Examples Of The Failure Of “Reason” Part C

The post continues from WHY WOULD A MAN HANG HIMSELF? — PART 3B, and this post is the final installment in this series. Here we will consider examples of the failure of reason with respect to our self (For an explanation of the gods of sex, stuff, state and self, see AN ABUSE OF THE IMAGINATION.).

Examples Of The Failure Of “Reason”:  SELF

Those who worship at the altar of stuff take pride in the quantity and quality of their stuff. Those who worship the state take pride in the power of their government and their position within it. But one who worships himself measures everything against his own desires.

Here is an example from john zande. He tells us what Jesus — God — should have said. It is so comical we have to wonder how serious he is.

In the roughly 12,000 days this self-named Middle Eastern God walked the earth he didn’t once mention bacteria, pasteurization, or the importance of dental hygiene. In the roughly 1,000 sunlit days Jesus was on his ministry, speaking to sets of desperately eager ears, he didn’t once explain the sun, the composition of the atmosphere, clouds, or sooth people’s fears of the terrifying blights of lightning and thunder. In the roughly 1,000 long, long television-free nights Jesus had to say something new or useful, he didn’t once look up and explain to his friends the moon (and the tides), the stars, the planets, our position in the solar system, the galaxy, the nature of gravity, light, radiation, or on a more practical note, dispense the formula for sun block. In the three years of his ministry he didn’t point anyone in the direction of morphine, teach a soul about the nature of asthma, epilepsy, genetics, the periodic table, volcanology, the causes of headaches, muscle cramps, prenatal care, plate tectonics, architecture, evolution, or tell a single living being about the science of corrective-optics. (from here)

When we put our self before God, why do we do so? Because God is God, true opposition to His will is not possible — unless He allows it. Satan opposes God because he wants to be God, but few of us make such a deliberate decision to oppose or simply ignore God. Instead, we decide to pursue pleasure, do anything we can to avoid suffering, and fail to consider the cost.

Why do we suffer? No one has a complete answer, and I suspect most pastors will state as much. With regard to the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Sandy. Don Merritt observed:

I’ve heard people say that God must have a plan in all of this… but what could it be?

Personally, I do not pretend to have any of these answers.  In fact, I’m not even sure they are the right questions… there are lots of things that I neither know nor understand. Having a close family member in harm’s way, I have paid this disaster more attention that I might otherwise have had however, and I have wondered what God’s thinking is about these kinds of things.

Alas! He hasn’t seen fit to share His thinking with me… or has He?

We often like to boldly discuss God’s plans for our lives, but in truth, God’s plans are only made clear in His Word, and there only in a generic sense: His plans for us all. Does He have specific plans for me or you?  Maybe, maybe not. (from here)

But we do have partial answers. insanitybytes22 suggests we choose our own suffering.

I really do choose my own suffering, what to get angry about, who to grieve for, what to feel sad about. Suffering is not all bad, it serves a purpose. Our grief when somebody passes away, is a statement of our great love for them. What we get angry over, defines what we care about. How we respond to events is a declaration of our character, a statement about our determination. Our suffering paints a picture of who we are and what we choose to emotionally invest in. It is also a measure of our own resistance. (from here)

However, one commenter, Tina Blackledge, partly disagreed.

The bottom line, suffering is from Satan and is a direct result of a broken creation. The earth is Satan’s playground and he has reign here until Christ returns, which I pray is soon. Until that day Satan will continue to cause further fractures, decay, and misery into creation. He wants to turn the tide so that his most valuable weapon, a fallen child of God, will spread his poison throughout all of humanity. More damage can be caused by bitter child of God, who has given up on his/her faith and turned their back on the Creator. So, yes, our choices do cause us suffering but please do not stop there because there is so much more going on than the consequences of choices we make. (from here)

Satan does have a role in suffering. He caused Job to suffer. Job lost his property. He lost his children. Painful boils covered his body. And his friends told him he had no one but himself to blame.

In a small way, because of a severe allergy,  BJ can relate to what Job suffered.

I cannot imagine the pain and anguish that tormented his soul as he cried out to God while simultaneously arguing with his friends. He really did expect to die. There are moments in his speeches that can only be read from that light. Even more than an end to his misery, he wanted an explanation for it. He wanted justice. From deep within the pain and torment afflicting his pain and his soul, Job was crying out, “Why?” The closest I can come to understanding that pain was the night when I fought minute by minute, breath by breath to simply inhale and then exhale. Inhale, and then exhale. I too spent much of that battle asking God why. (from here)

Job accepted his suffering, and he learned from it, but God never gave him an explanation. Yet through the Bible we see what Job did not. Therefore, in his notes on the Bible John Wesley is able to offer this observation as to why God gave Satan permission to persecute Job.

It seems strange, that, God should give Satan such a permission as this. But he did it for his own glory, for the honour of Job, for the explanation of providence, and the encouragement of his afflicted people in all ages. (from here)

Sometimes we do know why we suffer. Rob Barkman reminds us that our Lord punishes us for bad behavior.

Revelation 3:19 KJV

(19)  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Although we have a tendency to forget this…. One of the greatest blessings that a Christian can receive from the Lord is the blessing of His chastisement.  Keep in mind, the chastening hand of the Lord comes upon us to renew a right relationship with Him, to restore our Godly testimony in the eyes of others, and most importantly show us His love. (continued here)

Sometimes we must even choose to suffer.

Jesus spoke repeatedly to His disciples about taking up their cross (an instrument of death) and following Him. He made it clear that if any would follow Him, they must deny themselves, which means giving up their lives—spiritually, symbolically, and even physically, if necessary. This was a prerequisite for being a follower of Christ, who proclaimed that trying to save our earthly lives would result in our losing our lives in the kingdom. But those who would give up their lives for His sake would find eternal life (Matthew 16:24–25; Mark 8:34–35). Indeed, Jesus even went so far as to say that those who are unwilling to sacrifice their lives for Him cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:27). (from here)

Christianity is always under assault somewhere. Sometimes those attacking Christians can be quite grisly.

The latest video horror apparently released by the Islamic State (Isis) shows the mass beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya and underlines the alarming spread of the jihadi group far from the familiar killing fields of Syria and Iraq. (continue here)

Here in America as James Atticus Bowden observes, Christianity’s opponents are usually more subtle.

I downloaded the transcript of the speech delivered by President Barack Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast, February 5, 2015. I wanted to see his exact words for myself.

Barry Soetero had some good things to say. Not kidding. But, he dripped his poison into everyone’s ecumenical coffee.

POTUS’s killer lines were, “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”(continue here)

The Bible tells us we are God’s children.

John 1:12-13 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Just as our children sometime suffer, not understanding why we ask them to do something they don’t want to do, we too suffer. Then, just as we ask our children to have faith in us, we must retain our faith in God.

Romans 8:28-30 New King James Version (NKJV)

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Other Posts In This Series


This is for an ornery commenter who goes by the moniker of scout.  He keeps asking about the title.  The answer is at the beginning of IF YOU GIVE A MAN ENOUGH ROPE, HE’LL HANG HIMSELF.

128 thoughts on “WHY WOULD A MAN HANG HIMSELF? — PART 3C

  1. I didn’t fully want to get involved with this exchange, but I believe that John Zande’s question is valid based on the quoted material supra. Let me quote this question so that my answer will be clear.

    The question presented is: Can you name a single thing Jesus said which was genuinely new, original, or useful?

    While new or original would be a tall order to fill, useful remains the lowest hurdle to overcome. And in that category, the words of Jesus could be deemed useful because it espoused more pacifistic and community-oriented philosophies that could be spread and understood easily by the Roman public, their conquered commoners, and all the others who were dispossessed by Roman rule. If anything, Jesus mastered appealing to the populace in a way that had tremendous effect.

    With that simple answer out of the way, I’d like to point out that if I were still a Christian, I would be ashamed that it took an atheist to defend my faith for me.

    1. @siriusbiziness, who wrote:

      With that simple answer out of the way, I’d like to point out that if I were still a Christian, I would be ashamed that it took an atheist to defend my faith for me.

      Several things occur to me:

      1 — Are you really ashamed of my efforts on Citizen Tom’s behalf? No, as you pointed out with your if-then clause. Perhaps Citizen Tom is not, either. It is not clear to me why you think he should be, as it seems to me that evidence and truth should not change based upon the philosophy of the viewer.

      2 — If you had read the follow-on to that question (there was a lot!), John Zande was not satisfied at all — not with my answers nor anyone else’s. His goal was apparently to continue to ask the same question until banned, evidently his idea of a “victory.” Hundreds of comments were devoted to this end.

      3 — I, too, pointed out the “useful” aspect early on; it had no effect. As he ignored it, the “simple answer” did nothing for him, let alone put the question “out of the way.” His apparent goal was to be in the way.

      4 — Citizen Tom and others here evidently did not see much point to attempting to mollify John Zande, seeing how little effect responses from me (and from Scout) had.

      5 — I prefer “non-theist,” as “atheist” these days carries an anti-Christian militant connotation that does not describe me. Such hostile feelings are well represented (so to speak) by John Zande and Arkenaten, for example.

      ==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      1. Mr. DeHavelle, I shall answer your points with the same numbers to facilitate discussion:

        1) The reason why I say he should be ashamed is that, instead of dodging the question above, he could have saved everyone the torment and just provided an answer. The same goes with Colorstorm, Wally Fry, and any other Christian who exercised personal attacks instead of at least entertaining the question first. Alluding to the title here: one must give the person the rope with which he or she will hang him- or herself.

        2) Your relevant response to Mr. Zande’s point was here: “To the extent that someone makes a decision to do something more positive with his life based on being inspired by the words of Jesus in the Bible — and there have been a lot of such people — one would have to count those words as [‘]useful.[‘]”

        Such a response was admittedly more straightforward than other peoples’ responses. However, the conversation didn’t proceed from there, and I cannot adequately guess as to what might have happened if both parties had entertained a discussion thereafter.

        3) I cannot answer this because I am not a mind reader, and therefore I cannot divine the intentions of Mr. Zande. While his response to you was curt and maybe even rude in some parts of the world, it was at least straightforward.

        4) I wouldn’t have been mollified either by statements saying that people won’t respond because it might give the question legitimacy. That being said, my post isn’t about justifying Mr. Zande’s behavior on this or any other blog. It’s about giving a simple, quick response to a simple, quick question. The question is important to me, and I think it deserved a more dignified answer.

        5) I am aware of your preferences, Mr. DeHavelle. I prefer atheist because the shoe fits. While I respect that you feel a certain way about the label, I would also point out that any label can be made pejorative with minimal effort.

        Kindest regards,


        1. siriusbizinus – As I observed here => https://citizentom.com/2015/02/17/why-would-a-man-hang-himself-part-3c/#comment-57331, scout answered zande’s question here => https://citizentom.com/2015/02/17/why-would-a-man-hang-himself-part-3c/#comment-57324. I endorsed scout’s answer. Given how often scout and I differ, scout is probably still in shock. Since scout is a Christian and provided an answer similar to your own and in more detail… Anyway, the comment trail is long and detailed so I presume you missed his comments.

          Did we insult Zande? No. Telling a man who practices deceit that he is being deceitful is not an insult.

          Unfortunately, on a superficial level, Zande does not appear to be deceitful. He gives the impression of being polite and trustworthy. That is why he has so many comments on my blog.

          We all have our biases. As a former Agnostic, I tend to sympathize those who doubt the divinity of Christ. I remember my own disbelief.

          On the other hand, as a former Christian, you seem to have a chip on your shoulder. I wonder why.

          1. I’m happy you brought this up!

            Mr. Zande asked his question on 2/18/15 at 5 A.M. Your initial reply was at 7:36 A.M. You answered his question with a question.

            Even by the comments you linked, you stated “it would be folly to answer.” Are you suggesting that those words of negation constitute an adoption of Scout’s answer? Moreover, you requested that Mr. Zande reply to Scout, which also did not constitute an answer on your behalf.

            Additionally, Scout’s answer was as general as your first response. Presumably you believe Jesus is the savior of all mankind, and I think you did your position injustice by reducing the discussion to mere quibbling about intent.

            In fact, this is the second time you have brought up intent with me. I certainly would have hoped that our polite conversations until now have at least afforded me some leeway in being able to speak my mind.

            Regardless, though, my intent is irrelevant to the discussion. Either I am wrong, and you can demonstrate it, or I am right, and you are deliberately ignoring that.

          2. @siriusbuzinus,

            Do you honestly believe now that, had Citizen Tom supplied the “useful” answer as his first response — similar to what I or scout had provided — John Zande would have accepted it and been satisfied?

            Remember that you are now looking at the aftermath of dozens of times the question was put, many of which were after receiving answers. Perhaps Citizen Tom had a reason to correctly guess John Zande’s intent; I have seen little of John Zande outside of this forum. But correctly guess it he evidently did, and which point you are now coming to take him to task.

            To me, at the time of my own supplying of an answer that should have been satisfactory, the evidence was already clear that it would not be. I was pleased early on that John Zande admitted uncertainty when caught misrepresenting the content of the Declaration of Independence in connection with natural law origins as viewed by the Founders. But in no later incidence, despite major problems or falsehoods in evidence that he supplied, did he admit to any further uncertainty.

            It was already a lost cause. My own response served to cause him to demonstrate that, though I hoped for better.

            ==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          3. In my defense, intent has only been raised as you and Citizen Tom have raised it with me. My initial post was my offered answer to the question presented, and it was my opinion that I didn’t even have to be the one offering it.

            That being said, my later points about intent are that it doesn’t have to be relevant. Although I suppose I should concede that my view puts too fine a point on things. Still, these are my opinions, and quite frankly nobody has to agree with them whatsoever.

          4. @siriusbizinus,

            I am taking that response as the answer “no” to the question I posed.

            Would it have been reasonable, perhaps, to speculate that John Zande’s intent might have been benign days ago, and that he really was brand new to the idea of Jesus and the Bible? Well, no: He had already been issuing a series of challenges by that time; from his first appearance here, his attack was a rhetorical construct rather than a seeking after information. Presumably, others chancing upon this pattern of riposte and parry would make a similar deduction; he was here to “disprove” God rather than learn something.

            But, unusually for such challengers, he posed a question that actually had an evidentiary answer, though he was clearly uninterested in the answer itself. So I offered a response for any onlookers, while fully expecting that such an effort would be futile. Scout did something similar.

            Like you, John Zande was looking for a response from Citizen Tom or other devout Christians, not from an “atheist” like himself. So he blew off my response, and scout’s, and continued asking the same question over and over again, with sloppy variations thrown in.

            Later, he revealed that he was only interested in an answer pertaining to then-undiscovered science … and of course knew, or had at least gathered from whatever website he cuts-and-pastes his evidence from, that this was not within the Bible’s content. Disingenuous, but we already knew that.

            ==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          5. “Like you, John Zande was looking for a response from Citizen Tom or other devout Christians, not from an [‘]atheist[‘] like himself.”

            That statement is incorrect.

            I’m passing on engaging on guessing what Mr. Zande’s intent was because I’ve stated several times now that I think it’s irrelevant to the question posed. To engage in such speculation would be to pretend like I actually cared about ulterior motives, real or imagined.

            Furthermore, I will not speculate as to the sufficiency of your or Scout’s response with regards to Mr. Zande. You can go to his blog and ask him, but I will not put words in his mouth.

            I am only here representing my view. If you want to talk about any issues you have with my view, great. If you have issues with Mr. Zande, I can’t do anything about them.

        2. siriusbizinus

          Although Jesus did it all the time, I did not answer a question with question. I guess you don’t understand the problem with a false premise. Here is a simple example. How would you answer this question?

          Are you still beating your wife?

          Hopefully, you are not and never have. I don’t even know if you are married, but that does not stop me from asking. And other than kicking him off my blog, nothing stopped John.

          Since scout had answered John’s question ably, I saw nothing wrong with watching what promised to be an interesting discussion (scout extended his effort here =>https://citizentom.com/2015/02/17/why-would-a-man-hang-himself-part-3c/#comment-57385). If you look at some of scout’s comments, scout found Zande more likable than I do. Therefore, it seemed wise to step aside an let them pursue a discussion, but Zande would have none of it.

          What puzzles me is your apparent insistence that I had an obligation to answer Zande. Why? So long as an answer is correct and complete, what matters is the answer, not who gives it. As it is, there are over a hundred comments, and a great many of them relate to to Zande’s question.

          Because this is a Christian blog, I and many of the people who comment here like to talk about Jesus. Are you proposing we don’t?

          If you want to talk about what Jesus did that was new, original, and useful, I will talk with you. Zande is only interested in destroying a myth, not what Christians believe. Except for the answer he wanted, no other answer would satisfy him.

          Consider how often Zande replied this way => https://citizentom.com/2015/02/17/why-would-a-man-hang-himself-part-3c/#comment-57337. Keith even teased him about getting his constant refrain fouled up.

          Can I identify a single genuinely new or original or useful thing Jesus said or did? Of course I can, but what is the point of discussing that with Zande? He should already know! Yet any time anyone gave him an answer, he brushed it aside, fired off another one of deceit riddled PLEONASMs (defined the comments), and repeated his question again.

          In fact, I will probably do a post on the subject Zande raised (will link to your post, of course), but I have no interest Zande having commenting on it.

          Do yourself a favor. Take the time to investigate some of the comments Zande left on mine and ColorStorm’s blog. Zande’s comments are like some of the chain emails that Snope.com features, attractive to people who want to believe what the emails say, but misleading.

          1. Actually, I did read through this post and several other posts, although to be fair that’s several hundred comments.

            Like I have stated with Mr. DeHavelle, I am not trying to justify Mr. Zande’s actions here. Rather, I am saying that his question has merit, regardless of surrounding perceived issues. Since this is your blog, you can ban Mr. Zande for whatever reason you see fit.

            The reason why I think you should have answered Mr. Zande’s question is because more than just Mr. Zande is reading your blog. Indeed, the only reason why I am commenting here is because I would like for there to be some statement about how this is a good question for there to be an answer to.

            And finally, your initial response to Mr. Zande was this: “What a curious thing to say about the most influential man in history! Why do you think Jesus had so much effect on Western Civilization?”

            The question mark at the end is why I said you answered a question with a question. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think your assertion was that Jesus’s statements were (at the least) useful because they had such a big effect on Western Civilization. Surely that is a thought that is worth exploring from religious and secular perspectives.

          2. Yeah! Sure! It has a question mark so it must be a question, and that wasn’t an affirmative answer.

            Have you ever heard someone complaining about an electrical appliance that they could not get to work? Did you notice that it was not plugged in and then ask them a “question”: “have you tried plugging it in?” Was that a question? Or was it sarcasm?

            I will create another post devoted to this topic. There are too many comments here.

      2. Keith

        Until siriusbizinus made an issue out of it, it never occurred to me that I should ashamed based upon who answered Zande’s question. When you answer Zande’s question, I thought that was just great. The fact you are a non-theist had little to do with it. As you observed, what matters is the quality of the answer itself.

        1. Why is it so hard to answer?

          I mean it is either yes – Jesus said something original and then demonstrate it with biblical references. Or no, Jesus did not say anything original.

          It seems that most of the replies are just harping on the “it doesn’t matter anyway”. If indeed it doesn’t matter, can we at least have an explicit response telling JZ that no there isn’t any that you can think of, but it is irrelevant to the divinity of Christ (which I actually do agree is a separate issue).

          From where I am, it just seems that by refusing to answer the question directly, you are making his query look more potent than it should be.

          To me this question is as relavant as “can God create a rock He cannot lift”. It’s a yes or no question. Answer it directly and we can handle the subsequent debate on how this impact God’s omnipotence. Or in this case, Christ’s divinity.

  2. There has to be a reason for banning trolls?

    I believe first and foremost in ‘freedom’ of speech; and so long as the would-be trolls keep it seemly I’m happy to let them dribble, rave, or otherwise reveal themselves. And sometimes they even make me have a wee rethink …

      1. @Keith
        Then you are willfully ignorant of the terms and conditions of how Christianity established itself in the New World and at what cost.
        I recommend you study more history.

  3. It seems the tactic here is to entertain the dissenting comment/s throw an irrelevant comment or two in return but then do the old Theological Two-Step, conveying the impression of self-righteousness.
    It is merely condescension and any passing reader can see through this charade in an instant.

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