Author Archives: Dmitry Chernikov

Sobran on Resisting Jesus

His essay makes it clear that Jesus despised mankind, even (and especially) "people who adored him," in the New Testament at least as much as the Lord despised the "stiff-necked" Israelites in the Old (e.g., Ex 33:5). The only difference, one supposes, is that, unlike in the Torah, no murders were committed at God's hand in the Gospels.

In the end, however, Jesus proved that His love for us far exceeded His contempt.

Manifestations of Christ’s Resurrection

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to disciple Thomas with wounds on His body: "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." (Jn 20:27) Now how could a glorified body have wounds? If a man dies by being shot, will he rise with a hole in his chest? If he dies a senile and decrepit old man, will he likewise rise senile and decrepit? (St. Thomas argues that "all will rise again in the youthful age.") A permanent cripple like Stephen Hawking surely will not rise with any disability. Well, that's actually an easy problem to solve. Jesus' mission was not fully completed at resurrection. It remained to prove two things to the world: (1) that He was truly resurrected, and (2) that He was glorified. As regards (1), it was useful that Jesus' post-resurrection but pre-ascension body had enough integrity to live but was not perfect in make-up. He postponed going to heaven until such proofs had been supplied, at which point the physical integrity of His body was fully restored.

Jesus showed His wounds to attest to the truth of the resurrection, but His power to come and go through locked doors, to be seen or not seen at will belonged to the glory of His body. St. Thomas quotes Gregory: "The Lord manifested two wonders, which are mutually contrary according to human reason, when after the Resurrection He showed His body as incorruptible and at the same time palpable." (ST, III, 55, 6, reply 2)

I believe there was a certain inevitable if not 100% truthful trick to the manifestations. It concerns the personal identity of the risen human beings with who they were in this life. St. Thomas insists that it will be the "same" body that rises that also died. "For we cannot call it resurrection unless the soul return to the same body, since resurrection is a second rising, and the same thing rises that falls: wherefore resurrection regards the body which after death falls rather than the soul which after death lives. And consequently if it be not the same body which the soul resumes, it will not be a resurrection, but rather the assuming of a new body." (Supplement, 79, 1) I am not fully sure what he means here; perhaps he thinks that the new body will be made of the same type of matter. But it may be that he thinks it will be very much like our bodies in this life.

I believe this is wrong for two reasons. First, in the state of glory, the soul has complete and perfect control over the body; this is precisely one of the two things that make the body impassible. But if the soul is in this sense supreme, then it is "pure act" to the body's 100% passive power. As a result, the soul's personal identity cannot be affected in any way by the resurrection. The identity between the wayfarer in this life and the person in heaven / paradise is maintained solely through the soul and not in the least through the body, except after the resurrection as the risen saint goes on with his blessed life. For personal identity and continuity of consciousness it is therefore irrelevant whether it will be the "same" body in whatever sense that rises or a different one.

Second, the resurrected body cannot possibly work exactly as a normal body would. Now Adam's body was normal but maintained artificially by unique divine graces. A glorified body is different from both pre- and post-original sin bodies in that it suffices itself. Even if some of its amazing powers, such as "impassibility, subtlety, agility, and clarity," are due to "the dominion of the glorified soul... over the body," still the functioning of the body in paradise will have to be vastly different from our exceedingly complex and weird anatomy and biochemistry that are contingent on the specific design of this world.

(E.g., of what use will our present immune system be in paradise? The über-complex process of blood clotting? The colony of good bacteria in the gut?)

I even entertained the idea that each saint will simply create his own body as he pleases in the state of glory. (This would safeguard maximum freedom of the individual in the communion of saints.) However, there are three decisive objections to this. First, if people have complete freedom to make their own bodies, what's to prevent them from trying on for size crazy bodies? Perhaps in order to build a certain complex machine in paradise, it would be most efficient if I assumed a lizard's body to make work easier. But this seems grotesque. There have to be people in paradise, not hideous chimeric monstrosities. Second, if merit determines the beauty of the body, then complete freedom seems to take away the proper gradations of glory of the body. If, on the contrary, there is no such freedom and one's body is given to him once and for all, then we have the fitting incentive to lead holy active lives here. (This is still consistent with my idea that people can switch between disembodied heaven and embodied paradise at will.) Third, this comes dangerously close to the idea that the body is a mere tool united to the soul accidentally as a hammer to the hand, rather than as an essential aspect of humanity.

But even upon abandoning this hypothesis, it seems that it would have been sufficient for a successful redemption for Jesus to have some human body, as this would adequately indicate that He consented fully to keep human nature, both soul and body, united to Godhead after finding us worthy of His love despite our crimes.

Consider further that a man whose body was burned and whose ashes were scattered, or who was eaten by wild beasts, cannot be resurrected as Jesus was, whose body happened to be relatively intact. If the circumstances had been different, and, say, Jesus had been cut into several pieces, each of which was buried separately, then no resurrection similar to what we find in the Gospels would have been possible. That Jesus had the "same" body was a contingent and "lucky" fact. Why then was it necessary for Him to have it?

I think for two reasons. First, so that He could be recognized physically. For example, "he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country" (Mk 16:12), but that might not have worked everywhere. Perhaps having a different even if "better" face, etc. would have hindered Jesus from proving that He lived.

Second, in order to over-demonstrate and make abundantly clear the continuity of personal identity after general resurrection, whenever that will be, since we know that the body is so important for it in this life. Mental illness or dementia or brain damage can destroy one's sense of identity. A senile person may not even know who he is. Jesus suggested forcefully that we will be self-same in heaven as we are here.

There was nothing special, however, about the way Jesus' post-resurrection body looked otherwise.

Whether Corrupting the US Military Is Good?

Walter Block writes:

A federal judge today rejected President Trump’s order stopping the enlistment of transgendered people into the American military. Posit that this will make the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines less efficient. Is this something to be welcomed by the libertarian?

He answers yes, since the military is being used for evil purposes.

Now let Smith be a murderer and thief. At one point he becomes mentally ill and starts cutting his own body brutally. We might argue that this is all to the good, since Smith's illness reduces his efficiency as a criminal and may even make society better off on the whole.

And yet we would also naturally consider Smith's mental illness to be an evil in itself, a corruption of something good. He now falls short of perfection both by being morally wicked and mentally ill. Restoring him to normalcy would now require both curing him of his sickness and improving him morally which is harder than doing either of these alone.

It is true that the US military is being viciously abused. It is also true that it consumes -- and therefore misallocates -- an enormous amount of scarce resources, impoverishing society. But letting in transsexuals or putting women on the front lines to me seems like an extra depraved perversion. Block might argue that in this case, two wrongs will make a right. Society and individuals are at war with the state, and anything that weakens the latter strengthens the former. It's a defensible view, but we should be very careful in this "war" that in fighting the state we do not harm ourselves, as well. The corruption of the state military may infect society though bad ideas and ideologies, too, and spread to it.

In other words, the libertarian struggle against the state is less a literal boxing match than a battle of ideas. We should not support bad ideas which will weaken us intellectually even if they also weaken the state physically.

Buchanan Asks What “We” Should Fight for

Pat Buchanan in his typical fashion is advising the US against overextending itself. In so doing he does not distinguish between the state and the people, so he calls both "we."

That is a serious blunder. In particular, war is the health of the state. Even if "this generation of Americans is not going to risk war," the interests of the state in permanent warfare can easily prevail over the interests of Americans.

The state wants to dominate and destroy. I personally do not care about the South China Sea, but the US government probably does. Accordingly, it may want to conquer that sea in order to oppress and murder Chinese people more efficiently. The US state seeks power, and as Orwell noted correctly, power is manifested in inflicting suffering on one's fellow men. The more suffering is dished out, in this case on the Chinese, the "greater" the state becomes. Thus, my interests and the interests of the state are in opposition, which means it is senseless to agglomerate both of us into one undifferentiated "we."

Buchanan is an anti-free trader. If the US government were to invade China and destroy its economy, then free trade would be ipso facto annihilated. It may be "vital" for the US government to blow up China, so that American firms are protected from foreign competition. If Buchanan had been elected president, it might have occurred to him that people tend to evade government restrictions on international trade. Buchanan might then want to wipe China off the face of the earth in order to destroy free trade in a sort of "final solution" by destroying one of the traders. When there are traders, he might reason, there is a problem of free trade; when there are no traders, there is no problem. Of course, the American people would only lose from this monstrous crime, but Buchanan would benefit, since it would serve to aggrandize his political power over the ruins of the world.

It is useless to bury one's head in the sand by falsely and naively considering all people, "us," to have identical interests.

Again, Buchanan writes: "While [the South China Sea] is regarded as vital to China, it is not to us." And if it were "vital," it would be Ok to fight with China? A mugger, too, may consider his victim's money to be "vital" to him, but we don't write articles counseling caution to muggers. At best, Buchanan is an efficiency expert for the state.

And why does he call nation-states "she," when it is proper to call ships "she" but nations "it"?

Industrial Accidents in Paradise

I.e., in what way will the resurrected bodies of the saints be "impassible"? The following is based on St. Thomas' opinions of this matter in (ST, Supplement, 82).

Impassibility means immunity from any injury, sickness, or death. The ultimate cause of this is twofold: first, the human soul will be perfectly subject to God and will be free from any sinful desires or mental illness. Second, the human body will be under complete and exhaustive control of the soul. As a result, the soul will want to live and enjoy its reward with great and single-minded desire and, with no aspect of bodily life outside its control, will with perfect effectiveness command the body always to live, never get sick, prosper, act, and exercise its power over the material objects in paradise.

St. Thomas distinguishes between "natural" and "spiritual" alterations of the body. An example of the former is "when the hand is heated by touching a hot object, or becomes fragrant through contact with a fragrant object." Contrast this with the latter, wherein the eye, in seeing whiteness, does not itself become white. He claims that natural alterations will be impossible for glorified bodies, but spiritual alterations will continue.

Now this is unsatisfactory. Why, for example, can't there be a fireplace in a "mansion" in paradise, such that both its heat and sight will cause pleasure to some people? It is far better and simpler to argue that the body will be impassible to the full extent the soul wills it to be impassible but also only to that extent. Hence there will be sensation and sensual delight in paradise, whether brought about by natural or spiritual changes. A perfected saint can surely be trusted to allow the reception of useful and happy sensations and to block annoying, damaging, or painful ones as he prefers it.

"Thus it was with the body of Adam," comments St. Thomas, "which could neither be burned by fire, nor pierced by sword, although he had the sense of such things." But it remained Adam's power and choice to distinguish between the pleasures of fire and the pains of fire and to welcome the sensations of the first and easily and competently wave aside and impede the second. It may be, for example, that the heat that one saint will find pleasant will be painful to another saint; yet both will be satisfied by virtue of their sublime self-control to make the body passable or impassible at will.

When thereby willed impassible, the body of a saint will be stronger than any merely material object due to the body's connection with and empowering influence of the soul. Therefore, no "industrial accident" could over occur in paradise.

Human happiness due to contemplation will differ, asserts St. Thomas, depending on (1) their charity and possibly (2) the strength of their intellect. (I, 12, 6) But people will differ in the quality of their active lives, too. Their power over the body will differ; hence their creative power over the material nature in paradise exercised through their bodies will differ as well. Some people will contemplate better than others in heaven; some will build and act and produce and consume better than others in paradise.

Likewise, things like bodily beauty, gracefulness of motion, keenness of senses, athleticism, manual dexterity, intensity of bodily pleasures, even height (Supplement, 81, 2) will differ depending on one's merits, as well.

Finally, all senses will be in act in paradise, including even taste, since I see no reason why there cannot be an everlasting improvement in the quality of donuts in the life to come. I will discuss the question of whether Homer Simpson, whose only interest consisted in devouring donuts, would be allowed in the kingdom of God later.

Self-Deification of the Leftists

Poor Jeff Tucker. He is ministering to the left, preaching the gospel of Hayek to the insane.

He should harbor no illusions that his wards will ever grant him the dignity of having "good intentions." For the leftists, Tucker will always be an evil troglodyte out to impede "progress."

Thus, let Tucker proclaim: "I wish to increase human happiness." Great. Unfortunately, the leftists do not care about human happiness. They take their own arbitrary, usually vicious, and often ridiculous and contemptible value judgments and elevate them to the status of absolute good. Anyone who fails to agree with them regarding their pathetic opinions is by that very fact totally depraved and is to be repressed by any means necessary.

In this regard, Lew Rockwell writes perceptively:

... conservatives who accuse the left of moral relativism have it so wrong. Far from relativistic, the left is absolutist in its demands of conformity to strict moral codes.

For example, when it declares "transgender" persons to be the new oppressed class, everyone is expected to stand up and salute. Left-liberals do not argue that support for transgender people may be a good idea for some people but bad for others. That's what they'd say if they were moral relativists. But they're not, so they don't.

And it is not simply that dissent is not tolerated. Dissent cannot be acknowledged. What happens is not that the offender is debated until a satisfactory resolution is achieved. He is drummed out of polite society without further ado. There can be no opinion apart from what the left has decided.

These leftist values, far from being absolute, are in fact random noise. They are wild and often wicked passions, undisciplined by reason or systematic thought. They change every day. The leftists vomit these useless emotions upon anyone and everyone uncivilly. There is no realization that their values may be personal, relative, transient, and irrelevant in the scheme of things, or that the leftists are not infallible and could be greatly mistaken.

A leftist then is marked with an unshakable faith in his own "good intentions," moral righteousness, infallible judgment, and a holy right to coerce those who question his ill-thought-out primitive doctrines. He torments his fellow men "lovingly" and with a sense of purpose.

This self-deification is an old phenomenon. Mises describes it as follows:

What the naive mind calls reason is nothing but the absolutization of its own value judgments. The individual simply identifies the products of his own reasoning with the shaky notion of an absolute reason.

No socialist author ever gave a thought to the possibility that the abstract entity which he wants to vest with unlimited power -- whether it is called humanity, society, nation, state, or government -- could act in a way of which he himself disapproves.

A socialist advocates socialism because he is fully convinced that the supreme dictator of the socialist commonwealth will be reasonable from his -- the individual socialist's -- point of view, that he will aim at those ends of which he -- the individual socialist -- fully approves, and that he will try to attain these ends by choosing means which he -- the individual socialist -- would also choose.

Every socialist calls only that system a genuinely socialist system in which these conditions are completely fulfilled; all other brands claiming the name of socialism are counterfeit systems entirely different from true socialism. Every socialist is a disguised dictator. Woe to all dissenters! They have forfeited their right to live and must be "liquidated." (HA, 692-3)

In Mises' time, socialism was at least a big idea. There was a theory there, however false, a system. Today's leftists are content with advocating that allegedly "transgender" children be destroyed bodily with drugs and surgery. They have fallen so low as to produce only autistic screeching. As an intelligible ideology, leftism is done for.

I can comfort and strengthen Tucker in his mission only with this: "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Mt 5:11-12)

Christ’s Power to Forgive and Judge

It is often argued that Jesus thought of Himself as divine because He claimed for Himself the power to forgive sins. Now of course, any man can forgive a sin by another against himself, but only God can forgive sins tout court, and Jesus did just that: "'But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins' -- he then said to the paralytic, 'Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.'" (Mt 9:6)

But a much less often stressed Biblical fact -- and with some reason, because it's scary -- is that Jesus also claimed for Himself the power to refuse to forgive and by that very fact, condemn to hell, e.g., "the Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth." (Mt 13:41-42)

Of course, the opposite of "to condemn" is not "to forgive" but "to glorify." Forgiveness is for us as wayfarers; glory or damnation is one's ultimate destiny. Thus, Jesus adds in the next sentence, "Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father." (Mt 13:43)

Now today a Catholic priest can forgive a person's sins, as per "I will give you [Peter] the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Mt 16:19)

But no man whatever can condemn another to hell or, for that matter, bestow glory. The power to administer the final judgment then is even greater than the power to forgive. For one, the latter is at least partially communicable from God to human beings, while the former is the sole prerogative of God. And being forgiven is merely a means to glory; it is better not to sin in the first place than to be forgiven for sins.

If that's not an indication of Christ's divinity, I don't know what is.

Mary’s Body vs. Jesus’

I fully agree with the authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church laid down on 8 December, 1854 by Pius IX that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."

I do differ in the understanding of this article of faith. First of all, a human soul does not get "infused" into the developing human body step by step, as "living" first, then "vegetative," then "animal" or "animated," and finally "rational." Instead, a full-featured soul is present with the body at the instant of conception, but, owing to the primitiveness of the body, is at first deaf, dumb, and blind; it acquires its proper powers, i.e., recovers or remembers, slowly as the body develops both before and after birth.

As a result, it is a necessary and inescapable truth that Mary's soul was sanctified at conception, since, according to this theory, there was no reason for God to wait for the time of the alleged "infusion" of the rational faculties.

St. Thomas raises the issue, if Mary never contracted the original sin, nor ever sinned actually, why did she need redemption by Christ? This question assumes the "punishment" theory of the Incarnation which I rejected in the previous post and elsewhere.

I have argued that the Incarnation was much more about God the Son than it was about us. It was a brutal gauntlet, a test for Him, whether He would accept the Holy Spirit's grace of love for mankind despite our ultimate injustice against Him personally. We rejected the Son, our greatest benefactor, king, and friend, without whom neither heaven nor paradise could be open to us, utterly and murdered Him. In response, He loved us and brought us unto Himself. I, for example, could not do it. Only the true God could and did.

Again, before the Incarnation, the Son literally did not know whether we were worthy or not, since the opportunity to decide this matter once and for all for Himself, the way to demonstrate His preference in action would arise only in the future at His death. Hence He had no authority to guide the evolution of the communion of saints over the entire duration of their everlasting life. In particular, no finite saint could choose what to study or contemplate in heaven from the Father among an infinitude of all possibilities unaided. Further, paradise is mostly empty in its original state. As I suggested, the first things to be built in it would be "replicators." But what would Moses, say, know about these things? He'd have to learn about them in heaven. Since contemplation could not occur without Jesus, neither could active life: what would be the purpose of allowing people to wander around an empty paradise aimlessly? Keeping the souls awake in Limbo would have been cruel and dangerous, too. So the souls of the dead slept before Christ.

It is for that reason that no one, including Mary, could enter heaven or paradise before the Incarnation. It is irrelevant to this fact that Mary was free of both original and actual sin.

To get back to the title of this post, the Catholic Encyclopedia argues that Mary "was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam -- from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death." This, too, is at least in part problematic. For Mary had to be gifted not only with a massive amount of grace but also with remarkable bodily health for the sake of her mission as mother of God. Just as her virtue insured Jesus from being aborted, so her physical health insured Him from being miscarried. God could not play dice with the Incarnation. Mary had to be perfectly physically fit for her exalted role.

Therefore, neither Mary nor Jesus contracted any bodily defects through the original sin. However, Jesus assumed those defects of His own free divine will, as suggested in the previous post, while Mary did not. It follows that Mary's earthly body was superior in health and beauty to Jesus' pre-resurrection body. Perhaps like Eve before her sin, she was not going to die of old age through the special solicitude of the Holy Spirit.

If Christ Had Not Been Murdered, Would He Have Died of Old Age?

St. Thomas seems to suggest that He would have died in this manner, perhaps from a heart attack at the age of 95: "Christ's body was subject to the necessity of death and other like defects," not because He contracted these defects through the manner of His birth, "as if taking them upon Himself as due to sin," but because He assumed them voluntarily. The fundamental reason to think so is that "it was in order to satisfy for the sin of the human race that the Son of God, having taken flesh, came into the world. Now one satisfies for another's sin by taking on himself the punishment due to the sin of the other. But these bodily defects, to wit, death, hunger, thirst, and the like, are the punishment of sin, which was brought into the world by Adam... Hence it was useful for the end of Incarnation that He should assume these penalties in our flesh and in our stead..." (ST, III, 14)

But I reject the premise of this Pauline teaching that the Father punished the Son as some sort of hated scapegoat in order for the human race to evade divine justice. Without this disgraceful and absurd idea, does the argument still hold up?

There are two reasons to think that Christ would have died of old age. First, because of the easy syllogism:

(1) All men are mortal.
(2) Christ was a man.
(3) Christ was mortal.

If Jesus' body was naturally immortal and would not age beyond 30 years old or whatever, then His body had to have worked very differently from own own bodies. It would then be difficult to maintain that Christ took on human nature.

Second, because of the realistic consideration to the effect that "what good would it have done Him?" Jesus knew that He would die on the cross, unjustly destroyed by those He loved, and an ageless body would have been entirely useless to Him.

There are, however, two other possibilities. First, St. Thomas argues that Adam in his Garden in the state of original righteousness and pure uncorrupt nature was graced with natural immortality and the "fullness of health, i.e., vigor of incorruptibility." Upon his sin, this grace was withdrawn, and Adam, now expelled into the world, ended up growing old and dying as per the functioning of human nature as we now know it. Could it be that, say, at Jesus' baptism, the Holy Spirit similarly imparted immortality upon His body: "heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him"? (Mt 3:16)

Unfortunately, there is no Scriptural support whatsoever for this opinion.

Second, it may be that Jesus' bodily immortality resulted from the union of His human nature with His divine nature or Godhead; or from the eminence or even glory that accrued to His human soul. St. Thomas admits that this is possible but denies that it was actual: "the beatitude remained in the soul, and did not flow into the body; but the flesh suffered what belongs to a passible nature; thus Damascene says... that, 'it was by the consent of the Divine will that the flesh was allowed to suffer and do what belonged to it.'"

St. Thomas lists two more reasons "for the body assumed by the Son of God to be subject to human infirmities and defects" that do not depend on the dubious theory of "punishment":

1) In order to cause belief in Incarnation. For since human nature is known to men only as it is subject to these defects, if the Son of God had assumed human nature without these defects, He would not have seemed to be true man, nor to have true, but imaginary, flesh, as the Manicheans held.

2) In order to show us an example of patience by valiantly bearing up against human passibility and defects. Hence it is said... that He "endured such opposition from sinners against Himself, that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds."

On the whole, it seems somewhat more plausible that Jesus would indeed have died of old age, perhaps in the manner of the rather honorable Moses' death, in His pre-resurrection body, had He not been murdered by us in His prime.

God: Trinity and Unity

God is a trinity on the 2nd level, insofar as each person of the Trinity has His own unique separate and distinct intellect, will, and power.

God is a unity for 3 reasons. First, the 3 levels in God are united into a single "thing."

Second, each person's intellect is an aspect of the intellect of God. The same is true for the wills and powers of the persons.

In particular, for God, His love of concupiscence, love of self, and love of friendship are numerically identical to each other. God loves Himself as a "consumer good" or object of contemplation; He loves His own self, such that the lover, the beloved, and the love (understood as everything God approves of and enjoys about Himself) are God Himself; and God manifests His love for the other through the relations of the Trinity.

Thus, the Father and the Son love each other through the Holy Spirit. But the effects of love are, as per St. Thomas, union, mutual indwelling, ecstasy, and zeal: "when a man loves another with the love of friendship, he wills good to him, just as he wills good to himself: wherefore he apprehends him as his other self, in so far, to wit, as he wills good to him as to himself. Hence a friend is called a man's 'other self'..., and Augustine says..., 'Well did one say to his friend: Thou half of my soul.'" (ST, II-I, 28) The Father and Son then indwell in each other perfectly and wholeheartedly together with the Holy Spirit, making them one. Each person is "another self" to the other two persons.

This relation may be also approached as follows: the lover unites with the beloved, is completed through this union, and rests in peace therefrom. The divine mind (Father) that thinks and through one comprehensive thought (Holy Spirit) understands itself (Son), while maintaining an identity of these three as simple pure act achieves precisely this sort of completeness and as its consequence, beatitude or happiness.

Third, the acts of the divine intellect, will, and power are in fact self-same single act.

See also:

Mea Culpa on the Trinity,
One God,
Trinity: Ad Intra and Ad Extra.

Depressing Theology

In Chapter 2 of his Christian Philosophical Theology, Stephen T. Davis presents an astonishingly crude, primitive, even pathetic "cosmological" argument for the existence of "God." That this argument fails to prove anything is made clear in the next chapter, where Davis writes: "But even if we know or rationally believe that God exists, it is still an open question what God is like, that is, what God's attributes are. There are many sorts of Gods, gods, and divine beings in the various religions of the world. What is God like?" (37)

Replace the word God with the word "Croomp." Would Davis say that his argument proves Croomp's existence? Of course, he can't say that, because in Chapter 2 "Croomp" is a meaningless term, as is the proposition "Croomp exists."

Davis quotes St. Thomas on several occasions but fails utterly to grasp his method, which is to unite through natural theology the meaning and reference of term "God."

One needs to show, one argument after another, how something with a highly peculiar attribute X, such that X is not shared by creatures or universe as a whole either in quality or in eminence, exists, and conclude the proof with "and this everyone understands to be God" (or Croomp). Davis attempts no such feat, which is why his argument fails.

Whether God Can Infuse a False Faith?

The job of the Holy Spirit regarding faith seems to be to remove doubts regarding the articles of faith, as per St. Thomas' understanding that the intellect can "assent to something, not through being sufficiently moved to this assent by its proper object, but through an act of choice, whereby it turns voluntarily to one side rather than to the other: and if this be accompanied by doubt or fear of the opposite side, there will be opinion, while, if there be certainty and no fear of the other side, there will be faith." (ST, II-II, 1, 4) I mentioned the false religious beliefs of, say, Jews and Muslims, such as that Jesus is not God. Sometimes these beliefs are firmly and even fanatically held.

This bothered me somewhat, so I asked the Holy Spirit whether He ever acted to convince someone of a false belief, perhaps for reasons of overall "utilitarian" providence. He answered no, but I think it was presumptuous even to ask in light of 1 John 4:

Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world. (1-3)

NABRE comments:

Deception is possible in spiritual phenomena and may be tested by its relation to Christian doctrine: those who fail to acknowledge Jesus Christ in the flesh are false prophets and belong to the antichrist.

Even though these false prophets are well received in the world, the Christian who belongs to God has a greater power in the truth.

So it seems rather that the Jews and Muslims, in regard precisely to their devotion to their corrupt religions, are victims of the influence of evil spirits. How unfortunate, especially because "the devil made me believe it" is hardly a valid excuse.

But how can a person honestly contemplating whether Christianity or Islam is true in order to choose between them be sure whether he is being prompted by the spirit of God or of the devil? Well, the passage continues: "You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1 John 4:4) It may be that a genuinely honest inquiry, especially made through a pure heart, is guaranteed to lead one, at least eventually, to the truth.

Proper Foreign Policy

Each citizen, Smith, ruled by any state S should demand as a matter of ideology unconditional foreign policy pacifism on the part of S. There shall be, he should insist, no standing military forces of any kind, nor should the state defend itself against any foreign aggression.

Let now some state T led by ruthless dictator Jones invade, decapitate the S's chief, install Jones as ruler, and bring foreign mercenaries as the new military.

No "defense" should be attempted. Still less ought Smith to be conscripted by S to defend S and the existing ruler. S's price of power is precisely its vulnerability to be conquered.

Instead, Smith, when things settle down, and T gets down to the daily grind of governing, even if perhaps with a heavier hand, should continue influencing the new government, T and Jones in particular, toward complete pacifism, disarmament, and retrenchment.

Whither Punishment?

A particularly interesting part of Huemer's book is his discussion of restitution and punishment. He points out that "it is thought that society as a whole benefits from this practice because it... deters others from entering a life of crime." And he follows Rothbard in (1) finding it absurd that taxpayers are forced to pay the costs of incarceration and (2) believing that "a thief, for example, would have to pay back significantly more than the value of what he stole. This would provide a deterrent to crime." (272ff) Rothbard affirms the necessity of punishment but argues that punishment beyond pure restitution, the 2nd tooth of the criminal for the victim's tooth should be forced labor to profit the victim.

I don't like this. The criminal law is not a means for victims to enrich themselves. They are owed restitution, not any further spoils of victimhood. We don't need any extra incentives to alleged victims for frivolous lawsuits. In addition, forced slave labor is very inefficient and cannot realistically be used to provide restitution.

Huemer has another argument up his sleeve. Prisons are

regularly overcrowded, and inmates live in danger of gang violence, rape by other prisoners, beatings from guards and other prisoners, and other forms of abuse. ... In recent years, the use of solitary confinement has become increasingly common, a practice that leads to mental deterioration on the part of the prisoner and higher rates of recidivism once the convict is released. ...

Some observers have argued that incarceration not only fails to rehabilitate criminals but actually renders them more dangerous when released than they were when they entered. ... Some have gone so far as to suggest that incarceration may cause more crime than it prevents. (283-4)

If true, this condemns imprisonment as a form of punishment. But it cannot eliminate the need for punishment altogether. Consider even a basic civil dispute. Unlike a criminal case, there is a genuine uncertainty as to which party is right. Smith the tenant claims that Jones the landlord owes him his security deposit. Jones disagrees. They go before a judge who rules in Smith's favor. Yet Jones refuses to pay. The civil case has now transmogrified into a criminal case, where Jones with a malicious intent has stolen Smith's money. Another judge orders Jones to be fined. Jones ignores it. Judge #3 issues a warrant for Jones' arrest. And so on the sanctions are ratcheted up, until the cops physically restrain Jones and punish him somehow. If imprisonment fails as an adequate punishment, then perhaps Jones should be beaten or put into stocks or something else. But punishment remains the state's sole prerogative and its ultimate power.

I therefore still think that there must be a single authority endowed with an irresistible power to punish offenders, and that is what we call the "state."

Unworkability of Anarcho-Capitalism

The most obvious problem with the "protection agencies" version of free market anarchism in Huemer is that it merely pushes the main problem up one level without solving it. Let there be in a certain stateless city X 1 million people. This situation is presumably intolerable because of the endless mutual slaughter and destruction, a Hobbesian war of all against all. Huemer argues that private protection agencies will arise to provide security to the populace. Let there now be in addition in X 1 thousand such agencies. Assuming that reign of chaos between the individuals is prevented, why wouldn't there continue to be the exact same orgy of mass murder and looting between the agencies? Huemer is apparently content with the argument that violence is "costly." But if it is costly, then why do we need the protection agencies in the first place? The individuals, too, should realize the cost to them of unjust violence and abstain from it without any protection by bigger and more powerful organizations.

If violence is costly, then we don't need protection agencies; if violence is often profitable, then we should expect the protection agencies in engage in violence -- both against each other and against their "customers" -- at least as often as the unprotected individuals would.

Government makes for a qualitatively different situation. The objection is not that violence ought not to be traded; the situation of Smith's hiring Jones to assassinate Robinson is no worse than that of Smith's doing the dirty deed himself. Cops are paid for their services, too, after all. It is that society as a whole cannot dispense with commissioning an agency of coercion and compulsion that is more powerful than any identifiable subgroup within that society, including Smith and Jones, except the society as a whole or its representatives. The government can crush with ease any person or organization within its jurisdiction. The problem of mutual battling, whether of millions of individuals or of thousands of gangs, is nipped in the bud. The problem of preventing the government from aggressing against the people, of course, remains. In Chapter 9, Huemer considers the various devices for controlling state aggression, such as "popular elections, a free press, constitutional limits, and the separation of powers," (228) and finds them lacking. He is right about that, but the issue comes down to libertarian ideology and decentralization which together can largely defang the state.

Protection agencies anarchism creates yet another problem: the unjust aggression of the agencies against their own customers. The customers of a protection agency will have trouble uniting and defending against their own protectors, if the agency starts preying on them as individuals. An individual does not choose an agency to protect him, as if it were an insurance company; rather, the agency chooses individuals to victimize. Smith cannot say: you people of P, Inc. are robbers; I am switching to Q, Inc. Q will not care to protect him; it will evaluate whether P is strong enough to retain Smith as a victim, a sheep that it exploits. If P seems powerful, then Q will be uninterested in dealing with Smith in any capacity; otherwise, Q may try to conquer P and take the spoils of war, namely, Smith as a serf, especially if Smith is a young woman, for itself.

If agency A is able to harm Smith justly, such as by punishing him appropriately for a crime, then it is also able to harm him unjustly. Conversely, if A cannot harm Smith unjustly (such as because he is protected by agency B), then it will lack the power to harm him justly, as well. A local libertarian government, on the other hand, can harm Smith justly but is for the most part restricted by various clever tricks from harming him unjustly. A protection agency, as a private business, is answerable solely to its owners not the commonwealth or the legislative branch of the government. As one of the toughest firms out there, unless restrained by the entire citizen body, it will be able to use unjust violence against anyone with impunity while keeping its owners safe against any retaliation. In the end, the biggest and baddest gangs will wreak havoc over all the land, and the long struggle against tyranny and for freedom will begin again... from the very beginning.

Huemer believes that "competition" will discipline the agencies in the absence of the artifices of limiting government. But the competition is precisely the original state of nature. We are trying to get out of it, which means we cannot simply up and define it as adequate.

There is a further difficulty. Even if the police by their very nature are a monopoly, it is at this point still conceivable that several companies will be competing to protect a community. But there are two problems with this. First, a big business able to protect two hundred towns will be far too powerful to be controlled by any one town. Such a business would be essentially an army, able (and likely willing) to overpower any municipality. Second, it seems to be a great deal more efficient, instead of firing one entire police force and hiring a brand new one, simply to hold regular elections of the mayor who will then have the mandate to implement whatever reforms of police procedures are desired by the people. For example, the new mayor may forbid hiring ex-military.

There is still the possibility of letting people voluntarily "subscribe" to police enforcement services or withhold their patronage. The subscribers can call upon the police to enforce arbitration decision that have been made in their favor; the non-subscribers are out of luck, because private uses of violence cannot be tolerated, lest there would be endless outbreaks of private wars. (The whole point of monopoly policing is to suppress such wars by threatening to crush the would-be warriors with overwhelming force.) A market is thereby created in the place of a government-provided service, seemingly a happy development. But there are complications that seriously devalue this market.

First, subscriptions produce positive externalities: the more people subscribe without the criminals knowing exactly who is and who is not subscribed, the greater the deterrence effect will be. It is somewhat like concealed carry: every subscription helps one's neighbor by creating uncertainty in the criminal's mind. This might be a case for subsidizing police subscriptions, if we were not dealing with the problem precisely of funding the police in the first place and assuming that the government collects pretty much no taxes for anything else.

Second, specifically for criminal cases, the district attorney obviously has his own "subscription" and can file a complaint of his own. But no particular individual but society as a whole benefits from punishments administered (as opposed to restitutions or civil lawsuits won). The benefit of any actual punishment now is the public and visible reinforcement of the threat of punishment to future potential evildoers who, seeing the efficiency of the state at punishing crimes, are deterred from injustice through servile fear. This creates a presumption for public financing of criminal prosecutions.

Third, as a matter of common sense, it is absurd to cut oneself off from the justice system by refusing to subscribe. Anyone can prey on such a person, and he will not be able to get his verdicts enforced for him. He is almost an outlaw.

Therefore, most communities decide to solve these problems with one stroke by insuring everybody and requiring universal subscriptions. There is admittedly some coercion involved, but it is minimal, and the benefits seem to outweigh the costs. The contradiction is real and unfortunate; but let justice be done unless the heavens fall.

Welfare State vs. Drowning Child

I describe and analyze the Drowning Child case in the previous post. Huemer proceeds to make the following distinctions between that and welfare statism which he dubs "Charity Mugging":

a) In the Charity Mugging, the problem you seek to address is a chronic social condition, whereas in the Drowning Child, the problem is an acute emergency. ...

b) In the Drowning Child case, one can easily and quickly solve the problem, whereas in the Charity Mugging case, one can realistically hope only to alleviate the problem.

c) In the Drowning Child case, the coercion required to address the problem is a one-time intervention, whereas in the Charity Mugging, it is an ongoing program of coercion. (155)

He adds in a footnote that Peter Unger objects to (a) that the only difference is that the victims of a "chronic problem" "have been suffering for a longer time; but this surely cannot lessen the reasons for helping victims of chronic problems." (156n)

As it happens, I discuss this problem in my book. The requisite passages are below.

Utilitarians like Peter Unger who harp on our alleged duties to the poor in faraway lands fail to grasp the details of their own moral theory. For the demands of utilitarianism are hierarchical. At the base lies the prescription to make a society (or the world as a whole) as efficient as possible. There are very few truly needy in rich and successful societies.

The second tier is private charity, voluntarily discharged duties to help the poor, the widows and orphans, the church, and suchlike. The reason why there is a lexicographical priority is that it is worse than useless to throw charitable donations into a society that cannot but remain poor because of its abhorrence of capitalism. First, the citizens must learn economics and cooperate according to its teachings. Only then, with respect to abandoned infants, the incapacitated, and so on, will charity play its indispensable role. One must first teach the vast majority to fish and give fish only to those who cannot produce.

A reply to Unger's Living High and Letting Die then is that unless the poor countries put themselves together and on their own eliminate poverty for the general population, flooding them with foreign aid or charitable donations is futile. If we want to help, then we should send them economics teachers who will explain to them what's what. Only once laissez-faire capitalism is accepted and implemented, and the standard of living is rising rapidly, will it make sense to care for the sick, the dying, and so on. When the masses are dying from hunger or live on the brink of starvation or barely subsisting, there can be no talk about helping the few deserving poor, because everyone is poor.

Again, what "they" need is not charity but a solid grounding in economics and libertarianism. It is contrary to utilitarianism for the failed nations to leech off the successful ones: must not "they" cooperate with "us" honestly? Paying people for not producing diminishes overall wealth and happiness. Unger postulates second-tier duties to "us," while forgetting about first-tier duties to "them." If it is objected that they cannot in principle help themselves, then I reply that in that case, they for all intents and purposes are not human, and we have no duty to feed them, just as we have no duty to feed wild animals.

I agree that it is a scandal that many people in Third World countries are malnourished. But "we" are not responsible for that. Left-liberals, for all their coercive "compassion," think that the Africans, etc. are an embarrassment to humanity. In a way, they are right: it is their flaws that cause their poverty. That does not mean that we should be treating them as subhumans who (we have decided) cannot take care of themselves.

Not only does acting on our alleged second-tier duties tempt them to violate their first-tier duties, but if the latter were fulfilled, then the former might disappear entirely, because the givers, "we," in Unger's cases, are too far away which violates the subsidiary principle which may have some authority even for a utilitarian. Why should an American help the beggars in Africa and not someone closer to them by location, kinship, language, etc.? It should not be a "burden" to be a "white man." ...

The third tier is paternalism. If everything fails, and a person's powers incline to evil, then those powers must be temporarily taken away, until such time when he will learn to use them responsibly.

Thus, taking what seems to me everything in account, utilitarianism is promoted by (1) a social system of efficient laws which create such incentives as to make individual profit and the good of society (or common good) to harmonize with each other, i.e., making society prudent; (2) teaching people how to succeed in their personal undertakings, i.e., making individuals prudent within that prudent society; and (3) prescribing certain limited, imperfect in the Kantian sense, and voluntarily discharged duties, such as helping the poor or donating to the church, that redistribute resources within the social values scale (insofar as love of friendship entails merging of the values scales of the lovers) to satisfy the most urgent needs, i.e., remedying situations in which the prudence of an individual fails through no fault of his own (essentially bad luck). (SAtK, I, 42)

Regarding (a), it is plain that the chronic problem of the poor's poverty is a normal, settled, and expected state of affairs. An acute emergency on the contrary is a significant disturbance in the regular course of life. Moreover, the poor bear full responsibility for their contemptible (allegedly chronic) poverty and remain the very people who must through their own efforts lift themselves up. An acute emergency is different in that without further details we assume that the drowning child is in grave danger to his life through no fault of his own. For example, the situation would be relevantly different if we knew that the same child insisted on drowning himself anew every day.

In addition, "poverty" is not the same as an imminent threat to life. As I argue in a brief discussion of rescues, "Even if a person is seriously disabled and has no one who loves him to care for him, a charitable organization is by the nature of its mission not obligated to do more than sustain his physical life. It is not required to feed him pomegranate juice."

This brings us to point (b).

What explains the fact that the Starving African Adults continue having Starving African Children? Are they crazy? Are they really animals? Regardless, feeding the Starving Children through "charity" will soon enough result in more of them. Surely, the givers would be perfectly justified in this case in imposing strict population control measures upon the Africans up to and including mass sterilizations. But this sort of treatment is inhuman according to natural morality and disgusting according to Christian morality. Whites and blacks are, after all, members of the same species. The extreme separation between the human whites and subhuman blacks cannot be sustained in the longer run. "Charity" does nothing to narrow the gap in dignity and honor between the races.

Thus, feeding a Starving Child indeed "alleviates" the problem and only for a few hours. The child appears to have no parents who will care for him, or if he does, then they, too, are starving. The entire operation is a massive exercise in futility.

Point (c) follows.

Unger claims that utilitarianism commands "us" to enslave ourselves -- and our posterity -- for the rest of our lives to foreign wretches, to some insatiable maw that devours resources without even bothering to utter "thanks." "We" must allegedly sacrifice our own lives and ends to serve the dark Starving African demon-god. I think any reasonable man will reject this outrageous demand. Nor does utilitarianism mandate or recommend it.

In short, the welfare state is nonsense.

Anarchist Concedes to Statism

Huemer argues that "given the presumption against coercion, the [antipoverty] programs are justified only if it is clear that they have a net positive expected benefit." (152)

At first glance, it is strange that after much excellent rights-based dissection of government actions, our author up and throws deontology out the window, saying apparently that any "net benefit" of an unjust government policy beats the prohibition of committing injustices and is permissible (or even required).

The subtlety is that his view is based on his analysis of a particular moral dilemma:

Imagine that you are passing by a pond where you see a drowning child. If you can save the child at slight cost to yourself, then it would be wrong not to do so. ...

But now imagine that for whatever reason, you are unable to save the child in the pond yourself. There is, however, another bystander who could save the child at slight cost to herself.

This individual, however, does not care enough about the child to do so voluntarily. The only way to cause the child to be saved is to threaten the bystander with violence unless she saves the child. You do so, and she saves the child.

Call this the Drowning Child case. In this case, regrettable as the resort to coercion may be, it seems justified. (149)

First, as I argued before, this conclusion depends on accepting Christian as versus natural morality, a fact which in itself may threaten the conclusion's validity, since Huemer's book is fully secular and does not deal with religious commandments at all. Our intuitions have been shaped by two thousand years of Christianity, but unless nature and grace are thoroughly distinguished, proper grasp of these issues will elude us.

Second, even within Christian morality, the threshold to be used in the exchange of justice for welfare is personal and subjective. I need not feel that coercion is justified in the Drowning Child case, even if the author feels it is. Admittedly, this isn't an important critique, since the desired conclusion can be reached for most people simply by increasing the number drowning children in the pond that can all be rescued simultaneously to, say, a million.

Third, the scenario assumes that "I" am a good and holy Christian (or at least Samaritan), while the bystander is a callous and wicked man. He may even know his duty full well but rejects it with contemptuous pride. Fine. But does the analogy really transfer to the welfare state? Is it the case that the congressmen who coercively impose taxes are God-fearing saints while the people are ruthless hard-hearted egotists? The benevolent authorities must crush the people's selfishness and have sweet mercy on the poor. The people deserve to be beaten with many blows until they accept the state's graces.

This understanding is hard to square with Huemer's previous note, already quoted below, that "institutions of political authority" were the essential means through which monstrous crimes against humanity "have been carried out, accounting for tens of millions of deaths, along with many more ruined lives." (109) Suddenly he deems the bombing class compassionate and eager to help the workers and the peasants?

Fourth, even if it were so, and the people were generally marked with consuming selfishness, I have argued that tax-forcing charitable donations from them defeats the purpose of charitable giving, which is to increase the charitable feelings in men's hearts and ultimately to unite mankind with love. The government rules through fear of punishment alone, which almost entirely disqualifies it as any sort of grace-giver.

Fifth, as we will see later, Huemer himself, as I do as well, makes cogent distinctions between a one-time rescue of a person from a life-threatening situation by a friendly individual and lavish permanent welfare by a tax-eating state.

Argument for “Redistribution” from “Marginal Utility”

Huemer writes:

There is a simple and well-known argument that antipoverty programs are overall beneficial: antipoverty programs redistribute money from wealthier people to poorer people. According to the well-known principle of diminishing marginal utility of money, a given quantity of money will usually give more benefit to a poorer person than to a wealthier person... (150)

This is entirely false, and I refute this argument adequately in my book. Let me cut-and-past it again here.

The confusion between wealth and income may be the basis of a fallacious argument for progressive taxation from utility analysis. It is argued that a rich man benefits less from a marginal dollar than a poor man. To rob the former of $1,000 would be harming him less than so to rob to latter.

Now the argument is unscientific for two reasons: first, it depends on interpersonal comparisons of utility; second, it neglects the utility to people of money. We might argue that a rich person is rich precisely because he attaches higher utility to money and has devoted more effort to obtaining it.

Even if we let these slide, however, the argument works for wealth, i.e., if we expropriate and distribute existing fortunes.

It leads to the opposite conclusion, namely, regressive taxation, in the case of income.

For a rich man presumably benefits "little" from an extra $1,000 of money income added to his net worth, and a poor man benefits "a lot." Surely, a panhandler on the street will glow with joy upon receiving one grand; the same amount will leave a modern-day Croesus unperturbed. In order to equalize these marginal utilities, we would need to take away most of the poor man's wage and leave most of the rich man's in his hands.

Progressive income taxation does not equalize total utilities, because "net worth" and "rate of increase of net worth via an income stream" are completely different variables; and it does not equalize marginal utilities for the reasons just stated. Hence, the argument fails.

But "redistributive" taxation is almost never on wealth but usually on income. In fact then, there is no utilitarian argument for looting anyone from "diminishing marginal utility."

Note that in this case, there is no difference between the "humanitarian" and "egalitarian" approaches. (148-9) This is because this argument, if it were sensible, would insist that total utility is maximized precisely when everyone's net worths are equal.

Morality: Case of the Reluctant Superman

Suppose that Metropolis is in grave danger of being totally destroyed, say by a meteorite careening down toward it from space. For whatever reason, Superman refuses to save it. I am in a position credibly to tell him: "You son of a bitch! Either you save the city or I'll kill Lois Lane." Am I justified / permitted / required to do that?

For natural morality, we must assume that I do not love the citizens of Metropolis with any special love as myself. It is admitted, however, that I may prefer the city spared so that society and the free market are not damaged and production is not curtailed, which would make me, as a participant in the economy, somewhat poorer.

Natural deontology forbids me to coerce Superman, because I am not allowed to commit an injustice for any personal gain.

Natural utilitarianism enjoins me not to make things worse, but it does not command me to make them better. Therefore, I am not required to bring about the great good of the salvation of Metropolis. I am permitted to walk away with indifference. I am not responsible for the threat to the city, and I am not anyone's keeper.

Deontology then prohibits coercing Superman, and consequentialism does not require me to coerce him. On the whole, coercion is not permitted, and I ought to let the city perish.

Christian deontology similarly forbids unjust coercion, such as threatening an innocent girl with death, in fact even more stringently, since we contrast with hatred not benign indifference but love.

But Christian utilitarianism now bids me to create good, to improve the world, and in particular to avert great evils. Saving Metropolis certainly qualifies as a huge work of mercy. I am now morally required to force the reluctant Superman to act.

The two approaches seriously conflict with each other. To resolve the conflict, we may invoke threshold deontology. Again, it seems to me that each person needs to establish his own personal thresholds upon some serious reflection and soul-searching and then act accordingly with single-minded confidence. In this case, for me, the greater good brought about is high above the threshold for coercing Superman. Consequentialism takes over, and on the whole, Christian morality compels me to threaten Lois Lane.

Natural vs. Christian Morality

The main natural deontological precept says: "Do not hate your fellow man or through that hatred, injure him unjustly."

Thus, do not murder or steal.

The natural consequentialist precept says: "Do not, through your actions, make things on the whole worse."

Thus, don't be a welfarite, develop your talents, contribute to society within the free market as a productive member thereof (and be compensated accordingly), have the correct libertarian ideology and strive to harmonize private individual initiative and the common good.

Do not make society regret that you were born.

The main Christian deontological precept says: "Love your fellow man and do good to him, both through that love and so that your love may increase."

Thus, feed the hungry, instruct the ignorant, and perform other works of mercy.

The Christian consequentialist precept says: "Improve the world by leaving something after yourself; produce more than you consume."

Thus, give to charity, raise good children, deepen and teach libertarianism, save souls.