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NeoNote — Nature and the World are not cruel.

Nature and the World are not cruel. Nor are they kind. They just are.

You might as well expect mercy from gravity. Or justice from a sunbeam.

Humanity is a colony organism. Leaving aside the question of if we were designed or if we evolved, we know that cooperation is the best survival strategy we've found yet. From there it's just a small step to realizing that the people who are the most successful are the people who make things around them better. For good reason, we're judged by the lives we touch. And from there, it's just a small step to the ethic of reciprocity. Christians call it the Golden Rule, but it predates the faith. It also showed up in cultures that had no contact with Christians. Without force or coercion, we treat people nicely because that's why we expect to be treated.

In the words of Chas. S. Clifton, “Morality ought to be filed under Philosophy, not Religion.” The problem with making morality a part of religion is that some priests forget that they are measured by the lives around them. They think that their calling places them beyond "man's law."

Rules and laws are the inventions of humans. The universe is. You don't want to read this, but morality is subjective. Even "good Christian morality" or "good Jewish morality." Having a roof over your head, clothes to wear, and food to eat opens up possibilities that wouldn't otherwise exist. Child labor used to be a necessity, now it isn't. Charity is easy when you have enough to give. Choice on the shelves means you don't have to do business with bad companies.

So does that mean that the Decalogue has no value? No, but it means it has extremely limited use for anyone who hasn't chosen that faith. Religion and faith aren't one size fits all. Christianity has it's merits and it's failures. But at the heart of it, faith is between you the Divine. Not between you and the translated edited writings from two thousand years ago. Not between you and the guy behind the pulpit. Not between you and your neighbor.

I'm happy that your faith has brought you joy and a way to get your bearings. But some of us navigate by the stars and not by maps,

I'm not something less, I'm something else.

So are you.

Pardon, but that seems like a justification to put the Decalogue above everything else. After all, if it mostly matches, what's the problem, right?

The problem is Number One on that hit list. There's quite a bit to admire about Christianity, but at the end of the day, tain't mine.


Okay, we do this the hard way. The assumption behind Christianity is that the specified received wisdom is just so much more special than wisdom from other sources. I'm not interested in who you think is best, I'm interested in what works as a general case. If it works and if it is good, that is all that matters. Chances are if it's a good idea, it comes from more than one place anyway.

Faith and religion don't stay in the nice neat boxes and cabinets we make for them. Syncretism happens, even if it offends the True Believer™.

Oh, and you mixed your metaphors there. I seriously doubt if any Hebrews knew what a moccasin was.

Yes, the hard way. I pointed out that wisdom comes from all sorts of places, and you linked it back to your holy writings. I don't blame you, you're taught to do that. It's inherent in monotheism. It also comes back to the difference between an experienced faith and a revealed faith, or a Story versus a Journey. Long story short, the book tells you how to start, not how to end.

It's not the "lowest common denominator." Good ideas get passed around because they work. Practical ideas tend to be worked out by more than one person and at more than one time. That is, if they aren't passed on first.

See, this is the issue I was trying to avoid.

I didn't disparage your holy writings. I just didn't place them paramount.

As a rule I do not criticize other faiths. I do criticize the words and actions of those who insist I place their faith above mine.

I started this thread wlhen Mrs. Bookworm heavily implied that the "Judeo-Christian" way is THE way. We'll leave aside the question of how many devout Jews accept that there is a "Judeo-Christian" way in the first place.

The point is that there are other ways, and those other ways produce good people.

Their actions don't rely on Christianity.

"I know, which why I stated for those who believe." Emphasis added.

At the very least, you're implying that only those who follow that book of yours are the only ones who truly believe. That's pretty much a slap in the face for people of faith who follow other paths. I hope that you and certain other Christians are doing out of ignorance and not maliciousness.

Since when has preponderance indicated virtue?

If you are going to claim all the good things that a preponderance of Christians did, then you'd better own up to the all the evil that they did as well.

Or we could just skip assigning vice or virtue to the label and focus on the individuals.

"You seem to have been exposed to some rather messy Christians." Yes. Long story there. Also some obnoxious pagans, some despicable atheists, and two Satanists where I had to call in the legal authorities. Your point being?

Fortunately, the number of pretty good and downright amazing people out there keeps me from going totally bonkers and taking as many of the idiots with me as I can.

Then there are the well-meaning but determined people who decide that they know better for me than I do. And they don't take the first seventy-three nos for an answer.

You want to tell me about Happy Shiny Jolly Time, that's fine. But let's not pretend it's universal. Let's not imply it either.

From my very first post on this thread, I pointed out that it's the individual who makes a difference. Yet you and others keep telling me about how Christianity is worthy and how the Christian writings are (more) important.

Even when I try to move the conversation away from the label, you keep moving it back.

The vice or virtue is not in the label, it's in the individual's words and actions. It always has been and it always will be.

By fixating on your label, you've made it clear that any virtuous non-Christian I mention is effectively an also-ran, an exception to the rule. Even Mrs. Bookworm up there makes it clear that anything other than Judeo-Chritistian just isn't "as good," all without understanding some of the most basic ideas of other paths.

So stop telling me about how wonderful Christianity is and how wise the writings are. Tell me about the people.

Maybe if you had done that, we could have talked about what a wonderful World we live in. How people helping is a good thing. How the phrase "let me help" is one of the two most important in human history. How the secret of life is leaving the World a little better than how you found it.

But now, we'd just be going through the motions. Pretending that each of us has a sacred truth that the other lacks. I've seen this before, it's not pretty.

Time to move on.
NeoNotes are the selected comments that I made on other boards, in email, or in response to articles where I could not respond directly.

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