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Thomas Jefferson's Advice on Religion

Skepsikyma
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1/18/2015 11:57:03 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
An excerpt from a letter from Thomas Jefferson to his nephew, offering advice on religion. What are your thoughts?

"Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty and singularity of opinion. Indulge them in any other subject rather than that of religion. It is too important, and the consequences of error may be too serious. On the other hand, shake off all the fears and servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first, the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature, you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy and Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor, in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature, does not weigh against them. But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong, as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature, in the case he relates. For example, in the book of Joshua, we are told, the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus, we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, etc. But it is said, that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine, therefore, candidly, what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand, you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis, as the earth does, should have stopped, should not, by that sudden stoppage, have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time gave resumed its revolution, and that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth's motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities? You will next read the New Testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions: 1, of those who say he was begotten by God, born of a virgin, suspended and reversed the laws of nature at will, and ascended bodily into heaven; and 2, of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions to divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition, by being gibbeted, according to the Roman law, which punished the first commission of that offence by whipping, and the second by exile, or death "in furea"....

Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a God, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, and that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases the appetite to deserve it; if that Jesus was also a God, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love. In fine, I repeat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable, not for the rightness, but uprightness of the decision. I forgot to observe, when speaking of the New Testament, that you should read all the histories of Christ, as well of those whom a council of ecclesiastics have decided for us, to be Pseudo-evangelists, as those they named Evangelists. Because these Pseudo-evangelists pretended to inspiration, as much as the others, and you are to judge their pretensions by your own reason, and not by the reason of those ecclesiastics. Most of these are lost. There are some, however, still extant, collected by Fabricius, which I will endeavor to get and send you. "
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
Skepticalone
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1/19/2015 1:24:06 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/18/2015 11:57:03 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
An excerpt from a letter from Thomas Jefferson to his nephew, offering advice on religion. What are your thoughts?

"Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty and singularity of opinion. Indulge them in any other subject rather than that of religion. It is too important, and the consequences of error may be too serious. On the other hand, shake off all the fears and servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first, the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature, you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy and Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor, in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature, does not weigh against them. But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong, as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature, in the case he relates. For example, in the book of Joshua, we are told, the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus, we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, etc. But it is said, that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine, therefore, candidly, what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand, you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis, as the earth does, should have stopped, should not, by that sudden stoppage, have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time gave resumed its revolution, and that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth's motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities? You will next read the New Testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions: 1, of those who say he was begotten by God, born of a virgin, suspended and reversed the laws of nature at will, and ascended bodily into heaven; and 2, of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions to divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition, by being gibbeted, according to the Roman law, which punished the first commission of that offence by whipping, and the second by exile, or death "in furea"....

Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a God, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, and that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases the appetite to deserve it; if that Jesus was also a God, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love. In fine, I repeat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable, not for the rightness, but uprightness of the decision. I forgot to observe, when speaking of the New Testament, that you should read all the histories of Christ, as well of those whom a council of ecclesiastics have decided for us, to be Pseudo-evangelists, as those they named Evangelists. Because these Pseudo-evangelists pretended to inspiration, as much as the others, and you are to judge their pretensions by your own reason, and not by the reason of those ecclesiastics. Most of these are lost. There are some, however, still extant, collected by Fabricius, which I will endeavor to get and send you. "

Good advice.
This thread is like eavesdropping on a conversation in a mental asylum. - Bulproof

You can call your invisible friends whatever you like. - Desmac

What the hell kind of coked up sideshow has this thread turned into. - Casten
Logic_on_rails
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1/19/2015 4:31:36 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Though Jefferson's advice is sound and true, I do not find it very helpful advice.

The quoted advice heavily talks about reason and how religion can evaluate religious claims. Jefferson explains how reason ought to be applied to religion, and how to apply it accurately. As I said before, I find this all quite reasonable, and if we are to think about the existence of God - as we so should - then by all means lets think like Jefferson.

Where Jefferson errs is in framing religion in terms of reason as if reason and rationality are the subjects upon which advice ought to dispensed. Yet is the advice we should dispense one of pure reason?

Le c"ur a ses raisons que la raison ne peut savoir. The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.

And it is these reasons of the heart where religion can shine a light. It is on matters like virtue, ritual and love that we ought to be dispensing advice. Reducing religion to some mere epistemological game of reason is foolhardy. By all means, we may conclude that a God does not exist. But if we are to speak of religion, let us frame our advice on matters of import, such as the instilling of virtue into society.
"Tis not in mortals to command success
But we"ll do more, Sempronius, we"ll deserve it
bornofgod
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1/19/2015 10:36:44 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/18/2015 11:57:03 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
An excerpt from a letter from Thomas Jefferson to his nephew, offering advice on religion. What are your thoughts?

"Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty and singularity of opinion. Indulge them in any other subject rather than that of religion. It is too important, and the consequences of error may be too serious. On the other hand, shake off all the fears and servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first, the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature, you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy and Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor, in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature, does not weigh against them. But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong, as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature, in the case he relates. For example, in the book of Joshua, we are told, the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus, we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, etc. But it is said, that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine, therefore, candidly, what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand, you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis, as the earth does, should have stopped, should not, by that sudden stoppage, have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time gave resumed its revolution, and that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth's motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities? You will next read the New Testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions: 1, of those who say he was begotten by God, born of a virgin, suspended and reversed the laws of nature at will, and ascended bodily into heaven; and 2, of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions to divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition, by being gibbeted, according to the Roman law, which punished the first commission of that offence by whipping, and the second by exile, or death "in furea"....

Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a God, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, and that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases the appetite to deserve it; if that Jesus was also a God, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love. In fine, I repeat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable, not for the rightness, but uprightness of the decision. I forgot to observe, when speaking of the New Testament, that you should read all the histories of Christ, as well of those whom a council of ecclesiastics have decided for us, to be Pseudo-evangelists, as those they named Evangelists. Because these Pseudo-evangelists pretended to inspiration, as much as the others, and you are to judge their pretensions by your own reason, and not by the reason of those ecclesiastics. Most of these are lost. There are some, however, still extant, collected by Fabricius, which I will endeavor to get and send you. "

Man listens to man. Saints and prophets listen to our invisible Creator within His mind.
RoderickSpode
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1/19/2015 12:49:32 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/18/2015 11:57:03 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
An excerpt from a letter from Thomas Jefferson to his nephew, offering advice on religion. What are your thoughts?

"Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty and singularity of opinion. Indulge them in any other subject rather than that of religion. It is too important, and the consequences of error may be too serious. On the other hand, shake off all the fears and servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first, the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature, you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy and Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor, in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature, does not weigh against them. But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong, as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature, in the case he relates. For example, in the book of Joshua, we are told, the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus, we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, etc. But it is said, that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine, therefore, candidly, what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand, you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis, as the earth does, should have stopped, should not, by that sudden stoppage, have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time gave resumed its revolution, and that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth's motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities? You will next read the New Testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions: 1, of those who say he was begotten by God, born of a virgin, suspended and reversed the laws of nature at will, and ascended bodily into heaven; and 2, of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions to divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition, by being gibbeted, according to the Roman law, which punished the first commission of that offence by whipping, and the second by exile, or death "in furea"....

Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a God, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, and that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases the appetite to deserve it; if that Jesus was also a God, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love. In fine, I repeat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable, not for the rightness, but uprightness of the decision. I forgot to observe, when speaking of the New Testament, that you should read all the histories of Christ, as well of those whom a council of ecclesiastics have decided for us, to be Pseudo-evangelists, as those they named Evangelists. Because these Pseudo-evangelists pretended to inspiration, as much as the others, and you are to judge their pretensions by your own reason, and not by the reason of those ecclesiastics. Most of these are lost. There are some, however, still extant, collected by Fabricius, which I will endeavor to get and send you. "

He was an evangelist. He was one out of a many professed Christians who evangelized. His particular idea concerning Christianity was that the supernatural elements of Jesus and the Bible were not factual, therefore he sought to have them removed. His editing of the Gospel message, in both the opinionated and literal sense are nothing to make a doctrine out of. They were simply his personal opinions.
Skepsikyma
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1/19/2015 1:07:10 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/19/2015 12:49:32 PM, RoderickSpode wrote:

He was an evangelist.

He was not. Certain figures on the religious right have recently painted him as one, but he was a believer in the moral doctrine of Jesus who exalted the virtues of the moral doctrine of Jesus.

He was one out of a many professed Christians who evangelized.

No, he didn't. One cannot preach the Christian Gospel if one denies the Christian Gospel. How is one an evangelist if one holds in one's writings and teachings that Jesus was not divine, was not resurrect, and did not die for the sins of mankind? For Jefferson, there is no Gospel to be preached.

His particular idea concerning Christianity was that the supernatural elements of Jesus and the Bible were not factual, therefore he sought to have them removed. His editing of the Gospel message, in both the opinionated and literal sense are nothing to make a doctrine out of. They were simply his personal opinions.

This makes no sense. Did Jefferson publicly preach the opposite of his personal convictions? No. When he distributed literature to Native Americans, it was his personal gospel in which he cut out any mention of Jesus's divinity or his dying for our sins.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
RoderickSpode
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1/19/2015 1:23:53 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/19/2015 1:07:10 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 1/19/2015 12:49:32 PM, RoderickSpode wrote:

He was an evangelist.

He was not. Certain figures on the religious right have recently painted him as one, but he was a believer in the moral doctrine of Jesus who exalted the virtues of the moral doctrine of Jesus.

He was one out of a many professed Christians who evangelized.

No, he didn't. One cannot preach the Christian Gospel if one denies the Christian Gospel. How is one an evangelist if one holds in one's writings and teachings that Jesus was not divine, was not resurrect, and did not die for the sins of mankind? For Jefferson, there is no Gospel to be preached.

His particular idea concerning Christianity was that the supernatural elements of Jesus and the Bible were not factual, therefore he sought to have them removed. His editing of the Gospel message, in both the opinionated and literal sense are nothing to make a doctrine out of. They were simply his personal opinions.

This makes no sense. Did Jefferson publicly preach the opposite of his personal convictions? No. When he distributed literature to Native Americans, it was his personal gospel in which he cut out any mention of Jesus's divinity or his dying for our sins.
I think you're mixing my statement up with those figures on the religious right, when I'm not.

e"van"ge"list

noun
noun: evangelist; plural noun: evangelists

1.
a person who seeks to convert others to the Christian faith, especially by public preaching.


While he wasn't an evangelist in the sense of being an active missionary (he was a politician), he was actively promoting his view. And he certainly wasn't objecting to the idea that others saw his view the way he did.

I know there are claims that Jefferson specifically funded missionaries to evangelize the Kaskaskia Indians (who were already Catholics). Historically, we don't know enough to make such a claim. In my opinion, I do think he intended his edited version of the Bible to influence said tribe, and maybe others, but not necessarily in a pure unconditional sense. His edited version focused on peace, love, gentleness, etc. And to
myself I think, since peace was the preferred relationship with the tribes, it would make sense why he would wish to extend his version of Christianity towards the Kaskaskia, and any other tribe. And if my assertion is correct, I don't think the motivation was entirely pure. But...that's my opinion. I see Jefferson as being merely human like any of us, and thus wouldn't make any doctrine out of anything he said or wrote.
Skepsikyma
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1/19/2015 1:34:35 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/19/2015 1:23:53 PM, RoderickSpode wrote:
At 1/19/2015 1:07:10 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 1/19/2015 12:49:32 PM, RoderickSpode wrote:

He was an evangelist.

He was not. Certain figures on the religious right have recently painted him as one, but he was a believer in the moral doctrine of Jesus who exalted the virtues of the moral doctrine of Jesus.

He was one out of a many professed Christians who evangelized.

No, he didn't. One cannot preach the Christian Gospel if one denies the Christian Gospel. How is one an evangelist if one holds in one's writings and teachings that Jesus was not divine, was not resurrect, and did not die for the sins of mankind? For Jefferson, there is no Gospel to be preached.

His particular idea concerning Christianity was that the supernatural elements of Jesus and the Bible were not factual, therefore he sought to have them removed. His editing of the Gospel message, in both the opinionated and literal sense are nothing to make a doctrine out of. They were simply his personal opinions.

This makes no sense. Did Jefferson publicly preach the opposite of his personal convictions? No. When he distributed literature to Native Americans, it was his personal gospel in which he cut out any mention of Jesus's divinity or his dying for our sins.
I think you're mixing my statement up with those figures on the religious right, when I'm not.

e"van"ge"list

noun
noun: evangelist; plural noun: evangelists

1.
a person who seeks to convert others to the Christian faith, especially by public preaching.


While he wasn't an evangelist in the sense of being an active missionary (he was a politician), he was actively promoting his view. And he certainly wasn't objecting to the idea that others saw his view the way he did.

I know there are claims that Jefferson specifically funded missionaries to evangelize the Kaskaskia Indians (who were already Catholics). Historically, we don't know enough to make such a claim. In my opinion, I do think he intended his edited version of the Bible to influence said tribe, and maybe others, but not necessarily in a pure unconditional sense. His edited version focused on peace, love, gentleness, etc. And to
myself I think, since peace was the preferred relationship with the tribes, it would make sense why he would wish to extend his version of Christianity towards the Kaskaskia, and any other tribe. And if my assertion is correct, I don't think the motivation was entirely pure. But...that's my opinion. I see Jefferson as being merely human like any of us, and thus wouldn't make any doctrine out of anything he said or wrote.

That makes more sense. To me, it sounded like you were implying that his non-supernatural viewpoint was just a personal opinion, and that he publicly promoted the traditional Christian gospel.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
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1/20/2015 12:38:32 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/19/2015 4:31:36 AM, Logic_on_rails wrote:
Though Jefferson's advice is sound and true, I do not find it very helpful advice.

The quoted advice heavily talks about reason and how religion can evaluate religious claims. Jefferson explains how reason ought to be applied to religion, and how to apply it accurately. As I said before, I find this all quite reasonable, and if we are to think about the existence of God - as we so should - then by all means lets think like Jefferson.

Where Jefferson errs is in framing religion in terms of reason as if reason and rationality are the subjects upon which advice ought to dispensed. Yet is the advice we should dispense one of pure reason?

Le c"ur a ses raisons que la raison ne peut savoir. The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.

And it is these reasons of the heart where religion can shine a light. It is on matters like virtue, ritual and love that we ought to be dispensing advice. Reducing religion to some mere epistemological game of reason is foolhardy. By all means, we may conclude that a God does not exist. But if we are to speak of religion, let us frame our advice on matters of import, such as the instilling of virtue into society.

Haha, this is pretty funny, because I agonized a bit about whether to include the previous paragraph, where he gives advice on morality, and actually takes a much more emotional approach. I guess I should have. Here it is:

"3. Moral Philosophy. I think it lost time to attend lectures on this branch. He who made us would have been a pitiful bungler, if he had made the rules of our moral conduct a matter of science. For one man of science, there are thousands who are not. What would have become of them? Man was destined for society. His morality, therefore, was to be formed to this object. He was endowed with a sense of right and wrong, merely relative to this. This sense is as much a part of his nature, as the sense of hearing, seeing, feeling; it is the true foundation of morality, and not the "to kalon" (Greek: The beautiful), truth, etc., as fanciful writers have imagined. The moral sense, or conscience, is as much a part of man as his leg or arm. It is given to all human beings in a stronger or weaker degree, as force of members is given them in a greater or less degree. It may be strengthened by exercise, as may any particular limb of the body. This sense is submitted, indeed, in some degree, to the guidance of reason; but it is a small stock which is required for this: even a less one than what we call common sense. State a moral case to a ploughman and a professor. The former will decide it as well, and often better than the latter, because he has not been led astray by artificial rules. In this branch, therefore, read good books, because they will encourage, as well as direct your feelings. The writings of Sterne, particularly, form the best course of morality that ever was written. Besides these, read the books mentioned in the enclosed paper; and, above all things, lose no occasion of exercising your dispositions to be grateful, to be generous, to be charitable, to be humane, to be true, just, firm, orderly, courageous, etc. Consider every act of this kind, as an exercise which will strengthen your moral faculties and increase your worth."
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
Logic_on_rails
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1/20/2015 3:01:46 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/20/2015 12:38:32 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:


"3. Moral Philosophy. I think it lost time to attend lectures on this branch. He who made us would have been a pitiful bungler, if he had made the rules of our moral conduct a matter of science. For one man of science, there are thousands who are not. What would have become of them? Man was destined for society. His morality, therefore, was to be formed to this object. He was endowed with a sense of right and wrong, merely relative to this. This sense is as much a part of his nature, as the sense of hearing, seeing, feeling; it is the true foundation of morality, and not the "to kalon" (Greek: The beautiful), truth, etc., as fanciful writers have imagined. The moral sense, or conscience, is as much a part of man as his leg or arm. It is given to all human beings in a stronger or weaker degree, as force of members is given them in a greater or less degree. It may be strengthened by exercise, as may any particular limb of the body. This sense is submitted, indeed, in some degree, to the guidance of reason; but it is a small stock which is required for this: even a less one than what we call common sense. State a moral case to a ploughman and a professor. The former will decide it as well, and often better than the latter, because he has not been led astray by artificial rules. In this branch, therefore, read good books, because they will encourage, as well as direct your feelings. The writings of Sterne, particularly, form the best course of morality that ever was written. Besides these, read the books mentioned in the enclosed paper; and, above all things, lose no occasion of exercising your dispositions to be grateful, to be generous, to be charitable, to be humane, to be true, just, firm, orderly, courageous, etc. Consider every act of this kind, as an exercise which will strengthen your moral faculties and increase your worth."

Now this is wise advice, and where I would tip my proverbial hat. This is the advice that should always sound in the ear. For an intellectual belief in God can be decided in a session, but the call to act well and virtuously is ever present.

Yet, pedantic points aside, this is excellent advice.
"Tis not in mortals to command success
But we"ll do more, Sempronius, we"ll deserve it
AnDoctuir
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1/20/2015 3:15:19 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
It's an interesting letter I suppose. I really do have to actually read the Bible, lol. To be honest, I'm taking this more as some sort divine prompt than anything else. Have you read the entire Bible, Skep?

That quote by Logic though...
Skepsikyma
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1/21/2015 8:41:36 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/20/2015 3:15:19 AM, AnDoctuir wrote:
It's an interesting letter I suppose. I really do have to actually read the Bible, lol. To be honest, I'm taking this more as some sort divine prompt than anything else. Have you read the entire Bible, Skep?

That quote by Logic though...

I've read bits and pieces of it that have added up over the years, but never the whole thing front to cover. The only religious texts that I've ever read in their entirety are the Dhammapada, the Tao Te Ching, and the Bardo Thodol.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -