1. Standard memberSwissGambit
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    25 Feb '14 15:572 edits
    My attitude toward authority is a paraphrase of Thomas Paine.

    Authority, at best, is but a necessary evil; at worst, an intolerable one.

    I recognize the need for some authority. Children need a parent or guardian to guide them to maturity. Society needs a government that will handle the many details of maintaining infrastructure, defense, natural resources, etc. Workplaces need good leaders, or else the workforce will not move in unison on anything.

    However, I have never been much for following the commands of an authority figure simply because they say so. I do better when the commands actually make sense. This does not mean they must do everything exactly as I think they should; it just means that, even if their course of action is not what I would do, it at least seems reasonable.

    I really hate arrogance in an authority figure. It puts me on the defensive, and I start weighing how much I can get away with defying their directives now, and in the future.

    To me, an effective leader projects confidence, but not arrogance. They give their followers a chance to weigh in, consider the options, and make their decision. They do not wait until they have pleased everyone (because that is not possible).

    Also, an effective leader recognizes the bounds of their authority, and does not exceed them. My boss at work does not tell me what to do outside of work. My government official does not tell me to do something unless there is a specific law empowering that directive. My parent (for those who are kids) does not punish me in anger (which leads to abuse).

    Obligation is a two-way street. The authority figure must not forget that they are given authority for a beneficial reason. If they lose sight of serving their purpose, they can, and should, be removed.

    My obligation to them is to follow their directives, so long as they are reasonable. If they are not, I must resist to a degree matching their departure from reasonableness. Following authority absolutely leads to Milgram experiment-like situations in which a chain of command is carrying out grievous moral wrongs, with each link of the chain blaming it on the other links.
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    25 Feb '14 16:45
    It seems to me the difference between your attitude towards authority and that of many theists, is that you (and this goes for me as well) recognize that authority is sometimes needed whereas many theists want authority. Perhaps because they (like to) feel less responsible for their lives, choices and future when they can simply point to another person and say "He made me do/say/think/feel/believe it."
  3. Subscribersonhouseonline
    Fast and Curious
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    25 Feb '14 17:09
    Originally posted by Great King Rat
    It seems to me the difference between your attitude towards authority and that of many theists, is that you (and this goes for me as well) recognize that authority is sometimes needed whereas many theists want authority. Perhaps because they (like to) feel less responsible for their lives, choices and future when they can simply point to another person and say "He made me do/say/think/feel/believe it."
    They don't 'simply' point to another entity, they ALWAYS point to that 'entity', which most folk realize is just another made up boogie man for control purposes.
  4. Cape Town
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    25 Feb '14 17:38
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    My boss at work does not tell me what to do outside of work.
    To what extent do you take advantage of your boss' authority at work. For example, do you let him take the blame for things because its his responsibility to do so? Do you let him do most of the thinking for you because its his responsibility to do so? I think many of us do, to some extent, allow authority figures to shoulder much of the decision making work.

    I think the same applies to theists and morality. They find it easier to let an authority figure do all the hard thinking about morality, then they just go along with the simple rules laid out. And no, I am not talking about God in particular, I am talking about authority figures in the Church.

    I am not sure to what extent the same could be said about issues like science and politics. To what extent do we rely on scientists to tell us the earth is warming and are we being lazy if we don't do the science for our selves?
    To what extent do we vote based on what political authority figures tell us?
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    25 Feb '14 17:38
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    My attitude toward authority is a paraphrase of Thomas Paine.

    Authority, at best, is but a necessary evil; at worst, an intolerable one.

    I recognize the need for some authority. Children need a parent or guardian to guide them to maturity. Society needs a government that will handle the many details of maintaining infrastructure, defense, na ...[text shortened]... s carrying out grievous moral wrongs, with each link of the chain blaming it on the other links.
    Makes sense to me. In my opinion most "authoritative" people are really just insecure control freaks. They are legalists that want everyone to conform to their sense of rightness.

    Of course, this world is controlled by man, so what's the best we can hope for? But, as a believer in the God of the Bible, I know that one day all things will be subject to the righteous authority to whom all authority belongs.

    In the mean time I just keep trying to do the best that I can.
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    25 Feb '14 17:51
    Originally posted by Great King Rat
    It seems to me the difference between your attitude towards authority and that of many theists, is that you (and this goes for me as well) recognize that authority is sometimes needed whereas many theists want authority. Perhaps because they (like to) feel less responsible for their lives, choices and future when they can simply point to another person and say "He made me do/say/think/feel/believe it."
    Did you take a survey or something? How do you know what most theists want?

    But I can say with confidence that, based on what atheists post in this forum, atheists think theists have a corner on the market of ignorance. Poor atheists with their blind obedience to the authority of themselves. Why anyone would think whether one is a believer or not is an indication of intelligence is beyond me. There are simply far too many ignorant people, to label as ignorant, anyone based on what they "believe".

    No doubt I will see links to surveys of the low intelligence of theists!
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    25 Feb '14 18:04
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    To what extent do you take advantage of your boss' authority at work. For example, do you let him take the blame for things because its his responsibility to do so? Do you let him do most of the thinking for you because its his responsibility to do so? I think many of us do, to some extent, allow authority figures to shoulder much of the decision making w ...[text shortened]... ce for our selves?
    To what extent do we vote based on what political authority figures tell us?
    Well said. People do allow others to exercise authority over them in those areas of decision making they probably fear to make, or for just being lazy minded.

    I think that principal is true across the board.

    But, as a Christian, I recognize the authority of God as expressed in the Word of God contained in a book we call the Bible.

    Jesus said it, "my sheep hear my voice". Why not? After all, we were made in His image! I recognize God as Father. Is there something about that I need to be ashamed of?

    We need to separate between our understanding of human authority and the authority of God. They are two separate and distinct ideas.
  8. Standard memberSwissGambit
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    25 Feb '14 18:18
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    To what extent do you take advantage of your boss' authority at work. For example, do you let him take the blame for things because its his responsibility to do so? Do you let him do most of the thinking for you because its his responsibility to do so? I think many of us do, to some extent, allow authority figures to shoulder much of the decision making w ...[text shortened]... ce for our selves?
    To what extent do we vote based on what political authority figures tell us?
    I own up to my mistakes. Even so, my (and every other person who serves under him) actions reflect on my boss. He is middle management; there is no way to avoid it.

    I don't ever let my boss think for me on my assignments. On stuff outside of that, or decisions above my job title/pay grade, absolutely. That's what the company wants.

    When it comes to both churches and science, I think there always will be people who do not want to think very deeply about things for whatever reason, and they will simply go along with what authority tells them. Even an intellectual hard worker must rely on authority to some extent when it comes to science, for there is so much to know that one single person cannot keep up with all disciplines.

    I think, due to time limitations, that we must develop good BS detectors. We must learn to recognize what may be a promising line of inquiry versus a waste of time and energy.
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    25 Feb '14 18:211 edit
    Originally posted by josephw
    Did you take a survey or something? How do you know what most theists want?

    But I can say with confidence that, based on what atheists post in this forum, atheists think theists have a corner on the market of ignorance. Poor atheists with their blind obedience to the authority of themselves. Why anyone would think whether one is a believer or not is an i ...[text shortened]... what they "believe".

    No doubt I will see links to surveys of the low intelligence of theists!
    First of all, no, I did not take a survey. It is based on reading many posts by many different theists. Also note that I said "It seems to me...", not "It is a fact that...".

    Second, the biggest part of your reply to my post seems to be about intelligence, but so far I've said absolutely nothing about intelligence. You are reading something that I never said nor implied.

    I have however noticed something on the subject of "intelligence", but it's not related to this thread at all, so let's skip it for now.
  10. Standard memberSwissGambit
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    25 Feb '14 18:30
    Originally posted by Great King Rat
    It seems to me the difference between your attitude towards authority and that of many theists, is that you (and this goes for me as well) recognize that authority is sometimes needed whereas many theists want authority. Perhaps because they (like to) feel less responsible for their lives, choices and future when they can simply point to another person and say "He made me do/say/think/feel/believe it."
    Yes, there are definitely two classes of theists here (both at RHP and the rest of the world). Some think for themselves, while others get out of difficult debates by pinning their objections on God's commands (e.g., against homosexuality).

    It's also possible for non-theists to fall into the same trap; all you have to do is start glorifying an authority figure to an unhealthy degree, and accepting everything they say uncritically. As twhitehead pointed out, this is easy to do across several areas of life.
  11. Standard memberRJHinds
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    25 Feb '14 19:08
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    My attitude toward authority is a paraphrase of Thomas Paine.

    Authority, at best, is but a necessary evil; at worst, an intolerable one.

    I recognize the need for some authority. Children need a parent or guardian to guide them to maturity. Society needs a government that will handle the many details of maintaining infrastructure, defense, na ...[text shortened]... s carrying out grievous moral wrongs, with each link of the chain blaming it on the other links.
    The atheists are the most arrogant of people. The atheist thinks he is the one that knows what is logical and reasonable.
  12. Cape Town
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    25 Feb '14 19:472 edits
    Originally posted by josephw
    But I can say with confidence that, based on what atheists post in this forum, atheists think theists have a corner on the market of ignorance. Poor atheists with their blind obedience to the authority of themselves. Why anyone would think whether one is a believer or not is an indication of intelligence is beyond me. There are simply far too many ignorant people, to label as ignorant, anyone based on what they "believe".
    I notice you confuse 'ignorance' with 'intelligence'. Do you realise they are not the same thing?

    I do believe that the average IQs of atheists in this forum, is higher than that of the theists - and the average ignorance goes the other way. But the same is not so true of the worlds population in general. It seems that highly educated people are much more likely to be atheist, but I am not sure how big an effect that is, as the main indicator of belief is culture and region of the world that you live in.

    [edit] eg if you live in Zambia, there is a pretty good chance you will be Christian whatever your IQ or education. If you live in Korea, there is a pretty good chance you will be atheist, whatever your IQ or education.
  13. Cape Town
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    25 Feb '14 19:53
    Originally posted by josephw
    Jesus said it, "my sheep hear my voice". Why not? After all, we were made in His image! I recognize God as Father. Is there something about that I need to be ashamed of?
    I think it depends on the details. For example, I notice that atheists take more interest in morality. I think this is because a theists, when faced with a moral question, simply look to an authority on the matter (Bible, Church etc) and follow that authority. They do so, largely because it is easy, and they don't need to think too hard about it.
    Us atheists on the other hand often have to ask ourselves what is moral and why we think it is moral, and why we should act morally in the first place. I think we put a lot more work into it.
    I do think that when a theist takes the lazy route, and ends up doing something immoral because they simply followed an authority without thinking it through, then that is something to be ashamed of.
  14. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    25 Feb '14 20:14
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    My attitude toward authority is a paraphrase of Thomas Paine.

    Authority, at best, is but a necessary evil; at worst, an intolerable one.

    I recognize the need for some authority. Children need a parent or guardian to guide them to maturity. Society needs a government that will handle the many details of maintaining infrastructure, defense, na ...[text shortened]... s carrying out grievous moral wrongs, with each link of the chain blaming it on the other links.
    "Don't be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you've been told them by someone you think trustworthy. Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I haven't seen it myself. I couldn't prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood on authority -because the scientists say so. Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada. None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics. We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority. A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.” -C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity
  15. Cape Town
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    25 Feb '14 20:571 edit
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    "Don't be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you've been told them by someone you think trustworthy. Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority.
    This is actually not true. A fairly large percent of the things I believe are believed because I have been told them (or otherwise learned them) from someone I thought trustworthy on that particular item of information. Thats not quite the same thing as saying I thought that person was trustworthy.
    If you think about all you have learn't from politicians, siblings, school mates etc you will understand what I mean.
    But more importantly, a lot of what I believe, I double check with other people and do not rely on a single authority - and in double checking, I often find that authorities are wrong - and I am forced to decide by various means which ones are right and which ones are wrong.

    A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.
    This is simply not true. CS Lewis, as with much of his writing, clearly didn't think it through - or more likely, he deliberately set up this strawman.
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