I see this now and then, and I thought I’d make a few observations:
But I’ll take these in a somewhat inverted order.
We are 7.6 billion tool-using primates stuck on one giant rock rotating on one painfully average star system.
DJ: This painfully average star system is actually quite extraordinary just because it is average. It’s called “fine-tuning” meaning that so many things have to be exactly right for life to exist and for us to think about and write about things such as this article. A more spectacular star system – there would be no life. A less average star system – there would be no life.
Consider: All of these life forms required for human existence require an exquisitely balanced eco system or it is all for naught;
* An atmosphere with just the right sort of mixture of gasses required for the plants and animals to breath and live.
* A weather system sufficient to distribute water across a very large planet, and to maintain a livable habitat.
* A series of oceans containing an abundance of living creatures usable for food; a mechanism for moderating the climate around the world; a system for distributing warming currents to all area of the earth; ….
* A system of fresh water rivers and lakes containing all manner of food stuffs; a system for replenishing the oceans of the world; a delightful place to spend a morning, afternoon, day or longer (there’s that pesky emotional thing again that won’t be explained away by any kind of “Unified Theory of Everything . Sorry Steven Hawking!”)
* A system of magnetic bands which protect the fragile earth life from the ravages of solar radiation.
* Independent factors for habitability actually seem to “conspire” to allow for large, complex beings like humans.
* The fine-tuning “coincidences” permitting life are truly remarkable. The type of star we orbit, for instance, emits its primary radiation in “one tiny, infinitesimally small band” of possible wavelengths: the range we call the “visual spectrum,” plus some of the infrared. Our atmosphere, next in line, allows these bands through, but blocks most of the dangerous high-energy frequencies that would harm organisms. Finally, the molecules in plants are finely tuned to utilize sunlight for photosynthesis, allowing us “light eaters” to exist. That’s for starters.
We are a bit more than tool-using primates. We visualize, design, manufacture and then use tools. We integrate a whole range of tools into ever more complex systems. Quite different than say a bird that figures out how to use sticks to get food from a container. We actually visualize, design, manufacture and use a vast range of tools that we use to help one another – even those we don’t know. It says somewhere we are made “in the image of God.”
Our borders are arbitrary.
DJ: Are they really arbitrary? Yes of course borders have changed and do change as history moves along. But to the people living within these borders, they are anything but arbitrary. Wars are fought to defend these not-so-arbitrary borders, and wars are fought to expand these borders at the expense of others. Those seeking to expand these arbitrary borders often seek to destroy those currently living within them. Further, they often seek to destroy the very history and culture of those that happen to live within the borders of those selfish inhabitants wanting, mostly, just to be left alone in peace.
Were the borders of Poland arbitrary when Germany and the Soviet Union invaded in 1939? Were the borders of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary and the Soviet Union just arbitrary and fair game for anyone having enough military strength simply to move in and take the land and kill the inhabitants? And Great Britain? I think history shows that Hitler and the Nazis actively sought not just territory, but to replace the very culture of France and Poland, as well as others, with the grand plan of the “Arian Master Race.” Many thousands of pieces of art were stolen from French museums and brought to Germany where the plan was to exhibit them in the super museums of Germany.
Let’s move this logic to our own homes and neighborhoods. Do we have doors with locks to help keep intruders out? Or do we just hang a curtain to keep the wind out? Do we have fences and gates at the borders of our property?
Who gets to decide the nature of a future borderless global civilization, and who establishes the borders to contain those who resist and rebel against this global government?
No, I’m afraid that when I look at human nature and history, I find that borders are not arbitrary. Of course, if you think all people are good all the time, then I guess we don’t need borders at all. Another name for this philosophy would be anarchy.
We’re all one species.
DJ: Agree here. We are all human beings. And that includes all races no matter the color of the skin or eyes (See Rev. Martin Luther King Jr).
Our differences are superficial.
DJ: If we are simply talking about differences at the species level (see above) true. However – big however here – beyond the merely physical, the differences are monumental and most often catastrophic. The lessons of the twentieth century alone teach us the vast differences between humans, nations and cultures. We see Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot and the human catastrophe caused from their version of humanity. And we see the suffering of those with their neck under the boot and bayonet of those monsters. But even within such brutality and inhumanity we invariably see a different humanity – a good humanity.
Our political and economic systems show vast differences in our humanity. The world views of “statism” such as Nazism and Communism in modern times, differ greatly from the world view of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States and the Magna Carte of Great Britain. The differences are shown in the body count. Keep in mind the words “We the People …” “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are crated equal …”
No … I must say our differences are vast – history and human nature show it, the Bible warns us of these differences and shows a better way. Some cultures and civilizations are indeed better than others.
Here’s some history on legal vs illegal things:
Illegal: Helping people escape slavery
DJ: See my discussion below.
Illegal: Refusing to move to the back of the bus
DJ: See my discussion below.
Legal: the Holocaust
Illegal: Smuggling Jewish people out of Germany
DJ: The solution was to totally crush the Nazi regime.
Illegal: Fighting apartheid
DJ: I have little knowledge of this, so I decline comment, but I do come down on the side of liberty.
If the extent of your morality is based on whether or not something is legal, then you’ll find excuses to accept some truly horrific, evil things.
DJ: I find this statement to be quite simplistic and is itself moralistic. Our nation was founded through revolution against an increasingly autocratic English monarch. After a short period under the ineffective and unworkable Articles of Confederation, a Constitutional Convention was convened in Philadelphia which resulted in the Constitution as we know it today. It was ratified in 1789 and has been the “Law of the Land” ever since.
My morality is based on that Constitution and the various amendments and laws stemming from it. So yes, my morality is based on law (the Ten Commandments as well).
However, since humans are not perfect or angels, the Constitution as written and ratified was itself not perfect. As James Madison said in Federalist #51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.”
And our Constitution was written and ratified by imperfect men, containing the stain of legalized slavery
But that’s not the end of the story. Recall that slavery was the “peculiar institution” of southern states, while the northern states opposed it, and especially its expansion to new territories and states. Recall also that the Democratic Party was the party of slavery and defended it vigorously, including succession from the United States and thus causing the Civil War with some 620,000 deaths.
The Civil War ended with the abolition of slavery and blacks being made full citizens by way of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.
But again, that’s not the end of the story. Following the Civil War, the “freed” slaves were not yet free. They were subject to much persecution such as segregation and vicious and often deadly harassment by the likes of the KKK and others. These persecutions were the policies of the Democratic Party.
Throughout this period of segregation beginning at the end of the Civil War, the Republican Party authored many Civil Rights bills. These were uniformly opposed and voted against by the Democrat until the 1964 Voting Rights Act signed by Democrat President Lyndon Johnson.
To the best of my knowledge, the Democrats have never acknowledged themselves as the party of slavery, the KKK and segregation. Rather, they have somewhat successfully shifted all that blame to the Republican Party, and thus to me, which I greatly object to.
If you want to verify this record, don’t go to Wikipedia. I just did, and there’s nothing there – whitewashed. Try other sources such as Dinesh D’Souza at https://www.dineshdsouza.com/
Getting back to legal v illegal – my morality is based on the Constitution and the various laws stemming from it. My morality is also based on a court system that will pass judgement on laws based on an understanding of what the original authors intended, not what we might like it to say in 2018+. Just as the framers were not perfect, neither are legislators who will make bad and unconstitutional laws. Likewise, the courts will err as in the case of Dred Scott and Roe vs. Wade.
So yes, my morality is based on law.
Either you’re a compassionate, decent, fair-minded person, or you’re not.
DJ: Agree. Unfortunately, so many are not. And unfortunately, many of those that are not compassionate, decent and fair-minded rise to power at the expense of many. Thus, we need a system of justice. If that does not happen then strength of body will determine right and wrong.
Don Johnson – November 2018