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Posted by Box Holder on March 25, 2002 07:39:35 UTC

Hi, Paul,
Thank you for sending this essay on your response
to Santayana's "intuitive morality." Probably I have never read any part of it except your summary paragraphs. I have some nice Santayana quotes in a book, such as:
"...true piety toward the universe . . denies only gods fashioned by man in their own image, to be servants of their human interests...and even in this denial, I am no rude iconoclast, but full of secret sympathy with the impulses of idolators."

I am grateful for your company and I hope you won't mind if I swim against the current. Yes, much you said wins agreement. I will address some
points of uncertainty.
You wrote:
"I am convinced that much less credit is due to the abolitionists, the moralists, the writers, and other "do-gooders" than is due to the people who invented and developed the steam engine and the cotton gin."

In this, I feel writers and their readers are an unsung group of heroes when they are a good crop, and an unsung group of goats when they don't do their 'job.' Slavery, for example, continues in the world. Four percent of the world, or 200+ million, are slaves now, especially in places like mainland China. (To my understanding, this is not rightwing dogma.)

Slavery seems ever to be accompanied by Un-freedom of expression. Writers can contribute, by neglect or error, to keeping or to the loss of such freedom by not using it to keep society free.

Your quote reminds of Louis Pasteur's saying,
"Science and Peace will triumph over Ignorance and War, and the future will belong to those who have done the most for suffering humanity."

This is a recurring theme with which I agree, and still I look around the corners at things that can take us by unpleasant surprise even when we are practicing that nice belief.

Paul wrote ( I shortened for quote ):
"I think we can place the possibilities on a spectrum...God on one extreme.
At the other ... rational conclusions worked out by humans.
Somewhere in the middle, maybe a little more toward the "God" end ... our consciences.

"As is my wont, I have considered this question from the biggest picture and the highest level of abstraction that I can."

Well, this is interesting. I think that's what I want to do too...and here's why I'm sure it's justified.
1) All my earthly communications with other persons about matters of conscience must be as equals. No human can rule my conscience but I may enter into civil agreements under our Constitution which may actually serve as our theology or cosmology in this life.
2) I should give good consideration to what courteous responses are given to my opinions, and I should expect to consider the opinions of others in good faith.
3) When I realize the other person or simply does not give a relevant response to my question, or evades it, or does not adequately convince me of their opinion, the only license I may draw from that is to honestly reckon whether that person might or might not have a better answer than my own at present, and I may adjust my opinion accordingly.

Your interest in addressing "man's inhumanity to man" is in great contrast to one poster to this forum who wrote:
"Christ was a Jew. He even said that he did not come for the gentiles- like you." That poster seems to be looking for new reasons to justify being inhumane.

I have come to believe the New Testament of the Bible can most accurately be read without reading anything more into it. A summary of the Gospel
could read:

A man preached in stressful times that people must love one another, even their enemies, for those do not know what they do. He used every means he could to convince, even taking responsibility for asserting the Godliness of that Notion, and allowing (for no pay and no extra safety) himself to be considered a Deity on Earth. Due to political intrigue he was arrested and executed.
A strange series of occurrances (especially in the consciences He touched by his mission)convinced many this man's claim of Deity-hood was really true. It was written up and
though many have practiced "perfect" patience and kindness in this Deity's name, just as many have played diverse cruelties in the same.

This is what can happen if one takes their life that far that direction. Though among my heroes are Azimov, Paine, Twain, Sagan, and Edison,
I still see a germ of transcendent information in the story of Jesus of Nazareth...without being partisan, I think. I am convinced some of the 'fast rise' of intelligence and some of humanity's greatest achievement are quite related to His teaching. And I admit the way to interpret the Bible may vary from person to person without their being necessarily wrong.

Thanks sincerely,

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