An audio recording of the SAP Annual Lecture 2017: ‘Three Mistakes about Doing Good (and Bad)’ by Philip Pettit is now available on the SAP Soundcloud page. To access the recording please click here.
Once upon a time when I was teaching a course using the books of the Bible as the main reading assignment, a student asked me why I always used the phrase “Hebrew Bible” instead of “Old Testament” when talking about the earliest books.
“Simple. Because “Old” has a certain connotation, as in”superseded”. But for many it’s not old at all.”
Here’s an old (as in been around a while now) response to Dr. Laura.
On her radio show, Dr. Laura said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Schlesinger, written by a US man, and posted on the Internet. It’s funny, as well as quite informative:
Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.
1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?
2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?
6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?
7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?
8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?
9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.
Your adoring fan,
James M. Kauffman,
Ed.D. Professor Emeritus,
Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia
P.S. (It would be a damn shame if we couldn’t own a Canadian.)
And watch a dramatization here:
Twenty years ago now I had a public debate with a local god-man.
Here is one of my contributions:
I thought Reverend Atkinson had said his last word on the relationship between morality and religion some time ago. But he cannot seem to let go of the notion that religion is needed for morality. As I argued before, religion is neither necessary nor sufficient for morality — it’s a different discipline entirely.
In his June 12 column, he asks the rhetorical question: “What else (besides God) can explain our sense of moral order?”
Actually several answers are possible that do not require God at all:
1. Human nature: see David Hume
2. Reason: see Immanuel Kant
3. Human freedom: see John Paul Sartre
4. Practical knowledge: see Aristotle
5. Evolution: see E. Wilson
6. The principle of utility: see John Stuart Mill
Religious moralists usually tell us we must do what God or the gods say or we will be punished. Do good and go to heaven. Do bad and go to hell.
But basing one’s actions on the promise of reward or punishment is not to act on moral grounds at all!
It is simply to act on self-interest.
Robert D. Lane,