Pharyngula

The amorality of the faithful

Rabbi Avi Shafran is a columnist who, to my mind, represents the very worst of religious dogma. He often writes about “morality”, bemoaning the horrid state of godlessness, but his morality is little more than the rote obedience of the dogmatically orthodox. His usual complaint is that atheism removes the moral compass provided by a god — that one can believe that any arbitrary thing is good if you’re an atheist.

Now he has written another bogus argument that shows the exact opposite: if you use religion, you can justify anything. It’s a very strange piece, a study in contrasts.

On the one hand, Bernie Madoff: a scoundrel and swindler who used a Ponzi scheme to enrich himself and bilk investors of an estimated 65 billion dollars. He was also a dedicated philanthropist who skimmed off a little of his ill-gotten riches and donated to primarily Jewish charities.

On the other hand, Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot whose competence made for a safe emergency water landing a few months ago. He has been fairly quiet, and has not made a big issue of the event; he also hasn’t given any credit to a deity for the landing.

Guess which one Shafran thinks is the good guy? Since he’s using religious logic, it’s a safe bet to guess the one that makes the least sense.

That’s right, Shafran thinks Bernie Madoff is admirable. Why? Because he owned up to his crime, and didn’t flee the country, and also because Shafran imagines that he begin his investment firm with good intent. Never mind that, at some point long ago, Madoff knew he was ripping people off, that he was building an unsupportably rickety pyramid of promises that he couldn’t keep, and he didn’t own up then — he just kept robbing people. And then, of course, even after he was caught out, he was frantically trying to hide his assets. He’s a crook. Shafran is impressed because he said he was sorry after he was caught.

And what about Sullenberger?

No such sublimity of spirit [the “sublimity of spirit” refers to Bernie Madoff], though, was in evidence in any of the public acts or words of Mr. Sullenberger. He saved 155 lives, no doubt about it, and is certainly owed the hakoras hatov of those he saved, and of their families and friends. And he executed tremendous skill.

But no moral choice was involved in his act. He was on the plane too, after all; his own life depended on undertaking his feat no less than the lives of others. He did what anyone in terrible circumstances would do: try to stay alive. He was fortunate (as were his passengers) that he possessed the talents requisite to the task, but that’s a tribute to his training, and to the One Who instilled such astounding abilities in His creations (and Whose help the captain was not quoted as acknowledging).

I suspect that lack of acknowledgment is what really chafes Shafran.

Here is the difference between religious and secular morality written in boldfaced crayon. The religious claim to have an absolute, a god, who has dictated an unquestionable standard for what is good, and the role of the mere human individual is to be obedient to that standard, to follow the hierarchy of leaders who exist to translate and explain their deity’s rules. I can see where this certainly has some advantages to a society — it’s a tool to promote and enforce service to the state or church — but it’s not morality. It’s rationalized slavery.

We godless lack that certainty, and we know the world is a complex place that requires compromise and is not ruled by a moral force — virtue is subject to negotiation, and is found in working together with others to find mutually satisfactory solutions. Good is not absolute, it is an emergent property that arises from successful networks of individuals. It is also something that is measured by evidence: we look at the good that people do, not the promises that they make and never keep, or the lies that dovetail nicely into dogma. Competence is a virtue. Intent is meaningless without action.

We also know that goodness is not a state of being, but a process that requires constant effort and continuous assessment against its effects in the real world. Blind adherence to a presupposition without adjustment to fit the facts of execution is a formula for doing great harm.

My short summary of the difference between religious and secular morality is this: will you obey, or will you strive? Rabbi Shafran’s answer is that you must obey.

Comments

  1. #1 Free Lunch
    April 6, 2009

    So, Rabbi Shafran doesn’t mind that Jewish charities were devastated by Madoff’s greed. I can’t add to Shafran’s foolishness.

  2. #2 AnthonyK
    April 6, 2009

    One of the true, great pleasures of being an atheist is that one doesnt’t have to obey anything or anyone.

  3. #3 LtStorm
    April 6, 2009

    So. The man who built an empire that greatly benefited him personally is given the shadow of a doubt that he had good intent going into it even though all evidence shows otherwise.

    While the man who did his job with an amazing degree of professionalism when others (such as that pilot a few weeks ago that threw himself on the mercy of God) would have cracked was doing it for solely selfish reasons, rather than suffering through the fear and uncertainty because he knew over 150 lives rested in his hands.

    Oh, I’m guessing Rabbi Shafran is part of the same group that edited female Israeli cabinet members out of a group photo.

  4. #4 Dr P
    April 6, 2009

    This is a such a great post…

  5. #5 Sam N
    April 6, 2009

    I see that Shafran also conveniently ignores the fact that Sullenberger was the last off the plane, ensuring that everyone else was out before escaping, himself. If Sullenberger was only concerned for his own life, as Shafran suggets, he should have been the first out the door.

  6. #6 Zeno
    April 6, 2009

    The newspaper in our state capital, the Sacramento Bee, is routinely denounced by right-wing religionists as an secular rag that toes the left-wing line, whereas it’s actually a painfully middle-of-road journal with a tepid editorial policy. The Bee, however, won the praise of the God-obsessed when it ran an editorial cartoon showing Sullenberger’s plane cradled in the hands of God, a saccharin piece of cloying devotional art. Ick!

  7. #7 Pablo
    April 6, 2009

    A dog that does not run away because he is chained under the porch is not obedient. The obedient dog is the one that stays around despite being left to run free.

  8. #8 Glen Davidson
    April 6, 2009

    To be fair, many Jews and other religionists would disagree with Shafran. In fact, Jesus told of the son who denied his father’s command, but did the right duty of the son, along with the son who did the opposite, and commended the one who “did good.”

    And Madoff has not come clean, he’s almost certainly been protecting other culprits, and apparently tried to save some of his ill-gotten gains for family members.

    Whatever caveats I raise, however, that such a prominent Rabbi could give such mealy-mouthed praise the hated Madoff–who ripped off so many Jewish charities–indicates how perverted both justice and reason can become in the religion-besotted.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  9. #9 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    April 6, 2009

    Maybe the rabbi would have preferred the pilot (who was recently tried in Italy) who, instead of initiating standard emergency procedures, decided to pray instead. We know how well that turned out…

    Does god even have a pilot’s license? Probably not, otherwise he could have flown those planes into the WTC and Pentagon without having to rely on highjackers. Cut out the middleman!

  10. #10 Zifnab
    April 6, 2009

    But no moral choice was involved in his act. He was on the plane too, after all; his own life depended on undertaking his feat no less than the lives of others.

    Wait, so Sullenberger saves his own life while saving the lives of 155 others and he’s written off as a wash because the decades he spent training as a pilot and later promoting flight safety while on the National Transportation Safety Board [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chesley_Sullenberger#Commercial_pilot] don’t really count for anything.

    Meanwhile, Madoff personally enriches himself at the expense of others to the tune of an eleven digit lifestyle, but he kicks a few table scraps towards Rabbi Shafran’s preferred charities, and suddenly the man is a saint?

    I could call up any of the few devote Jews I know, and they’d call that absolutely insane. This has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with Shafran’s own greed. The man wants people to give him money, so he enshrines the act of “charity” as blessed and sacred. It’s the most vile form of moral relativism, because it revolves around your own personal ego. Even by Shafran’s own moral code, he’s an abysmal person. It doesn’t take an atheist to see that.

  11. #11 Stephen Wells
    April 6, 2009

    I like “Competence is a virtue”. Stealing that.

    And I see you’ve taken a stand on the faith vs. works issue :)

  12. #12 Mozglubov
    April 6, 2009

    I just watched the film Half Nelson last night. The main character points out that, for some reason, Christian theology insists on viewing nature as perfect (which is part of the resistance to evolution, since a ‘perfect’ nature should not have to evolve), but insists on viewing humans as imperfect. I think it is all part of this weird religious insistence on viewing humans as apart from everything else, and by dwelling on the fall you get all sorts of weirdly bogus amoral baggage.

  13. #13 Mark B.
    April 6, 2009

    What’s the nature of his complaint about Sullenberger? As far as I’ve read, Sullenberger was a man who was the ultimate pilot. Despite the boring and routine nature of most flights, he spent hundreds of hours preparing and training for just the kind of event he had to handle on that day. For that, his passengers can be grateful. God didn’t have anything to do with it.

  14. #14 Libbie
    April 6, 2009

    Wow. Great blog, PZ.

  15. #15 Ray Ladbury
    April 6, 2009

    Pretty sickening. I wonder, though, what we gain by highlighting the worst of those who disagree with us. There are religious nutjobs. That is not news. There are also atheist nutjobs.
    Humanity is really a pretty sorry species if you look at the lower 50% of the bell curve. Looking at the upper 50%, though, I see decent atheists, who are moral out of conviction. I see decent religious folk as well, not all of whom are decent only out of fear of some sky pixie. Outrage at stupidity may feel good, but it doesn’t make us better people.

  16. #16 Pablo
    April 6, 2009

    What’s the nature of his complaint about Sullenberger? … God didn’t have anything to do with it.

    I think you answered your own question.

  17. #17 totally
    April 6, 2009

    On the last paragraphs and statements, that was very nicely put. I think I’m going to add your insight into my collection of quotations.

  18. #18 Crudely Wrott
    April 6, 2009

    The rabbi, commenting on Sullenberger’s action:

    But no moral choice was involved in his act.

    And why should a moral choice be made when it is obvious (in retrospect) that the moral good was built into the choice the pilot made? This shows that the morality was already present before the crisis. Had Sullenberger’s decision resulted in a disaster the rabbi would have no problem condemning the decision to forgo a landing at Teeterboro.

    The morally pleasing result of a successful ditching without the pilot alluding to some special copilot leaves the rabbi in the position that he cannot escape which is that humans are not capable of True Morality until they declare that they are mere conduits from a supernatural font of goodyness.

    The problem is not moral decision making, it is that foresight and hindsight are not congruent. That makes the prediction business pretty tough but does wonders for reinforcing the demanding art of interpreting, reinterpreting, packaging, marketing, enforcement and other such doleful duties as are routine in keeping a religion alive.

  19. #19 Mark B.
    April 6, 2009

    That may make societal sense, but personally, I?m still unmoved by the pilot, and, at least somewhat, inspired by the penitent.

    If the Rabbi really means that, he’s a sucker. Just the kind of sucker Madoff preyed upon.

  20. #20 LtStorm
    April 6, 2009

    Really, I just hate people who want to claim God had anything to do with Sullenberger’s phenomenal landing. The only better crash landing I know of was the Gimli Glider, which I’m sure had people attacking it similarly at the time since the pilot and co-pilot that brought Boeing 767 down on a defunct airfield with no engines didn’t publicly thank God for saving them.

  21. #21 Holbach
    April 6, 2009

    I often ponder if the world was majority atheist, how would this sane majority deal with the insane minority in a manner that parallels the current situation between the rational and otherwise? I am willing to bet that we would only shake our heads in disbelief at them, and yet would not inflict bodily or material harm to them or their houses of insanity. It is the religious mentality that is prone to all manner of retribution against those not stricken with mental derangement as themselves. An apt analogy could be offered in this scenario. A dead end street has eight houses, all those people are oustanding citizens who help and watch out for each other and their children, and who happen to be atheists. Now, one house’s occupants either move away or suffer the loss of the whole family, the house is then bought by a religionist which the other houses are aware of. Would these atheists gather to march in front of the godbots house with signs stating them to get out and join your own wacko brethen, and even perhaps hurl stones, insults and all manner of invective at them? Of course not.
    Let’s reverse the scenario in favor of the god afflicted and have one of them move out and an theist family move into that house on the street of the god fearing. Would the same situation prevail amicably in favor of the atheist family? Of course not, and the only condition of constant misery is offered and defended by religion.

  22. #22 uppity cracka
    April 6, 2009

    Well said again, PZ! Your argument is getting more and more refined and concise all the time. You should put this stuff in a book. If anything, just to keep hundreds of people from leaving ten thousand word comments after everything you write.

  23. #23 daveau
    April 6, 2009

    @#6

    I’m pretty sure that’s Neptune in that drawing. I saw the same thing in Jason & the Argonauts.

  24. #24 Free Lunch
    April 6, 2009

    It’s nice to see that the overwhelming response of the responders on that site is that the good rabbi is an idiot and morally twisted. His justification for Madoff was amazingly misleading.

  25. #25 Glen Davidson
    April 6, 2009

    Actually, I haven’t quite understood the praise for Sullenberger, either. He did well, and deserves credit for it, but it was pretty much his job and all.

    Which doesn’t change anything about the ongoing fraud that was Madoff. I would likely be more angry about that, had he been stealing from the poor rather than the rich, but either way he’s scum.

    Shafran points to his stupid holy texts to say that stealing $65 billion is no worse than stealing a dime. Well, the law says otherwise. And I bet that even his holy texts would consider Madoff’s actions to be countless numbers of acts of theft, not one simple theft. Repeated thefts are the mark of a hardened criminal, or sinner, if you will.

    Penitence is apparently the only thing that makes Madoff the better one, according to Shafran. Is he idiot enough to believe that Madoff would have been “penitent” if he hadn’t been caught without the funds in the latest downturn, or would he still be in his upper eastside apartment looking down on those he stole from (and those he wouldn’t spit upon)?

    What is more, both his actions and his words suggest to anyone who thinks that Madoff is not penitent. Not that I’d care if he was. My point is that Shafran’s perhaps the last person to be conned by Madoff.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  26. #26 Shaden Freud
    April 6, 2009

    Oy gevalt.

  27. #27 rrt
    April 6, 2009

    “Will you obey, or will you strive?”

    Woah. Visions of Vorlons and Shadows dancing in my head… :)

  28. #28 Mozglubov
    April 6, 2009

    The fact that a repentant sinner is more likely to go to heaven than a good person without faith was one of the main things which made sure I stayed away from religion. I’m all for redemption and turning one’s life around, but that should be something which is still done here in the real world.

  29. #29 S. Fisher
    April 6, 2009

    What a stinking pile of crap. Shafran is obviously totally removed from reality and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such tortured illogic in my life.
    “The fury of the bilked has yielded opprobrium and loathing that isn?t visited on mass murderers.” …bullshit. I call bullshit on this piece of shit. Obviously he not only didn’t get ripped off by Madoff he also must not have been on the plane that day. He somehow uses his religious upside-down goggles to laud Madoff the sociopathic freak thief who ripped off millions including his closest friends, lied betrayed and ruined people, and criticizes Sullenberger who was a hero by anyones reasoning. Piece of shit.

  30. #30 Holbach
    April 6, 2009

    Correction at # 21, line 16: that should read “atheist family”.

  31. #31 catgirl
    April 6, 2009

    I think that Rasputin (adviser to the Romanov family) had the philosophy that the more he sinned, the more he would be forgiven, and used this to justify a lot of bad behaviors. But let’s remember that this doesn’t apply to all religious people; it only illustrates that religion doesn’t guarantee morality.

  32. #32 Josh
    April 6, 2009

    I’m with Glen and Zif: the guy is not so much perverted by religion as he is committing the Ender Heresy: there are Good People and there are Bad People, regardless of what they do. Not what Jesus or C.S. Lewis or the rabbinical tradition taught. What is shows, IMO, is that authoritarian belief systems, religious or temporal, attract these kinds of shmageggies.

  33. #33 Madam Pomfrey
    April 6, 2009

    Sounds like a type of Jewish Calvinism. Bernie’s the Elect and Sully ain’t.

  34. #34 VJ
    April 6, 2009

    I am a Jewish sympathizer – except this! I expect this kind of disgusting nonsense primarily from christians.

  35. #35 MikeyM
    April 6, 2009

    This reminds me of Mother Teresa’s defense of her benefactor and swindler Charles Keating. Mother Teresa didn’t return the stolen loot; will Rabbi Avi Shafran?

  36. #36 SantaCruzOM
    April 6, 2009

    So it was god who brought the plane down safely….

    Was it also god that hurled a couple of his winged beasts into the engines to begin with…you know, just for kicks? Ridiculous.

  37. #37 NewEnglandBob
    April 6, 2009

    It just goes to show that having a degree in, or studying theology can lead to the deluded thinking of fuckwaderey

  38. #38 Monado, FCD
    April 6, 2009

    Speaking of the amorality of the faithful, I missed this when Mike Dunford posted about it on The Questionable Authority in December: Michael Egnor changes Mike’s words without noting that he did so and then happily demolishes the incorrect statements thus created: “Michael Egnor, neurosurgeon, Stony Brook Faculty, and All Around Dishonest Twit.” I am livid that such dishonesty thrives in academia. As Mike Dunford pointed out, a student who did that would fail the course.

  39. #39 Strangebrew
    April 6, 2009

    15#

    There are religious nutjobs. That is not news. There are also atheist nutjobs.

    Yes that is without doubt…but Atheist nutjobs are not in any position of influence…no one gives a toss what they pontificate on but this sad git is actually revered by quite a substantial mass of sheeple…his words count…although not his morality obviously.

    That is the point…this bozo is irked that ‘Sully’ is not an obvious deist…and like every true Christian of dubious IQ has dismissed the uncomfortable as an act of no consequence.

    His hero is a crook…and a fellow Jew…Jews do not condemn each other…especially when one Jew gives to another…even if what he gives is not his to actually give apparently…that is not racist that…in this case…is a fact!

    This is about mitigation…and excuse for accepting that tainted gift…white washing the presumed guilt of a major contributor to a Jewish cause…now’t else…and as such this Yahweh lusting fool has only proved that religion is an attitude best made up as you go along…a typical Christian trait!
    Pik ‘n’ mix anyone!

  40. #40 Helioprogenus
    April 6, 2009

    One thing that should further be considered here is that the Rabbi is a Jewish apologist. He probably feels some kind of fraternity with Madoff, and allows himself to view him with an air of acceptance, yet, with Sullenberger, although his name may be Germanic, he turns out to be a non-believer. This support is clearly similar to the way Jews in America allow Israel to operate with minimal criticism. If more Jews had the balls to stand up to human rights with the same vigor applied to Israel as with other issues, the situation would be completely different. Yet, it seems that with these apologists in every segment of representation, whether clergy, the media, finance, or just your ordinary citizen, critical thinking and justice will remain elusive and in the realm of manipulation by bastards like this Rabbi.

  41. #41 Endor
    April 6, 2009

    What is wrong is right and what’s right is wrong to the Rabbi, apparently.

  42. #42 Ray Ingles
    April 6, 2009

    “Obey, or strive?” I was thinking about that last night. Religious types like to analogize their “relationship” with “god” as being like “god’s children”. But that’s not really a good analogy.

    After all, we want our kids to eventually grow up. I’d be quite happy if all my kids end up smarter and more successful than me. We love our children, and we want them to love us… but we also want them to eventually be able to live independently from us, to stand up on their own two feet. We still love and care for children who, for whatever reason, can’t manage to develop that far (for biological or emotional reasons) but we know that’s not the best thing, it’s not how it’s ‘supposed to be’.

    None of that applies to the “relationship” with “god”. At no point are “god’s children” ever supposed to grow up, be independent, or even understand the rules that their “celestial parent” gives them.

    There’s a different, much more analogous relationship in human experience. Where we care for them, but don’t ever expect them to be our equals. They need to obey, even if they don’t – can never – understand why. Indeed, if they ever behave like they consider themselves our equals, it’s a disaster, and may necessitate their eventual destruction. Obviously, the religious aren’t “god’s children”. They are actually “god’s pets.”

    “Obey or strive”? You could just as well term it, “dog or wolf”? It’s even more sad when you see them ‘domesticating’ themselves to an imaginary being…

  43. #43 Ray Ladbury
    April 6, 2009

    Glen Davidson @25:

    Grace under pressure. A soldier’s job is saving his platoon. A fireman’s job is rushing into a burning house to save a kitten. It’s all of our jobs to be decent human beings. What’s impressive is when we actually succeed.

  44. #44 martiniconqueso
    April 6, 2009

    Honestly, it makes me happy to see this sort of morally bankrupt commentary coming from people like Shafran. I can hardly imagine a more persuasive argument against religion as a moral compass.

  45. #45 sng
    April 6, 2009

    Glen Davidson,

    Because doing a fucking important job better than the vast majority of other people who claim to do that job could ever aspire to and being dignified and humble about it is pure win and awesome?

    Seriously. If you can’t see that I pity you.

  46. #46 heddle
    April 6, 2009

    Ray Ingles,

    None of that applies to the “relationship” with “god”. At no point are “god’s children” ever supposed to grow up, be independent, or even understand the rules that their “celestial parent” gives them.

    I can’t speak to Judaism, but for Christians the rules are: 1) Love God; 2) Love your neighbor.

    Not exactly rocket science. Easy to understand.

  47. #47 IndyRacers
    April 6, 2009

    Shafran writes, “The Torah teaches that stealing is a sin, but it doesn?t differentiate between misappropriating a million dollars and pilfering a dime.”

    And that right there is yet one more reason I reject the Torah. There is a big moral difference between misappropriating a million dollars and pilfering a dime!

    What a moron. Absolutely disgusting.

  48. #48 Jim B
    April 6, 2009

    This is somehow tied in with the faith vs acts argument. As an atheist, obviously, faith means zero to me and actions define a person. I find inscrutable those for whom faith trumps everything else.

    The Rabbi would rather rely on the superficial appearance of faith than demonstrable acts. Madoff is a moist piece of crap wrapped in a thin veneer of piety.

  49. #49 Endor
    April 6, 2009

    “I can’t speak to Judaism, but for Christians the rules are: 1) Love God; 2) Love your neighbor.”

    3) burn witches
    4) slavery
    5) refusal to admit when you’re wrong
    6) tell everyone else they’re going to hell
    7) bundt cake!

  50. #50 eddie
    April 6, 2009

    OT but Barak Obama – “The US has never been at war against islam… …I know, because I’m one of them”.
    [/worst quote-mine evar!!111]

  51. #51 Joshua Zelinsky
    April 6, 2009

    The argument that Sullenberger shouldn’t be considered a hero per se because he was saving his own skin isn’t unreasonable. Whether he is a “hero”, Sullenberger is a clearly a damn impressive guy who should be admired. The unreasonable part is the claim that Madoff is somehow a good person in any way shape or form. And the comparison between Madoff and Sullenberger is just offensive.

    Incidentally, traditional Jewish ethics and halachah care a lot more about actions than intentions (or at least much more so than in Christianity). So the emphasis by Shafran on intentions determined by his own personal speculations is even more ridiculous.

  52. #52 roman
    April 6, 2009

    Damn straight PZ.

  53. #53 Jimmy
    April 6, 2009

    Thanks PZ for a great post! And double thanks for helping me awaken to difficult morning. The fury that arose in me helped to dispel any lingering sleepiness.

    Just when I think that the religiots can’t get any more stupid you offer up this gem. With my first-reaction fury subsiding I’m filled with incomprehension that someone can actually believe in such crap.

    Is this the way the world is going? Do we have any hope of actually stomping out such blatant bullshit? I admit to a great deal of frustration and my hopes for a humanist society get dashed to the rocks on reading tripe like this.
    After all, anger is hard to sustain.

    I know, I know, I need to buck up and not let assholes like the good rabbi keep me from continuing to fight nonsense. That would be letting them win. But gawdfuckingdammit, how DO you reach people who might even be a little sympathetic to that fuckwad?

  54. #54 MichMan
    April 6, 2009

    Personally, I’ve always been fond of the following quotation, which strangely enough comes from the bible: “Virtue is its own reward.” However, I doubt that my notion of virtue matches the bible’s!

    Nevertheless, for an atheist like me, it sums up the “virtue” of good behavior.

  55. #55 fcaccin
    April 6, 2009

    Outrage at stupidity may feel good, but it doesn’t make us better people.

    If You trust my word, it does. Outrage is one of the very few things that can keep the stupid from thriving. They tend to be sensitive to detection.

  56. #56 Sven DiMilo
    April 6, 2009

    He saved 155 lives, no doubt about it, and is certainly owed the hakoras hatov of those he saved

    This reads like a Doctor Strange comic book: By the Hatov of Hakoras, foul spectre, desist!!!

  57. #57 Joshua Zelinsky
    April 6, 2009

    Also, while were at it: Shafran is wrong that the Torah doesn’t differentiate between different levels of theft. Theft of a dime might not even be actionable under halachah. There’s a notion of theft below sheva prutah (essentially half of a very tiny coin) not being punishable by a Beit Din (a halachic court). The idea is functionally identical to what would be called a notion of “de minimis” in Western law. So Shafran is wrong there also.

    Regarding the removal of the females from the photographs, it isn’t helpful to lump people together like that. Shafran is a bit wacko but he isn’t that sort of chareidi as far as I can tell.

  58. #58 Glen Davidson
    April 6, 2009

    Glen Davidson,

    Because doing a fucking important job better than the vast majority of other people who claim to do that job could ever aspire to and being dignified and humble about it is pure win and awesome?

    Seriously. If you can’t see that I pity you.

    Seriously, moron, if you can read that bullshit ratn into what I wrote, you’re worth less than Madoff.

    I said he deserved credit, a-hole. What I should have included was a qualifier, as in I understand that he was praised, but not why so much. Not that you shouldn’t have understood that when I said he deserved credit for doing his job well, but apparently making up shit is not something that only the religious do.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  59. #59 Jim Harrison
    April 6, 2009

    The Rabbi’s column was attacked in the comment thread at his site by Jews who certainly don’t think that Jewish law and tradition supports letting Madoff off the hook or badmouthing Sully.

    As most, Shafran’s example points to the amorality of one of the faithful. How does this practice of smearing entire groups by pointing to the shortcomings of individuals differ from the normal modus operandi of racism? Ethics and even good manners aside, simply assuming that some nutjob exhibits the universal attributes of Judaism is illogical and leads to a misunderstanding of social realities. Evolutionists, you’d think, would be aware of the pitfalls of essentialism.

  60. #60 hje
    April 6, 2009

    Maybe Shafran is actually an admirer of the Ferengi philosophy: “Once you have their money, you never give it back.” Rule of Acquisition No. 1.

    Or “”Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack.”

  61. #61 Holbach
    April 6, 2009

    92 people(probably all catholic) dead so far from an intelligently designed earthquake jusr east of the chief insanity mongerer’s headquarters in Rome. Of course the prayers are offered after the event, to thank their god that it was only 92 dead and not 9 million. Would prayers have prevented the earthquake from happening in the first place, or is that to question their god’s right to surprise them?

  62. #62 Steve
    April 6, 2009

    When I was an assistant prosecutor, I would see several people per week confess their sins to the court and seek foregiveness. A few were even convincing. But not a one of them would have pleaded guilty had the evidence not been overwhelmingly against them. And those folks were generally represented by public defenders – many of whom I respect, but none of whom are paid what I am sure Madoff’s attorney was charging. If Madoff’s attorney thought there were sufficient weaknesses in the evidence to warrant shooting for an acquital, there would have been a trial. No question about it.

    So let Shafran piddle away whatever credibility he has left (if he ever had any). At least he has done us all a favor by showing that someone who purports to understand Woo has not a clue when it comes to understanding human nature.

  63. #63 KemaTheAtheist
    April 6, 2009

    So it was god who brought the plane down safely….

    Was it also god that hurled a couple of his winged beasts into the engines to begin with…you know, just for kicks? Ridiculous.

    It goes with the God of Exodus who supposedly had a pissing match with himself just to show off. He made Pharoh not let Moses go, then punished him for it… just for kicks.

    If he had just left Pharoh alone, he would have let Moses go, so Moses wouldn’t have had to part the Red Sea and so he wouldn’t have hit his staff on the stone a second time which made God make them get lost for 40 years in the desert… When you think about it God just punished a ton of people, including his “chosen” ones, for no reason other than to play with himself… Masterbation at it’s best…

    *Like Keanu Reeves* Whoa… I think I’m beginning to understand theists get their screwed up logic.

  64. #64 WPT
    April 6, 2009

    Sully is publishing a book of his life and the incident – aok.
    But he also going to publish a book of his poetry as well – bleh.

  65. #65 Endor
    April 6, 2009

    “How does this practice of smearing entire groups by pointing to the shortcomings of individuals differ from the normal modus operandi of racism?”

    Awww, concerned troll is concerned.

    You must be new around here. This isn’t just ONE example of ONE person showing the true colors of religion. This is one of a neverending series. Know what you’re talking about BEFORE you toss around idiotic accusations.

    “Evolutionists, you’d think, would be aware of the pitfalls of essentialism. ”

    Trolls, you’d think, would have something better to do with their time than to feign concern as a means to bore us to death the idiotic buzzwords.

  66. #66 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 6, 2009

    Ethics and even good manners aside, simply assuming that some nutjob exhibits the universal attributes of Judaism is illogical and leads to a misunderstanding of social realities

    PZ is not just talking about Judaism, he’s talking about all religions.

  67. #67 Matt
    April 6, 2009

    wow, what a dick.

    I am an airline pilot, and let me tell you, we are well aware of our responsibility towards our passengers. I wouldn’t do my job just to save my own neck, and I wouldn’t compromise safety if I wouldn’t be harmed by the situation. That’s why we turn the seatbelt sign on bitches!

    That whole ‘miracle’ on the hudson always bugged me, it wasn’t miraculous, it was a flight crew doing their job, and doing it well. Sure, god gets the credit, but not the blame for sending that flock of birds in the way in the first place.

    I’ll make a deal, if god doesn’t cause my plane to crash then I won’t not give him credit when he does.

  68. #68 Scooty Puff, Jr.
    April 6, 2009

    Quoth Shafran, in defense of his new BFF, Bernie Madoff:

    The Torah teaches that stealing is a sin, but it doesn?t differentiate between misappropriating a million dollars and pilfering a dime.

    And that’s exactly what’s wrong with the Torah and all religious texts.

  69. #69 folderol
    April 6, 2009

    I can’t speak to Judaism, but for Christians the rules are: 1) Love God; 2) Love your neighbor.

    Unless that neighbor is gay, or of a different religion, or a non-believer, or a woman . . . .

  70. #70 Didac
    April 6, 2009

    About Madoff, there is a sort of Third Clarke’s Law of finances: any sufficiently advanced finance product is indistinguishable from a Ponzi’s scheme. It’s not an apology on behalf of Madoff, but simply that people who invest in Madoff’s fund are almost as guilty than him.

  71. #71 natural cynic
    April 6, 2009

    There is an element of heroism in Sullenberger that has not been really mentioned: the time that he spent in extra training and the promotion of extra training that he did. Without that extra training, he might not have been as successful in piloting his glider to probably the best conclusion possible under the circumstances. What it also does is to lead other pilots to undergo the training to accomplish the same kind of feat if and when the need arises.

    Another interesting thing about the description of Shafran’s article as shanda by so many of the comments below the article have done. Shanda [from the first choice in Google] is very appropriate because this is

    [shame or scandal as in]The expression “a shanda fur die goy” means to do something embarrassing to Jews where non-Jews can observe it.

    Ain’t that the truth.

  72. #72 Free Lunch
    April 6, 2009

    The Retraction (apparently Cross-currents is where it was first posted) says:

    My recent Am Echad Resources essay ?Bernie, Sully and Me? has generated substantial criticism from many readers, including people whose opinions I deeply respect. I have come to the conclusion that that there were errors in both the content and tone of the essay, for which I apologize.

    My main goal in publishing these essays is to help people understand eternal Jewish truths. Unfortunately, here I chose unsuitable examples for the concepts I sought to impart, failing to accomplish that goal and offending many people in the process.

    I am happy to see that he is able to recognize his errors when pointed out.

  73. #73 Strangebrew
    April 6, 2009

    59#

    How does this practice of smearing entire groups by pointing to the shortcomings of individuals differ from the normal modus operandi of racism?

    That is not the point…this sort of double dealing of the morality deck is not confined to just individuals bringing their faith in to disrepute…this is about the religious apologetics that is being used by all afflicted bunnies to cover blushes and counteract accusations of conspiracy and collusion.

    It is the attempt to tilt the public perception of morality…it is about promoting a morality of the religious over the non-religious…it is making the rules up as you go along…it is about twisting and misdirection…it is simply religion as usual…that is neither racist or false…that is what it is and as such it is a fine example of the bankruptcy of the Christian religion in particular!

  74. #74 Cary
    April 6, 2009

    Shafran is an asshole, and that’s all there is to it.

    I mean seriously, we can repeatedly analzye what religion has to do with this, but some people, no matter what their religiosity is, are just assholes.

    The Pope, for example. Asshole.

    :)

  75. #75 Marcus Ranum
    April 6, 2009

    We also know that goodness is not a state of being, but a process that requires constant effort and continuous assessment against its effects in the real world.

    “goodness” is just a label for a bunch of behaviors that, at this time, in some of our estimates, in this culture, are better than alternative behaviors. “goodness” is emphatically not a process – it doesn’t exist – it’s an emergent property of social behaviors that (whoever) thinks will be beneficial. And, since it’s really really really hard to get agreement on that topic – it’s probably best to say that “goodness” does not exist. In fact, if “goodness” is important, it’s important because of its absence more than anything else.

    Personally, I get a laugh out of “atheists” who stop partway and don’t acknowledge that – in fact – the creos who say “but without god everything is meaningless! and you have no morals!” – are right. So what? Everything is meaningless and there are no morals. Full stop. Atheists who talk about “good” are just as full of spew as the faithful who talk about their imaginary playmates. Replacing religious brainwash with self-centered existential “it’s important because I say it is” silliness just reveals how self-centered we all truly are.

    Shafran is a pathetic delusional cuckoo, writing as if something he’s imagined actually exists. But we all fall someplace on the spectrum of accepting more or less bullsh*t as the basis for how we live, unless you simply accept that we’re merely meat robots in a (at our scale) deterministic universe. Then, existentialism and “good” work because they’re just programs we’ve been downloaded to believe and we can’t help being deluded because that’s all we are.

  76. #76 Grant N
    April 6, 2009

    Didn’t have time at the moment to read all the previous posts, but wanted to comment that it would almost appear that the Rabbi’s tacit approval of Madoff’s moral character (as flawed as the logic behind it is), smacks of an envious:

    “Gee! Why didn’t I think of doing something like that” or

    “My God! That Bernie must be really smart to get away with it for so long.”

    Dogmatic moral bankruptcy, similar to the Brazilian Catholics, where common reason, freely available to all is subjugated by the indoctrination that began in childhood.

  77. #77 Cat of Many Faces
    April 6, 2009

    Wow, the trolls always say the same crap don’t they?

    O.K. i’ll bite. this is (as always you stupid twits) to show the claim that morality comes from religion is bullshit.

    Get it? the big reason trotted out about why we all should be nice to the faithful is that faith = morality.

    You disprove this simply by providing a counter example. and PZ does that.

    Simple enough logic that even idiots like you can understand.

    Now who wants to join me in counting down till we see a ‘no true scotsman’ fallacy?

  78. #78 chriss
    April 6, 2009

    Copy…

    “Here is the difference between religious and secular morality written in boldfaced crayon. The religious claim to have an absolute, a god, who has dictated an unquestionable standard for what is good, and the role of the mere human individual is to be obedient to that standard, to follow the hierarchy of leaders who exist to translate and explain their deity’s rules. I can see where this certainly has some advantages to a society. It’s a tool to promote and enforce service to the state or church but it’s not morality. It’s rationalized slavery.

    We godless lack that certainty, and we know the world is a complex place that requires compromise and is not ruled by a moral force virtue is subject to negotiation, and is found in working together with others to find mutually satisfactory solutions. Good is not absolute, it is an emergent property that arises from successful networks of individuals. It is also something that is measured by evidence: we look at the good that people do, not the promises that they make and never keep, or the lies that dovetail nicely into dogma. Competence is a virtue. Intent is meaningless without action.

    We also know that goodness is not a state of being, but a process that requires constant effort and continuous assessment against its effects in the real world. Blind adherence to a presupposition without adjustment to fit the facts of execution is a formula for doing great harm.”

    Paste…print…

    …the credo for any rational and compassionate person.

    Thanks PZ. It’s why I keep coming back…still learning for free.

  79. #79 bootsy
    April 6, 2009

    @40: Amoral apologists for religions or groups one belongs to are not confined to Jews re Israel. Also, it should not be implied that a plurality of American Jews approve of Israel’s more recent actions, any more than plurality of Palestinian-Americans approve of Hamas.

    This rabbi sounds insane. Why is he forgiving Madoff, who stole money from foundations set up for holocaust survivors? Maybe he thinks the Holocaust was also the action of “One Who instilled such astounding abilities in His creations.” (Or maybe it was heddle’s loving god that did it.)

  80. #80 Free Lunch
    April 6, 2009

    PZ is not just talking about Judaism, he’s talking about all religions.

    True. PZ and his minions treat all theists equally. We don’t think there’s any reason to pick on one unsupportable doctrine more than any other. Of course most of the examples we see here are of self-described Christians who behave in a manner inconsistent with reality, but that’s because there are so many of them in this country.

  81. #81 Thoughtful Guy
    April 6, 2009

    As idiotic as Shafran’s article is, I think it’s wrong to impugn all of Judaism, based solely on that.

    From reading on the comments I read over there, it looks like most Shafran’s fellow Jews strongly disagree with him.

    No matter how penitent Madoff is, he is no where near as virtuous and heroic as Captain Sullenberger. To make such a comparison is lunacy.

  82. #82 raven
    April 6, 2009

    Shafran is an idiot. The money Madoff donated to charities was stolen. He also was running money for some charities. Which vaporized when his ponzi scheme collapsed. I suspect when you net it out, he cost far more to those charities than he replaced with stolen funds.

    In addition, two of his victims committed suicide. While they may have overeacted, dead is dead.

  83. #83 Phoenix Woman
    April 6, 2009

    Two words for the rabbi: Holy War.

    The Jews didn’t exactly come off during the Crusades. Or when the Ottomans were kicked out of Spain.

    He must be totally cool with all the wars of conquest that used religion as the pretext.

  84. #84 Strangebrew
    April 6, 2009

    72#

    I am happy to see that he is able to recognize his errors when pointed out

    The pity being he had to be put under duress to do the retraction.

    Like most religious in general they will claim any such stuff and nonsense as evidence for their delusions…if they get away with it fine..if not a mumbled and pious retraction is no skin off their noses…besides they have their fingers crossed behind their back…it does not count…and anyway there is always next time!

    The truly religiously insane do not even bother with apologising…and they really scrape the barrel of exceptionally foul taste in condemning and pontificating on the loving viciousness of their god…even hurling ‘I don’t want to but I told you so’ into their sick regurgitations…

    As such it is a group that can be lumped together…they deserve each other…egotistical fuckwads the lot of ‘em!

  85. #85 Pierce R. Butler
    April 6, 2009

    84 comments, and nothing about the recent (surely Rabbi Shafran-approved) slaughter of almost 1000 civilians – including about 400 women and children – in Gaza?

    Gee, I thought Prof. Myers’s minions liked politically-aware connecting of dots…

  86. #86 Louis
    April 6, 2009

    Oh for fuck’s sake PZ, why do you always pick on christians? Why won’t you have a go at the mad elements of muslim society? You’d never dare, you’re too afraid of fatwas….

    {Reads other threads….Oh fuck!}

    Well then Mr smarty Pants PZ Professor Elitist, why won’t you DARE to have a go at those extremist Jewish loons then? Eh? Got you there haven’t I? Oh look at you PZ so ready to disparage christians-meek-and-mild, but too afraid to show your antisemitic roots, eh?

    {Reads this thread….Oh double fuck!}

    I get it, I get it, it’s the judeo-christian-islamic religions you hate, why do you have a go at the lunatic fringe of hindus…

    {Reads other threads….fuck fuck fuck}

    Ok sikhs…

    {Reads some more….fuckety fuck fuck fuck}

    Ok buddhists…

    {Reads even more….fuck to the power of double fuck}

    Ok spiritualist, generalised woo-beliefs like wicca etc…

    {Reads yet more….quadruple googol fuck!!!}

    Yeah well your hate crimes won’t fly with me buddy! I know you atheists are all immoral and atheism’s just a religion and Hitler and Stalin so there!

    Yeah. With bells on.

    Louis

  87. #87 scooter
    April 6, 2009

    The very idea of mentioning justice or morality in the same breath as an abrahamic god is beyond irony.

    This has got to be the longest running joke on the planet,

  88. #88 Free Lunch
    April 6, 2009

    As idiotic as Shafran’s article is, I think it’s wrong to impugn all of Judaism, based solely on that.

    Depends on what you mean by all of Judaism. If you are talking about people who are Jewish by heritage, you are correct. If you are talking about religion, you’ll have to tell us what makes a religion worth following and why anyone should follow any religion. Aren’t all religions, no matter how apparently benign, based on false claims?

  89. #89 pgpwnit
    April 6, 2009

    I kinda agree with the guy vis-a-vis Sullenberger. That guy was saving his own ass. It’s what any of us would do.

    Defending Madoff, however, is not so easy to justify.

  90. #90 Iucounu
    April 6, 2009

    “Actually, I haven’t quite understood the praise for Sullenberger, either. He did well, and deserves credit for it, but it was pretty much his job and all.”

    We can include in that category the firemen who responded to the Twin Towers, or the RAF pilots who won the Battle of Britain. The fact is that when someone’s job is difficult, perilous and about saving lives, they get applauded all the louder for not screwing it up.

    “I said he deserved credit, a-hole. What I should have included was a qualifier, as in I understand that he was praised, but not why so much.”

    I went to the cafe down the road today and ordered my usual, which is a club sandwich and a cup of tea. Today’s club sandwich was almost the Platonic ideal: bacon just crispy enough, the bread perfectly toasted, a judicious helping of crunchy lettuce and fresh tomato, and a nice piece of chicken breast with black pepper and mayo. So you can understand why I was moved to express my heartfelt appreciation to Enzo the sandwich guy both verbally – viz., ‘Cheers Enzo, that was delicious,’ – and through the universal language of big tipping.

    What I’m saying is it was a fine sandwich. Let’s say, though, that Enzo’s job is to fly huge jets around all day and to endeavour in the event of an emergency to not completely lose his shit and kill everyone. At this point, a smile, a wave and tip starts to seem kind of churlish. Actually, had Enzo just saved my life, the lives of my family, and those of hundreds of other people, I can’t say I’d have any objection to a ticker-tape parade. What sort of thing were you thinking of?

  91. #91 Strangebrew
    April 6, 2009

    85#

    84 comments, and nothing about the recent (surely Rabbi Shafran-approved) slaughter of almost 1000 civilians – including about 400 women and children – in Gaza?

    Gee, I thought Prof. Myers’s minions liked politically-aware connecting of dots…

    What and be accused of anti-Semitism…
    I notice that Rabbi Shafran has not gone out of his pious and morally repugnant path to comment overly on this abomination…no well… that is the advantage of having a homicidal deity in your possÚ…it is just not god’s will apparently.

  92. #92 Sastra
    April 6, 2009

    Jim Harrison #59 wrote:

    As most, Shafran’s example points to the amorality of one of the faithful.

    No, Madoff violating his own standards and doing what he himself must have known was wrong points to the immorality of one of the faithful. Shafran himself as an individual is not the issue here. He simply provides us with an example of where and how morality that is specifically based on religious beliefs can still be immoral by secular standards. Instead of anchoring right and wrong in human relationships, it anchors right and wrong in what is pleasing to God. They may intersect — and often do — but they don’t have to.

    How does this practice of smearing entire groups by pointing to the shortcomings of individuals differ from the normal modus operandi of racism?

    The criticism is directed towards the philosophical basis of an ethical system, not towards an individual or group. The problem is not that Shafran is a “bad person,” or Jews are “bad people.” He’s using bad reasoning. It’s more like complaining about something the Republicans or Democrats are doing. Nobody assumes all political parties are made up of monolithic agreement among people who are to be defined by nothing other than their politics.

    Shafran’s moral reasoning is being pointed out as a counter to the frequent claim that it’s better to fix your morals on a religious basis, than not. Those religious morals which make sense are considered good because they make sense.

  93. #93 raven
    April 6, 2009

    Xian morality is an oxymoron, a contradictory phrase. Like giant microbes or smart fundies.

    This is an empirical observation. The endless flood of trolls here are mind numbingly the same.

    Lie a lot.
    Post their To Hate lists which are all whatever their leaders tell them to hate. Gays, atheists, scientists, MDs, other xian sects especially catholic, other religions mostly Moslem and Jewish but Hindus are OK to hate as well, commies, nonwhites, democrats and so on
    Tell everyone they are going to hell.
    Occasionally threaten to kill a bunch of people.

    I’ve no doubt they have already and will do a lot of damage to the religion. “As you sow, so shall you reap.”

  94. #94 pgpwnit
    April 6, 2009

    #90

    We can include in that category the firemen who responded to the Twin Towers

    I feel a little differently about them. They did run into the building that had been hit. It was their job, yes, and most of them are not heroes for being there at the time, but they did put themselves into danger.

    Sullenberger was forced into his position by a fucking Canadian. (Goddamned Canadians). He acted expertly and because he’s such a good pilot, he saved many lives including his own.

  95. #95 Free Lunch
    April 6, 2009

    I kinda agree with the guy vis-a-vis Sullenberger. That guy was saving his own ass. It’s what any of us would do.

    Except that Sully went well beyond what he had been asked to do in his many years of flying. He actually knew how to land this in the water and had enough glider experience to do it correctly. Could even half the pilots in the country say the same?

  96. #96 Me
    April 6, 2009

    Funny, on the way into work today I was thinking about morality and atheism …

    From PZ:

    “… virtue is subject to negotiation, and is found in working together with others to find mutually satisfactory solutions. Good is not absolute, it is an emergent property that arises from successful networks of individuals. It is also something that is measured by evidence: we look at the good that people do, not the promises that they make and never keep, or the lies that dovetail nicely into dogma. Competence is a virtue. Intent is meaningless without action.”

    Is there a self-referential error in there somewhere …

    So, a successful network of individuals working together to come up with the “final solution” for jews meets the definition of “good” in your book? And the more compotent they are in carrying out their actions, the more “good” they are?

  97. #97 bootsy
    April 6, 2009

    There’s really no need to distinguish between religions. Anyone who holds the view that some people will be ‘blessed’ and others ‘cursed’, and that we should be all right with that (or ‘obey’, as PZ says) is amoral.

    It’s easy to find idiotic statements from anyone who follows that way of thinking. But I appreciate the diversity of PZ’s exposure of such idiocy all the same.

  98. #98 pgpwnit
    April 6, 2009

    #95

    No doubt, he’s an ace pilot. But his ethics (morality, if you will) made no play here.

    I think he agrees, hence is return to anonymity. Just doing his job.

  99. #99 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 6, 2009

    So, a successful network of individuals working together to come up with the “final solution” for jews meets the definition of “good” in your book? And the more compotent they are in carrying out their actions, the more “good” they are?

    Comprehension fail.

  100. #100 dave
    April 6, 2009

    My short summary of the difference between religious and secular morality is this: will you obey, or will you strive? Rabbi Shafran’s answer is that you must obey.

    Christian fundamentalist and Jewish morality can be summed up by the story of Abraham and Issac – a story designed to instill obedience to God, where “God” actually means religious elders and priests who interpret “God’s will” for you.

    Religious is, and has always been, about mind control. Ancient Hebrew leaders needed some way to unite and control their people, so they invented this Yahweh character. That’s why the first commandment “thou shallt have no other Gods before me” is the first and most important commandment. If those ancient leaders could not keep the people united under the God they represented, then they would not keep their lofty positions and would probably find themselves in serious physical danger. And there were many other gods around at the time (Baal, etc) as competition. Hence the first commandment was of the utmost importance to those ancient priests – even more important than “thou shallt not kill”, which is illustrated by Moses commanding neighbors and brothers to slay each other (3000 people) for worshiping a golden calf – immediately after he had received the ten commandments, one of which was “thou shallt not kill”. That’s ancient world morality for you. Belief was more important than deeds, and the same is true today.

    Real morality does not derive from the commandments of ancient war god. Genuine morality emerges from lessons learned from history and life experience, and most importantly, from a selfless empathy and understanding of others who may or may not be different from you. That empathy and understanding seems curiously lacking in fundamentalists of any stripe.

  101. #101 heliobates
    April 6, 2009

    Sullenberger was forced into his position by a fucking Canadian.

    Those geese had U.S. passports.

    And I’m Canadian, you insensitive clod.

  102. #102 Brownian
    April 6, 2009

    I believe I’ve already outed myself as the world’s only True Christian?, so I’d appreciate it if you’d keep your silly opinions on what constitutes Christianity to yourself, Heddle. The whole “I’m Spartacus!”, “No, I’m Spartacus!” routine was cute at first, but with nearly 2 billion false Christians all proclaiming they and they alone know what constitutes real Christianity, it gets a little tiring. Besides, anyone with the mental acuity of a six-year-old can see you guys disagree with each other about what God wants more than Conservatives and Liberals do over privatisation, so the claim that “it’s not rocket science” is disingenuous at best, and a smug, self-serving, bald-faced fucking lie at worst.

    Funny thing: Institutes of the Christian Religion clocks in at just over 700,000 words. Are you aware that Calvin clearly disagrees with you that Christianity is a simple 2-point plan, or are you just demonstrating your trademarked willful obtuseness again? Really Heddle, you’re worse than a used car salesman when it comes to glossing over the rust spots, the cracked windshield, the split hoses, missing belts, and the seized engine. Does your God value duplicity in (ostensibly) his service, or is that something you bring to the faith for free?

  103. #103 DaveL
    April 6, 2009

    Everything is meaningless and there are no morals. Full stop. Atheists who talk about “good” are just as full of spew as the faithful who talk about their imaginary playmates. Replacing religious brainwash with self-centered existential “it’s important because I say it is” silliness just reveals how self-centered we all truly are.

    It sounds like you’ve bought into the framing of the religionists. They assume that “meaning” and “morality” somehow doesn’t count unless they are objective and eternal. I see no reason to concede that claim.

    Sure, meaning is an inherently subjective, self-centered concept. That doesn’t mean we should stop assigning meaning to things. Sure, all moral systems are imperfect human constructs. That doesn’t mean that all moral systems work equally well at acheiving the same social goals in the same context.

    It is not a fault to describe human motivations and human interactions in human-centered terms. The problem (and absurdity) arises when we refuse to admit the human scope of those terms. We just need to jettison the artificial notion of transcendence that religion has attached to morality and meaning.

  104. #104 pgpwnit
    April 6, 2009

    And I’m Canadian, you insensitive clod.

    Then you’re part of the problem.

  105. #105 scooter
    April 6, 2009

    Free Lunch @ 1

    So, Rabbi Shafran doesn’t mind that Jewish charities were devastated by Madoff’s greed. I can’t add to Shafran’s foolishness.

    Yup. Maddoff knocked off generations of wealth accummulated by Jewish Philanthropists. He robbed the arts, children’s funds, educational foundations, you name it. What a psychopathic greedhead.

    I’ll make a prediction. This guy also creamed a lot of pro-Israel funds, and probably has done more damage to the state than every Palestinan ever born.

    Whaddaya bet he has an accident or weird suicide, and his little wife toto too?

    Also who the hell was helping him? All his accomplices are still on the street, he didn’t generate thousands of fraudulent monthly statements by himself, nobody types that fast.

    There were at least two to three dozen others in on this.

  106. #106 heliobates
    April 6, 2009

    Then you’re part of the problem.

    I’m part of the precipitate, you miserable vomitous mass.

  107. #107 Coragyps
    April 6, 2009

    Twice in as many weeks now I’ve seen funditheists talking about a “moral compass.” I demand to know – where’s the North Moral Pole? Near the rotational North Pole? The Magnetic North Pole? The Celestial, or Ecliptic, or Galactic North Pole? And do you think the North Moral Pole is the one we should point to, or is the South the better one?

    Philosophy has always confused me…..

  108. #108 Ray Ingles
    April 6, 2009

    Heddle@46:

    You mean God doesn’t work in mysterious ways? You understand why those people died in the Italian earthquake today? Can you explain it so their relatives will understand?

  109. #109 pgpwnit
    April 6, 2009

    #106

    High marks!

    +2

  110. #110 flaq
    April 6, 2009

    OK, so Bernie Madoff = good; Capt. Sullenburger = bad. Yet more evidence that religion rots your brain.

  111. #111 Silver Fox
    April 6, 2009

    “The amorality of the faithful”??

    This is the all too familiar generalization tactic aimed at demonizing those who profess faith in any kind of a God. To extrapolate from a rather ill-conceived, but otherwise benign, commentary by a single Rabbi searching for moral clarity where none is needed, to the conclusion that the theistic belief of the entire “faithful” is vacuous at best and treacherous at worst, is a stretch that goes far beyond reason.

  112. #112 AnthonyK
    April 6, 2009

    84 comments, and nothing about the recent (surely Rabbi Shafran-approved) slaughter of almost 1000 civilians – including about 400 women and children – in Gaza?

    Gee, I thought Prof. Myers’s minions liked politically-aware connecting of dots…

    Oh goody a poster who thinks this blog doesn’t reflect his own prejudices! Listen, fuckwit – and I speak as fully minionised poster – PZ attacks, among many other things, religious hypocrisy, of which this is a wonderful example. It’s not a political blog, and it’s not a stupid one (you being a mere poster here) and if PZ made posts along the “Israel is always wrong/right” theme I wouldn’t read it – because it’s gonna be bullshit.
    If you want to read biased politics go somewhere else, rather than simply posting snide remarks about how shit it all is here.

  113. #113 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 6, 2009

    is a stretch that goes far beyond reason.

    Like you have any fucking clue about reason.

  114. #114 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 6, 2009

    This is the all too familiar generalization tactic aimed at demonizing those who profess faith in any kind of a God.

    SF, if you can’t stand having religion look bad, or belief in imaginary deities mocked, quit looking at this blog. That is an easy problem to fix. You are the problem. Not us. Deal with your problem elsewhere.

  115. #115 Marcus Ranum
    April 6, 2009

    people who invest in Madoff’s fund are almost as guilty than him.

    Compared to a lot of other hedge-fund managers, Madoff was not claiming exorbitant returns. In fact, the return figures for his ponzi scheme were tailored to make them both believable and to appear like safe, conservative investments. So, it’s not as if Madoff’s victims were conned because they were part of the con (like in a Nigerian bank scam).

    Lastly, while it’s true that investors should always be alert, read the prospectus, etc, – it’s always a difficult moral argument when you try to blame the victim, even a little bit.

  116. #116 bootsy
    April 6, 2009

    @100: I like your use of ‘selfless’ there. I think (not an original thought, I know) that the real definitions of good and evil should be selflessness vs. selfishness. Humans are social animals, so we can see how the struggle selflessness vs. selfishness has an evolutionary basis.

    In the past, problems of resources and poor understanding probably mandated quite a bit more selfishness, for oneself and the others in one’s group, in order to survive. But as we’ve grown, and as we’ve started to understand our common descent (well, some of us, anyway), we begin to realize how unnecessary, wasteful and deep-down unpleasant selfish behavior can be.

    None of this, of course, has to be tied to religion. Religion is merely a way of reinforcing control by a dominant group. The same religion that was used to endorse and enforce the selfishness of slavery will a century later claim to endorse various forms of selflessness.

  117. #117 pgpwnit
    April 6, 2009

    #114

    That is an easy problem to fix. You are the problem. Not us. Deal with your problem elsewhere.

    How much would you come here if it was a circle jerk in every thread. We need nay-sayers.

    Say yay to nay-sayers!

  118. #118 Greta Christina
    April 6, 2009

    Wow. This is like the Poe-iest Poe that ever Poed. “Given a choice between the hero who saved over a hundred lives but didn’t credit it to God, and the purported believer who shamelessly stole and ruined thousands of lives, I think the dishonest believer is the better person.” I couldn’t make this up if I tried. Thanks, PZ.

  119. #119 Paper Hand
    April 6, 2009

    @Ray Ingles #42

    Bravo! Worded far better than I ever could.

    @Heddle #46
    If that were true, I’d have no problem with Christianity. Unfortunately, it is not. While there certainly are a few Christians who consider “love thy neighbor” and “love God” to be the only things that matter, they are a minority.

  120. #120 Brian X
    April 6, 2009

    Everything is meaningless and there are no morals. Full stop. Atheists who talk about “good” are just as full of spew as the faithful who talk about their imaginary playmates.

    You know, I got into an argument with several people over empiricism at Pandagon, and the subject of ethics came up. I don’t believe you are in any meaningful sense correct. Morality is a social construct, and humans as a species are social beings; we gravitate towards societies, from ad hoc groups for work or recreation all the way up to highly structured states. From an empirical standpoint, morality is that set of behaviors and principles required to ensure the smooth functioning, coherence, and survivability of human societies; to assume despite the social nature of H. sapiens that morality has no meaningful existence is rather nihilist and somewhat flies in the face of all of known human history.

  121. #121 Free Lunch
    April 6, 2009

    To extrapolate from a rather ill-conceived, but otherwise benign, commentary by a single Rabbi searching for moral clarity where none is needed, to the conclusion that the theistic belief of the entire “faithful” is vacuous at best and treacherous at worst, is a stretch that goes far beyond reason.

    Religious folks are asked to do X, Y or Z because they are told it is moral. Those who do so without actually evaluating the morality of the behavior are amoral. Nothing about religion itself gives us any reason to accept the claim that religion is a valid source of morality.

    If you take responsibility for your own moral behavior, then you shouldn’t feel unfairly tarred. If you are just another one who does whatever his religious leader demands, you shouldn’t blame us for your behavior.

  122. #122 Alethias
    April 6, 2009

    How does one acquire the skill to be a pilot of the caliber of someone like Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger? It’s not magic: It’s consistent dedication to a craft applied over a significant period of time.

    The same principle applies to Bernie Madoff: He acquired consummate skill in his ‘craft’ as a result of consistent dedication over a significant period of time.

    Sully’s craft ruined peoples lives and livelihood; his criminal misdeeds affected not only people of our generation but the fortunes of many even in the next generation.

    Both made moral choices as they led their lives over the years. Sully didn’t have to be so dedicated to being the best pilot possible; he could have been a lazy slacker that ignored his many opportunities to refine his skill. Repeated choices to not do that over the years show a tremendous moral fiber. Bernie, on the other hand, chose to repeatedly, successively swindle more and more people out of more and more money over an ever-increasing period of time.

    One was doing his job, and doing it admirably with polish and finesse. Although I suspect he has a high level of courage, perhaps this specific act didn’t require it, because he had already made the right choices over a long period of time. The other culminated a long career of moral decrepitude with a tiny act of moral courage. And the rabbi says we should applaud him, and in doing so validate his evil? I despise this rabbi.

    Call evil evil, and be done with it. This rabbi is evil hiding behind a beard.

  123. #123 alethias
    April 6, 2009

    In my post above I meant “Bernie’s Craft”, not Sully’s. Sorry about the mistake.

  124. #124 Strangebrew
    April 6, 2009

    111#

    the conclusion that the theistic belief of the entire “faithful” is vacuous at best and treacherous at worst, is a stretch that goes far beyond reason.

    But religion does not have either rhyme nor reason…do forgive the seeming self deduced cynicism but that is indeed the point of the ‘debate’!
    Religion gets away with lies and damnable lies far to often and far to lightly…it is more then time it was actually exposed for the shallow self deluding pile of stinking dog faeces it actually is!

    It is an embarrassment to mankind simple like so!

  125. #125 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 6, 2009

    pgpwnit, the last time SF said something similar, where religion and belief should be above being criticized by atheists, PZ told him to take a hike. He just can’t stay away like the little idiot he is.

  126. #126 Jim Harrison
    April 6, 2009

    P.Z.writes “virtue is subject to negotiation, and is found in working together with others to find mutually satisfactory solutions.” What’s ironic is that this language pretty well reflects the outlook of Rabbinic Judaism. The Jews obviously operate under very different assumptions than P.Z., but the last things they have proven to be is slaves to a literal tradition: the Talmud is pretty much a long exercise in getting around the Book of Leviticus. And Jews have been arguing with each other and their God forever. Don’t you guys know any Jews?

    I’m neither a Jew or a theist, but I do know that you can’t properly understand human affairs if you reduce everything to some absurd 19th Century war between science and theology. Really, this site is a testimony to the failure of American education. Or maybe the problem is simpler, a lack of understanding of the logical principle that the opposite of red is not green, i.e. that not everybody who disagrees with Myers is a religious obscurantist or concern troll. (For the record, I can’t be a concern troll. I’m not concerned. At the moment, for example, I’d be perfectly happy if you all took a long walk on a short pier.)

  127. #127 AnthonyK
    April 6, 2009

    I do find it comical how religious people cannot grasp the idea that atheists can have morals. And worse, that we reject theirs and find them childish, at best, evil at worst.
    It does drive them mad, doesn’t it? They want us to be monsters, since they think that is what the amoral world view leads to, even though they can see that it doesn’t.
    And 9/10 of their queries are sour reflections of that – see silver fox as an example.
    And we don’t even fill the prisons! Win and win!

  128. #128 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 6, 2009

    Or maybe the problem is simpler, a lack of understanding of the logical principle that the opposite of red is not green, i.e. that not everybody who disagrees with Myers is a religious obscurantist or concern troll. (For the record, I can’t be a concern troll. I’m not concerned. At the moment, for example, I’d be perfectly happy if you all took a long walk on a short pier.)

    No Jim, you just seem like an overstuffed asshole.

  129. #129 scooter
    April 6, 2009

    I left this comment. I doubt it will clear the censors:

    Another sick plot ruined by a mere mortal.

    No wonder the clerics are steaming.

    It was, after all, the old raggedy, omnipotent Abrahamic god who shoved the birds into those jet engines in the first place, to test somebody’s faith, or act in mysterious ways or something.

    Sully foiled the murderous old diety’s plot, and someone finally has the courage to point that out, thanks safran.

    Now you better go hide, because yahweh has just put on his allah hat to seek revenge, so I wouldn’t want to be in NYC, speaking of falling jets. That god is a real p****k when he wakes up on the allah side of the bed.

  130. #130 Patricia, OM
    April 6, 2009

    Brownian @102 – Thank you for roasting Heddle to a cinder, which he so richly deserves. Let me add my wish that the great god Moccus will open Heddles totally depraved spleen and urinate in it.

    Carry on.

  131. #131 MrFire
    April 6, 2009

    Marcus Ranum @75:

    Forgive me if I’m reading you wrong, but your entry sounds a little nihilistic. I have no interest in false and imagined consolations, god-inspired or otherwise, but are you proposing that transcendent sentiments are something to be ashamed of? I fully acknowledge that they are evolved traits with no relevance outside ourselves; I also see no reason why they should not be enjoyed.

  132. #132 Marcus Ranum
    April 6, 2009

    I think it’s wrong to impugn all of Judaism, based solely on that.

    Of course not. But judaism usually escapes a lot of the mockery that organized religions deserve. “Oooh, it’s not a religion, it’s a culture!” Well, if your culture is based on cutting parts of your penis off because of some weird deal some guy said he made with the sky-daddy, or hiring atheists to work your light switch on certain days of the week, or institutionalizing treating women as second class citizens (“thank god I was not born a woman or a nihilist” or whatever bollocks it is they say) that’s weapons-grade stupid as bad as the catholics and their crackers, the buddhists and their pray-o-matic devices, or the mormons and their magic underpants. Magic hats, magic underpants – what’s the difference?? It’s all complete dumbassery.

    I’ve made derisive comments about judaism in forums before and it’s amazing how quickly you get godwinned with the “it’s a culture!” argument. As if, somehow enshrining religion-inspired stupid as part of social structure even if you don’t believe it is not even stupider?

    One of my friends is jewish. Or, that is, he says he’s culturally jewish. Which I take to mean he doesn’t believe in all the sky daddy bullshit. But he won’t touch pork, and has made up these elaborate pseudo medical beliefs about the health disadvantages of pork, because he doesn’t believe the sky daddy bullshit. *cough* *cough* It’s really funny, actually. I can’t think of a member of any religion that I know who doesn’t treat it like a cafeteria – a bit of belief in the hereafter, but hold the hellfire, kthx. etc.

    So I impugn all of judaism because it’s stupid bullshit and only a fucking retard would believe in it or obey any of its doctrines. I mean, really, seriously, you have to be fucking nuts to pass up bacon. I rest my case right there.

  133. #133 Brownian
    April 6, 2009

    This is the all too familiar generalization tactic aimed at demonizing those who profess faith in any kind of a God.

    If it’s all so fucking important for you believers to be seen as individually-thinking and individually-acting agents, then why do you claim allegiance to a being and claim your actions directly follow his wishes? If any of you were to truly follow God in the way you claim to want, wouldn’t you proudly belong to the most uniformly-acting sect in history? Why the desire to be seen as independent mavericks all of a sudden?

    The catch is in that you claim an absolute moral code, claim it?s written down in a book in a manner that anyone can and should follow, claim that you and your fellow believers adhere to said moral code as close as is humanly possible, and yet insist that you not be seen as a monolithic entity. The only way for you to not be a monolithic entity is for you all to not follow God’s wishes and therefore be bad Christians.

  134. #134 Aaron
    April 6, 2009

    You should check out “Society without God” by Phil Zuckerman. He spent 14 months living in Scandinavia (Aarhus, Denmark) and interviewed many people there. They are, for the most part, a pretty Godless nation — and yet their quality of life is pretty darn good. The vast majority of people he interviewed showed no fear of death or the unknown, were happily married (mostly) and led normal lives.

    He is very clear to point out that his work is not positing that a Secular Society is automatically happier, but rather to REJECT the hypotheses of Robertson, Falwell, et al. that a godless society would be miserable and split apart at the seams.

    Without a God to guide them, they also manage the LOWEST violent crime rates in the WORLD. Zuckerman points out that while they do have occasional problems with theft (i.e. bike theft) and burglary, those rates are still well below the global average. I count that as one of the many evidences against the “without God, there’s no morality” hypothesis.

    The other argument I often make is one I cribbed from Plato:
    “Is something good or evil because it is intrinsically so, or because God deems it so? If it is intrinsically good/evil, then one should be able to determine that without God; if it is at God’s discretion, then good & evil is completely arbitrary and therefore meaningless.”

    Some of the Christians I’ve argued with over this issue tend to say that it’s the INTENT of the action that determines whether it was good or not. Good intentions = good action, even if the consequences are negative. Seems to me that the fellow you quoted in the post above thinks along those lines as well.
    By that reasoning, the Wisconsin family whose daughter died because they chose to PRAY instead of take her to medical care would be “good”, whereas a high school senior that volunteers at a soup kitchen because it will look good on his college applications is “bad”.

    Go figure.

  135. #135 Strangebrew
    April 6, 2009

    131#

    I also see no reason why they should not be enjoyed.

    Enjoy away…not everyone gets or is kept amused by such self delusion…no one is saying do not…but quite a few are saying keep it to yourself…we shall forgo the advertised rapture…I thought that was an inalienable right…it does not just work one way you see!

  136. #136 Notagod
    April 6, 2009

    heddle demands,

    for Christians the rules are: 1) Love God; 2) Love your neighbor.
    Not exactly rocket science. Easy to understand.

    Well, that makes it all better then, because it use to be that the christian g-d idea had 10 demands and a book of conflicting rules to be adhered to.

    Incidentally, I’ve gone and asked the ducks and they were quite adamant in their response to the question, do birds fly into jet engines? They simply stated kwok, kwok, kwok. Which can only be interpurated as taking a negative position. Understandably so too, as they would no longer be able to poop on windshields which is their favorite activity. So clearly there was a god-idea involved in brutally stuffing the birds into the jet engines, possibly due to the fact that the christian god-idea hates people that won’t kneel to its whims.

    What is less clear is what happened after the christian g-d stuffed the poor birds into both engines of the jet. Now, any intelligent g-d would know the difference between a river and a runway, so a christian g-d assisted river landing would simply be melodramatic and clearly below the dignity of any competent christian god idea. Thus it is now clear that the christian god idea failed to assist in landing the plane within the confines of the hudson river.

    The rabbit Shafran is simply another of the great and vast christians that don’t know g-d. The christian g-d either lacks competence or is totally useless.

  137. #137 Longstreet63
    April 6, 2009

    One should never turn to God in aircraft-related emergencies.

    There’s a reason he’s never been promoted above co-pilot.

  138. #138 Aaron
    April 6, 2009

    You should check out “Society without God” by Phil Zuckerman. He spent 14 months living in Scandinavia (Aarhus, Denmark) and interviewed many people there. They are, for the most part, a pretty Godless nation — and yet their quality of life is pretty darn good. The vast majority of people he interviewed showed no fear of death or the unknown, were happily married (mostly) and led normal lives.

    He is very clear to point out that his work is not positing that a Secular Society is automatically happier, but rather to REJECT the hypotheses of Robertson, Falwell, et al. that a godless society would be miserable and split apart at the seams.

    Without a God to guide them, they also manage the LOWEST violent crime rates in the WORLD. Zuckerman points out that while they do have occasional problems with theft (i.e. bike theft) and burglary, those rates are still well below the global average. I count that as one of the many evidences against the “without God, there’s no morality” hypothesis.

    The other argument I often make is one I cribbed from Plato:
    “Is something good or evil because it is intrinsically so, or because God deems it so? If it is intrinsically good/evil, then one should be able to determine that without God; if it is at God’s discretion, then good & evil is completely arbitrary and therefore meaningless.”

    Some of the Christians I’ve argued with over this issue tend to say that it’s the INTENT of the action that determines whether it was good or not. Good intentions = good action, even if the consequences are negative. Seems to me that the fellow you quoted in the post above thinks along those lines as well.
    By that reasoning, the Wisconsin family whose daughter died because they chose to PRAY instead of take her to medical care would be “good”, whereas a high school senior that volunteers at a soup kitchen because it will look good on his college applications is “bad”.

    Go figure.

  139. #139 AnthonyK
    April 6, 2009

    if you reduce everything to some absurd 19th Century war between science and theology…

    It’s a 21st Century War

    Really, this site is a testimony to the failure of American education

    Among other things, it’s a tribute to American education

    can’t be a concern troll

    No? It just takes a little more effort…

    I’m not concerned. At the moment, for example, I’d be perfectly happy if you all took a long walk on a short pier.

    There you go, not hard at all.
    And you pumped that post off your wrist for what reason, exactly? You weren’t trying to be clever were you?
    Ah. I think I can see your main error….

  140. #140 scooter
    April 6, 2009

    Anthony @ 116, get ahold of yourself, calm down, you’re frothing:

    It’s not a political blog, and it’s not a stupid one (you being a mere poster here) and if PZ made posts along the “Israel is always wrong/right” theme I wouldn’t read it –

    Actually it is, by it’s own definition, a political blog, with a liberal orientation

    Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal

    And the thuggishness of the State of Israel is frequently discussed here, which is =to or>than the US or any other white supremacist colonialist entity, if that’s okay with you.

    However, I do agree it’s off topic since the Imamn… I mean Rabbi, who wrote this slop wasn’t expressing any Zionist ideas, for all we know he’s anti-Zionist, I don’t care enough about this stoopid Preist, I mean Rabbi, to googly his ignorant ass.

  141. #141 Marc Abian
    April 6, 2009

    Ah come on, you can’t judge the religion by one stupid rabbi.
    In fact I don’t think he’s even a proper Jew in the first place.

    Acoording to the paper he’s merely Jewish

  142. #142 scooter
    April 6, 2009

    oops I meant AnthonyK @ 112

  143. #143 Endor
    April 6, 2009

    “Don’t you guys know any Jews?”

    When did I become male? (hehe)

    “Really, this site is a testimony to the failure of American education.”

    Translation: Since I was outed has not having a clue about this site, I’m going to make a blanket generalization right after complaining about the exact same thing (even though I was wrong). It makes perfect sense, since I’m a troll.

    “i.e. that not everybody who disagrees with Myers is a religious obscurantist or concern troll.”

    Those with legitimate concerns/ideas/arguments, etc are not. Of course that’s not you. You’re a lazy, hackneyed troll.

    “(For the record, I can’t be a concern troll. I’m not concerned. At the moment, for example, I’d be perfectly happy if you all took a long walk on a short pier.)”

    *lol* Well, of course. Since we outed you and you failed to muster a substantial defense, or even a vaguely interested point, we should all die. How very tolerant of you.

  144. #144 Marcus Ranum
    April 6, 2009

    Brownian, OM, FTW:
    The catch is in that you claim an absolute moral code, claim it?s written down in a book in a manner that anyone can and should follow, claim that you and your fellow believers adhere to said moral code as close as is humanly possible

    Which always raises the interesting question, “Then how can you guys disagree on anything important?”

    A fun way to make “moderate christians” heads explode is to point out that they believe they’re getting advice and guidance from the same god George Bush believes he’s getting advice and guidance from – so is it safe to assume that they agree 100% with Bush? Squeeeeeek-POP!

    Seriously, though, the “revealed truth” doctrine has serious flaws, unless you posit a god whose sense of humor is such that he reveals individually varied “truth” (i.e.: the truth that is not truth) “god” is such an asshole.

  145. #145 Marcus Ranum
    April 6, 2009

    Marc Abian writes:
    In fact I don’t think he’s even a proper Jew in the first place.

    He’s probably not a scotsman, either

  146. #146 Brownian
    April 6, 2009

    At the moment, for example, I’d be perfectly happy if you all took a long walk on a short pier.

    Such knee-jerk thinking there Jimbo, wishing harm upon those with whom you disagree. It’s not your fault though; perhaps the educational system is to blame for not teaching you how to competently and cogently argue your case, or perhaps the fault lies with television programs that suggest complex issues can be solved with a few quips within an hour less commercial breaks.

    At any rate, next time you try to claim the moral highground, Jim, try not yelling as you fall off the fucking cliff, you dumb, smug dolt.

  147. #147 Sastra
    April 6, 2009

    Jim Harrison #126 wrote:

    P.Z.writes “virtue is subject to negotiation, and is found in working together with others to find mutually satisfactory solutions.” What’s ironic is that this language pretty well reflects the outlook of Rabbinic Judaism. The Jews obviously operate under very different assumptions than P.Z., but the last things they have proven to be is slaves to a literal tradition:

    PZ’s argument is that human morality is humanist morality, based on human needs and relationships — and the religious “assumptions” are only laid upon the top. They’re not really the foundation — because grounding anything in the supernatural is dicey and unpredictable. Invoking God in ethics is unnecessary when the reasoning is sound, and only required — and useful — when the reasoning is not sound.

    This is not a war of atheists vs. religious. It’s weighing reasonable ethics vs. unreasonable ethics. I think that the fact that many reasonable Jews and Christians would agree with PZ’s statement is a point for what he is saying, not an argument against it.

  148. #148 Holbach
    April 6, 2009

    Heddle @ 46

    The tooth fairy can kick the crap out of your imaginary god any day. Want to bet? We will each put forth the primaries and select any secondaries we want. I’ll choose the easter bunny. How about you? Satan? Tomorrow at sunup, and if you or your ghouls don’t show, you forfeit. How’s that? You produce yours, I’ll produce mine. Seriously. Why don’t you give up and admit defeat, both to reason and nonsense.

  149. #149 scooter
    April 6, 2009

    Marcus@145

    He’s probably not a scotsman, either

    We’ll have a look up his kilt, it’s a test for both.

  150. #150 heddle
    April 6, 2009

    Brownian,

    Are you aware that Calvin clearly disagrees with you that Christianity is a simple 2-point plan,

    I am not aware of that. Calvin’s theological works are, in a nutshell, to demonstrate an internally consistent systematic theology of the bible and the gospel. The two great commandments are not the gospel. They are–commandments. That is how we are supposed to behave given the gospel.

  151. #151 Marcus Ranum
    April 6, 2009

    Heddle writes:
    The two great commandments are not the gospel.

    Where are they described? I mean, how did you learn about them? Were they documented in the bible by any chance?

  152. #152 Brownian
    April 6, 2009

    That is how we are supposed to behave given the gospel.

    I’ve already warned you about making claims about Christianity, since you’re clearly pig-ignorant about it and its tenets.

  153. #153 MrFire
    April 6, 2009

    Strangebrew @135:

    Harumph. I made a pig’s ear of expressing myself. I meant to say, once I threw god into the dustbin, I still found I could enjoy all the good things in life (art, food, freaky sex with buxom nuns), without needing to remind myself that my concept of ‘good’ is just a veneer.

    And what’s with the rapture/inalienable right stream-of-consciousness? That’s got nothing to do with me.

  154. #154 Mildly anti-semitic jokebot
    April 6, 2009

    Silly rabbi.
    Tricks are for yids.

  155. #155 scooter
    April 6, 2009

    It would be interesting to know what Hobbes thought about all of this

  156. #156 Brownian
    April 6, 2009

    Where are they described? I mean, how did you learn about them? Were they documented in the bible by any chance?

    They are indeed, Marcus, which is why the Bible is only two lines long.

    Oh, wait, my mistake, it’s a huge fucking tome full of all kinds of claims made by this person and that. Hell, even looking at Jesus own words alone, it’s pretty clear Heddle’s still a fucking bald-faced liar.

    Two commandments, my fucking ass. And if there were only those two, then Christianity is nothing more than a Jainism rip-off. And Heddle’s a used car dealer who sells skateboards as Yugos. Perhaps he should speak less about Christianity, for its sake. The religion’s got enough liars peddling it as it is.

  157. #157 heddle
    April 6, 2009

    Marcus Ranum, #151

    They are here.

  158. #158 The pelagic argosy sights land
    April 6, 2009

    If the term morality has any meaning at all then the “faithful” cannot have any claim to it. All they have is Befehl ist Befehl (pace Euthyphro’s Dilemma and all that), assuming, of course, that they can be certain what these orders are.

  159. #159 Pierce R. Butler
    April 6, 2009

    AnthonyK @ # 112: Oh goody a poster who thinks this blog doesn’t reflect his own prejudices! … if PZ made posts along the “Israel is always wrong/right” theme I wouldn’t read it…

    If this were a little more coherent, I suspect you might be liable for an charge of inconsistency here.

    As for adherence to the theme of religious hypocrisy, try a google for “Ehud Olmert, disproportionate response, Gaza” and see whatcha get. Next, compare to that “eye for an eye” stuff in Exodus, and ponder (a) how that was a major breakthrough in ethics for its time, and (b) how far from that level Israel (~14 fatalities, at least 4 from “friendly fire”) has fallen in its treatment of Gaza (1,434 fatalities, 288 of them children).

    Then come spew at me so more, please do.

  160. #160 Holbach
    April 6, 2009

    Heddle @ 157

    You are there also, in all your disillusionment, on the pages of insane fiction.

  161. #161 AnthonyK
    April 6, 2009

    Anthony @ 116, get ahold of yourself, calm down, you’re frothing:

    I have rabies in fact, and I’ll thank you not to mock me for it.

    Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal

    Duurh. What is it with you Political types (you’ll be some sort of extremist, right or left wing, all the same) that you don’t get that “liberal” is not the same as “Liberal”?

    It’s just the same as Believers not understanding that atheism isn’t a religion.

    And what the fuck are you on about anyway? As I read it, PZ posts very little about middle Eastern politics – or much of any other kind, unless it’s the “Moron in Public Life” topics, which seem to be well-justified.
    And then of course when it all boils to the “Israel is monstrous/Israel is above criticism” crap the argument gets stupid and encourages people to start to say silly, extreme things – as you have.

    What’s the betting you try to shift this on to Libertarianism? That seems to be position of choice for the non-godly fuckwits here.

  162. #162 Patricia, OM
    April 6, 2009

    This is rich. Heddle making up shit for gawd.

  163. #163 bootsy
    April 6, 2009

    Prepare for some heresy: I’m jewish and I’ve enjoyed some bacon. (That’s not the real heresy.)

    Now, the real heresy: Bacon is good when it’s good, but it’s not always good. Imagine a poor jewish boy denied the bacon, who is then allowed (or allows himself) to partake of some fine applewood-smoked strips. He thinks, hey this is pretty great.

    So he orders more and more bacon, until he is inevitably confronted with this fact: When bacon is bad, it’s really really bad. Sorry, goys, it’s true.

    (@132: Also, I consider being jewish more an ‘ethnicity,’ as meaningful or meaningless as that is. ‘Culture’ can certainly be criticized, since it’s a choice. Who your parents are is not a choice. Being a Jewish-American Atheist is as natural as being a Palestinian-American Christian, as a friend of mine is.)

  164. #164 Crudely Wrott
    April 6, 2009

    Silver Fox said,

    This is the all too familiar generalization tactic aimed at demonizing those who profess faith in any kind of a God.

    Your comment is an all too familiar generalization tactic aimed at demonizing those who don’t profess faith in any kind of God.

    Please try to absorb the notion that deep longing and conviction reinforced by childhood indoctrination is not a sufficient description of the real world to provide a basis for making True Moral judgments.

    That goes double for such uninformed (or misinformed) decisions made by people of influence, responsibility and authority which can potentially impinge on the lives of millions of people.

    Morality is not based on piety, worship, long suffering or humility. Morality is based upon an amalgam of other, more important, considerations such as the continuation of life for the individual, the family, the tribe, the nation and the planet. One’s druthers are rather lost in the bustle. Even the earnest and heartfelt supplications of such as you and I.

    “Tough titty”, said the kitty from the city.

  165. #165 AnthonyK
    April 6, 2009

    No Pierce, I won’t spew any more at you.
    This is not a political blog, nor one for those who, simple-mindedly, condemn or support everything Israel does. You are here moaning that it isn’t. Well, if anyone else is interested you may get a bit of action, but not from me. Scooter looks like he’s up for it ;-y

  166. #166 PZ Myers
    April 6, 2009

    Sastra has it exactly right up there. I’m certainly not arguing that religious people are amoral: I’m saying that moral people do not build up their moral sense from the bible or the talmud or the qu’ran — they do it as children, in their interactions with family and friends, and from an awareness that other people are just like them. Throw out the bible, and you’ll still have good people; force everyone to read the bible, you’ll still have evil people.

  167. #167 simulant
    April 6, 2009

    I note that the good rebbi failed to mention that after the water landing, instead of hauling his selfish ass out of the plane to one of the flotation rafts, Captain Sullenberger made multiple passes through the cabin to make sure all passengers and crew were out.

    We don’t know if Sullenberger made his decision based on the choice that would save the most people, including people on the ground, not just what would save his hide. We’ll also never know if a different choice would have been safer (higher probability of survival, simpler to execute but risking greater loss of life) for him.

  168. #168 MrFire
    April 6, 2009

    This can’t be the same heddle…can it?

    http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2008/07/green_buttocks.php#comment-965950

    Warning: contains Kwok.

  169. #169 Brownian
    April 6, 2009

    This can’t be the same heddle…can it?

    Yes. By most accounts, Dr. David Heddle is a reasonable, conscientious, and ethical man about all matters unrelated to his theology. It’s the one subject that turns him into a drooling, apologetic boob whose spiels are vacuous when they’re not full of out-and-out misinformation.

    Don’t hold it against him though; he was predestined to be that way.

  170. #170 strange gods before me
    April 6, 2009

    Duurh. What is it with you Political types (you’ll be some sort of extremist, right or left wing, all the same) that you don’t get that “liberal” is not the same as “Liberal”?

    It’s just the same as Believers not understanding that atheism isn’t a religion.

    Anthony of Very Little Brain, what you do not realize is that PZ is an American liberal, that is, a left-winger who votes Democratic. He is talking about politics when he says he’s a liberal.

    Aside from that, your Very Stupid Rant makes no sense. Both liberal and Liberal are political stances.

    And what the fuck are you on about anyway? As I read it, PZ posts very little about middle Eastern politics – or much of any other kind, unless it’s the “Moron in Public Life” topics, which seem to be well-justified.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/archives.php
    # Politics (792)
    # Religion (526)

  171. #171 heddle
    April 6, 2009

    MrFire ,

    That is me. In fact, I believe I am responsible for coining the “green buttocks” phrase, in a post at AtBC that predates the ERV post.

  172. #172 AnthonyK
    April 6, 2009

    Aside from that, your Very Stupid Rant makes no sense

    Clearly not. Alas, I cannot, in all honesty, dumb it down suitably for you.
    You are a Libertairian, right? I hope so. Stereotypes save so much work!

  173. #173 AnthonyK
    April 6, 2009

    I do like “Anthony of Very Little Brain” though. No one has ever said that of me before! You must get it a lot…

    But it doesn’t matter. I’m not getting into an argument with a political moron. Stupidity makes baby Jesus cross; him and me both.

  174. #174 strange gods before me
    April 6, 2009

    But it doesn’t matter. I’m not getting into an argument with a political moron.

    You sure aren’t getting into an argument. You haven’t made a single attempt to back up your assertions.

    Nobody can even guess what you mean when you say “liberal” isn’t “political.” You sound illiterate. But don’t explain it on my account. I don’t mind if everyone else thinks you’re daft.

  175. #175 AnthonyK
    April 6, 2009

    You sound illiterate

    Another first!
    You sound paraphyletic. Let’s hope you are!

  176. #176 Pierce R. Butler
    April 6, 2009

    AnthonyK @ # 165 spewed: This is not a political blog, nor one for those who, simple-mindedly, condemn or support everything Israel does. You are here moaning that it isn’t.

    Y?know, one of us in this little sub-dialog has stuck to factual assertions. (Okay, I did guess that Shafran supported the butchery in Gaza – since then I found proof.)

    Got any evidence for the three claims in the above passage? Any at all, for any of them? Or any rebuttal to my points in # 159?

  177. #177 kevinbbg
    April 6, 2009

    Sully made sure he was the last person off the sinking plane and he did that by walking through the plane TWICE. Everyone is off except him and he faces a real danger of the plane going down and taking him with it, but he would not leave someone behind and wanted to make sure of that.

    Totally the opposite of saving his own life you idiotic rabbi.

  178. #178 kevinbbg
    April 6, 2009

    And let us not forget that TunisAir plane that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea just off of Italy. Both very religious pilot and co-pilot stopped to pray to Allah and didn’t bother to fly the plane. 16 people died in the crash and the pilot and co-pilot were sentenced to 10 years jail time each for negligent homicide.

    Are they more heroic than Sully Mr. Rabbi-Idiot?

    Maybe being religious makes people negligent over human life since they expect it to not be the end.

  179. #179 AnthonyK
    April 6, 2009

    This is not a political blog
    Your version of pharygula is on Scienceblogs right? There’s no point in arguing with either of you dickheads. Polictical obsessives are no fun for me – everthing is conspiracies to you lot, and simple-minded self interest. No one else has taken either of you up on your attempt to whine about Israel, or to say it’s God’s little acre, or whatever paranoid fantasy you have about it.

    And PZ as some sort of political figure? Well, I don’t think that he sees himself as that, or that he is. You might as well assert that he’s a religious figure. You may go on do just that – your well of ignorance hardly seems likely to go dry any time soon.

  180. #180 Stu
    April 6, 2009

    By most accounts, Dr. David Heddle is a reasonable, conscientious, and ethical man about all matters unrelated to his theology.

    …and Sarah Palin, remember?

  181. #181 Rahne
    April 6, 2009

    Do or do not, there is no try

  182. #182 'Tis Himself
    April 6, 2009

    Shafran points to his stupid holy texts to say that stealing $65 billion is no worse than stealing a dime.

    Madoff didn’t pick up a dime off of a co-worker’s desk. He stole billions of dollars for at least 15 years. I fail to see how Shafran can legitimately pretend the two offenses.

    Slapping someone on the cheek and beating them so badly they end up in hospital are both assault and battery. But I doubt anyone could reasonably claim that the two offenses warrant the same punishment or public censure. If Shafran thinks they do, then by my ethical and moral judgment he is seriously fucked up.

  183. #183 'Tis Himself
    April 6, 2009

    In my post #182, the second sentence of the first paragraph should read: “I fail to see how Shafran can legitimately pretend the two offenses are identical.”

  184. #184 Kitty'sBitch
    April 6, 2009

    “Anthony of Very Little Brain”

    Excuse me? That’s MR. Knobcheese to you.

  185. #185 Strangebrew
    April 6, 2009

    153# MrFire.

    And what’s with the rapture/inalienable right stream-of-consciousness? That’s got nothing to do with me.

    Cross purposes methinks…

    I was railing against the religious argument that it is their inalienable right to spread their insidious crap around and pontificate on everyone elses life except their own!
    and then get all miffed and hard done by when their putrescent nonsense is not taken seriously…
    Claiming that no one gets a ‘get out of jail free card’ without faking or at the most experiencing some kind of chemically induced brain fart they dub ‘the rapture’ just peeves me intensely.

    Not because I am jealous just that it shows they are mentally unbalanced and trying to foist their insanity on to me!
    Apologies if you felt attacked…it was not the point of the post!

  186. #186 shaunfletcher
    April 6, 2009

    If any virtues are worth having (and I think they are) then ensuring ones own competence in matters affecting the lives and safety of others is a damned good one to have.

  187. #187 AnthonyK
    April 6, 2009

    Thank you K.B. You, at least, have my measure ;Čo

  188. #188 strange gods before me
    April 6, 2009

    This is not a political blog Your version of pharygula is on Scienceblogs right?

    HAHAHAHA OMFG AnthonyK it’s hilarious to watch your Very Little Brain in action. “It’s on scienceblogs.com! That means it’s only about science!”

    I love you, man. You just made my day.

    Look, Pharyngula is Pharyngula. Go to http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/archives/ and look at the HTML source. See those tags that say:

    <meta name=”description” content=”Miscellany from a liberal atheist biology professor in rural Minnesota” />
    <meta name=”keywords” content=”science, biology, development, evolution, atheism, liberal politics, academics” />

    Pharyngula did not change its theme just because it moved to a new server at SEED. Or if you think PZ suddenly compromised his principles, if you think SEED bought him out, then say so.

    I’m still waiting to hear what “liberal” means that’s not “political”. Let me hear that hamster wheel turning!

  189. #189 Qwerty
    April 6, 2009

    Promising to earn investors money while bilking them out of it is more moral than saving lives while doing your job at the best of your abilities and not thanking “the One Who instilled such astounding abilities?”

    I am dumbfounded and I think I know who the dummy is!

    Of course, Shafran’s livelihood is dependent upon being a moral arbiter. There is a whole lot of selfishness in his diatribe.

  190. #190 scooter
    April 6, 2009

    Anthony where the fuck did this guy come from K stepped on his dick and said:

    “Israel is monstrous/Israel is above criticism” crap the argument gets stupid and encourages people to start to say silly, extreme things – as you have.

    I said no such thing, I said that Israelis were no worse than Americans.

    You should look up the word liberal in a realtime unabridged dictionary. You will see that the word is defined in political and social terms. It has nothing to do with any parties nor is it narrow enough to be considered an ideology, but it is hardly apolitical.

    Anyway, nice troll, fuchtard. Obviously you have been assimilated and any further response to you would be futile.

    Bleep bleep blarp…..SWOOOOOOOOOOOOSH !

  191. #191 scooter
    April 6, 2009

    They posted my response at Rabbi Shafron Putz’s blarg at #168. God must have told him free speech is just all right with him.

  192. #192 Patricia, OM
    April 6, 2009

    Oh brother…if AnthonyK is going to advertise his measure, the next thing you know he’ll be shamelessly begging for a knitted willy warmer for the winter Solstice Streak. (with sequins and a tassel no doubt)

  193. #193 Trumpeter
    April 6, 2009

    I don’t know the man but there’s little doubt in my mind that Sullenberger was thinking of much more than his own survival when he approached his imminent demise. Certainly training, skill and instinct kicked in to bring the episode to a satisfactory conclusion but I find it incredibly disingenuous for anyone to believe he was only thinking of himself. I may never understand why I feel responsible for the well being of others when I have the ability to make a difference and I don’t know why I feel self satisfaction when I help others and regret when I pass up the opportunity. I can state with little doubt this has nothing to do with my holiday only Anglican upbringing. Is it genetic predisposition grounded in survival of the species? I don’t know. I do know science may tell me one day. Religion won’t. For now I’ll forego the analysis and when I’m able I’ll just continue to revel in the good feelings when I make a small difference. A donation to a homeless shelter or food bank makes my day. What Sullenburger did should take him to pure and well deserved euphoria. No God required.

  194. #194 Kitty'sBitch
    April 6, 2009

    Scooter
    Actually, mine is #168.
    I thought that it was #169 a moment ago, maybe someone was censored.
    Anyway, I was stunned. Thought for sure it wouldn’t show up.

  195. #195 scooter
    April 6, 2009

    Kitty
    yup somebody is culling responses, I’m down to 165 now. Wonder if we’ll make the next edit.

  196. #196 scooter
    April 6, 2009

    I was on a gasoline tanker and the engine room caught fire while docked in jacksonville Fla. The engine room was right over the cargo tanks which were half empty.

    I was in command of the deck at the time, and I had to deal with some panicking sailors and raggedy fire equipment and get the fire extinguished before we took out a few square miles of Jacksonville.

    From my experience, I can make a pretty good guess what Sully was thinking about. Landing the plane. That’s it. It’s pure calm brute force, no-panic total focus on the problem at hand, which, after the initial adrenaline rush, is just natural peak performance.

    All the shitting your pants and feinting and horror and/or self preservation vs moral sensibilities is irrelevant.

    You just have one big problem, and your mind simply narrows right into perfect focus and you either win or lose.

    The human mind can be quite an awesome thing in situations like that.

  197. #197 DLC
    April 6, 2009

    Ok… say this with me: you do not need deities in order to have ethics or morals. Good moral values — a moral compass if you will — come from a good upbringing.

  198. #198 Kitty'sBitch
    April 6, 2009

    Scooter
    I know exactly what you mean.
    When the shit hits the fan you just instinctively focus on what needs to be done and do it. You don’t think about it until it’s over.
    There is a certain high that comes with that ability. If your life or lifestyle changes to the point where it’s no longer needed, you actually miss it.

  199. #199 strange gods before me
    April 6, 2009

    I’ll bet after Sullenberger was finally done and sat down in the rescue boat or whatever, he started shaking from the hormonal overload. And I’ll bet he didn’t feel much for fear until then.

  200. #200 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 6, 2009

    Simon the idiot. Check the blog. The data you seek is in the myriad of posts. Take your time. In two or three years you might find it. Until then. Bye!

  201. #201 funda62
    April 6, 2009

    This is the most insane whack-a-doodle thing I’ve read in days. Makes me proud to be an atheist.

  202. #202 Marcus Ranum
    April 6, 2009

    Heddle writes:
    The two great commandments are not the gospel.
    And then…
    They are here.(and a link to Matthew 22:36-40)

    “Gospel” is defined as a system of religious doctrine. What about the bible isn’t “gospel”? You can’t say those commandments (which, FYI, are stupid, in case you hadn’t noticed) aren’t “the gospel” when they are printed in the fucking gospel. Or is this just a demonstration of religious “logic”??

  203. #203 AnthonyK
    April 6, 2009

    Anyway, nice troll, fuchtard

    Me? Pharyngula Troll? Man, if I thought your opininion was wotrth the sugar off my sperm, that would seriously redefine my universe.
    Luckily…..

  204. #204 AnthonyK
    April 7, 2009

    oh and btw scooter decent story about lorry driving. we all do good shit in life sometimes. You, me and everyone else.
    OAO

  205. #205 Michael
    April 7, 2009

    To be fair, as several people have pointed out, the traditional Jewish teaching is that a repentant thief who REPAYS HIS VICTIMS AND MAKES THINGS RIGHT WITH THEM is to be admired. Madoff definitely didn’t repay his victims and make things right with them.

  206. #206 Christophe Thill
    April 7, 2009

    “But no moral choice was involved in his act.”

    No moral choice was involved because Mr Sullenberger really made no choice. Not trying to save his passengers was simply not an option.

    This is a disgusting article, and it must have been written by a disgusting man. Someone nobody could trust, as he has no idea of what morals really is.

  207. #207 Dr Jim
    April 7, 2009

    Even if Rabbi Avi Shafran had been a pilot as skilled and courageous as Captain Chesley Sullenberger, is he suggesting that he would only save those people because his God would want him to, rather than an in built secular moral ethic to protect and be responsible for those lives?

    As I always say, I fear the person who doesn’t kill me because a book tells them it’s wrong, far more than the person who doesn’t kill me because they know it is wrong.

  208. #208 Klank Kiki
    April 7, 2009

    No, no, guys! You got it all wrong! This Rabbi doesn’t really believe in all of this. He’s just trying to have a few laughs at your expense.

    It’s satire.

  209. #209 rimpal
    April 7, 2009

    The good Rabbi would be pleased to know that according to his Abrahamic cousins, Hitler is in heaven and he’s probably headed for hell!

  210. #210 Monado
    April 7, 2009

    WPT [62], Capt. Sullenberger sounds like a thoughtful and intelligent person. Don’t knock the poetry ’til you’ve had a chance to read it. It has to be better than Kahlil Gilbran, no matter the scansion.

  211. #211 Matt S
    April 7, 2009

    Oh dear, please don’t tell me this kind of crap (the Rabbi’s piece, not yours PZ) actually gets printed in the States, right? Right?

    God bless godless liberal Europe, is all I have to say…

  212. #212 Freidenker
    April 7, 2009

    Atheist Jew on duty here. Hakoras Hatov is the Yiddish corruption for “Hakarat Hatov” – which in modern Hebrew simply means “gratitude”.

    In short – gratitude by people who enjoyed stolen money trumps the suffering and damage inflicted upon those who had their money stolen.

    I’m not really into this whole “Robin Hood” crap. Stealing from the rich is still stealing, unless they stole your money in the first place, and it doesn’t matter what you do with that money – the people you ripped off are *screwed* thanks to you. Nothing mitigates this.

  213. #213 Monado
    April 7, 2009

    In re swindlers: Spider Robinson put into the mouth of his character, the bartender Mike Callahan, the observation that “ABSOLUTION” contains “SOLUTION”: so if you want absolution, you have to provide a solution to right the wrongs you have done.

  214. #214 Chas
    April 7, 2009

    Using his logic, Adolph Hitler was a moral man because he started with good intentions to save the German people and accepted final responsibility by blowing his brains out in his bunker. What a fruit cake is that rabbi…

  215. #215 pray11342
    April 8, 2009

    Josh @32 said

    I’m with Glen and Zif: the guy is not so much perverted by religion as he is committing the Ender Heresy: there are Good People and there are Bad People, regardless of what they do.

    Thank you for that link. Ender’s Game was recommended to me years ago by a teenager. She thought it was an excellent book. I was well past 50 years old at the time, and I did not like it at all, for many of the reasons in John Kessel’s essay.

    I could never quite explain what I found so terribly wrong, beyond how the main character murders people without knowing it. Sick stuff. It bothered me that she thought the book has some kind of worthwhile message.

    That teenager is 24 years old today, and 500 miles away. She will get an email later today, with a link to that essay, and to Orson Scott Card’s long winded pathetic apologetic explaining how The Book of Mormon is real, and not a product of Joseph Smith’s fevered imagination.

  216. #216 pray11342
    April 8, 2009

    Ok, newbie here, trying to make the tags work.

    Try this for the link to Orson Scott Card’s long winded apolpogetic.

    Sorry about that.

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