Sunday, February 9, 2014

We Were Born with Interlocking Hands for a Reason

There are many atheists I’ve talked to that believe in human progress. They think that just like advances are made in science, so too does human existence advance ever reaching higher heights. In other words, humans keep getting better and better just like their technology does.

Part of this ever forward progression, they believe, is the evolution of man rising above Christian religion. Christianity should be tossed aside like antiquated, superstition based, medical practices. I disagree.

Christianity is not just a free choice that people can make for themselves like choosing a brand of toothpaste. It is in fact the most crucial element needed in our social fabric that must be widespread and strong if our society is to survive.

Before I make my case, I think we can all agree that the degradation of society results in anarchy - either that or tyranny since, as with most opposite extremes, they tend to lead to the same outcome: a crappy life for their citizens rife with murder, rape, and many other human rights violations taking place way too frequently.

So how do we prevent anarchy and it’s opposite twin tyranny? The obvious answer is by having a structured society where politicians write laws within a predetermined context to ensure each individual’s rights will be protected.

But the problem is that civil laws are overrated and quite powerless against an immoral people. There is another solution called self-regulation which is underrated in our modern times. But ultimately it has its flaws as well.

 Allow me to explain using my hands...



On the One Hand, Laws... 


On the one hand we have civil laws (external rules) to keep society functioning. Once again, laws are overrated. This is because laws are only as worthy as the people who write them, as effective as the people who enforce them, and as useful as the people they govern.

For example, I live in California, a state where they write a law against every single darn little thing they don’t like and then some. But what good is writing all these pretty little laws if no one obeys them?

There are so many laws on the books here it’s ridiculous, and every day those laws get broken, repeatedly, by a vast number of people. My book alone lists quite a few crimes and that’s with me leaving some of them out.

Of course you don’t need to read my book to know there is a lot of crime in Southern California. Take a midnight stroll down “Death Alley” in South Central. I dare you. Or invest your life savings in Goldman Sachs. Good luck trusting those crooks with your money.

In reality, laws are to a big extent an illusion. The word “law” has been made to sound so powerful, but all laws do is encourage one type of act or behavior, and discourage another. Ultimately each individual person is still free to choose which action they will take.

For example, I could get up from my desk right now, grab my shotgun, hit the streets, and shoot at every person I see. There would be legal consequences of course, but if I don’t care enough about my own life or think I could figure out a way around getting caught, well then those potential consequences would not be enough to stop me.

This is exactly what happens at every mass shooting – the shooter doesn’t care that what he is doing is illegal. And after every mass shooting there is always a movement to increase the laws because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the lack of power laws have with those who just say “screw it, I’m not gonna obey.”

Some still argue that if the people are not obeying the laws then we need to beef up no so much the laws but rather law enforcement. But what’s to say that law enforcement is going to stick to the law themselves, especially when given more power?

If a society is immoral and doesn’t believe in obeying laws then law enforcement doesn’t have a good pool to recruit from. In fact here in Los Angeles our Sheriff is currently resigning from his position early after a career riddled with scandal after scandal.

And what if the law makers themselves are corrupt? (Hard to imagine, right?) What if the laws themselves are immoral to begin with? Who’s going to write the laws to keep those who write the laws in line? Laws are not autonomous.

They require a certain level of voluntary participation from both the populace and their enforcers in order to be effective. This scares some people because it implies that a population cannot be controlled unless they are willing to be controlled.

It introduces a certain element of potential chaos that some just cannot accept even if it is true. Yet the fact remains that the best regulator of man is man’s own heart. Which brings us to...



    On the Other Hand, Self-Regulation...


The other solution to maintaining a civilized society is self-regulation (internal rules). This is where man holds his own self back - doing what is right by choice. Self-regulation has gotten a bad rap in recent times.

This is mostly because the powers that be want the populace to believe in the necessity of their laws. Law makers hate the concept of self-regulation just like accountants hate do-it-yourself tax software.

Now on the flip side of the shooting spree example used above, if the powers that be legalized murder right at this very instant I still would not go out on a mass shooting spree. That’s because what is stopping me from going on a shooting rampage is me.

There is nothing more powerful at preventing crimes then a person choosing not to commit them in the first place. I say “hi” to people when they greet me. I help my friends move. I volunteer at my church.

These acts have nothing to do with any laws on the books. This is self-regulation. Choosing to do what is right without needing to be forced to by an outside party. So if self-regulation is even better at getting people to do the right thing, then who cares if our laws are inadequate?

Let us all just regulate our own actions, right? Oh sure. And let’s have Olympic gymnasts score their own routines. Let’s have restaurants conduct their own food safety inspections. Let’s have conglomerations regulate their own tax books.

The fact is without an outside standard against which to measure our deeds, we will justify our weaknesses with our strengths. We will hold in high esteem the values that we are not often tempted to break and downplay the misdeeds that we commit frequently.

Rude people will say, “at least I’m honest.” Violent people will say, “at least I stand up for myself.” Cowards will say, “at least I’m peaceful.” So if having a set of rules known as laws is ineffective and allowing people’s own hearts to self-regulate doesn’t work either, then how we keep society from falling apart? That’s where the Bible comes in...


Joining Hands...


This is why religion is so powerful. It is the paradox that God has given us which completes the inadequacies of written laws and self-regulation by combining the two into one. Religion is a set of external rules that tells us how to act internally.

It accomplishes this by attacking morality at its very core: our INTENTIONS. Actions may speak louder than words, but they are still merely the expression of our intentions. No matter how crazy our legislator gets with the legal regulations they have such a hard-on for, they could never write laws telling us what our intentions should be.

Even if they did, they could never enforce them because if an intention is not self-generated then it is not an intention. You can command someone to love, but only they can choose to do it. If a law is unenforceable then it is pointless.

The Bible certainly has a vast number of rules and moral precepts for us to follow, but it’s more than just a rule book for our hearts. On top of giving us rules that affect our intentions giving us the perfect blend of external and internal rules, the Bible also gives us the glue that holds the two sides together: MOTIVATION.

In all my years I have learnt at least one thing about people which is that they do things much better when they are motivated. The Bible provides us with the motivation to choose to regulate our own hearts to match God’s outside standard of morality by introducing us to the reality of afterlife.

It’s funny that we tend to think of this world as real and concrete, and heaven as just a dream with clouds and baby angels playing harps. It has always been my contention that this world is the dream and the next one is far more concrete and real than we can possibly imagine in the human context we exist in.

New theories in science apparently back me up on this describing the universe to be a sort of two dimensional hologram. But I digress...

Anyway, this trifecta of external rules affecting our intentions, strengthened by motivation is truly powerful. More so than any puny civil law could ever be. Why do you think so many prisoners have changed their lives around completely after having read the Bible and converting to Christianity?

It is because the Bible introduces love through intention into the mix. This fundamentally changes who a person is. It is true morality not just civil law. If turning a bad person into a good one was just about giving them a list of rules to follow then all you would have to do is give prisoners a book of the state’s penal codes and statues and watch the transformation take place as he reads it over.

Obviously no one has been convinced to change their actions and intentions by doing that. The Bible explains the value of sacrifice and total obedience to the Lord through the example of Jesus’ Crucifixion.


  Motivational posters used to be 3D
 Chapel of the Pieta, St Peters Basilica by Ioja, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Ioja 


The Bible is rich in wisdom and faith. It gave us rules that science actually backs up as being effective in helping a society stay healthy. Studies have shown that children who went to Church regularly during their childhood are less likely to commit crimes when they grow older. That is why God told us to keep His day holy.

Studies have also shown that children who grow up in a household with both parents are far more likely to be happy, healthy, functioning members of society; less likely to use drugs; even less likely to die of strokes. That is why God does not want us to break the bond of marriage He has set.

God’s laws are not superfluous, they are necessary to any society. Besides who is to say that government laws are even moral to begin with? God wrote the rules of the Bible which is why it is an outside standard that we know we can follow.

Granted many of our American laws are compatible with Christian values, but that is because we are a country founded in Christianity. The morals atheists so proudly claim to have obtained all by themselves from “common sense” are really derived from having been brought up in a Christian based society.

Is it wrong to rape women who dared to show themselves in public? Is it wrong to use children as human shields to gain public sympathy in time of war? Is it wrong to kill someone because they aren’t of your same faith? “Of course!” atheists reply.

But if they were born in other parts of the world, those that were not founded in Christianity, then their “common sense” would make them yell “of course not!” You know which parts of the world I’m talking about; the ones that are rife with both anarchy and tyranny and the human rights abuses that come with…

4 comments:

  1. Even though I am a theist myself, I personally dislike when people say the US was founded on Christianity. It's a little more complex then that I think. The US just as nonsecular as it was any theistic foundation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Founding_Fathers_of_the_United_States#Religion

    https://www.au.org/resources/publications/is-america-a-christian-nation

    http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Was_the_United_States_founded_on_Christianity%3F

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/billflax/2012/09/25/was-america-founded-as-a-christian-nation/

    https://www.au.org/resources/publications/is-america-a-christian-nation

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  2. Great post by the way! Completely agree that laws really don't do much. I can liken your murder example to drugs too. And when I say drugs I mean, nature/plants/non-pharma/pharmaceutical/bath tub grade/anything. In fact I was watching someone speak to a bunch of politicians and he said something like "if we legalized heroin and crack today, raise your hands, how many people in here we just go ahead and do it?" They all laughed, nobody raised their hand. His point was you just wouldn't, and that people who want to try it or do it, or going to do it anyway, laws or not. Russel Brand talks about this too, he said "laws never stopped me. you can't say we need stricter laws. an addict is an addict, and he's going to do whatever he wants" It's a bit of a shame though that this fantastic thought here had to bring the bible into the mix. Even though I am theist myself, I don't think the majority of people need the bible to come to, or make, these conclusions about will vs laws. Sure the bible can be a guiding principle TO the will, (And I can see it's your guiding principle to creating the post, which IS great) but I think many people who would read this would be turned off by it. The people who think the bible is an outdated fairy tale. If we want to effect change, it must be universal. Just as the laws need to be. Otherwise, there is no motivation, just as you said. You can't make someone love, just as you can't make someone here your message through the bible. Even though this is SO true about will vs law, people will take anything you say that's lined with the bible, with a grain of salt. They immediately stop listening. Luckily someone like me is more open minded. :D oh.. and trust me the US kills the children of our enemies, who are different from us, who have resources we want, etc. We are no different, even though the propaganda, I mean main stream media, likes to tell frame it that we are.

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    Replies
    1. I wish I could edit my posts. I need to really read them 5 times before I post it. Sorry these are full of grammar and typographical errors. Anyway, I hope you can see past them.

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  3. Well Mike, I would have to respectfully disagree with you here.

    you said:

    "it's a bit of a shame though that this fantastic thought here had to bring the bible into the mix."

    How could I not talk about the bible?

    the whole premise of this post can be summerized as such:

    Situation A: a people ruled by civic law alone is not suffiecnet. apparently we agree on this point.


    Situation B: people ruling themselves also has its flaws and is not sufficent either as exemplified by the very Russel Brand quote YOU yourself posted (which was an awesome quote btw). so i guess we agree on this as well.

    Where does this leave us?

    With solution C: religion. I'm not going to go into the reasons why religion is the solution because i would just be rewriting the post again.

    it's kind of funny how the very first link you provided lists the fact that all founding fathers were some for or another of Christian (Christ based) faith. Founded in Christianity doesn't mean we are offically Christian, it just means Christianity is the backbone of our understanding of morality.

    I find it interesting too that you said:

    "If we want to effect change, it must be universal."


    The word Catholic, my religion of choice, in fact means UNIVERSAL. and that is my very point. We need a universal set of outside rules that not only govern, but also motivate men to be good.

    i'll leave you with this thought. tell me which of these rules found in the Bible you agree with and which ones you don't:


    1 love your neighbor as yourself.

    2 do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    3 I am the Lord thy God, thou shall have no other gods before Me

    4 thou shall keep the Lord's day holy.

    5 thou shall not commit adultery

    6 thou shall not steal.


    I'm guessing as an athiest you dont agree with 3 & 4. but do you agree with the rest of them?

    What if someone said they don't agree with 5 & 6? or didnt agree with any of them at all? if you get to pick and choose your morals why can't someone else?

    Take relgion out of the equation and that's exactly what's going to happen.

    We need an outside standard. One that works. One set by God.



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