Examining Beliefs

If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?

 Frederick Bastiat


I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman’s club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave.


Off goes the head of the king, and tyranny gives way to freedom. The change seems abysmal. Then, bit by bit, the face of freedom hardens, and by and by it is the old face of tyranny. Then another cycle, and another. But under the play of all these opposites there is something fundamental and permanent — the basic delusion that men may be governed and yet be free.

 H. L. Mencken


An Atheist gets in a argument with a Theist. The Theist says that without religion, men would not restrain themselves from sin, and would fall into drunken debauchery, drug abuse, sloth, thievery, and dancing around in goat britches(h/t to Mayberry). The Theist drives his point home by asking the Atheist for one single instance of a successful non-religious society.

The Atheist is stumped and has to admit that, in the entire history of the world, there has never been a society that eschewed religion. “Aha!” says the Theist. “That’s because an absence of religion would cause us to sink into chaos and perish!”

Government is a belief system, just like any religion. True believers fiercely defend their government. “Without a government, we would sink into anarchy and perish!”

How do you test an idea? I like to ask, “If this is true, what else about it is true?” Ayn Rand used to call that a Reductio ad absurdum (Latin: “reduction to the absurd”). Not all ideas, of course, are absurd, but just because an idea causes the belly to purr doesn’t mean that the litmus paper has turned a good color. Same for an idea that causes the belly to growl.


Posted by Dave


11 Comments on “Examining Beliefs”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Anytime one questions a “Higher” power, they need only look up at the night sky.

    Man can no more understand God, than the stone can understand the Sculpture.

    • Hi Anon,

      Religion is a middleman between you and God. I don’t trust religious belief systems for the same reason that hearsay evidence is not allowed in court. I prefer to talk directly to the Big Guy, and I look up at the night sky fairly often.

      Thanks for stopping by.


      • crankyyankee says:

        Actually, Anonymous above is just Cranky_Yankee, now with less rant.

        Let me “Axe you a question”, a Northeast colloquialism, lost on the rest of the country, who endorsed a middleman ?. Regardless of the perverted, self aggrandizing religious sects and doctrines, would the basic tenets of the Ten commandments, well known to those of the Christian faith, enhance or degrade the Human experience ?

        All Religious faiths, more or less espouse a code of conduct toward one’s fellow man and a belief of a creator(s).

        Good is taught, not innate, the difference between Sociopaths and responsible citizens is simply, Morality, period.
        One one is born good, it is a learned system, any twelve year old murdering Gang banger, proves that point.

        As to the the night sky, fairly often, has the symmetry escaped you ?, I think not, no accident there, intelligent design, which means ?…………………

        The above in no way endorses any Political candidate, using Religion as a facade, to gain position and power.

        BTW, if the Big answers back, let me know A.S.A.P………………………..

      • Hi Jerry,

        Axe away. I’ve mastered several regional dialects.

        I don’t think Goodness can be taught, but the way to find Goodness certainly can be. Only from a well-ordered mind can we come to know Goodness, and a well-ordered mind is the result of education, which is nothing at all like the indoctrination of a statist or religious belief system.

        A thoughtful consideration of the Ten Commandments would certainly bear fruit for a mind seeking Goodness, but I don’t think it would help that inquiry to shave your head and sell flowers at the airport. Numsayin?

        If, while I’m out viewing the night sky, a nearby creosote bush ignites and a booming voice commands my attention, I’ll blog about it, and post photos too.


    • crankyyankee says:

      You realize, Dave, there is more Brain-power working in these responses, than in all of D.C.

      Shocking, positively shocking, Oh the Horror………………….

  2. The Theist drives his point home by asking the Atheist for one single instance of a successful non-religious society

    For that matter, name one truly moral example of a religious society.

    It works both ways (and doesn’t that just piss off the True Believers of either example, my word, yes). I understand and applaud the notion of living to an ideal. It is the nature of a self-aware, thoughtful person to strive for something a little better. It’s when striving for an ideal is supplanted by belief of success, as opposed to actual effort and accomplishment, that problems arise.

    • Hi Emily,

      I sure can’t name one, religious or irreligious. Every society I’ve read about, or had direct experience with, declined due mostly to whatever belief system was deluding its participants.

      That word “successful” seems to rely on someone’s opinion, an unreliable gauge. As always, a serious bout of clarification of concepts is a good place to start any thoughtful inquiry into separating the better from the worse.


      • crankyyankee says:

        Societies degrade because of a loss of “moral compass”, not by fulfilling it…………….

        And save the examples of the “perverted”, not the true basis of a religious belief, any example will always be a “Re-tuned” system, AKA, the Inquisition.

        The current crop of Zio-Christians nuts, qualify as perverted.

      • Hi Jerry,

        The North-Seeker in our moral compass is our rational faculty. If we have lost our way, it is because we have lost reason.


      • Crazy Yankee,

        Societies degrade because of a loss of “moral compass”, not by fulfilling it…

        You misunderstood. To clarify: The problem arises when people decide the top is where ever they happen to be right now, declare success and stop trying.

        I.e., they have substituted belief of success for actual success, or the effort required to attain it.

        It is easy to declare that God is love and “I am forgiven for my sins”; it is much harder to go forth and sin no more, or to live as salt of the earth, or to show the fruit of the spirit. So we decide we’ll just stick to the love and forgiveness part, and declare in loud voices what good (insert religion of your choice here) we are.

        It is easy to declare, “Man was endowed with inalienable rights.” It’s much harder to throw off the shackles and decide to live free, with all that entails – particularly if the aforementioned throwing of the shackles involves putting a little of the most natural manure around the Tree of Liberty. So we lick the hand that feeds us, and declare in loud voices that we are the most freedom-loving society ever invented.

      • crankyyankee says:

        Perhaps, I for one, have after many a decade, decided that a “Deist” philosophy seems to make the most sense, it seems to explain the anomalies, conventional religion seems to neglect.

        No disrespect to intellectual “fencing”.

        You misunderstood. To clarify: The problem arises when people decide the top is where ever they happen to be right now, declare success and stop trying..

        Cranky_Yankee, always a work in progress, aspiring to greatness, always falling short, but there is the reward, in the trying.

        Just a “Dude” trying to get threw another Day………..

All comments are welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s