The Modern Thinker’s Creed

Scott Smith —  February 19, 2013 — 11 Comments
image_pdfimage_print

“Creed” – Steve Turner

We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don’t hurt anyone
to the best of your definition of “hurt”,
and to the best of your definition of “knowledge”.

We believe in sex before, during, and after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy’s OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything’s getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there’s something in horoscopes,
UFO’s and bent spoons.
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha,
Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher though we think
His good morals were very bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same-
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens
they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then its
compulsory heaven for all excepting perhaps
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn

We believe in Masters and Johnson
What’s selected is average.
What’s average is normal.
What’s normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and
bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors .
And the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that
is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.

We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
And the flowering of individual thought.
Postscript:

If chance be the Father of all flesh, disaster is his rainbow in the sky
and when you hear:

“State of Emergency!”

“Sniper Kills Ten!”

“Troops on Rampage!”

“Youths go Looting!”

“Bomb Blasts School!”

It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker.

Scott Smith

Posts Facebook

Scott Smith is a lifelong Christian and an active member of his church. He enjoys blogging and teaching on Christian theology and defense as well as engaging skeptics in debate regarding Christian truth claims. Scott is a co-founder of Etcetera as well as TC Apologetics, and in his spare time he runs his own 3D design company.
  • Steve Ruble

    I think you’ve mistitled this post; this creed is more post-modern than modern, with splashes of New Age here and there. Of course, like many creeds, it contains a lot of nonsense and incoherence. Here’s another example of the genre, with similar flaws:

    We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth; Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; He suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost.

    Postscript:
    But those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not;’ and ‘He was not before he was made;’ and ‘He was made out of nothing,’ or ‘He is of another substance’ or ‘essence,’ or ‘The Son of God is created,’ or ‘changeable,’ or ‘alterable’—they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.

    • http://sarcasticxtian.com/ Scott Smith

      Hey Steve,

      I didn’t title it, so you’ll have to take that up with the author. It’s a piece of satire several decades old by a British journalist. As with most satire, he exaggerates and ridicules to make a point. While it may seem nonsensical and incoherent to you, this is a collage of viewpoints that many people hold. Seeing them in one place is a bit to take in, but that doesn’t do anything to counter the view.

      What is it that you see as similar in the Nicene Creed?

      • Steve Ruble

        Steve Turner titled his poem “Creed”, but I’m pretty sure you wrote “The Modern Thinker’s Creed” as the title of this post. (Just out of curiosity, where did you come across this gem? Bing only knows of 6 places on the internet with the same combination of typos as appear in your version, while Google can only find those typos in YouTube comments.)

        What do you take to be the point which Turner “exaggerates and ridicules” to make? What is the “view” that one might counter? What stands out to me is that with the exception of a couple truly ludicrous lines most of the sentiments of the speaker tend towards kindness, generosity, optimism, and mercy. Is Turner mocking the fact that many people who feel those sentiments are not philosophically sophisticated, or that they may not be able to artfully express their reasons for being kind, generous, optimistic, and merciful? That seems a cruel thing to mock. Take all the people in your church who are kind, generous, optimistic, and merciful; from that group, take out all the people who have at least a couple contradictory or incorrect beliefs about God, death panels, prayer, the Fall, Agenda 21, eschatology, angels, and atheists. How many do you have left? I bet it’s not very many. Are you going to mock all the rest next Sunday?

        What do I see as similar to the Nicene Creed? It’s not obvious to me that the Nicene Creed has any advantage over “Creed” in plausibility, internal consistency, or moral value. What I find chilling, though, is that while “Creed” is a made-up mish-mash intended to belittle foolish people of good will, the Nicene Creed was and is a real thing which millions of people have recited for thousands of years, sometimes while killing other people for reciting slightly different creeds. If humans have a tendency for thoughtless adherence to nonsensical dogmas, I’d rather it be the soft silliness of “Creed” than the brutal gibberish of Nicaea.

        • http://sarcasticxtian.com/ Scott Smith

          Most references I found cut off the post script, and many others abbreviate or eliminate much of the last couple paragraphs. That would explain why you don’t find the whole thing as it stands too many places. I don’t know much about the author or the history of the piece. I’ve heard it and read it as quoted by Ravi Zacharias. Based on the lack of search results we both encountered, Mr. Turner must not have been widely published.

          I’m not seeing the good sentiments you refer to. Most of the poem illustrates the circular reasoning that most atheistic paradigms promote. I’m also not seeing where you’re getting the mockery. There is a difference between illustrating absurd thinking and mocking individuals.

          It seems from this conversation that you’re bringing a bunch of other baggage to the table. It feels like you’re using this post as a foil to poke at other issues. I posted this piece because I think it does a good job of illustrating the faulty logic of a lot of popular thought today. If you want to engage that, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. If you want to discuss Nicaea we can do that too, but that’s another topic.

          • Steve Ruble

            Scott,

            The earliest version I can find, and one of the few to actually cite a source text, “Nice and Nasty” (1980), does not include the postscript. I’m not sure where the postscript came from, but I notice that you have the version which says “Youths go Looting” rather than the equally common “Whites go Looting”. I think it’s safe to say that the postscript is not canonical.

            Here are some passages which convey sentiments of kindness, generosity, optimism, and mercy:

            ————————————–

            We believe everything is OK

            as long as you don’t hurt anyone,

            to the best of your definition of hurt,

            and to the best of your knowledge.

            [Note the correct version of the last line; in your version, that line makes no sense.]

            ————————————–

            We believe in sex before during

            and after marriage.

            ————————————–

            We believe in the therapy of sin.

            ————————————–

            We believe that sodomy’s OK.

            ————————————–

            We believe that everything’s getting better

            ————————————–

            Jesus was a good man just like Buddha

            Mohammed and ourselves.

            ————————————–

            [Religions] all believe in love and goodness.

            ————————————–

            If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,

            then it’s compulsory heaven for all

            ————————————–

            We believe that man is essentially good.

            ————————————–

            We believe in the rejection of creeds.

            ————————————–

            Perhaps mockery is the wrong word. It feels to me like Steve Turner is mocking the people he imagines holding these kinds of beliefs; it feels like he is saying, “Look how silly these people are for believing this nonsense.” Perhaps he is not. I should say that I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically wrong with mocking some beliefs or even the people who hold them, but there’s a feeling of mean-spiritedness in this poem which I find offputting.

            Of course I’m bringing a bunch of other baggage to the table. Setting aside the fact that the poem doesn’t make much sense if you don’t have a pretty good understanding of the cultural background, it’s not as if I came across it in a collection of poetry or something. I know that you posted it here, and I know what kinds of positions you take with regards to some of the ideas in the peom. It’s not a stretch to take the poem as a slantwise argument against certain positions you routinely oppose and to criticize it on those terms. You demonstrated the correctness of that response by saying, “Most of the poem illustrates the circular reasoning that most atheistic paradigms promote.” Who is bringing their baggage to the table here?

          • Guest

            Oh, and be careful if you try to search for more information on Turner’s book “Nice and Nasty”. I’m not sure what that meant in 1980, but it’s not safe for work these days.

        • http://learningtojumpagain.com/ Anthony Weber

          I think Turner was trying to show that may people hold wildly inconsistent views, so of course he is all over the map. That’s the point. But Steve, I have a different question: when he was discussing an atheist or materialist view, where do you think he misrepresented it?

          • Steve Ruble

            Anthony, Turner may have been “trying to show that many people hold wildly inconsistent views”, but that’s not really something that can be done with a poem. What he actually did was combine a bunch of different – sometimes wildly different – beliefs into something which gives the impression that all of the included beliefs are equally reputable – or rather, disreputable If I were a poet, I could write a “creed” smearing Christians by including belief in charity, the Trinity, and snake handling in the same stanza. I wouldn’t do that, though, because it feels slimy to me. Apparently Turner didn’t find it so objectionable.

            “We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin”

            Few people take Marx or Freud seriously anymore, so this is a straw man; Darwin has, of course, been shown to have been largely correct, so this can’t really be taken as a criticism. This is exactly what I’m referring to above.

            “We believe everything is OK
            as long as you don’t hurt anyone,
            to the best of your definition of hurt,
            and to the best of your knowledge.”

            This is probably a pretty good statement of almost everyone’s day-to-day moral system, atheist or not, although almost everyone has a bunch of extra rules that come into play in different circumstances.

            “We believe in sex before during and after marriage.”

            Yup.

            “We believe in the therapy of sin.”

            Not sure what this means, but if it refers to a preference for rehabilitation over punishment then I – and most humanists, I think – would agree.

            “We believe that adultery is fun.”

            Many things are fun, but see the qualifier on “everything is OK”.

            “We believe that sodomy’s OK.”

            Sodomy /is/ OK.

            “We believe that taboos are taboo.”

            Who says we can’t talk about or have taboos?

            “We believe that everything’s getting better despite evidence to the contrary.”

            On the whole, things are getting better, and there is very little evidence to the contrary. This may not have been true in 1980 when this was written.

            “The evidence must be investigated.”

            Obviously, I agree with this.

            “You can prove anything with evidence.”

            Only for very esoteric definitions of “prove”.

            “We believe there’s something in horoscopes, ufo’s and bent spoons.”

            Few atheists or materialists would agree with this.

            “Jesus was a good man just like Buddha
            Mohammed and ourselves.
            He was a good moral teacher although we
            think his good morals were bad.”

            There is disagreement on this, but I think athiests and materialists tend to think Jesus was not a particularly good man. Of course, he said some good things, but anyone can do that.

            “We believe that all religions are basically
            the same,
            at least the one we read was.
            They all believe in love and goodness.
            They only differ on matters of
            creation sin heaven hell God and salvation.”

            They’re all the same in being wrong, but atheists and materialists understand that religions differ in many ways.

            “We believe that after death comes
            The Nothing
            because when you ask the dead what happens
            they say Nothing.”

            A good point, well stated.

            “If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
            then it’s compulsory heaven for all
            excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan.”

            Nope, atheists and materialists do not think this is true.

            “We believe in Masters and Johnson.”

            As I understand it, Masters and Johnson were at the cutting edge of research into human sexuality in their time, so I’m not sure why this is meant as a critique. I’m pretty sure science has moved on since then, but insofar as this is a statement in favor of provisional assent to the best available science, I agree.

            “What’s selected is average.”

            I guess?

            “What’s average is normal.”

            That’s a straightforward definition.

            “What’s normal is good.”

            Nope. I’m not sure who Turner is thinking of, but liberals, post-modernists, New Agers, atheists, and materialists are all more likely to say the opposite.

            “We believe in total disarmament.”

            I don’t think there’s anything like consensus on this point

            “We believe there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed.”

            Yes? Obviously? I’m not sure what the point of this line is.

            “Americans should beat their guns into tractors and the Russians would be sure to follow.”

            I’m pretty sure this is not a representative atheist/materialist position.

            “We believe that man is essentially good.”

            Humanists do; atheists and materialists in general probably agree for the most part, depending on definitions for “essentially”.

            “It’s only his behavior that lets him down.”

            Not sure what this means.

            “This is the fault of society.”

            Partially, I suppose.

            “Society is the fault of conditions.
            Conditions are the fault of society.”

            Yup. Stuff is complicated. Is this pair of lines supposed to be a criticism of people who realize that complex systems interact with themselves?

            “We believe that each man must find the truth
            that is right for him.
            Reality will adapt accordingly.
            The universe will readjust. History will alter.”

            Nope. Rejection of this position is a characteristic trait of materialists and most atheists. Acceptance of this is characteristic of New Agers and – to some extent – post-modernists. And, in a way, some Christians, many of whom believe that the universe can be readjusted if you ask nicely.

            “We believe that there is no absolute truth
            excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.”

            Aww, is someone trying to be clever?

            “We believe in the rejection of creeds,
            and the flowering of individual thought.”

            Yes, in the traditional sense of “creed” as a statement of dogmatic belief. Athiests and materialists may sometimes subscribe to “creeds” that they find to be broadly representative summaries of their own beliefs, but they’ll typically include a string of caveats and addenda.

            So, in answer to your question, I think Turner’s attributions are hit-or-miss with regards to atheism and materialism, but it’s the conflation of absurd beliefs with reasonable ones that really gets my goat. Do you see why?

  • Brian Mathieu

    While there might be people out there who are perfectly in alignment with every line of this song, I think it’s probably more a stereotyped generalization.

    • http://sarcasticxtian.com/ Scott Smith

      Absolutely. As I mentioned in my reply to Steve, it’s the combination of many prevalent views – at least it seemed so to the author.

  • Pingback: O credo do pensador pós moderno - Logos Apologetica()