Protecting Children, Enslaving Adults, by Sean Gabb


Protecting Children, Enslaving Adults:
Latest Case Study
By Sean Gabb

I have just heard about the existence of the Authority for Television On Demand (Atvod). This is yet another of those “independent” bodies that exercise powers of compulsion delegated by the British State. Its powers derive from the Communications Act 2003, and allow it to regulate the market in streaming video. Its latest act has been to announce that large numbers of children – which it seems to define as persons under the age of eighteen – are watching pornographic videos on the Internet. To deal with this alleged problem, it wants a law to stop British banks from handling payments to any pornographic video site, anywhere in the world, that does not check the age of all its visitors.

At the moment, British sex sites are required to check the age of their visitors, whether or not they buy anything, and to make their records available to the authorities. Because they are outside the jurisdiction, foreign sites cannot be directly forced to do the same. But the British market is large, and Atvod hopes that blocking payment to foreign sex sites, unless they comply, will close this loophole. Every act of watching a pornographic video, free or paid, will then be on the record.

Now, before discussing the merits of this law, I need to state my general belief about children and sex. We live in a country where debate has become largely a matter of smears and synthetic outrage. If I do not make myself clear at the outset, I have no doubt I shall be accused of arguing for the legalisation of sex with children or of child pornography, or of holding some other opinion that may get my windows broken. I say, then, I do believe in the principle of an age of consent, and see no great injustice in setting it at sixteen. It should be illegal for adults to have sex with persons under the age of consent. It should, by extension, be illegal to use persons under the age of consent for making clearly sexual video and photographic images. I believe that such laws should be proportionate to the offence committed, and do not like the hysterical manner in which the laws we have are enforced. But these are details. I have no objection to the principle of an age of consent.

This being said, I turn to the matter of why the proposed new law should not be made. I will not take issue with the statistics that Atvod has published. I have no doubt that, as with all other factual claims made to justify even more government than we have – alleged anthropogenic climate change, foreign policy threats, domestic terrorism threats, anything about smoking or drinking and health, and so forth – these are falsehoods, liable to fall apart the moment the raw data is produced. But, since this is now an overwhelmingly reasonable presumption, I will not bother to examine the claims. Instead, I can think of three arguments.

First, the law would not put off any young person of reasonable intelligence. So long as no money left an account, how would any parent know that his credit card details had been borrowed to establish a false identity? Otherwise, many streaming video sites are entirely free, or accept payment only in Bitcoin or other currencies that do not pass through the British banking system. I do not believe any reasonably intelligent and reasonably lustful sixteen year old can be put off watching his favourite porn by any scheme short of permanent webcam surveillance of his crotch.

Second, it is not the business of the State to control the non-aggressive acts of children. That is a matter for parents. They should decide what their children are allowed to watch or do. This should not be seen as an outrageous or even a novel claim. Before the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, there was no law to stop children from buying cigarettes. I do not believe the law was generally enforced until the 1980s. When I was a small boy in the 1960s, I was able to buy cigarettes for my parents. Only once was I ever refused. As a teenager in the 1970s, I was able to buy cigarettes in bulk for my grandmother, and was never refused. It might have been different had the seller believed I was buying for myself. But the general view was still that this was a matter for parental discipline.

Third, bearing in mind it cannot be enforced, the law is really meant to control adults. One of the less pleasant results of the IT revolution has been the rise of soft authoritarianism. Increasingly, acts and products are not banned. Instead, we are watched as we go about our business. And to be watched is to be controlled. For example, I was an intermittent smoker between 1993 and 1998, and again between 2001 and 2010. What if I had been required to prove identity before buying cigarettes? What if my purchase records had been made available to insurance companies and the NHS? The answer is plain. I would not have bought any cigarettes.

This is the intention of the proposed law on pornographic video. Hardly anyone likes to admit to masturbating. Almost no one likes to say what he watches while masturbating. Having to prove identity before watching something would, for many people, have the same effect as an outright ban. The problem with an outright ban is that enforcement has to go before a jury, and juries will not usually convict for anything unless it involves children or animals or considerable violence. It also looks bad. Our modern rulers are squeamish about censorship laws. Where possible, they like to censor at one or more removes. Forcing people to identify themselves – “for the sake of the children” – is the perfect cover for stopping adults from masturbating at home.

Before ending this brief condemnation, I feel obliged to discuss one issue arising. I insist that it is up to parents to decide how their children behave. This covers what they do or watch at home. But do I really believe that there should be no law to stop a shopkeeper from selling hard core pornography to a ten year old? That does seem a reasonable inference from what I have just said about cigarettes. I could evade the question by talking about the pressure of public opinion in a genuinely free society – how this would force shopkeepers into a voluntary code. But this is an evasion. We do not live in a genuinely free society, and are unlikely ever to do so. Even if we did, there would still be unscrupulous shopkeepers. So my answer is that I probably do believe in such laws. Perhaps it should be illegal to sell certain items to persons who look below a certain age. These items would include guns, drugs – including alcohol and tobacco – and anything to do with sex.

But this is not an admission that should be stretched to cover what adults do on the Internet. This means that many children will be able to do things on-line that they cannot do face to face. But we do not live in a perfect world, and most schemes of perfection will only make things worse than they are. Children should not be able to buy or do certain things face to face. Extending this ban to cover on-line activities will probably be ineffective, and will unreasonably constrain the freedom of adults.

In closing, then, I denounce the Atvod proposal, and call on the relevant politicians to reject it.

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49 responses to “Protecting Children, Enslaving Adults, by Sean Gabb

  1. This is pretty much the point where I lose my temper and shake my tiny fists at the sky, at finding myself living in a society dominated by retards, and at the frustration of being unable to do anything at all about it. It is the point where I wish I were wealthy and could fund and organise a campaign, or court challenges or something, anything, but I am not wealthy and can do no such thing.

    The primary problem is the assinine assumption in our Victorian society that seeing sex will cause some nebulously described “moral impairment” in the young. It is utter nonsense of course. But just as with social dogmas in general, one is obligated to subscribe publicly to this view or face condemnation.

    The only way forward is to somehow make this view deprecated, as the similar view (that awareness of homosexuality would cause moral impairment in the young, which fuelled e.g. Clause 28) is now deprecated. And here I think Sean makes a mistake, by basically approving of this view- saying shopkeepers should be prohibited from selling porn to the under age- but then saying this shouldn’t apply online. This does not really make any sense and makes for a weak argument, especially as nowadays the majority of material considered pornographic (a nonsense curse word, but we’ll use it anyway) is delivered online.

    At least the Victorians had some rational justification- however ludicrous- in that they believed that masturbation causes mental degeneracy, insanity and death. Nobody believes this shit any more, but the policy required by it- that teenage boys should not see sexual material[1] lives on like a zombie.

    What to do? I don’t know. But for fuck’s sake, we have got to do something. Nobody should have to live in a retardocracy.

    [1] Since girls were (and are by ultra-puritans in the Feminist and Femiservative movements) considered asexual angels, the policy is only meant to prevent boys seeing sexual material.

  2. I have just googled the words “pornography sites” and there are
    67, 800, 000 possible hits. A similar search for “free pornography sites” gives a hit list of 50, 000, 300. How on earth the government proposes monitoring all these makes me incredulous. To me, it just highlights how we live in a nanny state run by unintelligent cretins.

  3. This is not really about protecting children. That is just the emotive weapon, the battering ram if you will, to force the issue. What it is really about is the politics of disapproval. All those unelected people involved in such campaign groups start from a position of essential disapproval of pornography, whether their imperative is moral or feminist or something else. They are a re-play of the Mary Whitehouse type but have become clever in manipulating reaction to their demands by using emotional blackmail and partisan statistics to undermine, or at least to attempt to undermine, any opposition to their power grabs by characterising it as unreasonable. They attempt to shame opposition. After all who would not want to protect children? I well remember one of the advocates of this movement admitting openly that she was essentially against all pornography but then qualifying what it was possible to achieve by the foot in the door method. The same creeping remit of control over the lives of others that we have seen with alcohol, smoking and disapproved foodstuffs.

    They have also exploited a situation where the government subsidises minority agenda groups with taxpayers money to lobby itself, the issues involved being given disproportionate attention and visibility by this discriminatory means. The vast unpolled, unorganised and agenda-less majority having no representation except via the dodgy statistics presented by the minority groups purporting to reflect their views or to presume their concerns. The tactics are always the same. The essential position, disapproval, is the imperative that produces the reports that justify that disapproval and the subsequent demands for action. The creation of the problems always precedes their quantification and the proposed solutions.

    It is difficult in this age to see how pornography can be defined but any disapproval of it at a headline level seems to be a disapproval of the natural condition of humanity. To coerce the individual not to indulge in creating or viewing pornography must be a form of oppression, especially so where it is voluntarily limited to consenting adults and is both displayed and viewed within the bounds of privacy. And it is a form of oppression intended to secure an artificial result. An individual might be coerced by the law not to create or to view or to possess pornography, but the state of his or her mind in conceiving pornography will not be altered. The imagined images which turn him or her on will not be excised from the mind. From cave paintings to Pompeii to the 18th Century and beyond, even into the supposedly repressive world of the Victorians the individual has sought to express his sexuality and his sexual dreams through imagery. What an arrogance for a relatively small group of unaccountable and unelected people to presume that they can eradicate that and to use the protection of children as their battering ram.

    The argument that where pornography is victimless and harmless it should not be censored is also under attack by a redefinition of the concept of victims and harm, again to justify the essential position of disapproval. Women who voluntarily engage in pornography are characterised as victims, their freedom of choice stolen from them by ideological activists who presume their condition is the result of “abuse”, usually by men. Viewing pornography is characterised as causing “harm”, usually intangible but often linked to acts of violence or crime, often by sensationalised emphasis. And yet terrible aspects of the human condition are seen nightly on the BBC without attracting such concern. Because the emphasis is on sexuality and controlling the sexuality of others.

    One might have thought that the emancipation of homosexuality, once conceived as an aberration and subject to prosecution and persecution, would have elevated minds to reject the idea of self-appointed moralists seeking to exercise their values and worse their control over the voluntary sexuality and sexual expression of others. But apparently not as these puritan organisations seem to have flourished in recent years. More worryingly they have become adept at pushing their agenda outside the constraints of parliamentary debate or public consensus by exerting pressure on politicians to bully internet providers to accede to their demands, thereby creating a regime potentially rife with eccentric censorship, inconsistency in standards, lack of accountability and an absence of redress.

  4. Sounds good to me. I don’t want my children viewing porn. Call it “an infringement of their liberties” if you will. Hell, I don’t care if you call it “Little Red Riding Hood”. I don’t want my kids viewing porn. End of.

    • Then don’t let them watch porn, job done. But don’t make it so no one can watch porn ever again.

      The female equivalent of erotica is in literature; I trust that the nation’s mums are all currently locking their copies of 50 Shades in a secure vault?

    • You can prevent them doing it then, for there are more than enough controls on your web-provider so to do. You can also control what they see on their iPhones I believe.

      • Baby Bear has full parental controls on her computer. She came close a few days ago to guessing the password, but didn’t realise I’d mixed upper and lower case letters. I don’t need Big Brother to keep her from running up bills on the pay per play Peppa Pig games.

  5. Well you stop ‘em then and don’t impose this bullshit on the rest of us.

  6. This is less about pornography an more the fact that governments hate the internet. they currently cannot control the flow of information to the peasants, the peasants can organize (as noted in turkey) quickly and effectively and their lies are easily spotted and outed. This is thin edge of the control wedge.
    The MSM are colluding with government as they are no longer trusted with news and there are so many better ways to find stuff out. After the Balen report debacle the bbc should never ever be trusted on anything more important than say eurovision.

  7. I have two sons and I have caught both watching porn on the internet. I found it a useful moment to have a discussion about real-life female sexuality, male expectations relating to sex, abusive sexual behaviours and so on. They didn’t seem to take much interest in porn after that. The fact is, however, that watching grown adults doing what comes naturally seems to me perfectly healthy. I am sure most cave-men were not shy about their activities and indeed in Anglo-Saxon times everybody lived in a big straw hut and got it on in front of everybody else. Sex in public is healthy and normal, so it follows that our obsession with sex in private is actually unhealthy. Back in the 50’s when sex was very private indeed, people grew up with some very funny ideas about sex.

    The reason, I believe, for the new puritanism, is feminism. Feminists don’t want people to watch men sexually gratifying themselves with women, particularly when the women being so used are clearly thoroughly enjoying it. It undermines 90% of their arguments. In particular it undermines the argument regarding prostitution, because pornstars are paid to have sex by a third party and yet seemingly thoroughly enjoy it.

    Censorship is always about government hiding the truth. In this case, the truth is that some women really enjoy having casual sex with complete strangers. Some people in government would rather you didn’t know that.

  8. I see it as what happens when the maternal instinct becomes institutionalised. Our natural biological predispositions are exaggerated when fuelled with state power and can run away with themselves…

  9. The danger with any moral panic is that when objects to the panic (the persecution of the innocent) one is assumed to be in favour of the evil (the real evil) that the moral panic is about.

    Dr Gabb is quite correct to point out that even discussing this general subject can get someone accused of being in favour of child abuse. That is the way that moral panics work – and spread.

  10. It depends what you mean by pornography. There’s lots of different sorts I believe.
    Personally, I’ve always thought that films of pretty women eagerly taking off all or most of their clothes nicely while smiling and facing camera are good. It means that (a) they are willing to do what’s being filmed (very important) and (b) they are enjoying it (also very important.) The FemiNazis would hate this since enjoyment is not a word they like.

    It is apparent also to me that some people like to watch other stuff, such as “oral sex”: that is to say, people licking or sucking other people’s private parts. This is something that personally I find really absolutely “animal” and therefore repugnant, smelly and so forth (for example, dogs do it, even to themselves, because they can, and nobody complains.) Being a libertarian, and wanting also to be the First British Libertarian War Secretary, I would really grit my teeth hard and fast, and try to not make laws against this sort of stuff, if I could possibly take a deep breath. But if people want to watch it and if other people are prepared to do the acting, then that’s fine.

    I suspect that it’s really the FemiNazis, who have a thing about pretty women and girls taking off their clothes. I think this is the root of the problem.

    For, as we all know, all the WomenFemiNazis are ugly “double paper bag jobs” – (you have to wear one as well in case hers falls off while you’re shagging her.) At the very, very best (which is not good at all, even if their breasts and necessary curves are sort of vaguely OK) they are all “MUMSY WOMEN WITH BAD HAIRCUTS”, and they probably smell being socialists, and they probably want you to eagerly lick their menstrual blood and smell their ****s “to show them how much you love them”.

    Disgusting creatures: capitalism invented modern shampoos and deodorants specifically to help human males to avoid all this sort of intellectual nonsense. I’m sure that Muslim Men don’t have to go through this sort of Western-university-stuff, although I have not had the opportunity yet to ask any this specific question.

    But nobody ought to stop people from either doing what they like, or filming others doing what they like to like.

  11. I am very new to computers (and fairly hopeless), but am finding the experience ‘interesting’. I was born in 1947 and had no idea at all what an homosexual was until I was 30 years old!! I have no desire whatever to watch porn, but cannot see why adults who wish to do so should be prevented.

    I would agree with those who have said that it is up to parents to protect their children from viewing such material – though have to admit
    that I would find it impossible to do so myself. What to do about parents who allow their children – sometimes at a very young age to watch pornographic/violent material – would we ever know?

    I am also assuming that the viewing of children in pornographic situations would be abhorred for the evil it is.

  12. I still think a key issue here is that people are, by orders of magnitude, over sensitive to porn (my argument, ad nauseam, being that this is due to prior moral panic ingrained within them). The main way forward in approaching this is to get people to understand that it is no big deal if kids do see porn. The assumption that some harm will be done to them (including the ludicrous Mary Whitehouse stylee of the ATVOD release discussing “moral impairment”) simply isn’t proportionate to the effects, which may variously consist of at worst being upset by something they may be too young to understand.

    But then, I was profoundly upset by watching the movie “Quatermass And The Pit” when a youngster. Scared the life out of me.

    There really is no issue. The myth that there is an issue is the problem; once you make the mistake of accepting that the issue exists, you’re into these circular arguments about which Canutian policy to follow. As Libertarians, we should use the Jim Callaghan argument;

    “Crisis? What crisis?”.

    (Yes I know, he never actually said it any more than Thatcher said there is no such thing as a society. Most of the most famous quotes are fabrications).

  13. Sorry, it was The Quatermass Xperiment. Q And The Pit was one of the TV serials.

  14. Thon Brocket

    Bitcoin is increasingly accepted by porn sites (as always, at the head of the charge with internet developments); this smartly outflanks any leaden-footed attempt to choke off revenue to the providers.

  15. Larry Middleton

    Well I decided to check out a few porn websites. Virtually none asked for my age and how they could prove it anyway is somewhat beyond my limited imagination. One site actually did ask “Please click if you are 18.” It would take a ten year old genius to figure out that the site doesn’t really care, it’s simply a disclaimer in case dear old mom and dad catches junior miss and mister. This way the site can still demand payment.
    What I am finding though is that the internet and WiFi are disallowing sites that are anti-Islamic. A site that I just started reading was disallowed to me at a restaurant. It didn’t say why. This is seriously more important because we are adults and we should be the ones to decide what content we want to view.
    As for kids their parents should put controls on internet usage. Children should not be viewing porn as it can be very addictive, similar to gambling, drugs and alcohol. My good fortune is that I have two normal adult daughters. My youngest has two children. The last thing I would let my grandson and granddaughter do is watch porn. Kids are already mixed up enough sex and sexuality wise. Bringing porn into their lives at a young age is not productive no matter what kind of wacky household you are running.
    Speaking as person who worked with Children in Crisis the worst thing is to add more levels of abuse than already experienced by some really screwed up kids. If you have never worked with abused kids it’s an experience that I wish everybody could miss out on. It’s very unpleasant nature is that most people never get to see how many ways kids can be screwed up by their own parents coupled with a liberal minded society that is oblivious to their reality. Social workers are some of the most seriously emotionally and irrationally challenged people that I have ever had the displeasure to meet. There are a lot of very bad parents out there who do a lot of crazy things to kids. Society is filled with immoral degenerates and not all of them are poor people. Judges, lawyers, professors and other professional people are just as bad. If you don’t believe what I’m saying just listen to judges verdicts in courtrooms that are as bizarre as they come. It does seem very many intellectuals have some very bad ideas that are so destructive to our children and society. It is written: “Without belief in God anything is permissible.” Not sure who said that, but it’s so true.

  16. The Russian novelist Dostoevski.

    Actually, although I believe in God, I do not agree with the view that the real morality is religious – many atheists have sincerely stood on the side of right (against evil).

    • Larry Middleton

      We think too much about these things rather than, like our forefathers who knew better, just accept that moralism comes direct from God’s commandments. God knew that to give us more than ten laws would mean we would try to interpret every commandment. Now, out of Ten Commandments we have thousands of laws and climbing. Talmud grows exponentially as well. The point here is do we need all these thousands of laws. Do these laws make us more moral or less moral? My belief is that it makes us less moral. Think of the next paragraph where I will show that on a moral issue more laws are plainly unjust.

      At one time our morality would allow abortion if it was warranted, but today liberal views believe that abortion on demand becomes the new morality. Millions of unborn lives are murdered by liberal legislation based on liberal excuses for abortion on demand. Most women who have had an abortion would not do it again and would counsel young girls and women against it because they learned that it was an immoral act and quite psychologically harmful to them.

      Liberals also believe that killing murderers and terrorists, and that self-defence, are wrongful ideas and they make laws to protect criminals and terrorists. Their ideas are not God or religion made, but out of their own self-righteous sense of moralism. They believe that everyone else is wrong and they are the only people who are right. So, whoever controls the politics and debate also controls moralism through legislation. It doesn’t make them right, but they don’t care so long as they have the power to do whatever they want. Is having absolute power over debate and legislation to be concluded that man’s laws are more moral than God’s laws? When man was left to his own ideas man becomes immoral. Isn’t that why God left us with laws that concerned morality?

      The one law by God that was confused by man was that of “Thou shalt not kill.” That the law of God actually stated: “Thou shalt not murder.” Because man was confused by this one word tells us that a single word in God’s laws changed the entire concept of God’s will? With the one word change to “murder” it gives us the right to self-defence, but also gives us God’s ideology that abortion on demand is not justified. This is because liberal laws are made to murder unborn lives based on notions that the Fetus has no rights and that a unborn baby has no rights outside of the womb, but a child has these rights. So, murders and terrorists have a right to life, but unborn babies have no rights because they are on the opposite side of the womb. Does this ideology not seem like madness and destructive to innocent life, but evil has a right to life? What is a Fetus? It is an unborn life or an unborn baby. But, liberal ideology added to the dictionary concept that of an eight week time frame that would then make the Fetus a child. Does that not sound absurd. Life truly begins at conception and liberal ideas on who is a child, simply because of an eight week difference, makes their abortion laws acceptable is just plainly immoral and evil. We need God’s morality, not that of man because we will always find a way to do screw things up most royally. And the suffering begins when we leave morality to people who are liberal thinkers. As I like to say “Intellectualism breeds contempt for intelligence.”

  17. Indeed, it could be argued, that for an atheist to stand for good against evil is proof of better moral character than it is for a religious person – after all for an atheist there can be no question of reward.

    Indeed to see the world as without final hope – and yet still to dedicate one’s life against evil, is (in its way) magnificent.

  18. Julie near Chicago

    This reminds me of a question whose answer I’ve been unable to find. Perhaps if there are any Catholics perusing here — or any properly-educated or High Church Protestants, for that matter…. :>)

    Somewhere in the darkness of a misspent life I picked up the idea that in Catholicism, despair — utter hopelessness — is a sin. I don’t mean the common sort of “despair,” even when it’s serious; I mean despair or hopelessness that exists (or seems to) right at the core of the soul, which I suppose for Christians is the sense that they have been abandoned by God, or that, even worse, there IS no God (so in that sense, it would be a failure of Faith itself, as an ongoing chronic condition). Is this correct — that in Catholicism that state is a sin? And if so, is there a name for it? I had the idea that anomie was the term, but the Foot of All Knowledge insists that that is a term dreamt up by Durkheim, signifying “alienation” more or less. [Although there's a link between the psychological condition of "alienation" Marxian or Freudian, and the condition of being hopeless, or, dare I say it, without God (for the Faithful of whatever religion)].

    So if there is a name for this, what is it?

    Thanks. :>)

    • Larry Middleton

      With your permission I will send this on to Rev’d Clifford. He will certainly have a better answer than I can think up. Will await your reply.

      But, before I go I will give this a shot. If you try to think of this in terms of the psychological you are doomed. Freud nor Marx could ever even begin to understand the roots of faith in God. “Where there is no God everything is permissible.” That anyone who loses his faith did not have any faith to begin with.

      My thought is that whatever religion or religious ideology exists it preys on utter hopelessness of the individual. In the late 1960’s into the 1970’s I encountered dozens of Christian evangelists that promised salvation to children these cults deemed inadequate. Again and again they capitalized on the hopelessness of young people. The reason so many young people exhibit this hopelessness is that they have a loss of spiritual growth. The more we hinder spiritual growth the more hopeless the situation will be with youth. Think of it like a car without a battery: Going nowhere. Even today so many adults and children are searching for spirituality, but they refuse to accept God in their lives. A friend once tried virtually every faith and was so disappointed because all of them have a belief in God. I asked him why he was so against God? All he could talk about was religion or how God let really bad things happen in the world. More utter hopelessness in looking for something that sits right in front of us and yet we look at everything else and everywhere else. I asked him why he thought God was too blame? He said that how could God not fix everything if he us so powerful? I just said, “Why is that when man makes his own problems then why is it that God is supposed to fix those problems?” Pretty simple logic really. But, religion preys on the hopelessness of man to say God will fix all problems. When that doesn’t happen people lose their faith. The reason for faith is to have faith in God, but not to put faith in God to fix our problems. What mankind does to mankind or some pestilence comes or act of Mother Nature hits us badly is just life. God is not responsible to fix our problems. All too many people simply follow faith wrongly stuck in their absurd dogmas of their holy books that prey on hopelessness of the individual.

      With God there is spirituality and a sense of absolute moralism. “Without God anything is permissible.” Strangely, our children are those who demand that there is accountability and realize that not everything is permissible. Some try to find it in political ideology and find it sadly lacking because political ideology is immoral and Godless. Every persons search for spirituality is his personal encounter with God, but far too many people have been so indoctrinated to liberalism and socialism that they think they can find spirituality in liberal socialist immoral nonsense.

      Rev’d Clifford will simply fill your head with religious dogma. I ask why does any religion think that it knows better about God than you or I? God was first, religion came somewhere down the line. One does not equate to the other in my own view. My belief is in God. Not much on religion. Here’s a good question to ask any Christian: “Before Jesus came along how did anyone get into Heaven?” The answer would surprise you: “They didn’t!” That’s the answer that I got from a Roman Catholic. It was plainly absurd. It was illogical. But religion defies logic. All religions defy logic. But God is just constant. Believe in God and hope like Hell that God believes in you. It’s more important that a person should worry more about God believing in him because God holds the house keys to Heaven. That is if you believe in Heaven? If you don’t then don’t worry about it because God probably doesn’t believe in you either.

      Larry

      Sent from my iPad

      >

  19. Julie near Chicago

    Thank you, Larry, I’d be interested in whether Rev. Clifford knows whether Catholicism considers that sort of despair a sin, and if so, whether it has a particular name (apart from “despair” or “hopelessness,” that is).

    The rest was just my musing on the feeling in question, and whether various religious and non-religious terms refer to the same experience. Cat-curiosity.

    Julie

  20. All Christians regard despair as a sin Julie – because it means a rejection of life (a gift from God) and a denial of faith.

    Sadly it is a sin I am particularly prone to.

  21. Julie near Chicago

    Well–I don’t recall that from my own church, but then again my spirit was often elsewhere though my flesh attended the sermons. :>(

    However, I would expect complete despair to be a sin for many sects, for the very reason you give.

    I still wonder about the Catholic NAME for it, though. (This has been bugging me because I THOUGHT I read it is called “anomie” by Catholics in a novel. Written by a NY secular (I think) Jew married to a Social Gospel Catholic. *g* Maybe I made it up, though, or maybe he or his wife or her priest got it mixed up. (Shades of The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, Her Lover LOL)

  22. Julie near Chicago

    That’s very interesting, Ian. Thanks! According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, then, the profound hopelessness or despair I meant is NOT considered a sin because it’s not deliberate, not “willful.” Source says (almost in so many words) that to consider it a sin would be unjust.

    Nothing about “anomie,” so maybe I made that up on my own after too much decaf or something.

    Excuse me now, I have to go back there and continue reading the article on the Soul (not kidding — very interesting).

  23. Interesting point Julie.

    The point being made that if the despair is a medical condition (caused by some physical problem in the brain) it is not the fault of the person concerned?

    The trouble is that things are not clear cut – we are always having to fight physical things (both biological and environmental) some people manage to overcome things, and some do not.

    The role of the Church (any Church) is to help – if the people in the Church can help.

    On the Soul……..

    Of course it is possible to believe in the Soul without believing it to be a supernatural terms.

    After all Ayn Rand used the term “the Soul” – but was defining it in Aristotelian (rather than religious) terms.

  24. Julie near Chicago

    Paul, as to telling the difference between calamitous illness and deliberate sin, well, that is the part of the difference between Man and God. It is only God who can see to the core of our hearts (or minds, or Soul). (I don’t think the article mentioned any particular theory, medical or not, as to the reason for profound, non-willful despair.)

    This is part of why Christians (at least some) believe that only God can judge. Only He has all the necessary info. Also, of course, only He has the means to dispense ultimate grace/forgiveness or ultimate punishment (for those who believe in some sort of Hell). Anyway, for men to pronounce moral judgment of condemnation (damning?) on other men is thus the height of hubris, of False Pride.

    A.R. faults Christianity for teaching that we shouldn’t “judge” others, but I don’t think that “to judge” in the sense of Christian doctrine has the same meaning as it does for her. She’s quite specific about it: We MUST judge: “is this person for me or against me? For human life or against it?”

    As to A.R. and the Soul: yes, indeed, as in the Tom Snyder interview.

    I never thought I’d see the day when I was trying to do Comparative Religion studies on Catholicism and Objectivism! :)

    I must say that I’ve been rather impressed with the flavor of that Encyclopedia, from the few pieces I’ve read there. It seems quite philosophically sophisticated, perhaps Thomistic? (Or perhaps I’m talking out of the back of my neck. :( ) I just hope it never lets me down by sliding off into rationalism.

  25. Julie reason played a bigger role in Western Christianity than in Eastern Christianity.

    Given her Russian background Ayn Rand’s association of Christianity with lack of reason is not entirely unreasonable.

    However, Western rationalism is a double edged sword – being more open to philosophy and so on was historically a good thing (the Aristotelian influence in the Church), but it can also be a bad thing (as the obsession with the “Social Teaching” of the Church has shown).

    And the problem was already there – with the POLITICAL role of the Church.

    The use of FORCE in matters of religion

    It may have been unavoidable in the Dark Ages (without Popes such as Hadrian the Church might have been destroyed), but it leads to terrible people such as Pope Innocent III.

    There are two great evils to be avoided……..

    The Eastern evil – where the Church becomes the handmaiden of the State (as in Russia)

    And.

    The Western evil – where the Church becomes a POLITICAL player in its own right.

    Independence from the state must not turn into we-are-the-state – Catholic or Protestant theocracy.

  26. I was using the word “rationalism” in a general sense (the use of reason) – not “big R” philosophical Rationalism.

    The Western stress on rationalism (in the general sense of faith and reason not being in conflict – and reason being a gift from God, to be explored to the full) is a good thing.

    What is a bad thing is the use of “reason” to justify the use of FORCE.

    In the Western tradition this perversion of reason goes back to Augustine (if not before).

  27. Paul, one might argue that the problem arises when people arrogate to themselves the power to apply their reasoning to other people. I’ve been reading up a history of the Massachussets Bay colony the past few days, so I’m a bit soaked in that right now, but the overwhelming story of it to me, is that of autocratic theocracy. The magistracy considered itself the final word on “reason” from scripture, and that is why it was so illiberal a place (and its model was eventually swept aside by the rise of liberal/natural rights arguments by the time of the Revolutionary War).

  28. Agreed Ian.

    Mass was not quite as it was painted by Hollywood (for example bright colours were more common than is supposed), but we have the testimony of such people as Roger Williams (a strong evangelical Christian – hardly a lax type) that its bad side was very bad. Indeed it was experience of Mass that made Williams (and others) so determined that Rhode Island not be a theocracy (even a theocracy under them – no, I do not want that power it would destroy me as well as you, NO, NO, NO).

    Of course one can defend Mass – even Judge Sewall (the judge at the witch trials) soon bitterly repented of his actions (indeed became a problem for the authorities by going around saying that he had come to the conclusion that the accused were all innocent), indeed he wrote the first major anti slavery text in America “Selling Joseph”.

    But theocracy is a bad thing – even if the theocrats do not intend to become a bad thing, and even if they repent of their own terrible deeds (when they have calmed down and come to understand what they have done).

    As for Calvinism – I think it leads to atheism (over the generations). Because it is an irrational system of belief (it is just against the principles of reason – and people can not prosper over the generations by trying to put their reason and their faith into two, CONTRADICTORY boxes).

    To say that God’s Grace is given arbitrarily (yes arbitrarily) to some people (the Elect) , but not to others – and that these “Elect” have NOT done anything to merit the Grace (including not calling out to God – as all people, and reason itself, are just utterly vile with not 1% of good in them) is NOT “justification by faith” it is “justification” by being in a arbitrary list of names written in a book at the start of the universe.

    Such a doctrine is both mad and evil – if it is presented as the basis of religion, then religion will decline.

    Hat tip to Erasmus.

    • Larry Middleton

      Religion does not decline because of madness, it just gets worse as more people are inclined to believe it or are forced to believe it. Muhammad’s entire premise for his faith was for the poor and disenfranchised to fight in the name of Allah guided by the wealthy Muslims, and Muhammad was a pretty well off. Anyone who believes that Muhammad lead and austere and poor life were simply not paying attention. His entire premise to attack Kybar, the Jewish stronghold, was because of its great wealth of resources from the caravan trade. Muhammad would know about this because he was a caravan Captain in the employ of Khadisha. Have we not all learned the truth about religions? It’s not about saving souls, it’s about wealth generation. The Vatican and Islam have great holdings of wealth that were accrued through forcing the lesser beings to pay tribute and the slave trade of human beings. I do not hold any religion to be true to God, but only true to the wealthy and affluent to proclaim that they should hold power over all of us through religion and politics. Islam simply continues on its destructive path throughout the world with disregard for those who are caught up in their destructiveness. It is no different than liberal leftism that a few nutbars desire to control every aspect of our lives for their own benefit, no matter who they hurt.

      Larry

  29. My opinion of Calvin is that he was a man who thought too hard, and failed to do the essential part of reasoning of occasionally coming up for air to check whether what he had reasoned made any sense. It is hard to comprehend how anyone could take a faith whose primary “selling point” was that it is “a God for everyone” and turn it into a faith just for the few “elect”, while everyone else is doomed from the dawn of time to damnation. Insane.

    As for Calvinism – I think it leads to atheism (over the generations).

    I agree with you on that, though I would qualify that it leads to a particular dogmatic, tyrannical form of atheism rather than mere unbelief.

    I actually think the witch trials are less significant than they are generally credited. They were a last convulsive gasp of a system that had already died; America was heading for the values of the Constutition, not the doomed theocratic magistracy of the Puritans. I sometimes think the current “Political Correctness” wave is a similar effect; the death throes of the 20th century authoritarian philosophies that we discuss so often. That analogy makes me feel a little more optimistic than my infamous Eyore hopelessness.

  30. Yes Ian – there are different sorts of atheism.

    Rational atheism is “there is no God or life after death – and that is really terrible” (the sort of atheism one sees in Simon Heffer who really would like to live – and to meet lost friends again).

    The rather mad form of atheism is “God does not exist AND I MUST KILL HIM!” – and that tends to be from people who were brought up in religious households (Catholic or Protestant) and violently rejected religion – Philip Pullman is an obvious example.

    As for now.

    Religion that offers Salvation to anyone who truly wants it can deal with change – even radical change.

    For example the conversion of the vast numbers of Hispanics coming over the Southern border of the United States – and I do not mean “only” religious conversion (I mean cultural and political conversion).

    But a religion that has become obsessed with a small elect is dead to a changing world.

    “Mainstream” religion is decaying (destroyed by a false “liberalism” – for example the P.C. movement which you mention).

    But evangelical religion is in trouble also – as even the Baptists are really embracing Predestination, closing themselves off from the general population. Becoming a declining faith.

    Even atheists should be concerned about this – for two reasons.

    Historically the Churches have often been the backbone of resistance against the State.

    It was not enlightenment philosophers who inspired the ordinary soldiers of the American Revolution – it was the “Black Robed Regiment” (the preachers).

    Also the Churches have historically offered the alternative to the state – in education, health care and so on.

    I am NOT saying that religion is good because it is “socially useful” (that sort of justification of religion is bad) – but I am saying that atheists (like yourself) should think hard about what sort of fraternal bodies can be presented as an alternative to the state.

    As for me (as a believer) – well I intend to throw myself on the mercy of the court.

    After my life (both the things I have done – and the things I have not done) presenting myself a just man would be absurd.

    • Larry Middleton

      My preference is to follow the one God with few commandments of morality, than to follow the many GODS of liberal socialism political correctness with thousands of intellectual laws of immorality.

      When white people are guilty of racism simply because we are white as taught by white liberal socialists, it is suicide of culture and faith.

      When our faith becomes abhorrent to us and that other faiths are greater, we are diminished.

      When we see other cultures who have done nothing of great value to our world as greater and we see our culture that has done so much for the world … as lesser, what is to become of us.

      Socialist intellectualism seeks to destabilize faith, morality And destroy white culture in favour of all other cultures. White people these white socialists proclaim is a pestilence on mankind, but it is these white socialists who are the true pestilence. They seek to tear us down, a culture and faith that has given more to the world than any other culture. And this scum have the bollocks to teach this liberal nonsense to our children verbatim, they should be locked in insane asylums.

      Your socialist intellectualism defies all intelligently designed logic. Hitler had a God. It was the God of intellectualism that encompassed a moral code made from a great many immoral men of socialist intellectualism who desired to enslave the world to their views and power, and continues its assault today on our children with lies and deceit. My God does not seek to enslave, but to free man so that he can seek his own potential. The God of socialism seeks our enslavement to wilful negligence of morality. No greater immorality have we seen under liberal socialism than the genocide on our unborn children and to deny rights of decent people to protect themselves from criminals and terrorists, because of the liberal ideas of destruction of our way of life. Yet, these same people decry ludicrous ideology that criminals and terrorists have a right to be treated with dignity and respect, a right to destroy decent people by making laws protecting evil. I will always take the God of goodness, morality and decency. Never will I take the socialist God of hate toward my own kind in favour of others, or of indecency and immorality. To be well educated today is virtually meaningless when it means we lose reason and reality in favour of absurdity and nonsense, taught to us by the immoral among us who teach our children not to think using logic and reason, but that of insane causes of injustice toward our own culture and faith

      • I never thought I’d see the day when Paul got accused of “socialist intellectualism”.

        • Larry Middleton

          What I see in your writing is that you confuse God with religion. God gave us ten little moral laws and we have trouble following them. Socialists come along and throw out God’s laws giving us thousands of absurd intellectual laws saying these laws are doing good for mankind, but simply enslave us to their absurd ideology, which is what Islam would do to us as well.

          Muslims are just as confused because they believe that God made their religion. God and religion and politics are not separate in their view, which says God desires to enslave us to His will. Any reading of the Koran, Hadith and Sunna reveals one revelation after another that abrogates earlier revelations. God simply cannot make up His mind says that too many Muslim men had too much to do with what us in the Koran, let alone the other two books. Only Muslim men could have been as fallible to write the Koran with so many suras being abrogated and that God is some intellectual idiot that can’t remember what He said in earlier revelations, but then most Muslims aren’t exactly scholars of reality.

          By the age of five we know what is right and wrong. We are essentially taught by our parents and our community what us acceptable and what us not, at least most of us in the West. However, socialists remind me of sociopaths who believe that whatever is right for them is right and anything that goes against them is wrong. Islam probably has the highest number of sociopaths because their belief is whatever goes against them is wrong and whatever they do, no matter how wrong the rest of us know it to be, is right. Politicians are very similar in nature. They don’t care what is right for the people, only what is right in their view, no matter how wrong they are they cannot accept that their views are wrong. The Gay community has the same outlook because they are so closed minded. Politicians say that why they can take our guns and our freedom is that they do not value freedom for others, just for themselves. That’s why socialist intellectuals become democrats in the United States. Democrats were the ones who voted against unilateral freedom and emancipation of the black man, but they also believe that they alone are deserving of freedom and rights. Democrats are socialists who speak about freedom for others, but in the end they believe that none if us should have it. If you have no sense if right and wring or moral behaviour you will simply believe in their empty rhetoric, because that is all it is. I personally have never seen intellectualism as a means of understanding right from wrong, good from evil, and having any moral turpitude.

          Islamic belief is that killing infidels is a good thing. That should tell you how immoral their ideology amounts to. Opening Western intellectual eyes to the reality of Islam is a complete disconnect because of what intellectuals want to believe versus what is reality. The problem with intellectualism is that reality and truth never enter the equation. Intellectualism simply believes whatever they want is their politically correct truth, but in fact is just another lie growing on top of their other lies. If you can’t tell truth from propaganda you will follow anything they will tell you. Like the millions who believed in Hitler, Lenin and Obamamessiah.

          The reality is that God gave us freedom to choose for ourselves our own destiny. The proviso was that while we could decide for ourselves to do good or bad in the world, but that He controlled the gates to Heaven. Most religious people believe that they have to express their devotion to God and to be believers will get them into Heaven.

          If Hitler called out to Jesus to be his saviour that us enough to get him into Heaven, virtually every tyrant has done this because Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Evangelism hold this belief is intellectual nonsense. We are held to our sins by God and no priest has the power to remove sin, but Roman Catholic intellectualism believes it has he right divined by God. So every murderous psychopath could go to Heaven believing in this notion. My belief is that God is separate from man made religion. It is not so much we show belief in God to our religions, but that each of us should worry about whether God believes in us.

          The founding fathers of the United States were great intelligent thinkers when they brought forth the “Declaration of Independence.” They saw in their views a great democracy that would encompass freedom for all, in time. It was an experiment that was long overdue. Not one nation in the entire world has been able to duplicate the ideology that built America. Where there is freedom there is ability to better the individual. Where there is an ability of the public to defend itself from all forms of evil, no matter where it comes from, within or without there is peace and security. To take Way that ability is to take away freedom. British people should know that all too well. You live under fascist dictatorship where you have no rights unless your political masters allow you rights. In America the US Constitution is the law, not Obama or Eric Holder, not Congress or Senate, not judges or tribunals. The US Constitution is about the right of the people to determine their destiny, not some damned politician who thinks he has the power to play the God of the Democrats against the people.

          God gave us the ability to understand right from wrong (because he taught us to think intelligently) as you said, but it took immoral intellectuals five minutes to screw it all up.

  31. Larry Middleton.

    A great divide in theology is whether the Natural Law (the Law of God – Natural Justice) can be grasped by human reason (reason being the gift of God) – or whether the DEFINITION of “right” and “wrong”, “good” and “evil” is simply “what God commands” (this being good-right – regardless of what the command is) and “what God forbids” (this being evil-wrong – regardless of what the command is).

    I believe that a command (even in scripture – although I am NOT thinking of the Ten Commandments which were directly from God) must be examined by reason (reason being the gift of God).

    Islamic theologians (and some Christian ones) hold that whatever they claim God commands is good BY DEFINTITION (because God commanded it) and whatever they claim God forbids is evil BY DEFINITION (because God forbids it).

    I reject this interpretation of theology (and law) – and if my rejection makes me a “Papist” (like Erasmus) on this point then so be it. Even though I do NOT accept the claims of the Bishop of Rome and I do NOT accept that the ordinary clergy should be unmarried.

    I believe (and I think you do) that natural law can be seen by what promotes human well being (broadly understood) in the world.

    And I agree with you on such matters as abortion.

    Let me put in this way……………

    If some undiscovered book of the Bible was dug up in the deserts of Egypt saying “killing babies is good” I would NOT hold that killing babies was good.

    Or if a voice (claiming to be the voice of God) whispered in my ear telling me to do some wicked thing I would NOT do it.

    “But how did you know it was not the voice of God?” (or that the scripture was false – or misinterpreted)?

    Because the order was wicked (evil) – and God has given us the ability to see right from wrong.

    That is why someone who has never read a page of scripture is still morally responsible for their actions. For God has so created the universe (including ourselves) that we know right from wrong – and if we choose to do evil (even if we have never heard of the Bible) we are still responsible for our choice.

    The Islamic response “scripture says we should …….” (some wicked thing) is no response at all.

  32. The early Muslims (and followers of Islam today come to that) called upon Jews and Christians to “lift your hand” – what did this mean?

    It was pointing towards the practice (common among Talmudic Jews of the time) of placing one’s hand over certain passages in scripture so that one would not say them (by accident) by reading aloud.

    What passages in scripture?

    The PUNISHMENTS for certain sins (not in the Ten Commandments – there are no punishments listed there) – for example the punishment for adultery being stoning to death.

    So what did the forces of Islam mean by “lift up your hand”?

    They meant read out the punishments – and then carry them out.

    For example that those who commit adultery should be stoned to death.

    That those silly people who claim to be able to cast magic spells (“witches”) should be killed.

    And on and on.

    Nothing to do with the Ten Commandments (directly from God) – and everything to do with the detailed interpretations of law done by men (not God) and put in the early books of the Bible.

  33. Larry Middleton

    Can you understand the difference between God’s laws and man made laws? I thought it was pretty straight forward, myself. Ten little moral laws. And religious intellectualism came along five minutes later and screwed things up. Then Godless intellectuals came along later and made a bigger mess. Moses wasn’t up on the mountain for an hour and Jewish intellectuals were already casting the Golden Calf.

    Talmud has what 3,000 laws? Islamic law just keeps making it up as they go along, so there is no end to it. God never stoned anyone. It took Jesus to shut up that stupid law of stoning, made by intellectual rabbis, by demanding those who haven’t sinned to throw the first stone …. you know the rest. Intelligence should always overrule intellectualism, but we know how that works in reality.

  34. I agree that humans do with the words of God is vile.

    God says “do not commit adultery”.

    Man says “we will stone you to death if you do”.

    The cruelty is from man – not from God.

  35. Paul Marks

    Larry I agree that Mohammed had a poor moral record (saying that seems to be enough to mean that someone has to resign from politics – but there we go), but I think it is unfair to generalise from that to organised religion as a whole.

    As for the specific example of the Roman Catholic Church (which has much good – as well as much bad, in its history).

    Some of the worst Popes have not been personally greedy or corrupt – Innocent III (who did truly terrible things) springs to mind.

    He sincerely believed in what he was doing – he was not in it for the money.

    He might have been less bad had he been motivated by money.