Sunday, January 19, 2020

when I was born there were two of me

Image result for Ray Hinman

Ray Hinman (June 20, 1956-Jan 24, 2014. He has been dead 6 years, and died two days before Pete Seegar.

My brother Ray wrote those words at one time, "when I was born there were two of me.". We did come into the world together. He was always there, I never knew a time when he was not there. As kids we were rambunxious, obnoxious, noisy, hyperactive, sarcastic. We were always there for each other. When we walked home from kindergarten bigger boys would pick on us because when they grabbed Ray I would cry, and shout "leave him alone!" When they grabbed me he would cry and shout. We always knew what each other meant by cryptic comments when  no one else did. We always looked out for each other's feelings. 

In sixth grade the teacher read to the class an unpublished story by Mark Twain, from life magazine. That's when he set his sites on being a writer, He taught himself all about literature. It came from out of nowhere, he began spending all of his time reading, He would get home from school and go right to the books instead of football as had been his passion. In eight grade he gave an oral book report to a speech class on Goethe's Faust part I. It as brilliant the class as thunder struck. I was amazed at his erudition and his poise and his eloquence. People were coming up to me  all day and saying "I didn't know your brother was a genius."

That was crucial because we had dyslexia and early schooling was marked by failure and being treated like dunces (until they tested our IQs!). Spanked with boards for being lazy (by the principle--Texas schools of mid 60s). We could barely read, we hated ourselves and we shored each other up by mutual support. Then this literature thing turned Ray on to using his mind. He just got the idea he could teach himself and he began doing it. This was really in opposition to the teachers. He actually knew more at the end of high school than many of his teachers and I know that's true.

He was also brash and rebellious, sharp and critical of authority. We were both attracted to the "movement" of the 60s. Anti-war, we went to protests (this was 7-10 grade1971-72). An example of how Ray was in eight or ninth grade. We went to a  little private school ran by church of Christ. They had a big Dress code and we hated it. We wanted long hair they would not let us have it. One day we missed some school for snow (rare in Dallas). The school administration declared that we had to go for a make-up Saturday but to make it less odious we could dress any way we wanted to (except no short skirts on the girls). Everyone wore ragged blue genes and t shirts except Ray. He wore a suit and tie.

In the period that followed (72-77) he really was my hero. I resented him but also admired him. He was much more socially able and more successful in dealing with the opposite sex. Sex being the operative word there. Dressed like a hippie but not in a pretensions way. Ran around all over town with all kinds of women, getting drunk and smoking dope and going to parties, making his own -parties by the turtle creek or Bachman lake or some place. He dropped out of high school and moved down town. Took GED and scored one of the highest scores in the City.

In the high school years, 16, 17 he went on several hitchhiking trips. My parents were terrified but he was nota run away, He got them to sign a letter saying he had their permission because the deal was, he was going anyway. He did have stories from the road. He hide in the dark in the Rockies and watched a coven of some kind do something with torches and someone (he really didn't know what they were doing he just didn't want to be seen). He was shot at in West Texas and attacked by a ghost in Denver. He stood on a dark rainy highway in Oregon and did not see Bigfoot (said he never thought about it), He first went to Colorado, the up the West Coast to Vancouver, Then up the east coast to Toronto. That picture at the top on a park bench was taken in Boston on that trip, he was 17.

He was lean and strong and full of life and what the Bible calls "The pride of life." He was brilliant, he read a lot  of Nietzsche and decided he would become an ubermench. He told me once he knew he wasn't one but he wanted to force himself to be one anyway. He wrote prodigiously. After growing apart in high school--I had debate and he had hitchhiking-- we got back together in college. He started to community college took philosophy was on the honor Roll and my parents were elated. He was also at odds with them about being a writer. They wanted him to be able to support himself.  He just wanted to write. We developed a world around ourselves and our books. It centered on the coffee shop. Discussions were to us what water is to a duck. We discussed everything fueled by books and our own writings.

Everything changed in 77. That's when Ray had his break down. He saw the goddess Dianna fly past the moon while smoking dope on the roof at our parents home. He was never again free of delusions. Gradually over time he became like my child. By the time he died I had almost forgotten the strong rash independent young genius he was in his youth. He was lucid but developed a lot of delusional fears. We struggled through the maze of the mental health care industry for two decades before I realized they were nuttier than he was. In the end we wound up wild catting with nutrition and forgot the shrinks., He tried hard to make it as a writer. Every passing year grew that much more desperate; He finally quite trying the last eight years of his life. He was always going to get back to it.

I think the two great defining moments for him were the Central America movement and taking care of our parents. We worked as organizers in the central America movement from about the dawning of Iran=contra (85?) to the anti-climatic end of the Sandinista government in '90. Ray poured his heart and soul into it, s=he shown as an activist. Quoted in the Newspaper for some protest we organized (Dallas Morning News) "Ray Hinman, 31 year old Poet.." I said "hey you are officially a poet, says so in the paper." He said, "I am also officially 31, says so in the news paper." He saved a woman's life. Jenifer Casolo was charged by the Salvadoran government and her lawyer too. Both arrested a d tortured. Ray threw himself into calling all over the country to get urge t action alerts generated. When Casolo came to Dallas Ray was introduced to her as "The person primarily responsible for getting you out." The Lawyer was saved too.The other great moment was in caring for our parents. We basically ran our own private nursing home 2/7 for three years. Our mother had Alzheimer's our father had a big heart attack and then some kind of dementia.  He was invaluable in care for  them. I could not have done it without him. I could really see what he was made of then in his unselfish caring for our parents.

There were more struggles involved in fights criminals disguised a mortgage company who stole our house and living in our car for a short time. This all took it's toll on Ray, his fragile mental condition. The last few years we found a cozy rent house, parents gone, just Ray and I and our little dog Arnie (black and tan coon hound but the tan parts were white).  He loved drinking coffee in the kitchen or on the back Patio and reminiscing. We lost the fire for the great intellectual discussions we had thrived on. He lost the fire for writing he was no longer building for a career as a writer, he was feeling like a a failure and reminiscing about what he loved in the act of trying to be a writer. Nursing his delusions. If only he had written those into novels. He did get the one collection of poems published I think he really just rested in that one accomplishment.

The last Day he was upset because I kept trying to convince him to go to the hospital. He wanted to be at home. He thought I wanted to get rid of him. I told him I wanted to stick together and be old men together, He seemed happy and was perked up. I made him a cup of coffee he drank it and smoked and said it was the best coffee and smoke he ever had, He wanted me to help him to the bathroom and on the  way he had to sit down, He began roaring like a lion, spewed stuff out his mouth and I saw his eyes roll up in his head. I ran for the phone and called 911. By the time I got back he was gone. I was shouting "come back!" After the coroner left I spend hours alone shouting  "Ray! Ray!" I sat out on the patio for days just reliving our times there and try8mng to find peace about it. I eventually realized he was just tired of conflict he made the choices he did for that reason. He was tried of being mentally ill and tired of struggling to make it as a writer in an illiterate society that no longer understands literature.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

containing rather than being the word of God

Image result for Metacrock's bpog inerrancy

Continuing my discussion with Weekend Fisher on "I am  Christian but not an inerrantist"

At one time Karl Barth drew the distinction between the Bible being the word of God or containing the word of God. Since that time conservatives (Evangelicals/ fundamentalists) have imagined that liberals really use this as some important distinction. One example is Matt Slick at CARM. He states: "One of the objections raised by critics of biblical inspiration is that the Bible is not the word of God but that it contains the word of God."[1] Of course he goes on to show that the Bible says different, so he thinks. I'll get to that latter. The problem is Liberal theology is so far removed from the concerns of fundamentalism now that even the idea that the Bible contains the word of God would be too  conservative for most of them. I suggest that the concept of "Bible as word of God" is outmoded but for the reasons neither side would imagine. It's not that there's no God, not that God doesn't communicate with us, but simply that the idea of Bible as word of God is based upon an inadequate model of divine/human encounter. The nature of the encounter that humans have with the divine is more complex and varied it requires a more open  ended sort of model to illustrate it's nature.

The model used by evangelicals and fundamentalists, often called "inerrancy," (officially the "verbal Plenary Inspiration") is sort of based upon the business model. It assumes that the Bible is propositional truth, the statements in it are propositions in that they are either true or false statements and can be defended as such by rational argument. Verbal Plenary because all the verbiage is inspired, thus the opposition to the distinction. This view is usually justified by appeal to scripture itself, this is taking it at is word what it claims for itself, as Slick states:

First of all,["contains" rather than is word] this doesn't fit what the Bible says about itself.  The collection of 66 books that the Christian Church recognized as being inspired speaks as the very words of God in many places.
  1. "Thus says the Lord" occurs over 400 times in the Old Testament.
  2. "God said" occurs 42 times in the Old Testament and four times in the New Testament.
  3. "God spoke" occurs 9 times in the Old Testament and 3 times in the New Testament.
  4. "The Spirit of the Lord spoke" through people in 2 Sam. 23:21 Kings 22:242 Chron. 20:14.
Of course, the errantists (those who say the Bible in its original documents had errors) will reject these scriptures' accuracy; that is, they will deny that God's word is without error -- even in the originals.[2]

First of all speaking "as the words of God in many places" could be construed as containing rather than being the word of God. It doesn't speak that way in every single sentence. There is no conscious awareness expressed by any work within the  canon that there is a canon. The books themselves don't know that they are one of 66 books in a collection deemed "the word of God." There is no reference in the Bible to the Bible. Now the conservatives assert that when we find references to scripture that this is synonymous but it's not. We don't know what scripture means for each writer who uses the term. When Jesus refers to scripture does he mean the same set of books that Paul meant when he refereed to it? If so there is no such place where it says this. When Paul said "all scripture is inspired" (2 Tim 3:16) (literally "God-breathed") the canon of even the OT was not closed, We don't know what he meant by scripture. He could have included books we don't know about, he surely did not mean his own or any other written in "NT era." He was not thinking of letters to Churches by major Christians as scripture,

In terms of the three instances above where it says "thus says the Lord" what follows that phrase might be the words of God, that doesn't mean that what preceded it would be. In many cases the OT says "the word of the Lord came  to him saying." So what is repeated that came to him (whomever) would be the word but that doesn't make things said before that the word. It says God says 42 times how many more times do others speak in the Bible and they are not God? Are the things they say also the word of God? He lists three times where the Spirit of God spoke through people, so those would be words of God but does that mean that all the other times are then not the word of God?

Hate to keep harping on Slick but he's so convenient:
Of course, the errantists (those who say the Bible in its original documents had errors) will reject these scriptures' accuracy; that is, they will deny that God's word is without error -- even in the originals.
If appealing to the Bible in a general sense isn't good enough.  Let's consider that Jesus said the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms (all of the Old Testament) were Scripture and that the Scriptures cannot be broken, cannot fail (John 10:35).
Some might say that there are instances of verses that "contain" God's word, but that it doesn't mean the Bible is God's word.  The problem is addressed by Jesus.
Luke 24:44-45"Now He said to them, 'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.' 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. "
Notice that Jesus speaks about what is written regarding him in the Old Testament.  Then Luke writes that Jesus opened their mind to understand the Scriptures.  What Scriptures?  The Law (Moses), the Prophets, and the Psalms.  This was a common designation for the Old Testament.  Therefore, Jesus says that the written form of the Old Testament is Scripture.  Jesus goes on to deal with the religious leaders who would violate these Scriptures which he called "the word of God."[3]
Jesus doesn't speak about what is written about him in the "Old Testament." They didn't have one then. No passage in the Bible is aware of itself as "the Bible." When Paul wrote that all scripture is inspired (as I said above) the canon of the old testament was not closed, We don't know what works he meant, although it is a safe bet he would have included the Torah. Equally safe he would not have been thinking of his own letters to churches,

Inerrancy as a doctrine was made to combat evolution. That's why it's based upon literalism,so we can insist the days are not ages. Verbal plenary Inspiration has only existed as a doctrine since the 19th century or so. The church fathers don't use that term and never voice the kind of concerns the innerrantists voice. Here's a concept I learned about in seminary and it was a mind blower to med at the time: the Bible is not the word of God, Jesus is. Everyone knows this but fundamentalists will distinguish between the living word and written word and go on talking about the Bible that way. But the Bible dopes not make that distinction. In fact when the OT says "the word of the Lord came to him saying" it could just as easily really be saying Jesus the actual word of God came to him and said whatever,

The concept of inspiration that I accept is called "dialectical retrieval.," it's based upon Barth, Niebuhr, and others who thought there is a dialectical relationship between the reader and the text. We must assume we dealing with the word of god,k even though Bible is just the written record but in our reading of that record the word of God (the Spirit) will show us what we need to see. It's like the assumptions we made with stop signs, We don't stop at them only early for pragmatic reasons, There are some signs cars never go by, We stop at them because it's the law. There is no law that says the Bible is the word of God but we know that the Biblical texts are written out of the same process of Spirit-driven insight in which we read the text, Thus it pays us to not look legalistically but seriously at the text and to be open to the insights to which the Spirit of God would lead us.

I have an essay that deals with five different concepts of inerrancy and several different models of revelation or inspiration. It's too long for a blog it's on my apologetic site The Religious A Priori.[4] It's based upon Avery Dullle's exceent book Models of Revelation.I recompensed that book Highly,[5] Please read my Essay.

My position is this: The list of canon is a man made institution but it was drawn up with the aid of the Holy Spirit, The Bible is not the word of God but it is a written record of some words the Word has "spoken" to humans though other humans in divine-human encounter. We accept the canon as the judgement of the Church but we know the inspiration is in there and the Holy Spirit will show it to us in dialectical encounter between reader and Text. IOW: read the Bible. Use historical critical methods and think logically,

The point here apologetically speaking is that most atheist Bible problems are based upon the assumption of extreme fundamentalism and extreme literalism. Most of what they say can be dismissed by impelling them what I've said here, I've doingnit for years.,


[1] Matt Slick, "the Bible isn't the Word of God. It Contains the Word of God." CARM. Webpage:

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Joseph Hinman, "The Nature of Biblical Revelation," Religious A Priori on line  (accessed 8/1/16

[5] Avery Dulles, Models of Revelation. Maryknoll New York: Orbis Books; 2nd ed. edition September 1, 1992.

Dulles id a Cardinal in Catholic chruch, made so by JPII, His father was secretary of state under Eisenhower, John Foster Dulles.

different notions of inerrancy Dulles Discusses:

*Inerrency of original autographs and divine protection of manuscripts.
Proponents of this view include Harold Lindsell.

Inspiration of autographs with minor mistakes in transmission of an unessential kind.
Carl C.F. Henry.

*Inerrency of Textual intention without textual specifics.
Clark Pinnock.

*Inerrancy in Soteric (salvation) knowledge but not in historical or scientific matters.
Bernard Ramm

*Inerrent in major theological assertions but not in religion or morality.
Donald Blosche and Paul K. Jewett

As you can see inerrancy is far from settled. There are several concepts of revelation in addition to dialectical:

Monday, January 13, 2020

Genesis, Evolution, and the Flood

Image result for God and evolution are compatible

I am continuing the discussion with my old friend Weekend Fisher on the the problem of historical unturth in the Bible. This is a good-natured friendly discussion it's being and between both our blogs. Here is a quotation from the comment section of her blog:

Joe: "you want to believe that most of the Bible is historical" 

WF: a) what I want to believe is what's true b) As far as I can tell, there's a lot of history in the Bible where I'd say "close enough" if not "inerrant". c) When we get to the New Testament especially the 4 canonical gospels, we get to higher-quality sources for historical purposes. 

Joe: "You also seem to punted on the OT" 

WF: I have no intentions of punting on the topic in general, but I wanted you to be more involved in the conversation. I wonder if you got your impression either from me trying to draw you into the conversation OR from the plain fact that I'm less interested in the OT than the NT. E.g. If someone throws down a challenge on the historicity of the resurrection I'm likely to answer; if someone throws down a challenge on the historicity of some event affecting Solomon's grandson, I'm not likely to be interested in it 

Me:To me the conversation is about Genesis and the flood, maybe because I had dealt with them recently with a poster on my blog asking about my ideas on it. But that's where I have the  main problem with historicity in the Bible. I have no problem with The Gospels I think they are 90% historical.Not mythological at all. I only say 90% as a theoretical margin of error. I only question small stuff like the exact chronological order of pericopes.[1]
With that said I am going to play the Genesis and flood card and discuss my major issues and I   hope Weekend will allow the discussion to move in that direction.

Genesis and Evolution:

Sorry to rudely awaken some (no not you Anne)  but denying evolution is no longer an option for apologists. Moreover,this realization  is about 50 years behind the times. Many christians have a barrage, an array of anti-evolutionary arguments, they are wasting their time.No one listens, you can think it's so well  documented and rationalize about the scientific knowledge  of hydraulic  engineers and reflect upon how all non Christians and many Christians are just ignoring the truth, that wont make them listen. You are on;y ranking yourself among flat earthers. Such apologists are not making strong bold proclamations of God's word the are making God's word look silly.

Moreover, science does work. It does tell truth, Science is not a hoax, not opinion, It;s not, don't make  say it, "fake News." Science does have limitations it can't tell us right from wrong morally or the nature of ultimate reality it can't rule out God-- not ever. But it does tell us facts about the physical nature of the world.  We know factually the world is several billion years old. The universe is much older, It was not created in seven days. That is fact, To deny that is to deny truth, The mighty arsenal of creationist propaganda is just that the more studies it honestly the  more obvious that becomes.

One major tactic Christians have used to sort of allow for the age and evolution in some limited way  and still keep the basic content of Genesis is the day-age idea. By extension to glamorize the language of the text. I accept that as a valid view, I do find it sens to require a lot more effort  to harmonize and general verbal acrobatics that accepting the account as mythology just seems more parsimonious. That assumes the things I've already said about mythology as not a lie.

The major caveat is that really accepting evolution is not just changing a couple of things.It;s going to blow things wide open. You have to be re thinking everything. That is possible there are Christian thinkers to whom one can turn.(Francis Collins for one) [2] But you have to be willow to open up theological problems.   Such problems include:  does God guide evolution and if so to what extent? What about the fall? No six days  mean no fall? I think I;v solved these things but one must consider for oneself.

There is no option now. Atheists are trying to use evolution as disprove God but it's not going to change their minds to try and debunk evolution. That will only result  in making   up their minds even more. We have to undermine their view by showing it  up; it can't disprove God for God to have used evolution.[3]

Genesis and Flood

The most  basic problem with Genesis flood accost is the fact that there is no geological evidence for a world wide flood. If such a flood had occurred there would be evidence. Aside from the logistical issues-- food for the animals,waste disposal,and gathering animals from places like China, Australia, and America, the real manor issue is the morality or lack thereof  of  it all.

Would God realty wipe everyone out save seven people only, because they were all so evil?  Then God got  sorry he did it and promised not to do it again (at leas  not that way). Next time it will be fire. So he's really not sorry hes just sorry he didn't do it worse. This all  strikes me as commentary rather than history. Let's not forget that the flood was not original with the Hebrews, They took it from the Sumerians and they got it form still older cultures. 

This was something people had always believed going way back rivers flood. They had to accept it and then explain it in a way that cut their God into the  picture.  Giving it a moral reason was a step up, pagan cultures's attributed the flood to petty reasons their gods were easily angered. At least Bible God had a nobel easonm.

In reality I don't believe that  God is unjust or that God perpetuates injustices nor do  I believe he would wipe out humanly for being evil when humanity has always been evil. We have  been fallen and sinful for a long time. It seems more like commentary, borrowing myth from other cultures to make a point.


[1]Joe and WF comment section "History, Myth, and Genesis' "Page One" Problem," Heart. Mind. Soul, and Strength blog (SUNDAY, JANUARY 05, 2020)

[2]Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute.  Faith + Execution, "Topics  Theistic Evolution"

Francis Sellers Collins "(born April 14, 1950) is an American physician-geneticist who discovered the genes associated with a number of diseases and led the Human Genome Project. He is director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, United States."

[3]Joseph Hinman, "Is Evolution Indicative of No God?" Metacrock's Blog (SEPTEMBER 15, 2019)

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

What makes an act good or evil? Right or wrong?

Meta Ethical theory

Image result for Dorothy Emmet.
Dorothy Emmet. 1904-2000
Meta ethics is the term used to discuss what makes something good or bad, right or wrong.It's the superstructure of ethical theory.The problem is both sides (let's say religious s Secular) are screwed up in their muddled misconceptions about what morality is and how God affects it. In a latter post I'll give my attempt to unscrew the muddle. but for now i'm just going to talk about why both sides are screwed up. Hint: it is not so simple as "God says it so do it."

The Evangelical problem.

Before I go into this I want to point out that I studied with two fine ethicists in gradate school. One of them world famous (Dr. Frederick S. Carney Southern Methodist University Perkins School of Theology) and not as famous but an excellent prof, (Victor Worsfold of UTD ). The former was Christian the latter was not.They both thought I was a good student of ethics. I have tried to be very through in my understanding of the subject. My views on this come from a thinker who was one of the most intellectual Evangelicals ever; ironically she was a woman; Dorothy EmmetNot a fundie but Evangelical and highly respected by all camps. If you can you should find her book The Moral Prism,[1] eye opening weather you are a Christian or an atheist.

I point this out because it will schock some Christians to hear that her finding was that morality is retaliative and contestable.Yes, she is saying is a Christian not an atheist not as some secular person this is her Christian analysis of the field of morality as a whole. Moral axioms have to be grounded in values.Values are arbitrary meaning there is no "objective" sense in which it can be proven one should hold one value or another. All the talk that goes on about "objective morality" is just wrong headed. Absolute values also is a misnomer and a problem.

Morality is not objective and its' not "absolute." What it is in place of this is either grounded or not grounded. It should be grounded because otherwise it's meaningless. The problem is in what do you ground it? There is no verse in the Bible that says morality is absolute or objective. In fact the terms "objective" and "subjective" never appear in the bible. That's because they only arise out of Kantian perspective where the mind is made the object around which the sense data orbits rather then another part of the sense data itself.

The whole subject/object dichotomy only arises with Descartes to Kant. The human mind is made the subject and sense data orbit around that subject, Prior to this view we have historical Christianity. One example of historical Christianity:  Augustinian ethics.We love the eternal we use the temporal. The eternal nature of certain values grounds them in reality in way that other values are not grounded. Love for example is an eternal value. Eternal values are those that are based upon God's charter, the basis of which is love.

Just being long lasting (eternal) one might think is an advantage because it will last longer, but the real reason why it's a grounding is because it's based upon God and who and what God is.Temporal values are less grounded and not enduring because they are grounded in relative things that vanish and have no permanence and no importance beyond matters of taste. This means people are eternal because we are souls, we have eternal life. So this means each and every person is an end in himself, we are not means to ends. We have treat each person equally with dignity and love and seek the good of that person as an end in himself not a means to archive our own ends.

Now you might think that's why we talk about objective and relative, or universe and relative. I admit "universal" is a good term for moral values more so than "objective." The fact is this is not just about relative vs. absolute. The problems with terms like objective and absolute is that they are not based upon the divine character, they are not based upon Biblical values or eternal values.

(1) There is no objectivity apart from God. There are only degrees of subjectivity. so there's no point in trying to force objectivity as a phony value. God can be objective because he can understand every perspective.

(2) these things belie the nature of contextualization that is crucial to understanding. In other words, there's no flexibility. Because meaning arises from context, you can't ignore context and just demand a universal standard that can never be understood in any other light. That's what Emmit was getting at.

The true nature of morality is based upon either deontology (duty and obligation, sometimes expressed as :"rule keeping") or teleology based upon the end or the goal. This is what will determine what's true or good or right vs false, evil, or wrong. Not objectivity not absolutes, but duty and obligation vs goals or the end result.

The Atheist Problem of Morlatiy
Atheist morality is bankrupt. This is because they have no grounding, or they seek to deny the necessity of grounding. All atheist morality boils down to matter of taste. then to cover up the weakness of having no grounding they pretend that it's not important you don't need it it's all just my little feelings and what I feel like now is what makes something good.

there are three basic sources of atheist grounding, all inadequate:

(1) teleological

(2) personal feelings

(3) community or social contract.

*When I as in graduate school this what they were saying:teleological ethics has been totally discredited in meta ethical circles. no one really claims to be a utilitarian or consequential anymore. That a 20 years ago so it may have changed, One difference since I was in graduate school is the rise of moral realism.

* No grounding in personal feelings at all. Your feelings can be selfish they can change and how do you deal with the feelings of others?

* relative to the community. what if your community is Nazi?

this is sort of what I was trying to get at when I was talking about overlapping communities. Because there is a way to build a consensus among communities and make assumptions about values and their grounding that would stack up to a universal morality without appealing to religion: except for the fact that with most communities the values are embedded in religious past.

You can't take religion out of the mix. It's inherent and normative. In other words. the value we hold we hold because they came to us from religious traditions and that's why they are special and why they are wroth using to ground axioms. So you have to include that in the mix, although it is possible to construct a serviceable morality that can guide a secular society without imposing religion, but you can't ignore it as though its not a source of knowledge to draw upon for the values.

Both sides contribute big problems:

(1) The theistic, or especially Abrahamic religions: rigidity and lack the flexibility to understand contexts and situations.

(2) Atheist: destroy the basis for grounding all morality in anything stable in an attempt to deny the need for stability in axioms.

This last assertion I argue only in terms of those who try to down play or deny the need for grounding of axioms. That process,the process of down playing, merely says "we don't need moral thinking."

Now an atheist might argue as did "Asimov" on CARM:

Social contract is grounded upon the recognizance of the fact that a society is a population of individual moral agents striving for survival at the basic level and the flourishing of life at the higher level.

A social contract applies to all citizens equally, and define the right to action of all citizens, equally. A Nazi social contract wouldn't be reasonable or equal, so your point is moot.

Social contract is the only true basis for a moral compact, that is rules to run a society by. But it doesn't tell us why something something is good or evil, right or wrong. It's not adequate grounding. Granted its' better than divine right of Kings, which it emerged in the enlightenment to opposes, it's better than brute force or mob rule but it's not adequate.

[1] Dorothy Emmet.Moral Prism: Morality as Contestable, London:

 Macmillan 1979, no page

Springer link offers a summary of the book:

buy my book The Traced of God

Image result for Victor Worsfold proof of ethics UT Dallas

Victor Wrosfold d 2013