Reason as the source of order and morality 11

This video is one of a series – a pleasure to watch in its entirety – in which Charles R. Kesler of the Claremont Institute interviews Heather Mac Donald. She thinks clearly and speaks plainly. Her ideas are genuinely profound.

Very rare, that. Most intellectuals are not very intelligent, and seem to hold to the precept: “I cannot be profound so I’ll be unintelligible – and trust that few who hear me can tell the difference.”

Heather Mac Donald is an atheist and a conservative. We expect most of our readers will be in agreement with what she says here:

The Golden Rule: Treat others as you want them to treat you.

Or (better): Don’t treat others as you’d hate to be treated yourself.

It is worth noting that belief in the Golden Rule is not common to all religions. Not even to all the “moral religions”.  There is nothing in the teaching of Islam that approximates to it, even with the most liberal interpretation of Muhammad’s less offensive doctrines.

The Golden Rule is, however, reasonable. Sensible human beings don’t need a message from a mystical sphere to see that it makes good sense.

Posted under Miscellaneous, Philosophy by Jillian Becker on Thursday, August 28, 2014

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This post has 11 comments.

  • Bruce

    My version of the Golden Rule is somewhat different…

    Do unto others as they have shown themselves willing and able to do unto others.

    I consider this foundationally different as it allows for justice. If one commits a crime, often they are going to wish that they are let go scot-free. It also allows for proportional response. A petty thief gets a fine and maybe some time in jail or community service. A jihadist who wants to conquer the world and shove Sharia tyranny down everyone’s throat, killing those who refuse, should get tossed in a deep pit where he’ll never see the light of day again. Or, better yet, save us all some tax dollars and just put a bullet or two in his skull.

    • liz

      Definitely! The Golden Rule only applies to dealings with fellow human beings who are willing to reciprocate. Once that agreement is violated – the rule broken, there should be consequences, and in the case of terrorists, the consequence should be immediate and final. Take no prisoners.

    • I like your version very much, Bruce.

    • Don L

      You Shall Know Them By Their Actions…which speak louder than words.

  • liz

    Interesting discussion – thanks for posting it! I’m eager to see the rest of it.
    She makes a good point about natural law as something that evolves as we evolve. And the fact that conservatism can and should be supported entirely by reason, rather than resorting to the supernatural.
    Christians are locked into an insistence that there can be no morality without a God. First because they’ve become dependent on that notion for a sense of security, and second because without it, their claim that everyone needs what their religion has to offer is invalidated.
    To lose that argument would strip them of both their sense of security, and of their sense of purpose in life, which is why they tend to come unhinged when that notion is challenged.


    I feel that she is a very intelligent person. I do have a couple of observations. Both her and the interviewer simply dance around the real gist of childhood training, using terms like discipline, morals, respect, etc.

    However, throughout the entire segment, I failed to hear either of them mention the Father of all these terms……the “Heading” that all of them come under…..teach your children PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY!

    Natural law is what we are a part of. Natural law is the father of the entire universe. As an Atheist, I believe that this axiom is at the center of human reality. The Golden Rule is a portion of Natural Law.

    Doing to others what we would have done to ourselves is, the majority of the time, what a healthy mind in a healthy person would seek to accomplish throughout all of his or her relationships with other beings.

    On the other hand, Natural Law is also at work whenever a sick, angry mind treats others not in the way that he would want to be treated, but treat others the way that he feels. Being sick, this is a natural way of being for his mind to operate. Both of these scenarios owe their existence to Natural Law.

    Everything responds and reacts in a natural way, according to events, situations, physics, geometry, and any other parameter that the human mind can conceive of…… Nature.

    • liz

      Right. If the majority of Christians had a mass “revelation” about the fraudulence of religion and suddenly became atheists, civilization would not fall into a bottomless pit and disappear, as they fear it would. (like the scene in the old silent movie where the guy is desperately hanging onto the ledge of the building, slips, falls, and discovers that he was only two inches away from the ground!)
      Most of them would go on living by the same morals, only they would start taking more responsibility for it themselves, rather than depending on pastors, etc., to teach it to their children.