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THE BIBLE ENDORSES SLAVERY
Posted: 29 May 2007 05:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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[quote author=“fletch_F_Fletch”]Under the Christian worldview we have every reason to believe the practice of modern day slavery is wrong. Yet under Harris’ view there is absolutely no objective standard for why one should sacrifice the pleasure of their nerve endings in expense for the pleasure of another. If we only go around once in the world why not go out with the most toys? Considering evolution teaches survival of the fittest, why is it wrong to exploit another culture to advance the superior culture?

It sounds to me like you are confusing two separate issues here:

One sort of question concerns MORAL OBLIGATIONS.  That type of question is typified by: What obligations do I have and in virtue of what do I have them?  Do I have the obligation to not boil babies?  In virtue of what do I have this obligation?

Another type of question concerns MORAL MOTIVATION.  This sort of question is as follows:  Why should I be moral? Why should I do the right thing?  Why should I not boil babies if I want to?

Questions about motivation are questions about what moves me to act.  I may be a very callous individual who is totally unmoved by the plight of others. If so, the fact that someone is suffering from something that I do is not going to MOTIVATE me to change my behavior.  Or I may be a very empathetic person who, at the mere thought that someone is suffering, rushes into action.  We can think of motivation in terms of the carrot and the stick.  When we ask about motivation we are asking, in essence, what rewards or punishments are sufficient and/or necessary to get people to act.

It is vitally important that we recognize that the OBLIGATION question and the MOTIVATION question are separate questions.  Having answers to questions about moral obligations does NOT entail having answers to questions about moral motivation.  One simple reason for this is that different people are motivated by different things.  For some people, knowing that they are obligated to do something is enough to motivate them; others could care less about their obligations.

So, the question, “Why should one sacrifice their own pleasure for the pleasure of another?” is ambiguous between the question of whether I have an OBLIGATION to sacrifice my own pleasure and the question of what might MOTIVATE me to do so.

As I see it, the question that we have been debating for some time is the OBLIGATION question:  What obligations do I have in a godless universe and in virtue of what do I have them?  But this is a very different question from the MOTIVATION question:  Why should I act morally in a godless universe (why should I fulfill my obligations)?  This latter question often means something like: Why should I care about morality if there is no god to judge me?  But this is a very different issue from the issue of whether there are obligations in a godless universe to begin with.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 29 May 2007 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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[quote author=“fletch_F_Fletch”]Mr. Harris not only wants everyone to assume slavery is wrong but he also wants to assume his worldview can claim an objective morality for why slavery is wrong. Mr. Harris claims slavery is wrong because it is cruel. Yet this does little in explaining an ontological and practical rational for why one should follow Mr. Harris’ morality. Under the objective standard of God, in the Christian worldview, we are to love our neighbors because our neighbors were created in the image of God. The Christian morality has laid out a blueprint for our methods and rational for following God’s standards. Why should anyone follow Sam Harris’ standards? Mr. Harris grounds the evil of slavery on this; “The moment a person recognizes that slaves are human beings like himself, enjoying the same capacity for suffering and happiness, he will understand that it is patently evil to own them and treat them like farm equipment.” Douglas Wilson (2007) takes Mr. Harris to task in addressing Harris’ previous comment:

Quote:
“This appears to be an argument that nerve endings disqualify one from being a slave or being treated like farm equipment. But what about farm animals? They have nerve endings, and they certainly have a capacity for suffering….This brings us back to your basis for morality, which was basically pleasure and pain. Okay. Whose happiness and suffering? Why ought one individual, with one set of nerve endings, be concerned about another set of nerve endings entirely? They are not connected, except through cultural teaching. That teaching, in our case, is grounded in the will of God. In your case, it is grounded in bare assertion. What you need to do is sketch for us the bridge between one set of nerve endings and another, and show us why that bridge of yours creates an obligation that two sets of nerve endings must share.”


Under the Christian worldview we have every reason to believe the practice of modern day slavery is wrong. Yet under Harris’ view there is absolutely no objective standard for why one should sacrifice the pleasure of their nerve endings in expense for the pleasure of another. If we only go around once in the world why not go out with the most toys? Considering evolution teaches survival of the fittest, why is it wrong to exploit another culture to advance the superior culture?

I am going to take this as (at least in part) a skeptical argument about the possibility of objective moral obligations in a godless universe. (So, I’m going to ignore any questions about moral motivation, at least for the time being).

You say that Harris has done little to explain the ontological and practical rationale for his moral philosophy.  I think you are wrong about that, but I want to point out the logic of your/Wilson’s argument and show how you can use that same logic against a theistic account of moral obligation.

Let’s start with Harris’ explanation for why slavery is wrong (which I will just paraphrase):

Slavery is wrong because it is cruel.  It makes slaves very unhappy and forces them to endure a tremendous amount of undue suffering.

First, I hope we can agree that everything in this explanation is factually accurate.  Slavery is cruel.  Slaves endure suffering that they do not deserve.  These are facts.

Now, the skeptical argument that you/Wilson present is as follows:

“Why ought one individual, with one set of nerve endings, be concerned about another set of nerve endings entirely?”

This, unfortunately, is rather confused.  The concern here is quite ambiguous between a concern about moral MOTIVATION and MORAL OBLIGATION.  The MOTIVATION concern would be best put as follows:

Why should I care about the suffering of others?  Why should I let the suffering of someone else move me to change my behavior?

But if this is the concern, then it is entirely misplaced as a concern about the ontological basis of godless morality.  It is a concern, in other words, with why we should act morally, rather than a concern about whether moral obligations are possible (and in what lies their basis).

So I am going to treat this not as a concern about MOTIVATION, but rather as a concern with the possibility of MORAL OBLIGATIONS in a godless universe.  A better way to express the concern is as follows:

How does it follow from the fact that slavery causes suffering that I have an obligation to not keep slaves?  Or, more generally:  How does the suffering of another individual create an obligation for me?

This is the question of the skeptic.  The skeptic is very suspicious of moral obligations in general (he is not at all convinced that there are any genuine moral obligations).  So, he is constantly asking this kind of question:  Why is slavery wrong? . . . Okay, why is it wrong to cause suffering? . .  and so on and on.  The skeptic is never going to be satisfied.

Let me then recreate the dialogue between Harris and Wilson:


Wilson:  Tell me why slavery is wrong in this godless universe in which you claim we live.

Harris:  Well, because slavery is cruel.

Wilson:  But why does that matter?  How does the fact that an action is cruel create an obligation for me?

Harris:  Cruelty causes suffering.  Slaves do not deserve to endure the suffering to which they are subjected.  Suffering is very unpleasant and it is wrong to cause undue suffering.

Wilson: But why does the suffering of another person matter?  How does the fact that my actions cause someone else to unduly suffer create an obligation for me to cease my actions?  You need to explain to me why the suffering of another person creates an obligation for ME.

And the dialogue can continue like this indefinitely.  The skeptic is going to conclude that Harris has failed to explain the ontological foundation of moral obligations.

Now, my point is that the same kind of argument can be turned against the theist.  So let’s imagine a different dialogue where the roles are reversed:

Harris:  Tell me why slavery is wrong from your theistic perspective.

Wilson:  Slavery is wrong because it violates God’s will.

Harris: So?  Why does that matter?  Who cares about God’s will?  How does the fact that one of my actions violates God’s will create an obligation for me to refrain from that action?  The fact that an action violates Sam Harris’ will is certainly not sufficient to generate an obligation, so how does it work in God’s case?

Wilson:  You’re not understanding.  Humans are made in the image of God.  It is God’s will that we are all in His image and it is His will that we respect one another.

Harris:  But I still don’t see why this matters.  How does the fact that another person is made in the image of God generate an obligation for ME?  Suppose I create a doll, made in the image of Sam Harris.  Surely the mere fact that the doll is made in my image does not create an obligation for you to respect it.  So how does the fact that humans are made in God’s image create an obligation for me to respect other humans?


And the dialogue can continue indefinitely with Harris always dissatisfied and continually demanding answers to a string of “Why?” questions.  Again, the skeptic is never going to be satisfied.  And if the skeptical argument has a solid foundation as a criticism of Harris’ view (and Wilson believes that it does), then it has the same solid foundation as a criticism of Wilson’s moral views.  Wilson is trying to have it both ways: accepting the verdict of the skeptic when it comes to Harris’ view, but declaring (without argument) that the same skeptical verdict does not apply to his own view.  But of course it does:  Wilson has failed the skeptic’s challenge and has thus failed to explain the ontological foundation of moral obligations.


The point here is that Wilson (in the passage quoted by fletch) is (in addition to exhibiting an unfortunate confusion between moral obligation and moral motivation) is rather disingenuously playing the moral skeptic card.  Wilson accepts the verdict of the skeptic when it comes to Harris’ moral views but He does not accept the same verdict applied to his own.  But it is just special pleading to play the role of the skeptic as a means of criticizing the moral theory of an opponent but to deny the veracity of the skeptic’s point when it comes to your own theory.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 30 May 2007 01:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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[quote author=“waltercat”]Wilson:  Slavery is wrong because it violates God’s will.

I suggest that the notion of “God’s will” leads people to regard the effects of their actions as secondary or irrelevant. Probably not for every believer, but for enough of them to negatively affect their behavior. Seems to me that pleasing an authority figure has nothing to do with moral behavior, at least for adults. Parents teach their children to obey their authority as a necessary first step in learning responsible behavior, but they also teach them that their actions have natural consequences for themselves and for others.

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Posted: 30 May 2007 02:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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While I agree with Jefe’s answer and conclusion, I suggest we deal with the assumptions in the answers attributed to Wilson. These are that God exists, that God wants certain things from humans, that Jesus was speaking for God, and that the Gospels are accurate accounts of what Jesus said. The first three are unprovable and shouldn’t be accepted without question. The fourth can be addressed through textual criticism.

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Posted: 30 May 2007 03:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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Thanks Waltercat for a well writen response

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Posted: 05 June 2007 05:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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[quote author=“fletch_F_Fletch”]

I would consider this argument to be a construction based on rampant generalization and misunderstanding of the typical atheist mindset.

Is it a misunderstaning of the non-typical atheist mindset?

As Sam says, the word atheist is really unnecessary.  There is no word for someone who doesn’t believe in astrology or alchemy.  In any case, if we do use the word, everyone is an atheist with respect to 99% of all deities worshipped by human beings.  You are an atheist with respect to the Muslim and Mormon gods, I warrant.  So what’s your atheist mindset?  Typical or non?

“Why, from an atheist perspective, is slavery repugnant? Because it acknowledges a bestowable status of inequality for a demographic of people, because it is unnecessary, and because it is socially harmful to a cultural identity.”

[quote author=“fletch_F_Fletch”]So? My wool sweater is itching my neck and I need a cotton shirt. I’m not going out there to pick the cotton and I certainly would rather pay little to nothing for that cotton shirt.

Why is it that religious people seem to be perfectly willing to take advantage of others, unless they think their books forbid them from doing so?  When I posted on talk.abortion it was always the “pro-lifers” who went on and on about killing people in the most gruesome ways, if only their religion didn’t stop them from doing it.

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“I will tell you with the utmost impudence that I esteem much more his Person, than his Works.”

  (Dryden, St. Euremont’s Essays, 1692.)

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Posted: 12 June 2007 05:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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Some extra stuff I wrote up on New Testament slavery, just in case anyone is craving some scripture:

Killing with Kindness: Slavery from the New Testament Perspective
Jesus Christ came to bring reconciliation to the world.  Christ came to make straight what was crooked.  He came bridged the gap between sinner and the sinless.  There are multiple aspects of the gospel that could be addressed when dealing with slavery; however I will focus on how the gospel brings reconciliation.  Consider the following verses:

“and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:20).”

“and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.  Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances and you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful…..And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:10-17).”

“..so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it (I Corinthians 12:25).”

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:17-21).”

Christianity teaches that the work of Christ will eventually eliminated the crooked line in our hearts and he has begun to place in use a new heart, a heart ruled by Christ.  Because all Christians have been reconciled to God we are all given the same heart and the same ruler.  Christians are all part of the beautiful bride for Christ.  Therefore, when one commits an offense toward another Christian they are in fact committing the offence against Christ and themselves.  If one tries to rule over another they are in essence ruling over themselves and Christ.  The Christian community is to be looked at as one body of believers.  This is why the gospel emphasizes to show love towards one another, even if mistreated through oppression.  In short the gospel teaches that if one is being mistreated they are to kill them with kindness.  Continued kindness in an attribute that should be seen throughout all Christians and this kindness should work itself though both physical food and spiritual food to one another.  Sam Harris and other who use the all too lazy copy/paste practice seem to miss this essential point.  Mr. Harris in, Letter to a Christian Nation, says, “There is no place in the New Testament where Jesus objects to the practice of slavery.  St. Paul even admonishes slaves to serve their masters well-and to serve their Christian masters especially well.”  He continues to quote Ephesians 6:5, “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as to Christ….”  As seen already and later on Christ has shown and will continue to show the difficulty of having a Christ like heart while obtaining slaves.  I must stop and assert that I do believe all slavery is not wrong, this can be viewed under my previous post, “Is all slavery bad and what is the alternative?”  Christ along with the rest of the New Testament teaches obedience will win one over more than violence.  It doesn’t take much in the Early Church to see this fact as true.  It isn’t a coincidence the Christianity erupted in popularity during the Roman Empire and the Jewish culture was destroyed.  One group fought with obedience and love and the other group fault with anger and spears.  Christ knows how to change hearts.  The Bible emphasis kindness toward others and this can be seen in slavery but it can also be seen in any other type of oppression. 

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.  On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12: 14-21).”

The point of Paul’s declaration is not to say slavery is right and slaves should be obedient because they are the property of the master.  His point was to show kindness and obedience will win in the end.  If a slave shows love and obedience to a slave-master who is cruel, “burning coals” will fall on the slave-masters heart.  Paul encourages slaves to gain freedom (I Corinthians 7:21-23).  Like slavery from sin is worse than freedom in Christ, Paul recognizes being free is better than being a slave.  Because we are all one body we should want what is best for all of the body, clearly slavery, in most cases, prevents this from happening.

The Means for Ending Slavery

Pertaining to slavery, Paul sees fit to end slavery not by legislating morality, but rather by ending slavery through appealing to love.  Appealing to end slavery through love is more appropriate in light of Christ’s claim that all sin directly comes from our heart.  If one eliminates slavery simply because it has been legislated by morality the issue of Christian unity has not been addressed in one’s heart.  While we see a general encouragement away form the slave system we do not see an outright moral command in eliminating slavery.  There are many factors in determining why Paul did not decide to take the later of the two previous choices.  For one Paul wanted the moral element of slavery to be eliminated through a conscious of faith and love based on Christ’s character.  Douglas Wilson (2005) shows how it is not difficult to see God’s intentions to eliminate slavery through the teachings of Christ (Luke 4:18).  The Bible prohibits the manstealing that was the foundation of the slave trade (I Timothy 1:10).  As mentioned before Galatians 3:28 teaches that Christ all as one body, in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slave or free.  Christ provides liberation from the slavery of sin which is the foundation of all other forms of slavery (Galatians 5:1).  A second reason why Paul did not make a full declaration against slavery was due to the careful instructions for Romans to see the intent of Christianity was not earthly centered by Christ centered.  As N.T. Wright (1986) says, “A loud protest, at the moment in social history, would have functioned simply on the level of the old age: it would have been heard only as a criticism by one part of society against another.  It would, without a doubt, have done more harm than good, making life harder for Christian slaves, and drawing upon the young church exactly the wrong sort of attention from the authorities.  If Paul is jailed for proclaiming ‘another king’ (Acts 17:7), it must be clear that the kingdom in question is of a different order altogether from that of Caesar.  A third reason why Paul may not have eliminated slavery all-together is probably due to the practical negative applications it would have had on the slaves themselves.  Considering 30-40 percent of Rome was full of slaves this would have had a devastating impact.  Where would the slaves live?  Who would take care of them?  What about slaves serving criminal offensives and paying off debt?  How would infant and elderly slaves been taken care of?  A large group of people suddenly unemployed and no longer taken care off would most likely have a negative impact.  We see Paul’s method in eliminating slavery, as stated before, is more about dictating law through changing hearts not moral codes.

The story of Philemon

The best example of Paul attempting to address the practice of slavery can be seen in the New Testament book, Philemon.  The book of Philemon addresses Onesimus, a runaway slave, who became a Christian through the direct teachings under Paul.  Philemon the slave-holder also became a Christian through the direct teachings under Paul.  Paul plays the role of Christ by reconciling two parties to become once again one body.  In order for reconciliation Onesimus must seek forgiveness and Philemon needs to grant it.  Both Onesimus and Philemon became Christians through the teachings of Paul.  Paul plays the role of Christ not only by reconciling with the two parties but he also identifies with both parties in the book of Philemon.  Because Onesimus and Philemon are both Christians their differences must be reconciled and Paul sees to it that it will happen.  Paul asserts that the two Christian virtues of love and forgiveness be shown by their character, mind you not by a written law on a tablet.  Paul is appealing both to be reconciled through love.  Paul tells Philemon that he ‘ought’ to accept Onesimus no longer as a slave but now as a brother in Christ.  To support how Christianity teaches all are part of one body Paul tells Philemon to accept Onesimus as if it was Paul himself.  By appealing to the core of Christianity it only makes people more human, note less.  No Christian should complain at the extra demands love requires.  Paul suspects Philemon will grasp the concept of all being one in the body of Christ and release Onesimus as a brother, not a slave.  In conclusion N.T. Wright says, “Paul has asked him a superhuman task of heartfelt reconciliation and forgiveness.  If he is to do it without pride or anger, he cannot do it without grace.  But grace is what is available:  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ who, though he was rich, yet for our sake became poor, that we by his poverty might become rich (II Corinthians 8:9).  The same Christ who took upon himself the nature, and the death, of the slave (Philemon 2:7-8).”

Through Philemon one can see the talk of grace transcends into the power of grace shown through the fingertips of fellow believers.  Throughout the Roman Empire there are countless stories of Christians who began to serve each other as slaves and began to take the role in eliminating slavery from the Roman Empire.  Glenn Miller (1999) has gathered up multiple amounts of evidence to suggest the large impact Christians played in addressing the gospel through their actions.  There are many cases of Christians offering themselves up to pagan slave-holders in order to let widows and beggars out of the bondage of slavery.  The church also used funds in order to pay for slaves to be set free.  There are many stories of Romans who converted to Christianity and on the day of their baptism freed all of their slaves.  Hermas, during the reign of Trajan, released up to 1,250 slaves.  Chromatius, during the reign of Diocletian, emancipated 1,400 slaves on the day of his public conversion.  It was a tradition that new believers who held slaves would release their slaves after their public conversion. 

Conclusion

If slavery is something that makes one’s life more comfortable than why wouldn’t one civilization allow it.  How can an atheistic worldview account for an objective standard that states slavery is morally wrong? If our moral compass is the by-product of valueless matter than our moral compass is nothing more than valueless matter?  When our conscious struggles with the issue of having a slave or not it certainly helps to know my struggle is nothing more than chemicals banging in my brain.  Once one frees their mind and gets rid of their superego a life of enjoyment awaits you.  The majority of civilizations have enjoyed the blessings of ignoring this by-product, in fact our civilization is ignoring it now.  Those cotton shirts are certainly comfortable, thanks to that six year old Latin American girl. If there is no plan, purpose, or meaning that is outside of the itch I get in the back of my neck by wearing a wool sweeter, than why not get that cotton shirt?  I get a sad feeling seeing slavery, I cough because my throat itches, a dragonfly gets raped every five seconds-all byproducts of a cause who cares nothing about any of these things. I think slavery is wrong because of a non-apologetic materalistic force that has determined my steps.  George Smith thinks slavery is good because of a non-apologetic materalistic force that has determined his steps.  Can the correct non-apologetic materalistic force please stand up?  How can we know?

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Posted: 12 June 2007 05:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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That was a wonderful discussion of christian moral value and how we should all participate in our humanness through the idea of all being one in the body of christ.  I agree that when taken seriously these metaphysical one-body ideas make slavery conceptually impossible. Where I find the complete contradiction is the necessary condition of first accepting your own life lived as a slave to christ in order to ultimately reject inter-human bondage.  Paul might have seen that love could indeed conquer slavery, but for him to insist that we become slaves of christ in order to achieve the bond-breaking kind of love seems completely conflicted to me.

When we are all slaves to some sort of metaphysical master (christ or god), that in itself does not negate the idea of slavery, however it is love that can conquer bondage.  The figure of christ is superfluous when the impact of real love is understood.  True secular values are about that kind of love, a pure human love without the bondage to a supernatural master.  So you and Paul and all the other preachers can paint love with christian colours, but your acceptance of supernatural slavery in order to defeat human slavery seems like an unworkable solution.

Bob

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Posted: 12 June 2007 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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“Where I find the complete contradiction is the necessary condition of first accepting your own life lived as a slave to christ in order to ultimately reject inter-human bondage.”

Christianity teaches we are all slaves to something.  Or as Bob Dylan said, we have to serve somebody.  Christianity teaches that we must put aside our sinful desires (slaves to sin) and put on the desires that Christ would want us to have (slaves to Christ). 

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were committed. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to every-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness and holiness (Rom 6:16-19 NIV).

Much like Wilco’s words, “You have to learn how to die if you want to be alive.”  Christianity says to put to death our sinful desires and be born into the desires shown through Christs character.  This is why Christianity constently tells us to put ourselves to death for Christs burden is light and to follow him.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of bondage (Galatians 5:1).

Again Christianity tells us our desires point to our master and we all have a master, the question is who is your master?

So you and Paul and all the other preachers can paint love with christian colours, but your acceptance of supernatural slavery in order to defeat human slavery seems like an unworkable solution.

Yet we have the story of William Wilberforce to tell us it is a workable solution.

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Posted: 12 June 2007 07:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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Yes I agree that “we are all slaves to something.”  However you are now speaking in terms of being either a slave to evil (sin) or a slave to good (righteousness), and in this sense you have turned away from the topic under discussion which was your assertion that christian values (morals as taught by Jesus through Paul) make human slavery immoral.  It doesn’t seem so clear to me that when one becomes a “slave for christ” then one has completely repudiated all sinful behaviour - that just seems like wishful thinking on your part. 

But back to the title of this post, I would say that I am a slave to meaning.  In fact I believe that all of us are slaves to meaning, even christians and muslims.  Most of us can endure all sorts of deprivation and deceit, but we all become suicidal when meaning is either threatened or actually destroyed.  It seems to me that this is our master-slave disposition each human being is in bondage to meaning.  (I’m not thinking here about ‘purpose’ in the sense of each life having divine or cosmic significance, but more in the sense of a linguistic intentionality . . . that everything we think about is aimed at gaining some level of understanding for ourselves.)  With the achievement of understanding (in some field or on some issue) we can fix that portion of meaning for ourselves, but we are always striving for more meaning fulfillment in the larger context.  Of course as any good existentialist knows, it is ultimately we ourselves who make meaning, so in a sense we are bound (as slaves) to our own intellectual lives.  As Merleau-Ponty famously rewrote Sartre, “We are condemned to meaning!”

Bob

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Posted: 25 June 2007 11:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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[quote author=“fletch_F_Fletch”]
If slavery is something that makes one’s life more comfortable than why wouldn’t one civilization allow it.  How can an atheistic worldview account for an objective standard that states slavery is morally wrong? If our moral compass is the by-product of valueless matter than our moral compass is nothing more than valueless matter?  When our conscious struggles with the issue of having a slave or not it certainly helps to know my struggle is nothing more than chemicals banging in my brain.  Once one frees their mind and gets rid of their superego a life of enjoyment awaits you.  The majority of civilizations have enjoyed the blessings of ignoring this by-product, in fact our civilization is ignoring it now.  Those cotton shirts are certainly comfortable, thanks to that six year old Latin American girl. If there is no plan, purpose, or meaning that is outside of the itch I get in the back of my neck by wearing a wool sweeter, than why not get that cotton shirt?  I get a sad feeling seeing slavery, I cough because my throat itches, a dragonfly gets raped every five seconds-all byproducts of a cause who cares nothing about any of these things. I think slavery is wrong because of a non-apologetic materalistic force that has determined my steps.  George Smith thinks slavery is good because of a non-apologetic materalistic force that has determined his steps.  Can the correct non-apologetic materalistic force please stand up?  How can we know?

I think you know by now, fletch, that atheists have much more to say about the justification for their moral views than you indicate above.  So, I’ll just leave that alone. . . for now.

You also know that the skeptic card you play against atheistic morality is just as applicable to any theistic theory.  Why does God’s Will matter?  What does God’s character matter?  How does God’s will create an obligation for ME?  fletch’s will certainly doesn’t create obligations for me (at least not in the way claimed for God).  So it is really quite disingenuous of you to continue to demand that atheists answer the moral skeptic when you are not willing to do so yourself.

Will the correct immaterialist force please stand up?  Who are we to believe, the Bible (in Exodus 21:20) or Douglass Wilson?  How can we now what God wants.  REally???  How is it possible for us to have knowledge of God’s will and character?

Which set of scriptures should we consult for God’s true feelings?  How can we be sure that we’ve gotten it right?  Aren’t we all basically ignorant when it comes to God’s wishes for us?  We have beliefs, hopes, desires . . . but we don’t really know.

Sure, frankr avoided this issue and so now I’m looking for someone else to take up the slack.  That and I am sick to death of the apologists immediately raising the spectre of moral chaos when discussing atheism.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 27 June 2007 06:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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I must stop and assert that I do believe all slavery is not wrong, this can be viewed under my previous post, “Is all slavery bad and what is the alternative?” Christ along with the rest of the New Testament teaches obedience will win one over more than violence.

Obedience implies a choice.  Slavery is without choice. You are simply introducing the ‘spiritual freedom through submission’ and ignoring the brutal reality of one human being owning another.
You can delude yourself with the obfuscation that real slavery isn’t an important question anyway, because freedom through submission to god is the only important issue. blah, blah, blah!
Because you can’t get around the fact that the old testament endorses slavery, peter and paul tell slaves to obey their masters, and jesus never condemns slavery you introduce the ‘well if slaves act like jesus they’ll win over their master’s heart.’

Please the mental gymnastics are dizzying! just stop.

you’ll read into the ‘perfect word of god’ everything and anything you need to smoke-and-mirror the actual words. that’s fine. just don’t pretend you have any intellectually honest argument to back it up.

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