Ravi Zacharias (RPT’s Tribute)

(Almost all the videos or audios below are from my YouTube Channel. I recovered many of them from my Vimeo account and my MRCTV account. Enjoy, I have worked all day on fixing audio and video to make them more presentable)

  • If C.S. Lewis was the greatest Christian expositor of the 20th century, Ravi Zacharias might well go down in history as the greatest of the 21st century. Both are often described as “apologists,” but that sounds defensive to the modern ear. (WASHINGTON TIMES)
  • “To my friend, my mentor and a great hero of the faith [Ravi Zacharias] — Thank you,” Tim Tebow wrote. “I know I’ll see you again and I look forward to that day. Love you brother.” (PJ-MEDIA)

First, let me say, I am a fan of Ravi Zacharias. A huge fan. He has impacted me in countless ways, and thus, he has impacted my family. As a three-time felon, I benefited from his insights into what a Christian worldview should look like, and how a Christian should present himself. But he is a man — in need of a savior and prone to missteps and falls. Like any of us. His statement via CHRISTIANITY TODAY makes note of this:

  • “I have learned a difficult and painful lesson through this ordeal,” Zacharias said. “I failed to exercise wise caution and to protect myself from even the appearance of impropriety, and for that I am profoundly sorry. I have acknowledged this to my Lord, my wife, my children, our ministry board, and my colleagues.”

Ravi, like many a person I know (myself included), will always make claims not in line with reality to lift ourselves up to a greater status in life to impress others. It is almost a default of our prideful nature. I acknowledge all these faults in Ravi, and in my own life — it is a long and complex life filled with spiritual falls, scrapes, wounds, and battles. Ravi’s message of how the Christian worldview is coherent whereas others are not is not changed by his faults and missteps. God’s truth is unchangeable. As imperfect vessels, we imperfectly reflect His perfection. As you can see one of Ravi’s misstatements is made in the following video… but that retelling of flawed history by Ravi has no impact on the truth of his response in showing the self-deleting assumption of the questioner:

With that being said, Ravi passed from this place to the next. In March 2020, it was revealed that Zacharias had been diagnosed with a malignant and rare cancer within his spine. If one wants a book by him that shows the elegance of his thought and skills as a writer, his book “The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives” is the book I recommend the most. A portion of this book in audio form has been used by myself in a presentation while filling in at an adult Bible study at church (Grace Baptist). the Below is an older post of mine (updated a bit) discussing this section of the book where God’s design of our life doesn’t end with Him knitting us together in the womb — along with the mentioned audio:


BEAUTY IS MORE THAN SKIN DEEP


In this presentation Ravi Zacharias takes his time explaining a talk he was present at where Dr. Francis S. Collins (WIKI) compares a cross section of DNA to a stained-glass Rose window from Yorkminster Cathedral. The design is apparent and Collins mentions it a huge boost to his faith.

At The Veritas Forum at Caltech, Francis Collins shares two images representing the scientific worldview and the spiritual worldview. He asks whether there is a way to merge science & faith, and suggests that his experience is that these two perspectives are not in conflict. (The full presentation can be seen HERE):

RAVI WRITES:

“The picture (of the DNA) did more that take away one’s breath; it was awesome in the profoundest sense of the term – not just beautiful but overwhelming. And it almost mirrored the pattern of the Rose windowThe intricacy of the DNA’s design, which pointed to the Transcendant One, astonished those who are themselves the design and who have been created semitranscendant by design. We see ourselves only partially, but through our Creator’s eyes, we see our transcendence. In looking at our own DNA, the subject and the object come together.”

TO WIT…

 


END of POST


I have other uploads as well I have used in conversation over the years as well that are instructive to the armchair apologist. Here they are (some recently imported from my VIMEO account:


AUDIO/VIDEO


Ravi Zacharias responds with “precise language” to a written question. With his patented charm and clarity, Ravi responds to the challenge of exclusivity in Christianity that skeptics challenge us with.

A student asks a question of Ravi Zacharias about God condemning people [atheists] to hell. This Q&A occurred after a presentation Ravi gave at Harvard University, and is now one of his most well-known responses in the apologetic sub-culture. This is an updated version to my original upload. I truncated the beginning as well as editing the volume of the initial question. I also added graphics and text quotes into the audio presentation.

A Muslim student at Michigan University challenges Ravi Zacharias on Christianities seemingly lack of ability in keeping the “law” like Islam and Judaism do so well. How can Christianity be true if it isn’t doing that which God demands? (I have recently enhanced, greatly, the audio in the file from my original VIMEO upload… and reconfigured slightly the visual presentation.)

 

(February 12, 2014) This is for a group of men that are going through Gregory Koukl’s book, “Tactics.” Often times a person merely need to ask his accuser questions to better open up what they mean by their questioning.

Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” AND WHEN HE HAD SAID THIS, HE WENT OUT AGAIN…. (NASB – emphasis added)

One example of this “Socratic Method” can be seen here: “Socratic Method ~ Falling On Their Own Sword (Origins Myths)” The students start out sounding like experts and often times the Christians will shy away from conversation when in fact the person is basing their assumptions on a self-refuting idea[s], and all that is needed to bring it out are a few questions.

(March 31, 2013) Ravi Zacharias does a great job in explaining what pornography does to shame, the Holy, and the insatiable fire of not being able to satisfy men’s archetype they build in their minds eye.

(February 11, 2014) A quick witted response brings a light heart to a serious subject. This comes from an event today from the University of Pennsylvania, titled, “Is Truth Real?” Ravi Zacharias International Ministry has the longer version here.

 

CS Lewis Doodles Morality

(Originally posted March, 2011)

[There was a funny video — no longer available — showing some kids arguing almost identically to the example CS LEWIS give in his book, “Mere Christianity.” Sorry for the missing intro, but I do not control YouTube.]

How would you rewrite, or should I say, add to CS Lewis’ examples after seeing this video?

These two men seem to be referring to not only the law as in the penal code/system… but they resolved this act with reference to some “fair standard” that is above the written law of man. IMHO that is.

CS Lewis:

EVERY ONE HAS HEARD people quarreling. Sometimes it sounds funny and sometimes it sounds merely unpleasant; but however it sounds, I believe we can learn something very important from listening to the kinds of things they say. They say things like this: “How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?”–‘That’s my seat, I was there first”–“Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm”–“Why should you shove in first?”–“Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine”–“Come on, you promised.” People say things like that every day, educated people as well as uneducated, and children as well as grown-ups.

Now what interests me about all these remarks is that the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man’s behavior does not happen to please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard of behavior which he expects the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies: “To hell with your standard.” Nearly always he tries to make out that what he has been doing does not really go against the standard, or that if it does there is some special excuse. He pretends there is some special reason in this particular case why the person who took the seat first should not keep it, or that things were quite different when he was given the bit of orange, or that some thing has turned up which lets him off keeping his promise. It looks, in fact, very much as if both parties had in mind some kind of Law or Rule of fair play or decent behavior or morality or whatever you like to call it, about which they really agreed. And they have. If they had not, they might, of course, fight like animals, but they could not quarrel in the human sense of the word. Quarreling means trying to show that the other man is in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are; just as there would be no sense in saying that a footballer had committed a foul unless there was some agreement about the rules of football.

(accuser) “How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?”
(responder) “Your right, I apologize.”

(accuser) “That’s my seat, I was there first!”
(responder) “Your right, you were. Here you go.”

(accuser) “Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine.”
(responder) “Oh gosh, I forgot, here you go.”

(accuser) “Come on, you promised.” (responder)
“Your right, lets go to the movies.”


These examples are similar to what the Tosh.0 video showed.

The fairness we know deep down was adhered to.

Now this Law or Rule about Right and Wrong used to be called the Law of Nature. Nowadays, when we talk of the “laws of nature” we usually mean things like gravitation, or heredity, or the laws of chemistry. But when the older thinkers called the Law of Right and Wrong “the Law of Nature,” they really meant the Law of Human Nature. The idea was that, just as all bodies are governed by the law of gravitation and organisms by biological laws, so the creature called man also had his law–with this great difference, that a body could not choose whether it obeyed the law of gravitation or not, but a man could choose either to obey the Law of Human Nature or to disobey it.

This law was called the Law of Nature because people thought that every one knew it by nature and did not need to be taught it. They did not mean, of course, that you might not find an odd individual here and there who did not know it, just as you find a few people who are color-blind or have no ear for a tune. But taking the race as a whole, they thought that the human idea of decent behavior was obvious to every one. And I believe they were right. If they were not, then all the things we said about the war were nonsense. What was the sense in saying the enemy were in the wrong unless Right is a real thing which the Nazis at bottom knew as well as we did and ought to have practiced! If they had no notion of what we mean by right, then, though we might still have had to fight them, we could no more have blamed them for that than for the color of their hair.

I know that some people say the idea of a Law of Nature or decent behavior known to all men is unsound, because different civilizations and different ages have had quite different moralities.

But this is not true. There have been differences between their moralities, but these have never amounted to anything like a total difference. If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Creeks and Romans, what will really strike him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own. Some of the evidence for this I have put together in the appendix of another book called The Abolition of Man; but for our present purpose I need only ask the reader to think what a totally different morality would mean. Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five. Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to–whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or everyone. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put Yourself first. selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked.

But the most remarkable thing is this. Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining “It’s not fair” before you can say Jack Robinson. A nation may say treaties do not matter; but then, next minute, they spoil their case by saying that the particular treaty they want to break was an unfair one. But if treaties do not matter, and if there is no such thing as Right and Wrong–in other words, if there is no Law of Nature–what is the difference between a fair treaty and an unfair one? Have they not let the cat out of the bag and shown that, whatever they say, they really know the Law of Nature just like anyone else?

It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table. Now if we are agreed about that, I go on to my next point, which is this. None of us are really keeping the Law of Nature. If there are any exceptions among you, 1 apologize to them. They had much better read some other work, for nothing I am going to say concerns them. And now, turning to the ordinary human beings who are left:

I hope you will not misunderstand what I am going to say. I am not preaching, and Heaven knows I do not pretend to be better than anyone else. I am only trying to call attention to a fact; the fact that this year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practice ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people. There may be all sorts of excuses for us. That time you were so unfair to the children was when you were very tired. That slightly shady business about the money–the one you have almost forgotten-came when you were very hard up. And what you promised to do for old So-and-so and have never done–well, you never would have promised if you had known how frightfully busy you were going to be. And as for your behavior to your wife (or husband) or sister (or brother) if I knew how irritating they could be, I would not wonder at it–and who the dickens am I, anyway? I am just the same. That is to say, I do not succeed in keeping the Law of Nature very well, and the moment anyone tells me I am not keeping it, there starts up in my mind a string of excuses as long as your arm. The question at the moment is not whether they are good excuses. The point is that they are one more proof of how deeply, whether we like it or not, we believe in the Law of Nature. If we do not believe in decent behavior, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently? The truth is, we believe in decency so much–we feel the Rule of Law pressing on us so–that we cannot bear to face the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility. For you notice that it is only for our bad behavior that we find all these explanations. It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves.

These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1996), 17-21.

 

After reading that portion of CLASSIC Lewis, here is some thoughts from a philosopher that I disagree with on many points (he is an atheist), but he argues well for the following, even if later rejecting it:

If the reader is not familiar with Mere Christianity, I would urge him or her to buy it. The first chapter alone is worth the cost of the book. It is a brilliant piece of psychology. In it, Lewis sums up two crucial aspects of the human condition. We can see the first aspect in the passage quoted. Human beings do quarrel in the way Lewis describes. We are moral agents who cannot help feeling that there are some things we ought to do, and that there are other things we ought not to do. We believe, sometimes despite ourselves, that there is such a thing as right and wrong, and that there are certain principles of conduct to which we and all other human beings ought to adhere. In our dealings with other people we constantly appeal to those principles. We are quick to notice when others violate them. We get defensive and make excuses when it appears that we have violated them ourselves. We get defensive even when no one else is around. We accuse ourselves when no else does, and we rationalize our behavior in front of our consciences just as we would in front of another person. We cannot help applying to ourselves the principles we firmly believe apply to all. To use Alvin Plantinga’s term, the belief in morality is basic. Even when we reject that belief in our theoretical reasoning, it comes back to haunt us at every turn. We can never really get away from it. There is a reason why our legal system defines insanity as the inability to tell right from wrong: people who lack that ability have lost an important part of their humanity. They have taken a step down towards the level of beasts.

Even if, in our heart of hearts, we all believe in morality, we do not necessarily share the exact same moral values. Differences regarding values are at least a part of what we quarrel about. Yet Lewis correctly recognizes that our differences in this area never amount to a total difference. The moral beliefs human beings entertain display broad cross-cultural similarities. Ancient Egyptians did not appreciate having their property stolen any more than we do. A brother’s murder, a wife’s infidelity, or a friend’s betrayal would have angered them, just as it angers us. Human nature has not changed much for tens of thousands of years. It does not change at all when one travels to the other side of the globe.

I did not believe Lewis the first time I read him, or even the second time. This idea, that there is a fundamental underlying unity to the moral fabric of humanity, is a hard one to accept. Think about those suicidal fanatics who crashed planes into the World Trade Center. They “knew” they were doing the right thing, that Allah would reward them in heaven with virgins galore. How radically different from our own values the values of some Muslims must seem! Yet there is common ground. Even the most militant Muslims despise thieves, cheats, and liars, just as Christians. Jews, and atheists do. They value loyalty and friendship. just as we do. They love their children and their parents. just as we do. They even condemn murder, at least within their own societies. It is only when they deal with outsiders like us that some of them may seem like (and in fact, be) monsters. To distinguish between insiders and outsiders, and to treat the latter horribly, is actually not so unusual in human history. Expanding one’s “inside group” until it encompasses all of humanity is something of an innovation. When we consider all this, the moral gulf between us and them does not seem so unbridgeable. Our admittedly great differences occur against a background of fundamental similarities. Similarities guaranteed by the fact that we are all stuck being human. So it seems Lewis was right, despite my earlier skepticism. Universal moral themes can and do underpin the diversity of our moral opinions.

[….]

Moral statements, then, cannot be mere matters of taste and opinion. They essentially involve an appeal to principles that transcend both the wishes of any one individual, and the customs of any one culture or society. That there are such principles, and that we cannot really escape from them, are points Lewis successfully illuminates. It thus seems very plausible to suppose that when our moral statements appeal to these principles in an appropriate and rational manner, they deserve to be called truths.

Andrew Marker, The Ladder: Escaping from Plato’s Cave (iUniverse.com, 2010), 108-110, 111-112.


MORE


FLASHBACK | Moral vs. Immoral Politicians (Dennis Prager 1994)

Here is a throw back to 1994 via C-SPAN recording Dennis Prager in studio. This was only two years after Prager officially changed his identification from Democrat to Republican.

Dennis Prager continues his comments from earlier this week in his comments after playing Joe Scarborough apparently wanting Jesus for President. Y-e-s… that Joe that cheated on his wife with Mika Brazinski. Should Values Voters Summit attendees give Jimmy Carter a standing O?

|Render Unto Caesar| Prager Takes A Call From A Christian Woman

A caller asks Dennis Prager about her struggle to vote for Trump ethically, being a Christian. I pick up the tail end of the call as this woman’s religious concerns are succinctly responded to:

Gender-Gaps, The Peace Index, and Happiest Countries

(This is the bringing together of two older posts from 3-years ago with the addition of Dr. Sommers’ video just below)

GENDER EQUALITY

The “Global Index of Peace” works in similar fashion to the Global Gender Gap Study sponsored by the World Economic Forum. Professor, scholar, and feminist, Christina Hoff Sommers explains where such endeavors go wrong:

A DEBATE ON THE PEACE-INDEX

In a prolonged debate about the above “poster,” one young gentleman brought up an issue I hadn’t really encountered all that much in my years of discussing like topics. So I wanted to isolate it and post it here for other “arm-chair apologists.” I will post his an my discussion on the matter of the “global peace index.

Challenge

I agree, this image is highly ignorant and is very “Bumper Sticker” Now with a statement like “ATHEISM KILLS” One is tempted down the path of teleological thinking and must thus assume that Atheism is Bad as a result, but is it? I did some looking and thought to use a country with the highest percentage of Atheists as a case in point. Norway is currently one of the most Atheist countries in the world percentage wise with about 46 – 85% stated as “Atheist/Agnostic/Nonbeliever in God” While the same for the US is only 3 – 9%. The Current Global Peace index rates Norway 18 out of 158 while the US only gets 88th.

First Response by Me:

…question. Will Norway be able to enter a country by being “weighty” enough to get a coalition of many countries, and stop a dictator from taking over another country… keeping peace on the world stage? (First Gulf War for instance). The peace index doesn’t. If you combine all the times the US has injected itself into stopping calamity and bloodshed (WWII, the Cold War [which includes battles like Vietnam, Korea, and the like]), peace is our main business. Why? Do Western mores based in Grecian-Judeo-Christian understanding [and how it was applied in the U.S.] make the West more adamant about rights?

Second Challenge:

…you are correct the Global Peace index does not account for political weight and or the ability to step in as a country and use military force for the greater good. However, while we can all agree that Hitler was an evil man who needed to be stopped, it is hard to then make the logical bridge that all dictators must be stopped. Even if it is the right thing to do as I assume your point is stating, The United States certainty hasn’t made the effort of ridding the world of evil dictators. You state we should be valued in greater respect for our past military interventions such as the Cold War, which included battles like Vietnam, Korea, and the like. However, many of these proxie wars were less about peace as they were about ideology (The Red Scare). I do not believe such wars were wars of necessity and I do not believe that “Peace is our main business” All of the above should only contribute to a lower ranking on the Global Peace index. This is where you and I could spend much time on the deference in philosophies between the pros and cons of an interventionist militant government.

You ask, “Do Western mores based in Grecian-Jude-Christian understanding make the West more adamant about rights?” While I believe this question is open to much interpretation, I also believe I have already answered it by showing how Norway is leading by example for good while having a large percentage of it’s population non believers of Western based Grecian-Jude-Christian morals….

My Second Response:

…”RED SCARE” ~ not a scare as much as a fact. For instance, communism was overthrowing government-after-government:

Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia, and half of Germany, North Korea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, Congo-Brazzaville, Benin, on and on.

[….]

Economic health, military stockpiles, foreign policies, are correlated with a non-belief system. So one aspect that makes the U.S. not fair well is our stockpile of military weapons. Thats One, two is countries that do score well on the global peace indicator with religious populations (Chile, Portugal, Malaysia, etc.), alongside those countries with a high atheist population that score poorly on the GPI (Russia, North Korea, Azerbaijan, etc.) seem to not make the cut in these Internet lists. Many of the countries said to be “atheist” are in fact still a) inhabited by a Christian majority, and/or b) possess a Christian history and ethos that has ALLOWED secular humanism to both exist and to openly criticize the very tenets from out of which it was born. Sweden, for instance, suffers from above average incidents of violent crime (rape being the highest in Europe). So the stats you provided break down under further investigation.

Atheism is a rejection of an absolute ethic. Virtues do not exist. You may apply what is morally good by law, but this has proven (like Nietzsche prophesied) to break down quickly with no “Law Above the Law.” Again, atheist defenders themselves admit this and I quoted them above.

Which Mussolini commented on this power struggle for ethics: “Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition…. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity…. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.”

[….]

…to make another point on the “peace index,” which I took to the wood shed already, [includes as a negative a country that has capital punishment, or, the death penalty]. In Norway, Breivik killed 77 people (almost all children). The maximum sentence he can get for his crimes are 21-years in prison, which he got. Now, I am sure there have been white-collar extortionists (like a Madoff type schemer) that have been sentenced to near the same, if not the same. So Norway, because they do not have capital punishment, is higher on the “peace index,” but in fact they cheapen life by making a crime of killing children (77-of them) equal to $$$$ lost.

“It’s become common knowledge that Denmark, Sweden and Norway routinely rank highest on lists of the world’s happiest nations…” (The World’s Happiest Countries Take The Most Antidepressants)

(As usual, all graphics/pics are linked to other resources.) Often I hear about how much lower the crime rate is in Europe, at times having the “Peace Index” thrown into the conversation without any meditation on what exactly this “index” says. Happiness is another moniker often thrown around without any comparisons of “what constitutes ‘happiness’.” So lets deal first with happiness, and then get into the peace index and gun-control/stats.

HAPPINESS

What constitutes happiness between the States and Europe? Let’s delve — quickly — into this topic via Forbes (2006):

The average American works 25 hours a week; the average Frenchman 18; the average Italian a bit more than 16 and a half. Even the hardest-working Europeans–the British, who put in an average of 21 and half hours–are far more laid-back than their American cousins.

Compared with Europeans, Americans are more likely to be employed and more likely to work longer hours–employed Americans put in about three hours more per week than employed Frenchmen. Most important, Americans take fewer (and shorter) vacations. The average American takes off less than six weeks a year; the average Frenchman almost 12. The world champion vacationers are the Swedes, at 16 and a half weeks per year.

Of course, Europeans pay a price for their extravagant leisure. The average Frenchman produces only three-quarters as much as the average American, even though productivity per hour is slightly higher in France.

This raises more than one interesting question. First, why do Americans choose to work so much? (Or, if you prefer, why do Europeans choose to work so little?) Second, who’s happier?…..

Why indeed.

I think this is answered a bit later in a newer poll/study, found at Live Science (see also FoxNews):

Americans really do love to work, it seems, while Europeans are much happier if they skip burning the midnight oil in favor of leisure. That’s according to a new study finding longer work hours make Europeans unhappy while Americans get a very slight (albeit not statistically significant) bliss boost from the extra grind.

“Those who work longer hours in Europe are less happy than those who work shorter hours, but in the U.S. it’s the other way around,” said study author Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn, a clinical assistant professor of public policy at The University of Texas at Dallas. “The working hours’ category does not have a very big impact on the probability of happiness of Americans.” [Happiest States’ List]

The study, based on survey data, can’t tease out whether work causes happiness or unhappiness, though the researchers speculate the effect has to do with expectations and how a person measures success.

Okulicz-Kozaryn used surveys of European and American attitudes for the study. The surveys included questions about the number of hours worked and asked respondents to identify if they were “very happy,” “pretty happy” or “not too happy.”

They found that the likelihood of Europeans’ describing themselves as “very happy” dropped from around 28 percent to 23 percent as work hours climbed from under 17 hours a week to more than 60 hours per week. Americans, on the other hand, held steady, with about a 43 percent chance of describing themselves as happy regardless of working hours.

The results held even after the researchers accounted for possible confounding factors, such as age, marital status and household income….

[….]

“Happiness depends upon satisfaction with your income, satisfaction with you family life, satisfaction with your work, satisfaction with your health,” he said.

“People trade off work and leisure,” Easterlin explained, and so any attempt to explain the results of this study would have to take that into account. “[Happiness] has to do with what you think the goals are of people in the two countries.”

American happiness is a pursuit important enough to include in one of our Founding documents, right next to life and liberty. This “pursuit” we are use to (and is being harmed/deformed by the welfare state growing larger) creates innovation. For instance David Mamet notes the following:

In my family, as in yours, someone regularly says, “Hey, you know what would be a good idea … ?” And then proceeds to outline some scheme for making money by providing a product or service the need for which has just occurred to him. He and the family fantasize about and discuss and elaborate this scheme. Inherent in this fantasy is the unstated but ever-present truth that, given sufficient capital and expertise or the access to the same, the scheme might actually be put into operation (as, indeed, constantly, throughout our history, such schemes have), bettering the lives of the masses and bringing wealth to their creators. Do you believe such conversations take place in Syria? In France?

David Mamet, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture (New York, NY: Sentinel Publishing, 2011), [FN] 120.

Some can be happy with less pay and trusting the state will care for them enough to go on 12-week vacations. While doctors, for instance, may enjoy a month-long vacation in France [mandatory vacation], this “happiness” rather than hard-work often has deadly consequences, one being — for instance — nearly 15,000 people dying in a heat wave in France in 2003 (a record for Europe… previously Italy held it with 3,000).

  • …Health Minister Jean-Francois Mattei has ordered a separate special study this month to look into a possible link with vacation schedules after doctors strongly denied allegations their absence put the elderly in danger. The heat wave hit during the August vacation period, when doctors, hospital staff and many others take leave…

So Europe being “happier” than the United States is something of a misnomer.

FAUX HAPPINESS

About the above graphic:

…the moods of Scandinavian nations may be more closely linked to medicine than anything else. The chart depicts the relative amounts of antidepressant consumption across several different European nations. Iceland — not technically in Scandinavia but nearby — leads with 118 daily doses per 1,000 people. Denmark, Sweden and Finland are all close behind…. The report notes that the prevalence of antidepressants in Europe is a growing trend. “In all European countries for which data is available, the consumption of antidepressants has increased a lot over the decade, by over 80% on average across EU member states,” it reads. According to the report, 30 percent of Icelandic women over the age of 65 had an antidepressant prescription in 2008. 

It may seem paradoxical that the world’s happiest nations also take the most antidepressants.

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We pursue it, not expecting government to provide it for us. If government doeas, a simple economic law states — basically — that creativity is squelched:

  • “A fundamental principle of information theory is that you can’t guarantee outcomes… in order for an experiment to yield knowledge, it has to be able to fail. If you have guaranteed experiments, you have zero knowledge”

George GilderInterview by Dennis Prager {Editors note: this is how the USSR ended up with warehouses FULL of “widgets” (things made that it could not use or people did not want) no one needed in the real world.}

PEACEFUL/SAFE

When people do, austerity more-often-than-not leads to riots and collapse. And why in many European countries the EU is being rejected, and conservative parties are getting landslides (like UKIP in the UK). People are fed up with horrible health care, no incentive to succeed, taxes, crime, and immigration issues. 

Okay, I feel my point has been made. Innovation comes by a drive to work hard, as much as you wish in fact… whereas Europe forces people to work less, and thus is stagnant in relation to this said innovation. What about crime rates and violence, yes, even gun violence? Lets see. Firstly, I deal with some of the more pressing issues with the Peace Index here. But in this conversation, I wanted to deal with violent crimes… which include more than gun violence. As Europe gives birth to a generation divorced of their cultural heritage, you will see a rise in violence, and then a rise in reaction to it. Maybe an over-reaction?

VIOLENCE

Firstly, if you are an in-depth kind of reader, at this link you will find multiple debates and appearances of John Lott on CNN and other programs discussing gun crime. But let’s deal with a place that has for years made gun ownership illegal, the United Kingdom. Here is the headline from The Telegraph on the topic:

UK is violent crime capital of Europe: The United Kingdom is the violent crime capital of Europe and has one of the highest rates of violence in the world, worse even than America, according to new research.

Analysis of figures from the European Commission showed a 77 per cent increase in murders, robberies, assaults and sexual offences in the UK since Labour came to power.

The total number of violent offences recorded compared to population is higher than any other country in Europe, as well as America, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

Opposition leaders said the disclosures were a “damning indictment” of the Government’s failure to tackle deep-rooted social problems.

The figures combined crime statistics for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The UK had a greater number of murders in 2007 than any other EU country – 927 – and at a relative rate higher than most western European neighbours, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain. 

 It also recorded the fifth highest robbery rate in the EU, and the highest absolute number of burglaries, with double the number of offences recorded in Germany and France.

Overall, 5.4 million crimes were recorded in the UK in 2007 – more than 10 a minute – second only to Sweden.

Chris Grayling, shadow home secretary, said: “This is a real damning indictment of this government’s comprehensive failure over more than a decade to tackle the deep rooted social problems in our society, and the knock-on effect on crime and anti-social behaviour.

“We’re now on our fourth Home Secretary in this parliament, and all we are getting is a rehash of old initiatives that didn’t work the first time round. More than ever Britain needs a change of direction.”

The figures were sourced from Eurostat, the European Commission’s database of statistics. They are gathered using official sources in the countries concerned such as the national statistics office, the national prison administration, ministries of the interior or justice, and police.

A breakdown of the statistics, which were compiled into league tables by the Conservatives, revealed that violent crime in the UK had increased from 652,974 offences in 1998 to more than 1.15 million crimes in 2007.

It means there are over 2,000 crimes recorded per 100,000 population in the UK, making it the most violent place in Europe.

Austria is second, with a rate of 1,677 per 100,000 people, followed by Sweden, Belgium, Finland and Holland.

By comparison, America has an estimated rate of 466 violent crimes per 100,000 population.

France recorded 324,765 violent crimes in 2007 – a 67 per cent increase in the past decade – at a rate of 504 per 100,000 population. 

…read more…

Which segways into a recent comparison in crime and gun-control in a Wall Street Journal article by Joyce Lee Malcolm, entitled: “Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control: After a school massacre, the U.K. banned handguns in 1998. A decade later, handgun crime had doubled.” Here is an interview of her in regards to the article, followed by excerpts from said article:

Larry Elder Interview & Wall Street Journal Article

Here are portions of the article:

…Great Britain and Australia, for example, suffered mass shootings in the 1980s and 1990s. Both countries had very stringent gun laws when they occurred. Nevertheless, both decided that even stricter control of guns was the answer. Their experiences can be instructive.

In 1987, Michael Ryan went on a shooting spree in his small town of Hungerford, England, killing 16 people (including his mother) and wounding another 14 before shooting himself. Since the public was unarmed—as were the police—Ryan wandered the streets for eight hours with two semiautomatic rifles and a handgun before anyone with a firearm was able to come to the rescue.

Nine years later, in March 1996, Thomas Hamilton, a man known to be mentally unstable, walked into a primary school in the Scottish town of Dunblane and shot 16 young children and their teacher. He wounded 10 other children and three other teachers before taking his own life.

Since 1920, anyone in Britain wanting a handgun had to obtain a certificate from his local police stating he was fit to own a weapon and had good reason to have one. Over the years, the definition of “good reason” gradually narrowed. By 1969, self-defense was never a good reason for a permit.

After Hungerford, the British government banned semiautomatic rifles and brought shotguns—the last type of firearm that could be purchased with a simple show of fitness—under controls similar to those in place for pistols and rifles. Magazines were limited to two shells with a third in the chamber.

Dunblane had a more dramatic impact. Hamilton had a firearm certificate, although according to the rules he should not have been granted one. A media frenzy coupled with an emotional campaign by parents of Dunblane resulted in the Firearms Act of 1998, which instituted a nearly complete ban on handguns. Owners of pistols were required to turn them in. The penalty for illegal possession of a pistol is up to 10 years in prison.

The results have not been what proponents of the act wanted. Within a decade of the handgun ban and the confiscation of handguns from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled according to British government crime reports. Gun crime, not a serious problem in the past, now is. Armed street gangs have some British police carrying guns for the first time. Moreover, another massacre occurred in June 2010. Derrick Bird, a taxi driver in Cumbria, shot his brother and a colleague then drove off through rural villages killing 12 people and injuring 11 more before killing himself.

[….]

Six weeks after the Dunblane massacre in 1996, Martin Bryant, an Australian with a lifelong history of violence, attacked tourists at a Port Arthur prison site in Tasmania with two semiautomatic rifles. He killed 35 people and wounded 21 others.

At the time, Australia’s guns laws were stricter than the United Kingdom’s. In lieu of the requirement in Britain that an applicant for permission to purchase a gun have a “good reason,” Australia required a “genuine reason.” Hunting and protecting crops from feral animals were genuine reasons—personal protection wasn’t.

With new Prime Minister John Howard in the lead, Australia passed the National Firearms Agreement, banning all semiautomatic rifles and semiautomatic and pump-action shotguns and imposing a more restrictive licensing system on other firearms. The government also launched a forced buyback scheme to remove thousands of firearms from private hands. Between Oct. 1, 1996, and Sept. 30, 1997, the government purchased and destroyed more than 631,000 of the banned guns at a cost of $500 million.

To what end? While there has been much controversy over the result of the law and buyback, Peter Reuter and Jenny Mouzos, in a 2003 study published by the Brookings Institution, found homicides “continued a modest decline” since 1997. They concluded that the impact of the National Firearms Agreement was “relatively small,” with the daily rate of firearms homicides declining 3.2%.

According to their study, the use of handguns rather than long guns (rifles and shotguns) went up sharply, but only one out of 117 gun homicides in the two years following the 1996 National Firearms Agreement used a registered gun. Suicides with firearms went down but suicides by other means went up. They reported “a modest reduction in the severity” of massacres (four or more indiscriminate homicides) in the five years since the government weapons buyback. These involved knives, gas and arson rather than firearms.

In 2008, the Australian Institute of Criminology reported a decrease of 9% in homicides and a one-third decrease in armed robbery since the 1990s, but an increase of over 40% in assaults and 20% in sexual assaults.

What to conclude? Strict gun laws in Great Britain and Australia haven’t made their people noticeably safer, nor have they prevented massacres. The two major countries held up as models for the U.S. don’t provide much evidence that strict gun laws will solve our problems.

Ms. Malcolm, a professor of law at George Mason University Law School, is the author of several books including “Guns and Violence: The English Experience,” (Harvard, 2002).

Of course America’s worst massacre involving a school is the Bath Bombing (below), Michigan (1927). And a bomb killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City Bombing. So if someone wants to kill another… no amount of government regulation will decrease this fact:

  • “…we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

John Adams, first (1789–1797) Vice President of the United States, and the second (1797–1801) President of the United States. Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York, 1848), pp 265-6.

Truthfulness ~ Immanuel Kant

Ethical Duties Towards Others: “Truthfulness”

IMMANUEL KANT

The exchange of our sentiments is the principal factor in social intercourse, and truth must be the guiding principle herein. Without truth social inter­course and conversation become valueless. We can only know what a man thinks if he tells us his thoughts, and when he undertakes to express them he must really do so, or else there can be no society of men. Fellowship is only the second condition of society, and a liar destroys fellowship. Lying makes it impossible to derive any benefit from conversation. Liars are, therefore, held in general contempt. Man is inclined to be reserved and to pretend…. Man is reserved in order to conceal his faults and shortcom­ings which he has; he pretends in order to make others attribute to him merits and virtues which he has not. Our proclivity to reserve and con­cealment is due to the will of Providence that the defects of which we are full should not be too obvious. Many of our propensities and peculiarities are objectionable to others, and if they became patent we should be fool­ish and hateful in their eyes. Moreover, the parading of these objectionable characteristics would so familiarize men with them that they would them­selves acquire the. Therefore we arrange our conduct either to conceal our faults or to appear other than we are. We possess the art of simulation. In consequence, our inner weakness and error is revealed to the eyes of men only as an appearance of well-being, while we ourselves develop the habit of dispositions which are conducive to good conduct. No man in his true senses, therefore, is candid. Were man candid, were the request of Momus to be complied with that Jupiter should place a mirror in each man’s heart so that his disposition might be visible to all, man would have to be better constituted and possess good principles. If all men were good there would be no need for any of us to be reserved; but since they are not, we have to keep the shutters closed. Every house keeps its dustbin in a place of its own. We do not press our friends to come into our water-closet, although they know that we have one just like themselves. Familiarity in such things is the ruin of good taste. In the same way we make no exhibition of our de­fects, but try to conceal them. We try to conceal our mistrust by affect­ing a courteous demeanor and so accustom ourselves to courtesy that at last it becomes a reality and we set a good example by it. If that were not so, if there were none who were better than we, we should become neglectful. Ac­cordingly, the endeavour to appear good ultimately makes us really good. If all men were good, they could be candid, but as things are they cannot be. To be reserved is to be restrained in expressing one’s mind. We can, of course, keep absolute silence. This is the readiest and most absolute method of reserve, but it is unsociable, and a silent man is not only unwanted in so­cial circles but is also suspected; everyone thinks him deep and disparag­ing, for if when asked for his opinion he remains silent people think that he must be taking the worst view or he would not be averse from express­ing it. Silence, in fact, is always a treacherous ally, and therefore it is not even prudent to be completely reserved. Yet there is such a thing as prudent reserve, which requires not silence but careful deliberation; a man who is wisely reserved weighs his words carefully and speaks his mind about every­thing excepting only those things in regard to which he deems it wise to be reserved.

We must distinguish between reserve and secretiveness, which is some­thing entirely different. There are matters about which one has no desire to speak and in regard to which reserve is easy. We are, for instance, not nat­urally tempted to speak about and to betray our own misdemeanours. Every­one finds it easy to keep a reserve about some of his private affairs, but there are times about which it requires an effort to be silent. Secrets have a way of coming out, and strength is required to prevent ourselves betraying them. Secrets are always matters deposited with us by other people and they ought not to be placed at the disposal of third parties. But man has a great liking for conversation, and the telling of secrets adds much to the interest of con­versation; a secret told is like a present given; how then are we to keep se­crets? Men who are not very talkative as a rule keep secrets well, but good conversationalists, who are at the same time clever, keep them better. The former might be induced to betray something, but the latter’s gift of repar­tee invariably enables them to invent on the spur of the moment something non-committal.

The person who is as silent as a mute goes to one extreme; the person who is loquacious goes to the opposite. Both tendencies are weaknesses. Men are liable to the first, women to the second. Someone has said that women are talkative because the training of infants is their special charge, and their talkativeness soon teaches a child to speak, because they can chat­ter to it all day long. If men had the care of the child, they would take much longer to learn to talk. However that may be, we dislike anyone who will not speak: he annoys us; his silence betrays his pride. On the other hand, lo­quaciousness in men is contemptible and contrary to the strength of the male. All this by the way; we shall now pass to more weighty matters.

If I announce my intention to tell what is in my mind, ought I know­ingly to tell everything, or can I keep anything back? If I indicate that I mean to speak my mind, and instead of doing so make false declaration, what I say is an untruth, a falsiloquium. But there can be falsiloquium even when people have no right to assume that we are expressing our thoughts. It is possible to deceive without making any statement whatever. I can make believe, make a demonstration from which others will draw the conclusion I want, though they have no right to expect that my action will express my real mind. In that case I have not lied to them, because I had not undertaken to express my mind. I may, for instance, wish people to think that I am off on a journey, and so I pack my luggage; people draw the conclusion I want them to draw; but others have no right to demand a declaration of my will from me.

…Again, I may make a false statement (falsiloquium), when my purpose is to hide from another what is in my mind and when the latter can assume that such is my purpose, his own purpose being to make a wrong use of the truth. Thus, for instance, if my enemy takes me by the throat and asks where I keep my money, I need not tell him the truth, because he will abuse it; and my untruth is not a lie (mendacium) because the thief knows full well that I will not, if I can help it, tell him the truth and that he has no right to demand it of me. But let us assume that I really say to the fellow, who is fully aware that he has no right to demand it, because he is a swindler, that I will tell him the truth, and I do not, am I then a liar? He has deceived me and I deceive him in return; to him, as an individual, I have done no in­justice and he cannot complain; but I am none the less a liar in that my con­duct is an infringement of the rights of humanity. It follows that a falsiloquium can be a mendacium—a lie—especially when it contravenes the right of an individual. Although I do a man no injustice by lying to him when he has lied to me, yet I act against the right of mankind, since I set myself in opposition to the condition and means through which any human society is possible. If one country breaks the peace this does not justify the other in doing likewise in revenge, for if it did no peace would ever be se­cure. Even though a statement does not contravene any particular human right it is nevertheless a lie if it is contrary to the general right of mankind. If a man spreads false news, though he does no wrong to anyone in particular, he offends against mankind, because if such a practice were universal man’s desire for knowledge would be frustrated. For, apart from speculation, there are only two ways in which I can increase my fund of knowledge, by experience or by what others tell me. My own experience must necessarily be limited, and if what others told me was false, I could not satisfy my craving for knowledge.

…Not every untruth is a lie; it is a lie only if I have expressly given the other to understand that I am willing to acquaint him with my thought. Every lie is objectionable and contemptible in that we purposely let people think that we are telling them our thoughts and do not do so. We have bro­ken our pact and violated the right of mankind. But if we were to be at all times punctiliously truthful we might often become victims of the wicked­ness of others who were ready to abuse our truthfulness. If all men were well-intentioned it would not only be a duty not to lie, but no one would do so because there would be no point in it. But as men are malicious, it can­not be denied that to be punctiliously truthful is often dangerous. This has given rise to the conception of a white lie, the lie enforced upon us by necessity—a difficult point for moral philosophers. For if necessity is urged as an excuse it might be urged to justify stealing, cheating, and killing, and the whole basis of morality goes by the board. Then, again, what is a case of necessity? Everyone will interpret it in his own way. And, as there is then no definite standard to judge by, the application of moral rules becomes uncertain. Consider, for example, the following case. A man who knows that I have money asks me: “Have you any money on you?” If I fail to reply, he will conclude that I have; if I reply in the affirmative he will take it from me; if I reply in the negative, I tell a lie. What am I to do? If force is used to ex­tort a confession from me, if any confession is improperly used against me, and if I cannot save myself by maintaining silence, then my lie is a weapon of defence. The misuse of a declaration extorted by force justifies me in de­fending myself. For whether it is my money or a confession that is extorted makes no difference. The forcing of a statement from me under conditions which convince me that improper use would be made of it is the only case in which I can be justified in telling a white lie. But if a lie does no harm to anyone and no one’s interests are affected by it, is it a lie? Certainly, I un­dertake to express my mind, and if I do not really do so, though my state­ment may not be to the prejudice of the particular individual to whom it was made, it is none the less in praejudicium humanitatis. Then, again, there are lies which cheat. To cheat is to make a lying promise, while a breach of faith is a true promise which is not kept. A lying promise is an insult to the person to whom it is made, and even if this is not always so, yet there is al­ways something mean about it. If, for instance, I promise to send someone a bottle of wine, and afterwards make a joke of it, I really swindle him. It is true that he had no right to demand the present of me, but in Idea it is al­ready a part of his own property.

…If a man tries to extort the truth from us and we cannot tell it [to] him and at the same time do not wish to lie, we are justified in resorting to equivocation in order to reduce him to silence and put a stop to his ques­tionings. If he is wise, he will leave it at that. But if we let it be understood that we are expressing our sentiments and we proceed to equivocate, we are in a different case; for our listeners might then draw wrong conclusions from our statements and we should have deceived them….  But a lie is a lie, and is in itself intrinsically base whether it be told with good or bad intent. For formally a lie is always evil; though if it is evil materially as well, it is a much meaner thing. There are no lies which may not be the source of evil. A liar is a coward; he is a man who has recourse to lying because he is un­able to help himself and gain his ends by any other means. But a stout­hearted man will love truth and will not recognize a casus necessitatis. All expedients which take us off our guard are thoroughly mean. Such are lying, assassination, and poisoning. To attack a man on the highway is less vile than to attempt to poison him. In the former case he can at least de­fend himself, but, as he must eat, he is defenseless against the poisoner. A flatterer is not always a liar; he is merely lacking in self-esteem; he has no scruple in reducing his own worth and raising that of another in order to gain something by it. But there exists a form of flattery which springs from kindness of heart. Some kind souls flatter people whom they hold in high esteem. There are thus two kinds of flattery, kindly and treacherous; the first is weak, while the second is mean. People who are not given to flattery are apt to be fault-finders.

If a man is often the subject of conversation, he becomes a subject of criticism. If he is our friend, we ought not invariably to speak well of him or else we arouse jealousy and grudge against him; for people, knowing that he is only human, will not believe that he has only good qualities. We must, therefore, concede a little to the adverse criticism of our listeners and point out some of our friend’s faults; if we allow him faults which are common and unessential, while extolling his merits, our friend cannot take it in ill part. Toadies are people who praise others in company in hope of gain. Men are meant to form opinions regarding their fellows and to judge them. Na­ture has made us judges of our neighbors so that things which are false but are outside the scope of the established legal authority should be arraigned before the court of social opinion. Thus, if a man dishonours someone, the authorities do not punish him, but his fellows judge and punish him, though only so far as it is within their right to punish him and without doing violence to him. People shun him, and that is punishment enough. If that were not so, conduct not punished by the authorities would go altogether unpunished. What then is meant by the enjoinder that we ought not to judge others? As we are ignorant of their dispositions we cannot tell whether they are punishable before God or not, and we cannot, therefore, pass an adequate moral judgment upon them. The moral dispositions of others are for God to judge, but we are competent judges of our own. We cannot judge the inner core of morality; no man can do that; but we are competent to judge its outer manifestations. In matters of morality we are not judges of our fellows, but nature has given us the right to form judgments about oth­ers and she also has ordained that we should judge ourselves in accordance with judgments that others form about us. The man who turns a deaf ear to other people’s opinion of him is base and reprehensible. There is nothing that happens in this world about which we ought not to form an opinion, and we show considerable subtlety in judging conduct. Those who judge our conduct with exactness are our best friends. Only friends can be quite can­did and open with each other. But in judging a man a further question arises. In what terms are we to judge him? Must we pronounce him either good or evil? We must proceed from the assumption that humanity is lov­able, and, particularly in regard to wickedness, we ought never to pro­nounce a verdict either of condemnation or of acquittal. We pronounce such a verdict whenever we judge from his conduct that a man deserves to be condemned or acquitted. But though we are entitled to form opinions about our fellows, we have no right to spy upon them. Everyone has a right to prevent others from watching and scrutinizing his actions. The spy arro­gates to himself the right to watch the doings of strangers; no one ought to presume to do such a thing. If I see two people whispering to each other so as to not be heard, my inclination ought to be to get farther away so that no sound may reach my ears. Or if I am left alone in a room and I see a let­ter lying open on the table, it would be contemptible to try to read it; a right-thinking man would not do so; in fact, in order to avoid suspicion and distrust he will endeavour not to be left alone in a room where money is left lying about, and he will be averse from learning other people’s secrets in order to avoid the risk of the suspicion that he has betrayed them; other peo­ple’s secrets trouble him, for even between the most intimate of friends sus­picion might arise. A man who will let his inclination or appetite drive him to deprive his friend of anything, of his fiancée, for instance, is contemptible beyond a doubt. If he can cherish a passion for my sweetheart, he can equally well cherish a passion for my purse. It is very mean to lie in wait and spy upon a friend, or on anyone else, and to elicit information about him from menials by lowering ourselves to the level of our inferiors, who will thereafter not forget to regard themselves as our equals. Whatever militates against frankness lowers the dignity of man. Insidious, underhand conduct uses means which strike at the roots of society because they make frankness impossible; it is far viler than violence; for against violence we can defend ourselves, and a violent man who spurns meanness can be tamed to good­ness, but the mean rogue, who has not the courage to come out into the open with his roguery, is devoid of every vestige of nobility of character. For that reason a wife who attempts to poison her husband in England is burnt at the stake, for if such conduct spread, no man would be safe from his wife.

As I am not entitled to spy upon my neighbour, I am equally not enti­tled to point out his faults to him; and even if he should ask me to do so he would feel hurt if I complied. He knows his faults better than I, he knows that he has them, but he likes to believe that I have not noticed them, and if I tell him of them he’realizes that I have. To say, therefore, that friends ought to point out each other’s faults, is not sound advice. My friend may know better than I whether my gait or deportment is proper or not, but if I will only examine myself, who can know me better than I can know my­self? To point out his faults to a friend is sheer impertinence; and once fault finding begins between friends their friendship will not last long. We must turn a blind eye to the faults of others, lest they conclude that they have lost our respect and we lose theirs. Only if placed in positions of authority over others should we point out to them their defects. Thus a husband is enti­tled to teach and correct his wife, but his corrections must be well-intentioned and kindly and must be dominated by respect, for if they be prompted only by displeasure they result in mere blame and bitterness. If we must blame, we must temper the blame with a sweetening of love, good-will, and respect. Nothing else will avail to bring about improvement.

Thomas Donaldson and Patricia H. Werhane, ed., Ethical Issues in Business: A Philosophical Approach, 8th Edition (Upper Saddle River, NY: Pearson Education, 2008), 110-115; from, Lectures on Ethics, by Immanuel Kant, trans. Louis Infield (London: Methuen, 1930), 224-235.

Ethics of the Left Versus Biblical Ethics (Peas and Roses)

“When a man ceases to believe in God he does not believe in nothing, he believes almost in anything.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

This is an old story, but I wanted to get it onto my site for reference. It comes from Daily Caller’s Wesley J. Smith, nd is the forefront of vegan/vegetarian “ethics.”

Just when you thought things could not get any weirder: Last Sunday, The New York Times of course! — ran a piece in its Sunday opinion section by a university professor — of course! — claiming that it is unethical to eat certain plants. [The piece is entitled, “If Peas Can Talk, Should We Eat Them?“]

According to Michael Marder, recent discoveries show that peas communicate with each other through their root systems and soil. Of course, being plants, pea “communication” doesn’t involve the least level of sentience, not to mention rationality. It is a purely chemical response to environmental stimuli.

But should pea chemical communication elevate the moral value of peas? Yes, according to Marder (my emphasis):

When it comes to a plant, it turns out to be not only a what but also a who — an agent in its milieu, with its own intrinsic value or version of the good. Inquiring into justifications for consuming vegetal beings thus reconceived, we reach one of the final frontiers of dietary ethics.

Good grief. Plants aren’t “beings” and “who” equates to personhood. But plants don’t have any “version of the good — or for that matter, the bad: They are plants!

Marder then claims that plant sophistication means we should not eat them unless they live for several growing seasons:

The “renewable” aspects of perennial plants may be accepted by humans as a gift of vegetal being and integrated into their diets. But it would be harder to justify the cultivation of peas and other annual plants, the entire being of which humans devote to externally imposed ends.

I hate to repeat myself, but good grief! People are starving in the world and Marder worries about the ethics of eating peas and carrots! Worse, the piece runs with all due respect in the Sunday opinion section of the nation’s Paper of Record! (Yes, I’m yelling.)

…read it all and try not to yell!

In another article Wesley J. Smith in National Review mentions this new frontier of ethics in speaking about the 20123 elections, and Romney’s father’s “MURDEROUS” heart!

I just saw a funny Tweet from @jimnorton, in which he “condemns” Mitt Romney’s father for “murdering roses” when he placed one on his wife’s bedstand every night. (Romney scored emotionally in last night’s speech when he recalled that his mother found out his father had died because the rose was missing.) Thing is, Norton’s jibe is not quite as off the wall as some might think. Switzerland has, for instance, placed the “dignity” of individual plants in its constitution. The government then asked a big brained bioethics commission to explain why individual plants have dignity (they share molecular material with us), and the commission gave an example of a terrible immoral action. From my Weekly Standard column, “The Scream of the Asparagus:”

The committee offered this illustration: A farmer mows his field (apparently an acceptable action, perhaps because the hay is intended to feed the farmer’s herd–the report doesn’t say). But then, while walking home, he casually “decapitates” some wildflowers with his scythe. The panel decries this act as immoral, though its members can’t agree why. The report states, opaquely: At this point it remains unclear whether this action is condemned because it expresses a particular moral stance of the farmer toward other organisms or because something bad is being done to the flowers themselves.

So, according to this crowd, George Romney apparently did murder roses–worse, put out a contract for daily rosicide!

After referencing the other article about peas that he [Smith] wrote, he ends with this:

Then there is the growing “nature rights” movement. My point is that @jimnorton thought he was being funny–and he was. But some take such nonsense seriously. That’s what happens when you reject human exceptionalism. You go–pardon the animalism–nuts!

…read it all…

Richard Dawkins Rejects Darwinism As It Relates to Ethics

Paul Copan and Matthew Flannagan, Did God Really Command Genocide? Coming to Terms with the Justice of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), fn.2, 319 [added linked reference from Evolution News for context]:

Dawkins spells out the contradiction: “As an academic scientist, I am a passionate Darwinian, believing that natural selection is, if not the only driving force in evolution, certainly the only known force capable of producing the illusion of purpose which so strikes all who contemplate nature. But at the same time as I support Darwinism as a scientist, I am a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to politics and how we should conduct our human affairs.” A Devils Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2003), 10-11.

In another place, he admits to the logic of his own determinism (that people cannot be held responsible for their actions), but emotionally he cannot accept this. See the Dawkins interview by Logan Gage, Who Wrote Richard Dawkins’s New Book?,” Evolution News (website), October 28, 2006:

Manzari: Dr. Dawkins thank you for your comments. The thing I have appreciated most about your comments is your consistency in the things I’ve seen you’ve written. One of the areas that I wanted to ask you about, and the place where I think there is an inconsistency, and I hoped you would clarify, is that in what I’ve read you seem to take a position of a strong determinist who says that what we see around us is the product of physical laws playing themselves out; but on the other hand it would seem that you would do things like taking credit for writing this book and things like that. But it would seem, and this isn’t to be funny, that the consistent position would be that necessarily the authoring of this book, from the initial conditions of the big bang, it was set that this would be the product of what we see today. I would take it that that would be the consistent position but I wanted to know what you thought about that.

Dawkins: The philosophical question of determinism is a very difficult question. It’s not one I discuss in this book, indeed in any other book that I’ve ever talked about. Now an extreme determinist, as the questioner says, might say that everything we do, everything we think, everything that we write has been determined from the beginning of time in which case the very idea of taking credit for anything doesn’t seem to make any sense. Now I don’t actually know what I actually think about that, I haven’t taken up a position about that, it’s not part of my remit to talk about the philosophical issue of determinism. What I do know is that what it feels like to me, and I think to all of us, we don’t feel determined. We feel like blaming people for what they do or giving people the credit for what they do. We feel like admiring people for what they do. None of us ever actually as a matter of fact says, “Oh well he couldn’t help doing it, he was determined by his molecules.” Maybe we should… I sometimes… Um… You probably remember many of you would have seen Fawlty Towers. The episode where Basil[‘s]… car won’t start and he gives it fair warning, counts up to three, and then gets out of the car and picks up a tree branch and thrashes it within an edge of his life. Maybe that’s what we all ought to… Maybe the way we laugh at Basil Fawlty, we ought to laugh in the same way at people who blame humans. I mean when we punish people for doing the most horrible murders, maybe the attitude we should take is “Oh they were just determined by their molecules.” It’s stupid to punish them. What we should do is say “This unit has a faulty motherboard which needs to be replaced.” I can’t bring myself to do that. I actually do respond in an emotional way and I blame people, I give people credit, or I might be more charitable and say this individual who has committed murders or child abuse of whatever it is was really abused in his own childhood. And so again I might take a…

Manzari: But do you personally see that as an inconsistency in your views?

Dawkins: I sort of do. Yes. But it is an inconsistency that we sort of have to live with otherwise life would be intolerable. But it has nothing to do with my views on religion it is an entirely separate issue.

Manzari: Thank you.

2 Peter 1:5-8:

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Dawkins says:

“What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question.” (See/hear more)

In other words, there is no absolute moral ethic, Dawkins wants to have a consensus of people agreeing what is “right” and “wrong” — he says as much in the audio above. Which means that rape and murder are only taboo… not really wrong.

Secondly, there can be no concept of “ought”

What about human actions? They are of no more value or significance than the actions of any other material thing. Consider rocks rolling down a hill and coming to rest at the bottom. We don’t say that some particular arrangement of the rocks is right and another is wrong. Rocks don’t have a duty to roll in a particular way and land in a particular place. Their movement is just the product of the laws of physics. We don’t say that rocks “ought” to land in a certain pattern and that if they don’t then something needs to be done about it. We don’t strive for a better arrangement or motion of the rocks. In just the same way, there is no standard by which human actions can be judged. We are just another form of matter in motion, like the rocks rolling down the hill.

We tend to think that somewhere “out there” there are standards of behaviour that men ought to follow. But according to Dawkins there is only the “natural, physical world”. Nothing but particles and forces. These things cannot give rise to standards that men have a duty to follow. In fact they cannot even account for the concept of “ought”. There exist only particles of matter obeying the laws of physics. There is no sense in which anything ought to be like this or ought to be like that. There just is whatever there is, and there just happens whatever happens in accordance with the laws of physics.

Men’s actions are therefore merely the result of the laws of physics that govern the behaviour of the particles that make up the chemicals in the cells and fluids of their bodies and thus control how they behave. It is meaningless to say that the result of those physical reactions ought to be this or ought to be that. It is whatever it is. It is meaningless to say that people ought to act in a certain way. It is meaningless to say (to take a contemporary example) that the United States and its allies ought not to have invaded Iraq. The decision to invade was just the outworking of the laws of physics in the bodies of the people who governed those nations. And there is no sense in which the results of that invasion can be judged as good or bad because there are no standards to judge anything by. There are only particles reacting together; no standards, no morals, nothing but matter in motion.

Dawkins finds it very hard to be consistent to this system of belief. He thinks and acts as if there were somewhere, somehow standards that people ought to follow. For example in The God Delusion, referring particularly to the Christian doctrine of atonement, he says that there are “teachings in the New Testament that no good person should support”.(6) And he claims that religion favours an in-group/out-group approach to morality that makes it “a significant force for evil in the world”.(7)

According to Dawkins, then, there are such things as good and evil. We all know what good and evil mean. We know that if no good person should support the doctrine of atonement then we ought not to support that doctrine. We know that if religion is a force for evil then we are better off without religion and that, indeed, we ought to oppose religion. The concepts of good and evil are innate in us. The problem for Dawkins is that good and evil make no sense in his worldview. “There is nothing beyond the natural, physical world.” There are no standards out there that we ought to follow. There is only matter in motion reacting according to the laws of physics. Man is not of a different character to any other material thing. Men’s actions are not of a different type or level to that of rocks rolling down a hill. Rocks are not subject to laws that require them to do good and not evil; nor are men. Every time you hear Dawkins talking about good and evil as if the words actually meant something, it should strike you loud and clear as if he had announced to the world, “I am contradicting myself”.

Please note that I am not saying that Richard Dawkins doesn’t believe in good and evil. On the contrary, my point is that he does believe in them but that his worldview renders such standards meaningless.

(Nothing Beyond the Natural Physical World)

We know Dawkins’ position is not science, so… what is it? Here begins the journey for the truly curious.