Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Physics-based ethics: 17 yr quest rev

     Today, August 26, 2015, I had the pleasure of commenting on John Singleton’s letter to the editor, online at, captioned, “Donald Trump’s words advocating practical repentance may please God more than Christian inaction."
I commented as follows:
     John Singleton is a Louisiana treasure. For decades he has been sharing his “authentic Christianity.” Thank you Mr. Singleton.

     He warms my heart and touches memory with, “We’ve been sold a bill of goods that allows us to harm others and then simply dismiss ourselves,” [with ‘there but for grace of my god go I.]’”

     It gives me warm pleasure to paraphrase and quote his letter published on September 25, 1998: If we want to be Christians, we must reform our human emotions to the solid Christian directives rather than “bend, mold and shape the Scriptures to fit our shabby human form.” It seems some Christians do this and Singleton is not the only one I know.

     Also, I am grateful to the Advocate for enrichment through unheard dialogue with writers like John Singleton.
Old letters
     I found Singleton's old letter in my files along with my response. Back then, I was searching for the expressions “physics-based ethics” and "civic morality based on physics." Only 1941's Einstein and the discussions at EBRP libraries over the past eighteen months could have brought “physics” out, but the need for it has always been obvious; not only to me but to the countless classical liberal writers who have sought it during 2500 years. Let's look for even better expressions without delay in taking advantage of what we have.
     My letter published on October 12, 1998, with kind editorial corrections by Bill Bankston and caption “Give us law, not Bible controversy” supports physics-based ethics for civic morality. John Singleton exemplifies why in civic morality a no-harm person’s religious morality is not questioned for them. Their religion is not ours, but it is theirs.
     See if you agree that 1) useful ideas are locked in mind tunnels (especially imposed by Adam-Smithian or Edmund-Burkean propriety--that says in essence this very land holds inhabitants to tradition) and 2) candid dialogue is what a civic people need; for example, my lonely struggle to discover both physics-based ethics (and, for me only, faith in the objective truth of which most is undiscovered and some is understood) is clarified by library discussions. "Candid dialogue" bluntly allows no lying in any form including stonewalling or wimping in confrontation with a potential attacker. My fascination, beginning in 2011, with Albert Einstein’s 1941 speech was not enough to unlock the idea of civic morality based on a physics-based system. Here are the seventeen year old expressions unlocked by blunt library-debate:

     John Singleton (letter of September 25, 1998) seems to blame America for unspecified conflicts in his Christianity versus citizenship quandary.  After similar struggles, I accept that the Bible has shortcomings and propose American statesmanship with faith in the Creation.
     Could it be that self-doubt and Bible study distract people, like me, from virtuous living and the law?  If so, it seems appropriate to question some Christian fundamentals.  Consider, for examples, original sin and the conversion of unbelievers.
     Why extend the allegorical "original sin" to infants, when parents could trust that the Creator intends their perfection?  How can there be sin from procreation, when during virtuous procreation husband and wife are prepared and will responsibly rear and love any child that is conceived?  Also, doesn't the Creator provide children opportunities to adopt virtuous living?  I am not asking why institutions promote dogmatic theologies.  I am asking, why teach children the negatives of original sin and fallibility when parents, by example, can teach children the great pleasure:  responsible, confident, virtuous and potentially perfect living.
     Typically, people are born with appetites.  I think the Creator intends them to control the appetites.  Some families control their lives by observing Laws.  (By "Laws" I mean the Laws of physics, chemistry, nature, life and spirit - not just the 10 commandments.)  Doesn't the simple practice of virtue satisfy every intention of the Creator?  "Virtue" means control of appetites so that your possible contributions to the overall good become reality.
     Christianity commissions conversion of non-believers.  Aren't peaceful, responsible neighbors entitled to their traditions and their neighbor's respect?  Long ago, I proposed converting unbelievers, typically claiming the Bible as my authority.  However, I realized that my "authority" was willful and I gave up that aggressive posture.
     Like John, I struggle with Christian ideals versus American Laws.  I favor Laws.  Could it be that religion is substantially responsible for many of society's problems?  Do some religious people master their Bible, while waiting for the Lord to correct their behavior?  Why do so many Christian prayers assign to God the responsibility for the supplicant's virtue?  I wish my family tradition was virtue, not the Christianity I learned.
     The people who teach religion can shirk responsibility for the results.  They can wait eternally for fulfillment of their beliefs.  However, governments, such as America's constitutional republic, must deal with peoples' current behaviors and the consequences thereof.  Christianity could help by focusing on virtuous living, even by unbelievers, instead of assigning the Creator the responsibility to heal allegorical sin and current sin.  When it comes to public policy, give us the United States Constitution.  Give us continuously improved Laws, not Bible controversies.

Now I mimic my old letter to express 2015 thoughts brought out by Einstein and the candid library discussions:

     John Singleton (letter of September 25, 1998) kindly examines his Christianity respecting his citizenship.  I share his tacit claim that the Bible and the law must not diminish a person’s goodness.
     Perhaps traditional interpretations of the Bible should be examined in light of the achievable combination no-harm personal liberty and domestic goodwill among a civic people.  Consider, for examples, two doctrine: original sin and conversion of non-Christians.
     It seems obvious that bond-building should precede procreation. That order of learning to understand and living seems compatible with perfection unto posterity.  Procreation cannot err when bonded, love-making husband and wife are prepared for parenthood and will responsibly rear and love any child they conceive. Also, children seem prone to adopt virtuous living if they have good examples and coaching. Teaching that they were born in sin seems counter-productive—questionable--objectionable; from a civic viewpoint.
     Humans, like all animals, have appetites, but the human animal also has the highest longing for self-control.  Understanding physics and how to benefit is the best basis for establishing personal control and civic ethics. For example, if a person habitually overeats, they gain weight, harm their health, and may become a civic burden--even a threat. A person who is promiscuous should not expect to commit to fidelity let alone expect dependability.
     Physics is not just a study, it is energy, mass, and space-time from which everything emerges. From physics emerges chemistry, nature, life, and inspiration. By cultivating ethics--understanding how to benefit from physics--and behaving accordingly, possible contributions to personal liberty and domestic goodwill become reality. Perfection of the person rather than a phantasm becomes possible, and psychological maturity may be reachable.
     Second, Christianity erroneously commissions conversion of non-Christians.  In domestic goodwill, no-harm neighbors are entitled to personal traditions and cultures.  Long ago, I proposed converting unbelievers, typically claiming the Bible as my authority.  With help—the faces of offended neighbors, I realized that my "authority" was willful and gave up that aggressive practice. I have no religious authority to justify my decision not to proselytize. Based on civic morality, I reject any religious doctrine that requires believers to question another no-harm inhabitant’s inspiration, motivation, and no-harm culture. There's no more brutal psychological attack against a no-harm person.
     Like John Singleton, I struggle with Christian ideals and American laws, but I favor civic authority: physics-based ethics. I wish my family tradition was personal liberty and domestic goodwill, not the Christianity and Americanism I learned despite my parents' noble efforts. However, Singleton’s Christianity seems compatible with civic morality, as evidenced by his consideration of Donald Trump's noble statement. (Singleton's 2015 letter.)
     Religious institutions may wait eternally for fulfillment of their beliefs. However, governments, such as America's constitutional republic, must deal with peoples' current needs, behaviors and any civic consequences.  Christianity could help by focusing on virtuous living, even by unbelievers, instead of assigning to their creator the responsibility to heal allegorical sin and current sin. Within "freedom of Christian religion" there's division--alienation: even the creator changes from church to church. Some churches do react to physics, but are too slow, often by hundreds of years.   
     When it comes to public policy, people, give us the preamble to the constitution for the USA, which holds a civic people responsible for civic morality.  American people, give us morality and laws a civic people continuously improve so as to benefit from physics. Meanwhile, appreciate the personal pursuits of spiritual liberty by civic people like John Singleton.

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 1, 2015