Saturday, 28 March 2009

Jesus vs. Foreign Policy


On the subject of war, you'd expect religion to provide solid ethical guidelines - that's what it does best, after all, say its adherents. There may not exist literal deities, messiahs, prophets - but at least the holy texts give us some firm basis by which to lead a good life, and maintain order in society. War is an issue that has troubled thinkers since biblical times and before; it has permitted the greatest atrocities imaginable to take place practically everywhere on Earth. War is the most violent, unforgiving aspect of modern existence; surely we must turn to religion for guidance here?
Take Christianity. The first Christians were absolute pacifists, who held that violence was inherently wrong, completely unacceptable and wholly avoidable. Jesus instructed them explicitly: "if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also”, "love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you", “blessed are the peacemakers”. They refused to join the Roman Army on principal, and for this were persecuted.
The Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in AD 312, and with him all of Rome. However, the Emperor desired to wage wars for the good of his people, and this was opposed by the teachings of Jesus. So, did he accept the fundamental basis of his religion in order to act morally? No. He waged war regardless.
Later, Christian theologians, most influentially Thomas Aquinas, attempted to justify violence using religion, producing the Just War Theory, which has since been adopted by most developed countries, and shaped United Nations' policy. Today, most Christians see no problem with sending their children to war, or supporting and voting in favour of conflicts around the globe.
My conclusion: despite the fact that Christians are by definition followers of Christ, who, if he taught ONE thing, it was that war, violence and conflict can NEVER be justified, this message is ignored, subordinated to the cunning logic of warmongers.
So what is the goddamn point of Christianity?

18 comments:

cl said...

For once I agree near completely with you, although as always I'm sure even within the tightly-defined parameters of this post we could see a few things differently. For example, would you say "turn the other cheek" means simply sit there and get your ass kicked? I used to write a lot about this same topic when Bush 43 was President. I couldn't believe that all the sheeple would just clutch their crosses and look to this guy, believing that he really was doing the right thing, you know, for the Lord.

Good post.

Tiger said...

If you want to call it "sit[ting] there and get[ting] your ass kicked", I suppose you could, but that ignores a basic part of human morality--that except for the most deranged, sociopathic villains (which the majority of al Quaeda and the Taliban's members are not), people don't hurt others for no reason. Bush's reaction to the 9/11 attacks only perpetuated the cycle of violence that Jesus was intelligent enough to recognize and attempt to end. By launching an unnecessary war and completely botching another one that was arguably justifiable, we alienated not only the Muslim world, but our own allies as well.

Look at what's happening right now--al Quaeda's in trouble. Why? Is it because of the massive influx of troops to Afghanistan? No. It's because Obama's wildly popular in the Muslim world, and his preference for reasoning and diplomacy rather than killing anyone who disagrees with us is decreasing al Quaeda's popularity among the people they rely on for recruitment and assistance.

What we need to realize is that we're not the sole beacon of justice and light in a world of darkness, that our enemies are people just as we are. That al Quaeda does not represent the entire Middle East anymore than the hard-liners who mindlessly support Israel's genocide in our own nation are representative of all Americans. That when we kill their families and countrymen with our bombs and missiles, they'll respond the same way we did when they killed our families and countrymen with hijacked airplanes. If we truly have the moral high ground, let's start acting like it.

cl said...

OMGF,

I'll respond to Tiger this one time, but after that I'll keep quiet and respect your demands for now, because as much as I like talking with you, if you really don't want to actually prove your arguments with reason that's fine. But in all fairness - if that's the case - don't pop into DA with a cheapshot one-liner you sniped from another blog, and expect that I'm not going to consider it hilarious and roast you for a little while afterwards? Come on man, I've seen you give theists some well-deserved and well-articulated roastings before; hell, I've even laughed at and agree with a few of the things you've said about me - just not the canned BS arguments you like to circulate - like that it's "dishonest" to describe oneself generically as a believer. If you want to know something, ask. Don't assume.

Besides, although I expected what I got from you today, I also found a good post I agreed with and gave you a heads ups on. In fact, you never seem to accuse me of dishonesty when I pay you a compliment. By what feat of probability might it be that only my disagreements with you are dishonest?

Tiger,

I'm not welcomed here, so perhaps I'll stop by your place or you could stop by mine, but for now, I'll just say I agree with your paragraphs 1 and 2, but I think the juxtaposition of my "ass kicked" sentence and the "Bush 43" sentence was unclear. I WASN'T IN ANY WAY justifying Bush OR the occupation, but criticizing them and criticizing sheepish AmeriChristians for not seeing through the masquerade.

What we need to realize is that we're not the sole beacon of justice and light in a world of darkness, that our enemies are people just as we are.

I agree. I don't even consider other people enemies in the first place. All there is is understanding and misunderstanding.

"If we truly have the moral high ground, let's start acting like it."

I agree, and always have. I've been a strong denouncer of the occupation. I didn't mean, "we can't just sit here and get our ass kicked, so let's invade Iraq."

If that's what you thought, I apologize.

GCT said...

cl,
Can't you even do a simple thing like look at who authored a blog entry before responding. You are such a dumbfuck.

"because as much as I like talking with you"

More lies. You don't like talking to me, you like stalking me and trying to provoke me because you get some sick charge out of feeling like a martyr and being able to whine about them mean atheists bein' mean to you.

"if you really don't want to actually prove your arguments with reason that's fine."

I can and I do, you're just impervious to it, and you wouldn't know it if it smacked you in the face. You want to debate with a computer? You're even stupider than I thought.

"roast you for a little while afterwards?"

I don't think you could roast a six year old. You simply don't have the mental capacity, and don't act like you didn't stalk me and try to provoke me by lying about what I said. You're pretty low now trying to lie about on my own blog.

"If you want to know something, ask."

And, when I tried that with both you and Pine, I got the same whiny-ass crap from both of you that you are trying to pull now. As if it is somehow logically fallacious to ask a question of clarification? You are such a hypocrite, because you are the one who actually does everything that you whine and cry and complain about.

"In fact, you never seem to accuse me of dishonesty when I pay you a compliment."

Even a blind squirrel can find a nut sometimes, but I have no idea what you are talking about. Besides, I'm not going to fall for your pathetic attempts at manipulation.

cl said...

Mr. X,

Indeed, if you are a different person than "GCT / OMGF / Anonymous / cl is a coward and liar / eff off you troll / etc.", my apologies. "GCT" posts under several different names on several other blogs, and it was my error to assume that "Mr. X" was just another instance of this odd behavior.

GCT,

"Can't you even do a simple thing like look at who authored a blog entry before responding. You are such a dumbfuck."

Perhaps, but gee whiz, talk about vagueness will ya? ;) Who's who around here? I get confused because "OMGF" on DaylightAtheism also posts here under GCT, and also under a different name at Karla's blog, and under a different name each time at my blog, etc. etc. So, if "Mr. X" is really not "GCT / OMGF / Anonymous / cl is a coward and liar / eff off you troll / etc.", then again, "Mr. X" has my apologies, but can somebody at least clarify for me, since "GCT / OMGF / Anonymous / cl is a coward and liar / eff off you troll / etc." also posts under many other names, too.

"You don't like talking to me, you like stalking me and trying to provoke me because you get some sick charge out of feeling like a martyr and being able to whine about them mean atheists bein' mean to you."

No, I do like talking to you. On a side note, you're easy to provoke, but I don't want more of your vitriol, I want evidence for claims like the Romans 1:27 thing or evidence why you can say God must be the most complex answer. You don't get to just drop bogus arguments with no evidence and not have to back them up. If you want me to stop, just answer the questions.

"I can and I do, you're just impervious to it,"

You haven't proved I avoid labels because I'm dishonest, for one. That's your own inference. And for two, you still haven't proved the thing about Romans 1:27 either. I'm just holding you to your own standards. I don't want more of your opinion, I already know what you think of me; I want your evidence.

As far as stalking, when you comment on someone else's OP or comment in the same thread, people critique it you know - and again - you came to DA and stalked me with a comment from an unrelated site, Karla's blog, when I wasn't even addressing you - and again - here's actual evidence to support my claim. Anyone can click the link and see.

AGAIN, if "Mr. X" is not "GCT / OMGF / Anonymous / cl is a coward and liar / eff off you troll / etc.", my apologies.

And lastly, this is still a good post, whoever wrote it.

Pine said...

OMGF:

Clarify your postion here please-

Do you feel that human life is actually valuable? If so, why?

If God exists and created the world and humans, why would it be immoral for Him to destroy them? Is it immoral in and of itself, or would it be wrong because He promised to do the opposite or delcared it to be wrong?

If I 'create' a bookshelf... is it immoral for me to destroy it? Why or why not? If I create a robot which can interact with people, is it immoral for me to destroy it? Why or why not?

GCT said...

cl,
"Who's who around here? I get confused..."

Yes, you do seem to be easily confused, but a quick look around the site would show that we are two different people. I know that it's hard for you to actually look before you leap, since you have all the answers and all that, but some of us mortals do such searching before making jackasses of ourselves.

"I want evidence for claims like the Romans 1:27..."

It's in the text, I suggest you read it. I know that you have difficulty with reading and comprehension, so don't hurt your brain while you try, but with practice, maybe you too can learn to read a sentence and understand it.

"You haven't proved I avoid labels because I'm dishonest, for one."

I don't have to, you prove it all the time yourself.

"when I wasn't even addressing you - and again - here's actual evidence to support my claim. Anyone can click the link and see."

And, as anyone can see, you had already tried to provoke me just two comments before mine. See, this is the problem with lying so much. At some point, you can't keep track of all your lies, and you end up looking foolish and being exposed, just like now.

"AGAIN, if "Mr. X" is not "GCT / OMGF / Anonymous / cl is a coward and liar / eff off you troll / etc.", my apologies."

Mr. X might want your apologies, I simply want you to bugger off, as I've asked you. I've never before asked someone not to comment here, but I am with you. I'm tired of your lies, BS, hypocrisy, etc. I have no more patience with you, and I have no more desire to feed your attention whore syndrome. I don't wish to ban anyone, as I've never had to do that. I would have hoped that you'd be adult enough to simply leave on your own. I should have known it was asking too much of you.

GCT said...

Pine,
"Clarify your postion here please- "

WTF did I just get done telling cl? Seriously...

But, since you asked, these positions are no secret for me.

"Do you feel that human life is actually valuable? If so, why? "

Yes, because we place value on them.

"If God exists and created the world and humans, why would it be immoral for Him to destroy them?"

Would it be immoral for us to simply kill our children for any old reason? That god created us would entail that god has taken on a moral responsibility towards us.

"If I 'create' a bookshelf... is it immoral for me to destroy it? Why or why not? If I create a robot which can interact with people, is it immoral for me to destroy it? Why or why not?"

Bad analogies because these things are not alive. They don't feel pain, they don't have consciousness, etc. If you were to have a child (a much closer analogy) would it be wrong or immoral to destroy it?

Pine said...

GCT:

I don't want to endlessly make the 'bad analogy' argument, but I see God's relation to us much like to our relation to anything we can create.

In the example of children they are like us. We are human, they are human. I don't consider a couple to have 'created' a child so much as they 'begat' a child. C.S. Lewis wrote greatly about the difference in Mere Christianity.

Anyhow, my point was that anything we create is ours so it is morally ok to do anything with it we please. BTW... if those who analyze our bodies are correct then pain is nothing more than signals sent throughout our nervous system. So, what is the difference between causing pain, and kicking a robot in the knee which triggers an electric pulse to signal a red led to light in its head? Is it the emotional attachment to pain that makes it more wrong to do this to a human? If so, are you arguing that it is wrong to violate the emotions of others? If so, then wouldn't it be just as morally corrupt (in your worldview) to offend someone as to cause them physical pain?

GCT said...

Note to cl,
Don't accuse me of cyber-stalking (what are you in second grade? The "I know you are, but what am I" defense was in vogue around then, so perhaps you are) and then admit that you're doing it to me. It just reeks of hypocrisy. Now, GTFO, as I've asked you numerous times.

GCT said...

Pine,
"I don't want to endlessly make the 'bad analogy' argument, but I see God's relation to us much like to our relation to anything we can create.

In the example of children they are like us."

Just as we are supposedly made in god's image?

Never-the-less, if we could clone human beings or create them from the genetic material and incubation chambers, would it be OK for you to destroy one of those beings if you created it? Let's not dance around the real issue and that is one of sentience and moral obligation. If you create something that has sentience, can feel pain, etc. then you have a moral obligation to that thing you've created, whether by scientific experiment, sexual procreation, or divine creation. We are not god's playthings to do with as he pleases. He is morally obligated to treat us in a just, moral, and respectful fashion.

"BTW... if those who analyze our bodies are correct then pain is nothing more than signals sent throughout our nervous system."

That manifest in very unpleasant ways in our bodies/minds/biochemistry/etc.

"So, what is the difference between causing pain, and kicking a robot in the knee which triggers an electric pulse to signal a red led to light in its head?"

Setting off an LED is not the same as what happens when humans feel pain. If we could make robots, however, that feel pain, we would not be justified in causing them pain for arbitrary reasons. If you are arguing that this is how it should be, then you are arguing against your case. If you think we should be able to arbitrarily cause pain to entities that we created, then I think you have some issues.

"Is it the emotional attachment to pain that makes it more wrong to do this to a human?"

It's a lot of factors, and don't focus completely on pain. Sentience also factors into it.

"If so, then wouldn't it be just as morally corrupt (in your worldview) to offend someone as to cause them physical pain?"

No.

Pine said...

GCT:

While it is true that we were created 'in the image of God' I don't think we can take this to mean that we are 'of the same essence' as God. God is God, we are human. That is why I feel children fail as a good example as they are exactly what we are, not lesser beings.

You raise some good points. And to be honest I do very much assume that God would not be loving or just in causing pain to innocent creatures. I never really thought the robot example was a good analogy, but rather just wanted to point out that in my opinion it is just as good as your example involving children.

I asked you why you thought human life was valuable and you said: "because we place value on them." Do you consider it wrong to kill any animal? Insect? Bacteria? Is sentience the ultimate deciding factor? If so, then what about people in comas?

While I'm very happy that God does not choose to do so, couldn't He just create us and the leave us to our own devices? Maybe you think He shouldn't cause harm, but what if He merely allows it? (or doesn't prevent it)

GCT said...

"I asked you why you thought human life was valuable and you said: "because we place value on them." Do you consider it wrong to kill any animal? Insect? Bacteria? Is sentience the ultimate deciding factor? If so, then what about people in comas?"

It's obviously a complicated subject. It's not wrong necessarily to kill any animal, although it is if one does it for sport or cruelty. Sentience isn't the ultimate deciding factor, just one. When I reminded you of it, it was not to be to the exclusion of all other things. People in comas should write living wills that give their preference on receiving treatment or not. If one says they want to die instead of be in that state, we should oblige. In the case of Terry Schiavo, for instance, I believe we should have pulled the plug.

"While I'm very happy that God does not choose to do so, couldn't He just create us and the leave us to our own devices?"

My argument is that that is not possible with an omni-max god, nor would it be responsible or moral. When god created us he took on a moral responsibility towards us, not ownership. We are not his playthings to do as he likes. Sending people to hell is immoral. Causing unnecessary suffering is immoral, etc.

"Maybe you think He shouldn't cause harm, but what if He merely allows it? (or doesn't prevent it)"

He's culpable, because he has the ability to eliminate evil and suffering and chooses not to exercise that. Why? Is he testing us? If that's the case, he already knows the answers, so it's a moot point. Is he trying to build our characters? There's no reason he couldn't create beings that don't need to suffer to build character. There's really no excuse.

Pine said...

GCT:

Once you eliminate God... please show by what moral standard we can say anything is morally right or wrong. If God is not the standard, then by which standard do we measure God?

So, in your opinion, in order for God to truly be loving He would have to choose to create a world without suffering and evil because He has to power and foreknowledge to do so? IE: God is incapable of being just and loving despite creating fallable beings? Doesn't that view limit God to a much larger "can't" than my view does?

Pine said...

GCT:

As an aside, I have another question. To you does Omnipotent mean God can do anything, or does it have to mean that God can do anything by ANY MEANS that He chooses? Just a thought I'm considering here.

GCT said...

Pine,
"Once you eliminate God... please show by what moral standard we can say anything is morally right or wrong. If God is not the standard, then by which standard do we measure God?"

By the cultural morality that we possess that was developed through our biological and cultural evolution. Humans are social animals, just like all other mammals. It's not like we are the only animals that exhibit moral behavior.

Incidentally, I've never understood where morality comes from once you include god. Care to explain?

"So, in your opinion, in order for God to truly be loving He would have to choose to create a world without suffering and evil because He has to power and foreknowledge to do so?"

Pretty much, yeah. Why would a being that is omni-benevolent consciously create evil, or at the very least tolerate it?

"IE: God is incapable of being just and loving despite creating fallable beings? Doesn't that view limit God to a much larger "can't" than my view does?"

First of all, it's the logical consequences of an omni-max deity...more on that later two paragraphs down...

Second of all; on the one hand, because I'm pointing out that god can do something about it, that god could have created a world devoid of suffering, that god has those powers, instead of simply assuming that god is impotent to create a better system than the one we currently have.

OTOH, if god truly is perfect, then in order to maintain perfection god only has one path to take at any given time - the perfect action/thought/feeling/etc for the given situation. I think that this literally makes god into a robot in a sense in that god has no free will or choices, since god can not choose that which is not maximally good, perfect, correct, whatever.

"To you does Omnipotent mean God can do anything, or does it have to mean that God can do anything by ANY MEANS that He chooses?"

I would say that it means god can do anything that is logically coherent. I'm not concerned with whether god can create a burrito so hot that even he can't eat it.

I think we also have to remind ourselves of god's other abilities, however. It's a mistake to talk about omnipotence without also remembering omniscience and omni-benevolence. For god to do anything "by ANY MEANS that he chooses" might be logically possible if we only consider omnipotence, but runs afoul of the other omnis if one isn't careful.

Pine said...

GCT:

The last thing I want to do is write off your concerns or post a response just to quibble. So I think it's best that I don't respond further. The questions you raise are valid and are disputed even among Bible-believing God-fearing Christians.

I don't see the conflict between the omni traits, suffering and a perfect God in the way that you present them, however I will think on your arguments and try to see things as you have presented them. For this reason I am not yet able to answer your questions properly from your perspective and feel that to continue further would only result in the endless spinning of wheels.

Thanks for the discussion.

GCT said...

Fair enough Pine.

Vis-a-vis free will, here's a little stumper that might help you to see things my way.

If god came to you and handed you a book that has all the actions/thoughts/feelings/etc that you will ever have for the rest of your life, do you think that you can do anything contrary to what the book says? Let's say that it describes your time of death and the manner, and it's entirely avoidable (perhaps you are late for something and neglect to look both ways before crossing the street and are struck and killed by a car). Don't you think that you would avoid that fate?

If you do that, however, then you demonstrate that god did not know what would happen to you, hence omniscience is destroyed. If you are compelled to do what is in the book, then there is no such thing as free will.

You don't have to answer this, I simply ask that you think about it.

Thanks for the discussion as well.