Re: [asa] morals/ethics (was: Francis Collins shows mild signs of dementia, NA snark)

From: David Clounch <>
Date: Tue Oct 20 2009 - 18:01:57 EDT

To sum up D'Souza:

Stalin and Hitler followed secular morality. They looked to their inner
Its well known that humans inner selves are a complex blend of good and
Dinesh D'Souza writes about this in "Whats so Great about Christianity".
The question is how do we know the inner self is good? Consider the human
baby that flails its arms at its nurse. The evil intent isn't lacking - it
fails not due to lack of will but due to lack of strength. Stalin and Hitler
had the strength. So when Oprah says "look within" she is assuming the
inner self is all good.

D'Souza describes how secular morality began with Rousseau. Its a rejection
of external sources. But its very dangerous.

Closely related to this is the idea of free will. Free will is one of the
reasons the materialists are wrong. A materialist must say you did what you
did because you had to - you didnt have a choice because free will doesn't
exist and is just an illusion.

Secular morality at least argues there is a free will. Its not that far off
from Christianity in that regard. It merely denies there is any external
source. Instead one has to look within for one's self actualization. But
it is naive in assuming the inner self is good.

I think free will is closely related to determinism. So a materialist is
likely to say the universe and humans are deterministic even if they dopn't
realize it. This is closely related to the notion that animals and humans
are points on a continuous spectrum. Smudged out points.
D'Souza describes how materialists want animals to have rights but some
humans to be denied some rights based on both being located in a continuous
spectrum. if that is the right approach then its logical to assert Stalin
was only elimiating undesirables and not doing anything evil. (Note it is
*not* the right approach except to a materialist).

Since atheism and materialism are closely linked (but not the same) I think
various previous discussions that want to clear atheists from culpability
in doing evil is misguided. One must start with the notion of the mind and
consider free will. Secular morality, recognizing free will, is not a
defense of materialists or atheists.

Christians will assert Atheists and Christians are both human, both have
free will, both have complex inner blends of good and evil, and both must
look to external sources of morality if they want to do good rather than
evil. Most atheists and materialists will deny this assertion.

Please note the cultural left will also deny this assertion. That doesn't
mean cultural leftists are atheists or materalists, but it does mean they
will defend roughly the same set of principles.

I find it problematical therefore when someone says Christians are just
like atheists when they do bad things. The person saying that is ignoring
the fundamental difference in belief systems. The fundamental question is
can one look within ones self or does one need an external source? Saying
those who look to an external source are bad and this proves one doesnt need
an external source is an absurd argument. It does not resolve the question
and does not address flaws in either secular morality or materialism .
Its either a lack of understanding or a deliberate obfuscation.

Thank you,
Dave C

On Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 10:03 AM, Dehler, Bernie <>wrote:

> If I asked Stalin to justify himself, he may say "the ends justify the
> means" in order to create his perfect government. (This seems to be what
> Cheney is saying in justifying waterboard torture, "it worked!", with the
> seeming approval of the Christian GOP TV network called FOX ;-)
> Today, one of the basic secular morality guiding principles seems to be "do
> what you want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else." Jesus said "do to
> others what you want them to do to you" and he wasn't the first to say it, I
> heard. Before Jesus, it was said "don't do to others what you don't want
> them to do to you." How are those principles discovered? It should be
> obvious, in the same way that 2+2 is obvious (without having to try to
> explain where numbers come from).
> So to Stalin I would argue that it is most noble and righteous to not harm
> others, and to cherish humanity, and to work for peace and prosperity.
> (Yes, working for peace may involve waging a war.) The logic is very
> simple- don't do anything that you wouldn't want to be on the receiving end
> for. Killing others to get power is fine for you; but not fine when others
> do it to you; therefore, don't do it, as it is bad for all.
> Christians also did evil in the name of Christ with the Crusades, etc. I
> think it is all part of the learning curve... the meme's are evolving.
> That's why we have much higher standards today, and abhor civilian bombings
> (Viet Nam style) and instead insist on "surgical strikes."
> People say Hitler was the worst, but I heard Alexander the Great (long
> before Hitler) was much worse. Alexander killed villages for the vain glory
> of killing, while Hitler had, what he considered, a noble reason. The
> reason was wrong, but at least it was a better reason than just killing to
> show off or have fun or to prove what a big man he was.
> And yes, I think Christianity can be a good influence, amongst others, in
> reminding all of us that humanity is special and should be honored. But of
> course, Christianity sometimes goes off the extreme scale, like Catholics
> who oppose even birth control (and then hypocritically accepting the rhythm
> method). Catholics being opposed to birth control is an evil threat to
> population control. It would probably be more righteous to support birth
> control, esp. in over-ran countries where they have their influence so high.
> But like George, Catholics probably think they get their direction
> generally from God through the Bible.
> ...Bernie
> -----Original Message-----
> From: []
> Sent: Monday, October 19, 2009 12:26 PM
> To: Dehler, Bernie
> Cc:
> Subject: RE: [asa] morals/ethics (was: Francis Collins shows mild signs of
> dementia, NA snark)
> I'll use the example I already brought up, only this time I'll be specific:
> Stalin "purges" his leaders whom he suspects may not be loyal to him.
> Christians say that political leaders shouldn't murder their opposition.
> If we do, you can call us hypocrites. But Stalin was an atheist. What
> would YOU have said to Stalin that could be a basis for "correcting" his
> behavior?
> --Merv
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Received on Tue Oct 20 18:02:25 2009

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