Saturday, August 02, 2014

Ephesians' indirect critique of slavery

Discussed  here. 

Here is the indirect attack:

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

Now if you really internalize the message that the slave and the master have the same Lord, and that the Lord shows no favoritism, how can you own slaves? Nevertheless, we might wish Scripture had spelled that out for us. 



70 comments:

Crude said...

Now if you really internalize the message that the slave and the master have the same Lord, and that the Lord shows no favoritism, how can you own slaves?

I suspect it's still possible in a broad sense to own slaves while meeting those criteria. But I think the most obvious and popular varieties of slavery are ruled out straightaway (implicitly there, explicitly throughout the NT).

Aragorn said...

Oh, come on! This is an implicit endorsement of slavery. If, as a Christian, this bothers you, well, them's the breaks.

Heuristics said...

I don't follow your argumentation. What has favoritism to do with slavery?

Does the argument work the same for Janitors VS CEOs? There is no favoritism so how can we support the continued employment of janitors?

Dave Duffy said...

The article is a good discussion on biblical interpretation. I’m Protestant and believe in personal interpretation, although, I realize how difficult this is. The realization gives me great respect for Roman Catholicism allowing tradition and top-notch scholars to work out an official understanding of the biblical passages. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is one reason I always keep some of my affections in Rome.

Both sides of the slavery debate used the Bible. However, it is hard to imagine motivating and mobilizing an entire society who was mostly against slavery, but apathetic about it, to legally and forcibly end it without the biblical imagery of freedom. It’s one thing to be theoretically against slavery, it is a whole other thing to expend blood and treasure to end it (and yes, I know the American Civil War was primarily about Union). There would have been no zeal from the UK and the US to end slavery without the Bible. This zeal was a major reason slavery disappeared from the world as a legal institution in a relatively short amount of time.

Crude said...

Dave,

I'd add that all the talk about 'both sides used the Bible to justify slavery' doesn't do justice to the situation. Both sides used it, but did one side have more of a leg to stand on? And I think it's clear the abolitionists did. You have to get pretty creative with the New Testament to justify kidnapping people, throwing them in chains, and beating the crap out of them whenever they get out of line in order to maintain your desired profit margins.

Slavery was a secular institution with largely secular aims.

Dave Duffy said...

Crude,

My point is that there is a difference between having a theoretical view against an injustice and an active one. The active view to end slavery was motivated by the scriptures. To your point, I agree the abolitionist were motivated by the scriptures and took the Bible serious. The slave holders were motivated by preserving a beneficial way of life and casually used the scriptures to justify that life. The peculiar practice of slavery based on race and enforced by brutality is completely antithetical to the New Testament and impossible to justify using the Bible.

However, there is still the passage, “slaves obey your masters.” As Aragon said, “If, as a Christian, this bothers you, well, them's the breaks.” This does bother me. Since I am not going to abandon the faith, this will probably continue to bother me until I have greater understanding or until I die, whichever comes first. Since I spend my time trying to resolve the things that bother me the most (almost all are not theological or philosophical) dying may come first. The good news is, even if I thought atheism were true, it would do nothing to resolve this or fix the injustice of the past.

Aragorn said...

I'm sorry, but the bible is implicitly for slavery. There's no getting around it. That abolitionists used the Bible to justify their position is merely a testament to the triumph of secular morality. This came about because of the progress of secular morality inspite of clear scriptural support of slavery. It takes a careful cherry-picking of scripture to deny this - pretty much what Christians do today.

This is fatal to the Christian religion because slavery is what we consider now to be an easy moral conundrum and yet the God of the Christian Bible got it all wrong and even uses the master-slave relationship as an example worth emulating.

B. Prokop said...

"the bible is implicitly for slavery"

No, not at all, not at all. What St. Paul was doing in those passages that you find so controversial was exhorting to Christians to be good citizens of the Roman Empire and to not upend the social order or attempt to turn Christianity into a political movement (something the so-called "Christian Right" today should pay heed to). They are of a piece with his instructions in Romans Chapter 13 to obey the civil authorities. Paul wanted to ensure that there were no grounds for anyone to accuse Christians of lawlessness or treason.

Jesus Himself refused utterly to side in our political and economic squabbles (see Luke 12:13-14), thereby cutting the ground from under anyone who would ever dare to claim that God sides with any particular political party or movement.

How anyone can misconstrue such words as an implicit support for slavery is beyond me. Paul simply knew that the triumph of Christian morality would ultimately prove the death knell for such evil institutions as slavery (see Philemon).

Even in 19th Century America, the Christian abolitionists were not calling for an armed uprising against slavery (Or at least the sane ones weren't. John Brown was demonstrably insane.), but rather for changing the hearts of society and ending the institution through moral pressure. Never forget, it was the slaveholders who started the Civil War, and not the abolitionists.

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

"Even in 19th Century America, the Christian abolitionists were not calling for an armed uprising against slavery (Or at least the sane ones weren't. John Brown was demonstrably insane.), but rather for changing the hearts of society and ending the institution through moral pressure. Never forget, it was the slaveholders who started the Civil War, and not the abolitionists."

You forgot to mention one point, a crucial one: the abolitionist case is and was *fundamentally*, *crucially" grounded in a thoroughly Christian worldview. It is a simple matter of actually reading what the defenders wrote. Period, end of story. This is evident also in the History of the great Colonial empires like Portugal and Spain, a couple of centuries before America was born: the ones that most thoroughly denounced, in no uncertain terms, the slave traffic were invariably (Catholic) priests.

B. Prokop said...

You are correct, grodrigues, and I probably should have emphasized that. But my main point to Aragorn was that you cannot construe Paul's exhortations to Christians to be law abiding, good citizens to be in any way an approval of the evils of contemporary Roman society. (Heck, he spends pages and pages of his letters in making sure the believers do not participate in or condone the slop they were surrounded with.) Paul was simply poiting out that only by a change of heart would social progress (to use anachronistic, contemporary terminology) ever come about.

Our own Civil War is a good case in point. The slaves were liberated through force and violence, but the fundamental attitudes of the slaveholders was not changed. So what did we get? Another century of Jim Crow and decades of scarcely veiled racism afterwards (right up to the present time, in fact).

Crude said...

That abolitionists used the Bible to justify their position is merely a testament to the triumph of secular morality.

Not at all. 'Secular morality' was in play with the slaveowners - they were (and this is obvious to anyone who looks at the issue) pursuing secular interests, with a secular institution. Their Biblical defense was a failure in its own context.

Really, this sort of thinking is more mythical and magical than what even YECs come up with. There's this narrative that "secular thought" has done nothing but justify all these nice and great things, and condemn all the wrong and bad things. North Korea? Stalin's Russia? Maoist China (and China nowadays)? That gets airbrushed out of the secular history, as if the very act of doing something distasteful cannot be secular.

But it is.

And the idea that 'slavery is wrong!' isn't clear-cut even to modern people. Go ask people whether they approve of prisoners being used for unpaid labor. That's slavery as much as anything else - but prisoners are 'bad' so, once again, it gets airbrushed in its own way.

Victor Reppert said...

Another critical question is whether we could have ever come upon the idea that slavery is wrong if Paul's point had not been made. People became slaves historically because of military defeat. Slaves were the spoils of battle. On a polytheistic view, if you lose a war, your god was defeated by the other country's god, and so they had the right to treat you as human refuse. Paul says that the slave has to be treated in certain ways because you and the slave are both creatures of the same God, and God plays no favorites.

But what if we had gone from a polytheistic view to the view that we weren't created at all, but were spat up by evolution. Wouldn't it be natural to think that a country who had just won a war was the country that was "selected for," as if were, and could do what it wanted to do with the people of the country that lost? It's a dog eat dog world, and natural selection supports those who can enslave others and get them to do hard labor. Did the free people of Egypt build the Pyramids? How did ships cross the Mediterranean sea. Could you have gotten a galley full of rowers with volunteer labor? Could a convincing case against exploitation have been made without the kind of theological appeal that Paul makes?

Of course, nowadays we all hate slavery (though believe me, it's still around!) But it came naturally for a lot of people to treat it as perfectly acceptable. We all imagine that if we had been in, say, the antebellum South, we would have seen through the detestable practice. But the moral force of the abolitionist arguments came from their Christianity. It did not come from secular humanism.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

"It did not come from secular humanism."

You do realize that secular humanism didn't exist until the very early 20th century, right?

Crude said...

You do realize that secular humanism didn't exist until the very early 20th century, right?

It hardly seems to really exist even now.

Dave Duffy said...

"This is fatal to the Christian religion because..."

Good Grief, are people really this childish?

Even though slavery has disappeared as a legal institution, there still exists large slave populations. The largest is (depending on the source) in China, a country that has enforced cultural and political secularism for the past 60 years. Now that I have brought this fact to light, I expect all secularist to convert to Christianity. I prefer Anglican converts, but a few Catholics and Baptists are okay too.

Victor Reppert said...

Jeff: Yes, I do realize that.

Aragorn said...

Come on! Had the New Testament been entirely silent on the issue of slavery, I can grant you that. But that's not how it went. In the New Testament, we see an implicit approval of slavery. And even if we ignore that, we have an explicit approval of slavery in the old. Again, come on!

Aragorn said...

Dave Duffy, what does that have to do with anything? The fact is, slavery is almost universally abhorrent to everyone - no thanks to the implicit and explicit endorsement of slavery in he Bible. For an ethical conundrum as simple as this, you would think the Christian scriptures ( God's words) would have it right.

Childish? Pointing out what's glaringly obvious is childish?

Crude said...

In the New Testament, we see an implicit approval of slavery. And even if we ignore that, we have an explicit approval of slavery in the old. Again, come on!

C'mon, Aragorn! I know this sort of poor reason flies with anti-science Cult of Gnu rubes, but do you think it'll fly here?

You think slavery is universally abhorrent? Then why are there nations that practice it? Why do people support various forms of it, passively (buying slave-made products) and actively (calling for prisoner labor to be exploited)?

It's a secular practice that was wiped out by Christian abolitionists. The fact that some nitwits tried to take a single verse out of context no more condemns Christianity on this point than scientific racism is a condemnation of science.

Think, boy! THINK! We'll know when you've done so, because that'll be when you'll have dropped your unreason and admitted that yes, the New Testament gives no support for kidnapping people, chaining them up, beating the hell out of them when they displease you, and killing them when they run away.

Come on!

Aragorn said...

If you think.I'm one of those anti-philosophical gnu atheists, think again. But did I say "universally abhorrent"? I did say "almost universally abhorren"t. Straw man much?

And that it was a secular practice is a red herring - pretty much everything can be lumped into that category. I fully grant that abolitionists used the bible to support their stance - but that's made possible by applying secular morality on scripture that clearly endorses implicitly and explicitly the practice of livery.

Aragorn said...

BTW, crude, why is that a poor reason?

Crude said...

If you think.I'm one of those anti-philosophical gnu atheists, think again.

No, I think you're one of those poorly philosophizing gnu atheists.

But did I say "universally abhorrent"? I did say "almost universally abhorren"t. Straw man much?

Potaytoh, potahtoh, here. It's not even 'almost universally abhorrent'. Civil war era depictions of 'show up, raid a village of strangers, kidnap a bunch of people, they are your slaves now' is almost universally abhorrent - but it's likewise impossible to square with the New Testament. It's also - and this is key - not the only form of slavery.

And that it was a secular practice is a red herring - pretty much everything can be lumped into that category. I fully grant that abolitionists used the bible to support their stance - but that's made possible by applying secular morality

There is no single 'secular morality', which is another oft-repeated load.

'Secular morality' is completely compatible with slavery. Do I really need to cite the examples again, both modern and throughout history? This implied idea that 'secular morality' is a single thing comprised only of the things that are almost universally popular at the moment is a complete myth, no matter how often it's repeated. Slavery was justified on /secular/ grounds primarily: 'These people are savages in my view. I'm putting them to good use, and they're probably healthier for it.'

The fact that a given set of moral reasoning is noxious does not suffice to make it non-secular.

BTW, crude, why is that a poor reason?

Because you're outlining a delusional view of 'secular morality' and an equally delusional view of 'biblical teaching'. An admonition to slave-owners to be fair and merciful with their slaves, and an admonition of slaves to be obedient and fair with their masters, does not get you to 'well derp I guess it's okay to kidnap people, beat them into submission, and kill them if they disobey / if I feel like it'.

Here's a fact: 'secular morality' justifies, and has justified, slavery. It's trivial to do so, because 'secular morality' is trivial to work with - it's tremendously malleable.

Another fact: Squaring civil war era slavery with the New Testament doesn't happen due to Ephesians. That's like saying a right to self-defense cashes out to a right to genocide if you feel threatened. No, I'm sorry, you have more intellectual roadblocks to navigate first in both cases.

Yet another fact: 'slavery' is not just 'that thing I saw when I watched part of Roots on PBS one day when nothing else was on'. The idea that it's near-universally found to be abhorrent is a joke. Some forms of it are found abhorrent. Other forms, not so much. And insofar as it's found, nowadays, to be abhorrent, you can largely thank the efforts of Christians for changing the minds of the world on that front. Not Johnny-come-lately secularists, particularly those of the variety that are quite busily denigrating humanity on a regular basis, operating on some view that if you just deny intrinsic worth, free will, etc, that that will have no intellectual repercussions down the line.

Dave Duffy said...

Aragorn (one of my favorite fictional characters btw),

The line I quoted and called childish is what you referred to as fatal to Christianity. Again, it is childish to think this passage is fatal to belief.

I would say more, but I think Crude captured some of my thoughts on his last post.

Aragorn said...

No, I think you're one of those poorly philosophizing gnu atheists.

Wow! And all from just a few posts! I just love it when people get personal. Tells you a lot about the confidence they have about their arguments.

Potaytoh, potahtoh, here. It's not even 'almost universally abhorrent'. Civil war era depictions of 'show up, raid a village of strangers, kidnap a bunch of people, they are your slaves now' is almost universally abhorrent - but it's likewise impossible to square with the New Testament. It's also - and this is key - not the only form of slavery.

The best thing to do when caught in an attempt in straw manning is to admit it and move on. Now you compound it by dropping red herrings. Who's talking about civil war? I'm talking about the present progress of our moral secular ethics.

There is no single 'secular morality', which is another oft-repeated load.

Another attempt at a straw man? Damn! You're consistent!

'Secular morality' is completely compatible with slavery. Do I really need to cite the examples again, both modern and throughout history? This implied idea that 'secular morality' is a single thing comprised only of the things that are almost universally popular at the moment is a complete myth, no matter how often it's repeated....

Who says it's a single thing? The beauty of secular morality is that it progresses as new information come in and moral thinking develops. The fact remains - modern secular morality is almost universally against slavery. The Bible is not with it's explicit and implicit endorsement of slavery.

Because you're outlining a delusional view of 'secular morality' and an equally delusional view of 'biblical ......

No, of course not. Who's saying that? But it does get you to - "slavery is okay".

Here's a fact: 'secular morality' justifies, and has justified, slavery. It's trivial to do so, because 'secular morality' is trivial to work with - it's tremendously malleable.

Secular morality has progressed to a point that it can no longer justify slavery. Your God's scriptures are se tinstone and cannot move beyond the moral progress of the time it was written.

Another fact: Squaring civil war era slavery with the New Testament doesn't happen due to Ephesians. That's like saying a right to self-defense cashes out to a right to genocide if you feel threatened. No, I'm sorry, you have more intellectual roadblocks to navigate first in both cases.

Slavery during the civil war squares perfectly with "Slaves, obey your masters".

Yet another fact: 'slavery' is not just 'that thing I saw when I watched part of Roots on PBS one day when nothing else was on'. The idea that it's near-universally found to be abhorrent is a joke. Some forms of it are found abhorrent. Other forms, not so much. And insofar as it's found, nowadays, to be abhorrent, you can largely thank the efforts of Christians...........

No one is saying that the abolitionists were not Christians and those fighting to end slavery now. But the fact remains that a good portion of the population is Christian. We also have other religions fighting to end slavery along with the secular. My point is that your scripture doesn't support this too well given the explicit and implicit endorsement of slavery in the Bible. For someone who criticizes another for poor philosophizing, you commit a lot of errors in argumentation and fail to grasp the simplest of my arguments.

Aragorn said...

"Aragorn (one of my favorite fictional characters btw),

The line I quoted and called childish is what you referred to as fatal to Christianity. Again, it is childish to think this passage is fatal to belief.

I would say more, but I think Crude captured some of my thoughts on his last post."

You're right! I should clarify that it's fatal to me at least and in my mind, it should be fatal to everyone. After all, religion pretty much touts itself as the source of morality and for Scripture(purportedly God's words) to get wrong one we hold to be a simple ethical conundrum (in our time, at least) doesn't speak well about the divine inspiration of the book.

Crude said...

Wow! And all from just a few posts! I just love it when people get personal.

I'm glad you think so, because pointing out poor reasoning and childish antics is a necessity in discussion. I wouldn't even mind the poor reasoning - everyone makes mistakes - but that combined with the obnoxious 'COME ON!!!' attitude marks you as someone in dire need of clear communication.

You're a bad philosopher and a poor reasoner. Does that sting? As you said, them's the breaks.

Who's talking about civil war?

No red herrings here. The civil war was brought up early into this conversation, and I'm using it as an appropriate example. You're the one who kept referring to 'slavery' as if it were some monolithic and singular thing.

By the by - you'll not want to rely on amateur level debating tricks with me, like you just tried. I'll just expose it. But do feel free to keep testing me.

Another attempt at a straw man? Damn! You're consistent!

Kiddo, when you say 'applying secular morality' yields anti-slavery, and I point out the flaws in this claim - that there is no single 'secular morality' and therefore your statement doesn't fly - it's not a 'straw man'. It's me catching you making mistakes.

Which, I admit, I do consistently. ;)

Secular morality has progressed to a point that it can no longer justify slavery.

Ahahaha.

No, it hasn't. Not in North Korea, not in China, not among many people worldwide, quite possibly including yourself. And you're confusing 'can' with 'does' here - it 'can' justify slavery, even now. It's ridiculously malleable. It's merely unpopular - for reasons that are, by and large, non-secular.

But this is precious. You're acting as if the fact that right now, for some people, some forms of slavery are regarded as 'bad' means that now and forever 'secular morality' is incompatible with 'slavery'. What a goddamn joke.

All it takes is a change of the wind and the mood and secular morality will justify whatever someone desires. It doesn't "progress" because there is no "progress" for the secular. It, at most, changes.

Change alone isn't progress.

I will admit, however, that casual infanticide (for example) will never be permissible for a Christian. For 'secular morality'? Quite possible.

Slavery during the civil war squares perfectly with "Slaves, obey your masters".

In the same way pre-emptive genocide based on a worried feeling squares with 'you have a right to self-defense'. As in, hardly.

My point is that your scripture doesn't support this too well given the explicit and implicit endorsement of slavery in the Bible.

It supports it just fine, thanks to the explicit and implicit teachings about how we are to regard and interact with fellow humans. The fact that you're afraid of admitting as much doesn't cash out to 'poor philosophizing' on my part.

Your argument fails. Sorry - I know you rolled in here trying the 'Come on it's obvious!' card, so now it's going to be rough to eat crow on this one - but that's the situation you're in. Next time, be more careful.

Dave Duffy said...

"You're right! I should clarify that it's fatal to me at least and in my mind, it should be fatal to everyone."

I'm sorry you found this passage fatal to any hope of belief.

Crude said...

I'm sorry you found this passage fatal to any hope of belief.

If the compatibility of a given metaphysical view with slavery were enough to kill the embrace of that view, then Aragorn would have to forswear secular morality as well.

Dave Duffy said...

Aragorn,

One last thing. Why did you choose Aragorn as your internet name? Just wondering.

B. Prokop said...

"I'm sorry you found this passage fatal to any hope of belief."

He didn't. I've come across his kind before. He's frankly scared that Christianity might be true, and grasps desperately at the flimsiest of straws - anything to avoid the possibility of a genuine encounter with God.

What you really ought to be sorry about, is his fear is so completely unnecessary. The Gospel ought not to be a cause for terror, but rather for joy. "Aragorn's" made-up difficulties would vanish like a pricked soap bubble if he stopped twisting the obvious in his frantic search for an exit, and allowed the genuine message of the New Testament to present itself.

Note to"Aragorn": Stop looking for quibbles, and talk to genuine Christians. Don't try to tell them what you think they should believing, but listen to what they actually say. And if you prefer reading to a conversation, might I recommend THIS BOOK? I guarantee, you won't regret it.

Aragorn said...

You're a bad philosopher and a poor reasoner. Does that sting? As you said, them's the breaks.

From someone like you who cannot even grasp the simplest of points, it is a most treasured compliment.

By the by - you'll not want to rely on amateur level debating tricks with me, like you just tried. I'll just expose it. But do feel free to keep testing me.

No debating tricks needed here. Only pointing out your penchant to misinterpret and straw man. You accused me of poor philosophizing and you can't even stop yourself from strawmanning and you fail to understand simple points.

Kiddo, when you say 'applying secular morality' yields anti-slavery, and I point out the flaws in this claim - that there is no single 'secular morality' and therefore your statement doesn't fly - it's not a 'straw man'. It's me catching you making mistakes.

Which, I admit, I do consistently. ;)


The straw man here is that I made no claims about the monolithic nature of secular morality. Also, the point I was making and you fail to understand is that the bible with it's explicit and implicit endorsement of slavery could not be the source of their stance on the issue - or it could be only by cherry-picking scripture.

Ahahaha.

No, it hasn't. Not in North Korea, not in China, not among many people worldwide, quite possibly including yourself. And you're confusing 'can' with 'does' here - it 'can' justify slavery, even now. It's ridiculously malleable. It's merely unpopular - for reasons that are, by and large, non-secular......I will admit, however, that casual infanticide (for example) will never be permissible for a Christian. For 'secular morality'? Quite possible.


But those practices are almost universally condemned. Sure, inside the iron curtain - it may not be...I don't know. But when have they been paragons of secular morality? That they still happen is clearly a problem. Your Bible, however, endorses it as it does genocide. See the difference ? I can pick out the exemplars of secular morality but you Bible is static. It doesn't change. As the foremost ethical document of your religion and the purported words of God, it is an immense failure.

Aragorn said...

In the same way pre-emptive genocide based on a worried feeling squares with 'you have a right to self-defense'. As in, hardly.

Rubbish comparison. The Bible EXPLICITLY endorses slavery.

It supports it just fine, thanks to the explicit and implicit teachings about how we are to regard and interact with fellow humans. The fact that you're afraid of admitting as much doesn't cash out to 'poor philosophizing' on my part.

Your argument fails. Sorry - I know you rolled in here trying the 'Come on it's obvious!' card, so now it's going to be rough to eat crow on this one - but that's the situation you're in. Next time, be more careful.

Your Bible EXPLICITLY endorses slavery even as there are other portions of the Bible that's more appealing. There's no getting around it.

Aragorn said...

It's a favorite character. @ Duffy

I used to be Christian @b prokof

Crude said...

From someone like you who cannot even grasp the simplest of points, it is a most treasured compliment.

I grasp them fine, Aragorn. You have trouble grasping simple things - such as how regarding comments from anonymous people on low-traffic blogs on the internet as 'treasured' is a bit sad. ;)

Only pointing out your penchant to misinterpret and straw man.

You've pointed out nothing. You've asserted, been corrected, and are doubling down. Nothing new here - you clearly come from the school of internet debating which goes by the rule "so long as I keep insisting my nonsense is a fact and I refuse to concede, I'm winning". Whatever makes you feel better, I suppose.

The straw man here is that I made no claims about the monolithic nature of secular morality.

Do you know what 'implicit' means? The fact that the statements about secular morality collapses when what I point out about secular morality (that it justifies slavery as easily as it condemns it) is pretty important when it comes to evaluating said statement.

Also, the point I was making and you fail to understand is that the bible with it's explicit and implicit endorsement of slavery could not be the source of their stance on the issue

You keep saying 'the point I was making', as if you're citing a non-controversial fact - when in reality what you are making is a very controversial claim. I've argued the impossibility of justifying slavery of the sort we saw during the civil war era on the basis of the totality of the New Testament, including Ephesians. I've pointed out the practice, and made a pretty common sense appeal to the extreme lengths one would have to go to justify it.

You, in response, do nothing but say 'No, it's justified! It is!' Because, let's be frank - all you have going for you is repetition. Not data. Not arguments.

But those practices are almost universally condemned. Sure, inside the iron curtain - it may not be...I don't know. But when have they been paragons of secular morality?

This is rich.

So, except for those places where it happens, it's almost universally condemned. (Ignore, for a moment, that labor for prisoners and other forms of slavery isn't 'universally condemned' even outside of the iron curtain.) Not exactly compelling.

What's more - 'since when have they been paragons of secular morality'? Since now. That's the point. Just as secular morality can be whatever you damn well want it to be, so too can the standards of being a 'paragon'. Stalin can be a butcher today and a hero tomorrow. He can even be a butcher and a hero *today*, according to different secular moralities.

Because 'secular morality' is trivial to change. You mistake malleability with progress, but there's no 'progress' where the secular is concerned aside from subjective judgments of such - and those judgments can be whatever.

As the foremost ethical document of your religion and the purported words of God, it is an immense failure.

It's not at all an immense failure even according to the standards of slavery, etc, because it doesn't claim what you purport it does.

But here's the beauty. You say it's an immense failure - but that's just yet another 'secular morality' judgment. According to other secular judges - now, and at other times - it's a stunning success. Secular morality doesn't even give you consistent condemnation of non-secular views, 'static' or otherwise!

So much for the glory of secular morality 'because it can change', eh?

Crude said...

Rubbish comparison. The Bible EXPLICITLY endorses slavery.

The Bible has no 'endorsement' of slavery. It, at most, lays out rules and admonitions to slaves and slave-owners. To take (for example) Ephesians and say 'Aha! See? Slaves are told to behave a certain way! Therefore Civil War style slavery was totally okay!' is inane, just as the 'self defense -> genocide' reasoning is inane.

Your Bible EXPLICITLY endorses slavery even as there are other portions of the Bible that's more appealing.

Once again, it does no such thing. And do you know what it's called when you ignore 'those other portions of the Bible' that rule out and make immensely difficult the practice of slavery?

Cherry-picking.

As I already said - if the compatibility of a metaphysical view with slavery is enough to make you abandon that view, then ditch your secularism.

B. Prokop said...

"prokof"

Where'd you get the "f" from?

"I used to be Christian"

Then you have no excuse for what you're posting here. You ought to know better (unless you weren't paying attention).

"It's a favorite character."

Then you should know that Aragorn's creator, J.R.R. Tolkien, was a deeply devout Catholic (partly responsible for C.S. Lewis's conversion to Christianity), who wrote The Lord of the Rings as a vehicle to expound on some of the ramifications of his own Christian faith. Aragorn is a literary type of Christ the King.

Dave Duffy said...

"Then you have no excuse for what you're posting here."

God Bless you Bob!

B. Prokop said...

If you enjoy the character Aragorn so much, you ought to think about why Tolkien created him. You can learn a bit of that RIGHT HERE.

Aragorn said...

I grasp them fine, Aragorn. You have trouble grasping simple things - such as how regarding comments from anonymous people on low-traffic blogs on the internet as 'treasured' is a bit sad. ;)

No. You have trouble grasping things such as sarcasm.

You've pointed out nothing. You've asserted, been corrected, and are doubling down. Nothing new here - you clearly come from the school of internet debating which goes by the rule "so long as I keep insisting my nonsense is a fact and I refuse to concede, I'm winning". Whatever makes you feel better, I suppose.

I've pointed them out but you keep on misunderstanding. (Sigh).

Do you know what 'implicit' means? The fact that the statements about secular morality collapses when what I point out about secular morality (that it justifies slavery as easily as it condemns it) is pretty important when it comes to evaluating said statement.

But those statements were misunderstandings on your part or straight out straw manning. None of what I have averred "collapses" from any of your tangential arguments.

Aragorn said...

You keep saying 'the point I was making', as if you're citing a non-controversial fact - when in reality what you are making is a very controversial claim. I've argued the impossibility of justifying slavery of the sort we saw during the civil war era on the basis of the totality of the New Testament, including Ephesians. I've pointed out the practice, and made a pretty common sense appeal to the extreme lengths one would have to go to justify it.

You, in response, do nothing but say 'No, it's justified! It is!' Because, let's be frank - all you have going for you is repetition. Not data. Not arguments.


The impossibility? That's dense given that it WAS justified on precisely that basis. And the totality of the New Testament you allude to would have to exclude the relevant verses endorsing slavery for it to go through. Like what I said, Christians did indulge in cherry-picking but there's nothing in the Bible that prohibits slavery.

This is rich.

So, except for those places where it happens, it's almost universally condemned. (Ignore, for a moment, that labor for prisoners and other forms of slavery isn't 'universally condemned' even outside of the iron curtain.) Not exactly compelling.


Your argument is idiotic. Do you agree that murder is almost universally condemned? I do. And yet I am certainly aware that murder happens all the time and that war happens and all that jazz. Doesn't change the fact that it's almost universally condemned.

Since now. That's the point. Just as secular morality can be whatever you damn well want it to be, so too can the standards of being a 'paragon'. Stalin can be a butcher today and a hero tomorrow. He can even be a butcher and a hero *today*, according to different secular moralities.

Because 'secular morality' is trivial to change. You mistake malleability with progress, but there's no 'progress' where the secular is concerned aside from subjective judgments of such - and those judgments can be whatever.


At no point has the ethical understanding of the world come to see what Stalin has done as anything but repugnant. You are grasping. At any point in history, you can place the best secular moral philosophers and at no point will you see them endorsing anything even remotely close to slavery. What you're examples purport to show is how thinking gets distorted under duress. Why sure, that happens. So what?

It's not at all an immense failure even according to the standards of slavery, etc, because it doesn't claim what you purport it does.

But here's the beauty. You say it's an immense failure - but that's just yet another 'secular morality' judgment. According to other secular judges - now, and at other times - it's a stunning success. Secular morality doesn't even give you consistent condemnation of non-secular views, 'static' or otherwise!

So much for the glory of secular morality 'because it can change', eh?


Secular morality progresses. Sure, one can come to a time when people had inferior ethical intuitions about slavery (like during the time of Christ and thousands of years back). But we have progressed since then. Your Bible is a static document that will loudly profess it's explicit and implicit endorsement of slavery until the end of time. It's an immense failure as a source of ethical principles given that the ethical issue in question is all too easy for modern man and it's purported to be the word of God.

Aragorn said...

The Bible has no 'endorsement' of slavery. It, at most, lays out rules and admonitions to slaves and slave-owners. To take (for example) Ephesians and say 'Aha! See? Slaves are told to behave a certain way! Therefore Civil War style slavery was totally okay!' is inane, just as the 'self defense -> genocide' reasoning is inane.

X-religion doesn't endorse "sadomasochistic sex". At most, it merely provides some guidance to the sadists and masochists in the practice of their sexual acts. Yey!

Once again, it does no such thing. And do you know what it's called when you ignore 'those other portions of the Bible' that rule out and make immensely difficult the practice of slavery?

Cherry-picking.

As I already said - if the compatibility of a metaphysical view with slavery is enough to make you abandon that view, then ditch your secularism.


It's not cherry-picking. I take everything into account. But I need to be consistent with all scripture. The Bible, in parts, implicitly and explicitly endorses slavery with no equivocation. How then do I square that with the gentler portions of scripture? Can a theologically defensible interpretation exist that includes an endorsement of slavery? Yes. There is. So, no cherry picking on my part.

Dave Duffy said...

Sorry Aragorn, but everything you write seems like the bluster of a young man. You could have done well with the influence of a man like Bob Prokop in your life.

Crude said...

No. You have trouble grasping things such as sarcasm.

Trust me, kid. Sarcasm's one thing I have experience with. ;)

I've pointed them out but you keep on misunderstanding.

And so the repetition begins again, while Aragorn does his damndest to ignore reality.

But those statements were misunderstandings on your part or straight out straw manning.

Are you really that desperate at this point?

The impossibility? That's dense given that it WAS justified on precisely that basis.

If someone says '2+2 = 4 therefore let's kill all the jews', they haven't justified the killing of jews because 2 + 2 = 4. They've given a poor, in that case insane, argument.

Likewise for the old testament. The fact that someone could, say, look at Ephesians and go 'Aha! See? Slaves obey your masters! Therefore we can go ahead and kidnap people and put them in chains and kill them if they resist!' isn't a justification based on that source. Not intellectually. In reality it's just lame cherry picking and wordplay.

The case the pro-chattel-slavery Christians put forth during the Civil War was inane. Don't you find it funny that the people who found it persuasive were largely the people connected with those who had secular business interests in exactly that interpretation?

Your argument is idiotic.

That makes your inability to refute it a bit shameful then, eh?

You say murder is almost universally condemned. But that means little since when does and doesn't qualify as 'murder' is the subject of fierce debate. Case in point: are the Israelis murdering Palestinians in Gaza?

And it's worth noting at this point that 'near universal condemnation' means nothing for you - since it's not a source of morality either. Or are you going to say that the (until quite recently) near universal condemnation of same-sex sexual acts - or the near-universal endorsement of slavery in the past - was also justified?

At no point has the ethical understanding of the world come to see what Stalin has done as anything but repugnant.

Depends on who you talk to.

And you say 'has come to see'. But that's just a snapshot of the present - which nothing. At the time, for many people, Stalin's acts were entirely justified, and he was a hero. He's a hero to some people now.

More than that, the popularity itself - as I've said - hardly means anything. It's trivial to come up with a secular morality that gives a green light to Stalin, because it's trivial to come up with a secular morality that gives a green light to anything.

Crude said...

At any point in history, you can place the best secular moral philosophers and at no point will you see them endorsing anything even remotely close to slavery.

Let me guess - you can tell if they're the best secular moral philosophers because they won't endorse anything remotely close to slavery, right? ;)

By the way, since you apparently aren't catching on fast... what qualifies as the 'best' secular moral philosopher is one more bit of shifting secular sand. Go with whoever's popular at the time. Or, if popularity isn't your favorite rule, go with who you personally like. Because all options are open on this front.

Secular morality progresses. Sure, one can come to a time when people had inferior ethical intuitions about slavery (like during the time of Christ and thousands of years back). But we have progressed since then.

Hahaha. And still you keep at it!

Inferior? Your views about slavery - and anyone elses - can and quite possibly will be judged as 'inferior' by yet another secular time, with new concerns and influences. The only 'progress' that exists is wholly subjective on secular terms - and the subjective is what it is.

Likewise your views about Christianity. You can call it whatever you like - at this point it looks like you hardly understand it - but that's just one more subjective, secular judgment that itself can be change. What's progress today is regress tomorrow, just as yesterday's progress is today's barbarism.

Sorry, Aragorn. If you really did flee Christianity because you were inanely convinced it endorsed brutal racial chattel slavery, you've betrayed yourself - and flown right into the arms of a metaphysic that can (and always will be able to) justify the very thing you scorn.

But those are all words, right? This has never been about slavery.

X-religion doesn't endorse "sadomasochistic sex". At most, it merely provides some guidance to the sadists and masochists in the practice of their sexual acts.

Yes, Aragorn, I have no doubt in your hands you can look at the Bible, note the lack of condemnation of sadomasochistic sex, note that there were some rules that govern sex generally, and from that decide that the Bible endorses S&M. Thankfully, most people have more reason and logic.

It's not cherry-picking. I take everything into account.

Oh really?

Then by all means, demonstrate.

Please, for all of us watching - justify civil war era chattel slavery, a process which included kidnapping innocent people from their villages, taking them to a far away land, beating them and even having sexual relations with them (complete with disowning the bastard children), mutilating and even killing them if they were disobedient with 'love thy neighbor as thyself' and Ephesians.

After all, if you're unable to do that, we'll have to judge your claims here as entirely mistaken and you as in over your head, yes?

Aragorn said...

I'm not exactly young and if my posts seem like bluster - that's my fault. But I'm not new to this. I usually don't argue about scripture anymore. I much rather enjoy discussing philosophical arguments online.

Possibly, my tone has to do with my surprise at how people here reject what to me are uncontroversial statements about the Bible's endorsement of slavery. To my mind, it just looks like so much excuse-making. In any case, I've written what I wanted to post. :-)

Dave Duffy said...

Fair enough Aragorn,

Thanks for the thoughts. I will pray you can find the faith again.

Aragorn said...

If someone says '2+2 = 4 therefore let's kill all the jews', they haven't justified the killing of jews because 2 + 2 = 4. They've given a poor, in that case insane, argument.

Likewise for the old testament. The fact that someone could, say, look at Ephesians and go 'Aha! See? Slaves obey your masters! Therefore we can go ahead and kidnap people and put them in chains and kill them if they resist!' isn't a justification based on that source. Not intellectually. In reality it's just lame cherry picking and wordplay.


If someone says, "Masochist, please allow the sadist to hurt you." - that to you is not an endorsement I'd sadomasochism? Haist. Talk about willful.

The case the pro-chattel-slavery Christians put forth during the Civil War was inane. Don't you find it funny that the people who found it persuasive were largely the people connected with those who had secular business interests in exactly that interpretation?

Not at all. And that's largely because I never alleged that the pro-slavery Christians during the Civil War did not have selfish motives.

That makes your inability to refute it a bit shameful then, eh?

Refuting them is not the same as convincing you that they've been refuted. I am certain that an unbiased observer will say that it has been refuted a few posts back - but will you ever recognize it? That's the question.

You say murder is almost universally condemned. But that means little since when does and doesn't qualify as 'murder' is the subject of fierce debate. Case in point: are the Israelis murdering Palestinians in Gaza?

And it's worth noting at this point that 'near universal condemnation' means nothing for you - since it's not a source of morality either. Or are you going to say that the (until quite recently) near universal condemnation of same-sex sexual acts - or the near-universal endorsement of slavery in the past - was also justified?


I'm not saying that universal condemnation is a source of morality. I'm merely illustrating that the Bible was wrong on something as simple an ethical conundrum as slavery (so that almost everyone condemns it).

And you say 'has come to see'. But that's just a snapshot of the present - which nothing. At the time, for many people, Stalin's acts were entirely justified, and he was a hero. He's a hero to some people now.

More than that, the popularity itself - as I've said - hardly means anything. It's trivial to come up with a secular morality that gives a green light to Stalin, because it's trivial to come up with a secular morality that gives a green light to anything.


Popularity, as you yourself stated, hardly means anything. It would, however, be meaningful if you can give me the majority of secular moral philosophers who agreed with the atrocities of Stalin. Then, you have something.

Aragorn said...

Let me guess - you can tell if they're the best secular moral philosophers because they won't endorse anything remotely close to slavery, right? ;)

By the way, since you apparently aren't catching on fast... what qualifies as the 'best' secular moral philosopher is one more bit of shifting secular sand. Go with whoever's popular at the time. Or, if popularity isn't your favorite rule, go with who you personally like. Because all options are open on this front.


Get me a handful of names of secular moral philosophers who will endorse it and you have a point.

Hahaha. And still you keep at it!

Inferior? Your views about slavery - and anyone elses - can and quite possibly will be judged as 'inferior' by yet another secular time, with new concerns and influences. The only 'progress' that exists is wholly subjective on secular terms - and the subjective is what it is.


I'm certain moral progress will only continue - why do you think this is a bad thing. Look at the Bible - it is still pro-slavery!

I don't know about "subjective" though. The jury is still out on that - it's not like DCT is all that stable.

Likewise your views about Christianity. You can call it whatever you like - at this point it looks like you hardly understand it - but that's just one more subjective, secular judgment that itself can be change. What's progress today is regress tomorrow, just as yesterday's progress is today's barbarism.

Sorry, Aragorn. If you really did flee Christianity because you were inanely convinced it endorsed brutal racial chattel slavery, you've betrayed yourself - and flown right into the arms of a metaphysic that can (and always will be able to) justify the very thing you scorn.

But those are all words, right? This has never been about slavery.


I am open to every possibility. But with the arguments currently in play - nah. And slavery is just one of the reasons I left Christianity decades ago. My journey to atheism took decades of intense philosophical study.

Yes, Aragorn, I have no doubt in your hands you can look at the Bible, note the lack of condemnation of sadomasochistic sex, note that there were some rules that govern sex generally, and from that decide that the Bible endorses S&M. Thankfully, most people have more reason and logic.

If the Bible is merely silent about slavery, then you have a point. The Bible explicitly endorses it much like the example I gave.

Oh really?

Then by all means, demonstrate.

Please, for all of us watching - justify civil war era chattel slavery, a process which included kidnapping innocent people from their villages, taking them to a far away land, beating them and even having sexual relations with them (complete with disowning the bastard children), mutilating and even killing them if they were disobedient with 'love thy neighbor as thyself' and Ephesians.

After all, if you're unable to do that, we'll have to judge your claims here as entirely mistaken and you as in over your head, yes?


One can justify Civil War chattel slavery easily without holding to kidnapping and rape and disowning children and killing them.

Crude said...

Aragorn,

If someone says, "Masochist, please allow the sadist to hurt you."

What's said in the bible is that all are equal before God, and for both slaves and masters to treat each other as such, even in their respective positions.

Catholicism says that if an adulterer goes to confession that they will be forgiven. This is not, amazingly, an endorsement of adultery.

Not at all. And that's largely because I never alleged that the pro-slavery Christians during the Civil War did not have selfish motives.

Gosh, they did? Do you think, perhaps, that these selfish motives played a role - even the major, decisive role - in their cherry picking of scripture, and determining what was or was not permitted?

Which goes a long way towards showing why saying 'But they appealed to the Bible!' doesn't work. Anyone can appeal to the Bible. Having a good appeal, an appeal that works and is reasonable, is another thing.

Refuting them is not the same as convincing you that they've been refuted. I am certain that an unbiased observer will say that it has been refuted a few posts back - but will you ever recognize it?

Sure, Aragorn. And you can tell they're unbiased, because they'll agree with you. The possibility that you're just plain wrong here has been ruled out from the start.

That's far too scary for you to consider.

I'm not saying that universal condemnation is a source of morality. I'm merely illustrating that the Bible was wrong on something as simple an ethical conundrum as slavery

And 'almost everyone' happens to be a particular snapshot in time, AFTER a tremendous amount of Christian influence on the culture to push the view that slavery, with their justifications drawn from Biblical teaching.

Two hundred years ago, it was not 'almost everyone'. One thousand years ago, ditto. And even *now*, it's not 'almost everyone', as I keep showing you, complete with examples.

Popularity, as you yourself stated, hardly means anything. It would, however, be meaningful if you can give me the majority of secular moral philosophers who agreed with the atrocities of Stalin.

Not necessary to make my point.

Get me a handful of names of secular moral philosophers who will endorse it and you have a point.

I have a point regardless.

You're confusing 'secular morality' with 'secular moral philosophers'. If I point out that 'secular morality' is malleable enough to justify any desired act, it does nothing to my position to reply that most secular moral philosophers find act X repugnant. Their repugnance, even their individual views, isn't what I'm arguing about - it's the source and foundations of their reasoning.

Beyond that, do you think slavery has been condemned by philosophers, even 'secular' philosophers, throughout history? That it was a trade engaged in throughout the world and the secular philosophers were all strongly objecting?

I'm certain moral progress will only continue

Oh really? A teleological force at work in the universe, no doubt?

There is no 'secular moral progress' save for snapshots of subjective decisions at given points in time. Otherwise, all there is is 'change'. Genocide and other such monstrosities were known to be immoral centuries and millenia before various secular governments engaged in them and people justified them.

You may as well be a dinosaur saying you're certain the age of the dinosaurs will never end.

Crude said...

I am open to every possibility.

Keep telling yourself that.

If the Bible is merely silent about slavery, then you have a point. The Bible explicitly endorses it much like the example I gave.

No, it does not. Which is precisely why...

One can justify Civil War chattel slavery easily without

...You're ducking my challenge.

I gave you an opening here. Justify civil war chattel slavery and all that went with it, using the Bible - including the New Testament. Be consistent. Show me how you square 'love your neighbor as yourself' with it. Show me what kind of institution of slavery you have left once you're incorporating Christ's teachings.

You spent decades intensely studying philosophy, and supposedly the Bible as well. Why duck my challenge?

I'll even go ahead and give a justification for owning slaves, on secular moral terms:

"I'd like some slaves, I have use for them, and I can acquire and control them."

Voila. Justified - and that's all that's needed. Secular moral philosophers may object, but their objections will be nothing but expressions of personal, and perhaps cultural, preference. Which means nothing.

B. Prokop said...

"I'm certain moral progress will only continue"

My eyebrows also went up a bit upon reading that one, Crude. How does Aragorn arrive at such certainty, and by what mechanism is it achieved? Is there some as-yet undiscovered Law of Physics that requires moral progress in the universe?

If the Allies had lost WWII (a very real possibility for a while there) and the contemporary world were dominated by Nazi Germany and Militarist Japan, where would the supposed inevitability of moral progress be then?

Or, for that matter, what if the South had won the Civil War? They almost did, you know. Where then would Aragorn's "certainty" be?

Heck, we don't even need to think about hypotheticals. Just look at the real world. Compare contemporary pop music with that of the 1940s and observe the demonstrable decline in moral standards. Same thing for movies. You can draw a straight line on a chart from Going My Way to Saw III, and believe me, it ain't trending upwards.

Ilíon said...

"Ephesians' indirect critique of slavery"

Don't forget that the OT directly commands death for the slave-taker, for the person who kidnaps others and enslaves them -- this prohibition doesn't say, "unless the enslaved are foreigners"; it is a universal prohibition.

Aragorn said...

Crude,

What's said in the bible is that all are equal before God, and for both slaves and masters to treat each other as such, even in their respective positions. .

What’s said in the Bible is “Slaves, obey your masters.” in the same way that one might say to a sadomasochist “Sadist, strike the masochist until it hurts”. In other words, it endorses it.

Catholicism says that if an adulterer goes to confession that they will be forgiven. This is not, amazingly, an endorsement of adultery.

That’s right. A requisite for being forgiven of a wrong is that what is being forgiven is considered wrong. What’s the mystery here?

“Gosh, they did? Do you think, perhaps, that these selfish motives played a role - even the major, decisive role - in their cherry picking of scripture, and determining what was or was not permitted?

Which goes a long way towards showing why saying 'But they appealed to the Bible!' doesn't work. Anyone can appeal to the Bible. Having a good appeal, an appeal that works and is reasonable, is another thing.” .


Since I see no evidence from you that this is solely the reason for being okay with chattel slavery, then I would have to trust them on their word and believe that the Bible’s endorsement is part of it.

Sure, Aragorn. And you can tell they're unbiased, because they'll agree with you. The possibility that you're just plain wrong here has been ruled out from the start.

That's far too scary for you to consider. .


I considered it a possibility but very unlikely, IMO.

And 'almost everyone' happens to be a particular snapshot in time, AFTER a tremendous amount of Christian influence on the culture to push the view that slavery, with their justifications drawn from Biblical teaching.

Two hundred years ago, it was not 'almost everyone'. One thousand years ago, ditto. And even *now*, it's not 'almost everyone', as I keep showing you, complete with examples.


Progress on this area of moral consideration happened inspite of a clear endorsement in the Bible.

Aragorn said...

I have a point regardless.

You're confusing 'secular morality' with 'secular moral philosophers'. If I point out that 'secular morality' is malleable enough to justify any desired act, it does nothing to my position to reply that most secular moral philosophers find act X repugnant. Their repugnance, even their individual views, isn't what I'm arguing about - it's the source and foundations of their reasoning. .


The source is irrelevant to the discussion – it is an open question to me and to a lot of moral philosophers. Secular morality is malleable insofar as it is supported by reasons. With progress made on this front, I can’t see secular morality endorsing slavery any time in the future.

Beyond that, do you think slavery has been condemned by philosophers, even 'secular' philosophers, throughout history? That it was a trade engaged in throughout the world and the secular philosophers were all strongly objecting? .

Did I claim this?

Oh really? A teleological force at work in the universe, no doubt?

There is no 'secular moral progress' save for snapshots of subjective decisions at given points in time. Otherwise, all there is is 'change'. Genocide and other such monstrosities were known to be immoral centuries and millenia before various secular governments engaged in them and people justified them.
You may as well be a dinosaur saying you're certain the age of the dinosaurs will never end.


It’s a statement of confidence.

...You're ducking my challenge.

I gave you an opening here. Justify civil war chattel slavery and all that went with it, using the Bible - including the New Testament. Be consistent. Show me how you square 'love your neighbor as yourself' with it. Show me what kind of institution of slavery you have left once you're incorporating Christ's teachings.

You spent decades intensely studying philosophy, and supposedly the Bible as well. Why duck my challenge?

I'll even go ahead and give a justification for owning slaves, on secular moral terms:

"I'd like some slaves, I have use for them, and I can acquire and control them."

Voila. Justified - and that's all that's needed. Secular moral philosophers may object, but their objections will be nothing but expressions of personal, and perhaps cultural, preference. Which means nothing.


But if that’s your challenge, then it’s a stupid challenge and doesn’t move forward your point. If by secular morality you mean any form of justification from any unlettered person, then sure, it’s as malleable as you claim it to be. By secular morality, I mean the best of what reason can offer in understanding morality – to be contrasted with the foremost ethical document of your religion – the Bible.

Aragorn said...

B Prokop,

It’s a bit rude to refer to me without addressing the actual question to me.

My eyebrows also went up a bit upon reading that one, Crude. How does Aragorn arrive at such certainty, and by what mechanism is it achieved? Is there some as-yet undiscovered Law of Physics that requires moral progress in the universe?

If the Allies had lost WWII (a very real possibility for a while there) and the contemporary world were dominated by Nazi Germany and Militarist Japan, where would the supposed inevitability of moral progress be then?

Or, for that matter, what if the South had won the Civil War? They almost did, you know. Where then would Aragorn's "certainty" be?

Heck, we don't even need to think about hypotheticals. Just look at the real world. Compare contemporary pop music with that of the 1940s and observe the demonstrable decline in moral standards. Same thing for movies. You can draw a straight line on a chart from Going My Way to Saw III, and believe me, it ain't trending upwards.


It’s a statement of confidence in the ability of humans to work through their moral conundrums. Take of it what you will.

B. Prokop said...

"It’s a bit rude..."

No, it ain't.

"It’s a statement of confidence"

Well, that's one heck of a far way from "I'm certain." In any case, such a statement makes you no better than a Mr. Wilson who posts here all the time, claiming to be able to predict the future. Knock yourself out, but nobody's buying it. At the moment, all indications are that Humanity is heading in precisely the opposite direction than "moral progress" - and that's just from empirical evidence (all you have to do is look around); no crystal ball gazing required.

Aragorn said...

No, it ain't.
If you say so. I’ll leave it to the other posters to decide whether fielding questions about another person is polite when the person can be asked directly.

Well, that's one heck of a far way from "I'm certain." In any case, such a statement makes you no better than a Mr. Wilson who posts here all the time, claiming to be able to predict the future. Knock yourself out, but nobody's buying it. At the moment, all indications are that Humanity is heading in precisely the opposite direction than "moral progress" - and that's just from empirical evidence (all you have to do is look around); no crystal ball gazing required.
There are two aspects to the question: the moral progress of secular moral philosophy and the the moral progress of the secular population (or humanity, in general). When I talk about moral progress, I’m talking about the progress of secular moral philosophy. But even looking at the secular population, the empirical evidence seem to be against your thesis.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Better-Angels-Our-Nature/dp/0143122010

Crude said...

Bob,

My eyebrows also went up a bit upon reading that one, Crude. How does Aragorn arrive at such certainty, and by what mechanism is it achieved? Is there some as-yet undiscovered Law of Physics that requires moral progress in the universe?

Apparently, it is 'Someone wrote a book saying something like this and I agree so that settles that' and little else.

First, there's the citation of 'empirical evidence', apparently going hand in hand with forgetting that the question is not wholly, or even largely, an empirical one.

But second, and more importantly, is this: taking data points from the past and extrapolating into the future - especially a future that's supposed to be without end - is not just silly, it's ignorant. Pick the right data points and you can show (to someone living at the right time in history) the certainty of Roman domination of the world, the spread of Islam worldwide, the perpetual deadlock of European power on the world, etc.

And, as I said - the certainty of the domination of dinosaurs on the planet.

Crude said...

I'll respond more a bit later, but I want to repeat my challenge - twice ducked by Aragorn:

I gave you an opening here. Justify civil war chattel slavery and all that went with it, using the Bible - including the New Testament. Be consistent. Show me how you square 'love your neighbor as yourself' with it. Show me what kind of institution of slavery you have left once you're incorporating Christ's teachings.

You spent decades intensely studying philosophy, and supposedly the Bible as well. Why duck my challenge?


There's a reason why my challenge is being evaded: because for Aragorn to take it, is to lose. Just as he's losing it in the most recent thread, where suddenly all the anger and fury at the rottenness of Christianity for supposedly green-lighting slavery took a vacation in favor of 'Slavery is okay if it's the lesser of two evils'.

Meanwhile, his defense of secular morality is that, sure, anyone can construct any secular morality they choose - but he wants to defend only 'the best reasoning'. That ignores that what counts as 'the best' is just another standard we can take or leave where the wholly secular is concerned.

And since apparently providing a link to someone who argues our points is enough to declare victory, I'll give one of my own

B. Prokop said...

As to predicting the future by cherry picking data points from the present, I recall seeing some years back a hilarious spoof on such antics, where it was proven by verifiable current trends that by the year 2025, everyone on the planet will be an Elvis impersonator.

Using the same "reasoning" is how gnus arrive at their conclusion that atheism is the Wave of the Future.

B. Prokop said...

Crude,

Good luck on getting a meaningful response from "Aragorn". You'll probably have the same result that I got from my challenge to Skep to show me where the Church supposedly altered the text of scripture to comply with dogma.

He never could answer the challenge (since the premise he was defending was false from the get go). And neither can "Aragorn" do the impossible (argue for slavery from the New Testament and remain faithful to Christ's teachings).

Aragorn said...

I've already told you that your challenge is stupid. It doesn't make it less so by repeating it. (What does that say about you?)

Aragorn said...

You really are extremely challenged in comprehension if you think I'm losing it in another threas. Pathetic, really.

Ilíon said...

B.Prokop: "Good luck on getting a meaningful response from "Aragorn". You'll probably have the same result that ..."

Even without the comparison to I-pretend, you're saying that 'Aragorn' is intellectually dishonest; you're saying that he's a hypocrite with respect to reasoning, at least with regard to "religion".

Interesting.

Aragorn said...

Talking to only those you agree with while ignoring the rest. The very definition of an echo chamber. Thanks for illustrating.

Crude said...

Bob,

Good luck on getting a meaningful response from "Aragorn". You'll probably have the same result that I got from my challenge to Skep to show me where the Church supposedly altered the text of scripture to comply with dogma.

Oh, I don't count on him responding. He's had his head handed to him already, and he knows if he responds to my pretty fair question, it's only going to get worse for him.

But the silence is instructive. For all that frantic, animated, passionate certainty of the Christian endorsement of slavery, he won't actually make the case. He'll just whine and complain and come up with every excuse he can find to do anything but, you know. Back up the claim.

At least he's good for the comedy, eh?

Aragorn said...

I've answered all your points @crude. It's you and B that's doing the mean-girls-bit of ignoring me while talking about me. Sad.

B. Prokop said...

Nobody's ignoring you, Aragorn. Grow a thick skin, or stay off of blogs. Yer gonna get talked about, and not everyone's gonna address you personally.

Aragorn said...

Believe me, I don't care what you two do and I'm well aware of the medium we are using the specific set and script it entails. I'm just bemused by the mean-girls impression you two are doing.

Crude said...

Believe me, I don't care what you two do

Because if there's one way to prove that, it's by pissing and moaning repeatedly about it, right?

You haven't answered my points, because you have nothing to offer. You're not being ignored - you're running away, and we're having a bit of a laugh at your unreason.

How long have you been studying philosophy intently, Aragorn? Wait, hold on - let me give you the real answer.

"Not long enough."