Class Warfare Blog

November 7, 2018

Sometimes You Don’t Have to Even Read the Book! Part 3

Filed under: Culture,Morality,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:07 am
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Subtitle: Making My Point For Me

Yet another Amazon listing provides all one needs to know about a book without reading it, this time with a nod to one of my main theses. The book is Straight to Hell by John LeFevre. Here’s the blurb:

“Straight to Hell pulls back the curtain on a world that is both hated and envied, taking readers from the trading floors and roadshows to private planes and after-hours overindulgence. Full of shocking lawlessness, boyish antics, and win-at-all-costs schemes, this is the definitive take on the deviant, dysfunctional, and absolutely excessive world of finance.

“‘LeFevre’s workplace anecdotes include tales of nastiness, sabotage, favoritism, sexism, racism, expense-account padding, and legally questionable collusion.”’ —The New Yorker

This book is a collection of stories focused on the bad behaviors of the Masters of the Universe-types, you know, Wall Street money grubbers.

The book’s title tells you about the main role religion has in America, that of forestalling any action against such miscreants. These bad boys are going straight to Hell, so what do we need do now … nothing, of course. Anything we could do pales in comparison to what is going to happen to them in the Afterlife™. It is all taken care of, don’t bother getting up from your Barcalounger.

That would be quite reassuring if the whole afterlife punishment scenario were not a fairy tale.

 

 

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November 1, 2018

#3 of the 10 Reasons to Believe God Exists

A few days back I covered #1 on this list, so if you need to see where this list was posted and by whom, please consult that post. Here is #3!

  1. Objective Morality (Moral Argument). Leaving the scientific realm for the philosophical and ethical, objective morality argues for an Objective Lawgiver. God is the best explanation for why objective morality exists. As Brian Manuel, a good friend of mine, said recently, “We can just know certain things to be right and wrong without even being taught.” He is absolutely right! People have an innate sense of morality. That comes from a Moral Lawgiver who we know to be God.

This argument, of course is not new; none of them are, even though the premises refer to things newer. This one is even incoherent. If morals are dictated by gods then they are hardly objective. This is the very definition of subjective (“Behave the way I tell you because I said so … or I will punish you.”)

An obvious argument is there have been so many gods, if the same morals are dictated, then there is some source for those morals higher than the various gods. For those who wish to claim the Abrahamic god as this source, the other gods do not acknowledge that authority, so such a claim is unsubstantiated. We could just as easily claim that morals that evolved naturally from societal structures are that “authority.”

And just what are these vaunted god morals? Many Christians point to the ten commandments, eschewing the other 600 or so from the Old Testament. (There are two lists of the ten to add to the confusion.) And, of course, there are obvious things missing from both lists. Maybe if there had been a commandment forbidding the sexual molestation of children, the Catholic Church might be a less deplorable institution right now. In fact, there are no commandments protecting children and women from molestation. There is no commandment against slavery in scripture. So, where does the general disapproval of slavery now in existence come from? Even if you claim that your god changed his mind about slavery, this is hardly becoming of an entity claimed to be omniscient. Can an omniscient being change its mind, without being perfidious or worse?

This is another argument that has premises and a conclusion, but nothing really connecting them.

October 28, 2018

How Do We Know Drugs are Overpriced in the U.S.?

Hundreds of millions of dollars flow to lobbyists and politicians on Capitol Hill each year to shape laws and policies that keep drug company profits growing. The pharmaceutical industry, which has about two lobbyists for every member of Congress, spent $152m on influencing legislation in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Drug companies also contributed more than $20m directly to political campaigns last year. About 60% went to Republicans. Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House of Representatives, was the single largest beneficiary, with donations from the industry totaling $228,670.” (Source: How Big Pharma’s Money – And Its Politicians – Feed The US Opioid Crisis by Chris McGreal in The Guardian)

Drugmakers have poured close to $2.5bn into lobbying and funding members of Congress over the past decade.” (Source: same article)

Obviously the pharmaceutical corporations don’t need those dollars for profits or running their businesses, they represent just the cost of maintaining a system in which drugs are always more expensive for Americans than they are anywhere else in the world (you will find the same drugs, with the same licenses, but with lower prices everywhere else). The return on that $2,500,000,000 investment in U.S. politicians is quite healthy. We are obviously being charged that two and a half billion, over ten years, more than is necessary and since they are unlikely to spend that amount only to make that amount more than they would otherwise, I think it is safe to say that the amount we are being overcharged is far more than that.

October 17, 2018

Holy Shit (Bull Variety)

Filed under: Morality,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:37 am
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On my Quora feed the following paid advert was posted:

Where did the four gospels in the Bible come from?
The Church of Jesus Christ
Promoted
“As Jesus taught, His disciples wrote what He said. Order a free Bible to learn what He taught.”

And here I thought that lying was a deadly sin.

It is a scholarly conclusion that we do not know who wrote the gospels that were included in the Bible. None of the earliest manuscripts we have of those works has an author listed. All seem to have had multiple authors. Most of the gospels seem to have been written at a point in time that all or most of the disciples claimed to have followed Jesus would have died.

I wonder if Donald Trump got his ability to string lies one after the next from his religious training?

Focus the Blame … Elsewhere, Anywhere!

Filed under: Morality,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:52 am
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According to an article in Reuters (Pope Blames Devil For Church Divisions, Scandals, Seeks Angel’s Help, October 8, 2018) the Pope is casting blame for the Catholic Church’s scandals, and all other problems on the Devil.

“(The Church must be) saved from the attacks of the malign one, the great accuser and at the same time be made ever more aware of its guilt, its mistakes, and abuses committed in the present and the past,” Francis said in a message on Sept. 29.

“Since he was elected in 2013, Francis has made clear that he believes the devil to be real. In a document in April on holiness in the modern world, Francis mentioned the devil more than a dozen times.

“We should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea. This mistake would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable,” he wrote in the document.”

Of course, I cannot but be reminded of Flip Wilson’s famous tagline “The Devil made me do it!” (It’s on YouTube, youngins’!)

The Pope, in one sentence, takes “responsibility” and casts blame elsewhere. (‘(The Church must be) saved from the attacks of the malign one, the great accuser and at the same time be made ever more aware of its guilt, its mistakes, and abuses committed in the present and the past,’ Francis said.”)

It must be immensely useful to have an imaginary friend to take the blame for all of the bad things one does, kind of a spiritual whipping boy. As an atheist I feel limited in my ability to blame others for my failings … I want an imaginary evil friend toooo!

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.

September 11, 2018

Evangelical Pastor Denies the Existence of Original Sin, Undermining All of Christianity

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, was recently issued by a group including John MacArthur, a prominent (and very conservative) evangelical pastor and Bible teacher.

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel claims that social justice is not, in fact, a definitional component of the gospel, and that it is heresy to elevate “non-essentials to the status of essentials.” The document instead affirms traditional beliefs on same-sex relationships and “God-ordained” gender roles. It seems particularly focused on rejecting collective blame in racial matters. “We deny that … any person is morally culpable for another person’s sin,” the statement argues. “We further deny that one’s ethnicity establishes any necessary connection to any particular sin.”

I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.

These worthy divines are denying that we have inherited Adam and Eve’s sin (“We deny that … any person is morally culpable for another person’s sin,”) and are, therefore, in no need of salvation through Jesus or anyone else.

These people will do anything to support racism, it seems, including throwing Christianity under the bus.

July 23, 2018

Writing a List of Christian Rules for Good and Bad Behavior

Filed under: Morality,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 1:06 pm
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I got involved in a discussion about the standing atheists have in Christian’s minds and a commenter stated this:

Denying all religious convictions makes atheists untrustworthy. You suggested that everything about people is tentative. That is the issue I described from the beginning. Morality and ethics aren’t fixed in atheism. There are no rules for good or bad behavior.” (This was excerpted from a post comment, but I do not think it is out of context.)

To which I responded “Please list the “rules for good and bad behavior” provided by your particular denomination (not Christians in general, but by your church). A link to a web page is fine, you don’t have to copy them.” (This was also excerpted from my comment, but I do not think it is out of context.)

This was a little snarky of me as I believe (not religiously, just secularly) that most churches avoid listing these things explicitly.

If one looks online, one can find some fairly explicit commentary about the sources of Christian “Rules for Good and Bad Behavior,” for example (this is from Wikipedia):

In his Summa Theologiae, Thomas locates ethics within the context of theology. For example, he discusses the ethics of buying and selling and concludes that although it may be legal (according to human law) to sell an object for more that it is worth, Divine law “leaves nothing unpunished that is contrary to virtue.” The question of beatitudo, perfect happiness in the possession of God, is posited as the goal of human life. Thomas also argues that the human being by reflection on human nature’s inclinations discovers a law, that is the natural law, which is “man’s participation in the divine law.”

and …

Writers, such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine of Hippo all wrote on ethics from a distinctly Christian point of view. They made use of philosophical and ethical principles laid down by their Greek philosopher forebears and the intersection of Greek and Jewish thought known as Hellenistic Judaism.

So, in the absence of such a list being readily available, here are just a few things that come to mind …

  1. Thou shalt pay all taxes fairly owed. (Re “Render unto Caesar, that …” and Romans (6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.)
  2. Thou shalt treat all slaves with kindness as such could be your lot in life (Golden Rule, Ephesians 5:22 and elsewhere).
  3. Thou shalt not accumulate wealth beyond reason. (“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” and the three Christian virtues, one of which is charity. If one has a large excess of money, their charity is lacking.)
  4. All leaders, religious and secular, shalt be humble, and servants to their people, and never enrich themselves from public service. (“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”—Jesus Christ. [Mt 20:25–26a] [Mk 10:42-43] [Lk 22:25])
  5. Thou shalt not troll people online or in person as disingenuousness is a form of deception not in service to the Lord.

Got any more?

June 19, 2018

GOP Family Values in One Photo

Filed under: Morality,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 12:57 pm
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Maybe “Family Values” applies to White Families Only in the GOP universe. At least now we know who to vote for.

April 30, 2018

Cynicism Comes Naturally Now

Filed under: Business,Morality — Steve Ruis @ 9:48 pm
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As I was perusing The Guardian this morning, I saw the following headline: “Big Bang: An oil refinery exploded in Wisconsin, forcing thousands to evacuate.”

My immediate thought was “Hmm, gas prices must be trending into the “too low” zone.” This thought stems from the U.S. oil community’s common practice of taking a refinery off line for “maintenance” or “service” and because we have a deliberate paucity of refining capacity (no refineries have been built in the last 40 years or so), every time a refinery goes “off line,” supplies of refined petroleum products, e.g. gasoline/petrol, go down and prices go up.

The industry often talks about how difficult it is to get a new refinery approved for construction (Aw, c’mon, even in Texas?) and how important regularly scheduled maintenance is, but these “problems” always seem to happen fairly shortly before the summer driving season, when prices are expected to be higher anyway. By making these “changes” a fair bit before the summer driving season, by the time motorists are filling their tanks in the summer, they will have forgotten the “issue” that “caused” the price increase.

Possibly there have been too many arbitrary “maintenance” breaks or possibly the site was in dire need of retrofitting and the company felt the insurance company should pay for a substantial part of it. I just have a feel that it “weren’t no accident.”

I used to view cynicism to be negative, but now I consider it to be a rational approach to the common behaviors of corporations, politicians, etc.

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