Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pride is a Virtue, Not a Vice - Part 3

An attempted rebuttal by David Rodriguez to my first posting on pride, in which I argued that pride is a virtue and not a vice, and that Christians misuse the term, resulted in my second posting on the subject, Pride is a Virtue, Not a Vice - Part 2 . The comment made there by Watkins has resulted in this post, in which I will rebut his rebuttal. I will also be writing an additional 4th post on the subject of humble and humility, and how it relates to pride. This subject is very important, because I think that pride is such an important virtue that we should get it right. In fact, I believe pride is one of the primary virtues, as if one has the justifiable proper amount of self respect, they tend to hold the other virtues. Not to do so, would be to not only disrespect others, but to disrespect themselves. People who lack pride, tend not to hold the other virtues, and tend to exhibit unvirtuous behaviors.

According to Watkins:

"This is very simple. There are two definitions of pride; call them pride 1 and pride2. Pride 1 is an arrogant, boastful love of self. Pride 2 is a proper amount of self-respect. Christians say that pride1 is bad, and pride 2 is good. We label each "pride" simply as a matter of use. If you want to claim otherwise you're simply straw-manning and talking right past us."

To clarify, I am not claiming that the Christians do not use pride in two different ways--that is exactly my point. The Christian claims that pride is a vice AND a virtue. Pride is defined as the justifiable, proper amount of self respect, and then the Christian defines pride as unjustified over abundance of self respect. This is straightforward. As a result, the Christian use of pride lends itself to ambiguity and equivocation, while Aristotle's definition is clear and precise, and does not lend itself to ambiguity and equivocation. Therefore, Aristotle's use of the conception of the use of pride does a better job than the Christian conception, as Aristotle's definition is clear and concise."

I have never seen or heard a christian use the term 'pride 1' and/or 'pride 2--I have only heard them say "Pride is a vice." or ""It's good to have pride in your church." and so forth. Never have I heard them say, "I am using pride 1 as opposed to pride 2." But let's accept Watkins' distinction. The fact that he has attempted to label pride in this manner illustrates why he ought not use one word to mean two opposite things, when we have a better explanation and use of terms such as pride and arrogance. Now note, since I gave the definition of pride as the justifiable amount of self respect, that he labels as "pride 2" and then I gave the Christian definition of pride, that he label as "pride 1" I labeled each "pride"as a matter of use and argued that Christians misuse the concept of pride since pride 1 is the justifiable proper amount of self respect, and pride 2 is an unjustifiable amount of self respect. So, I did not commit the fallacy of equivocation as Watkins defined it above, since I did not even use a syllogism in the first place! Furthermore, I did not use pride as a middle term, I merely gave the definition of pride, and contrasted that with the Christian conception of pride--the one you call "pride 2," and showed that these 2 definitions are inconsistent, and to use pride in this manner is to misuse the term.

Now, what Mr. Watkins said above, which I will state again is:

"The fallacy of equivocation is not a matter of ambiguity. It's when you use a word that can't function as the middle term in a syllogism, because the word has different meanings in each premise."

This is exactly how Christians use the term pride! If we were to use the Christian conception of pride in a syllogism, it lends itself to equivocation as it has two contrasting meanings, whereas Aristotle's use of the term pride is clear and concise, and does not lend itself to equivocation and contradiction. As he pointed out, "Things are said to be named 'equivocally' when, though they have a common name, the definition corresponding with the name differs for each.--This is exactly what the Christian conception of pride is, as it has a common name and the definition corresponding with the name differs for each--but Christians often times equivocate.

His applying the label 'pride 1' and 'pride 2' helps, but does not fix the problem. According to Watkins, should any one define in what sense each is an animal, his definition in the one case will be appropriate to that case only. In practice, the majority of Christians misuse the term, and it is even misused in the bible, as illustrated below:

"Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech." Proverbs 8:10-13

Let us apply Watkins' label of "pride 1 and "pride 2." Now, let's use the law of substitution. In the above passage, we would have the following:

"To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and pride, evil behavior and perverse speech."


"To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate arrogance and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech."

How odd. It would appear that in this passage they are making reference to "pride 1" and "pride 2." Otherwise, why would they repeat the same meaning twice? In other words, according to what Watkins said, the passage should read:

"To fear the LORD is to hate evil: I hate "pride 1" and "pride 2", evil behavior and perverse speech."

Therefore, the above passage illustrates how the Christian god hates self respect, as according to Christians, they are "dirty, filthy sinners," and they ought not have any amount of "self respect," as that illustrates they think too much of themselves as everything about them is due to God--via God's grace. This Christian argument against pride as a virtue, is expressed in the following passages:

"For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" 1Cor 4:7
"And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day." Deuteronomy 8:18
According to this conception of grace, anything that distinguishes one person from another is a gift from God. Whether a person is intelligent, beautiful, strong, fast and so on, is all due to the grace of God, and is not of their own doing, as is expressed in the following passage:
"So the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?" Exodus 4:11
There is nothing good about a person that is not a gift of god according to the Christian conception of grace. A person has no good characteristics that is a result of his own doing, as is expressed in the following passages:
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." James 1:17
"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, And You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. "Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, That we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, And of Your own we have given You. For we are aliens and pilgrims before You, As were all our fathers; Our days on earth are as a shadow, And without hope. "O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own." 1 1Chronicles 29:11-16
The Christian saint, Augustine, uses this conception of grace to argue that all pride is a vice. As Don Schweitzer summarizes Augustine's view:
"We begin by analyzing the critique of pride put forward by Augustine and Reinhold Niebuhr. A critique of pride as sinful is certainly present in the biblical traditions (Prov. 16:18). But it received a new emphasis with Augustine, who sees pride as having been the major obstacle to his reconciliation with God and the primary cause of injustice, war and oppression. In City of God, Augustine defines pride as the exaltation of one's self in place of God (14.13; 1984: 571- 73). Augustine's purely negative description of pride arises in part from his emphasis on the creative and reconciling power of grace and his neo-Platonic metaphysics. According to Augustine, creation and salvation happen through the free and undeserved grace of God. Though humanity was created good, the effect of Adam's fall is that all deserve punishment and are unable to save themselves. As all that is of value comes as a gift from God, there is little cause for pride in one's self."

Now we can see that one Christian conception of pride only sees pride, all of pride, as a vice. Based on this conception, Watkin's use of "pride 1" and "pride 2" fails because on this view, there is no justifiable amount of self respect, as all is due to God's grace. 
Also, none of the following passages taken from the bible seem to use Watkin's conception of pride 1 and pride 2. In fact, they seem to make a sweeping generalization against "pride"--both 1 and 2, which is consistent with the Christian conception of pride as a vice I have just illustrated above.

Consider the following passages:
"But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
"The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight. 2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." Proverbs 11:1-2
"Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice." Proverbs 13:10
"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. 19 Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud." Proverbs 16:18-19
"A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor." Proverbs 29:23

Which "pride," (pride 1, or pride 2) are the above passages making reference to? It is interesting if we look at Aristotle's conception of pride, as pride is a virtue, and is the mean between the two vices of humble on one side, and arrogance on the other. It is difficult to distinguish which pride the above passages are making reference to, as it would appear that both definitions can be deduced to be vices from the Bible, and in fact was/is deduced to be a vice by Christians like St. Augustine. 
Mr. Rodriquez provided a quote, which cites two passages from the bible which is supposed to illustrate what you call "pride 2"--that is, pride as a virtue:

"He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say." 2Cor. 12:5-6

But now note, that in this passage, there is no term 'pride.' It would seem that they are making reference to the word 'boast.' But boast, like pride has two meanings, one as a virtue and one as a vice. Paul refrains from using the term in reference to himself, so no one will think more of him than is warranted by what he dose or says. It is interesting because today if a person says, "I have pride," a common Christian response is, "Pride cometh before a fall." They do not ask, are you speaking the truth, and if so, reply, "you are justified in your pride." They do not distinguish between the two different meanings. They tend to reason along the lines of St. Augustine. The Christian conception of pride lends itself to misuse.

The second passage offered to show that the Christians have a positive conception of pride as a virtue, is:

"I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds." 2Cor. 7:4

The context of this passage and the one above illustrates pride as a virtue. But they also illustrate the need for clarity. I have asked many Christians if pride is a virtue or a vice; 99% of the time I was told that pride is a vice, and they made no distinction otherwise. As I have shown above, one Christian conception of pride is that all pride is vice, while in a few passages, some form of pride is a virtue. As Mr. Rodriguez pointed out, it is usually considered a vice though--and as I have shown above, we now know why that is the case.

The use of pride 1 and pride 2 fails in the case that no one is deserving of any kind of pride. For in this case the use of pride 1 and pride 2 not only fails--it is ruled out all together as it makes reference to pride in a general sense as being a vice, which encompasses both pride 1 and pride 2. Thus, we can see that we have two Christian conceptions of pride, the main one where all pride is a vice and one view where some form of pride is a virtue and some form of pride is a vice, and both conceptions of pride are depicted in the bible. This results in a contradictory, convoluted, ambiguous and misuse of the term 'pride' by Christians. 
Now on the issue of humble and humility, I also agree with Aristotle's definition, in that being humble, and having humility is a vice. Pride is a virtue and a mean between arrogant on one side, and humility on the the other. Christianity teaches that we must be humble—have a poor self-esteem, have a feeling of insignificance and worthlessness, etc. – and that having pride (self respect) is bad. 
Therefore, Christians misuse the term 'pride,' and Aristotle's conception of pride does a better job than the Christian conception of pride, as the Christian conception of pride is contradictory, convoluted, and ambiguous.

As a final note, I find it interesting that the "Rational Gang" have swept Satan under the rug, even though the confusion in the meaning of the word pride can be somewhat attributed to the belief that Satan was a fallen angel that was kicked out of heaven due to his excessive "pride."  After I explained the history of Satan, and that there is no "fallen angel" story in the Old Testament, and that Satan is one of the "sons of god" in Genesis 6, and is a spy and adversary of men who works FOR Yahweh in the Old Testament according to the Jews who wrote the text--they did not bring up the subject again.  Interesting.....;)

Addendum:  I emailed the "Rational Gang" (I find the name rather amusing, for many reasons) and asked them to either offer a rebuttal, or admit the truth.  I'm still waiting.....
Addendum 2 - As of June 2012 (the last time I checked) the "Rational Gang" is no more.  Perhaps they couldn't take the "heat."--lol.


Anonymous said...

OK, I'll try to make this simple for you. Bad pride would be where a person is an arrogant, know it wall, better than everyone. That type of pride is bad from a biblical perspective because it lends itself to love of self only and not others. This type of pride ruins relationships, marriages, friendships and even employee employer effectiveness and leads to wars.

Humility, not self deprecation as you mistakenly conclude, fosters forgiveness and healing in relationships.

Now think for a second, if there is a God and He knows everything, wouldn't it make sense for me to humbly submit to him in terms of how to live my life. He has things figured out at least a little better than I do. Make sense?

True Christians are known for, or at least should be known for hope, joy, peace and thanksgiving. Actually the "fruits of the spirit" are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self control. By "fruits of the spirit" the bible refers to what is produced in us through Christian living. Does that sound like self deprecation to you? Moreover, my experience as 20 years as a Christian has proven that to be true in my life.

As I read your blogs I keep seeing a pattern of misquoting / misinterpreting scripture and talking out of ignorance. I'm sorry if you have met some Christians that have only been "christian" by name but not really living it. There are a lot of hypocrates out there, no doubt.

A is for Atheist said...

@ Anonymous

If you are making a claim that I misquote/misrepresent scripture, please point it out. Otherwise, what you say is mere assertion without evidence.

In fact, I DO NOT misquote. I use scripture as it is presented in the bible--just as I did in this post when I illustrated how ALL of "pride" is considered a vice, not only in the bible, but by Augustine as well. I illustrated this by doing the substitution in this post, which I will do again here. Consider again, the following verse:

"Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech." Proverbs 8:10-13

Let us apply the label of "pride 1 and "pride 2." Now, let's use the law of substitution. In the above passage, we would have the following:

"To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and pride, evil behavior and perverse speech."


"To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate arrogance and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech."

How odd. It would appear that in this passage they are making reference to "pride 1" and "pride 2." Otherwise, why would they repeat the same meaning twice? In other words, according to what Watkins said, the passage should read:

"To fear the LORD is to hate evil: I hate "pride 1" and "pride 2", evil behavior and perverse speech."

Therefore, the above passage illustrates how the Christian god hates self respect, as according to Christians, they are "dirty, filthy sinners," and they ought not have any amount of "self respect," as that illustrates they think too much of themselves as everything about them is due to God--via God's grace.

A book of mythology written over 2000 years ago does not know more about life in this day and age than I do. This is illustrated many times in the sexist and misogynist passages within it, as well as your gods ignorance as to what is the cause of disease etc.

True christians are known for their "fruits" Those Christians who go about committing adultery, child abuse, extortion, murdering abortion doctors and homosexuals are illustrating the "fruits" of Christian beliefs. This is because not only do Christians believe they are "born sinners," they also believe that Jesus paid for their sins, which absolves them of any responsibility. This would be like a college student who goes to school on his parents' dime, and flunks out. What does he care? His parents paid for it! If he had to pay however, he would have worked harder to succeed. The same can be said for Christianity. Why should Christians strive to be "good" when Jesus paid for their sins, and they don't have to take responsibility? As the Christian philosopher Pelagius pointed out long ago, this doctrine leads to "moral laxity" and he was correct. We know this by the actions of Christians both past and present.

As the old saying goes, If you put a teaspoon of sewage into a barrel of wine--what you have left is sewage. And if you put a teaspoon of wine into a barrel of sewage, what do you have? Sewage. So either way, what you have is sewage.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response. Here are some thoughts. First of all, please don't blame God nor all of Christianity because some people who call themselves Christian perform un-Christian acts. Personally I would say they are not Christians, though I'm certainly not the ultimate judge. Because I step into a garage doesn't make me a mechanic. The bible itself says there will be many false teachers. I can assure you that frustrates me more than it frustrates you; people saying they've done things in the name of God / Christianity that clearly aren't from God.

OK, so I was being generally and you want to focus on a specific verse. That's fine. I respect that, though I would contend it's more equitable to take the bible as a whole. At the very least we need to study things in context. First, and as a side note, I've seen much evil caused by pride and arrogance of individuals so it's clear what the Bible is referring to, but anyway.... OK, Proverbs 8:10-13 ... first of all, why wouldn't I want to choose instruction from the creator of the universe? Secondly the word "pride" comes from the Hebrew word "geah", pronounced gay-aw which means haughty or arrogance. The word "arrogance" is just a derivative of the same word in Hebrew "ga'own" pronounced gaw-ohn, implying pomp, arrogance, haughtiness. Now, clearly you are a smart guy but are you also wise enough to see that arrogance, pomp and haughtiness are clearly undesirable attributes. I don't think any of us, Christian or not, seek arrogant friends or spouses.

One last thing, I don't understand everything in the Bible, I'd like to think I understand most of it, but I don't know. I do know this. After 20 years of living my life as a Christian, my life has changed dramatically and I know thousands of people who would say the same thing. I really live it. I love people. It's not my job to condemn them. We are called to love the sinner and hate the sin. Those people who persecute or even kill gays or abortion doctors are messed up. I can love a gay person and still believe what he is doing is wrong the same as I can love a heterosexual person who is having sex outside of marriage. I'm sure we could go on and on about that but I just want to set the record straight that there are clearly some nut cases out there claiming to be Christians.

Got to go. Have a good one!

A is for Atheist said...

@ Ron

I do not present or take things out of context. I apply the principles of logic. I recognize the difference between the existential and the universal. In logic, we look to see if an argument is valid and sound, and we check for consistency and completeness. The things you mention are not mutually exclusive. In the case of my post, I have done all of this, meaning with the notion of pride, I have not taken it out of context, nor is my argument dependent on one verse, and ignoring the others. In fact, I argue that when we look at all the verses what we have is the misuse of the word pride, and a contradiction. The bible does not satisfy the conditions of consistency and completeness. As I have pointed out above, this leads to contradictory, convoluted, ambiguous misuse of the term 'pride' by Christians.

You further illustrate my point. Like Nietzsche, I practice philology, and that is why I can avoid making the kinds of mistakes that you speak of.

Note, that you show us the Hebrew word for the vice of "arrogance"--geah", pronounced gay-aw which you pointed out, means haughty or arrogance.

You should have gone further, and checked to see if they have a word that represents "pride" as a virtue.

In fact, they do. It is the word "hadar." Every Jew is a prince and has an obligation to act as befits someone of royal heritage. Hadar is a Hebrew word not easily translated, which embodies the ideas of self-pride and self-respect, respect for others and acting with a high moral integrity. Simply put, hadar is about acting like a "mensch." (A Yiddish word that describes a person of integrity.)

So, in the Jewish language, they do not have a word such as "pride 1" and "pride 2." In other words, they have one word for pride, and another word for arrogance. I know of no Jew who would say, "You have too much hadar," when they mean to say that someone is arrogant or haughty and boastful, and so forth. There is no story of a "fallen angel" who had too much "hadar" As I pointed out above, there is no story of a "fallen angel" in the Old Testament at all.

I am wise enough to see that arrogance, pomp and haughtiness are clearly undesirable attributes, and they ought not be attached to the virtue of pride in any way, shape or form, as pride is the justifiable, proper amount of self respect. We ought to teach our children to have pride in a similar fashion that Jews teach their children to have hadar so that they become "mensch." If you teach children the concept of grace, and that they are unworthy, dirty, filthy sinners and creatures, in comparison to god, and that pride is a vice, then they will have less of a tendency to be "mensch."

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry "A" but I am a simple man so I hope you can "humbly", there's that word you hate, forgive my ignorance. My entire Christian life I have never been taught that I am "less than". I have been taught that I am loved by the creator of the universe who loved me so much He sent His son to die for me. Now I realize to you that is nothing more than a fable but to me it is truth. You can ask any Christian who takes the time read the bible and live it and he / she will readily confirm that we seek a humility that submits to God's direction, leads to loving our fellow man, avoids an arrogant haughty sense of who we are and contributes to immense self respect, joy, peace and hope.

You study the Bible with a negative bias and you will avoid, like the plague, coming to that conclusion. It's like the scientist who is sure that we can from apes and he concludes (mistakenly) that some pig bones are a transitional form from ape to human; he's blinded (by virtue of his bias) to the truth that is right in front of him.

We can go through every verse in the bible that speaks negatively of pride and in all cases the reference will be toward a negative, destructive haughty, arrogant pride conclusion.

Yes, I'm a sinner. That's just truth... but I'm a forgiven sinner and that's a beautiful thing. I have immense self respect and it's not dependent upon what I can or will do; what a concept. To use a simple human analogy - when a child does something wrong he feels bad and when he is forgiven he feels loved and accepted. I don't need specific teaching about "hadar" when it is inherent to who I am as a Christian. Your view of Christianity, or at least this subject, is completely backwards.

Here's something interesting for you. I work for a very large corporation and the newest thing in leadership training is "servant leadership"..... I've understood the virtues of that ever since I've been a Christian. It's from the bible and they don't, or maybe they do I don't know, realize that it's a Christian concept. You see, it's all about humility. As leaders we can power down on people like know-it-all haughty slave masters or we can serve them, coach them, and help them be more than they think they can be. Which do you think leads to a more productive, energizing and enjoyable workplace?

A is for Atheist said...

@ Anonymous

Whoa!--hold the contradictions!! You tell me you have not been taught that you are "less than"--but go on to tell me that you have been taught that you are a "born sinner"--which makes you "less than" perfect. That is--without sin. Therefore, you have been taught that you are "less than."

I however, was taught that it is possible to be perfect---it is just a matter of choice, and that I was not "born" a sinner. As a result, I have higher moral integrity. As the Christian philosopher Pelagius noted long ago, your view of "original sin" leads to "moral laxity."

My arguments above are not based on my bias. Even as I pointed out above, the christian saint, Augustine, argued based on the biblical passages I cited that ALL pride is a vice. I argued that Aristotle's definition was better via Ockham's razor, as it does not lead to ambiguity and equivocation.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry "A" but as an Atheist I don't see how you can talk about perfection of lack thereof when you don't have a moral basis / gauge for your estimation of what makes someone perfect or lacking thereof. There would have to be some creator of morality for you to assess what is or is not moral. For that matter you could decide that immortality is perfection if you wanted. Now I'm really curious though, how do you define perfection?

As Christians we are taught to seek perfection as well. Perhaps you've never read Matthew 5:48 "Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect". Can we attain that, no we can't, nor can you, but we are to seek becoming more and more like our Father in Heaven.

I'm not concerned with what Augustine or Aristotle say quite frankly and if I were to comment on them I would first be sure to study their comments in context and to clearly understand their perspective.

I'm curious, do you take issue with someone living their life to help other people to love them and give of what they have to benefit others? You see, if we really are no more than just educated apes, taking pride in the fact that we are smarter than are predecessors from the jungle.... well, we may as well just go for all of the gusto we can in this short meaningless life we have to live. Right?

A is for Atheist said...

@ Anonymous

No god is required for objective morality. I have already written a post refuting WL Craig's argument on this subject, and proved that no god is required for objective morality. It can be found here:

Actually, it is possible to be perfect--that is, without sin. It is a matter of choice. You can choose to do right, or you can choose to "sin."
You can even "choose" not to have dirty thoughts--unless you don't have free will. So, what you illustrate, is what Pelagius pointed out, which is that the notion of "original sin" and "grace", and the fact that you claim it is not possible to perfect, leads to "moral laxity."

Christians are taught to "seek perfection" but then are told it is impossible to be perfect. Worse, the majority of Christians are taught that every second of the day, they are sinners. This is implied by the fact that the majority of Christians believe it is not possible to be perfect--which is false. For example, I have been perfect while writing this post. I have not committed any sin, nor will I commit a sin in the future because I choose not to. You however, believe you can't help yourself, and are permitted to have "bad moments", because after all you have been taught you are a "born sinner."--this leads to chaos and moral laxity.

I have no problem with people living their lives the way I do--no god is required to help other people, to love them, and give them what I have that is beneficial to others. Actually, apes do a better job of taking care of each other better than humans do.

Life is full of meaning--without god.

I am almost finished with another post that will illustrate that much of our normative ethical theories and our social being is a result of being human.

A better explanation for morality is that it is just another adaptive strategy handed down to us by natural selection, as it is beneficial for humans to work together.

Research show that infants in their first year of life demonstrate the ability to know right and wrong, and the capacity for altruism. Experiments have shown that when infants are shown a puppet climbing a mountain, either helped or hindered by a second puppet, they gravitated toward the helpful puppet. They were able to make an evaluative social judgment, in a sense a moral response." The best explanation for this can be explained by the physical and psychological sciences.

Note, this would support Normative Ethical Theories such as Utilitarianism, which says that whatever increases the overall good is right. The notion of the overall good would be the result of physical a psychological mechanisms.

Anonymous said...

Sir, you must live in a bubble, a perfect bubble. Since that is the case, I agree, you don't need God. You must not get out much though. The world is supremely messed up.... not many perfect people walking around.

I don't need the Bible to tell me that people are sinners by nature. All I have to do is step outside or turn on the news..... people fighting, stealing, cheating, lying, killing babies, killing each other, walking over anyone that gets in their way. Countries don't get along, neighbors don't get along and on and on. Yeah, sure, there's good in most everyone too, but your talking about perfection. I think it's just you and Jesus my friend; the only two perfect people.

Speaking of infants, one of the first words they speak is "no".

You speak of what Christians are taught as if you are an expert. I've been living as a Christian for 20 years and I'm quite sure I'm more qualified. A bird can't tell you what it's like to live in the water just because it soars over the seas. That said I can tell you that the focus is not upon how sinful we are but much more so on pursuing holiness. Since we have sinned, we need God. That is, if we have ever sinned. As a Christian I seek holiness. My desire is to become more and more like God. I say "I can't be perfect" not because the Bible tells me that but because as I live this life I don't always do what I know to be right. I suppose I could create my own litmus test for perfection and pass it but I don't create the standard, I'm not qualified.

Unfortunately you and I can't really talk about what it means to be perfect because our perspectives are so different. To speak of an "overall good" is so subjective. Ten people can give you 10 different definitions of what it means to be good or to love. You theorize about perfection whilst never looking out the window of reality.

Take the Bible's definition of love for example from 1 Cor 13 - "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

There's amazing wisdom in that and as one lives it you begin to see clearly just how right it is. The end result of living it perfectly are, no wars, no fighting, no arguing, no stealing, no raping, no killing, rather unity, peace, strength and true freedom from bondage and trappings of this world.

Perhaps you can spread your definition of perfection to the world. I'd love to see it. As for me, I'll follow Gods guidelines.

Take care,

A is for Atheist said...

@ Ron Part 1

If you are implying that I cannot choose to do right unless I live in a "bubble" then you are implying that your god is responsible for evil, since I do not live in a plastic bubble--and that I do not have free will. Your attitude is a result of being "Christianized" which leads to "moral laxity." Since you do not live in a plastic bubble, you, the Christian, cannot help yourself. And since you cannot help yourself--after all, you believe you are just a dirty filthy human born with "original sin," then it's ok for you to lust after your co-worker, have a bad day and cheat on your wife, or molest a child, or extort money from your boss, because you are not in a "plastic bubble"--how sad. NO--just CHOOSE to be good. If I can choose to do good, so can you.

BTW--Using the definition of love as stated in the bible, I have already proven that your god is NOT love, using the passage you cited, as well as a few others. I will illustrate for you again how your god is NOT love. Follow the logic:

"But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love." 1 John 4:8
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud " 1 Corinthians 13:4
"You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me," Exodus 20:5

In the logical form of Modus Tollens, the following is the conclusion drawn from the above passages: IF god is love, THEN god is not jealous. God IS jealous. Therefore god is NOT love.

And you can add to the list that Yahweh most definitely keeps a record of your wrongs. Why, the bible tells us you will be judged by the "Book of Life" If he keeps no records of who does wrong, and who does right, (that would include whether you believe or not), then he would have no justification for sending anyone to hell.

The passage you cited says love always protects. That means that Yahweh did not love the people that he commanded be killed or murdered, or raped, or tortured. So, he did not protect them; in fact he had them hurt. Note, if saying that they committed some "sins" does not solve the problem, because "always" is a universal term. There are no clauses and no conditions, since the word "always" is used.

Furthermore, the passage states love does not envy. Clearly, since Yahweh is a jealous and angry god, if you worship a different god, then by the definition of envy, which is: "A feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another"--Yahweh is envious. If Yahweh is envious, then he is not love.

Based on all of the above, therefore, Yahweh is NOT love.

to be continued

A is for Atheist said...

@ Ron part 2

You say that: "The end result of living it perfectly are, no wars, no fighting, no arguing, no stealing, no raping, no killing, rather unity, peace, strength and true freedom from bondage and trappings of this world."--when you say this is NOT possible unless you live in a bubble!!
You illustrate the contradiction I pointed out!! So, you bible says it's not possible, and it says it is possible. In fact, it says once you have been saved, you cannot sin willfully, or you will be thrown into the lake of fire, and there is no repentance. (Hebrews 10:26-27) Furthermore, Jesus said to "be perfect, as your father in heaven is perfect." Jesus did not say TRY to be perfect--he said BE perfect. Perfect means to make the right choices, and if you have free will, you CAN make the right choices. According to the bible, Jesus was perfect because he was without sin, and this is what I mean by "perfect."

You said, "I will follow god's guidelines." so, either your god's guidelines are promoting "sinning" and "imperfection," or you are not following your god's guidelines. You admit that you are not perfect, and therefore you are a sinner. So your god's guidelines either promote sinning, or you choose not to follow your god's guidelines! Either way, it promotes "moral laxity."

Anonymous said...

Sir, you carelessly qoute scripture without understanding what you are quoting. Ask most any Christian what the Bible means by "God is a jealous God" and they will understand that to be expressive of His love for us. You see, He doesn't want us to be worshipping other gods; which can take the form of money, sex or literally other graven images, from the context of the verse you quote. God knows the consequences of things like that. Again, in the context of that passage, following the gods of other nations lead to detestable acts like sacrificing their own children to other gods. "He is jealous for us" implies the deep protective love He has for us, as you would expect from a parent for his / her children. As a parent would you not be “angry” if someone were leading your child into abhorrent sins; if not, I would say that you did not love your child.

You continue to insist that Christians are morally lax and that somehow we are stifled by, according to you, a Bible / God that tells us we can not be perfect while on the contrary we are told to seek perfection and directed how to do that. Most people go through their days with little to no consideration to moral excellence or living to love the people around them. I have a very high standard for myself as should all Christians. For example I'm told to "do everything without complaining or arguing" to "cloth myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience"..... and that's how I live. I get it right most of the time. Let's say today I drive home from work in rush hour traffic and I get impatient..... Generally in the middle of feeling impatient, I'm reminding of scripture and the virtue of patience and my desire to be like Christ. As a result my impatience leaves. I say this only to give you an example of how I'm not perfect. Now if you never get impatient, never get angry, never argue or complain, never have a lustful though, well kudos to you for you are a very rare individual.

As Christians we are to be like a "city on a hill" that stands out in a dark world (messed up) world. When people are in need, we are the first to help, around the world. The tough times come; we don't give up but remain strong and patient. Christians are to be known for their love.

Keep sending me scriptures if you like and I'll keep correcting your errant interpretations. You see, it's to your advantage to take the worst possible interpretation, it suits your cause. You say you are not biased but your biases are loud and clear to me. I understand, you have to.

Take care,

A is for Atheist said...

@ Ron part 1

You said:

"Sir, you carelessly qoute scripture without understanding what you are quoting. Ask most any Christian what the Bible means by "God is a jealous God" and they will understand that to be expressive of His love for us."

I am not "carelessly misquoting scripture, nor do I take it out of context. Nor am I presenting a biased analysis that distorts the Christian view. My conclusions are based on logic and argumentation. This can be illustrated by examining your comments in comparison to mine. Your use of "Humpty Dumpty Semantics" highlights my point. Whether something is a virtue or a vice, is not dictated just by my view, or your view, or the view of the Christian majority.

Let's examine the case. According to Christianity, Yahweh is "all good." If Yahweh is all good, then he would be completely virtuous. But Yahweh is not completely virtuous, because he exhibits certain vices, such as jealousy and anger. Now, let's examine your attempt at Humpty Dumpty Semantics. You think that you can change the meaning of the term by mere assertion. Almost every culture list jealousy and anger as vices. The Greeks, the Romans, the Chinese, and so on. In almost all the religions, jealousy and anger are vices. Worse yet, even according to Christianity, jealousy and anger are vices. Furthermore, according to Christians, these are "absolute" and come from Yahweh. But how bizarre, Yahweh himself exhibits jealousy and anger according to the bible! Note, for it to be absolute, there would be no exception to the rule. No matter what the condition, anger and jealousy would still be vices. The Christian claims "god is good" and "god is virtuous"--based on what standard? As you illustrate, if the standard changes, and is applied differently to make whatever Yahweh does "good and virtuous" even if it is a vice, you would have no standard at all. It is clear that jealousy and anger are vices, according to Christianity, and have been considered to be vices by almost all the major cultures and religions. You illustrate your bias and ignorance when you try to make anger and jealousy virtues in an attempt to make your god and bible seem consistent--when they are not. According to the bible itself, Yahweh is not all good and virtuous because he exhibits the vices of jealousy and anger. How sad. You want to take scripture, like Humpty Dumpty, and make it mean whatever you want it to mean. To claim that something is a vice, and then say it is a virtue, is totally inconsistent and ignorant.

Let's again use Aristotle's definition of a virtue. A virtue, according to Aristotle, is a mean between two vices. In this case, love is between jealousy/envy/fatal attraction and hate/anger.

- vice Virtue + vice
hate/anger Love jealousy/envy/fatal

Perhaps the classic illustration of love as a virtue, and jealous and anger as vices, will help you and other Christians understand, and get it right.

Assume a virtuous Jesus existed. Now picture him, using your logic. He walks up to a guy and says, "Follow all the laws until heaven and earth disappear." and then he pats him on the back and says "But hey, if you slip and slide from time to time, and commit adultery now and then, it's cool. Just call me and say you are sorry, and it's ok.--It's cool man." That's funny--come on now....

A is for Atheist said...

@ Ron Part 2

Note, it is you that adds words and meanings to scriptures. When Jesus said "Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect." It does not say TRY or STRIVE--it says BE. This means Jesus knew it is possible to be PERFECT, and he is telling you to BE PERFECT. Note, Jesus here makes a mistake regarding the fact that Yahweh is NOT perfect, as I have already illustrated--which also illustrates that Jesus makes mistakes too.

Lastly, for your information, to imply that Yahweh is jealous of "other gods" implies there were other gods to be jealous of!! For instance, for a husband to say to his wife, "Put no other men before me." implies there must be other men to put before him. Add to that that the Jews were polytheistic at the time of writing. This was not a statement of monotheism, in the sense that only one god existed. It was in the sense that Yahweh was to be the "supreme being" of the Jews.

So we see that you have not corrected any errant interpretation of scripture. Saying so, does not make it so. I'll keep sending you scripture with the correct interpretation and proof, and you will keep using Humpty Dumpty Semantics, as illustrated above, in an attempt to turn water into wine, or in this case, an angry jealous god, into an all virtuous, and all loving god.

A is for Atheist said...

- vice____________ Virtue________________+vice
hate/anger__________Love___________ jealousy/envy

This is how the illustration is supposed to look.

Note, the + and - do not mean positive or negative. It is more like "too much" or "too little."

Here is how it would look with pride. Note that on the + side is arrogant, as there is no such thing as "too much pride" (as pride is the justifiable, proper amount of self respect.)

-vice_____________ virtue__________________+vice
humble____________ Pride________________ arrogant

Anonymous said...

Short and sweet today... I'll attempt to get you out of the university classroom and into the real world. Here's a scenario for you to apply your logic towards.

A father's daughter is raped. He loves her more than life itself. Do you imagine that he is angry with the man who raped her? Now imagine that the man continues to rape her every day. Do you think the father is angry with the man who is raping her? Do you think he can still be a loving father and at the same time be angry? Would you consider him loving if he were not angry with the man who raped her? Would you consider him loving if he continued to allow the man to rape her daily?

Since you are a perfect person I'm hoping you can tell me the best way to handle this situation. First imagine she were your daughter.

Take care,

A is for Atheist said...

@ Ron

Sorry for the delay, but I recently wrote a rebuttal to your comment, and posted it here:

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