Saturday, April 4, 2009

Real Change-Rejecting the Politics of Submission

[This is a further installment of the series Real Change. For the previous post in the series visit Real Change-Replacing the Federal Reserve. To read the whole series from the beginning click on "Real Change" under Topics in the sidebar.]


Though for the time being we still maintain the institutional semblance of constitutional self-government, the United States no longer has a political process consistent with its survival. This isn't a matter of structural features (two-party vs. multiparty, proportional vs. winner-take-all representation, regional vs. group representation and so forth.) Rather it has to do with what we understand to be the purpose of politics; the nature of citizenship in light of that purpose; and the means and methods most likely to produce actions consonant with good citizenship.

As things stand today, the only purpose of politics is to get elected. In order to get elected, you must get more votes than your opponents. The most efficient way to achieve this result is to find out what people want to see and hear, then fabricate and project an image that corresponds to their desire. The electoral process has become an information exchange between self-centered hedonists and self-promoting liars: people willing to expose their selfish desires choose from a menu of fictional satisfactions offered by candidates pursuing their own selfish ambitions. On Election Day the electorate selects the candidate whose fabricated image most effectively seduced their self-serving judgment.

Prior to Election Day the focus of the political process is on the candidates. The term politics is therefore used to refer mainly to the activities undertaken by and on behalf of those competing for political office. Besides the candidates themselves, the people involved in politics, are the pollsters and analysts of opinion who figure out what the people want to see and hear; the media consultants whose work is to produce and project an image of the candidate that corresponds to their preferences; and the money people who gather from every possible source the funds needed to pay and equip the rest. But there are obviously two other groups of people who actively participate in the process: those who control access to the media, and those who control access to the money. They have become the only electorate that really matters, the praetorian guard, as it were, whose choice ultimately determines which candidates shall be lifted up for the adulation or opprobrium of the selfish rabble. I say they are the only electorate because the people who determine the choices actually determine the choice. This paradigm of politics therefore effectively abandons the idea of government of by and for the people. Instead we have government over the people, manipulated by the media, who are owned by money powers that therefore control both the process and its results.

For our present purposes two things are especially noteworthy in this political paradigm. The first is the essentially passive, and ultimately superfluous, role of the people as a whole; the second is the concentration of political activity in the hands of a relatively small group of elite participants who in effect become the only real citizens. This paradigm represents the end of the democratic era in human affairs, and a return to the oligarchic rule (using those words to refer to government by the few, but with the usual implication of power in the hands of the wealthy) characteristic of societies before the institution of the American republic. As long as this oligarchic paradigm predominates, the American experiment is suspended. Once the paradigm has been consolidated, it will be over and done.

If this analysis of our present political process is accurate it means that as far as truly representative government is concerned American politics has become an imaginary exercise. Candidates for office have essentially been degraded into mere images. The final choice made by the people is also imaginary, since they select from alternatives predetermined by an exclusively elite process in which they play no active role. The aim of the imaginary process is to determine which representatives of the elite powers project an image more likely to mollify people, and make them less resistant to the will of those who in fact now exercise sovereign control. Though imaginary in its outward form and content, the process therefore aims at a very real advantage. It is less expensive (both in material and emotional terms) to control a people induced to vent its frustrations and ambitions in what amounts to a virtual reality. Such virtual politics adds the finishing touch to the welter of preoccupations and distractions offered by technological toys and sexual hedonism (keeping in mind, of course, that much of that is also virtually enacted, through internet pornography, and such vicarious satisfactions as following the antics of "stars" in the entertainment and information media.)

At the moment, this imaginary political process appears to serve the goal of establishing a system of global governance that will ultimately eliminate the need for the charade of representative institutions (or at least make it entirely optional.) From the oligarchic point of view, the advantage of such a global system lies in the concentration of sufficient power in the hands of a global elite to deter, co-opt or suppress opposition. This requires that a background network of globally minded elites becomes, in effect, the last remaining superpower, with no lesser power capable of standing alone against it. The American union has the wherewithal to be a lasting superpower, but on a national basis incompatible with the globalist principle of the New World Order. Therefore, the continued existence of the United States is an obstacle which must be removed by reducing the power and destroying the unity of the nation.

Whatever his rhetoric, the policies being pursued by Barack Obama are intended to achieve this deflation of the relative power and cohesion of the United States.

His critics have been quick to see the destructive implications of his agenda, especially in the economic realm. But few if any have seen, or at any rate been willing to articulate, the purposeful intention behind it. The two party system effectually dampens any inclination toward such candor, since it represents an imaginary (or virtual) opposition of elements with no more real difference between them than two heads on the same body, or two eyes in the same head. However different they look, they move together and in the same direction. Though Democrats pretend to care deeply about the welfare of the people, Democrat policies increase the power of controlling elites with little net benefit for the people at large. Though Republicans pretend to care deeply about the liberty and opportunity available to individuals, their policies tend to increase the freedom of controlling elites, with little net benefit for individual liberty on the whole. The telltale sign of the agenda common to both parties is their actual indifference or hostility to the effects of programs and policies on the characteristics that are the essential bases of the people's ability to think and act for themselves: self-discipline, self-sufficiency and self-government.

Self-discipline clearly depends on the formation and encouragement of certain moral characteristics. Self-sufficiency requires economic approaches that preserve and enhance opportunities for individual income and wealth creation. Self-government demands political processes that depend on, and respond to individual initiative in the development and mobilization of representative political networks. Clearly these three components of self-government are interdependent. Unless they control material resources that exceed the bare necessities of life, individuals are unlikely to show much political enterprise. Without a sense of their own worth, and the significance of their own abilities and actions, people are unlikely to see or take advantage of economic opportunity. Even when they do, without a sense of responsibility for the management of their impulses and passions, they are unlikely to focus on and sustain effective action long enough to produce results. Finally, without the self-confidence and courage that arises from the sense of personal responsibility, individuals become the passive subjects of the actions and intentions of others, incapable of the initiatives required 0f true citizens.

In their different ways, both the Democrat and Republican parties advance policies that promote mentalities and ways of life that directly attack or persistently erode one or another of these components of republican citizenship. The Democrats consistently champion undisciplined sexual lust. The Republicans routinely cater to the lust for money and material goods. Both alike agree to serve as masks for the unbridled lust for power. In the more general sense of the term, therefore, lust is the whole purpose of the political system they comprise. It represents the implementation of an Hobbesian vision of human nature as an endless effort to satisfy unquenchable desire, a tyranny of domineering passions, in which the appearance of choice simply registers the prevalent passion of the moment. But Thomas Hobbes reasoned logically to the conclusion that absolute despotism is the political system that corresponds to this vision. He would not be at all surprised to see that both major Parties to the politics of lust tacitly agree on a path that leads humanity under the yoke of global tyranny.

The American republic was not founded upon a simply Hobbesian concept of human nature. The American founders acted on an understanding (profoundly influenced by Christian and Biblical precepts) that saw natural right, rather than passion, as the ruler or measuring rod of choice. This different conception of nature leads to a different conception of choice. Rather than arising from the welter of competing passions, it reflects the possibility of deliberation, the process whereby one consciously chooses which passions shall be constrained, and to what degree. But such deliberation assumes a standpoint not subject to passionate forces, an eye in the storm of passion, free in some sense from its prevailing winds because it represents the point of origin from which passion itself derives substance, force and meaning. In the understanding articulated in the American Declaration of Independence, this is the standpoint of the Creator. The concept of right arising from the authority of the Creator assumes that this original position represents more than the sheer force of real existence. It represents an intention, an inwardly formed purpose that foresees, and at every moment constitutes, the destination of existing things. The assertion of right represents the presence of this intention in action, along with just the force needed to carry it out. From this juxtaposition of intention and forcefulness arises a concept of justice that supplies the reason for constraining and ordering the passions, a reason that looks beyond the prevalent disposition of passion itself.

It may accurately be said that the people most responsible for the American founding were obsessed with justice. They saw it as the overriding purpose of political life, to which the freeways of passion would ultimately be forced to submit. But if, by deliberation, people recognize and submit to its requirements, their freedom of choice becomes the basis for government, rather than forced submission. The extent and degree of their self-determination with respect to the requirements of justice establishes the extent of individual freedom in their society. In this respect, the more good individuals are willing to do of their own volition, the less the force of government will be called upon to do for them. Conversely, the less justice they reflect in their individual choices, the more the force of government will be called upon to dictate and impose upon their actions. Freedom depends on individual responsibility.

The politics of lust (using the term in its general sense, as we have in this essay) represents the complete abandonment of this responsibility. Because we have accepted it, our freedom is being overthrown. If we wish to save and restore our freedom, we must become, like America's founders, partisans of justice; people willing to answer in word and deed for the right use of freedom in our own lives and the life of our nation. But we cannot restore the concern for right if we abandon the standpoint from which the concept of right arises: the standpoint of the Creator and of respect for the authority implied by His intention for our lives. This is the true fault line along which shall be determined the fate of American liberty. On one side move the forces that reject the premise of the Creator's will. On the other those firmly committed to its defense. And in between, so many who shift to and fro between the false promises of unbridled passion and the common sense of justice that inclines them toward the path of responsibility and true liberty. Though the partisans of justice cannot pander to the falsehoods, we can do our best to make clear the solid happiness that can only be achieved through liberty. This is the practical challenge that our derelict elites have brushed aside, but which those who are loyal to liberty must be ready to address. To see their work in progress, visit AIPnews.com. Then look for my further description of the real change they are working for in the next installment of this series, Real Change- Restoring the Politics of Justice.

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

43 comments:

The Silent Consensus said...

If by Creator you mean the Christian God, then yes, I do reject it. Our country was founded on the freedom to be Christian (and other religions), not on being Christian. If by Creator you mean the God of Nature, then I don't reject it.

Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

It does not say "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of Christianity, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." It applies to all religions, including but not limited to Christianity

I know you have often said that this prohibits government imposition on religion, not the other way around. I hate to say it, but you can't have one without the other. If we are making laws with one faith as the basis, we are imposing on those whose faith says otherwise. Only 2 of the 10 Commandments are laws: don't kill, and don't steal. If someone needs faith (which by definition, is devoid of logic and reason) to argue why those things are wrong and should be illegal, then someone has a problem.

Even abortion, one does not need faith to argue that it's wrong. I happen to disagree on the issue, but that's irrelevant.

Article VI Section 3: "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States"

This whole imposition of Christianity by government, the PATRIOT Act, Military Commissions Act, and the Kelo decision make me realize our founders had it absolutely right to include the 2nd Amendment.

chiu_chunling said...

Have you even read the the Ten Commandments, let alone the rest of the Bible?

The only commandment that is not a law in the ordinary sense is the commandment against coveting thy neighbor's possessions. All the rest are laws.

As for which commandments are enshrined in the practice of American law, I'm afraid that none of them still retain that honor, including the prohibitions on theft and murder. Your bizarre notion that Christianity is somehow being imposed by the government is so unspeakably self-revelatory, that I don't quite know what to say about it.

The fact of the matter is that a predominantly Christian nation is the only place where religious freedom can ever have real force, because it is the Christian viewpoint alone that gives a rational for respecting the freedom of religious conscience above any possible interest of the state. While not all nominally Christian governments have respected the right of conscience, no other widely accepted worldview provides a motive to even create such a right, let alone preserve it.

Secularism certainly provides no reason to respect religious belief, as Silent Consensus demonstrates with fair frequency.

Moving back to the subject; self-discipline, self-sufficiency and self-government all share a common prerequisite. The people generally and individually must be awakened to a conscious awareness of their selves. To believe that each individual is more than merely a transient shape of flesh and blood, that there is an eternal component which is capable of free choice.

Logically, this does imply the existence of a Supreme Being, an eternal entity of such freedom and power as to be called God. It is not logically necessary to believe that this being would carry out a program which characterizes the Christ narrative, though the historic and internal evidence supports such an idea.

However, though the belief in the eternal nature of the self logically dictates a belief in some Supreme Being, I would argue that this concept in itself is not the critical factor in promoting self-discipline, self-sufficiency and self-government. I would argue for a teleological view of one's own eternal destiny as being the critical element in sustaining those positive, liberating principles that arise from the self. It is certain that the idea of eternal destiny taught by the Christian faiths is a primary example of the kind of self-teleology which promotes a desire to exercise the principles of self-discipline, self-sufficiency and self-government, but this idea is logically independent of external evidences, hence it can exist without definite reference to Christian beliefs.

It is true that religious beliefs are generally important in shaping and developing a concept of the eternal destiny of one's self. The Christian view that the will of God is for His children to receive an eternal reward is a powerful tool to create the teleological self-concept which can foster liberty. But let us not forget that this view was intended as a truth, rather than a tool. It must therefore be offered to the developing self, rather than wielded upon it.

The concepts of liberty are strengthened and supported by our belief in a loving God, but the foundation of all rights is in our belief in our own eternal nature and destiny. This is the true strength of liberty, for which all men strive no matter what the blandishments or oppression of their would be masters. What Descartes named in his famous statement, "cogito ergo sum", makes belief in the self innate to all thinking individuals. Whatever tools tyrants may contrive to drive out conscious belief in God, they can never destroy that foundational sentient intuition.

Certainly we must not relinquish our more developed beliefs without the fiercest struggle. Nor should we hesitate to rely on them in the struggle for freedom and liberty. But be steadfast in the knowledge that no power can ever abolish the eternal seed of hope contained in the consciousness of one's own existence. The princes of this world do indeed make their plots, but they will inevitably fail, not just because they have denied God, but because they have denied their own selves along with the selves of those they would enslave.

University of Oregon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Silent Consensus said...

Chiu,
I have read the 10 Commandments many times, and only those two are laws. I didn't think I'd have to go over them, but I do:

1. Have no Gods before me (and do not bow to idols): Not a law
2. Don't use God's name in vain: Not a law
3. Keep the Sabbath holy: Not a law
4. Honor your father and mother: Not a law
5. Do not murder: Law
6. Do not commit adultery: Not a law
7. Do not steal: Law
8. Do not bear false witnesses: Arguably a law
9. Do not be jealous of your neighbor: Not a law
10. Do not have sex with your neighbor's wife: Not a law

As for secularism, I'm sorry, but if you think my questioning people's faith means I don't respect it, you're mistaken. If you think my pointing out that faith is devoid of reason and logic means I don't respect it, you're mistaken.

And, the notion that the Christian viewpoint is the only one that mandates respect for other religious views, simply not true. Are you saying Judaism doesn't? Are you saying belief in natural rights doesn't?

And no, God isn't logical. The law of identity states that everything is what is, nothing more. Nothing is infinite according to the law of identity. If God created the universe, what did He create it out of? You can't create something out of nothing. As I have said many times, I believe in God, but have no logical basis for it. It's simply faith.

Lastly, we absolutely do have an imposition of Christianity. We wouldn't even be having a debate about equal rights for homosexuals if not for religion. You can argue we wouldn't have marriage either, and you might be right, but I don't support a legal definition of marriage anyway. Marriage should be left to civil society and government should recognize all domestic partnerships as civil unions. We do have an imposition of Christianity in pushing Creationism (sorry, Intelligent Design) into public school SCIENCE classes. Not teaching it as religion, but going even further in making it out to be SCIENCE when it's not. We did have an imposition of Christianity when we had organized prayer in public schools.

To say people need religion to be self-disciplined, self-sufficient, and self-controlled is to say they need to suspend logic an reason to be those things. I simply cannot accept such a premise

The Silent Consensus said...

Here's another thing to realize about analytical people that almost only analytical people understand about themselves: We don't challenge other people to prove and show the truth in what they are saying so we can destroy their ideas, we do it because we want their ideas to be sound.

Joe said...

Mr. Keyes,

Will you be going to one of the Tea Parties?

In order to wake up America, a TV Channel will have to be created or at a minimum, you will have to go on radio.

The internet is ok, but it does not appear to be a good place to get people together--too many options on the internet.

I believe something huge would have to happen before ordinary citizens get involved. Like their electricity cut off or something. It would have to be something that effects many many people.

Tim Daniel said...

Mr. Keyes, you are a voice of urgent reason, a canary in the coal mine, is it too late for the US? I hope not, please keep speaking up, you are a gift from God.....

chiu_chunling said...

Silent Consensus, what do you mean when you say "law"? I'm really very curious at this point.

As for your oft repeated contention that faith is devoid of reason and logic, and thus religion requires suspension of rational thought, that is just your premise. Nor is it a good one.

Logic, and thus reason, depend absolutely upon faith. If we do not believe, prior to any evidence, that logic exists and can be apprehended by our minds, we have no basis for reason. This is called a leap of...faith. Any train of reasoning, once built, could be blown away like chaff by entertaining doubt as to the validity of our mental processes. Thus, in holding onto rationality, we must hold...faith.

It is true that faith can precede reason, otherwise we could not reason because one must have faith in logic before one can reason. Further we must hold faith in logic while we continue to reason, because it is a mathematical fact that we cannot use logic to prove logic valid.

Thus the fact that faith can exist prior to reason, and remains independent of it, does not imply that faith is devoid of logic and reason. If logic and reason are to exist at all, they must exist in the context of faith, hence faith cannot be devoid of logic and reason unless logic and reason do not exist in the first place.

Which is possible, since it is fundamentally impossible to prove that logic and reason are valid. But I choose to have faith that logic and reason exist and are valid.

As for your Christophobia, I think that the less we discuss that the better for all concerned.

On the subject of something huge...how about the morning where everybody realizes that dollars are just colored paper? That is coming, and it can't be stopped at this point. The aftermath of this April 15 could well signal to the rest of the world that the United States government has no hope of even pretending to pay its debts, and the resulting dumping of hundreds of trillions in assets will render the dollar worth less than toilet paper.

I have...accepted this. I would favor a less ignominious end to America's dominance, but I do not hold any suasion over that decision. But yes, the citizens are going to wake up.

HistoryWriter said...

Dr. Keyes writes: "The electoral process has become an information exchange between self-centered hedonists and self-promoting liars: people willing to expose their selfish desires choose from a menu of fictional satisfactions offered by candidates pursuing their own selfish ambitions. On Election Day the electorate selects the candidate whose fabricated image most effectively seduced their self-serving judgment."

But if that's the case, why does he continue to run for office? "Thine own words condemn thee."

Alan Keyes said...

History writer:
My words condemn no one. They simply describe the paradigm others have created. As citizens we need not accept what they have done, and I never have. There is a right understanding of citizenship, and anyone who wishes to do so can act in accordance with it. The hope for this country lies in the fact that many good people don't want this corruption of our liberty. As more and more of them realize that their good intentions are simply being exploited, they will join together to build a political movement that better reflects those good intentions. That at least is my prayer and hope, and it will be the subject of the next installment in this series.
No matter what bad leaders do, good people should never give up and surrender our politics to them. We may run and seem to lose a thousand thousand times, but each time we do so with integrity, we win the only victory that matters. The problem with folks like you is that you see politics as they want you to see it, and therefore speak almost contemptuously of "running for office" rather understanding that someone who tries to rally people to ideas and policies that he believes are right simply acts as any good citizen should act. He does his duty as a good citizen. The word "office" by the way comes from a Latin root that simply meant "duty". The word "politics" comes from a Greek root that meant of or relating to the citizen. "Political office" therefore refers at its root to the duty of the citizen. If good people run away from the duties of citizenship, what kind of people will end up determining the fate of their nation's political life?

The Silent Consensus said...

Chiu,

1. By "law" I'm talking about legally.
2. Faith, by definition, is devoid of logic and reason

American Heritage:

1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
4. often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.
5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
6. A set of principles or beliefs.

I highlight one of them to make it crystal clear, but all of those definitions require a suspension of logic and reason. Religion is blind belief unsupported by or contrary to facts and/or reason.

We don't need faith in logic and reason. If we did, you are essentially saying we need to suspend logic and reason to believe in logic and reason, and that logic can't prove logic's existence and reason can't prove reason's existence. Simply not true. I see the same argument when people say "Evolution requires faith," no it doesn't, for the same reason. If Evolution was disproven (and it can be disproven, such as finding a nonchanging fossil record, rabbit fossils in the Precambrian age, the existence of centaurs or other organisms with combined parts of several organisms, a mechanism that prevents mutation from occurring, witnessing species being created, and more), every scientist who now believes in Evolution would accept their having been wrong, or if they don't, they're not really scientists because one of the fundamental parts of science is open to being modified and disproven.

Darwin said it himself, "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down"

The same basics are true with logic and reason. They do not require faith to believe. If a hole is accurately poked in one's reason or logic then reason an logic dictate a change in belief. If they do not change their belief after a hole has accurately been poked, then they are employing faith.

We have evidence before conclusion, as is present in science, logic, and reason, and we have conclusion without evidence, as is present in faith.

HistoryWriter said...

chiu chunling writes of Silent Consensus: "As for your oft repeated contention that faith is devoid of reason and logic, and thus religion requires suspension of rational thought, that is just your premise. Nor is it a good one."

I respectfully disagree. I believe there may be a linguistic misunderstanding. When used in the narrower sense of, say, "the Catholic faith" it pertains to a system of belief which, in my opinion, is highly developed, reasonable and logical. However, Silent Consensus is referring to the broader understanding of the term "faith," whose common usage denotes acceptance of a belief that is unsubstantiated by proof (e.g., that there exists a deity who is personally involved in our lives, or that Jesus was God incarnate). The latter type of "faith" is generally the basis of the former.

HistoryWriter said...

Thanks, Dr. Keyes, for your clarification. I admire your principles, but I fear you may be banging your head against a VERY thick stone wall. Unfortunately, the history of American politics doesn't give one much hope for the future. It's been a dirty business as far back as when Hamilton and Burr shot it out in Weehawken. The use of advertising agencies and 10-second sound bites to reduce complex issues to slogans has only made it worse. And the Internet --- well, as nice as it may be conceptually that "Everyman" now has a world-wide soap box from which to declaim an opinion on just about everything, more often than not those opinions show an abysmal lack of both grammar and reason.

Changing the subject, I have always been amazed that a reasonable person would spend tens of millions of dollars to be elected to an office whose remuneration is only a small fraction of the expense. Why? Because public service is right? Or because, as in Rome, political office is sought mainly as a means of getting rich while exercising power? I hate to sound overly pessimistic, but I think the latter has been the case here in America from the get-go. "Change we can believe in"? I hope so; but I'm not holding my breath.

Terry Morris said...

Silent Consensus, what do you mean when you say "law"? I'm really very curious at this point.

Seconded. Given SC's distinction above between laws and non-laws (with regard specifically to the six commandments contained on the second table of the Decalogue, or man's duty to his fellow man), I'm admittedly utterly confused as to what requirements Silent Consensus is applying in order to make the distinction. In other words, what are the criteria Silent Consensus applies in each case for determining whether the provision is a law or a non-law?

Terry Morris said...

1. By "law" I'm talking about legally.

You don't think prohibitions of adultery are codified in the laws of society?

The Silent Consensus said...

No. Otherwise Bill Clinton could have been impeached with no dispute

The Silent Consensus said...

But, even if you were right, my point remains that the 10 Commandments are not law in America

WingletDriver said...

Dr. Keyes,

Do you find it curious that previous totalitarian states typically came to power first, then took control of the media? Conversely, it seem that in the US, the media was first controlled by an unyielding worldview to exert its power over the governed?

I often think of how the USSR used Pravda and academia to perpetuate its power once the dominant party (Bolsheviks) emerged. The Soviet experience was a series of bloody excursions to establish a single party rule followed by one "cleansing" after another. We seem to have surrendered our liberty without a fight because we've seen generations brainwashed and left without the reasoning tools to defend our heritage.

Even stranger, we seem to have adopted a Tyranny of the Minority out of good manners so as not to be called a tyranny of the majority. Most Americans are Christians who are very willing to abandon Christian sense so as not to offend secularists. Secularism, though, is a "faith" that offers no quarter to competing power.

A Christianity that is not evangelical (i.e., one that is only inwardly oriented) is counter to authentic Christianity. This surrender of our mission and our voice in the public square has led to a false notion that secular humanism is the basis of a republic. As Hobbes rightly pointed out, this path, which we are sadly on, only leads to totalitarianism and a domination of State over Church, rather than a healthy separation.

Terry Morris said...

Silent Consensus wrote:

But, even if you were right, my point remains that the 10 Commandments are not law in America.

Okay, notwithstanding your initial response concerning Clinton's infidelity and how it relates to his impeachment (Clinton was impeached, by the way), which is a bit confusing too, the above quoted reply is the explanation I was looking for. I suspected this might be your position, but I couldn't be sure because your manner of expression was confusing to me.

What you're saying is that if there's no provision in "federal" law prohibiting adultery, then adulterous behavior is lawful under the United States. What you're neglecting or dismissing is that various states do have laws prohibiting adultery, just as thirty three states also have laws prohibiting same-sex "marriage," defining the term marriage to be between one man and one woman. These laws may not be strictly enforced, but that doesn't take away from the fact that they remain on the books thus adultery is unlawful in these states. And last I checked all of these states were still part of America.

So, yes, adultery is unlawful in America. If your original point was that the ten commandments, as such, are not law in America, then why didn't you just express it that way?

chiu_chunling said...

Silent Consensus (et al), I already pointed out that faith doesn't depend on logical proof or material evidence. But obviously confident belief in the truth (or validity) of logic and material evidence must depend on faith. Just as even a cursory understanding of the dictionary definition you used would indicate to any person of intelligence.

You need faith in reason to reason effectively. You obviously lack faith, which is why your reasoning is so defective.

As for the Ten commandments, all of them (excepting the commandment against covetousness) have been law in America, the fact that none of them are law anymore (particularly not those against theft and murder, given Clinton) does not provide any material evidence as to whether or not they should be. It makes a particularly poor argument for one who is intent on changing the law, at least from a logical perspective.

The totalitarians have already been in power for a long time already, the fact that you do not realize this is merely proof of how totally they control your media. But even on that basis it is a mistake to think that totalitarians usually come to power without first gaining control over the means of mass communications.

It is true that Christianity is inherently evangelical, and thus implicitly requires religious freedom offered to others. To spread Christian ideas by means of compulsion destroys the evangelical mission, and thus destroys the practice of Christianity at a basic level. This is why it is Christians, rather than members of any other religion, who devised the notion of an explicit right to religious freedom guaranteed by the law.

No other significant worldview implicitly values religious freedom, because for all other major religions and philosophies it simply doesn't matter why everyone follows a belief system.

Many Christians have forgotten that their faith is the only one which actually cares about the religious freedom of others, and so have acquiesced as those who do not value the right of conscience have set themselves up as the guardians of religious liberty. Only that Christian who has experienced the joy of extending the sincerely accepted invitation to come unto Christ really understands how precious a thing it is for all to believe freely. Furthermore, it is only Christianity which genuinely disdains the silent hypocrisy of insincere belief.

This is an unfortunate fact, but facts do not become less true merely because they are unpleasant. If we are to maintain religious freedom it must be guarded by those who have a genuine reason to assign it intrinsic value. Those who regard it as a temporary tool for the eventual domination of their own values must never be trusted to keep it safe.

The Silent Consensus said...

Chiu,
I can't agree with your last paragraph more, but the notion that the Bible is therefore the law of the land in America doesn't add up. I don't dispute that some Biblical principles are law in America, but the Bible itself is not law. The Bible is not even organic law in the United States. Many things in the Bible would not be acceptable, such as slavery and stoning people to death who work on the Sabbath. And don't try saying that's the Old, not New, Testament. If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, then He doesn't change. He is no more or less knowledgeable or valid now than He was all those years ago.

Other views do include religious freedom, such as the belief in natural rights. It does not require Christianity, but regardless, the entire Bible is not the law of the land, and nothing is law just because the Bible says it.

And, no. Belief in reality an perception does not require faith. Belief in nonreality and nonperception requires faith. The truth doesn't need any suspension of logic or reason to be believed, it's just there.

Terry,
Same-sex marriage is not illegal in the sense that you will get arrested or fined for performing it. It's illegal in the sense that the state won't recognize it.

And I did say the 10 Commandments are not law, that was my main point

chiu_chunling said...

The Ten Commandments are not the current law of America. This is entirely different from them not being law in their own right. I really have trouble telling sometimes whether your thought is just that sloppy or you're being intentionally obfuscatory. I suspect both, you cultivate sloppy reasoning because rigorous thought can't be used to defend your positions.

The natural rights view was originally based on the Christian concept of God, this is a simple historical fact. Furthermore, insofar as it has been detached from Christian thought in latter times, it has become far less interested in defending the freedom of conscience and more interested in promoting whichever non-Christian viewpoint argues using it.

You're the one that brought up that dictionary definition, if you didn't like the implications of faith being "Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing", then you shouldn't have brought it up. We absolutely need to make a leap of faith to believe in the validity of the senses, there are thousands of years of philosophical debate on the subject, which you might have known if you were remotely as well-educated as you like to pretend. Likewise, it was demonstrated as a mathematical proof that logic cannot be proved using logic (when you put it that simply it seems kinda obvious, doesn't it?).

We can impulsively act on perceptions and intuitions without reflection on whether or not perceptions and intuitions constitute "truth". But if we examine our perceptions and intuitions rigorously to determine whether or not they can be trusted, we find that we have to take them on faith, because they cannot be proved valid.

The Silent Consensus said...

Chiu,
Again, notice you are the only one who has engaged in character attacks and appeals to emotion.

Even if we have to have faith for logic and reason, that does not mean faith consists of logic and reason. It doesn't. It doesn't even mean logic and reason contain faith. It just means that in order to believe logic, one would have to have faith. Completely irrelevant to any point I am making and a distraction

The conclusions we draw from logic and reason require no faith at all, again, by definition. If the conclusions we draw from logic and reason require suspension of logic and reason, then we didn't really derive them from logic and reason. And if your point is that any conclusion come from any source requires faith, then I don't know what significance faith would play in logic and reason in comparison.

And if you're point is that because part of our heritage comes from the Bible, we must make the Bible the law of the land, it doesn't add up. Parts of the Magna Carta are in our system of government as well, doesn't mean the Magna Carta is the law of the land here either. And I can think of at least one thing in the Magna Carta that isn't law here. We are going down a dangerous road if anything we've taken a principle from for the law here requires we take everything from the source and make it the law.

In all: faith does not rely on logical proof or material evidence.

Terry Morris said...

Same-sex marriage is not illegal in the sense that you will get arrested or fined for performing it. It's illegal in the sense that the state won't recognize it.

So you're suggesting that in order for a law (any law) to be of any force or validity, that it must involve the direct imposition of fines or imprisonment on violators thereof?

Let's take state immigration laws as an example: The fact that my state, Oklahoma, has imposed a law prohibiting illegal immigration in this state, yet the law does not aggressively seek to impose fines or imprisonment on the violators thereof means to you that the law is invalid?

I'm not trying to be smart, I'm simply trying to understand your position.

HistoryWriter said...

Chiu writes: "The natural rights view was originally based on the Christian concept of God, this is a simple historical fact."

That may be LITERALLY true; however, the natural rights view that underlies American government is based on the understanding of natural law by DEISTS, and not by doctrinaire Christians.

chiu_chunling said...

You guys need to read more. And try thinking a bit too.

Here we have one still saying that its impossible for faith and reason to coexist, despite admitting that reason can't exist without faith, and the other saying that just because a historical fact happens to be literally true that doesn't mean anything.

I'm not a doctrinaire Christian either, for that matter. Nor a deist, believing on the evidence of reason and nature only, while rejecting supernatural revelation. But while I find the definition of deism incoherent (since I recognize reason itself as being of supernatural origin), Christian Deists do still believe all the important doctrines of Christianity on the natural evidence that Christ taught such doctrines and was divine.

The original point of deism was that Christianity wasn't a matter of suspending your reason and having faith in what priests said, but of having faith in the evidence and your own reason sufficient to think through the implications of both. It wasn't about introducing significant changes to doctrine but stripping away worldly accretions like the divine right of kings or sales of indulgences. The reform movements in Catholicism have been heavily informed by the same intellectual approach, though they don't call it Deism.

I find such an approach limited, but at least I understand the process. Unlike some who throw the term "DEISTS" around.

The Silent Consensus said...

Terry,
Thank you for your civility. To better answer your question, nothing is illegal about performing marriage between two people of the same sex. The state is just not allowed to recognize it. With immigration, what they are doing is against the law, but the state chooses not to enforce it. That's a difference. I happen to be for marriage equality, but that's irrelevant

Chiu,
How many more words are you putting in my mouth? I never said it's impossible for them to coexist. They coexist now, I'm just saying they aren't intertwined. Even if they were, it's irrelevant for reasons I said above

Christ also taught by example sacrificing yourself for the sins of other people. He died on the cross not for his sins, but for the sins of everybody else. Sacrificing virtue for vice. Someone of virtue was sacrificed for people of vice, and the people of vice are expected to accept that sacrifice. That does not make any sense to me. We don't build a better society forcing people to sacrifice their virtue for others' vice.

Do not think for a second that I am saying compassion is a bad thing. It isn't. We just have 2 kinds of compassion: compassion for the victims, and compassion for the perpetrators. Compassion for the victims is one thing, but compassion for the perpetrators is treason to the victims. We should have compassion for and help those who are less fortunate, but shouldn't sacrifice virtue for vice.

chiu_chunling said...

The fact that it doesn't make sense to you doesn't matter, the evidence that it happened and worked is pretty conclusive. I'm sure that there are a great many modern technologies that make use of principles that you don't understand. Your inability to understand how something works in no way prevents it from working, nor should it blind you to the fact that it works, regardless of your lack of understanding concerning its operating principles.

The fact of the matter is that Christ recognized that we, despite being defective in sentience, were not fully responsible for our limitations. He chose a method to enable us to progress towards greater knowledge and freedom by overcoming what we simply could not overcome on our own. Most obviously physical death, by dying He put Himself in a position to accomplish the resurrection. Even that is beyond the understanding of humans. Yet it clearly happened.

But enough of that. Before we try to convert people to Christianity, we should encourage them to think. A genuine faith in reason will lead to Christ, by and by, and reason is useful for many other tasks required for the provision of liberty.

If Silent Consensus gave some kind of reasoning above, I surely missed it. Exactly how does it not matter that reason and faith can (and must) coexist when you've been arguing that having faith excludes the possibility of reason?

I have no problem with using the discussion of Christianity as food for thought, but we were originally talking about principles of government.

On the question of enforcement. A law which is not enforced is nothing more than an abjuration. There is nothing wrong with abjurations, but let us not think them laws, lest we destroy the basis of laws. We have too many laws which are nothing more than ill-thought suggestions, too many laws have devolved into paper fences. To preserve the principles of law, all laws must be enforced, nothing that cannot or will not be enforced ought to be made law.

A person representing themselves as having the legal rights appertaining to marriage, who is not actually married, is committing fraud and this should be punished. Someone who tries to get custody of a child or exact spousal benefits on the basis of a fictitious marriage is not excused simply because the "marriage" in question would obviously have been ludicrous. If I claim to be married to Queen Ann of Scots, I may only be joking, but when I try to assume ownership of Buckingham Palace on that assertion I ought to be found guilty of a crime. Yes, it's silly that the law should be involved, but if I rob a liquor store by threatening to urinate on a cat I'm still robbing a liquor store.

As the situation stands, judges are not punishing homosexuals for making outrageous (and false) claims to legal privileges based on their supposed marriages, and this is causing problems for law-abiding Americans. It also causes problems for the rule of law, which is the foundation of political and economic liberty.

Would it be better to redefine marriage as including homosexual unions? Fortunately (for all concerned) such a law would be truly unenforceable (not merely deliberately unenforced). The end result would necessitate removing all legal mechanisms regarding marriage from the law (which is of course what homosexuals really want, the destruction of all legal protections of the family).

The Silent Consensus said...

Chiu,
I don't want to be converted to Christianity. I'm quite happy being in the Reform sect of Judaism.

Exactly how does it not matter that reason and faith can (and must) coexist when you've been arguing that having faith excludes the possibility of reason?

For once I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are simply confused. I never said that people of faith are inherently devoid of reason. I said that faith is inherently devoid of reason. Some people have faith in terms of Heaven, but believe facts, reason, and logic should be resorted to for Earth. Andrew Sullivan is a good example of it. If you believe something based on faith, you do not believe it based on reason. Faith and reason coexist, but are opposites. Reason cannot be faith, and faith cannot be reason. That's my only point

Watch Bill Maher vs. Andrew Sullivan here on this very issue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZzZr32yodw. I was completely on Andrew Sullivan's side

And to clarify, I didn't say anything about legally representing themselves as married. They are allowed to have a ceremony and consider themselves married, they just don't have the backing by the state, and yes, claiming they do is fraud but that's a different issue. I happen to be in favor of marriage equality, and unless you have proof that homosexuals want to destroy legal protections of the family, you've proven yourself to be a bigot.

But, I'll defend your right to that bigotry if you have it. Just don't force it on everybody else

The Silent Consensus said...

Here's a better video of it. Skip to 6:50 for the clashing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snvUA_smXwo

chiu_chunling said...

The proofs that homosexual activists wish to destroy the institution marriage are too numerous to enumerate, but the one that concerns us now is the redefinition of "marriage" to ignore the core function of marriage, enabling men and women to cooperate in the raising of families. Marriage as recognized by nearly all human cultures exists for this purpose, whatever the other particulars, it is a way for men and women to work together. Same-sex "marriage" is a way to abolish this core function of the institution. And the uses to which the legal theory has been put demonstrate this even were there some theoretical justification for idea.

Faith carries out a different function than reason, in that it allows us to believe things rather than merely hypothesize them. Belief can never be based on reason alone, because we must have faith in the validity of reason not only to reason effectively but to believe the results of reason where they contradict irrational impulses. This doesn't mean that faith is inherently devoid of reason, only that it does not require reason as a prerequisite. Your persistent inability to understand this indicates that you do not have faith in reason, which I have observed in your tendency to abandon logical thought the moment it trends towards a conclusion you do not like.

I admit to some envy here. I must believe a great many things which I find very inconvenient or unpleasant, because I have faith in reason and its results. But, rejecting envy of your intellectual complacency, I must choose faith in reason to preserve my sentience, without which I cannot enjoy (in the philosophical sense) my existence.

I find your contention that disputing the validity of a life-style choice constitutes bigotry revealing. What definition of the word "bigotry" which could apply the term to judging others based on their own choices? Further, how is defending the integrity of the most vital aspect of social continuity bigoted? I suppose you escape on the technical grounds that you are well aware that there is plenty of proof that homosexuals want to destroy legal protections for the family, thus you can argue that technically you didn't call me a bigot.

In fact, I don't care if I'm called a bigot. It's hardly the worst thing anyone's ever said of me. If reasoned examination of the relation of homosexuality to society constitutes bigotry, then I only hope to deserve such a label.

The Silent Consensus said...

No, believing in something through reason and through faith are two entirely different things. Believing in something through reason means you are open to being disproven. Believing in something through faith is completely closed to being disproven. Reason can't disprove faith, because faith isn't founded based on anything.

Faith insists we accept as true what is unknowable to the rational mind. Reason insists we accept as true what is data provided by the sensations.

When have I ever abandoned logical thought? Again, I'm asking you to back up your statements, and I hope you actually do this time.

Same-sex marriage does not "abolish the core function of this institution" anymore than people who get married sterile. I know you can go off on the definition, and how two sterile people marrying doesn't change the definition, but it still means it's not the core function if people who can't or won't procreate can get married. Marriage is about much other than procreation. It's about love and commitment. Nothing about two people getting married who can't or won't procreate tells married couples they can't have children. I assure you, our species will continue to function and procreate. Spare me this sky is falling rhetoric

Homosexuality infringes on no one, and society is not a victim. Society is not superior to individuals but is simply a collection of individuals who live in the same area and deal with one another. Society can't be infringed on unless another individual is infringed on. So unless if you can tell me how two gay people either engaging in sodomy or even getting married infringes on you in any way, they don't have an adverse relationship with society. Not being offended and not being uncomfortable are not rights

HistoryWriter said...

chiu wrote: "Christian Deists do still believe all the important doctrines of Christianity on the natural evidence that Christ taught such doctrines and was divine."

ALL the important doctrines? Really? I suggest you read less of David Barton and more of Thomas Jefferson --- specifically the "Jefferson Bible", which may give you some insight into the workings of the Enlightenment mindset.

chiu_chunling said...

I don't think there's really much point to this, but I'll try again.

To rely on logic, you must have confidence that logic is valid, or your reasoning will lack purpose. Logic cannot prove itself valid, hence, your confidence in logic must be based on...faith. Reason cannot exist in the absence of faith.

On "the sensations", usually logic demands that we regard these as being suspect, since they are inconsistent and transitory. It is necessary to adopt some rational theory as to the causes of sensory variation in order to use the senses to discover truth. Your advocation of uncritical acceptance of sensory input as valid is not consistent with any serious theory of rationality I've ever encountered.

Whether or not the men and women involved in marriage are fertile or not, they are still men and women, living together in common cause. I know you would prefer to ignore this point, as it destroys the argument in favor of ultimately abolishing all legal protections for the family. I understand well that progressives eventually want to put child-rearing entirely under the control of the State, entirely eliminating the power of parents to affect the outcome. Homosexual marriage is a path to this, hence you advocate it. I realize that you think that an honest argument in favor of such an agenda will not be favorably received here.

But its probably a lost cause anyway. Your arguments are flimsy and cliche, and you've already demonstrated an inability to avoid counter-factual statements. You should try that "open to being disproven" bit.

I'll admit something, when I accept something on faith that just means that I don't require proof up front. If proofs aren't forthcoming or are contrary I lose faith. Not...especially quickly, I think. But some might consider me faithless. Still, I argue that when I make the initial investment of belief and commitment to a proposition, there's kind of a deal implicit in that. Then it's up to the proposition to produce definite results, rather than contradictions. I do my part, extend the initial credit and effort. If the theory doesn't reward my investment, why should I be regarded as the bad guy for calling it off?

Aside from the obvious fact that I am a bad guy, that is.

Your blind allegiance to untenable and dishonest logos which denies your own eternal nature...I don't call that faith. But maybe it is. If so, you have far more faith than I ever could, since I just can't believe things which make no sense to me. You believe things that make no sense to anyone.

chiu_chunling said...

Well, Christians disagree as to which doctrines are important. I happen to believe a great many doctrines which I believe to be of very great importance which are either considered unimportant or are actively disparaged by most Christians.

For example, I believe that, while the eternal spirit and eternal body (which humans do not currently possess) are created by God, the core of individuality existed essentially intact in a primitive state of insensibility prior to being granted awareness and life by God. Or to cite a more definitely understandable example, I believe that the eternal spirit was created prior to the formation of the Earth, rather than being created at conception as do many Christians.

I consider both these points essential elements of rational theology, but also believe that there are limits on my ability to understand the nature of God's divine plan (let alone His eternal nature) such that the number of "essential elements" of rational theology which lie outside my knowledge make the relative importance of those that I do understand pale in comparison.

The core of Christianity is a belief in the saving power of Christ's teachings sufficient to motivate the Christian to seek and live those teachings. Christ promises that if we wholeheartedly attempt this, He will supply our deficits of understanding and fortitude such that we may continue.

Christians differ as to the mechanism(s) by which Christ does this, Jefferson believes that Christ was wholly human in His incarnation but taught perfect doctrine which will lead men into contact with divine will. I don't believe that the mechanism is something which humans can so easily apprehend, though certainly learning and following the doctrine are fundamental elements of it.

Catholics have an almost dizzying array of expressed mechanisms by which the body of the church, extending throughout time and eternity, follow Christ to salvation. Some of these I find implausible or incorrect, but I must admit to believing a lot of complicated doctrines myself. Other Christian denominations seem to me overly limited, concentrating on only one or two of Christ's scripturally recorded teachings. But I regard seriously Christ's promise to supplement our lack of wisdom and strength if we sincerely try to follow Him.

If a person believes that Christ's teachings have a unique saving power to lead humanity back to God, which Jefferson clearly believed, and earnestly seeks to live those teachings (which is a hard thing to judge of anyone, and Christ forbids us to try), Christ can supply the rest.

For the record, I'm not very earnest. But, just possibly, I do try hard enough. I have to content myself with whatever that gets me.

The Silent Consensus said...

no Chiu, I do not want "to put child-rearing entirely under the control of the State, entirely eliminating the power of parents to affect the outcome." But keep putting words in my mouth. More importantly, the two are not related. Advocating homosexual marriage and wanting to do what you say do not correlate.

As far as the whole notion of "it may one day have proof," you are still asserting possibilities and hypotheses with zero evidence. Same problem

Last point, and this has become an exercise, even if you need faith to believe in reason and logic, faith is still devoid of reason and logic! And for the last time, I'm not closed to being disproven, I just demand that attempts to disprove me be sound

chiu_chunling said...

But you've been disproven over and over again on this very board, and you've never once accepted that.

I have to say, though I've observed that persistent dishonesty results in a habit of self-deception, and this causes a marked decline in reasoning ability, I really don't understand the mechanism. Shouldn't all the effort you put into lying increase your attention span or something? But instead the opposite occurs. I'm almost sure you've gotten dumber just in the time I've been reading your posts on this board.

I actually find that a bit amusing. Does that make me a bad person?

The Silent Consensus said...

Chiu,
I don't lie. Period. I haven't been disproven, you just simply feel like you've substantially disproven me when you haven't

chiu_chunling said...

Well, I do lie. Not as often as I could, and probably not even as often as I should, according to most people, but then again it's not really that difficult so I hardly need practice.

Lying is easy as falling off a log, and about as useful, in my opinion. Certainly it hasn't done you a lot of good. I prefer laying, as on a bed. Asleep. With gentle music playing in the background. This is somewhat less easy than lying, but far more useful and even necessary. Even were it not, I still find it more enjoyable.

The Silent Consensus said...

You don't lay on a bed, you lie on a bed. You lay an object down, so you could conceivably lay yourself down, but you don't "lay down"

chiu_chunling said...

You have no sense of poetry, or humor. I suppose it was a poor joke anyway, though. I shall not explain it. Or perhaps I've already said too much.

For the record, I'm aware that "lay" is transitive.

And no, it was not something tasteless.

The Silent Consensus said...

and there you go again putting words in my mouth. I never said or implied it was tasteless

chiu_chunling said...

That would have been difficult since you totally missed the point the first time around. Or rather, you completely failed to see that there was a point, let alone its nature.

I was forestalling any misunderstanding, just in case someone else was reading this exchange.

I really must like seeing my own words on the internet. If I had any pretensions to humility, this would be a serious cause for self-reflection.

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