Time to speak up.

69


Discussion by: Andy Mcquillan

On visiting a house with the potential to buy, i asked the owner what the residents next door were like “Oh their christians and they do alot for charity”the estate agent knodding “no worries there then”.I turned angerily to the owner telling him that “i am an atheist i have run two london marathons and i have also done alot for charity”.I felt it was time to speak up and not feel like i should smile this one off like i usually do.

Have you had a defining moment like the above and felt, its time to speak up

69 COMMENTS

  1. Thankfully I’ve never had a personal experience like this, but yes it is irritating when people automatically assume Christians are necessarily moral, or that doing something for charity makes you a ‘good’ person across the board. You can do a lot for charity and still be a terrible neighbour. I am curious though, while impressive, what do the marathons have to say about morality? (Or where they the means by which you contributed to charity?).

    • Yes they were the means by which i contributed to charity sorry about the confussion. In reply to #1 by Mister T:

      Thankfully I’ve never had a personal experience like this, but yes it is irritating when people automatically assume Christians are necessarily moral, or that doing something for charity makes you a ‘good’ person across the board. You can do a lot for charity and still be a terrible neighbour. I am curious though, while impressive, what do the marathons have to say about morality? (Or where they the means by which you contributed to charity?).

    • In reply to #1 by Mister T:

      Thankfully I’ve never had a personal experience like this…

      Yes, that must have been totally harrowing to be told by an estate agent that he equated Christianity with being good. I’m sure Andy needed councelling afterwards. But thankfully such a thing has never happened to you and me. My guess is you’re not the real Mr. T. Am I right?

  2. Have you had a defining moment like the above and felt, its time to speak up

    Not one defining moment that I can remember…it’s a daily occurrence with me. My mother, an ignorant Protestant Christian, just rolls her eyes when I’m out and pipe up. My partner, an unbeliever, attempts a subject change before I get the chance to dig my teeth in firmly. She ain’t always successful though.

    These people need told straight, and firmly put back into their boxes.

  3. No, but I’d be hard pressed to do business with anyone that makes a point of telling me they’re God fearing Christians. I don’t believe Christians are more likely than anyone else to cheat, but it is interesting to note that cheaters believe Christianity means good and that you will too.

    Your comment and others like it may help to dispel that myth.

    • In reply to #3 by Sean_W:

      I don’t believe Christians are more likely than anyone else to cheat.

      I don’t share your faith. The overtly religious are IMHO the most dishonest untrustworthy bastards on the planet. Opinion formed from a small and not necessarily representative sample, just the ones I’ve met. But it hasn’t been refuted yet.

      Oh, to avoid offending the truly deeply religious decent folks out there: the key word is “overtly”.

      • In reply to #60 by OHooligan:

        In reply to #3 by Sean_W:

        I don’t believe Christians are more likely than anyone else to cheat.

        I don’t share your faith. The overtly religious are IMHO the most dishonest untrustworthy bastards on the planet. Opinion formed from a small and not necessarily representative sample, just the ones I’ve met. But it hasn’t been refuted yet.

        Oh, to avoid offending the truly deeply religious decent folks out there: the key word is “overtly”.

        Looking at a bit of evidence helps!

        http://askville.amazon.com/Religion-prison-populations-Atheists-ethical-Christians-Muslims/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=8384184

        Religion in prison populations…. are Atheists more ethical than Christians? Muslims less?

        In 1997, the Federal Bureau of Prisons released the professed religious adherence rate of those in the U.S. Federal Prison system.

        Christians make up about 80% of the American population AND prison population.

        However, Atheists make up about 8% of the American population but only 0.2% of the prison population.

        On the flip side, only about 1-3% of Americans are Muslim, but 7.2% of inmates are Muslim.

        Atheists, are, by in large, highly educated and have moderate to high incomes.
        Christians span the entire strata from poor to wealthy.
        Studies of incarcerated Muslims in Ohio say that Muslim inmates are largely African American males and convert AFTER incarceration. 90% of African Americans living at least a year in poverty during their lives.

  4. A woman was stranded in the freezing cold with a car that needed boosted.
    I stopped and, helped her out. She sat in my car while hers charged a bit. She thanked me profusely and offered me money. I declined. It didn’t cost me anything but an ounce of time and gas. Besides I thought that she would need it for a new battery. I feel compelled to help people when I can. It’s just who I am. Thanks and compliments are actually embarrassing to me.

    Finally, her car started and I unhooked the cables. She thanked me one last time and mentioned something about angels. She kept saying how I was a blessing and must have been sent by God.

    I couldn’t take it any more.

    “You are very welcome ma’am, but I don’t believe in any God. I helped you because it is the right thing to do, not because of some divine force. Have a nice day, and pay it forward.”

    • In reply to #4 by zengardener:

      A woman was stranded in the freezing cold with a car that needed boosted.
      I stopped and, helped her out. She sat in my car while hers charged a bit. She thanked me profusely and offered me money. I declined. It didn’t cost me anything but an ounce of time and gas. Besides I thought that she would ne…

      Honestly, that was a mean thing to say even though I myself always think it. If someone says something to me to be thankful and it includes being called an angel from god or a blessing from god I actually say thank you because its them being nice they just choose to use those words which have no meaning to me. obviously they mean nice so being a douche to them is not the right thing to do.

  5. “Oh their Christians AND they do alot for charity” – I don’t see where the assumption is. I think you’re over reacting. It’s not like they said “they are Christians and come to your door every few days to try and convert you.

  6. Yeah, I did, just before I got tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. Seriously, of the too many times I’ve spouted off my opinion about something of any consequence in a moment of pique that it has turned to my advantage later. In retrospect, there are things I’ve written where the opportunity to edit before sending has seen it get shorter and shorter until I decided to trash it altogether and others I clicked to send too soon but a magnet can’t pull the the electrons back.

    Was it a nice house you would have wanted to buy otherwise? {It sounds like this was a deal breaker.) Maybe he was telling you they aren’t Islamic wackos? Don’t know how it works in England but in US the real estate agent ostensibly works for the seller, in the seller’s interest. It seems in your interest to keep your opinions to yourself: if I were the agent, I’d warn sellers “this guy has a hot button for Christians/religion, stay away from it if you want to sell your house and let him suffer after he moves in”.

    Whether the seller is a jerk is irrelevant, they’ll be gone. The important question is what kind of people are these neighbors? Seems like you don’t really know for certain.

  7. Your story makes me smile. Well done.

    I assume most of the incident was in the vibe they gave, not just the words. One should never suffer those insults. I bet the agent will not make that mistake again. You taught a valuable lesson. You’re just getting warmed up. Not too bad for an impromptu performance, but I’m sure you can do better.

    I go with the Socratic approach. I probably would have asked, “So they are homophobic? Will they have a problem with my gay friends?”

  8. I haven’t been in a conversation where it was implied Christians automatically make good people/neighbours. I have, however, been in countless ones where it was implied that atheists are by definition heartless bastards who wouldn’t lift a finger if their neighbour’s house was on fire.

    Last time was when I got two young Jehova’s Witlesses at my door..

    About 10 minutes into the convers(sat)ion I revealed I was an atheist, which instantly prompted them to ask: “But sir, doesn’t it bother you then that you are a bad person?” I asked why they would think I was, to which they replied that without God, I had nowhere to get good morals from and would do only things that served my selfish, sinful flesh.

    I told them that most atheists don’t need the promise of a celestial carrot or the threat of eternal suffering to do good. It’s just the right thing to do, literally for goodness’ sake. Out came the proof of donations to countless charities (I cycle them every year, so it looked quite impressive), the pictures all over the house with me and all my family members and friends and finally (the timing couldn’t have been better) a neighbour rang to give me a small token for helping her out all week with her ill mother.

    The Jehovas, boy and girl, looked quite pissed. Whether because they had been lied to by their elders, or because I didn’t match their black-and-white view of the world, I don’t know.

  9. I had some auto problems and was given a quote of about $250 to fix the problem. I was reluctant to OK the fix and a man at an auto parts store directed me to a business. “He’s a Christian and will treat you right.” I decide I agreed with the “treat you right” part and went to his shop. He showed me the problem while my car was on the lift. It was a simple rusted out clasp. He fixed it for free. Hopefully there will come a time in which people will just say, “that’s a decent person.”

  10. I can’t see how that statement implies that you aren’t charitable? Also it might actually be true that they do a lot for charity work and why be angry about something that could be true? It sounds to me like you took a situation that really didn’t warrant any anger and you overreacted. However, I agree with you that people should speak up because there does exist these assumptions that just because someone is Christian it means they are good people.

  11. Perhaps the agent was suggesting that they have frequent ,noisy fundraisers. Also , garage sales on the lawn could be happening every Saturday. I think I would have asked exactly what he meant by that statement.

    • In reply to #14 by bluebird:

      A sign on a telephone pole at a busy intersection says: Christian House Painter ~ call 555-4747. Makes me fume every time I drive past.

      Makes sense in a locale with lots of Christian Houses to paint, I suppose. He might have some cross-shaped stencils and stuff. Or do you think maybe he was declaring himself to BE a Christian? What’s that got to do with competency and honesty in the house painting trade?

  12. I had someone I know, just the other day, ask me to support a non-profit fund-raiser. She said it was a religious organization and understood if that wasn’t my thing.

    I asked her what it was for. Apparently it’s for a 12-step drug/alcohol program run by some local Christian sect. Her brother was being helped them.

    I told her that I wasn’t comfortable donating to faith-causes because I don’t like god-addictions. I declined. She was fine with it.

    Then later I asked her to re-think her pitch to me and if she could re-sell it a different way, I would reconsider. She said this helped her brother and donating was just a personal favor to her to help him.

    I gave in and donated.

    I suppose the defining moment in this experience is that for the first time a Christian approached me, a known atheist locally, and had the guts to ask for a donation. Definitely some psychology at work here as I can more easily turn down other faith-charities at grocery stores, etc.

    Perhaps it was a mistake to give in though I suppose it wouldn’t be among my worst mistakes.

    Mike

  13. I will not say that it is not the time for speak up.
    At times yes, we are facing these reactions.
    Yet, we must understand that these reactions are products of centuries of conditioned culture.
    It will not be as fast as a sleight of hand trick to change how people think and react against things.
    Fighting stigmas may not as easy as fighting for political rights.
    So, I would say that giving good examples from our daily lives and pushing towards better education are what we should do in addition to and hand to hand with any political agendas.

  14. Yep you were both in the wrong. They are christians and they give to charity.

    The first tells you nothing whatsoever about them, they could be creationist, homophobic loonies singing hymns all night and speaking in tongues and trying to convert you over the fence or they could share every single value you have and be exactly the same as you apart from believing is some kind of deity. They may never bother you at all about it or they may be on your doorstep every day annoying you. Or they could be any variation in between.

    The fact is the christian statement tells you very little. So reacting to that was irrational, more rational would have been to ask what he meant, what sort of christians – nice ones or nasty ones. Would they try to convert you and annoy you or be lovely to chat to about the weather? That would have illustrated how stupid his comment was to him.

    He was wrong because the fact he thought christian meant good when it could have meant anything was also irrational. But he presupposed a stereotype that would be appealing, no loud parties or people vomiting on your lawn for example or nicking your lawnmower. But again an inaccurate stereotype.

    The second statement tells you more. They care about others and so do you.

    It isn’t all christians bad and atheists good. Life isn’t that simple. The information you really wanted was are they likely to nick my tyres, keep me awake all night, argue about fences, hedges, trees, space, kick my cat or complain about my kids. Will they take in parcels, water my garden/feed the cat when I’m away, be friendly and bring me tea and buns when I move it. Religion or lack of it doesn’t really answer those questions for you so he was a pretty poor salesperson.

    The second

  15. A year or two ago I read about a couple who were going to cycle across France ‘for charity’. Now, in my book cycling across France is a ‘holiday. Why would I want to donate money towards someone else’s holiday?

    You may say that I would not be donating towards the holiday but to a charity. Yet if the cycling couple just stayed at home and donated all the money they would have spent on their trip, then I wouldn’t have to give anything since they would already have raised the same amount all by themselves.

    Although running marathons doesn’t really cost much, except in the sense that ‘time is money’ and you could do a few hours overtime and donate that to charity, I still don’t see how running 26 miles helps the poor or the sick? If you were to spend the time weeding pensioners gardens or fishing litter out of the Grand Union Canal, you know, something useful, then I might consider giving you some money. But support a pointless activity? No.

    If you enjoy running marathons then it’s like me paying you for eating cake ‘for charity’. And if you dislike running marathons, then it’s like me paying you for poking yourself in the eye 100 times ‘for charity’. I just don’t get why you would do a pointless activity and then ask for money for doing it.

    • yes i wish i had poked my self in the eye 100 times it would of been less painful and it would be over in a matter of minuets. I take your point In reply to #23 by keith:

      A year or two ago I read about a couple who were going to cycle across France ‘for charity’. Now, in my book cycling across France is a ‘holiday. Why would I want to donate money towards someone else’s holiday?

      You may say that I would not be donating towards the holiday but to a charity. Yet if the cycling couple just stayed at home and donated all the money they would have spent on their trip, then I wouldn’t have to give anything since they would already have raised the same amount all by themselves.

      Although running marathons doesn’t really cost much, except in the sense that ‘time is money’ and you could do a few hours overtime and donate that to charity, I still don’t see how running 26 miles helps the poor or the sick? If you were to spend the time weeding pensioners gardens or fishing litter out of the Grand Union Canal, you know, something useful, then I might consider giving you some money. But support a pointless activity? No.

      If you enjoy running marathons then it’s like me paying you for eating cake ‘for charity’. And if you dislike running marathons, then it’s like me paying you for poking yourself in the eye 100 times ‘for charity’. I just don’t get why you would do a pointless activity and then ask for money for doing it.

    • In reply to #23 by keith:

      But support a pointless activity? No.

      Often the activity itself isn’t meant to be rewarded with donations to charity, it’s the intention to make a big gesture/effort that is meant to inspire/coerce others to donate something. The idea is: “If I climb mt. Everest to draw attention to a charity, you can at least donate a few bucks. Or don’t you care about those poor HIV-babies at all?” or “Wow, he climbs mt. Everest for charity! What have we done lately? Let’s donate some.”

      It’s probably not rational, but we humans generally aren’t.

  16. Sjoerd,

    I think you may be right about the intention, but I also suspect that it is to some extent merely an alleged intention. The main intention is to feel good about yourself. Look at me, I can climb Everest and I’m going to make sure you know about it and are forced to tell me what an amazing thing it is I’m doing and by contributing you are taking out a stake in my project.

    It all reminds me a little of these footballers who dedicate their goals to their newly-born babies, or to their recently deceased mums, or to Jesus. Is it really about the babies, mums and Jesus or is it actually about the footballers wanting to show what great, caring guys they are? As T.S. Eliot once wrote:

    ”Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm – but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”

    You could, with a bit of shoehorning, substitute ‘good’ for ‘harm’ and it would still be as true.

  17. Despite Hitch’s claim that he would have felt less safe knowing that a group of young men coming towards him had just come from a religious meeting, I personally would feel a sense of relief if a house I was buying was next to some Christians. Okay, the conversations over the garden fence would be piss-poor, the logic non-existent and the smug, self-righteous smile would start to grate after a while, but they probably wouldn’t play loud heavy metal every night, or stand outside my gate with their hoody friends as a way of intimidating me.

    The fact is that there are two groups of people who are called atheists and the two groups are very different. One kind is like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. They have thought about the subject of religion and come to the conclusion that all thinking people should: that we have no reason to think that a god exists. Such people make great neighbours.

    Then there is the group who have never given a thought to the truth or falsity of religion but are atheists by default, simply because they don’t belong to any church. These people play loud music, have sex age 14, drink themselves into a stupor every Saturday night and ask, ‘What are you fucking looking at?’ if you happen to look their way. Such people are very rarely Christians.

    Being told that my new neighbours are not of this ilk would reassure me and I wouldn’t get on my high horse about the equally wonderful morals of atheists. Even if we sometimes think Christians are fools, we also know what the estate agent was driving at.

    • In reply to #28 by keith:

      Fair enough as far as your views on the honesty of the intentions behind dedicating something to charity are concerned.

      I have to dispute your claim that them being Christian makes your neighbours more likely to be well behaved. There are multiple kinds of atheists, but there are also multiple kinds of Christians (and Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus.. you get the point). How else would you explain the lack of under representation, or even the over representation of Christians in US and UK prison populations, the positive correlation between religiosity and teen pregnancy, etc.?

      Not claiming the moral high ground here, but annoyed at Christians doing so. Or being delegated to the moral… low ground(/valley/slope?) by mere virtue of being an atheist.

      • I specifically said ‘Christians’ and not ‘the religious’. And the Christians we get round our way tend to be elderly C of E couples, not drum-banging pentecostals. I imagine the estate agent meant the former and would have gone into more detail if he meant the latter.

        But my main point is the following. Though I would hate to live in a society run by any kind of theocrats, I would hate even more to live in a land where a large minority of the population is nihilistic and self-destructive because it has no moral base. Christians might sometimes have warped morals, but nihilism strikes me as being one evil that can’t be pinned on them.

        I would actually be quite surprised if Christians are over-represented in British prisons. That they are in American doesn’t surprise me at all but this could be due to the fact that in America the un-thinking default position is Christianity while in Britain the default position is atheism, or at least godlessness. Maybe unthinking people commit more crime than thinking people.

        Such figures are only of use if all other factors are equal and clearly, in multi-racial and multicultural societies they are not. Black people in both America and Britain are over-represented in prisons and they often tend to be Christian. Is it their Christianity that inclines them to crime or their genes? If you have never read about this subject then you will no doubt dismiss me as a racist bigot and you can be sure you’ll have the backing of most people on this site. However, the facts are indisputable that some races are more disposed to crime than others (north-east Asians in America and Britain have the lowest rates of crime). And the over-representation of blacks is not due to police bias because the figures remain the same when asking victims of crime where the police were not called. Even black people report their assailants as black.

        Neither is there a simple correlation between poverty and crime. If there were you would expect crime rates to go up during recessions as more people fall into poverty, but they generally don’t go up.

        It also can’t simply be put down to culture. Yes, culture is an important factor but you have to ask yourself how cultures come into being. They are built on the backs of genes and aren’t separate from them. It is not an accident that the Protestant work ethic started in northern Europe and not Sub-Saharan Africa.

        Finally, I never claimed that atheists were claiming the moral high ground. I just found it petty that Andy got so upset about an estate agent suggesting that having common-or-garden Christians next door might be a good rather than a bad thing. Had he stated outright that Christians were better than atheists I might have had more sympathy…but only a little. The whole thing is too petty when measured against other factors.

        In reply to #30 by Sjoerd Westenborg:

        In reply to #28 by keith:

        Fair enough as far as your views on the honesty of the intentions behind dedicating something to charity are concerned.

        I have to dispute your claim that them being Christian makes your neighbours more likely to be well behaved. There are multiple kinds of atheists, but there are also multiple kinds of Christians (and Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus.. you get the point). How else would you explain the lack of under representation, or even the over representation of Christians in US and UK prison populations, the positive correlation between religiosity and teen pregnancy, etc.?

        Not claiming the moral high ground here, but annoyed at Christians doing so. Or being delegated to the moral… low ground(/valley/slope?) by mere virtue of being an atheist.

        • I specifically said ‘Christians’ and not ‘the religious’. And the Christians we get round our way tend to be elderly C of E couples, not drum-banging pentecostals. I imagine the estate agent meant the former and would have gone into more detail if he meant the latter.

          But my main point is the following. Though I would hate to live in a society run by any kind of theocrats, I would hate even more to live in a land where a large minority of the population is nihilistic and self-destructive because it has no moral base. Christians might sometimes have warped morals, but nihilism strikes me as being one evil that can’t be pinned on them.

          I would actually be quite surprised if Christians are over-represented in British prisons. That they are in American doesn’t surprise me at all but this could be due to the fact that in America the un-thinking default position is Christianity while in Britain the default position is atheism, or at least godlessness. Maybe unthinking people commit more crime than thinking people.

          Such figures are only of use if all other factors are equal and clearly, in multi-racial and multicultural societies they are not. Black people in both America and Britain are over-represented in prisons and they often tend to be Christian. Is it their Christianity that inclines them to crime or their genes? If you have never read about this subject then you will no doubt dismiss me as a racist bigot and you can be sure you’ll have the backing of most people on this site. However, the facts are indisputable that some races are more disposed to crime than others (north-east Asians in America and Britain have the lowest rates of crime). And the over-representation of blacks is not due to police bias because the figures remain the same when asking victims of crime where the police were not called. Even black people report their assailants as black.

          Neither is there a simple correlation between poverty and crime. If there were you would expect crime rates to go up during recessions as more people fall into poverty, but they generally don’t go up. Also black American crime rates rocketed in the mid-1960s at precisely the time they were given equal rights and affirmative action was brought in to give them pririty over whites, Jews and Asians in the job and academic market i.e. crime exploded when their lot was improving, so crime was not here an expression of despair and desperation.

          It also can’t simply be put down to culture. Yes, culture is an important factor but you have to ask yourself how cultures come into being. They are built on the backs of genes and aren’t separate from them. It is not an accident that the Protestant work ethic started in northern Europe and not Sub-Saharan Africa.

          Finally, I never claimed that atheists were claiming the moral high ground. I just found it petty that Andy got so upset about an estate agent suggesting that having common-or-garden Christians next door might be a good rather than a bad thing. Had he stated outright that Christians were better than atheists I might have had more sympathy…but only a little. The whole thing is too petty when measured against other factors.

          Incidentally, I’m sure some people on this site see themselves as crusaders against the last bastion of dogma. You’re not. That battle, at least against Christianity, was largely won years ago and in Britain at least secularists and atheists are now the status quo. You have no right to see yourselves as martyrs to a cause. Yet if you really want to be a brave crusader I suggest you post some realistic facts about race on a site like this. Then just watch the dogmatists, who have never bothered to actually hear the other side, tear you to shreds. The similarity to a witch-hunt is striking.

          In reply to #30 by Sjoerd Westenborg:

          In reply to #28 by keith:

          Fair enough as far as your views on the honesty of the intentions behind dedicating something to charity are concerned.

          I have to dispute your claim that them being Christian makes your neighbours more likely to be well behaved. There are multiple kinds of atheists, but there are also multiple kinds of Christians (and Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus.. you get the point). How else would you explain the lack of under representation, or even the over representation of Christians in US and UK prison populations, the positive correlation between religiosity and teen pregnancy, etc.?

          Not claiming the moral high ground here, but annoyed at Christians doing so. Or being delegated to the moral… low ground(/valley/slope?) by mere virtue of being an atheist.

        • In reply to #41 by keith:

          Such figures are only of use if all other factors are equal and clearly, in multi-racial and multicultural societies they are not. Black people in both America and Britain are over-represented in prisons and they often tend to be Christian. Is it their Christianity that inclines them to crime or their genes?

          I have to disagree with the above point. First of all you have only presented 2 possible causes, it has to be one or the other, it’s the equivalent of a religious person blaming either God’s wrath or Lucifer’s temptation on a rape (they usually somehow manage to infer both). There are many other factors which increase the prevalence of crime which are environmental
          or societal. One could also argue that there is a positive correlation between council estates/housing projects and crime. I am sure that the population of council estates(or previous tenement slums) are over-represented in the prison population and have been long before the immigration of black people to England in the 1950s. It should be no surprise that many of those immigrants were stuffed into the worst of the council estates and virtually left to rot without access to the services or educational choices that some of their more affluent neighbours took for granted. Coupled with the inherent and systematic racism that existed in England from the 50s to the 80s, the reduced choices of the original immigrants led to some of the subsequent generations becoming embittered and apathetic.

          However, the facts are indisputable that some races are more disposed to crime than others (north-east Asians in America and Britain have the lowest rates of crime).

          Some races are more disposed to crime? Are you sure? Have you measured their heads? Checked their star sign? Or checked for cranial bumps? Surely it’s a combination of race, hat size, astrological sign and cranial undulation that are responsible for increased levels of crime. Having spent time in China and having many contacts in the overseas Chinese community, I do not believe their under-representation is due to having less criminals. In China particularly and the rest of east Asia generally there is a fear of involving the police in anything except the most serious incidents. In overseas communities it is more than likely due to the fact that they tend to live in communities which are in some respects isolated from the rest of the population, following their own customs and rules. They will report crime such as vandalism or common assault committed by outsiders, but the more serious racketeering, prostitution and human slavery are not discussed with outsiders (especially police) for fear of retaliation from the gangs embedded in their community. This makes it virtually impossible for police forces to secure evidence, let alone convictions in east Asian communities. I have spoken with quite a few people who were victims of either protection rackets or illegal gambling operations within the overseas Chinese community and encouraged them to seek help, the response has always been “I would be ostracised or possibly killed for even telling you and the police here can’t help me anyway!”

          And the over-representation of blacks is not due to police bias because the figures remain the same when asking victims of crime where the police were not called. Even black people report their assailants as black.

          The majority of victims of assault, mugging and burglary in council estates irrespective of colour will identify their assailant as coming from a similar background in the same way that the majority of ponzi scheme victims tend to be wealthy. It should be no surprise that different types of crime appear to evolve in different areas and depend on multiple factors.

          Neither is there a simple correlation between poverty and crime. If there were you would expect crime rates to go up during recessions as more people fall into poverty, but they generally don’t go up.

          This again is an over-simplification of the issue. The people who suffer most during recessions in the western world are on low to middle income salaries. Those who have sat on their holes collecting benifits during the preceding boom will continue to do so during a recession, their incomes may go down a little, but their expenses will not rise dramatically either. Those on low to middle income salaries usually face salary cuts and increases in taxation, they are generally people who would be ashamed to even go on benifits, let alone commit crime, so these people continue to work (often harder) for less. Also, during a recession the proceeds of and opportunities to commit crime are reduced by the very nature of there being a recession.

          It also can’t simply be put down to culture. Yes, culture is an important factor but you have to ask yourself how cultures come into being. They are built on the backs of genes and aren’t separate from them. It is not an accident that the Protestant work ethic started in northern Europe and not Sub-Saharan Africa.

          The Protestant work ethic is very much down to the availability of resources in northern Europe. Try sitting down with paper and quill to invent the steam engine in the oppressive tropical heat with a swarm of mosquitoes crawling down the crack of your arse.

          • In reply to #55 by cynicaloptimistrealist:

            In reply to #41 by keith:

            Such figures are only of use if all other factors are equal and clearly, in multi-racial and multicultural societies they are not. Black people in both America and Britain are over-represented in prisons and they often tend to be Christian. Is it their Christianity that inclines them to crime or their genes?

            I have to disagree with the above point. First of all you have only presented 2 possible causes, it has to be one or the other, it’s the equivalent of a religious person blaming either God’s wrath or Lucifer’s temptation on a rape (they usually somehow manage to infer both). There are many other factors which increase the prevalence of crime which are environmental or societal.

            Yes, I like your manner of argument and I agree with you here. But in a way you are making my point, which was that since there are so many factors involved in a multi-racial and multicultural societies to pick Christianity out as the single cause of crime, as a previous poster did, is too simplistic. I only chose the racial explanation as a way of showing that other factors are involved. Most black people in America are Christians, but it could be their genes rather than their religion that is causing their over-representation in prisons. That was my point.

            Having said that I think that sociologists and criminologists do have ways of isolating certain factors as being causative and I believe that race is one such factor. If you like I can link to the work but such reading is often dull and needs picking apart with an open mind, not one that has already decided not to find a racial element as causative.

            One could also argue that there is a positive correlation between council estates/housing projects and crime. I am sure that the population of council estates(or previous tenement slums) are over-represented in the prison population and have been long before the immigration of black people to England in the 1950s. It should be no surprise that many of those immigrants were stuffed into the worst of the council estates and virtually left to rot without access to the services or educational choices that some of their more affluent neighbours took for granted.

            You appear to think that it is a government’s job to find housing for people, especially immigrants. I don’t. I think the government is responsible for building roads and bridges and keeping a standing army and several other things, but housing everybody who lands here should not be one of its functions. When I live in Japan I don’t expect the government to house me and thereafter complain that they have put me in a less than salubrious area. And somehow the other races who have come to England poor have managed much better than blacks.In a single generation they are up and out. No complaining about being held back, no blaming the government for not having made them better academically.

            I also believe that people from tenement estates were and are over-represented in prisons. This could either mean that living in tenements causes crime or that people who are disposed to commit crime are also the kind who end up in such places because they don’t have the wherewithal to avoid them. You seem to be suggesting that if we were to rehouse them then they would turn into model citizens. I don’t believe this for a minute. If you take a look at twin studies then you will see that there is a strong genetic element to human behaviour and that involves crime.

            Coupled with the inherent and systematic racism that existed in England from the 50s to the 80s, the reduced choices of the original immigrants led to some of the subsequent generations becoming embittered and apathetic.

            If it were me I would simply not go to countries who were racist and didn’t want me. What I wouldn’t do is expect a certain level of racism that exists in all societies to simply disappear for my benefit. To do so would be to ignore all of human history and human biology.

            My point is that had we forced immigrants to come here, as happened in America during the slave trade, then racism makes no sense. But to go to England of your own free will and expect it the native inhabitants to welcome me with open arms, especially if I didn’t appear to be a productive member of society, would be unrealistic. I certain wouldn’t expect such a thing if I ever moved and I tend to judge things by how I would feel, not by some utopian ideal.

            However, the facts are indisputable that some races are more disposed to crime than others (north-east Asians in America and Britain have the lowest rates of crime).

            Some races are more disposed to crime? Are you sure? Have you measured their heads? Checked their star sign? Or checked for cranial bumps? Surely it’s a combination of race, hat size, astrological sign and cranial undulation that are responsible for increased levels of crime.

            This might be moderately funny if it wasn’t so dogmatic. Are you really sure that genes have nothing to do with behaviour? I mean, have you really looked into it or are you just assuming that we have debunked such nonsense because they say we have in the Guardian? If you are just assuming then you are really no different to the religious types we laugh at on this site. people who are sure that Darwin has already been debunked. Again, if you wish I can link to literature which I find convincing, though for such complicated things as human behaviour you will always find alternative explanations, especially on such an emotive topic as race.

            Having spent time in China and having many contacts in the overseas Chinese community, I do not believe their under-representation is due to having less criminals. In China particularly and the rest of east Asia generally there is a fear of involving the police in anything except the most serious incidents. In overseas communities it is more than likely due to the fact that they tend to live in communities which are in some respects isolated from the rest of the population, following their own customs and rules. They will report crime such as vandalism or common assault committed by outsiders, but the more serious racketeering, prostitution and human slavery are not discussed with outsiders (especially police) for fear of retaliation from the gangs embedded in their community. This makes it virtually impossible for police forces to secure evidence, let alone convictions in east Asian communities. I have spoken with quite a few people who were victims of either protection rackets or illegal gambling operations within the overseas Chinese community and encouraged them to seek help, the response has always been “I would be ostracised or possibly killed for even telling you and the police here can’t help me anyway!”

            I am sure all of the above is true. But unlike extortion, crimes like murder have to be investigated since they are crimes against the state. As long as someone doesn’t simply disappear off the face of the earth then a murder won’t go unreported. And of course, I am not suggesting that black people invented crime. Just that they commit more of it and this tendency seems to be at least partially related to measurable biological factors: higher levels of testosterone in both male and female blacks, which leads to higher levels of aggression and impulsiveness, is one such factor. I am not suggesting that simply having a black skin makes you more likely to commit crime. I am saying that what lies under the skin, like high levels of testosterone, do affect things.

            And the over-representation of blacks is not due to police bias because the figures remain the same when asking victims of crime where the police were not called. Even black people report their assailants as black.

            The majority of victims of assault, mugging and burglary in council estates irrespective of colour will identify their assailant as coming from a similar background in the same way that the majority of ponzi scheme victims tend to be wealthy. It should be no surprise that different types of crime appear to evolve in different areas and depend on multiple factors.

            Sorry, you lost me with this one.

            Neither is there a simple correlation between poverty and crime. If there were you would expect crime rates to go up during recessions as more people fall into poverty, but they generally don’t go up.

            This again is an over-simplification of the issue. The people who suffer most during recessions in the western world are on low to middle income salaries. Those who have sat on their holes collecting benifits during the preceding boom will continue to do so during a recession, their incomes may go down a little, but their expenses will not rise dramatically either. Those on low to middle income salaries usually face salary cuts and increases in taxation, they are generally people who would be ashamed to even go on benifits, let alone commit crime, so these people continue to work (often harder) for less. Also, during a recession the proceeds of and opportunities to commit crime are reduced by the very nature of there being a recession.

            Again you’ve lost me. I never claimed that it was people on benefits who commit all the crime – or are you suggesting that it is mainly blacks who receive benefits? If so, that’s rather racist of you, isn’t it?

            It also can’t simply be put down to culture. Yes, culture is an important factor but you have to ask yourself how cultures come into being. They are built on the backs of genes and aren’t separate from them. It is not an accident that the Protestant work ethic started in northern Europe and not Sub-Saharan Africa.

            The Protestant work ethic is very much down to the availability of resources in northern Europe. Try sitting down with paper and quill to invent the steam engine in the oppressive tropical heat with a swarm of mosquitoes crawling down the crack of your arse.

            Have you never heard of the natural resources that Africa possesses. Maybe the rush by countries like China to extract various mineral deposits has passed you by. But apart from that you are making my point, which is that black people are as they are because of the climate and environment they evolved in. In cold countries there was more evolutionary pressure to find solutions to the problems of keeping young babies alive. Back in Africa, black people solved the more familiar problems they were faced, though these tended to be the same ones we had always faced. While those in colder climes who weren’t ingenious enough to adapt to the new freezing environment were eliminated from the gene pool, the pressures in Africa were of a different kind and were perhaps not solved by evolving a bigger brain (yes, whites do have bigger brains than blacks and north-east Asians have bigger brains than whites. Do you think this is just extra padding for the cranium?). This kind of pressure is similar to the one that meant that European Jews who weren’t smart enough to adapt to the few professions they were allowed to them (money lending, bookkeeping) went to the wall. The dumb ones didn’t survive and we are now left with Einsteins and Kafkas and Feynmans etc. etc.

          • In reply to #58 by keith:

            Yes, I like your manner of argument and I agree with you here. But in a way you are making my point, which was that since there are so many factors involved in a multi-racial and multicultural societies that to pick Christianity out as the cause of crime is too simplistic. I only chose the racial explanation as a way of showing that it is not that simple.

            I, like you disagree that religion as a cause of crime is a valid argument, unless of course we are discussing crimes such as kidnapping or trafficing in order to make good on a marriage contract or deny a person their right to education based on gender. However, in your original comment you do seem to attempt to drive home the point that societal factors do not really come in to play whereas genitics (ie. race) does.

            You appear to think that it is a government’s job to find housing for people, especially immigrants. I don’t. When I live in Japan I don’t expect the government to house me and thereafter complain if they put me in a less than salubrious area. And somehow the other races who have come here poor have managed much better than blacks.

            For what it’s worth, I don’t believe it’s the government’s job either except in the case of the weakest members of society or those who have fallen on hard times (otherwise why pay social insurance?)
            You seem to be ignoring the history here. When you went to Japan, probably not unlike my own situation in China, you went there under your own steam for your own reasons. My reasons were to explore and become more familar with the language. Many Jamacians were encouraged to come to the UK by the UK governement. At the time (not long after WW2) there were severe labour shortages in the UK, particularly in the service sectors. As this was an appeal to the colonies for workers, most immigrants would have been led to believe there were certain standards of living and opportunities available in the same way as when one takes up a position with a company overseas company or government, one expects certain advertised benifits. When comparing people of West Indian backgrounds to people of Asian backgrounds you are ignoring the cultural history. People in Asia put enormous pressure on their children, this in part stems from the belief that children should be responsible for their parents in old age and also from the fact that social Darwinism has not been discredited there the way it has in the west. Many people fall through the cracks in Japan and end up living a pitiful existence – just look at the suicide rates (they have an intensive sense of guilt that would give an RC bishop a permanent erection). In China, those who fall through the cracks are exploited mercilessly, it certainly gives you a sense of perspective when you return from there after witnessing people with life threatening medical conditions begging for money for treatment and are greated outside the airport by a chav looking for cash to buy heroin. So, the pressure on Asian children from the year zero is immense and in many ways the pressure is driven by the selfishness of parents rather than any innate desire or ability of the children, this is cultural, not genetic.

            I also believe that people from tenement estates were and are over-represented in prisons. This could either mean that living in tenements causes crime or that people who tend to commit crime are also the kind of people who tend to live in such places because they don’t have the wherewithal to live anywhere better.

            I think part of the answer here is economically driven, governments need people to build roads, clean streets and die in wars. I do not think that people who perform the above tasks are inferior intellectually to those who teach, manage banks or initiate wars, I am saying that it is in the interest of the most societies to make it extremely difficult for a great number of their populations to reach their full potential.

            If it were me I would simply refuse to go to countries who were racist because I wouldn’t like it. However, what I wouldn’t expect was to arrive in a country and expect a certain level of racism that exists in all countries and in all of us to simply disappear. To do so would be to ignore all of human history and human biology. My point is that had we forced immigrants to come here, as happened in America during the slave trade, then racism makes no sense. But to go to England and expect it to be free of racists is unrealistic. I certain wouldn’t expect such a thing if I ever moved and I tend to judge things by how I would feel, not by some utopian ideal.

            Again, it’s not like immigrants from the Caribbean just packed their bags and said “let’s go to Blighty!”. They were invited there by the government. You have to remember that the very reason they immigrated from the Caribbean and not Africa is due to the slave trade in general and the UK’s past involvement in the slave trade specifically. You also have to remember that those people came from British colonies, many from those same colonies had fought and died in British uniforms serving the crown. I doubt they expected it to be free of racism, but I also doubt that they expected to encounter so much open hostility particularly as they had been invited to come there. It’s not an utopian ideal to expect a more affluent and technologically advanced society to be more humane and tolerant.

            Some races are more disposed to crime? Are you sure? Have you measured their heads? Checked their star sign? Or checked for cranial bumps? Surely it’s a combination of race, hat size, astrological sign and cranial undulation that are responsible for increased levels of crime.

            This might be quite funny if it wasn’t so dogmatic. Are you really sure that genes have nothing to do with behaviour? I mean, have you really looked into it or are you just assuming that we have debunked such nonsense because they say we have in the Guardian? If you are just assuming then you are really no different to the religious types we laugh at who are sure that Darwin has been debunked. Again, if you wish I can link to literature which I find convincing, though for complicated things like human behaviour you will always find alternative explanations, especially on such an emotive topic like race.

            Dogmatic, I don’t think so! Particularly as at the core of your argument in the original post lay the assumption that race and genitics were the primary causes of crime. I do believe that some sociopathic and addictive pre-dispositions are the result of genitics, but environmental and cultural conditions act as a trigger for turning pre-dispositions into actions. I am not a Guardian reader, but as you seem to assume that someone who possesses a view opposed to yours reads the Guardian, I feel it is my duty to advise you that just because your belief correlates with those frequently voiced in the Daily Mail this does not necessarily mean that yours is a valid position. I have a non professional interest in criminology and have read many books and articles on the subject. I wouldn’t have taken you to task on your position had I not known a little about the subject, making comparisons to theists debunking Darwin is dishonest, diversionary and appears almost like an act of desperation. Please link the litrature, if I haven’t read it already I will give it some thought, my position is not fixed, but what I have read so far linking race/genetics to crime I have considered weak when compared to other viewpoints.

            I am sure all of the above is true. But unlike extortion, crimes like murder have to be investigated since they are crimes against the state. As long as someone doesn’t simply disappear off the face of the earth then a murder won’t go unreported. And of course, I am not suggesting that black people invented crime. Just that commit more of it and this seems to be partially related to measurable factors: higher levels of testosterone in both male and female blacks is one such factor. I am not suggesting that simply having a black skin makes you more likely to commit crime. I am saying that what lies under the skin, like high levels of testosterone do affect things.

            Again, I think to say they commit more crime is a fallacy. Perhaps the type of crime they engage in is just more visible, the same also goes for youth of all colours from deprived backgrounds. The crimes tend to run the gambit from anti-social behaviour, petty crimes to gang related drug offences and murder. The above crimes are highly visible and there is immense pressure from the public on politicians to deal with such criminals whereas there is little or no pressure from the public to deal with crimes which only affect minorities such as protection rackets and human trafficking. Yes hormonal levels do affect behaviour, but they do not pre-determine behaviour alone.

            And the over-representation of blacks is not due to police bias because the figures remain the same when asking victims of crime where the police were not called. Even black people report their assailants as black.

            The majority of victims of assault, mugging and burglary in council estates irrespective of colour will identify their assailant as coming from a similar background in the same way that the majority of ponzi scheme victims tend to be wealthy. It should be no surprise that different types of crime appear to evolve in different areas and depend on multiple factors.

            Sorry, you lost me with this one.

            Ok, I’ll try to find you here. I am simply saying that criminal behaviour can be seen as predatory, most victims of crime live quite close to the perpetrators. Generally speaking, a teenage boy attending Eaton or Harrow isn’t going to fall foul of an inner city drug gang.

            This again is an over-simplification of the issue. The people who suffer most during recessions in the western world are on low to middle income salaries. Those who have sat on their holes collecting benifits during the preceding boom will continue to do so during a recession, their incomes may go down a little, but their expenses will not rise dramatically either. Those on low to middle income salaries usually face salary cuts and increases in taxation, they are generally people who would be ashamed to even go on benifits, let alone commit crime, so these people continue to work (often harder) for less. Also, during a recession the proceeds of and opportunities to commit crime are reduced by the very nature of there being a recession.

            Again you’ve lost me. I never claimed that it was people on benefits who commit all the crime – or are you suggesting that it is mainly blacks who receive benefits? If so, that’s rather racist of you, isn’t it?

            How very mischievous and misleading of you, it leads me to think that I probably ought not to take you or your views very seriously, I sense a tongue in cheek response here rather than a serious attempt to twist the argument 180 degrees. Nice try, but you really must try harder!!

            I am suggesting that it is mainly people from disadvantaged backgrounds who receive benifits, both black and white, but quite a number of people in areas where the majority of people are on benifits seem to have the view that claiming benifits is a right of passage rather than something one does on a temporary basis when all other avenues have been exhausted.

            In your rush to turn the tables you may have missed the point I made that due to the very nature of a recession (resources are scarce), there are less consumer goods to steal, people carry less cash and have less cash to buy drugs. Therefore, because crime has an economic dimension, when a region becomes economically depressed, any crime that is economically dependant will be reduced automatically.

            It also can’t simply be put down to culture. Yes, culture is an important factor but you have to ask yourself how cultures come into being. They are built on the backs of genes and aren’t separate from them. It is not an accident that the Protestant work ethic started in northern Europe and not Sub-Saharan Africa.

            The Protestant work ethic is very much down to the availability of resources in northern Europe. Try sitting down with paper and quill to invent the steam engine in the oppressive tropical heat with a swarm of mosquitoes crawling down the crack of your arse.

            Have you never heard of the natural resources that Africa possesses. Maybe the rush by countries like China to extract various mineral deposits has passed you by. But apart from that you are almost making my point, which is that in cold countries there was more evolutionary pressure to find solutions to problems. Black people solved the problems they were faced with but these tended to be the same ones we had always faced while those in colder climes who weren’t ingenious enough to adapt to the new freezing environment were eliminated from the gene pool, in the same way that European Jews who weren’t smart enough to adapt to the few professions they were allowed to take up (money lending, bookkeeping) went to the wall.

            Unfortunately Africa’s natural resources were of very little use to Africans at the correct developmental stage. Many parts of Africa did not possess fertile farmland, you cannot invent on an empty stomach. Gold, zinc, coal, diamonds etc., were of no use to a population struggling to feed itself. While the Europeans were discovering crop rotation and intensive farming the Africans were trying to contend with European invaders snatching everything from their people to their most fertile land and natural resources. Neither has the rush to China passed me by, I’ve witnessed first hand what it’s done to their environment, how it’s enslaved their poorest people and corrupted the very people who are supposed to protect them. China’s rush to Africa hasn’t escaped my attention either, their thus far successful attempt to economically colonise Africa and the fact that most weapons used in African conflicts are cheaply made Chinese AK47 knock offs. You mention colder climes, in fact our climates are more temperate and more conducive to the successful rearing of livestock than tropical climates. You make an interesting point about those of Jewish heritage though, while you are correct, you miss one very important point, the fact that Jews were only allowed access certain professions and thus became successful at them created a jealousy which led to a series of pogroms throughout Europe, each worse than the last. In fact, one could argue that their success made them a target for ignorant racists, ignorant racists who incidentally either had a poor understanding of or cynically misused Darwin’s teachings (more than likely both cases are true) and sent very large numbers of sucessfull Jews quite literally to the wall and later to the gas chamber.

  18. You´d smile much more with my new neighbours, they are african and last weekend they even played drums sang and made a real tribal “party”, after hearing for a week some cries (but ritual cries, so I think they have some defined kind of schedule to cry) after that, I think the party must have been kind celebrating the arrive of the deceived person to “heaven” (my dother asked, what´s next, will they throw away someone from the window ?)
    Today I-all of my colleagues in working place- had some invitation to donate part of our taxes to a religious institution (runned by our religious judge), and I said “no”, I rather prefer my taxes go to state, for public schools and hospitals, so some were amazed, and I explained, I remember that one of these days a muslim girl wanted to become a scout and she was not accepted because she was a muslim, so I prefer to give away my taxes for schools where everyone can be accepted.

  19. In reply to #24 by keith:

    In reply to #4 by zengardener:

    Only an American could tell of an act of kindness they did and then follow it up with, ‘It’s just who I am’ and not mean it as a joke. Unintentionally hilarious!

    I’m glad you find it entertaining, but I was being sincere.

    My point is, that I don’t like to tell about such things or take more compliments than a simple thank you.
    We could go into a long discussion on free will, but I am sure that is on a different thread.

    Your stereotyping of Americans is not appreciated either.

  20. I have never understood why people ask a house seller what the neighbours are like. Are they going to tell you that they are selling because the neighbours are arseholes? Being told they are Christians would not cause a tantrum either. I live in a village where every person except my wife and I identify as Catholic. They know we are atheists , no problem. Some interesting discussions occure around the diner table.

    • I am buying a house at the moment and I always ask about the neighbours, the reason being you can often read between the lines. And often just being told that an elderly couple lives next door is enough to reassure me. Apart from that, not everybody lies through their back teeth in an attempt to sell a house. Most people are pretty honest. That’s why we ask.

      In reply to #34 by Don Quijote:

      I have never understood why people ask a house seller what the neighbours are like. Are they going to tell you that they are selling because the neighbours are arseholes? Being told they are Christians would not cause a tantrum either. I live in a village where every person except my wife and I identify as Catholic. They know we are atheists , no problem. Some interesting discussions occure around the diner table.

  21. Not exactly a defining moment, but I do like to make people think.
    Whilst recently out walking my dog in the unseasonal snow that we are seeing around here I saw a Jehovah’s Witness digging out the snow from the entrance to the local Kingdom Hall, “You’d think that if there was a god he might clear the snow for you” I said. “It doesn’t work like that” said the JW. “No” said I, “It’s funny how everything in the universe works exactly how you would expect it to work if there was no god.” I left them with a rather quizzical look on their face!

    • The quizzical look was probably them wondering why someone would stop them during their work just to make a snide remark that tried to undermine their whole outlook on life. In a thread claiming that atheists are just as nice as Christians I would put that down as one for the Christians.

      In reply to #35 by Blind Fith:

      Not exactly a defining moment, but I do like to make people think.
      Whilst recently out walking my dog in the unseasonal snow that we are seeing around here I saw a Jehovah’s Witness digging out the snow from the entrance to the local Kingdom Hall, “You’d think that if there was a god he might clear the snow for you” I said. “It doesn’t work like that” said the JW. “No” said I, “It’s funny how everything in the universe works exactly how you would expect it to work if there was no god.” I left them with a rather quizzical look on their face!

  22. Should depend on whether or not you think it’ll do any good. I let pious religious comment slip bye all the time. Why cast my pearls before swine ;) However if I think a discussion can help them think more logically, or if I think my comment will help them I pipe up. Otherwise I just let my eyes glaze over and thank dog i’m and atheist :)

  23. I am sorry for the spell daughter, throw out the window.

    No you must be right, catholics or christians are not the only ones to have “morality” and I sometimes feel that I have the duty to speak out too.

  24. In reply to #43 by keith:

    In reply to #32 by zengardener:

    By the way, I am interested that you call yourself ‘zengardener’, both low-key and humble activities. I have no doubt that you subscribe to the doctrine of non-self.

    I don’t know what the doctrine of non-self is. I call myself zengardener because I find gardening to be a very relaxing and calming activity that, hopefully produces fruit. Also, I would like to cultivate peace, but not necessarily zen.

    It would never occur to them to do a good deed, rehash it on the internet and then comment, ‘But that’s just the kind of guy I am’. Only someone with an inflated ego would say such a thing and try to mask it by calling himself ‘zengardener’. That is what is so comical.

    If I had no ego, would I comment on anything at all? Probably not. I certainly wouldn’t mention any “selfless” act.
    I don’t think there is such a thing as a “selfless” act. Everything we do is for a reason. People donate to alleviate guilt. They want to feel good about themselves. They like to think that they are making the world a better place. They want to get into heaven. The list goes on.

    For me, that day, at that time, I imagined my wife stranded in the cold, and knew that I would want someone to help her out. I think that most people are like that. It is easy for people to be helpful when it doesn’t cost them anything. It didn’t cost me anything so I helped out. Like most people would. If it had been too much trouble, I would have let her call AAA.

    Have you ever helped anyone out? Why? Is it because you wanted something in return? Or were you compelled to by some sense of reciprocity, or fairness?

    Is it prideful to say so?

  25. I turned angerily to the owner telling him that “i am an atheist i have run two london marathons and i have also done alot for charity”.

    I AM SO OFFENDED! I’ve never run a marathon so does that mean you think I’m somehow less charitable? How DARE you offend those of us in the a-marathon community. We will no longer be silent! Its time that those of us who think running when you don’t need to is kind of pointless stand up and be counted.

    Of course that would be a ridiculous response. So you ran a marathon, good for you, I don’t really see what that has to do with being a moral person or a good neighbor but I don’t see what being a Christian has to do with it either. But just as I think someone making a big deal about your bragging about running a marathon would be an over reaction, I think your reaction was as well.

    I really wish Dawkins would comment on some of these lesser threads. I would love to ask him if this is what he had in mind when he wrote The God Delusion, that he was paving the way for another group whining that they were being discriminated against on petty trivial issues.

    • My intention was not to offend anyone, sorry.In reply to #45 by Red Dog:

      I turned angerily to the owner telling him that “i am an atheist i have run two london marathons and i have also done alot for charity”.

      I AM SO OFFENDED! I’ve never run a marathon so does that mean you think I’m somehow less charitable? How DARE you offend those of us in the a-marathon community. We will no longer be silent! Its time that those of us who think running when you don’t need to is kind of pointless stand up and be counted.

      Of course that would be a ridiculous response. So you ran a marathon, good for you, I don’t really see what that has to do with being a moral person or a good neighbor but I don’t see what being a Christian has to do with it either. But just as I think someone making a big deal about your bragging about running a marathon would be an over reaction, I think your reaction was as well.

      I really wish Dawkins would comment on some of these lesser threads. I would love to ask him if this is what he had in mind when he wrote The God Delusion, that he was paving the way for another group whining that they were being discriminated against on petty trivial issues.

      • In reply to #49 by Andy Mcquillan:

        My intention was not to offend anyone, sorry.In reply to #45 by Red Dog:

        You didn’t; I think that was an exaggerated opinion of your response. Don’t sweat it.

        time to speak up…not smile this one off

        Pent up emotions and being on a hair trigger are normal. Everyone’s circumstance is different.

    • In reply to #45 by Red Dog:

      Of course that would be a ridiculous response. So you ran a marathon, good for you, I don’t really see what that has to do with being a moral person or a good neighbor

      The London Marathon is a charity-sponsored event. People run it for charitable causes.

      but I don’t see what being a Christian has to do with it either. But just as I think someone making a big deal about your bragging about running a marathon would be an over reaction, I think your reaction was as well.

      I agree that the OP’s scenario has plenty of flaws in it – for one thing, it’s ambiguous whether or not the reference to the neighbours’ christianity was an answer to the question of their morality or an indicator of what they were like as people – but I think you’re surprisingly blase about the wider phenomenon it refers to. The issue is that being a religious person is, in many circles and even in the mainstream to a degree, treated as a synonym for being a good person. The connotations of words such as christian and religiousness – heck, their alternative definitions, in many cases – are highly positive, and the connotations of words like “atheist” are often negative. In fact, the very elevation of one group – positive discrimination – implies by definition that other groups rank below them in some morally relevant way. It was only ten years ago when, even in the wake of the September 11th attacks, more people would accept a Muslim president than an atheist one.

      I really wish Dawkins would comment on some of these lesser threads. I would love to ask him if this is what he had in mind when he wrote The God Delusion, that he was paving the way for another group whining that they were being discriminated against on petty trivial issues.

      Not only have atheists been demonized for centuries, but in many parts of the world, being an atheist is practically a death sentence. Even in the more tolerant parts of the US, there’s still some stigma attached to the word, to the point where it’s considered political suicide to claim one is an atheist. If black people complained that the term “white people” implied that white people were automatically more moral people than they were, would you dismiss this claim as a petty, trivial issue rather than a symptom of underlying discrimination?

      I’d have thought the Ipsos MORI poll in the UK would have been indicator enough that many misconceptions still abound. According to those results, most people identified as Christian not because of any actual affinities with the doctrines of the Bible or of a church, but because they “liked to think of themselves as good people”. And this is from a far more secular and tolerant country than the US, so goodness knows what misconceptions are running riot in a country where more people believe in god than think evolution is true.

      In any case, in debates and in public policy, religion’s survival hangs on its moral trump card. Of course there’s an association between religiosity or spirituality and morality. The fake “moral experts” of religion rely on it as the core of their defence, even as their constant output of intellectual arguments continuously fail to pass muster.

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  27. Keith- We are all Africans. Culture is not genetic. People come to Canada and their children grow up and laugh at their parent’s bad pronunciations and terrible driving. They are just as Canadian as I am.You really think a slave who has never had control over his own life would be truly equipped to suddenly go out and make it in a still very prejudiced world? You think they were at an advantage? I don’t think you’ve really thought this through very well dude. What do you hope to gain by branding people as inferior? I’m sure there are people on this site who would love to pick apart any legitimate evidence you can present to support your claim of this genetic link. I can’t believe I’m even having to write this. There will be no witch hunt, that would be to easy. Around here we simply ask for evidence and use rational debate to come to logical conclusions. Sadly I don’t think this process is going to work in your favor.

    • The AllKnowingAgnostic,

      Wow, so many things wrong it’s hard to know where to start. Yes, we are all Africans, in the same sense that we are all primates, and mammals and single-cell creatures and bacteria, simply because they are our common ancestors. I don’t think you understood that what happens after separating from a genetic cousin is important. Simply because we share a common ancestor with the fish does not mean that there are no important differences between us and fish.

      Equally, simply because we came out of Africa about 60,000 years ago doesn’t mean that there are no differences between black people and whites. Do you think it’s mere coincidence that all 64 of the last 100 Metres finalists at the Olympics were of West African descent? Or that most long-distance races are won by East Africans? By your reckoning, simply because ‘we are all Africans’ then all races should win races in equal number. But they don’t. Why do you think that is?

      Of course, people who live at high altitudes develop stronger lungs, something which is very important for running long distances. ‘And the lung is an evolved organ’ I hear you say.Quite right, and so is the brain. Black people have smaller brains than whites and whites have smaller brains than north-east Asians (Japanese, Chinese, Koreans). Do you think that having bigger brains has no consequences?

      The poor Jews and Chinese came to America as poor and disadvantaged as black people many decades ago but they managed to close the academic and career gap within a single generation. This was without any help from white Americans and often with obstacles put in their way. Yet despite the positive discrimination towards blacks that started three decades ago they still no show signs of closing the gap, not even a little. And my guess is they never will until other talents become more important than intelligence or there is so much intermingling of genes that there is little genetic difference between the races.

      If the gap really were purely cultural as you suggest, then you would expect the children of middle class black people to outperform the children of working class whites. After all, they have the cultural advantage of having parents who advocate reading and studying and who create a good home environment. Even so, black children still perform worse than white children from working class backgrounds. Why do you think this is?

      Incidentally, just in case you think I’m some lone whacko howling in the wilderness, Steven Pinker makes the point that children and pets share the same home environment but only children learn to speak English. Why is this. After all, the environment is the same. The difference is that a human child has human genes and a cat has cat genes. You may not be able to grasp this but the situation is exactly the same as that of blacks and whites, it is just less extreme.

      Not for a minute do I think that blacks are ‘inferior’ as you suggest. I don’t know how you’d begin to measure such an idea. I think blacks are good at the things that were important in the evolutionary environment they evolved in and we likewise. It was just that the two environments were different. A freezing environment requires more ingenuity and parenting skills to keep babies alive than a hot environment. Most of the less intelligent and uncaring whites died out. But to label one inferior and the other superior still makes no sense. It would be like claiming that Cheetahs are inferior to lions.

      If you are so sure that there are people on this site who can pick apart my argument then by all means, have a go. Even so, telling me that there are better counter-arguments without actually producing them is silly.

      In reply to #47 by TheAllKnowingAgnostic:

      Keith- We are all Africans. Culture is not genetic. People come to Canada and their children grow up and laugh at their parent’s bad pronunciations and terrible driving. They are just as Canadian as I am.You really think a slave who has never had control over his own life would be truly equipped to suddenly go out and make it in a still very prejudiced world? You think they were at an advantage? I don’t think you’ve really thought this through very well dude. What do you hope to gain by branding people as inferior? I’m sure there are people on this site who would love to pick apart any legitimate evidence you can present to support your claim of this genetic link. I can’t believe I’m even having to write this. There will be no witch hunt, that would be to easy. Around here we simply ask for evidence and use rational debate to come to logical conclusions. Sadly I don’t think this process is going to work in your favor.

  28. As for the OP I think its better to not get angry, but that it is definitely good to try and make people think about these things, maybe it will help people realize that there are lots of respectable, nice people who don’t have God as their motivation for being this way. The idea that we are lost without God’s guidance is a pervasive one.

  29. Overreaction . If the owner would have said, “Oh their Christians so they do a lot for charity” then that implies that they only do charity because they are Christians, then that would have been more cause to get angry . I do get your point though ,Why do people think to mention someone is a Christian is to say they are good and trustworthy?

    • In reply to #52 by Dr Finer:

      Overreaction . If the owner would have said, “Oh their Christians so they do a lot for charity” then that implies that they only do charity because they are Christians, then that would have been more cause to get angry . I do get your point though ,Why do people think to mention someone is a Christian is to say they are good and trustworthy?

      Its amazing how some people think playing the religious card = morality or respectably and high standards. Sometimes it costs them dearly!
      Do you remember that lovely well respected Jewish fellow who gave oodles of money to charity?

      Bernard Madoff

  30. **Some races are more disposed to crime? Are you sure? **

    I think Darwin´s cousin, Francis Galton, would think that way, but as far a criminology developded, it completly rejected all biometric features of individuals (the shape of the nose etc.), and the only “biometric” feature acceptable nowadays is the neurological profile of a person (I think this is correct because that´s a conclusion a Professor of mine had in his social sciences books, he got an academic degree in Louvain University with the dissertation The Racial Quest)).

    In middle ages there was a lot of crime, unthinkable by our present standards, but of course criminals were commonly christians.

    So, that´s correct, social environment can lead to criminal behaviour, not because of “race” itself or any other biometric feature.

  31. Heigh Andy once I was giving a work associated a lift home and the subject of religion came up. He went on to say that “people shouldn’t make fun of other religions” and “everybody including atheists believe in something” like you Andy I used to offer no opinion, but i couldn’t let this go. I asked him why is religion given automatic immunity from criticism, I explained to him I’m an atheist and insisted i have no belief in any god,Santa,Easter bunny, fairys, but if any evidence shows up to support they do exist I will change my mind immediately, which is more than religious people ever do even after their shown scientific evidence.

    • Thanks for your comment .it appears that some of the responses to my discussion thought i overreacted and maybe i did.But when is the right time to speak up?…. never?… maybe?… not at all? In reply to #59 by Dublin-atheist:

      Heigh Andy once I was giving a work associated a lift home and the subject of religion came up. He went on to say that “people shouldn’t make fun of other religions” and “everybody including atheists believe in something” like you Andy I used to offer no opinion, but i couldn’t let this go. I asked him why is religion given automatic immunity from criticism, I explained to him I’m an atheist and insisted i have no belief in any god,Santa,Easter bunny, fairys, but if any evidence shows up to support they do exist I will change my mind immediately, which is more than religious people ever do even after their shown scientific evidence.

      • In reply to #69 by Andy Mcquillan:

        Thanks for your comment .it appears that some of the responses to my discussion thought i overreacted and maybe i did.But when is the right time to speak up?…. never?… maybe?… not at all?

        I think that it was certainly not the most fitting retort, and perhaps he didn’t deserve a retort in the first place, however I think that it is not only ‘right’ to speak up or out but it is also healthy to. I would suggest that you take pride in the fact that you spoke up, while simultaneously accepting that it was not the best of times or ways to do so. I think that there are other ways you could have voiced your opinion that would have been more thought provoking or more fitting, my advice is to think of some of those things and compose yourself for the next time you decide to speak up. There will be a time when someone really rubs you the wrong way in regards to this situation, and they truly deserve a good place-putting remark, and I say prepare a good solid one for that moment. It doesn’t have to be offensive, but it needs to get across that the stereotype in question is simply preposterous. I very much liked zengardener’s example with the lady he helped with the car trouble, for example. Personally, I take great offense when anyone questions my morals simply because I lack faith and fear and belief for a sentient being. What an absurd notion. So, in conclusion, yes! You should absolutely speak your mind! That said, due take care with what you say, how you say it, and when you say it in order for the full effect of your position to be acknowledged. One should never be ashamed or afraid to speak their mind.

  32. In reply to #63 by keith:

    cynicaloptimistrealist,

    Our comments were becoming too long and digressing too far into subjects like crop rotation and such. I already feel that the mods are on the point of telling us that we are off topic. So rather than answer you point-by-point and risking wasting hours of my time I will answer as succinctly as possible.

    One or two other considerations made me unwilling to put in too much time on this. One is that even once I had gathered together the large amount of evidence that shows that blacks commit more crime than other races, you would have told me, as you already have, that the kinds of crime committed by other races is largely invisible. This strikes me as impossible to argue against, not because it is necessarily true, but for the simple reason that the evidence is by definition hidden.

    Even if I did manage to convince you that blacks commit crimes in much higher numbers than other races, I would still not be any closer to showing that there is a genetic element to this trend, rather than there being something anti-black in all societies where black people live.

    I think I could show you, from international crime figures, that the phenomenon of high black crime holds true in every country in the world where blacks live, but I feel sure that you would tell me that this is because black people are unfairly victimised in countries that they have emigrated to, or because their home countries have been plundered by white imperialists. They naturally feel aggrieved at this and are thus hostile, you would no doubt say rightly, to white people.

    I don’t know if you have ever had the experience of arguing with a Creationist and their explanations become ever more bizarre: God hid the fossils in the rocks to test our faith etc? I have the same sinking feeling when discussing the issue of race and crime. Whatever happens the blame for the high crime rates, if they can no longer be denied, must never be laid at the feet of those who actually commit them. If the perpetrator is black, then racism must be the cause of his criminal activities. If the perpetrator is white, then poverty, either material or cultural, must be the root cause.

    This is a game that soon gets tiring because once you take away individual responsibility then even Adolf Eichmann can claim to be a helpless victim of a chain of events set in motion by the Big Bang, merely a product of his time. Determinism is not just an escape route for black people but for everyone. We are all victims of circumstance, Eichmann included.

    So, one or two quick points:

    Dogmatic, I don’t think so! Particularly as at the core of your argument in the original post lay the assumption that race and genitics were the primary causes of crime

    ‘Dogmatic’ doesn’t mean holding an extreme right-wing view. Dogmatism is holding to any view in the face of contrary evidence. I could believe that genes determine everything (I don’t) but that still wouldn’t make me dogmatic. Only if I refused to accept irrefutable evidence would I be dogmatic.

    “I don’t believe it’s the government’s job either except in the case of the weakest members of society or those who have fallen on hard times (otherwise why pay social insurance?)”

    It seems to me that, despite your objections, you do in fact believe it is the government’s job to house people since not even the most extreme left-wing activist believes that the government should house the rich and almost anyone can be described as ‘weak’. I assume you mean ‘weak’ in the same way that drug addicts and muggers are often described as ‘vulnerable people’. Is an immigrant ‘weak’ by dint of being an immigrant? And if someone isn’t already weak, then I’m sure he can render himself so.

    Yes, suicide rates in Japan are high. Whether this is due to people ‘falling through the cracks’ or high levels of stress is debatable. And once again we come to the argument about whether it is a government’s job to make sure no one ‘falls through the cracks’, something that to me seems like an impossible job. Should they have an army of social workers to talk these things through with stressed people? Should they pass a law on minimum working hours? Would this cost any money? Would Japan thereby become less competitive and fail to sell their products on the international market? If it did, would workers have to spend more on income tax to finance the army of social workers and others and thus fall further into poverty and thus more people would commit suicide?

    This strikes me as a good example of what the wonderful (and black) American economist, Thomas Sowell, calls Stage One thinking. It rushes in to help without thinking through the often dire consequences of its actions. The main motivation is to feel good about yourself, not to actually help. I think this is what Britain has done. In achieving a welfare safety net it has actually created a huge dependent class that wouldn’t otherwise have existed. And no, Britain wouldn’t have looked like Dickensian England if the hugely expensive elfare state had never come into being. All countries have become wealthier since then, even African countries. Anyway, in trying to help I think stopping people from ‘falling through the cracks’ makes what is always going to be an imperfect situation even worse. I’m sure you wouldn’t describe Britain now as a perfect country, despite a welfare state that can only be afforded by borrowing from the future and letting the Americans pay for our defence.

    As regards China, I think that if their government had just left the people in peace they would now have a thriving economy and a better social structure. This surely is an argument for less government intervention. I’m not sure why you made a detour into all this.

    You mention colder climes, in fact our climates are more temperate and more conducive to the successful rearing of livestock than tropical climates.

    You misunderstand. I was talking about the environments that north-east Asians and Africans evolved in. Ice ages were problems black people didn’t have to contend with. In those days there was no farming, just hunter-gathering.

    “I think part of the answer here is economically driven, governments need people to build roads, clean streets and die in wars. I do not think that people who perform the above tasks are inferior intellectually to those who teach, manage banks or initiate wars, I am saying that it is in the interest of the most societies to make it extremely difficult for a great number of their populations to reach their full potential.”

    The above sentence really says it all and has persuaded me not to go any further in answering your post since your view of the cynicism of societies is unrealistically bleak. It’s not the bleakness I object to but the fantasising about evil societies exploiting the ‘weak and vulnerable.’ Governments need people to fight wars, not die in wars. I’m sure the government would be happy if none of their side died. Dying is a consequence of war, not the desired end. Neither do I think that school teachers or anyone else holds back their pupils or population as a way of providing street cleaners for the state. You may not be a Guardianista but your conspiratorial views align nicely with them.

    So you don’t believe that one person can be more intelligent than another or that intelligent people gravitate to jobs requiring intelligence? Would you say that I am more or less intelligent than Richard Dawkins or Einstein? Is Barack Obama more or less intelligent than George Bush? Let me guess, you would like to argue for ‘multiple intelligences’ whereby Gazza, rather than simply being good at football, has ‘football intelligence’? It’s funny how people who refuse to believe in the idea of intelligence as we generally think of it suddenly do believe in it when they hear that a man with an IQ of 70 is on Death Row.

    Or perhaps you simply think that jobs are filled at random, regardless of intelligence. Thus my dustbin man could equally have been my solicitor with a bit of training. Everyone has absolutely equal potential in your world and only cultural factors matter. Is that it? By the way, my previous job that I did for many years was postman so I am not saying that there is a one-to-one correlation between job and intelligence (I am now a teacher but my intelligence must have remained the same). I am just disputing your claim that there is absolutely no correlation between intelligence and job.

    And yes, I do sometimes read the Daily Mail. I recommend you try it. You might spit for the first few days but then, once you have started to open your eyes to a non-progressive liberal outlook, you may start to like it! I used to read both the Guardian and the Independent but I began to notice that my own views and theirs were not in tune. Then I turned to the Telegraph and it was like coming home! But if the Mail is around I’ll certainly read it.

    you miss one very important point, the fact that Jews were only allowed access certain professions and thus became successful at them created a jealousy which led to a series of pogroms throughout Europe, each worse than the last.

    Yes, it’s not that I’m not aware of what happened to the Jews. I realise it was their very success that made them targets for bigots that weren’t as capable or hard-working as the Jews. I suspect the world lost an awful lot of geniuses, would-be geniuses, brilliant people and just plain nice people in the Holocaust. I just didn’t mention it because it didn’t seem to bear on what we were discussing, which was the environmental pressure to become more intelligent. By the time they were slaughtered the pressure had already worked its magic on the European Jews. Steven Pinker has a good video on Youtube that goes into more detail.

    Anyway, rather than reply further I will just link to articles about crime and race I have found:

    http://lagriffedulion.f2s.com/fuzzy.htm

    http://psychology.uwo.ca/faculty/rushtonpdfs/P&E%20Crime.pdf

    I also highly recommend the following free pdf. book by J.P. Rushton. It is about the genetic base of behavioural difference between races and relates tangentially to crime, since low intelligence and various other inborn traits are closely correlated with crime:

    http://psychology.uwo.ca/faculty/rushtonpdfs/raceevolutionbehavior.pdf

  33. In reply to #63 by keith:

    Hello again,

    Just a few quick points.

    cynicaloptimistrealist,

    Our comments were becoming too long and digressing too far into subjects like crop rotation and such. I already feel that the mods are on the point of telling us that we are off topic. So rather than answer you point-by-point and risking wasting an hour of my time I will answer as succinctly as possible.

    One or two other considerations made me unwilling to put in too much time on this. One is that even once I had gathered together the large amount of evidence that shows that blacks commit more crime than other races, you would have told me, as you already have, that the kinds of crime committed by other races is largely invisible. This strikes me as impossible to argue against, not because it is necessarily true, but for the simple reason that the evidence is by definition hidden.

    Agreed on the issue of hidden crimes. However, by your method of reasoning Chinese and Korean prisons should be almost empty as European gaols should have been before 1950.

    Even if I did manage to convince you that blacks commit crimes in much higher numbers than other races, I would still not be any closer to showing that there is a genetic element to this trend, rather than there being something anti-black in all societies where black people live.

    My argument was that a genitic element does not tell the whole story. Some people are genetically pre-disposed to reacting to nicotene in a certain way and developing lung cancer, but only if they smoke.

    I think I could show you, from international crime figures, that the phenomenon of high black crime holds true in every country in the world where blacks live, but I feel sure that you would tell me that this is because black people are unfairly victimised in countries that they have emigrated to, or because their home countries have been plundered by white imperialists. They naturally feel aggrieved at this and are thus hostile, you would no doubt say rightly, to white people.

    I would actually say that they are wrong to feel hostile to white people, racism is racism, simply blaming a group for the problems inflicted in the past by a number of individuals from that group is wrong. Like everything else, past victimisation can play a part in the mindset of a collective, it is an incorrect and damaging mindset, but still a factor none the less.

    I don’t know if you have ever had the experience of arguing with a Creationist and their explanations become ever more bizarre: God hid the fossils in the rocks to test our faith etc? I have the same sinking feeling when discussing the issue of race and crime. Whatever happens the blame for the high crime rates, if they can no longer be denied, must never be laid at the feet of those who actually commit them. If the perpetrator is black, then racism must be the cause of his criminal activities. If the perpetrator is white, then poverty, either material or cultural, must be the root cause.

    If we are both honest with ourselves, we both know that the above was not my point. I merely argued that genetics/race were not the whole picture as implied. There are a wide range of factors, but a scumbag is still a scumbag, irrespective of colour or belief. I do believe that understanding all the causes and reacting to them is far healthier for society in the long run than leaping headlong at something that may only be part of the issue – It’s tantamount to shooting your cat to be rid of the fleas.

    This is a game that soon gets tiring because once you take away individual responsibility then even George Bush can claim to be a helpless victim of a chain of events set in motion by the Big Bang. Determinism is not just an escape route for black people but for everyone. We are all victims of circumstance. George Bush just happens to be one of the lucky victims.

    Agreed, my argument wasn’t meant to appear deterministic, it was simply designed to show that race/genetics alone is an oversimplistic method with which to determine the causes of crime.

    So, one or two quick points:

    “Dogmatic, I don’t think so! Particularly as at the core of your argument in the original post lay the assumption that race and genitics were the primary causes of crime.”

    ‘Dogmatic’ doesn’t mean holding an extreme right-wing view. Dogmatism is holding to any view in the face of contrary evidence. I could believe that genes determine everything (I don’t) but that still wouldn’t make me dogmatic. Only if I refused to accept irrefutable evidence would I be dogmatic.

    I did not define dogmatic as holding an extreme right-wing view , interesting that you should say that. Do you see yourself as holding extreme right-wing views?
    I apply the standard definitions of dogmatic as quoted from the OED:
    1. Relating to, characteristic of, or resulting from dogma.
    2. Characterized by an authoritative, arrogant assertion of unproved or unprovable principles.

    “I don’t believe it’s the government’s job either except in the case of the weakest members of society or those who have fallen on hard times (otherwise why pay social insurance?)”

    It seems to me that, despite your objections, you do in fact believe it is the government’s job to house people since not even the most extreme left-wing activist believes that the government should house the rich and almost anyone can be described as ‘weak’. I assume you mean ‘weak’ in the same way that drug addicts and muggers are often described as ‘vulnerable people’. Is an immigrant ‘weak’ by dint of being an immigrant? And if someone isn’t already weak, then I’m sure he can render himself so.

    The above is a particularly wild flight from reality. I think you know what I meant by weak, but let’s for the sake of this discussion make the assumption that you are a productive member of society who pays his tax and social insurance, and has done for some time. Suppose you are struck down with an illness, you have bills to pay and the medication that will put you on the road to recovery is more expensive than your means allow. Do you believe you should be let go to the wall in a modern society? Do you believe the old who are no longer productive and cost the state money should be dispensed with? Altruism is thankfully part of human nature, as explained by Prof. Dawkins it is more than likely the mis-firing of a response that originally ensured the survival of kin, but it is a trait that has helped us create more egalitarian and humane societies.

    Yes, suicide rates in Japan are high. Whether this is due to people ‘falling through the cracks’ or high levels of stress is debatable. And once again we come to the argument about whether it is a government’s job to make sure no one ‘falls through the cracks’, something that to me seems like an impossible job. Should they have an army of social workers to talk these things through with stressed people? Should they pass a law on minimum working hours? Would this cost any money? Would Japan thereby become less competitive and fail to sell their products on the international market? If it did, would workers have to spend more on income tax to finance the army of social workers and others and thus fall further into poverty and thus more people would commit suicide?

    No one is suggesting an army of social workers should be on standby for anything. It is not the governments job, but it is in the interest of society as a whole to turn out productive and content citizens. As living standards increased in Japan they have become less competitive due to competition from countries where standards of living and working conditions are abysmal. Japan’s economy has been stagnating for about 15 years at this stage.

    This strikes me as a good example of what the wonderful (and black) American economist, Thomas Sowell, calls Stage One thinking. It rushes in to help without thinking through the often dire consequences of its actions. The main motivation is to feel good about yourself, not to actually help. I think this is what Britain has done. In achieving a welfare safety net it has actually created a huge dependent class that wouldn’t otherwise have existed. And no, Britain wouldn’t have looked like Dickensian England if the hugely expensive elfare state had never come into being. All countries have become wealthier since then, even African countries. Anyway, in trying to help I think stopping people from ‘falling through the cracks’ makes what is always going to be an imperfect situation even worse. I’m sure you wouldn’t describe Britain now as a perfect country, despite a welfare state that can only be afforded by borrowing from the future and letting the Americans pay for our defence.

    Most nations have become wealthier and I agree that many have become dependent on the safety net, that doesn’t mean you throw out the net, you adjust it until it serves society. I wouldn’t describe any country or system as perfect, some are better than others, I would certainly prefer to live in Britain than any African country. Regarding Britain’s defense, as the situation stands there are no large external threats to the UK that require huge spending on defense, unless of course by defense you mean policing other regions of the planet which has been a disastrous waste of resources and life for the US.

    As regards China, I think that if their government had just left the people in peace they would now have a thriving economy and a better social structure. This surely is an argument for less government intervention. I’m not sure why you made a detour into all this.

    Agreed, but their government intervention is not from some altruistic motive, it is driven by the desire to keep the CPC in power.

    “You mention colder climes, in fact our climates are more temperate and more conducive to the successful rearing of livestock than tropical climates.”

    You misunderstand. I was talking about the environments that north-east Asians and Africans evolved in. Ice ages were problems black people didn’t have to contend with. In those days there was no farming, just hunter-gathering.

    This was originally in response to your point about the Protestant work ethic developing in northern Europe. The Protestant work ethic developed long after we had discovered farming and at a time when we were experimenting with crop rotation and intensive farming techniques, thus for the first time producing steady surpluses of food, leaving time and energy for other pursuits.

    “I think part of the answer here is economically driven, governments need people to build roads, clean streets and die in wars. I do not think that people who perform the above tasks are inferior intellectually to those who teach, manage banks or initiate wars, I am saying that it is in the interest of the most societies to make it extremely difficult for a great number of their populations to reach their full potential.”

    The above sentence really says it all and has persuaded me not to go any further in answering your post since your view of the cynicism of societies is unrealistically bleak. It’s not the bleakness I object to but the fantasising about evil societies exploiting the ‘weak and vulnerable.’ Governments need people to fight wars, not die in wars.

    That is a little dramatic, again you are reading between imaginary lines and projecting what you imagine I think into my comments. I did not mention evil societies exploiting the weak, I merely stated that it serves a purpose. Societies have developed in this way, my comment was meant to highlight the fact that there is no real will to alter the course of this development as every society still needs workers, soldiers and cleaners. My view of society is not bleak, I believe things are better than they were 20 years ago, but as always there are setbacks and sitting back on our collective arse doesn’t improve things. We need to point out the flaws and make it a priority for those in power to remedy them.

    I’m sure the government would be happy if none of their side died. Dying is a consequenceof war, not the desired end.

    Agreed, but do you think that those who initiate wars on behalf of their nations actually examine the personal consequences for their citizens?

    Neither do I think that school teachers or anyone else holds back their pupils or population as a way of providing street cleaners for the state.

    I think most teachers want their students to excel and live a productive life (you’re projecting again), however, many teachers and school principals are of the opinion that they are not being allocated the resources to achieve this task.

    You may not be a Guardianista but your conspiratorial views align nicely with them. And yes, I do sometimes read the Daily Mail. I recommend you try it. You might spit for the first few days but then, once you have started to open your eyes to a non-progressive liberal outlook, you may start to like it!

    I have picked up both rags on occasion and found their views extreme. The Guardian seem to believe that there are gangs of Neo-Fascists lurking around every corner waiting to lynch someone because of their colour, religious belief or sexual orientation, whereas the Mail seem to hold the view that instead of Neo-Fascists there are gangs of gay, aslym-seeking, welfare cheating, HIV positive, Quaran reading, rabid pit bull teriers waiting for the opportunity to murder some little old lady called Doris for her pension, there’s usually a pearl of wisdom from Doris in the article stating “Ooh, it didn’t ‘appen in my day, wen we ‘ad ‘anging and national service”. I do not hold conspiratorial views, I just believe that in most situations human beings will do what is best for themselves and their immediate peers, it’s up to us as the people to hold them to account. My view of the future is generally optimistic. I sometimes find myself agreeing with the right and sometimes with the left, and more often than not I find myself feeling that they have both lost touch with reality.

    So rather than reply further I will just link to articles about crime and race I have found:

    http://lagriffedulion.f2s.com/fuzzy.htm

    http://psychology.uwo.ca/faculty/rushtonpdfs/P&E%20Crime.pdf

    Thank you very much for taking the time to dig those articles out. I’ll read them this evening when I’ve a little more time.

    Now to rescue this from the moderator:

    With regard to the OP, I can understand you being sick to the teeth of hearing “Christian=fantastic person”, but getting that angry about it was probably overkill. Sometimes it’s better to slap them down with a little humour.

    A sign on a telephone pole at a busy intersection says: Christian House Painter ~ call 555-4747. Makes me fume every time I drive past.

    Perhaps this house painter is just not the most articulate of chaps or just punctuationally challenged, maybe (just maybe) it should read:
    House Painter available, call now on 555-4747 and ask for Christian!

    Or…

    Christian, House Painter ~ Call 555-4747.

    • Hi cynicaloptimistrealist,

      Thanks for the discussion. I enjoyed it. From what you wrote in your last posting I suspect our views are not so far apart. And no, I don’t consider my views to be extreme right-wing. It is just others who don’t listen or think properly who do. I consider my views to be absolutely down-the-middle neutral, but then who doesn’t?

      One more thing. I added one more link to my previous posting. It is longer but lighter reading than the other two and helps put my views into a context that, even if you disagree with them, will help you understand how I came by them.

      Thanks again for the discussion,

      Keith

      • In reply to #70 by keith:
        Hello Keith,

        Thank you again for the discussion and for the extra links which I shall give some time to. I am always interested in new ideas. As regards personal responsibility, I think our views are probably not poles apart. I have enjoyed the discussion also, to be perfectly honest – there is no fun and little growth achieved through consensus, it’s only when an idea is challenged that it lives or dies by its own merits.

        To the mods – my apologies for going straight off topic again immediately after the reminder. In my defense I plead ignorance. I started my response around 12:30, got distracted with several tasks and then returned to it some time later and posted.

        Cheers

  34. **Have you had a defining moment like the above and felt, its time to speak up **

    Today I had another of these moments (this week), just had to give a special attention to a lawer because of his advanced age, and at the end he asked me, “are you religious ?” and I just said, “actually I am not, but I am a good person” (I think he could not deny that).

    I kind of feel amazed sometimes that “Yanomami”, that translated means human being- as an indian amazonian tribe identify themselves- and why do people exclude others from general human characteristics -in fact this is the definition of a barbarian-, as morality or kind behaviour (as we know nowadays some human fossils show that some elderly members of a group only survived because someone took care of them), and why on Earth should people think that human charity only begun 2.000 years ago, when human history reports facts from 100.000 years ago (too provincial and self centred of course, shall I say too barbarian ?). So “christians” like some self-centred groups think themselves as charitable, that´s ok, but I feel that speaking up became necessary too (can I have expectations that people can identify themselves within a more larger group, or that people can think broader, that could be able to think of human history more ancient than 2.000 years?) Let´s just remind some people that prisons are not filled with nihilists, nor atheists, and probably they are filled more with people that identify themselves as having religious beliefs. “Get real”, could well be the motto of such a campaign too, instead of “speak up”.

  35. I am an atheist also. But like most, i suppose, out of tolerance i find myself reluctant to ‘come out’ to most of my family and friends. Its like having to tip-toe past lions in the dead of night! The cause is mostly due to the fact that i am from a Christian majority country. The scrutiny against atheists is at peak! A lot of people have the idea that having a belief in god/gods enlightens them in a way that renders them ‘superhuman’ in terms of goodness and moral duty. Like they are and SHOULD be immune to any and all sorts of criticism because they are empowered by a supernatural entity. It is this sort of self righteousness and egoistical behavior that circulates and is accepted by those sharing the same belief system, therefore categorizing themselves as good and exemplary by their own circular judgement…like the estate agent. There are days i wish i could speak out…but i guess, this is a small step forward.

  36. Don’t blame the estate agent too much. He probably used those statements to simply imply that the neighbours were not the sort to stay up late having parties, playing loud music, letting weeds grow through the hedge and not in the habit of leaving rubbish all over the place.
    I would rather have a considerate Christian for a neighbour than a family of inconsiderate morons. Most Christians here in the UK are just ‘nice people’ and only seem to play ‘lip-service’ to their beliefs. And of course, charity is not the domain of the religious.

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