God’s law versus secular law. Which is moral?
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18-11-2012, 03:11 PM
RE: God’s law versus secular law. Which is moral?
(18-11-2012 08:36 AM)Starcrash Wrote:  
(18-11-2012 03:40 AM)Humakt Wrote:  Thats kind of my point, two opposites can both be right, when viewed through the lens of morality. On the whole words like right and wrong fail miserably to work properly with morality, if you deal with it out side the absolute sense, as soon as theres any comparative stuff right and wrong dont really work. But what I meant was that a moral code can say that people A are worthy of death, thus killing them is "right" and moral. I have no hesistation in saying genocide can be moral, I however balk at the idea of saying it can be right. But, its my fault for using the word right even in "", I should have gone with value posative or something else vague.
I followed what you were saying -- if I may try to sum it up, it's that there is no "objective morality" or code that everyone can agree to live by, therefore a person can say that the bible is just as moral as secular law because they're defining those morals using 2 different measurement systems. And I'm not actually disagreeing with any of that.

However, it's important to note that the Christians are using a selecting measuring system... they don't measure everything the same. When we talk about what is "right" or "moral", there are things that we all agree on; the go-to example that almost everyone uses is slavery, because there are almost literally no advocates of slavery in the western world, either inside or outside of the church. When I listed my comparison of God's law and secular law, I tried to choose ideas that even a Christian would agree are "right" or "wrong" in the same way that I do. The Christians are not calling slavery "moral", but instead ignoring, denying, or downplaying the fact that God's law regulates slavery instead of forbidding it.

So while we don't all agree on what makes something right, we do agree on some issues, and God's law does not agree with us. If one wanted to define morality as "God's standard", I'm not sure I could persuade them that their moral relativism as mistaken or misplaced... if that person was actually using that standard. But Christians don't use that standard, and so we criticize God's law as a bad standard (i.e. immoral).
I follow and agree with most of that, excepting a few points. Slavery, no one in the western world now agrees slavery is moral, you dont have to go back far in history before that changes, go back a bit further and the practice was universal. Like I said earlier immoral is acting outwith your moral standards, here your example of christians ignoring portions of there moral code that they dont feel comfortable with, to wit slavery, is an example of just such immorality. However you are using this transgression to call "Gods law" a bad standard, that does not strike me as correct, it is the followers of the code who are fault not the code itself, would you say secular law is a bad standard because there are criminals?

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18-11-2012, 04:41 PM
RE: God’s law versus secular law. Which is moral?
Hey, Phaedrus.

It says a lot about murder. Restorative systems look at things that create disharmony (murder, theft, rape, lying, fraud, whatever you can think of) and begins with the assumption that people WILL do these things. They don't incentivise those things, but they just accept that they are behaviours that will occur. They don't say, "We outlaw these behaviours," they look instead at the disharmony that has been created. The question then becomes, "What do we have to do to restore harmony now that this has happened?" The answer to that question is unique to the situation and the individuals involved. It typically involves a lot of forgiving and healing and making amends. And yes, even in instances of murder.

For example, the Truth and Reconcilliation Comission in South Africa heard stories about kidnappings and murder and degradation and all manner of atrocity committed during the apartheid era. The goal was not to punish wrongdoers for their crimes, but instead to confront what had happened so that everyone could move forward together. That's a shining example of the difference between the punitive approach and the restorative approach.

The fundamental difference is that punitive systems begin with the assumption that most people are "good" but that some people are "bad". They're criminal (secular) or they're sinful (religious). Whatever they are, there's something wrong with them. They're broken. The rest of us are normal and could never do such a thing. Which, of course, is horseshit. One thing I learned when I was in the army was that while I'm a giant teddy bear most of the time, I have every ability to shoot someone in the face and not feel bad about it in the least given the right situation. Restorative systems begin with the assumption that everyone is capable of everything given the right situation. People aren't either good or bad as a state of being, we're just people. Because everyone can do everything, you don't have to punish the person because there's nothing wrong with them, they just did something that created disharmony. Could happen to anyone. So restoring harmony includes bringing them back into the fold. The fundamental question is, "How do we make this right for everyone."

Hey, Cardinal.

Quote:So what is your ideal political system then? I know you've mentioned
Restorative Justice a few times. How would you implement that exactly.
Use the US as your example.

I have never once suggested that restorative justice is some sort of blanket cure all. In fact, I said the opposite. What is of note about restorative justice, is that human beings have, and still do in many places, practice an alternative to both secular law and religious law. What it shows us is that we can find other ways.

My ideal political system is egalitarian; however, as a staunch Darwinist, I am painfully aware of the reality of environment. Many aboriginal people's during the colonial era had egalitarian systems that were really remarkable; unfortunately, when forced to go toe to toe with the colonialists, their systems left them at a distinct disadvantage (technologically, militarily, economically, the list goes on) and they were wiped out. Egalitarianism, the idea, is not enough. The application has to be adaptive. So far, the only adaptive trait that egalitarian societies have is living in parts of the world that Our culture doesn't want (like, say, the deepest, most impenetrable part of the Amazon). But toe to toe, they have never once stood up to Our culture and survived.

I have not, as of today, discovered an adaptive application of egalitarianism.

Furthermore, there are factors at work in our current system that make transitioning to an alternative system difficult. Just the ideological notion that there is no other way to do things is a profoundly limiting force.

The punitive justice systems are shitty. But they fill a need for large hierarchical societies. Just like eating dead humans is shitty, but if fills a need for people trapped on a mountain top in the Andes. What we know (in both cases) is that it CAN be another way. We don't have to go on using punitive systems or eating dead bodies just because it solved a problem once. The real question is, what sort of alternatives will work in OUR context? It's a complex question without an easy answer.

In terms of implementing restorative justice, it has been introduced with great success as pilot programs in various places. The TRC in South Africa is a great example. It's also been used by Corrections Canada. But to date, it hasn't been implemented on a wide scale. Whether or not it could scale up is a question without an answer because there is no data because it hasn't been tried. But the larger problem is that there is no will to try to scale it up because of the ideological notion that the punitive system is the only system possible.

I think that elements that I'd like to see in an ideal system would be things like:
1 - The notion of good and evil is not present
2 - The focus is not on punishment but on restoring harmony
3 - Bahaviours are not outlawed
4 - Things are handled on a case by case basis

That's just what comes to mind. That list is in no way exhaustive.

The fact of the matter is that our punitive justice system does not exist in a vacuum. It is a part of a larger system that is itself shitty and fucked. We can't just say, "Let's pull out the punitive justice system part and replace it with the solution X part," because that's not how things work. The problem isn't just the factory, it's the system (see the Pirsig quote above). The solution is extremely complicated. But then again, so was going to the Moon. We knew it was possible, but didn't know how to do it. Then we figured it out. We know that changing the system is possible, we just don't know how yet.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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18-11-2012, 10:29 PM
RE: God’s law versus secular law. Which is moral?
Sounds good mate, except some people are broken. What do you do with the Jeffrey Dahmers and Ted Bundys of the world? Or the repeat child-rapist priests?

E 2 = (mc 2)2 + (pc )2
614C → 714N + e + ̅νe
2 K(s) + 2 H2O(l) → 2 KOH(aq) + H2 (g) + 196 kJ/mol
It works, bitches.
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18-11-2012, 10:31 PM
RE: God’s law versus secular law. Which is moral?
(18-11-2012 03:11 PM)Humakt Wrote:  
(18-11-2012 08:36 AM)Starcrash Wrote:  I followed what you were saying -- if I may try to sum it up, it's that there is no "objective morality" or code that everyone can agree to live by, therefore a person can say that the bible is just as moral as secular law because they're defining those morals using 2 different measurement systems. And I'm not actually disagreeing with any of that.

However, it's important to note that the Christians are using a selecting measuring system... they don't measure everything the same. When we talk about what is "right" or "moral", there are things that we all agree on; the go-to example that almost everyone uses is slavery, because there are almost literally no advocates of slavery in the western world, either inside or outside of the church. When I listed my comparison of God's law and secular law, I tried to choose ideas that even a Christian would agree are "right" or "wrong" in the same way that I do. The Christians are not calling slavery "moral", but instead ignoring, denying, or downplaying the fact that God's law regulates slavery instead of forbidding it.

So while we don't all agree on what makes something right, we do agree on some issues, and God's law does not agree with us. If one wanted to define morality as "God's standard", I'm not sure I could persuade them that their moral relativism as mistaken or misplaced... if that person was actually using that standard. But Christians don't use that standard, and so we criticize God's law as a bad standard (i.e. immoral).
I follow and agree with most of that, excepting a few points. Slavery, no one in the western world now agrees slavery is moral, you dont have to go back far in history before that changes, go back a bit further and the practice was universal. Like I said earlier immoral is acting outwith your moral standards, here your example of christians ignoring portions of there moral code that they dont feel comfortable with, to wit slavery, is an example of just such immorality. However you are using this transgression to call "Gods law" a bad standard, that does not strike me as correct, it is the followers of the code who are fault not the code itself, would you say secular law is a bad standard because there are criminals?
I'm saying that a standard is "bad" if the typical person would improve upon it or change it (or ignore it, even). God's law is a bad standard because Christians don't follow parts of it and wouldn't follow it, and would change it to fit their lives if they could. While it's true that there are people who would also change secular law, in many parts of the world (such as democracies) that is something that can actually be done... our laws do improve to fit the will of the majority. So even if one sees current law as a bad standard, that is temporary. As you mentioned, slavery was a universal practice, but secular law can change and did change.

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18-11-2012, 10:36 PM
RE: God’s law versus secular law. Which is moral?
(18-11-2012 09:54 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Starcrash.

In my opinion, you do not comprehend what restorative justice is. You can either take that to heart and educate yourself or you can believe that you do in fact understand it. I leave it to you. I have explained things in detail already. There's no point trying again. I don't want to waste your time or mine.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

I even cited it. Obviously I understand it, and perhaps better than you do. It's not related to law but to punishment, and because you couldn't prove otherwise (because you're wrong) you didn't bother to correct yourself or try to clarify. Are you really that incapable of admitting mistakes? Seriously, you couldn't even think of an original "blow-off line" and repeated my "I don't want to waste your time".

Thanks for nothing.

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19-11-2012, 12:15 AM
RE: God’s law versus secular law. Which is moral?
(18-11-2012 10:31 PM)Starcrash Wrote:  
(18-11-2012 03:11 PM)Humakt Wrote:  I follow and agree with most of that, excepting a few points. Slavery, no one in the western world now agrees slavery is moral, you dont have to go back far in history before that changes, go back a bit further and the practice was universal. Like I said earlier immoral is acting outwith your moral standards, here your example of christians ignoring portions of there moral code that they dont feel comfortable with, to wit slavery, is an example of just such immorality. However you are using this transgression to call "Gods law" a bad standard, that does not strike me as correct, it is the followers of the code who are fault not the code itself, would you say secular law is a bad standard because there are criminals?
I'm saying that a standard is "bad" if the typical person would improve upon it or change it (or ignore it, even). God's law is a bad standard because Christians don't follow parts of it and wouldn't follow it, and would change it to fit their lives if they could. While it's true that there are people who would also change secular law, in many parts of the world (such as democracies) that is something that can actually be done... our laws do improve to fit the will of the majority. So even if one sees current law as a bad standard, that is temporary. As you mentioned, slavery was a universal practice, but secular law can change and did change.
Maybe its just me, but that sounds a bit like a cop out, I just dont buy that "gods law" is at fault for the failings of those who proclaim to follow it. Dont get me wrong, its not for me, but I dont claim to follow it. On secular law, Im not as full on as Ghost, but I definatly agree with a lot of what he is saying. Secular law, is a mechanism to protect the status quo, and where as it should be the case, it is unargueable that in law money talks. The idea that the law improves to fit the will of the majority, I dont get that impression. In the case of secular law changing in regards to slavery, at least in Britain that is mainly down to a religious movement, I cant remember the exact details and Im kinda in a rush to get to bed, so hope you'll excuse me not linking you a wiki, but I think its amistad the movie depicts it. In short it was a a priest and a whole bunch of bible thumpers that campaigned and against huge inertia and reluctance from the secular authorities got the law changed. I guess if theres something to learn from that, its that complex issues are rarely black and white, and whereas I think both of us have valid points, I think what is actually the case lies somewhere between us.

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19-11-2012, 07:01 AM
RE: God’s law versus secular law. Which is moral?
Hey, Phaedrus.

These people are not evil, or sinners, or criminals, or any other dismissive term. Those serial killers in particular were mentally ill. I'm not gonna pretend I know what makes a man have sex with children, but the point is that restorative justice systems don't treat them as of they're simply damaged goods. You can't confuse doing what is required to restore harmony with ignoring what happened. Sometimes it isn't easy to restore harmony to the group. If you're dealing with a sociopath, that is a difficult illness to deal with. But the aproach of dealing with it is markedly different than simply punishing a person for being ill. And finding a way for people to find forgiveness is a very different thing than simply satisfying revenge.

I'll say this. There is no act that restorative justice cannot deal with.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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19-11-2012, 07:35 AM
RE: God’s law versus secular law. Which is moral?
Hey, Starcrash.

An airplane can be used to simulate zero gravity conditions for the passengers.





But if you define an airplane as "a machine that simulates zero gravity" you are missing out on the full scope of what a plane is and what it does.

Similarly, you are correct that restorative justice can be used within the framework of a criminal justice system as an alternative method of sentencing or carrying out sentencing (as I mentioned already, such pilot programs have been run by Corrections Canada among others) and that in those cases, the criminal law is left in place. But to say that that is the end of it misses out of the full scope of what restorative justice is and what it does.

Criminal law makes a list of behaviours that are to be outlawed and a corresponding list of punishments. The first written record of such a system dates back to Hammurabi's code. Commit crime 1, get punishment A. It functions the same as God's law: commit sin 1, get punishment A. They are both punitive systems that function on the basis of coercion; don't do X or else.

Restorative justice eliminates half of that approach by eliminating the punishment. There is no standard punishment because the focus is not on punishment, it's on restoring harmony. Once again, as you said, it can be used within the framework of a system of criminal law; however, it does not require codified laws because the focus is not on regulations and who violates them, but rather on who was harmed.

Restorative justice systems that exist outside of punitive systems (which is the case for most restorative justice systems save the ones being used as pilot programs by those of us trapped within a punitive system) do not have laws, nor are they coercive. There is no threat of "or else" in these systems, there is only the understanding that when wrongdoing occurs, that there will be a process; a process that functions very differently than what we're used to.

This is why restorative justice is an alternative to punitive justice systems, be they criminal justice systems or religious law systems.








Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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19-11-2012, 11:05 PM
RE: God’s law versus secular law. Which is moral?
(19-11-2012 12:15 AM)Humakt Wrote:  
(18-11-2012 10:31 PM)Starcrash Wrote:  I'm saying that a standard is "bad" if the typical person would improve upon it or change it (or ignore it, even). God's law is a bad standard because Christians don't follow parts of it and wouldn't follow it, and would change it to fit their lives if they could. While it's true that there are people who would also change secular law, in many parts of the world (such as democracies) that is something that can actually be done... our laws do improve to fit the will of the majority. So even if one sees current law as a bad standard, that is temporary. As you mentioned, slavery was a universal practice, but secular law can change and did change.
Maybe its just me, but that sounds a bit like a cop out, I just dont buy that "gods law" is at fault for the failings of those who proclaim to follow it. Dont get me wrong, its not for me, but I dont claim to follow it. On secular law, Im not as full on as Ghost, but I definatly agree with a lot of what he is saying. Secular law, is a mechanism to protect the status quo, and where as it should be the case, it is unargueable that in law money talks. The idea that the law improves to fit the will of the majority, I dont get that impression. In the case of secular law changing in regards to slavery, at least in Britain that is mainly down to a religious movement, I cant remember the exact details and Im kinda in a rush to get to bed, so hope you'll excuse me not linking you a wiki, but I think its amistad the movie depicts it. In short it was a a priest and a whole bunch of bible thumpers that campaigned and against huge inertia and reluctance from the secular authorities got the law changed. I guess if theres something to learn from that, its that complex issues are rarely black and white, and whereas I think both of us have valid points, I think what is actually the case lies somewhere between us.
I didn't claim that God's law "was at fault for the failings of those who proclaim to follow it", but that it's at fault for not being the standard of those who claim to follow it while also claiming that it is their standard. Whether or not they fail to follow it is beside the point, because they're not even trying to follow it: it's not their standard for morality.

While it's true that people claimed that God's morals were the reasons to abolish slavery (even here in the United States), that doesn't mean that the bible is anti-slavery. Just because you can use parts of the bible to refute other parts of the bible doesn't mean that the parts you support actually reflect the bible's position on the subject, and there is ample evidence for where the bible does stand on slavery. I've mentioned before that the book of Philemon, a letter written to by Paul to a slave owner, doesn't condemn slavery or suggest that Philemon (the escaped slave) ought to be free. Paul even suggests that we should be "bondservants" (willing slaves) to God. Jesus didn't speak of freeing slaves, either. The Old Testament is our best record on this issue, and it is clearly pro-slavery (as I've already cited in this thread).

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19-11-2012, 11:15 PM (This post was last modified: 19-11-2012 11:22 PM by Starcrash.)
RE: God’s law versus secular law. Which is moral?
(19-11-2012 07:35 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Starcrash.

An airplane can be used to simulate zero gravity conditions for the passengers.

But if you define an airplane as "a machine that simulates zero gravity" you are missing out on the full scope of what a plane is and what it does.

Similarly, you are correct that restorative justice can be used within the framework of a criminal justice system as an alternative method of sentencing or carrying out sentencing (as I mentioned already, such pilot programs have been run by Corrections Canada among others) and that in those cases, the criminal law is left in place. But to say that that is the end of it misses out of the full scope of what restorative justice is and what it does.

Criminal law makes a list of behaviours that are to be outlawed and a corresponding list of punishments. The first written record of such a system dates back to Hammurabi's code. Commit crime 1, get punishment A. It functions the same as God's law: commit sin 1, get punishment A. They are both punitive systems that function on the basis of coercion; don't do X or else.

Restorative justice eliminates half of that approach by eliminating the punishment. There is no standard punishment because the focus is not on punishment, it's on restoring harmony. Once again, as you said, it can be used within the framework of a system of criminal law; however, it does not require codified laws because the focus is not on regulations and who violates them, but rather on who was harmed.

Restorative justice systems that exist outside of punitive systems (which is the case for most restorative justice systems save the ones being used as pilot programs by those of us trapped within a punitive system) do not have laws, nor are they coercive. There is no threat of "or else" in these systems, there is only the understanding that when wrongdoing occurs, that there will be a process; a process that functions very differently than what we're used to.

This is why restorative justice is an alternative to punitive justice systems, be they criminal justice systems or religious law systems.
I'm glad that you elaborated, but you had to equivocate "systems" to make your point. You call criminal law a "system" and restorative justice a "system" in order to make them alternatives. You claim that "restorative justice systems... do not have laws" but go on to state that there is a process "when wrongdoing occurs"... exactly what do you think defines that "wrongdoing"? Laws, of course.

Try this on for size... please give me one example of a rule made by a restorative justice system (and even better, explain how that is incompatible with secular law). Secular law, for example, states that murder is wrong (or illegal, if you prefer). What would be the alternative to this in a restorative justice system? What would restorative justice have to say about murder? And please don't answer by explaining the difference in punishment -- you'll notice that my example doesn't discuss punishment because that's not part of the rule itself; secular law itself does not define what happens when you break it, but merely defines how one breaks it.

An airplane can be used to simulate zero gravity. But if you define an airplane as an alternative to living in space, you're missing the point.

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