Challenge Match: emsed1 vs Ian McLean: The Mason's Just Need A Few Good Men

page: 1
1

log in

join

posted on Jul, 18 2008 @ 12:42 PM
link   
The topic for this debate is "FreeMasonry’s Sole Purpose Is To 'Make Good Men Better'".

emsed1 is arguing the pro position and will open the debate.
Ian McLean will be arguing the con position.

Each debater will have one opening statement each. This will be followed by 3 alternating replies each. There will then be one closing statement each and no rebuttal.

Character limits are no longer in effect. You may use as many characters as a single post allows.

Editing is strictly forbidden. This means any editing, for any reason. Any edited posts will be completely deleted. This prevents cheating. If you make an honest mistake which needs fixing, you must U2U me. I will do a limited amount of editing for good cause. Please use spell check before you post.

Opening and closing statements must not contain any images, and must have no more than 3 references. Excluding both the opening and closing statements, only two images and no more than 5 references can be included for each post.

The Socratic Debate Rule is in effect. Each debater may ask up to 5 questions in each post, except for in closing statements- no questions are permitted in closing statements. These questions should be clearly labeled as "Question 1, Question 2, etc.

When asked a question, a debater must give a straight forward answer in his next post. Explanations and qualifications to an answer are acceptable, but must be preceded by a direct answer.

Responses should be made within 24 hours. One single 24 hour extension can be used by a member by requesting it in the thread. If 24 hours passes without response, you may proceed with your next post. Members who exceed 24 hours run the risk of losing their post, but may still post up until their opponent has submitted their next response.

This is a challenge match. The winner will receive 2 ranking points, the loser will lose two ranking points.

[edit on 26-7-2008 by MemoryShock]




posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 01:29 PM
link   
I want to thank MemoryShock and 360Degrees for the opportunity to debate this topic. I am looking forward to some interesting and passionate arguments on both sides of this issue.

Freemasonry seems to be a very popular topic for debate, both in the debate forum and on the Secret Societies board. I am hopeful that we will uncover some new territory here so that we don't go back and forth on the well-traveled road that seems to never end. If anyone can shine a new light on this topic (no pun intended) I believe it will be my worthy opponent 360Degrees.

Necessarily the debate on freemasonry will be, in some part, visceral. The topic doesn't lend itself well to agreed-upon 'facts' because for the most part pro-masonry 'facts' are written by masons and anti-masonry 'facts' are written by anti-masons. It is therefore inevitable that both sides of this argument will contain some subjectivity and I think my opponent and I understand and accept this.

I hope we will be judged on the merits of our arguments and not so much on our spelling, grammar or citation prowess. I retired my APA Manual of Style long ago so I hope the judges will accept simple citations where needed. I certainly don't intend to harangue my opponent on semantics or punctuation and I believe he feels the same.

Introduction

Freemasonry is commonly believed to have been organized in its current form around 1717 in England. While 'mason-ish' organizations and trade unions have existed much longer, the generally agreed-upon starting date for modern masonry is 1717.

The term 'Freemasonry' generally refers to the Blue Lodge, or first three degrees. There are estimated to be several million blue lodge masons around the world. Masonic lodges are commonly found in nearly every community in the US.

There are many other freemasonry-affiliated organizations that require their members to be masons, but for the purpose of this debate we will be focusing on blue lodge masonry.

Background

I am a Master (third degree) mason in a lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Illinois. I don't belong to any appendant bodies or societies so the whole of my experience is within blue lodge masonry in the state of Illinois.

It is often said that, "No mason speaks for the entirety of masonry." I think in this debate that is particularly true. My arguments are made from the point of view of a mason, with any extra information I have gleaned on my own outside of masonry.

Under the topic of "What is Freemasonry?", the Illinois Grand Lodge posts this answer on their web site IL Grand Lodge:



Freemasonry aims to promote Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love among its members. It is, by definition, a fraternity; comprised of men from every race, religion, opinion, and background who are brought together as Brothers to develop and strengthen the bonds of friendship.

With over 3 million members, Freemasons belong to the largest and oldest fraternal organization in the world. Freemasonry proposes to "make good men better" by teaching - with metaphors from geometry and architecture - about building values based on great universal truths.


Using this quote as a general starting point (after all we have to start 'somewhere'), I would like to offer this premise as the foundation of our debate:

Resolved, that the primary purpose of Freemasonry is to 'Make Good Men Better'.

I have no doubt that my opponent will offer several reasons that this premise is not true. I will defend my resolution both objectively and subjectively so that we can expose as much information possible toward resolving this issue.

So, let us begin.

Questions for My Opponent


Question 1 - Can you show evidence that the primary purpose of masonry is anything other than 'making good men better'?


Question 2 - Given that the vast majority of masons believe they are pursuing the goal of making good men better, can you offer evidence that these masons are being deceived?


Question 3 - If Freemasonry on the whole is being misled, who is doing the misleading and to what end?

-----

I just want to thank everyone again and I am very excited to get this debate going!



posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 12:47 PM
link   
Since we are coming up on 24 hours, I'd like to ask the mods to allow an additional 24 hours (from my total if needed) to allow 360Degrees to respond.

I haven't heard from him in a few days but I want to make sure he has a chance to respond.



posted on Jul, 23 2008 @ 10:40 AM
link   
Well.......

I am not sure what's up, but it looks like 360Degrees hasn't been on in six days.

Where do we go from here?



posted on Jul, 23 2008 @ 10:56 AM
link   
This debate has been reopened.

360Degrees had forfeited his Fighter title.

Ian McLean will resume the con position, which has been edited into the original post.

Judges: Disregard this and previous posts, save for emsed1's Opening Argument.

[edit on 26-7-2008 by MemoryShock]



posted on Jul, 26 2008 @ 07:46 PM
link   
Thanks for letting me fill in here. Let me first express my concern and best wishes for 360Degrees -- I don't know the situation, but I understand that other priorities in life should often be placed ahead of dalliances such as ATS and I hope everything's OK.

 


Opening statement

To my opponent and the readers: in the interest of moving this debate forward without delay, I'm just going to make this opening statement a quick response, then go from there.

My opponent's opening statement:


I would like to offer this premise as the foundation of our debate:
Resolved, that the primary purpose of Freemasonry is to 'Make Good Men Better'.

Nice try! Let me play! How about this: "I would like to offer this premise as the foundation of our debate:"

Resolved, I am right and my opponent is wrong.


That was fun! However, as my opponent has cogently stated, let's not make vague statements, but instead rely on rationally-agreeable discussion and objective evidence.


I hope we will be judged on the merits of our arguments and not so much on our spelling, grammar or citation prowess. I retired my APA Manual of Style long ago so I hope the judges will accept simple citations where needed. I certainly don't intend to harangue my opponent on semantics or punctuation and I believe he feels the same.

OK by me -- formality isn't required for clear understanding, in my opinion. Simple, accessible citations are fine -- I like it when the readers can simply click a link and follow sources, rather than having to drive to the library. But, of course, not all sources are equal -- despite the informality, I'm sure my opponent will carefully analyze the objectivity of any cited sources



Answers to my opponent's questions


Question 1 - Can you show evidence that the primary purpose of masonry is anything other than 'making good men better'?

Yes. 'Making good men better' is clearly an unsubstantiated propaganda statement. So, what is meant by 'better'? As I understand it, masonry's sole 'entrance requirement' is the belief in a Creator -- a Higher Power. Masonry claims to be open to anyone, regardless of their personal morality or the specifics of their beliefs with regard to that 'Higher Power'. This renders the term 'better', within any common context, entirely meaningless. A propaganda statement -- designed to make members feel better about themselves, similar to the second parallel assumption in the statement -- that masons are, implicitly, 'good men'.


Question 2 - Given that the vast majority of masons believe they are pursuing the goal of making good men better, can you offer evidence that these masons are being deceived?

We shall see, during the course of this debate, what evidence becomes relevant. The burden of positive proof here is yours, not mine -- if you contend, for example, "unicorns exist and their goal is to make every day a happy-smiley day", then you must prove the existence of such single-horned creatures, as well as showing consistent and conclusive evidence of their true motives.

To get back to masonry: it is clear that the occasionally-stated 'goal' of making 'good men better' is simply a slogan, stated in the vaguest terms possible. Attempts to move such a statement beyond individual subjective interpretation quickly become meaningless and contradictory. Thus, the 'deception' you posit is inherent in its promulgation as masonry's 'goal'.

And perhaps, during the course of this debate, other, less 'feel-good' motives for self-deception among masons shall become apparent.


Question 3 - If Freemasonry on the whole is being misled, who is doing the misleading and to what end?

Obviously, first and foremost, the members themselves. People choose what deceptions to embrace regarding themselves. Are there other misleading influences, incidental and deliberate? Yes: the 'driving minds' of masonic thought who have, historically, contributed to the generation of such propaganda and interwoven it with 'masonic philosophy'. And the ends? Why, the self-interest of organized masonry and its power-structures, of course. It's not an uncommon pattern: confounding the best-interest of members with the self-interest of the organization or its elites has been an attribute of cults throughout history.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is quite clear that there is no rational or objective evidence to support the case that "FreeMasonry’s Sole Purpose Is To 'Make Good Men Better'".


Questions for my opponent

1: What is the official masonic method for determining who is a 'good man'?
2: What objective measures do masons use to determine whether they're getting 'better'?
3: Why should the obviously vague propaganda statement, expressed by the Grand Lodge you cited, be taken at face value?


 

Again, thanks to emsed1 for agreeing to this substitution, and thanks as always to the readers and MemoryShock for moderating. Let's have some fun!



posted on Jul, 28 2008 @ 10:23 AM
link   
Good morning,

I want to thank my opponent for bravely stepping in to continue this debate and I am looking forward to a strong intellectual challenge.

---

Rebuttal

To my first question about providing evidence that masonry has a primary purpose other than making good men better, my opponent replied with his own opinion that 'making good men better' was a propaganda statement and extolled it's 'meaninglessness'.

While I respect his opinion and impression, he did not provide any evidence for a different primary purpose of masonry. This is the crux of our debate. Thus far no substantive evidence has been provided that masonry has a different primary purpose.

To my second question about whether masons are being deceived my opponent again answers about the visceral and subjective nature of the proposition without any proof that masons are indeed being deceived. He implies that there may be a form of self-deception which will be interesting to explore but still remains unproven.

In my third question about who is deceiving masonry my opponent brings up an excellent point about the driving forces in the history of masonry. This will certainly lend itself to further exposition in the debate, but in the end it will be shown that primary goal of masonry has always been, and remains, making good men better.

Response to Questions


1: What is the official masonic method for determining who is a 'good man'?


This is a difficult question to answer, not because it can't be answered, but because there are many possible answers.

I believe masonry is purposefully vague in this requirement. Since lodges exist worldwide in a variety of cultures with substantially different mores and values it is generally left to an individual lodge or Grand Lodge to prescribe the particular requirements.

The statement itself, making good men better, alludes to masonry as a personally fulfilling experience. Of course a man must be judged beforehand in order to gain entry, but in order for him to successfully complete his masonic journey he must consider himself 'good'. I will expound on this in a moment, but first I will try to provide some evidentiary context.

The Masonic Service Association of North America provides information and support to state Grand Lodges. While there is no governing body (in North America) that has higher authority than a state Grand Lodge, the MSA is the closest thing to an 'authority' on the general provisions of masonry.

The MSA defines potential members as men who:


* Seek fulfillment through multiple levels of experience, including body, mind, and spirit
* Enjoy brotherhood
* Desire a community enriched by participation, dialogue, and inquiry
* Are principled, disciplined, and compassionate


The Illinois Grand Lodge defines what a good man should be in order to petition for membership:

Be of good moral and social character


At the local level (much like the Federal government) individual lodges can add clarifications that fit that particular lodge. For example, at my lodge, one definition of a good man is one with no felony convictions.

This is not to say there are not bad masons or evil masons. But in order for a man to receive all that masonry has to offer he must at least strive to be a good person who seeks self-improvement. There is no tangible benefit to a man or to masonry if someone is only self-interested or evil, and such a man would enter masonry deceptively and soon find it did not suit his tastes or motivations and leave.




2: What objective measures do masons use to determine whether they're getting 'better'?


Masonry does not offer any measurement of a man's progress through the craft. The journey through masonry is measured at the level of self and only the mason can determine how successful he is at becoming 'better'.

Masonry is only one path of many that can lead to fulfillment personally and socially. Masonry does not force a man to become better, but that is the goal it strives for. The only person who can measure a mason is himself.

Masonry does offer many moral lessons and guidelines, mostly through analogy, to help a man determine the proper moral behavior. For example, we are taught to 'subdue our passions' which is a sort of flowery Victorian phrase that means that a man should examine his motivations when he decides to act. Men learn to decide whether taking a certain course of action is purely for personal ego fulfillment, or if it contributes to a better self and a better society.

In this way a man can measure himself and his progress. In my own personal experience I tend to pause before reacting much more now than I did before masonry. When faced with a difficult decision I think back to some of the lessons of masonry to decide if this is a good or right action, and to reconsider the action if it is simply fulfilling a selfish desire.


3: Why should the obviously vague propaganda statement, expressed by the Grand Lodge you cited, be taken at face value?


The obvious answer here is 'why shouldn't it?' but that would only result in an impasse. Since I proposed this statement in the opening, the burden of proof rests on me.

The Grand Lodge statement should be taken at face value because it is true. This sounds like a copout, but let me explain.

Since masonry is a private voluntary organization, it can set it's own rules and restrictions on membership provided they correspond with the laws of the nation and state.

The reason masonry requires good men is not propaganda, rather it speaks to masonry's rejection of poor moral character. Although it happens extremely rarely there are occasions when a man is voted out of masonry due to bad moral behavior. Masons are very tolerant of individuality but the organization would not have lasted as long as it has if it didn't try to pursue 'good' behavior.

The second reason the statement should be taken at face value is that much in the same way masonry seeks good men, masons seek guidance and learning to improve themselves and help others.

A mason who managed to join a lodge seeking personal gain or benefit, or to use any supposed 'secrets' to his advantage would quickly lose interest because masonry doesn't offer these.

The statement should be taken at face value simply because it has always been and remains the fundamental reason for the success of masonry both as a benefit to society and a path of learning for morality.

Questions

Question 1 - If 'making good men better' is simply propaganda, what is the true primary purpose of masonry?

Question 2 - If masonry is a cult designed only to perpetuate itself to serve the 'elites', who are the elites?

Question 3 - Why would masonry resort to such an elaborate and tedious method of teaching and learning if the end result was not personal improvement?

---

Thank you again for stepping up and I look forward to your reply!



posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 08:06 AM
link   
Emsed1, first let me thank you for the reasonable and informative tone you have struck.

I've only been a member of ATS for a few months, and I must admit, before coming here I had hardly heard the term 'anti-mason' before. If you'd asked me, I would perhaps have dredged up something about an American political party, sometime in the late 1800s.

So I was a little surprised by the vitriol and ferocity that I saw 'masons' and 'anti-masons' battling it out with in the forums here. I learned some interesting things, one of which is that some people take things very seriously and very personally.

A calm tone is refreshing; I shall try to continue in the same vein.

 


The Dangers of Vague Purpose

When I first heard the masonic saying "Making good men better", I thought: 'why, that's a fine thing!'. And, indeed, who would disagree? About as many people as would agree that 'helping evil men spread corruption' is a laudable goal.

But, perhaps, as a citizen of modern times and an ATS member, I am just a little cynical. When I hear what I consider 'vague' ideological terminology, it raises a red flag, and I wonder why that terminology is vague.

I'd like to illustrate this, with an example from politics. If what I say doesn't line up with your particular political opinions, please understand that's not the point I'm trying to make here.

The example is this: I have heard political rhetoric that calls for 'Spreading Freedom and Democracy Throughout the World'.

That, too, sounds like a laudable purpose. Who would disagree with spreading freedom? And democracy, with its promise of egalitarian participation in the power of the state, certainly sounds better than authoritarianism, or dictatorship.

But, as a lover of freedom and human rights, there are times when I have been aghast at the specific actions undertaken in the name of such a 'goal'. It seems that, when it comes to translating lofty rhetoric into specific action, the results are often directly contradictory to what I would have thought was implied.

So, alas, I've learned the need to be a little suspicious, and not trust such vague statements, without specifically analyzing what happens when they're put into practice. Thus, my focus, in the questions of my opening statement, on the specific measures and definitions that masonry uses to determine the requirements of being a 'good man'.

My opponents answer was not reassuring. While he cited laudable ideals of fellowship and fraternity, the specifics of how masonry as an organization would measure the 'goodness' it purports to instill in men, when those ideals translate into action, were sadly lacking.


masonry is purposefully vague in this requirement... lodges exist worldwide in a variety of cultures with substantially different mores and values

Whether or not you agree with my personal political opinion of the dangers of vague rhetoric such as 'spreading freedom' and 'fighting the axis of evil', the analogy is valid (not radical enough? try this) : is it clear that masonry's contention that it 'improves good men' is the same kind of subjective rhetoric -- not an objectively definable 'goal' at all.


Et en Caritas ego...

Masonry has many advocates; it clearly can offer many benefits to its members. As a social organization, with innocuous charitable works and various public service goals, members can perhaps find the experience rewarding to their sense of altruism. My opponent has obviously found, in his consideration of masonry, opportunity for considerable introspection -- for that I applaud him.

Are those introspections false? Are the charitable works of well-intentioned members subversively provided? I understand that masons can cook up a mean pancake breakfast -- are their pancakes filled with evil? I contend: no.

But is that the whole picture of masonry? Are those public acts a complete representation of its true goals, or are they merely a 'public face' for masonry, honestly and validly portrayed by the lower degrees?


Question 1 - If 'making good men better' is simply propaganda, what is the true primary purpose of masonry?
Question 2 - If masonry is a cult designed only to perpetuate itself to serve the 'elites', who are the elites?

The answer to both these questions: I don't know. I can offer no first-hand evidence thereof. And, I assume, neither can you, from your opening statement that the whole of your experience is within blue lodge masonry in the state of Illinois. But we can speculate!

It is at this point in the debate, I believe, that I'm expected to quote Albert Pike. I think it's tradition or something



The Blue Degrees are but the outer court or portico of the Temple. Part of the symbols are displayed there to the Initiate, but he is intentionally misled by false interpretations. It is not intended that he shall understand them; but it is intended that he shall imagine he understands them. Their true explication is reserved for the Adepts, the Princes of Masonry.
Link

Question 1: Is Albert Pike a reliable source regarding the true nature of masonry?

Question 2: Why should we believe that charitable works and other 'good acts', however honest, are not also merely part of the 'outer court' of masonry, concealing its true goals?

Ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that the slogan "making good men better", despite the emotionally-positive connotations it evokes, is, in fact, not a true 'goal' at all -- it is tasty frosting on the blue-lodge cake, covering the secret layers beneath.


Masonry: The One True Religion?

Masonry has a long history of opposing both secular and religious authority that might interfere with its 'traditions':


In the various versions of the rituals, it was explained to the Candidate that the crown does not represent legitimate political authority, but political tyranny; and that the tiara does not represent legitimate religious authority, but religious tyranny. While the Candidate smashed the Crown, he was required to utter the words "May tyranny perish from the earth!" When he destroyed the tiara, he recited "May intolerance cease to curse mankind!"
Link

Question 3: Does this evidence that masonry has historically opposed political and religious authorities that it considers 'illegitimate' indicate that masonry's goals, as an organization, may extend beyond the 'betterment' of individual men?

Indeed, the Catholic Church, to this day, takes a dim view of masonry:


"The Church's negative position on Masonic association ... remain unaltered, since their principles have always been regarded as irreconcilable with the Church's doctrine. Hence, joining them remains prohibited by the Church. Catholics enrolled in Masonic associations are involved in serious sin and may not approach holy Communion." - Pope John Paul II, Nov. 26, 1983
Link

Question 4: If the Pope, and the over one billion Roman Catholics whose spiritual beliefs he represents, do not believe that the sole goal of masonry is to "make good men better", what makes their opinion more or less valid than that of the Illinois Grand Lodge?


Successive Indoctrination


Question 3 - Why would masonry resort to such an elaborate and tedious method of teaching and learning if the end result was not personal improvement?

One reasonable speculation is for purposes of successive indoctrination. In this approach, the 'initiate' is offered a tantalizing glimpse of 'truths' to be learned, with a vision of goals and altruistic ideals 'deliberately vague' enough so as to offer no grounds for moral objection. Through a series of 'lessons', embracing the 'symbolic significance' of masonry, the initiate's own sense of what is good and correct is replaced, or as it is called "refined" by masonic teachings. The mason learns to identify masonry itself as a pure source of 'good teachings'.

This iterative process, benchmarked though the achievement of increasing 'degrees', serves a dual purpose: first, those who might object to any 'secret goals' of masonry are weeded out, they do not make it beyond the 'portico' Pike describes. Second, layers of indoctrination mould the applicant's world-view, via lessons and rituals, to such a point that the inherent 'goodness and truth' of masonic teachings becomes unquestioned, and the applicant serves, not only as a loyal proponent of the 'public facade' of masonic intention, but as an unquestionably reliable supporter of the inner organization itself.

We can thus see the effect of hierarchically-concealed masonic secrets: the organization adapts individuals to its ideology, makes them reliable to serve any covert goals or agendas, and ensures the overriding goal of its historic perpetuation.


 

Back over to you, my esteemed opponent! I hope I didn't throw you too many hot-potatoes!



posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 05:12 PM
link   
I have to say I got pretty engrossed in the debate and realized I had gotten lost as to how we were progressing.

I went back and counted and it seems this will begin the second of three rounds, which is a relief because it gives me some maneuvering room in order to lead my opponent to his untimely doom!

Or something... but I digress.

Onward!

----

Rebuttal

It seems no masonic debate would be complete without invoking Albert Pike. In fact, as my opponent pointed out, it is actually 'expected'.

While I understand my opponent's proposition that 'Vague Purpose' can at times be dangerous I would argue that it is in fact the opposite of truth.

If the purpose were stated "Masonry takes good men and forces them to be better through the enforcement of unquestioned dogma" then I would worry.

In actuality it is quite the contrary. Masonry doesn't want unquestioning sheep in its membership. Masonry encourages men to ask the hard questions and challenge conventional wisdom. If you examine some of the most influential masons throughout history you will find that they were also many of the most revolutionary characters as well. They fought government oppression, religious intolerance and the suppression of knowledge.

In fact, it is this encouragement to question the status quo that has scared governments and churches. When the citizenry begins to see that the Emperor (or indeed, the Pope) has no clothes, the privileged few begin to lose their grasp on control of the people.

This is exactly the kind of behavior that got freemasonry booted from the church, sentenced to death for heresy and hunted down by the likes of Hitler.

What if someone were to say to a billion Catholics, "Hey, guess what? You don't have to do all the pew aerobics and munch on the flesh of Jesus in order to be received into God's eternal love."

Indeed, to paraphrase my opponents own source, who would argue that banishing tyranny from the world and removing the curse of religious intolerance could do anything BUT make good men better.

Questions


Question 1: Is Albert Pike a reliable source regarding the true nature of masonry?


Albert Pike is a reliable source regarding HIS interpretation of the true nature of masonry.

The beauty of masonry is that it neither forces nor requires the mason to believe it's lessons blindly. It is through examining what masonry offers that a man learns to decide for himself.

At the end of the day (God I hate that phrase) whether a man believes in the lessons of masonry or not he is indeed 'better' for having explored them.

The vast majority find them plausible and uplifting and decide to incorporate them into their lives.

Personally I find Pike a little dogmatic, but I think a lot of that has to do with the hyperbolic nature of his writings.

It is also important to point out that the vast majority of Pike's writings deal with the Scottish Rite and York Rite, which are not necessarily the path that all masons pursue.

It is only logical to assume that Blue Lodge is deceptive IF Blue Lodge masons are required to complete the upper degrees. The fact that masons are not required to advance through Scottish or York Rite renders the 'deception' hypothesis impotent.

This, of course, leads us to our next question:


Question 2: Why should we believe that charitable works and other 'good acts', however honest, are not also merely part of the 'outer court' of masonry, concealing its true goals?


I think we can stipulate that the 'inner court' and 'true goals' (for the purpose of this debate) are the terms for Scottish Rite as stated by our illustrious Pike as he begins the explanation of the fourth degree, mysteriously named 'Secret Master'. (cue spooky music)

Morals and Dogma, explaining the first three degrees of the blue lodge:


They are but the entrance to the great Masonic Temple, the triple columns of the portico.


It would appear at first that we have found ourselves at an impasse. Do we dare wander away from the warm and fuzzy tenets of the blue lodge and peer into the portico?

As much as I would love to we must limit ourselves to the initial scope of the debate which is blue lodge masonry. (It would be a fascinating debate to watch, though. hint hint.)

I cannot speak to what lies beyond the blue degrees because I have chosen to not pursue them at this point in my life. I think the fact that a mason is free to choose his path is strong evidence that masonry does NOT have a cultish or deceptive purpose.

Through the application of simple logic alone it is easy to see that it would be much more likely for an organization to deceive four million people if it refused to allow them to ask questions or make decisions.

The hallmark of cults and deceptive societies is absolute control of it's members. I don't think even my opponent would argue this point.

Indeed masons are asked repeatedly through their degree advancements whether they come of their 'own free will and accord'.

To answer the question, I do expect the reader to believe that the good acts and charitable works of masonry are nothing more than manifestations of 'making good men better' and nothing more. There simply isn't any credible evidence to the contrary.


Question 3: Does this evidence that masonry has historically opposed political and religious authorities that it considers 'illegitimate' indicate that masonry's goals, as an organization, may extend beyond the 'betterment' of individual men?


Let us once again return to Worshipful Brother Pike for this loquacious explanation. (I have taken the liberty of inserting spaces in this quote for readability. If we can agree on nothing else, let us agree that Pike was a man who loved to hear himself talk!):


Truths are the springs from which duties flow; and it is but a few hundred years since a new Truth began to be distinctly seen; that MAN IS SUPREME OVER INSTITUTIONS, AND NOT THEY OVER HIM.

Man has natural empire over all institutions. They are for him, according to his development; not he for them. This seems to us a very simple statement, one to which all men, everywhere, ought to assent.

But once it was a great new Truth,---not revealed until governments had been in existence for at least five thousand years. Once revealed, it imposed new duties on men. Man owed it to himself to be free. He owed it to his country to seek to give her freedom, or maintain her in that possession.

It made Tyranny and Usurpation the enemies of the Human Race. It created a general outlawry of Despots and Despotisms, temporal and spiritual. The sphere of Duty was immensely enlarged. Patriotism had, henceforth, a new and wider meaning. Free Government, Free Thought, Free Conscience, Free Speech! All these came to be inalienable rights, which those who had parted with them or been robbed of them, or whose ancestors had lost them, had the right summarily to retake.


Pike writes this in the middle of the explanation of the Second Degree. He begins to reveal glimpses of what further truths masonry offers.


Masonry felt that this Truth had the Omnipotence of God on its side; and that neither Pope nor Potentate could overcome it. It was a truth dropped into the world's wide treasury, and forming a part of the heritage which each generation receives, enlarges, and holds in trust, and of necessity bequeaths to mankind; the personal estate of man, entailed of nature to the end of time.

And Masonry early recognized it as true, that to set forth and develop a truth, or any human excellence of gift or growth, is to make greater the spiritual glory of the race; that whosoever aids the march of a Truth, and makes the thought a thing, writes in the same line with MOSES, and with Him who died upon the cross, and has an intellectual sympathy with the Deity Himself.


Radical thoughts, to be sure, but they only lend creedence to the fact that masonry strives for the betterment of man. By reading these quotes carefully you can see that Pike is not advocating the overthrow of tyranny and intolerance simply because he doesn't like them.

He advocates the pursuit of knowledge exactly BECAUSE it contributes to the betterment of man.

It was this philosophy that really burned the backside of the kings and Popes because their power rests upon the fear and control of an unquestioning society. Once it is proven that one man truly holds no control over another life becomes dangerous for tyrants and intolerants.

But what Pike is saying (and by extension masonry) is not "Destroy tyranny because we say so." it is "Question tyranny. Don't let institutions control you" and... (wait for it)... "Deny Ignorance!"

This clearly indicates that the betterment of man is precisely the goal of masonry. To go beyond that premise would destroy any legitimacy masonry may have.


Question 4: If the Pope, and the over one billion Roman Catholics whose spiritual beliefs he represents, do not believe that the sole goal of masonry is to "make good men better", what makes their opinion more or less valid than that of the Illinois Grand Lodge?


Yes! Now we are getting somewhere!

The answer is self-evidentiary. The Pope is wrong.

I believe it is a mistake to assume that the Pope represents the beliefs of one billion Catholics, but for the purpose of this question I will allow it. (Lucky you!)

I would submit that the very power to speak for all of Catholicism is derived not through the will or submission of Catholics, but rather through the use of intimidation and manipulation. It is not derived from the consent of the governed, but rather yielded under the threat of excommunication for heresy.

(continued)



posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 05:19 PM
link   
Masonry is dangerous for Catholicism which explains why it is treated as heretical. Catholicism, however, is insignificant to masonry.

Questions

1 - You have implied that masonry's purpose is more sinister than the betterment of men. What is the purpose?

2 - Do you agree that the spreading of knowledge and the questioning of dogma and intolerance can only lead to the betterment of man?

---

I am so sorry for the length of this post! I was under the impression that there were no character limits but when I looked back at the rules I noticed that a response must be contained within a single post.

I apologize for exceeding the limit and if there is a penalty I am prepared to accept it.



posted on Jul, 30 2008 @ 11:19 AM
link   
(Judges: I personally have no objection to raise, with regard to my opponent's split-posting mistake, and would encourage no specific penalty)

 


Anti-Catholicism

The topic of this debate is not: "Catholicism, because of its reliance on instituted authority, is an invalid spiritual path."

My opponent has perfectly exemplified my case. I sincerely doubt that, if we were to ask 1000 people "How can we make good men better?", any would agree that "By abolishing the Catholic Church!" is the obvious and correct answer.

Yet that is exactly what my opponent contends is obvious, by his readings of masonic teachings. That such subtle purposes may be hidden behind unobjectionable ideological slogans is the center of my case, and he has aptly demonstrated masonry's efficacy in that regard.

As an aside: while the issue of the validity of the Catholic Church is not of central relevance in this debate, I will mention that I find little rude my opponent's blunt statement, that the spiritual path over a billion people current choose to embrace is simply "wrong". Forgive the ego: I point the interested reader to a previous ATS post of mine, comparing and contrasting philosophical approaches in legal and religious interpretations, and encourage that we keep open minds regarding the validity and utility of other's belief practices.


Masonic Oppression

The topic of this debate is: "Freemasonry’s sole purpose is to 'make good men better'."

My opponent has elocuted wonderfully on freedom of knowledge, encouraging intellectual exploration, and the evils of coercive dogma. I wholeheartedly agree with such virtues. But do masonry's actions concord with the theory that raising those overtly-expressed ideals are its sole purpose? My opponent explains:


But what Pike is saying (and by extension masonry) is not "Destroy tyranny because we say so." it is "Question tyranny. Don't let institutions control you" and... (wait for it)... "Deny Ignorance!"

This clearly indicates that the betterment of man is precisely the goal of masonry. To go beyond that premise would destroy any legitimacy masonry may have.

Yet, 'going beyond' that is exactly what masonry has done:


L'Affaire des Fiches de délation (“affair of the cards of denunciation”) was a political scandal in France in 1904-1905 in which it was discovered that the militantly anticlerical War Minister under Emile Combes, General Louis André, was determining promotions based on a huge card index on public officials, detailing which were Catholic and who attended Mass, with a view to preventing their promotions. Much of the information had been collected by the Masonic Grand Orient de France. These records were shared with the Secretary of the French liberal Masonic Grand Orient; discovery of which caused media reporting which undermined the government.
Link

Question 1: Do you think those targeted, their careers suppressed by the Masonic Grand Orient lodge, were being "made better" by the actions of masonry?

Question 2: When the victims of this affair perhaps considered the purpose of masonry, do you think they concluded: "Question tyranny; don't let institutions control you", or was their experience that masonry's actions evidenced an entirely contradictory purpose?


Answers to Questions


1 - You have implied that masonry's purpose is more sinister than the betterment of men. What is the purpose?

This is a reiteration of your previous question, to which I gave the concise answer: I don't know. Rather than attempting oracular pronouncements, let's acknowledge that a secret society's actual purpose and goals are not exactly an open book, and must be inferred by reason, supported by evidence of their actions. That is exactly what I am doing in presenting my case. Were you expecting some sort of rant about the immanentization the eschaton?


2 - Do you agree that the spreading of knowledge and the questioning of dogma and intolerance can only lead to the betterment of man?

Sigh. I really want to answer, unequivocally, "yes". I, myself, embrace those ideals as worthy. Yet, one of the constant trials of life is that we must always be aware and questioning of ourselves and our ideals, when translating into practice.

For example, with regard to 'spreading of knowledge', would I post nuclear bomb plans on the internet, or simple instructions on how to construct a chemical weapon? Would that 'only lead to the betterment of man'?


Rebuttal


we must limit ourselves to the initial scope of the debate which is blue lodge masonry

Oh must we? The scope of this debate is 'Freemasonry'. To draw a parallel: I'm sure the executive branch would very much like citizens to form opinion of their government's actions base solely on the statements of the White House Press Office, but that wouldn't be very conducive to the honest pursuit of truth, would it?

My opponents self-interested desire limit the scope of this debate only serves to underscore the point: there is a difference between the actions and purpose of outer (blue lodge) and inner (esoteric) masonry. If there were not, the scope of this debate would be irrelevant to his case.


We can see evidence of this division of exoteric/esoteric purposes in the writing of masons themselves:


The Two-Fold Nature of Masonry
...the originators of Freemasonry designed our Fraternity to perform a double function: (1) To supply and apply the idealistic and ethical mortar for securely binding the unfolding social organizations of Man on the West side of the foreseen Renaissance; (2) To serve as the concealed connector to the illuminated Spiritual Initiates and their Arcane Societies.
Link

Question 3: Does this additional purpose of masonry, as a "concealed connector", always serve the sole goal of making individual 'good men' better?

From the pages of the Grand Lodge of Illinois:


Just because the "secrets" have been made public doesn't mean everyone knows the mystery of Masonry!
Link

Question 4: May we also infer: "just because 'a purpose' has been made public doesn't mean everyone knows the mysterious purposes of masonry"?



The hallmark of cults and deceptive societies is absolute control of it's members. I don't think even my opponent would argue this point.

Let me clear something up: Masonry is not a cult. Cult is a specific term, implying an authoritarian organization with a single charismatic leader. Clearly that is not the case with masonry; additionally, derogatory connotations can irrationally skew discussion; let's avoid labels.

That said, I do think we can gain valuable insight by considering the parallels of the effect of cults on their member's beliefs, and masonry. Both result in some level of ideological uniformity, a consensus of 'truth' that members come to believe is self-evident. The difference in methods, however, can be seen by further consideration of your idea of 'absolute control'.

I do argue against the idea that 'deceptive societies' effect their deceptiveness only via overt control. As example, consider the role of mass media in the formation of public consensus and opinion. It has been my observation that 'free' media, even while encouraging open discussion, can be manipulated to control. How? Via such devices as biased definition, skewed context, iteration of distraction, and false dichotomy.

That doesn't directly relate to masonic 'teaching' techniques, but it does illustrate the point: often, the most effective techniques of control are not absolute, but subtle, in which the individual considers themselves 'free' to choose as they like.

Can we see such subtle techniques in the education of the masonic path, that might evoke conformity in member's opinion of what 'good men' and 'good purpose' are, an incremental 're-education' to more esoteric definitions of purpose? Let's see:


Indeed masons are asked repeatedly through their degree advancements whether they come of their 'own free will and accord'.

The beauty of masonry is that it neither forces nor requires the mason to believe it's lessons blindly. It is through examining what masonry offers that a man learns to decide for himself.

Let me draw you an analogy, friend. You enter a series of many rooms, each with a single door, leading to the next room. In the first room, and are given reading materials, and set to wait, in that room, with others. You can leave at any time. You're encouraged to read the information, think, and draw your own conclusions.

There you sit until you try to open the door. At which point, before you can pass, you must demonstrate that you truly understand and accept the material, and that you want to continue on, of your own accord and free will.

If you can't or won't do that, there you sit, in that room, left to 'examine' and 'learn to decide for yourself'.

When you have come to accept the proffered material, and move through the door, you find another room, again with a single exit, new reading material, and the same test for advancement -- stay, until, by your own free will, you honestly accept these 'truths'.

The process repeats, from one room to the next, with no branches in the route. Perhaps, after the third room, you may stay in a pleasant outer courtyard of sorts, or continue on to a new series of rooms.

Would you not consider such a thing a potential system of successive indoctrination, capable of homogenizing and changing fundamental beliefs, such as what is 'good', and instilling covert purpose?



posted on Jul, 31 2008 @ 09:54 AM
link   
We have reached the third and final reply round, so in the interest of making this one count let's head to the questions straight away.




Question 1: Do you think those targeted, their careers suppressed by the Masonic Grand Orient lodge, were being "made better" by the actions of masonry?

Question 2: When the victims of this affair perhaps considered the purpose of masonry, do you think they concluded: "Question tyranny; don't let institutions control you", or was their experience that masonry's actions evidenced an entirely contradictory purpose?


I will answer these two at the same time. The actions of this organization have nothing whatever to do with masonry and are irrelevant to this debate.

My opponent cites the Grand Orient de France(GOdF) in his indictment of masonry. However, as we shall see in a moment using my opponents own cited source, GOdF is not accepted as a part of freemasonry and has been rejected by the vast majority of masonic bodies in the world.

This rejection of GOdF and it's unmasonic activities was due to violations of three of the most important values of freemasonry.

Wikipedia - GOdF


The GOdF practices Traditional Liberal Masonry that is often an antithesis to the Anglo tradition of Freemasonry that is prevalent in many parts of the world, especially found in English speaking countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and United Kingdom, as well as contries which follow the Anglo tradition such as India, South Africa and Russia.


One of the requirments of masonry is a belief in God. We have established this during the debate and I don't believe its validity is in question.

This belief in God is absolutely fundamental in the primary goal of making good men better. The lessons and purpose of freemasonry are meaningless without a belief in a benevolent and loving God.

Unfortunately, GOdF does not hold this belief as a tenet and is therefore not associated in any way with freemasonry.

Same source:


The GOdF believes in freedom of conscience, which allows them to admit Atheists. On the other hand, those Grand Lodges following the Anglo tradition require their members to profess a belief in deity. The Anglo-Masonic Jurisdictions withdrew recognition from the Grand Orient over this issue, and they now deem the GOdF "irregular".


The GOdF also allows open discussion of politics in lodge which is a substantial departure from the tenets of masonry. Masons do not allow discussion of politics or religion because these two topics divide men, disrupt harmony and defeat the purpose of trying to promote brotherhood.

These actions by GOdF resulted in widespread and harsh rejection from masonic lodges around the world.

In the masonic publication "The Builder" in January 1918, Brother J. H. Ramsey of Iowa recounts the rejection of GOdF by Iowa, Lousiana and other Grand Lodges. I will provide a link to the entire article because it is fascinating for both masons and anti-masons to read, but I will include just a short quote that gets to the heart of the matter.

The Builder, January 1918


To the M. W. Grand Lodge of Iowa:

"The special committee to whom the committee on the M. W. Grand
Master's address referred so much of the same as relates to the
Grand Orient of France, submit the following report:

"While we cordially agree with and endorse all of the views of our
M.W. Grand Master and the Committee on this subject, yet we
consider that its importance requires more than a mere resolution.
If the course of the Grand Orient of France is allowed to go
unrebuked and become the recognized law, we may well say farewell
to Masonry. It is the glory of our Institution that we do not
interfere with any man's religious or political opinions. At the
same time we discountenance atheism and doubt, disloyalty and
rebellion. No atheist can be made a Mason; and the first inquiry
made of a candidate, after entering the lodge is, in whom does he
put his trust? These are the essential requisites, and the
cornerstone on which our Masonic edifice is erected. Remove them,
and the structure falls. What is the course that the Grand Orient
of France takes ? They have entirely blotted out this necessary
qualification, and leave it to the "ipse dixit" of each initiate to
decide as he prefers, thus entirely ignoring the imperative belief
in God and His attributes, as understood in all enlightened
countries. American Masons will not submit to such a monstrous
proposition, and the mere thought of it is well calculated to
arouse our indignation and dissent. We protest against such an
innovation, and "wipe our hands" of it. Let such sentiments
prevail, and our enemies will desire no better argument with which
to destroy us. The Grand Lodges of Ireland and England have set
noble examples to the Masonic world, by remonstrating, and breaking
off all intercourse with these iconoclasts.


Onward...




Question 3: Does this additional purpose of masonry, as a "concealed connector", always serve the sole goal of making individual 'good men' better?


My answer to this question is a resounding 'YES'. All of the purposes of masonry serve the goal of making good men better. Some of them are straightforward and obvious, such as the teaching of brotherly love, relief and truth.

Some of them are much more difficult to perceive and understand, but they do, in all cases, lead to the betterment of man.

Of course the indisputable proof of these statements lie within the secrets of masonry I have sworn to protect. I cannot reveal them, but at the same time I don't expect the reader to take my word for it.

Perhaps some insight can be offered by the paragraph immediately preceding the citation by my opponent that inspired the question:


The esoteric aspect of Freemasonry was designed to operate on two planes. The first plane is that of the collective, or group function. The second plane is that of the inner being of the individual Mason. Wilmshurst emphasizes this in his “Meaning of Masonry”: “. . .’Know thyself!’ was the injunction inscribed over the portals of ancient Temples of Initiation, for with that knowledge was promised the knowledge of all secrets and all mysteries. And Masonry was designed to teach knowledge much deeper, vaster and more difficult than is popularly conceived. The wisest and most advanced of us is perhaps still but an Entered Apprentice at this knowledge, however high his titular rank. Here and there may be one worthy of being hailed as a Fellow-Craft in the true sense. The full Master Mason - the just man made perfect who has actually travelled the entire path, endured all its tests and ordeals, and becomes raised into conscious union with the Author and Giver of Life and able to mediate and impart that life to others - is at all times hard to find.”


If we accept my opponents citation as evidence, then we must also consider this statement made by the same author in the same article. He is making the point that learning all that masonry has to offer is difficult and takes a lifetime of learning and dedication.

However, the author alludes to the ultimate goal of masonry in the last sentence:


The full Master Mason - the just man made perfect who has actually travelled the entire path, endured all its tests and ordeals, and becomes raised into conscious union with the Author and Giver of Life and able to mediate and impart that life to others...


Thus, by my opponents own citation, we can finally reveal the ultimate goal of masonry - to raise men into conscious union with the Author and Giver of Life, and to impart that life to others.

Therefore we can now put the pieces together. Masonry requires good men to believe in God. Masonry teaches good men how to become better men through service to others with the eventual goal of union with God and the spreading of that purpose to others.




Question 4: May we also infer: "just because 'a purpose' has been made public doesn't mean everyone knows the mysterious purposes of masonry"?


I will agree with the premise here, but will also say that it should be evident by now that just because there are 'mysteries' does not make them sinister.
---

My loquaciousness has again left me with little space to conclude so I will ask my final question. It may not be completely wise on my part to allow my opponent to use his entire final reply to respond to a single question, but he has been more than patient with me.

So, at my own peril, (nervous laugh) I present my opponent with one question for his final reply.

Question 1 - Having read all the evidence presented here can you agree that we have proven that the primary purpose of masonry is nothing more than to 'make good men better'?

---

See you in the closing arguments! :-)



posted on Aug, 1 2008 @ 07:13 AM
link   
Thank you emsed1! Whew, this is turning into quite the trial! Some final questions and answers, evidence and rebuttal, before closing statements:

 


Circularity And Relevance


My loquaciousness has again left me with little space to conclude so I will ask my final question...

Question 1 - Having read all the evidence presented here can you agree that we have proven that the primary purpose of masonry is nothing more than to 'make good men better'?

My dear opponent, you had over 900 characters remaining within which to snipe! Ten, perhaps fifteen lines of solid wit could have been written!
Ah well, perhaps we will hear more in your closing statement. To answer your question: that has certainly not been proven, and in fact has not even been evidenced, beyond vague and subjective rhetoric.

Such 'proof' as my opponent has attempted to present is circular. He contends: of course the sole masonic purpose is improving good men, as masonry's ideals are inherently 'good'! The proof of this? Personal opinion and subjective experience, and any specific evidence to the contrary can be dismissed:


The actions of this organization have nothing whatever to do with masonry and are irrelevant

Why? Because he contends that any masonic action, evidencing perhaps less-idealistic purpose, is inherently 'non-masonic', and thus retroactively invalid. Evidence of masonic purpose that is not 'good' is 'irrelevant', as masonry's purpose is inherently 'good'. Gentle reader, that is clearly circular logic, and is not valid proof of anything.


Retroactive Divestiture

There is a pattern of the internal structure of masonry attempting to maintain an unobjectionable outer appearance. Here is some more evidence, of a long-standing Italian masonic lodge, founded in 1877, retroactively discredited due to criminal activities:


The lodge was then examined by a special commission of the Italian Parliament, directed by Tina Anselmi of the Democrazia Cristiana. The conclusion of the commission was that it was a secret criminal organization. ...but soon a political debate overtook the legal level of the analysis.

In 1981 a masonic tribunal decided that the 1974 vote had meant that the lodge had already been erased and that the lodge had been illegal all along.

(my emphasis added)
Link

Question 1: Were all the 'masonic teachings' of this lodge, for almost a century, in fact 'non-masonic', and how could the members (apparently, some of whom were not 'good men') discern the difference, and why did they not?


Dogmatic Opposition

My opponent claims unquestionable conviction regarding the purposes of masonry:


My answer to this question is a resounding 'YES'. All of the purposes of masonry serve the goal of making good men better. Some of them are straightforward and obvious, such as the teaching of brotherly love, relief and truth.

Some of them are much more difficult to perceive and understand, but they do, in all cases, lead to the betterment of man.

He claims his proof is 'indisputable', yet cannot be revealed:


Of course the indisputable proof of these statements lie within the secrets of masonry I have sworn to protect. I cannot reveal them, but at the same time I don't expect the reader to take my word for it.

That is quite surprising! Let's look a little closer at part of the explicit oath that higher-level masons are required to take, before passing into the eighteenth 'room' of masonry:


Eighteenth degree: "I obligate and pledge myself always to sustain, that it belongs to Masonry to teach the great unsectarian truths"
Link

Consider for a moment the phrase 'always to sustain'. It leaves no room for reason or question, no allowance to ever acknowledge the validity of any opposing viewpoint. This, from an organization that purports to oppose blind dogmatism?

Question 2: How do the oaths you admit to having taken affect the credibility of the personal opinion and experience you are claiming as evidence in this debate?


Hidden Connections

My opponent agrees with the premise that there are mysterious purposes within masonry:



Question 4: May we also infer: "just because 'a purpose' has been made public doesn't mean everyone knows the mysterious purposes of masonry"?

I will agree with the premise here

But then attempts to spin the nature of the 'esoteric aspect' of masonry, as described by mason Kenneth Hooley:


"The esoteric aspect of Freemasonry was designed to operate on two planes. The first plane is that of the collective, or group function. The second plane is that of the inner being of the individual Mason."
Link


He is making the point that learning all that masonry has to offer is difficult and takes a lifetime of learning and dedication.

As I read it, Mr Hooley is making the point that, as well as individual 'learning', the inner, esoteric masonry has a group function, by which masons coordinate amongst themselves and with others (the mysterious "illuminated Spiritual Initiates and their Arcane Societies" to which he refers, and which my opponent ignores).

How do masons of the inner arcana function amongst themselves, as necessary to their 'mysterious purposes'? Let's look at some more of the publicly-revealed oaths required to enter the later 'rooms':


Thirtieth Degree:

"I solemnly and freely vow obedience to all the laws and regulations of the Order, whose belief will be my belief, I promise obedience to all my regular superiors."

"I pledge myself never to harm a Knight Kadosh, either by word or deed . . .; I vow that if I find him as a foe in the battlefield, I will save his life, when he makes me the Sign of Distress, and that I will free him from prison and confinement upon land or water, even to the risk of my own life or my own liberty."

"I pledge myself to obey without hesitation any order whatever it may be of my regular Superiors in the Order".
Link

Absolute obedience to hierarchy, blind embracing of belief, pledges to protect and hold unaccountable other members, without question and at any cost. Are these the ideals that good men embrace, in search of betterment?

Question 3: Do higher-level masons serve in judicial and political capacities in the United States, and, if so, do their oaths and loyalties to masonry take precedence over their roles in protecting the public trust?


Morals And Dogma


One of the requirments of masonry is a belief in God.

Masonry requires good men to believe in God.

This debate would not be well-served by my allowing it to turn into an argument about the merits of theism versus atheism and agnosticism. I will only point out that I've known many men, whom I consider good men, who do not profess a theistic world-view. And I do not believe that the path of self-improvement, spiritual 'betterment', must necessarily require the embracing of particular beliefs that conform to the criteria of any one institution.


Freedom Of Expression

My opponent has offered the interesting tidbit of information that, at least in the outer lodges, masonry forbids certain forms of open discussion:


Masons do not allow discussion of politics or religion because these two topics divide men, disrupt harmony and defeat the purpose of trying to promote brotherhood.

I must question the motives behind this policy. Somehow, the explanation that it might 'disrupt harmony' doesn't ring true. Perhaps there is another motive? What is meant by 'harmony', in this context? Is it not merely a flowery way of saying 'uniformity of belief and unquestioned consensus'? Surely, within a fraternal organization, men of good conscience can agree they may disagree, without limiting their right to express themselves.

Indeed, let's look at the practical role that discussion of specific experience and opinion play, in establishing validity of symbolic systems of moral and epistemological representation:

We may embrace certain ideals such as, for example, "it is a good thing to spread freedom". We might all agree with that. But then, we must discuss the specific implications of putting those concepts into practice. Is the use of force, in acting upon such a philosophy, justified? Should we unilaterally impose such an ideal upon others? To what extent is any suffering created by so doing justified, by the beneficial ends of such action?

What once stood as an unobjectionable purpose is revealed as a shallow slogan. The implications of consequence, to action undertaken serving the 'ideal', reveal deeper, more complex philosophical and moral issues.

In fact, one of the beauties of this world is exactly that it presents us such opportunity for self-examination via concrete experience -- a forum for intellectual interaction, discussion leading to insight and consensus, a means to openly act upon our beliefs and learn subtle lessons of consequence.

Are men made 'better', by being denied the sharing of such experience? Or does so doing really only serve the purpose of enabling the indoctrination of potentially false, unquestioned uniformity of belief?

From my opponent's cited source, mason J.H. Ramsey:


It is the glory of our Institution that we do not interfere with any man's religious or political opinions.
Link

Question 4: In light of the evidence and explanation I have presented in this debate, do you still unequivocally sustain that this statement is true?



posted on Aug, 1 2008 @ 03:29 PM
link   
Conclusion

Dear Esteemed Reader,

One week from tomorrow will be the 3rd birthday of a beautiful child named Caylee Marie Anthony. Caylee has been missing since June 9th of this year.

Tomorrow my local masonic lodge will be conducting a masonic Child Identification Program (CHIP) at a local safety fair. This program is put on several times a year at the request of any organization for absolutely no charge whatsoever. My brothers will be attempting to provide identification kits to the parents of more than 250 children.

This is the biggest service program we support, because it is one of the most critical. In the CHIP program parents bring their child for fingerprinting, digital photograph and video interview, cheek DNA swab and vital statistics recording like weight and height. This information is given to the parents (nothing is retained by the lodge except a permission slip) and the parent has an invaluable treasure chest of information for police if (God forbid) the horrible situation that happened to Caylee should ever happen to their child.

What is my motivation for presenting this startling example as the basis for my closing statement?

The reason is very simple.

Aside from this challenging intellectual exercise of Socratic debate (against a VERY formidable opponent) I feel it is a very powerful example of what Freemasonry *IS*. This example is happening right now and right here and is observable by all of us.

It supports, in a very concrete and measurable way, the fundamental premise upon which we began this debate. Freemasonry takes good men and makes them better.

In the end we will not resolve this issue, and in fact this is not the purpose of this debate to bring closure to this topic which has been debated for hundreds of years.

In the end we will be judged on our merits and arguments, as it should be in true Socratic fashion. As much as I want to win my initial ATS debate, I want to leave the readers, my opponent and the judges with my honest opinion of freemasonry and its purpose.

I believe my opponent would agree, though, that good intentions are not enough. We have both made powerful statements, supported by solid evidence, of our positions. No good debate could be concluded without a final look at this evidence.

Response to Final Questions


Question 1: Were all the 'masonic teachings' of this lodge, for almost a century, in fact 'non-masonic', and how could the members (apparently, some of whom were not 'good men') discern the difference, and why did they not?


I wondered how long it would take in this debate to introduce the final character in the 'unholy trinity' of Freemasonry, Propaganda Due.

(As a side note - It sounds much more sinister if you say it with an Italian accent, IE PRO-PO-GAHN-DA DU-AY)

An excerpt from the book, "A Political Force"


The Italian Masonic Lodge P2 "provided a means of furnishing anti-Communist institutions in Europe and Latin-America with both Vatican and CIA funds.

Calvi [who was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982]
also claimed that he personally had arranged the transfer of $20,000,000 of
Vatican money to Solidarity in Poland, although the overall total sent to
Solidarity is believed to have exceeded $100,000,000. Prior to his
indictment for murder [of an Italian investigator], Michele Sindona was not
only P2's financier, but the Vatican's investment counselor as well, helping
the church to sell its Italian assets and re-invest in the United States.


While the P2 lodge is certainly a black mark in the history of masonry (and the church) the very simple fact that it was expelled from freemasonry for 'unmasonic conduct' shows that it's actions were AGAINST all that masonry stands for.

If anything, the P2 incident shows that freemasonry has no patience for criminals and criminal activity. These were not 'good men' and used freemasonry's good name and private characteristics to cover for their very unmasonic activities.

The simple fact that P2 was funneling Vatican funds should be enough evidence that the lodge was not masonic. (Remember, the Vatican excommunicated us hundreds of years ago).


Question 2: How do the oaths you admit to having taken affect the credibility of the personal opinion and experience you are claiming as evidence in this debate?


This question almost answers itself, but I will leave it to the reader to decide.

I would hope the fact that I believe in God, dedicate myself to helping others and my skeptical and inquisitive nature would all serve to convince the reader of my honest impression of the evidence in this debate.


Question 3: Do higher-level masons serve in judicial and political capacities in the United States, and, if so, do their oaths and loyalties to masonry take precedence over their roles in protecting the public trust?


I don't know to what extent masons serve in judiciary and political capacities, but I think it would be reasonable to assume they would be in the same proportion as masons to the general population.

According to published numbers this means that less than half a percent of Americans are masons, so I assume the same percentage are judges and politicians.

As for loyalty to masonry taking precedence over their responsibilities to society - absolutely not. Masons are required to obey the laws of their country first and foremost, specifically because this contributes to being a 'good' man.

There is a 'Charge' given to newly Entered Apprentices in the first degree of masonry that addresses this specific topic.

Sacred Texts


As a citizen, you are to be a quiet and peaceable subject, true to your government, and just to your country; you are not to countenance disloyalty or rebellion, but patiently submit to legal authority, and conform with cheerfulness to the government of the country in which you live.


My opponent cites in his final question the statement, "It is the glory of our Institution that we do not interfere with any man's religious or political opinions."


Question 4: In light of the evidence and explanation I have presented in this debate, do you still unequivocally sustain that this statement is true?


It is absolutely true. Masonry requires man to believe in a Supreme Being. Beyond that, it requires no other belief or dogma. A man's political convictions are never asked about and discussion of politics or religion is absolutely forbidden in lodge.

These facts go directly to the central purpose of making good men better. Freemasonry strives to conduct all of its activities in peace and harmony, and long ago prescribed that these two topics, politics and religion, are the most divisive and should not be allowed to intrude in lodge business.

Final Thoughts

We began this discussion with a clear goal, to determine if the true and primary purpose of masonry is to 'make good men better'.

We have explored in detail all of the possibilities, pro and con, that this statement implies.

We discussed what constitutes a 'good' man (morality, ethics, belief in God) and how he can be made better through masonry.

At each turn in this journey we met and overcame the roadblocks to the truth, whether they were speculations and accusations of non-masons, immoral and illegal activities of people who have been renounced by masonry, and arguments of emotion.

My opponent has failed to prove, even by a simple preponderance of the evidence, that masonry has any other purpose than 'making good men better'. However, I don't expect the reader to make a decision based simply upon the arguments presented here.

Because 'good' and 'better' can only be defined at a personal level, in the eyes of the beholder, the final proof of masonry's purpose stands on its own, unaided, for anyone to evaluate.

Take a look at the men and the lodges that compose masonry. They are present in nearly every community in America and England. The buildings are public, the records are open and the results of masonic work are visible.

Look around your community and you will find quiet, moral men of integrity giving of themselves to improve our society. You may see them fingerprinting children at a health fair, delivering groceries to the elderly or dressing as a clown to entertain patients at a Shriner's hospital.

Even beyond the subjective evidence there are physical, measurable results of masonic work. Charity hospitals for children, retirement homes for masonic widows, masonic homes for orphans, and others.

Finally, examine what masonry has contributed to society and judge whether society as a whole has been made 'better' by masonry.

The best statement that summarizes the purpose of Freemasonry can be found in a publication called "About Time" which was created by the Masonic Service Association to help masons explain to the world what we are about.

Source


Summary: Freemasonry wants to attract fellow journeymen who are seeking enrichment in body, mind, and spirit through participation in a brotherhood committed to good works and personal growth.


When we weigh all the evidence critically the same conclusion appears time and again.

That is why I stand by the statement that began this debate:

Resolved, that the primary purpose of Freemasonry is to 'Make Good Men Better'.

---

Thank you to Ian Mclean and MemoryShock for making this debate happen. It has been an exciting and intellectually stimulating process and I feel personally demonstrates the best aspects of ATS.

Though we may remain undecided on the topic of this debate, I have no doubt that we all remain united in the purpose of Denying Ignorance!

Cheers!



posted on Aug, 2 2008 @ 06:47 AM
link   
Thank you, emsed1.

First, let me mention that I believe you missed my point with regard to the 'P2' masonic lodge. I did not contend that the criminal actions of that lodge represented the beliefs of all masons -- my point is, that lodge operated for almost a hundred years, with the participation of many 'good men', and yet was subverted to criminal purposes by the inner elite of the lodge. That subversion went unnoticed by the non-criminal members of the lodge. When finally detected, were those members able to face up to the truth of their lodge's corruption, and correct matters? No! Change had to be enforced from outside. And how did the 'higher councils' of masonry react? Did they confess that their fraternity's structure could be subverted to criminal ends? No! They, instead, retroactively distanced themselves, denying that the lodge was ever masonic at all, admitting no possibility of fault.

This is the same pattern that we have seen masonry take with regards to the actions of the Grand Orient lodge in France -- if the covert actions of masonic lodges are revealed, and yield unsavory publicity, why, then the lodges were never masonic in the first place. Responsibility and potential self-examination of the organization's structure is thus avoided.

Closing Statement

My thanks as always to the readers of this debate, the site owners and staff, our esteemed moderator MemoryShock, and of course my gracious opponent.

Emsed1 has presented several examples of 'charitable acts' and 'good works', with the intent that we believe this represents conclusive proof of the goals and purposes of masonry as a whole. As I have clearly shown, this is not the case. My opponent has conceded that masonry has a 'dual-purpose' nature, inner and outer, public and esoteric. He has left uncontested evidence, in the words of fellow masons, that masonry's higher-level activities are not solely concerned with the self-described 'betterment' of individual members, but rather also serve alternate 'mysterious' purposes, one of which is to act as a 'hidden conduit' of influence and coordination.

I have shown how the structure, psychologically and organizationally, of masonry, is more structured to instilling unquestioned belief and incremental indoctrination, rather than encouraging an individual, independent path of self-betterment.

The 'good and charitable' works of the individual members of outer masonry have been shown to be a facade -- genuine acts, of those who are charitably inclined, used by the organization to paint the public perception of its nature.

And, with regard to overtly public charitable acts, we should also consider whether those are, implicitly, the correct path for a 'good man' to embrace:


"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them."
Link

Clearly, the public presentation of charity, as evidence of good intent, is a powerful force -- my opponents entire case seems based upon it. But it is a truth of history that the altruistic actions of genuine men may be utilized for subtle propaganda purposes, and we should be wary of such.

My opponents first-hand testimony seems quite sincere. I have no reason to question that, and I in fact applaud him for his inspiring genuine approach. But he is a member of an 'outer' lodge, and would like to limit the scope of this debate to 'blue lodge only'. But please consider the following statement, by mason Albert Pike, when tempted to extrapolate the truth of the entirety of masonry from its outer experience:


The Blue Degrees are but the outer court... he is intentionally misled by false interpretations.

From the evidence presented of the oaths and structure of internal masonry, it is clear that, the further one advances in masonry, the more ones loyalties become to the organization and its esoteric power-structure, rather than to individual expression of principal.

The phrase "making good men better" has been show to be an abstract statement, leading to ambiguous conclusions, when not openly explored in practice and consequence. Indeed, we've seen that limiting members' freedom of expression, discounting practical discussion as 'inharmonious', directly undermines the ability of an individual to practically analyze the beliefs they're being taught by masonry. That certainly does not serve the goal of 'making good men better'.

Ladies and gentlemen, while the exact description of the true purposes of masonry remains a mystery, it is clear that there are other purposes, hidden by organized hierarchy from the outer members themselves, and that masonry's externally promulgated 'goals' and 'acts' serve more as public relations efforts than actual indication of the nature of the organization.

In short, there can be no doubt:

It is incorrect to conclude that "FreeMasonry’s Sole Purpose Is To 'Make Good Men Better'".



posted on Aug, 2 2008 @ 07:42 PM
link   
Extremely well done on both sides, Gentlemen...but the judges have spoken...

Ian McLean by majority vote.

Here are the judges comments...



Challenge Match: emsed1 vs Ian McLean: The Mason's Just Need A Few Good Men

Opening : Ian :

Ian presented very complete answers to Socratic Questions and valid substantial outlining of the topic.
Emsed was slow to get started and did not really convincingly outline “How” he was going to prove to us the debate topic.

Reply 1 : Ian

Emsed was very convincing in this reply in his oratory about the Masons and their judgment of what a good mason is.

Ian started off weak, actually supporting his opponent’s contentions, but rallied later in producing substantive material to support his contentions.

Reply 2: emsed

Emsed: Lost some ground on his admitted lack of knowledge of the “Inner Court, Scottish and York Rites.
Emsed gets points for a wonderful explanation of Pike’s writings in relation to the topic.

Ian rallied somewhat in his rebuttal of emsed’s reply, but was insufficient to win the round.

Reply 3 : Ian

Emsed’s rejection of the GOdF did not follow with the source he provided. He was clear as to why his lodge and others like his reject the GOdF, but it is also clear they are Masons. As this debate was not restricted to a specific form of Masons, Ian’s use of the GOdF was spot on. Emsed admitted to limiting the debate to “Blue Masons” and such is not the debate topic.

Ian came on strong in this reply, refuting several of his opponent’s arguments and outlining his case very effectively.

Closing: emsed

Emsed said it perfectly,

” In the end we will not resolve this issue, and in fact this is not the purpose of this debate to bring closure to this topic which has been debated for hundreds of years.”



While it is perfectly clear that emsed1 truly believes with all his heart in the Masons, the debate must be judged on which fighter presented the better argument.

Emsed believes in the “goodness” inherent in his organization and that is a credit to him, however Ian without a doubt presented the better overall argument.

3 to 2 in favor of Ian McLean as the winner.

A salute to both Fighters, I would love to see a rematch




Most debates in this Forum are polarized, with two extreme positions fighting each other. What I enjoyed about this one is the calm tone it was carried out. Many times when emsed could have twisted his opponents words, or beaten him, he chose not to - thereby demonstrating that he is a "good person" in the sense of freemasonry. My first impression after reading this debate was "Its a tie" with neither debater the winner.

But upon reading it a second time, I realized that Ian McLean is neither a mason nor an "anti-mason". Considering this, he did extremely well in his research and asking the questions that hurt the most. He did better than most "anti-masons" Ive ever read on this board. For this reason Ian McLean is the winner by a very small margin.



posted on Aug, 2 2008 @ 10:33 PM
link   
Thank you emsed1 for an tough battle! Whew, personally, a little grueling... I hope we'll have the opportunity to debate again, in the upcoming tournament; maybe something not quite so controversial - 'the moon is a holographic projection', perhaps.


Thankfully, I can now go back to capitalizing 'Mason' again, and referring to it as 'Freemasonry', rather than 'the organization'.



posted on Aug, 3 2008 @ 04:46 AM
link   
Thank you to the judges and Ian Mclean. I had an absolute blast and it was extremely enjoyable.

It was an honor to debate my opponent in my first ATS debate and he made some fantastic points. I even found some new references I hadn't seen before and have been absorbing them.

I can't wait till the next one!





new topics
top topics
 
1

log in

join