Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Morality v. the Social Contract

Since I’ve been repeated called ignorant on my own blog and keep being asked what the basis of morality is even though it’s far from a cogent point, I think it’s about time to discuss the concept of the Social Contract v. Morality-based law. First of all, though, let’s get something out of the way quickly. Say that my father was an alcoholic circus clown who came home every night and beat me with his oversized clown shoes (the basis for this particularly poetic tale can be found in the middle of this disturbing and hilarious Rolling Stone article). Does this mean that I, too, have to become an alcoholic circus clown who beats my children with my oversized shoes? I should think not. American democracy can claim traditions and roots that go back to Athens and the Roman Republic. However, do we take everything that the Greeks and Romans did, or do we borrow that which is useful to us and discard that which is outmoded or unable to be adapted? For that matter, the America that currently exists is actually quite different from the one the Constitution envisioned. The biggest example is that we’ve gone from a voting class consisting of landed, white males to universal suffrage for those 18 and above who are non-incarcerated citizens. This is what is called “progress,” the rejection of old, outmoded forms of thinking in favor of new ways of looking at things. Thereby, even if Biblical values formed a part of the foundation of the United States Constitution (which, admittedly, they probably did, but mostly in that the Bible is kind of a foundational item of Western culture and has been influencing the thinking of this part of the world for many, many years), that doesn’t mean we actually have to follow them. Again, I point at the Establishment Clause as a bulwark designed specifically to keep that sort of thing from happening. We are allowed to reject Biblical teachings if they conflict with our society’s values in the same way we can discard items of Roman Republic law if we so choose. This, by the way, is one of those places where being first isn’t necessarily good. The great liberal revolutions/evolutions of Europe that followed in the century after the great experiment in the United States were far more explicit in establishing the public and the religious sphere as separate entities. So let me make something clear. I don’t give a flying crap what the Bible says about homosexuality. The state California doesn’t have to, either. California only has to answer to its voters and the Federal government, not god (no matter what kind of foot-in-mouth garbage Pat Robertson will undoubtedly spew). Anyway, this brings me to my original point. Sadly, this came to me as a whole-cloth argument at about 3 o’clock this morning, but I don’t remember how I was putting it together then, so I kind of have to start from the beginning. Just so we remember, it’s morality-based law v. the Social Contract. Morality-based laws are generally unjust, arbitrary, and handled by a gatekeeper or group of gatekeepers. This is how most of the laws in human history have worked (China being a notable exception with its two-thousand year tradition of Confucian law). They’re unjust in that there is generally no equal distribution of the protection of the law, with certain privileges reserved for an elite class and unequal punishments depending on what levels the criminal and the victim were on. They’re arbitrary in that morals change from person to person, tribe to tribe, and country to country and when you combine those variations in morals with the concept of the gatekeeper, well, who knows what you’re going to get? The gatekeeper, in the case of morality-based law, then becomes the most important issue. This, fundamentally, is where the injustice and arbitrariness of the morality-based law system comes from. Even if you have something written down, it’s generally interpreted by a morality police or, in the case where it is a religious issue, the priestly class who are the sole interpreters of the intentions of the lawgiver. So if the gatekeeper decides that, say, wearing hats on Friday is immoral, then nobody gets to wear hats on Friday. In the United States we do not have a morality-based law system. I cannot stress this enough. Our laws are founded on John Locke’s principle of the Social Contract, which is pretty self-explanatory in my book, but it needs to be unpacked a bit for discussion purposes. The Social Contract works like this: we as a society make a judgment like, “It would be bad for society if people were allowed to kill other people with no reprisal.” We then pass a law making murder illegal. At that point it’s not a moral decision, it’s an actuarial decision, with different values of punishment based on intention and whatnot. The Social Contract then goes down the line. Allowing unpunished property theft is bad for society, therefore we need to make laws against it. We can even take that down to the traffic laws. It’s quite dangerous if everyone on the road is driving a different way, so we need to make laws. These laws are either put in place by elected officials or ratified directly by the voters in referendums. The process by which they come in to being is a largely public, transparent process (I mean, we have TV cameras in Congress, for the love of crap, not that anybody actually watches C-SPAN, but it’s there). There was no Mt. Sinai moment for the United States Constitution when George Washington came down from the top of the statehouse in Philadelphia with the parchments and declared it the law of the land. Nope. The Constitution was written, then taken to each of the thirteen states to be ratified by the voters, competing the “contract” part of the Social Contract. Meanwhile, the gatekeepers of the Social Contract are the judges and lawyers. Judges are directly elected on a local level and appointed by elected officials on a national level, meaning that they aren’t some sort of isolated elite blessed with the gnosis of the lawgiver, but regular people with as specific type of education. No one in the country has to go before a judge without a lawyer, either, because it’s taken as a given that the average citizen will be largely ignorant of their rights and it is, therefore, taken as a given that someone who does know should be there. Now, back to that sticky issue of gay marriage: In a morality-based law system could we say that gay marriage should be made illegal? Most certainly, assuming that the system of morality in question doesn’t like gay people. In a Social Contract based law system could we say that gay marriage should be made illegal? No. A gay marriage has no more effect on the society than a heterosexual marriage does. In fact, it may well have a beneficial effect on society. Making sure that same-sex partners fall under the same insurance and inheritance laws that married couples do is a good thing for society. There will also be a slight uptick in the amount of money spent on weddings, which is good for the economy. This allows me to make an important point. Debates like this are rarely logical and sound a lot like the people on opposite sides are talking past each other. There’s a reason for this: they are. Having spent more than my fair share of time in evangelism training and working on “personal testimonies” and whatnot, I can say with confidence that Christian apologetics are built around creating that all-important sense of inevitability. Creating inevitability requires defining the terms under which the arguments are made. This attitude has transferred over to the political arena, too. So we’re told we live in a “Christian nation” and that the Constitution is actually based on the Bible even when those things are true only in that the US was founded as part of the Christian West and the Bible is a foundational cultural document. The reason that there is a Bill of Rights is because after the Constitution was written, several people looked at it and said, “You know, if we don’t specifically spell out certain rights, they’re going to be taken away.” It’s probably not an accident that the Establishment Clause was one of the very first things to get written down. The Framers of the Constitution did not want a morality-based law system wherein people could be exploited or persecuted in the name of religion. That’s why that’s in there. Either way, as soon as we’re transferred in public dialogue to a “Christian nation,” the Constitution is held hostage by the Bible. That goes against the Establishment Clause and completely contradicts the spirit of the founding of this nation. The first step in dealing with it, though, is to recognize why we’re talking past each other.

16 comments:

James said...

BG: Excellent post!

I should note a few things before making comment:

1. I haven't seen anyone call you ignorant, yet...so stop feeling so "persecuted" for crying out loud your acting like a lot of Christians I know...:)

2. I am so glad that the United States is not a Christian nation. And I am so glad that we have protections in place to keep us from developing such things as religious requirements for political office, and a State Church.

With that...

Your idea of the Establishment Clause is surely warped. Don't bend this were it should not be bent. The intention of the EC is to protect the citizens of the US from having their religious decisions forced upon them. The EC "establishes" that no certain religious affiliation is necessary to hold public office and "establishes" that there is to be no State Church.

The EC does not say that that the US is to be free of religion, nor does it say that religion can not be a part of US government.

Based on the 1st and 14th amendments citizens of the US are allowed and entitled to be as religious or anti-religious in the public arena as they wish

With that...if you don't like it you're free to change it.

As you well know the moving force in government is not the president or congress it is the people. And in this country the majority rules. Therefore if the majority of citizens in California want to embrace gay marriage they can vote on it and make it happen. Unfortunately, in that case 4 radical judges overturned the votes of over 4 million voters. Do you believe that is appropriate?

Regarding your comment about not giving a flying crap about the Bible, nor should CA. That's fine too. Though I will remind you that while everyone is entitled to an opinion not every opinion is equally valid. There are consequences for your beliefs and your actions. (See Pascal's Wager). Feel free to believe whatever you like...don't slight those who oppose you...and know that if you're wrong there could be "hell to pay" (for lack of any better expression).

Finally, regarding morality. My point is perfectly cogent, and you're still missing it.

Locke did not invent morality. Even the SCT is based on morality. So, my question remains:

What is the origin of morality? At it's most basic level, where do we get our morals?

Even in your example of the SCT you say that, "we as a society make a judgment like..." and you give the example of murder. Well, how did society arrive that murder is evil?

One last comment...I too am sick of "American Christian rhetoric" as you mentioned in a comment on your previous post. I'm sick of Pat Robertson-eske motives. I'm sick of guys in suits with big Bibles, I'm sick of Christians not caring, not helping the poor, not caring for widows, not infiltrating their communities and neighborhoods with the grace and peace of Christ. I'm sick of Christians not "getting their hands dirty" (see the "Second Chance Movie"). My vision for our church (the church that I pastor) is laid out in my last writing on my blog. And in my heart of hearts I believe that you would be impressed with what we're doing and what we want to do. You just have to get to know me...as I'm trying to get to know you.

I'm gonna rock you like a freakin hurricane on Friday!

Amber E said...

Hello
I think in a Social Contract the society could in fact choose to make gay marriege illegal. The whole point would be that, from an actuarial perspective they considered gay marriage to be harmful to the society in general. You had mentioned that homosexual and hetrosexual marriage have the same effect on society. Many people disagree with that. If the majority of people disagree with you than they can make that part of the social comment.

Other than that I thought you had many good points.

Best regards,
Amber

Geds said...

Amber:

You make an interesting point and it's one of those places where I know exactly what I want to say in response, but have absolutely no clue how to say it. So, uh, bear with me.

Okay, then. It's impossible to consider a morality-based law system by itself in the abstract. It has to be dealt with in relation to the lawgiver and the gatekeeper. One can consider a Social Contract by itself in the abstract in the most general of terms. In order to make any sort of useful connection, though, one will have to ask what the society in question values pretty quickly. The American Social Contract in particular is about keeping society from falling apart. One of the values we have as a society is pair bonding, also known as marriage. In the abstract, one pair is as good as another (in order to head off the usual responses at the pass: this doesn't open the door to adult/child marriages or human/animal marriages, as a marriage is a legally binding contract and no twelve-year old or horse that I know of is legally allowed to sign a contract. Also, the pair-bonding is not necessarily, or even primarily, for the purpose of having children. There is nothing in the marriage license that says, "You're married, now have 2.5 children." Moreover, marriage licenses are often issued to people who are incapable of having children due to age, infirmity, or past surgical procedures).

Should the society in question decide that one pair is not as good as another, it's perfectly allowed to not include that in the Contract. But that's not a reflection on the abstract Contract, it's a reflection on that particular society's. I hope that makes sense.

By the way, Amber, you wouldn't happen to be someone I know, but not as well as one of your sisters, would you?

Now, then, James, Jamie, whatever:

First of all, cut the buddy-buddy trash talk schtick. We're not buddies and the surest way to get on my bad side is by, well, doing exactly what you're doing.

That said, I told you your point wasn't cogent, then explained at great length why it wasn't. You told me that it is because you said so. I'm a little tired of this game and you don't seem to understand that, "I reject the premise of your question," is a perfectly valid response to a question based on a faulty premise. Since I'm guessing you want me to play gotcha games on the issue of morality, I reiterate: I reject the premise of your question.

However, I doubt you're going away, so I'll answer your question:

Mammals have two primary evolutionary advantages over most of the rest of the animal kingdom. First: warm blood pretty much allows infinite adaptability. Second: they form groups both for protection and bonding (compare to, say a school of fish, which forms for protection in numbers or an ant colony, which consists of several types of ants specifically birthed to perform certain tasks at the direction of the queen. You won't see a fish or an ant mourning the dead, but you will often see elephants or dogs doing so). Bonding is a complex social task.

Researchers working with monkeys have done experiments wherein a researcher pretends to be in distress. The monkeys, upon seeing this, will often attempt to help the researcher (there was this entire episode of NOVA on the learning ability of primates. It was really fricken' cool). There is, too, the example of Jane Goodall, who researched apes by basically getting close enough to them that they invited her in to their group. I saw another episode of NOVA (I think) on the ocean's top predators. At one point they were following a small pod of bottlenose dolphins. Another dolphin from a completely different subspecies that was incapable of interbreeding with bottlenoses and that traditionally didn't get along with them had gotten separated from its pod. The bottlenoses allowed this lone dolphin to join their pod, which meant it was safer from predators and much better able to find food.

In these examples we can find the rudiments of morality. Were we to anthropomorphize them, which is a dangerous habit to fall in to, but I do it for rhetorical purposes, we could even assign a name to it: hospitality. Hospitality is one of the most basic of all moral values and was a pretty much universal societal imperative in pre-modern societies (and still is in the places where we haven't all been conditioned to be terrified of one another).

The early hominids probably needed no moral code more advanced than the sort displayed by the dolphins or apes in the above examples. They pretty much moved in family units the same way most other mammals do. However, as human intelligence and capability increased and society evolved, a more complex moral code became necessary. It's pretty easy to create an ad hoc collection of mores when dealing with a single family unit. However, as one moves from family to tribe, then creates towns and cities, a single, coherent identity is necessary.

A lot of moral codes contain some seemingly completely arbitrary rules. However, they make sense when taken in the context of attempting to separate one group from another, as the two easiest ways to create group cohesion is by having an external evil and an external group to make fun of. However, these rules, too, need some form of punishment if they aren't followed. This is where superstition comes in to play.

If you don't perform this particular ritual, your crops will wither or your children will be born with club feet or whatever. Since no one could explain blight or birth defects, as we didn't have those pesky scientists around back in 10,000 B.C.E., this was a highly effective tactic. Eventually, everything coalesced and was codified and given neat little explanations. There are these beings that we can't see or hear that have a vested interest in how things go down here, you see. If we don't appease them, they'll do bad stuff. So we gave these beings names and began performing silly rituals to make sure they were happy. And if there was still blight or club footed children, well, apparently some people just didn't get the memo on that whole thing or they're cursed for some reason.

Eventually, as all things do, that basic morality, superstition, and ritual was so entwined that no one had any hope of remembering where they all came from. And so here we are, a society that has gotten to the moon and counted the stars and we're still beholden to the ideas of our ancestors who thought that the sky was actually the inside of a hollowed-out god's skull.

So there you go, "buddy." I answered your question and did you one better. I gave an evolutionary explanation for the existence of religion.

James said...

"I reject the premise of your question" is a perfectly valid response? My question is more cogent than "why is the sky blue" but I'll be sure to follow your lead on when my kids eventually ask me that question.

Stepping around your straw man I'll just say this:

Your answer that morales are evolved behavior is self defeating. Evolution and morality is an inherient contradiction. Of course I could mention Hitler's view of social Darwinism or Stalin's but you would respond that those are remote instances. So maybe I'll mention all the other ethnic cleansing that takes place around the world which is a ton, or Europe's role in the extermination of Native Indians in the America's (Guns, Germs, and Steel I see is one of your favs). Or how about the US's moving Native American Indians even?

Though again I'm sure you have some way of refuting these points (perhaps you'll just dismiss them as not cogent abd therefore refrain?

Put I'll add this anyways. We see the effects of social Darwinism displayed everyday. Crime is at its core an embrace of SD. Murder, theft, hate, are all examples of one person or a group of people saying "'I'm better than you are; my survival is more important than yours."

Evolution is the antithesis of morality.

The Moral Law comes from the Moral Lawgiver. Therefore because we are created in His image when Christ says, "love your neighbor as yourself...treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself" the answer resounds within us. An idea that is excepted by all right thinking human beings regardless of culture and society.

I'm sure that even you, aside from your comments to me, are even capable of what I've just said. Therefore it's not a mystery that I say I'm your neighbor, let me have that role.

Geds said...

Well, then, since I pretty much called that you were going to dismiss my answer out of hand to give the pat answer of, "morals come from god." Technically speaking, I already said in the main post (reading comprehension is great). Of course, I would posit that we invent god to excuse our morals, while you claim that god gave us morals, putting us at quite the impasse.

However, since you so eloquently denounced Hitler in favor of the great and grand moral lawgiver, let me tell you a story.

A month or two ago I was sitting in a Presbyterian Church entirely due to family obligations. They had a missionary in as a guest speaker. Now, this missionary's task was to act as an arbiter in an attempt to end violence in an historically quite violent section of the world where two groups have spent a great deal of time killing each other due to affiliation and lots of people have died in terrorist bombings and whatnot.

The location? Northern Ireland. The two groups? Catholics and Protestants.

So explain to me again how positing a moral lawgiver is so damn much better than positing an evolutionary component to the moral code.

Oh, and since we're here, anyway, you don't quite get the point of evolution. Were humans lizardpeople or sharkpeople than, no there would be no use for social morals, as it's an "everyone for themselves" environment in that (and most other) corner of the animal kingdom.

Primates and hominids, however, do not actually have the evolutionary traits necessary to survive on their own. There are always creatures bigger, faster, and with pointier teeth. The way we (and a bunch of other parts of the mammal world) survive and thrive is by working together. This fits perfectly well within the framework of evolution, as there is no single end-goal of evolution save "survive and pass on your genes." Evolution doesn't care how you do so, just that you do. Mammals largely survive by working together, making, "Figure out how to deal with others," an evolutionary imperative.

But, of course, you'll pretty much read this as, "Pink legend frothy hipbone pirate watershed," so I don't expect any sort of worthwhile response.

Please don't be bothered to leave one.

Amber E said...

Geds,
I may have met you once or twice and am sure you know one of my sisters. Thank you for the well -thought out response. I had just wnated to mention the distinction that things are messy in applied political science. Societies may choose similar laws for widely disparate reasons.
Amber

Anonymous said...

For someone who is in their twenties, you sure do seem to think that you know everything there is to know about everything! I guess that's part of being young! Please excuse me if I am deluded, but I thought that the point of blogging was to spark discussion. So, why are you so irritated when someone is commenting and challenging you? And, why did you cut off the discussion in your last post (I was actually enjoying reading it)? Do you just blog to "hear" yourself speak? Words are very powerful. They can be used to bless or to curse. You seem to be very proud of the fact that you can use your words to cut someone down to the bone. And, it is even more disturbing that who you are doing that to is a pastor, and someone that you know! If there is one thing that comes through loud & clear in your writing it is that you have been wounded by Christianity, so my heart definitely goes out to you. And, I pray that God would somehow reveal Himself to you and show you that He exists, that He loves you, and that He sent His Son to die for you. I would love to read what your blog would say, given your obvious intelligence, from a Christian perspective.

James said...

Hey, I had a good time tonight...hope you did too.

Want to grab a coffee sometime soon?

Geds said...

Mr./Mrs. Anonymous:

The answer to why I cut off discussion is simple.

Arguing on the internet is like calling a radio station to get free airfare to Mogadishu. Even if you win you have to go to Mogadishu.

(And, um that was the cleanest, most PC way of saying that, even if it's a bit clunky. You're welcome.)

See, fundamentally speaking, I don't care. I knew going in that james was looking for one particular response and when he didn't find it he'd shoehorn it in. Having left after 25 years in Christianity, I no longer accept the suppositions upon which the belief system are built, so his arguments hold no water with me. My arguments exist outside of the narrowly-defined Christian context of what is "right," so my arguments hold no water for him.

In the interests of not having to force one of my best friends to remember his wedding as the time his best man and pastor got in a fist fight, it's best to cut this off now.

Also, I'm not wandering around waiting to be healed of some wound caused by Christianity. However, now that I stand on this side, I'm occasionally reminded of how much of an insufferable prick I could be to people in the name of my religion. Certain people remind me of what I once was and would have even become more of.

You might want to take note of this, Jamie. I don't like you. It's not because you're a pastor, it's because the very first time I met you I watched you push your little brother around and tell him that his dreams of becoming a pilot or a musician weren't good enough in your opinion and his time would be much better spent with some crappy Bible software. If I'm not mistaken, he still plays guitar and has his pilot's license now.

You can't push me around like you can him. You can't lord your title of pastor over me, either. I could give you the names of five pastors I worked with in my seven and a half years of ministry that I like more than you. I had to promise your brother long before this week that I'd be civil to you during the wedding stuff. It's his thing and not mine, so it's not my place to air grievances. You're only making that harder on me by trying to push me around on my blog and alternately treating me like a 13 year old who doesn't want to be at youth group.

We aren't friends. You aren't going to be my neighbor. You aren't going to re-convert me.

Kindly drop this. It's gotten old.

Anonymous said...

WOW! So young and so full of anger and bitterness. Something tells me you are going to be a very lonely man.

James said...

Okay Brian let's not be friends, or "neighbors." Let's be enemies. Sound good?

Oh crap, you know what Jesus said "love your enemies as you love yourself" too.

One of the basic tenents of your worldview is discovery of truth, a hunting for it. But you present yourself as knowing it all already.
Interesting that you can tell so much about me by one meeting three years ago. And your arrogance prevailed then too. I remember part of the conversation being how worship would be done in our church plant. And instead of you letting me articulate my vision you told me how wrong I was even then.

Have I been a pain in the ass to Ryan? sure.

Has Ryan been a pain in the ass to me? Absolutely.

But love is a two way street and apology and forgiveness are required on both sides.

As humans, as friends, as brothers we dialogue, let our feelings known to make things BETTER. That's my relationship with Ryan. I serve as the "older sometimes wiser brother" and hope maybe that in offering my thoughts Ryan may escape some of the pitfalls that I've fallen into.

So why don't we have a beer or a coffee. Even the three of us. If I'm required to make apologies I'll be happy to. Let's move out of the rut.

Geds said...

Here's the thing, Jamie. Your treatment of your brother that night and his response told me something. You pushed him around, dismissed his opinions and treated a grown adult like a child in public and in front of perfect strangers. Since it was a Bible study, one would assume that you would be trying to entice those strangers to join your Bible study or church or even religion. It was quite a revealing incident. Your attempts to come in here and take over my blog have only confirmed it.

You are nothing more than a bully. You push people around as long as they will let you. And I'm guessing that you get a lot of leverage to push people around, as Mr. Anonymous has helpfully confirmed with his horror that I would dare question, gasp, a pastor.

Even though I've known your brother for fifteen years and I have actually met you in the past, you have taken absolutely no interest in my life before this moment. I find your motives in taking that interest right now suspect, especially in light of the fact that none of your other brothers seems to have showed up here to exasperate me. If I helped you realized you've bullied your brother around, then good, go talk to him. I don't have to be there for that.

Meanwhile, I checked with a lawyer buddy of mine. He confirmed that the United States' law is built on Social Contract and Common Law traditions and the question of morality has no place in the courtroom. So, hey, there you go.

Mr. Anonymous:

I'm assuming you're well meaning and trying to help, so I'll just say this. Actually, I'm generally a very happy and non-angry person. If something pisses me off, though, I get angry. And I tend to direct my anger at the thing that is actually making me mad, as opposed to random, third-party people or objects (for instance, Amber made a perfectly relevant point and I replied in a civil manner right in the middle of all of this). I also usually check my anger and offer charity, but this is one of those situations where I simply will not be bothered to do so.

The thing is, I'm not even mad right now. I'm annoyed. I can't come to my own blog any more without finding a nice, steaming turd on the front porch. It's not that I don't like discussion, it's that I don't like being insulted with the insistence that I answer entrapping questions.

Although this has done one nice thing. It keeps reminding me of why I don't miss church...

Anonymous said...

It's very noble of you to stand up for your friend, but just remember that blood is thicker than water. See ya in August!

Geds said...

Y'know, it's funny. I had every one of ol' james' moves predicted from the very beginning except for the most obvious one. This amuses the hell out of me, as the Baptist pastor who's playbook I was using as a cheat sheet totally would have done this, too.

Anyway, I'll give james credit that had I done my due diligence I could have figured out who he was from his first post. However, Mr. Anonymous, or should I say Mrs. Anonymous, or, more specifically, Mrs. james, you did not give me the same level of courtesy.

Still, the old pastor enlisting his wife to show up and ambush the poor, lone blogger and make it look like he's offended the vast machinery of Christianity and Baby Jesus is crying and all of that is a pretty predictable trick. I'd say, "For shame," but I doubt you feel any. I sure know I didn't back when I was being an asshole for Jesus. But, hey, thanks for reminding me that there was someone I hadn't gotten around to apologizing to for the way I treated them back during my know-it-all Christian days. I guess I owe you that much.

Ah, well, you win some, you lose some.

Anonymous said...

You are completely wrong about James and his intentions (can't you tell that he just enjoys debating and discussing topics that have to do with religion and politics? Isn't that what blogging is all about?). Just as you are completely wrong about me (btw, I commented all on my own with no "enlisting"). I sincerely hope that we are both wrong about you, too. It doesn't seem like leaving Christianity has made you any nicer of a person. Maybe face-to-face you will be...I hope.

Geds said...

No, see, james doesn't enjoy "debating and discussing topics that have to do with religion and politics." He enjoys telling them what they should think.

And, actually, any number of people have told me that I am nicer now that I'm not a Christian. People that know me quite well, in fact. People who have known me for years.

You seem to be incapable of seeing that what you are doing here is highly, highly annoying. I didn't go to james' blog and start things, he came here. I didn't attempt to turn his blog in to an open forum to proselytize in the name of atheism, he came here and started preaching Christianity. I didn't start this, you did.

However, you'll be happy to know that I finally made a deeply important changeover at about 1 am as I was going to bed. I realized I shouldn't be angry with either one of you. You're too pathetic to really deserve my anger.

You're so narrow minded your ears rub together (and, for the record, you call me narrow minded because I won't consider your arguments, I call you narrow minded because you won't consider any other arguments. If you've been paying attention, I spent 25 years as a Christian, which means I once agreed with all of your arguments, but no longer do. This means that I really don't have to consider yours any more because I already know what they are. And, again, I checked with a lawyer on the Social Contract and was totally right about that one and you can look up all the Social Darwinism stuff you want, I know I'm right in that post). You actually think its effective evangelism to show up unannounced and attack a blogger, then pull this little ambush tactic thing. If you knew a damn thing about Jesus, you'd know that he never treated people the way you're treating me.

So, quite frankly, if I'm going to re-consider Jesus at any point, I'm not going to use your version, anyway. I'll try to find someone who's actually capable of sympathizing with people. Since, quite frankly, it was pastors like (and including, might I add) Jamie that made me think, "Huh, maybe I shouldn't go to Seminary. I don't want to become one of these asshole pastors." Oh, and that was when I was still a Christian...

Now go away. I'd hate to think of how annoyed you'll get when I start ignoring you because your posts aren't worth my time.