[ExI] Religions and violence.

Jebadiah Moore jebdm at jebdm.net
Sun Aug 8 02:53:48 UTC 2010

2010/8/7 John Clark <jonkc at bellsouth.net>

> On Aug 7, 2010, at 4:08 AM, Jebadiah Moore wrote:
> it would do us well to recognize communities as things to be studied,
> built, improved, and protected.
> I doubt if you really mean that in general, I hope not anyway. Studied
> perhaps, but I doubt if you really want the Nazi community built and
> protected from criticism; and the best way it could be improved would be for
> it to self destruct. I feel the same way about Islam, Christianity too
> although perhaps not with the same intensity.

I don't mean protected from criticism.  (Almost) nothing ought to be
protected from criticism, in my opinion.  (I say almost because I can think
of some times when it's better not to criticize people, at least until

I don't mean that *all* possible communities should be built and protected,
just as I don't think that all possible humans or all possible machines or
all possible anythings, really, should be built or protected.  Obviously.

2010/8/7 John Clark <jonkc at bellsouth.net>

> That is not true, not if natural ethics means things most people feel are
> right.

That's not what "natural ethics" means.  The term for the things people feel
are right is "moral intuition".  I thought I was pretty clear about that
from my usage.

It is easy to think you're just following moral intuition, but then to apply
the ideas of natural law to them, since in our culture the belief in natural
morality is the default; it is common and unexamined.  I am frequently
surprised by self-avowed atheists, rationalists, and general non-believers
who express opinions which are only consistent with natural law.  Sometimes
when I point it out, they realize what they were thinking and start to work
against their programming; sometimes they feel too strongly about it.

> The Bible is full of horror, if you obeyed all its repulsive dictates you
> would very soon find yourself on death row or at a warcrimes tribunal at the
> Hague. Instead when a believer reads his bible he picks and chooses, when it
> says don't kill they embrace it, but when it orders you to murder your
> disobedient children as it does in Deuteronomy 21:18-21 they just pretend
> its not there. So something other than religion is telling them that one
> thing is a pretty good idea and the other one not so much.

Uh, I think you may have missed the point.  Slow down with the
anti-religious zealotry for a minute (you're preaching to the choir).  I'm
not saying that the particular beliefs that most people have, and that
modern systems of law recognize, come directly from the Bible or from any
other religious text.  (Although they are of course descended in a sort of
common law way, where you can think of the Bible and old Roman codes as the
original "law" which is then modified by tradition over a long period of

Instead, what I meant is that the underlying framework of rights inherent to
all man, of things which are universally right and wrong, etc. is descendant
from what you might call Unitarian or deist culture.  People are right when
they say that the United States is an inherently Christian nation, since the
idea of unalienable rights ("endowed by their Creator") is built directly
into the source.  Although American and European intellectuals have mostly
moved away from religion, and even despite the widespread expression of
things like cultural relativism, they have generally continued to cling to
the concept of natural law.  This is, I think, why most modern academics are
liberals; they have moved far enough away from religion to throw off most of
the -isms and repulsive acts dictated within them (without having to
maintain any dissonance), and they have then "purified" their moral
philosophy a bit, but they have left in tact the framework which religions
act under despite these being derived from assumptions that they probably
would disagree with if they thought about them more.  So, what they have is
a system wherein people have natural rights and there is an absolute good
and evil and there are moral imperatives which aren't just socially induced,
with specific rules oriented towards making people happy and turning the
other cheek/giving freely/that sort of thing, which leads pretty simply to
ideas of redistribution of wealth, mandated charity, welfare, and state
nanny protectionism.

> People will tend to favour moral systems which benefit the majority
> I don't.

"tend to"

The majority doesn't need moral inhibitions to protect them but the minority
> does.

Without moral inhibitions, unless we across the board became much more
intelligent and much less petty, there would almost definitely be much more
widespread revenge killings, opportunist looting, organized crime, etc.  Of
course, minorities do need *more* protection from moral inhibitions, but I'd
be willing to be that the majority of people are part of some important
minority, or at least care about somebody that is.

Jebadiah Moore
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