Life Driven Purpose, pg 60

“And, by the way, when Jesus announced that we should cut off body parts, he was telling others to harm themselves. There were entire monastic orders that castrated themselves because Jesus said in Matthew 19:12 that “he that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” Every year in the United States we read about one or two men who mutilate themselves in order to prove their obedience to Christ. In my opinion, that is immoral.”

–Dan Barker, Life Driven Purpose, pg 60


Discuss!

42 COMMENTS

  1. Every year in the United States we read about one or two men who mutilate themselves in order to prove their obedience to Christ. In my opinion, that is immoral.”

    That is worse than immoral, it is sick, a mental disorder.

  2. @OP- Every year in the United States we read about one or two men who mutilate themselves
    in order to prove their obedience to Christ.
    In my opinion, that is immoral.”

    I suppose it is marginally better than those who detonate themselves killing other innocent people in obedience to Allah!

  3. Back in the 1860’s in the US there was a man named Boston Corbett. He was walking down the street one day when two prostitutes accosted him and made attempts upon his chastity. He was so shocked by the encounter, and his own reactions to their attentions, that he ran home, took a pair of scissors and castrated himself. Later, after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, his company (he was a soldier in the Union army by this time) caught up with John Wilkes Booth in a barn in Maryland. Corbett spotted Booth through a crack in the boards, took aim and shot him. Which made Boston
    Corbett a famous man. Corbett had been a hatmaker earlier in life, which caused him to become mentally deranged by the absorption of mercury into his system, an occupational hazard at that time. He was, literally, “mad as a hatter.” His fortunes declined in later life due to erratic behaviors. When he died he had been living in a hole dug into a Kansas hillside. So this was a case of self-mutilation due to insanity. Aren’t you glad you asked? (And isn’t history fascinating?)

  4. Only knew about Vicent Van Gogh´s self mutilation (he used to hang a brush in mouth and ink had lead as component, besides he was syphilitic, in both cases it can drive one person mad).
    It seems women were the devil (as for St. Augustine I think, blamed women for his morning erections).

  5. According to moral values accepted as valid in most societies, we can see it nowadays as immoral… But, well, when this was written, the culture, values, habits and the knowledges were very different. In this way, perhaps this was announced in a metaphoric way, treating about self-penance or, when practiced, signal of deficiency of the epoch in dealing with specific situations or to explain phenomena, only remaining a radical appeal.

    Furthermore, it’s a fact that we suffer the consequences of our beliefs, such as the belief which the global warming is untrue: if we to consider it wrong, all of us can experience the irretrievable changes on the earth’s ecosystem – variation in global temperatures, increasing in sea levels, disorder in biological chains, species extinction etc.

    Self-harm to prove obedience to something can be immoral, when we
    agree that the universal moral law must be don’t hurt ourselves.

    Thus, we should scrutinize the behaviour and morals. It’s a great risk the belief systems that ensure absolutely the truth, advocating actions in a dogmatic way.

    Nevertheless, this isn’t impactful or as immoral as when the personal beliefs come in public sphere affecting many people and jeopardizing your lives.

  6. rietpluim #9
    Jun 22, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Would you please not compare immoral behavior to mental disabilities? Thank you.

    Could you please explain which item or comments you are referring to, and what you mean by that statement.

    Psychotic behaviour often causes people to perpetrate actions which would normally be considered immoral!

  7. Could you please explain which item or comments you are referring to, and what you mean by that statement.

    @cbrowm #2 and @John Halas #6
    Also @Hal #4 and @maria melo #5 for bringing up anecdotes about allegedly mentally ill people who have little to do with the subject.

    Psychotic behaviour often causes people to perpetrate actions which would normally be considered immoral!

    First of all: no, they don’t. They do not more often than they do. The most severe atrocities are committed by people considered perfectly normal.

    Also, you’re not a psychiatrist I suppose, and even if you were, you have not examined the monks whom Barker is referring to. Leave the diagnosis to a qualified person please.

    But most of all, you are contributing to the stigma that people with mental disabilities are experiencing more than enough already.

    By the way, something cannot be sick and immoral at the same time. The sick are considered not to be accountable for their actions. Or we wouldn’t call it sickness, would we? The sick deserve sympathy, not criticism.

  8. rietpluim #11
    Jun 22, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Psychotic behaviour often causes people to perpetrate actions which would normally be considered immoral!

    First of all: no, they don’t.

    Strange! I thought we had secure institutions for the criminally insane!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadmoor_Hospital

    The most severe atrocities are committed by people considered perfectly normal.

    There are certainly also violent criminals, who are not mentally disabled, but that in no ways alters the presence of the dangerously criminally insane.

    Also, you’re not a psychiatrist I suppose,

    Actually I did study a course on psychology rather a long time ago, but that has little bearing on the merits of the evidence or the argument.

    By the way, something cannot be sick and immoral at the same time. The sick are considered not to be accountable for their actions.

    Those who are criminally dangerous may not be accountable for their actions but that is why they are kept in secure institutions for public protection.

    Or we wouldn’t call it sickness, would we? The sick deserve sympathy, not criticism.

    Whatever they may or may not deserve, has no bearing on the judgement of their actions (not to be confused with judgements of the person) to be immoral.
    Brutal murders (for example), are immoral, regardless of the mental state of the perpetrators!

  9. Also @Hal #4 and @maria melo #5 for bringing up anecdotes about
    allegedly mentally ill people who have little to do with the subject

    It was no anedocte, I´ve made the comment because the previous comment inspired my comment:

    *”(…) He was walking down the street one day when two prostitutes accosted him and made attempts upon his chastity (…)”

    4*

    Happily, St. Augustine didn´t went too far as self-mutilating, but I´ve read a biographic book of a woman that happened to be considered a saint by the RCC (that inspired my mother to give my deceiced brother his name or the masculine version of her name). Once this woman risked her life by jumping from a high place because she feared a man she saw in her way, which is all comparable with the “devil”, and as she thought he/it would attempt upon her chastity, she jumped.
    Well this seems extreme fear or worse, to demonize people is somehow psychotic if it due to extreme fear, or worse I think when it is to attempt against others.
    I was not making jokes, by no means.
    (Perhaps I can recal a chimp who used to self mutilate and he was interventionated with the evact same cirugical technique for humans and the intervention was a success).

  10. “Psychotic behaviour” (I guess I can use the expression despite I have no expertise on the subject) sometimes can affect normal people too , considering my recent experience (at work) where I listen to parties and profissionals in judicial cases and recentely I knew a refugee boy who acted so strangely that at first he was considered schizophrenic (he destroyed food and didn´t eat it for instance because he feared it could be poisoned etc) until a phsychiatrist cleared that the diagnose was wrong as far as the boy was not schizophrenic but acted like that because he was so far from everything that was familiar to him).
    Anyway, human species seems completely insane if we take into account for instance holocaust, warfare…. just name it.

  11. *”(…) He was walking down the street one day when two prostitutes accosted him and made attempts upon his chastity (…) #4

    Well, anyway, I find it funny that while some are eager and ashamed of “chastity”, others are eager to preserve it (Am I going to be cruxified because I find it kind of funny?)

  12. @Alan4discussion

    Quote mining is not a good way to make an argument. The full quote is:

    First of all: no, they don’t. They do not more often than they do.

    The keyword is “often”. Now we may argue how often is often, but the fact remains that there are much more secure institutions for the sane than for the insane.

    Note that I am not denying that mental illness can lead to criminal behavior. I am protesting to the ease with which some commenters link concrete examples of immoral behavior to mental illness. It’s a version of the No True Scotsman really. And it is damaging to people with real mental illnesses.

    From people commenting on a skeptical website, I expect better.

  13. rietpluim #17
    Jun 23, 2017 at 4:33 am

    Quote mining is not a good way to make an argument. The full quote is:

    First of all: no, they don’t. They do not more often than they do.

    The full quote in context is:-

    rietpluim #11
    Jun 22, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Psychotic behaviour often causes people to perpetrate actions which would normally be considered immoral!

    First of all: no, they don’t. They do not more often than they do.

    :::::::::

    The keyword is “often”.
    Now we may argue how often is often, but the fact remains that there are much more secure institutions for the sane than for the insane.

    Without the context of the respective numbers of “normal” and “psychotic” in the population, this challenge is meaningless or flawed!

    http://www.psychguides.com/guides/psychotic-disorders/

    Approximately 1 percent of the population suffers from a psychotic disorder.
    These conditions are most commonly found in people in their late teens to early thirties and effects men and women equally.
    Like many other mental disorders, psychotic disorders are often genetic.
    People who have a family member with this type of disorder are more likely to develop it than those who do not have a family history of it. It is also believed that these disorders are related to the hyper activity of chemicals in the brain that are vital to normal functioning. Additionally, those who experienced brain injury during fetal development or childhood are at a higher risk of developing the condition.

    In addition to this, the percentage of those with psychotic disorders who are a danger to themselves or others, is even smaller.
    Therefore your direct comparison of numbers incarcerated is flawed.

    Note that I am not denying that mental illness can lead to criminal behavior.
    I am protesting to the ease with which some commenters link concrete examples of immoral behavior to mental illness.

    I don’t think anyone suggested that ALL of the mentally ill commit crimes or immoral acts. The context was of self-harm, promotion of self harm, or harm to others.

    It’s a version of the No True Scotsman really.
    And it is damaging to people with real mental illnesses.

    Not really!
    This is just the fallacy of extension, trying to include a wider group of mental disorders than is actually being discussed.

  14. A straw man is not a good way to make an argument either. I never said that anyone suggested that ALL of the mentally ill commit crimes or immoral acts.

    trying to include a wider group of mental disorders than is actually being discussed

    Then what disorders were @cbrowm and @John Halas discussing at #2 and #6, exactly?

    And what is your point exactly, @Alan4discussion? Do you think it’s okay to label total strangers as mentally ill just because they committed an immoral act?

    Why not label them atheists? After all, atheists are considered to be immoral, aren’t we?

  15. rietpluim #19
    Jun 23, 2017 at 6:38 am

    Then what disorders were @cbrowm and @John Halas discussing at #2 and #6, exactly?

    While the comments were brief and lacking much detail, they are addressing the general theme of the discussion, which is physical injury in the form of self-harm, arising from religious delusional beliefs.

    rietpluim #19 – Jun 23, 2017 at 6:38 am

    I am protesting to the ease with which some commenters link concrete examples of immoral behavior to mental illness.

    While self harm is not in itself a mental illness, I don’t think there is much doubt about self harm being linked to mental illnesses or the need for psychiatric counselling.

    Self-harm is when somebody intentionally harms or injures them self. This is often a way of coping with or expressing feelings and emotions that become overwhelming and overpowering to the individual. – https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/self-harm

    And what is your point exactly, @Alan4discussion? Do you think it’s okay to label total strangers as mentally ill just because they committed an immoral act?

    We are getting back to strawman extensions here.
    Labels are attributed on the basis of diagnosis of described symptoms in specific acts, not personal associations with the individual, not generalised to cover other immoral acts or other persons.

    Why not label them atheists?
    After all, atheists are considered to be immoral, aren’t we?

    Fallacy of the false converse!

    Converse.
    Switching the hypothesis and conclusion of a conditional statement.
    For example, the converse of “If it is raining then the grass is wet” is “If the grass is wet then it is raining.”
    Note: As in the example, a proposition may be true but have a false converse.

    I think it would be rather farcical to label those motivated to self harm because of delusional beliefs in mythology (or because of the stress from trying to reconcile compartmentalised religious delusional beliefs with reality), as “atheists”.
    Atheists are probably the least likely people to hold religious delusional beliefs!

  16. Labels are attributed on the basis of diagnosis of described symptoms in specific acts

    Exactly my point. You nor anybody else commenting in this thread have the authority or the information needed to make such a diagnosis. The fact that somebody auto-mutilates himself is not enough to say that he is ill.

    Is it really too much to ask to not call immoral behavior “sick”? People who actually are sick would be grateful.

  17. @OP – we should cut off body parts, he was telling others to harm themselves. There were entire monastic orders that castrated themselves

    rietpluim #21 – Jun 23, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Labels are attributed on the basis of diagnosis of described symptoms in specific acts

    Exactly my point. You nor anybody else commenting in this thread have the authority or the information needed to make such a diagnosis.

    Are you saying that this OP information on self harm and promoting self harm in others, is insufficient for a diagnosis or a moral judgement?

    The fact that somebody auto-mutilates himself is not enough to say that he is ill.

    The doctors seem to think referrals for treatment with a mental health professional for therapy, is required in such cases, and I don’t think they refer people for therapy if they are not ill!

    https://familydoctor.org/self-harm-cutting/?adfree=true

    If you suspect or see evidence of your child’s cutting, do not yell or criticize your child. Offer your support, express your concern, and tell them that you will do what it takes to help them with whatever is causing the cutting. Speak with your child’s doctor. Your doctor will want to see your child and can provide you with referrals for treatment with a mental health professional.

    Counselling or psychotherapy is commonly used to treat unhealthy coping methods, such as cutting.

    Is it really too much to ask to not call immoral behavior “sick”?

    I already made the point @#12 Whatever they may or may not deserve, has no bearing on the judgement of their actions (not to be confused with judgements of the person) to be immoral.

    People who actually are sick would be grateful.

    How would you know, what view people with other forms of sickness would take on the moral issues associated with self harm or promoting self harm?
    This looks like a fallacious appeal to (false) authority.

  18. 1stly, interesting so many replies to this religious ridiculousness.
    2ndly, Christian self-mutilation and Islam self-annihilation.
    3rdly, we need a more transforming epistles; been pumping these two book for too long.

  19. The fact that somebody auto-mutilates himself is not enough to say
    that he is ill. rietpluim

    If the expression of “illness” gains proportions of socially accepted, at least from a hipothetic aesthetic point of view for the nonill (just supposing), it doesn´t mean that everyone is directely “ill” but the origin is from mentally ill (that´came be true), as far as we are kind of a collective mind (if you scare a child from an early age with “vodu”, the later adult can die from fear of “vodu”, it doesn´t mean it didn´t came from a troubled mind and gained social acceptance.
    I would consider immoral to encourage others to mutilate themselves, it doesn´t occur me otherwise.

  20. Jesus said in Matthew 19:12 that “he that is able to receive it, let
    him receive it.” OP

    Where´s a direct reference to self-mutilation in there?

  21. “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” Matthew 19:12

    Got it! It really seems encouragment.

  22. Skinner psychologist occurs to me when he compared the meaning of language to skin as far as people are so atched to it, which is ironic in this context. Who would cut body parts because of a dozen of words?
    (is this kind of OP a waste of time, I mean the whole subject that inniciates from a biblical passage?)

  23. @OP – “And, by the way, when Jesus announced that we should cut off body parts, he was telling others to harm themselves.

    Then there are the various religious forms of male and female circumcision in the name of God or Allah! – which may or may not involve consenting parties!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-38016161

    More than 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) or cutting. The practice has now been outlawed in some African countries, but not in Sierra Leone, where some cutters are still proud of their profession.

    “I have initiated hundreds of girls,” Memunatu Turay proclaims proudly. “But I can’t tell you exactly how I undertake this ancient tradition, unless you join our secret society.”

    A big grin spreads across Memunatu’s face, as she no doubt sees the pure horror unfold on mine. “Come with me,” she says. “I can cut you and only then can I tell you what you want to know.”

    My mind goes back to July when I was in Kenya investigating efforts to end FGM there. The practice was outlawed in the country in 2011. My experience in a village there is something that has stayed with me. One former cutter agreed to demonstrate what she used to do to young girls.

    Her friend grabbed hold of my wrists, crossed them tight against my chest, and pulled me down to the floor outside her hut. I sat between her strong legs as she tightened them around my hips making it impossible for me to move. She was an older lady and I couldn’t figure out where all that strength had come from.

    Then, the former cutter opened my legs and showed me – using an oval shape she made with her thumb and index finger – how she’d scoop out the inside of the girl’s vaginal lips with a blade, and cut out the clitoris, discarding it all on the ground. I felt sick to my stomach.

    After that strange and terrifying experience, hearing girls’ stories of how they were cut became even more distressing. Three words repeatedly came up when they described their experiences: fear, agony and betrayal.

  24. Comment 31 by Marco: I didn´r get it. which means???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? (I understood absolutely NOTHING from comment 31.)

  25. Nothing to worry about, Maria!

    I was just thinking of the endless stream of nonsense that comes from the actress Gwyneth Paltrow (just one example: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/nasa-calls-out-gwyneth-paltrows-goop-website-over-pseudoscience-stickers-that-rebalance-your-energy/) and thinking that people like that have always existed. It’s not hard to imagine her coming up with dangerous claptrap such as the verse you quote above if she’d lived 2000 years ago.

  26. Of course some forms of Christianity have long been into pain and abuse!

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/07/argentine-mother-superior-accused-of-torturing-her-nuns/

    Argentine mother superior accused of torturing her nuns

    A Carmelite mother superior in Argentina faces prosecution for alleged torture after one of her former charges told a TV show that she had gone through “hell” before managing to escape from a convent.

    The 34-year-old nun, whose face was blacked out during the interview on the channel El Trece, claimed she had endured “physical and psychological” torture during her 10-year period of reclusion in the convent, including enforced self-flagellation, the wearing of a wire garter, being gagged for up to a week and locked up in isolation.

    “With Mother Superior Isabel I was subjected to the gag. Then there was a whip called discipline which was dipped in molten wax to make it harsher. We performed self-flagellation, beating ourselves on the buttocks, every week as a rule,” the former nun from the Barefoot (or Discalced) Carmelite convent in Nogoyá, northern Argentina said.

    The woman, who said she had entered the order at the age of 18, also said they were forced to wear a cilice, a “crown of wires strapped around the leg that draws blood”, three times a week during Lent.

    But she said the worst torture she endured was psychological, being locked up alone in a cell and hearing voices telling her that others nuns’ illnesses, such as one sister’s tumour, were curses wrought upon the monastery due to her sinful nature.

    Two nuns have reported the mother superior, identified by the authorities only as María Isabel, claiming she kept them against their will in the gated convent grounds. In late August police raided the convent, forcing the door open after the mother superior allegedly refused to allow them to enter.

    The officers seized instruments of the alleged torture, including whips, cilices and gags.

    Prosecutors have recommended charges with a penalty of 15 years in prison for the mother superior, who was to face an investigating judge on Wednesday.

    Church leaders have justified the use of such instruments as penitential aids. “It’s not punishment, but rather discipline,” said Ignacio Patat, spokesman for the Archbishopric of Paraná, which oversees the convent.

    “Let’s not forget that monasteries have different rules. This is the law of Saint Teresa, shall we say the old way of life that the Carmelite sisters follow”, Mr Patat told a radio station.

    The austere order of the Barefoot Carmelites was founded in 1593 following the teachings of two Spanish saints, Teresa of Ávila and John of the Cross.
    Mortification and penance are considered useful as aids to deep prayer.

    “The Church has the right to rule itself,” read a statement by Argentina’s Society of Canon Law. “The state should enforce respect for religious freedom and not compromise it because some things seem incomprehensible.”

  27. Comment 34 by Marco.
    I suppose the behaviour of a species must be in a way some how repetitive.

    Concerning some aspects, psychological ones for instance, I suppose a non-scientific mind even in a technological advanced country is stil tímeless.

  28. This shit from the Book of Matthew is allegory. I’m tired of Barker’s superficiality and concretization.

    You can agree with this (below) or disagree or both; but no one can deny that this is a more considered approach. (Schopenhauer was an atheist, by the way.)

    “When the Church says that, in the dogmas of religion, reason is totally incompetent and blind, and its use to be reprehended, it is in reality attesting the fact that these dogmas are allegorical in their nature, and are not to be judged by the standard which reason, taking all things sensu proprio [on its own], can alone apply. Now the absurdities of a dogma are just the mark and sign of what is allegorical and mythical in it. […]

    “[…] But the bad thing about all religions is that, instead of being able to confess their allegorical nature, they have to conceal it; accordingly, they parade their doctrine in all seriousness as true sensu proprio, and as absurdities form an essential part of these doctrines, you have the great mischief of a continual fraud. And, what is worse, the day arrives when they are no longer true sensu proprio, and then there is an end of them; so that, in that respect, it would be better to admit their allegorical nature at once.”

    –Schopenhauer, Parerga and Paralipomena

  29. the great mischief of a continual fraud

    Perfect, and…

    The Great Mischief.

    Should I ever write the book on the moral failure of religion…..

  30. Excellent, Phil! May I commend you for your aesthetic judgment. Some of the best titles are taken from quotes, letters, poems, “scripture”, etc. I am impressed. It is not easy to come up with a great title – whether it is taken from something or not.

    For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Grapes of Wrath, From Here to Eternity…

    I hope you write that book – and if not that one, then another.

  31. The Better Angels of Our Nature??

    There are too many books to write at the moment. I’ve publicly committed to these so far-

    The Ancient Amygdala, and Other Tales. (The Evolution of Thinking.)

    to be followed by

    The Tale of Tales. (The Evolution of Thoughts.)

    I want to use “The Better Angels” as a chapter heading in the first book about the Pre-Frontal Cortex. I’ll need many more quotes or truncated quotes on the athlete and the artist, the cynic and the comic.

    I’m sure Schopenhauer can provide….

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