Former Buddhist Speaks Out

It has irked me that the west has a rosy-eyed view of Buddhism as a moral system. I’ve come across people who praise the atheistic religion for their peaceful way of life and their system of ethics that is – supposedly – superior to Christian model of ethics. You get this also through the media as well, for instance in the movie Bee Season (2005) with Richard Gere.

This testimony from AOG pastor Peter Thein Nyunt, a former Buddhist’s apprentice destroys that idea. He was recently in New Zealand with the Langham Partnership. The view from the inside from this native from Myanmar (formerly Burma) about Buddhism is illuminating.

For the audio go here.

26 replies
  1. Simon
    Simon says:

    I don’t understand it either. But I also don’t understand why others have a rosy-eyed view of Christianity. We humans seem perennially incapable of objectivity.

  2. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Greetings Simon,

    What do you mean rosy eyed-view of Christianity? Is there any person in particular you are thinking of? or perhaps a specific doctrine you find fault with? Perhaps something in the system of ethics that you or others find repulsive?

    And in answering, will your response be based on objective grounds?

  3. Simon
    Simon says:

    Exactly! Lol.

    If there was a person or a doctrine or an ethic which I objected to, can you not see that your efforts to immediately re-rosy-eye christianity would be no better than the attitude western secularism has towards buddhism?

  4. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Simon,

    The western attitude towards Buddhism as an ethical and moral system, I argue, is unfounded on objective grounds. Any effort to ‘re-rosy-eye’ Christianity would be to correct your misunderstanding of it. That is, it is objectively superior (in logical coherence and experiential relevance) to any other ethical system. That is what I would be arguing for if you had an objection.

  5. Simon
    Simon says:

    I just don’t understand this kind of unempathy. I just don’t understand how a person can say this and yet know full well that the other side makes exactly the same reasoning.

    I’m thinking that maybe Daniel Dennett is correct; that teaching all the religions in schools might help to abate such bigotry. That was the biggest mistake they made in Ireland, they say; to keep the religions in separate schools. But once one comes fact to face with the reality that ‘the other’ is just like one’s self the intellectual superiority disappears.

    It’s funny how the spirit of the law only extends so far. We are all guilty of this, of course.

  6. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    There’s no objection forthcoming Simon.

    If you would like to make your case please answer how Christianity does not provide a superior ethical system. I have empathy for persons, not the faulty reasoning of other religions, not for things that run counter to logic, and certainly not for inferior systems of ethics provided by them.

    So let me get this straight. You’re against bigotry, yet Christianity—not Buddhism, not atheism, not humanism—is the religion that provides a rational foundation for tolerance.

  7. Simon
    Simon says:

    My objection is the exclusivity that religions demand.

    I’m not sure where you get the idea that I think that “christianity is the [only] religion that provides a rational founation for tolerance.” I presume it is because I spoke of the spirit of the law. But my ability to ‘speak your language’ says nothing of the exclusivity of your ‘language’. Just because Jesus spoke truth does not mean that christianity is the only source of truth. That the bible speaks truth is a trivial admission for me, while I can imagine that the admission that there is truth in, say, buddhism is an impossibility for you – whence the intellectual acrobatics.

    I do confess that I am once again taken aback by your black-and-whiteness; the romantic notion that there is one true Way which is the Answer – a rational foundation for tolerance.
    But the truth is staring you right in the face. There are many rational foundations for tolerance; cannot atheists, humanists, and buddhists also be rationally tolerant? Cannot “Former Christians Speak Out” aswell?

    I am not convinced that you have empathy for all persons, for if you ran into your buddhist doppleganger, who vigorously and intellectually defended buddhism as you do christianity, you could not have empathy for him because the only difference between you, in your mind, would be that he is wrong! How could anyone adhere to that which is wrong?
    I also find that your chronic intellectualization – or at least chronic reduction to intellectual claims – belies this same empathetic deficit. We humans certainly do NOT choose [a] religion for intellectual reasons. I’m sure I’ve said it before: It is just as possible that you were born a muslim or jew or buddhist, and could have gone on to have an equally thorough defence of your faith. Once you realise this, I thnk, one can truly have empathy.

  8. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    I’m open to the idea that other religions can provide a rational foundation for tolerance. Try not to twist my words Simon. The point is if you are arguing for atheism, humanism or Buddhism there is no rational foundation for tolerance, therefore you are being inconsistent if you hold to any of these. Do try not to twist my words.

    I’m also open for Buddhism to have knowledge of and proclaim certain truths. This is not an impossibility on the Christian view as you presume, as all truth is God’s truth and Buddhists live in God’s universe. I’m not convinced that Buddhism and Christianity can hold contradictory truth-claims and for them both to be correspondent to reality.

    It is wholly rational to think that a religion is exclusive – because truth is exclusive. It is wholly irrational to think that all religions are arbiters of salvation, when all these religions have exclusive claims in that regard – even the inclusivists exclude the exclusivists.

    Tolerance should not be confused with empathy. I can certainly tolerate a person who holds to an irrational belief, because I believe that the person has a right to hold to that irrational belief if s/he so chooses. I can have sympathy with that person precisely because s/he holds to an irrational belief, and try to pursued him of it in the hopes that their belief will change to rational ones. (I’m not sure at all if true empathy is possible for anyone.) One reason why Christianity is superior ethically is because it reaches out in an expression of true love to persuade the other of their irrationality and the rationality of following Christ Jesus our Lord.

    I accept that most people do not accept a religion for purely intellectual reasons. That does not mean intellectual reasons cant help persuade the unbeliever – ones heart cannot be convinced when ones mind is unconvinced. People do however abandon religions for intellectual reasons. Unfortunately for you my ‘chronic intellectualisation’ requires refutation on logical grounds, and not on emotive grounds (as your appeal to lack of empathy and tolerance would suggest).

    It is possible had I been born to a Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist family that I would have a strong defence of my respective faith. It does not follow that my defence will be equally as thorough, for eventually one defence has to be better than the other. The idea of absolute truth necessitates that point.

  9. Simon
    Simon says:

    Sorry I did not mean to twist your words.

    -Yes I understand that truth in other religions is not inadmissable within christianity, as you state.

    -I do understand the drive to see truth as exclusive. But it shouldn’t be. It should be INclusive. On that note, I think that it IS possible to have empathy for others. But it has to include intellectual empathy. People believe what they believe for very good reasons, reasons as good as yours. But by ‘very good’ I don’t mean very good=your logic. For a start I think it is completely illogical, when looking at all the religions of the world, to assume that one of them must be the correct one. How is it that you and I have such different opinions? Well, we have different makeup, temperament, upbringing, different experiences… Certainly, by your logic your belief system might well justify objective morality better than mine. But due to my makeup, experiences etc. I might weight falsification more and be less worried about justifying objective morality, for instance. So too with anyone else on the planet.
    This extends to logic itself, though, too. Who is to say that logic is to be weighted as highly as you weight it? Indeed, for most people – christians included – logical robustness just doesn’t factor very much, and as I have said, very few conversions are for ‘logical’ arguments. Jesus himself was diametrically opposed to logic as a form of faith. Much of what he held to he held to – the first being last, the good samaratin, the prodigal son – was completely, and purposefully counterintuitive. They were self-evident to him, just as a buddhist might view universal morality; human rights as self-evident. (I find it ironic that Jesus’ eschewing of the Law was in large part not followed. Rather, his actions were immediately re-canonised into a new Law!)

    There is another thing that strikes me. I would put it to you that you do not, in fact, believe in, say, objective morality because you have been given a divine, logical edict-proof which you must follow. Rather, the belief in an objective morality comes first, and the wish to derive this result comes after the fact. This, I presume, is how you would describe other exclusivist attempts at religion: the god-given ‘knowledge’ is there, but the religion built up around it is “incorrect”. This is how I work. You are the same.

    It is possible had I been born to a Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist family that I would have a strong defence of my respective faith. It does not follow that my defence will be equally as thorough, for eventually one defence has to be better than the other. The idea of absolute truth necessitates that point.

    If I was born as you, I would believe what you believe, because I can see that my view of “thorough” would be your view. Can you not see this?
    In which case this:

    One reason why Christianity is superior ethically is because it reaches out in an expression of true love to persuade the other of their irrationality and the rationality of following Christ Jesus our Lord.

    doesn’t make sense. True love with a motive is not true love at all. Empathy is.

    How do you know that you weren’t born into the ‘wrong’ faith and that your view of “thorough” isn’t ‘skewed’?

  10. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Please clarify,

    I do understand the drive to see truth as exclusive. But it shouldn’t be. It should be INclusive.

    So truth should not be exclusive, but inclusive. Is this an inclusive or exclusive truth?

  11. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Please clarify,

    Jesus himself was diametrically opposed to logic as a form of faith.

    How do the examples you gave constitute Jesus’ being diametrically opposed to logic. It seems to me, in my reading of the life of Jesus, that he employed logic to argue against the scribes and the pharisees, and employed logic in his own teaching.

  12. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    True love with a motive is not true love at all. Empathy is.

    You twisting my words again Simon. The point is Love’s expression is to reach out.

    If true empathy is possible, then it will come as a result of true love, just as reaching out to others. Its clear from scripture – and common sense, I think – that what comes as a result of true love is some form of action.

    The Greek word agape for love is translated also as charity – a love that reaches out, that motivates action. As in “For God so loved – agapao – the world that he gave his only Son, that who ever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

    The Samaritan in Jesus’ parable showed true love to the beaten man on the side of the road. Compassion spurred him to action. Agape leaves mere empathy as quite ugly in comparison.

  13. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    There is no real objection to Christianity in your reply, Simon. The closest you get, it seems to me, is in these two areas. (1) Your utterly self-refuting view of truth. (2)

    For a start I think it is completely illogical, when looking at all the religions of the world, to assume that one of them must be the correct one.

    I agree. It could be all are incorrect. But its not unreasonable to think that one is correct. It is unreasonable to think that two are correct when no two can completely agree – that would be breaking the law of Disjunctive Syllogism.

    I do think of falsification highly. That is why I try and falsify the atheistic views with the knowledge – gained from experience – of objective moral values in the world. Now if you have a falsification of Christianity, then bring it on!

  14. Simon
    Simon says:

    So truth should not be exclusive, but inclusive. Is this an inclusive or exclusive truth?

    I think that your question here stems from exactly the same worldview that Jesus was trying to unbuild. I can imagine his audience asking But doesn’t righteousness lead to being first [on earth]? Isn’t it obvious that the prodigal son should be shunned/punished? But Samarians are bad/unclean, aren’t they?
    The orthodox thinking of the day was the ‘logic’ of the time and would have resulted in these questions being asked in people’s/Jews minds. I think you’re right, though, there is a ‘deeper’ logic to what Jesus was doing:

    It seems to me, in my reading of the life of Jesus, that he employed logic to argue against the scribes and the pharisees, and employed logic in his own teaching.

    Again, empathy need be employed here. To you and I, certainly, Jesus’ logic seems obviously superior. But if you really consider what the average Jew would have been thinking; if you really consider what it must have been like to LIVE the Law back then, Jesus’ ideas would have seemed quite orthogonal and bewildering to common ‘logic’.
    It really is not helpful to just say “Jesus was logical, therefore the Law was not” I think that Jesus understood the spirit of the Law behind the letter of it. He intrinsically understood what the Law was trying to accomplish in the same way that both you and I inherantly believe in universal human rights. But rather than try to formulate a rock-solid set of axioms from which The One Correct Way could be derived, he let that inherent understanding guide him. And I think a large part of that was with empathy.
    My challenge to you is essentially to say that if Jesus was here today he would consider your statement

    One reason why Christianity is superior ethically is because it reaches out in an expression of true love to persuade the other of their irrationality and the rationality of following Christ Jesus our Lord.

    as Pharisaical; the Law of today. The arrogance of the Pharisees/Saducees as viewing outsiders as unclean transposes very nicely to arrogance of your thinking that outsiders are ‘irrational’. The Pharisees were very well defended, because ‘clean’ had an axiomatized meaning to them, and you are well defended because ‘logic’ has an axiomatized meaning to you. I think you both miss the spirit.

  15. Simon
    Simon says:

    I don’t have much to disagree with you about post 13. Though you do focus on ‘reaching out’ a little disproportionately, I think (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agape#Agape_in_Christianity)

    If true empathy is possible, then it will come as a result of true love, just as reaching out to others. Its clear from scripture – and common sense, I think – that what comes as a result of true love is some form of action.

    I think this is backwards, though. I would argue that you can’t truly love another unless you can empathise with them. It’s just not possible to empathise with someone if you view them as irrational.
    The difference can become slight, but fundamental, I think. It is the difference between befriending a gang-member for the purposes of ‘fixing’ him; ‘acting’ on him, and befriending a gang member because you realise that if you had lived his life you would have his priorities and perspectives.

  16. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    I think you miss what logic is Simon. Logic is a highly technical sub-discipline of philosophy akin to mathematics, with laws and rules for right reasoning. Logic is not ‘the orthodox thinking’ or ‘common sense of the time.’

    Don’t get morality and logic confused. Jesus gave us a superior ethic than any that came before or any that has been afterward, but that doesn’t mean it was illogical then (or has become logical now). Logic can help us see that truth is exclusive by nature, but not that its better to hug a child than to beat it.

    For the most part right thinking comes naturally, but error can slip in so its useful to be able to break things down to see where we go wrong.

    Its my contention that Jesus used right reasoning. He broke cultural norms, especially in his parables, but he obeyed the rules of logic. If Jesus were here today, I think he would be trying to persuade people, and try to convince people of the error of their thinking. After all, that’s what he did in the gospels.

  17. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    I pretty sure Simon, that you have an erroneous idea of what empathy is. “Intellectual empathy” is oxymoronic. I think the word your should be using is understanding.

    Now, if someone is irrational, then I can understand where they are coming from when they speak of their views, but I still disagree with them. I can have compassion on them because their faulty views are doing them no favours, and I be moved by that love to show them the error of their thinking, correct their path, and improve their circumstances.

    Consider a blind man walking towards the edge of a cliff. What use is mere empathy! Charity (true agape love) is obviously the higher ethic.

  18. Simon
    Simon says:

    I agree. It could be all are incorrect. But its not unreasonable to think that one is correct. It is unreasonable to think that two are correct when no two can completely agree – that would be breaking the law of Disjunctive Syllogism.

    Again, like the Law vs. Jesus, I think it makes less sense to think of the Law as either correct or incorrect; black or white. The Law was a crystallization; an attempt to put Truth into practice via exhortable axioms.
    I think that religions do the same. They are what results when humans try to put Truth into practice. Using this definition of Truth, all religions contain it and it does not make sense to ask which religion has a monopoly on it.
    Or in your lingo: All religions are ‘incorrect’ and the real Truth lies beyond them.

    I do think of falsification highly. That is why I try and falsify the atheistic views with the knowledge – gained from experience – of objective moral values in the world. Now if you have a falsification of Christianity, then bring it on!

    [You might be misunderstand the point of falsificationism. The whole point about falsification is not to falsify some things and prove others. E.g. your desire to falsify atheism and prove christianity. The whole point of falsificationism is: There is no point in making a statement about the world unless it is falsifiable]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsificationism

    I do find this statement strange. The most UNfalsifiable things that exist are the claims of religion.

  19. Simon
    Simon says:

    I think you miss what logic is Simon. Logic is a highly technical sub-discipline of philosophy akin to mathematics, with laws and rules for right reasoning. Logic is not ‘the orthodox thinking’ or ‘common sense of the time.’

    Like I’ve been saying, Jesus didn’t write a [logical] philosophical treatise justifying why his ideas were logically superior (that kind of think DID exist back then). You’ll find he did the opposite.

    Lol. Empathy is specifically defined as the intellectual identification with others:
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/empathy

    I’ve noticed you tend to steer towards examples where people are desperate, and you then essentially invoke charity as love. (Certainly, charity has a place but it is irrelevant to intellectual encounters with people.) But mainly – again – the most powerful motivator/argument FOR charity is once again, Empathy. The intellectual understanding that it could easily have been you that was blind, or poor, or diseased, or in a gang etc.

  20. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Simon, don’t conflate falsification with Falsificationism.

    The Law was not “a crystallization; an attempt to put Truth into practice via exhortable axioms” – at least in the Bible it was not. The Mosaic Law represents God’s truth about morality. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day took the Law and the oral traditions that grew up around it as normative and lived strictly according to it. Jesus was not anti-Law, he was anti the Pharisaic interpretation and practice. He was not anti-truth, he was the Truth of which the Law (the torah) spoke.

    Christianity doesn’t have a monopoly on all truth. But it is the truth. Which implies all that disagree with it are incorrect.

    I’ve come across no defeaters to falsify the Christian position in your comments.

  21. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    The full definition of empathy you give is bellow:

    the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

    You are using it above in a manner that suggest more intellectual understanding of another’s situation. If that’s empathy that does not entail the surrendering logic and all disagreement with the other. But your not thinking of empathy as defined here. Empathy is knowing someone else’s thoughts and feelings as if they were your own. I don’t think that’s possible. I think sympathy is possible. I think compassion and mercy is possible.

    On Christianity all are desperate, Simon. Even you.

  22. Simon
    Simon says:

    My bad with the falsification thing.

    The Law was not “a crystallization; an attempt to put Truth into practice via exhortable axioms” – at least in the Bible it was not. The Mosaic Law represents God’s truth about morality. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day took the Law and the oral traditions that grew up around it as normative and lived strictly according to it. Jesus was not anti-Law, he was anti the Pharisaic interpretation and practice. He was not anti-truth, he was the Truth of which the Law (the torah) spoke.

    Certainly it is my opinion that that is what the Law was. Yes, you and Judaism will claim it was an edict of God just like most other religions will claim. But surely even you must admit that there are problems with that – some of the barbarism of the OT – evin if it merely to admit that along the way for unknown reasons God changed his mind all of a sudden.

    He wasn’t anti-Truth, he was anti-‘religious’ in the sense of magic rules and rituals which are used in recipe-fashion in order to – basically – buy righteousness. Why? Because, like in Martim Luther’s time, people had replaced/confused the rules and rituals with the Truth itself; that which inspired the rules in the first place.

    I’ve come across no defeaters to falsify the Christian position in your comments.

    I’m not trying to. Religion is the last thing that is as simple as logic, which seems to be what you want to cast it as.
    OR if I must put it in falsifiable terms:
    I am trying to show that it is sensible to believe that if you were of another belief system that you would consider your beliefs to be as logical as you do presently. Also that logic is ultimately no use. For example, you believe in a certain logical argument for moral foundations and you believe that other religions, while containing truth, are ultimately ‘incorrect’. I believe that morality needs no logical foundation and that all religions are instantiations of the same thing and is why they all contain truth.
    How in the hell is one to judge, let alone agree how to judge, which of these views is superior???! Falsification nothing!

  23. Simon
    Simon says:

    You are using it above in a manner that suggest more intellectual understanding of another’s situation. If that’s empathy that does not entail the surrendering logic and all disagreement with the other. But your not thinking of empathy as defined here. Empathy is knowing someone else’s thoughts and feelings as if they were your own. I don’t think that’s possible. I think sympathy is possible. I think compassion and mercy is possible.

    It does not surprise me that you think it impossible, given what I know of your thinking!
    I, for one, know it is at least partially possible; possible to strive to, anyway, much like it is possible to strive towards being a perfectly good/moral person even if you can’t attain it.
    The words sympathy and mercy just drip with superiority unless they are subsumed by empathy. Think about it. How is it possible to sympathise with someone; feel sorry for them, without being able to imagine being in their position?<-that is, by definition, empathy! And if you can’t imagine being in their position then you must be judging something they have done. If you think that you can skip empathy and jump straight to sympathy while still judging them for something they have done, then you will be being mindful that you yourself have also done judgeable/bad things before, too.<-This is empathy!!

    On Christianity all are desperate, Simon. Even you.

    Even if I am the most desperate person in the world – and I certainly could be described as desperate – would you be doing any better if you were me?

  24. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Simon, perhaps you’ll like to develop your objection to Christianity in general by spelling out exactly how the “barbarism” in the OT is a defeater for Christian truth.

    Your idea that Jesus was anti-religious is correct, as was Martin Luther. He was so in the sense that he was an iconoclast, breaking the paradigm of the cultural milieu. Your idea about the spirit behind the law rather than the law is almost there. Its clear that the “spirit behind the law” was not some faceless ‘truth’ but Christ Himself.

    I am trying to show that [1] it is sensible to believe that if you were of another belief system that you would consider your beliefs to be as logical as you do presently. [2] Also that logic is ultimately no use. (brackets mine)

    With respect to 1.) That is a very modest claim and quite reasonable. It doesn’t follow, however, that their belief in their religions logical equality with other religions makes their religion logically equal.

    With respect to 2.) Firstly, its an uncomfortable situation you find yourself when you argue your point. Presumably your using logical arguments? Second, I think that it is possible to form coherent world view, but it does not follow that that view will truly correspond to reality. There could be unknown defeaters that spring up. There could be another world view that has a comparatively superior explanation for the available evidence, such that the incorrect world view eventually collapses and a paradigm shift takes place. For instance, you may find that the logical extension of your ethic leads to unacceptable consequences. The necessity for morality foundations is just one area where atheism and the like, drops the ball as it were. There are others, like the historical case for the resurrection of Jesus.

  25. Simon
    Simon says:

    The stoning of adulterers etc. But this is not an objection to christianity so much as it is an objection to the view that – to put it in pictorial terms – a ‘god’ actually told Moses stuff. Which is PART of Christianity, sure.

    I agree that much of the gospels read as Jesus being ‘the Truth’. When this isn’t the case I think it mostly reads like I am claiming.

    I would like to point out that Job is also an iconoclast in his rejection of the dogma that the righteous prosper and vice-versa. This is especially true when you consider how old the book is.

    1) Okay, sure. Good.

    2) Yes, granted, I am using logical arguments. And yes, I think they have severe limits. This is a very good reason (lol) for morality being self-evident rather than axiom-based. (((I don’t wish to align myself with Jesus but I can just imagine the Pharisees accusing Jesus of the same thing you are me: “Presumably you’re using logical arguments. How, then, is it logical, given the Law, that it is okay to heal on the Sabbath?” The Pharisees were so buried in the logic of their axioms that they just couldn’t see the bigger picture. Similarly, I find you asking me how I can be using logical arguments while eschewing logic. I can give two answers, one which I think is correct and one which I think you would be more receptive to. The one I think is correct is, of course, that Truth/morality is ultimately a self-evident ‘thing’. The answer I think you would be more receptive to is that Jesus was using better logic. Similarly I am claiming that starting from empathy is a better perspective(logic) than starting from axioms as you do. But then I think to myself, how do I know that my logic is better, how would I measure it? And the answer is, it is self-evident. It brings me closer to fellow human beings and with more compassion.(I understand that you might say that xtianity does the same for you. But I am arguing that it is not the logical apologietic part that will do this. It is the emotive part; the self-evident part) And, again, I think that this is what Jesus used as his yardstick, too, though I fully understand why you might not be receptive to this one. The key, again, I think is that Jesus didn’t make sense to orthodoxy because it was all backwards, and it is the same reason I don’t make sense to you: starting not from the axioms, starting from the self-evident.* This, I have realised rather recently, also makes for a much more positive faith/worldview rather than a defensive, even agressive one)))

    Second, I think that it is possible to form coherent world view, but it does not follow that that view will truly correspond to reality.

    But ultimately, what you are really saying is that it ISN’T possible to form a coherent, non-christian worldview, because the concept “coherent” contains the concept “correspond to reality”.
    I agree with much of the rest of your paragraph. Certainly my/a worldview may eventually collapse via unacceptable consequences – and evidence should always be listened to – but I do not see this presently being the case because, (well firstly if I did I would have abandoned my worldview), but for example, there isn’t much difference in moral terms between completely different religions/cultures.

    But you don’t seem to have adressed the difficulties posed for logic on how it would be agreed what good evidence is. Let me give an example which I know that you will have an after-the-fact explanation for (just as I do!). It is serendipitously poignant to our discussion because it deals with empathy/sympathy/charity: It was pointed out in the Dominion Post today that the most generous nations in the world, giving over 1.7% of their GDP to foreign aid, are Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Norway, and Sweden. These are some of the most liberal, post-christian countries on earth!
    Your/our exlanations of this is not what is important. I know that you would have one or could formulate one. My point here is that there is no way you and I would ever agree on the correct measure of goodness/morality of a country.

    *I am interested in what you think of my earlier charge: That both you and I (everybody, really) in actuality start with what we believe first and THEN, as after-the-fact reasoning build up logical systems to back up our beliefs.

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