Some intellectual honesty on Western values

I’ve been looking at how Christianity influenced our modern idea of morality and social justice in the West. It’s been clear from the comments here that the rank and file Christian despisers who come here aren’t willing to admit its ubiquitous influence in our cultural history. So I thought it would good to quote some of their betters who are more intellectually honest.

All of these quotes are from atheists/agnostics. I think you’ll find their honesty refreshing:

Fredrich Nietzsche, Atheist Philosopher:

“When one gives up Christian belief one thereby deprives oneself of the right to Christian morality. For the latter is not self-evident… Christianity is a system.”

Tom Holland, Agnostic Historian:

“You see all the time in the news at the moment that to cast yourself as a victim is to somehow give yourself power, and you would only have power by virtue of being a victim if you existed in the context of a society that was still in its fundamentals Christian. In the Roman world, if you said, ‘I’m a victim.’ they would say, ‘yeah, and…?’ ‘I’ll enslave you…” Or, ‘I’ll rape you, I’ll do whatever.’”

See full interview on post here.

John Steinrucken, Atheist Author:

“Those who doubt the effect of religion on morality should seriously ask the question: Just what are the immutable moral laws of secularism? Be prepared to answer, if you are honest, that such laws simply do not exist!”

Steinrucken also writes the following in “Secularism’s Ongoing Debt to Christianity“:

“Rational thought may provide better answers to many of life’s riddles than does faith alone” it is still Christianity that “has made possible the advancement of Western civilization. That is, the glue that has held Western civilization together over the centuries is the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

“Open secular thought, depends on the continuance within our society of the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

“An orderly society is dependent on a generally accepted morality. There can be no such morality without religion.”

Luke Muehlhauser, Atheist researcher:

“Consider the claim we moral realists are making. We generally claim there are invisible properties in the world not detectable by our usual tools of science, properties of an entirely different sort than the usual ‘is’ facts of science. These are mysterious ‘ought’ facts, and there is great disagreement about what they are or how we know them. Now that is a strong claim. An extraordinary claim, we might say. And extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, right?”

NOTE: There’s NO historical evidence to their claim about “ought” facts coming from natural selection divorced from religion or from any ancient non-religious source. It’s a pure faith-based position.

These are just a few of the intellectually honest atheists and secularists.

Another good source to educate these anti-Christian history deniers is an atheist site by Tim O’Neill called: “History for Atheists: New Atheists Getting It Wrong.” It’s quite good and the title pretty much says it all.

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 38 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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225 Responses to Some intellectual honesty on Western values

  1. GodGirl says:

    So insightful! Thanks for sharing these thoughts and quotes.

  2. john zande says:

    Those quote-mined quotes present absolutely nothing of substance.

    Can you give me a single example of what a Christian “value” is, and show me how it, and it alone, drove the writing of positive (morally better) laws.

    • Mel Wild says:

      So, when John Steinrucken says, “the glue that has held Western civilization together over the centuries is the Judeo-Christian tradition.” or ““An orderly society is dependent on a generally accepted morality” and “There can be no such morality without religion,” or, when Tom Holland says, “You would only have power by virtue of being a victim if you existed in the context of a society that was still in its fundamentals Christian,” what they really meant was that our morality doesn’t come from religion and our Western culture is not held together by religious values…” HAHAHAHA!!! Bravo! Bravo!

      But, hey, I appreciate you saying these inane things, JZ, because nobody would actually believe such nitwittery that comes from you lot unless you came here and provided proof. LOL!

  3. john zande says:

    And Mel, Context helps. Read in context, Nietzsche is arguing in Genealogy we ‘stand in need of a critique of moral values,’ as opposed to accepting them as authoritative. And he’s right. We see only today the Pope has changed church doctrine on capital punishment. The authoritative notion of morals is false.

    • john zande says:

      Full quote from Twilight of the Idols:

      “G. Eliot. — They are rid of the Christian God and now believe all the
      more firmly that they must cling to Christian morality. That is an English consistency;
      we do not wish to hold it against little moralistic females à la Eliot. In England one
      must rehabilitate oneself after every little emancipation from theology by showing in
      a veritably awe-inspiring manner what a moral fanatic one is. That is the penance they
      pay there.
      We others hold otherwise. When one gives up the Christian faith, one
      pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no
      means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English
      flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By
      breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing
      necessary remains in one’s hands. Christianity presupposes that man does not know,
      cannot know, what is good for him, what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows
      it. Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendent; it is beyond all
      criticism, all right to criticism; it has truth only if God is the truth — it stands and falls
      with faith in God”

      And if you also read Geneology, you see what he is talking about… and it’s not what you are trying to imply.

    • Mel Wild says:

      LOL! YOU are talking about context now? How absolutely hypocritical of you. And, hey, Nietzsche died a raving lunatic so we can’t be sure what he meant. But carry on with your pantomime.

      • john zande says:

        Mel, you’re in over your head here. You copy and pasted a quote-mined extract from Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols which has been copy and pasted across many apologists blogs, completely out of context. Nietzsche is arguing against the Christian stance that morality is authoritative. This is covered in detail in On the Genealogy of Morality. As you can see, though, read in context, he’s talking about shedding all Christian notions of morality for they are built on nothing but a false idea of dominion.

        • Mel Wild says:

          LOL! Says the quote-mining king! Enjoy your weekend. I’ve had enough incoherence for one day.

        • john zande says:

          You’re embarrassed for being caught trying to pull a fast one, I understand

        • Mel Wild says:

          To quote Banyan, Blow wind, Windbag.

        • john zande says:

          In the future, do try to research the quotes you’re pasting.

        • john zande says:

          Just some advice to save you future embarrassment, like your blunder here.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Haha. How ironic. I’m using you as my prime case in point for the absolute nitwittery of anti-Christian trolls on the Internet. Thanks for providing so much material.

        • john zande says:

          So an example of ‘nitwittery’ is showing a quote in its actual context, as opposed to the deception you tried to pull? (or rather, copy and pasted from others who have tried to deceive in the past, and you just didn’t do your homework).

          OK, I’ll own that. No problem.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, it’s not that at all. You ignored all my quotes except Nietzsche, then you claim some idiotic victory. THAT is nitwittery. You only look like a fool here. But if you think you don’t, whatever.

        • john zande says:

          Your “other quotes” lack substance.

          I asked you to provide some substance.

          You couldn’t.

        • Mel Wild says:

          LOL! The only thing that has substance is what agrees with you. Haha! You are piece of work. This has gotten beyond absurd and very boring, especially since you continue to ignore my question. Why don’t you just admit that there is ZERO actual historical evidence for some ancient atheism or secularism giving us our Western values. But you can stay in denial be my example. I couldn’t have asked for a better one!

          Beside, you really do need to get a life and do something besides troll my site. You’re on my blog more than I am. LOL!

        • john zande says:

          Who’s talking about ancient atheism or secularism giving us our Western values? You seem to have invented that out of thin air. And you haven’t even named a single western value… which is what I’ve been kind of asking you to do, and you keep dodging it.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Well, if religion and/or Christianity played no part as you seem to be objecting to, and all these historians are wrong and you are right, then I’m sure you can provide us with your personal revision of history.

        • john zande says:

          Mel, what is a western value?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Good-bye Windbag.

        • john zande says:

          So, you can’t actually name a western value?

          Ok then…

        • jim- says:

          The good Samaritan. Secular values. A man without your law

        • jim- says:

          Jesus borrowing from pagans to make his gospel.

        • Mel Wild says:

          LOL! What secular pagans was Jesus borrowing from?

        • jim- says:

          Sorry, but the “unclean”

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay. The non-Jewish religious people who feared God like the Samaritans. Of course, that was Jesus point for bringing up the story in the first place. The Samaritan demonstrated what it means to follow God more than the hypocritical Pharisees he was talking to. He was telling them what was meant by the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. This is why so many Christian hospitals use “Good Samaritan” as part of their name.

          And, btw, under the New Covenant no one is “unclean” (Acts 10). 🙂

        • Mel Wild says:

          So….it’s actually the reverse. Secular values are borrowed from a long history of religious moral values and, in this case, Jesus’ application of the second part of the oldest and greatest commandment of all. Love your neighbor as yourself.

        • jim- says:

          I see you don’t believe that one bit the way you spilled all over this post today. You don’t live it, that’s why you still believe this nonsense.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Oh really? How so?

        • jim- says:

          You’ve become an asshole. I was shocked. Name calling and just overall hateful. Over a question. You embarrassed your faith and yourself today. Most Christians i know are great people. Misguided, but trying. You have quit being decent.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay. Here we go. Sanctimonious shaming. I’m the asshole. LOL! And do you even know what hateful actually is? Let me put it this way. Did you ever notice that Jesus had endless amounts of patience and grace for people who genuinely came to Him and asked questions, asked for help? But He had NO such thing for the disingenuous Pharisees who came to him under a pretext, who only followed Him around to trip Him up or use His own words against Him. Let’s see how Jesus treated these first century trolls…

          13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. (Matt.23:13)

          These Pharisees were doing EXACTLY what the Christian-hating trolls like Zande and the exalted Professor Taboo do on the Internet today. They not only won’t go to God themselves, they expend all their energies to keep others away from the love of Christ, too. They go to the ends of the earth to make one de-convert and “make them twice as much a child of hell” as they are (Matt.23:15).

          Or maybe I should use other more Biblical names that Jesus used on these types, like “Blind fools” or “empty tombs, or “brood of vipers?”

          I’ve spend almost two years extending every courtesy to these people. Here’s what I’ve found out. They are pretentious and arrogant and their only intention is to mock people’s faith. They are bullies. They have absolutely no desire whatsoever to have an honest conversation. All they want to do is spread their vitriolic poison on Christian sites. No, there’s no excuse for that and they deserve nothing but derision.

          So, no, I don’t need your sanctimonious shaming. It rings a bit hollow.

        • jim- says:

          That was a scripture about the clergy. Nothing has changed. You may need an Ativan or something. Zande has questions you can’t answer or refuse to answer, fine, but you have now compared yourself to Jesus. Jesus Mel!

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, sorry, you totally missed the point. Sure, it could include clergy, but not all. Not even all Pharisees were in this category. Many did honestly seek out Jesus. It’s about anyone who actively keeps people from God and pretends they know better. And that includes those who bully people who are following God. For example, the Pharisees had no intention of seeking out God or Jesus. They followed Him around to discredit him and turn people away from Him. So the analogy fits perfectly for the combative anti-Christian Internet trolls today. And, of course, I don’t apply that to all atheists or non-religious people. Many are very courteous and ask honest questions for more information. But the ones I mentioned who come here, come under a pretext to attack and mock our faith. They have no intention of honest conversation. They are exactly like the “Pharisees” here.

        • jim- says:

          You attacked Ben and Scotty the same way so that’s not accurate. They came away feeling horrible with your brand of preachment. Really decent guys with real questions. If you don’t have an answer, “I don’t have an answer for that” would be fine, or “I believe this way”. Essentially that’s all you have to offer, but you resort to condescending name calling when they ask a hard question. Many of us didn’t want of plan to be atheists, it was the array of contradictions and unanswered questions. For me, all
          I would have needed was one part to hang on to. Literally every line needs endless apologetics to stay afloat. Now I know

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay. I apologized to Ben because I did overreact to a comment he made. It was a day with lots of different people coming at me. I didn’t read it like I should’ve. That’s why apologized. You can read it there in my comments. I am human. 🙂 For the most part, I’ve treated Scottie with respect and grace, so I don’t know what you’re referring to there. I know he said he felt beat up one time (welcome to my world!) But Scottie also tends to do the sanctimonious shaming if I don’t comply with everything he says. But again, for the most part, I’ve tried to treat Scottie with respect.

        • jim- says:

          I am a little curious though. I was trying to make a specific connection of Judeo-Christian values shaping western civilization, and all I could think of was bankruptcy laws. Not aware of anything else odd the top of my head. You?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Well, civil law, for starters, it would Mosaic Law. Much of the development of law was taken directly from there, but not all. Of course, there was Greek and Roman influence on civil law also.

          The Judeo-Christian value of the intrinsic value of all human beings. God so love the world… (John 3:16) that He gave His Son, which means that humankind has the same value to God as Jesus. That all people are equal in the eyes of God (Gal.3:28). That we should love others as He has loved us (John 15:9). Of course, Matt.22:37-40 also. The work ethic is in several places (labor of love), treat your employer as with respect because we are accountable to God. And to defer to the weaker person (Rom 14), take care of the widows and orphans and the poor (James 2), obey your governmental authorities (Rom 13), live a peaceable life with your neighbors (Titus 3:2).

          Those are a few off the top of my head (before I’ve had my morning coffee.) Also keep in mind, we are talking about principles, not direct quotations. These principles guided how the early church lived, and in turn, influenced their Roman culture. As Holland said, by the 11th century CE, Western culture was radically different than the Roman and Greek cultures that Christianity came out of.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Essentially that’s all you have to offer, but you resort to condescending name calling when they ask a hard question.

          Again, that is totally wrong. First, either Zande, et al, aren’t understanding my answers or don’t want to understand my answers, or they ignore my question and keep asking ridiculous questions. I have never “resorted” to name-calling because of a hard question. I have called them according to their own behavior when they start playing their games with me. Zande does this all time. At that point, there’s no use talking to him anymore. But, fair enough. I will just ignore him instead.

          Many of us didn’t want of plan to be atheists, it was the array of contradictions and unanswered questions. For me, all
          I would have needed was one part to hang on to. Literally every line needs endless apologetics to stay afloat. Now I know.

          I’m not sure how to respond to that because I wasn’t there, I don’t know the context of your situation. But I can understand the confusion and frustration. I also have problems with various popular doctrines but not with Christ or the Bible. And, personally, I understand the arguments and alleged contradictions that have been pointed out, I have studied them out and have learned to navigate them. It’s actually given me a deeper appreciation and love for God. But the strength of my faith is not build on an argument or a doctrine. Frankly, I personally don’t care that much about apologetics. LOL! I just don’t like seeing unprepared Christians being bullied and badgered by pretentious anti-Christian trolls on the Internet, so I have been trying to show the strength of our faith and deconstruct what I see as popular atheist fables. That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot wrong with the Christianity as practiced by Christians. The problem is a human one, however.

        • Mel Wild says:

          “Zande has questions you can’t answer or refuse to answer, fine…”

          Do you really think that’s what was happening? Wow! That’s astounding. Zande has no intention whatsoever of actually listening to anything I have to say. There is no question he ever asks that isn’t designed to try and trip me up or make Christianity look foolish. There is no one more disingenuous than him. If it doesn’t already agree with his atrocious understanding of history and theology, he will totally ignore it or tell me it’s not an answer. So, if I don’t answer him it’s because I’ve decided to get off his little merry-go-round after wasting hours trying to reason with him. And he always wants the last word (apparently, he’s on my site more than I am!) so if I don’t stop he won’t stop. If I’m the fool it’s only because I wasted time trying to reason with him in the first place. I will gladly admit to that.

        • jim- says:

          And you just told me to love your neighbor as yourself. You could not say that simple answer earlier. You know, hypocrisy is a true reflection

        • john zande says:

          The so-named Golden Rule? That was so common it was featured in POP CULTURE 500 years before Jesus, as recounted in Homer’s Odyssey (6th century BCE), “I will be as careful for you as I will be for myself in the same need,”. It’s origins certainly stretch back well into the Paleolithic, and if you look at animal behavioural studies you’ll see it expressed quite clearly in experiment after experiment after experiment. I can even post videos showing you exactly that.

          At least formally, however, the concept dates back to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1650 BCE) “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” It also emerged in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (1780 BCE), as well as in the Mahabharata (8th Century BCE) “The knowing person is minded to treat all beings as himself,” in 6th century BCE Taoism, “Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss,” in 5th century BCE Confucianism, “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself,” in 4th century BCE Mohism, “For one would do for others as one would do for oneself,” and was articulated by the Greek, Pittacus (640–568 BCE), who said: “Do not do to your neighbour what you would take ill from him.”

        • Mel Wild says:

          Again, you are quoting religious sources (and referring to them for the second time). These were not secular or atheist cultures devoid of religion. Quite the opposite.

        • john zande says:

          I’d actually disagree with you there, Mel. The universality of the message (and it’s a good message) demonstrates that it’s an easy-to-arrive at idea… so easy, in fact, that it’s demonstrable in animlas.

          Yes, it’s extra-human.

          This has been shown repeatedly in experiments. I can show you a 2 minute video right now that puts that beyond any doubt.

          Would you like me to post the video, or are you determined to ignore all information that would lead you to a broader understanding of this particular subject?

          So, do you choose continued ignorance, or information?

          Your choice…

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, but you cannot say things like “extra-human” (whatever that means) and divorce that from a claim of divine inspiration. That’s incoherent. No one can prove that, no video is going to disprove it thousands of years after it’s so deeply embedded in our way of thinking. That’s the fallacy of trying to compartmentalize something that cannot be separated to be properly understood. And these people claimed and were motivated by their belief in God, or a god. In other words, they appealed to, lived according to, the notion of ultimately being accountable to a power greater than themselves. Hammurabi is a classic example, as I pointed out to you before.

          Btw, you don’t do yourself any favors by continuing to call me ignorant in the face of indisputable history. You only bring derision on yourself. I’m try to be nice to you today. But don’t push it. Besides, I will be gone most of the day so I really don’t have the time.

        • john zande says:

          you cannot say things like “extra-human” (whatever that means) and divorce that from a claim of divine inspiration. That’s incoherent.

          Actually, what would be incoherent is stating a presupposition for the existence of something for which there is no positive evidence, and mountains of negative evidence.

          Extra-human simply means that trait is found also in non-human animals, as exampled here.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Sigh…here comes the videos. Whatever. What does this have to do with actual history? You have ZERO evidence that some mythical secular society gave us Western moral values. But we have mountains of historical evidence that they came from religious cultures. No video is going to change the facts, and your myopic materialist bias doesn’t prove that they weren’t divinely inspired. In fact, since your ontology is incoherent, I have no reason to trust anything you say.

          You are a total hypocrite, Zande. You send videos when you never bother watch mine. Good-bye. I will be ignoring from now on today, I have better things to do.

        • john zande says:

          Ummm, what?

          Did you even watch the video?

          I asked you if i could post them, and you said, Yes.

          I then posted them.

          Do you have a comment on the content and how it applies to your claims?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Ummm…did you watch my videos?

        • john zande says:

          Tom Holland, yes. I found it lacking substance and washed-through with sweeping statements that simply aren’t supported by history. He paints a world and society that would consume itself in mere years, whereas the truth is it flourished for centuries.

          So, do you have a comment on the content and how it applies to your claims?

          As per the video/s, we see that the two pillars of morality (reciprocity and empathy) are present in non-humans. As Waal says, “human morality is more than this, but if you remove these two pillars there’d be nothing remaining.”

          So, these experiments, repeated hundreds of times with many species, demonstrate that the root of morality is older than humans. It is a phenomenon of evolution.

          That, Mel, is an observed fact.

          And as an observed fact, any allusion to the necessity of Christianity (or ‘religion,’ as you move the goal posts) for a complex grasp of right and wrong behaviour (of morality) is proven false.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Right, everything that disagrees with your conclusions “lack substance.” This is why you aren’t taken seriously.

          Yes I saw these videos the last time you brought them up. They “lack substance.”

          Animal behavioral studies CANNOT prove that they have a moral consciousness. And, even if you could prove it, one could say they got that from their creator. More importantly, doesn’t address the point of the post. It doesn’t address where we got our moral code of ethics. You are simply saying that we are capable of becoming moral creatures. But that doesn’t speak to the counter-intuitive nature of other-centered, self-giving love. And you cannot simply dismiss a VAST amount of historical evidence and point to monkey videos. Sorry, that dog won’t hunt.

          Besides, evolution does not serve truth, it serves survival, whatever is pragmatic (Sam Harris). So, there is no reason for me to trust your cognitive faculties (or mine) if we are simply biological creatures. There is no basis for that conclusion. You simply make unprovable assertions.

          Gotto go..

        • john zande says:

          Are you seriously trying to argue this does not demonstrate a formal and complex understanding of right of wrong in non-human animals?

          Seriously?

          I mean, seriously?

          OK, you can claim that, but please explain… What does this fairness experiment (repeated on many different animal species) demonstrate, Mel?

          I’d appreciate it enormously if you could you be as directed and as specific as humanly possible. Thanks.

        • john zande says:

          Mel, I’d appreciate it enormously if you could you be as directed and as specific as humanly possible:

          If not a complex and demonstrable sense of right and wrong, what do these fairness experiments (repeated on many different animal species) demonstrate?

        • John Branyan says:

          They demonstrate instinctive behavior.
          Animals don’t have morals.
          Only people have morals.
          (Keep ignoring me. Maybe I’ll stop.)

        • john zande says:

          You do realise, don’t you, that by ‘Instinct’ you’re saying morality emerges from evolution; that it is a product of biological/neural complexity sharpened inside social species.

          To put it another way, you’ve obliterated Mel’s entire argument.

        • John Branyan says:

          Animals don’t have morals.
          Only people have morals.

        • Mel Wild says:

          JZ doesn’t understand the difference between instincts and morals.

        • John Branyan says:

          The heathen have been ignoring this question for 3 days:
          “Can you cite an example of animal immorality?”

        • john zande says:

          Mel, I’m not sure how many times you want me to repeat this, but here’s a third polite request for you to address information presented. Ignoring it doesn’t make it magically disappear. The studies and their results are there for everyone and anyone to review. The experiments have been repeated over decades and not only is the data unambiguous, it strikes right to heart of the claim you are trying to make… which is why you will eventually have to confront it, like an adult, or live every second of every day knowing you are deceiving yourself, which would be a horrible way to live.

          So, in your mind, if not demonstrating an evolved, complex sense of right and wrong, what do these fairness experiments (repeated on many different species) demonstrate?

          I’d appreciate it enormously if you could you be as direct and as specific as humanly possible.

        • Mel Wild says:

          It’s not substantive enough. Sorry.

        • john zande says:

          OK, so you’re conceding your argument is fallacious.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, I’m concluding that you don’t know the difference between instinctual behavior and morals. So there’s no point in commenting on your monkey videos. But I could make some cat videos for you, if you would like.

          Besides, you’ve commented endlessly here for three days and still haven’t even addressed the point of the last two posts. Can you prove the historians wrong and give me historical evidence that our Western cultural values of social justice did not come from Christianity and religion in general, but instead came from secular cultures totally devoid of religious influence. Otherwise, you are just engaging in fallacious red herrings here.

        • john zande says:

          You haven’t demonstrated that the animal’s behaviour is simply instinctual.

          You’re simply repeating Branyan’s claim.

          And even so, by saying ‘instinct’ you are conceding that morality arises from evolution; that it is a product of biological/neural complexity sharpened inside social species.

          In other words, you are conceding morality arises without religion.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Neither have you. You are just ignoring the point of these posts.

        • john zande says:

          If I understand it correctly, the underlying “point” of these posts is that without Christianity (or more broadly ‘religion,’ as you move the goal posts to suit your needs) we would lack morality.

          This is fallacious, as demonstrated.

          The two pillars of morality (reciprocity and empathy) are present in highly complex forms in non-human animals. Repeated experiments demonstrate that it arises from evolution; that it is a product of biological/neural complexity sharpened inside social species.

          The key words here: social species.

          There is nothing controversial about this. The evidence is unambiguous, so I really don’t understand why you’re struggling against it.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, that’s not the point at all and never has been the point. The point is, historically speaking, that we got our Western values of social justice from Christianity. In other words, it was a long history of Christians arguing for human rights by appealing to Judeo-Christian principles. This point has nothing to do with biology or evolution or whether some of those religious values preceded Christianity.

          THEN, in responding to your rebuttal, I asked you to provide me with historical proof that this is not so, that these Western values came from secular sources devoid of Christian or religious influence.

          You gave me monkey videos. I rest my case.

        • john zande says:

          The point is, historically speaking, that we got our Western values of social justice from Christianity

          That is fallacious. The grounding of “justice,” as demonstrated, is evident in non-human animals. It is a product of biological/neural complexity sharpened inside social species.

          That is simply a fact. The evidence is unambiguous.

          For goodness sake, the experiments are called the “FAIRNESS” experiments. Justice is rooted in concepts of fairness, is it not?

        • Mel Wild says:

          I’m beginning to wonder about your comprehension capabilities. You still don’t get it. That’s why it’s pointless to talk to you.

        • john zande says:

          What don’t I get?

          Can you be specific, please.

        • John Branyan says:

          Specifically, you cannot cite an example of animal immorality.
          Animals don’t have morals.
          Your argument is fallacious no matter how many times you jump threads and re-post it.

        • john zande says:

          As an introduction, you might want to read the article: Like Humans, Chimps Reward Cooperation and Punish Freeloaders.

          But thanks for your continued input. Your sure-fire ability to be wrong helps shape the veracity of the facts I’m presenting.

        • John Branyan says:

          Repeating your fallacious argument doesn’t magically make it valid.

          Animals can’t be immoral so they cannot be moral.

        • john zande says:

          You asked for an example.

          Seems the example I provided might have stumped you.

          Unless, of course, you don’t think your neighbour profiting off your work, with zero contribution, is wrong, is immoral?

          That would certainly be an interesting perspective to have…

        • John Branyan says:

          This is not immoral from the animal’s perspective. You’re applying human morality. Only humans can be immoral.

        • john zande says:

          Oh, so why is the freeloading individual punished by the group?

          Again, thanks. Your sure-fire ability to be wrong helps frame the veracity of the facts I’m presenting.

        • John Branyan says:

          Crocodiles eat their babies.
          They are not immoral for doing so.

          Only humans have a sense that we should sometimes behave counter to our instincts.

        • john zande says:

          Ah, crocodiles.

          Thanks for your input, John.

        • John Branyan says:

          Sucks when you can’t control the scope of evidence, doesn’t it?

        • john zande says:

          Absolutely. Triassic reptiles are synonymous with Cenozoic primates.

        • John Branyan says:

          Monkeys throw poop too.

        • john zande says:

          Thanks for your input, John.

        • Mel Wild says:

          My cat is as conscientious as a sociopath. 😼

        • john zande says:

          Mel, what don’t I get?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Mel, what don’t I get?

          What you missed was the entire point of the post. I was giving historians (previous posts) and even quoting agnostics/atheists (even if we disallow this particular quote from Nietzsche) where they affirm that, historically speaking, our Western culture inherited its values for human rights and social justice from a long history of Judeo-Christian values. When you started bringing up biology and monkey videos, which is not the point of the post (and is a fallacious red-herring, btw), I tried to bring you back to the point and asked you to prove the claim wrong by providing me with historical evidence that this was not the case, but that we got these Western values from secular cultures devoid of religious influence. I don’t think I can make it any clearer.

        • tildeb says:

          The post is titled “Some intellectual honesty about Western Values” and then you immediately pursue intellectual dishonesty!

          How so?

          Well, you assume the conclusion, that Western values derived from religion. You quote some writings purportedly from atheists that agree with your conclusion (as if that matters when the conclusion still hasn’t been substantiated). So you are asked repeatedly to provide religiously inspired values and refuse. Absolutely refuse. You just continue to assume any and all Western values ARE religiously inspired… without a shred of evidence to back this up.

          I don’t think presuming the conclusion is a very good example of some intellectual honesty. Quite the opposite.

          For example, you claim respect for the individual in law – a central value in Western culture – was religiously inspired when there is no historical evidence that respect for individuals in law came from only a religious value (hence, this may explain the 1700 year gap when religious authority ruled and no legal autonomy for individuals was implemented when it could have been.) But we do find autonomy in law proposed for individuals and implemented after the rise of the Enlightenment writers when their ideas were put into the revolutionary documents as a basis for common law and common consent to justify political power. Prior to this and throughout Western countries (for which there is nothing but evidence), the presumption was a religious one that political authority derived from God and was bestowed by God on some ‘royal’ figurehead. It took revoutions and blood to pry this model open and replace it with a bottom up rather than top down political system. And the bottom up system can only be described as secular! That’s intellectual honest because it’s historically accurate. These radical political ideas about justified authority (consent of the governed vs obedience to god-sanctioned authority) were considered revolutionary and that was what was required to implement them: revolutions! Not theological revolutions. Political revolutions by armed force (the US and France) that were not theological in nature but clearly secular, with secular goals and an implemented and intentional legal division between church authority and state authority.

          To get back to your title, how honest is it to reverse who needs to substantiate the claim you are making? Well, this is where the second deception occurs: you demand that to counter your claim, secular moral values must come about in isolation, arrive on the scene devoid of any religious contact! In other words, you are presuming that if secular values came about in the vicinity of religious practices, why, religion again must be the cause!

          Come on, Mel. You are not offering Some Intellectual Honesty here. You are offering pure apologetics unconcerned with what is true and dedicated by whatever deceitful means are necessary to support a claim devoid of intellectual honesty.

        • Mel Wild says:

          @Tildeb
          So, if my title assumes a conclusion, which it does because of the historical record, and you are saying this is wrong, then provide me with the historical evidence that the Western ideals of social justice and human rights were built on secular values devoid of religious influence. You can’t appeal to the Enlightenment because these thinkers were religious, mostly deist. They did not come up with their philosophies in a vacuum. And they borrowed their values from religious ideals of human freedom.

          You are the one not being intellectually honest by denying or dismissing what is the assumption of historians. If I’m wrong then you certainly could provide some alternative historical account of where the West got its values. But you would have to rewrite all the history books to do this, because any student of history would quickly recognize the ubitiquitious influence of Judeo-Christian ideals in the rise of Western cuture. It’s just silly to deny this.

        • tildeb says:

          It’s not your title that assumes the conclusion: it’s your thesis. We have all these Western values implemented in Constitutions and law and governance that you simply claim derives from religion. Well, the central values of Western civilization today are secular in that religious authority did not implement them for a millennia and a half but, when that authority was removed from legal and governing bodies, the values were THEN implemented. This is the evidence that stands starkly in contrast to your thesis. This is why you need to connect the effect you claim – Western values – to cause you claim – religion. This you have not done but simply have assumed the connection. And that’s not intellectually honest. To counter your claim, all I have to do is show that religion failed to implement the values you claim it has produced when it had every means to do so. That’s the historical record available to both of us. And that historical record clearly and unambiguously demonstrates religious authority acted very much counter to the values you claim it caused. That matters because that’s how cause and effect works: first the cause which then brings about the effect by action. What have in fact is compelling evidence that religious authority has acted (and continues to act), advocates (and continues to advocate) to rescind these values by legal and governing bodies whenever possible.

          It’s an easy exercise to name a central Western value and show its opposite action by religious authority. A value like free speech is countered by the religious notion of blasphemy. A value like religious freedom is countered by the religious notion of a state religion. A value like freedom of conscience is countered by the religious notion of mandatory indoctrination of children. And so on. Across the board. This is intellectually honest to consider the lack of historical evidence for your thesis … something your thesis about being honest does not concern itself with but simply waves away.

        • john zande says:

          And give them just one whiff of political power again, like Trump/Pence have done, and what do we almost immediately have: the United States Religious Liberty Task Force. Religious police… Christian, of course, but NOT Catholic. Next step, Women’s rights curtailed. Step after that, Muslim and Hindu and Atheist lynchings.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Thanks for making a radically prejudice and totally irrelevant point, JZ.

        • john zande says:

          Completely relevent, and the establishment of this “Task Force” (religious police) should frighten the hell out of everyone who holds “western values” dear.

        • Mel Wild says:

          You obviously think everything is relevant, JZ. Then how does this prove that Judeo-Christian values didn’t influence Western culture? It doesn’t prove anything relating to this post. You and Tildeb simply point to questionable examples of application of politicians. That is not the point.

        • john zande says:

          If you want to ignore this obvious threat to religious freedom and secular values, then ignore it. I was just adding a side note to Tildeb’s comment.

          Are you going to address my comment below?

        • Mel Wild says:

          If you want to ignore this obvious threat to religious freedom and secular values, then ignore it.

          Of course, I don’t want any form of injustice and intolerance. I would be against it no matter who it came from. But that’s still totally irrelevant to this post, so I’m not going to waste my time arguing about it.

          But you should also worry about getting your way and wiping out religion. It would be good to heed what Steinrucken said: “Open secular thought, depends on the continuance within our society of the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

        • john zande says:

          I’m glad you feel that way. Sadly, many of your evangelical friends don’t share your enlightened western secualr values.

          Are you going to address my comment below?

        • Mel Wild says:

          I am equally critical of the political right that wants to force their particular values on all culture. Of course, I don’t trust the political left either. I actually think Christianity works better in a pluralistic society.

          Which comments are you talking about?

        • john zande says:

          The one from this morning, just below.

        • Mel Wild says:

          The one from this morning, just below.

          I’m not going to address every point you make because they are not all relevant, but I will clarify my point, which I’ve already done in other comments elsewhere. I’m assuming you’re talking about this comment…

          What, exactly, do you mean by ‘western culture’? You’ve been thoroughly vague on this….

          First, Western culture should be self-evident to us living in it, which is why I don’t think I have to explain it. Second, your question makes we wonder if you actually watched the videos. It’s not about Western culture in general but, specifically, where we got our ideas of Western social justice and empowering the victim. These did not come to us from discovering some modern notion of secular values and certainly not from Greece or Rome. At center of this value includes Christ’s teaching that how we treat “treat the least of these” is how we treat Him. In fact, the cross itself was a brutal display of giving the victim a voice! Jesus willingly suffered our vitriol for us. As Holland pointed out, suffering as a form of power is juxtaposed in stark contrast to the Roman idea of wielding power through brutality. But it’s not a form of fatalistic suffering, like that of Eastern religions. It’s a proactive force to change the cultural mindset. Even Gandhi picked up on this and used it effectively, as he said he had great respect for Christ’s teachings (he just didn’t like the “Christians,” which is understandable in his situation). In the West it was people like the Quakers and the abolitionists, William Wilberforce, more recently, Martin Luther King, who fought for these human rights because of these convictions, even though they themselves suffered greatly for doing it.

        • john zande says:

          Congratulations, I guess. You failed to actually address any of the meat of the comment, including the clear and unambiguous biological roots of morality/justice/fairness.

          You did say this, though: but, specifically, where we got our ideas of Western social justice and empowering the victim.

          OK, could you at least address this specific point about justice:

          Turn the other cheek is NOT a western notion of justice and human rights. Do not resist an evildoer is NOT a western notion of justice and human rights.

          How do you answer this, Mel?

          How do these two seminal commands (made by Jesus) inform western notions of justice and human rights?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Those are not secular values either.

        • john zande says:

          Did I claim they were?

          Now, Mel, please don’t dodge and weave and evade. I am asking you one direct question. Do we really have to play this game of Whack-a-Mole?

          Turn the other cheek is NOT a western notion of justice and human rights. Do not resist an evildoer is NOT a western notion of justice and human rights.

          How do these two seminal commands (made by Jesus) inform western notions of justice and human rights?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Lol! You are master whack-a-mole man. You are changing the subject to argue specific points of the origins of Jesus’ teachings.

        • john zande says:

          Well, yes, I am… Are you suggesting Jesus ISN’T Christianity?

          One more time. Please Mel, can you address it without the song and dance routine? Please…

          Turn the other cheek is NOT a western notion of justice and human rights. Do not resist an evildoer is NOT a western notion of justice and human rights.

          How do these two seminal commands (made by Jesus) inform western notions of justice and human rights?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Exactly. You are changing the subject and hypocritically accusing me of being a whack-a-mole! As I’ve tried to explain to you before, this is fallacious argumentation (red herring). Instead of refuting the specific claim, you change the argument to something you think you have a better position on. But thanks for admitting this.

        • john zande says:

          Actually, I was asking you to PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE not do exactly what you are doing… Evading answering a simple and direct question and forcing me to repeat myself in what becomes a game of Whack-a-Mole.

          Now, are you seriously chastising me for citing Jesus in a post which claims Christianity (ie. Jesus) is the foundation of Western concepts of justice?

          Seriously?

          So, Mel,

          How do Jesus’ seminal commands (turn the other cheek and do not resist an evil doer) inform western notions of justice and human rights?

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, I am seriously chastising you for your repeated fallacious argumentation, as I explained. JZ, if all you only want to do is hear yourself talk, we’re seriously done here.

        • john zande says:

          Mel, the very first sentence in this post reads: I’ve been looking at how Christianity influenced our modern idea of morality and social justice in the West.

          Me drawing your attention to JESUS’ OWN WORDS CONCERNING JUSTICE is about as “on-topic” as anything in this world can be “on-topic.”

          So, Mel… How do Jesus’ seminal commands (turn the other cheek and do not resist an evil doer) inform western notions of justice and human rights?

        • john zande says:

          OK, Mel.

          While your dishonesty has come to be expected, your hypocrisy here, considering the title of the post, has been simply mesmerising.

          But let’s be perfectly clear: Ignoring all the other points raised which you have failed to address, by not addressing this particular question that has been politely put to you, repeatedly, you are admitting that JESUS’ OWN TEACHINGS contradict your argument.

          Unless, of course, you can explain to me, and to anyone reading, why Jesus’ own words on the matter of justice should be ignored…

          So, Mel, is this conversation over, or is there a reason why you are rejecting Jesus’ words here?

          (and btw, why do you still have Nietzsche’s quote up if you know it’s bogus?)

        • Mel Wild says:

          “…you are admitting that JESUS’ OWN TEACHINGS contradict your argument.”

          LOL! Really? So, unless the West followed ALL of Jesus’ teachings, then the whole argument is refuted? We should ignore His example of self-sacrifice and empowering the victim, His saying that treating “least of these” is how we treat Him? That this contradicts social justice and giving the victim a voice because the West didn’t follow all of His other teachings? And it’s just idiotic to say I’m rejecting Jesus’ words. There’s no kinder way to say it. The point was NEVER about the parts of Jesus’ teachings the West has ignored (along with the whole world!). It’s about the ones that were contended for and won the day in the cultural marketplace of ideas. Sheesh! Sometimes you make the stupidest arguments. And if this wasn’t ridiculous enough, then you call me a dishonest, all of which is why you are held in derision by people who disagree with you and are sick of your games.

          The Nietzsche quote is not bogus, although I do admit it was out of context for making my particular point here. But he DID believe that you can’t borrow from Christian values. You have to either accept it all or reject it all (which means you can’t claim them for secular values). I’m leaving it up because it’s already been commented on. People know how to read and figure it out for themselves.

        • john zande says:

          So, unless the West followed ALL of Jesus’ teachings, then the whole argument is refuted?

          Let’s be clear, you’ve been talking about justice, and these are not some vague suggestions hidden inside an even more obscure parable, Mel, and you know they’re not… hence your evasive song and dance routine.

          These seminal commands are what Augustine called “…the highest morals, a perfect standard of the Christian life.”

          And as for ‘refuting’ your argument, there was nothing to refute. As demonstrated, it was nonsense (a pantomime) from the start.

          (as to the Nietzsche quote, you wrote: But he DID believe that you can’t borrow from Christian values. You have to either accept it all or reject it all

          No, that’s not what he was saying at all.)

        • Mel Wild says:

          LOL! Okay, Mr. Pantomime.

        • tildeb says:

          Steinrucken makes an empty claim. Quoting him doesn’t add any substance to the empty claim. The notion that he is an atheist is an empty claim and that doesn’t add any substance to the empty claim either. Using Steinrucken’s quote is not an example of being intellectually honest but an example of not being intellectually honest about the claim you are making.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Of course, anything that disagrees with you is an empty claim. Sorry, that in itself is an empty claim. You have not provided any substance to refute the claim because you cannot honestly point to uniquely secular values to do so.

        • Mel Wild says:

          So you can point us to some ancient secular culture, devoid of religious influence, that historians would agree with you on, that informed us of our Western values for social justice and empowering the victim? It certainly didn’t come from Rome and Greece, as Holland said. I haven’t seen that evidence yet from any of you lot. All I’ve seen so far is some rather pedantic hand-waving while denying the obvious. But thanks for proving my point.

        • tildeb says:

          Again, I don’t think it is intellectually honest to maintain this thesis by insisting values must either come ‘devoid of religious influence’ (obviously, many of these values are in direct response to religious authoritarianism) or your thesis is correct. That’s a false dichotomy, which is another strike against the truthful intention of your title. You seem determined to try to have your cake (that your title describes your thesis to be intellectually honest) and eat it, too (by relying on intellectual dishonesty to maintain your thesis).

          Look Mel, between the two of us the only one doing any hand waving here is you. I have tackled your thesis straight up and with intellectual honesty and found it wanting. Nothing you have said in return addresses my valid criticisms.

        • Mel Wild says:

          You have a right to your opinion, Tildeb. And we can certainly criticize questionable application of Judeo-Christian values in history. I have no argument there. But you cannot say with any intellectual honesty that you are refuting the point of this post. If your rebuttal is that it wasn’t ancient Judeo-Christian values that influenced Western ideas of social justice and empowering the victim, then you MUST prove it wrong (and prove all the historians wrong) by showing that it was NOT these Judeo-Christian ideals, but rather some ancient NON-religiously influenced secular culture somewhere that gave us these values. In other words, you would have rewrite history.

          Let me say it this way. No societal value is formed in a vacuum, totally isolated from the historical foundation it stands on. And it doesn’t matter if it’s considered a “secular” value today, it stands on the foundation of values that preceded it that were religious. Our Western ideas of social justice and empowering the victim, which was the particular subject of the last three posts, didn’t all of sudden get discovered out of thin air. They were derived from a long history of social justice and civil rights that came to us from religious people, some who suffered greatly for fighting for them, like the Quakers, or Martin Luther King more recently, who actually applied the teachings of Judeo-Christian principles of treating “the least of these” and giving the victim a voice instead of using them as a pretext for their own selfish gain, like some others in our history. Their example of other-centered love and self-sacrifice is at the very heart of Christ’s teachings.

          You can believe whatever you want, Tildeb. But until you actually refute the point of this post by providing some legitimate and alternate view of Western history, I’m done here. I don’t have the time to defend arguments I’m not making.

        • tildeb says:

          “it (‘secular values today) stands on the foundation of values that preceded it that were religious. Our Western ideas of social justice and empowering the victim, which was the particular subject of the last three posts, didn’t all of sudden get discovered out of thin air.”

          These are the two point I have addressed repeatedly: 1) you assume a foundation of values that were religious, and 2) social justice and empowering the victim must be religious.

          So, as to #1, I’ve pointed out that most secular values that underpin Western values are in direct contrast (and a response to) the actual, historical practice by religious authorities when it had civil and legal authority. It’s not a question that these values arose in the absence of religion but that they arose to counter longstanding religious values as religions actually and historically practiced them.

          As to #2, social justice and empowering the victim may very well be religious in historical context but, again, they are part of today’s central values of Marxism. If you want to align these Marxist values with your religion, go to town. I think they share the identical totalitarian ideology. Western values, however and in contrast, do not include such group identity legal empowerment but its opposite: legal autonomy for the individual and not the group, subject to due process for individual actions and personal responsibility and not inherited responsibility for the group’s assigned responsibility.

          I either case, there simply is no evidence that religion has caused Western values. But, if we’re going to use intellectual honesty as our guide here, we have to account for effects that are contrary to your thesis. And we call these values ‘secular’ because religion plays no part in their formation or exercise and the law complies to this fact.

        • john zande says:

          What, exactly, do you mean by ‘western culture’? You’ve been thoroughly vague on this.

          Modern western culture is defined by two things: secular liberal democracies guided by the rule of law. Our modern states, and the values they hold dear, DID NOT begin with the ascendency of Christianity in 400CE. Monarchies and feudalism (supported by the church, and hardly beacons of human rights and justice) were the system for the 1,000 years Christianity was in ‘control’ before the Enlightenment.

          History, Mel, does not support your specific claim.

          And what, exactly, do you mean by Christian values? You haven’t identified any as being uniquely Christian. Can you, without moving the goal posts?

          Turn the other cheek is NOT a western notion of justice and human rights. Do not resist an evildoer is NOT a western notion of justice and human rights.

          How do you answer this, Mel?

          And you speak about justice, but the central theme of Christianity is ethereal/celestial justice, not human/terrestrial justice. The execution of justice is NOT put in the hands of man, but your deity, and ultimately it will not be delivered until the very, very end. That is what your religion teaches, and that, Mel, contradicts all notions of justice we hold dear in the ‘West.’

          And here’s a thought exercise for you: If I programmed a robot to enforce all biblical laws, would you feel safe having it in your home?

          Well, would you?

          As to biology, do I need to remind you that you vehemently objected to the idea that morality is a product of evolution. That, Mel, is how we got to the “monkeys,” as you put it. You want to talk about social justice, great, but to be “honest,” as the title of your post implores, then you must address the fact that the grounding of “justice,” as demonstrated, is in evolution, evidenced in non-human animals. It is a product of biological/neural complexity sharpened inside social species.

          You wish to claim that without religion we’d have no moral grounding, but that is simply fallacious.

          You don’t like me calling your ideas ‘pantomimes,’ but the ideas you present ARE pantomimes. And worse, they’re pantomimes that you defend not with facts, but with name-calling and hand waves.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I answered above.

        • john zande says:

          You just said they did, instinctually, arising from evolution, and sharpened inside social species.

          Again, you’ve obliterated Mel’s entire argument.

          Thanks, I guess.

        • John Branyan says:

          As usual, you are lying.
          There is no definition of “instinct” that includes “morals arising from evolution sharpened in social species”. So your argument is fallacious. We all know this won’t stop you from repeating it.

          There is no morality without the possibility of immorality. Animals cannot be immoral. Therefore, they cannot be moral.

        • john zande says:

          Yeah, you’re right… If Bonobo’s ever develop complex speech, the chances of them inventing the exact same human word, “morality,” is probably pretty slim.

        • John Branyan says:

          Bonobos won’t develop complex speech.
          Evolution is a myth.

          Keep blowing, Windbag.

        • john zande says:

          Evolution is a myth.

          Thanks for your input, Branyan.

        • John Branyan says:

          You’re welcome.

          With evolution shot full of holes, how do you account for morality now? Panpsychism? The Multi-Verse? Those are flimsy.

          If you want to stick with your pantomime that intelligence rises spontaneously from chaos, you can just chalk it up to “biology” and leave it at that. It’s not an answer but it sounds sciency enough to earn the applause of your heathen horde.

        • Mel Wild says:

          As I told IB, if my cat had morals then instead of catching mice, torturing them relentlessly until they died of exhaustion, and then eating them (which happens 100% of the time, I have empirical data), he would band together with other conscientious cats in the neighborhood and start a mouse anti-cruelty society. I don’t think that’s ever going to happen, do you? Maybe I should make some cat videos for JZ.

        • John Branyan says:

          He’ll disappear from this conversation now.
          They hate my guts. When I show up, they leave. I’m unkind and un-Christian. I’m brainwashed. I can’t think rationally.

          They congregate on Ark’s blog so they can talk about me. You are 2nd on the list of favorite subjects. I like to wander over once in awhile and watch them. When I read their comments, I picture them standing in line to get on the bus in “The Great Divorce”.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Well, I’m glad we can give their lives meaning and purpose.

        • John Branyan says:

          Me too.
          Christianity is good for everyone. Even heathens.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Christianity is good for everyone. Even heathens.

          Exactly, which gets back to Steinrucken’s point. “Open secular thought, depends on the continuance within our society of the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

        • john zande says:

          I’ll post the longer (16 minute) video in the next comment from which the above segment is taken.

          It’s very good for the larger picture.

        • John Branyan says:

          Animals don’t have morals.
          Only people have morals.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Uhhh…Samaritans were very religious, actually going back to their roots with Israel. Rather than explain the history to you, just read the story where Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4.

  4. John Branyan says:

    Good post, Mel.
    The atheist problem remains that there is no moral grounding. Atheism is ethical limbo.

    The Windbag demands a Christian value because he’s an atheist and has literally NOTHING to offer for consideration. So, he needs you to “seed” the conversation with a Christian virtue so he will have something to attack.

    Without Christianity, there is no western culture. All but the most stubborn of nitwits admits this.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Well, the Windbag is my poster child for atheist troll nitwittery. You couldn’t ask for a better example for the point of this post. Nobody would believe it if we didn’t have real life examples like this. LOL!

    • john zande says:

      The atheist problem remains that there is no moral grounding. Atheism is ethical limbo.

      Two points.

      1) A-theism is one thing, a lack of belief in the gods, and nothing else. That’s what the prefix ‘a’ is. But continue with your pantomime if it makes you feel happy.
      2) Are you saying you can’t tell the difference between right and wrong by yourself?

      • John Branyan says:

        No.
        I’m saying atheism is ethical limbo.

        • john zande says:

          And you’re right. A-theism is nothing but the lack of belief in the gods.

          Are you perhaps thinking of secular humanism?

        • John Branyan says:

          No. I would have said secular humanism.
          I’m always careful to say what I mean.

        • john zande says:

          Ah, so you’re just pushing your pantomime.

          Fair enough, carry on.

        • John Branyan says:

          You just told me I was right.
          Then you tell me I’m pushing a pantomime.
          You might be having a stroke.
          Seek medical attention!

        • john zande says:

          Yes, a pantomime.

          You’re spitting at an imaginary target.

          Just for your information:

          (Wiki) Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasises the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) over acceptance of dogma or superstition … humanism refers to a perspective that affirms some notion of human freedom and progress. It views humans as solely responsible for the promotion and development of individuals and emphasises a concern for man in relation to the world.

          Secular humanism is humanism, but a tad more vocal on philosophical naturalism and the nature of morality and ethics (one in the same thing, really).

          Western values are grounded in both secularism and humanism (liberal democracies/rule of law)… which is why I was asking Mel to identify what he actually thought a ‘western value’ was, and if he could, link that back to something uniquely Christian. Given he’s written a number of posts on this subject, I thought he’d be able to do that with ease. I was wrong.

          Hope that helps.

        • John Branyan says:

          Ah, so you’re just pushing your pantomime.
          Fair enough.
          Blow on, Mighty Wind.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Btw, I was curious and checked and found out that JZ has used the word “pantomime” in at least 38 different comments on my blog over the last few months. He really likes that word. I think I should give him an award or something. Of courses, we don’t want it to go to his head.

        • John Branyan says:

          He shouldn’t get an award for using words incorrectly.

        • Mel Wild says:

          “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.” Inigo Montoya

  5. “Open secular thought, depends on the continuance within our society of the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

    Yes. What many nitwits don’t seem to understand is that the only place atheism is free to really exist is within the protection and safety of the modern Western world and our Christian values. In most of the world, all through history, nobody cared about your right to “open secular thought.” Many still don’t.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Right. Many other atheists acknowledge and appreciate most Judeo-Christian values even though they don’t believe in God. These are the intellectually honest ones. I know some don’t like the name calling but it is just plain nitwittery to deny the historical influence that Christianity has had on Western social justice and moral values. That’s why it’s so refreshing to find honest atheists and agnostics like these people who actually admit this.

      And that’s what’s funny about the radical fundamentalist anti-theist trolls. They don’t really want an actual pluralistic society. They want religion and Christianity wiped off the face of the earth. But they should be careful for what they wish for. 🙂

  6. David Robertson says:

    Out of curiosity, where does the “inherent value” of the human being come from, evidentially speaking, according to secular humanism, or is it an axiomatic assumption? I’ve heard the answer that humans don’t want to be treated poorly, so they shouldn’t do it to others, but I’ve found that a little unsatisfactory. It doesnt seem to answer why we prefer pleasure, justice, fairness etc. in the first place. And evidence seems to point at that we tend to torture ourselves and others as much as we are good to them.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Well, my point has been that there is no evidence that secular humanism has no and cannot give us the intrinsic value of a human being. They must borrow that from a very long history of well-established religious principles.

      From a Biblical point of view, it’s pretty straight-forward. God reveals to us that loves humankind the same as He loves Himself (John 3:16; 15:9; 17:23) and other places. All are equal, no race, gender, social status difference to God (Gal.3:28). Feed the poor, take care of the marginalized, the orphan and widow, take care of the stranger, be hospitable, etc. (throughout the Bible). Furthermore, we are accountable to Him in how we treat the “least of these.” Jesus said how we treat the least is how we treat Him (Matt.25: 31-48) and several other parables, actually.

      God informs Israel 4,000 years ago to walk in other-centered, self-giving love by giving the Ten Commandments, which Jesus interpreted as loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself (Matt.22:37-40; Mark 12:28-31), to which He explained what that looks like in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt.5-7), walk in forgiveness, don’t seek revenge, don’t objectify the other sex (lust), don’t be greedy, love your enemies, don’t be judgmental, and treat others as you want to be treated. All of these flow from intrinsic value, because if we actually loved others the same way we are loved by God, we would actually treat them the way we would want to be treated. We would see them the way God sees them. Conversely, in his epistle, John said if we say we love God and hate our brother we are a liar (1 John 4).

      Of course, as you alluded to, humans are the problem. We generally don’t love others this way (because we haven’t received God’s love in our own experience this way?), so it’s equally true that, in experience, we will also hate others the same way we hate ourselves. Nonetheless, the offer of walking in God’s love, being healed from our relational dysfunction and being made whole as human being in the process, is always on the table, and there is abundance grace and forgiveness for our behaving badly. 🙂

      • David Robertson says:

        Thanks Mel, I agree. Our entire system based on the individual, from the way our laws work to basic human rights is based on this notion that there is something inherently valuable about the human. Its an enormous assumption to make, but many religions have quite a good explanation for it – we have divinity of some sort within us. At least how I see it. Jordan Peterson actually articulates this quite well in some of his lectures.

        • tildeb says:

          “Jordan Peterson actually articulates this quite well in some of his lectures.”

          Oh really? I certainly haven’t found this to be the case.

          For example, articulates:

          “God is that in which you manifest necessary faith. Necessary because you have to start somewhere. And this necessary axiom is not a fact, but a way or mode of being, which is to say: a personality.”

          “God is the mode of being you value the most as demonstrated or manifested in your presumption, perception and action.”

          What Peterson does is what sophisticated theologians do: he enables religion by simply redefining the God that most believers worship as some abstract body of guiding principles. This is a very typical but intellectually disingenuous argument. Hopefully, I’ve articulated why ‘quite well’.

        • David Robertson says:

          Hmm, I don’t know, conceptions of God have evolved and changed throughout history. It’s a not recent phenomenon that theologians have been trying to understand what God is. A thousand years ago, theologians were quite complex and articulate. Your average person may simply not give much thought to what God is, they’ve just chosen to believe that there is something greater to the universe than just material reality that gives everything a real purpose. Theologians just try to understand what God could be.

          Similar could be said for those who don’t believe and look to science fof answers. Not all of those who accept evolution, for example, know the intricacies and diversity of thought among scientists in how the process works. Most laymen just have the gist about evolution. How it works is quite different and has changed from what most people think. Just because the experts and average people differ in the details, doesn’t mean evolution is any less true.

        • tildeb says:

          Your comment reminds of the quip that god and all the religions the notion spawns is the only subject we ‘study’ that has no object! There’s nothing to study. And so this absence is filled in by literally thousands of god hypotheses… with no means to verify any! That’s why the method used to justify faith-based belief produces no knowledge about reality… ever. That’s a clue about its truth value…

          Evolution, in stark contrast, has the reality of the world from which we can extract data to see if the explanation makes sense with what we find, a means for verification, and see how well this explanation comports to the reality – the objects with properties we can actually examine. Furthermore, we can then extend the explanation when it does comport to successfully predict changes to life over time – both forwards and backwards. When we find that that, too works reliably and consistently well, we can then apply this model to then inform applications, therapies, and technologies based on the explanation. When these, too, work for everyone everywhere all the time, then this success magnifies the usefulness of the explanation so that we can then model further explanations based on it and find that these, too, continue to produce what we call ‘knowledge’ about how life changes over time. Each of these steps in the subject of studying life and how it changes over time means that by getting the explanation right this way, we can trust it to be an accurate representation of how reality operates, so it’s a process that continues to yield not just new knowledge but come to understand the mechanisms that produce it. We don’t have thousands of competing hypotheses under the umbrella term ‘evolution’. We have just one. And it works. All evidence from reality comports to it and it yields new avenues of research that produce new knowledge that also comports (think genetics). That’s why the method used to justify evidence-adduced belief produces useful knowledge about reality. That, too is a rather important clue about its truth value.

          So we can excuse people for spending so much time and energy making stuff up about some god or gods, pretending their imaginings about divine interactive agencies (awarded with academic degrees and doctorates about theology) represent more than imaginings (mostly learning to quote what others imagine about divine agencies) and in spite of a lack of compelling evidence taps them into an independent means to produce meaning… even though reality does not comport with the thousands of claims about what this purpose might be. We excuse all this because people are free to believe what they wish and pursue further inquiries into these beliefs. But what we can’t excuse is the high level of confidence people import to their religious beliefs as if they contain knowledge about reality. On this score, the failure of all theology is beyond dispute.The same cannot be said of, say, evolution.

        • David Robertson says:

          I should also mention that you do raise a valid point, but I hope my answer was sufficient.

  7. I think what most nitwits are actually dealing with is really an emotional and spiritual matter. It is cloaked in reason and alleged logic and intelligence, but obviously it is not. We speak of “intellectual honesty,” but I think what we are really looking at is a lack of, “emotional honesty.” That’s one thing that makes these kind of discussions so challenging, we’re trying to offer facts and reason to people who are emotionally constipated.

    I’m sure that truth will win me even more friends, but it’s a truth I’ve observed repeatedly. I don’t intend it as an insult either, we all get plugged up sometimes. I am just saying, we people tend to rational-lies in order to justify our emotional baggage. People who cannot be emotionally honest are never going to be “intellectually honest,” either.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I agree. Me thinks the deconvert doth protest too much. LOL!

      • Yes, they doth protest too much! The problem being in the absence of grace, one cannot embrace anything that might leave one feeling exposed and vulnerable. Where there is no safety, there can be no honesty either.

        I love how Jesus calls Himself the Truth. That’s because He’s the very epitome of grace and so we have no need to lie to Him or to pretend we are something we are not. He already knows and He provides the cover.

  8. tildeb says:

    Our moral sense clearly comes from our biology (and our biology comes about from natural selection). That’s why theists can read scripture for the first time yet somehow already apply a moral sense to it. This is demonstrated all the time by which bits of scripture they think should be taken literally as moral commands and which bits to take figuratively as ‘just’ stories. This sense of moral awareness and its application comes prior to any religious exposure and can be demonstrated not just by infants but, as JZ quite correctly points out, across the species divide. It’s biology that equips us with a moral sense and the evidence for this is robust. To claim it derives from scripture or religious precepts is an obvious fallacy when theists themselves bring their sense to their religious education. To claim our moral sense does derive from our biology because God put it there fails to explain why behaviour affected by the concerns of fairness also appears in our evolutionary cousins like rats and crows and crocodiles incapable of equivalent religious instruction.

    This is why JZ’s question about a moral value that derives only from religious belief is the lynch pin for this central question about the source of morality. If it is derived only from some religious source as claimed by many theists, then the evidence should be easy to show. But it isn’t easy to show (which is why I suspect Mel refuses to do so) because as far as I can determine there is no evidence for it, no pool of evidence from which he can draw from. But there is a lot of compelling evidence against the claim. To many of us, this lack of merit for the claim Mel makes matters.

  9. May I interject here? I recently learned a new word. Those of us who deny the obvious morality within animals are practicing, “anthropo-exemptionalism.” That’s called animal bigotry. Apparently it really hurts their feelings. I just tried it out on my dog. He doesn’t appear to be the least concerned, but he’s kind of a jerk anyway. Maybe I just need to find a dog who’s more in touch with his feelings?

    • tildeb says:

      Don’t you call him ‘husband’?

    • Mel Wild says:

      LOL! What’s funny here is that these people don’t understand the difference between instinctual behavior and morals.

      For instance, if my cat had morals then instead of catching mice, torturing them relentlessly until they died of exhaustion, and then eating them (which happens 100% of the time, I have empirical data), he would band together with other conscientious cats in the neighborhood and start a mouse anti-cruelty society. I don’t think that’s ever going to happen, do you? 😼

  10. There are over 100 parallels between Theravāda-Bodhisattva Buddhism and the gospel teachings of Jesus the Nasoraen. They are so remarkably alike covering compassion, wisdom, wealth, the future, temptations, salvation, inner-life, miracles, discipleship, personality traits, and life stories that they cannot be ignored or explained away. But here’s the very odd peculiarity: Buddhist were teaching these values 500-years earlier than Jesus and thousands of miles away! This is fact. Whether it was mere coincidence or the sharing by merchants of teachings through many trade routes between the Far East and Roman Syro-Palestine, does not matter. The same 100+ values Jesus shared in his life were already taught 500-years earlier. For example:

    • Siddhartha Gautama Buddha:
    Other’s faults are easy to see, yet hard it is to see one’s own, and so one winnows just like chaff the faults of other people, while hiding away those of one’s own as crafty cheat the losing throw.” (Dhammapada 18.252)

    • Jesus (according to gospels):
    Why do you see the splinter in someone else’s eye and never notice the log in your own?” (Matthew 7:5)

    — —

    • Siddhartha Gautama Buddha:
    If anyone should give you a blow with his hand, with a stick, or with a knife, you should abandon any desires and utter no evil words.” (Majjhima Nikaya 21.6)

    • Jesus (according to gospels):
    If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.” (Luke 6.29)

    — —

    • Buddha:
    Consider others as yourself.” (Dhammapada 10.1)

    • Jesus (according to gospels):
    Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6.31)

    — —

    • Buddha:
    During the six years that the Bodhisattva practiced austerities, the demon followed behind him step by step, seeking an opportunity to harm him. But he found no opportunity whatsoever and went away discouraged and discontent.” (Lalitavistara Sutra 18)

    • Jesus (according to gospels):
    When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4.13)

    — —

    • Buddha:
    The avaricious do not go to heaven, the foolish to not extol charity. The wise one, however, rejoicing in charity, becomes thereby happy in the beyond.” (Dhammapada 13.11)

    • Jesus (according to gospels):
    If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” (Matthew 19.21)

    — —

    • Buddha:
    Let us live most happily, possessing nothing; let us feed on joy, like radiant gods.” (Dhammapada 15.4)

    • Jesus (according to gospels):
    Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6.20)

    — —

    The other 90+ similar/identical concepts or sayings can be found in numerous ways, however, I quote these from a book I’ve owned for over 20-years called Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings authored by biblical scholar and theologian Marcus Borg. Verify the work if you like, it’s solid, particularly if you do extensive research about Theravāda-Bodhisattva Buddhism. If you haven’t, you cannot dispute in any intelligent way these similarities/identical concepts. Period.

    The point of this comment is to show everyone here that Western values are NOT in anyway exclusive to Christendom. To claim so is blatant fallacy. At the very least they were already being taught in the world over five centuries before, and at the most probably not just taught in the Far East. They probably also have ancient origins and threads in the Middle East too, e.g. prior to the Eastern Churches, also called Nestorian Church or Nestorianism and their ancient roots.

    I wish everyone a wonderful week. 🙂

    • Mel Wild says:

      TB, you are parroting popular myths about the similarities of Jesus and Buddha; you’re also ignoring the stark contrast between their teachings. You do know that the earliest writing of Buddha’s teachings were at least 500 years after his death, and the Dhammapada was first written in a known language to us in the second century AD. It’s been revised many times since. Also, according to Buddhist sources, there were many versions (e.g., Buddhist Hybrid-Sanskrit, Chinese, Gandhari, Pali, etc.), all of them similar but not quite identical, so there’s no hard fast way to know exactly what he said. There is also no way Jesus would’ve known about Buddha’s teachings. That claim by Christian detractors has also been debunked.

      And here’s a short video that debunks all the Jesus Myther’s arguments comparing Jesus to Buddha.

      Finally, you’re also missing the point. I don’t think you’ll find anyone in Western history claiming Buddha as their inspiration for motivating them to fight for social justice and giving the victim a voice. In fact, Buddha’s influence is pretty much missing altogether from shaping Western history.

      • TB, you are parroting popular myths about the similarities of Jesus and Buddha; you’re also ignoring the stark contrast between their teachings.

        That is incorrect Mel. Go back and reread what I stated (and did not state) and you would hopefully understand correctly that I was NOT mentioning ONLY similarities as if they were unequivocally identical, because obviously there are also differences — i.e. they’re from different cultures and a completely different timeframe. That was not at all what the point was about. Again, the point that is irrefutable is that many of the same concepts/values that Jesus was teaching in Syro-Palestine in the 1st-century CE were already taught in other parts of the world 500-years earlier. Let me repeat:

        Many of the (exact?) same concepts/values that Jesus was teaching in Syro-Palestine were already taught in other parts of the world 500-years earlier. Period.

        And they are not “myths” as you erroneously project. They are validated ancient manuscripts from WELL BEFORE Jesus’ lifetime. Study and research Theravāda-Bodhisattva Buddhism equitably, i.e. that means fairly Mel, and you will conclude — as any other sane, reasonable person can — these were values and concepts taught prevalently 500-years PRIOR TO Jesus’ birth. I know you can understand these facts: 500-years earlier! End of discussion. 🙂

        • Mel Wild says:

          End of discussion? LOL! Nice dismissal. I have empirical evidence that a reasonable discussion will never begin with you. And, besides, you have not addressed the point of the post. First, yes, arguably there were similar sayings going around the world in Jesus’ time. So what? Buddha himself was influenced by Hinduism, like the Vedas and Bhagavad Gita, which are arguably thousands of years before Buddha. But that was never the point here; it was never about who said something first. Jesus actually used known sayings in His parables to make a point. And God can reveal truth to all people of faith, so we should expect similarities. The point is, unquestionably, ALL of these sources were based in theistic religions. Furthermore, the only point that matters with relevance to this post is that there was NOT some uniquely secular values brought down to us that the West discovered that was totally devoid of religious influence. That’s just silly nonsense.

        • tildeb says:

          ” the only point that matters with relevance to this post is that there was NOT some uniquely secular values brought down to us that the West that we discovered totally devoid of religious influence. That’s just silly nonsense.”

          That “silly nonsense” comes entirely from you, Mel… a straw man fallacy which hardly bolsters the posts’ title about offering some intellectual honesty about your central claim that Western values derive directly from religious values. This is factually wrong.

          The only intellectual honesty being offered here is from the atheists and you simply will not engage on the merit of these offerings but disparage those who make the attempt. Not only is your title unrelated to the thesis you offer empowered only by your wishful thinking but you continue to demonstrate a singular lack of intellectual honesty in its defense. What you offer consistently and reliably is intentional deceit and intellectual dishonesty at every turn.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Right. I’m not being intellectually honest by agreeing with historians and seeing the obvious historical pathway that led us to our current Western values. Not to mention, there is NO evidence whatsoever of any uniquely secular values being the source. I think you need to look up what intellectual honesty actually means. But that probably won’t stop you from bloviating your dogmatic nonsense. Thanks for making my point though.

        • tildeb says:

          Oh, okay. Let’s see… Intellectual honesty… right then. Here it is:

          “Intellectual honesty is an applied method of problem solving, characterized by an unbiased, honest attitude, which can be demonstrated in a number of different ways:

          One’s personal faith does not interfere with the pursuit of truth; (Mel fails)
          Relevant facts and information are not purposefully omitted even when such things may contradict one’s hypothesis; (Mel fails)
          Facts are presented in an unbiased manner, and not twisted to give misleading impressions or to support one view over another; (Mel fails)
          References, or earlier work, are acknowledged where possible, and plagiarism is avoided. (only selected references cherry picked! Yup, Strike four, Mel. You allow your faith to direct your inquiry, disregard relevant facts, omit facts that contradict your thesis, present your thesis in a very biased way intentionally using misleading impressions to support your view.

          Your post and further commenting is an exercise in and demonstration of dishonesty presented under the title of some intellectual honesty all in the name of religious apologetics. That’s all you’re doing: spouting apologetics and (perhaps) wondering where you went wrong. Such a mystery. But that’s what inevitably happens when you don;t allow reality to arbitrate your beliefs about it but substitute piety as the highest virtue over and above seeking what’s true and doing so honestly.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Moving past your obsession with the title, if you’re being intellectually honest then you can show me your historical evidence of these uniquely secular values that our Western notions of social justice are built upon. Otherwise, this is still just bloviating nonsense. And I could just as easily say, all you’re doing is “spouting” your extreme anti-Christian apologetics. There is nothing unbiased about your statements, quite the opposite.

        • tildeb says:

          ” if you’re being intellectually honest then you can show me your historical evidence of these uniquely secular values that our Western notions of social justice are built upon.”

          And I’ve already explained and shown repeatedly that the values fundamental to Western civilization today are secular in that they arose in RESPONSE to religious authority and contrasted diametrically to them. Religious authority for over 1500 years DEMONSTRATED fundamental religious values, and these were not today’s secular values but their opposite!

          You continue to irrationally demand that secular values to be secular must arise independent of religious values or they really, really, really are ‘just’ religious values and owe fealty to these religious roots.

          Absolute bunk. Apologetics at its most deceitful.

          Your thesis is not true. It is an error in your thinking. It is a false assumption on your part. You are incorrect. You rely on this false dichotomy of either-religious or arising-independent-of-religious- affect. Again, no. This is wrong.

          Secular values arose in RESPONSE to antithetical religious values being imposed by totalitarian authority. That IS our history and is fully supported by overwhelming historical accounts and documentation. Religions have long stood opposed to these secular values and have lost the battle stopping them from being incorporated to our founding documents. To suggest today’s secular values are really religious values is incoherent, Mel. It is irrational. It is an abuse of the language. And to maintain this opinion you hold is deeply dishonest because it is intentionally deceitful. Your thesis is not “some intellectual honesty;” it is intellectual travesty and a complete rewriting of history. That makes it a lie.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Now you’re just cherry picking history to construct your straw man. So, which secular values for social justice are unique to secularism and didn’t come from religious foundations?

        • john zande says:

          Progressive liberal democracies, for one.

          Religious tolerance, marriage equality, women’s right to vote, women’s rights, divorce, child labour laws, abolition of slavery, equality under the law, abortion, free speech, freedom of the press, academic freedom, legislative and judicial systems, separation of powers, right to assembly, unions …

          that’s just off the top of my head.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, and most of those progressive ideas were originally fought for by people with religious convictions that man had inalienable rights given to us by God and equal value as human beings. “There is neither Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free…” in the eyes of God (Gal.3:28). None of them are uniquely secular ideas.

        • john zande says:

          Again, Paul is talking about in heaven, not on earth…. But nice try, Mel.

          You asked, I answered: Liberal Democracies.

          That’s a pretty big one, I think you’d agree.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, Paul was not talking about Heaven only, but nice try. The kingdom of God is a realm of authority not a place.

          While democratic government is outside the scope of my particular subject here, progressive social ideas were first championed by religious people. In fact, Fundamentalists accused them of propagating a “social gospel.”

        • john zande says:

          While democratic government is outside the scope of my particular subject here

          Errrum, yes, it is. You are talking about Western values and there is NOTHING that represents Western values, and EVERYTHING that has come from them, more than progressive liberal democracies. And as Tildeb rightly pointed out, secular values [liberal democracies] arose in RESPONSE to antithetical religious values being imposed by totalitarian authority… and we can demonstrate this.

          Christianity is about 2,000 years old. It gained near absolute influence across Europe around 1,o00 years ago (yet held incredible sway over southern Europe for some 600 years prior) and held that unchallenged influence for the next 700 years. If what you say is true, can you explain why liberal democracies, the very hallmark of the Western world and the values we hold dear, didn’t arise in the 500’s, the 600’s, the 700’s, the 800’s, the 900’s, the 1000’s, the 1100’s, the 1200’s, the 1300’s, the 1400’s, the 1500’s, the 1600’s, or the 1700’s when Christianity enjoyed its golden age of stability, influence and socio-political-economic power?

          Seems to be a disconnect between your claim and actual history…

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, I wasn’t talking about all Western values but those that pertain specifically to social justice and giving the victim a voice.

        • john zande says:

          As Tildeb would say, Good. Grief.

          Goodbye, Mel.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Too bad you can’t stay on subject. Good-bye.

        • tildeb says:

          It doesn’t matter what you answer; Mel will cast aspersions no matter what you say and then ask the same idiotic question over and over as he has done to me. The man simply has zero intellectual honesty or integrity.

        • john zande says:

          As just demonstrated.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Good grief indeed. The only thing you two have demonstrated is that no matter what my specific subject is, you have zero ability (or intent) to address it. Ironically, you are giving us the very epitome of intellectual dishonesty with your mulish obstinance. You have proven that you will say anything to avoid admitting the obvious, but it just makes you look stupid. Besides being “besides the point,” democracies are NOT moral values; they are a form of government. And liberal and progressive democracies were influenced by liberal and progressively-minded people appealing the social justice side of religious values. Anyone with a 2nd grade level history knowledge knows this. Besides, you confuse Roman imperialism under the guise of the Holy Roman Empire with Judeo-Christian values. But you won’t find that value anywhere in the New Testament. This shop-worn straw man won’t stand up to any scrutiny at all with anyone who has rudimentary knowledge of Christian theology. Yet, this is still not the point of this post. But that doesn’t stop you from ignoring or dismissing the actual Christian values being employed with the abolitionists and social justice movement of the 18th and 19th centuries.

          You have shown over and over again that you no ability (or intention) whatsoever to make a legitimate counter-argument to the actual subject so you engage in your fallacious games. This is why it takes over 100 comments to try to get this through your heads (to no avail, apparently). So, PLEASE…either learn how to stay on subject or go and waste someone else’s time.

        • John Branyan says:

          “Good Grief” is actually a pretty solid argument, Mel.
          When JZ said that, I suddenly saw all the flaws in what you’ve been saying.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Too bad it took me over 100 comments to see the error of my ways. 😝

        • John Branyan says:

          The heathen can just lead with “Good Grief” from now on. That will save everyone a lot of time.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Good point. That can be a code word for us merry fools from the provinces to mind our betters. Yes, that will give me a LOT more free time to be more disingenuous and think up other pantomimes. Great idea!

        • John Branyan says:

          And just for fun…totally off topic.

          Can you point out the incoherence in the Spartan’s description of god being, “A giant, invisible, pink unicorn that farts trees”?
          I’ve told him the description is irrational but he’s too angry to change it.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Lol! There is nothing rational or coherent about this statement. Sounds like the Spartan thinks we’re talking about Greek mythology, a demiurge, when we talk about God. I could comment on the particulars, but I’ll just say, “good grief.”

        • As I’ve discussed on other blogs about this historical time-period and these points, I’m going to just copy/paste what I’ve said there, here, for the sake of mine and everyone else’s time. It is very difficult to have a reasonable discussion with you and your personal biases Mel.

          ————————————————-

          Yes, Mel is referring to only ONE late version of the Dhammapadas, the canonical Pali-version. The issue for all historians and archaeologists of any personal persuasion is that when you are trying to study and date these religious “teachings” that come from the Iron Age, you are relying partially on oral traditions, exactly as the Jews did/do with their Tanakh or the Hindus with their Vedas. This goes for any ancient religion. But what is firmly established is that Buddhism began in the 5th-century BCE then developed, like ALL religions (including Christianity), over several centuries as writing tools, papyrus, etc, were developing and being used.

          It wasn’t until the 1st-century CE around the known world that holy traditions, of all major religions, really began in earnest to document their teachings — the Apostle Paul’s teachings, the first in Christendom, didn’t begin until 30-40 years AFTER the death of Jesus; the Gospels 70-100 years after his death! Does this global fact sweepingly negate all oral religious traditions? Of course not. Everywhere around the classical ancient world papyrus writing was coming out of its infancy in the c. 2nd-century BCE and into its widespread use by the 2nd-century CE.

          What is also known from Buddhist traditions is the 1st-2nd century BCE Sri Lankan work, the Buddhavamsa, the idea of the person who makes the vow of a Bodhisatta becomes a fully enlightened Buddha out of compassion for all sentient beings (a Christ) is presented. This concept was one of the foundations for the later Theravāda expansions.

          What Mel is choosing to ignore — probably because he knows nothing of substance about Buddhism — is that Buddhism (as a whole) and its many similarities to the teachings of Jesus (according to the gospels) pre-exists his Christology by 500-years. If he wants to detract “oral traditions” and the veracity of Iron Age papyrus, then his entire Old Testament and many New Testament manuscripts are equally debunked. He can’t have double-standards because it pleases him and his personal position.

          Bottom-line: Mel’s counter-arguments intentionally avoids and tries to divert established origins of religious teachings by the majority of scholars.

          ————————————————-

          Since we disagree on just about 99.9% of everything Mel, I can no longer waste my time on this comment-thread. You are welcome to have the last word. 😄 Have a good week. I’ll stop by again in the future. 😉

        • Mel Wild says:

          Haha. How ironic. “Intentionally avoids and tries to divert…”? Haha! Right. I do cheerfully admit to avoiding your red herrings. This is rich. Besides misrepresenting what I’m saying, you start by making an irrelevant point to my post and then focus on how I answered your irrelevant point rather than the fact that you’re not refuting my argument at all. Nice diversion! LOL! And I’m sure this dismissal will make you look good among your admiring followers. You sure showed me! LOL!

          Here’s what you should add to your statement (if you were honest): “And, I, Professor Taboo, continue to miss the whole point and keep arguing past the subject Mel presents with fallacious argumentation. But this tactic cleverly helps me avoid the inconvenient truth that there is no uniquely secular source that we can point to that gave our Western values for social justice. I will just change the subject to something I think I have a stronger case for and claim victory!

          But thanks for stopping by and sharing that, and especially for not wasting any more of my time on this thread.

        • Yes, “your welcomes” to everyone. But I’m sure I share this sentiment with you for any and everyone here…

          Don’t take EITHER of our words, studies, experiences, etc, on any of this. Study and research it ALL for yourself — like any intelligent consumer should do before ‘purchasing’ then suffers from buyers remorse — and after several months or a few years of doing your OWN legwork/homework, decide on your own for yourself. That’s absolutely fair for both Mel and I to suggest. We are afterall, imperfect human beings. 😉

        • Mel Wild says:

          I do agree with that. And I would add, one should make sure they’re being honest with themselves about their internal motivations for believing one side versus the other. Because, in the end, no matter how much evidence one has, we tend to believe what we want to believe and, for most things, a conclusion is still a decision that requires some element of faith.

        • Though you are stating the obvious and this is subjective to every person’s background and (biased?) experiences, I’m glad you are agreeing here with what I essentially stated. But the broader inference of this obvious, common wisdom is that it goes both ways, or is valid for all, exclusive to none. You may remember this quote:

          I’ve found that no amount of evidence, logic, or reason will convince someone who does not want to believe [does not want to open their eyes, ears, and heart]. And that’s what we must admit to ourselves.

          Quite true and it goes both ways, or is valid for all, exclusive to none. The exciting aspects of this axiom are that as humanity’s desire to relentlessly explore and understand EVERYTHING around them, past, present, and future, to the subatomic up to the macro-cosmic, and the recent new field of study called Agnotology (contrasted to Knowledge or Opinion)… the empirical evidence, data, and accepted supporting methodologies will and do indeed move us FORWARD to newer and more precise truths and facts! That is a very, VERY good thing for us and our human family. 🙂

        • Mel Wild says:

          I actually think there are common goals for both religious and scientific community for the good of all humankind if we just put down our clubs down and agree on what matters. My personal objection comes in when people go on and say we don’t need religion, or worse, we should do away with religion. Yes, we should all fight against any kind of extreme fundamentalist dogmatism (on both sides of these issues), but it’s not helpful to dismiss our long history and contributions that religion has made to culture; that is, if one wants to actually have a truly pluralistic society.

        • That reads well. That is a reasonable and noble spoken/written comment Mel. As a Freethinking Humanist I would agree with most all of what it should imply. However, I do not see this spirit behind many of your blog-posts or comment-threads, at least not consistently. Only your “preferred Followers” with their own similar/identical predisposed biases would not recognize the significant subjectivity you post about here compared to the rest of the world.

          Nonetheless, we are ALL welcomed to personally believe whatever we individually choose no matter how bizarre, or erroneous, or illogical that paradigm or ideology might consist of after thorough extensive scrutiny by interdisciplinary experts, scholars, and diverse panels. When it becomes a very serious problem is when those certain individuals, or groups, or institutions, or nations seek to impose (forceably via legislation or conflict/killing) THEIR OWN paradigms/ideologies onto thousands or millions of others who are different, who disagree and have legitimate compelling reasons and empirical evidence to do so. And I think we both know I do not need to list or recap the litany of all historical examples of these human rights violations/atrocities by radical, tyrannical, militant groups, institutions, and nation-states all in the name of their supernatural paradigms or ideologies.

          What I most abhor in this day and age around the world, and inside the U.S., are those people who CLAIM exclusive rights to all Universal truths/facts since the beginning of time to the end of this magnificent planet and POSSIBLY our species making everything and everyone else inferior and unequivocally damned/doomed, e.g. Lev 19:1-5 and Deut 14:2 in the Tanakh, John 14:6 in the New Testament, and Kafir verses in the Quran. THOSE belief-systems are wrong, unsubstantiated, and are bold face lies. They are NOT productive for life on Earth. That elite exclusive-claiming circus is what I will not idly standby or be silent about! I care way too much about all species on this planet and the Earth that sustains all of it.

          I hope we can let this comment lie, as it stands because I’ve run out of time for this. 😉

        • Mel Wild says:

          You are free to express your opinion. We can talk about some of your points (at least, made against Christian claims) another time.

        • Write a post about it if you haven’t already drafted one. 😉

          Our times, priorities, and obligations are quite limited for any sort of indepth debate about it here on your blog Mel — it all gets buried quickly and quickly forgotten. WordPress comment sections aren’t the platform for these type debates/discussions. But thanks for the invite.

          In the end, it all falls back upon the person and how earnest or how lazy people are to equitably seek all of this out for themselves. I’ve spent well over 25-years doing this — academically and in the field — and with more time, more discoveries, etc, only HELPING, I am quite comfortable with my current foundations.

          Again, have a good week.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, time is what limits my ability to fully articulate my position. And even if one did, it would be too long for anyone to read on a blog.

          Write a post about it if you haven’t already drafted one.

          I did briefly did write my theological understanding of John 14:6 a while back in “Jesus is the only way to what?” But that post was not written apologetically. I would probably explain it differently in that context.

          As a diverse society of people, we can certainly be tolerant of our widely differing views of reality. But it doesn’t follow that we must embrace total subjectivism in order to be gracious to one another. In other words, it doesn’t mean (to me) that there’s no such thing as objective truth; it just means it may be very difficult to prove what a particular objective truth is. So, in that sense, we should be gracious, even if we vehemently disagree. We can extend the right to each other to have their view, even when we think the other is wrong in that view. That’s true tolerance.

          Btw, I’ve been studying what I believe now for 40 years now. I’m pretty comfortable, too, while continuing to grow in my understanding. I have to go now, too. Talk to you later.

        • Yes, time is what limits my ability to fully articulate my position.

          I would argue that you actually DO articulate your position very well, persistently, within one specific lens rather than in a more kaleidoscope equal offering of alternative or opposing viewpoints, and as doggedly long as it takes to have the last final word, last final comment. This benefits you here on your blog as you do not visit any other non-Christian blogs to fairly discuss these same things. This implies something or several things.

          I’ve been studying what I believe now for 40 years now.

          Perhaps you are substantially older than I am? I guess it would also depend on how intensively each of all of those years were spent on a wide spectrum of world-views, histories, practices, etc, and not just one or two. As I’ve mentioned to you a few times Mel, your knowledge of Second Temple Judaism/Messianism, with all due respect, is extremely lacking, bordering on non-existent. I’m surprised by this because of Christendom’s dire “need” on pure Hebrew Scriptures and their correct contextual exegesis and Jewish Messianism — of which current Christology gets wrong. And the the core of Christianity/Christology and the 3rd-4th century CE Christian Trinity totally hinge on these two correct/incorrect Jewish historical principles.

          But curiously and for future reference, how many of your 40-years were embedded in Secular and non-Christian concepts, beliefs, religions, churches, ideologies, cultures, education… versus Christian ones, more specifically out of and apart from YOUR FourSquare Gospel Church, Pentecostal and CCNA influences and umbrellas? Thank you.

        • A reminder in case it was overlooked… 🙂

          But curiously and for future reference, how many of your 40-years were embedded in Secular and non-Christian concepts, beliefs, religions, churches, ideologies, cultures, education… versus Christian ones, more specifically out of and apart from YOUR FourSquare Gospel Church, Pentecostal and CCNA influences and umbrellas? Thank you.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Fair enough. I came from the secular corporate world, although I grew up a Catholic. I’ve only been part of Foursquare for 20 of those years. I think there are strong points to the various theological disciplines, and I’m critical of some which I’ve covered extensively on this blog in the past. I’ve also read and studied church history and religious philosophy and have read or heard most of the arguments against Christianity. I’ve read some of the textual critics or heard their arguments. Some of these arguments are legitimate (and well-known), some are fallacious.

          The one thing I have concluded is an anti-theist (as opposed to agnostic, saying there is no God) ontology is both logically and experientially incoherent. As scientist Francis Collins said, it’s the worst of all the options. Of course, that’s my view. But I can understand people’s anger with Western Christian churches and their experience with them. I’m not ever debating that.

          Got to go. In the middle of several projects.

        • I came from the secular corporate world…

          That obviously would be as an adult 19 to 25, 30, 35? More? Less? And still a practicing Catholic?

          I grew up a Catholic.

          So from 1-year of age to 18? Or as an older adult, still practicing Catholicism?

          …part of Foursquare for 20 of those years.

          So therefore, a Catholic (Christian) for about 18-years, possibly 35-40 years(?). The secular corporate world is a VERY VAGUE description and usually doesn’t represent much more than 40-50 hrs per week out of a total of 168-hours, or say 27% of your conscious time/energy; say 30% if one is a workaholic. Plus, not all corporate environments are horrible, or “evil/sinful” if they want to remain professional and stay in business. Some corporations are even conservatively (Christian) managed. You are welcome to correct my math here Mel, but the corporate world doesn’t necessarily mean “Sodom and Gomorrah.” 😉

          So I’m going to assume for now you’ve spent very, very little time/energy equitably embedded in the extremely diverse non-Christian world given your Catholic upbringing (and schooling?) then entry into FourSquare, and Pentecostal/CCNA life and full-time (daily) environment for 20-years. Would it be safe to say you’ve spent MOST or the MAJORITY of your life inside the “Christian” life, circles, and daily/weekly activities? Has all of it been strictly inside the U.S.?

          I’ve also read and studied church history and religious philosophy and have read or heard most of the arguments against Christianity. I’ve read some of the textual critics or heard their arguments. Some of these arguments are legitimate (and well-known), some are fallacious.

          This doesn’t help me much toward determining the full dynamics/spectrum of your (accredited) academics or “studies,” experiences in the non-Christian world versus your enormous time spent (protected?) in a religious Christian world FROM the litany of its endless knowledge, experience, ignorance (to be fair), and legitimate, compelling, VALID counters and disproofs on Christianity. I was hoping you’d freely divulge that part of your CV/dossier. In other words, when a child, adolescent, teenager, young adult, and full adult (into their 40’s – 50’s?) have known nothing more than their own and parent’s life, culture, groups, beliefs, etc, it is very difficult for them to equitably and with less bias to consider, let alone learn/experience firsthand, the marrow of a (completely) DIFFERENT people/culture/beliefs, e.g. the globally diverse Secular and non-Christian worlds. It isn’t enough to READ books about it by authors who haven’t lived there embedded for 10 – 20 years. That’s reading (digesting?) someone else’s biases or experiences.

          But I can understand people’s anger with Western Christian churches and their experience with them. I’m not ever debating that.

          That is a very wise position Mel. Yes, their utter frustration and suspciciousness of Western Christianity is totally justified regarding the modern words and behaviors of today’s churches, pulpits, and congregations… both inside the church/institution and more so outside! And this doesn’t even touch or delve into the core foundations and origins of Western Christology! That’s an entirely different battle with very, very few champions who know their own “faith’s” roots in their true BROAD historical context! LOL

          Nonetheless, I hope you might further clarify your time/years between Catholic/Christian life versus outside embedded (deep?) in the non-Christian Secular world. Right now it appears very lopsided. Thanks. 🙂

  11. I actually live in the land of social justice and also angry Buddhists. Our modern Western Buddhists are often so lacking in zen, so infamous, they have actually inspired some great comedy skits and caricatures.

    I just wanted to say, in a social justice context, it has always really bothered me that Buddha’s first act was to completely abandon his wife and newborn child. He broke her heart! There’s some other deeply ingrained sexism within Buddhism too, extra chants, extra prayers for the women on account of the fact that we are more fallen, less Divine, extra tainted. We allegedly have too many attachments and sentimentalities, so the essence of what makes us women is really rejected within Buddhism.

  12. Pingback: Do morals evolve? | In My Father's House

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