Sunday, March 8, 2009

Generation X and The Tenets of Conservatism

Ed Said:

Conservative powerbrokers must accept the new reality on the ground: Generation X Conservatives have a different philosophical view of the world. Do not fear us; embrace us; we are the breath of fresh air the Conservatives so desperately need…

For the most part, Generation X leans to the right when offered Reagan Conservatism; it's when the religious right shows up, most check out.

Conservatives lose all credibility to fight every nanny state issue because of abortion. Or are Conservatives for a nanny state when the rules play into their preferences? Why alienate millions of women because of our pro-life stance? The pro-life movement has its own inertia, why do Conservatives need to help? It would be great to get some more women in the Conservative tent.

In our battle to advance Reagan Conservatism how does promoting Christian morality help our cause?

March 8, 2009 10:16 AM


In response to my post about Sam Brownback's retreat from principle, this comment from Ed arrested my attention. He asks an important question; one that I'm sure reflects the thinking of millions of people like him. I believe that answering it is not at all difficult, though the reasoning involved requires several steps, in the course of which we recapitulate the tenets of conservatism.

  1. The preservation of Freedom- In order to know whether promoting morality advances the cause, we must first think about the nature of the cause. Reagan conservatism is first and foremost about preserving freedom. It begins, like the United States itself, from the premise that as individuals all human beings have unalienable rights (rights inseparable from their humanity), among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To state the principle in this way begs a question however. What justifies the claim to these rights? As a matter of historical fact, America's founding generation justified it by reference to the will of the Creator, to whose Providence they trusted, and whom they regarded as the ruler and ultimate judge of the universe. All this they made clear in the Declaration of Independence, at the moment the United States came into existence as a free and independent nation. If members of Generation X embrace the American doctrine of freedom, they must either embrace this justification for it, or make the case for some other. Of course, they may be content to assert it as an existential act of will, without justification. But how does it promote conservatism to reduce its foundation to an arbitrary whim? If the claim to freedom is an arbitrary whim, why should it be preferred to the whims of wealth and power that are the basis for oligarchy, military tyranny or other forms of despotism? If there is no rational basis for the preference, how do we preserve it from the whirlpool of relativism, which in the end sucks political life into a maelstrom of perpetual conflict intermittently relieved by those eras of calm during which superior might reduces all to slavery and subjection?


  2. Securing the blessings of liberty- Contrary to the inclinations of the more shallow libertarians, conservatism has nothing in common with anarchism, since it is based on preserving freedom, which means firmly establishing it on sustainable grounds. Anarchy is not sustainable, but inevitably produces first chaos, then tyranny. So, while respecting the premise of unalienable individual rights, conservatism also requires respect for the limits implied by the reasoning used to justify our claim to those rights. Put simply, if the claim to rights rests on the premise of God's authority, we cannot preserve the claim if we use our rights in a way that destroys respect for God's authority. The premise of freedom is equal rights. The premise of right is God's authority. Freedom exercised with respect for God's authority is liberty. Thus exercised it produces good results, which the preamble to the U.S. Constitution calls "the blessings of liberty." This of course implies that there are curses, or bad results that arise from the abuse of freedom, which abuse the Founders often referred to as licentiousness.


  3. Establishing limited government- Conservatism respects the goals for our government set forth in the U.S. Constitution. It therefore seeks to secure the blessings of liberty and avoid the curse of licentiousness. In order to achieve this goal, freedom, whether for one individual or a large number, must be limited by respect for the rights that are inseparable from our humanity. Free government, though based upon consent, is therefore not the instrument of unbridled free will. It is government limited by respect for the right use of freedom (which is, by the way, the proper definition of a right), and for the authority that substantiates it.


  4. Promoting respect for law- Government limited by respect for the right use of freedom is lawful government. This does not mean government in which people slavishly obey whatever their rulers declare to be the law. It means first of all respect for the premise of lawfulness. Lawfulness is the right exercise of freedom, so that when individuals conform their choices to what is right they behave lawfully. If they form a community on this basis, they constitute a society in which they literally govern themselves. But when individuals voluntarily behave in a lawful fashion they act morally. Morality is therefore the effective basis of self-government.


  5. Preserving the moral basis of freedom- As individuals acting lawfully do what is required by right, others are obliged by their respect for what is right (and ultimately by respect for the authority of God which substantiates the claim of right) not to interfere with what they do. The exercise of right thus limits the actions of others. But the government is nothing more than the instrument of individuals when acting as a community. So when individuals act lawfully government is, like all others, obliged to respect their rights (that is, not to interfere with the actions they take in order to do what is right.) Whatever its powers, its exercise of those powers is limited to actions that are consistent with this obligation. Self-government is thus the effective basis for insisting upon limited government. But since the essential substance of self-government is moral action, morality is the effective basis for insisting upon limited government. Conversely, where morality and therefore self-government fail, the power of government must expand in order to restore respect for right. Such expansion must extend as far as the disorder produced by licentiousness requires. Given the ingenuity of human wickedness, this implies no limitation but what is required to maintain superior power.


    The promotion of morality thus appears to be an essential prerequisite for limited government. Limited government is the key practical goal of conservatism. One advances a cause by actions that bring closer the achievement of its goal. Therefore the promotion of morality advances the cause of conservatism. It's worth noticing that the logic used to reach this conclusion, while consistent with Christian beliefs, is entirely based upon the understanding of rights and government contained in the fundamental civic documents of the United States (in particular the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.) If Generation X conservatives have a philosophical view of the world that rejects this understanding, they are not conservatives at all, at least not in any sense that Ronald Reagan or any other American conservative would comprehend. I also wonder whether their views are, in the true sense, philosophical. Opinions asserted without reason may be deeply felt. They may be authentic expressions of an individual's real identity, convictions or needs. But if old Socrates was any guide, when it comes to philosophy none of these attributes is a substitute for the simple willingness to accept the discipline of the search for truth. One of the greatest obstacles to this acceptance is the worship of one's own opinion.

    Now I can hear you saying that the Founders reliance upon the authority of God was no more than their own opinion. But even Socrates did not hold that philosophy required the possession of truth, only the willingness constantly to submit to the examination made necessary by respect for it. Since thousands of years before the American founders, people who call upon the name of God have submitted themselves to this examination, as I do on the pages of this site. When the "philosophic view" of Generation X can make the same claim, it might be less unwise to consider trusting the fate of the world to their opinions. When they articulate and find some justification for their view that moves men to righteousness, and to give their all, in pain and war and martyrdom against injustice as the Christian gospel of love, or the American creed of freedom has done, it might be wise to do so. For now all we see is people who demand all so that their lusts may be satisfied, their fragile egos comforted, and their self-indulgent intellectual fantasies indulged. Such people lean toward the materialist version of conservatism as a way of avoiding the one discipline on offer from those now lifted to leadership, supposedly with the support of their Generation. I mean the discipline of government dependency, slavery and domination. Sadly, they do not realize that there is no sustainable choice that will respect their licentious whims. The real choice we face is between totalitarian government based ultimately on force, and self-government grounded upon respect for what is morally right.

    One final word: Conservatives don't believe in the nanny state, but in the free republic, which requires among other things, respect for the authority of the Creator God on which our claim to freedom relies. In any case, I think it may be a mistake to refer to what leftists like Obama intend to impose as a nanny state. Sometimes nannies have been a more than adequate substitute for mothers who think they have things they can do better. However if, as a free people, we have reached the stage when we have better things to do than to preserve our rights and respect the discipline implied by them, I see nothing in the history of humankind to justify the assumption that the resultant tyranny will be an adequate substitute for the loss of our individual and national dignity. When I'm tempted to think otherwise, I remember the moral degradation that Frederick Douglass and others held to be the greatest misery of my slave ancestors, and I think again.

    Worth considering? Then don't forget to DIGG IT!!!!

33 comments:

netmeister said...

Hello Alan. Fantastic article. Would that many should read it with understanding and then stand up for the truth of it. I met you many years ago at a Free Enterprise Event where you were one of the featured speakers. I liked your position then and am glad to see that you seem to have held to those same principles over the years. You had your wife and daughter with you as well and they were very gracious to my wife and I.
I must say that I am so disgusted with many in the republican party that as you mention in your last article seem more concerned with expedience and self promotion to higher postitions of power than conservatism. It surely does appear that even those that seem to espouse passionately those ideals in their stump speeches to gain the support of the voters, once elected almost without fail immediately lose that focus.
Although I am nowhere near your level of expressing cohesive and well thought out discourse to post on a blog; I have made a couple of posts that you might find interesting:
http://davidspears.blogtownhall.com/

Steven said...

The major disagreement that I have with your assessments of liberties is their source.

Can it be that I, as an unbeliever, am unable to understand liberty because I don't exercise my freedom with respect to God's authority? Should I consider myself less deserving of individual freedom simply for not agreeing with you regarding the source or premise of personal liberty?

As I read your good work, I find that I enthusiastically agree with and support your views. As an atheist libertarian, however, I am alienated from your path for my difference of opinion as to what provides for man's freedoms.

I respect your convictions and beliefs but I am sure that's not reciprocated.

greenbacker said...

Great piece Alan! Today we are witnessing the death of reason. A generation ago Alan Bloom in "The Closing of the American Mind" predicted the demise of the searth for Truth and the politicization of higher education. We now have college graduates who can't make the simple distinction between "rights" derived by general consent and rights bestowed by God.

In the preamble to the UN's universal declaration of human rights it states in the opening lines:

"Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world..."

Then in article 1

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

Yet nowhere does this declaration provide a rationale for the assertions of universal human dignity and rights other than the premise that the recognition of such rights is the "foundation of freedom." In other words, the foundation of freedom is the recognition that we are born free and filled with inherent dignity.

But from whence comes this "recognition" that creates the moral imperative to treat our fellow man in a spirti of brotherhood? Is it an intuition, a fuzzy warm feeling, enlightenment? In the moral logic of the UN declaration, "recognition" hangs there like an unfinished sentence begging to be completed by a reference to a higher authority. But none is forthcoming and so human rights hang by the thread of an appeal to a vague moral sentiment encapsulated in the word "recognition."

There is no surer foundation upon which to build our freedoms than the statement "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." Once we reject our Creator and his moral laws we place our rights on a foundation of quicksand.

Jhncleaver said...

I am not a religious man nor do I have to be to be appalled by abortion. Abortion or choice is a con job on woman and attack on our morality. Choice is a male cop out of the responsibility of fatherhood. The left promote choice (killing of infants) yet protest the death penalty. Treat a dog the same way and face thy raft. Abortion, The disintegration of the family, lawless streets, open borders, corrupt governments lead to anarchy and that leads to oligarchy and that is there goal.

cw said...

Steven, I want to first state that I respect your right to choose your religious views. I will say that as a Catholic, I disagree with those views and hope that one day you will experience a conversion and be open to God.

Here is my view of the situation. First, I applaud you for supporting these ideals. I frankly think that an atheist above all should embrace these ideals because they do not believe in an afterlife. They therefore should completely respect the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness since the atheistic view says there is nothing beyond this life. Many of the Christian morals in terms of dealing with other people (thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, etc.) are logical and common sense ideals. They are not at all burdensome.

While all atheists may not believe in the existence of God, they do not have other doctrines. Although you believe in the ideals described by Dr. Keyes, there are certainly many atheists who see things differently. Because an atheistic view does not accept an eternal reward/punishment for the way someone conducted their life on earth, there is also no accountability for one's actions beyond secular law. Secular law is controlled by whomever is in power.

Consider an example. Look at the Spendulus bill that was rammed through Congress by Pelosi and Reid, with Obama running around telling us there would be a "crisis" if it was not immediately passed. Almost none of the Senators and Congresspeople were able to read the bill before voting on it. It has passed and is now law. What if there was an obscure provision in the bill which stated that it's okay to loot the homes of the "richest two percent" (a group that Obama has demonized)? I would expect that you would see that as wrong. Christian morality would also see that as wrong. But for some who either don't believe in God or might believe but don't respect God, they could take the attitude that "The government says it's okay, so let's do it."

Without God as the provider of rights, then it's up to the state to decide whether or not rights will be extended to another person. The state in that case is ultimately an enactment of the will of those who lead it.

This is not to say that a person should think of God as a harsh judge, waiting for someone to sin so they can be sent to hell. But a person should think of God as their Creator who provided the earth and all sorts of possibilities for them, plus the OPPORTUNITY (but not the guarantee) to spend eternity with Him in bliss. In order to make that opportunity available, God allowed His Son to be tortured and murdered. Considering all of that, why would a person want to engage in an act that would offend God?

Let me also make it clear that this is not an attack on atheists as a whole. Certainly, there are many alleged believers who pay lip service to their beliefs. Consider abortion, for example. This is a serious sin. But we have "Catholics" like Nancy Pelosi, Teddy Kennedy, Kathleen Sebelius (Obama's nominee for Health and Human Services), Joe Biden, etc., who have all supported abortion. They are "Catholic" in name only. In my opinion, they deserve excommunication. Clearly, according to Catholic Canon Law, they should be denied Holy Communion. If these people had any respect for God, they would publicly apologize for supporting abortion and leading other Catholics astray.

gilbertabrett said...

Just as the Bible says in the end days, people will say right is wrong AND wrong is right. They will also acknowledge right, but deny WHOM it comes from.

Just like a compass, without proper direction we can all be turned off course. With a strong enough magnet, the compass can be fooled.

As I've said to many folks, Odrama does not even know when his own two daughters actually turned into human beings. He said this in front of the entire world at Rick Warren's church when asked about when does life begin. He gave a lame statement about pay grades... Yet many the world over believe he is capable enough to handle the rest of the world's woes while he does not comprehend the simplest knowledge? PLEASE...

Time will tell and so will the many tons of innocent blood that has been spilled over the last 40 years which has been sanctioned BY US. WE DO keep letting this happen.

If we have no respect for the beginning of life and do not even know when it begins, why bother? Would it not all be a cruel joke then anyway? And if we can "dignify" life by ending it how and when we want - why bother? What would be the purpose of government but to tell us how to live and take our money to spend as they please.

We are not on the Planet of the Apes, even if some of us think we are.

Conservatives MUST have a moral compass that always points to GOD - THE ONE TRUE GOD - or they will be doomed to the same fate as the rest of the political parties in this country. A miserable existence of NEVER being fulfilled and at peace in life, tragically thinking you are making a difference or "a better world."

Give GOD a chance. Ask HIM to show HIMSELF to you and you will NOT be disappointed. Even though you may not believe in HIM, HE believes in you.

netmeister said...

So Steve-to whom or what do you discern as the vehicle that guarantee's the right to freedom, liberty and justice for all. Some might say "the constitution"-but it promotes as its authority **the higher power** without that authority it is just another well written document that makes sense and sounds good but is open to challenge. The inherent goodness of people-look around you despots everywhere-the government; according to your own views-not likely--if there is no God-no ultimate arbiter-why worry about any action no matter how vile.

Someone said to me once that if there is no God there is no harm in choosing to believe that there is because in the end you just die and that is all there is--but if God does exist and a person makes the personal choice to not believe the consequences are too terrible to think about.

I pray that somehow, someway the truth of God can touch your heart and lead you to the free gift of salvation and deliverance from what I choose to believe is an eternity of pain and suffering after death.

Christinewjc said...

Dear Alan,

I was excited to find out via WorldNetDaily that you now have a blog! I love the title: Loyal to Liberty - "Where faith gives reason for citizen action." What a great concept!

Obama's infanticide stance on abortion was the very first reason why I could never support the man. There are several excellent comments here combating that subject.

After more than a year of research about Obama, my list grew longer and longer as to why, as a Christian, I could never support such a person. I thought he would be a disaster for this nation.
We are now seeing such fears coming to fruition.

First, I want to thank you, Mr. Keyes, for standing up against Obama and his refusal to release his vault-length COLB. We all know he's not eligible because his father was Kenyan and never naturalized as a U.S. Citizen. I am praying for success in your lawsuit as well as all the others that have been filed across the nation.

Back to your excellent article.

Our Christian faith gives us all the reasons in the world to participate in citizen action; especially when we are witnessing right before our very eyes a power grab by Resident Obama and the Liberal majority in Congress. Notice that I didn't say Democrat majority. The reason is because there is a group of "blue dog" Democrats in the House who voted against the StimuWASTE bill while three RINO Republicans allowed it to pass in the Senate.

The liberal Senators and Congressmen are intent on dismissing the will of the majority of people in America. I have heard that the calls going into Washington were something like 1,000 to 1 AGAINST that bill!!

What does this tell us? It's unmistakably obvious. There is a monumental disconnect between these elected officials and the American people that they are supposed to be representing!

I haven't done the proper research for this yet, but I am willing to bet that most of the 9 or 11 "blue dog" Democrats who voted against the wasteful spending are probably freshman representatives. They are most likely fiscal conservatives, too. They obviously haven't been corrupted by the Washington earmark gluttony that wreaks of the stench brought about by the lobby-frenzied, pay to play machine!! Let us hope and pray that they don't catch the disease.

Thank you for starting a blog! Thank you for sharing and explaining the five tenets of conservatism. Loved this quote:

The real choice we face is between totalitarian government based ultimately on force, and self-government grounded upon respect for what is morally right.

So true today! Amen!

May we return to "self-government grounded upon respect for what is morally right" in America - just as our Founding Fathers intended!

The Silent Consensus said...

Article VI Section 3: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

To vote against a cabinet nominee because they do not share YOUR religious beliefs violates this clause, at least in spirit. Whatever happened to being entitled to the cabinet of their choice?

unclesamsboot said...

Thanks you Dr. Keyes for all you do for the true conservatives of this great nation. Mr. Reagan was the first president I was able to vote for and until you began to run, the one true conservative voice. God bless you my friend!

Ms. Cris Ericson said...

In Obama's inaugaral speech, didn't he say something indicating he might demand equal treatment for aetheists; and if so, then will Obama remove our national contract,
"In God We Trust" from our coins and dollar bills, which of themselves have no value, but allegedly represent value.

Because "In God We Trust" is written on our financial instruments, our coins and dollar bills, isn't it a CONTRACT?

Every time we spend any coin or dollar bill, which has our national contract, "In God We Trust" written upon it, then are we not agreeing to this national contract, because the coins and dollar bills are contracts, they represent value, they have no value in and of themselves?

Point in fact: Obama is printing up Billions more, just like play money, out of thin air!

Isn't it true that the organizations pro-life politicians USE to CLAIM that the majority of voters are pro-life, are actually male dominated organizations and some of them are selling aborted baby parts and using the profits of their sales of aborted baby parts to pay lobbyists so they can continue in this trade?

Tamela's Place said...

Hello Alan,

I was just notified of your blog and as a concerned citizen of the United States of America i just want to say that I am very thankful for men as yourself and i appreciate your stand for Life, libery and the pursuit of happiness.

I will be back to view your blog in the future and to make sure to tell my friends about it.

I could never support a man such as Obama for my Godly values run deep and I love my Creator with all of my heart. It is to bad that many do not understand the love of their Creator for themselves.

My Pro-life stand was the "main" reason why i could not support him. I don't understand how a man can say that he doesn't know when life begins but then sign an executive order to reverse restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, which totally contadicts his claim on not knowing when life begins, for to do embryonic stem cell research a "life" must be created and then killed as to do stem cell research.

My heart is breaking for America because the land of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness is spiraling downward with laws being set in place that are just the opposite: We are becoming a land of death, bondage and the pursuit of sorrow.

I will remain encouraged though and remind myself that there are people just like you that are standing up and letting their voices be heard not only in public but in private as well before God almighty.

God hears our prayers AMERICA!

Thanks again Alan and May God bless you!
Tamela

JohnADavison said...

I recommend William Wright's book "Born That Way" as an important summary of the scientific evidence that makes it very clear that EVERY aspect of both our physical and psychological being has a demonstrable congenital basis.

Einstein felt the same way.

"Everything is determined...by forces over which we have no control."

Gilbert and Sullivan had reached a similar conclusion long before Einstein.

"Every boy and every girl,
That is born into the world alive,
Is either a little Liberal,
Or else a little Conservative."
Iolanthe, 1873

Leslie K. said...

thank you, sir, for your thoughts. God bless you.

cora said...

Yes it is sad the state of the country and while I did not vote for Obama due to his stance on life. Me thinks his stance on life in general is a threat to all of us. In a way I wonder if we did not allow it to happen. Did we take a strong enough stand from the beginning or did we let it happen? Just a thought. Now I can't at this point find the specific verse, but the BIBLE does say that God appoints leaders. Maybe He gave us what we neglected to fight for.

gilbertabrett said...

Dr. Keyes, I read the Declaration of Independence again last night. It had been awhile, but after reading the charges section against King George III & the parliament, minus a few alterations, this could be re-drafted and sent to our federal government this day. I wonder how many people we could get to sign THAT across this country?

cw said...

Silent Consensus, indeed Sebelius is a "Catholic" in name only. But put all of that aside for a moment. She has had her campaign funded by a late-term abortionist who, according to an investigation, has done late term abortions AFTER the 22nd week for "important" reasons such as the mother being "unable to play sports while pregnant" or "unable to go to the rodeo while pregnant," etc. These excuses do not fit within the state law that the governor is supposed to uphold.

Better yet, take a look at this video. You'll see how she allows filthy, disgusting conditions in abortion mills simply because the industry funds her campaigns. Repeatedly, Sebelius has vetoed bills which would have cleaned up dangerous conditions like this. She puts women's health and safety at risk for the sake of her campaign supporters. Now Obama will let her put the rest of America at risk...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUcuEjbzE-E

No religious test here. Sebelius is unfit for the position based on her horrific performance. Brownback, of all people, should know this, being that he comes from the same state and calls himself "pro-life." Brownback ought to be ashamed of himself.

Roundhead said...

Alan, when you described my generation as "people who demand all so that their lusts may be satisfied, their fragile egos comforted, and their self-indulgent intellectual fantasies indulged," you hit a very soft, sore truth spot in my cultural psyche. . . ouch.

You must therefore be wrong, not that I'm one to judge. I just think you should not pretend to be right about something that causes me discomfort.

See, I'm not claiming to be right, even though I could. That is the way you should be, so that we could all follow the lead of our Generation X prophet, Rodney King, and "get along."

I can see you hurt Steven too. He understands that he doesn't need your god in order to have a sense of right and wrong, which is why he knows better than to claim that he knows right from wrong.

Guys like him and me have realized that we are our own standards of truth, and that we aren't hurting people like you are, although I don't think you mean to.

Maybe you could keep in touch with us so we can show you how to embrace the universe without getting so tied down to sectarian absolutes.

chiu_chunling said...

While I don't have much respect for the intellectual pretensions of atheism (and find the anti-religious trend in public life literally diabolical), I do believe that making conservative arguments less sectarian is a worthy goal.

Let us never fear to state our own deeply held and cherished beliefs clearly, but also not mistake such clear belief for a common premise that will have persuasive power in a society that has already largely abandoned those beliefs.

I would merely leave the argument as follows. Abortion "rights" introduce a vast disparity in standing before the law between two classes of persons (adults and pre-natal children) on no other basis than the adults de facto superiority in physical development. If you do not have any moral inhibitions against abortion, then it is illogical to appeal to any philosophy of human equality for protection of your rights. You had best simply strive to ensure that you attain sufficient power in society to be one of the oppressors rather than one of the oppressed, seeing that you have already chosen a personal philosophy which sanctions the sacrifice of another's rights for the sake of your own convenience.

Atheists generally have very strong irrational motives for disbelieving in God. It is usually pointless to try and argue them out of it, though of course all benevolent persons have a duty to try and bring enlightenment to those in darkness. Let us maintain our efforts to spread the blessings of truth and light, but not thereby limit our efforts to resist the horrors of tyranny and oppression, which are the more immediate danger. A victory for truth is a victory for freedom, but do not let every effort to win freedom hinge on the battle to spread the Gospel.

Preserve liberty for all, and you may have decades to save men's souls. Lose the battle for liberty, and entire nations will be destroyed in unbelief.

JohnADavison said...

I agree with chiu chunling's message March 10, 4:20 PM and I presented a similar view some time ago below.

http://www.investigatingatheism.info/johnadavison.html

gilbertabrett said...

All of y'all can try to outsmart the latest philosophies of today's secular left, but I prefer to keep it simple. Jesus says if you deny HIM before man, HE WILL deny you before the Father.

Now try and argue and REASON that one out...

Abortion is murder and we know what murder is and that it is wrong because GOD told us.

All these $30,000 words are EXACTLY why a very small, probably close to illiterate, bunch of peaceful mohammedans were able to do what they did on 911.

If we keep thinking we are so smart and yet have no foundation for our intellect, we will be seeing this happen again.

PLEASE... save the ivy league rhetoric for the bright shiny obamaciples and those other great thinkers we KEEP ELECTING to run our government into the ground.

The last thing Christ told us before He went back into heaven was to what? Get your facts aligned with the WORD and then try to "enlighten" man...

JohnADavison said...

Christ said a couple of things depending on which source you choose.

"Forgive them father for they know not what they do" which supports Einstein's determinism which I share with my Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis and

"It is finished" which agrees with my conviction that evolution is no longer in progress, having reached its final goal with the appearance of Homo sapiens, probably the most recent and last mammal ever to appear.

jadavison.wordpress.com

chiu_chunling said...

I'm always puzzled by arguments of moral determinism. It seems to me impossible to believe something that dictates that there is no such thing as "belief", that is, a pattern of thought and action arising from a choice to treat something as truth. It seems to me that actual belief in anything, including determinism, requires some kind of freedom to choose on the part of the believer.

More to the point, I fail to see why a person who doesn't believe that freedom of thought and action is even theoretically possible for humans should have any interest in preserving (or, for that matter, destroying) freedom. Thus, it is impractical to consider the point of view of determinists when trying to build support for freedom. Nobody who could possibly care about freedom can seriously doubt that it even exists in the first place.

Fortunately, the vast majority of people do not believe in determinism. So treating the existance of moral freedom as axiomatic does not significantly limit the reach of an argument. Indeed, since there is no possible argument in favor of (or even about) freedom without a basic belief in the moral freedom of the individual, I would have to regard any consideration of determinist thought as a distraction.

My particular concern is arguments which take as axiomatic statements which, even if true, are not widely accepted. Many who strive for freedom do not believe that their freedom originates in God's will, nor that the purpose in the exercise of their own will is to become more truly God's children. Nevertheless, they are willing to strive for freedom. And they may be willing to oppose tyranny if they can be persuaded that it would lead to the endangerment of their own freedom.

I would not go to the baker and make his selling me bread dependent on his agreement that he has free will, even if Adam Smith claims that it is only because he has free will that he bakes bread. I do no see the point of asking all who seek freedom to agree with my own theory of why they want freedom, it is enough to instruct them on how to secure it for themselves.

Abortion "rights" erode the very cornerstone of every effort to publish freedom, the idea that mere possession of the power to oppress others does not confer the "right" to do so. That "might makes right" is the core argument of tyranny. There are other fundamental enemies of freedom (including the nihilistic viewpoint of moral determinism, which denies that individuals have any value whatsoever). But there is no need to give tyranny quarter until we can defeat all other enemies.

JohnADavison said...

I am not surprised that many reject Einstein's determinism, but scientific studies support his appraisal of the human condition. If we had free will, would such creatures as Richard Dawkins, P.Z. Myers and Christopher Hitchens even exist? They were predestined to be what they are - "born to lose" losers. The same can be said for B. Hussein Obama.

"Our actions should be based on the ever-present awareness that human beings in their thinking, feeling, and acting are not free but are just as causally bound as the stars in their motion."
Albert Einstein, Statement to the Spinoza Society of America, September 22, 1932.

JohnADavison said...

Of course it is not just "moral determinism" to which Einstein has referred -

"EVERYTHING is determined...by forces over which we have no control." My emphasis.

That includes "moral determinism" including he total lack thereof as exemplified by B. Hissein Obama.

chiu_chunling said...

"Our actions should be based on the ever-present awareness that human beings in their thinking, feeling, and acting are not free but are just as causally bound as the stars in their motion."

Something about this statement strikes me as inherently self-contradictory. How "should" our actions be based on awareness that we have no control over (nor moral responsibility for) our actions?

I do not argue against determinism. That would be pointless, since according to determinism I have no power to control what I believe (or think, or do) anyway. Nor am I unwilling to entertain the possibility that some humans may indeed lack free will. But there can be no point in acting (or thinking, or believing) like moral determinism is the case because, according to such a theory, I cannot choose whether or not I believe it anyway (indeed, the fact that I find it literally impossible to believe is the most significant evidence I have ever seen of this theory...an absurdity less paradoxical than any other argument I have ever encountered in its favor).

When an argument can be constructed in favor of moral determinism without taking individual moral agency as a fundamental premise, I may well change my mind (though, of course, that would destroy my only existing evidence of moral determinism).

JohnADavison said...

I admit to being a great admirer of Albert Einstein. The question I ask of those who do not agree with us is - who is the source for your convictions? Do you have one? Einstein rejected the idea of Free Will in favor of a lifelong determinism. I further believe that all of evolution was planned, goal directed and is now finished with the present biota.

These are of course only strongly held convictions based on what I see going on and not going on around me. That does not mean they are correct.

"A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable."

chiu_chunling said...

While it is true that I have sources for a positive conviction of the moral agency of man greater than my considerable respect for Einstein's intellect and accomplishments, I feel no need to appeal to them in rejecting moral determinism.

The simple fact that any statement of moral determinism requires that I reject as nonsensical any reference to myself as the grammatical subject of a statement structured around an active verb prevents me from being able to "believe" "accept" or "agree" with it. If "I" have no power of positive action, how can it be possible for me to take actions which do not even have a definite physical component? To believe a thing (as opposed to merely understanding it) is nothing more or less than an action of pure will. I can easily understand moral determinism, but to believe that it is true of myself, I must forsake the concept that I am able to believe it. That situation is logically untenable.

If moral determinism is the case, how can anyone "hold" a conviction, let alone hold it "strongly"?

Perhaps Descartes said it most simply. "Cogito, ergo sum." Any proposition which violates our intuition that we exist and think is literally unthinkable. Contrary to popular interpretation, this does not mean that we necessarily do exist, as it is possible that our fundamental intuition is utterly flawed, but if it is so flawed, then our thought has no meaning, and is not thought as such.

JohnADavison said...

Chiu Chunling

You win and I retire. I have better things to do with my remaining time than to attempt to reason with ideologues. I will however propose the following question. Do you, or anyone else for that matter, believe that Richard Dawkins, Paul Zachary Myers and Christipher Hitchens arrived at their rabid atheism through rational thought? Please do not answer this question here because this is not the proper venue for such matters. You are welcome to respond at my weblog -

jadavison.wordpress.com

MBarton said...

Hello Alan,

I live in IL. Now that it looks like we will once again have a Senate seat up for grabs, I urge you...no...I BEG you to please throw your hat into the ring. Our state desprately needs an articulate conservative voice like yours.

chiu_chunling said...

I am puzzled by the suggestion that the fact that men can choose to think irrationally ought be construed as disparaging the concept of moral agency.

But to answer the question simply, I know a great many people who profess a belief that the aforementioned persons did arrive at their atheism through "rational thought". I myself do not know any of these three personally to the degree necessary to speak to whether rational thought was involved in their atheism. But I don't discount the probability that they do engage in rational thoughts, even if those thoughts originate from counter-rational axioms and thus proceed to logically untenable conclusions.

I also fail to understand how a commentary on a site devoted to the concept of liberty could be an inappropriate venue for a discussion of the foundational principle that underlies all ideas about liberty, that is the free moral agency of man. An attack on such a fundamental axiom of liberty might be considered inappropriate by some lights, but my comments have not been intended to dismiss the existence of human free will. I only wished to point out that, not only is a belief in moral agency vital to any defense of the value of human liberty, it is also a logically consistent axiom when compared with the converse.

As for the question of Dr. Keyes' political prospects, I am of the opinion that his talents may be as well employed in educating the electorate of the entire nation to encourage the selection of political representatives devoted to the core principles of Constitutional government (that is, a republic (nation of laws) based on limited government under regular control by the democratic process). I do not mean to disparage the need of the people of Illinois for Senators of high moral character and intellectual attainment, but only to point out that there is a balancing need by the entire nation for men such as Dr. Keyes to bring about needed reform of the political system as a whole.

If we can inform democracy with correct principles of self-government, there should be no shortage of worthy Senators and Representatives from every state.

JohnADavison said...

The only point I was trying to make is that as far as we can determine scientifically and objectively, every aspect of the human condition has a congenital basis. The science to which I refer is the studies on separated monozygotic (identical) twins which were reunited as adults and interviewed after having been reared in often dramatically different cultural environments.

From William Wright's "Born That Way," page 40 -

"Bouchard would later insist that while he and his colleagues had fully expected to find traits with a high degree of heritibility, they also expected to find traits that had no genetic component. He was certian, he says, that they would find traits that proved to be purely environmental. They were astonished when they did not. While the degree of heritability varied widely - from the low thirties to the high seventies - EVERY TRAIT THEY MEASURED showed at least some degree of genetic influence. Many showed a lot."
Bold originally in italics.

I recommend "Born That Way" for every thinking citizen. It certainly helped me better to understand myself.

chiu_chunling said...

Oh. Well I never claimed that there was any aspect of the human condition that was not subject to the physical laws governing all matter.

But liberty isn't part of the human condition.

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