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Tuesday, August 27, 2002:

On Morality
Nothing is absolutely moral or immoral. I do and always have believed this. What is absolute is laws that guide us into deciding what we believe is and is not moral. Once enough people agree on what is or is not moral, they form a society. A society (the Catholics, Jews, Germans, society is broadly defined) then determines what is moral or not.

A large source of misunderstanding lies at this point. I personally think greed is moral, murder of fellow members of your species is not (in any form), sex is not, and drinking is not. I think these are pretty However, natural laws or God do not dictate this.

What then are natural laws? Natural laws are natural laws are what make us tick and are NOT moral in nature. Natural laws, for example, say that animals mate, there is gravity, the Earth orbits the sun, etc. Natural laws are also characteristics of species (man is the thinker and the lion the hunter).

Previously, I posted a muddled discussion on this that got a lot of responses most of which confused at my point. Sorry, I did re-read it and I wasn't clear in this distinction of natural laws versus morality.

Matthew Edgar // Link //

Tuesday, August 13, 2002:

Traditions should stay despite our enlightened values

Religion in any form should not be imposed on anyone. The addition of religion into any new governmental situations is a bad idea. Religion and government should be separate.

While governments should avoid adding the addition of religion symbols into their infrastructure, traditional symbolic involvement should not be forced out of government due to our enlightened standards. The pledge of allegiance did not need the words under god removed, nor do the American coins need “In God We Trust” removed. At the same time, I find it unnecessary that the London police are giving options of uniforms without the royal badge containing the royal crown. The royal crown is topped with a cross that some feel is “too Christian.” This is a clear instance where the government should be able to stick with tradition even if some incidental religion is imbued.

Cal Ulmann // Link //

Tuesday, August 06, 2002:

If Everybody Had An Ocean...
Ben Domenech is an excellent writer, further evidence of this comes in
his most recent offering.

This is thought provoking but unlike Pilate I know that if one wades in he quickly finds himself in too deep of water and will drown. The smarter person realizes this danger, and will survey the land around the shore and the ocean for the better alternative.

Man was not put on earth to drown in the ocean that so many say is appealing. Man is to escape the perils of drowning...why else would man have the power to think? Utilizing thought, how can an action such as drowning in an appealing story be justified? It cannot. It must not.

Matthew Edgar // Link //

Damn Those Historical Revisionists to Hell: Church and State NEVER Mix
The Hokie Catholic points out this sad article from the Washington Times on Thomas Jefferson and the fact that he may not have really wanted a strict wall of separation of Church and state.

Well so what? Yeah okay so it questions the greatest of the Founding Fathers and the greatest President this country has ever had, but other than that, it doesn't real change the issue: religion and state should never mix. Never, ever, ever, ever – under no circumstance should these mix. The mixture is too deadly to risk.

America still has many mixtures of the two, however America has less mixture than any country I know of. In my opinion, America should work to reduce the amount of government involvement in religion. Unfortunately, Bush is doing just the opposite. Let's take a few of the more obvious examples:

1. Any country in the Middle East. Yeah, religion really helps there. Ask a friend or family member of the victims of any terrorist attack led by a Middle East based group.
2. Soviet Russia/USSR. Yeah those atheists made it work.
3. The Days When the Catholic Church ruled Europe (e.g. Crusades). Oh yeah, that worked wonderful! Let's do that here! Also, you might want to go ask this guy named Martin Luther or Galileo what they thought.
4. Nazi Germany. Go ask a Jewish person how well this mixture worked.
5. The Tudor Dynasty in England. Hey that worked fine for Catholics when Catholics were in power, and fine for Church of England supporters when they were in power, and fine for Protestants when they were in power…but they were heavily persecuted when they were out of power.

Okay, but maybe these are just five random examples that I have pulled out of history. The common answer to these charges is that "We here in America can make this work – after all we are special." Wrong!

There is nothing special about America: what fails in one place will fail in another place. Perhaps not right away. Let's say we post the Ten Commandments in the schools. What next? How about morning prayer? To make sure we don't offend anybody, we will just make it a non-religious-type prayer, "I praise the fellowship of my common man" or something along those lines. Yeah, but that doesn't go far enough because there is still gang violence and school shootings. So a guy runs for office with the pledge to make those "children moral". Once he gets elected, because those fine citizens want their children moral, he passes a law to change the prayer to include God. Another guy joins the crusade and before you know it we have Catholic Church dictating what should and should not be taught in classes.

Oh this is pure nonsense I hear you say. We will never allow that to occur, you quickly add. We know where to stop it you say. Okay you might. Okay the current politicians might know where to stop it. What about the politicians fifty years from now? What about society fifty years from now…will they know where to stop it? Will they stop it?

Now I hear you saying, okay so what if the Christians start dictating course policy. Most people are Christians…the schools should feed the majority of the population. And if you were thinking that, I pity you for you have fallen into the trap. You are ready to accept that a certain elite group of people should determine what you can and cannot learn. And what are children cannot learn. In America, it is clear from my reading of documents written during the Founding Years that they feared an elite group of rulers. And the reason they feared it is that they feared brain washing. Had their message been listened to by those creating the Weimar Republic, Hitler would likely not have been able to come to power. And if a religious group, Atheists and Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and whoever else gain control of the government, they will attempt brainwashing.

This must be avoided at all costs. All it takes, as seen throughout history, is one man or one group of men thirsting for power to take over government and use whatever means available to brainwash – religion is the most powerful tool they have.

How do I know this? Let's look at the Catholic Church. The Church is scared, very scared, of people having the power to be free thinkers. In 1517, they attempted to stop Martin Luther from communicating to the common people the words of the Bible. In 2002, the Church released an "Ethics on the Internet" report in which they feared they unregulated and highly immoral Internet:
Although radical individualists and entrepreneurs obviously are two very different groups, there is a convergence of interests between those who want the Internet to be a place for very nearly every kind of expression, no matter how vile and destructive, and those who want it to be a vehicle of untrammeled commercial activity on a neo-liberal model that “considers profit and the law of the market as its only parameters, to the detriment of the dignity of and the respect due to individuals and peoples.”
They later call for more regulation of the Internet.

I cannot see how this desire to end free thought will ever cease. This is why I think it is very scary for the Church, or any other religious group, to be in charge of government: they want their and only their message delivered and will accomplish this via brainwash.

That e-mail address is matthew@matthewedgar.net. From my last post I got about fifty e-mails...can we top that?!

Matthew Edgar // Link //

Down with Miracles and Mysticism

God is. God is inherent in the creation and the existence of everything. This is an idea encompassed by all major religions. It is the same idea whether it is called the logos, the word, the spirit or any other name. Through the rules that God has established, there is an order to the world.

To allow for God to have the ability to break the rules would go against God’s own decree. Those who believe God may act in “miracles” are in many ways denying the very nature of the God they claim to worship. The classic question of whether God can make a rock that God can’t lift is no because the essence of God would be in the rock and by making a rock that he could not lift he would be violating his/her self-imposed rules.

Thomas Woolston was on to something when he said that the various stories in the bible were just metaphorical. How then to explain Jesus’ resurrection as seen by many people? A possibility exists of the resurrection being a mass hallucination. Yet, as the philosopher Spinoza points out, the resurrection may still have occurred but with only the understanding of the spirit rising.

Cal Ulmann // Link //

Thursday, August 01, 2002:

Can We Be Moral Without God? or Is Reason a Sin?

This is a question that I often ask myself. I don’t believe that a being controls our actions and thusly there is no being capable of telling us what is and is not a good moral standard. At the same time, it is clear to me that there are natural laws governing our actions…but do those natural laws dictate good moral standards?

Those natural laws tell us to live life as good as we can and as full as we can. Obviously outside the state of nature, society controls how extreme our lives can be lived. Thusly, society is needed to create a system whereby the immorality found in the state of nature can be controlled. The state of nature, just to refresh your memory, is the state whereby NO societal order exists – a state of pure anarchy.

But what do I mean when I say “the immorality of the state of nature”? Well, I mean, for instance, that people kill other people in the state of not having a society. Killing is, I believe, an immoral act found in a state without society…abortion is different, and I do not include that herein. Another immoral act would be the stealing of other people’s stuff (land, food, shelter, supplies, etc.). The third and final act I would consider to immoral found within the state of nature is all types of assault towards other humans. Not being an animal rights advocate, I believe animals are there to be eaten or used to make shelter and clothing for those higher on the food chain.

These are clearly immoral acts in the state of nature – man is therefore not born moral. Now the question becomes “how much should we try and change this immorality”. Natural law in suggesting living a good life would imply that we want to live free of murder, theft, and assault. Towards this end, it is natural for societies to form and attempt to control these acts of immorality. With natural laws being the main guiding force, and no God controlling us, we can become a more moral society – a society free of assault, theft, and murder.

Yet those religious folks want us to follow hard-core guidelines supposedly put in place by that omnipotent and controlling being they believe in, for example, the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20, God presents the Ten Commandments. Exodus has to be the most fascinating story in the Bible for this reason. Some of the Commandments are right in line with my beliefs. However, I do not think having the audacity to question the existence of a God is immoral…as Thomas Jefferson said, "Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blind faith."

As for considering sex a sin or adultery an immoral act, I personally think that is going too far simply because these acts impact only the parties directly involved and do not have society wide implications, like murder does for example. Many consider greed to be an immoral act, however this seems odd as greed is truly a mother of innovation, and innovation is a too terrific to even give up. And by the way, scientific innovation into the debate of evolution and creationism might really provide hard data in support of the Bible.

So does this mean that all Deists are out having wild sex parties with their neighbor's wives while burning God in effigy and worshiping the greediness of Kenneth Lay? Of course not. Deists believe in reason above all else. Reason dictates that this will result in ultimate unhappiness, which is usually something people wish to avoid. Reason would also dictate that there are significant health concerns related to sexual acts, and that these health concerns are far more significant than any concerns of morality. This is why I am always very proud to be a true "moral square" – I do not believe in or partake in pre-marital sex or excess greed simply because I cannot justify it with reason. I certainly do not partake in assault, theft, or murder because none of these are congruent with reason.

Oddly however I do sin, at least according to the religious types, every time I question the existence of God. Realizing this, I have to ask, do Bible-believers consider reason a sin?

Matthew Edgar // Link //

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