The ultimate problem is that we are essentially speaking different languages, or to put it another way, our focus is on wholly different things. My concern is temporal - the here and now - life on this world. Jazzy is focussed on the next life. His view is that our life here is simply a precursor, an opportunity to qualify for eternal life in heaven. Failure means eternal hell. One must stay on one's toes.
I, on the other hand, believe that this life is all we get. There is nothing beyond.
Consequently, it is difficult, if not impossible to come to a consensus. This lack of consensus concerns more than the two of us. Christians, especially fundamentalist, pentecostal, evangelical and charasmatic, born again christians and true believers of other faiths more or less share Jazzy's view that our worldly existence is important only as it pertains to one's achieving entry into eternal bliss. Therefore, their take on the proper manner in which to live is perceived through a different prism as it were. They are playing one game. Secularists are playing another. Only rarely do the twain meet.
As it happens I stumbled upon the following definition of an atheist, if you will, from the American Atheist web site:
An Atheist loves himself and his fellow man instead of a god. An Atheist accepts that heaven is something for which we should work now – here on earth – for all men together to enjoy. An Atheist accepts that he can get no help through prayer, but that he must find in himself the inner conviction and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it and to enjoy it. An Atheist accepts that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the understanding that will help to a life of fulfillment."
Ergo the difference in perspective.
People who were the original impetus for this blogging effort, the raptiles, are wholly focussed on the hereafter which they believe is coming soon to a theatre near you. Beyond that, they are not concerned with any coming attractions. It is difficult to get their attention. They are so preoccupied with being swept away to paradise that they can't be bothered by earthly matters.
While the raptiles make up a relatively small percentage of the born again, all believe as I noted at the beginning, that one should focus his or her efforts toward the next life, not this one. Their concern is with gaining the favor of god. Consequently , they define morality and proper behaviour narrowly primarily via interpretations of the christian bible or other supposedly "holy" books.
While I am sure most people would agree, whether they believe in a god or not, that enmeshed in the often difficult to decipher texts of these works are the bases of a generally sound morality - that rules for properly ethical behaviour can be found within their pages. However, such can be found in other, secular writings as well, both ancient and current, without all the otherworldly rigamarole, and the humbling of oneself before some higher power.
The problem I have with religious based morality, is that it ultimately falls short in dealing with the here and now. In the end, religious morality lacks true compassion for human suffering. Suffering is often looked upon by true believers as either just penalty for sin, and/or as say, with Lot, a means to finding one's way to god. "Let them suffer. It's good for their souls." That was pretty much the justification for the slaughter that came with the Spanish Inquisition and the dunkings and burnings of supposed witches at Salem.
It is not an accident that most fundamental christians are conservative republicans. Most share the puritan ethic of self-denial, intolerance and stern judgement of other's behaviour. (As to the latter, I don't know where "judge not lest ye be judged" fits in.) The notion of "compassionate conservatives" is, in my view, a contradiction of terms. Compassion is essentially contrary to the conservative world view. "One must pull one's self up by one's bootstraps." Unfortunately, millions of people have no boots, let alone straps on which to pull.TLS