Saturday, April 25, 2015

A US tradition conflicts civic morality ed 9/19/15



                This is a response to today’s article by Mark H. Hunter, “Evangelist Ravi Zacharias speaks at Governor’s Prayer Breakfast, The Advocate, April 25, 2015, online at theadvocate.com/news/acadiana/12175117-123/evangelist-speaks-at-governors-prayer .

               From the perspective of using physics-based ethics to mediate differences of common-sense opinion, which is necessary for civic morality, this event as reported is shameful. The arguments seem unrelated to civil law, yet purport to offer relief from long-standing civic misery. The perpetrators seem to be oblivious to civic morality. What if Christianity was not so dominating in 2015 public attention?
                My first thought about Mr. Zacharias’s notoriety is that he advocates countless contradictions that keep people bemused over religion. Not all people are preoccupied, but everyone suffers because of the mystery. I am tired of suffering the civic abuse of Christian morality imposed on the people of this country. The extent of the misery is no longer acceptable to a people. Imposition of religious immorality onto civic morality must stop now! It must happen with the same speed as a people’s reaction to 9/11 but with permanency: no going back to before.
                There is too much domestic alienation by Christianity and the Bible. For example, gay monogamy is a current subject of civic agony. The issue is obfuscated by the popular slogan, “They’re in love and want to get married too.” But at stake is the equality and dignity of children to be born. In another example, some black liberation theologians hold that white church not coming to the defense of slaves proves that the Christian god is black and Jesus will  raise black Americans to supremacy. Whatever clique your Christianity holds you in, if it convinces you to deny your duty to self to tend to civic justice, you are a victim of Marxism: giving up for a cause your candle of chance for civic personal liberty and domestic goodwill.
                The few people who take Old Testament thought seriously must be perplexed that some prescribed action is not taken: "If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads,” Leviticus 20:13. That text might have been compiled 2800 years ago, and some phrases seem inaccurate to human physics: sex “as . . . with a woman” and “detestable.” A modern thinker might interpret the entire sentence to mean that same-sex sex is fruitless. According to the ethics of physics, sodomy is not like intercourse as it does not risk procreation. Since human bonding is a private practice between consenting adults, physics has no say in the decision for same-sex sex. Physics involves no hope, expectations, ambitions, desires, or other human emotions; nor is it dissuaded by the supernatural or by spiritualism. According to physics, there is no responsibility to children when gay men bond using private practices. Thus, civic morality does not involve itself in private, same-sex monogamy and intrusions by a religion may be regarded as civic immorality.
                But civil marriage licensing involves two civic issues beyond adult consent for bonding: 1) appreciation of each child’s equality and dignity in the ownership of her or his heritage into posterity, and 2) redistribution of taxes imposed on single people to benefit children. According to physics-based ethics, same-sex partnering should compromise neither children’s equality and dignity nor singles’ taxation. A current tax unfairness favoring heterosexuals who never procreate should be corrected.
                None of these issues respecting both same-sex practices and civil marriage licensing have anything to do with religion, yet religion dominates the civic debate. Zacharias is only a person with opinions. Based on physics-based ethics, same-sex monogamists should be able to apply for a civil monogamy license.
                Zacharias, a Canadian with heritage from India and living in Atlanta, educated as he may be, has dubious authority to assert, “We are a nation today trying to reconcile liberty with law, and it looks like liberty trumps law.” That is his premise for imposing various opinions about biblical law onto a people as civic law, and it is woefully mistaken, because law is a tool that serves the combination personal liberty and domestic goodwill. Zacharias ignores at least 2500 years of civic debate respecting the pursuit of personal liberty. “Laozi (China, 6th century BCE) is the author of the classic Chinese text, the Tao Te Ching. Taoists often say, "Things do not get confused; we get confused." I substitute "physics" for "things." I quoted en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_liberal_theorists , which suggests writers who can help anyone break free from the Bible’s spell.
                But regardless of the opinions of people under the Bible’s spell, the authority for civic law (non-church law and non-military law) in this country is a civic people, who accept the power of the literal preamble to the constitution for the USA. They are empowered both by being candidly informed and by independently voting. The literal preamble states that inhabitants who agree to seven stated and two implied goals specify limitations of the federal government. Federalist 84 clarifies that the inhabitants who act on the goals “surrender nothing.” That means they surrender neither to any persons nor to any of the gods: They collaborate with each other. The US Supreme Court has been weakening the preamble's power, but a civic people may restore it's power. "Civic" refers to human connections that cannot be avoided because the people live on the same land--in the same country.
                The contradictions abound. Zacharias took the standard risk of rebuking Exodus 20:7, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God,” by representing personal opinion as the word of a god; that’s my opinion, perhaps not the objective truth, which I do not know. A prudent person 1) stands clear so as not to rebuke any god and 2) avoids distracting even one person from the objective truth, which perhaps involves a god. I wonder about risks to people who encourage a person to risk claiming to represent a god or to people who claim a god but have the wrong god. Quoting Zacharias, “I pray this state will lead the way and be an example to the rest of the nation built on . . .  God’s answers to the human condition.” Through both Bobby Jindal’s harm to biology education--imposing creationism--and economic viability in Louisiana and George W. Bush’s harm to this nation by invading Iraq under the influence of G. W. Bush's god, a people should finally have all the bad experience they need to find a new way to determine civic morality. I suggest considering physics-based ethics and candid discussion of civic needs--brutally plain, emotionless talk. Nobody can candidly address your civic needs if you express them in a lie. I work hard to promote a theory and practice: A Civic People of the United States.
                Reporting on Zacharias’s speech, Mark Hunter reviews some key Bible laws: from Micah, do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before your [god]. Jesus said, “love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul and to love your neighbor as yourself,” and Zachariah added, “If you do not have the first, the second has its feet firmly planted in thin air. You must have the foundation of the sacred.” His comment reminds me of James Madison’s tyranny in “Memorial & Remonstrance,” June 20, 1785, “Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe.” Therein, Madison claimed his opinion represents a god; I reject Madison’s tyranny against both reality and the people. Zachariah concluded with “Adam's” instruction to remain sexually innocent, and that all the laws are protected except sexual innocence; perhaps a veiled attack on same-sex practices. The idea that sexual intercourse is anything but heterosexual bonding, which may or may not result in conception, is one of Christianity’s worst conflicts with civic morality. No child of collaboratively autonomous monogamy, according to physics-based ethics, is born in error, or "sin." I was not born in error.
                “True liberty comes, Zacharias said, when a person fully gives his or her life to [his or her god] and lives for his eternal purposes.” I hope the brackets suggest to you the egocentricity of Zacharias’s statement. Zacharias’ thought reminds me of Michael Polanyi’s book, Personal Knowledge, 1958, which claims as equal quests for personal liberty, 1) understanding physics and 2) a Christian worshiping his god. I disagree with both Zacharias and Polanyi. Religious morality has no place in the determination of civic morality. Civic personal liberty comes from civic justice as determined by physics-based ethics.
                Zacharias’ last reported thought is plain weird: “Jesus . . . came to make dead people live.” Such ideas address the afterdeath, that vast time when a body, its mind, and its person have stopped functioning. This is an argument respecting the supernatural, which has no place in candid debate to determine civic morality. No one knows anyone’s afterdeath.
                An inhabitant such as me---someone with no player in either the god wars or Bible interpretation---is constrained to ask a few questions. How can anyone be interested in Zacharias’ confusion of controversial Bible law with civic laws in the United States? Rev. Johnston stated, “If the church will demonstrate the love of Christ, we can begin to see those outside the church be drawn to Jesus.” How is that not an indictment that Jesus cannot even win the hearts of his church? What kind of witness for Jesus is that? And respecting his reference to love: how can a religion so bent on alienation of inhabitants be respected for its claim to love? Love stands on its own. It does not need contradictory Christianities and Bible interpretations and personal gods. Likewise, civic law is better off without religious morals. Religious morals conflict civic morality. 
                Civic laws are determined by candid common-sense discussion, using physics-based ethics as mediator when there is differing opinion respecting common sense. Physics is the guide to common sense . . . so Cynthia tells me. A civic people collaborate for the achievable combination personal liberty and domestic goodwill--PL&DG.
 
Copyright©2015 by Phillip R. Beaver. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for the publication of all or portions of this paper as long as this complete copyright notice is included. Revised September 19, 2015