Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Final Arguments (Marshall-Zuckerman VI)

(Note: I haven't posted the audience Q and A portion of the debate yet, though that comes before final statements.  I may post that later, but I'd like to post this first, and then continue with my analysis -- including of the many claims Dr. Zuckerman made in his closing statement that I was not able to get to here, and promised to respond to later.  I have now posted the response to Zuckerman's final flurry of comments that I promise below.- DM)

Zuckerman: It's so weird when David picks and chooses his examples.  He didn't tell you about the Australian aboriginals, perhaps the most peaceful society ever known the humans.  An indigenous, non-Christian people, who were horrified by the acts of the missionaries.  So yeah, pick the Yanomamo, the most notorious violent people you can find in all of anthropology, but ignore the aboriginals.  Again, he's always taking the worst example, rather than admitting there could be hope elsewhere, and I don't know why.  I detect it's defensiveness. 

Or maybe that's me being defensive.  Sorry!

My closing remarks. 

Thank you, again. 

Christianity teaches peace.  But which are the most peaceful societies today?  The least Christian. 

Nah, I take that back.  North Korea's pretty awful, and they're not. 

But on average, if you just look at democracies, and get the dictatorships and the fascists out.  Which democracies are the most peaceful?  The least Christian democracies. 

Who is most for going to war and attacking other nations in this country?  Evangelical Christians, and Mormons. 

Who's the least in favor of going to war and attacking other nations?  Secular Americans. 

Child-abuse fatalities are four times higher in Kentucky, than in Oregon. 

Who's more in favor of guns?  Last time I checked, guns could be peaceful, for self-defense, but you know, assault rifles and automatic weapons -- who's most in favor of distributing guns of all kinds?  Strong Christians.  Who's the least supportive?  Secular Americans. 

Christianity teaches mercy and forgiveness. 

Well, who supports the death penalty in this country?  Strong Christians.  Who's most against the death penalty?  Secular Americans. 

Who supports the governmental use of torture?  Strong Christians.  Who's the most against the governmental use of torture?  Secular Americans. 

Christianity teaches love -- amen to that!  Which among white Americans were most supportive of the Civil Rights?  Secular Americans.  Who was the most against it?  Strongly Christian.

South Africa and apartheid.  What whites were most supportive of apartheid?  The most Christian.  What South African whites were most against apartheid?  The most secular, and the Jewish. 

Which Americans today are most opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants?  The strongly Christian.  I guess there is no room at the end. 

But who's most supportive of amnesty for illegal immigrants?  Secular Americans. 

Who's most against the Affordable Healthcare Act, or Obamacare?  Strong Christians.  Who's most supportive?  Strongly secular. 

We have seen this pattern over and over again. 

If (Christianity) would be the basis for Civil Society, I fear that the love ethic might not be the basis, but division.  Because we're not all Christians.  We're Buddhists, we're Muslims, we're Jews, we're Bahais, we're Shinto, we're Hindu, we're atheists, we're Sikhs, we're Scientologists, we're Nez Perce, we're Wiccan, we're Druid.

And so again, while we may not all be Christian, we are all human. 

Secular Humanism is an orientation to life, created by people, for people. 

Now I think there's a place for faith.  I can't imagine life without it.  I think there's a place for hope.  I can't imagine life without it. 

But when looking at how we're going to structure a society, we need reason.  We need evidence.  We need experience. 

"We the people" is how this country was founded.  It was good enough for our founding fathers, and it is good enough for us all today. 

And I will just end with the heart of Secular Humanism, which is, "Treat others as you wish to be treated."  That is the heart and soul. 

Professor Marshall  keeps calling Secular Humanism "squishy," or "squeamish" or something. 

No, it's pretty darn simple.  Treat others the way you want to be treated. 

And that ethic is universal.  It is found long before the gospels.  Thousands of years (ago) in ancient Egypt, in ancient China.  All over the world.

Why?  Because its based on basic concepts like empathy, for which our brains have evolved, experience.  It's reciprocity is self-evident.  And there's no God necessary to understand it or to live it. 

And I believe if we're going to have any basis for a civil society, it should be, "Treat  others as you would like to be treated," and I think we're all good.  Which, by the way, is also quoted by Jesus.  So I see wonderful common ground, there. 

Thanks very much for listening to me!  Sorry if I ranted. 

Marshall: That was like the very last of a fireworks display where all the fireworks go off at one time.  I don't think I can answer that in five minutes, so I'll have to answer that later on. 

In 1960, a psychologist by the name of Robert Coles was visiting the city of New Orleans.  He heard about a strange phenomena at a school called William Frantz Elementary School, so he went there to take a look.  Dr. Zuckerman was talking about black society.  There was a crowd of 50-70 adult white people who were hanging out in front of this elementary school.  And they were waiting for something.  They were waiting for a little black girl, who was five or six years old, to walk through the front entryway of the school. 

She was escorted by federal marshals.  And as she approached the school, these folks started to yell abuse at her, call her names, profanity, threaten even to kill this little girl. 

Now Dr. Coles had done research on how children endure under stress.  So he was curious how this girl was bearing up under this abuse.  Because he found out that every day she would go to school, and every day go home, and every day there was this mob of people yelling at her. 

So he got to know this little girl, named Ruby, got to know her  parents, and began to see how she was doing -- how she was bearing up under all this stress. 

And strangely enough, he found that she was sleeping OK.  She was eating OK.  She was playing with her friends -- she didn't seem all too upset. 

And then her teacher noticed something very strange.  As she went into the front entrance of the school, she turned around as if she was talking to the people who were greeting her in the morning.  And the teacher was amazed:

"Why did you do that?  Why are you talking with those nasty people?"

"Oh!  I wasn't talking to them.  I was just saying a prayer for them." 

"Why do you do that?"

"Because they need praying for."

Robert Coles was dumbfounded.  He went home and he talked to his wife, and said, "If that were me, I'd call the police!  I'd get a lawyer!  I'd use my superior vocabulary that I learned in graduate school to call them "hicks" and "red necks," but use more flowery terminology than that.  Write an article."

But Ruby was just learning how to read and write. 

Then he talked with Ruby. 

"Then she quoted to me what she had heard in church.  The minister said that Jesus went through a lot of trouble and that Jesus said about the people who were causing the trouble, 'Forgive them, because they don't know what they're doing.'  And now Ruby was saying this in the 1960s, about the people in the streets of New Orleans.  How was someone like me supposed to account for that?"
And with all his sociological and psychological background, he couldn't understand this.  As a matter of fact, he wrote an entire Pulitzer-Prize winning series on "Children in Crisis." 
And he later described his career as "A return to the Sermon on the Mount." 
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in summarizing what happened with all the horrors of the communist world, which he experienced first-hand in the Gulag, said "Men have forgotten God."

History proves that when people follow Jesus -- not when they "call themselves Christians" necessarily -- but when they follow Jesus boldly -- in forgiveness, in acts of mercy, in recognizing God's work in creation, which is the foundation of science, in caring for the poor and oppressed yet also expecting great things of them -- and that may work out in different ways politically -- in healing, in teaching, in treating the opposite sex with pure respect -- the world will change, change dramatically, and change for the better. 

America has the name of a Christian country.  To go forward, we need not to forget God, as Solzhenitsyn said, not to downgrade Jesus, but to build on the example and teachings of Jesus Christ. 

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