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Author Topic:   Ed Braytons Eulogy & Reflections About Purpose
Posts: 4742
Joined: 05-02-2006
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Message 16 of 17 (881158)
08-18-2020 6:17 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Phat
08-17-2020 7:57 AM

Re: R.I.P. Ed Brayton
In this topic, I want to discuss Ed Braytons worldviews, the worldview of secular humanism in general and how it contrasts with the Christian worldview which I attempt to push.

While most of the discussion so far seems to lean towards {paraphrasing} "the secular humanist worldview has the same results as the Christian worldview only without the mumbo-jumbo" (eg, nwr in Message 7: "Secular humanism amounts to Christianity without the rituals, without the creeds, without the pretenses and without the hypocrisy. Just try to be a decent human being.") While I could agree with that in general, at the same time there is a distinct qualitative difference due to the effects of the religious factors which are what you are promoting. And, of course, I find those effects to be mostly corrupting.

Rabbi Kalir, my Rabbinic Literature professor in 1971, drew a distinction between religious requirements and moral actions. He taught as a basic principle in Judaism that if observing the Law would result in the loss of an innocent life then you save that life even though you must violate God's Law in order to do so. Morality takes precedence over religion.

That basic Jewish principle would be completely in keeping with the secular humanist worldview, that you do the right thing because it is the right thing. In contrast, we have the Christian worldview that you must always obey God's Law and do the Will of God regardless of the consequences, including causing the loss of innocent life. IOW, the Christian worldview takes the entirely opposite position that religion must take precedence over morality -- do the right thing unless God wishes otherwise.

Rabbi Kalir did not offer this as a Christian counter-example to Jewish moral values, but the moment I heard the radio news report I remembered what he had told us. Both parents were on trial for causing the death of their young child. He died from a severe bacterial infection that could have been cured easily, quickly, and effectively with proper medical treatment, but his parents insisted on withholding any medical treatment from him. They were part of a faith-healing sect that used prayer instead of medicine; resorting to any medical treatment would show your lack of faith in God. So instead of saving their child's life, they let him die while they prayed. During the trial, they affirmed that if they have another child and that child got the same kind of infection, when they would act in exactly the same manner, so unshaken was their faith in God. I'm certain that they weren't complete monsters devoid of any feeling. I'm certain that they suffered greatly having to watch their child die. But they had placed religion over the most basic form of morality: protecting your own children. Their child was effective a human sacrifice that its parents offered up to God.

That scenario has played itself out far too many times. The only thing about this case that was unusual was that charges had been brought up against the parents. In addition, believers will readily and even zealously engage in acts of persecution, violence, and even deadly violence against individuals of any group that God tells them.

Another difference between the worldviews is the type of moral reasoning they promote, which is basically that the Christian worldview does not promote moral reasoning.

In developmental psychology, we see that children go through several "stages of development" in many aspects (eg, Piaget). From what I remember from the chapter on the development of morality (I used my then-wife's textbook when I took the class, so I lost it in the divorce):

  • The first and lowest level of moral development is "rules-based morality" in which some authority hands you a set of arbitrary rules that you must follow -- even if there is an actual reason for a rule, you do not know that reason so it is arbitrary to you. All that is important is that the rules are followed. Even if someone would be harmed by following the rules, you must follow the rules and so must they. The only basis for judging right and wrong is whether the rules are followed. Your only responsibility is to the authority that gave you those rules. If any harm results from your following the rules, then that's not your responsibility, but rather it's the responsibility of the Rules-Giver. You were only following orders.

    This primary level of morality is one that almost everybody starts out with, centering around the age of 5. But over time most people grow out of it by seeking out the reasons for the rules, determining which rules are important and which are not, and learning to take extenuating circumstances into account. Unfortunately, many people never grow out of this stage of moral development. It should be noted that many of those stuck in this stage of development are believers for whom "Christian morality" is rules-based, which thus allows them to escape responsibility for the consequences of their own actions by transferring that responsibility to the Rules-Giver, their God.

  • Moral reasoning. This was probably broken down into a few different stages, but I forget them. Here your morality is based on the consequences of your actions, for which you hold yourself responsible. You learn to think through moral dilemmas, which develops in you an ability to perform moral reasoning, something that cannot be developed in people stuck in rules-based morality.

The secular humanist worldview depends on moral reasoning, whereas the Christian worldview discourages it.

So when we examine the hypothesis that the secular humanist and Christian worldviews are basically the same with the sole exception of an extra layer of religion in the Christian worldview, we find that that hypothesis is false. Rather, that extra layer of religion changes the Christian worldview in many ways, most of them negative. If anything, those Christians who are able to act morally and feel empathy do so despite the Christian worldview instead of because of it -- that also ties in with the results of a conservative Christian Barna Research Group poll which found that what most people believe in as "Christian doctrine" is actually contrary to actual Christian doctrine.

I have respect for the man just by reading his eulogy and seeing how empathetic he was towards his fellow humans.

Indeed, if we could point to any one single trait that leads to morality, it would be empathy. Empathy, like morality, is mostly independent of religion. While one's religious beliefs and practice might get one thinking about empathy, most religious teachings and practice oppose empathy. Far more than not, religion emphasizes the otherness of those outside your religion and how they must either be assimilated or be removed.


Circa 1964, Tom Lehrer's intro to a song about a then-very tense political situation described it as "like being a Christian Scientist with appendicitis."
(ie, you feel desperate to do something about such a life-threatening situation, but you can't)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Phat, posted 08-17-2020 7:57 AM Phat has not yet responded

Posts: 19303
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 5.1

Message 17 of 17 (881161)
08-18-2020 8:04 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Phat
08-18-2020 1:23 PM

Re: R.I.P. Ed Brayton
Phat writes:

You are quite good at denying the Creator, but not so good at explaining what thought process led you to back off of the correct answer.

Oh come on. I have never been shy about explaining my thought process to you.

But this isn't even about a creator. You said, "The fact is, Christianity would never have caught on had it simply been a vehicle for Global conquest and exclusivity."

That's not a fact. If it was true, it would apply to a lot of other religions as well as Christianity.

"I've been to Moose Jaw, now I can die." -- John Wing

This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Phat, posted 08-18-2020 1:23 PM Phat has acknowledged this reply

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