Subject: Re: Is LISP dying?
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1999/08/12
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp,comp.lang.forth
Message-ID: <>

* Ken Deboy <>
| You're confusing Christians with people who pick (an arbitrary) religion
| to justify their evil ways.

  I'm interested in a simple, straight-forward way to keep the two apart,
  for it seems to me that religions are the best vehicles to further evil:
  those who act out of a belief without doubt will also not stop acting
  when people who had retained the capacity to doubt would have stopped.

  to remain a good person while being Christian is a lot harder than to
  remain a good person without religious beliefs -- there's no one you can
  ask forgiveness or to take responsiblity for your actions, there's no
  illusion of a greater purpose that defends acts of evil and destruction
  (like bombing abortion clinics or killing believers in other religions)
  or to fill the void of a meaningless, wasted life, and there's no way you
  can avoid being responsible for your own actions.  without a forgiving
  "God", your only reference is HUMAN RIGHTS, and they cannot be forfeited
  or reneged because some "God" told you to.  there's no hope at all of
  somehow making up for your evil deeds by a prayer or a silly conversion
  to a religious belief: you have to be aware of what you do and why.  a
  Christian can do evil, stupid things and just cry and ask forgiveness
  over and over again.  non-believers can't do that: they have to _think_.
  this is hard, too, but it's much harder to be good when you _don't_ think.

  still, I have the highest admiration for those who remain good people
  despite being Christian: it shows real character to put yourself in the
  midst of a deeply evil temptation that doesn't exist at all without the
  unconditional forgiveness and _not_ abuse the ability to be forgiven for
  everything you do or the ability to point to "God's will" to explain your
  evil actions -- whether it's true or not does is irrelevant to victims
  and perpetrator alike.  for a non-believer, the temptation doesn't exist:
  you can't even blame "society" for your actions, anymore, although some
  socialists tried to put society in God's place just that way.  it failed,
  for good reason: there's a limit to other people's power to cause people
  to act irrationally, quite contrary to the power of an omnipotent "God".

  on the other hand, people who think they are good _because_ they are
  Christians are likely to commit unspeakable evils in the name of their
  religion because they are no longer fully responsible for their actions:
  they are somehow _exempt_ from normal ethical considerations.  _this_ is
  why Christianity is bad per se -- no person should ever even have the
  _opportunity_ to find an excuse for not being responsible for his own
  actions.  the only thing that keeps Christians from being bad is that
  they were good people to start with; since most people are good to begin
  with, it seems there are more good Christians than bad: the interesting
  measure is that there is a far higher ratio of bad people to good within
  Christianity than without, not the least because our society accepts any
  murderer or violent criminal who "repents" -- a fat lot of good _that_
  does for the victim and his family!  good people don't need religions,
  but it also doesn't harm them, it just makes it a little harder to remain
  good.  bad people need religions in order to pretend to be good, as most
  people have a very deep psychological need to feel they are good people.
  Christianity is bad because it gives bad people the ability to believe
  they are good even when that is not the case at all.

  moreover, Christianity is bad because it _requires_ good people to cover
  for the bad people among them.  this is shared with all of the violent
  religions, including Islam.  it is also shared with Communism, which
  keeps the belief that the ideology is clean and good, practitioners not.
  if you are always willing to remove a factor when something goes wrong,
  you will never understand what the real causes are, and nothing helps
  prevent such understanding better than an undoubtable belief that the
  ideology or theology is above reproach by definition: it leads to a hunt
  for scapegoats, too.  (the very concept of a scapegoat is evil, and it is
  no surprise at all that it was invented by a religion: if _you_ aren't
  good, at least you can sacrifice someone else to make up for it.)

  the incredibly destructive belief that the spirit is somehow good when
  the flesh is evil can also be created only in athmosphere of religion.
  if you don't have a religious belief, the force of imagination necessary
  to sever the two from eachother cannot arise.  what none of these belief
  systems understand is that some people are bad only when they can find an
  excuse, and they find it in the "spirit".  however, when they can't find
  any, they just won't do the bad things.  to some people, jealousy, rage,
  alcohol, etc, provide temporary excuses, but no excuse is as permanent as
  the imaginary forgiveness of an omnipotent God, and no force is stronger
  than that which keeps people believing in that which keeps them from
  realizing they are truly bad people.  in this sense, Christianity _needs_
  for people to sin in order to forgive them and thus keep them hostage,
  and what better way to ensure that they cannot leave Christianity and the
  forgiveness of their "loving" God by reminding every child and every
  believer that they are _all_ sinners?

  let me summarize by saying that I think most people are good people, even
  though a lot fewer Christians are good people than non-believers in
  religions originating in the Near East, and that any Christian who is
  also a good person deserves _praise_ for having remained unaffected by
  his religion, but if it's hard to be good within Christianity, people
  should realize that without the temptation of unconditional forgiveness,
  it's a lot easier not ever to do bad things in the first place, the love
  is true and devoid of blackmail and it can be _deserved_ for a change,
  there's no prospect of spending an eternity either in Hell or in Heaven:
  your life just ends, and it's up to you to fill it with meaning in the
  meantime.  and above all: you have no duties you don't accept yourself
  and no power to instill duties upon others in the name of any "power".
  there is no innate guilt for any original sin: you are _not_ a sinner if
  you do not actually commit evil deeds.  if you commit destructive deeds
  by mistake or are the victim of one, neither revenge nor punishment does
  any _good_; you don't forgive or expect forgiveness: you rectify and
  expect restitution and you judge people not according to what they have
  done, but according to what they have learned from their mistakes and
  what they are likely to do in future -- that's all you could possibly
  care about, anyway: the past is a fact and you cannot change it or act
  as if it is any different than it is without peril to your sanity or
  integrity.  the only _sin_ is not to do your very best at all times to
  learn from the past, the only _evil_ to be inconsiderate about other
  people, whether by purpose or carelessness.  do _not_ follow you heart:
  it's a measure of how well you have done so far, not a navigational tool
  for the future: don't _feel_ bad, think it over and just _do_ better.
  and remember this: only fundamentally evil people will deny anyone the
  opportunity to improve, rectify their mistakes, and move on.  your life
  is _not_ your past: the only life you have is your future.  the worst
  crime you can commit towards anyone is to rob them of their future, and
  the only thing you can do to one bereft of his future is to restore it,
  for real, not through the trickery and illusion that religions provide.

  people who think in terms of vengeance, punishment, revenge, and who hate
  other people enough to bereave them of their future out of moral anger
  will never understand what any of this means until they understand that
  it is the belief in their own unconditional forgiveness for anything they
  do that causes them to believe that anyone who acts contrary to what they
  want should not have a future.  why is the belief in the death penalty so
  much stronger among Christians?  why is the same belief in the same death
  penalty for other crimes not as acceptable to these Christians?  why is
  it OK to kill criminals in revenge, but not OK to kill Salman Rushdie in
  revenge for his opinions?  the sorry fact is that forgiveness is a GOOD
  way to deal with a fundamentally SAVAGE view of man where punishment is a
  proper response to evil deeds, but the solution is never to engage in
  forgiveness, to stop being savages, to stop believing in and blaming and
  appealing to supernatural forces and just start to think.  if you can't
  become evil if you are Christian (as Christians claim when they refuse to
  consider the Christian beliefs of evil people), neither can you _become_
  good, so your Christian beliefs is NOT what will save you; being a good
  person is.  all the many gods mankind has invented over the years agree.
  trust me on this.  it doesn't matter what you believe, so you might as
  well stop wasting your time on it and especially on defending whatever
  religion you believe in, just prove that you are a good person despite it
  -- that's all anybody else should worry about, too.

  (someone accused me of posting "the world according to me" articles some
  time ago.  since I am already accused of it, at least I deserve it now.)

  (defun pringles (chips)
    (loop (pop chips)))