1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar
Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10525/religious-roots-of-liberty/

Religious Roots of Liberty

August 26, 2009 by

Every variety of tyranny rests upon the belief that some persons have a right — or even a duty — to impose their wills upon other people. Liberty rests upon the belief that all proper authority for man’s relationships with his fellow men comes from a source higher than man. FULL ARTICLE by Edmund Opitz

{ 207 comments }

Rodney September 3, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Dear Mpozkill,

“Throughout history wicked men have also used differences of race, sex and class to justify oppression, and you site that latter on, but here you make up a silly pretext of difference and claim “there’s nothing there, best focus on attacking religion.”

I’m not even sure what this mangled piece of English means exactly, but the reason I focus on religion here is because that’s what the article I started commenting on IS ABOUT!

I also acknowledge the historical importance of race, ethnicity, etc.–of course there’s something to be said about these categories–so I’m NOT claiming “unique” status for religion as a means of division–in which case I did interpret your use of “uniquely” correctly. Nor am I carrying out a single-minded crusade against ANYTHING.

Let’s get back on track here for a second.

It’s the author of the article who claims a unique status for religion–by which he means HIS RELIGION. He is the one on a crusade. He claims that Judaism is the unique source of the principles of liberty.

Yet, this very same religion condones slavery and commands the execution of people who don’t listen to priests. Some principles. Some liberty….

Whatever principles of liberty there are in the OT, we must ask, Well, who enjoys these principles of liberty? How are they applied? Who are the targets and beneficiaries of such moral consideration?

Principles that don’t get applied in a principled way AREN’T really principles at all. They are grants of special privilege.

I guess you presume to know my family better than I do. I insult my aunt? By claiming that she had religious differences with my grandmother, I have somehow insulted my aunt?

Good day to you, sir.

mpolzkill September 3, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Rodney,

Yeah, “pretext of difference” could have been much better.

“Throughout history wicked men have also used differences of race, sex and class to justify oppression, and you site that latter on; but here you invent a silly example of hypothetical oppression and claim from it: “there’s nothing to that, best focus on attacking religion.”

Maybe that’s “mangled” too, I don’t know, it’s a tough concept I’m trying to get across and public atheists aren’t worth too much effort.

A BIT more effort though, because most of your arguments continue to be fundamentally dishonest:

“the reason I focus on religion here is because that’s what the article I started commenting on IS ABOUT”

Please, you didn’t start your cherry-picking of the Bible the day you read this article. You obviously focus on religion. Give it up.

“so I’m NOT claiming ‘unique’ status for religion as a means of division–in which case I did interpret your use of ‘uniquely’ correctly.”

No, you’re pulling things out of context. I said you base your reason for attacking religion on your belief that it is uniquely OR ESPECIALLY awful. Are you saying it’s not especially awful? Of course you believe it is especially awful. And how can you interpret correctly when you deliberately changed the words?

“It’s the author of the article who claims a unique status for religion–by which he means HIS RELIGION. He is the one on a crusade.”

I never defended the author to you, never spoke of him. This is all a red herring. Furthermore, his being on a Crusade doesn’t preclude your being on a different Crusade.

“Yet, this very same religion condones slavery and commands…”

Back to your picking the dumbest or most despicable possible interpretations of the Bible so you can knock them down. Cherry-picking the Bible for straw men is supremely dishonest and a waste of time for any other purpose but the amusement of yourself and those like you with the same ax to grind. (Much like the way you ignored all the most interesting or novel points in my last post and chose instead to mock my poor choice of words in a one spot. Yep, clearer and clearer)

“I guess you presume to know my family better than I do. I insult my aunt?”

I don’t need to know you, her or your family. If I heard a stranger say: “televised football made my dad leave my mom”, the perfect stranger has, perhaps unwittingly, called his father a moron. Doesn’t mean it was true, his father being a moron, but the stranger is telling me that he thinks his father is so dumb and pathetic that the NFL could motivate him more than any wife. You have done scarcely different. I guess it is a bit different, since you attribute such mysterious and nefarious power to religion (except when it isn’t nefarious, which you will admit and then always revealingly pass over with no further comment or apparent curiosity), you may well feel that she was ambushed or hypnotized by those powerful JWs out to capture young women’s minds so as to serve their interest. No, it’s still an insult. Send this to her and ask her.

Good day.

Rodney September 3, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Mpolzkill,

“I never defended the author to you, never spoke of him. This is all a red herring.”

I’m not sure when exactly you jumped into the conversation I was having with others, but the main line of thought I have been developing IS addressed to the above article. I mention the author’s argument as an FYI to try to get back on track and to give you the context of my focus on religion. Before you jumped aboard, I had been focusing on religion because that was what the article focused on–and that’s what I was talking about with someone else. I only mentioned this context to try to prevent some misunderstanding between us–in some vain attempt to find common ground. My mentioning it was not some new line of attack against you. In other words, I did not say you were defending the author. (Must I spoon-feed you everything?)

“Throughout history wicked men have also used differences of race, sex and class to justify oppression, and you site that latter on; but here you invent a silly example of hypothetical oppression and claim from it: “there’s nothing to that, best focus on attacking religion.”

Yes, that is some mangled, vague tripe. It seems to be same straw man you keep reconstructing. Again, I am not holding religion up as the “unique” cause of oppression, injustice, OF ANYTHING. Of course, race and other social categories have also played roles in class oppression. I AM NOT DENYING ANY OF THAT. Now put the straw man away.

“Are you saying it’s not especially awful? Of course you believe it is especially awful.”

You’re obviously determined to misunderstand me. I have said that religion is historically a source of both evil AND good. What is so hard to understand about this statement? And by “religion” I mean all religious belief systems, not just the Judeo-Christian tradition. (Since you are bound to misinterpret this last sentence as some new angle of assault, well–it isn’t. It’s just there for clarification. For some reason I feel the need to include these caveats to preempt your proven will to misunderstand.)

Moreover, in the context of this blog, if religion is “especially” anything, it is especially RELEVANT to the discussion I was having about the above article, which focuses “especially” on religion–a conversation I was having before you came cavilling along. (More on this in detail below.)

“Back to your picking the dumbest or most despicable possible interpretations of the Bible so you can knock them down.”

The reason I point out these passages on this blog is not because I’m on a crusade against Judeo-Christianity. (I think Jesus was a cool dude. I wish more Christians would follow his example in practice.) No, if I’m on a crusade against anything, it’s the flawed thinking in the article above.

Now if you had cared enough to pay attention to the ongoing discussion about this article, you would have realized–maybe not, given your miserable reading comprehension skills–you “might” have realized that I was objecting to the author’s contention that Judaism is the unique source of the principles of liberty. I disagreed. Then, I proceeded to show my good reasons for disagreement, and this involved pointing out certain Bible passages with “the most despicable interpretations.”

So what about these most despicable interpretations? How else would anyone interpret Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT? Plain, simple, unambiguous. There’s nothing symbolic or metaphorical about this practical guidance on what you can do with your slaves. Turns out the OT does condone slavery. Don’t blame me for what is wrtitten. Even Fundamentalist had to concede this point.

Now, in the interest of completing my thought, the reason I pointed out such despicable passages is because they supported my disagreement with the author. So here’s my logical, Bible-supported argument:

The Old Testament religion cannot possibly contain the roots of liberty if it simultaneously condones the most egregious violations of liberty–or if it applies whatever “principles of liberty” there are in it in an unprincipled way (selectively) so as to preclude liberty for the vast majority of the human population (gentiles). In that sense, the so-called principles of liberty are not principles at all. They are grants of special privilege enjoyed by certain members of the in-group.

(Further comment: Any self-professed Christian or Jew who doesn’t face up to these Biblical facts is a cherry-picking hypocrite.)

Thought completed.

“I don’t need to know you, her or your family.”

Do you usually come to know things without any specific knowledge? And what difference does it make how I feel about people being divided over religious issues, not to mention members of my own family? You act as if that’s the most far-out thing imaginable: to think that religion could possibly divide people…. Simply unbelievable. Well, you must not have much knowledge, then, of history, current events–RELIGIOUS ISSUES!–sects, heterodoxy, orthodoxy, revitalization, fundamentalism, martyrdom, IRA, terrorism, etc.

“I guess it is a bit different, since you attribute such mysterious and nefarious power to religion …”

What, am I alone in attributing mystery to the mystery of the Trinity?

“…(except when it isn’t nefarious, which you will admit and then always revealingly pass over with no further comment or apparent curiosity)”

Nope. Wrong again. I have acknowledged repeatedly that religion is a source of Good, in addition to evil. Jesus was a cool dude.

–Now here it is in detail, full circle:

BUT that sunny side of religion had already been supplied in the discussion I was having and thus taken for granted. What was at issue were the implications of the demonstrable evil contained in the OT for the argument made by the author.

In order to demonstrate the author’s fatal flaw, I had no choice but to focus on that which he (the author) revealingly passes over in making the contention that Judaism contains the roots of liberty. I’m talking about the negative aspects, of course.

–Now here comes the spoon, open wide:

You, coming late to the debate, saw me focusing on this negative and started making assumptions about me. Then, you started making assumptions about my family. And you continued to make the same assumptions about me even after I thoroughly smashed them–repeatedly.

I can only conclude that my pointing out the negative aspects of your religion caused you a severe bout of cognitive dissonance, and that it temporarily shut down your capacity to think critically. Let’s hope that it’s temporary.

Don’t expect any more repsonses to your ridiculous flights of fancy about my family. Done with you.

mpolzkill September 3, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Rodney

A fascinating display of aggression, projection and an uncanny ability to completely avoid damaging points to your argument. You ARE interesting.

Just two things:

1. I’m not a Christian, like Walter Block, I’m a fan. Another assumption typical of your lot.

2. I assumed one thing about your Aunt (who YOU were so tasteless as to drag into this). That she had deep and ultimately unknowable reasons to CHOOSE to join a fundamentalist sect, that she is capable of choice, that “religion” didn’t make her do anything. To say ANYONE is a passive victim of outside forces is an insult, my illustration which you typically ignored, demonstrates that perfectly. How clownish to play the “how dare you!” routine in your desperation! Yes, goodbye, I hope.

newsoN September 3, 2009 at 8:33 pm

rodney says:
“I’m not against voluntary association. What I disdain is the cartel’s attempt to coordinate and centralize the planning of an industry behind closed doors, and using underhanded and coercive measures to get rival businesses to either join them or drive them out of business.”

but where was the coercion in the standard oil case? rothbard never suggested any need to fear cartels unless they were enshrined in regulation (true in the case of the federal reserve). driving prices down and rationalizing industry practices naturally puts pressure on the weaker businesses. but who cares? that’s business, and the customer is a winner. underhand, secretive are fine. you must somehow show that violence was used or intimated by standard oil, and i don’t think there are facts to back that up.

many of those owners whose oil companies were swallowed up by standard oil ended up working as employees for rockefeller, which would be strange if violent means had been used.

see armentano for rothbard’s view on monopoly prices. mises erred in this area.
http://mises.org/etexts/armentanomonopoly.pdf

mpolzkill September 6, 2009 at 10:51 am

“fundamentalist” on another forum said:

“I was thinking of Nietzsche, Camus, Sartre, and the post-modern philosophers.”

I don’t think you understand Nietzsche very well. It’s been 15 years since I read most everything he wrote and then rejected much of that. So I’m rusty, but I’ll take a swing because he’s open to many interpretations and it doesn’t matter (WHAT are “great philosophers”, why do they matter? You’re basing your argument on an appeal to authority). It’s understandable, your not understanding him (and me too), most people don’t and why most people don’t is because (I believe) Nietzsche wanted it that way. He is incredibly ambiguous and sometimes down right contradictory; resultingly, most people interpret according to their biases and take what they want and leave the rest. Kind of like they do with the Bible! He was competing with the Bible to the extent that he took on a pseudo-Biblical vernacular or idiom in “Zarathustra.”

“I didn’t call you anything.”

Alright, you pronounced it. You said that I have swallowed a huge fad hook-line-and-sinker; that I have no reason to be moral, as without force I can ditch my morals at will (immoral, right?); and that confusion reigns in our philosophy. Your unsolicited opinions have been duly noted, thank you.

“The atheist philosophers mentioned above, as well as theists, realize that there exists in every person a conscience that motivates them to moral action. Theists believe God put it there. Atheists think it resulted from evolution.”

This is misleading. You don’t mean physical evolution do you? The science was a newborn and Nietzsche didn’t even grasp what there was OF it too well. He believed it came from the evolution of thought, and of course it did. He did not believe that morals were completely out of the control of the mind, of reason. And if he did (I’m about done talking about “great” philosophers already) he was wrong.

“Yes, atheists can be moral people; they just don’t have any logical reason for espousing any kind of universal morality.”

Ok, I sort of agree. The good thing is that we don’t need a “universal morality”, and why that’s such a good thing is because there is no “universal morality” outside of the minds like yours who mistakenly believe it necessary. I’m prepared to agree with you further though. I think it may be 1 in a million who CAN be truly moral in every situation without a belief in your cosmic dictator. By “truly moral”, I have given examples in this forum above to the guy who was insulting his Aunt. But, of course, I have logical reasons to be personally moral (it makes my life better) and I have a logical reason to exhort everyone to adopt my moral/ethical/philosophical system (non-aggression) principle: it would make my life WAY better if they did so. And I wouldn’t mind seeing them better off too, ha ha. (Ooh thought of a joke commercial: Elaborately designed, well-reasoned and beneficial first principles are rare and priceless. For everyone else, there’s religion)

“If atheists are right, then as the atheist philosophers wrote there is no logical reason to follow it because it has even less authority over mankind than man made rules.”

Your authoritarianism falls on deaf ears.

“That’s possible, but how they define murder could be very different. For example, murder might include only the killing of people in your tribe, or socialists.”

Yeah, I’m thinking of the millions of American “Christians” who called for the Rape of Iraq, are supporters of the insanity in “Afpak” today and incessantly demand yet another sequel in Iran.

[An insinuating aside: Your calling the ancient tribe described in the Bible descended from Isaac: "Israelis" makes me highly skeptical of you. Total silence when you were called on the absurdity. A bit earlier you were using American agit-prop speak: "Islamic terrorism". I've yet to see you speak of American and Israeli terrorism. You blatantly, habitually and obstinately ignore the topic matters here so that you may preach to us. Why DOES a fundamentalist Christian have any concern with politics anyway? "My Kingdom is no part of this world"?] There’s only one way to define murder under the non-aggression principle.

[end of part 1 of 2, sheesh]

mpolzkill September 6, 2009 at 10:54 am

“fundamentalist”:

“I’m not talking about what people do. I’m talking about whether they have a logical reason for what they do. Anyone can invent a set of rules and persuade people to follow them. That doesn’t make them universal. And no, you can’t condemn a murderer on logical grounds. You can do so because you don’t like it, that’s all.”

Yes, and what “I don’t like” are crimes against Civilization, and when some critical number of others agree, that’s enough. There’s nothing I can do but try to persuade the rest that I’m correct.

“I have a hunch that there are a lot of things you haven’t seen that exist nevertheless.”

Yeah, that would make me just like every other human who ever lived. With them, I also can’t see most the things people imagine, dream or wish.

“It’s fine with me if you want to deny universal morality.”

I don’t want to, I do.

“All I was trying to point out is that without God no universal morality exists. In that you agree with the great atheist philosophers. But you might want to read those guys and see what else you have to give up if you want to be consistent with that position.”

Noted. I haven’t given anything up I didn’t have. Oh yes: “I didn’t know I had it.” No sale.

“The problem with atheists in the West is that they enjoy the benefits of Christian morality. They just deny that Christianity had anything to do with it.”

I have never denied that “Platonism for Dummies” has provided a great deal of stability (Sorry, you’re pissing me off) REAL emulators of Christ are one in a million (I’m trying to imagine one typing away on a political forum day and night), I respect them plenty.

“You ought to try living somewhere else, some place that never absorbed Christian morality. What would you say to Hindus or communist Chinese who think it OK to kill female babies. Or Muslims who consider it an act of God to kill someone who converts from Islam? They have morals too.”

More propaganda and jingoism with an extra helping of condescension. Deaf ears.

“Whether you’re for or against abortion, if you’re old enough you remember when abortion was considered immoral. Now it’s a virtue. If there are no universal morals, then people are free to make up any morality they wish. ”

I subscribe to Spooner’s (an ultra-moral Deist) “sins are not crimes”. Every abortion is a tragedy to me. The lobbyist industry that ignores how it is a state’s rights issue under the supposed law of this land are on, both sides, gangs of moral monsters or imbeciles; but you can’t force a woman to carry a baby to term. I can only beg Christian absolutists to not give one more dime to D.C. lobbyists and instead set up charities for destitute future mothers and to promote adoption. You are really pissing me off.

“PS, In case you don’t want to bother reading the great atheist philosophers, I’ll sum up roughly their conclusions: since no universal morality exists, any man-made morality is nothing but slavery, so we should deliberately commit “immoral” acts, which are not really immoral, in order to assert our freedom.Those philosophers thought it was important to act consistently with your philosophy, or you are a hypocrite, which they considered to be a bad thing. Today, hypocrisy isn’t seen as bad as it used to be, so people don’t mind being hypocrites so much.”

As stupid and condescending a summation as the most stupid and condescending summations of Christianity by public atheists I’ve seen on this forum and elsewhere. You two groups of zealots are perfect for each other.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: