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August 10th 2015 print

Peter Smith

The God That Frailed

As God's presence on the public stage withers, Divine admonitions against lies, greed, lust and the like increasingly go unheeded, with consequences both obvious and troubling. Minus a moral anchor, why not embrace the Clintons' aversion to truth or, for that matter, the mores of Josef Mengele?

judgmentThese days people express their atheism as casually as if they were commenting on their political views or their favourite football team. At the same time, they would undoubtedly support those of the Ten Commandments not directly referable to God; particularly those outlawing killing, stealing and lying. They tie nothing together.

What prevents us from killing, stealing and lying if we can get away with it? I am reading Richard Dawkins (The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution) at the moment. If, in fact, without Divine intervention, all life emerged from a single source (sprouting originally from inorganic matter) then moral standards appear not to have an external anchor. If we are cousins to cockroaches and cabbages why can we squash the first and eat the second while owing some special duty of care to our fellow human beings?

Evolutionists explain that being kind to one another is a product of natural selection. Those who went around with evil intent towards their fellows did not fare so well nor multiply so much, as did those happier to coexist in social harmony. Whether this is right or wrong, it is most unsatisfactory.

Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. When these messages are assumed to be handed down from God they have a gravitas that mere custom – hewn from natural selection — cannot give them. And, it cannot give it to them within a bull’s roar.

With belief in God waning precipitously in Judeo-Christian societies, the question is whether standards of conduct will inevitably wane pari passu. I can’t help but feel that they have and will. If God ain’t assumed to be watching, social evolution may well reverse; particularly among those who believe they can get away with things. The consequences will be dire.

It is hard to spot change when you’re living within it. A barometer is needed. The political class as a race apart on the public stage provide one. The signs of decline are evident. Mendacity, deceptiveness and dishonesty appear, to me at least, to be a growing sore among the political class.

Does lying and dishonesty among politicians matter overmuch? Well it does if it leads to nuclear annihilation, courtesy of President Obama’s latest lies. Lying and dishonesty are slippery slopes. It was a whopper when President Clinton said that he hadn’t had sexual relations with “that woman”, when he most certainly had. It was a whopper when his wife, as Secretary of State, explained that she dodged bullets in Bosnia, when she most certainly hadn’t. It was a whopper when Susan Rice, as National Security Adviser, put the killing of Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi down to Islamic outrage over a video, when it most certainly wasn’t. But the US is in plenty of company in breeding politicians without moral compass.

The scandalous expense rorting on the part of Australian politicians on both sides is yet another example of disintegrating standards of conduct. Little did some of them expect when exposing Bronwyn Bishop’s imperious excesses that the planks in their own eyes would be exposed. A reading of the New Testament may have been salutary. Did they know they were doing wrong? Frighteningly, maybe they didn’t. Sure they were contrite when caught. So are many cutthroats and thieves in the dock.

It is also laughable when reference is made to the more stringent rules in the UK for controlling politician’s excesses, when these have only been recently instituted in the face of rorting in extremis.

When morality is simply the accidental offshoot of natural selection, the rules may have to be watertight and rigorously policed. We cannot expect the cousins of cockroaches and cabbages to necessarily behave well. This brings me to President Obama’s latest speech at the American University in Washington DC.

The absence of conscience in lying about sex and dodging bullets is one thing, as is rorting expenses. When it comes to national security the ante is upped. President Obama said that there were two choices in controlling Iran’s nuclear ambitions: diplomacy or war. In saying this he specifically and disingenuously implied that absence his deal with Iran only war remained as an option. He said this to the American people knowing that those opposing his deal were arguing not for war but for tighter sanctions and a better deal.

He also knew that by taking military action off the table he had weakened his bargaining position. It was all pure deception. And he surely knew it and was not troubled by it.

He further said that “just because some Iranian hardliners chant ‘death to America’ doesn’t mean that’s what all Iranians believe.” No, they don’t, but the military and theocratic leaders of the country, including ‘the supreme leader’ Ayatollah Khamenei, do. Not all Germans wanted to invade Eastern Europe and kill Jews, but Hitler, Himmler and Goering and others did, and that proved sufficient.

By referring to hardliners as though they were a fringe group he deliberately set out to mislead the American people. This again is pure deception on Obama’s part. What other conclusion is tenable? Unless, maybe, he has plummeted into such an abyss of immorality that he simply thinks that truths and lies are interchangeable substitutes. And, perhaps, you just might think that in absence of a moral anchor.

As human beings we need all the help we can get in remaining on the straight and narrow. When the Ten Commandments are no longer taught and are inexorably marginalised and withdrawn from human experience – and the atheist’s script takes over — what’s left? How will it ever have the same restraining effect?

If Obama’s mind were wedded to the truth he could not have kidded the American public or himself. He could not have made perfidious common cause with Khamenei. The truth would have exposed the flaws in the current deal which, as a result, would never have been concluded. We wouldn’t be on the path to nuclear weapons and ICBMs being in the hands of religious fanatics.

Lies and deception can lead to disaster. That’s why they are prohibited. It is simply a mistake to believe that you can take God out of society without deleterious consequences. And this is even more the case if, in fact, we are purely, accidentally, cousins of cockroaches.

If you have any residual doubt about that let me switch gears. Have a look at the cavalier attitude of doctors employed by Planned Parenthood in the US, via YouTube, who harvest and sell the organs of unborn babies they have aborted; carefully, to avoid damaging profitable organs. I would recommend that atheists start at least pretending that they believe before yesterday’s worldview of Josef Mengele frames tomorrow’s reality.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [35]

  1. Jack Richards says:

    Why have I been blocked?

    • Jack Richards says:

      Obviously something didn’t like me attacking Mr Smith’s article. I don’t think I have read such utter nonsense since the last time a person calling himself “John Jay” left a comment on Piers Akerman’s blog.

  2. Bill Martin says:

    Additional to all that is most astutely canvassed by Peter Smith, there is another extremely important point to be made regarding the rapidly advancing godlessness in western societies. One of the most emphasised criticisms of islamists is the moral decadence of the west. While their moral bearing is highly questionable at the very least, it is increasingly difficult to disregard their admonishment on this account while we continue to provide ample evidence that supports their opinion, thereby giving them more ammunition they can use against us.

    P’s. It would seem that Jack Richards is not blocked, after all. Nevertheless, it is most surprising that he bothers reading Quadrant, considering the attitude his comment indicates.

  3. Jack Richards says:

    How can you take seriously anyone, an adult, who believes that there is an old man up in the sky?

    Mr Smith talks about the “Thou shalt nots…” but he leaves out the last one, the 10th Commandment that I’ve certainly never broken:

    Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk.

    Anyone who claims the Old Testament is some sort of guide to morality clearly hasn’t read it.

    @Bill Martin. What is the “moral bearing” of Islam you seem to admire?

    • Bill Martin says:

      Please note that I termed the moral bearing of Islam “highly questionable at the very least”. Perhaps I should have been more condemning of it which is, indeed, my view.

  4. Keith Kennelly says:

    I agree with Jack Richards about the old testament. The western moral compass is being skewed because of the fundamentalists belief in the old testament.

    The western traditions were built on acceptance and modification of the new testament. We could quite easily modify beliefs based on the Sermon on the Mount

  5. Keith Kennelly says:

    In doing so we could allow for the massive increase in knowledge and intellect the advances in technology have bought to us.

    To try to interpret the ‘will of God’ using the ignorant beliefs of centuries ago is absurd.

    Anyone who adopts that course and attempts to impose those standards is doomed to ridicule

  6. Gogs says:

    God? Which god? There are so many: I personally like Ganesh, the guy with an elephant’s head.
    But I pity Peter Smith, who seems to believe that atheists can not have high ethical standards. Christians have no exclusive rights on an aversion to lies, theft or murder.
    Who believes Buddhists are amoral? Why should a belief in a sky-fairy be a requirement for an ethical existence?
    Obama and Clinton can express a belief in their god, and tell porkies with the best. So what? Evil people can be members of a church or Planned Parenthood, or even both. They remain evil, despite their belief about the existence of a deity.
    Self-righteous Christians get up my nose.

  7. Patrick McCauley says:

    Still… it was these ‘ten commandments’ from the New Testament – Christianity – which fundamentally informed the progress of Western civilisation from mythology to science and the modern world. It was the search for ‘the truth’ fired by Christianity that demanded (eventually) the scientific method. Without the truth, nothing can ‘progress’

    • Eeyore says:

      Get your morality where you like, live and let live from me, but do not suggest for a moment my lack of belief in god is in any way preventing me living a ethical life, that is offensive.

    • Jack Richards says:

      What rubbish Patrick! FYI the Ten Commandments occur at least 3 times, and they’re all different, and they’re in the OLD TESTAMENT – Not the New. You can’t even get that right Perhaps you should read Exodus 34.

      The modern world happened IN SPITE OF the Christian Churches that inflicted Puritanism and the Inquisitions on western Europe – as well as centuries of religious wars.

      The modern world can be dated from the 1660 – the year the Royal Society was founded in London and that contained people like Newton, Boyle, Bacon and Hooke among its founders. That was the start of scientific method and led directly to “The Enlightenment” of the 18th century that led to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th.

      Every scientific discovery chipped away at the foundations of all religions and the 20th century has proved that they’re all ignorant rubbish dreamed up by psychotic goat-herds.

  8. Bill Martin says:

    Can’t help noting once again the usual vehemence and vitriol of atheists in response to a view opposite to their own. They seem to consider it their “sacred” responsibility to guard humanity against being misled on this vital subject.

    • Eeyore says:

      Only when it is suggested there is any correlation between my lack of belief in any god and my worthiness to call my self a civilized human.
      How you choose to live your life is all good with me, it would be ever so nice if those who hold beliefs that differ from mine would offer me the same courtesy.
      But they don’t do they.

      • Jack Richards says:

        If the religious had their way they’d burn you (and me) at the stake for being apostates, heretics and blasphemers.

        Don’t forget that the last Catholic burning of a witch happened as recently as 1854!

        They’re still doing it in Islamic countries. That’s religion for you!

        • Eeyore says:

          Its true to say you must not forget how religion acted before and be sure if they had the same power how they would act again.

          It would seem to me to be equally true that how people choose to manage their lives is a question for them and they need no input from me. I think it was Thomas Paine who said ” if it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg, I don’t care what religion others choose”, which seems eminently reasonable to me, as I said, live and let live, it would be nice if the religious would return the courtesy.

          Mr Smith’s article starts with questioning my moral anchor, in some way suggesting a lack on my part this explains why I bother myself to comment. You see the concept that the Bible or the Koran contains some kind of unalterable morality is somewhat messed up by the words it contains.

          While I’m aware of the countless lame and frankly laughable ad hoc rationalizations as to why it’s no longer acceptable to own and beat other human beings while at the same time being able to pig out at Red Lobster, the very fact that they need to be made means that in your world view I would be forced to delegate my moral choices to people who claim to have direct line to the Big Guy upstairs.
          Thus in lieu of not hearing voices inside my own head and of not being unable to distinguish between someone who’s actually hob-nobbing with god and one who’s merely trying to pick my pocket, the only rational route as far as I can see is to do what I’ve always done – and that’s use my own conscience, assume that a pocket picking is being attempted and run.

          So how about it, how about you cease telling me I am morally inferior and I wont point out the moral failings in your book.

  9. Jody says:

    I have three words for those people who vehemently oppose the idea of a god and who eschew Christianity in toto:

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    • Jack Richards says:

      And I have two words that prove that it’s all horrifying nonsense and the roots of brutal totalitarianism: MALLEUS MALEFICARUM.

      • Jody says:

        Let’s look at some of the “horrifying nonsense”:

        Michaelangelo
        Bernini
        “St. Matthew Passion”
        “B Minor Mass”
        “St. John Passion”
        “Christmas Oratorio”

        …and so on and so on…..

        • Jack Richards says:

          None of them had a CHOICE.

          • Jody says:

            It’s sad that you cannot appreciate the fact that genius isn’t dependent upon choice but it is definitely dependent upon inspiration. Being being a genius isn’t a ‘choice’, though.

        • Eeyore says:

          You can add a much longer list of you include art and architecture to the above. All beautiful but I would question if the inspiration was divine or commercial, art follows money and power, churches had a headlock on both.

          • Jody says:

            Bach was a devout Lutheran. His aim was to achieve “a regulated church music”. Bach’s musical inspiration was certainly divine. I have studied the “St. Matthew Passion” in my Musicology degree and, trust me, all those harmonies are there directly to shine a light and what Bach regarded as a magnificent text.

      • Jody says:

        It is certain that without the Christian church – the Catholic Church in particular – we would not have the body of western art music which we currently have, nor the architecture or art. Much of the greatest early art music was written for the church, Nostre Dame in Paris and Winchester Cathedral in the UK being the two progenitors of western art polyphony. I am grateful every day of my life for the existence of Christianity!!

  10. Bill Martin says:

    While Peter Smith demonstrates why the belief in a higher authority is a very useful compass for setting one’s moral bearing, he never suggests that those without such believe are immoral by default. That thought seems to arise only in the minds of those without such belief. One wonders why? Also, Peter and like minded others generally refrain from attacking those of an opposing mindset, yet in return they cop vehement ridicule and derision from those who disagree with them. What does that indicate?

  11. Keith Kennelly says:

    Bill

    I don’t think it very Christian for you to generalize. I don’t believe in a God but I’ll not denigrate you for y I urge beliefs. That’s what the western philosophy endorses.

    Jack

    The sermon on the mount espoused respect. Do unto others, forgive one another and love one another. Western Liberalism is based in those beliefs. That hasn’t led to disaster… In fact it has led to great growth and it’s ongoing d development will ensure great peacefulness and stability.

    Look what the ‘religions’ and other man made alternative creeds have rendered.

    • Jack Richards says:

      @Keith Kennedy

      Obviously you have never read the Sermon on the Mount. Western liberalism is NOT based on it at all and , if it was, we’d all be in deep shit. Let’s have a look at The Beatitudes and see what they breally mean:

      1. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

      Are we all supposed to be “poor in spirit” to be blessed? Suffer now and you’ll get your pie in the sky later. This is the sort of promise the plantation owner makes to his slaves.

      2. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

      Self-indulgent drivel. Why not say “blessed are those who comfort others”? More religious solipsism!

      3. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

      Since when? I haven’t seen any evidence of the meek inheriting anything – other than a kick in the head. What possible good is a call to cowardice?

      4. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

      What is “righteousness”? Most “righteous” people want to censor, subject, and persecute others and toe the party line. If you “hunger and thirst after righteousness” it’s an admission that you possess none and are an immoral, unethical scoundrel.

      5. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

      How many of us are ever in a position to bestow mercy? Almost none! This is actually a threat because whoever wrote Jesus’ lines is saying that his mercy is conditional which makes a mockery of his later claims to offer salvation “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Which means that if Adolf Hitler had repented on that last night in the Berlin Bunker there’d have been rejoicing in heaven – but how much mercy did he show to anyone?

      6. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

      What does “pure” mean? There are plenty of Biblical references to “purity” and it’s generally synonymous with virginity – like the Virgin Mary and Jesus himself. “Purity” of heart means sexual abstinence and Jesus tells us that the best way to ensure that is “…there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” In other words, cut your own balls off and you can “see God”. Thanks all the same but I’ll leave being “pure” to you!

      7. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

      Everyone wants “peace”. That’s why Harry Truman approved the A-Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I guess that decision made him one of the “children of God” – but an awful lot of Japs would disagree. But Jesus does seem to contradict himself here because he also said, “Think not that I come to bring peace on earth: I came NOT to send peace, but a sword”. Back in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 20:10-11) God told the Israelites to offer “peace” to a town they wanted to sack and if the townspeople accepted the terms of “peace” …”then all the people in it will serve you at forced labour”. Biblical “Peace” seems to mean submitting to a life of slavery – just like what Islam is currently offering the world.

      8. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

      This really is dangerous bunkum. What it is suggesting is that people should go out and actively seek persecution; provoke others into reviling them so that they may become “blessed”. It’s a call to masochism, “Oh boy, do I feel blessed. That bikie gang just kicked the living hell out of me. And yesterday the Boss sacked me called me every name he could think of. I’m definitely bound for glory.”

      I wonder how many Jews “rejoiced” in their persecution during the holocaust? I wonder how many free thinkers “rejoiced” as the Blessed Fathers of the Holy Inquisition pulled their joints apart before lighting the pyre and burning them alive.

  12. Keith Kennelly says:

    Hello Jack

    I can see I was guilty of imprecision.

    Let me clarify. West Ern Liberal is built on not only some of the specifics of the Sermon, such as the golden rule, peacefulness, forgiveness and love, but also on the spirit of the Sermon. That spirit I believe encompasses an epitome of moral attainment. I think to achieve those standards nigh on impossible as individuals or as a society. Western Liberalism has developed from the spirit of the Sermon and excludes the more extreme or unbelievable emphasis of the purely religious or ‘God’ inspired meaning to the Sermon or aspects of
    it.

    Jack we agree on so much.

    I believe Western Liberalism with its adoption of the spirit of the Sermon and with it’s search for knowledge the best possible application of the Sermon because it has proven to create the greatest good.

    There is less poverty, more free will,

    • Jack Richards says:

      Keith. The “Golden Rule” dates from Confucius in 550 BC and is NOT unique to Christianity by any stretch of the imagination. The New Testament is even worse than the Old Testament when it comes to brutality and barbarism. It’s in the NT that Hell is first described and in the Gospels where it tells the faithful to burn unbelievers. Western liberalism owes nothing to the Sermon on the Mount though Marxism/communism can lay claim to being its love-child. There was no “search for knowledge” when the Popes and Priests ran western Europe – remember what they did to Galileo and they even burned John Wycliffe exhumed body for, inter alia, translating the Bible into English.

      If you want to know what “True Christianity” is all about try studying the works and deeds of John Calvin. Calvin had a dispute with his friend Michael Servetus which resulted in Servetus being burned alive as Calvin watched. The cause of this monumental theological dispute was when Calvin said, “Thanks be to Jesus, son of Almighty God” and Servetus corrected him saying it should be, “Thanks be to Jesus, Almighty son of God”. Do you see the enormous doctrinal difference?

      There is nothing “Moral” about Christianity – it is positively immoral in all its teachings.

      If the 10 Commandments were the best God could come up with as a moral code, then God help us. The NT inflicted on the world the utterly ridiculous notion of “original sin” and the doctrine of “atonement”. It is also the root cause of millennia of pogroms and genocide against the Jews and promotes self-castration as the highest act of religious devotion.

      Most people who claim Christianity is all about love and peace and so forth simply haven’t read the Bible. Jesus even tells us how to beat our slaves and doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with slavery at all.

      The origins of western liberalism lie in the Age of Enlightenment when the complete strangle-hold of the priests was finally broken. Every scientific advance from Newton to Darwin showed that it, religion, was wrong about everything.

      Any adult who admits to believing in God (any god) is, by definition, mentally ill. It’s in exactly the same category of lunacy as people who truly believe in the existence of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Anyone who claims western liberalism has anything to thank religion for is simply ignorant or deliberately deceitful or looking to make a buck out the superstitions and fears of the world’s benighted and unlettered by carrying on the greatest “advance fee fraud” ever invented.

      As Hitchens said: “Religion poisons everything”.

  13. Keith Kennelly says:

    Greater peacefulness and decency and less corruption in western liberal democracies than in other ideologies including the religions.

    So yes we would seem to agree a literal application of the Sermon is a recipe for disaster, if disaster means less free will more poverty and corruption and greater suffering.

    Cheers Jack

    Keith

  14. Keith Kennelly says:

    Jeez Jack you hold your views as fiercely as the Islamists or the Crusaders

    Cheers Keith Kennelly

    • Jack Richards says:

      Religion is a scourge that is becoming a greater danger to world peace and progress than the cold war ever was. Nothing is ever gained by appeasement or by backing down from bullying lunatics.

  15. pgang says:

    Peter if you are reading Dawkins you should also be reading his nemesis, Jonathon Sarfati. I think you’ll find much more to admire there.

    As for Hitchens and Jack Richards well, if they think Stalin et al were an improvement on Jesus, then there is really nothing to discuss.

    • Jack Richards says:

      Congratulations, Pgang, you win “straw man” of the week award. Where did I say “…Stalin et al were an improvement on Jesus…”? Where does Hitchens ever say that?