Friday, December 04, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration Part X: Summary

The Manhattan Declaration, as it turns out, is an attempt by a bunch of religious conservatives to try to defend their least defensible policies (read: indefensible). As a result, it was not possible to find much at all of merit in what they wrote, or in the arguments they used to defend them.

(See: Manhattan Declaration: A Call to Christian Conscience.)

In fact, the Manhattan Declaration was a moral equivalent of creationism. Creationism is a desperate attempt to defend a group of absurd beliefs by twisting and distorting anything that the creationist can put his hands on to make it appear consistent with his beliefs. They provide a stark illustration of the degree to which people can ignore what is right in front of them, dismiss the most solid evidence, and embrace the wildest fictions, just for the sake of tenaciously defending an absurdity.

The Manhattan Declaration provides a similar defense of a set of moral absurdities.

Another name that we can give to embracing moral absurdities is 'evil'. Every evil - from individual evils such as the rape of a child or the robbing of a convenience store, to large-scale evils such as segregation, slavery, and genocide - is executed by people who have been able to convince themselves that they were moral saints doing good in the world. The fact that a person likes to think of himself as a defender of good and virtue is not relevant to answering the question of whether or not he is in fact evil. Hitler thought he was a great and moral individual, but the reality is that the firmness of his convictions counted for nothing. He was and is the archtype of evil.

I have spent the last several posts going through the Manhattan Declaration exposing one absurdity and contradiction after another. These are absurdities that are so plain and obvious that no good and decent person would be caught dead embracing them. They are exactly the same types of absurdities that were once used to defend slavery, segregation, apartheid, genocide, tyranny, terrorism, and the worst forms of abuses that one human can inflict on another.

There are the absurdities of the authors' conception of religious liberty.

"Religious liberty means that I have the liberty to do whatever I want, and you have the obligation to do what I say. If you should ever refuse to do what I command, then you are violating my right to religious liberty - which is the right to order you around in whatever way I deem fit."

Religious liberty, according to the authors of the Manhattan Doctrine, means, "I get to take control of your life and dictate who you can sleep with, who you can marry, the sexual acts you perform, and what you watch and read regarding matters of sex and relationships."

Religious liberty, according to the authors of the Manhattan Doctrine, means, "I get to take control of your life and dictate what you may do to the entity lacking desires or interests growing inside of that body, deny you health care treatments that could save your life or treat massively debilitating injuries and illnesses, and deny you the option of avoiding a long and torturous death with a quick and painless death."

In short, "religious liberty" to the authors of the Manhattan Declaration is the tyrant's liberty - a liberty to do whatever the tyrant sees fit to do, combined with a duty on the part of his subjects to obey and carry out those wishes.

The concept of marriage that we find in the Manhattan Doctrine is the bigot's concept of marriage. It is a natural presumption that, "Those who are like us" (e.g., heterosexual) are superior to "those who are different from us" (homosexual), and these inferior beings may be visited with all sorts of unjust and unjustified burdens and costs. There is really nothing behind these burdens but the bigoted arrogance of those who would impose them.

Of course, these people need a system where they can deny that these moral demands come from them. This is because, "You must obey me," tends not to come across very well. An alternative is needed, and for that alternative these arrogant bigots use, "You must obey God and I am the voice of God." This is, for all practical purposes, the same thing. However, the marketing department says that it will be more effective.

Yet, it is difficult to fatham the arrogance of asserting, "I am the voice of God."

The reason these people find so much agreement between their own attitudes and what they see in their God is precisely because they have created God in their own image. In doing so, they have assigned their own attitudes to that God.

Kind and just people create a kind and just God, and assign all of their kindness and love of justice to that God. They then use this God to teach kindness and justice to their children.

Arrogant, hateful, and bigoted people create a God that is arrogant, hateful, and bigoted as well, assigning their arrogance, hate, and bigotry to their God. Then use this God to teach their children to be as arrogant, hateful, and bigoted as they are.

To take this one step further; vicious and violent people create a vicious and violent God, and use that God to teach their children to become vicious and violent as well.

Along these lines, we should note that if a child does not adopt the attitudes of his parents - if arrogant and bigoted parents give birth to a kind and just child, that child will eventually overthrow the parents' arrogant and bigoted god, putting a kind and just god in its place, if he put any god at at all. This further demonstrates that people create God in their own image. Kind and just people create a kind and just god, while arrogant and bigoted people (like the authors of the Manhattan Declaration) create an arrogant and bigoted god.

However, the greatest cruelty to come from the authors of the Manhattan Declaration is the cruelty that comes from insisting that all of us be forced by the government to participate in the massive ritual of human sacrifice that they require of us (while telling us that this demand comes not from them, but from their God).

They . . . the authors . . . are the ones who decided to choose a god that demands these huge human sacrifices. They are the ones who attributed these beliefs and attitudes to their god. They are, ultimately, the ones commanding - and demanding that the government enforce - the massive human death and suffering that springs from the principles that they invent and that they assign to their god.

I am speaking here of the suffering that is caused by demanding that others - against their will and better judgment - be forced to endure a tortuous pain rather than obtain a quick and relatively painless death, or that others be forced to stay alive at the cost of destroying the ends that the victim has spent his life trying to achieve. In this latter case, their demands are morally identical to forcing a soldier to live while the Constitution and the Country he would give his life to protect are destroyed for the sake of keeping the soldier alive.

I am also speaking of the death and the suffering that is caused by those who demand that the rest of us make religious sacrifices for the sake of entities that have no desires, and thus no morally relevant interests. For the sake of a clump of cells having no desires or interests of its own, the rest of us must endure any number of injuries and illnesses, even face premature death, because the god these people invent prefers this to using entities without desires or interests to treat those illnesses and injuries and prevent those deaths.

Here, too, as before, these people like to claim that these demands for human sacrifice come from god so that they can deny moral responsibility for their own choices and their own ideas. Yet, these demands come from the authors themselves, and come from their god only because they have decided to create a god in their own image.

In short, the authors of the Manhattan Declaration have given us a manifesto in which they reserve for themselves the liberty to impose any demands they see fit on others, while also preserving for themselves the liberty to refuse any demands that others may see fit to impose on them. It is a manifesto of arrogance and bigotry in which the authors deny moral responsibility for their own ideas by shifting that responsibility go a god that they invent in their own image. Thsi god they invented is not only an arrogant and bigoted god, but a god demanding massive human sacrifice in the form of premature death and suffering. The authors, of course, do not wish to admit that they are the authors of this demand for death and suffering. Here, too, they wish to shift the responsibility to a god that they have created in their own image.

1 comment:

Fannie Wolfe said...

Great series of articles on the Manhattan Declaration.

To me, the worst part of the document, aside from how its authors self-aggrandize about how courageous they are for exercising their "religious freedom) is that it arrogantly deigns to tell us what the "non-negotiable" truth is with respect to certain social issues. That conception of truth, which is nothing more than their own opinions, they conveniently then attribute to "God."

How arrogant. Like fundamentalists everywhere, this document is no friend of democracy.