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What is commonsense? Well, here is what the dictionary says.

common sense
: sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts
She’s very smart but doesn’t have a lot of common sense.
rely on common sense for personal safety

Apparently, commonsense is just the minimal amount of good sense most of us have, but what is good sense? Well, here is the applicable definition.

6a: capacity for effective application of the powers of the mind as a basis for action or response : INTELLIGENCE
b: sound mental capacity and understanding typically marked by shrewdness and practicality

also : agreement with or satisfaction of such power
this decision makes sense

Notice that the definition of “sense” here is secular. Does “practicality” address the ability to discern good from evil? No.

Supposedly, people suddenly started using the word “commonsense” the way we do today in…

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  1. What are the “secular universal values” is the writer really saying the US would be ruled by a communist or socialist ideological type of government, a dictatorship or similar?

    Laws are laid down by the government regardless of being a religiously based government or a secular one. So if there was no government and no enforced laws you would get lots of crime, just as has happened throughout history where crime is committed by people of all beliefs, people with Christian values and heritage are not excluded and commit exactly the same crimes.

    1. @sklyjd

      Hello! Been awhile. Hope you are doing well.

      Every society has a moral character that reflects the sum total of the moral character of the people who make up that society. Therefore, a society that exhibits high moral standards must be made up of people with high moral standards.

      So, what is complicated about that?


      How do we objectively measure the moral standards of individuals or a people? What would be the measurement technique? What criteria do we use for high moral standards? If we don’t have an objective measure, how do we teach people to have high moral standards?

      The problem is a bit like defining pornography. We know it when we see it, but no one has had great success codifying legal standards for pornography into law. Hence, the best way suppress pornography is for everyone to learn and believe that pornography is despicable. Nevertheless, because we cannot define it, a secular government has no easy way to instruct the citizenry about the wrongfulness of pornography.


      Belief happens at an individual level. Conformity happens at a societal level. That is, to avoid trouble, we will conform with what we think everyone else believes so long as those beliefs do not conflict with our own sincerely held beliefs.

      Secular universal values don’t involve sincerely held beliefs. They are legalistic by definition. For example, we can agree stealing is wrong because in a society where property rights are not protected there is little incentive to be productive. However, that rationale comes from the head, not the heart. Hence “secular universal values” must be enforced by governing authorities with brutal and fearful punishments.


      We tend to be partial to our own self interests. That is, if we have a dog in the fight, we cannot be trusted to referee the fight. The odds are too good we will find a way to bend the rules.

      Objectivity requires humility. We have to set our self aside and look at the situation as if our personal desires don’t matter. “Secular universal values” provide no incentive for such humility. Belief in Jesus does. If we want objectivity from jurors, for example, then we want jurors who have a sincere reverence for the Truth.

      What is the writer recommending?

      I made a observation, not a recommendation.

      What do I recommend? If we want to remain a free people, “secular universal values” won’t work. Instead of trying to use government to “fix” our neighbors and impose “secular universal values” on their children, the best thing we can do is respect each other’s religious freedom.

  2. I think the most important part of that word is “common,” as in the common good, our shared values, what most of us would do.

    I like Paine’s “Commonsense” for that very reason, he’s trying to rally everyone around a common set of ideals. Very ironic and a bit comical, is revolution sensible, smart, practical, moral? Probably not! But the commonality of it was absolutely vital, everyone needed to be on the same page.

    Some of the challenges we’re dealing with today is all this individualism, not having shared values, and a lack of community, a lack of commonality. We don’t have to all march in lockstep, but to survive as a country we have to have something in common.

    1. @IB

      On the surface Paine was an odd choice to become the leading advocate for revolution. Since he had just arrived in the colonies, he should have been more loyal to the old country than the new. Yet for some reason Paine learned to dispise monarchy and see the possibilities in the colonies.

      Was the American Revolution immoral? Did the colonies have the right to rebel? The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence to answer that question. I cannot do better. Nevertheless, I will try to set the context.

      Romans 13:1-7 requires us to obey the governing authorities, but it does not tell us how to correctly discern which power has the legitimate right to govern. It does, however, explain what those in authority should do. The Declaration explains King George III had become a terror to the colonies, not an agent of justice.

      Why do we have kings? Why did Israel want one? 1 Samuel 8 explains how God reacted when Israel demanded a king. In “Commonsense” Paine used that story to remind us that God wants us to revere Him, not to idolize some prideful fool. Unfortunately, prideful ourselves, we like idolizing prideful fools. In a rare moment of humility, our nation’s founders contemplated their choices. They did not know how to put God in charge of our country. So, they did the next best thing. They allowed every citizen the right set aside the choice of idolizing a prideful man. They allowed every citizen the right to choose God as his ultimate sovereign.

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