Does God Give no Great Gifts?

That title is a bit of a challenge, of course, and I am sorry if you got here due to its inflammatory nature–but it is always something I have wondered. Why is everything powerful in the world considered by many pious Christians to be of the Devil?

The Devil put Obama at the head of the United States. The Devil gave the witches of Salem their power. The Devil makes the rich man rich. Why is it that the Devil seems to put so much more effort in our plane of existence to win people to his side than God does? Perhaps you don’t believe me, and that’s OK, too. It is just something that has always bothered me.

If God wants us all to go to Heaven, if God loves all of us, why are the gifts from the Heavenly Father so seemingly insignificant to those offered by Satan? If witchcraft and magic are of the Devil, why are we to fight it with piety from God? If Satan gives the wicked power, why are we supposed to fight them via being humble? If Satan makes an evil man rich, why are we supposed to fight it by giving all that we own to charity?

The battle seems so lopsided to me. Do we suffer in this world for glory and paradise in the next? Do the wicked prosper in this world to balance the suffering of the next? Let me put it another way.

If God is our Father, a parent then, let’s use metaphor. There are bullies at the school, and they are constantly beating us. Every day, they are beating us. The teachers don’t like us, so Satan gives them baseball bats so they can beat us more fully. God, our father who loves us, tells us when we arrive home, pious and humble, that “Their beating you is making you stronger, testing you. When you get out of school, those bullies will all be in jail and you can have any job you want!”

That’s great, Dad, but that does me no good now.

Tell me the parent who loves their kid that would let this happen. Show me the parent who wouldn’t step up to the school board, take it to the media, fight the bullies themselves, try to get the parents fired? Show me the parent, who failing all of the above, would not move their child.

And yet God asks us (and please forgive the colloquialism here) to bend over and take it, and don’t worry, it’ll all be over soon.

Satan, however, has a kid that is bullied at the same school. He sends the kid to school with a baseball bat, then shows up at the school to make a stink about it. Satan protects his children. If things continue to escalate, it seems, Satan continues to escalate with them, protecting his kids.

And yet God loves us? And Satan doesn’t? This isn’t a battle of souls, it is God testing us at best, and leaving us to the wolves at worst–it is an uneven playing field, a soul destroying wasteland where only the strong survive. If God was infinitely loving, and if God is infinitely powerful, and if God wants every soul to go to Heaven, why does he leave us with no tools save a book and our own fortitude to defend ourselves with while Satan gives weapons and wealth and power?

I have to clarify at this point that I don’t really believe in either God or Satan, and all of the above was written from the standpoint I held during my crisis of faith. The above were questions, only a small number of them, that swirled through my head at the time. They were things that made no sense to me. They are things that still make no sense to me; how can the faithful sit there and take it like that? How can they suffer so badly at the hands of so many, and yet believe that their God loves and protects and shelters them? He shelters them from nothing; he doesn’t even give them canvas to make a net out of. He just says “Hey, you are doing a great job!” if you are doing well, or “To the pit of hell with you for eternity,” if you stumble.

I have stumbled. I have fallen. I have railed against God in my rage. The world is actually easier for me to accept when I think of it as a human construct with flaws than when I think of it as a construct created by someone who loves us, but leaves us to suffer. Leaves many to suffer for eternity, if the strict rules for getting into heaven are to be believed.

If the Word of God is a defense, walk up to someone in a war-ravaged country, and use your words against them. I’ll wait.

Vote with Your Head or Vote with Your Heart

My Dad and I have never seen eye-to-eye in politics, but unlike many others we tend to be fairly good humored about it. Perhaps it is because I live in an area so staunchly conservative that the conservative candidate took more than 85% of the vote in my area, despite my weight (all of the weight that one vote holds) railing against it. In any case, I am certainly left leaning, and I often speak at great length to anyone who will listen (a shrinking number) about how great certain socialist policies have been to me, and how I would pay a huge sum to ensure they are continued for the next generation.

My father is a staunch conservative, and our political conversations often end (jokingly, I hope) with my calling him a Fascist and him calling me a Communist. He did have something to say, though, that has always stuck with me — and it never really sank in until now. He told me “When you are young, you vote with your heart. When you get older, you vote with your head.”

Perhaps he worded it more sternly; I have been called a “bleeding heart liberal” by more than one person on the conservative side of politics before, but the quote has always been swirling in my head. Today, I was reading something written by someone whose political views were staunchly against mine, and who thinks socialism is a dirty word, and was stopped dead by his saying free healthcare is not free.

This is not incorrect, as a rule, our taxes pay for it. I gave that point readily. My own reply was that while it may not have been financially free, budgeting for an extra $300/month in taxes was easier than budgeting for a surprise $1 million medical bill, and that paying a slightly higher tax bill to be freed from the stress of the possibility of that bill was a worthwhile expense any day. The writer did not reply directly, but another did, with the old adage that private is more efficient than public, and that we could have better (literally anything) if we got the government out of our business.

I told him to back up that claim with data, and stepped back.. Then wondered. Was I voting with my heart? So I started to look for some data. Maybe I have been spewing unfounded claims in the same way I have accused others of doing! I would feel a great shame if I could not back up my claims.

So I did a Google search for “Public sector versus private sector efficiency,” and found that the legwork had been done for me.

I found data. But one wasn’t enough. So I found more data. Data can be interpreted many ways, of course, so I also found some opinions by sources I hoped could speak with some authority. Then I found some more opinions, these ones a bit more neutral, but all agreeing that the public sector had a huge part to play in the semi-oiled machine that is the economic machine. I even found competing opinions, though even that opinion couldn’t argue with the objective data coming from Britain’s NHS–and the data showed that Britain scores more highly in terms of most health indicators. In fact, if you look at the larger picture, the US ranks abysmally, and its healthcare is largely private. Here, though. Have. Some. More. References.

I have focused mostly on health care, but that is because universal health care is something I feel incredibly strongly about.

Are the lines the shortest in socialized countries? No, of course they aren’t. I can go get health care whenever I need it without considering cost, as can almost anyone else in our beautiful country. So there are more people going to the hospital. I could go to the hospital for a headache that feels wrong, and find out I was having a brain aneurysm, and while it wouldn’t be my first thought even in a privatized world, the cost never has to be in Canada. In the United States, though, the cost of hospital beds is. A. Concern.

I hope I’ve made my point.

Given the number of references I’ve given for my side, can it really be said I am voting with my heart? Or am I using my head to look at data?

We Aren’t Smart Enough for God

Such a small thing that kicked off this train of thought in me. In reply to a video from Penn Jillette, a reddit user posted the following: “Penn Jillette literally went to clown college and believes he is more capable of interpreting holy texts than religious scholars.”

The video from Penn was a 6 minute interview, if you haven’t had a chance to watch it. Basically, he states that the thing that moved him to atheism wasn’t books by Dawkins or Hitchens, it wasn’t people around him, it wasn’t media… It was the Bible. Penn said it was when he read the Bible from cover to cover that he became an atheist. I think my story is somewhat similar, though my deconversion did not begin with the Bible; my deconversion ended with it. I don’t want to be an atheist, not really. I like the more romantic ideals of religion, whether or not there are any adherents that can actually grasp them. I like the idea of Heaven, even if so few people have actually studied what Heaven will be like. But still, an afterlife — that is a nice thought.

The ideas that you can only get to Heaven via love and kindness, via humility and charity — those are romantic as well, but so seldom practiced. It is an odd thing, to read interviews with people in the American Bible Belt. Even if they do not actively preach hate, so many of them seem so bitter towards so many other people, towards homosexuals, towards atheists, towards peoples of other Churches, or (God forbid) Muslims. Listen to the replies to Coca-Cola’s frankly beautiful multicultural rendition of the American National Anthem. You may say that those people aren’t Christian, but in a country that polls nearly 80% Christian, it would be a statistical anomaly if none of those people were Christian.

So where does the rampant racism and feeling of superiority fit in with your Christian values? For those that did not click the previous link, it references Matthew 5:5, a verse in the beatitudes, and I think you know where I am going with this–blessed are the humble, for they shall inherit the Earth. So go on, patriots, tell me how your country is the country God chooses, that your country is the greatest in the whole world, that your race is the greatest in the whole world, that your morals are unimpeachable, go on. Keep telling me how awesome you are and how much I suck, but please do it humbly, if you could. That would be nice.

Now that I have gone off on that tangent, back to the original point of the commenter. It has been said that God is not a God of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), but even though the Bible is available in my native tongue, even though God could certainly have inspired a perfect work of literature (what with the omnipotence), I should not be allowed to read it without someone to tell me how? To tell me what it means? It was so bad that many councils in the middle ages forbade owning a Bible at all, and translating it was anathema. Why is that? I think Penn is on to something; too many people now sit in Churches and listen only to the verses of the Bible read to them prior to the sermon (or during the sermon, depends on your denomination). If God is not a God of confusion, why are there such a huge number of Christian denominations in the world, all with slightly differing or outright competing views? Why did alternate views on the Bible tear the world apart not once, not twice, but three times? (Once, twice, and three times are all separate links to historical schisms in the Church.)

And even though men who study the Bible their whole lives fail to agree on a translation, and even though God is not a God of confusion, a lay person should not be able to form their opinion through careful reading of the Bible in the privacy of their own thoughts? Am I not smart enough to read it? Is that what it is?

Do I need someone to tell me what it means when Elisha kills 42 (children or men, depending on translation) via two bears, because they called him bald? Do I need someone to tell me why it is a good thing that a woman was raped to death in the service of a priest? What about drunken, incestuous rape? What about cursing an entire nation, for all of history, because of a drunken stupor that ended badly? (It should also be noted that the person who drank himself unconscious and naked was Noah.) Maybe I do need someone to tell me why that was a good thing, maybe, maybe. Certainly, in my own reading of the Bible I cannot see why a God of love and justice and tolerance would do such a thing.

My point is this; while I may not have all of the answers, I am willing to say that I have read a great deal of the Bible. I have more to read, and I am currently reading it again, and it has not brought me closer to God. It pushes me away from God, into atheism, with its sheer repulsiveness (or outright weirdness). It pushes me away because all of the powers that men attribute to God are the making of man; in the Old Testament, God seems neither omniscient nor omnipotent. He seems confused often, quick to a killing rage, unhappy, racist… I think Richard Dawkins said it best: “[God is] jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

I may have given up ground by quoting Dawkins, but only in theory. You may think you have points now, but if you’ve read the Old Testament, I challenge you to prove any one of those accusations wrong. I think that’s another part; a debate between an atheist and a theist could literally devolve into the two posing contradictory Bible quotes to each other. The Bible says many things, and it says so few of those things clearly. Oh, you have all the answers? Or your priest does? Or someone who holds a degree or PhD in theology does? Well, tell them to step forward, and we can have ourselves a universal Church.

Until then, let’s all tone it down where it comes to defending our Holy Books. For me, the Bible is nothing spectacular, a hollow bastion of hope. For you, the writings of Dawkins or Hitchens or Harris may be nothing but wastes of blasphemous paper. I don’t think we will convince each other. But before you tell people that they shouldn’t have an opinion on the Bible, perhaps you should step back and read it cover to cover. Every word. Don’t just pick and choose passages; read everything, read Deuteronomy, Leviticus, read the Book of Numbers, where it says that everyone should be killed except virgin women; read that this includes the children and the animals, any woman who has known a man. If you are offended that terrorists killed 3000 civilians on 9/11, remember that your God himself wanted to kill all of his own chosen people, that the Crusades were done in your God’s name, and that in response to the death of 3000 civilians, the United States has killed at least 18000 Afghani civilians (and that is a very low estimation by most accounts).

If you want more references, I could go on for days. For months. For years. Somehow, I feel like I could make more references than there are pages in the Bible, and I feel like that should be worrisome.

My story of deconversion is obviously not unique. As I said in a long previous post, it seems to me that it is the atheists and the skeptics in my life with the deepest knowledge of the Bible–and I think that is because so many of us were faithful and turned to the Bible in our time of crisis. And in the Bible we did not find our faith, it was in the Bible that we lost it.

God Told me to be an Asshole

In my wanderings and stumblings, I came across this story about a Mormon fundamentalist town that spent a great deal of the last 15 years as a cultocracy (theocracy seems to give it far too much credit). I understand how certain cults get started, there are romantic ideas behind them (even if not romantic actions behind them), but this — this seems terrifying.

I do not know what the core tenets of the FLDS church is; I won’t lie, I’ve not read the real Book of Mormon. I am not going to go on some anti-Mormon rant, one of the most beautiful, steely-eyed people I have ever seen is Mormon. I am, however, going to ask questions that have no answer, because I like to waste my time.

How did this cult start? I assume that the LDS Church preaches something similar to the love of Jesus, so what is it that allows them to excommunicate members, reduce the rights of women to that of breeding stock (and, honestly, I’ve heard of farmers taking better care of their breeding stock), allows them to hate strangers, to force them out and away, to have police enforcing the breaking of laws to abuse strangers? Where is the love? How does that start?

In the story I cited, a leader of a cult offshoot of Mormonism (this is not the place to argue whether or not Mormonism is a mainstream cult or religion) controlled every aspect of a town in … Wait for it… This will surprise you… UTAH! Bet you never saw that coming! (Utah; come to see the flatlands, stay because you are now a cult member) He controlled the police, the elections, the town council, the mayor, the utilities. If he didn’t want someone to have utilities, they did not have utilities. All of the buildings in the town were owned by a foundation he controlled (worth over $100,000,000). Stores owned by members of his cult would not serve outsiders, and if your neighbor was not a member of the cult, you were not to talk to them at all.

If you were sent away from the cult (and the list of reasons for excommunication were depressingly long and incredibly mundane), things in your life would go very, very sideways. A police officer could set up a tent by your parking meter, having a pre-written ticket ready for your car the second the timer hit zero.

So what makes you join that cult? For the men, given the convictions many of them faced (the leader was sent to jail for sex with his 12 year old and 14 year old cousins) I would say the lure of the cult was sex with any woman they wanted, and the women had no say. Did I say woman? Forgive me, that was society’s higher standards speaking; I meant women. As with many of the more hard line sects of Mormonism, you had many wives. One of the protagonists (who, to his credit, left the Church as soon as he was physically able) had some 58 siblings. Half siblings; it’s likely, given the numbers I was reading, he is only full siblings with 15 of those 58.

What is it that allows humans to so fully subjugate other humans? Gender and race are never and have never and will never be any reason to do this.

But how does a cult where this practice is not just tolerated, but encouraged get some 8000 members? Well, the birth rate aside, how does such a cult get the first member? The tenth member? The hundredth member?

What is it about humans that makes us so broken? So willing to harm our own family (as that cult would encourage you do to apostates)?

I don’t understand.

Pointless Cynicism

As tends to happen on the Internet, or really any community over time, some drama has cropped up that managed to grab the attention of a huge proportion of Reddit’s users. If you don’t care to read the rather lengthy story, it adds up to a man live tweeting the discovery that his wife of a few years is cheating on him. Over time, additional characters are added to the story, including his brother, his sister-in-law, an unnamed character, a PI, and a few additional set pieces. I won’t lie, the story is not well written, but the fact that the original writer is not, in fact, a writer of high skill adds more credence than it takes away.

There are other bits in the story that really strain one’s disbelief, such as the idea that a 30 year old man would write “they kissed then she touched his penis a little,” but that line is really what sparked the true drama of the situation, and that has given me the concrete example of what I have been preaching (for lack of  a better word) for a very long time.

Immediately, three camps sprung up, and two of them actively went to war. One, claiming that this person was not in fact telling the truth, and another attempting to offer this person some sympathy in what is (or, if it is made up, would be) a very difficult time in his life. The cynics quote lines that don’t add up, while the sympathetics just want to help another human in need. I think the sympathetics have the right of it, but that needs some deeper exploration.

I know I mentioned three camps; the third is people with bags of popcorn who get three full servings of delicious, nutritious drama. The first serving is the story itself, the next two servings are the ongoing war between the cynics and the sympathetics. The third camp is immaterial, but for a while I was an active member in Camp Popcorn.

As I mentioned briefly on my Facebook, the cynicism of the cynics is pointless in this case. The sympathetics, so long as they do not give him money (and he neither asked for it, nor gave identifying information that would even allow it to be given), have no lost anything by their sympathies. They sent him typed internet messages. The time he wasted was perhaps 45 minutes of their life (the time it took to read it and write their reply). If this story is true, they may be offering a suffering man the only solace he will receive in this difficult time. Afterwards, time will pass, and all will forget. If the story is, in fact, a fabrication, then the sympathetics can be said to be playing along, and at worst have wasted a small part of their life. Time will pass, and all will forget.

The cynics, though, add up to internet bullies (though I am sure if any of them read this blog I could expect wild backlash from them to the tune of “No, we are just skeptical!”). If the story is true, and they are telling everyone to stop playing along, then what they are doing is adding another layer of stress that is helping no one. If the story is fake, they are the person in the theater during “The Usual Suspects” shouting “Well, of COURSE he is Kaiser Soze,” ruining the film for everyone who just wanted an escape from the real world.

This may be stretching it for some “internet armchair cynics”, but some of them are certainly the kind of people who would walk by someone about to jump off a bridge and tell the person “You’re just doing this to get attention.” It is cruel, and it isn’t helping anyone.

You can be cynical, I am cynical. Just keep your cynicism to yourself, because if there is even a 1% chance that the story is true, there could be a human suffering on the other end of your keyboard strokes. I don’t believe the story for many reasons, but that doesn’t mean I am willing to call the writer a fraud. I would never run up to George RR Martin and shout “DRAGONS AREN’T REAL, DUMMY!” even if some of the readers of A Song of Ice and Fire believe the events actually happened. There’s no point to it.

What people on the Internet so often forget is that there are, no matter the situation, other humans out there reading what you have said. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t type it at them.

The Internet, as media, is more transient than any form of media that has ever come at any point in history. Books have survived millennia. Quotes from TV shows have survived decades. The shelf life of an internet meme, at its longest and best preserved, is two years. Memes from 2012 are all but forgotten, save by Know Your Meme’s databases. The thing is, while next week we may all have forgotten this story, the person who (may/may not) be living it will never forget. You will forget it. The sympathetics may forget it. The story itself is transient. But the human being on the other end could suffer for an eternity, and you would never know or care.

So take a thought for your vehemence, your pointless pointing out of your cynicism. Save your cynicism for perennial issues, save your cynicism for government, save your cynicism for religion or atheism, as is your flavor. Save your cynicism for ideas. You can’t hurt an idea. When an idea dies, no humans were harmed in the process. But when you are cynical towards a human being? You can cause harm.

I’ve said it before, but I will say it again. If we took a moment to care for the happiness of others, the world would be a better place in the month. The cynic is perhaps angered by the story, or the fact that some people believe the story, but why should they attempt to spread their misery or anger? No one increases their happiness by so doing. Not one person will ever be happier for your cynicism.

I know I have opened myself up for a world of criticism by saying so (“But Chad, you write about the bad parts of religion!! Religion makes so many people happy!”), but I have accepted my lot in life. I have my justifications for what I do, fickle as some may think them.

I wonder what the armchair cynic would say is their justification?

A Monkey Wrench in the Gears

I was reading this blog post that was discussing religion and morality and came across a term I hadn’t heard before. It is called Hedonic Calculus, and is designed to weight the happiness an action will bring into the world.

“AHA!” I thought to myself. “This is it! This is someone else who thought exactly like I do!”

It seems I was overly optimistic, because my own human emotions get in the way of my motto (I am sure most of my readers know it, but it is to bring more happiness into the world than I take out of it). The very first example given was that of two sinking ships. One contains your family, one contains a rock star. By Hedonic Calculus, of course, one is required to save the rock star. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized Hedonic Calculus would require, for example, that I support Justin Bieber in whatever it is that Justin Bieber does, for it makes a huge number of people happy — sort of. If you go deeper, Justin Bieber’s antics make me sad, and I would imagine the antics of daughters taking part in #CutForBieber or #DrunkForBieber counts as sadness. Too many confounding factors.

Talking about Hedonic Calculus, I realize it is very similar to the mathematical system I created for myself that governs a very large portion of my life — but unlike pure Hedonic Calculus, I left in an error margin for my own emotions because … Well, one way or another humans are emotional creatures. And again, I ended up jumping down into the giant cave that is morality, with a new tool on my belt–perhaps this time I could get deeper.

One field that is contained in Hedonic Calculus (it is more formal than I tend to be in my theoretical mathematics of sociology) is purity, described as the probability that it will not be followed by feelings of the opposite kind. To use an example from the linked Rational Wiki page with a slight twist for my own purposes, an orgy will make you feel happy or give you pleasure, but once it is over many people in the general populace will feel shame. Very low purity score, then.

To apply that to my own example of Justin Bieber, his antics may make 10-15 year old girls (is that his target demographic? I am not hip to what the jive kids are doing these days…) happy, but when their parents punish them for whatever stupid hashtag 4chan has popularized today, they will feel sadness. Liking Justin Bieber has a very low purity score, then! And it is true that he is a bad person, because now math says so! Though I won’t lie, Justin Bieber’s “Extent” score would be quite high, and that is sad, because that doesn’t change the fact that he is pretty much awful.

That being said, for anyone who says science can have no bearing on morals, I think Hedonic Calculus (not to be confused with hedonistic calculus, which is a whole different bag of dangly bits) puts at least a partial lie to that. The values may be somewhat arbitrary, but they are based on happiness. Is it a mature morality? Probably not; nothing absolute is ever mature. The world is not black and white, no matter how much math you throw at it. That being said, it is definitely something to think about.

Morality

I have engaged in the international time waste that is the Facebook debate for as long as there have been people to debate on Facebook. I don’t know that debate is the proper term, the discussions seldom follow rules, and there is often a disconnect between the participants that prevents meaningful discussion. Recently, I was engaged in a discussion that spanned some 23 pages of text. It was sparked by this article advocating the repeal of drunk driving laws.

(A transcript of the discussion is available here. At over 16,000 words, it should kill a solid portion of your day.)

A topic that came up over and over and over again was morality. I am not moral philosopher, and when I do give my opinions on morality it should be interpreted as the opinions of a lay person. I didn’t make that clear enough during the discussion and it came back to bite me. That being said, if I were to offer the most succinct version of my own morals, it would be a morality leaning moral relativist. That is, at best, disingenuous; going back to elementary school lessons, I have just used a word to define itself.

People fear moral relativism, because it relies on the morality of the person using it. “Well, if I kill him quickly, it would be less bad than killing him slowly. By moral relativism, killing him quickly is moral.” I just made your argument for you, no reason to make that argument in the comments unless you really want to. That’s the point, though, and the point so few people want to address; morality is deeper than a single layer paradigm. (Sorry about the words there, that sounded douchey, but please let me explain.)

Many would claim to be Biblical moral absolutists, that the Bible, being the height of all moral teaching, should be adhered to in all things. That being said, when you ask them about some of the Bible’s less tenable teachings… Well, they will say they would jump if God said jump, right up until they saw the cliff. That tells you that they are not Biblical moral absolutists, they are … Something more complicated.

In the same way, a moral relativist may not be able to draw binding lines in the stone and say “I will do all that lies between these lines and nothing else,” but there is some other moral judgment at work. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, that my motto, my creed, my life goal, and a piece of short philosophy that defines many of my choices is the idea that “I will bring more happiness into the world than I take out of it.”

While it may not contain any explicitly moral content, a friend has been teaching me (with great resistance) to read more than what words say. When I am presented with a moral choice, then, I have to weigh things in the case of many decisions. Some are concluded before ever reaching my conscious mind (will raping this person bring more happiness into the world right now?), and get resolved before the question is ever asked — but even then, something in my subconscious has to have a bearing for this choice, so I assume somewhere in my brain these questions are answered.

Moral gray areas are much harder to resolve, as the debate referenced above pointed out in great detail. It ended up as an argument hinging on what I am going to call moral chaos theory versus moral order theory. The other participants may disagree, but let me explain.

My argument is something akin to moral chaos theory; letting a drunk driver into a driver’s seat begins a chain of events that could lead to the death of a person or people, and the irreversible alteration of an untold number of lives. By this chain, I could be indirectly responsible for the loss of happiness of hundreds of people, or a thousand people, even if they never saw my hand in it. If I extend that idea to the Police force, their not enforcing drunk driving laws is similar; by allowing drunk drivers on the road, they may end up indirectly responsible for untold numbers of drunk driving related accidents. Therefore, by my own personal moral chaos theory (I still find that to be an over simplification, but it at least illustrates a picture), allowing drunk driving is immoral.

Moral order theory, while again a term lacking in the required depth, is somewhat akin to that preached by my discussion partner(s). This morality theory does not plumb as deeply, though that is disingenuous (DAMN YOU, KYLE! My realization that words suck is your fault!). In any case, his approach was that of the fact that potential harm is irrelevant and shouldn’t be weighed against the real harm done by a police officer enforcing the law. The irony is that despite what became a very heated discussion, I believe our morals (my opponent and myself) would align in most cases.

The point I am trying to make here is a point as old as words themselves; trying to reduce a human being, in all of their complexity, down to a single word, or a single sentence–that is impossible. Trying to describe my morals would take a book larger than any written, and taking longer to write than the lifespan of the universe. The thing is, while morals may boil down further and further, they lose integrity as they are simplified.

Morality is more than your religion. It is more than your upbringing. It is more than your genetics.

And do you know what? For all of history, humans have fought to prove who is the most moral. “Killing in the name of peace,” is something that probably doesn’t sound unfamiliar to most reading this.

And yet… Here we are. I got in a heated argument to prove my morals were better.

I am a monster.