(RNS) Mother Teresa, known now as St. Teresa of Calcutta, shown with an Indian child in 1977, spent her life caring for the sick, poor and homeless. Religion News Service file photo

Are you a good person? How can you tell?

(USA Today) — At the end of each year, we take stock of who we are. We think about our diets and exercise routines. We wonder if we’re frugal enough, ambitious enough, whether we've read enough books or spent enough of our time wisely. We question if we’re in the right job or the right relationship. We try to imagine how we can better enjoy our lives.

But in the last couple of years particularly, many are thinking less about waistlines and paychecks and more about how the things we do matter in the wider world.

A Marist Poll out last week found "being a better person" is the most popular New Year's resolution for 2018. It was also the No. 1 resolution last year, marking a shift from the previous decade in which “losing weight” topped the list 80% of the time (it tied this year).

“There's a crisis in the United States today, that too many of us have lost the sense of collective responsibility for our neighbors,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of the nonprofit T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

Many people want to regain that.

But what does it actually mean to be “good?” Social psychologists, ethicists and religious leaders say we see eye-to-eye on the big stuff. We believe it's good to be kind, fair and just; it's bad to cheat, murder and steal.

"The truth is that when you're talking broad strokes, no matter where you look, people value similar traits in character,” said David Pizarro, a Cornell University professor who studies moral reasoning, judgment and emotion.

Evidence suggests we’re all born with some innate sense of morality and fairness, which makes us sensitive to the distress of others, Pizarro said.

What influences our values?

So why do we behave so differently? For one, the morality we end up with as adults is influenced by how we’re cared for and socialized. This "central morality" forms through "the experience of being loved with empathy and kindness," said Darcia Narvaez, a University of Notre Dame psychology professor who has studied the neurobiology of moral development.

The reason we ultimately diverge on so many moral issues, experts say, is because we rank our values differently. Cultural psychologists have found political variations, for example: conservatives place importance on values such as loyalty and authority, while liberals prioritize care and fairness.


RELATED: Are religious people more moral?


These differences influence how we view issues such as abortion, homosexuality and racial and gender inequity. They help determine everything from whether we drop money in a homeless person’s cup to which president we see fit to lead. They dictate to whom we show compassion, and from whom we withhold it.

Time and place also affect how we rate moral issues. Only 1% of Germans said using contraception is "morally unacceptable," while 65% in Pakistan agreed with that statement, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center study.

In 2011, Americans were pretty evenly split on whether it was necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values, Pew found. Now, 56% say believing in God is not necessary to having good morals or values.

Morals: Firm or flexible?

Moral reasoning in everyday life is complicated. It might stand to reason that to be a good person, we should aspire to be morally rigid. But Pizarro said while it’s true we may want our leaders to be inflexible for consistency's sake, we don’t demonstrate that we want this from people in our close circle. We want our friends and family to be partial to us, to take our side. You know the sentiment: “My best friend is the one who will help me bury a body and not ask any questions.” What we think of as a “good friend" is morally flexible.

Many people bend their moral values depending on the situation, Pizarro said. Maybe you say it's wrong to steal, but then you use your friend's HBO GO password. You can rationalize it by saying "corporations make too much money, anyway," but it is, in fact, stealing even if it's piracy "lite." Or maybe you believe capital punishment is cruel, until the life of someone you care about is taken.

A well-known thought experiment called the "trolley problem" illustrates a scenario in which a runaway trolley is barreling toward five workers. You can save those workers by pulling a switch to divert the trolley to another track where there is just one person. Do you pull the switch? One choice is morally rigid (don't kill) the other is flexible, (bend the rule and save the many).

Bending the rules

Being discerning can be a virtue, Pizarro said. It may be why we aren’t so keen on programming artificial intelligence with a moral code, for fear it won’t recognize context and consider circumstance.

“We want some flexibility,” Pizarro said. “Part of it might be that the world is so complicated, that there are no rules that actually apply perfectly. That much we know. There is no principle that you can always say should never be violated because you'll always come up with the messy reality of being in the dilemma or situation where you have to make a tough choice.”

These messy realities can sometimes lead us toward moral tradeoffs. Like whether it’s OK to perform testing on a handful of animals to save thousands of human lives. A recent example is the conflict some people felt over former Senator Al Franken's resignation — he was accused of sexually harassing and assaulting women, yet he also championed some women's issues during his time in the Senate, such as introducing a measure to reduce the national backlog of untested rape kits.

Good people are good to everyone, says moral philosopher Peter Singer, shown here speaking at a college event in 2009,

“Tradeoffs are essential, because virtually nobody is a saint,” said Peter Singer, a moral philosopher and professor of bioethics at the Princeton University Center for Human Values. But how defensible a tradeoff is depends on the details. Each case must be evaluated on its own merit, he said.

If we consistently make tradeoffs that benefit ourselves while disadvantaging others, ethicists agree that isn’t being a good person.

"We can tell stories about how 'outgroup' members are guilty of things and they deserve to be punished," Pizarro said of the "danger" of moral flexibility.

Do unto others ...

So much of morality hinges on how we treat other people. But who are these other people?

"You get different boundaries being drawn," Singer said. This is why some people are very good to those in their close circle and to people who they may view as being “like them,” but who may not be so good to a person of a different race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

Are you good if you're a guy who is sweet to his mother, but rude to strangers? Are you good if you frequently give money to help refugees, but cheat on your husband?

Moral philosophers say good people are good to everyone — to family and to strangers, to people in their group and especially to those outside of it.

“I would say that a strong basis to knowing you are a good person can be rooted in reflecting on how you treat those who are under-served and under-privileged in relation to you,” said Imam Khalid Latif, executive director of The Islamic Center at New York University.

Ask yourself how you treat people less privileged than yourself, says Imam Khalid Latif, chaplain at New York University. Photo courtesy of Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly

“The ones that I could fully get away with treating poorly or not even doing anything for, what am I doing for them?”

“All morality must be grounded in a belief that every single human being is created equal, and is equally deserving of dignity and of just and fair treatment,” said Jacobs.

Does loyalty trump morality?

"Tribe" mentality can blind people to behaviors they would otherwise abhor.

"The vast majority of registered Democrats and Republicans — about 80% — vote straight party lines without fail, using a … mental shortcut that because the candidate is from the party I affiliate with, he/she is, by definition, a ‘good person,’” said Ronald Riggio, a professor of leadership and organizational psychology at Claremont McKenna College.

Riggio said he watched during the Alabama Senate race this month as Roy Moore supporters discounted the sexual misconduct allegations against him by insisting that he was a good person.

Taking moral inventory

Before you can become good, or determine whether you already are, moral philosophers say you need to self-reflect.

“How much time in the course of your life have you spent just looking at yourself? Like literally in the mirror, combing your hair, getting dressed? There's nothing wrong with that, but compare that with how much time you spend looking for yourself,” Latif said.

“Most people are not taking classes in their entire educational career that are getting them to a place of understanding as to why they love what they love, or why they hate what they hate, or why they really long for the things that they long for. In those spaces, there's a real absence of that self-awareness.”

Latif says we must first know ourselves, then we can begin to evaluate ourselves. To start, both he and Pizarro said look not at the good things you know you’ve done, but at the bad things you’ve likely done.

Pizarro said in light of #MeToo, he has pressed some of his male friends to reflect on whether they’ve ever treated a woman with disrespect. The common response? “I'm not sexist. I would never do that.”

"I was asking a friend of mine who was acting sort of defensive, 'Do you think you've ever made a woman feel uncomfortable?' And he was like, 'Not like that.' And I was like, 'No, but seriously, do you think you've ever made a woman feel uncomfortable?' And he was super reluctant to answer the question," Pizarro said.

Intentions or actions?

"Everybody judges themselves on their intentions, and they judge other people on their actions. Take a critical look at yourself," said Pizarro.

For those who resolve to be better people, introspection must not be a yearly ritual, but a lifelong exercise.

The Bible verse Matthew 5:8 comes from Jesus' sermon on the mount, as imagined here by Harry Anderson. Photo courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“The Bible tells us in Matthew 5:8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God,’” said Rev. Westley West, founding pastor of Faith Empowered Ministries in Baltimore. “Purity comes when you have accepted where you are, but understand that where you are is not where you are to stay.”

Our concept of morality is closely tied to our meaning of life. We can attempt to define it through philosophy, science and God, but no matter how universal our values, we will always struggle to live morally. To some, being the best version of yourself doesn't mean doing only what feels right. It means using "the heart and the head," Singer says, to help the most people in the most effective ways.

"I take the view that it's the impact that you have," Singer said. "We have the opportunity to do things that make the world a better place or a worse place and ... we ought to take those opportunities to do as much good as we can."

A DNA strand next to the title of the series.

Comments

  1. If Mother Teresa had to worry about rent, her husband’s needs, putting food on her own table for her own children, had a sick or needy child at home, hold down a regular job, take care of the house, put her children in higher education (university), or had small children of her own running around the house unsupervised, she would not have time to be a Saint or sacrifice her life for others.

    Mother Teresa- “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
    The slums of Calcutta is still the most impoverished place in the world. Without a massive campaign of birth control and re-education, momentary happiness does nothing to resolve the overpopulation, poverty, lack of housing, hunger, disease, decay, violence, treat the sewage, bring medicine, etc, etc. But mention a campaign of birth control and sterilization of the hopelessly sick and mentally deficient, and religious people jump all over you. Morality does not mean that you should be weak in the face of mathematically reality. Taking a harder approach would be kinder in the long run. If you wait for divine intervention, you are hopelessly hopeless, and only set the stage for another generation of continued poverty.

  2. “Evidence suggests we’re all born with some innate sense of morality and fairness, which makes us sensitive to the distress of others, Pizarro said.” – HA, no Bible required!

  3. “Morality and fairness” dissipates when you are starving, in total fear of your life or the life of your children. It dissipates when you are desperately ill and have no medicine or clean water for your children. I can think of many reasons where “morality and fairness” are clouded by the need to survive.

    The vast majority of the poor in the USA fall into three categories: Did not finish some kind of education; started a family before they were adults; and making babies without the benefit of a committed partner. How many generations does it take to teach that statistically, you either follow a formula for success or this known formula for poverty?

  4. He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

    And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

    — Micah 6:8

  5. I have been saying for several years on the Religious Tolerance website that it isn’t what Religion a person follows or whether they follow any religion the ONLY thing that matters are our day to day words and actions, how we treat other people, how we treat other living things–plants, animals, our planet, and how we treat ourselves. All the rest, the doctrines and dogmas, political promises and platforms, are distractions that lead us astray.

  6. Whatever morality may exists within the relative cultural construct of a society, it remains implausible that we are ‘moral’ before God. Just the tragic stewardship of our natural world, defined by a dominant and unquenchable materialism makes any claim even to be spiritual, even less so moral, highly unlikely. If ‘we’ were ever once created on the ‘image and likeness’ that was lost in the Fall and yet to be recovered by any human intellectual product of theology. We, at least some of us, remain aspirational towards higher ideals and that maybe very well be the key to any future progress, especially if the Way, Truth and Light to such progress are ever revealed again? Thus any second coming will most likely be an event not to confirm any existing faith tradition, but to expose error and offer correction to those with the honesty and humility to accept it. And that should be the basis for a ‘judgement’ beginning with how we judge ourselves.

  7. Then I would say that God put that within us. We all have a common creator. The catch is that we have to follow that light and not let the circumstances of life make us act differently. It is impossible to do that on our own. We need God’s help and God has given that to us through the Holy Spirit. You say that no Bible is not required, but we all need something to guide us. We all need to depend on some form of wisdom outside of ourselves to serve as a moral compass. That’s where the Bible, and the teachings of other wise people, come in. Sure, the Bible has been used to justify all sorts of evil, but if we read it prayerfully, humbly and with love as our goal we will do well.

  8. I think that Mother Theresa would have done good wherever she was and to whomever she came in contact. John Wesley said, ““Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.” For me, “you can” is the operative phrase. Most of us will never go to slum to “do good” like Mother Theresa did, but we can do good to those children we are raising and we can do good for our spouse and our neighbors. We can be friends to people who have no friends.

    Most of us – and the church is notorious for pushing this idea – think that doing good involves everyone outside of our purview. We feel guilty and are made to feel guilty for not going somewhere else to do good, when doing good is right within our grasp for the people around us. Think of Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan. The situation was right there in front of the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan. Each one had the opportunity to do good within their own sphere of influence.

  9. With all of “Gods help”, places like Calcutta continue to exist decade after decade, century after century. All your prayers and charity do not even make a dent. Countries that have eradicated most of their poverty have made strong laws and law enforcement regarding children, education, waste management, overcrowding, building codes, etc. People have to be managed by strong leaders, regardless of what you look like or what you call yourselves. Praying to God resolves nothing, it just makes you feel a little better about your continuous wretched condition.

  10. Nonsense. If you need god to tell you murder is wrong, you don’t need god, the Bible, religion, or christianity. you need empathy.

    Here’s all we need to guide us.

    Do not do to other people what you would not want done to yourself.—Confucius 500 years before Christianity.

  11. As for mother Theresa…

    You have no idea of how much it cost to keep that woman in poverty.

  12. Our ancestors were not the people who stood at the back of the line waiting to be fed. You are here today because you ancestors went out and got what they needed to survive or you would not be here.

    If you got lost in the jungle, there is no God that cares whether you eat the animal or they eat you, because everything has got to eat. That is how we have evolved. We have molecular evidence and DNA to link all the diverse lineages of life on earth, which is called evolution. No religious philosophy can change that. We are the best and worst of all creatures because our brains allow us to do both extremes.

  13. Hmm. So you’re saying that everyone doing more good, acting more compassionately, and being more careful about how the policies they support affect the less-advantaged, wouldn’t make a difference–and instead we should forcibly go in and violate those people’s human rights? That’s not a world I’d like to live in. Mother Teresa had a very limited impact b/c she was a single person working in the face of poverty affecting millions. If everyone aimed to do good and acted in a way that considered their effects on others, the world would be a radically different place.

  14. You are correct! If you spent full time taking care of yourself, your children, your spouse, your elderly, your sick, you would still be a very good person without having be charitable to everyone else. As a matter of fact, you would be doing a great service to your community in general.

  15. Yes, and Jesus repeated it because it’s a good law to live by. As I said, God instilled that innate sense of right and wrong within us. We have to follow that light, however, in order to keep it. We were not talking about murder, which by the way is the most extreme example you can use in this case. What about treating your enemies with kindness rather than contempt? Do you follow Confucius on that or do you treat them the way they deserve to be treated after they treat you with contempt?

  16. “and instead we should forcibly go in and violate those people’s human rights?” The question then becomes- What human right do you have to bring children into the world that you absolute cannot afford to feed, educate, house, and buy medicine for them? What human right do you have to over populate and foul up your community with waste products when you have known for centuries that you have no waste management?

    Are the millions of impoverished people in those communities that produce nothing, create nothing, and do not provide local services [selfish] to bring so many children into that world? Just asking!

  17. Yes, and those countries that still have rampant poverty, like Calcutta, have governments that do not make laws that help their people. Our country still has poverty and we are the richest country in the world. You are wrong about prayer. Prayer mobilizes people to action by getting them to look outside themselves. Mother Teresa did make a difference on the streets of Calcutta, just like social justice institutions fueled by prayer (and otherwise) make a difference in other places all over the world. The fact that these poverty stricken areas still exist is due to the choices that governments and people make. They also exist because bad stuff happens – things we can’t control. God doesn’t take all of that away because 1) God wants us to do something and 2) because humanity has free will. So, peepsqueek, what are you doing to help Calcutta?

  18. I try to treat everyone with kindness and respect, up to the point where they attack me, lie about me, or do what they can to harm me. But I do all of that as an atheist. No need for god.

    The truth is quite simple. Good is better than evil because it is nicer.

  19. Yes, but when push comes to shove, how well do we treat our families? They are the easiest people in the world to dump on. Unfortunately, they are often the people on which we transfer all of the hurts of our past upon sometimes without even knowing it. And, taking care of yourself when you are a parent is often not an issue. You are so busy with your young ones that you often sacrifice the time and money that you would use to do what you want to do and in taking care of yourself. That’s just the way it is. Plus, if your goal is to do all the good you can, etc., you can help others while still living out your obligations. It’s all in the attitude.

  20. I would say that it probably cost a lot less than you are thinking.

  21. Oh OK–they’re just inferior humans whose lot it has always been to be poor, thus they shouldn’t exist? No mention of all the policies that have created and led to their situation. Btw, poor people around the world tend to have more kids–in part b/c many don’t survive–and their birth rate drops as they gain wealth. So if the birth rate is what you’re concerned with, the answer is to help them better support themselves and earn a living, rather than eliminating their offspring.

    Btw, “human rights” aren’t some nebulous idea–there’s a clear definition (http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/). People do in fact have a right to have kids, even if they can’t feed them. It may not be good in your (or my) eyes, but it is a human right.

  22. But you are not truly good if you treat others in the way that they treat you. Confucius alluded to that 500 years before Christianity. Besides, if you don’t need anyone outside of yourself to help you navigate morality, why are you quoting Confucius?

  23. Luke 18:19 – English Standard Version

    And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

  24. There is no such thing as inferior human beings, there are inferior cultures and ideologies, and it is your human right to support those cultures and ideologies or not to support them, without feeling guilty about it.

  25. About Mother Theresa…You obviously need to read some Christopher Hitchens…”The Missionary Position”. The poor were props for her fan club. She really didn’t help anybody and most likely harmed poor people. She glorified in the poor’s suffering.

  26. Survival is right, perishing is wrong, according to the laws of nature. To you “right” is addressing the symptoms, to others, “right” is the priority of addressing the cause. Who are you to judge?

  27. I didn’t say I try to harm them.
    We all of us have people outside of ourselves to help us navigate morality. I never said anything different.

  28. Mystics have taught for centuries that the divine imprint still exists within everyone. We have only to follow its light in a very dark world. This is accomplished through prayer, meditation, and introspection. As for a second coming, scripture says that it will be a day of reckoning, a day when God rights all wrongs.

  29. And who or what would you say set the process of evolution in motion?

  30. You “try.” Mm-hm. Yeah, I “try” too.

    But neither one of us would dare to boast that we’ve scored 100 percent (on your favorite moral saying) since the day we were born.

    If we do make such a boast, there’s always somebody out there who would simply reply, “No, not quite 100%, I was there.” So we’re not really good.

    Not to mention that, IF God exists at all, your cutesy one-liner “No need for God”, has now scratched you off His list of good people anyway.

    In either case Ben, welcome to the world of sinners (Rom. 3:23). What’s you & me gonna do about our very fatal sin problems, sir?

  31. I’m not judging anyone. We were talking about being good and not needing an outside influence upon morality. I admit that I need help in navigating morality so I use outside sources, like the Bible for guidance.. Ben in Oakland says he doesn’t need outside sources – he even said that something was wrong with me and that I needed empathy because I use the Bible to guide me – yet he quotes Confucius. I would say that I am the one being judged for trusting in God.

    According to nature, survival is right and perishing is wrong, yet humans have altruistic tendencies that might cause us to die for another so that they might survive.

  32. The Church has spent a lot of money to go into impoverished parts of the world and bring the Bible, build Churches, bring food, etc. For me the money would have been better spent to bring heavy equipment to build roads, hospitals, plow fields, build schools, dams, etc. The Western world in general sends a fortune in humanitarian aid to places, instead of the heavy equipment to do for themselves. The Church sends lots of volunteers to teach Christianity instead of engineers to teach them how to resolve their core problems. It would not hurt if the Church helped to expose the corrupt leaders in those Countries as well.

  33. I didn’t say that you would physically harm them. What do you do when people treat you with contempt? If you walk away and try not to hold it against them I say “bravo.” If you use words to cut them down then that is the same as harming them. I don’t know what you do. It really doesn’t matter to me, you have to live with yourself. So we all have people outside of ourselves to help us navigate morality, why do you get on me for relying on God?

  34. Why did God wait until the New Testament to repeat that ancient golden rule maxim that predated the Bible? It takes a certain amount of cognitive dissonance to claim that your God instilled that golden rule in humans, yet ignore the hypocrisy of that God first commanding “thou shalt not kill” and then commanding his followers to kill the Canaanites, for example, including their innocent children, thus completely violating not only his/her/its commandment but also the golden rule you claim your God instilled in all humans.

  35. Someone needs to do a bit more research on the evolutionary roots of altruism.
    http://prospect.org/article/evolutionary-roots-altruism

    Survival of the fittest isn’t on an individual scale but species-wide. That can and sometimes is dependent helping each other out collectively or providing aid to others, even when inconvenient to personal interests. So that can very well standing on line to be fed or providing food for the group. 🙂

    Morals are a function of how we deal with each other. Religion is not a source or even an arbiter of such things. At best its a lazy shorthand for moral thinking. A moral decision is one where we weigh our actions against how it affects others, how it affects ourselves.

  36. “So, peepsqueek, what are you doing to help Calcutta?” Looks like you are trying to judge others before you judge yourself.

    If you want to know about me, I grew up below the poverty level on the West Coast. I am a combat veteran, and a labor class guy who raised a family, had a small business and paid American taxes all of my life, in which part of my hard earned tax dollars goes to pay for welfare, roads, schools, prisons, court system, military, veteran affairs, police, fire department, parks, national guards, boarder patrol, and billions of dollars in foreign aid, and all our representatives in Washington and their expenses. Now I am old and have 5 beautiful grand kids, two of which are going into the fields of science, and they might one day do something to help Calcutta. As for myself, I need every penny I have saved to take care of my very sick wife who did for others all of her life, and I am sure no one in Calcutta or anywhere else is much concerned to help with her expenses that are not covered by insurance, nor am asking anyone to help. So feel free to send your money to Calcutta, and I won’t judge if the money actually gets in the hands of the right people.

  37. My church does do those things. They don’t try to convert “brown people” into white Americans. They try to help them where they are and they try to make things better by building hospitals and schools. They provide wells for clean drinking water and try to help women live a better life by providing what they need to earn a living such as sewing machines, livestock, etc. They also help people who abuse drugs and alcohol. They serve inner cities. They provide disaster relief. I know of many denominations who do these things and their leaders aren’t getting paid huge salaries. The money goes toward the needs of others. Many denominations here in America are the first people on the scene of a disaster and they don’t charge a dime to the people they are helping. You don’t hear about that in the news. Our church also has volunteers who give up two years of their lives, they raise all of their own funds, and they take their skills to other countries. They are not trained missionaries. They are regular people like engineers, doctors, nurses, secretaries.
    The Catholic church tried to expose corrupt leadership in the countries of Central America. I don’t think they should have leaned in Marxist direction, but that’s my opinion, I wasn’t there. Christians here in America try to expose corrupt policies and politicians; in that battle, the corrupt influence is part of the church itself. The thing is that anyone trying to make a difference in the world can only do so much.

  38. “yet humans have altruistic tendencies that might cause us to die for another so that they might survive.” –It is the instinct that has evolved in mammals to protect their own, protect their children, and risk their lives while hunting for food or protecting their life sustaining resources.

  39. Yes, I’ve read Christopher HItchens and other articles like his about Mother Teresa. You need to read more sources, because there are non religious sources that recognize what she did. Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize (a non religious award) because she was doing something worthwhile. She may not have been perfect in practice but I truly think she was trying to help.

  40. The bottom line is that the Promise of the Incarnation remains undelivered. The ‘religious’ presence within culture has not even dented evil. Prayer, however sincere has failed to deliver any true moral progress. If an ‘imprint’ remains from the Fall, it only exists for that ‘day of reckoning’ when the spirit of God will speak directly to human consciousness. As in the ‘beginning’ without need of any institutional forms, theology or priest-craft. And the ‘wrong’ that God begins with is our understanding of that very reality. Whether one has the critical self scrutiny to see ones self as God sees us and not as we imagine ourselves to be is where honesty begins. And if we cannot be honest with our selves, one cannot be honest with God.

  41. And humans protect others who are not like themselves. Think of all the people who risked their lives during the Holocaust to rescue Jews. Why would someone do that? Why would people go to other countries to help the sick? Why would people give up their lives to rescue others like firemen and the police do every day? The people they rescue are “not their own”. It goes beyond evolution.

  42. Because some built that character in them when they were growing up. You have to remember that the bulk of the 60 million people who killed each other in WWII Europe were brought up in Christian homes.

    From reading Hitler’s bio, his parents (Catholics), ran the house in authoritarian manner, he was doing well in Catholic/monastery school, which is very authoritarian, then starting studying Pan-Germanism, another authoritarian idea that adopted openly ethnocentric and racist ideologies, and this ultimately gave rise to the Heim ins Reich policy. Who do you want to blame for that Hitler’s existence or the millions of so-called Christians who bought his superior doctrine?

  43. You are right in that we must be honest with ourselves and try to see ourselves as God sees us. However, the “Promise of Incarnation” was delivered in Jesus Christ. Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection, we are made clean before God and we receive the help of the Holy Spirit to do what we should do. You cannot blame the results of millions of prayer on God, Evil is also an influence and for now it has taken root. Our efforts alone cannot “dent” evil, but when Christ rose from the dead, evil was done. We do not have to give in to it. It’s only a matter of time before it is vanquished so what you are seeing is it thrashing around as it dies.

  44. Ben is right, I do not need the ancient text nor the concept of God, nor does any culture to come the conclusion that a society cannot function if we are steeling from each other, murdering each other, chasing after our neighbors wives, etc, etc.

    What is go for you is good for me. If it is good for you to hit me over the head to make a living, then it must be go for me to hit your over the head to make a living. That obviously does not work. So it is better to help each other than hit each other over the head. I don’t need God to tell me that.

  45. “And humans protect others who are not like themselves. Think of all the people who risked their lives during the Holocaust to rescue Jews.” — How can you say they are not like themselves, just because they do not accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior? They look similar, speak the same language, live int he same community, work in the same places, etc.

  46. Well, that’s a leap of logic. I didn’t say anything of the sort. If you will recall, the Jews during WWII were not even people to the Nazis. Anyone caught hiding them, whether Christian or not was either killed or sent to a concentration camp. And their religion does make them unique. A lot of people back then, including Americans, were antisemitic for no good reason.

  47. We are here today because our ancestors understood the power of cooperation, of working with others to accomplish more than one person can accomplish on his or her own. I wrote an essay about “The Power of WE” for the religioustolerance.org website a year or so ago. The “Power of WE” recognizes that alone we aren’t much but when we set aside our differences and work together for the common good WE can accomplish great things.

  48. When it comes to Ben’s big moral law, “Do not do to other people what you would not want done to yourself”, I’m betting the entire rent money that Ben’s failed it, I’ve failed it, and you’ve failed it at least once since birth. Since we’ve all failed it somewhere, we’re not really good.

    God said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” in Lev. 19:18. But you’re pridefully boasting “I don’t need God to tell me that”, as if you invented Lev. 19:18. You and Ben don’t even realize that the human conscience is directly written into humans by God Himself, Rom. 2:14-15. (Your human conscience is a direct disproof of ANY evolutionary descent between animals & humans, by the way).

    Hence, if God exists at all, you done blown it anyway because you blew off God. (And all of us have done so, Rom. 3:23). So now you’re one of us sinners for sure, all needing a Rom. 6:23 to save us.

  49. “You shall not murder” is a better translation. But it leaves us with the problem of how all those Canaanite killings were not murder.

  50. ELOHEEM indicated so, about 3396 years before confucius in The Noachide Laws. and so however this, got past down the line until today. and it, was reiterated at Mt SeeAnee, in The Laws given to Moshe about the year 3409. roughly around the time, of the life of confucius.

    without dating back to the previous physical hereafter, with Khaeen and Able or about 4,500 years before confucius. but after confucius in the previous physical hereafter. since everything that existed in the last physical hereafter, exists again, in this born again hereafter including all of you and every blade of grass you stepped on before. and shall more than likely be all, here in the next physical hereafter.

    so no matter how you, look at this all moral laws were given from G-D and passed on by your ancestors on to you. from day one with Noach to adam and his mate again, through the third and fourth cycle and recycles.

    nor am i, thrilled! about some of your dead physical butts being resurrected in the next physical hereafter. from what i am, observing now. with everything being, repeated in your failed circle of time.

  51. Well, I’ve looked at that issue before, because when skeptics throw “that problem” at me, I know it’s a direct challenge to the moral character of the God that I am committed to serving.

    But what about you, Arbustin? If the skeptics throw “that problem” at you, then it’s a direct challenge to the moral character of the God that you are committed to serving.

    So when it’s your turn on the grill, what do you tell the skeptics?

  52. Tribalism, sectarianism, nationalism, classism, sexism, racism, are all universal conditions, in which the Western world has come the further in dealing with these issue. Antisemitism is one thing, but round up every man, women, and child for extermination is something else, especially for all those who grew up in Christian homes. Even Pope Paul apologized for the Church’s stance in WWII.

    February 2006, BBC
    Church apologizes for slave trade–
    The Church of England has voted to apologize to the descendants of victims of the slave trade to America. An amendment “recognizing the damage done” to those enslaved was backed overwhelmingly by the General Synod. Debating the motion, Rev Simon Bessant, from Pleckgate, Blackburn, described the Church’s involvement in the trade, saying: “We were at the heart of it.”

  53. What’s missing from all of Christology is any secure and precise knowledge of exactly what was the first Sin of Adam, what was that first command or Law given unto Adam and what were the specific effects of the Fall. Without knowing these there is no reason to suppose that our return to the grace and favor of God has taken place. I would contend that all human nature itself contains the potential for evil and a primary corruption of human ethical perception and it is that potential for ‘sin’, whether repressed or expressed that continues to separate us from God. And makes the all too human theological construct of religion, chasing after wind. A brief reflection on the Fall may be found at. https://onthenatureofmarriage.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/hello-world/

  54. At least they are apologizing. Throughout history, the church has lost its focus and has done many things of which it should not be proud – the Crusades, Manifest Destiny, the Inquisition, etc., etc. The same is true in America today, but there are Christians who do not go along with this infernal romance that the Evangelicals have with the GOP and actually try to do what is right. Christians standing against other Christians who have lost their focus has has happened throughout history. For example, William Wilberforce, a Christian, led the movement to stop the slave trade in England. In fact, England stopped the slave trade long before America did. It actually took a war to stop ours, as you probably know. There is also historical evidence to support that the Catholic church did help the Jews during WWII. Pope Pius XII was playing the Nazis and helping the Jews at the same time. He encouraged the church to discreetly help the Jews and thousands were saved.

  55. You know, just because someone says that they are Christian doesn’t mean that they hold to the teachings of Christ (I’m not saying that I do either but I do try). Many Christians here in America claim that we are a Christian nation so that they can shove their brand of Christianity down everyone’s throats, but when you look at our history of how we treated the the Native Americans, the blacks and anyone else who was not a WASP, there is no way they can make that claim. The founders didn’t want this to be a nation that embraced only one religion. Europe is also imperfect in this regard. The blame can fall on everyone. We as individuals can ultimately blame ourselves for what we do, regardless of our upbringing (which may influence our decisions). Eventually, we all become adults and make our own choices.

  56. I was not trying to judge; that seems to be a favorite accusation nowadays when people don’t agree. Besides, you kept bringing up Calcutta so I thought I’d ask. I am sorry about your wife.

  57. whatevs, bro! unfortunately for your thesis (?) No.

  58. Being an adult does not erase your training during the formative years. Usually it takes a trauma to change adult’s way of thinking about most issues.

    As to your point about WASP’s, even the poor in the British Empire were not to much better off than slave to the wealthy land owners that could have you killed. The [poor] whites that got of the boats in the Americans in the 1800’s had to work from sun up to sundown on the farms, on the roads, in the mines, in the factories, for low wages, no benefits, and usually died an early death, leaving their families in poverty.

    And to make your point about WASP’s, we have never had a white President that was of Jewish, Polish, Swedish, Spanish, Danish, Italian, Greek, Russian, or any other people that were not WASP. It was monumental that President Obama was the son of an East African tribesman, who came here on a student visa and made the baby Barak. Obama was the first President in over 50 years to win the popular American vote by over 51% twice. President Obama said that his story could only happen in America.

  59. You are living in a fantasy world, which is not always a bad place.

  60. That story was written 3,500 years ago, before the Hebrew language even had any vowels. Why do you people have such a need to believe this ancient story as factual?

    What does the Bible say about everyone living outside of sub-Saharan Africa having a small amount of Neanderthal DNA in them, carried as a living relic of these ancient encounters between modern humans leaving out of Africa and Neanderthals. A team of scientists at the Neanderthal Project, comparing the full genomes of the two species concluded that most Europeans and Asians have approximately 2 percent Neanderthal DNA. Indigenous sub-Saharan Africans have none, or very little Neanderthal DNA because their ancestors did not migrate through Eurasia.

    On one level, it’s not surprising that modern humans were able to interbreed with their close cousins. According to one theory, Neanderthals, Denisovans, and all modern humans are all descended from the ancient human Homo heidelbergensis. Between 500,000 to 600,000 years ago, an ancestral group of H. heidelbergensis left Africa and then split shortly after. One branch ventured northwestward into West Asia and Europe and became the Neanderthals. The other branch moved east, becoming Denisovans. By 250,000 years ago H. heidelbergensis in Africa had become Homo sapiens. Our modern human ancestors did not begin their own exodus from Africa until about 70,000 years ago, when they expanded into Eurasia and encountered their ancient cousins. DNA evidence is an accepted science all over the world today, so why do you continue to teach fantasy as fact.

  61. God reads this article and He goes, Nice try but nope, not good enough. Do the best you can all you want and I still say, Not good enough. Yet and yet, that you be good and be good to each other is all I want from you, one & all. So why, then, can’t any of you be good enough for Me after all these years since My Baby Jesus was born in March 2000 years ago?

  62. I don’t disagree with anything you have said. Religion has more goals than just aid and charity.

  63. My interest in religion is in how humanity makes moral progress. And I can see no current or existing human, intellectual, endeavor whether religion, humanism, atheism, scientism, transhumanism or whatever other ism or ology might exist, that is able to deliver the ethical progress that the future is soon to demand. And I would contend that it is that ‘gift’ of Evolution, that Neanderthal DNA that is what is preventing, even corrupting humanities hopes for a greater good. So if there is a God, it must be close to time for that reality to ‘play his final hand’ in order for our species to advance by the realization of a true Biblical righteousness. And that should be the character of the absolute proof that remains missing from history.

  64. “I would contend that it is that ‘gift’ of Evolution, that Neanderthal DNA that is what is preventing, even corrupting humanities hopes for a greater good.”–What factual basis do you make that contention on???

  65. My “fantasy world” is based on thousands of years of tradition. Millions of people believe the way I do; some have even died for their faith. As Martin Luther said, “Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.”

  66. Because god ordered it, of course. The fount of morality ordered it. The giver of morality ordered it.

    And as so many christians on these very pages have informed me authoritatively, god can do whatever he wants to do. It is by definition moral. And it just turns out that he to people to behave immorally, that he is a moral relativist just like they are.

  67. Mostly the history of our species and a bit of simple deductive reasoning. Nothing you would probably accept. Nothing that could as yet test this hypotheses. Yet it is self evident that there are limitations to the ethical construct our species is able to create for itself. One can dream utopian dreams, but are without the ethical tools or insights or I would say even potential to evolve such a society. Just as there is little agreement on what morality is or where it begins. It is for example the reason war and conflict remain perpetual parts of the continuing chronicle of mankind. Our default to compete far out ways our ability to co-operate as cultural and economic competition has always forced new conflicts. There are far too many examples to list. So the question is what prevents such progress? All species of animals exist within the limitations that define their nature and we are no different. Unfortunately those limitations come with an ever increasing price, yet to paid. But that debt is coming due either as a sixth mass extinction or other natural disaster unless some other reality presents an alternative that can take us of the slippery slope to our own self made hell. Soon there will be no where else to turn for practical answers. I just hope there is a God to turn to when ‘reason’ comes to recognize its limits.

  68. Mostly I rely on the critical sources that say this is in all likelihood not a historic record of what actually happened. If anything, the Israelites moved into the area, or a group of people already living in Canaan became the Israelites, but there’s no historic record of mass killings on the scale of what God orders in the Torah. We know from archeology that the Israelites once engaged in polytheistic or henotheistic worship. That’s why the Torah speaks so strongly against it and it’s probably the reason for the harshness of the decrees against the Canaanites.
    But this only takes us so far. It leaves the theological question I alluded to — how can God have ordered this? How can the authors of the Torah thought that God ordered this? I don’t find answers like “we cannot understand God’s ways” or “God can do whatever he wants because he is the supreme judge” or “the Canaanites were pure evil” to be satisfactory. The last answer is what leads to the Holocaust in any event.
    Ultimately, humanity is responsible for our actions to humanity. Even Hasidic rabbis have written that the thought of following these commands is sickening and the answer that it’s God’s command is unsatisfactory. So what we do in this situation is change the play. It’s what Jesus did when faced with the harshness of the rabbinic view of healing on the Sabbath. And it’s what the rabbis themselves did when faced with the harshness of the Torah. So in commenting on Deut. 13, which commands the killing of polytheists, the Talmud (BT Shabbat 151b), notes that God promises if you follow these commands, God will grant you compassion, and will be compassionate toward you (13:18). The rabbis interpret this and imply an opposite meaning to that stated in the Torah: anyone compassionate toward God’s creatures will receive compassion from heaven; but anyone not showing compassion toward God’s creatures will not receive compassion from heaven.

  69. “Every human being is born equal” is a dangerous, dysfunctional phrase. It would be better to say that every human being is of equal value and must be treated as equal before the law. Jut saying “born equal” flies in the face of people’s experience. Certainly we are not born equal in talents, in intelligence, in access to resources (this can and should be corrected), in exposure to learning., in family income, in family culture, in ricnness of environment, etc. etc. Some inequalities can be corrected, and should be. Some seem are least partially genetic, but everyone should be entitles tho the fourt freedoms of FDR, at the leats.

    To say “everyone is born equal” gives ammunition to those who see that we are not equal and find this claim pious and sentimental and contrary to fact.

  70. My Catholic uncle would line us (his nieces and nephews) up and ask “What is the one true religion?” We gave various answers, favoring Catholicism. Finally he would say No, no, no. Then something along these lines. ” You’re Catholics because your parents are Catholics and some kids you know are Jewish or Protestant because their parents are Jewish or Protestant. All religions are family religions, and all families and their religions are of equal value. Living justly is the one true religion, no matter what the family religion is.” All the parents agreed and approved of this lesson. So did our pastor.

  71. Tribal/neighborly cooperation is a from of collective narcissism and proves nothing about how we cooperate with “outsiders.” In fact in order to conquer and plunder cooperation is required.

  72. This is THE ONLY reason I can’t stand ethics theologians and moral philosophers. They just talk way too much as if there’s something enlightening to be felt, recognized, in their words, sentences, paragraphs, essays, books. Same goes for apologeticians. Blah-blah-blah – but duh?! – where’s the gospel? Cartoons are more enlightening than whatever truth they manufacture, like: “I just hope there is a God to turn to when ‘reason’ comes to recognize its limits.” God & Jesus don’t ever talk emptily like that.

  73. The scientific understanding of our nature is a lot ore complicated than your quote. That empathy you bring up is normally confined to a small group, while hostility or unease or suspicion is experienced by everyone, at some time, to “outsiders.”

    Our good instincts can lead to evil. In fact the desire to protect and love “our own” guided the Nazis and the warring factions in the Balkans.

  74. Poverty is the denial of resources and opportunities. You are merely stating the results of institutional poverty, not the cause.

  75. … and none of “his nieces and nephews” dared to ask, But, but, “my Catholic uncle … living justly” how exactly? I can’t stand pop pith-ology.

  76. He was a Catholic who was perfectly integrated into privileged WASP culture. As Robert Frost advised him at the Inauguration: “Be more South Boston than Harvard.” He was capable of both.

  77. … as if we know “how we treat other people, how we treat other living things–plants, animals, our planet, and how we treat ourselves”. You’re being altruistic, my dear sister Susan Humphreys. I can’t stand pop altruism.

  78. His mother was from a classic, old American WASP family. In fact she was a cousin of Dick Cheney.

  79. Give me 3 major events on planet Earth that can vouch for this pop altruism that “Evidence suggests we’re all born with some innate sense of morality and fairness, which makes us sensitive to the distress of others”. Otherwise, “HA, no Bible required” maybe!

  80. I’m neither a moral or ethics theologian or apologist for any tradition. Nor do I even accept the validity of theology as a valid human intellectual project. Which is why I consider all mono theism a theological counterfeit. Where’s the Gospel? A very good question. Probably yet to be revealed. As for a couple good on line comics. I would recommend Existential comics for philosophy and Jesus and Mo for religious satire. I’m sure there is more insight in these than all the religion of history.

  81. It is also ironic that his father was born in Kenya while still under the British Empire. But what is monument is his looks, his color, and a name like Barak Hussein Obama did not prevent him from getting the majority popular vote and majority electoral votes.

  82. NOTE I said when we “set aside our differences” that is NOT talking about tribalism or collective narcissism. IT is about how we cooperate with “others”, those that we have “differences” with! NOTE also I said work together for the “common good”. Plundering and conquering aren’t working for the common good which would include those you are plundering and conquering.

  83. Your are correct, but still a white anglo-saxon, and only one example of a Catholic. There has been no other Catholics nominated as well, with the exception of John Kerry in 2004.

  84. “Pop altruism”? Nothing I said is “pop”, it is actually quite ancient, just modern wording. Perhaps you should expand your education? Try reading the Upanishads, or the Tao teh Ching, or the writings of some of our American Indian spiritual leaders–or the Buddhist sutras or……. Nothing new about what I said, just modern wording!

  85. Prove that you’re not being pop-altruistic by demonstrating “how we treat other people, how we treat other living things–plants, animals, our planet, and how we treat ourselves”. You have 24 hours. GO!

  86. You are all over the place. I am only asking- What [factual basis] do you make your contention on? I think you are having trouble accepting the nature of man, and would like to frame what it could be like in your perfect world.

  87. The headline picture showed Mother Teresa in Calcutta, that is why I focused on their example. We have forty million people in the USA living on food assistance. Charity begins at home. Too much charity weakens the people it was designed to help.

  88. You are correct in one sense that I don’t accept the ‘nature of man’ as being either spiritual or fully moral. And religion as we understand it from history has not provided any advance in that direction. So I am simply thinking/wondering how such progress might be achieved. I have no perfect world to offer but to ‘frame’ such an idea at all must confront the question of moral progress. And that progress begins within each and every human being. How is it we can even have aspirations for a greater good but be unable to realize them? And if as I suggest, those limitations exist innate to human nature, we come back, kicking and screaming if necessary, to the only potential, yet to be realized, that might exist with the possibility of God.

  89. I can’t believe your statements about apologizing for the slave trade to the America’s hundreds of years after the fact, and only after a lengthy debate, with some clerics being against it.

    For much of WWII, Pope Pius XII maintained a public front of indifference and remained silent while German atrocities were committed. He refused pleas for help on the grounds of neutrality, while making statements condemning injustices [in genera]l. Privately, the Pope sheltered a small number of Jews, while millions were being exterminated, and spoke to a few select officials, encouraging them to help certain Jews. In theory, the Pope’s views could have influenced 400 million European Catholics, including those in all the occupied eastern territories – the Poles, Baltics, Croatians, Slovaks and others. [60 Million] people died in WWII Europe as a result of not standing up to the Nazis from day one.

    The International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission (ICJHC), revealed several documents that cast a negative light on the claim that the Vatican did all it could to facilitate emigration of the Jews out of Europe. Internal notes meant only for Vatican representatives revealed the opposition of Vatican officials to Jewish emigration from Europe to Palestine. The Holy See has never approved of the project of making Palestine a Jewish homeland, while today recognizing 58 declared Muslim States, all members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation at the UN General Assembly. Can you or can you not see the unbalance scale of your argument????

    Pius XII did intervene the month he was elected Pope, March 1939, and obtained 3,000 visas to enter Brazil for European Jews who had been baptized and converted to Catholicism. Two-thirds of these were later revoked for reasons unknown.

  90. “THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TRIED TO EXPOSE CORRUPT LEADERSHIP IN THE COUNTRIES OF CENTRAL AMERICA.” –The Catholic Church has spent a fortune Church money for legal fees and pay offs to the families of children who were abused by paedophile Priests in multiple countries. How many of these protected priest actually went to prison? Please to not talk about corruption!

    I remember when I was young, the scandal regarding Vatican investments in pharmaceutical companies that produce birth control pills. I guess the birth control pills were not meant for Catholics. Business is business! The exposure was very short lived.

    From individuals to dioceses, the Holy See collects the donations through a special department. The Holy See also has investments in the New York Stock Exchange and in real estate around the world. They claim each year that they are running at a deficit. Their finances are a mystery, because who audits the Holy See. It is impossible to gauge the financial health of the Vatican. In the mean time, I have seen Priests flying “first class” on Alitalia out of Rome. Either they get the courtesy or they are paying with your donations. There is a lot to think about before you talk about pointing the finger of corruption on others.

  91. Of course it does but those people were so much more desperate at the time she was helping them. Besides, she was Albanian and times were different back then. I’m sure she felt it was her duty. The poor in America live very well compared to anyone who is poor in other countries. We have government programs for them and other people help out. When we were living on $255 a week, we never missed a meal because of our garden and because people were kind. We also used WIC for our children. So charity is doing its part here at home. If people want to help others outside the country then more power to them.

  92. The majority of the people in the US today live in apartments or rentals and many are living right on the edge. So please do not try to minimize their suffering by saying someone half way around the world has it worse. China and India have some very powerful economies. It is no our job to fix problems with money that should go toward fixing our own.

  93. I have three children who live on that edge and all three live in apartments. I spent many years doing the same myself. We were speaking of “the poor” or what I consider at or below poverty level. Many people living on the edge could drop off into poverty at any time, but at present their needs are met. I’m talking about basic needs – food, shelter, clothing. They may not be living high on the hog and have all their wants fulfilled but do manage to make it. As someone who lives comfortably at present, I realize that my situation could turn at anytime. I am quite aware of what is going on.
    There are poor people all over the earth, not just in China and India. There are very poor people in Africa, South America and Central America who do not have their daily needs met, yet a lot of them are more grateful than the average American. I’ve seen it. I’ve talked with them. There are people here in America who do not have their daily needs met for one reason or another, but when I was living below the poverty line, I did have it better than people in other countries. I just didn’t have the extravagances that my neighbors did; we shopped at Walmart and in thrift stores when we could shop; we had used furniture and no cable; I worked my tail off trying to make sure my family had food but we had our needs met. I learned at that time that most of it was a matter of perspective and I learned that living simply could be very good. Did we have times when we worried? Yes. But it did work.

  94. I demonstrate it everyday HpO! What do you do? I am friendly to clerks that check me out at the grocery store, I return my cart to the cart corral,I park further from the door of the businesses I enter–leaving the closer spots to those that have trouble walking–I give rides to the pharmacy and store to a neighbor, even do her laundry occasionally. I say please and thankyou. I volunteered my time this summer weeding the ornamental plantings around the new library in my home town. I donate essays to the Religious Tolerance organization–80 some this past year. In the past I volunteered with an historical society, chamber of commerce, tourism association, worked all my life for not-for-profit organizations. I was a Master Gardener for 15 years. Need I continue!

    Helping to make your own neighborhood a better place for everyone is what “treating other people, other living things and taking care of ourselves is all about.

  95. And, behold, one came and said unto Him: Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him: Why do you call Me good? There is none good but One; that is, God: But if you will enter into life, keep the commandments. He said unto Him: Which? Yeshua said: You shall do no murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. Honor your father and your mother. You shall Love your neighbor as yourself. The young man said unto Him: All these things have I kept from my youth up, what do I yet lack? Yeshua said unto him: If you will be perfect, go and sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in Heaven; then come and follow Me! (Matt 19:16-21) Hold on here Yeshua, how could you let this guy off so easily? You just said that no man is good, so why not slam him and call him a liar and a deceived hell-bound sinner, who must repent, especially of his belief that he is a good guy? I will answer my own question: The guy was not lying; Messiah Yeshua could not be so easily fooled. He had in fact kept all those laws listed by Messiah Yeshua. He was a good guy, according to laws! And yet, if he went about his life as a law-keeper, but did not follow Messiah Yeshua as instructed by Him, can you guess his eternal fate? There will be countless numbers of tax-paying, law-abiding, tithe-paying, church-going, Jesus-believing people, who will have no chance of seeing the Kingdom of Heaven, post Judgment Day (Matt 7). There’s no such thing as a good person. The lesson here is obvious, but to the Spiritually blinded. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world: If any man loves the world, the Love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof; but he that does the will of God abides forever! (1Jo 2:15-17)

  96. You know the old saying: “If you always do what you have always done, then you will always get what you have always got”

    It is not up to us to eliminated or prevent the chronically poor from perpetuating their class. But when the chronically poor come to you for help, it is up to you to set conditions for your help and to educate them about the formula for success and the formula for chronic failure.

    If you had members of your own family come to you and say -“we are down on our luck and need to stay with you until we get back on our feet”, you would naturally take them in to your house. After six months of them sitting up on your couch and eating out of your refrigerator, what would you say to them???? Would you set some kind of conditions, or would you allow it to go on for years???

  97. A) Please answer as to the positive side to your altruism:

    (1) What principles, guidelines, do you follow? How do you keep up with them? What motivates you to abide by them?

    (2) Who preestablish & rejuvenate those life’s precepts? Why do you trust their worthiness? How come not everybody follows them? Why can’t all of humanity be made by these “inner laws” to yield to them?

    B) As to the negative side to your altruism:

    (3) How come all of humanity remains imperfect? Why can’t these parameters of good action perfect all of humanity?

    (4) What happens to those following this way when they end up doing bad or wrong things to other people? Do they get away with those negative consequences of their action?

    (5) What happens to personal & collective histories of bad or wrong things done by people following the way of life that you prescribe?

    (6) Are they forgiven? But how does that work, exactly? What’s the basis of restitution & reconciliation? Are there no losers in these games of bad cop/good cop routines in your altruistic life? Who speaks for your victims?

  98. I suggest you look up my essays on the Religious Tolerance website, look under either the new essays tab or under the visitors essays tab. The answers you are asking for are too long for this forum.

    I will try to give you short answers. A 1 All people are created equal and are endowed with the same inalienable rights. There is nothing to keep up with. Whats good for others is good for me. 2. The basic precept is from our Constitution and is found in the teachings of many of the worlds religions and philosophers and great writers. We are all different. Some don’t see what i see.
    Then we wouldn’t be free.

    3. One can’t be perfect and be of this world. To actively live in this world means would has to make choices, and when you make choices you are imperfect. i wrote a essay about this for the Religious Tolerance website.

    4, Societies create laws to guide and punish behavior. Many do get away with the negative consequences of their actions. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people, that is life.

    5. Read your history books.

    6. Forgiven by whom? There is no God to forgive them, they can only hope that those they have harmed will find the grace to forgive them. Of course there are winners and losers. No one ever said that life is fair, or just BUT we can strive to make it fairer and more just.

  99. You implied that cooperation is part of evolution, and it is. So is cooperation against others, which my be how we learned to cooperate, as in the animal kingdom, for defense or attack. It is true that when we work together for the common good we accomplish more. We all know that. But cooperation is a dyad, linked to its opposite, and cooperation against the common good is more prevalent than the other way. Just look at the US Congress.

  100. Your response is typical of a prevaricator, or worse, a liar. Answer the point. Snarky Fox News sneering is intellectually and morally corrupt.

  101. Yes, i know. But the Catholic doctrine (based on philosophy) of Natural Law states that Natural Law is binding on all people and governments, and the the pope is the supreme arbiter of Natural Law. In fact in the 1800’s a pope condemned democracy as against Natural Law using the same reasoning as in the condemnation of contraceptives and homosexuality. Today in alliance with those same Protestants the Catholic hierarchy seeks to impose its practices on the US government. They call this religious liberty. The Protestants did not know of that condemnation of democracy, and Kennedy made it clear that US law trumped Vatican decrees. But a recent judicial nominee said that the teachings of her Catholic church take precedence over US law even when rendering judicial judgments. The hierarchy was outraged that non-Catholics were outraged with her statements. The issue of where Catholic loyalties lie is murky. P.S. That decree against democracy was never rescinded (popes can never be wrong), just put aside as the Vatican entered into an alliance after WWII with the CIA against communism.. PPS: I learned all this about Natural law in Catholic schools. Did the teachers believe it? I doubt it.

  102. (1) FAIL & ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD: Since “whats good for others” – let’s see, Elizabeth Bathory, Talat Pasha, Josef Mengele, Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann, Maximilien Robespierre, Emperor Hirohito, Nero, Caligula, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Leopold II of Belgium, Tomas de Torquemada, Ivan the Terrible, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Vlad Dracula – “is good for me”, that can only mean you’re actually a no-“good” person!

    (2) FAIL & ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD: Since even though “the basic precept is from our Constitution and … the teachings of many of the worlds religions and philosophers and great writers … [still] some don’t see what i see”, that must only mean they’re unworthy of your trust.

    (3) FAIL & ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD: Since you believe you for “one can’t be perfect” in goodness, that can only mean your goodness is always imperfect, so imperfect, in fact, that it’s actually not goodness at all any way, shape or form.

    (4) FAIL & ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD: Since in your and other people’s altruistic ways of life, “many do get away with the negative consequences of their actions”, that can only mean such ways of life are weak and useless, if not altogether cruel and very-close-to-stupid ignorant.

    (5) FAIL & ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD: Since “history books” all point to the fact that absolutely nothing happens to personal & collective histories of bad or wrong things done by people following the way of life that you prescribe, that can only mean you’re a cruel hypocrite.

    (6) FAIL & ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD: Since you “can only hope that those [that criminals & transgressors] have harmed will find the grace to forgive them”, that can only mean there’s really no justice or righteousness in your altruistically good way of life.

  103. “Prevaricator … noun … pronunciation … prevaricator/pri’varikeite/ … see prevaricate … prevaricate … verb … speak or act in an evasive way”?

    YUP.

  104. WRONG What is good for others is good for me. I am not surprised you don’t grasp that basic concept. We know that folks like Hitler and Trump really aren’t concerned about what is good for others. Your argument falls flat.

    Heavens because someone is blind means they are unworthy of Trust. That is a total non-sequitor, totally unrelated, foolish statement. Trust has nothing to do with seeing “eye to eye”!

    Heavens what a stupid thing to say. Acknowledging ones imperfections has nothing to do with whether an act is good or not good. Grow up!

    Because we live in a free society where people can and do get away with bad behavior doesn’t mean that good behavior is a waste of time or effort. Sheesh!

    You get crazier and crazier. History books don’t point to the “fact” that absolutely nothing happens to personal & collective histories. There have been lots of consequences over the centuries for good and bad behavior and the history books show you that.

    ABSOLUTELY WRONG Because some people refuse to grant forgiveness doesn’t mean that all do! Forgiveness also doesn’t mean that a person can’t seek justice and payment for wrongs. Justice has nothing to do with forgiveness.

    You are woefully ignorant.

  105. Realize something most significant here: there’s an obvious, let’s just say, disconnect between what I’m trying to convey to you and what you’re likewise trying to do. What’s so significant about it is that only the ransoming Fatherly love of God through the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of His own beloved Son, Israel’s Messiah Jesus, can fill in the gaps, bridge the polarities, and provide the key to all the mysteries.

    I no longer encounter those gaps, polarities & mysteries. But it’s glaringly obvious & sadly pathetic that you’ll still do for the rest of your life. So be it.

  106. I don’t encounter gaps and I know the Jesus you believe in is nothing more than a figment of your imagination. Buddha can help fill the gaps and bridge the polarities, and Lao Tzu and many others. BUT it takes people that put what they learn into practice, what people actually do, their day to day words and actions that matter. NOT what they claim they believe.

    Their day to day words and actions, tell us alot about the nature, the character of a person, and whether or not they are a “good” or “not so good” person.

  107. DUH – by your own admission here are all the “gaps”, polarities & mysteries you DO “encounter”, and palpably so, but, I’m telling you, that only God & Jesus can resolve for you once for all:

    (1) “No one ever said that life is fair, or just”.

    (2) “Some don’t see what i see.”

    (3) “When you make choices you are imperfect. … Acknowledging ones imperfections has nothing to do with whether an act is good or not good.”

    (4) “Many do get away with the negative consequences of their actions. … We live in a free society where people can and do get away with bad behavior”.

    (5) Harmers “can only hope that those they have harmed will find the grace to forgive them. … Some people refuse to grant forgiveness … Justice has nothing to do with forgiveness.”

  108. Resolve what HpO? There is nothing to resolve with any of the points I made. Since God is nothing more than a figment of your imagination only could he in your imagination resolve your problems with my statements.

  109. Exactment, madame! Better resolved this way (in my case) than not at all (boo hoo you)!

  110. As a rule, good people don’t run around tooting their own horns and claiming to be “compassionate.”

  111. Yeah…Singer thinks people with disabilities don’t deserve to live. Thank you for playing; please try again.

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