread evangelical support for the current administration therefore is less perplexing looked at in this light.

45 Comments »

    • Probably related to Mother Theresa who thought that suffering brought people closer to god, so ameliorating it was not the thing to do.

      On Sat, Sep 15, 2018 at 11:16 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — September 15, 2018 @ 11:28 am | Reply

  1. Good points. Glad to see you explained about the tithe. I knew that but it should be talked about more so people understand what it was about and about early Christianity also. And how it has changed.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Old Guy — September 15, 2018 @ 11:19 am | Reply

  2. Actually the tithe is the whole covenant now. Jesus died in the tree/cross/never so Joel Ostentatious could have an $12 million dollar mansion in Texas.

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by jim- — September 15, 2018 @ 1:41 pm | Reply

  3. “Many studies on democratic socialist states show that as they collectively (through government) care for those less fortunate or less capable and just ordinary citizens, the less the need for religion in their population.”
    True.
    History is full of socialist states that had so little need for religion – it was outlawed. Annihilation of religious practitioners makes sense since backward superstitions are (at least partially) to blame for civilization regressing. When we finally answer, “No” to the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” – we can get rid of billionaires and religious kooks so the rest of humanity can flourish.

    Like

    Comment by John Branyan — September 16, 2018 @ 7:50 am | Reply

    • I think the correct answer should is yes.
      Please explain why you think it should be no.

      Like

      Comment by Old Guy — September 16, 2018 @ 7:55 am | Reply

      • I don’t owe my brother anything. You only go around once and it doesn’t make any sense to spend time worrying about the plight of someone else.

        Like

        Comment by John Branyan — September 16, 2018 @ 7:58 am | Reply

        • Thanks for the reply.

          Like

          Comment by Old Guy — September 16, 2018 @ 8:01 am | Reply

        • Huh! You obviously haven’t been reading your bible lately.

          Philippians 2:4 — do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
          Galatians 6:2 — Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
          Romans 12:10 — Be devoted to one another in brotherly love
          Galatians 6:9 — So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people
          1John 3:17 — But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

          (I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you were being factitious.)

          Like

          Comment by Nan — September 16, 2018 @ 11:54 am | Reply

          • The post is about morality without God. Not sure why you’re injecting scripture into the conversation.

            Like

            Comment by John Branyan — September 16, 2018 @ 11:58 am | Reply

            • You made the following statement, JB: I don’t owe my brother anything. You only go around once and it doesn’t make any sense to spend time worrying about the plight of someone else.

              Whatever your motivation was for making this statement, it stands as is and for all intents and purposes indicates your perspective. You may have been exhibiting your well-honed talent for sarcasm, but that’s not what came across.

              Like

              Comment by Nan — September 16, 2018 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

              • I know exactly what I said.
                It is a perfect expression of morality without religion.

                Like

                Comment by John Branyan — September 16, 2018 @ 12:18 pm | Reply

    • You do not separate democratic socialist states from authoritarian socialists states. That is a little like calling Russia a democracy because they have elections.

      On Sun, Sep 16, 2018 at 7:50 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — September 17, 2018 @ 9:26 am | Reply

      • Which version of socialism leads to the elimination of religion in favor of secular utopia?

        Like

        Comment by John Branyan — September 17, 2018 @ 10:11 am | Reply

        • Definitely not democratic socialism. None of those states currently has done one thing to “eliminate religion.” Under those conditions (freedom from want and fear) religion eliminates itself.

          On Mon, Sep 17, 2018 at 10:11 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

          >

          Like

          Comment by Steve Ruis — September 17, 2018 @ 11:01 am | Reply

  4. You have an interesting opinion of Christianity.

    You asked — “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

    Yes, when have you ever not been?

    Like

    Comment by Lander7 — October 23, 2018 @ 3:20 pm | Reply

    • How one defines Christianity is up for grabs. Early Christianity is steeped in being one’s brothers keeper, to the point of being socialist/communist. That, of course, would not serve the interests of the secular elites, so that part of early Christianity was buried. In fact, much of early Christianity was buried in favor of building political power that came wrapped with pagan practices. (There is an interesting book called “Pagan Christianity” which addresses this.)

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 23, 2018 @ 3:40 pm | Reply

  5. I’m not aware of any society that doesn’t focus on political power. Why do you think Christianity is worthy of such focus over something that is simply common? I could make you point work for boy scouts as easily as you are making it for Christianity.

    Like

    Comment by Lander7 — October 23, 2018 @ 3:46 pm | Reply

    • You missed my point. It is not that Christianity sought political power, but what it gave up to get it. A little like the evangelicals supporting Trump. Selling your good reputation for political gain is hardly becoming.

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 24, 2018 @ 9:36 am | Reply

      • I think you may have it backward, you are missing the greater point. Everything being done by sentient beings is for political power. Isn’t this the story of the Fall? If the goal is always to control then it never gave up anything, you simply are more aware of its agenda.

        As a Christian, I’m under no illusion that the goal at the end of the day is to control the masses.

        Like

        Comment by Lander7 — October 24, 2018 @ 9:43 am | Reply

        • Of course you don’t. You are not the conman, you are the mark.

          On Wed, Oct 24, 2018 at 9:43 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

          >

          Like

          Comment by Steve Ruis — October 24, 2018 @ 2:38 pm | Reply

          • When you said “Of course you don’t.” it didn’t seem like it connected to anything I said so either you responded to the wrong person or you are miss reading something.

            Like

            Comment by Lander7 — October 24, 2018 @ 8:02 pm | Reply

            • I was responding to your statement: “As a Christian, I’m under no illusion that the goal at the end of the day is to control the masses.” Ordinary Christians are the masses. My claim is that religions that do not coerce the labor of the masses to serve the interests of the secular and religious elites, do not last long. One of the things that lead the Romans to embracing Christianity, for example, was the control Christian bishops seemed to exert over their followers. The various other religious cults showed no such control of their believers behaviors. All they could do is elicit sacrifices at the various shrines.

              Like

              Comment by Steve Ruis — October 24, 2018 @ 8:08 pm | Reply

              • Is there any possibility that Christians have compelling reasons for their faith or are they simply brainwashed?

                Like

                Comment by John Branyan — October 25, 2018 @ 7:02 am | Reply

                • My point is whatever the situation with individuals and their beliefs, the superstructure, the religion, is designed to control their behavior so that it serves the economic interests of the elites. As long as it does that, the elites really do not care about the fine points.

                  On Thu, Oct 25, 2018 at 7:02 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

                  >

                  Like

                  Comment by Steve Ruis — October 25, 2018 @ 8:16 am | Reply

                  • I understand your point.
                    Do you not think religious people are smart enough to recognize they are being controlled?

                    Like

                    Comment by John Branyan — October 25, 2018 @ 8:40 am | Reply

                    • Well, on one side you have their own ability to process these ideas. On the other, you have a system of indoctrination that dovetails into families and communities that discourages questioning. This indoctrination begins at a very early age and permeates every aspect of their lives. Having to admit that all of that might have been for naught is a traumatic experiences, as witness by many of the devout who became apostates. I do not think poorly of Christians (most of my family are and many of my friends, also) but I do feel for their predicament.

                      On Thu, Oct 25, 2018 at 8:40 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

                      >

                      Like

                      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 25, 2018 @ 8:49 am

                    • You didn’t answer the question.
                      I’m a Christian. Am I too stupid to understand I’m being controlled by the elites?

                      Like

                      Comment by John Branyan — October 25, 2018 @ 8:56 am

  6. It is not a matter of stupidity or intelligence. If you never think of something, you cannot say whether or not you can comprehend it. For example, have you read about church history, the first 4-5 centuries or so, the one’s in which they hammered out what Christianity was going to be? Most Christians are not encouraged to do this and I suspect few have. Surveys indicate that roughly half of American Christians haven’t read even small amounts of the Bible, so this is not shocking. So, anything you could learn from such a study is not a matter of whether you are smart enough to understand the information, just that you haven’t yet considered it. Similarly, the whole point of a con is that there are two realities. The mark’s reality is not supposed to tip them off to the idea of them being a mark in a con, consequently a good con offers no such tips.

    My point is that religions do not thrive that do not acquire state power. That state power comes with a cost. Do you know what it is? (There is rather a nice book called “Pagan Christianity,” written by serious Christians about what the cost was of acquiring the state power needed to thrive.)

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Steve Ruis — October 25, 2018 @ 11:22 am | Reply

    • Sorry…This comment didn’t get posted as a reply:
      You’re still suggesting that Christianity is the result of ignorance. If I just “think about it” my faith would collapse. I’m not comprehending that I’m being conned. No matter how nicely you try to explain it, the bottom line is that you don’t think I’m very bright.

      I’ve read Pagan Christianity. It’s a fantastic book. I’ve given copies to the leadership in my church. I’m not a Christian because the elite have duped me into discipleship. I’m not quaking at the thought of hellfire. I’m not afraid God will punish me if I don’t tithe. I’m reading the same books that you’re reading. So, what do you do with a guy like me, Steve?

      a) Simply dismiss me as “a troll”. Many atheists opt for this one because it’s quick and easy.
      b) You could keep insisting that I don’t really understand my own theology.
      c) You can accuse me of “lying for Jesus”.

      Can you think of any other options?

      Like

      Comment by John Branyan — October 26, 2018 @ 8:19 am | Reply

  7. You’re still suggesting that Christianity is the result of ignorance. If I just “think about it” my faith would collapse. I’m not comprehending that I’m being conned. No matter how nicely you try to explain it, the bottom line is that you don’t think I’m very bright.

    I’ve read Pagan Christianity. It’s a fantastic book. I’ve given copies to the leadership in my church. I’m not a Christian because the elite have duped me into discipleship. I’m not quaking at the thought of hellfire. I’m not afraid God will punish me if I don’t tithe. I’m reading the same books that you’re reading. So, what do you do with a guy like me, Steve?

    a) Simply dismiss me as “a troll”. Many atheists opt for this one because it’s quick and easy.
    b) You could keep insisting that I don’t really understand my own theology.
    c) You can accuse me of “lying for Jesus”.

    Can you think of any other options?

    Like

    Comment by John Branyan — October 26, 2018 @ 8:16 am | Reply

    • So, you are a true believer. But how did you come to believe that? Would you have come to the same place had you been born into another religion?

      And, I argue that ignorance and “being bright” are not related. One is about being able to think and the other about what one has to think about. Most Christians, for example, are not aware of the pagan roots of their traditional practices, as described in that quite astonishing book. If they were, how would that affect their thinking? Is any component of the current religious hierarchies going to bring that to the attention of their “flocks?”

      On Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 8:16 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 26, 2018 @ 8:33 am | Reply

      • I don’t know what you mean by “true believer”. Would it be fair to call you a “true unbeliever”? Do you think you would have come to the same place had you been born into another religion? Speculation about alternate realities doesn’t get us any closer to actual truth.

        If it’s true that “most Christians are not aware their pagan roots”, that has no bearing on MY beliefs. You and I would probably find much agreement about the weakness of “most Christians” theology. “Most Christians” are not better thinkers than atheists.

        You still haven’t conceded that I’m not ignorant or stupid.

        Like

        Comment by John Branyan — October 26, 2018 @ 8:43 am | Reply

        • I do not consider you ignorant or stupid, just conned if, you are defending Christianity on a foundational basis.

          On Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 8:43 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

          >

          Like

          Comment by Steve Ruis — October 26, 2018 @ 8:46 am | Reply

          • You’re still dismissing me. That’s cowardly, Steve.
            How can I be conned if I’m not ignorant or stupid?

            Like

            Comment by John Branyan — October 26, 2018 @ 8:51 am | Reply

            • I don’t know, maybe you are willing to be conned because of the status it gives you in your social groups. There could be myriad reasons and … I do not know you, so any judgment I might make would be inaccurate at best.

              And, if you think only the ignorant and stupid can be conned, you haven’t been paying attention. Wall Street has been the home of con men for ages. Bernie Madoff is a most prominent example, and the subprime mortgage scam was a nation wide scam. One could make the claim that had the people who were coned into buying the bogus securities had be aware of their actual value, that is their ignorance were to be cured, then they would not have bought them.

              And, it could be the case that two people seeing the same evidence come to different conclusions. I conclude that Christianity is a con. What do you conclude? Consider the effort it takes to be a practicing Christian; what are the benerfits that accrue from that effort?

              On Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 8:51 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

              >

              Like

              Comment by Steve Ruis — October 26, 2018 @ 9:16 am | Reply

              • If I’m willing to be “conned” for the sake of social status, I’m being dishonest. That’s option “c” from above.

                Don’t dismiss me for “not paying attention”. I have listed only 3 possible options for professing Christianity.
                a) Trolling (not truly believing what I claim to believe)
                b) Ignorance (not understanding what I claim to believe)
                c) Lying (false claims for some personal gain)

                There is one more possible option that should be obvious.
                Stretch your mind a bit and tell me what it is.

                Like

                Comment by John Branyan — October 26, 2018 @ 10:40 am | Reply

                • Now who is dismissing whom? I have not dismissed you at all. Yo are inserting yourself into a discussion of ideas. Asking me to “stretch my mind” is dismissive on your part.

                  You claim not not necessarily believe the fairy tales which are creation myths, which means you don’t believe all that Christians are asked to believe, so I am merely asking you a simple question: what are the benefits to being a Christian that can be weighed against the effort applied? I do not want to play 20 Questions to get your answer.

                  On Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 10:40 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

                  >

                  Like

                  Comment by Steve Ruis — October 26, 2018 @ 10:46 am | Reply

                  • Asking you to stretch your mind is the opposite of dismissive. It’s an invitation to think.

                    What’s the point in asking me questions about Christianity when you think I’m the victim of a con job? As a Christian, I am either ignorant, stupid, or dishonest.
                    You took offense when I asked for the other possibility.

                    As for “the benefits” of Christianity versus the “effort applied”, I’m not sure what you mean by “effort”. One of the benefits is that I actually have a foundation for ethics and morality whereas you do not.

                    Like

                    Comment by John Branyan — October 26, 2018 @ 10:56 am | Reply

                    • And just what is that foundation? And why is a foundation necessary? The one hard wired into us is insufficient?

                      All of the so-called benefits claimed for Christianity are illusory. Studies show the Christians are happier and live longer … so do people who have active social lives. Christians claim they will be “saved”? From what? Oh, a punishment created by their own god. Christians claim that … they have a foundation for their morality and ethics and, it is hard to find such a thing in scripture. “College” courses in Christian Ethics point to authors in the fourteenth century and later, after a brief foray into scripture. This is because the hundreds of commandments in the Bible are neither based in any kind of morality we might recognize or don’t really apply to ethical decisions. (Don’t eat shellfish. Don’t wear garments of mixed fibers. etc.) So, what is the basis for the moralities proffered by Aquinas and the like? It doesn’t seem to be scripture. So, where does it come from? A lot of it is reworked classical philosophy (mostly from the Greeks).

                      If you are claiming that it takes no effort to be a practicing Christian, I do not think you are going about it the right way. One of the signs of being a Christian, or so says scripture, is being persecuted. You have to get out there and get noticed so you can be persecuted. (Me saying mean words about your religion doesn’t count as persecution; Internet martyrs don’t exist.)

                      On Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 10:56 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

                      >

                      Like

                      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 27, 2018 @ 11:57 am

                    • “And just what is that foundation? And why is a foundation necessary? The one hard wired into us is insufficient?”

                      The foundation is necessary because with it, every person does whatever is right in their own opinion. Atheism has no foundation.

                      Like

                      Comment by John Branyan — October 27, 2018 @ 2:27 pm

                    • You claim that atheism has no foundation but study after study shows that morals are generated social, without the need of gods. If that were not true then morals would vary wildly around the world as various gods would have various dictates.

                      Why do you bother discussing such issues with the likes of me? I am wondering why I am bothering. I am responding out of a respect for the process. You ask a question in a comment to one of my posts, it seems rude not to respond. But there is no chance that either of us will convince the other their position is wrong. Why do you bother?

                      On Sat, Oct 27, 2018 at 2:27 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

                      >

                      Liked by 1 person

                      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 28, 2018 @ 11:43 am

                    • I am not as certain as you that opinions cannot change.

                      Like

                      Comment by John Branyan — October 28, 2018 @ 12:03 pm

                    • Meant to say “without it, everyone does whatever is right in their own opinion.”

                      Atheism has no foundation.
                      There is no objective “right” and “wrong” under atheism. There are only personal preferences.

                      Like

                      Comment by John Branyan — October 27, 2018 @ 2:36 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: