Thursday, September 25, 2008

Where Do We Get Our Morality?

Morality is doing what is right no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told no matter what is right.
-H. L. Mencken

Fear of God is a barrier to real morality, not a path to it.
-St. Brian the Godless

I’ve heard so often from Christians “We get our morality from God.” In fact, it’s common to hear them say that atheists have no real morality since they (we) do not believe in God. They say that we atheists do not have consequences so we have no reason to be moral. That we believe in evolution, survival of the fittest, which they interpret as “nature red in tooth and claw” and so they assume that our atheist morality is based on survival and killing off the competition. They believe that they get their morals straight from God, and that we get ours from the animals. This allows them to see atheists in a bad light, as inferior to their clearly superior and God-Inspired system of morality. Which, of course, is how they wish to see us. Seeing atheists as posessing real morality is antithetical to their deeply-held belief that they are morally superior to us for their belief in God. And they need that belief. It’s what keeps their egos inflated properly.

Atheists argue that morality evolved as a necessary trait when we “went social” in a big way. When we started to live in tribes and communities and cities. We always displayed “moral” behavior toward our children and families as do many lesser creatures, but now it has evolved to also extend to complete strangers due to the necessity of living in close quarters to said strangers.

Perhaps. I mean, we certainly developed empathy as a survival factor, caring about others, being able to imagine being the other person, imagining looking through their eyes at their problems and situation. It’s an extension of caring for ourselves and our children. And if you’re truly empathetic, morality follows, unless you are unable for some reason to empathize with all others. For instance, if something blocks you, such as a belief that says that others are clearly inferior to you, are evil, or are otherwise lacking in goodness and rectitude.

Someone, a Christian, recently asked me “So where do you get your morality from?” and without hesitation I replied “From my empathy and my imagination. I look around me and see the problems that confront us and separate us and I feel the loss, the sadness, of all of us not being able to get along, and then I imagine a perfect world somewhere in the future where such problems do not exist anymore. Then I work backwards from there to here again and can thus see what is serving us now and what is not. For that perfect world to occur, we have to learn to love all others, accept all others, and empathize with all others without reservations. Period. It’s obviously the answer. So, there’s my morality.”

My morality is thus based in my empathy and my imaginative ability to see what we need to do and how we need to act, in order for the world to ever be at peace. I may have evolved my ability to empathize and my imagination, but my morality wasn’t so much selected for directly as it was a necessary result of those two things being a part of me already. My morality exists because I can empathize with all others and can imagine a perfect future where we all do, and cannot see any other way to get to that future but to start working toward it now. And I can see that it’s the only correct path. So could Jesus. Not so much many of His present-day followers, unfortunately. Since they believe that their morality comes from God, an outside source, they often cannot see any need to develop it within their own hearts. For them, the fear of hell is their morality. And fear-based morality is not morality at all. It’s obedience under duress. Not a fertile source for the love necessary to really be moral. But an excellent source for the egotism necessary to look down on all others and find them lacking. And that’s no way to Love Thy Neighbor, in my opinion.


  1. It is hilarious how complicated they try to make the question of morality. It really just is conscience-based, logically backed behavior that allows for a society to function properly. But, considering that many willingly admit that they would act like amoral scumbags if there wasn't a God looking over their shoulders, I guess one cannot expect too much in the conscience department from them. And we already knew that they are little defunct when it comes to thinking things out rationally. So, honestly, could we really expect them to know where morality actually comes from, rather than just crediting their religious beliefs and calling it a day?

  2. asylum seeker said.
    It really just is conscience-based, logically backed behavior that allows for a society to function properly.
    Actually moral behavior is based upon principles of right and wrong.

    Acording to atheist God does not exist. Therefore, if God does not exist, there can be no distinction between good or evil, because evil is the offence of righteousness.

    Man would have no way of determing what is good or evil without a standard of righteousness.

    It is the concept of the darwinist that man provided his own standard of right and wrond for the advancement of the race.
    But when you take a look at history and it's wars, it proves the exact opposite. Man is a preditor of sin, and it is in his nature to do that which is contrary to that which is good.

    For this we can thank Adam and Eve, for it was their disobedence to the commandment of God which caused this rebillious nature to God and his will.

  3. "Actually moral behavior is based upon principles of right and wrong."

    Obtained by....?
    Do you just taking a book's word on the matter, or do you come to the conclusion on your own (i.e. through reasoning, through gut-instinct)?

    Without God there is no distinction of right and wrong by usage of God as the reference point. That is unfortunate. With the God that you describe, however, there is no way to define right and wrong without asking God about the matter. As such, we forfeit a human perspective on the matter, and have to trust God's alleged view: conveniently brought to us by other people.

    We determine "good" and "evil" just fine by comparing human actions to one another. You shall judge by their fruits, after all. It is largely subjective, but even when given a laundry list of "nice" and "naughty" activities, we still have a damned hard time discerning where individual actions based upon the circumstances they were performed in. Try to judge people, and you have just made brains explode.

    Oh, and the evolutionary explanation does not support all people becoming paragons of virtue universally. You just have to be good enough to not piss off the people who will help you make a living, and then aside from that, you can kill, rape, pillage, and burn in rival camps at your leisure (that is where empathy should kick in, but sadly doesn't). Then again, people who do so are more often to get killed either in revenge or in the process of conflict, so it's a mixed bag.

    Gahhhh...too much typing. inner nerd broke loose.

  4. Observant said:
    "Actually moral behavior is based upon principles of right and wrong."

    -Seems obvious to me. You're providing the definition of morality. Now you have to define right and wrong. I know, your God does that for you. In that I see a huge problem, since you can't really know the mind of God (if He Exists of course) so it's human nature to interpolate in what they think is fitting.

    "Acording to atheist God does not exist. Therefore, if God does not exist, there can be no distinction between good or evil, because evil is the offence of righteousness."

    -There can be no METAPHYSICAL good nor evil, but we define them as what is helpful to life and what is deleterious to it. That which harms none is not evil. That which harms anyone at all, is. That which not only harms none but helps at least one, is good. Simple. We don't believe in God, but we believe in Good. And what is good varies from culture to culture, so it can be problematic at times to try to extend one's own definitions of good and evil to others from outside our culture. Why is this hard to understand?

    "Man would have no way of determing what is good or evil without a standard of righteousness."
    -I just outlined one in brief above. There are others. Yours is not only unexceptional, but it also lacks depth and vision, and tends to make it's adherents prideful in their supposed goodness and rectitude.

    "It is the concept of the darwinist that man provided his own standard of right and wrond for the advancement of the race.
    But when you take a look at history and it's wars, it proves the exact opposite. Man is a preditor of sin, and it is in his nature to do that which is contrary to that which is good."
    -Uh, I'm not a "Darwinist." I think that was a failed social movement, no? I believe in evolution because I can SEE that it works. I can also see that mankind is at the cusp of coming into it's own. We've only just gotten to the point where we are using reasosn instead of superstition. We're poised halfway between our savsge past and our peaceful and loving future, and that's why you can make the argument that we're base by nature. Because you can still see the base ones roaming about the place. They're not gone yet. They're the tail end of the bell curve. It's easy to say that they represent our true nature, but in reality they represent our past true nature, and not our future nature. Unless religion wins and drags us back to just that past, since it's a part of that past and can't survive in the light of knowledge that will predominate in our future.

    "For this we can thank Adam and Eve, for it was their disobedence to the commandment of God which caused this rebillious nature to God and his will."

    -Believe whatever fairy story that gets you through the night, I guess. You will regardless of what I tell you anyhow. That's the nature of belief, and the precise reason that I'm so much against having them in the first place.

    Observant, thank you for coming here. I may vehemently disagree with you, but you've got balls to come here and defend yourself against the pack of ravening atheists, and I hope that you visit often. I'll always appreciate your input. We needed a contrary viewpoint. And you can be, well, really contrary. :-)

    Just kidding. Thanks again.

  5. I think the simplest way for christians (i.e. Observant) to get what morality actually is is simply to replace the word god (and related words) with the word society in any of their explanations of morality.

    for example...

    "Actually moral behavior is based upon principles of right and wrong.

    [assume] SOCIETY does not exist. Therefore, if SOCIETY does not exist, there can be no distinction between good or evil, because evil is the offence of SOCIETY."

  6. Ryan, I really think that Christians tend to think that evil is an offense unto God, and not so much against society. I could be mistaken.

  7. Observant, no matter how many times I hear believers say it, I am continually dumbfounded by the assumption that if you don't believe in God then you have no distinction between good and evil.
    A comment I've heard more than once is "But then you have no boundaries! You can murder, steal, abuse and suffer no consequences!" My response is to ask "If I could prove to you right here and right now that there is no God, that you will not burn in hell, what would be the first crime YOU would commit against your fellow man?" Of course the assurance is that they wouldn't, but they can't explain why not, or why they would assume that any other atheist could or would. As human beings, with a conscience, higher thinking, emotion, the ability to love and feel empathy, that is all that is needed to do good.
    And of course we see evil, it does exist but is not divinely or satanically inspired. It is within the minds of some people. One thing religious folks seem to forget on these occassions, is that we DO live in a believing world. I don't know the exact statistics, but something like 90% of the world believes in a being?
    Go to any prison, it will not be filled with just atheists who "have no boundaries." Check out the abortion statistics that were posted on the DD blog, all those Christian women having the majority of the abortions. You will never find an atheist who will start or join a cult that is based on religion, which then requires you to purchase a shroud and sneakers to meet the comet, or marry off your 12 year old daughter to an old man, or drink purple kool aide for the Lord, or drown their babies in a tub because there is evil in the world.
    Abortion clinic bombings, planes flying into buildings, Sarah Palin's witchhunting pastor, the Davidian compound.....I could go on all day. But, my point is, atheists don't seem to be the ones with the problem in recognizing good and bad, the ones perpetrating mayhem and death and destruction on their fellow man, and especially not in the name of God. IMO, atheists have a better sense of right and wrong, good and evil than most.

  8. Jude said,I am continually dumbfounded by the assumption that if you don't believe in God then you have no distinction between good and evil.
    I'm not saying unbelievers can not discern between right and wrong or good and evil.
    In fact I believe that there is a moral code hardwired into ever human being.

    There comes a time in ever persons life"uncertain of age" when we chose by our own freewill to become disobedient to the laws of God as Adam and Eve did, when they ate of the forbidden fruit and courrpted themselves.

    Because of their disobedence to God and his comandment they corrupted thenselves both spiritually and physically.

    They died spiritually and were seperated from God because of the sin they commited.

    Physically they corrupted themselves including their DNA.
    This is the reason for sickness, birth defects, cancers,and death.

    Jesus is the remedy for sin.
    He can restore spirtual life to the soul, and on judgement day he will restore the body as well.
    Sickness and death will passaway and there will be no more sin.

    Many people are under the assumption that if they chose to believe in God all is good.

    Not so.
    There is more to it than that.
    A person must first repent of his / her sins after the manner of a Godly sorrow. With out Godly sorrow a person can not repent. With out repentence you can not receive the faith that is nessecary for a person to believe.

    You can believe in santa clause or the easter bunny, but that is not the kind of faith or belief that that is associated to God and his plan of salvation for ALL OF MANKIND.

    Brian love your blog, thanks for welcoming me.

  9. I would submit that instead or God giving us morals, that morals gave us God. I mean that humans need to understand why they are good or bad. If you are bad, then you must be possessed of some kind of spirit. If you are good, then you have the grace of God.

    What about non-caucasian religions? The Taoists existed many years before christ, had no concept of a personal creator, and yet their central way of living is one of compassion. Same with the buddhists, same with the native americans.

    God only revealed himself to white people? God never had a prophet in south america, asia or the US. Ever. Even in this modern time, we have no new books for the bible. No one can say that Hurricane Katrina is the work of God without adding a metaphor to Soddom or Gommorah.

    Morality is personal and subjective. Right and wrong are just words.

  10. Brian; you are correct, christians tend to think "evil" is an afront to God. But since God doesn't exist, at least not in the way anyone imagines, then "evil" really is only an afront to society. Society is what generates our morals.

  11. Interesting take, Stefan.
    It makes sense.

    Ryan, good luck convincing them about the God not being real part of that equation.

    Observant, welcome anytime.

  12. Observant says, "..if God does not exist, there can be no distinction between good or evil, because evil is the offence of righteousness."


    In reality there can be no distinction between Godly and evil, both in and out of your 'worldview'.

    That 'Godly' equals 'good' is only true in your mind, because you are confused!

  13. Let me give you some examples of Godly not being good from your booklets.

    There is no sanction against slavery per se in the Bible, in fact God and God as Jesus give us some rules about how to deal with slaves as property etc.

    The Godly Hebrews(who do NOT disavow slavery) take exception to being enslaved by the Egyptians.

    God magically makes 'evil' fall on the Egyptians so that the Hebrews can escape their condition.

    The Hebrews are mandated by God to do the Godly thing and wipe out unGodly communities and take their land.

    Before all this, God decided that men were so unGodly that he exterminated everyone except Noah and his family.

    These are YOUR stories of YOUR GOD. Truth or parable or simply ancient fireside myth concerning the 'power of God', these stories demonstrate the absolute difference between 'good' and 'Godly'.

    Genocide is NOT good.
    Slavery is NOT good.
    Favoritism is NOT good.

    To imagine that there are absolute rules which, on closer examination turn out to be negotiable, Hebrews being enslaved versus anyone else being enslaved by the Hebrews for example, is to change the core meaning of the word 'absolute' to suit yourself!

  14. From where comes our morality ?

    Our Morality comes from our empathy, just like Brian says.

    If I may add, our life experiences tend to shape our morality. It's kind of a cultural thing...what is good and proper in our culture may be extremely taboo to another culture. Even in our own sub-cultures morality fluctuates...protestants and catholics worship the same god in vastly differing fashions, some considering the other way immoral.

    Eastern cultures have a much different code of ethics than the experiences and culture.

    I would submit, what we feel gives us our morality indeed does. Christians derive a great amount of their code of ethics from the bible (at least they should )muslims derive their code from the quaran. Hindus from whatever holy book they read regularly....I gets mine from kindergarden class: be good to others if you expect them to be good to you ( maybe that's why little Lucy would not go out with me?).

  15. morals are shaped by several different factors.

    one of them being survival. in the sense that there are certain things we must or must not do for survival purposes.

    these are the 3 universal standards:

    -protection of young
    -not allowing murder

    the protection of young and not allowing murder are pretty obvious. if we don't protect our children we could never hope to perpetuate our species because all our babies would die off. and if we allowed murder then anyone could murder anyone else and we could exterminate ourselves. and truthfulness is a universal standard because without it all communication would become pointless.

    our morals are also influenced by our culture. there are some things we would find horrific in the united states which may be necessary for survival in other cultures.

    for example: infanticide used to be a common practice in eskimo culture, along with killing the elderly. this may seem barbaric to us, but in their culture it was absolutely necessary for their survival.

    and, of course, there is empathy. humans are naturally able to empathize with other people because of mirror neurons in the brain. and, just like with an IQ, people have different EQs as well.

    so, to put it plainly, morals are just a natural part of all of us. christianity does not make anyone more moral than anyone else. after all, sociopaths can be christian or atheist or anything in between. take dennis radar. he was a very active member of his church with a wife and children while he was also the btk killer.

    and i'll end with this question from socrates:

    "is conduct right because the gods command it, or do the gods command it because it is right?"

  16. So, Observant,

    What I'm asking you is if you think that you are deliberately confusing 'Godly' with 'good' or do you feel that we should all take it for granted that 'Godly' IS 'good' or ... what?

  17. If God decides what is good and what is evil, then going by the bible, slavery, as long as it's the Hebrews doing it, is just good clean wholesome fun. And if you beat your slave and he doesn't die but "gets up after a day or two" it's not even a sin!

    The Christian God is SUPPOSED to be good, but falls short on so many levels it's preposterous.

    I know good and evil better than the Christian God does. And that is a problem for me. It makes it impossible to believe that said God is really Good, if I'm better than He is. And I don't even try that hard. So either He's evil, as in not-so-good, or He doesn't exist. I choose "B."

  18. "is conduct right because the gods command it, or do the gods command it because it is right?"
    It seems obvious to me that the Gods command it because it is right. So if you can tell right from wrong, you don't need the Gods anymore. The Gods were introduced to people to force them into right behavior even if they're not moral enough themselves to be able to see that it's right.

    Great post, Richelle.

  19. I mean, you don't need a God to tell you to not kill your baby, for instance. To say that if there was no God that everyone would be killing off their babies, is absurd. Same for most other "immoral" actions. Those that commit them are atavisms to our bestial past, not merely explainable as unbelievers in God. Too many believers commit atrocities for that to be true.

  20. And incidentally, while it's clear that God cammands us not to kill others, it seem odd that most Christians seem undaunted by this and can justify institutional wholesale slaughter in the name of goodness and rectitude. War, in other words. Especially an immoral and wrong war like Iraq. Why is it that where I see incredible immorality a Christian sees justice? How is it that I'm more moral, more caring about all life, than the Christian God apparently is?

    In the bible is clearly says "Thou Shalt Not Kill..." It also clearly says that it's okay to kill your enemies. Even to dash their babies onto rocks. To kill their women, unless of course they're virgins, and then in that case to steal them and keep them for your own... How is this moral at all?

  21. It seems obvious to me that the Gods command it because it is right. So if you can tell right from wrong, you don't need the Gods anymore.


    exactly brian!!

    because if conduct is right because god commands it then god's commandments become arbitrary. god could say slaughtering babies is okay and it would be "right." and nobody could argue "well god would never say that because it's wrong" because they would then have to admit that god makes commandments based on what is right.

    and if god commands things because they are right then morality exists separate from god. so one does not need to believe in god to be moral.

    so maybe we should all think of jesus as another philosopher instead of the "son of god." i mean, who can deny that jesus had some good ideas about how we should treat others? but people have turned his ideas into a ticket to an exclusive club called christianity where if you don't buy then you don't get to be a "good person" and join "god" in the VIP room upstairs.

  22. Hi everyone:
    It seems to me that developing civilized behavior (which I will here define as learning to deal with others in ways that you have learned will help you gain survival or "tribal" advantage, or, on the other hand, avoid negative behavior towards you from the rest of the "tribe"...the Golden Rule???) is a process of growth that small children (who, left to their own deserts, can be notoriously selfish and behave "badly" towards others) must learn as they grow up. If they don't, they may get punished or be ostracized from the "tribe" which certainly can have negative survival value. In this process, which in historical times has generally been taught by parents, close relatives, and other memebers of "the tribe", children begin to see that "good" behavior, even when it is not exactly what they mught feel like doing, and learning to put off instant gratification at appropriate times leads to positive outcomes for them or avoids unpleasantry or negative outcomes. When we are children, this behavior has to be learned; we are not born understanding that "selfish" or bad behavior is not in our best interest. Eventually, in most cases, children discover or are taught the boundaries of "good" behavior ve "evil" or bad behavior.
    In secular society, we may refer to these boundaries as laws or guidelines. In religious society, which certainly can be one of the sources of the learning process to become civilized, we may call these boundaries of "good" vs "Evil" as "Commandments", God's will, Papal edicts, etc.
    I submit that understanding "moral" behavior vs immoral behavior is precisely this process of learning to modify our sometimes societally negative impulses to achieve the support and approval of those OTHER PEOPLE whose opinions are important to us and to our well-being. Please note: Although separation from God or the threat of eternal damnation may be a means to try to teach people about positive behavior patterns, they clearly do not REQUIRE such methods. It seems to me that this viewpoint not only makes sense from what we know of the development of Human Societies over the millennia, but also accounts for the development of highly "moral" constructs among societies that do not or cannot have had the opportunity to "know" the God of the Torah, the New Testament, or of the Koran.

  23. A primary criticism of moral absolutism regards how we come to know what the "absolute" morals are. The authorities that are quoted as sources of absolute morality are all subject to human interpretation, and multiple views abound on them. For morals to be truly absolute, they would have to have a universally unquestioned source, interpretation and authority. Therefore, so critics say, there is no conceivable source of such morals, and none can be called "absolute"[who?]. So even if there are absolute morals, there will never be universal agreement on just what those morals are.

  24. Richelle....

    Good point about the club that christianity has. Here is the fundamental problem that existed from day one. How to seperate people from each other. How to put yourself in a superior position than another person. Easy, just claim that god loves your set of beliefs and then use the threat of eternal punishment. There is no way to prove it so now you are not only staking your life, but your afterlife.

    Another question that plagues me is one of opposites. The issue is contrast. How would you know if you were saved, unless there was someone who was a sinner? And vice-versa. The saved and the sinners need each other in order to have any kind of self-identity. If everyone was saved, then how would this world be?

  25. This is the first thing my mother asked me about when I affirmed myself as an atheist. Like the last 30 some years didn't exist or the fact that she was the one who raised me. It was like the person I was - was no longer. That person had been taken over by someone who decided they didn't want live under the moral yoke that God had bestowed on us.

    It was silliness to the extreme and I choose not to argue with her instead leaning on my more comfortable sarcastic mind set.

    Things were said like: "You're right mom, now that I have denounced the hypocrisy of a god, I can go out and maim and murder anyone I see fit, especially anyone who has upset me..." Or yeah, it was the fear of god that kept me from killing you in your sleep when I was a child, now that I have rejected him, you should get a new passcode on your alarm system... hehe."

    I think she got the point. My point was that she is an imbecile for jesus and as long as you don't mind being one and he likes you that way - so be it. I on the other hand would just like a little consideration for using my brain for more than memorizing the Our Father.

    Have I become a little condescending when I get sucked into a religious conversation with my family? Sure - but usually I only have to repeat their questions back to them (in my condescending tone - which sounds just like their condescending tone) and then they shut up.

    Thanks for the talking points, I'm going to try and commit them to memory for the next time I'm asked stupid questions.

  26. Apropos of my last posting (above), it should be noted that Philosophers have long ago posited that there is no such thing as "moral" behavior. This viewpoint argues that humans are "hardwired" by evolutionary development to always choose behavior (when there is any choice) that they presume will either gain some positive result (for them) or avoid some negative outcome, in any situation. If it is true that humans cannot behave otherwise, there is then no "moral" decision to be made. Some philosophers have named this view of human behavior as "Egoistic Hedonism". In this construct, it is said that although individuals will always choose what they believe will be the best outcome (allowing for wrong guesses, or inadequate information upon which to predict outcomes, or inadequate time to make a wise decision), progress of civilization (learning to behave towards others as one wants them to behave towards you, learning to put off instant gratification for a recognized better outcome at a later time, etc) sometimes makes us appear to behave "unselfishly" or in the best interest of others. An often cited example of this might be a mother's willingness to knowingly sacrifice her life or her own self interest for the benefit of her children.
    At first glance, human willingness to engage in "unselfish" behavior would seem to put the lie to Egoistic Hedonism; however, one might realize that failure to undertake self-sacrifice for the benefit of someone else (i.e. one's child) could lead to unbearable self recrimination for a lifetime thereafter (a "bad" outcome). In any event, I find this philosophy useful in explaining how we all behave. Obviously, if one inculcates a person from childhood into the belief that he/she must subjugate certain life decisions to the teachings of an organized religion or risk ostracism from his/her group or, worse, eternal damnation, this will, to some degree, relieve the individual from making any life decisions on his/her own, especially when these teachings also suggest that if one makes religiously "bad" decisions, he/she can get absolution.

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Do I really have to enter a verification code for every post???
    To require me to that would be immoral!

  29. No, once you've logged in, you don't need the code anymore.

  30. In order to function as a society, people need structure in the form of a code that everyone can agree on. I see morality as an invention, a construct by which we interact with each other through moderated compromise to effect a symbiosis with each other. From this perspective you can see moral relativism coupled to a purpose that we can assign the label of "good".

  31. Observant,
    Many people have legitimate grievances about the authenticity and integrity of your standard of righteousness. To have a monolithic self-apparent manifest for morality for all mankind would be wonderful, and this is coming from a relativist. Alas, I do not recognize such a code wherever I look, and although I may find many doctrines in many religions that I may find appealing and socially uplifting, I must default to a state of calculated relativism, where I must constantly question and adapt with the world around me. I believe that absorbing as many other cultures into your experience as you can is the best path to developing an informed basis for how to judge "right" and "wrong", rather than just consulting one source. To believe that you yourself can develop your own good decisions definitely requires faith in the self, a faith that is earned by outward understanding. Plus, if 2 races both have their own incompatible unchanging codes, they wil NEVER EVER find peace until one side obliterates the other. Oh wait, that is EXACTLY what is happening in the world. Relativism is complicated, but my thesis is that it is the only path to forming alliances that lead to true peace.

  32. So, this is the new destination resort for skeptics. This is a great topic. Ideally, I believe morality is based upon a doctrine of fairness. What constitutes fairness is something that evolves through experience and new knowledge. Fairness depends upon a healthy sense of self-worth tempered with empathy and compassion or else it tends to devolve into simple narcissism.

  33. How do I refer to the new poster whose name is only readable as four blue squares? Quadrasquare? Square squared? Help me out here.

    Glad you all like the topic. I just put up another one. Too soon?

    Yes, this is Skeptic Heaven. You are welcome if you can prove that you question even your own right to be here. :-)

  34. Dear GHB, I'm not sure if a fatal mutation of my handle occurred or if you are referring to some other name. Just stopped in for a visit. The four squares should have said Pliny-the-in-Between on my posting. And to be honest, I'm skeptical that there is a skeptic's heaven ;)

  35. I don't think so, PlinyTIB, it wass the one before your last post there, the one beginning with "Observant,
    Many people have legitimate grievances about the authenticity and integrity of your standard of righteousness."

    No name, just four squares, like when Moke used to type in japanese font. Maybe your browser can read them but mine can't.

  36. And the same person posted two other posts before that one and all of them are the same to me, no name, just the four squares.

  37. GHB,
    I recommend getting a Unicode-enabled browser. There's an entire world beyond the narrow scope of Roman ANSI characters. Otherwise I'll have to settle for nicknames.
    "Tetragrammaton is a four-letter word!"
    I'm logged in and I STILL have to verify. WTF mate?

  38. "Tetragrammaton is a four-letter word!"
    I'm logged in and I STILL have to verify. WTF mate?
    Dunno. I'm sure my browser is stone-age, but humor me please? And I don't know why you have to verify if you're logged in. I don't, but I think I have a diferent version of the page than you would. So I can't say if it's just you, or everyone but me.

    So spell it out for me. What is your name again, mysterious stranger? And do I know you? Just curious.

    And you're cryptic. "Tetragrammaton is a four letter word?" Is that your name? Yod-heh-vav-heh? No wonder my browser can't read it. I don't have Hebrew fonts.

  39. Strange, I looked up the symbols in the (four symbols) guy's name. I guess it is pretty clear that they are Japanese characters. And, after looking up the four characters that I appear on this page, I think that it roughly translates into either "Adolph" or "Hitler".

    Anyway, he is right: you do need to type in word verification code whenever you post. I know that on my blog I don't need to, but I am not sure if that is due to it 1. being mine or 2.due to it being disabled. But, yeah...take that for what you will.