Friday, December 11, 2015

Should a Catholic vote for Ben Carson?


During the second Republican presidential candidates debate in September, Ben Carson said that instead of invading Afghanistan after 9/11, President Bush should have used the “bully pulpit” and

declare[d] that within five to 10 years we will become petroleum independent. The moderate Arab states would have been so concerned about that, they would have turned over Osama bin Laden and anybody else you wanted on a silver platter within two weeks.

Frankly, I think this is a completely nutty position.  I can understand why someone would have opposed the invasion of Iraq.  I can understand why someone would have opposed any attempt at nation-building in Afghanistan, or even a prolonged occupation.  But not even a brief punitive strike?  Not even the hunting down of bin Laden and his gang?  That is what justice would call for, not to mention prudence.  And how exactly was Carson’s policy supposed to have worked?  How is Bush supposed to have guaranteed “petroleum independence”?  What exactly is the mechanism by which moderate Arab states would have gotten the Taliban to turn over bin Laden?  “Half baked” is too kind, and I was amazed that this response didn’t hurt Carson with Republican voters more than it did.

But as to why Carson would take such a position, I’m no longer puzzled.  It was only after the debate that I found out that Carson is a Seventh-Day Adventist.  Given his conservatism on moral and religious issues, I imagine he is fairly devout.  Now, Adventists are not necessarily pacifist, but there is a tendency in that direction, and historically they have opted for conscientious objection to military service.  Carson has to my knowledge not publicly linked his position on matters of war to his Adventism, but it is hardly implausible to suspect that there is a connection.  (Note that I am not supposing that all Adventists would necessarily agree with Carson on this issue.  The point is just that his preference for an extremely mild response to 9/11 is the sort that one might expect from someone having the traditional Adventist attitude toward matters of war and military service.) 

If no one has asked him about this, someone should.  Nor could he reasonably object to such a question.  He has famously said that he would oppose a Muslim becoming president.  Hence he implicitly accepts the principle that a candidate’s religious convictions are relevant to deciding whether or not one should vote for him. 

But leave aside questions about war and foreign policy, important though they are especially in light of current events.  There is another aspect of traditional Adventist doctrine which should be of no less concern to Catholic voters considering whether to vote for Carson, and Protestants too. 

Adventism has always put heavy emphasis on biblical prophecy concerning the last days, and ties this closely to its advocacy of observance of the seventh day rather than Sunday.  Its understanding of these subjects has been shaped by the teachings of Ellen G. White, whom Adventists regard as a prophetess.  White taught that the Catholic Church is the “Whore of Babylon” described in chapter 17 of Revelation, that the papacy is the first “beast” described in chapter 13, and that the United States is the second beast of that chapter.  According to White, in the last days the United States will ally itself with the papacy and on its behalf enforce Sunday observance, which, White claims, will constitute the “mark of the beast” of Revelation.  Protestants will be part of this Catholic-led persecution of seventh-day observers.

Lest you think this all too bizarre to be a fair representation of White’s views, and that they must be susceptible of a more moderate interpretation, consider the summary of White’s teaching given by the recently published Ellen G. White Encyclopedia, edited by Denis Fortin and Jerry Moon, two professors at the Adventists’ own Andrews University.  Its article “Babylon in Eschatology” says:

Ellen White agreed with many of the Reformers in declaring that the “Church of Rome” is “the apostate Babylon”… This interpretation was further expanded in 1843-1844 when Adventists left those Protestant churches that had rejected the first angel’s message and regarded them also as Babylon…

Babylon is characterized by corruption and apostasy… Babylon attempts to control the consciences of individuals and to suppress religious liberty.  It seeks to form a universal confederacy of apostate powers and satanic forces… and persecutes God’s remnant…

[S]he included in Babylon both the Church of Rome… and lamblike Protestantism…

In its article on the “Mark of the Beast,” the Encyclopedia says that:

[White] held that the Sunday legislation that will bring on the mark of the beast will be initiated by the United States, whose example will then be followed by other nations of the world.

And in its article on the “Roman Catholic Church,” it reports:

[White] understood Catholicism as a static institution and further explained how, in spite of showing good will toward Protestants, it will never change… She also expressed concern that Roman Catholicism in America will ultimately attempt to control governments and people’s consciences, as it once did by deceiving Protestants into believing that it has changed.  Hence both Roman Catholicism and an apostatized Protestantism will “clasp hands” “in trampling on the rights of conscience”…

She also makes a distinction between the Catholic Church as a system and individual Roman Catholic believers… Repeatedly she emphasizes that there are many conscientious Christians in the Roman Catholic Church… and that Adventists should avoid antagonizing Catholics by making harsh comments in publications and public meetings…

As these last remarks indicate, White advocated taking a soft rhetorical tone in public and with individual Catholics, but also thought that what she regarded as the essentially satanic character of the Catholic Church as an institution would never change, no matter how gently the Church packaged its own teaching.  Changes to the Catholic Church could never be more than cosmetic. 

White is very clear about all of this in her book TheGreat Controversy, which is worth quoting at some length:

To secure worldly gains and honors, the church was led to seek the favor and support of the great men of earth; and having thus rejected Christ, she was induced to yield allegiance to the representative of Satan -- the bishop of Rome…

[T]he pope… demands the homage of all men. The same claim urged by Satan in the wilderness of temptation, is still urged by him through the Church of Rome, and vast numbers are ready to yield him homage. (p. 50)

[A] movement to enforce Sunday observance is fast gaining ground.

Marvelous in her shrewdness and cunning is the Roman Church.  She can read what is to be. She bides her time, seeing that the Protestant churches are paying her homage in their acceptance of the false sabbath, and that they are preparing to enforce it by the very means which she herself employed in bygone days…  

Its millions of communicants, in every country on the globe, are instructed to hold themselves as bound in allegiance to the pope.  Whatever their nationality or their government, they are to regard the authority of the church as above all other. Though they may take the oath pledging their loyalty to the state, yet back of this lies the vow of obedience to Rome, absolving them from every pledge inimical to her interests…

And let it be remembered, it is the boast of Rome that she never changes. The principles of Gregory VII and Innocent III are still the principles of the Roman Catholic Church.  And had she but the power, she would put them in practice with as much vigor now as in past centuries… Rome is aiming to re-establish her power, to recover her lost supremacy.  Let the principle once be established in the United States, that the church may employ or control the power of the state; that religious observances may be enforced by secular laws; in short, that the authority of church and state is to dominate the conscience, and the triumph of Rome in this country is assured.

God’s word has given warning of the impending danger; let this be unheeded, and the Protestant world will learn what the purposes of Rome really are, only when it is too late to escape the snare. She is silently growing into power… She is piling up her lofty and massive structures, in the secret recesses of which her former persecutions will be repeated. Stealthily and unsuspectedly she is strengthening her forces to further her own ends when the time shall come for her to strike… (pp. 580-81)

End quote.  Now, contemporary Protestants are used to regarding talk of the papacy as the Antichrist and of the Catholic Church as the Whore of Babylon as a throwback to the 16th century.  Many of them don’t take it seriously, and find it hard to believe that anyone else still does.  But Adventism, a sect which is historically much more recent and far from the mainstream of Protestantism, takes it very seriously.  And while -- following White’s advice -- Adventists these days sometimes take a softer rhetorical tone when publicly discussing Catholicism, the substance of their view does not seem to have changed.  On its official website, in a statement on its attitude toward Catholicism, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church assures the reader that it “reject[s] bigotry,” but also says:

We cannot erase or ignore the historical record of serious intolerance and even persecution on the part of the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic system of church governance, based on extra-biblical teachings such as papal primacy, resulted in severe abuses of religious freedom as the church was allied with the state.

Seventh-day Adventists are convinced of the validity of our prophetic views, according to which humanity now lives close to the end of time. Adventists believe, on the basis of biblical predictions, that just prior to the second coming of Christ this earth will experience a period of unprecedented turmoil, with the seventh-day Sabbath as a focal point. In that context, we expect that world religions -- including the major Christian bodies as key players -- will align themselves with the forces in opposition to God and to the Sabbath. Once again the union of church and state will result in widespread religious oppression.

It is not difficult to see in this merely a more gingerly formulated summary of the basic teaching of White’s The Great Controversy quoted above.

A recent article in Adventist Review, a magazine published by the church, argues that the style and substance of Pope Francis and other recent popes should not lead Adventists to give up their traditional views about Catholicism and the papacy.  In fact, says the author, a kinder, gentler papal approach is exactly what we should expect of the beast of Revelation, who deceives precisely by lulling people into trusting him.  He also cites Ellen G. White’s warnings about how “poverty and humility” can mask a “studied aim to secure wealth and power… and the re-establishment of the papal supremacy.”  Another Adventist writer proposes that “Pope Francis represents the first beast of Revelation… whereas President Obama represents the second beast,” and insinuates that Obama might aid Francis in imposing Sunday observance (!)

Needless to say, this is crackpot stuff, and the two articles just quoted from, which seek to uphold traditional Adventist teaching on this subject, indicate that there are these days some Adventists who doubt it.  But it is so deeply woven into Adventist theology that it is hard to see how a consistent Adventist could doubt it.  Says the writer of the first article: “If we actually want to revise our interpretation on this point, we would have to dump our complete understanding of end-time events.”  And as a Catholic Answers article on Adventism notes:

There is a "moderate" wing of Adventism that is more open to Catholics as individuals (though still retaining White’s views concerning the papacy). In fact, White was willing to concede that --in the here and now (before the end times) -- some Catholics are saved. She wrote that "there are now true Christians in every church, not excepting the Roman Catholic communion…”

Unfortunately, this one tolerant statement is embedded in hundreds of hostile statements.  While this aspect of her teaching can be played up by her more moderate followers, it is difficult for them to do so, because the whole Adventist milieu in which they exist is anti-Catholic. The group is an eschatology sect, and its central eschatological teaching, other than Christ’s Second Coming, is that the Second Coming will be preceded by a period in which the papacy will enforce Sunday worship on the world.  Everyone who does not accept the papacy’s Sunday worship will be killed; and everyone who does accept the papacy’s Sunday worship will be destroyed by God.

End quote.  Whether and how Adventists might modify their traditional position, though, what Catholic voters need to ask is whether Ben Carson believes all this stuff.  Does he regard the pope as “the representative of Satan” and the first beast of Revelation?  Does he believe that the “Catholic Church as a system” is the “Whore of Babylon”?  Does he believe that the United States will be the second beast of Revelation and that it will at “the end of time” ally itself with the papacy to enforce Sunday observance and otherwise persecute true Christians?  And does he believe that “humanity now lives close to the end of time”?  Does he believe that Catholics, especially the most devout Catholics, “though they may take the oath pledging their loyalty to the state, yet back of this [follow a] vow of obedience to Rome, absolving them from every pledge inimical to her interests”?

Someone should ask Carson these questions, and demand that he answer them directly.  Carson has been asked about his Adventism on at least one occasion.  On the subject of Catholicism, he said: “I love Catholics. My best friend is Catholic. I have several honorary degrees from Catholic universities.”  But that does not answer the relevant questions at all, since as noted above, Adventist doctrine has to do with the Catholic Church as an institution.  That Carson speaks well of individual Catholics, as even White herself did, is no evidence whatsoever that he does not buy into the traditional Adventist doctrines about the “Whore of Babylon,” the beast, etc.  How do we know that Carson isn’t merely following White’s advice to accentuate the positive when making public statements about Catholicism?

Carson was a bit more direct when asked about the traditional Adventist understanding of the last days.  He said:

I think there’s a wide variety of interpretations of that. There’s a lot of persecution of Christians going on already in other parts of world. And some people assume that’s going to happen every place. I’m not sure that’s an appropriate assumption… If you look at what’s going on today with persecution of Christians, particularly in the Middle East, I believe that’s really more what’s being talked about.

This is a little better, but still vague and tentative.  Carson was also vague when asked about his views concerning the last days in another interview, in which he answered:

You could guess that we are getting closer to that. You do have people who have a belief system that sees this apocalyptic phenomenon occurring, and that they’re a part of it, and who would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons if they gain them…

I think we have a chance to certainly do everything that we can to ameliorate the situation, to prevent -- I would always be shooting for peace. You know, I wouldn’t just take a fatalistic view of things.

What Carson ought to do is directly and straightforwardly to answer very specific questions like the ones I put forward above.  Why does this matter?

Let me say first that the reason I think it matters is not because views like the ones described above are bound to be “offensive” to Catholics.  There are too many people in public life as it is who whine incessantly about “insensitivity,” and in my view Catholics should not be among them.  To make an issue of Carson’s views about Catholicism merely as a matter of identity politics, hurt feelings, etc. would be a waste of time.

That the views described above are simply nutty is more to the point.  Good judgment is, needless to say, something you want in a president.  If Carson adheres to doctrines like the ones described, that would certainly be evidence that he lacks good judgment.  

But the main point for Catholics is that it is hard to see how a president of the United States who sincerely and deeply believed doctrines like the ones described above could fail to be influenced by those doctrines in a way Catholics should be very concerned about.  If a president seriously believes that the United States is in danger of forming an alliance with the papacy for the purpose of oppressing true Christians (!), and that devout Catholics are bound to follow the papacy in doing so even if they claim loyalty to their country… would such a president even consider appointing a devout Catholic to the Supreme Court, or to any other high office?  If the U.S. government is in tension with the bishops of the Catholic Church -- as it has been in recent years, over the issue of the HHS contraception mandate -- might a president who accepts the doctrines of Ellen G. White not think this is a good thing?  For wouldn’t that make it less likely that the feared oppressive alliance of the United States and the papacy will occur any time soon?   After all, the issue of the HHS contraception mandate more or less affects only the Catholic Church.  Hence mightn’t such a president, when balancing the Adventist concern for religious freedom against the threat to religious freedom he thinks is posed by the Catholic Church, decide that defending the rights of the Catholic Church is not a top priority?  And if such a president seriously believed that we are near the “end of time” and that the papacy will be the gravest threat to true Christians at the end of time, what sort of relations might he have with the Vatican?

Carson has said that for a Muslim to become president, he would “have to reject the tenets of Islam.”  Does Carson reject the tenets of Ellen G. White?  He can hardly blame Catholics for wanting to know.

108 comments:

f said...

While I too would like to know Ben's stance on the questions you posed, suppose we never get clear answers. Would you prefer to vote for him based on his stated positions, or would you prefer to vote for a New Atheist with similar positions? I'm honestly having a hard time choosing.

For me, it seems that most presidents' stated religious affiliation bears little resemblance to their true beliefs. But, if I have to vote for Carson to oppose a Democratic opponent who clearly does not have the Church's interests at heart, I most likely will do so.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Carson's campaign more or less over? Isn't the real question whether a Catholic or conservative should vote for Trump, the arch-idiot, or Hillary?

Edward Feser said...

Yup, once again it's a choice between the Stupid Party and the Evil Party. And it seems that never has the Stupid Party been more stupid, or the Evil Party more evil, than at the present moment.

emanuel. said...

So when will catholics finally give up on democracy.

Daniel said...

Ed, I normally can't stand of politics, especially US politics, but that has to be the single most quotable remark on the subject in years.

Tom said...

Although Carson's answers about the Catholic church are certainly vague, one should keep in mind that his answers are nearly always vague and certainly never in any danger of possessing a real insight.

Anonymous said...

This is a great blog post but I am afraid it is moot because Ben Carson has no chance of being the Republican Nominee. Trump (shamefully) does have a real chance at this point and I think it would be more productive to hear Feser's thoughts on him. When Feser refers to the Stupid Party never being as stupid as it is right now, I am assuming he is primarily referring to Trump.

Anonymous said...

The question is: How should a Catholic view Donald Trump(!)

Greg said...

Another Adventist writer ... insinuates that Obama might aid Francis in imposing Sunday observance (!)

Oh I wish.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that the worst candidates seem to be the most popular ones? I wish Rand Paul would get the attention Ben Carson or Donald Trump get...

Tony said...

Another Adventist writer proposes that “Pope Francis represents the first beast of Revelation… whereas President Obama represents the second beast,” and insinuates that Obama might aid Francis in imposing Sunday observance (!)

The notion that Francis - or ANY recent Pope - actually cares about extending "Sunday observance" enough to push for changes in the political order is laughable. Sunday observance among CATHOLICS has dropped to about 25% or so, less in some European countries like France. The popes haven't bothered to address the causes of this decline, what makes the writer think they are keen on getting even non-Catholics to pretend to be Sunday observant?

The notion that Obama - he of the contraception mandate - gives one single solitary fig leaf what Pope Francis wants or thinks is doubly laughable. And the notion that Obama would consider for a microsecond using the power of the presidency for such a thoroughly religious (and Christian) goal is just absurd. Where do people get this stuff? You've got to be really far off your rocker to think any of this stuff.

Maybe Ben Carson shouldn't be forced to disclaim or repudiate every Adventist crack-pot, but the real issue is that these crack-pots aren't pushing something far out from mainstream Adventist teaching. They are pushing ideas that are quite central to the cult's teachings. So, it is legitimate to ask Carson about his perspective on this.

But whatever the precise landing point of his perspective, unless he shows that he is a very poor Adventist, all he can do is prove that he is uncommonly silly to credit any of this nonsense. And who the heck want's a president whose hold on common sense is even shorter than the standard politician? If I were to refuse to vote for him in the general election, I wouldn't refuse to vote for him merely because he wouldn't ever appoint a Catholic to a serious post, or even because (if he got the chance) he might push Adventist theories (because the notion that our secular-atheist society is going to stand for any of that is also implausible) but because of that lack of common sense. But then, which leading candidate has more common sense, who isn't using that sense for outright evil?

Peter Smith said...

"Anonymous said...
The question is: How should a Catholic view Donald Trump(!)
"

From a great distance!

emanuel. said...

peter smith

Conservative catholics love to say that the family is the building block of society, but then mass immigration is a wonderful thing for society. If you can import people instead, then the family is not necessary for the proliferation of society. If common ancestry doesn't unite Scandinavians it's because it doesn't unite siblings either.

Build the wall.

Tony said...

Conservative catholics love to say that the family is the building block of society, but then mass immigration is a wonderful thing for society

News Flash: it's not conservative Catholics saying immigration is wonderful. Far from. The Catholics saying that are the liberals and the ones who are only "Catholic", not actually Catholic.

Sure, every now and then you find some silly politician, who is Catholic at least in name, and who is also conservative at least in name, trumping (ha!) up the wonders of immigration. But what they actually are is less leftward liberals than the avowedly liberal politicians. Conservative Catholics don't say such things.

ragline said...

Even the anti-politicians Carson and Trump are politicians after all. What they say has more to do with how people will react rather than what they really intend. Normally, this would be sorted out by now but it looks to go on. With the decline of a political center, we can expect more of it and the fault lies with the electorate for encouraging it.

Peter Smith said...

Emanuel,
"Catholics love to say that the family is the building block of society"

Quite true, it is the building block of society.

"but then mass immigration is a wonderful thing for society"

Not so fast. It is true that immigration does, on the whole, benefit society But there is a proviso, that it should be done in an orderly way and that proper attention should be given to integrating new arrivals into society. Here I am talking about normal immigrants but I suspect you are talking about refugees. Dealing with refugees is a difficult problem. As Catholics our first response is that of compassion. These are suffering people and Christ would expect that we help the suffering and we should expect of ourselves that we should behave compassionately. But then we must carefully examine our options for helping them.There is no one-size-fits-all solution. We need to admit our share of refugees, assist them with integration, etc. We must encourage our allies to proportionately contribute like assistance and we must assist our allies to bear this burden. Longer term we need to develop a more rational foreign policy that does not create this refugee problem.

"If you can import people instead, then the family is not necessary for the proliferation of society"

That is a strange claim. Family will always be necessary and desirable, regardless of how many immigrants enter the country.

"Build the wall."

Humankind has a long history of building walls, they have all failed.

Anonymous said...

The converse question could also be asked. Given their stated doctrines, should Seventh Day Adventists be able to support a Catholic for president? Does anybody know what percentage of Seventh Day Adventists supported John Kerry for president or Joe Biden for vice-president for that matter?

Shane Scott said...

As an evangelical preacher, I think your questions are well-founded, particularly when Carson has shown a tendency to reject what professionals in other fields think and presumes to spout off his own theories on those subjects (as in his remarks about Joseph building the pyramids, despite what "archaeologists" may say).

In fact, a lot of the GOP establishment right now is driven by broader theories regarding the rapture, the state of Israel, and the Bible, that are popular with many current evangelicals, but are in contrast to historic Catholic and Protestant teaching on these subjects. Christian Zionism + neoconservativism= a disastrous foreign policy in the Middle East right now, at least from my traditionalist conservative point of view.

In short, I think it would be fair game to ask ALL of the candidates if their views of biblical prophecy shape their stances on Israel and the Middle East, and if so, just what are those beliefs?

Anonymous said...

Not to go off topic but being a Catholic it really saddened me when I would hear in some Protestant circles about the eschatology and the "Church of Rome". Then one day I was given the book Islamic Antichristto read and it changed the way I viewed the end time prophecy. Joel Richardson presents a very good case (although not a new one) for why he thinks that the antichrist will come from the Islamic nation and not from Europe as is believed by many. Joel thinks the Gospel to be Israel centric and for the Universal Church to be prepared and not be deceived. The book also presents a case for compassion towards Muslims and to pray for them.

Step2 said...

Another Adventist writer proposes that “Pope Francis represents the first beast of Revelation… whereas President Obama represents the second beast,” and insinuates that Obama might aid Francis in imposing Sunday observance (!)

The best response to these kinds of off-the-wall conspiracy theories has already been written so I will simply rehash it: "I don't know where he goes from here, except maybe to declare war on the moon."

Anonymous said...

Shane,
The very existence of the state of Israel is an embarassment to many historic Catholics and would be to Luther, too. That the Jews would win a victory against all the odds, defeating five surrounding nations simultaneously invading them (miracle anyone?), to establish a Jewish state in the Holy Land, runs completely counter to the theology of medieval Constantinian Catholics who forced Jews to flee, convert (however insincerely in many cases) or die. It doesn't fit with historic Catholic or Lutheran eschatology at all.

boru said...

Is that by any chance an atheist's scientific Enlightenment crystal-ball you're peering into?

Israel can be grateful that Christian America turned out to be more powerful than the atheist Soviet Union. It was atheist Soviet communism that supported and armed the Arab states that sought to eliminate Israel in the Six-Day war. Perhaps you should do a little scientific historical research and find out the answer to this question: from where did the Arab armies that set out to destroy Israel in the Six-Day war get their missiles and their tanks - Christian Washington, or atheist Moscow?

Here's a clue - the answer doesn't begin with a religious"C".

boru said...

Here's a neutral opinion from

http://historywarsweapons.com/weapons-used-in-the-six-day-war/

"The weapons used in the Six Day War reflected the ideological rift by which the world was divided during the Cold War. On the one side, Israel used weapons manufactured by NATO nations; on the other, the Arab countries employed armament made in the Communist block of nations. It can be said that Israel won the war on the first day of the conflict with the successful implementation of a massive air raid called Operation Focus, by which the Israeli aircraft destroyed more than 90% of the Egyptian and Syrian air forces. In this military operation the Israeli pilots flew Mirage IIIC fighter/bomber aircraft, getting the upper-hand against the Soviet-made MiG-17, MiG-19, and MiG-21 fighters piloted by the Egyptians and Syrians. The Mirage IIIC was a French-built delta-winged supersonic aircraft."


Anonymous said...

Boru,
I was talking about the 1948 war. Israel was not expected to survive it.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Trump is you literally couldn't trust him not to do something incredibly stupid. The thought of someone like Donald Trump in charge of the world's strongest military and largest economy sends a shiver down the spine. Either that or he'd get bored a year into his term and resign. I hate to say it, but if the choice is Trump or Hillary, is has to be the latter, surely?

boru said...

@Anonymous

Fair enough. But the Six-Day war was also intended to exterminate Israel. In that conflict, Israel was supported and armed by historically Christian Europe and America. If you're right and the Christian religion is inherently opposed to the existence of Israel, why should that have been? It certainly wasn't because the west was by then predominantly an atheist domain.

Moreover, the point made by Shane, above, is correct. The primary reason for the survival of Israel is the support of the USA, and the primary political engine of that support is the body of American evangelical Protestants, many of whom believe that the presence of Jews in Israel is a necessary pre-condition of the Second Coming of Jesus.

Whatever the historical crimes of Christians against Jews, they are not a grounds for believing that Christians today are in principle the enemies of Israel, and that in general they harbour a malicious desire to see Israel destroyed. Actually, in the modern world, at least so far as political opinion is concerned, the primary western enemy of Israel is pro-Palestinian atheist leftist-liberalism.

SK said...

Is there anybody that a Catholic should look into voting for or should one just throw their vote away? Honestly I don't know who to support. I can't support Hilary because she says she wants to change religion in order to match her political and moral views.

For instance she says:

Rights have to exist in practice — not just on paper,” she said. “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

Source: http://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/hillary-clinton-wants-to-change-religion-to-accept-abortion.html

Honestly I can't stand this sort of Christianity. I blame it on liberal Christianity, which seems to be more about having Christianity conform to your own ideas rather than having Christianity change you.

I know I went on a little mini-rant there, but it seems like nobody on the Democratic side is worthy of vote simply because this type of view seems to be common over there. But then with the Republican party its like what Feser said, they seem to be make too many blunders.

Shane Scott said...

Well maybe we should look for the middle ground in the space between anti-semitic screeds and persecution on the one hand (as Luther and certain eras of Catholic practice reflect), and Christian Zionism / dispensationalism's mishandling of the biblical prophecy on the other. When I referred to historic Catholic and Protestant teaching, I was not referring to those tragic and misguided moments in history, as any charitable understanding would have recognized. What I was referring to was the theory of the rapture, and the underpinnings of that theory, which are in fact relatively recent and novel teachings when compared to church history as a whole.

matthew murray said...

No, it's a choice between the evil party and the evil party.

Peter Smith said...

"Yup, once again it's a choice between the Stupid Party and the Evil Party. And it seems that never has the Stupid Party been more stupid, or the Evil Party more evil, than at the present moment."

Succinctly put.

It is a feature of a defective society that it produces only bad choices. Our best response is to redouble our efforts to live in a way that is true to our faith.

Anonymous said...

Peter Smith said: "Humankind has a long history of building walls, they have all failed."

...except for all those didn't. Assuming you are not talking about the more mundane walls of our everyday exprience that keep people and vermin out, and you are confining this comment to projects designed to make borders more than just imaginary lines, they have a long history of working just as they intended.

Even the much-maligned Maginot line worked exactly as intended. It channeled the Germans through the low countries (so that their neutrality was violated, thus drawing a relcutant Britain into the war just as in the first) so that the bulk of the French army could concentrate on ground of its choosing. That the responsible French of the time couldn't be bothered to fully anticipate the cleverness of Manstein or the full import of mechanization can't be blamed on the Maginot Line.

The objection that some will ineveitably get through misses the point. One shouldn't expect perfection from a contingent thing. Some improvement must be made to the mockery of a border we have now. The ease with which millions of foreigners cross the border untracked and move about freely in our society should be terrifying since the United States has never been lacking for enemies. And since the current border system has failed millions of times, American policymakers committed to the sovereignty of the United States (as they are sworn to be) should be making vastly increased efforts.

Yet, any wall must guarded. Much of the current inadequate security lies in the amount and manner of guarding at the border. As we used to say in the Marine Corps, "an obstacle uncovered with observation and fires is no obstacle." A much larger (and expensive) commitment of manpower is required. Why not use stateside military units and count it as part of their unit-level counterinsurgency training (the indivdual actions are nearly identical) since they are already being paid to sit around and do nothing?

Robert

Anonymous said...

Shane,
Thank you for clarifying; I have no problem with your position.
Boru,
I agree with you that Israel's best friend is the U.S.A., which in turn is primarily because of American Evangelical Protestants and I think that American Evangelical Protestants are doing right in that.

My target was more the strand of thought found in both mainstream liberal Protestantism and the sort of Mel Gibson--Society of Pius X--Garrigou-Lagrange support for Vichy France rather than the French resistance--brand of anti-Jewish Catholicism that supports the Palestinian cause and the "right to return" which would be the de facto end of Israel as a Jewish state. I obviously did not make this clear.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Feser,

Why don't you like Trump? As a Trump-supporter who likes this blog, I'd like to know your opinion.

Anonymous said...

Trump's a moron and unstable. You'd wake one morning to find he'd invaded Bulgaria because he had heard someone had made fun of his hair. He'd literally be dangerous as president. You only have to listen to the man to see he is not serious presidential material. Even Hillary would be a better option. What's more, he has next to no chance of getting elected president. Trust the Republicans, though. Hillary is a deeply vulnerable candidate. But what does the GOP do? It seems like it is going to nominate someone who almost certainly will lose to her, when it has plenty of candidates with a much better chance of beating her.

Tony said...

Humankind has a long history of building walls, they have all failed.

@ Peter Smith: I would add to what Anon of 7:07 am said. Think also of the THOUSANDS of cities built in early ancient times, with walls to keep out barbarians and outlaw bands - i.e. quick-and-dirty marauders. That they didn't always keep out intent armies with political aspirations is OK, they weren't built with that danger in mind.

And then think of the castles of late medieval times, which kept out whole armies for up to a decade of seige. Constantinople kept out Muslim invaders for almost 700 years, that's roughly 28 generations. You can't call that "failed", that's 28 generations - a whole civilization's worth - of "succeeded". The 9,000 Knights of Malta kept out 40,000 Muslim Turks mainly with the help of excellent fortifications. Walls have worked lots.

Even Hillary would be a better option.

That's not obvious, even as bad as Trump is. It is difficult to over-estimate the amount of damage a clever, intelligent and evil person can achieve with consolidated power. You would really have to have a clear sense of just what kinds of evils she really intends to achieve (which won't be easy to discern from what she says), and also what kinds of evils other powers intend to achieve through her. And weigh those against more or less the inadvertent evils and stupidity of a Trump. It's just not that easy.

In fact, a lot of the GOP establishment right now is driven by broader theories regarding the rapture, the state of Israel, and the Bible, that are popular with many current evangelicals,

The primary reason for the survival of Israel is the support of the USA, and the primary political engine of that support is the body of American evangelical Protestants, many of whom believe that the presence of Jews in Israel is a necessary pre-condition of the Second Coming of Jesus.


I was under the impression that the primary American motivations (whether among Protestants or Catholics or American Jews who don't want to live in Israel thank you), are driven first by embarrassment at not having done more earlier to help Jews from Germany (and the rest of Europe), and second by a generalized support for the principle of self-determination for a coherent ethnic body of those who live in the land. I personally have never run into an American with a strongly religious position on the propriety of Israel to be a state. (I don't run in evangelical circles, admittedly).

Anonymous said...

Trump could easily do something incredibly - like try to invade China or something. Trump is unstable. I don't think Hillary compares to this. What will Hillary do? Increase the hold of the mainstream left on the American government. Not a good thing, but hardly in the same league as what Trump could do. Besides, a vote for Trump in the primary is basically a vote for Hillary in the general election. Trump will win a handful of states if he goes up against Hillary.

Anonymous said...

And can you imagine what happens when president Trump is restrained by a law or some other branch of government? He'd probably try and arrest congress if it didn't do what he said.

Greg said...

Trump is a huge fool. He cannot get the nomination because it wouldn't be fair if I had to choose between Trump and Clinton.

Jinzang said...

"It is difficult to over-estimate the amount of damage a clever, intelligent and evil person can achieve with consolidated power. You would really have to have a clear sense of just what kinds of evils she really intends to achieve (which won't be easy to discern from what she says), and also what kinds of evils other powers intend to achieve through her. And weigh those against more or less the inadvertent evils and stupidity of a Trump. It's just not that easy."

I'm curious why you think Hillary Clinton is evil and Donald Trump is not. From my perspective, neither is especially evil. Just two ambitious people doing and saying what it takes to get the nomination of their respective parties. Do you think someone who is opposed to abortion and gay marriage could get the Democratic nomination? Or someone pro-immigration and supports tolerance towards Islam the Republican nomination? Both candidates only hold a mirror up to their respective parties.

The only candidates that have impressed me during this campaign are Senators Bernie Sanders and Lindsey Graham, not because of their positions, but because of the decency with which they've conducted their campaigns.

Anonymous said...

off topic alert:

Couldn't resist trying to bring this to Ed and the gang here. Tom Woods
had a guest arguing that just war theory is basically vacuous and
is more often used to rationalize unjust wars. Tom, a Catholic himself, admitted
that he finds the guest's arguments persuasive and agrees with the guest. Perhaps Ed can start a new blog post for this if he finds it to his interest in addressing.

http://tomwoods.com/podcast/ep-553-the-failure-of-just-war-theory/

Anonymous said...

Other Anon said: "Trump's a moron and unstable. You'd wake one morning to find he'd invaded Bulgaria because he had heard someone had made fun of his hair. He'd literally be dangerous as president."

As amusing an image as this presents, is it likely Trump behavior? It seems to me as an amoral businessman he is more concerned with the expedient, it just seems that in his previous public profession, being an outrageous clown was the most efficient choice. And, would an openness to engage in gunboat diplomacy over trivialities be a bad thing in this day and age? Political scientists treat such a penchant (or the carefully cultivated image of it) amongst leaders as credibility. Nixon, T. Roosevelt, and Reagan had it (leaving alone whether public perception corresponded more or less to reality in each case) and are famous presidents for foreign policy success (whether you hate them for other flaws or not).

The thing is, I might not have Trump over to my house for dinner...but I will vote for him. As a Catholic concerned about moral issues above all I would prefer a Rubio or a Cruz before Trump, but will they be the nominee, and can they win? Who is more likely to actually push (somewhat) conservative policies through the byzantine mess that is the federal government? Even if Trump's conservative priorities aren't perfect, he will at least get something conservative done. Isn't it time for an expedient Republican candidate/president?

If only St. Thomas would run...

-Robert

daurio said...

@ Jinzang

"I'm curious why you think Hillary Clinton is evil and Donald Trump is not. From my perspective, neither is especially evil. Just two ambitious people doing and saying what it takes to get the nomination of their respective parties."

I would say their ambition is precisely what makes them both especially evil.

Greg said...

@ Robert

As a Catholic concerned about moral issues above all I would prefer a Rubio or a Cruz before Trump, but will they be the nominee, and can they win?

My sense is that Rubio or Cruz is better for a general election. Trump doesn't seem to me electable at all; I doubt he can get much more support than he already has, since if you don't love him then you hate him, and I know too many Republicans who insist that if Trump got the nomination, they would vote for a third party.

But he'd also be extremely dangerous as a third party.

So I'm afraid Trump has poisoned the election. He can't win but he can make Republicans lose.

Craig Payne said...

[If I should not mention a book in this space, feel free to remove this post.] I recommend "Prophecy Without Panic" by Duncan Shennea. Shennea is not a Catholic, but reading his book will help purge the virus of "Rapturism" from one's system, and perhaps cool down a bit of the apocalyptic fever damaging both American Christianity and the GOP (to the extent that they overlap).

Anonymous said...

Robert, maybe you are right, but do you want to risk it? Trump gives a very good impression of being an unstable clown. I notice that you left George W. Bush off the list of those renowned for gunboat diplomacy. But surely, at best, such diplomacy only works if a shrewd leader engages in it with wisdom and common sense. Bloviating about how you would charge Mexico to put up a wall across the Southern border or how you are really going to put the squeeze on China doesn't seem like a display of those qualities.

And then there is the domestic front. Trump has made pronouncements that are obviously unconstitutional, such as the he'd issue an executive order making murder of police a capital offence across the nation. Again it might all be just talk, but does he really understand the way the government works, and can he be trusted not to do things that make Obama look like a strict constructionist?

Anonymous said...

Other Anon at 1:12,

Yes, I would risk it. You won't find a perfect man for the job. There are no perfect men. But perhaps my willingness to chance an unstable Trump is due to my personal experience and idiosyncratic reading of history.

I wouldn't lump George W. Bush in with the others because his adventures always seemed half-hearted, and not actually bold. I say this as a participant. Rules of engagement and policy designed to please everyone (domestic media, coalition, Sunnis, Shia, Kurds, etc.) were not going to create any lasting effects. In fact they are simply a form of muddling through. It should be telling that a "counterinsurgency" policy was not adopted in Afghanistan until 2009. It makes me wonder why there isn't more veteran outrage at the callous and indifferent way our lives were risked, especially at the point of ultimate betrayal when Iraq was abandoned (just when it seemed we'd gotten somewhere!). But I don't think Bush was a bold warmonger, tthe position he found himself in demanded some kind of action.

But perhaps I give Trump too much credit. It seems to me that he plays the media and the electorate with skill unrivalled by any contemporary except the dread Obama. I tend to hold his success as evidence that most of his sillyness is calculated act (but inheriting millions can't hurt). I think he does understand the way that government really works: the art of wheeling and dealing in backrooms. Capturing the public's imagination with vague statements gives him political license to get things done without fear of censure, see current administration for proof of concept.

-Robert

Anonymous said...

@Greg

"My sense is that Rubio or Cruz is better for a general election. Trump doesn't seem to me electable at all; I doubt he can get much more support than he already has..."

My problem with this logic is that Trump is ahead in the polls. If he can't motivate more support after the other Republicans disappear, then what makes one think that the other candidates will be able to?

I don't think we're justified in relying upon a rally around the Republican effect since it was absent around the "safe" Romney in 2012. But as you say, it might that the Republicans are just "poisoned." The only good news is that I think that Hilary has to worry about a similar effect to a greater degree. I know far too many liberals who have said they won't vote for her.

-Robert

Justin said...

Exactly. While I cringe a bit at Trumps tirades, between the two, I would tend to side with Trump. I believe his bluster would be moderated by his handlers and Congress, and if necessary, the courts.

On the other hand, Hillary seems to carry the opposing philosophy, representing the moral relativism of the left rather well. "We're multicultural, and our only core value is that we have no core values"... that sort of rubbish. We've become a bit afraid to even address evil where it exists, and importing cheap labor and a ready-made voting block isn't sustainable, and therefore in the long term doesn't seem compassionate at all. We need to do the more difficult work of helping our neighbors become more educated and prosperous. And that is truly difficult, because it encompasses much more than simply being generous with our children's tax dollars.

My two cents, anyway.

Greg said...

@ Robert

My problem with this logic is that Trump is ahead in the polls. If he can't motivate more support after the other Republicans disappear, then what makes one think that the other candidates will be able to?

Well, say I'm a somewhat disillusioned moderate who doesn't have strong feelings about immigration. If I also don't like Clinton, I might toy with voting for Cruz or Rubio. But if my alternative is Trump, I might stick with Clinton. Maybe there aren't many people in that camp, but who knows.

Trump has strange supporters. He does not appeal to a preexisting coalition. The people who like him seem to be prepared to stay with him. I think he's polarizing in a way that Rubio isn't.

Though, either way, I won't vote for Trump on principle. He is a fool who does not behave in a way appropriate for a president. I think he doesn't know much about what he mouths off about (foreign policy, building walls, deporting millions of people), but his supporters don't care because he's "authentic" and "unfiltered".

I also care more about court appointments than anything else, since unfortunately everything is decided first in the courts these days, and I don't trust Trump there.

Anonymous said...

There's a reason that Trump's poll numbers are highest among people with little or no higher education.

Anonymous said...

@ Greg,

Good point about court appointments, those will be crucial in the next two terms.

As far as behavior appropriate to a president, I feel like that ship sailed long ago. It isn't as important to me as it used to be, but that is how I used to feel. It's a shame that the office has been cheapened, but it seems an inescapable view.

Additionally, I don't think a president needs to know much about technical details, that is what his carefully selected advisors are for (just look at the idiots in there now). The technical aspects of deporting millions and building a wall aren't a real challenge, such things have been done using card catalogues, it's a political sales job that is difficult. Such things entail undesireable side effects...

-Robert

Gary Black said...

I must admit that it hurts me to see such cynicism in the political arena. Religion is how we, as a community, worship God; politics is how we, as a community, govern ourselves. The common thread here is the frustration with our inability to impose our wills. Let us not forget that is God that establishes right government for our own sake. We should be subordinate to the law and even more so to the Church. Show me our faith, hope, and love. God omnipresent; Church triumphant.

Tony said...

I'm curious why you think Hillary Clinton is evil and Donald Trump is not. From my perspective, neither is especially evil. Just two ambitious people doing and saying what it takes to get the nomination of their respective parties.

I don't for a minute suggest that "Clinton is evil but Trump is not". What is at issue is the KIND of evils we are talking about. It is clearly true (so far as behavior can tell us, at least) that Clinton and Trump are both egotistical and ambitious. Clinton has had her sights on the presidency since about 10 seconds after Bill started his second term. And for egotism: how 'bout that making up her own email system as head of State? And Trump, a whole TV show about your own persona? Gee whiz.

But dig a little deeper: The ultimate picture of what Hillary wants our country to look like, versus what Trump wants it to look like, are worlds apart. Hillary's is vastly more evil. The professed tools and pathways they are publicly willing to propose to get there are nothing like the same: Hillary's are worse by an order of magnitude. And, Hillary demonstrates that she can easily have unstated (for 2 decades) plans that go beyond her stated evil plans for how to accomplish her dreams, whereas everyone knows that Trump could no more hide such an aspect of himself than he could stop seeking publicity.

Which doesn't at all mean I will vote for Trump in the primary. I am just pointing out differences.

Anonymous said...

@Gary Black,

If I am a cynic it is because I study politics as they actually are and not as we want them to be. It should be obvious that in the political sphere that the operation of free will results in evil outcomes, and the imperfect political systems designed by man encourage an ends justify the means approach. The design of the American political system expressly takes this into account by balancing the lust for power and wealth of subcomponents in society against each other. In their striving for maximum gains they are to offset each other. I do not deny that some politicians have some altruistic motivations, but the nature of the game and any review of the history of politics should engender a healthy skepticism about the process.

While the CCC, following St. Paul, does compel us to "give due honor to authority" it also tells us to treat government "insofar as it is deserved, with gratitude and good will" (1900). Now I take giving due honor to signify obeying the law, and I don't see anyone advocating otherwise here. As to gratitude towards the current administration...

Further, the CCC tells us that "authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience" (1903)[emphasis added].

Now, I'm nearly certain that abortion is a "measure contrary to the moral order." So really, is my cynicism unjustified or improper?

-Robert

Miriam said...

Why all the ad hominem against Trump?.
Is it because we want to be seen as part of the alleged "intellectual elite "by opposing him vociferously?
Many of my family members are for a Trump, even the ones well educated & the one who made millions in business. .

I understand that Trump made billions from a few million seed money.
I guess this MAY show some intelligence underneath the bravado,
at LEAST as much raw intelligence as it takes to get a degree in philosophy,


Hillary, if one studies her past ,( which those who have not lived through her past should do) is intimately a part of the same atheist genocidal establishment as Obama is. What Faith she & BO claim to hold, not withstanding.
So is Biden, as were most of the Kennedys.

What is more diabolical (figuratively & not figuratively) than atheism, the tacit Established Religion of the United States?

Most don't know the US has an established religion, & the Atheistic Democrats like it that way.

Having atheism as our established Faith, we necessarily have established as its accompanying ethic, Utilitarianism. This fact is not usually admitted by the establishment or by liberal spokesmen , many of whom it seems may not even know this.

What Trump truly is, besides a opportunistic Capitalist, remains to be seen ,

That's why I am for Ted Cruz, come hell or Hillary.

Anonymous said...

My attacks on Trump come from listening and watching the man. Robert and others seem to be downplaying what he actually says in the hope it is all bluster and spin. Personally, I think if a man warns you he is unstable and positively dangerous, you should take that on board. Trump has called for things manifestly unconstitutional (and I'm not even talking about the latest controversy) and has shown a contempt for the usual processes of American government, or perhaps it is just ignorance. His foreign policy, aside from the idiotic slogans and claims, seems deeply unpredictable. It seems quite a lot to chalk this all up to spin and bluster and hope he will be tamed by the duties of office.

Anonymous said...

"Why all the ad hominem against Trump?"

Ad hominem implies that we should be attacking his ideas and not him, but the very thing in question is him, as we are trying to determine his character based on his behaviour as well as ideas, so we can make judgements about what to expect in future. All evidence shows that he is a loose cannon, and use of executive power is clearly something he is not afraid to abuse, probably more than Obama has.

Greg said...

Also, did I gather this correctly from the debate? Trump would kill the families of ISIS members in order to be "tough," because ISIS members care more about their family's lives than their own?

Jack Ferrara said...

So this is off-topic I'll admit, however I was wondering if any of the great Thomists here might have the time to look at this post http://challengedogmata.blogspot.com/2013/05/proof-is-not-found-in-quinque-viae.html something seems wrong about it but I can't put my finger on it

Fred said...

Jack, Reading the linked blog entry, I don't think there's anything wrong with it. It is a brilliant piece of satire. The first clue: no one with the slightest acquaintance with history can possibly believe educated Medieval people believed the Earth was flat. The second clue is the exaggerated ignorance of Aquinas's arguments and vocabulary. The third is the tired attempt to use Newton to refute the argument from motion, which our host demolished here among many, many other places. The interpretation of Kant is nearly as exaggeratedly dumb as the interpretation of Aquinas. The pseudo-Darwinian explanation of morality is a howler as is the comical irrelevance of the Church's pronouncements on science to anything Aquinas thought or said. As our host has pointed out over and over and over the Five Ways are based on metaphysics, what any possible science must presuppose to do what it does. I congratulate the person who wrote that entry, he's a scream.

JohnD said...

Doesn't look like Carson has pacifist leanings after last night's debate.

Tony said...

Fred, I don't think so. The author is clearly not all that introspective about what what he says and thinks about morality and "religiosity", for example, this bit:

There are many sociopolitical dynamics that may play a tangential role in this as well. As more people across the US and all over the world are seen as innately free and equal (rightfully so) by their governments, it would make sense that the shift from judgment (religion) to tolerance (reason) would take place. Religion is still tied to even the political dynamic as most governments are not absent representation of some religious motivation. As that representation loses its religiosity, the subjugation to religion declines. As that religious subjugation declines, and people are free to live without persecution, greater acceptance and morality grows.

Human tendency, where people have tasted freedom, is to wish to be self-governing for the most part. People want to be able to make their own choices and be free to live as generally civilized human beings without a forced obedience put on them, outside of the commonly accepted writs of a society governed by reasonable law and due process.


Yes, yes, all that tendency toward ethics once you lose the shackles of religion. Like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Margaret Sanger, and Gosnell. Like murdering old people because their quality of life is less important than YOUR quality of life if you don't have to watch them have poorer quality of life. Yes, ALL THAT fine ethics.

I am afraid he really does think all those silly ridiculous things you pointed out. A lot of other gnus do.

Justin said...


"There are many sociopolitical dynamics that may play a tangential role in this as well. As more people across the US and all over the world are seen as innately free and equal (rightfully so) by their governments, it would make sense that the shift from judgment (religion) to tolerance (reason) would take place. Religion is still tied to even the political dynamic as most governments are not absent representation of some religious motivation. As that representation loses its religiosity, the subjugation to religion declines. As that religious subjugation declines, and people are free to live without persecution, greater acceptance and morality grows."

That's a neat theory, but doesn't seem to work out that way. There seems to be a consistent false dichotomy between worldviews and "religion", as if people who are secular don't actually have a worldview at all. No beliefs to defend. No network of beliefs which need to be logically coherent. The gnus often hide their beliefs to avoid defending them ("atheism is a belief like bald is a hair color", and all that jazz).

In politics, however, it seems to not be so ideal. It seems to just boil down to corruption and the other Golden Rule; He Who Has The Gold Rules. If you don't believe in a certain way, its ad hominem all the way. You're racist or a xenophbe or sexist or bigoted, while they vote themselves raises and use the public treasury to pack back those that put them in power.

And it's not living "free" when you have hundreds of thousands of pages of federal regulations, which grows each and every single year. Title 26, the tax code and its associated regulations, could blanket over an acre in 8 point font. That's not counting state and local laws. A little girl in California has her afternoon lemonade stand shut down because she didn't get a $500 permit. Science is politicized, people lose their jobs or funding for not carrying the "consensus view". SEC laws are used to extort money from a company which disagrees with the scientific story the politicians are telling. One politician threatened to use RICO laws to prosecute "skeptics".


That's not living free nor self-government. It is just the opposite. The author of that post must be living in a different reality.

Fred said...

Tony, A classic example of Poe'so law I guess. I have a feeling "Jack" either wrote or agrees with that ludicrous bilge. By calling it satire, I was making fun of it. Although, I have to admit it is so Gnu cliche and so stupid that for a second I really did wonder if it was satire.

Jack Ferrara said...

@ Fred Definately not, I neither wrote nor agree with it. I'm just a severe novice when it comes to Philosophy as I have only read stuff on my own and as a result have a very sophomoric grip on it that I was looking for some alternate perspective.

Thank you for your perspective on it :)

Jack Ferrara said...

Yeah, sorry if I seemed like someone trying to plug my own writing. I didn't write this and found this when I did a google search "In Defense of Aquinas' 5 ways" and that's what came up for some reason.

Fred said...

It appears I owe you an apology Jack. Philosophy has been a passion of mine for so long sometimes I forget that no one, including me, was born knowing it. Keep reading and keep coming here. There are much smarter people than I here. I'very learned a lot from them.

Jack Ferrara said...

@Fred No apologies needed man :) It's rare to find a group of folks I can run things like that blog post by, but I can see how it might have looked suspicious.

James said...

I think it is largely indifferent whom you vote for. The winner is already "bought and paid for." Probably "Killary" will "win", since she has received the largest contributions from the Military-Armamanents-Military Services complex. Don't forget that Sanders was for the Iraq war, which shows how fundamentally clueless he is and how lacking in discernment. As for the Republicans...well, what can one say? Pathetic. We are now pretty much in the hands of criminals and scoundrels, no matter how you look at it. The crimes of Washington since the Clinton era is horrendous, and serves to show the degree of outright barbarism and lawlessness of this country. It is essentially a criminal oligarchy international in scope and in regards to its long-term strategy. Those who doubt this, or who hide behind the stupid conspiracy accusation, are in for rude surprises, as we are certainly heading straight for a third world war. However, for the skeptical:

In 1974, the Council on Foreign Relations published "The Hard Road to World Order", by Richard N. Gardner.

EXCERPT:

"In short, the "house of world order" will have to be built from the bottom up rather than from the top down. It will look like a great "booming, buzzing confusion," to use William James' famous description of reality, but an end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece, will accomplish much more than the old-fashioned frontal assault. Of course, for political as well as administrative reasons, some of these specialized arrangements should be brought into an appropriate relationship with the central institutions of the U.N, system, but the main thing is that the essential functions be performed."

Note: "an end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece"
======================
"The nation state as a fundamental unit of man's organized life has ceased to be the principal creative force: International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation-state."

"People, governments and economies of all nations must serve the needs of multinational banks and corporations."

“The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities. ”

“We have a large public that is very ignorant about public affairs and very susceptible to simplistic slogans by candidates who appear out of nowhere, have no track record, but mouth appealing slogans”

“Most Americans are close to total ignorance about the world. They are ignorant.”

“In the technotronic society the trend would seem to be towards the aggregation of the individual support of millions of uncoordinated citizens, easily within the reach of magnetic and attractive personalities exploiting the latest communications techniques to manipulate emotions and control reason.”

“This regionalization is in keeping with the Tri-Lateral Plan which calls for a gradual convergence of East and West, ultimately leading toward the goal of one world government. National sovereignty is no longer a viable concept.”

… Persisting social crisis, the emergence of a charismatic personality, and the exploitation of mass media to obtain public confidence would be the steppingstones in the piecemeal transformation of the United States into a highly controlled society.”

Brzezinski, Zbigniew, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era

----------------------------------------------

James said...

“The Trilateral Commission is international and is intended to be the vehicle for multinational consolidation of the commercial and banking interests by seizing control of the political government of the United States. The Trilateral Commission represents a skillful, coordinated effort to seize control and consolidate the four centers of power – political, monetary, intellectual and ecclesiastical.”

Goldwater, Barry, With No Apologies, (Morrow, 1979), p. 280
======================
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the public is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”--Edward Bernays
“We are in the midst of a phase of history in which nations will be redefined and their futures fundamentally altered.” –Rupert Murdoch CEO Fox News, Feb 24, 2009
“The [U.S.] Constitution is just a goddamn piece of paper.” George Bush, Jr.
“If the American people knew what we have done, they would chase us down in the streets and lynch us to the light posts.” George H.W. Bush
“The CIA owns everyone of any significance in the major media.” —William Colby Former Director of the CIA—Murdered/Assassinated.
“The real rulers in Washington are invisible and exercise their power from behind the scenes.”– Justice Felix Frankfurter, U.S. Supreme Court.
“I am concerned for the security of our great nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.” — General Douglas MacArthur
Today America would be outraged if UN troops entered Los Angeles to restore order. Tomorrow they will be grateful. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well-being granted to them by the World Government.--Henry Kissinger
"We are grateful to the Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and their great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries."--David Rockefeller
"The drive of the Rockefellers and their allies is to create a one-world government combining super capitalism and Communism under the same tent, all under their control.... Do I mean conspiracy? Yes I do. I am convinced there is such a plot, international in scope, generations old in planning, and incredibly evil in intent." - Congressman Larry P. McDonald, 1976, killed in the Korean Airlines 747 that was shot down by the Soviets
“Some even believe we (the Rockefeller family) are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.” - David Rockefeller, Memoirs, page 405

“We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the new world order.” David Rockefeller

James said...

“Bankers own the earth; take it away from them but leave them with the power to create credit; and, with a flick of a pen, they will create enough money to buy it back again... If you want to be slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, then let the bankers control money and control credit.” - Sir Josiah Stamp, Director, Bank of England, 1940.

"In the next century, nations as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority. National sovereignty wasn't such a great idea after all."- Strobe Talbot, President Clinton's Deputy Secretary of State, Time Magazine, July 20th, l992

Further global progress is now possible only through a quest for universal consensus in the movement towards a new world order.-Mikhail Gorbachev

"The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government of the U.S. since the days of Andrew Jackson." - U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a letter written Nov. 21, 1933 to Colonel E. Mandell House
===================
Top Senate Democrat: bankers “own” the U.S. Congress
http://www.salon.com/2009/04/30/ownership/

Dick Durbin: Banks "Frankly Own The Place"
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/29/dick-durbin-banks-frankly_n_193010.html

Congress: The Banks Own the Place. Do They Own Obama Too?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/miles-mogulescu/congress-the-banks-own-th_b_454094.html

We can't be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans." - Bill Clinton, USA Today on 3/11/93, page 2a

Col. Larry Wilkerson--The Empire's Ship is Sinking
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOagQ_nfCes

laubadetriste said...

@James: "Don't forget that Sanders was for the Iraq war, which shows how fundamentally clueless he is and how lacking in discernment."

No doubt by "for" you meant "against."

“'Most Americans are close to total ignorance about the world. They are ignorant.'”

There we are in agreement. I presume too that you are an American?

Regarding conspiracy theories, I would recommend Dr. Feser's excellent series, "The trouble with conspiracy theories", "Brin on conspiracy theories", "We the sheeple? Why conspiracy theories persist", and "Another conspiracy?".

James said...

I meant exactly what I wrote. See this:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/27/bernie-sanders-savior-or-seducer-of-the-anti-war-left/

I think Dr. Feser is naive regarding the crimes of government, and apparently so are you. So let's agree to disagree.

laubadetriste said...

@James:

What an astonishingly misleading hit-and-run of fake argument.

In that article's ten short paragraphs, Sanders and Iraq are not brought up together until paragraph six, the first half of the article being given over to criticizing the military-industrial complex generally, Senator Warren, U.S. support for the mujahideen in the 80s, Sanders's support of the Democrats generally, and so on. None of this says anything one way or another about Sanders's record on Iraq.

Paragraphs nine and ten are given over to recognizing Sanders's support for veterans, mentioning the failure of other left-leaning political candidates like George McGovern, discussing the columnist's Facebook feed, and so on. Again, none of this says anything one way or another about Sanders's record on Iraq.

This leaves paragraphs six, seven, and eight to do the heavy lifting. And what are the claims made therein? Again I pass over the irrelevant, such as the mention of Sanders's record on Afghanistan, and on Palestinian statehood, and on the impeachment of President Bush. These items remain, in order:

1) "[H]is support for appropriations to support both the war in Afghanistan and Iraq."
2) "In 2003 he supported the resolution that gave support to George W. Bush in both Iraq and in the larger war against terrorism, although Sanders has been a critic of the Iraq War."
3) "Sanders supported only a gradual withdrawal from Iraq."
4) "He supported HR 282, the Iran Freedom Support Act, which was similar to the resolutions leading to the Iraq War."

Having supported resolution A that was similar to another resolution B, which led to eventuality C, does not entail having been for eventuality C, and so item 4 is irrelevant. (I detect a pattern here.) Having supported "only" a gradual withdrawal from Iraq does not entail having been for the Iraq War, so item 3 is irrelevant. Having voted for appropriations to support the Iraq War does not entail having been for the Iraq War, and so item 1 is irrelevant. (And *which* appropriations? The columnist does not say. This is of course an important consideration regarding the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.) Which leaves only item 2.

So: which Iraq War-related resolution did Bernie Sanders support in 2003, and what was the nature of the support it gave? The reader who has been attentive so war will surmise that the columnist does not say, but luckily there now exist records of these sorts of things. I will refrain from including any spoilers here, but merely note (surprise!) that James's claim is not borne out.

"I think Dr. Feser is naive regarding the crimes of government, and apparently so are you. So let's agree to disagree."

Let's not.

laubadetriste said...

@Miriam: Why all the ad hominem against Trump?. / Is it because we want to be seen as part of the alleged 'intellectual elite 'by opposing him vociferously? / Many of my family members are for a Trump, even the ones well educated & the one who made millions in business."

Hmn. Yes, why all the ad hominem against Trump? Of course, there being no reason whatsoever, the opposition may really be an aspirational badge of membership in the intellectual elite...

What piffle. This is the sort of stuff that tempts sympathetic onlookers to throw up their hands and say, You want Trump? All right then, have him!

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."--Mencken, *A Little Book in C Major*, §1

But then we remember that that is the same petty, unimaginative impulse that thrills when Texans talk of seceding, or Hollywood stars talk of moving to Paris. And so we remember our brothers and sisters aboard that common vessel, America.

Let me hold up just a few better examples (not only directly about Trump):

"Religious freedom matters, and not just for people who pray like the rest of us do. It is within the realm of possibility that one day in the far future, the US government will be compelled to implement such an extreme measure [as Trump proposes] for the sake of national security. But if we do arrive at such a day, America as we know it will be over anyway. Conservatives would be fools to hasten the day by cheering for Trump’s radicalism."--Rod Dreher

laubadetriste said...

"Does this [the accusation of Fascism] sound like Trump? Well, yes, it rather does: His bravado and performative machismo (complete with mockery of the weak, unattractive and disabled), his obsession with how we get 'beat' by other nations and need to start beating them instead, his surprisingly deft exploitation of blue-collar economic anxieties, his dark references to Mexican 'rapists' and other immigrant threats, and as of this week his promise to not only bomb and torture our foreign enemies into submission but to round up their families as well..."--Ross Douthat [TL;DR: Yes, Trump is *fascistic,* but not truly a Fascist, which would not fit the political context.]

"Only 40 percent of Americans can name more than four of the Ten Commandments, and a scant half can cite any of the four authors of the Gospels. Twelve percent believe Joan of Arc was Noah's wife. This failure to recall the specifics of our Christian heritage may be further evidence of our nation's educational decline, but it probably doesn't matter all that much in spiritual or political terms. Here is a statistic that does matter: Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that 'God helps those who help themselves.' That is, three out of four Americans believe that this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture. The thing is, not only is Franklin's wisdom not biblical; it's counter-biblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor. On this essential matter, most Americans--most American Christians--are simply wrong, as if 75 percent of American scientists believed that Newton proved gravity causes apples to fly up."--Bill McKibben [originally posted at Harper's, but now behind a pay wall]

"In one sense, there is nothing wrong with conservatism. The principles remain; reality has not changed. The problem lies in the fact that what passes for conservatism today is not conservative at all or at best a shadowy and distorted version of the real thing. The so-called conservatism promoted by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh is (when a coherent thread presents itself) a fairly standard litany of pro-growth, pro-war individualism, that claims to despise 'Big Government' while championing the upward mobility of the most talented and energetic. These ideas, and the policies they spawn, are not conservative."--Mark T. Mitchell

Anonymous said...

I am really starting to despise Trump's "Trump card" as it were. Whenever someone brings forth a substantive argument against him, he never directly addresses the argument but says, "Well, have you seen the polls, I'm killing everyone else so I must be right." The political discourse around this man is so low as to be almost unimaginable as little as 10 years ago.

laubadetriste said...

@Miriam: "What is more diabolical (figuratively & not figuratively) than atheism, the tacit Established Religion of the United States? / Most don't know the US has an established religion, & the Atheistic Democrats like it that way. / Having atheism as our established Faith, we necessarily have established as its accompanying ethic, Utilitarianism. This fact is not usually admitted by the establishment or by liberal spokesmen , many of whom it seems may not even know this."

These are the sorts of claims that would be subtle and interesting, and even well-supported, if found in the work of Eric Voegelin, or Henri de Lubac, or Jacob Talmon; but as deposited here they are empty.

Take a step back and note the big claims, and how they run together:

1) Atheism is a religion.
2) Atheism is (literally) diabolical.
3) The US has an established religion.
4) The established religion of the US is tacit.
5) The established religion of the US is atheism.
6) The Democrats are atheistic.
7) The Democrats like it that most people don't know that the US has an established religion.
8) Utilitarianism is the necessarily established ethic of atheism.
9) The US has an establishment.
10) The establishment of the US has liberal spokesmen.
11) Many of the liberal spokesmen of the establishment of the US may not know that utilitarianism is the necessarily established ethic of atheism.

Of course, this moonbat mess would take the combined efforts of (in order) Peter Berger, Denis de Rougemont, Carroll Quigley, Stephen Colbert, C. Wright Mills, Noam Chomsky, Bernard Williams, and Walter Lippmann to disentangle. Rather than tax my understanding, or the reader's patience, I propose the following general rule (based also upon two previous contretemps):

When someone starts Needlessly Capitalizing Words, and if that person is not quoting eighteenth-century prose, then those words should be taken as diagnostic of the contributor, before being taken as indicative of reality.

John Quin said...

78 comments in and as best I can tell not a one of them leaps to the defense of Adventism or Carson.

I guess having been raised an Adventist it should fall to me to say a word on their behalf.

Alas I can only confirm that not only is everything in the OP true but is really just the tip of the iceberg. You don't really want to know just how deep the crazy goes in certain parts of Adventism.

On Carson's count too I must confess to being disappointed. Carson was something of an unknown to me so I had cause to give him the benefit of the doubt. But then he opened his mouth and the rest is history.

Perhaps the hypothetical argument should be who would be worse, Carson, the Witch or the Idiot?

James said...

@laubadetriste

I am happy to defer to your arguments regarding Sanders, since I claim no expertise at all regarding him. Thank you for your corrections. Perhaps you should write an article on the matter to Counterpunch.

laubadetriste said...

@James:

Hmn. That was over sooner and more graciously than I expected. The credit of course belongs to you.

Write for Counterpunch? Why, I could use the (little) money. But I would be a fool to think I could follow the example of (e.g.) the great Alexander Cockburn. And anyway, I would write for no platform that would have me.

Let me take a step back, and acknowledge the worth of what Gary Black said: "I must admit that it hurts me to see such cynicism in the political arena. Religion is how we, as a community, worship God; politics is how we, as a community, govern ourselves. The common thread here is the frustration with our inability to impose our wills. Let us not forget that is God that establishes right government for our own sake. We should be subordinate to the law and even more so to the Church. Show me our faith, hope, and love. God omnipresent; Church triumphant."

Naturally I take exception to (ahem) some of the details. But let me pass them over in silence and say, Amen.

laubadetriste said...

(Anybody remember when *Ann Coulter* said that Bernie Sanders would be a tougher opponent to beat [as compared to Hillary Clinton], because "he actually cares about the American working class?" I had a daylight reverie about a "Team of Rivals"-style team up between Bernie Sanders and John Kasich, and couldn't tell whether I was still drunk off of hooch from the night before. Whatever happened to the nobility that could allow a Cincinnatus to defeat the Aequi, and then walk home to his plough?)

Joaquin said...

Are Conspiracy Theorists Nuts?
Posted on February 23, 2015 by WashingtonsBlog
Conspiracy Theorists USED TO Be Accepted As Normal

Democracy and free market capitalism were founded on conspiracy theories.

The Magna Carta, the Constitution and Declaration of Independence and other founding Western documents were based on conspiracy theories. Greek democracy and free market capitalism were also based on conspiracy theories.

But those were the bad old days …Things have now changed.
The CIA Coined the Term Conspiracy Theorist In 1967

That all changed in the 1960s.

Specifically, in April 1967, the CIA wrote a dispatch which coined the term “conspiracy theories” … and recommended methods for discrediting such theories. The dispatch was marked “psych” – short for “psychological operations” or disinformation – and “CS” for the CIA’s “Clandestine Services” unit.

The dispatch was produced in responses to a Freedom of Information Act request by the New York Times in 1976.

The dispatch states:

2. This trend of opinion is a matter of concern to the U.S. government, including our organization.

***

The aim of this dispatch is to provide material countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists, so as to inhibit the circulation of such claims in other countries. Background information is supplied in a classified section and in a number of unclassified attachments.

3. Action. We do not recommend that discussion of the [conspiracy] question be initiated where it is not already taking place. Where discussion is active addresses are requested:

a. To discuss the publicity problem with and friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors) , pointing out that the [official investigation of the relevant event] made as thorough an investigation as humanly possible, that the charges of the critics are without serious foundation, and that further speculative discussion only plays into the hands of the opposition. Point out also that parts of the conspiracy talk appear to be deliberately generated by … propagandists. Urge them to use their influence to discourage unfounded and irresponsible speculation.

b. To employ propaganda assets to and refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose. The unclassified attachments to this guidance should provide useful background material for passing to assets. Our ploy should point out, as applicable, that the critics are (I) wedded to theories adopted before the evidence was in, (II) politically interested, (III) financially interested, (IV) hasty and inaccurate in their research, or (V) infatuated with their own theories.

The rest:

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/02/con.html

Joaquin said...


The Middle East is fertile ground for conspiracy theories, and one growing to towering heights these days says the US created the Islamic State. But while the US may well have aided ISIS in its formative days with covert supplies of weapons and CIA funding (directly or indirectly, via Turkey leading political families) the one nation most responsible for iteration after iteration of “terrorist organizations” is Saudi Arabia which “created” not only the Islamic State, but al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, and many other Sunni Jihadist groups in Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Pakistan.[http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-12-17/missing-link-islamic-state-iraq-and-now-documented-cia-connection]
==============

ITALY’S PUPPET-MASTER
by Eric Margolis |


December 19, 2015

The French, who know much about intrigue, have a very useful expression, “an Italian scandal.” This means a scandal or plot that is so complex or tangled it defies understanding, and never gets solved.

The death of 96-year old Masonic Grand Master Licio Gelli this week reopened the mystery of Italy’s greatest and most murky political scandals. I’ve been following this wonderful case since the 1980’s. Gelli, a lifelong Fascist, was what was known in the US as “one of our SOB’s.”

As US Republicans hysterically warn of “terrorism,” it’s useful to look back to the Cold War years and see who really had – and has – clean hands.

Gelli first appeared as an 18-year old volunteer Black Shirt fascist sent by Mussolini to Spain to fight the Communists.
Soon after World War II, Gelli was recruited by CIA to help build “Gladio,” a top secret underground organized in 14 Western European nations of former fascists and other right-wingers designed to combat an expected Soviet invasion.

The Soviet threat eventually subsided, but Gladio, its far right members and its arms caches remained. In the 1980’s and early 90’s, Gladio and Gelli would be involved in numerous plots and intrigues known as “the years of lead” aimed at blocking Communists from power and paving the way for fascist coups. CIA and Britain’s MI6 were implicated. [http://ericmargolis.com/2015/12/italys-puppet-master/]

Joaquin said...

On Sunday last, Donald Trump put the matter plain, telling Fox News interviewer Chris Wallace that Clinton “killed hundreds of thousands of people with her stupidity.”

Trump added, “If you look at what she did with Libya, what she did with Syria. Look at Egypt, what happened with Egypt, a total mess. She was truly – if not the – one of the worst secretaries of state in the history of the country.”
[https://www.lewrockwell.com/2015/12/anne-williamson/worst-female-killer-history/]

E.Seigner said...

@Joaquin
Inasmuch as Saudi Arabia is a U.S. ally, placing the blame for ISIS on Saudi Arabia will only add to conspiracy theories. Anyway, in this case it's not even a theory. Taliban's rise with the aid of United States is well documented and there is no shortage of facts in case of ISIS either. The United States is as inept and irresponsible in its regime-building as it's enthusiastic about it.

James said...

The great Western--esp. US--taboo and the elephant in the room:

Thinking the Unthinkable: A Lamentation for the State of Israel – Well, Not Exactly

http://thesaker.is/thinking-the-unthinkable-a-lamentation-for-the-state-of-israel-well-not-exactly/

Joaquin said...


AIDS, Opium, Diamonds, and Empire by MD Nancy Turner Banks
It is a mistake to think that wars only concern armies involved in active engagement. Nothing is farther from the truth. The real forces of evil wage a financial war. The dark princes of debt finance have gained leverage over every important social, economic, and political institution-including the health care delivery system.

"In AIDS, Opium, Diamonds, and Empire, author Nancy Turner Banks draws the connections between free market strategies, the destruction of national sovereignty by the process of globalization, and AIDS as one of the health consequences of a neo-Darwinian philosophy. Through meticulous research, Banks found a medicalpharmaceutical- industrial complex that was taken over one hundred years ago by the titans of financial capitalism. Their aim was to create profit, not to conquer disease. This book of social history points to a cauldron of historical events that contributed to the HIV/AIDS crisis.

AIDS, Opium, Diamonds, and Empire tells the dramatic story of a financial ideology that is damaging to everything that it means to be human. It is the story of profits over people. In the end, it is the story of hope and how we can regain our sanity and our health in a world gone mad."

---------------------

Creepy stuff:

Sesame Credit: China’s Creepy New Social Engineering Experiment

https://www.corbettreport.com/sesame-credit-chinas-creepy-new-social-engineering-experiment/

SHOW NOTES [All links below are hyperlinked at the Corbett Report page above.]

Episode 145 – You Are Being Gamed

Most Disturbing Presentation Ever: Our Tech Nightmare

Propaganda Games: Sesame Credit – The True Danger of Gamification

China To Use Big Data To Rate Citizens In New ‘Social Credit System’

Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System (2014-2020)

China ‘social credit’: Beijing sets up huge system

Episode 297 – China and the New World Order

Justin said...

laubadetriste, thanks for posting the link to the articles. Very interesting reads.

So I just remembered a quote by John Adams.
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

This strikes me as one of the greatest truths, and one which cannot even be discussed in the public without being labeled some version of "religious bigot" (even if in more polite terms).

Freedom is a wonderful thing, but it won't work now that we (American society) have embraced certain immoral behavior as fundamental rights, never to be infringed upon or discussed in a negative way in public. Single parenthood, I've read, is one of the largest drivers of poverty today, and stems from clear moral lapses at the individual level.

I'm also reminded of some basic economic concepts learned in my graduate economics courses regarding the role of government in the provision of goods and services, and note that the government is increasingly in the business of providing, or at least heavily taxing and regulating, certain private goods which inevitably lead to market distortions and other unpleasant consequences and complexities.

I don't have a strong outlook for the moral fiber of our country, at least at this point. I'm not sure that social safety nets don't unintentionally reward certain immoral behavior, further compounding the problems. And since its taboo to discuss morality these days, I don't have much hope that any mortal human being elected president will have much effect on the trend...

Joaquin said...

False Flag Attacks Are Important Instruments Of Government Policy

All of these false flag attacks were once called “conspiracy theories,” but every one of them
has been proven to be a real false flag attack that served the purpose of undeclared agendas.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/false-flag-terror-a-historical-overview/5475591

Jeremy said...

No conspiracies here lol:

By the great Greg Palast

Bush Family Fortunes: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy - 2004 - Full Length

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yf_EQPRf8s0

laubadetriste said...

@Justin: "laubadetriste, thanks for posting the link to the articles. Very interesting reads."

You're welcome. Glad you found them worth your time. Rod Dreher and Ross Douthat have become vital reading, and *The American Conservative* and *Front Porch Republic* generally.

"So I just remembered a quote by John Adams. 'We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.' / This strikes me as one of the greatest truths..."

I wonder *in what way* that quote may be taken to be true.

The "embracing" (as you put it) of any behavior at all would seem to be frequently a morally-motivated action (in the sense that those who would "embrace" it would seem frequently to do so in the belief that it is right to do so). Certainly that is a claim made by many who would endorse (e.g.) the legalization of gay marriage. I have not seen any wholesale replacement of the grounds of moral rightness with the grounds of (e.g.) political expediency, in the advocacy of the acceptance of any behavior currently a matter of controversy.

Perhaps by quoting Adams on "moral and religious people" you mean to claim that he would agree with you on what counts as as a "[truly] moral and religious people"--the American people now, or some arbitrarily large portion of them, being only an ersatz "moral and religious people". In which case, I wonder what would make a people (truly) moral and religious. I am minded that there is some reason to believe that, on the scale of whole peoples, religiosity is correlated with behaviors often considered immoral, such as violent crime and premarital sex. Of course, the question what counts as (true) religion is, if anything, still more vexed than what makes a moral people. On the scale of whole peoples, I am tempted to reach for the doctrine of Irja, or the Three-Ring Parable.

It is not clear to me, from reading the source of your quote, to what departures specifically John Adams was referring in his letter. He was too early, of course, to be referring to the sort of moral error theory we sometimes discuss, who spend Christmas Eve commenting on philosophy blogs :) --or to have heard Moral Therapeutic Deism bandied about in the colleges. But even before his time, there were powerful thinkers who discussed the survival of peoples lacking religion, or belief in God. Perhaps someone who is familiar with the context of Adams's letter can comment.

laubadetriste said...

A number of the authors of the constitution held moral and religious beliefs that many would consider heterodox--and yet they produced the Constitution they did, all the same. There seems to be at least some--how shall I say--*wiggle room* in identifying the "moral and religious people" the Constitution was made for.

How to weigh the moral changes you may deplore, against those I presume you applaud--say, the abolition of slavery, the decline in violent death, or the emancipation of women? Have we become less "moral" generally as a "people"--or more "moral"? The record seems mixed.

But perhaps I am being naive by including the authors of the Constitution among the "people" it is "for." One might agree with the sentiment, in the sense that Gibbon might have, who wrote in 1776 of Rome that, "The policy of the emperors and the senate, as far as it concerned religion, was happily seconded by the reflections of the enlightened, and by the habits of the superstitious, part of their subjects. The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful. And thus toleration produced not only mutual indulgence, but even religious concord."--The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, V. 1, Ch. 2. --or Critias, who wrote in the 5th century BC that, "There was a time when the life of men was unorganized, / and brutish, and the servant of force; / when there was no reward for the good, / nor again any punishment came to the bad. / And then I think men set up laws / as punishers, in order that justice might be ruler [of all alike], and hold violence a slave. / And anyone who might transgress was / penalized. / Then, since the laws prevented them / from performing overt acts by / force, / but they performed them secretly, then it seems to me / [for the first time] some man, acute and wise in mind, / invented the fear of the gods for mortals, so that there might be some terror for the bad even if in secret / they do or say or think anything."--*Sisyphus* fragment. So might religion be necessary for a people--but not in a sense you might applaud.

laubadetriste said...

"...and one which cannot even be discussed in the public without being labeled some version of 'religious bigot' (even if in more polite terms)."

Have you been so labeled, for so mild a statement? Did you experience anything more than labeling "in more polite terms"?

"Freedom is a wonderful thing, but it won't work now..."

Really? Freedom tout court? What, all of it?

What about those cases (which no doubt you studied along with "basic economic concepts learned in my graduate economics courses regarding the role of government in the provision of goods and services") such as socialist calculation, where it seems that *only* "freedom" "works"?

"Single parenthood, I've read, is one of the largest drivers of poverty today, and stems from clear moral lapses at the individual level."

From what I have read, you tell the truth about the etiology of much poverty today, but not the whole truth.

"The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself."--Daniel Patrick Moynihan, "Memorandum dated March 2003", in Steven Weisman ed., *Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary*

I have in mind especially the case that the decline in the nuclear family led to secularization (more than the other way around), and further the case that mobility has much to do with contemporary sexual norms.

laubadetriste said...

"I don't have a strong outlook for the moral fiber of our country, at least at this point. I'm not sure that social safety nets don't unintentionally reward certain immoral behavior, further compounding the problems."

We may be "not sure that social safety nets don't unintentionally reward certain immoral behavior". And yet, must we not be more specific? If you really mean that social safety nets *as such* may reward immoral behavior, do you also claim that that reward outweighs their benefits, full stop? (In every case?) (Would you advocate that we do away with Medicare, and Social Security?)

If not, then it is not really social safety nets and the government provision of goods that you worry about, but only some social nets sometimes for some people, and the government provision of some goods sometimes for some people. And then we must get down to cases--which is much less worrisome and extravagant than you may have thought.

"And since its taboo to discuss morality these days..."

Really? Morality tout court? What, all of it?

laubadetriste said...

@Joaquin and Jeremy:

↑I repeat my suggestion to read Dr. Feser's articles on conspiracy theory.

1) You are using the word "conspiracy" equivocally. The "conspiracy" in criminal conspiracy, or that (e.g.) Adam Smith mentioned, is not the same as what Dr. Feser termed "global" conspiracy, and so however many actually existing "local" conspiracies you may enumerate, you do not begin to establish the existence of anything more interesting.

(Likewise with words sounding kinda like they imply something to do with a conspiracy somewhere about something come-now-let's-not-get-too-picky-about-the-details: "control", "power", "own", etc.)

2) "All of these false flag attacks were once called 'conspiracy theories,' but every one of them has been proven to be a real false flag attack that served the purpose of undeclared agendas."

You are also relying upon what David Stove called the "They also laughed at Columbus!" argument. They laughed at (e.g.) Columbus, but he was proved right, so beware of mocking me and my conspiracy theory!

To which Stove's reply I think was apt and to the point: They also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

3) "The CIA Coined the Term Conspiracy Theorist In 1967"

...and you rely overmuch on guilt-by-association and innuendo.

(Do you know what else the CIA did? It said that Canada's natural resources include "iron ore, nickel, zinc, copper, gold, lead, rare earth elements, molybdenum, potash, diamonds, silver, fish, timber, wildlife, coal, petroleum, natural gas, [and] hydropower". Oh my God!)

Anonymous said...

I think if you want a philosophical discussion of the nature of what conspiracies involve, you should reach out to James Henry Fetzer, McKnight Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota. In fact, Feser and Fetzer should really debate this.

Joaquin said...

The last place I would go for an elucidation of conspiracies in politics is a "philosophical discussion of what conspiracies involve." Few people seem to have the emotional and intestinal fortitude to face up to the evil that is going on in "high places." This isn't a theoretical problem, but on that depends on reliable data--to which few philosophers have access--and "real world" experience. Academia is a tower of babel of opinions; turbidity and not clarity is the rule.

Anonymous said...

So you'll listen to Feser's take on conspiracies but won't listen to an opposing viewpoint from another philosopher?

Joaquin said...

Re: So you'll listen to Feser's take on conspiracies but won't listen to an opposing viewpoint from another philosopher?

Did I say that? How on earth would you know whose "take" on conspiracies I've listened to? You say I listen to Feser but not to anyone else. This is the problem with blog commentarie that one is forced to wade through: some intelligent commentary and some mediocre commentary, a lot of smart aleck know-it alls, and also some irresponsible "blogorrhea." In fact, I've not read Feser's articles on conspiracy, because I am not interested to hear philosophical views on the matter, but only those views of people who have concrete data and political experience--as I wrote--or serious researchers who contact such people and who have sought and studied all relevant documentation. Obviously, such people, who also tell the truth and can afford to tell the truth without getting shot or fired or jailed are few and far between.

laubadetriste said...

@Joaquin:

I suspect that Anonymous December 25, 2015 at 10:12 AM was talking to those who would deny the existence of "global" conspiracies, as Professor Fetzer seems to argue for the existence of several notable conspiracies. It would seem otiose for Anonymous to have suggested that you reach out for discussion and debate to a scholar who would very likely strongly agree with you.

Perhaps I am mistaken. If so, I trust that that Anonymous will inform me.

"Few people seem to have the emotional and intestinal fortitude to face up to the evil that is going on in 'high places.' This isn't a theoretical problem, but on that depends on reliable data..."

Do you suggest that "reliable data" is capable in principle of solving a "problem" of "intestinal fortitude"? How would that work, exactly? (Might we establish that, say, one kilobyte of data yields an increase in courage of one mililion [where one lion = the amount of courage gained by the Cowardly Lion in the 1939 movie *The Wizard of Oz*]?)

Do you suggest that some, many, or all people here are lacking in the fortitude to "face" evil "in high places"? On what grounds might you make such a claim? (Remember, this is the same blog where a large number of people believe [e.g.] that the US government, by omission or commission, is responsible for the deaths of millions of unborn children; and [e.g.] that Christians are being persecuted, in various ways, both here and abroad. I would say that a reluctance to "face" evil "in high places" is not the first accusation that should come to mind, unless you mean something awfully idiosyncratic.)

"...--to which few philosophers have access--"

Why do you suppose that few philosophers have access to "reliable data"? (Is there something about being a philosopher that prevents someone from completing the Google searches that you have completed?--is there a new SafeSearch I am unaware of, filtering by the fortitude of the searcher?)

"Reliable" according to what standard? (Ooh, I hope you say something interesting, like "Trial by combat!")

"...--and "real world" experience..."

So what is the "real world", in this case? (Note: this would seem to be a philosophical question.) And why do you imply that philosophers do not have "real world" experience? (Perhaps you have in mind a subtle criticism of Socrates's experience in the Peloponnesian War. Or Plato's experience with King Dionysius II of Syracuse. Or Aristotle's or Pyrrho's experiences with Alexander the Great. Or Cicero's experience as Consul of Rome. Or Marcus Aurelius's experience as Emperor of Rome. Or Boethius's experience as Senator of Rome. Or Bacon's experience as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England. Or Thomas More's experience as Lord High Chancellor of England. Or Descartes's experience in the Dutch States Army, or at the siege of La Rochelle, or with Queen Christina of Sweden. Or Leibniz's experience drafting the legal code for the Electorate of Mainz, or as Privy Counselor of Justice. Or Wittgenstein's experience as a prisoner of war in Italy. Or the experience of A. J. Ayer, Gilbert Ryle, Stuart Hampshire, and H. L. A. Hart in Military Intelligence.

...or perhaps you are being too sloppy in your writing to mean anything in particular.)

"Academia is a tower of babel of opinions; turbidity and not clarity is the rule."

Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, pot.

Joaquin said...

Or perhaps you aren't taking the trouble to understand the simple meaning of what was written and are needlessly complicating--endlessly, endlessly goes the blogorrhea.

Ah well, to each his amusement. I've other things to do and life is short.

JohnD said...


Defeat ISIS and Their Friends on Wall Street! A Three Point Plan to End Terrorism
Column: Politics
Region: Middle East

345345345345In recent weeks there has been a wave of violence against Muslim-Americans. Spurred by the heated rhetoric of conservative politicians, many confused people have begun to think that those who practice the Islamic faith are somehow “the enemy within” as ISIS supporters. The idea that the Muslim-Americans are or could potentially be supportive of ISIS is absurd. The overwhelming majority of ISIS victims have been Muslims deemed by the terrorists to somehow have deviated from the faith. Furthermore, the last thing that anyone with religious ideas similar to ISIS would do is relocate to the United States.

Though it is not to be found among Muslim-Americans, there is indeed an “enemy within” – that is, an entity that supports ISIS from inside the United States. This fifth column, whose members welcome and actively pursue the strengthening of ISIS, won’t be found worshipping Allah in mosques, but inside expensive Manhattan suites — worshipping their particular God: money.

The financial elites that have arisen within global capitalism have neither loyalty to the United States nor concern with stopping the spread of terrorism. As ISIS grows stronger, they are watching their profits soar.
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/25/defeat-isis-and-their-friends-on-wall-street-a-three-point-plan-to-end-terrorism/

This may sound like a wild conspiracy theory, but the facts speak for themselves. What is the source of ISIS weaponry? ISIS, like all the other anti-government terrorist groups in Syria, has received a steady flow of weapons from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar. These countries are absolute monarchies propped up by Exxon Mobile and other powerful US oil corporations.

The support coming for ISIS from these regimes is blatant. The largest mosque in the Kingdom of Bahrain publicly displayed an ISIS flag. A large percentage of the social media activity supporting ISIS originated within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Wall Street oil plantations also known as the “Gulf States” have been pouring weapons into Syria, as many of their poorest citizens, unemployed as a result of the oil-price drop, find their way into ISIS ranks.

Back in 2010, the United States and Saudi Arabia conducted the biggest arms deal in world history. $60.5 billion worth of weapons were purchased by the Saudi regime. Saudi Arabia now has the fourth-largest military budget of any country in the entire world. Its weapons, which continue to pour into Syria, are purchased exclusively from the United States.

Military contractors such as General Electric, Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin lobby congress very hard to keep the US on good terms with the pro-ISIS dictatorship known as the Saudi monarchy, as well as its satellites in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

More:
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/25/defeat-isis-and-their-friends-on-wall-street-a-three-point-plan-to-end-terrorism/

Also:

http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/25/the-peculiarities-of-incident-investigation/

Veronica said...

Really great documentary

How Big Oil Conquered The World

https://www.corbettreport.com/episode-310-rise-of-the-oiligarchs/

John said...

Deep State Rising: The Mainstreaming of the Shadow Government

https://www.corbettreport.com/deep-state-rising-the-mainstreaming-of-the-shadow-government/

John said...

05 January 2016
Inside the US Deep State: An Interview with Mike Lofgren

Attached herewith is an interview with my good friend Mike Lofgren. The subject is Lofgren’s important and timely new book entitled The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government, which hits the stands today. Mike’s new book builds on his excellent essay, Anatomy of the Deep State, originally posted on Bill Moyers’ website.

Lofgren diagnoses the sorry state of governance in the US democratic system. This may well be the most serious problem facing our nation since the 1850s during the lead up to the Civil War. It is, therefore, a problem every serious citizen should make a concentrated effort to understand and act on — our future depends on an informed citizenry rising up to demand change. That is a tall order, given the sorry state the information produced by the 4th Estate.
Chuck Spinney

http://chuckspinney.blogspot.mx/2016/01/inside-us-deep-state-interview-with.html

Anonymous said...

"That the views described above are simply nutty is more to the point. Good judgment is, needless to say, something you want in a president. If Carson adheres to doctrines like the ones described, that would certainly be evidence that he lacks good judgment."


That makes a kind of logical sense, but I'm not sure ordinary rules apply to religion. There are all sorts of things, in various different religions, that could easily be thought to be "nutty". Just normal Christian beliefs about the return of Jesus will be thought nutty by many outside of the Christian faith. I think we need to give people the benefit of the doubt that such things will not impact on their real-world ability unless there is good evidence otherwise.

R.C. said...

I saw an earlier commenter state that the existence of the state of Israel is an embarrassment to Catholic eschatology...suggesting that somehow holding Catholic views on eschatology requires holding that there is not a state of Israel at or near the time of the Second Coming.

To which I answer, "Oh, really? Who says?"

There is nothing, so far as I can see, in the whole history of Catholic eschatology which requires a person to have any particular opinion about a democratic republic peopled mostly by non-Christian Jews existing in Judea during or just before the Lord's return.

A Catholic must hold that the calling of the Jews is "irrevocable." A Catholic should probably hold that, sometime near the Second Coming, a large number of Jews come to hold that Jesus was and is the Messiah after all. And of course a Catholic must firmly assert that no man, not even the Son, but only the Father alone, "knows the day and the hour" ...though I suspect that orthodox Christologists make distinctions between Christ-as-regards-His-humanity and Christ-as-regards-His-divinity, or perhaps Christ-as-He-was-then-speaking and Christ-as-He-now-sits-at-the-right-hand.

But other than that? Nah.

Therefore the existence of modern Israel is no embarrassment for a Catholic, should Jesus happen to return tomorrow.

But of course He may not. He may tarry another ten thousand years. And in that time, political Israel might fall, might not exist for five thousand years, might re-arise, might re-arise and exist for a thousand years, and fall again.

It wouldn't matter one whit, either way.