The Buddhist Christian, on LSD

Any moral message that can be taken from Christianity is immediately undermined by the fact Christianity holds the loophole to entire avoid moral judgement: faith. A good person receives no rewards if they are not faithful, and a bad person receives no punishment if they are faithful. I’ve argued before that this is the catastrophic failure of Christian ethics: it claims to have moral messages, thus blocks real progress, but undermines itself to the point of permitting anything.

One commenter, oldschoolcontemporary (OSC), in an attempt to make sense of this for me, argued that upon conversion to Christianity or in a renewed finding of Christian faith, the new believer undergoes a sort of transformation. This transformation is one of the mind, where the believer develops an understanding of God’s law. It is important to note that OSC believes God’s law to be something that lines up very much with the moral sensibilities we all have. Although epiphanies of this sort are something that are familiar to me, I take umbrage with the assertion that one needs a believe in God, or Jesus specifically, to have such an epiphany.

A clear distinction was made early in OSC’s comment (read the comment here): the new believer will not develop an aversion to shellfish or fall in line with other ‘ceremonial’ laws, but instead this epiphany will relate only to God’s moral law; the idea of not wanting unnecessary harm to come to others. (We’ll gloss over the wiggle room permitted by “unnecessary”.) I have found it difficult to find anywhere in the Bible where this distinction between God’s moral law and ceremonial law is explicated. From what I can gather, where God’s law overlaps with what is known as “Natural Law”, that’s what we call moral law, and everything else that seem arbitrary or silly, that’s all ceremonial. Natural Law Theory, for those who don’t know, is a pre-Christian discovery meant to describe the preferred moral state of people; perhaps approximately summed up as ‘the moral intuition’ (which we seem to be able to identify in our selves as separate from selfish impulses).

I don’t think it’s reliable for OSC to mandate the relationship with God a new or renewed believer would develop. There are plenty of Christians who I have no reason to doubt are  as sincere in their beliefs, who do wish to repeal the rights and shorten the lives of certain groups of people. There is no clear reason or evidence for a person becoming a new believer that would make them additionally apologetic for their actions. (There are seemingly sincere believers in other religions, too, who are guilty of the same thing, but they are not the point; if OSC is right, those people can’t have the epiphany because they have the wrong God.) What I think OSC is doing here is transposing either their experiences, or their romanticised idea of what experiences people should have, onto other people. So far as I can tell, people who sincerely believe in the Christian God have completely different experiences and moral epiphanies to the one OSC wants them to have.

I’ve experienced mild forms of this transformative moral epiphany OSC alludes to through meditation, and I’ve heard it many more times through the accounts of people using LSD. Both LSD and contemplative meditation appear to make the mind default to the description the ancient Greeks began a discussion of and that ultimately led to various developments in human rights: the Natural Law.

I believe there is some kind of a Natural Law. LSD users give surprisingly consistent account of their feelings of oneness and their moral insights, and those accounts do resonate with my experiences practising meditation and the professed experiences of Buddhists I met in Thailand. It is possible that this ‘Natural Law’ is nothing more than a consistency in neural networks (but I think it is more than that).

This ‘pseudo-Buddhist’ slant on Christianity is not unique to OSC, an interpretation where one has merely to reach this enlightened epiphany before death in order to go to Heaven. The moral trail one leaves behind is redundant. But that epiphany doesn’t have to be belief in Jesus, and belief in Jesus does not necessarily result in the epiphany OSC alludes to. This is part of the reason I don’t believe God owns the mansion we should be having moral discussion in.

10 thoughts on “The Buddhist Christian, on LSD”

  1. A good person receives no rewards if they are not faithful, and a bad person receives no punishment if they are faithful.

    Perfectly stated and fatally accurate..

  2. Christian moral judgment is based on natural law theory.

    Natural law theory is based in reason.

    That means your claim that Christian faith invalidates there moral judgement is false…

    …as usual.

    1. Natural law theory is based in reason.

      Welcome to the lipstick of the pig. Note the inclusion of the term ‘theory’ and the nebulous metaphysical term ‘nature’… as if things have natures. (They don’t; they have properties that can independently verified.)

      The ‘theory term is used here in the vernacular, meaning simply an idea and not the scientific understanding of the term to mean established by the overwhelming preponderance of evidence in the explanatory model’s favour. SoM would like the term to mean the latter but is in fact the former.

      Natural law is of two kinds, and SoM is using the moral one predicated on the idea that moral propositions can be objectively true or false.. Well, here we find that properties can indeed be objectively known but a thing’s ‘nature’ has no independent means to any such understanding! The means is just a subjective one supplied in abundance and wrapped in piety and then imposed on others by moral stalwarts like SoM… and then these subjective beliefs are then falsely presented to be objectively true…. a cart before the horse kind of approach very handy in metaphysical musings so that personal opinions unrelated to reality can packaged and sold to the credulous as if a stand-in for ‘the reasonableness of the approaching logical deduction’. This is how any metaphysical conclusion can be logically deduced… as long as you load up the right premises for it. And the right premises for his notion of natural law regarding morality require that things have natures that can be known AND that moral propositions concerning those natures can be known to be objectively true.

      In neither case is an independent reality allowed to arbitrate whatever moral claims SoM wishes to insert. That’s why he rambles on and on and on about the absurdity of non belief and attaches all kinds of negative moral qualities to the ‘thing’ he calls atheism. He knows about the nature of atheism, you see, because he says he has deduced them, that his subjective ramblings are .reasonable because they are logical, and he knows about the moral consequences of such a non believing nature because, well, he just does and his beliefs are true by his own definition that they are objectively true because they are from natural law theory!

      Following SoM’s argument and understanding the terminology he cavalierly bandies about is a dizzying experience in confirmation bias. And should anyone really wish to bruise the brain, I recommend studying Aquinas from whom SoM is borrowing his irrational arguments.

      1. Tildeb,

        How about the theory of evolution or the theory of relativity?

        Theory is synonymous with working model.

        Consequently, your argument against natural law theory is a big FAIL-zilla, as are all your bizarre hallucinations.

      2. Theory is synonymous with working model.

        Broadly construed, yes, but your definition depends on the term ‘working’. Ratiionalwiki defines a scientific theory as

        “a series of statements about the causal elements for observed phenomena. A critical component of a scientific theory is that it provides explanations and predictions that can be tested.”

        That’s what ‘working’ means. SoM. You conveniently ignore that critical component entirely. That’s what the model of ‘natural law’ doesn’t do; it does not provide any means – as I’ve already patiently explained to you – for independent testing and verification. For that, you need properties of things and not vague and numinous ‘natures’ that you can define on the fly to submit as convenient premises in order to arrive at the logical conclusion you want. Your causal claim of an ‘objective’ moral law is entirely imaginary because it is not a thing, is devoid of any properties we can test, so it doesn’t fit the definition of a theory.

        Both evolution and relativity (and special relativity) do.

        The only bizarre hallucinations going on here is in your imagination, SoM. Your ignorance is not my failure as you repeatedly try to impose on me. Your ignorance belongs to you.

      1. @SoM

        Too funny! Those snickering beasts! Then there is the parroting parrot.
        (But SoM, btw, I think I am chained in your spam basement also)

  3. A good person receives no rewards if they are not faithful, and a bad person receives no punishment if they are faithful….

    i would say that no one unfaithful is good and no one faithful is bad. in human standards it may be the opposite as you stated but GOD searches the hearts of their deed rather than their appearance. there is no such thing as bad fruits from a good tree or good fruits from a bad tree.

    think of the pharisees in Jesus’ time. they were good men in the standards of the world but they were not faithful to GOD. but there were sinners (namely the tax collectors and prostitutes and etc.) who repented and hold faithful to GOD. who would GOD judge as wicked or righteous? Jesus said the sinner who repented was righteous but the bragging pharisee was not. Only Jesus was sinless therefore we must repent and rely on Jesus for our salvation. there is a reason why Jesus came to earth and it is to save us not to judge us. but surely He will judge the living and the dead when He comes back. and it will be according to mens deed. and faith has much to do in what men does or not.

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