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Posted: 25 April 2008 07:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 151 ]
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dougsmith - 24 April 2008 12:47 PM

Do you believe it’s immoral to strike a slave with a rod with sufficient force that he will die a day later?

Bryan - 24 April 2008 01:22 PM

Yes, depending on the circumstances (self-defense would be OK, for example).

Bryan,

If it is fair game to interpret the bible passages in the context of self defense what are we to take from this line?  “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.”  Apparently the Bible would have all individuals acting in self defense, which led to the death of the attacker in less than one day, be put to death.  Surely the bible can not expect us to gauge the force of our blows and the physiology of our attackers so as to be accurate to within hours of their time of death.

If every instance is being evaluated on the basis of circumstance, what contribution is the bible making to your moral code?  You have done nothing more than give an example of your own independent moral code and shown that you choose when or how to read divine texts intending to validate your ethics.

-Scott

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Posted: 25 April 2008 07:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 152 ]
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IF anything, the Bible has been one of the causes of violence and various verses used to justify the use of violence.  Rarely do you hear one say, “A kind word turneth away wrath” or “If he strikes you, turn and give him the other cheek” to justify actions, yet both sayings in various translations are also Biblical.  Most of the time, it is “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a toth” sayings or even Ima geddon out of here sayings.  The more extreme religious people want to start yet another holy war in the Middle East, in order to “force” Christ to return.  rolleyes  Gee… IF he is the incarnation of God (like Krishna the incarnation of Vishnu) then I don’t see how he can be forced to do anything.  What sort of deity would allow people to force him to do something?  Thing is, such violence is only going to bring about one type of god, a very human created god and it will definitely descend from the sky- it’s called a nuke.

That said, I do realize not all Christain believe rapture prophesies and know it is not Biblical.  The thing is, many Christians seem to use violent verses in the Bible to justify their actions, with the few exceptions of those like MLK Jr.  Even Gandhi did not use violence nor did he justify violence with the Gita.  So, among the religious, there are some exceptions.

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Posted: 25 April 2008 08:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 153 ]
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Jackson - 25 April 2008 04:26 AM

The most parsimonious conclusion is that all 100 folks have motes in their eyes.

But not you, correct?  You see things clearly.

The problem is that your logic is fallacious (as I believe I have already pointed out).

Parsimony suggests the entire universe does NOT revolve around our planet.

You’ll have to take that one up with Sarah.
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/36825/

And could there be a cosmic Santa Claus who “knows if you’ve been bad or good”?  Yeah, but to me this is certainly not Parsimony with a capital P.

Why not?


Edit to add:
I want to give Jackson a bit more to chew on, though it seems to me that it should be obvious (even to him) that his reasoning is flawed.  I thought of an illustration I can use from past debate.

Jackson, I often encounter challenges in the form of long lists of either questions or assertions (Doug’s recent (list of) questions concerning a list of OT laws serves as the latest example).  Answering entire long lists requires a great deal of effort, of course, and perhaps in some cases that is part of the rhetorical strategy of producing such lists—there is an implicit “If you don’t answer every one of these then I won’t give your argument the time of day.”  When presented with these types of challenges I often take the tack of asking the person who produced the list to give me the very strongest example from the list.  If I succeed in undermining what he sees as his strongest example, then I cast doubt on his judgment regarding the worth of the list on the whole—but I would never claim to have effectively shown that the entire list was bogus—that wouldn’t follow.

You, Jackson, pick out the worst of a different type of list and you do assert that the one example nullifies the entire list, and what’s more you exempt your own views from scrutiny for reasons that do not appear particularly clear.  Yours should be broadly regarded as an unsatisfactory approach to truth-finding.

[ Edited: 25 April 2008 04:02 PM by Bryan ]
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Posted: 25 April 2008 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 154 ]
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George - 25 April 2008 06:42 AM
Bryan - 24 April 2008 11:39 AM

If you have any questions, feel free.

Feel free to what?

Ask a question, of course.  This one was pretty easy.

To try to have you explain Christianity to me?

Kind of, though as I’ve already mentioned I don’t think this forum is appropriate for use to plumb for encyclopedic knowledge.  If I am to write a book I’ll have a publisher pay me (or the like).

I was trying to coax you into real participation instead of seeing you hide out in the peanut gallery.  But it’s ultimately up to you.

Would you ask a patient who thinks he’s Napoleon to explain to you the French Revolution?

Is your disdain personal toward me or do you have a bigoted attitude toward all Christian or religious people?

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Posted: 25 April 2008 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 155 ]
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retrospy - 25 April 2008 07:05 AM
dougsmith - 24 April 2008 12:47 PM

Do you believe it’s immoral to strike a slave with a rod with sufficient force that he will die a day later?

Bryan - 24 April 2008 01:22 PM

Yes, depending on the circumstances (self-defense would be OK, for example).

Bryan,

If it is fair game to interpret the bible passages in the context of self defense what are we to take from this line?  “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.”

Hi, Scott.  Your question contains a questionable premise.  I don’t know what to make of the notion that the Bible is being interpreted in the context of self defense.  Doug asked a question based to at least some degree on a Bible text, but I found it hard to judge to what degree (based on the appearance of incongruity between his questions and the texts he cited).

Apparently the Bible would have all individuals acting in self defense, which led to the death of the attacker in less than one day, be put to death.

I don’t see how that follows.  Nobody (as far as I can tell) interpreted the Bible in the context of self-defense until you engaged in it just now.  I don’t see how it follows from the discussion you quoted.

Surely the bible can not expect us to gauge the force of our blows and the physiology of our attackers so as to be accurate to within hours of their time of death.

I agree.  If one finds his ability to estimate the amount of damage occurring from the force of his blows in doubt, one should be very careful about administering blows in order to stay on the safe side.

If every instance is being evaluated on the basis of circumstance, what contribution is the bible making to your moral code?

It provides specific examples that might not be modified by context, a general moral framework, and the principle of taking context into account in making moral judgments (as with lex talionis).

You have done nothing more than give an example of your own independent moral code and shown that you choose when or how to read divine texts intending to validate your ethics.

That’s ridiculous.

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Posted: 25 April 2008 10:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 156 ]
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dougsmith - 25 April 2008 04:32 AM

I don’t see the argument here, Bryan. FWIW I am not claiming that every Biblical injunction is wrong. I am simply claiming that some of them clearly are.

I don’t know what you mean when you claim not to see the argument.  Are you saying that you don’t know how my reply is supposed to address your question?

But this is an odd juxtaposition:

Bryan - 24 April 2008 11:03 PM

20"If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished.

21"If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; (M)for he is his property.

... If the slave were simply the property of the owner (as was the case in the American South), then how does one make sense of the statute (I don’t charge Doug with answering the question—it is rhetorical food for thought)?

It certainly sounds like you’re accusing the biblical author (certainly a several-centuries-BCE Israelite) of implicit self-contradiction.

Let’s be honest enough to admit that the juxtaposition is your creation rather than mine (the ellipsis is significant).  You simply replaced the verse I was talking about with a different one, and Doug has apparently turned up his nose at the proffered food for thought.

I’ll take the Socratic route with you, Doug.  Is there only one sense in which one can be the “property” of another?  Is contradiction within the space of just a few verses the most reasonable explanation of the text?

At any rate, one would have expected a lawbook supposedly written by an ethically perfect being to have made somewhat clearer the fact that owning another human being was immoral. Somehow Yhwh never quite got round to that.

There’s Doug edging closer to the ever-popular argument that God would have to communicate infallibly (the message of an omniscient being cannot be misperceived).  The proscription of murder is an implicit condemnation of chattel slavery, for no exception is made.  I can’t imagine what would be clear enough for Doug, though I can imagine a line that moves with the whim.

I was also interested in what you meant by “depends on the context” in the issue of killing anyone who worked on saturday—and it IS saturday, not sunday, BTW—and the other issues (“ditto”) where you also felt that the context would somehow make clear why they were moral commands.

Your interest in the issue of the weekly Sabbath (you didn’t assume that the Sabbath meant Sunday, did you?  I did not mention Sunday) was already noted, and I purposed to address it as I recall.  I suppose that now is as good a time as any.

Much of the OT law is not merely law in terms of moral prescriptives, certainly not general ones.  As I’ve already pointed out, many of the laws appear to have been designed to set Israel apart from its neighbors culturally by specifically barring the practices of the surrounding culture.  Such laws, rather than being moral directives per se, are terms of a deal (covenant) made with Israel.  As such, those types of statutes take on their own moral status within the framework of the covenant (the people have agreed to do X to hold up their end of the bargain, failure to do so breaks the agreed-upon bargain).  In addition, the covenant itself maintains a moral dimension in terms of God’s overall purposes.  Israel, according to God, was intended to bring about benefit for the rest of the world.

So I answer as follows:  Given the simplistic and prejudicial phrasing of the Sabbath law as Doug presents it, I’d be inclined to answer no—it isn’t moral to kill a person for working on the Sabbath.
Given the fuller picture of a covenant with additional moral dimensions (setting Israel apart culturally and the future purposes of that nation), I answer that it could be moral.

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Posted: 25 April 2008 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 157 ]
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Bryan - 25 April 2008 10:50 AM

So I answer as follows:  Given the simplistic and prejudicial phrasing of the Sabbath law as Doug presents it, I’d be inclined to answer no—it isn’t moral to kill a person for working on the Sabbath.
Given the fuller picture of a covenant with additional moral dimensions (setting Israel apart culturally and the future purposes of that nation), I answer that it could be moral.

But I wasn’t asking whether it could be moral. In some sense, I suppose, any activity could be moral. I was asking (as always with these sorts of things) whether it is at all reasonable to suppose that anyone proffering such a claim is a morally perfect being.

And my phrasing was neither simplistic nor prejudicial. Just to be clear, here is a representative passage from Numbers (15:32-36) quoted in its entirety (NIV):

While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.

I could quote similar passages for the other issues I raised, above.

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Posted: 25 April 2008 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 158 ]
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Bryan - 25 April 2008 10:50 AM

The proscription of murder is an implicit condemnation of chattel slavery, for no exception is made.

Um, there is an exception: if the murder victim survives a single day after being struck. That’s a rather important exception, don’t you think?

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Posted: 25 April 2008 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 159 ]
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dougsmith - 25 April 2008 12:01 PM
Bryan - 25 April 2008 10:50 AM

So I answer as follows:  Given the simplistic and prejudicial phrasing of the Sabbath law as Doug presents it, I’d be inclined to answer no—it isn’t moral to kill a person for working on the Sabbath.
Given the fuller picture of a covenant with additional moral dimensions (setting Israel apart culturally and the future purposes of that nation), I answer that it could be moral.

But I wasn’t asking whether it could be moral.

Meh.  You used words to that effect:
Bryan:
Clearly immoral according to whom?  I’ll need to review Doug’s stance on morality, I guess.

Doug:
Well, do you believe slavery is immoral?

Do you believe it’s immoral to strike a slave with a rod with sufficient force that he will die a day later?
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/36839/

In some sense, I suppose, any activity could be moral.

What do you mean, then, when you suggest that something is “clearly immoral” if that’s what you truly believe?

I was asking (as always with these sorts of things) whether it is at all reasonable to suppose that anyone proffering such a claim is a morally perfect being.

When you admit that any activity could be moral, it seems obvious that you must answer that the moral perfection of a being proffering such a claim could well be a reasonable claim.

And my phrasing was neither simplistic nor prejudicial.

Sure it was.

Just to be clear, here is a representative passage from Numbers (15:32-36) quoted in its entirety (NIV):

While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.

 

So where’s the mention of the context of Israel’s cultural separation from its neighbors and the broader moral purposes intended for Israel—the things that I mentioned specifically that were left out of your simplistic and prejudicial presentation (then and now)?

I could quote similar passages for the other issues I raised, above.

Just ... wow.  smile

Doug followed up ...

dougsmith - 25 April 2008 12:05 PM
Bryan - 25 April 2008 10:50 AM

The proscription of murder is an implicit condemnation of chattel slavery, for no exception is made.

Um, there is an exception: if the murder victim survives a single day after being struck. That’s a rather important exception, don’t you think?

No, I don’t see that as an exception to the crime of murder.  I think it represents a line between murder and manslaughter, one that would be relatively easy for a pre-technological society to implement (though I can well imagine the existence of a skeptic who finds it incumbent on a morally just god to equip his people (with) advanced technology to whatever degree it suits his arguments).  If status as property made surviving one day OK then why bother executing capital punishment if the slave dies right away?  Was the slave not property unless he survived for a day?  Deal with that issue, Doug.

[ Edited: 25 April 2008 12:41 PM by Bryan ]
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Posted: 25 April 2008 12:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 160 ]
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Bryan - 25 April 2008 09:39 AM

Is your disdain personal toward me or do you have a bigoted attitude toward all Christian or religious people?

None of the above. Your intelligence is admirable and I admire you the same way I admire most lawyers.

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Posted: 25 April 2008 12:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 161 ]
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George - 25 April 2008 12:44 PM
Bryan - 25 April 2008 09:39 AM

Is your disdain personal toward me or do you have a bigoted attitude toward all Christian or religious people?

None of the above. Your intelligence is admirable and I admire you the same way I admire most lawyers.


LOL  You will have to forgive me Bryan but George scored on this, you argue to mainly highlight your subtlety and brilliance in arguing, but not in justifying religion whether it be christian or any other for that matter.

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Posted: 25 April 2008 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 162 ]
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Bryan - 25 April 2008 12:38 PM

When you admit that any activity could be moral, it seems obvious that you must answer that the moral perfection of a being proffering such a claim could well be a reasonable claim.

No, just as my assertion that the moon could be made of green cheese does not imply that it could well be a reasonable claim—given the evidence we have before us—to assert that the moon is made of green cheese.

I assume you do not mean to assert the specious argument that it “could be reasonable” in the sense that we could have evidence that we do not in fact have. The claim that X is a reasonable claim is predicated on the evidence that we have before us right now; not on some hypothetical evidence that we might have but do not.

Bryan - 25 April 2008 12:38 PM

... left out of your simplistic and prejudicial presentation (then and now)?

That’s interesting. I just quoted one complete passage from the Bible without comment and you considered it simplistic and prejudicial.

You certainly seem to be willing to bend over backwards for the Bible in a way you certainly never would for anyone on THIS forum. So we can’t take the Bible at its face value, but have to be careful to consider every possible extenuating circumstance, extend to it every ounce of charity, before we begin any sort of critical examination. Huh.

Well, so then, why don’t you start by explaining for us how “the context of Israel’s cultural separation from its neighbors and the broader moral purposes intended for Israel” justify the stoning to death of this guy out collecting firewood on saturday. Such an explanation, of course, will have to take account of why any lesser punishment (indoctrination, castigation, corporal punishment, imprisonment, banishment, enslavement, etc.) would be unjustified in this circumstance.

I will be very surprised to see you succeed at that task, because I do not believe it can be done while preserving any sort of moral compass that is still worthy of the name.

Bryan - 25 April 2008 12:38 PM

I could quote similar passages for the other issues I raised, above.

Just ... wow.  smile

I’d be happy to, if you like.  smile

Bryan - 25 April 2008 12:38 PM

I think it represents a line between murder and manslaughter ...

I have a pretty good definition of manslaughter HERE: “Unlawful killing without intent to kill.” Or HERE: “homicide without malice aforethought”. The crucial mitigating circumstance in manslaughter is the lack of intent.

Where is the implication of lack of intent in the statement about killing slaves? Here’s the passage again, tell me where it is:

“When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished.  If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.” (Ex. 21:20-21)

The mitigating circumstance in the latter case is explained quite clearly: “... since the slave is his own property.” Because it is his own property, the slave owner is not punished for murder under certain circumstances.

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Posted: 25 April 2008 01:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 163 ]
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George - 25 April 2008 12:44 PM
Bryan - 25 April 2008 09:39 AM

Is your disdain personal toward me or do you have a bigoted attitude toward all Christian or religious people?

None of the above. Your intelligence is admirable and I admire you the same way I admire most lawyers.

Depending on the way you admire most lawyers you may be dodging the question despite your denial.

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Posted: 25 April 2008 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 164 ]
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Okay, I’ll tell you what I really think. I don’t think you believe in god. I have a feeling that you are here to either amuse yourself (disagreeing with everybody and everything) or maybe you are a lawyer after all, and you come here to “get in shape.” Why did you wait for Kirk to leave this forum before you started to post here? Because it wouldn’t be fun to agree with him? Do you really believe in god, Bryan?

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Posted: 25 April 2008 03:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 165 ]
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dougsmith - 25 April 2008 01:08 PM
Bryan - 25 April 2008 12:38 PM

When you admit that any activity could be moral, it seems obvious that you must answer that the moral perfection of a being proffering such a claim could well be a reasonable claim.

No, just as my assertion that the moon could be made of green cheese does not imply that it could well be a reasonable claim—given the evidence we have before us—to assert that the moon is made of green cheese.

When is the last time you answered one of my questions?
What is the evidence that we supposedly have before us in this case?

I assume you do not mean to assert the specious argument that it “could be reasonable” in the sense that we could have evidence that we do not in fact have.

If we don’t have evidence then where does the “clearly immoral” rhetoric come from?  Or is evidence something that only ~Doug need worry about?

The claim that X is a reasonable claim is predicated on the evidence that we have before us right now; not on some hypothetical evidence that we might have but do not.

Again, what evidence do we have before us right now?  Does the covenant aspect of the OT law count (something you left out of your presentation of the problem)?  Does the setting apart of the nature of Israel or Israel’s later (higher?) purpose in history rightly figure in at all?

Bryan - 25 April 2008 12:38 PM

... left out of your simplistic and prejudicial presentation (then and now)?

That’s interesting. I just quoted one complete passage from the Bible without comment and you considered it simplistic and prejudicial.

More interesting, I think, is the way Doug leaves out both the context of my specific complaints about things he was leaving out as well as the present context (the fact that he is implicitly presenting the passage with the comment that it represents clear immorality).  That on top of avoiding my questions, in particular my attempt to resolve an issue via Socratic dialog.  Perhaps Doug sees himself as the prosecutor addressing a witness at trial.

You certainly seem to be willing to bend over backwards for the Bible in a way you certainly never would for anyone on THIS forum.

Baloney.  I went to bat for both faithlessgod to Dr. McKenzie in the philosophy forum, encouraging the latter to take a more charitable view of the other’s statements.  And faithlessgod hasn’t exactly gone out of his way to ingratiate himself with me (before or since).
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/36192/

Most particularly where you should note my consistency is in the care I take to avoid drawing my own assumptions into the statements of others.  That goes just as much for skeptical CFI members as it does for biblical authors.  In the former case, of course, I have the option of bouncing a statement off the CFI member that will help me accurately ascertain his intent (not that the technique invariably helps—unanswered questions will continue to abound, I expect); plus translation barriers are much lower with contemporary communications in a common language that hasn’t in turn been translated from another language. 

Interesting how often these exchanges end up in personal attacks, isn’t it?

So we can’t take the Bible at its face value, but have to be careful to consider every possible extenuating circumstance, extend to it every ounce of charity, before we begin any sort of critical examination. Huh.

Need a crying towel?

Quite simply, you need some foundation for claiming that a given occurrence is “plainly immoral.”  Otherwise any argument you make based on that premise is suspect.  Apparently you’re sore that I didn’t make it easy on you.  I have every confidence that you would extend (to) any premise that I suggest the same courtesy where it leads to a conclusion that challenges your beliefs.

Well, so then, why don’t you start by explaining for us how “the context of Israel’s cultural separation from its neighbors and the broader moral purposes intended for Israel” justify the stoning to death of this guy out collecting firewood on saturday. Such an explanation, of course, will have to take account of why any lesser punishment (indoctrination, castigation, corporal punishment, imprisonment, banishment, enslavement, etc.) would be unjustified in this circumstance.

For that instance I would also bring to bear the other factor that I’ve already mentioned:  the covenant.  The people gathered before God and made a deal to follow the laws God gave them in return for God’s blessings.  When Doug mentions the account of the folks stoned for collecting firewood he curiously omits that aspect of the problem; the text (Numbers 15) appears to indicate that the man who collected firewood would likely have been present to agree to the covenant.

By way of analogy, we might suppose that Doug agrees to put a dollar into a workplace fund every time he says “dammit!”  And then we get the moral dilemma:  Is it morally right to charge somebody a dollar just because he says “dammit!”?  Context matters.

I will be very surprised to see you succeed at that task, because I do not believe it can be done while preserving any sort of moral compass that is still worthy of the name.

It isn’t clear that you can describe such a compass in the first place, Doug, even given completely free reign.  The poison you’ve prepared for the well is dilute.
You skipped the opportunity to demonstrate the “plainly immoral” nature of the commandments in favor of trying to get me to settle on one that I would contradict.  Remember?

Bryan - 25 April 2008 12:38 PM

I could quote similar passages for the other issues I raised, above.

Just ... wow.  smile

I’d be happy to, if you like.

Blessed are the listmakers.  Or something like that.

Bryan - 25 April 2008 12:38 PM

I think it represents a line between murder and manslaughter ...

I have a pretty good definition of manslaughter HERE: “Unlawful killing without intent to kill.” Or HERE: “homicide without malice aforethought”. The crucial mitigating circumstance in manslaughter is the lack of intent.

Where is the implication of lack of intent in the statement about killing slaves? Here’s the passage again, tell me where it is:

“When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished.  If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.” (Ex. 21:20-21)

The mitigating circumstance in the latter case is explained quite clearly: “... since the slave is his own property.” Because it is his own property, the slave owner is not punished for murder under certain circumstances.

I’ve already pointed out the implication of lack of intent; it’s little enough trouble to repeat myself, I suppose.  Observe the parallel passage that precedes Ex. 21:20-21. 
18"If men have a quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and he does not die but remains in bed,

19if he gets up and walks around outside on his staff, then he who struck him shall go unpunished; he shall only pay for his loss of time, and shall take care of him until he is completely healed.

In this case also we have the crime of dire personal injury.  If the victim recovers even enough to walk about with his staff, the perpetrator “shall go unpunished”—yet (astoundingly?) without the injured man being his property.  But he shall pay for the lost time and assist him back to health.  In the case of the slave, how does one pay for lost time?  In the case of chattel slavery there is no debt incurred.  The slave would no more be entitled to lost time than would a bull slaughtered for a feast.  And in the case of the more common form of slavery (one person owning the labor of another), the slave holder is the one who loses the lost time.  Likewise, the slave’s recovery is in the owner’s interest.  Slaves do not maintain their value well after death. 

Let’s see if you’re able to ignore that again.

[ Edited: 25 April 2008 03:56 PM by Bryan ]
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