Blame by association and pollution of ideas

I hold no faith in the supernatural. I am intelligent enough to shape my own self-interests ethically. In general, it requires only a couple of rules.

  1. Will a behaviour that I am contemplating hurt someone else? Alternately, would I be made unhappy if someone else exhibited that behaviour? i.e. “The Golden Rule”
  2. I also try to imagine what the effects on society would be if large numbers of people (or all people) adopted that behaviour.
    These two rules applied together, and in concert, sustain the specifics. “That is all well and good, but what is the consequences of breaking your own rules?” you say. But, let me point out some further consequences of my personal belief and contrast them with Christian doctrine.

I am human, and I empathize with the pain of others. When I knowingly cause harm to another, I feel personal shame and guilt. I have no concern for later punishment or reward. I experience that punishment or reward in the present. I may not ask forgiveness from a person or being that was other than the person that I harmed. I cannot pray to a creator and feel the relief of the burden of guilt lifted from me. To achieve that relief, I must apologize and make any restitution that I can to the person that I wronged.

Please stay with me, I will tie this into the OP soon. I promise.

Christianity (and other religions as well) well supports my basic rules above, but adds a third. Because God is by definition good, doing his will is by default ethical and good. This is held true, even if the act breaks either or both of the first two rules. Now, we get to the heart of the matter.

I don’t hold today’s Christians responsible for the crimes of the past. They did not do them. I do find them useful to examine today’s behaviour and establish patterns.

I am about to do a dangerous thing, and speak in generalities. Please forgive it, and understand that I can/do make exceptions for the individual.

Today, people apologize for past crimes by explaining that, “When we (Christians as a group) committed them, we misunderstood the word or intent God had for us. We recognize our errors and will not repeat them.” Yet, I still witness the same pattern of crime occurring today. Everyday, when Christians try to enforce upon others the way of life they have chosen for themselves, the crime is repeated. Not on the same scale as in the past I will grant you, but repeated none the less. Within the confines of the SDMB, I feel certain that I do not need to enumerate these grievances. As time passes, offences that I see as commonplace today will probably pass away as well. I foresee the Christians of tomorrow using the same excuse to apologize for them.

In the specific, the past crimes are not repeated. In the general, it still continues. That is the shape and size of the millstone that is inherited.

To acknowledge a splendid post issued by Charogne:

Charogne’s post points out the kind of people for whom I believe are the “exceptions” in my post.

Hmm. Good point. But, are there large numbers of Republicans who say what Nixon did was justifiable? And do the Republicans have a book that they hold as infallible that says that burglary and corruption are not only desirable, but commanded?

*Originally posted by Charogne *
But in a country where an ex-president (my former commander-in-chief) declares publically that atheists are neither citizens nor patriots, I feel it behooves me to keep history in mind.


And in this same country, that man’s son–a man who has NEVER spoken against what his father said–is also elected.

If all Christians were like Polycarp, Jodi, Tris, et al,–hell, if all Christians were like Jesus told them to be in the first place (i.e. Beatitudes)–we wouldn’t even have to have this conversation.


Charogne, did you change names and loose your post count, or is that really your first post? If it is, you have been quite a lurker. I would also like to say that has to be the best “first post” I have personally witnessed. And, let me welcome you to the board.

Damn! sorry about the horrible formatting! We can’t edit, can we? I’ll have to remember to use preview.

No, and no.

But are you sure those beliefs are analogous to Christian beliefs? While perhaps most Christians believe that we cannot judge God’s actions by our own morality, I know of very few who believe the Bible to be “infallible”, or include the proscriptions of the Old Testament as Gospel.

Wow! For scotth: Thank you so much for the welcome and the compliment! I will try hard to live up to it, and the high standards I’ve seen among these posters (a little intimidating). For TracyMarie: Hello and best of my love, best of friends. For Triskadecamus: I know you do, and please forgive my tardiness in thanking you and the others for your valuable contributions to the common peace of spirit. My point was that the level of maturity and compassion so many people exhibit on these boards isn’t matched by my general experience out in the “big room with the blue ceiling”. Dopers rock. Simple as that.

He is incredible, isn’t he. And yes, this was indeed his first post. He says this board is intimidating (and it is!), but imagine what it’s like to be his partner! Sheesh! :smiley:

Oh, I see, falling back on axioms, huh? :wink:


I’m sure that some Christians think they are and I’m sure that other Christians think they are not.

And I know very many. And that’s where communication and trust begins to break down.


Hey there, baby. I love you too.

That’s so true, isn’t it? Especially considering the boards of which we’re both familiar!

xenophon41: Your last post goes to the very heart of my first. It would be foolish and arrogant of me to question your perceptions or your worldly experience, but I must say that mine differ considerably. Clearly, our circles do not overlap (!). Your “very few” seem to be my “overwhelming majority”. Most “Christians” of my acquaintance hold that the Bible is the infallible word of God ("" to differentiate from followers of Jesus, not out of sarcasm). To judge from their conversation, the Bible has relatively little to say about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, or helping the sick, but is largely about homosexuality, with lengthy excursions into abortion, gun control, interracial dating, etc. It would be funny if it weren’t so… sad and creepy. I’ve read in the Bible, and engaged in the discussions, with unencouraging results. I wish I could meet your friends.

xenophon41, adding to what Charogne just said:

I hope this is not so, but it could be. You may be very surprised by the true feelings and positions of your Christian friends. It is possible you have never been exposed to them when they are spraying vitriol at others over nothing more than not practicing their way of life. You might be startled by the sheer number of “closet” biggots and simply unkind people. Many do not have the courage to speak their mind in front of their peers. They will often not hesitate to take a cheap shot at someone different when they think no one is looking, though.

It is a good thing, in cases like that to gently remind them Who is looking.


TracyMarie, Charogne and scotth, obviously our M has V’d! I wonder if confirmation bias is operating here? In my own case, I will admit that, for the last several years I’ve been more apt to pay attention to Christian viewpoints which are more nuanced than “the Bible saze it, I b’leeves it, an’ tha’s th’ end of it.” However, this comes after 40 odd years* of quite a few misapprehensions about modern Christianity.

While I definitely believe that a frightening number of self proclaimed Christians worship “Christ the bigot”, I don’t believe it’s anywhere near a majority. That’s why the Fred Phelpses of the world are referred to as “fringe”. However, members of any religion are likely to justify their social prejudices in terms of that religion. But when put to the test, their actions may be truer to that religion than their prejudices.

*[sub]Some of 'em were really odd.[/sub]

xenophon41, I have resided or had “extended visits” in a number of locations around the USA. I will freely admit that the prevelant views vary significantly by region.

In Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York, as well as California, Washington, and Nevada the majority behaviour was pretty respectable with the odd nut thrown in here and there.

Within Indiana and Ohio the nuts and good ones were pretty evenly matched. However, this area has an alarming number of people that have taken religion to such an extreme that is very harmful to themselves. Surprisingly, these people were of little threat to others.

In Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Georgia… well, it is pretty bad. I’ll leave it at that.

btw, what does “our M has V’d” mean?

M has V’d = mileage has varied. (As in YMMV, “your mileage may vary.”)
Sorry for the obfuscatory shorthand! :slight_smile:

So far, I am relieved that my main post in this thread appears to have been taken as I intended. I expected at least a couple of irate responses to it by now. The lack of them is encouraging.

Thanks for your post Scott, I think I see what you are saying, yet…

My own position is that I am completely at a loss to understand how some of the atrocities of the past (and present) can be justified as ‘Christian’; the idea of causing death and suffering under the intent of God is so utterly alien that I can’t get a handle on it.

You’re right, but this perplexes me also; I simply cannot grasp the decision tree that begins with “Love God and love your neighbour” and ends with “OK, let’s kill them all then”.

Perhaps I should go back to the soccer analogy; football is unfortunately burdened with an element of hooliganism; now if the hooligans proclaim “We are the true supporters and our violence is justified by the Football Association rules”, then should the real (non-violent) supporters feel in any way resposible for their actions; should they be looking for another word to call themselves by, because the hooligans are claiming to be supporters as well?

Much of my feeling on this is probably coloured by the background of faith here in the UK; Fundamentalism and Literalism is not absent from our churches here, but it’s by no means as prevalent or outspoken as it seems to be in the US; there are people in my congregation who probably pretty much believe that the Bible is literally true, but they don’t seem to find that sufficient basis to force the abolition of teaching evolution in classes, or to picket funerals of gay people, rather they seem to find it all the more important to serve God by serving their fellow man, “because the Bible says so and the Bible must be right”.