Today on Blogcritics
Home » Culture and Society » Spirituality » Practical Advantages of Atheism or Agnosticism

Practical Advantages of Atheism or Agnosticism

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

For the most part, I’m pretty practical. Sure, since I dabble in some artistic enterprises, invent things, and start businesses, there is an outside the box, risk perverse side to me, too. But, I’ll stick to the first observation. Most folks would probably see me as practical first.

So, I wonder, what are the practical advantages to being an atheist? If I were to give up my faith today, what would I gain? What would I lose? Agnostics are often pretty similar to atheists, even to the point where some of the one, when pushed, turn out to be the other. So, to broaden the discussion, if I were not ready to adopt the POV that there is no God at all, and not even a remote possibility of there being one, but I just can’t come to a firm conclusion either way, what advantages and disadvantages would attach?

When offering this question on another occasion in another environment, one response was that being an unbeliever allowed for free thinking. One would no longer have their analysis of how the universe works clouded by theology. I wanted to diffuse that argument early. It is actually those who don’t believe in God or things spiritual who are limited in the scope of what they consider in reaching their conclusions. While believers may have a bias (as do nonbelievers), that bias in no way stops believers from considering the full range of possible approaches. In fact, it is the rare believer (at least Christian believer) who can even escape the secular arguments on every important issue. On the other hand, it is quite easy for the unbeliever to have almost no input on issues related to theology and its impact on personal philosophy or daily living.

Obviously, I can’t stop anyone from taking their best shot at free thinking as a benefit, but after that, what would be others?

Edited: bhw

Powered by

About Randy

  • http://dlennis.org/ D L Ennis

    I don’t know weather there is a God or not…I do know that I don’t believe in organized religion. Too many wars fought in the name of religion. Too much hate generated by religion. Too much back stabbing in churches…been there heard it all. I will work out my own belief system and keep it personal.

    D L

  • http://dlennis.org/ D L Ennis

    …whether…
    Sorry following hurricane Dennis.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    D.L.

    There are no perfect people inside or outside of churches, nor or there any perfect churches since they are made up of imperfect people. There are no other perfect institutions, since all are made up of people.

    Those that are in church commonly have come to the conclusion that they are imperfect, and in need of help. In the Christian church, they believe that this imperfection (sin) can lead to hell both on earth and eternally. However, once they step through the doors, they do not become perfect.

    Most that I have witnessed personally, change for the better, sometimes dramatically, after stepping through the doors. But the very best I have met are far from perfect, recognize that, and are still working that out.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com andy marsh

    Sundays off Randy!

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com gonzo marx

    Randy sez..
    *It is actually those who don’t believe in God or things spiritual who are limited in the scope of what they consider in reaching their conclusions. While believers may have a bias (as do nonbelievers), that bias in no way stops believers from considering the full range of possible approaches.*

    outright fallacy here…”that bias in no way stops believers from considering the full range of possible approaches.”

    can someone show me a “christian”..or ANY person fo devout Faith that does NOT beleive ni some fashion of their Creation Myth?

    by definition that limits what they will and will not accept about much in the way of scientific Theory

    i will readily grant that there may be a small amount (less than 1%) that can honestly say differently…but the vast majority follow their Faith’s tenets when it comes to many matters in the realm of Science…

    i cite Bishop Usher’s calculations for the age of the world as set down in the Bible for an example…utilizing all scripture, calculating from Genesis to now…he came up with a fairly accurate figure of just under 7000 years that Man has existed

    the “iceman” found in the italian alps had been dated to over 7500 years ago..and he possesed medicine, acupuncture and tattoo marks, a bow and arrow as well as a copper axe and other tootls to build tools…clearly a “civilized” man

    just an example…

    Excelsior!

  • JR

    Randy Kirk: On the other hand, it is quite easy for the unbeliever to have almost no input on issues related to theology and its impact on personal philosophy or daily living.

    Right. ‘Cause here in America it’s so hard to find anyone promoting Christianity.

    Maybe there are no advantages to Atheism or Agnosticism. Maybe people take the position purely out of intellectual honesty.

  • Sister Ray

    “It is actually those who don’t believe in God or things spiritual who are limited in the scope of what they consider in reaching their conclusions.”

    No it’s not.
    I don’t know whether there’s a God or not. I’m not limited in my scope. I am open to possibilities. There could be a God who created the Big Bang. I haven’t concluded that there isn’t.
    Believing something could exist isn’t the same thing as knowing it for a fact.

  • Omni Temporal

    While believers may have a bias (as do nonbelievers)…

    Again, you are trying to put faith and reason on equal footing.

    … that bias in no way stops believers from considering the full range of possible approaches.

    Yes, you consider other possibilities, then dismiss them if they conflict with your bias. Who are you trying to fool? Your bias is impervious to reason. You are willfully ignorant. That severely limits the breadth and depth of your considerations of “the full range of possible approaches.”

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Sister Ray: You are a clear agnostic. Most agnostics that I have run into have stopped seeking in the spiritual realm. But not all, that for sure. Congrats on keeping a truly open mind.

    Gonzo: I know lots of Christians, even in my own church, who are 100% in the science camp. They vote democratic. They even support abortion on demand.

    Dr. Dobson, who is commonly villified by the left as being way out of the mainstream, believes in the long day theory because he believes much of what scientists have discovered.

  • http://religion-of-one.org/ Steve Brungard

    Agnostic, Atheist, Monotheist, Polytheist; all have a serious shortfall in the excercise of faith. Faith is the active substitution of belief for knowledge. Acting on faith is not ethical. Faith is evil. Faith introduces a special situation which violates ethics even if no impact is likely beyond my own skin because I would violate myself. Faith obviates responsibility. Faith arrests the progression from dependence to independence. Faith precludes individuality. Faith destroys me. Evil is faith. D L Ennis, I salute you.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Steve,

    What do you KNOW. Seriously.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Omni,

    Your observation is true for all of us. I just maintain that it is more true for dedicated atheists and most agnostics who have given up reading or attempting to understand a possible spritual dimension.

    Example. There are proofs that science could provide that would convince a lot of Christians that evolution was the way things came about. There are proofs that would convince Christians that life could come from non-life. We all agree on a number of those things that would need to happen.

    But I have yet to talk to an etheist who has accepted any act or combination of events which would cause them to believe that God was the actor.

    In the meantime, no one is taking on the original challange. In the last environs where this was posted, hundreds supplied ideas. Maybe there are not that many atheists or serious agnostics on this forum. Practical advantages.

    I like the one JR’s thought about not considering the practical. But that wouldn’t be very practical, would it?

  • Sister Ray

    Sleeping in on Sunday?

  • Bennett

    1) No boring sermons about guilt and suffering?

    2) No “tortured man on a cross” in my face every Sunday?

    3) Not having to keep a straight face as bimbos talk about rainbows being a “message from God”?

    4) Not having to ignore the hypocracy of church folks that act nice on Sunday, but are bastards the rest of the week?

    5) I don’t have anyone telling me what to believe?

    6) No one is prying into my life on a weekly basis?

    7) No “dress ups” to go to a meeting, ever?

    8) Not being preached at?

    9) Not having to try and swallow the rediculous concept that some guy was tortured to death 2000 years ago for MY sins?

    10) Unfettered thinking.

    BTW, you wrote “…attempting to understand a possible spritual dimension.”

    THAT, my friend, sounds like Scientology. It’s all BS. Wordplay, verbal masterbation in order to sound important to people who are either too young, or too stupid to challenge the concept as meaningless blather.

  • Bennett

    But JR’s right. Those aren’t “practical advantages”, they’re just side benefits.

    Only a church goer would think about the “practical advantages” of going to church. Either your “faith” is the reason you go, or not.

    Randy, you’re fishing for apples in an orange grove. It doesn’t wash.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    When I left the church a long time ago, it was because of the hypocracy. Practical reason. Not lack of faith.

    When I stopped drinking, it was the cost and the hangover, not the Bible.

    When I stopped swearing, it was the fact that I didn’t think it would ever win me a friend or client, but it might lose me some, not the Bible.

    Most folks who sign up for church are thinking about eternity, or not having any good fellowship, or their life in a shambles and they are looking for a solution. The faith commonly follows the practical.

    Intellectuals often struggle with truth or other issues. Then one day the Bible and all that goes with it makes sense. The faith follows.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    So only intellectuals believe in Jesus – or any religion?

    Titter.

    As you describe it, you achieved so much without the Bible, I think many other people can do the same.

  • Dave

    What’s the practical advantage to being religious? I’ve never seen one–as a kid religion class bored me to tears and I got yelled at for asking logical questions. Getting dragged to services on a Sunday kept me from playtime and there were no cartoons on in the morning. I didn’t want to confess my sins (like I had any at the age of 8) to some stranger and then pretend to recite prayers of contrition.

    I convinced my parents to let me stop going and I ended up spending a lot of time in my childhood reading–books on history and science (dinosaurs and whales were always a favorite) as well as science fiction and fantasy. My musings about the meaning of life have always been scientific or philosophical rather than theological.

    So to sum up, I’ve never truly had faith or religion so I can’t say for sure what advantage I’ve gained, but for the life of me, I can’t imagine how it might have benefited me.

  • Sister Ray

    It would be practical for me to *pretend* to believe and go to church. It’s socially acceptable, you meet lots of people, there’s nice music and pretty stained-glass windows.

    I understand the emotional appeal of church. There have been times I wished I could believe.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    The advantages of being a believer are many:

    – Potential for a pleasant eternal after-life

    – Socially-approved (in most, but not all, areas)

    – Meeting people

    – Sense of community and belonging

    – Lots of events to attend

    The advantages of being agnostic (like me) or atheist are pretty few and far between.

    I would much rather BE a believer. It would be nice to be able to walk into a church and listen to a sermon with an entirely straight face and without a bunch of sarcastic remarks running through my head.

    But, I simply CAN’T believe. Believe me, I’ve tried… :-/

    So, while being an agnostic may not have the same advantages as being a devout Christian, it’s what I’m stuck with. Because, you know, you can’t FAKE faith…

  • Celeste O.

    I hope my life never deteriorates to the point where I have to write blogs about whose religion can beat up the other religion on the playground.

    If you define yourself as an Atheist or Agnostic, you are thereby giving yourself an artificial title, much to the same degree as a Christian does. All of them are illusions, established by insecure men (or women) searching for self-identity and looking for an easy answer. Newsflash, there ain’t one.

    The only truth is that no one knows anything absolute about God or the afterlife except for the dead… and last time I checked, they aren’t saying jack shit.

  • PseudoErsatz

    Still waiting for Christianity to fizzle out?

    Go back about 2000 years:
    But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed them: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

    Acts 5: 34-39

  • Celeste O.

    Congrats Ersatz, you learned how to copy boring ancient text onto a webpage.

    That fizzle you are looking for was the last one of your brain cells collapsing onto itself. Time to pray for help.

  • Sister Ray

    I thought of an advantage of skepticism:
    Not tormenting yourself with the suspense of Will God answer my prayer? Has he already answered it with a no? Should I have prayed a different prayer?

    And so on.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Oy…

    This always happens in these Christian vs. Atheist discussions…the non-believers start throwing around insults at the Christians, assuming they are all idiots and fools.

    I think this is one of the important distinctions to be made between agnostics and atheists. Atheists seem to have some sort of hatred towards believers; Agnostics do not. (The main distinction, of course, is that atheists strongly DO NOT believe that a god or gods exists, while agnostics simply do not know what the truth of the matter is…)

  • Celeste O.

    RJ— if you “simply do not know what the truth of the matter is”, then why give yourself a title at all?

  • Sister Ray

    “The only truth is that no one knows anything absolute about God or the afterlife except for the dead… and last time I checked, they aren’t saying jack shit.”

    Isn’t that agnosticism in a nutshell?

    I’m not in an exclusive Agnostic Club with a secret Agnostic Handshake that makes me feel all special. I just know that I don’t know whether there’s a God.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Sister Ray,

    Cool answer. Very creative. I don’t even have a quick answer. Need to pray about it and answer later. : )

  • Celeste O.

    Agnosticism is not an automatic definition for someone who does not know what the truth is.

    There are a lot of rotten seeds inside seemingly harmless nutshells, Sister Ray.

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com gonzo marx

    as the resident heretic might, who is endowed with the “secret handshake”, might i just say that Celeste seems to be ready…sister Ray may very well be on the Path..and RJ just needs some work and to read the Nag Hammadi texts for a bit

    we now return you to your regularily scheduled pissing contest…

    Excelsior!

  • Dave

    @RJ

    * Dying is scary, and I’m certainly not looking forward to it, but I wouldn’t take Pascal’s Wager. If anything, I’m counting on a god or gods who are indifferent to whether you actually believe in them, so long as you lead a good life. ^.^ (Honestly, I couldn’t even respect a god who demands worship and considers that as a deciding factor when deciding whether you end up in hell or paradise.) Truthfully, I have some faint hope that there’ll be a cure for aging/disease/mortality in my lifetime, but I’m not really holding my breath.

    * For social stuff, I suppose it’s one avenue for community or events, but is it really better than a knitting club, a dancing class, academia, linux user groups, the SCA, miniature wargaming groups, the local library or any other social club? I guess it depends on where you live…in a small rural town there may not be anything else.

  • Sister Ray

    Thanks for the conversation, everybody. I’m off to bed.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    My understanding of God’s statement regarding who gets into heaven has to do with the fact that none of us can be that good. We are all pretty messed up. When we come to terms with the fact that we are messed up and park our pride at the door, then we can get on with the idea that we can’t get to heaven through our own resources. After all, we’re just little tiny organisms on a remote planet in one of a billion or so galaxies. What about us is there that we should trust in our own devices.

    I have had 57 years, a good education, and wonderful mentors. I still mess up all the time. So I need someone to pay the price for my “sin.” It is about redemption, humility, etc. God doesn’t need to be worshipped. He made us to be worshipers. If we do so, we will have the best possible life and an eternity in heaven.

    Sorry to get off on a sermon. That wasn’t the purpose of the post. This is a very thought provoking question that has already seen some who visit blogcritics provide insightful answers.

    However, I think there is a lot more if we dig. I suspect that even Celeste could come up with a few practical advantages.

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com gonzo marx

    the entire gist of comment #33 seesm to rest upon the Postulate that we are not capable of being completely Responsible for our own actions, and that any path to an AfterLife requires a scapegoat to “pay” for our “sins” is we…who are built as worshippers, do what we were made for

    note..i have NEVER said what i “believe”

    but i will say this…i am apostate to that particular Creed…i stand completely Responsible for my own Actions…and am more than willing to pay whatever “price” is required when my time comes..whether it’s St Peter, or JuJu the Elephant god that stands before me…or just my own conscience…or nothing

    it seems to get past St Peter, you can confess and “accept” Jesus as your personal scapegoat, right on your deathbed…from Hitler to Ghandi…all can get in that way…and while JuJu, may his tusks shine with the Light of Reason, may let you slide a little bit if you brought him some peanuts…you still must answer for all you did..both the Good and the Bad…he weighs your Soul…then either tosses you into the Jungle of Paradise…or eats you, and shits you out to be reborn again..

    (he’s big on recycling)

    but i digress…

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Non-belief is what is.

    Great post, except you lost me a little with this convolution: So, to broaden the discussion, if I were not ready to adopt the POV that there is no God at all, and not even a remote possibility of there being one, but I just can’t come to a firm conclusion either way, what advantages and disadvantages would attach?

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com gonzo marx

    it appears he is trying to draw out atheists and agnostics into stating they have some sort of ulterior motive or advantage to their beliefs , or lack thereof, in this Life…

    as compared to believers who are promised an afterlife, no matter what their actions were, via accepting a spiritual scapegoat

    that help out there Temple?

    you know i live to serve

    Excelsior!

  • Omni Temporal

    Randy: We are all pretty messed up.

    Omni: Speak for yourself.

    Randy: … we’re just little tiny organisms on a remote planet in one of a billion or so galaxies. What about us is there that we should trust in our own devices.

    Omni: Sigh. Yes, yes, we’re so insignificant. Zzzzzz …

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    It does help gonzo. Thanks.

  • Nancy

    I thought at first this might be a decently useful or interesting post, but I see it’s just Randy busy proselytizing, as usual, pimping for JEEE-ZUS!

    Save it for those who give a rat’s ass.

  • PseudoErsatz

    This is hilarious! For people who have evolved beyond the foolishness of the stories of God, Jesus, and silly humans that have faith in Them, you spend so much of your time at what sounds like trying to continuously convince yourself. If God is so ‘dead’, why even bother with arguments? If God is so ‘dead’, why waste effort trying–through the use of your incredible throbbing intellect–to convince believers in their foolishness? You should spend your time gazing at your mental reflection in a mirror! Yes, it is so pretty. Nothing can rival it!

  • Bennett

    The thing is, none of us are going to Christian websites trying to push our beliefs, or lack thereof, on the folks that hang there.

    What you see are reactions to posts here on BC.

    There’s a difference. Can you see it?

  • http://xraystyle.blogspot.com Bryan McKay

    I guess what I’m failing to understand here is this: since when is faith a matter of practicality?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Practical. I agree with the premise that in a perfect mind, we would come to our conclusions 100% based on intellect. However, I haven’t met a single person who does that. At least the following enter into how we make our decisions

    Emotion
    Experience
    Influence of others (past, present, and immediately present)
    And something that is currently being scientifically studied – Spiritual awareness.

    So I suppose one could ask the question: what are the emotional aspects of the decision you have made to hold one or another belief?

    Some have expressed it above. They left the church for reasons that were at least partly emotional. I know folks who are not believers in any type of God because they are mad at their dad, who did believe.

    So, in this instance, I merely wondered what the practical advantages were of atheism. You who think I’m here to win converts take note that I have not listed the practical advantages of being a Christian. It is a long list, but this post was designed to get folks to think, no matter where they are in their spiritual journey. And as stated before in a different way, anyone who lives and works on this planet who want to have any kind of understanding of history, current events, politics, art, music, or any other aspect of culture, who doesn’t seek to understand the spiritual nature of man will be missing at least half of the story.

  • Sister Ray

    “You should spend your time gazing at your mental reflection in a mirror! Yes, it is so pretty. Nothing can rival it!”

    Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

  • Omni Temporal

    … who doesn’t seek to understand the spiritual nature of man will be missing at least half of the story.

    The spiritual nature of man. Hmmm. That seems sufficiently vague. You mean humankind’s desire to find the Creator? Yeah, well, you might think that is Man’s nature, because mankind’s past is steeped in superstition. Our true nature is to try to understand our existence. That supersedes spirituality. Spirituality is just a step along the way to gaining understanding. Inevitably, humans will evolve beyond supernatural myths. It is not our nature to believe in myths, just one of our bad habits, stemming from laziness, ignorance, and impatience.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Omni,

    Among the things that I studied in college and since were sociology, anthropology, and comparative religion. In each of those studies, the question of how one view beginnings, endings, and purpose was critical to understanding the course.

    I am a lover of art, music, and theater. I don’t know how I could understand half of the classics without some understanding of the spiritual. A trip to the art museum would be somehow much less.

    To understand is not to agree or believe. I don’ believe in Buddism, Taoism, etc., but if I want to understand the culture or politics of those groups, I better have a working knowledge of their religion.

    If the dems want to understand the Christians, they will only do so by becoming sympathetic rather than condescending.

  • Omni Temporal

    PseudoErsatz, the angry Christian, says,

    … through the use of your incredible throbbing intellect …

    Christian sarcasm. Gotta love it.
    —————–

    Randy points out

    Emotion
    Experience
    Influence of others (past, present, and immediately present)

    as being distinct from intellect. I disagree. Those are all related to the functioning of the human brain. Where do you think they come from?

    I don’t know how I could understand half of the classics without some understanding of the spiritual.

    Could you elaborate? I’m not sure I follow. An example will do.

  • Dave

    “If the dems want to understand the Christians, they will only do so by becoming sympathetic rather than condescending.”

    Whoa, when did this become a Dem vs. Christian thing? Firstly, I’m no Republican, but I have no love for Dems either. Secondly, *many* Dems are religious.

    Religion
    != (does not equal)
    Conservative Christianity!!

    In my own family, my brother’s fiance has caused him to start going to church again. She’s a “flaming liberal” whereas he’s always voted Republican (as has most of my family).

  • Pilgrim

    typical tactic of the neocons and false christian politicos

    th ehell with truth, they will slip in all the logical errors they can, and see hwo many go unnoticed, that then becomes a real “fact” to them, and they keep hitting it until everyone accepts it

    like there are no democratic christians, ever been to boston or little italy in new york? how many democratic voting catholics do you think there are?

    oh that’s right, they don’t count to the “born again”

    once again, the pharisees control the temple

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I wasn’t trying to make any suggestion that there aren’t Christian Dems. In fact, in another comment here or elsewhere I spoke to the fact that some of my own Christian friends are libs.

    Maybe it would be better to say that given the democrat leadership’s own comments about needing to appeal to the Christian right, it would be better to approach it from a sympathetic point of view, rather than the condescending way it feels now.

    Regarding the classics, I did give an example. The art museums of the world are filled with religious art. If you don’t know what lies behind the passion or the stories, they lose a lot.

    Classic literature is full of religious content. Maybe half of classic music was written for or about religion.

    I didn’t even talk about law. While in law school the profs commonly referred to the influence of Judeo/Christian thought as it influenced property rights, the concept of intent, etc.

    And on and on.

    Omni, if I put my pure scientist hat on, I would still not conclude that emotions, etc. all stem from the brain (unintended pun.) Rather you would need to talk about the entire nervous system, the endrocine system, harmonal systems, etc. These are all distinct from brain function, but obviously impact the brain and are impacted by it.

    However, if I move away from a purely biological look at how we function, I would be hard pressed not to look at “spirit” in the sense of passion.

    Even if we were to go pure biology, I would say that the complexity of the interactions of the biological with experience creates something which is not definable in biological terms.

    Of course, my personal opinion is that the soul and spirit are not part of the biology. And I feel far more free to think that I am independent of pure cause and effect.

  • Omni Temporal

    Randy says:

    Regarding the classics, I did give an example. The art museums of the world are filled with religious art. If you don’t know what lies behind the passion or the stories, they lose a lot.

    Yes, but in that case you don’t need to “understand” the spiritual. You only need to know some history.

    …the soul and spirit are not part of the biology.

    Right. And that may be what it all comes down to: the objection by the faithful to the notion that we are no more than products of nature. If you think we are more than a complex system of cellular organisms and chemistry, then there might be an afterlife. If there is an afterlife, maybe there is a grand purpose. If there is a purpose, there must be a superbeing to invest us with that purpose. Hence, God. Does that sum it up?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Omni,

    ***only need to know some history***

    I don’t think knowing history or knowing brush strokes equates with getting music or art or poetry or …

    ***the objection by the faithful to the notion that we are no more than products of nature.***

    My opinion is that what you say is very good analysis, but not how most arrive at their decision about God’s existance.

    I think for most it starts with the obvious, the scope and grandeur of the universe and the world around us.

    I think for another group, it starts with an intellectual conclusion about reviewing all the available info (like C.S. Lewis)

    I think for another group, they get caught up in a moment of emotions, peer pressure, or spiritual insight.

    Another group get so far down that they are willing to try God. Or they cry out to God.

    That’s probably most of the groups.

    After conversion, some may start to think about things like free will as it applies to Christianity vs other approaches. But only a few.

  • Omni Temporal

    Thanks, Randy. No, I wouldn’t think that most people come to their faith by means of argument. So, what about the “religious experience,” then? You refer to those who are caught up in a moment of emotions. But that’s not quite enough to proclaim a religious experience. I know people who were emotionally overcome by a Genesis concert (Peter Gabriel era, of course). In your experience, what fraction of believers claim to have had some kind of … uh … what shall I call it? … “contact” with the supernatural?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I would be hard pressed to give you stats that would be meaningful, but almost every born again Christian feels that they have had at least one personal encounter with the Almighty. This would be their conversion experience.

    I’m trying to be real and agree that some of those experiences weren’t spiritual.

    However, a large percentage of the testimonies I’ve heard sound like something beyond what we would generally classify as intellectual, emotional, or group think.

    This would also be different than the kind of experience one might have at a concert. However, the emotional experience that I describe as being not a true spiritual experience might look a lot like the concert experience.

    For many Christian I know, the spiritual experience followed the emotional or intellectual days, months, or even years later.

    On my blog at http://ideaplace.blogspot.com I have long posts on knowing the will of God and communicating with God.

    Ok. Where are the atheists with practical advantages to their choice.

  • Pilgrim

    typical hubris of the false prophet. randy speaks of “knowing God”.

    “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Gates of Heaven”

    followers of false prophets hear the Word, but discard it for the forked tongue promising them unearned salvation. they admit that they are sinners, and instead of seeking within, and healing themselves, they accept the delusions and become willing followers of the Beast. all the while, smug in their status, arrogantly looking down on their neighbors instead of Loving them.

    “Pride cometh before the Fall”

    rather than seeking the meaning of the Word, they accept what the false prophets tell them. then with the ultimate in hubris, seek to force the Mark upon others. all in the name of their idolatry of money, the lying smiles of their false prophets who claim Miracles, and knowing the Mind of God.

    “get thee behind me, Satan”

  • Susan van Druten

    Randy: “Ok. Where are the atheists with practical advantages to their choice.”

    Maybe a thought experiment will help you answer your own question. Let’s say 86% of people believe in some form of atheism, and you, Randy, are part of the few 14% who believe in a god. The atheist majority has many different factions who have historically fought with each other over whose godlessness is true. Although they continue fighting a little today, they still have one thing in common: they all admire each other for not believing in god. Together they look at you in disapproval, some smirking, others expressing sympathy. Some of them are quite loud about their godlessness, knowing it is a badge that others will think of them as being more honest and more sincere and more caring than people like you. You think you might like to go into politics, but you wisely decide that some people have seen you going to church and might “out” you as one of those god believers. When you send your children to school, they must recite, “One nation under godlessness.” Your son wants to join the Boy Scouts but he was raised by you and believes in your god. The Boy Scouts won’t take religious people. Your money says, “In no god we trust.” And when you sneeze, people politely say, “Be thankful there’s no god to bless you!” At holidays, strangers remind you that they are the majority and assume you must be, too, by wishing you a “Merry Godlessness!”

    Now, Randy, what are the practical advantages to your choice to remain religious–or do you decide to lie to yourself the rest of your life and pretend to believe that there is no god in order to reap the plentiful advantages that society will give you?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    Hanging out here at blogcritics becomes worth it about once every day or so. Your comment is the winner for the last 24 hours or so.

    I am faced with the same issue where I live. No conservative could ever get elected in my district for anything.

    So do I pretend to be liberal (or like Hillary, pretend to be middle of the road) in order to get into office. My answer would be “no.”

    However, I spend hours talking to my neighbors about their views. Where do the spring from? What are the logical underpinnings of their thinking?

    I also regret some of the characterizations you imply about how the majority Christians might treat those who are in the minority. I say regret, not deny. Of course, all over the planet minority Christians are being killed or marginalized by majorities that don’t like Christians.

    Back to your original idea though. I would not personally recommend that anyone pretend to believe anything to gain a perceived practical advantage. I think my idea would be more along the lines of: seeing a practical advantage, do I very seriously review the underpinnings of my view.

    Surely I think we would all say it is fair to assume that None of us know with absolute certainty what the truth is. Therefore, if the truth might be that there is a God, and if there is one, it might be the biggest decision I ever make to choose to worship or not worship that God, how completely have I reviewed the decision with my mind, heart, and spirit.

  • Bennett

    Randy, just because “the truth might be that there is a God” is a valid statement, doesn’t imply that your supposed god, or any other “god”, wants or needs to be worshipped.

    That’s another example of humans thinking that we could possibly understand the thoughts and motivations of such a powerful entity, spiritual or otherwise.

    Do we know if ants worship us? Do we care? Would it change anything if they did?

    anyway…

    I tried to post a comment on your blog the other night and it was having some kind of script error. just fyi.

  • Susan

    “If there is [a God], it might be the biggest decision I ever make to choose to worship or not worship that God, how completely have I reviewed the decision with my mind, heart, and spirit.”

    Randy,

    If you are wondering if I’ve really thought this over, I hope you’re kidding. And I really hope you’re not implying that atheists by definition are in need of reviewing their decision while the religious need no such review because they have come to the correct conclusion. ‘Cos that would just be so hypocritical of you.

    Here’s why I’m an atheist and not an agnostic. It’s true that we don’t know. But it’s also true that our inability to know is equal, i.e. the religious don’t know any more than the atheist. I have never heard any evidence for a god belief that wasn’t manmade. For example, the Bible contradicts itself and is horribly dated, saying terrible things about slaves and women. It’s easy to conclude that this was written by men to control other men.

    Finding out that god really exists would be dwarfed by the amazement I’d feel that men in their pursuit to create social control actually guessed correctly!

    So if there is a force behind the universe that gives us our morality and demands to be worshipped, why don’t I feel that way or experience evidence for it? Seems pointless to keep it a big secret. It’s actually rather mean to withhold the truth. To paraphrase Marie Castle, pres. of an Atheist Alliance, if there is a god is HE worthy of ME?

    If I find evidence that god exists, I’d need some questions answered before I felt the need to worship him.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    ***For example, the Bible contradicts itself and is horribly dated, saying terrible things about slaves and women. It’s easy to conclude that this was written by men to control other men.***

    One of the most amazing facts about the Bible is that it has been written over 5000 years by dozens of writers in various languages, and yet is thoroughly consistant. Sure. You can work real hard and find things here and there that appear inconsitant. But great scholars have been able to show that they are not.

    I don’t know a single reputable scholar that doesn’t acknowledge that the teachings of Jesus and Paul brought women’s issues to the forefront. What other society or religion then or now would tell a husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church and to be submissive to her (Be ye submissive, one to the other.)

    Even in the old Testament, women did better than their counterparts in any other culture.

    As to control of men over other men. Christ said let he is would be a leader be a servent. Instititionalized religions may have messed with all three of the above, but that is true of institutions throughout culture.

    Finally, the atheists and Christian I know are constantly reviewing their decison. I hardly know any Christians who purposely choose to convert atheists, not because they are impossibe to convert, but because they are generally very bright and their intellec tualism gets in the way.

    Most Christians seek to convert folks who aren’t really giving it much thought, or who have never really heard about Jesus before. Most adult converts in the US don’t come from efforts to convert at all, but from Christians lovingling reaching out to hurting people and helping them, then showing the love of Christ through their example.

  • Susan

    Randy,

    When you said, “Even in the old Testament, women did better than their counterparts in any other culture” did you think a modern girl aware of fallacious reasoning would let that one go? If god is all-knowing what consolation is it for women if god is advising men in the biblical culture to treat women better than other cultures but not as good as men in their culture. How come god couldn’t see that women were equal to men in ALL cultures?

    The dodge that I-got-faith but the-institutions-got-it-wrong should embarrass the hell out of you and should cause you to defend true faith against the institutionalized version of faith. Rather than always hearing from atheists asking institutions to stay out of public policy, why isn’t it is ‘true’ Christians who are outraged at true faith being co-opted. We never hear of that. Why aren’t you and your ilk leading the fight against organized religion? I know why: you are afraid you will be misunderstood because in this climate it is not P.C. to do so. So you only bring up how wrong institution religion is when you talk to people like me–where it’s safe because who can be more un-P.C. than an atheist? When you actively work to undo the damage that organized religion has done, then I will take you seriously.

    Finally, have you and your Christian friends ever thought of reaching out to others without making it known that you are Christian?

    When I help others it is because I care about them, not because I want to advance atheism. I am do not see the same reasoning in most Christians.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I would not be so presumptuous as to figure out why God has chosen to have humans go through the things we have. My best guess is that there are stages to civilization as there are stages to everything else. That humans would not have been prepared for rules putting women on equal footing during those times. Please know that this is a wild guess.

    Never-the-less I don’t think it is fair to dismiss it. No, not any other, religion of civilization did it. Jesus and Paul did. That should be very important to you.

    Wouldn’t you guess that I have fought within the institution? I’ve been kicked off the board of my own local independent Baptist church because I keep challenging the pastor and other board members on various things.

    In general, I have found that you can either stay within an institution (United States, Public Schools, etc.), and fight to change them from within, or you can quit and try to do what you do without them. I’ve tried it both ways and have come to the conclusion that it is far better to fight from within.

    As I said earlier. There are creeps and bad folks in the church and out. There are really good people in both places. I don’t agree with everything my church does, but on balance it is a very positive influence.

    Much of what I do and others of faith do is done without wearing our faith on our sleave. But some is done in the name of Jesus. Just depends. All of it should be done because we care. Ultimately though, for those of us who believe that a non-believer is headed to eternity without God, the best help we can give them is to tell them about the Gospel. Then its up to them.

  • Susan

    Let’s see if I have this straight: You think it is more important to maintain ideas grounded in emotions and faith that don’t square with your logical and rational side because someone’s version of god a long time ago said it was so? And it’s not fair for me to question that?

    If you are going to claim that it is presumptuous to question god and his supposedly wise but unknowable reasons for being sexist, then what you have is circular reasoning. This is the very question we are debating.

    You have said twice now “There are creeps and bad folks in the church and out.” The difference between the two is the creeps in religion are the creepiest because they are hypocrites as well who use their religion to shield them from suspicion. An atheist, on the other hand, must rely on her behavior as proof that she is a good person–in fact, she must be a really, really good person to overcome societal prejudice.

    Do you have any idea how revolting your wild guess is? A god who knows that “humans would not have been prepared for rules putting women on equal footing during those times” is a god who can allow the most horrible atrocities because humans weren’t prepared to be good during “those” times. You want to worship something that has so little faith in you and your potential? Why?

  • Bennett

    Wonderful points Susan. The god described in the bible is an evil, jealous, and power-hungry reflection of the men who actually wrote the bible.

    And it was men who wrote it, men that edited it, and men that translated and rewrote it into whatever form seemed to suit their goals.

    Men. Not divine wisdom. Not “inspired by the holy spirit”. Just men who wanted power for the sake of power, using religion to achieve power over their neighbors.

    Spinning fantastic tales of “eternity away from God’s love”

    Oh freakin’ spare me, from the BS.

  • confused

    There is a practical advantage to being able to spot a snake oil salesman

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan, when my children were three, they had to be kept out of the street. When they were 5 they had to be told to stay out of the street. When they were 10 they were allowed to play in the street.

    In 1776 we drafted a constitution that said women couldn’t vote and blacks counted 3/5th. Does that mean that our consititution wasn’t a marvelous document?

    Gravity keeps us down, but will kill us if we defy it. Does that make gravity good, evil, or more imporatantly “just.”

    If a person is evil, and one day asks God and his neighbor to forgive him for past evil, and seeks to stop doing that evil, but still slips at times because of his flawed nature, is he somehow hypocritical. Give me that kind of hypocrite any time.

  • Susan

    Your 4 statements are a bit cryptic. Do you want me to assume what your argument is for each? I’ll give it a try.

    1. This might be an analogy comparing individual human lives to the course of mankind. You might be saying that early man was not as moral as current man, but since that would be saying that I am more moral than Jesus or Socrates, I don’t think that’s your point.

    Even so, it’s an interesting idea, but it doesn’t necessarily support a god theory; evolution can account for this. Moral people, who cooperated instead of killing each other off, lived to procreate and pass their genes on to the current population.

    2. This might be another analogy comparing two documents written by men. Both works contain good ideas but are flawed by men’s inability to get it right. The difference is we get to fix the constitution; we can even amend the amendments. What we can’t fix is the Bible. Of the two documents, the most marvelous one is the one that set itself up to be fixable. What do you think?

    3. I’m really not sure where you are going with this one, but you are absolutely correct in saying that gravity (and I’ll add all the other laws of the physical world) contains no morality. That’s why scientists don’t pray to gravity. Gravity works the same way in America as it does in Iraq. Gravity’s power gets weaker when we leave the earth’s orbit. Gravity is knowable.

    4. The answer to this is he might be a hypocrite because he might be using his religion as a shield to demand forgiveness from the people he wrongs: “You have to forgive me; we’re Christians.” I believe this can happen on a subconscious level, i.e. knowing forgiveness will be forthcoming can contribute to deciding to do evil.

    Your attitude “Give me that kind of hypocrite any time” is carte blanche for religious pretenders to take advantage of you (and try to of me). That’s why I ask moral religious people to rethink how they use religion. Keeping it out of public policy is key. I think some religious ideas do help you be moral, but there’s a lot of garbage in there with the good stuff and you blindly accept it all. We’re back to point 2. Religious people can’t take out the garbage. There’s no way to amend flawed historical values that have been passed to you. Why can’t you do what atheists do and think for yourself?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    My intention in my last comment was to start by saying how powerfully you make your points. I deleted it because I didn’t want you to think I was using charm as a manipulator. However, after this last comment, I can’t help myself. Hope you accept it as a straightforward statement of admiration.

    I have a busy morning. Hope to respond later.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Point 1. Your point is well taken. However, there seems to be a building story in history. That story seems to be parallel to the Bible. I don’t know that we are any more moral today, but we are more in charge of our lives today.

    The early jews were ruled by strict laws and overseen by tribal leaders.
    Later, they came under the rule of judges, then kings, then prophets. At each stage there was more responsibility on the individual level, more of a philosophy behind the law.

    With Jesus came the evolution to the law being written on your heart, freeing man. Everything became lawful, though many things were still listed as unwise.

    That same thinking now permeates our Western Culture. We are free to do as we please, though we know in our heart what we should not do. As societies we create rules to reign in those who would trample on others.

    2. I think both are amazing. You are correct to say you can’t fix the Bible, but the most amazing thing about it is to read last night from 1 Kings 4 about Solomon and see a complete guide to leadership that is as good or better than anything Steve Covey is writing today.

    3. Why do you say gravity contains no morality. I say it is as truly moral. It can be trusted to do what it does perfectly regardless of who you are. There is a semantic issue here, but an important one.

    God is different, of course. He can choose to be different tomorrow if He wishes to. However, He claims to be the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

    4. He might be? That is your only weak argument.

    4a. How do we take the lack of religion out of public policy?

    4c. No atheist I have ever met thinks for themselves on any different level than I do. Some atheists, agnostics, and never think about its think for themselves. Some follow others like dumb sheep. Same for Christians.

  • http://adamash.blogspot.com Adam Ash

    The practical part of atheism is that you can sleep late on Sundays and have sex while other people are sitting in church.

  • http://www.bigtimepatriot.com Big Time Patriot

    “the practical advantages to being an atheist?” well, there is the sleeping in on weekends, if you don’t think that is a practical advantage you are not a working parent with two children and a house to maintain. Of course George Bush is “religious” but is seldom bothered to actually go to a church (unlike Clinton), so that may not be the best argument.

    It all comes down to clear thinking. If you can admit to yourself that there is no clear need for a god to exist and no clear proof that one exists, that is a sign of being able to look at a situation clearly and objectively. Someones personal “belief” and “faith” in their God is the most trivial of arguments. As a child I believed in Santa Claus. It didn’t make him real. I don’t care how strongly you may “believe” in Jesus, Buddha, Allah, whatever, your BELIEF DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE.

  • http://www.bigtimepatriot.com Big Time Patriot

    “The advantages of being a believer are many:

    – Potential for a pleasant eternal after-life”

    You meant to say:
    – having the belief in the potential for a pleasant eternal after-life

    Being a religious believer does not make the reality of an after-life real. It just means you believe it is real (see my argument above about the weakness of “belief” as proof of anything).

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Santa Clause isn’t real?!?!?! Please. He may not be real in the sense that he flies around the world on Christmas eve delivering presents, but he is real.

    God and Jesus are real to this extent, also, without any doubt at all. Books, art, music, churches, architecture, law, science, virtually everything we touch or do has something to do with our belief (over 90% of the public) in God.

    Now, does He exist, and was Jesus God? Those are questions that are far different. Your childish faith in Santa Clause was no different than your childish faith that your parents knew everything.

    An adult faith in God based on the preponderance of the evidence, and by their own experience. Different, don’t you think?

  • Maynard

    “preponderance of evidence”

    Can you FedEx me one shred of this evidence please so I can weigh it and measure it’s height, width and depth?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    You meant to say:
    – having the belief in the potential for a pleasant eternal after-life

    Allow me. The Hope of Heaven. Hope is worth a great deal. Ask any shrink.

  • Maynard

    You can have Santa bring me 2 cups of belief while you are at it.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Evidence? C’mon. I’m not saying you will find it to be the preponderance, but if you completely reject every evidence offered by the 90% majority, then I think you are intellectually dishonest.

    I don’t wholly reject Darwin. Much of the findings are great evidence for the idea of even Macro evolution. Just not enough to put it over the top for 75%+ of Americans.

  • Maynard

    You said, based on the preponderance of evidence, not me. so where is the fucking evidence? Now you say, offered by the 90% majority, and I say, where is the fucking evidence. Go look the word evidence up. Then take out a history book about 90% majority telling columbus the world was flat. Then send Santa over with my evidence to be quantified and verified. yutz.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    One small bit of evidence that would be used to convince a Jury or even a scientific panel – Everything around us appears to be made by an intelligent hand. This is because they are like things made by humans and not like things that happen by chance.

  • Maynard

    That ain’t evidence, that’s conjecture. Now go do your homework and look up the words you are tyring to use. Obviously you have no fucking clue what they mean, or you are being deliberately deceitful. Send me a box of that evidence to be measured, got it? I say again, yutz.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    “There must be a great Ant in the sky. Everything we see around us looks like something an ant would build, not something that just popped up by chance.”
    — an ant

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Maynard,

    No need to be uncivil. Makes atheists look bad.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Just as sweeping generalizations make believers look bad, huh Randy?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    If I go to the scene of a crime. I see blood spatters on the wall at a trajectory from the point of impact of what was a live body, and the body has a hole in it, plus I have seen similar scenes like this in the past, I will say that it was a gun shot unless there is clear evidence to the contrary.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    I was referring to your lumping of all atheists together based upon the communication style of one.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I was pulling his beard. If you follow my posts and columns you know I have no issue with atheists as a group.

  • Maynard

    Randy, who said I was an atheist? And nice try at distraction from the fact that i punked you out by trying to call me uncivil. Call me what you will, I don’t give a shit.

    You look up those words yet? I’m still waiting for Santa to bring my box of evidence.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I spent 3 years in the 10th best law school in the country. I know what evidence is. And what is conjecture for you may be evidence for me.

    Three people standing at an intersection. All see the same accident. Three completely different interpretations of facts and conclusions. Evidence? Conjecture? Now three experts check out the scene and come up with three different interpretations of facts and conclusions. Evidence? Conjecture?

    In law, all would be evidence if they are expert enough to evaluate. That is also for the jury to decide unless the judge takes it away from the jury.

  • Susan

    Randy,

    You said that “there seems to be a building story in history” that is “parallel to the Bible.” What does that mean? What % of biblical stories parallel modern lives and what % don’t? And how insightful are the ones that do parallel? Give me some interesting examples.

    Solomon is an historical Superman/James Bond/Santa. You think people were too stupid back then to realize that he wasn’t really going to cut a baby in half? The reason the woman didn’t call his bluff is because it’s a STORY! It’s not wise; it’s made up. Want real judges to rule that way today? I don’t.

    2. Steve Covey? Steve Covey? Who said anything about Steve Covey. I meant YOU! Do not rely on anyone else but yourself! Sure, listen to others, but filter it through the moral reasoning that you were born with. If parts of what Jesus said make sense to you, use it. If parts of what Dr. Phil says make sense, use it. If parts of what I say make sense to you, use it. If not, quit the compliments that you don’t really mean. Your compliments are only meaningless, Christian drivel unless you do me the honor of actually changing your mind.

    3. Gravity has morality? This along with your idea that Santa is real needs more development before I can respond to it seriously. Maybe you mean it as some sort of metaphor. If so, please explain the interesting shared characteristics.

    4. #4 is my best argument. How do we talk religion out of public policy? Use the Golden Rule. Do you want to be murdered? Do you want people to steal from you? Do you want people to lie on the witness stand? Those are good laws. Do you want people to work on Saturday? Do you want people to envy what you have (wives or oxen)? Do you want children to sass their parents? Do want people to create icons such as monuments to the Charlton Heston movie “The 10 Commandments” and put them on courthouse lawns across the country to advertise the movie? I say let them try, but do not make in a crime unless it fits the G. R. If it fits the Golden Rule (a rule co-opted by most religions), then consider it as worthy of a law to regulate society.

    4c. You said, “No atheist I have ever met thinks for themselves on any different level than I do.” But, Randy, you can’t say that any more because now you have met me.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Oh, I’ve met many atheists and agnostics who are great thinkers. But you are in their league. Michael Shermer of Skeptic Magazine and I go back 30 years as an example. I merely meant the continuum of those in each group who think for themselves to those who follow like sheep is the same. And that I think for myself. I spent the first 21 years of my life in the church, then 14 years outside. I came back because I do think for myself, not follow the group think of my profs, the liberal elite media, etc.

    I evaluated the 100’s of books that were pertinant to the decision, the (at that time) 38 years of my experience in and outside the church, and made a decision.

    I could make a new decision tomorrow. However, I can admire your arguments without changing my mind. I suppose that would be the ultimate compliment, but I am happy when I stretch minds or get mine stretched.

    I agree that of all the major Biblical characters, there is no independent proof of Solomon’s existence. Having said that, the primary evidence (his writings) are more than we have for many other folks from history that we keep in the books

    I described the “building story in history” in detail. I wasn’t referring to individual stories, but the unfolding total drama.

    ***Sure, listen to others, but filter it through the moral reasoning that you were born with. If parts of what Jesus said make sense to you, use it. If parts of what Dr. Phil says make sense, use it. If parts of what I say make sense to you, use it.***

    Of course, every human does this. However, it just doesn’t seem to work out very well. Right now there is a big fight about whether vaccines cause autism, so some aren’t vaccinating. Maybe next month some charismatic will say that business owners are a super race and we should take over the world. I’d buy in. Then where would the rest of the folks be.

    I like a 6000 year-old-standard that has been held up as a standard by the vast majority of those who have read it or heard about it, and that has been the basis of our government and our jurisprudence.

    Why shouldn’t gravity have morality. I know evil dogs, and was almost attacked the other night by evil bees. What if gravity was capricious. This is the hardest case to make, but it was really designed to be an analogy. God the constant G.

  • Bennett

    “Right now there is a big fight about whether vaccines cause autism”

    No, it’s whether vaccines that use a mercury based preservative cause autism.

    Just FYI.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Thanks for the detail. Unfortunately, there is another subculture that believes that the methodology in general is suspect, and also believe that the diseases that were cured with vaccines would have gone away anyway because of better food, etc.

    The problem is large enough that the US Gov has been studying the issue of the herd effect. What % of the population does it take not being vaccinated before there is a high risk for outbreak.

    So, I do think we should all just use the brain that we came with and the moral sense. No standard to turn to.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    You rock, Susan.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    If it fits the Golden Rule (a rule co-opted by most religions)

    Including Christianity. Confuscious, and a bunch of others, got there first.

  • Sister Ray

    Randy, I didn’t know you had a law school background. I admire people who study the law.

    Using your legal background, can you share your thoughts on Clarence Darrow’s legal arguments, especially when defending John Scopes?

    An excerpt from “Inherit the Wind” in junior high speech class awakened me to the idea that the Bible was not literal and infallible.

    BTW, I don’t hold Darrow as infallible himself, as a lawyer or a person.

  • Bennett

    “Unfortunately, there is another subculture that believes that the methodology in general is suspect”

    Ah, yeah, you’re right about that. Sorry.

    One seems to be real, the other foolish.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Sorry, not prepared to do the Darrow thing. Way, way too long since I’ve even seen the movie.

    Some parts of the Bible, however, are not intended to be literal. One of the biggest tests of reading a poem, history, or the Bible is knowing what the writer intended. Most who read the Bible in an expository manner, use the same rules to determine what appears to be intended as history and what appears to be written as alagory, fiction, etc.

    So, while Solomon has no extra Biblical proofs, when one reads Kings, the detail, the counterintuitive aspects of his autobiography, (especially in Eclesiastes) tend to reveal it as actual history.

    As far as infallible is concerned, no one makes that claim for the Bible. That is a claim for God. The Bible is True, but with the many hands that have touched it you will find minor words or sentances from one translation to another that are absolutely the opposite meaning.

  • Maynard

    You mean like how the gospels that mention Jesus’ last words disagree what those words are? Or the way they disagree on what was the sign above his head on the cross?

    Funny, this is the first time I’ve heard a fundamentalist admit that every word ain’t literal truth. I’m gonna have to give Pilgrim a call later to check this out, he’s much better at bible stuff than I am.

  • Sister Ray

    That’s fair enough. I didn’t really expect you to come up with a legal brief off the top of your head. :->

    It just piqued my interest to see your legal background, because the Scopes defense was influential in my development of critical-thinking skills about Christianity.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Maynard,

    wrong inference. Four gospel writers wrote from four perspectives. Nothing they said contradicts the others, though each doesn’t necessarily report everything that the other does. They were men, inspired by God, not gods.

  • Susan

    Randy,

    Let’s say you found irrefutable proof that the gospel writers did in fact contradict themselves? Would that change your value system? It shouldn’t. So why make that part of why you believe in God? Some of these Biblical historians were writing about events that occurred before they were born and will naturally make mistakes in chronology. What has that to do with believing in God?

    Either the things the Bible tells you have passed your moral filter or they have not. My goal in talking to you is to urge you not to buy into it merely because it’s in the Bible. Buy into it because you can defend it without ever mentioning that it’s a Christian idea or it’s in the Bible. Argue without using the “authority” of the Bible. See if it stands up on its own. My point is sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. But you can’t tell. Atheists can.

  • Duane

    People with faith don’t have to argue, Susan. Faith supersedes reason. That’s always going to be the fallback position. Randy is courageous for arguing the issues back and forth, and I think that’s unusual for a believer. But I don’t think you’re going to find any chinks in his armor.

  • Susan

    Duane,

    No, the faithful don’t have to argue or explain themselves to 86% of the unthinking. Why does Randy bother? He desperately wants the remaining 14% to think he is capable, as they are, of thinking for himself. Why is that important to him? Because deep down inside, he really does understand that intelligent humans require logic and reasoning over faith. And that, ironically, is the chink in all smart Christian’s honor armor. Why do you think they call themselves apologists?

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Exactly. Intellectual Christians know that the “faith” fallback won’t be accepted or respected by the 14 percent.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    You guys seem to be doing some lumping together that might not be so very true. I think you’d be pretty surprised to read what the intellectual class in the church is saying and doing.

    I know that is hard to imagine this, but try. Maybe I’m just as intellegent, well read, educated, and well rounded as you. Maybe my experience set is as broad as yours. Maybe I am even more of some of those things than you. Maybe a tad less. And maybe I am just as open minded and skeptical as you.

    Faith without reason is not acceptable to me or any other Christian I know. However, the Touchstone has never let me down. Science lets me down. Other folks let me down. Institutions let me down. Governments and politicians let me down. I let me down. Nature lets me down. The only constant that never fails, and to date has not been shown to be untrue, is the Bible.

    To be sure, God lets us down, too. There is where the faith comes in. I trust that when He lets me down, that it is consitant with His word, the Bible. That the results that I desired but didn’t get will turn out to be a good thing.

    What is your touchstone. Your reason. Susan, you are smart, but I’m not going to follow your reason, and I don’t think you should either. I haven’t met a single soul on this planet who doesn’t have significant weaknesses. And the one thing that Psychology seems to have been pretty good at proving is that in the right circumstances we will cave every time.

  • Susan

    Randy,

    How do you feel about reason without faith? In other words, when reason and faith collide for you, which one do you ultimately rely on? If you say reason, you are an atheist. If you grudgingly say faith, you are a wanna-be intellectual.

    Tell me how nature and science lets you down, but not other people.

    As far as all smart people not having personal weaknesses, that is not my argument. It’s a matter of if you have a weakness, does your moral plan allow you to make the fewest mistakes in life. How will you hurt yourself the least, how will you hurt others the least? I have the plan, Randy. I’m just trying to share it with you.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Wannabe intellectual? Hold on, Baba Looie. Are you saying people of faith can not be genuine intellectuals?

  • Susan

    Natakue,

    Only if they are people of genuine people of faith before they are reasonable and logical. Do you have an example of someone who gave up his logic for his faith and is still an intellectual to you? I’d like to hear it.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Like any other thinking person, when any two aspects of my worldview collide, I rationalize.

    Seriously, (although that is the most likely solution for most of us most of the time) I can’t think of a time when my faith and reason collide that I can’t reasonably come to the same decision that the Bible would point me to. That’s the beauty of it. What would be an example that you think would be difficult?

    I said “Other folks let me down.” So I’m not sure why you ask your second question. Nature and science, too easy. You have to ask?

    Of course one of the main businesses of Christianity is the plan that provides the strength and the rulebook for right action regarding others, and self. Our body is the temple of God. We are to be good stewards of our gifts, etc.

    But we also know that we are here for a purpose, not just to populate, repopulate and die. The fact that we have a clearly defined purpose creates inner strength and peace.

  • Susan

    First of all, Natalie–not Natakue! It’s not even close. My apologies.

    Then to Randy: My point about nature and science was poorly worded. I meant to say how these forces “let down” everyone equally, but now I see that is really irrelevant. What is problematic about your list of things that have “let you down” is that some of them are sentient and some of them aren’t. To be angry at a rock because you tripped over it is really dumb. All of nature and science is like that rock. The more we learn about these forces, the less likely we are to get in their way to trip over them. If you think nature is doing stuff to you on purpose and letting you down in that sense, then you are not a thinking person.

    Yes, you do rationalize, so joking about it is not a good strategy. I’ll tell you where our argument will go (and Duane is laughing at me for bothering because he’s already predicted it). I will point out many inconsistencies and immoral ideas in the Bible and you will say one of two things: 1) It’s not literal; or 2) God is testing us; he has his reasons that we cannot know, but we must have faith and mustn’t use our reasoning skills against God. We already had this debate with women and slaves, remember?

    When “God lets [you] down,” why do you let your faith shut down your reasoning? Are you allowed to use your brain to question God?

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Ms. Susan, I would say *me*, but admittedly my faith is enormously shaky these days. Another I would posit would be John Shelby Spong, the Episcopalian bishop. On a regular basis, other clerics accuse him of really being atheist.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    He’s Spongy, then?

  • Susan

    Natalie,

    I just read a piece by Spong about Darwin’s threat to the church. Spong uses his reasoning skills to note that “Darwin forced us to acknowledge that there never was a finished and perfect creation [to rebel in the Garden of Eden]. Creation, [Darwin] asserted is an ongoing and unfinished process. Human life is evolving from lower forms of life so it was, therefore, not created perfect.” So Spong concludes the Biblical story of eating from the Tree of Knowledge that stripped us of our innocence cannot be true. I would say to Spong all supernatural stories can be refuted in this way by listening to reason before letting faith take over. If not, tell me a supernatural story that does not force me to give up my reason. Since I can’t ask him, I’ll ask you.

    Incidentally, the evidence that religion requires you to give up your reason is in that Adam and Eve story. The Tree of Knowledge is the tree of thinking and reasoning. Through that story, “God” tells us we will suffer and be considered sinners for daring to know and to think for ourselves. This is how tyrants keep the masses under their control.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Yeah, “let go and let God” typifies that. “We are not in control.”

    Ms. Susan, I am not the one to answer your questions. For one, I am feeling increasingly uncomfortable in this space (not because of the topic), and for two, as previously stated, my faith is not in the best shape. Reason wins much more often than not for me these days, which is something with which I need to contend.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan, if the circumstances were reversed and I was pointing out missing pieces in something you trust, you would give me some of the same kinds of responses.

    A primary statement of the Bible is that those who don’t believe won’t understand. As one who came very close to unbelief in my 20’s, I can see how that happens.

    So, there are times when it is frustrating to discuss these issues with bright intellectuals whose lives are clicking along on all 8 cylinders (can we say 8 anymore?)

    But from time-to-time a smart atheist will say: “I really need to go read the source text all the way through, cover-to-cover before I throw out God and the Bible.” Other than being faced with a life crisis where the individual comes to the end of themselves and realizes they are themselves god, that is the only way I see smart folks like you coming to faith. The continuity, clarity, and reality of the Bible can only come alive to an intellectual when it is viewed as a whole.

  • Susan

    “if the circumstances were reversed and I was pointing out missing pieces in something you trust, you would give me some of the same kinds of responses.”

    There is nothing like this about me. This is my point. I trust things because of reason (I have concerns about the Big Bang). There is nothing I trust on faith when reason says not to.

    “The continuity, clarity, and reality of the Bible can only come alive to an intellectual when it is viewed as a whole.”

    An appeal to snobbery. Doesn’t work here, Randy. Do you know when you part company with reason to uphold faith? Do you have self-awareness of that?

    Let me be clear, I am not trying to convince you to become an atheist (as you are trying to convince me I will one day find faith). I am only asking you to admit there are people who choose not to have religion forced on them through public policies, so please if you are a do-unto-others sort of Christian, do your best to keep religion out of public policy?

    Here’s one example:
    In my town of 90,000 a group of atheists stopped a huge hospital merger that would have left our town without a non-Catholic hospital. Doctors who work at Catholic hospitals have to sign contracts that they promise not to give birth control to women.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Re: that example, Ms. Susan, there are many people who happen to be Christian who would stand beside you to stop that merger. I fully believe religion should keep out of civil law.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan, others,

    I’ve asked a couple of times. What is your touchstone? Do you only need you as the final or ultimate or unshakable or immutible authority?

  • Susan van Druten

    Randy, I notice when you ask what my touchstone is, it is with a lower case “t.” But when you speak of yours it has a capital “T.” Your bias is duly noted.

    I think you know the answer already (mostly because that is what I have been saying to you all along). Yes, you guessed it: my ability to reason is my touchstone. If you give your ability to reason away to men who have created the Christian religion, fine for you. But please work to see that you don’t give mine away because I still believe in myself and my ability to think.

    If you still want to believe in God, why can’t you believe that God gave you the ability to reason for a purpose? Why do you throw your reason away when men tell you to have faith in their version of Christianity?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    There is no disrespect in the lower case “t.” We Christians cap anything that refers to God or his Word.

    So, if I understand it correctly, you have no other touchstone than your own reason. So, if you are presented with a difficult choice, you don’t look to any philospher, any historical precedent, any legal position, or any other person for a trusted view. You would just take all of the information from these sources and make up your own mind. Sounds very dangerous to live by you. I would never know what your next decision might be.

    Folks can be pretty sure how I’m going to act. Not absolutely certain, cause some folks say they believe one way, then act another. But you might choose to do something really bizarre because, after all, you are your only touchstone.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Actually, Mr. Kirk, not all Christians follow that rule of capitalization.

    And I notice you did not answer Ms. Susan’s question. You merely launched into charging that she serves as her own god. Not everyone needs someone from which to take orders. And there is no sin in being unpredictable.

    For myself, a long time ago, a priest said that at the end, I had to use the conscience God gave me. That struck me as being pretty good advice. Years later, after studying history, ethics, philosophy, and theology, I still believe that to be good advice.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Yes, we do have to use our own conscience. I would agree wholeheartedly. However, little kids are always stretching their limits by lying, cheating, etc. So somehow that conscience has to be trained. It might be trained in a Madras, it might be trained in the home of Jim Jones. It might be trained by the Bible. I’m trying to find where there is a better touchstone. I have read far and wide. Can’t find one.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Indeed, it could be in the home of Ozzie and Harriet or Ozzy and Sharon. Luck of the parental draw, I guess. Interstingly, I have met many Christian kids who seem to have precious little conscience and many atheist kids who are dripping with it. Luck of the draw. God — or whatever — doesn’t dole out good fortune equally.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    But the luck of the draw doesn’t get to the point. My atheist (Objectivist) friend of 27 years, my jewish friends all say they are really happy they live in a country whose roots are Christian. The Touchstone of this nation was and is the Bible. It is why Jews and Muslims and Taoists and Atheists all feel safe here.

    Try being a different color, ethnicity, religion, or even social class in most of the non-Christian nations on this earth.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Sorry, Mr. Kirk, I do not buy at all that this is a Christian nation.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    During my three years at UCLA law we studied the underlying basis of our juris prudence system. Property right, the idea of democracy, the basis of personal responsibility, the concept of intent, even the idea that we have rights given us by who?

    I have to go and probably will be out of the loop until Sunday afternoon. I will miss this debate. It was truly rigerous and mind stretching.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Rights? Endowed by a creator (and withheld by certain government types)… which could be a deity, but may not be.

  • Susan

    Randy said: “I’m trying to find where there is a better touchstone. I have read far and wide. Can’t find one.”

    I’m telling you, Randy, you are the touchstone. Why are you looking outside yourself? Why can’t you believe in yourself? Filter everything through yourself. Do not consume anything whole.

    Jim Jones had nothing on the Children’s Crusades.

  • Bennett

    Randy sez “So, if you are presented with a difficult choice, you don’t look to any philospher, any historical precedent, any legal position, or any other person for a trusted view.”

    “You would just take all of the information from these sources and make up your own mind. Sounds very dangerous to live by you.”

    [I’m going to ignore the little contradiction in these sentences, figuring you had a brain-fart]

    First, Who said we (who don’t belive in YOUR god) opeate in a vaccuum? Family, friends, spouse, ALL play a part in the decision making process. Not all on every issue, but that’s part of what family and community provide.

    Second, Your biggoted view of anyone who doesn’t use a “book” as some kind of ultimate referrence is almost funny.

    I guess we just *trust* that you only apply the *good* parts of the bible in dealing with your neighbors?

    Or perhaps, like christianity over the ages, you’re going to decide one day to torture or kill me, just because I don’t buy into your belief system?

    Historically, christians are pretty fucking dangerous to non-christians.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Excellent points, Mr. Bennett. And to other Christians as well…

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Bennet,

    I was actually in what turned out to be a dialogue with Susan, not to the exclusion of others, but the comment was directed at her and not designed to apply to anyone else.

    The two lines you had difficulty with are not contradictory. Read through a few times. I think you’ll get it.

    A touchstone is a stone. It needs to be solid, lasting, proven. My families opinions change, as do my friends and mentors. I would not use just any book as a touchstone. But I would be more likely to use one that had proven itself over a long history.

    So, for instance I would not use books written by scientists, as what they write changes too fast. I would be more likely to use the great historians.

    I definitely would never use myself. I know me way to well, and most would say I’m a real solid citizen. And in my dealings with 1000’s of others over the years in selling and buying, counseling, teaching, etc., I have yet to find the person who could come close to the Bible as a touchstone.

  • Bennett

    So, if you are presented with a difficult choice, you don’t look to any philospher, any historical precedent, any legal position, or any other person for a trusted view.”

    “You would just take all of the information from these sources and make up your own mind. Sounds very dangerous to live by you.”

    How can a person NOT LOOK to others for guidance, and then JUST TAKE the information and use it in an internal process? My only problem here is the clarity of your writing.

    Regardless.

    So Randy, are you trying to say that you have a guru who (or a guru-book that) tells you what to do, and you do it without thinking about it further? That’s what it sounds like you’re implying here.

    You then say that someone who listens to those around them, family friends and societal examples, ponders the decision at hand, and then uses reason and experience to come to a decision would be a dangerous person to live around? (Unless they’re a christian, of course…)

    That’s some strange reasoning. Or is this specific situation covered in your “stone”.

  • Susan

    Randy,

    Bennet’s point is well-made. You do contradict yourself. I do take in all, but I evaluate it through the filter of my reasoning. You take in only your interpretation of someone’s translation of the Bible, and swallow it hole. I have used my method all my life; you are simply wrong about it causing bizarre behavior.

    You have a false appeal to authority going on. When you look to experts, you should keep in mind that they only have expert status in their own field. If an historian designed an airplane for you, would you go for a ride in it?

    When it comes to morality, you are the expert on you. You can listen to other people because they are experts on themselves. You can learn about philosophies past down through the ages (Do Unto Others). You can even go to the Bible. You might try a piece of advice, say turning the other cheek. If that works for you, you should continue using it. But you must always reassess. Perhaps you start to notice that other people seem to be taking advantage of you, because you never call them on their bad behavior and you keep coming back for more of it. Then you might reassess the all-out use of that turn the other cheek philosophy and temper it with some self-respect.

    You say things that have lasted a long time are worthy of being honored and worshipped. That’s not a good guide because slavery and racism were long-lasting public institutions. Here’s a question: earlier you said gravity contained morality; since it’s been around a lot longer than the Bible, have you had any urges to use that as your touchstone?

    On thing you don’t seem to answer is my request to get a good-faith response from you to agree not to require the rest of us to follow your Christian beliefs through legislation.

  • http://wisdomandmurder.blogspot.com Lisa McKay

    Try being a different color, ethnicity, religion, or even social class in most of the non-Christian nations on this earth.

    Well, Randy, perhaps you could ask the Africans who were brought here as slaves how it felt to be a different color in a Christian nation. Perhaps you could ask every wave of immigrants who came here, whether it was from western Europe, eastern Europe or Asia, how it felt to be of a different ethnicity in a Christian nation. The idea that we somehow treat everyone fairly because we are a Christian nation (which I dispute anyway) is laughable. We eventually do the right thing, but that’s because we’re human and eventually our basic decency prevails, not because some of us are Christian.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    If I understand the method that doesn’t incorporate any final authority other than myself, I check out resources that I trust, and that have served me well in the past. I might check several of these resources and then I make the final decision. Over time I have a feedback loop that will help me to hone these resources, but whether I take 10 seconds to review resources or 20 hours, the ultimate authority on any subject is me.

    I use this method all the time. I’m remodeling the kitchen. I went to home shows, checked out web pages, consulted with my wife, checked with builder friends, had 5 estimates by kitchen designers. Then, finally, I had to make a decision. Its all about me (and my wife.) We’re responsible for the decision, good or bad. We had to become mini experts on kitchen remodeling, and every detail of it.

    If we error in this decision, it might result in things like overspending, things not working, frustration with contractors, etc.

    I do the same kind of thing when I was dealing with a rebellious teen. Or a friend one the verge of a breakdown. I research, ask experts, etc. But because the consequences of my action or innaction are at a much higher level of importance, I can look to scripture, and pray for guidance. I have an ultimate touchstone prior to action.

    I am still responsible for the final action, and it might turn out well or not so good.

    May ethical decisions that have even higher levels of consequence don’t get nearly as much research and analysis. A teen is contemplating whether to move into deeper intimacy, or whether to drink at a party. They can get plenty of expert advice, but many won’t bother. Their expert advice is friends and mags that think the sex is ok. They then make their own decisions that effect them, their partner, their future sexual relationships, potential children, their parents, etc. The Touchstone would have given them clear guidance.

    As adults we are faced with similar choices.

    And those who are part of this forum may be leading perfect ethical lives and have no regrets for anything they’ve ever done. I just don’t know anybody that feels that way.

  • Bennett

    The Touchstone would have given them clear guidance.

    As adults we are faced with similar choices.”

    Totally agreed Randy. I’ve helped raise my two step-children, and now that they’ve gone off to college, my dear wife wants to have a child of our own.

    We’ve been trying for almost a year and nothing yet, so I’m going to go visit my wife’s sister, and get HER pregnant in order to have a son, a successor.

    Like in the bible.

  • Susan

    “The Touchstone would have given them clear guidance.”

    The Bible is no more of a deterrent than a parent who gives “clear guidance” and real-life punishment. Do you have any stats on teens who get pregnant who are atheists v those who are Christian? Care to guess?

  • Tao Jonez

    oh yeah right, like some teen that ain’t gonna lissen ta there parents is gonna lissen ta da Book, or some jive ass thumper.

    kids is kids, always wuz, always will be
    ya gotta do better than that. folks dat care about them, talk to them not at them, lissen to them. whether it’s their friends or their gran’ma or their mom or day. thas who dey is gonna hear in there heads when the shit goes down

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    The stats you refer to Susan are discouraging, but don’t go very deep into the details. The culture is definately having an impact on all Christians.

    I like to think of the current situation like a tall glass of water. If I’m a Christian doing my best to keep my thoughts on things of God, then I will be drinking pure water. The more the individual watches movies and tv, read books and magazines that promote sex outside of marriage, its like adding drops of poison into the glass. The more poison, the more it makes the person sick.

    Another analogy is garbage in-garbage out. At this time in history, even fundamentslist Christians are having a difficult time avoiding the distructive elements of the culture. To our shame.

    But, I think a deeper look at the stats would show far less overall destructive sexual behavior. Not positive, just my educated guess.

    Bennet, one of the beauties of the Bible is telling the bad stuff about our heroes. God didn’t approve of slaves, he only told the jews how to treat them in a humane way. Etc.

    I’m not sure what your specific reference is, so can’t give specific answer.

  • Tao Jonez

    yo Randy, question fer ya
    can ya lay out just what a fundamentalist is and means?
    if i scope it right,it has sumthin ta do with literal bit with the Book, am i on it?
    just wanting ta know

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    if you pick faith OR atheism or agnosticism for it’s ‘practical advantages’ then you picked it for the wrong reason.

    One practical advantage of atheism/agnosticism would be the same advantage someone gets from keeping the faith but turning from organized religion. The freedom from having your belief system become someone else’s political tool.

  • nugget

    Randy: What do you suggest Christians do then? PIle up the covered wagon and go into exile? Media, with a few pitiful excuses for books, magazines, and television networks, is entirely adverse to the subject of Christianity and its connotations. It is also obsessed with an adulterated sexual ideology. Monogamy is a flippant and unnecessary theme in the American media. How is closing one’s eyes and ears good advice?

  • nugget

    “We eventually do the right thing, but that’s because we’re human and eventually our basic decency prevails, not because some of us are Christian.”

    Lisa McKay- Your faith in human decency is naive. Can I ask where this faith is grounded? Also, what is the “right” thing? That sounds very moral.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    God didn’t approve of slaves, he only told the jews how to treat them in a humane way.

    Well, if god discussed slaves without mentioning that he disapproved of slavery, then you can’t say that he “didn’t approve of slaves.” One would assume that if he didn’t approve of them, he’d have mentioned it in the Old Testament, as he mentioned the gazillion other things he didn’t approve of.

    Please, regulating slavery implies acceptance of it.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    I have to admit that much of my personal doubt stems from much of what is in the OT, and particularly the “slave” thing.It seems to me that if God disapproved of slavery and if God was good and if, in fact, God was God, the message would have been “free your slaves and enslave no more.”

    Also, this God, as painted by Bible writers and many of his/her followers, is one insecure, needy deity, with all of this “worship me, me, me” business.

    Just throwing out my thoughts here…

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    The other thing about the bible is that it’s supposed to be the word of god and true for all time. Except for the parts where he contradicts himself or changes his mind. Like that whole new covenant thing. What was wrong with the old one? And how do we know he won’t change his mind again?

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Shit happens

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    My definition of fundamentalism would include believing that the Bible is true from cover-to-cover, plus the basic doctrines. Christ was born of a virgin, lead a sinless life, died on the cross as redemption for sin, rose from the cross and lives today at the right hand of God the Father. God is triune. Those who die in Christ, and only those, will spend eternity with God in heaven. We come to Christ as a free gift. We have the choice to accept or reject His free gift of salvation. All that we need to do is recognize that we are sinners, ask Jesus to forgive us of those sins, turn from that sinful life, and call Jesus Lord.

    There’s more, but that would be about it.

    With regard to Christian thinking and its effect on legislation etc., I’ve already made these points, but I’ll do again:

    1. This country’s basic laws and approaches to things like liberty, property, etc., are already based on Biblical tennets. Do you want to undo property rights because the jews were the first to have them in the Bible? Do you want to undo the concept of intent because the old testament and new testament had the first legal systems that were based on intent of the HEART?
    Do you want to go back to times when women were considered property just because it was Jesus and Paul who said they should be equal, cherished, and that husbands should be submissive to their wives? Etc.

    2. If we take my fundamental belief system out of the mix of ideas that lead to laws just because it is religious, why should be look at your ideas for the same thing just becuase they have no religious compontant? How does that make them superior? Much of what the soft sciences teach has ended up in our laws. Then a few years later we find out the soft science (or even hard science) was screwed up, and we have bad laws on our books.

    Steve, is there some advantage to having politicians use your belief in economic theory, modern legal bs (which stands for belief system), or capitalism, special rights for special groups, etc., as political tools. Pick your poison.

    Nugget. No, but it is possible to turn off the set or at least the worst parts, stay away from the movies, books, mags that run counter to your belief system, and use that time to read the Bible and the WEALTH of literature available from phenomenal Christian writers on every subject. In just the same way as you can stay away from bad foods, bad habits of any kind, bad folks.

    BHW,

    I don’t know why God didn’t specifically condemn slavery in the OT. I wish He had. I will want to ask that question when I see Him. I have a list. : )

  • Nancy

    Natalie, if it’s any consolation (probably not, but I’ll say it anyway) I do believe a lot of us go thru this kind of doubt & misery at least once, and some of us even on a periodic basis. You’re not alone, as the writings of so many have proved. It even has a name, courtesy of St. John of the Cross (a buddy of St. Teresa of Avila’s): the dark night of the soul. Don’t let the O.T. throw you. It’s a major stumbling block for a lot of people. If you look at it dispassionately, all it really is, is a huge sequential block of semitic historical propaganda, which basically provides the tribes of israel with justifications for genocide, massive theft of lands & properties, enslavement, etc. and also details their own grievances, real or imagined, against their neighbors, god, other gods, history, etc. It is interesting as a quasi-historical document & mythologia, but nothing more. A good deal of it is known now to never even have happened. Consider the enslavement in Egypt episode: while apologists are trying to link the pharoh of the bible w/one of the Rameses, actually there is NO record of any mass enslavement of any semitic groups at all, or even of such groups having resided in Egypt for any length of time whatsoever, Hyksos excepted. the Egyptians were maniac record-keepers. We have pretty complete records going back to pre-dynastic times concerning the big picture of Egyptian history, and especially Eqyptian military history. Where the tribes of Israel are concerned: nada – nothing – poof. It didn’t happen. A lot of what is presented in the O.T. is just fictional, mythologized, or spin, as I pointed out above. Google the O.T. & check out a lot of the good books on historical archeology, etc. on the subject, or even current O.T. historical research, and you’ll see this plainly presented better than I can in a blog.

    The O.T. god must also be considered a reflection of these near-neolithic tribal traditions. Thru out the O.T., he/she/it acknowledges other gods. Again, there’s a lot of good stuff being written on this. The ancestral El of the tribes was very closely related to – probably extrapolated from – the Baals of Canaan (who, being rivals, were presented as being far more vicious than they were…otherwise why would the Jews have en masse migrated to their worship every time they went near the neighborhood, as recorded thruout the O.T.?)& other even older gods brought from the ancestral areas & cultures of the Sumerians, as related in the Abram/Abraham story. If you do any reading in archeological comparative religions at all, it doesn’t take long to see that most of Judaic worship customs & taboos were borrowed whole from earlier surrounding cultures, altho the monotheism is unusual but by no means unknown or even original (Ankhenaten, and others).

    It becomes even more obvious that christianity is also a pastiche of borrowings from older surrounding mythos if you just look at the common elements ripped off wholesale in most cases from mythraism, the isis cult, even the legends of Alexander the great & other semi-mythologized leaders, to give us the ‘royal’ geneology of JC, the annunciation, the virgin birth, the whole 9 yards schmear. And then there’re the 2nd & 3rd century chunks of apologist & exclusivist propaganda inserted large scale into the JC mythos by the early church authorities as they were busy fighting turf wars w/other brands of christianity, each seeking to be The Version of christianity to rule & cop all the believers. It ain’t a pretty story, very sordid, and quite an eye-opener & source of disgust & disillusionment for anyone w/enough integrity & working brain cells to be interested in finding the truth, and not just swallowing whole the baloney presented in either the O.T. or the N.T., which, again, is mainly a power struggle for control by the christian authorities, and one which continues to this day. Very hard when you have to brainwash each generation anew, spin facts to accord with your mythologies, explain away discrepancies, & fight off those who would expose it all as the crock it is, except to those who prefer to ingest it all without question, “the faithful”.

    Start reading, if you haven’t already. It helps.

  • Susan

    Randy,

    Your “tall glass of water” analogy is putting yourself back in the Garden of Eden where human life was insipid because we didn’t have knowledge. You might want to reevaluate how you use your religious teachings; I don’t think it’s healthy to avoid life because you can’t handle it. Instead “movies and tv…books and magazines that promote sex outside of marriage” could be used by you as an antidote. You can immunize yourself because you have dared to face it and conquer it instead of hiding from it. Exposure to that stuff doesn’t make me “sick,” and I don’t have a Bible protecting me. How do you account for that? How does that happen? Tall glasses of apple juice?

  • Sister Ray

    Skepticism doesn’t equal immoral and unethical. Secular people can be just as concerned about teen pregnancy, trash TV, etc.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    Again, your point is well taken and poignent. However, your theory would give the lie to all of advertising. Folks spend all this money trying to change our habits. It works.

    Better than ads is PR. There we make our ads into news. The public is even more likely to buy these ideas and change mores.

    Better than either one is story. Our emotions are touched at a deep level by good stories.

    Finally, there’s the tipping point. I may be able to resist for a long time, but something like the Kinsey Report or oral sex isn’t sex hits the news, and a bunch of folks who were holding on to their morals by a thin handle, let the handle slip away completely.

    Nancy, it is impossible in this space to respond to each of your claims, though they are well refuted in other places. I would recommend that anyone read the OT themselves cover to cover without any preconceived notion. They will find brutality, horrible behavior, and God’s continued grace, His unrequieted love, and His kept promises.

    Then the NT confirms the old with the promised Christ. And today, for some strange reason, the biggest news story every day centers on Jerusalem.

    But for the unbelievers, it is just a random chance thing that after all of this history, it comes down to Jerusalem.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Sister Ray,

    Forgive me for not responding. You are 100% correct. And please read the following statement carefully. It is not designed to be negative towards those who don’t believe as I do.

    What do the dregs of society believe? What commonly happens to the lives of hardened criminals when they are exposed to Christ?

    It is possible to be moral, just, kind, compassionate, selfless, and productive without Christ. It is just harder, and less likely. And the shame is that those who are that good, are still sinning daily. And they have not elected to ask forgiveness of the only One who can offer it.

  • Susan

    Randy,

    We both agree that using logic and reasoning is a good approach to solving issues, right? Do we at least have that in common?

    Would I ignore the logic that women are created equal just because someone who is religious believes it, too? No, because that’s not logical. But would you ignore a religious text when it contradicts logic? If you say yes, then your Touchstone has a huge crack. My touchstone doesn’t.

    You wondered why we should look at my ideas on an issue and not your religious ones. The answer to that is that it is not just MY ideas; they are yours too. We will be using something that we both share and it’s not poison; it’s the Golden Rule.

  • Susan

    RANDY “It is possible to be moral, just, kind, compassionate, selfless, and productive without Christ. It is just harder, and less likely.”

    Maybe for you it is. All I am asking from you, Randy, is that you don’t push a religious agenda on me through public legislation.

    RANDY “And the shame is that those who are that good, are still sinning daily. And they have not elected to ask forgiveness of the only One who can offer it.”

    Something you might want to think about doing to avoid hypocrisy is stop telling other people that if they don’t believe what you believe they are sinners. That’s called throwing stones. Follow the Golden Rule and you’ll stop doing that.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Ms. Nancy, I have done quite a lot of research on the topic — including reading the Bible itself cover-to-cover three times — and have found what you contend to be true. I am of the belief that the Bible is largely a book of legend. Often useful legend, but legend nonetheless. That is why I could never be a Christian fundamentalist or literalist.

  • Bennett

    Randy just can’t stop preaching. He runs out of rational arguments and interesting thoughts, then reverts to feeling *sorry* for non-christians.

    And the shame is that those who are that good, are still sinning daily. And they have not elected to ask forgiveness of the only One who can offer it.

    Oh gee, thanks for the thought Randy. What a bunch of crap.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    And the shame is that those who are that good, are still sinning daily.

    while I agree with the comments (155-157) that counter this moralistic judgement from someone who presumes to play God, I’d also like to add this comment as well:

    IF someone is sinning daily or not, that is between them and their God and is not of Randy’s concern and therefore – surprises of surprises – Randy is the only one experiencing shame over the ‘sins’.

  • Sister Ray

    I give Randy credit for mentioning the sin and forgiveness aspect of Christianity, not just the nicey-nice “God wuvs you” easy sell.

    Randy, have you ever read H.L. Mencken’s “Treatsie on the Gods”? He was a famous skeptic and a smart-ass, but in this book he was very thoughtful and reflective.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Sister Ray,

    Haven’t seen that one. I’ll try to add to the list.

    The “fact” of sinning daily is dependent on my definition of sin. However, I have yet to meet the person who thinks they are so good that they never lie, cheat, steal, treat others totally different than the golden rule would provide. Every survey of Americans show that the vast majority do these sins on a regular basis.

    I do, but I have no guilt over those things that are passed. I feel guilt in the process of contemplating sin, or if I give in. But then I ask forgiveness, turn from it, and move on. (not perfect at this process, by the way. Sometimes the guilt or shame hangs on longer than I’d like.)

    Then, there is the golden rule idea as the touchstone. Much too limited. The Bible goes far beyond the golden rule. It proposes that we look beyond ourselves, and that we recognize that we are subject to prisons of our own making. That these very prisons my keep us from being even slightly interested in doing the golden rule.

    Example. I’ve mentioned my friend who is just out of a long stretch in prison. He is a strong believer, but he is so instituionalized in his thinking that he is still very selfish. His next step in his “walk” is to get beyond just thinking about himself. But there are many who have never spent a day in a real prison who are nevertheless imprisoned in the same way by other kinds of behavior.

    Jesus tells us to forget about ourselves. He even says we have to die to ourselves. That is far beyond the golden rule. It says we should do unto others because they are in need, or because Jesus says so.

    bhw,

    The new covenant was needed and planned from the beginning in order to make a once and for a redemption of sin. The Jews had their redemption through sacrifical blood of animals. Their sins were specific and had to do with written laws.

    The next step in the maturing process for mankind was to move to the law written on our hearts, revealed by the Holy Spirit, and redemption through Faith in a Redeemer.

    Also, this God, as painted by Bible writers and many of his/her followers, is one insecure, needy deity, with all of this “worship me, me, me” business.

    Try looking at the real story of the first five books of the Bible. God says throughout these books, Do as I say and things will go well with you. Don’t do as I say and things will not go so well. God doesn’t need to be worshipped. Many needs to worship. Otherwise, he assumes that he can be in control. God new that we will live the best possible life when we recognize and worship something bigger than US.

    Susan, I will admit that there are times when the Bible contradict my idea of logic. Undoubtedly yours more often. However, I absolutely know that I am not the perfect judge.

    Example, all of my kids at one time or another have said, “that’s not fair.” As their father, I have to explain that fairness and justice are not always the same thing. Our heavenly Father knows what justice is, and it isn’t always fair, or logical to my poor pea brain.

  • Bennett

    Why was Nancy’s last comment deleted? I thought it was clear, reasonable, and spot on.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Argh. It must have been me, Bennett, while deleting comment spam. That’s two of Nancy’s I took out, apparently.

  • Bennett

    Nancy – Please attempt to rewrite what you had so eloquenty penned here, and then we’ll both ignore this thread.

    It really captured so much of my frustration with fundies who feel it’s their duty to become pimps and pushers for their god.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    While you’re at it, how do I change that “new” to a “knew” in the 3rd to the last para of my last comment. Looks awful.

  • Susan

    RANDY: “[The Golden Rule is] much too limited. The Bible goes far beyond the golden rule.”

    Pleased provide an example of this. I don’t think you can give an example that I cannot relate to the G.R.

    RANDY: “[The Bible] proposes that we look beyond ourselves,”

    And the Golden Rule doesn’t? Do you understand how the G.R. works?

    RANDY: [The prisons of our own making] keep us from being even slightly interested in doing the golden rule.

    Don’t those same “prisons of our own making” keep Bible readers from following the Bible in the same way that they might keep you from following the Golden Rule? One either follows her philosophy or she does not. Anyone can cheat. The truth of an idea is no less diminished by a cheater who refuses to follow it.

    RANDY: [Jesus says] we have to die to ourselves. That is far beyond the golden rule. It says we should do unto others because they are in need, or because Jesus says so.

    Put this is a real life example. I will show you how it really is about yourself. Martyrdom is unnecessary (and equal to being a suicide bomber). You can be a good person and care about yourself. It’s all about learning what really, really is in your own, long-term best interest. Randy, give me a situation that sacrificing yourself for another is your best option.

    RANDY: Don’t do as [God says] and things will not go so well.

    Randy, things are going really well for me. I am not financially wealthy, but I am completely happy. Your evidence to make me change is not convincing. I am living the best possible life. Aren’t you? You are the one who wants me to adopt your values. I have never asked you to adopt mine. I only ask you to allow me to retain mine when it conflicts with Christian-sans-logic legislation.

  • Susan

    RANDY: “While you’re at it, how do I change that “new” to a “knew” in the 3rd to the last para of my last comment. Looks awful.”

    Who cares? I new what you meant.

    Just get Nancy’s last comment back.

  • Tao Jonez

    whoa now, Randy iz speakinthat the Book goes “far beyond” da Golden Rule. No wscope this, ain’ tthe GR supposed ta be the whole of the law according ta JC?
    And ain’t all the rest of the Bible just stuff slapped in there by men?
    What I’m sayin here is, JC gave the Golden Rule as the way ta live, and the only way ta talk upstairs wuz supposed ta be “the Lord’s Prayer”
    so all them psalms and whatnot is just stuff made up my men. cuz JC gave it all out in those 2 thangs so we could keep it real and be good ta each other.
    ya feelin me?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Tao,

    Jesus said that loving God with all your heart, soul, and strength was the first commandment. Loving others as yourself was the second. While the second is similar to the golden rule, it is far more reaching as stated above. Taken together, they are a bunch more.

  • Tao Jonez

    yo Randy, ya go and look up the text around da GR. but it’s all good. ya can lissen ta the words of men if ya like. some of em are kewl. but don’t try and play a playah.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Tao,

    Having a hard time following your King James English. The golden rule is nowhere in the Bible. I assume you have a specific verse in mind?

  • Tao Jonez

    yo Randy, scope this: Matthew 7.12
    “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”

    ya do have the gospel of Matthew in yer Book there, right playah?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    My bad. Very bad. You are correct that in this case I had heard from another that the Golden Rule was nowhere in the Bible, and I failed to check the statement for myself.

    However, it doesn’t change the fact that the context of even that verse is dozens of additional verses that require more of man than 7:12. In fact, it is clear that following the GR will not lead to salvation.

  • Tao Jonez

    may be clear ta you, Randy. but it wuz clear ya you dat the GR wuzn’t in the Book till a few minutes ago. stop takin the words of fallible men fer yer Gospel.
    dat’s da Knowledge

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Just get Nancy’s last comment back.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think we can. 8-(

    But on the up side, I think I figured out how the accidental deletes happened, so they shouldn’t happen any more.

  • Bennett

    Yeah, chew on that for a few weeks preacher-man. Then come back here and lay down “the word”.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Tao,

    where does your gospel come from?

    Are you a Christian?

  • Tao Jonez

    scope da name, know da game, Randy

    Knowledge is everywhere, and Wisdom is findin it, Reason is da tool and Understanding is da goal. I am just a Fool, but that’s the Way i roll.
    ya feelin’ me yet?

  • Bennett

    Careful Tao, he’s sidlin’ up, makin’ conversation. Next he’ll want yto know how much porn you view, and can he help you stop watching, personally.

    He’s as sneaky as a priest, that one.

  • Tao Jonez

    yo Bennet, my brothah, it ani’t no thang. this playah ani’t hittin hiz knees in front of nobdoy in a cassok wit’ his tongue out watin fer a “wafer”
    know what i’m sayin?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I’m feeling you Tao. How will you know when you find it? Bennett is clearly still looking since he only comes by to badger and insult. Bennett, I’m spelling your name right and everything. Have I insulted you in some other way, recently?
    I really had the impression that you accepted the idea that I enjoy the exchange of ideas. If someone comes around to my way of thinking, cool.

  • Tao Jonez

    yo Randy, it’s all good. read 177 again, sez it all.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Tao, you leave out a pretty critical element, what is the criteria you use for knowing Understanding when you find it?

  • Bennett

    All right, appologies all around. It was funny as I wrote it though.

    Randy, you don’t intentionally insult me, but the “sinning every day” stuff is a bit much, imo. You don’t seem to realize that you’re in a public forum, and that some of the stuff you spout is offensive to folks that don’t buy into the “died for your sins” stuff.

    Tao, all good.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Appreciate it Bennett. Sometimes it is funny. So give me a bit of grace for going over the top sometimes on something I am passionate about. What would one be more passionate about than the possibility of heaven or hell. If it is real, it is pretty serious stuff.

    Do you argue with the proposition that every single human sins on a regular basis? Even given a secular definition? Even using the golden rule?

  • KYS

    Sin given a secular definition? Is that possible?

    Nope, I don’t sin. I do, however, screw up on a regular basis.

  • Tao Jonez

    yo Randy, 177 gave ya da definitions, ain’t my place or style ta be layin da Knowledge out on ya. ya got Reason fer dat. scope the history of da Book ya luv, and learn some on who wrote what.

    Old Test wuz written by old men ta control da Tribes and get em ta do shit. some of it’s all good, some of it is all bad

    New Test has a smatterin of da Word from JC, and a whole lotta shit lain in there from NIcea, smushin Constantine’s sun god worshippin crap in with political motive’s and co-optin pagan shit all over the place

    Quran, like da OT, wuz all about politics, and some about livin. again used by old men ta make folks do what they say

    all gots good stuff in it, but so do dem philosophers, like Buddha and Ghandi an’ shit all else in da world.

    think on all that, then read 177 again.
    and that’s da Knowledge, boyeee.

  • Bennett

    What KYS said.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Tao,

    Kinda repeating Susan. You are your own touchstone. Only you know what is right and wrong after comparing this and that. You get to choose among the OT and NT writings and decide what you like and don’t like. You have a famous President who agreed with you. Jefferson.

    See, you say you are a fool. But after all of the studying and sitting under the masters, both secular and not, I realized that I would have to be the proudest human ever to think I’m going to be the one to figure it out.

    So, as a practical man, I added up all the evidence, checked with those I trusted, checked out the poll numbers, reviewed my experience under the Christian life and my experience under the secular life, and the practical answer was God. So if God, which one?

    Went through the process again. Result came back Jesus, Father, and Holy Spirit. Partly because I’m a contrarian, and this religion is constantly running contrary to the culture around it. It is counter intuitive at almost every turn. And the leadership hated Jesus.

    So, I don’t claim to be as humble as I hope to be some day, but I’m just humble enough to know I’m not capable of running my life on my own strength and wisdom.

  • Tao Jonez

    so much drama in old BC,
    it’s kinda hard fer TJ ta live up ta da G.
    but some how, some Way,
    I’m spittin out funky ass shit,nearly every single day.
    Here i’m kickin out somethin’
    for da G,
    and make a few friends as i breeze through.
    Don’tcha know it’s comin’ up on mornin’
    but the party’s still pumpin;
    just nobody is home.
    We got some hatah’s in da blogoshphere
    gettin it on,
    and they ain’t stoppin,
    till their hatin is done.
    so , whatcha gonna do?
    I got some mad skillz at da keyboard,
    and my homeboyz do too.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Sin has several secular definitions in my dictionary. Mainly “willful departure from custom of society.”

    But that’s not the real issue. The real issue is that we all willfully depart from our own touchstones. And when we are the authors of those touchstones by our own wisdom, we are probably not including some that are important to a well lived life, and to our neighbors.

    We may not do any better with the Bible as a touchstone, but as stated earlier, we probably will.

  • Tao Jonez

    yo Randy, just reachin out one last time. but da Fool i’m speakin of is da first Trump of the Tarot.
    Symbology is deep shit.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I’m out for a while myself. Might get one more shot b4 bed since it Left Coast here.

  • KYS

    I disagree that we can’t count on our own wisdom to create a well lived life.

  • Bennett

    KYS – Hear Hear!

  • Susan

    Randy, one last one before I make like Nancy and skedaddle.

    I don’t ever willfully depart from my touchstone. Never have.

    I’ll check and see if you have any examples that I asked for. Not holding my breath.

    Remember, don’t legislate your morality over our shared Golden Rule morality, It’s not nice. It was interesting to cross your path. Goodbye.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Comment 165. Sorry Susan, I completely missed it. Maybe one of your best, too. Really making me think.

    1. I’m not asking you to do anything. I’m puttin stuff out there. So are you. If one of us buys a little bit that makes us better at what we do, great.

    2. My life is pretty incredible. I am constantly amazed at how rich it has been and continues to be. Current goal is to keep making a difference until the day I depart this life.

    3. I’m sorry to say this, but I can’t think of any way to say it except straight out. I don’t believe that you never willfully depart from the GR. You said,
    “You take in only your interpretation of someone’s translation of the Bible, and swallow it hole.”
    I don’t think that is the way you would like me to respond to you. I will be the first to say that your comments are very civilized and kind, but never is a big word over a long time.

    4. I agree that our self-imposed prisons work against a Christian as well. However, the Christian has a defined path to follow to break free from bondage.

    5. The biggie. How does the golden rule not encompass everything Jesus taught?

    Let say that you have come to the conclusion that if you were to be faced with the birth of a girl, and you wanted a boy, that you would want to be able to abort that girl up to and including just after birth.

    Therefore, when your friend delivers a baby girl, but wanted a boy and she asks you to destroy it, you do. It is what you would have wanted her to do.

    Apply the same yardstick to lies, adultry, etc. Your wisdom, your understanding may result in your desiring or hoping people will act towards you in a certain way, therefore you will act that way towards them, irrespective of any societal or religious touchstone. In fact, in extreme instances, you will act toward them in the way you would want them to act toward you, even if that isn’t their desire.

    The GR isn’t enough by itself.

  • Tao Jonez

    yo Randy, ya fucked up man. the “other” ya would be talking about is the newborn girl, not da mom. and since ya would not wanna be killing yerself, killing a newborn is out. nice try at twiztin logic, but fucked up.

    now next yer gonna try and hit the abortion thing. lemme just say that there is a world of opinions on when life starts. the government sez it’s after yer born and dey stick yer lil feet on the certificate.

  • Susan

    Tao Jonez is right. Another thing wrong with this example is being able to evaluate what others ask of you. If they are not following the Golden Rule, you are under no obligation to honor such requests.

    Randy, don’t you swallow the Bible whole?

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    So Susan,

    An earnest intent to follow the Golden rule would be the touchstone, even if the intent turned out to include a lie, etc?

    I need to think this through.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Tao, your point is well made, but I have to suspect that you don’t follow the GR. It should be clear to you that reading your comments with “colorful” language included greatly reduces my enjoyment as it would you if I used words or ideas that I knew would be offensive to you.

    OK Susan,

    I see a person who is clearly in need of help. Help that I can easily or sacrificially provide. However, if I were in their position, I would want to be able to tough it out. I wouldn’t want help.

  • Susan

    You need to be more specific about the kind of help they need and if they are a friend or a relative.

    If it’s writing a college entrance essay that you could easily write for them, you would think to yourself am I really helping this person in the long run if I let them sign their name to my work? I shouldn’t offer to do it, and they are not following the G.R. if they ask me to do it.

    If it’s help as in loaning money to someone who really needs it, but who has a history of not paying it back, the Golden Rule informs you that you can give the money (knowing to yourself that you will probably never see it again–which alone can damage a friendship), but you also need to consider that giving money will encourage them to continue getting into these scraps.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Point, set, match. The golden rule on its own does not provide you with the understanding that you need. In your one example, it even mattered to you whether or not they were following the golden rule.

    In your others, you had to think for them, and you can’t always do that.

    The Bible provides 100’s of additional piece of info to help you sort these things out.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Oh, so, Mr. Kirk, you are trying to locate a chink in Ms. Susan’s armor — this *is* a game, a pissing matchn for you (or so it appears). Disappointing. Are you hoping that she will come back and say that now, thanks to you, she has seen the light?

    I don’t see where the GR failed her. Are you intimating that whatever touchstone must have the answers so that you are not required to *think*? Sounds abominable to me. God gave me my brain — it would be an affront to her for me not to use it. What is the old adage? Oh yeah, God helps those who help themselves.

  • Susan

    Randy,

    I always think for the other person (or giving it my best, honest guess as to how they are thinking) because that’s part of using the Golden Rule. Also, requiring others to be advocates of GR is also part of the GR. I’m a little surprised you don’t see that.

    RANDY: “The Bible provides 100’s of additional piece of info to help you sort these things out.”

    Where?

  • Tao Jonez

    yo, last words from dis playah.
    bin chillin, and readin, and writin fer sum dayz now. an’ i scoped whaz the hapinin’ up in here. “game, set, match” sez it all

    i did what i promised i’d do, i learned. an’ it’s leavin a bad taste in my mouth.

    some peeps scoped da pun of Tao Jonez, and Dow Jones, but dere’s one more layer. Tao is chinese fer “the Way” and Jonez is slang fer wantin’ something real bad.

    fer those that dig what i been doin, thanks much….fer those dat don’t
    fuck you

    oh yeah, Dave ta da N, put yer flipper down

    peace, and i’m out

  • Bennett

    Miss you already, Tao.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Same here. “Game, set, match” left a sour taste in my mouth too.

  • Susan

    Tao was smart, but rude. That was his/her persona. I like smart, but I am turned off by rude whether it supports my side or someone else’s. (G.R. says Do Unto Others: I don’t think swearing is a legitimate response unless it’s in fun or surprise–this was neither). Rudeness is not only unnecessary but it often acts in place of argument or the opposition notes it as an emotional fallacy and a distraction to the real argument. Randy’s no fool he’s pointing it out as distraction. He’s right. Don’t encourage it.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Sheesh. It was meant to be in fun. I apologize. Susan has been hitting shots to both corners, smackin’ them to the back line, and mixing it up with dinks. So, Susan, you didn’t mention any offense. I would be most upset if you thought it was a problem.

    This is not to say that the rest of you aren’t hitting good shots. But it isn’t a game to me. But it is supposed to be fun. Huh Bennett? Not all dour.

    Susan,

    I think we are going off on a tangent. The point of departure was how to we obtain knowledge, wisdom, understanding to make decisions regarding how we act.

    I said my touchstone was the Bible, which contains proverbs, songs, stories, alagories, parables, historical testimonies and biographies, and sermons as a bare minimum to help us know how to live.

    You, said the GR was your touchstone which, (I now know) is in the Bible. I merely stated that it wasn’t enough. If I were to write a book giving my son direction for his life, I would provide much more than just the GR.

    Giving credit where credit is due department. I have been applying the GR to situations the last couple of days. Thanks for the reminder of that being a great way to evaluate things. It does work very well in lots of cases, and shortens the thinking process.

    I don’t really want to use it on the SoCal Freeways though. Do you think it fits GR policy to at least keep that oiut of the doctrine?

  • Celeste O.

    Damn, I left at #29 and look what has happened since.

    I have to hand it to ‘Captain’ Kirk that he is persistent in not giving up on this thread, even if it’s all the same smoke from before.

    I’m still waiting for Gonzo’s secret handshake. Sigh.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Fun? *There* is a concept.

  • Bennett

    Not all dour at all Randy.

    “on the SoCal Freeways “

    Yeechh, I don’t miss that. But yeah, the GR applies.

    [start road rage]”A Zipper damn it! Don’t you cut me off you baaas! You stu-pied idgit! Merge like a zipper if ya got more than half a brain already![/rr]

    I’m okay with smart drivers though.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I do a class from time to time on sacrifice. You know, “Christ made the ultimate sacrifice.” We are called to just as sacrificial if we choose to follow Him.

    I start by asking the question “Would you give up your life for your child?” Everyone is in. Then: “would you give up your life for your spouse?” Some dropouts, especially the women. (Just reporting, not judging.)

    Next I ask if they are willing to give up their favorite TV night time soap opera for their spouse (pre TIVO.) That gets everyone fidgeting.

    Then I admit that if there’s only one serving left of my favorite ice cream, I am unlikely to announce the fact to my boys, giving them a shot at it. Not very good at the GR.

  • confused

    Just dropped by to read up on the site, our voice server is being upgraded. I had been talking with Tao and some of the others, and wanted to see this thread for myself.
    Pardon me for not wanting to get philosophical here, but the ice cream bit is a very telling admission of inner character.
    To Bennet, I will pass along you kind thought to Tao, and Gonzo said to tell you hello.
    To Celeste, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Gonzo no longer writes on this site. Search for a thread about “Adam Goldberg”, which is now closed, to find out more.
    For Maynard, Tao and myself, thanks for the interesting debates.
    Time for me to get back in-game and talk to the crew.
    Night all.

  • Susan

    Randy, your students should ask if their spouses in return give up TV for them. It really is a two-way street. How often does a spouse need to ruin a moment of whatever the other calls entertainment with something that can’t wait. If it can wait, it’s called crying wolf. It’s not nice to do.

    Ice cream. Who bought it? All the GR asks is that you not tell them you ate it and rub it in their faces. If they ask what happened to the ice cream, you can tell them the truth. Then it’s a lovely learning experience that won’t have them still living under your roof when they are 32 years old.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    Thanks for the warm smile. Maybe we’ve worn out this thread. Would everyone be up for “The Practical Advantages of Christianity?” Could do that for Friday night.

  • Duane

    I don’t see why some posters got irritated with Randy’s tennis analogy. Lighten up. Sheeesh. Randy doesn’t deserve to be treated with anything less than respect. He’s continually shown that he is a good sport in this discussion. Besides that, he’s given rise to several interesting discussions. If you think he’s preaching, so what? It’s not going to hurt you in any way. He knows he’s not going to find any potential converts on BC. He’s agreed to address his faith from an intellectual standpoint, and he’s doing a fine job of it. That’s a rare opportunity.

  • confused

    why do some people get irritated? scroll up, things like saying the Golden Rule isn’t in the Bible, then getting busted on it.

    perhaps it’s because a lot of people don’t really like the holier than thou attitude.
    could be due to the entire content of his numerous posts and comments, and the obvious arrogance portrayed while pretending any kind of humility.

    or maybe because he ate the last of the ice cream. i’ll keep reading, because it is good to keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I’m confused, Confused, why would you be irritated about someone making an error, then fessing up?

    But, the ice cream part concerns me, too.

    Duane, would you mind dropping by any thread you see me on for encouragement? Thanks for your kind thoughts.

  • confused

    Randy, when you tout a single source book as the be all and end all, then don’t even know a very famous quote from the principle individual involved, yet took it as a given when told by a person. That generates irritation for me. I have taken the time (yes, i am also doing my homework here) to read your writings, and see overall patterns.
    YOu see, how much else has “somebody” told you that you take as true, but in fact, is in error?
    I make no claims as to my own grandeur, nor do I pretend to have any answers for myself, much less others. But even I know to fact check about little things before arguing about it. Yet you chose to argue without checking what you refer to as your “touchstone”, a single source made up of the works of old men who were trying to dominate their world via the medium of a religion.
    And yet you missed one of the main lessons that are worth anything in it, and still argue the validity of one concept (the Golden Rule) which can actually be found in almost all of the worlds major religions, from Zoroasterianism to Confucianist philosophy and more.
    Good that you admit you were wrong, bad that it didn’t seem to slow you down for a second in your attack argument.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Confused,

    Yep.

    If you put yourself out there, your gonna get burned. I make mistakes. Even stupid ones. If everyone who ever made a stupid mistake put down their pen, there’d be nobody writing.

  • confused

    Poor attempt at distraction. MIght i suggest, before you go on and continue your jihad of preachign the superior morality you possess for following the Bible, that you go ahead and actually try reading the entire thing. You might also want to look at some of the Jesuit theological and historical texts concerning the sources and history fo the writings contained within.
    I will completely agree there is a lot of excellent lessons to be learned there, I am just a bit confused about whether you comprehend them sufficiently enough to set yourself up as any kind of authority.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I’ve read the Bible cover-to-cover in 7 translations. (all English) I’ve read the entire J Vernon McGee Commentary. My library of Christian writings is almost an entire wall in my home. I’m in the middle of a Bible class that I’m facilitating, which is reading the Bible again from cover-to-cover. It has taken us two and a half years to get to 1st Kings. That is how thoroughly we are convering it. (You aksed.)

    I don’t, however, hold myself out as any kind of expert. I am a layman who desires to be stretched by folks like you, and hopefully return the favor.

    I have read more about Skepticism from Michael Shermer and others than I have about the info you point to. However, a neighbor of mine left the church to become a free thinking and we did emails for a while debating all these issues. As you no doubt already know, there are plenty of responses to each of the claims. For instance, because something was done before, doesn’t make it incorrect. Things like that.

  • confused

    I am glad you have something to obsess about that brings you such joy. I would only hope that you take the time to sift the wheat from the chaff, and actually learn the meanings of the allegory’s, symbology’s and parables, rather than being limited to “literalist” thought.
    I still find it difficult to understand how you could have missed the Golden Rule in all that study.
    As for your authoratarian stance in these matters. It is how you can be perceived due to your writings, even though you may not mean it, or see it yourself.
    Purely an observation, no personal slight intended. I am merely suggesting a broadening and deeper understanding of the objective facts around the compilation as well as the content.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    So Confused,

    Have you done as you preach. Have you studied the Bible and read the conservative authors who comment on the Bible in order to balance your opinion. My various atheist friends have brought me many books over the years. I have painstakingly commented in the margins. My friend, Michael Shermer, sent me early galleys of one of his books on religious skepticism which I read and fed back comments.

    Unfortunately, it has been my experience, that my atheist and agnostic and free thinker friends tend to end their reading of material they disagree with after they leave the church or make the decision to join with some other movement.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    If you’re still in the hood, I keep reflecting back on your GR ideas as I try to use it as primary (duh, it works).

    You said that one needs to insist that the ones you are doing GR with have to be doing GR in return. That might be a big difference with Biblical thought.

    I would say GR should mean the giving of oneself unselfishly regardless of the other person’s willingness to return the favor.

  • Bennett

    “I would say GR should mean the giving of oneself unselfishly regardless of the other person’s willingness to return the favor. “

    Exactly, and that’s where karma comes in.

    “Cast your bread upon the waters..” and all that.

  • confused

    Randy, the simple answer is, yes. My studies in some of these areas si continuous and ongoing from both angles. The entire goal is to further understanding of where “holy” books come from and why.

    This post completes my “homework” assignment, passed the number of comments asked of me, and reside on the top of the commenters list.

    It has been something of an interesting experience here at BC, but in the end, pointless for me to continue, and frustrating when dealing with those that have their minds made up before the conversation even begins, based upon their own political ideology.

    Good night all, best wishes.

  • Susan

    RANDY: “I would say GR should mean the giving of oneself unselfishly regardless of the other person’s willingness to return the favor. ”

    No, the GR wouldn’t work if that’s what it meant, for the same reason communism doesn’t work as a political system. It’s a neat idea if all people were honest and only took what they needed from each other.

    What you do is offer someone a small amount of friendship and see what they do with it. If they reciprocate, you can invest more heavily in that friendship. If they take advantage of that initial offer of friendship, you have to decide to either let it go and look elsewhere or gently confront and ask them not to do it again. And then make sure they don’t. That’s what I meant before about turning the other cheek; you can only do that so many times (4, I guess) before you start to become a bitter and angry person.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    What if its not a friend or potential friend. Parent, child, boss, employee, customer, supplier, neighbor, fellow member of team or club or PTA, person you see on the street with a sign who needs food, person drowning.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Mr. Kirk wrote: “I would say GR should mean the giving of oneself unselfishly regardless of the other person’s willingness to return the favor.”

    I agree with that wholeheartedly.

    Ms. Susan wrote: “No, the GR wouldn’t work if that’s what it meant, for the same reason communism doesn’t work as a political system. It’s a neat idea if all people were honest and only took what they needed from each other…

    That’s what I meant before about turning the other cheek; you can only do that so many times (4, I guess) before you start to become a bitter and angry person.”

    I am a huge believer in TTOC and giving without expectation of anything in return. My reasoning: I may not be a happier person as a result, but I will be a better person. I may not have joy or money or power or anything else, but I do have my character and integrity. That’s something.

    Back to Mr. Kirk: “What if its not a friend or potential friend. Parent, child, boss, employee, customer, supplier, neighbor, fellow member of team or club or PTA, person you see on the street with a sign who needs food, person drowning.”

    Why help them, of course. Any other course would be inhumane.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Hey Natalie,

    Call me Randy. Not even my employees call me Mr. Kirk.

    Well said. But most humans don’t act that way, so why do you say anything else would not be human?

  • Karl Rutherford

    listen to him Natalie- he has employees.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Human nature is made up of horrid traits that I aspire to rise above. But let’s get to definitions.

    Human means of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or having the nature of people.

    Humane is characterized by tenderness, compassion, and sympathy for people and animals, esp. for the suffering or distressed.

    Two different things (although human can be used as an adjective meaning sympathetic or humane).

    As for monikers, I am sorely uncomfortable with referring to strangers by first names and vice versa. Your culture’s rampant use of the overfamiliar gives me the willies. If you will accept a compromise, I won’t refer to you by name at all.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Ms. Davis, call me Mr. Kirk, Captain Kirk, or Randy. I was just being friendly. I assume your not from around here. Where do you call home?

    Karl, nothing special in my comment. Those that know me here know my background.

    Ms. Davis,

    My experience with humans is that most of them are nice most of the time. But I’ve never met one who isn’t selfish more than not. And I’ve met a bunch who would be considered not nice at all. There’s another group, who given the right (or wrong) circumstances get very unnice, even though they are usually pretty good.

    Americans are considered by most polls to be the most generous folks around. They have the most per capita income, so it should be natural to be so generous. What does that add up to. Maybe 2 or 3% of average income. Some of the richest and those in public life give less than that.

    Time. I don’t have a statistic, but I venture to say that most folks don’t give an hour a week to the care of someone they don’t feel obligated to care for. (e.g. child, aging or invalid parent, spouse, other relative.)

    I don’t want you to take away that I have a low view of humans. I’m an optimist. But I think it is more realistic to see humans as basically selfish and self-centered, and come up with ways to move them to be more caring and giving.

    I don’t see objectivism, free thinking, skepticism, or agnosticism providing vehicles for improving the likelihood that folks be more caring and giving. Individuals who have those POV’s may be very loving and giving, but that doesn’t necessarily equate with moving others to do the same.

    Christianity at its very core is about that very thing.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    I live in Baltimore presently, although my hope is to move abroad. Home? Don’t have one. I feel most at home outside of your country.

    “Christianity at its very core is about that very thing.”

    In theory. In practice, however, most Christians I know don’t seem to get that. (Gandhi may be my touchstone. It sure as heck isn’t the Bible.)

  • Karl Rutherford

    do they have Jesus in australia Mr Davis?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Statistically, Christians outgive and outserve non Christians by a wide margin. That doesn’t mean that Christians are all just perfect. Far from it. Including me. I still don’t want to apply the GR to the freeways.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    To the freeways?

    Christians outgive, according to polls. Pharisees gave and gave too. My grandmother gives and gives, but her motivation, which I figured out as a child, is that she does it for brownie points with God. Doesn’t count in my book.

  • Duane

    Mr. Randy says, I would say GR should mean the giving of oneself unselfishly regardless of the other person’s willingness to return the favor.

    Ms. Davis says, I agree with that wholeheartedly.

    Ha! Yeah, right. No sane person would practice this. If you think you can, would you each please mail me $40,000 so I can put my son into an expensive private college. Go ahead, give of yourselves. Can’t afford it? C’mon. Don’t be selfish. And by the way, I have no intention at all of repaying you. That’s right! So, come on you GR practitioners. Gimme.

    Yours, etc.
    Mr. Duane

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Mr. Duane, I don’t have 40 cents. Can’t give what does not exist.

  • Duane

    Natal …. er … Ms. Davis, says I am a huge believer in TTOC and giving without expectation of anything in return.

    Hehehehe. Good grief. As you would say, LOL.

  • Duane

    Do you live on the street? If not, then send me next month’s rent and grocery money. That’s a start on the righteous path to unselfishness. And I won’t be sending anything back. I want it all.

    Best, etc
    Mr. Duane

  • Susan

    Randy,

    The freeway is especially important to use the GR because you cannot talk to the other person, and you usually aren’t close enough to read facial expressions or hand gestures until it’s too late and everyone is mad at each other.

    If somebody cuts you off, since you can’t ask them why, you have to imagine why they did it. Why do you cut people off? Either you’re in a hurry or you didn’t notice them or they were driving too slowly then sped up at the last minute so as you passed them it looked like you were deliberately cutting them off. Knowing this is powerful. Armed with this knowledge of typical human behavior, when someone cuts you off, you do not need to take it personally. The only thing to do is mentally check your driving (were you driving inconsistently?) and let them get several car-lengths ahead of you and as many lanes away from you (their driving is too aggressive and that can cause an accident that you don’t want to be apart of).

    Now as to the difference between family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and strangers: You have more invested in the former ones, so turn the other cheek more and address the wrong at a later date when emotions have cooled. For the latter (especially strangers), the freeway response is the best: move away from them; do not become part of their accident.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Mr. Duane, it is clear that you are mocking me, so there is no point in coversing with you.

    I believe the freeway is the perfect place for the GR — and it can prevent accidents. Just let the big rigs and road hogs go by, be mindful when changing lanes, don’t tailgate, no flipping the bird, etc.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Actually I have no problem with the folks who error on the fwy. Part of my general philosophy of life is that I make so many errors myself, I have great empathy for other’s errors.

    However, I’m an agressive driver, and don’t really want to treat other drivers with enough courtesy. While this is true of me, and I’m not proud of it, it was really meant as more of a joke.

    Duane,

    We still have to make choices. It doesn’t ever mean that we are unwise in our stewardship with regard to other obligations.

    Susan,

    The real question is not how many chances I give them to get into conformity. The question is, do I act towards them as I would have them act toward me no matter what. I may not like it, but if I were to try to kill the person closest to you, you might try to kill me in defense of that person. I would certainly do that if the circumstances were reversed. So it isn’t always a positive thing . . think social compact, think Geneva convention. It can be quid pro quo, but if it is a touchstone standing alone then I don’t think it works.

  • Maynard

    The geneva convention is a prime example of how the GR can be implemented. We treat other POW’s as we would like ours to be treated. This contract is EXACTLY what the GR is about. The same might be said about the social contract of the US Constitution. It delineates what rights and responsibilities we expect from each other and our government in a reciprocal nature.
    The GR is supposed to represent the Ideal of humanistic interactions, difficult to live up to, yes. If it were not, then it would not be an ideal.
    Rather than attempting to seek fault in an axiom of at least 8 major faiths/philosophies, that has stood the test of time for the entire breadth oif recorded human history, perhaps you might want to examine why it is you need to go over this repeatedly.

  • Bennett

    “However, I’m an agressive driver, and don’t really want to treat other drivers with enough courtesy.”

    Randy, hate to say it, but you make a mockery of christianity with this statement. You, who have a wall of christian books, have read the bible from cover to cover eight times, have bible studies with others of your faith, with the major player in your belief system delivering the message “love one another”…

    But has none of it sunk in? Did Jesus die on the cross so that you can be an asshole on the freeway with impunity?

  • Susan

    Natalie, behind Duane’s mocking, he does make a point. We need to be both generous and selfish. Moving to either extreme is not healthy behavior. We should show moderation.

    He’s pointing out that if you agree with Randy that “giving of oneself unselfishly regardless of the other person’s willingness to return the favor,” you probably don’t really mean it. At some point you learn not to give to that person. Giving your money to Duane is obviously a dumb move, and it doesn’t cause you to think very hard. But in other situations where it’s not so clear, you do need to have some sort of guiding rule. I really don’t think you believe the GR says that. If you did, then you believe others should give and give with no regard for their being taken advantage of. Do we want that to happen to anyone?

    Randy, are you adopting a persona of immoral uncaring to prove a point? If so, what is it? In the following response I will assume you were not joking about being an aggressive driver and enjoying it.

    If you acknowledge that your aggressiveness is a problem and you refuse to change it, you really don’t exemplify the purposeful GR behavior. I know I break the GR, but it is by mistake and I try to fix it so that I don’t do it again. I constantly check and recheck how my behavior is affecting others.

    GR asks you to assume you are the other person. So if you are against gay marriage, how would you like to be treated by the state if you were gay? How do you respond to other aggressive drivers? Do you think driving aggressively is an optimal moral stance?

  • Duane

    Randy says: We still have to make choices.

    Exactly. And when we make choices, what criteria do we use? Let’s say the GR dictates choice A. You have an internal dialogue along the lines of:

    1) What do I gain if I choose A?

    2) What do I lose if I choose A?

    You won’t send me all your money because you know that what you would gain cannot adequately compensate what you would lose. If I asked you to buy me a cup of coffee, then you might be willing to do that because what you gain (friendship, gratitude, conversation over coffee with a stunning intellect, etc.) might offset your monetary loss. The implementation of the GR is overruled by sane judgment.

    So, I contend that the GR is so idealistic that, in real life, it is rarely exercised. We use our judgment, and our judgment is based primarily on selfishness. And that’s the way it must be. Selfishness can be a virtue. That’s how civilization holds itself together.

    On the other hand, the so-called Silver Rule (see post 94 by bhw) —

    Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you. — Socrates

    is easy for most decent people to follow, and can be claimed by many to be a guiding principle. It is relatively easy not to screw people over. Therefore, selfishness can be the guiding light as long as our behavior does not exceed the bounds set by the Silver Rule. It’s just common sense. I have no doubt that the Silver Rule must have prevailed in most any human society of the past, which would include the earliest hunter-gatherer tribes, say 30,000 years ago. Of course, they didn’t write it down. And again, the exercise of this principle is based on self-interest — “I won’t steal Og’s club, or else he might steal my spear,” since I don’t trust Og to employ the Golden Rule, or any other Rule, except maybe “An eye for an eye.”

    Obviously, I have violated even the Silver Rule by making fun of Nat … uh, Ms. Davis … but, like Randy, who admits his tendency to drive aggressively, I am all too human.

    In reference to the freeway example discussed above, when I exercise proper road etiquette, it is entirely selfish. I am hoping that, in some ideal future, by setting a good example, all drivers will be courteous. Road etiquette cuts down on congestion, makes the trip safer and altogether more pleasant. It’s a selfish behavior on my part. It might be consistent with the GR, but that’s not my motivation. My motivation is based on my desire to make the driving experience less stressful for me — me, me, me.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Every day is a test, and sometimes Christians fail. He’s forgiven, not perfect.

  • Susan

    Duane, the GR dictates choice A and B.

    The Silver Rule is just the GR in disguise. Everything Duane says really is the GR. It is about me-me-me. But following GR admits you-you-you will not be liked it you take from others and are aggressive on the freeway. Duane and Natalie both equally right and wrong because moderation in all things terns out to be part of the GR. Find middle ground and both sides should be happy.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I am a wildly imperfect human. But I’m learning. If I knew each of you well enough, I’d find each of your weaknesses that you might not be so willing to admit here. It may even be a weakness of mine to be transparent about my weaknesses, but I find that it is reassuring to lots of people I deal with to know that someone with my otherwise apparent success in life is messed up.

    I don’t look at Christianity as a self-help study. I can make subtle changes in myself when to continue acting inappropriately will have negative consequences. I used to cuss a lot. But never around women. Later, it seemed to me that I would never lose a client because I didn’t swear, but I might because I did. I don’t even say the ever popular cr_p now. Practical.

    If I was so agressive on the freeway that I was constantly hearing horns or seeing flying fingers, I would undoubtedly make corrections. I also am aware of this “fault” and have some inclination to correct it.

    But if we get back to the main theme, if we act selfishly (I’m going to do for you so that you will do for me later, or I’m not going to do to you, so you won’t later), that is a contract.

    Christ says to do so unto the least of these because of your love. Period. I don’t think Mother Theresa did what she did for points, crowns in heaven, or so that these people would be her friends.

  • Jesus Christ

    Do not fret my children.
    I will never let [edited] Ms.Davis into my Kingdom.
    Keep the Faith.
    Jesus.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Comment 254,

    Would you mock Buddhism or Judaism in the same way? You show a shocking lack of tolerance and respect.

  • Susan

    RANDY: “I am a wildly imperfect human. But I’m learning. If I knew each of you well enough, I’d find each of your weaknesses that you might not be so willing to admit here.”

    Oh, for crying out loud, my “weakness” in most people’s eyes is I drive an old car that is a complete rust bucket and don’t clean my house and decorate it, yet I am a “professional” woman. Those are things I am not interested in changing. I am shy an awkward during small talk, but I am not “wildly imperfect” because I have been working on my relationship to others. I am not everybody’s perfect friend because I know that I am unique and therefore cannot be all things to all people.

    Mother Teresa got fame. Do you honor another person who did waht she did but did it without the fame? It seems to me fame is important in your consideration of who is worthy. Randy, you have never heard of me and will never hear of me again, but in my quiet little way (and there are millions like me) I am just as good–no wait better, than Mother Teresa–because she made sure people knew of her good deeds (and not of her bad ones). I just don’t buy that way of living. I don’t do good things for fame; I do them because they make me happy. Get to know real people and decide their worth by their actions.

  • Jesus Christ

    Comment 255,

    Yes, Yes, and you are very perseptive.

  • Jesus Christ

    And I can spell perceptive with an S if i want to because I am Jesus.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    Do you really think Mother Theresa did it for fame? I think you should read her story.

    I can tell you Hundreds (literally) stories of the folks I hang with who are doing small and large things totally because they love other individuals who are hurting and needy. No fame, no applause, no guarantee of future friendship or even thanks from some of these folks who are so broken they wouldn’t know they should thank you.

    I won’t tell you of the things we are doing, because I don’t want your applause, either. But I can tell you that much of what is done is thankless, frustrating, and requires longsuffering. But every once in a while an ex con or an ex adict or an ex abuser finds a new way to live, and it is a payback. Once in a while a broken family gets back on track, and its a time for rejoicing. And it is just because.

    And yep. Sometimes it costs money. Sometimes lots of money that is never going to be repaid. But mostly it is time and tears and heartache.

    Visit your local downtown mission and work in the kitchen. Serve food to the homeless. Help out at a home for unwed moms. Help young mom’s deal with the getting on with their life when their drug addicted husband ends up in jail.

    You may be doing all these things, but it has nothing to do with the GR. It requires pure love without concern for what I would want or will get.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Not to mention, Mr. Duane is just plain mean.

    Ms. Susan, when was happiness ever the goal? I would like to be happy, but happiness motivates very few of my actions. I do whatever in pursuit of trying to do what is right and good. Sometimes success eludes me, but unfortunately, I am just another weak human. Oh, and that’s your take on selfishness — I disagree.

    And I fully believe Ms. Teresa did whatever she did to evangelize. If I have AIDS and someone doles out dogma with their offer of assistance, I would consider that person’s actions the antithesis of helpful or compassionate. No, not a fan…

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I wasn’t in those sewers that Mother Theresa worked in, but most Christian workers that I see in similar circumstances do not evangelize as they work. They put in countless hours just helping. If opportunities come out of that work to discuss Jesus. Wonderful. If the work takes place at a facility that has a known Christian ownership. Then the person knows when they come for help, who is helping them.

    I’m sad that so much good is being done and it is seen with such cynicism. Live out Mother Theresa’s life and see if you could even stomach it for a week or two. To get applause or fame?

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    I don’t think she did it for applause or fame. Didn’t even intimate that. And indeed, I could not stomach doing Catholic evangeliation for a minute or two. As a former catechist,youth minister, and religious educator been there, done that, still doing the penance.

  • Duane

    Oh, Ms. Natalie, don’t be such a sourpuss. Good grief.

    Susan says The Silver Rule is just the GR in disguise.

    Nah, unless I’m missing some subtlety, the SR is a less demanding subset of the GR. Here’s a trivial example:

    You’re at a restaurant. A waiter walks by loaded with trays of dishes, slips, and down go the dishes. The Platinum Rule says you should ask him if he wants help, then abide by his wish. The GR says you should help him clean up the mess. The SR says you are fine by doing nothing.

    Here’s a tougher example:

    You see a homeless woman standing in the doorway of an abandoned store. The PR says you should ask if you can help, and if she says, “Can you buy me a meal?” then you buy her a meal. If she says, “Can you buy me a car?” then you buy her a car. The GR says you should offer to let her move into your home, because that’s what you would really like to happen if you were in her place. The SR is somewhat ambiguous here. You might think it says that it’s OK to just keep walking, but if you were in her place, you might feel somewhat angered at being ignored. So, you give her a couple of dollars, and the SR is satisfied.

    The PR and GR are virtually impossible to follow. The SR is easy, and it’s fairly beneficial to humanity, as well.

    Susan, I’m all for moderation, but there is no provision for moderation in the GR.

  • Susan

    Randy, your definition of helping people is not mine. Both you and Natalie seem to equate money with happiness. If giving poor people makes you feel happy, do it for yourself, but not for them. In the long run it’s not making their lives better. Now to thank you, they have to listen to you evangelize. Why don’t you work to pass laws that force the government (all of us) to do the work of helping and training the poor? Of course if you did that you wouldn’t get to play god with the poor and feel so good about yourself.

    Natalie, happiness (or contentedness) is the goal. Why don’t you figure out the things that don’t cost money that put you in this state and do more of them. Then you would have success.

    Duane, you are not reading human nature correctly to be able to apply the GR properly. Do you really want strangers to take care of you so you don’t have to work? Do you really think that would make you happy? Let’s remove the stranger. Let’s say you win the lottery. How happy is your life now? Do you know what actually happens to big lottery winners? Sure it’s human nature to think you want a life of ease, but we aren’t built that way. We actually get bored very quickly, we need friends who are true and not just hanging with the money, and we need to experience accomplishment. That’s why winning the lottery and getting a handout from Randy makes life meaningless.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    You are so smart (really) and a good logician (most of the time.) I just keep getting this impression that you don’t get out much.

    I know of one individual right now who was abused as a child, sort of raised by various alchoholics, then spent most of his life in various jails. Somewhere along the line he has been diagnosed as schizophrenic.

    He is addicted to various substances.

    Now he is trying to go straight. Would you help him, Susan? Time? Emotional help? Scrape him out of the gutter if he falls? Money as needed?

    If you see someone else helping him, do you assume that their motives are suspect?

  • Susan

    But, Randy, your motives are suspect. You freely admit you do it because of religious reasons. I think you should work on the other end, which is actually the beginning. How did this person become a messed up adult? If you can figure that out, you could stop the creation of messed up adults, but that might put you ot of business.

    You remind me of the judge in Huck Finn who wants to redeem Huck’s father, Pap. How much real help are you giving people and how much fooling yourself are you doing?

    Do you have any idea how this person got so messed up? Why do alcoholics become so disfunctional that they cannot raise a child properly? Certainly its not a quality exclusive to drunks. Lots of parents are doing a terrible job. What causes that?

  • Duane

    Susan, you missed my point entirely. First you said there is no difference between the GR and the SR, which I believe I have demonstrated is false. You seem to believe in the GR. I say it’s impossible to live by, and have provided some simple examples, which you dismiss, but with no grounds for dismissal. Then you introduce an irrelevant lottery scenario, and seem to imply that I am unfamiliar with the work ethic (harumph!), and also imply that you are a better judge of human nature than I. Eh? Whence come these opinions?

    “To the roundhouse! They can’t corner me there!”

  • Susan

    Duane,

    I guess my point is you don’t need Silver or Platinum if you really know what drives human nature. If you really know what people want and you really know how much you are prepared to give, you can use the GR.

    So that waiter gets my help. If he waves me off, I may continue to help if I see his waving me off as embarrassment or modesty. If I read him as being proud or truly not wanting to ruin my dining experience, then I stop helping. You can’t say how you will react until you read the other person.

    Under the SR I need to not sit back and watch him pick up the mess because I would not like it if others sat back and watched me struggle with a mess (this is in general; with a small shift in details, I might not want any help either). So it seems to me the SR is, in general, a reversal of the GR.

    Now the homeless woman: If I were homeless, I would not beg. As a human being I have a need to be productive. If someone gives me things because they pity me, they reduce me to less than human. So it matters to me how I became homeless. Did I cause it through my drug addiction or did some cruel employer take advantage of me? That’s what I was trying to get out of Randy. Solve the problem at the beginning so we don;t have homeless women begging. How is feeding her or buying her a car helping her to become a productive citizen?

    This is where I was going with the lottery. We don’t want poverty, and we don’t want lottery winnings. Everyone gets the truth of the former but people really don’t believe the latter–even as “winners” live through what sudden huge wealth is doing to them. You really have to know what drives human nature in general and then when you are faced with a particular situation, you need to try to figure out what the other person really wants in the specific context.

    Hey, maybe this helps. I’ve always read the GR to have an implied ending “as you would have them do unto you IF YOU WERE THEY.”

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    Same song, second verse. You just must not deal with the kind of people who are actually in these positions. Some are mentally disabled (harmones, chemical imbalance, emotional disease, dare I say spiritually oppressed), some have been messed up in their attitudes and behavior patterns by their circumstances. They need a helping hand regardless of how it started.

    If you go to my blog, you’ll see that I post on parenting. I have tought parenting classes. My library contains over 50 books on parenting that I have read. So I believe in starting at that end also, but do you just let the folks that are falling into the abyss, fester and die?

    And why are my motives suspect. Whether I’m a Christian or not, I can do it from love. Where is the logical Susan of a few days ago?

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    ” happiness (or contentedness) is the goal”

    For you, perhaps, Ms. Susan.If someone needs help that I can provide, I do so for them. I try very hard not to be selfish.

  • Susan

    Randy,
    You will notice that I do not respond to comments about whether I get out or do I know poor people or mentally ill people. I also do not respond to comments about your teaching experience or the size of your library.

    Natalie,
    I enjoy helping people if I have the means and if I think what I am doing is actually helping and not enabling. There’s bad selfish and there’s good selfish, but there’s only one kind of selflessness–it’s martyrdom. You have to take care of yourself before you have the strength to take care of others.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    I meant the get out much as a gentle jab. In my world here in WLA, it seems that at least half the people have some pretty substantial baggage holding them back. Then there’s the ones with real problems.

    The world you were painting sounded more like the cute little village in the movies with the white picket fences and the cute little downtown where somehow folks get to adulthood without sexual or emotional abuse. Where little girls don’t look for daddy substitutes because their dad took off long ago. Etc.

    There is so much pain in what I see that the idyllic life I have lived begs for me to share and help. The most devestating thing I’ve had to face was a divorce. It was devestating, but I’m remarried for 19 years with kids and the whole 9 yards.

    What I find with those who are the most messed up, is that they have turned inward and are very selfish and self-centered. One of the ways I see the most growth is when the start caring about and looking to serve others, thus taking the focus off of them.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Interestingly, Madonna said much the same about the changes in her life since marrying and becoming a mother in a recent interview. Her focus now, she said, is her spouse and children.

    Ms. Susan, “martyrdom” is such an ugly word. Why is selflessness such a bad thing to you? In your life, is everything about you, you, you? That’s the sense I get from your postings and in your responses to me, but it would be wrong to make that assumption. I would agree regarding the difference between helping and enabling; my goal is to help, not, for example, to enable someone lost in addiction to keep using drugs or alcohol. If a junkie on the street asks me for money for food, I offer instead to buy them food — but I will not give them money that they could use to buy more drugs. It’s interesting — most of them turn down my offer. Sad.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    One thought also on motivation. I think all humans are motivated to do something. They might really be passionate about sleeping the day away, so they work real hard to find ways to make that happen.

    If I am passionate about being a change agent in people’s lives, what is wrong with that motivation. Even if part of it is based on the reward of seeing them better. Even if part of it is based on the reward of more crowns in heaven.

  • Susan

    Natalie, you are right to wonder what the two selfishnesses looks like. The nasty selfishness loudly demands attention. Randy says he feels good about helping others and imagining he’s racking up points with God. But he also wants me to admire him for it. That need to tell others makes me think he doesn’t really like all this helping so much. It’s not really enough to do it; the selfishness of people like Randy is his passion of making sure all the rest of us know about it.

    It’s unfortunate that you think I am the nasty kind of selfish. I’m not sure I can change your opinion of me via a blog.

    Randy, prove me wrong. From now on help people without letting them know you are doing it. And without letting us know you are doing it.

  • Evan

    I’ve been pleasantly reading the comments for this topic for awhile, and one comment by Randy (you devil you) really put a smile on my face. Forgive me for going waaay back here.

    Comment 84 posted by Randy Kirk on July 13, 2005 05:29 PM:

    If I go to the scene of a crime. I see blood spatters on the wall at a trajectory from the point of impact of what was a live body, and the body has a hole in it, plus I have seen similar scenes like this in the past, I will say that it was a gun shot unless there is clear evidence to the contrary.

    My immediate reaction to your comment was this: If I go to an archaeological dig site, and see fossils of ancient living beings, and have seen similar scenes and fossils like this in the past which have been dated, I will say that dinosaurs existed and the world is much older than 7,000 years, unless there is clear evidence to the contrary.

    Geez, you’d think that you’d follow the same logic? Oh I guess it must be selective reasoning.

    Oh Randy, sigh, thankyou.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Evan,

    You have me confused with someone who believes in a literal 7 days. It might have been, but most Christians I hang with are more aligned with the seven era approach.

    Susan,

    I don’t tell you to impress you. It is part of the discussion. I purposely didn’t tell you what I am personally doing. I do want you to be impressed with my intellect so that you will stay engaged and continue the fun. And I hope that you will sometimes persuade me to think differently (you already have), and that maybe a little of me will effect you.

    And when helping others, it is commonly difficult to keep from letting them know of my help, but if it can be done without them knowing, great. In one case I specifically created a fund which if the source was exposed, the fund would end.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Ms. Susan, I don’t think you are “nasty selfish” as you define it. It does not appear to me that you are trying to demand attention loudly at all. I think your selfishness is that you will help people happily — if there is something in it for *you*. That’s different. You don’t strike me as being particularly kind, but neither do you strike me as being nasty or meanspirited, Ms. Susan. Just self-centered — you make sure that you get what you want or that you aren’t inconvenienced. I get no sense from you that the feelings or needs of others truly matters to you unless it benefits you in some way. (And do know, Ms. Susan, that I don’t mean any of this in a perjorative sense. No offense is at all intended; just stating my observations.)

    You did not answer my question: Why is selflessness such a bad thing to you?

  • Duane

    Nat says about Susan I think your selfishness is that you will help people happily — if there is something in it for *you*.

    There is always something in it for *you*. Whether it’s a nod, a smile, a “thanks,” or just that feeling that “Gee, I did something good for the world today,” after you rescued that puppy.

    Christianity is selfish. Christians pride themselves on their “good works,” and some misguided ones might even try to pass this off as selflessness, believing that there is something good about selflessness. But it’s all about gettin’ to Heaven. What’s in it for *you*? Hey, nothing less than an eternal life of joy. That’s the payoff for having to “be good.” It’s all about *me* and my *soul*. And that’s just fine with me.

    Good stuff gets done, not because it’s selfless, but precisely because it’s selfish. That’s the beauty of human nature.

    Then Nat says that Susan is just self-centered.

    So am I. So is most everyone. That’s life in a modern democratic capitalistic society. You want to live in a monastic society? Fine. Where do they get their electricity, food, wine, transportation, books, etc.? From selfish people, yep. Truly selfless people will end up eating roots, living in mud, and dying of horrible diseases. Why should selflessness be sought after?

    Selfishness is what drives people to achieve greatness. Selfishness is what kept humans from getting eaten by sabre-toothed tigers. Selfishness is what motivates me to raise my son the best I can. Selfishness is the reason people fall in love. Selfishness that leads to action and achievement benefits our civilization, although I’m sure you’ll find a way to disagree. And the worst part about it is that you hold it up as some kind of an ideal that we should strive to attain. That is unspeakably awful.

    People are indoctrinated into believing such mush. Selfishness is bad. Egocentrism is bad. Money is bad. Bleegghh. This pretense of self-abnegation makes me ill.

  • Marcia L. Neil

    ‘Excommunication’ is such a drag…and yet it seems perfectly logical. If the ministers have no office hours, how can they possibly be helpful? Marching up to a variety of men in civil roles is easily categorized as ‘nymphomania’ if there is a real issue to be addressed, and real emotion evident.

  • Susan

    Kudos to Duane for the courage to speak the truth.

    Natalie, you ask why “selflessness” is bad. How do you feel about “soullessness”? What is the difference between the self and the soul? Why did two similar words generate two different meanings while using the same suffixes? I think, because religion wanted to control humans through guilt, it became necessary to develop an idea (“selflessness”) that is logically unsound to enforce an irrational guilt. It was a misstep, and we are still paying the price because we continue to misunderstand what is the best way to treat each other.

    Why is selflessness unsound? Let’s look at it first from the practitioner’s point of view. No one really practices it. If you did, you’d be dead (Duane is more upbeat; he thinks you’d be living in the mud). I think we can all safely agree that practicing selflessness all the time will result in giving away the things you need to survive. So if you still want to be selfless, what guides you to decide when to do it and when to be selfish?

    When are your needs worth protecting? How do you recognize when another person is asking too much of you? How do you develop a sense of self if you are selfless? Here’s an example: Let’s say someone yells at you with a mean-spirited tirade. A selfless person takes it as truth because another person trumps her ability to stand up for her own selfhood. In the heat of the moment (and because we really aren’t totally selfless), she might lash back and say even worse things. When the fight is over, the selfless person feels doubly worse because she didn’t stay true to her selfless creed and because she was reduced to cruelty.

    How does a selfish person react to a hate-filled barrage? She hears and immediately feels the adrenalin (it is an attack, after all). But because she has a realistic sense of herself, she is able to realize that this person is wrong and is overreacting or is really upset about a different situation. When you have that kind of power, you do not get angry back and you are able to defuse a potential ugly fight. Then later when all is calm (if this person is friend of family and not a stranger), you can ask what happened and ask for an apology.

    Now why is being selfless illogical from the other person’s point of view? Adults need a true sense of accomplishment for the things they earn in this world. Imagine two children: one grows up being handed everything and learns to cry, pout, or insult to get mommy and daddy to do things for him that he could do himself. The other child has all things done for him until the age of two. At that point there is a weaning off process that should be completed by age 18. If he wants his shoe tied, he has to learn how to do it for himself. If he wants a car, he has to earn at least half the money. If we strip people of their natural desire to do things for themselves, we keep them in a perpetual childhood. It’s insulting to the human spirit. (Note to Randy: I am not talking about Alzheimer’s or terminally ill cancer patients, etc. Mentally ill people have varying degrees of abilities; this philosophy applies to most of them.)

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    Now your taking all of your arguments and going to the extreme. Duane, you too.

    You are absolutely right that no one can be selfless all the time. Nor should they be. Every circumstance calls for various levels of offense, defense, cooperation, even uncooperative behavior. Otherwise, how would we do sports, or business. I’m not selfless with regard to my competition. They can fully handle their own needs.

    I partially agree with Susan that the more we know ourselves, the better we are able to handle put downs, and the better able we are to discern handling all relational things.

    Maybe we are hung up on definitions. You must know people who only talk about themselves and their issues. They don’t ask how you are doing, nor speak of others. Maybe you would call them self-absorbed.

    Then there are folks who are more likely to be interested about your life, but would never say, “can I help you with that?” Maybe we would call them unawares or lacking a servants heart.

    Then there are folks who see hurt and pain all around them, know they should do something, but don’t. For a host of reasons.

    Finally, there are those who have a solid sense of themselves, have their daily lives in order, their families are doing well, and they just happen to love other folks and find personal value, purpose, joy in offering to help those in need.

    You can add Jesus at any level. His teachings and commands should elevate you up that ladder. They might not, but if fully embraced, my experience is that they will. I suspect that this would also be the experience of the large majority of Americans who embrace these teachings, regardless of how well they live them out.

  • Susan

    Two questions for you then, Randy.

    1) Can one be just as good a person without the Jesus stuff?

    2) Do you think laws should be pass based on Christian beliefs that are not part of a non-Christian’s beliefs?

    I want you to have your philosophy as long as it doesn’t preclude me from having mine.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    A person can certainly be just as good without Jesus. My claim would be that no matter where you are in life, your life will improve with Christ. And, to the origional post, there are no real advantages to life without Christ.

    As to laws. I think that all of our laws take into consideration the history of our people and the overall current worldview of the people who vote. I want my belief in creationism to count just as much in your belief in “aliens did it” or whatever when it comes to creating laws.

    I want my belief that babies become human when they are (fill in the blank) days old after conception to count just as much as your belief that they become human in (fill in the blank) days as it applies to making laws.

    I want my belief that there should be legal restrictions on people having sex, consensual or not, with 17 year olds to count just as much as your belief that the age of consent should be (XX).

    Is that reasonable? Does it matter if my reasons are based on the Bible and yours on your own reason?

  • Susan

    Randy, do you hear your own contradiction? “A person can certainly be just as good without Jesus” but “our life will improve with Christ.” Are you incapable of standing in my shoes and hearing your own rhetoric? Can you believe a U.S. President said, “I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God”?

    Getting you to admit your arrogance was the entire point of asking you if a person could be just as good without the Jesus stuff. Clearly, you are embarrassed to give a straight answer.

    To further the insult, you haven’t been listening to anything all these insightful people have been saying when you proclaim that “there are no real advantages to life without Christ.” You want us to live a lie, pretend to believe something we don’t believe, because you think it improves us? Isn’t that arrogant of you?

    You ignore my point about passing laws based only on your philosophy and ignoring mine. How do we design laws both of us can live under? Let’s look at a few issues.

    1. Public education, creationism (or ID), and evolution. How would you legislate it so that you can retain your belief system and I can have my children go to a public school and not be taught your belief system?

    2. Homosexuality and heterosexuality. How would you legislate it so that you can marry whomever you want and so can everyone else?

    3. Family planning, birth control, abortion. How would you legislate these issues so that you can do what you believe is right for you and your family, and I can do what is right for mine?

    I know your answer to all of these, Randy. In your arrogance that you know what is right for all people, you believe I should have to live under your belief system. My answer is we each get to decide for ourselves.

    1. I will defend your right to send your children to a privately-funded school, to send them to a Sunday School that does not teach evolution, and to not have them forcibly sent to an Islamic madrassas.

    2. I will defend your right to marry one person at a time. I will defend your right to divorce and remarry should you choose. I will not defend your right to marry out of species.

    3. I will defend your right to decide for yourself when you want to have children. I would never agree to a law that forced you to have children you didn’t want or kill them because you couldn’t afford them.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    Read what I said slowly, without prejudgment. You asked if a person could be just as good a person without Jesus. Yes, there are many people who do not believe in Jusus who are just as good as Christ followers. That does not mean that you can’t take someone who is a 2 on the scale of 1-10 regarding goodness and through a decision to follow Christ they can be come a 3 or 4. They might also do so by following Ghandi, or Bill Cosby, or you. But my suggestion is that both by my own observation and statistical results, the most likely way to see someone improve their “goodness” is Jesus. In no way will I say that my conclusion is the only possible conclusion. It is wide open to debate.

    I have been reading the comments and thus far one would be hard pressed to offer a list of advantages other than staying in bed on Sunday morning. Some of the suggested advantages (free thinking) are open to debate and were thoroughly debated.

    I have repeated attempted to answer your questions about legislation, not ignored them. But you seem to only want to do legislation on your terms.

    1. I pay for the public schools also. Why should I have to pay a second time to have an equal voice in what is tought. Especially when the vast majority of Americans believe in Creationism and believe it should be tought in public schools. Maybe you are the one who should pay for private eduction to shield your children from learning anything but the gospel according to science. I don’t want to shield my children from anything. I want them to hear it all and decide. Free Thinking for REAL.

    2. Why would you defend my right to marry one person at a time? Why can’t I have a harem? I should be able to have 3 male partners and 2 female. Throw in a couple of 12 year old twins.

    I don’t want to use this thread to get off onto the gay marriage issue. Lets do that elsewhere.

    3. Why should only your thinking on when life begins matter. As you can see from another thread going at this time, I have some views that aren’t totally right wing on this. In fact, once again, I think my views would be happily accepted by 65% of the country or more if they were offered. Why shouldn’t that be the law?

    So, I want your views and philosophy to be part of the debate. If you can get the majority of the folks to vote for killing children 3 days after they are born if they are defective, let it be the law. Professor Singer will be thrilled. I think it will be another nail in the coffin of civilization, but maybe it will actually be a wake up call.
    3.

  • KYS

    The argument that allowing homosexual marriage might escalate into harems and under-age marriage also applies to teaching creationism in public schools. Open that flood gate and we could be teaching kids about Adam and Eve, Noah and a whole host of biblical accounts. And of course, we can’t discriminate so we have to give equal time to all belief systems. None of that belongs in public schools.
    I’m also not sure that the “vast majority” of people believes in creationism….

  • Susan

    Randy, in your first paragraph that you asked me to read really slowly, you deviated just a bit from what you said before. So I’m not sure why slower reading would change my understanding. It wasn’t much, but you have never said that our ability to be good is equal. After you said it, you drew back from it as if the very idea was abhorrent to you: “the most likely way to see someone improve their ‘goodness’ is Jesus.” The only reason a religious people is not capable of being as good as me is because he is so very sure that the most likely way to be a better person is through Jesus.

    George H.W. Bush takes it even further and doesn’t believe I can be a patriot. Do you not understand why I am disappointed in the morality of some religious folk?

    1. Why should I have to pay twice to have an equal say when I am willing to send my chidlren to a school that doesn’t do it my way. Here’s my way: Children must be indoctrinated in at least two religions other than the one they are taught at home so as to have a fair chance in deciding for themselves what is true. Do you really want me to have my way? A compromise is no indocrination of any religious belief in a public school.

    2. I am going with a societal custom. I really have no objection to harems as long as it doesn’t cost taxpayers money. Under age of consent is logically cruel to young people. It is not a religious issue.

    3. The law on abortion should be each woman decides. No one decides for anyone else. That is logical and not religious. Once the baby can live outside the mother, she has no right to kill it. Why do you make this so hard?

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    We tought all about God and the Bible in the public schools for the first 200 years of this country’s existance. We were doing great. Now we don’t and our scores are low, the classroom demeanor is non-existant, and our kids are sleeping around, doing dope, and etc.
    It certainly didn’t result in hurting anybody.

    Darwinsim results in a sense of superiority as a group (my genes are better than your genes.) Christianity sees that superiority only as all humans against all other species.

    We didn’t allow abortions until 40 years ago. We had less issues with underage pregnancies. It isn’t like trying something that hasn’t been done before.

    Marriage between one man and one woman has been the norm in Western Civ for all of wester Civ. There has never been homosexual marriage. That doesn’t mean that if the majority is for it we shouldn’t do it.

    However, to suggest that dropping this barrier won’t lead to dropping other barriers is nonsense. We already have groups who would like to see multiple wives or lowered age of consent.

  • KYS

    “Doing great”? Yes, I’m sure all white christian men felt the same way. Slaves and women might have had some ideas for the old suggestion box, however.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Christians were in the lead of the rights struggles of both.

  • Nick Jones

    “We didn’t allow abortions until 40 years ago.”

    Wow. Is it 2013 already?

    “We taught all about God and the Bible in the public schools for the first 200 years of this country’s existance. We were doing great. Now we don’t and our scores are low, the classroom demeanor is non-existant, and our kids are sleeping around, doing dope, and etc.”

    Wouldn’t have anything to do with overpopulated cities, overcrowded classrooms, and poverty, would it?

    “Darwinism results in a sense of superiority as a group (my genes are better than your genes.) Christianity sees that superiority only as all humans against all other species.”

    Too bad we can’t ask the people of Jericho, the Jews on the way to and in Jerusalem during the First Crusade, the Native Americans, the Moors of Spain, the heretics, especially the Cathars, the herbal healers of Europe branded as witches, the people hanged and crushed at Salem, the blacks (and some whites and Jews) lynched in These United States, the Russian pogroms against Jews, and so on. They were all murdered in the name Of God, if not Christ.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Because I say I’m a hamburger, it doesn’t mean I’m a hamburger. Try new arguments.

    Because Communists are atheists doesn’t make all atheists communists.

    Even if honest to goodness Christ followers do stupid things, it only makes them stupid Christians. I not only know really kind, loving atheists, I know really stupid dastardly ones, too.

  • KYS

    The fact that they were “struggles” at all makes my point.

  • Susan

    RANDY: “For the first 200 years….We were doing great.”

    Are you speaking for all of us or just white men?

    Evolution is a scientific theory. It is not responsible for human arrogance anymore than gravity is responsible for fat people weighing more than skinny people. Christianity shouldn’t cause people to arrogantly believe they are morally superior to others. When I ask them, they usually deny it because they realize this is not a nice thing to believe. It comes out in their actions when they demand legislation that requires people to follow their belief system.

    Randy, just because there has never been homosexual marriage, doesn’t mean it is wrong. Until recently women have never come close to being equal to men. Is that wrong?

    RANDY: “However, to suggest that dropping this barrier won’t lead to dropping other barriers is nonsense.”

    Your statement is an example of a slippery slope fallacy. It looks like this: Gee, if we give women equal rights, the next thing you know, people will demand equal rights for their pets. President Fido, coming soon!

    RANDY: “We already have groups who would like to see multiple wives or lowered age of consent.”

    Groups? What kind of groups? Oh, you mean religious groups? Do you have to make my points for me?

  • KYS

    Amen, Susan (pardon the pun).

  • KYS

    Susan, do you have a link to Bush’s quote about athiests not being citizens? I hadn’t heard it, but I can see him saying such an ignorant thing…

  • KYS

    “If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and they have borne him children, both the loved and the unloved, and if the firstborn son is of her who is unloved, then it shall be, on the day he bequeaths his possessions to his sons, that he must not bestow firstborn status on the son of the loved wife in preference to the son of the unloved, the true firstborn. But he shall acknowledge the son of the unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his” (Deut.21:15-17).

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    We seem to be going in circles here. I don’t feel like I’m being heard. I am very willing to let your point of view be the law of the land if the majority votes for it. You’re not willing to do the same for me. (caveat, we live in a republic in order to keep this from happening by mass democracy) I don’t have to like it, and I can protest and write and speak against it, but if someone wants to allow kids to drink hard liquer at any age, drive cars at 12, whatever. Just afford me the same thing. Right now, the judges are deciding for us. I want the people to rule again, not the judges.

    In the meantime, back at the subject. Please provide me the name of the great nation that provided equal rights for all that was run by anybody but Christians.

  • Evan Woods

    Randy, you said that their is statistical proof that people are better when they accept Jesus?

    “But my suggestion is that both by my own observation and statistical results, the most likely way to see someone improve their “goodness” is Jesus.”

    Could you show us those stats?

    C’mon people, don’t let him get away with crap like that.

  • Susan

    KYS: The Bush Sr. quote is all over the internet. Just google Bush’s first 10 words. He said it in 1988.

    RANDY: “I am very willing to let your point of view be the law of the land if the majority votes for it.”

    The very thing that makes American great is the concept of not allowing the majority to vote away the rights of a minority. If a religious majority does it, it’s called a theocracy. Early colonists were a theocracy and allowed judges to use Biblical evidence to convict people of witchcraft. We are heading back in that direction. Why on earth do you think it’s okay to force school children to recite that we are a nation undivided by God? Not only is it a lie, but how do you think a kid who has atheists parents feel? Randy, you just aren’t nice.

    RANDY: “Please provide me the name of the great nation that provided equal rights for all that was run by anybody but Christians.”

    Run by Christians? So you admit we are a theocracy. America today is not interested in giving equal rights to atheists, so it doesn’t fall under your definition of a great nation.

    As to Evan Woods’ comment about stats, even Randy admits that the stats show Jesus-knowledge doesn’t help people become better. When I asked him back in post 138 what the stats were on “teens who get pregnant who are atheists v those who are Christian,” he said, “The stats you refer to Susan are discouraging, but don’t go very deep into the details. The culture is definitely having an impact on all Christians.”

    It’s true; everyone is affected by the culture. Christianity doesn’t help.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Very disappointing, Susan.

    Look up theocracy. Not even close to your definition.

    How are atheists denied any rights?

    Run by Christians? Duh! 85% of the country is Christian. I could have said run by McDonalds eaters, it wouldn’t make us a Ronaldocracy.

    You completely avoid the issue. America is the place where freedom happens. We were founded by Christians, our founding documents and the basis of our law is Christian, and the vast majority of our citizens are Christian. There is a Nexus here.

    Our system of government doesn’t say we’re going to agree with every minority position, it is based on the idea that we will not succomb to mobocracy by voting by referendum.

    Evan:

    If you don’t drink to excess, don’t smoke, don’t engage in sexual promoscuity, forgive others, have an avenue to experience forgiveness for your own misdeeds, have a loving group of people praying for you and supporting you emotionally, you are going to live longer and better.

    These things have been studied and the stats on Christians mental health, emotional health, and physical health are readily available.

    Susan, just because I agree that Christians are being sucked into the culture, doesn’t mean that being a Christian doesn’t result in better life style. You even quoted the part where I said don’t get too deep into the stats.

    For instance. I’m divorced and I’m a Christian. My ex-wife is not and was not practicing the faith. She wanted the divorce. In California I couldn’t stop her.

    My wife now is also once divorced. She was not a Christian at the time. Her ex was not and is not.

    Now we are both Christians and married 18 years. But, the statistician would say that we are born again Christians who have been through divorce.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    By the way, I just did as you suggested on the George HW Bush quote. Every listed site was atheist. Do you have an independent site that says this happened? I’m not saying it didn’t. I’m just saying I’d like to see the AP or somebody who I almost trust. There are a million urban myths out there.

  • Susan

    85% Christian is too high. 86% religious & neutral/14% atheist

    RANDY: “I could have said run by McDonalds eaters, it wouldn’t make us a Ronaldocracy.”

    No, you can’t say that because that’s faulty logic. Government is not run based on a miscellaneous description of the masses. A real “Ronaldocracy” would be ruled by anything Ronald wanted his people to do.

    Randy, I looked up “theocracy” for you. It is “a government ruled by or subject to religious authority” (American Heritage). You want America to be run by Christian authority. That?s called a theocracy.

    RANDY: “How are atheists denied any rights?”

    Besides requiring kids to recite a religious pledge in schools, you mean? My tax money goes to religious school vouchers, to the Boy Scouts of America who won’t let atheist kids belong, to churches who are exempt from paying taxes. Teachers who are outspoken about evolution get fired in Kansas. Google your phrase “atheists denied rights” for all sorts of specific examples. A society that doesn’t rise up in indignation when their president proclaims that atheists aren’t citizens is a society that can deny atheists their rights.

    Even if you didn’t think Bush Sr.?s remark was real, surely you should have said something that condemned that kind of thinking…you do think atheists are citizens, don’t you?

    Okay, to get “athest, atheism, aethistic” out of a google search, click on “advanced search.” There will be four boxes on the top. Put the Bush quote in the first box. In the fourth type all words formed from the word “atheist.” Here’s one from MSN Encarta

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Indeed, atheists are not equal under law. Neither are GLBT people. Your country (it isn’t mine) lies — there is NOT equality for all in the US. And the reason for this inequality? The enforcement of a particular religious view’s beliefs under supposedly secular law. Be honest, Mr. Kirk.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    ***Besides requiring kids to recite a religious pledge in schools, you mean?***

    Not required. Can say nothing or opt out.

    ***My tax money goes to religious school vouchers, to the Boy Scouts of America who won’t let atheist kids belong, to churches who are exempt from paying taxes.****

    Doesn’t deny any right. My tax money pays for 1000’s of atheist teachers and scholarships. My taxes pay equally for exemptions for other religious and atheistic tax exempt entities. Why would you want your atheist child to belong to boy scouts who teach belief in God.

    Your quibbling on the stats. I’d get mine, but who cares, the basic statement I made is not undermined by your numbers.

    If Bush said that, it was idiotic. Go back and see how many times I have said extremely nice things about Atheists. How many nice things have you said about Christians? I don’t think he did.

    A Theocracy requires that a religion be in charge. Here, it is the people that are in charge. We vote. Nobody votes in a theocracy.

    In your perfect country, there would be no Christians, I guess. Then we’d see how great it was.

    You still haven’t shown me the great countries that aren’t Christian where rights are better for you or me.
    Teachers who are outspoken about evolution get fired in Kansas. Google your phrase “atheists denied rights” for all sorts of specific examples. A society that doesn’t rise up in indignation when their president proclaims that atheists aren’t citizens is a society that can deny atheists their rights.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Try again on Bush quote. I don’t want to have to join something to see the details.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    The US is not and is not supposed to be a Christian nation. The majority of citizens may be, but the government is not supposed to favor ANY religion (even though its policies, immorally, do exactly that).

  • Susan

    SUSAN: “Besides requiring kids to recite a religious pledge in schools, you mean?”

    RANDY: “Not required. Can say nothing or opt out.”

    Randy, in order to make things fair to atheists and polytheists, the schools should require two more pledges to be recited after this one: “One nation indivisible without a God” and “One nation indivisible with many Gods.” Any child could opt out. That would be an equitable solution.

    A theocracy has many forms. Some allow voting, some don’t.

    RANDY: “In your perfect country, there would be no Christians, I guess.”

    No, no, no! Where do you get this idea? I am not against all Christians! I am against Christians who take away my rights.

    RANDY: “Why would you want your atheist child to belong to boy scouts who teach belief in God.”

    Next you’ll be asking me why I would want to live in a country ruled by a belief in God. I don’t want my kids to be in Boy Scouts, but I don’t want taxpayer money funding exclusive organizations. Remember as an atheist I am not trying to take away your life choices they way you are trying to take away mine. I want public institutions to be religion neutral: not advocating/not denying.

    What does the separation of church and state mean to you?

    You don’t have to join anything to see the Encarda link to the Bush quote. Try the Advanced Google Search for yourself and go to any of the 2102 sites that use that quote. Here’s another one: http://internet.ggu.edu/university_library/if/rights_lost.html

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. You pick and choose and answer with non answers.

    If you don’t know how different the US is from a Theocracy, then we can’t have a meaningful debate.

    If you don’t understand the concept of majority rule, even if my religious sentiments enter into the way I vote, then ditto.

    If you can’t see that your and my taxes support religious and very irreligious institutions, ditto ditto.

    If you can’t see that it is impossible to create perfect systems that take into consideration every need of every minority class, then tres ditto.

    If you don’t believe that this is a Christion nation based on the nature of its founding, the content of its laws, and the demography of its population, not the way we govern, then 4X ditto.

    In order to have a real discussion of the things that you would like to see different, it is important to agree on the things that are patently obvious. Otherwise we spin our wheels on useless stuff. I, for one, have better things to do.

    The GHW Bush quote is still a bit hard to prove. The new site was still potentially someone quoting what they saw elsewhere. I want PRIMARY. In one of my books I quoted a famous Harvard study that I had seen quoted in several other books. The editors at Warner Books never questioned it (and they question everything.) Later, I found out it was an urban legand.

  • Marcia L. Neil

    Has allusion beeen made to ear size when talking about Jesus, or rather, in terms of “food for thought” our health would remain the same with or without the Bible [since the historical Jesus described within its pages is long dead]. Or, with or without ‘Jesus’, the name? Or, traveling without church services every Sunday — not crammed in to ‘worship’ and get double chins as exchange for earlobes absorbed? Must we search out and mentally carry a rein-carnation of the historical God in our brainwaves — if not, are we
    ‘infidels’ or nonbelievers should the Holy Bible be regarded as a mere history book? Will any ‘EurAsian male’ mental image serve as well as any other when envisioning the “power and glory of God Almighty…”? Although God Himself may have learned to be unusually careful — more so than many angels — must a school pledge to ’cause no harm’ amongst fellow classmates necessarily include direct reference to Him? If some student is sent into s special program or world region solely because his/her name has been applicable in the past within such domain, is s/he on a par with the historical Jesus if s/he collapses and dies from mis-use or lack of essential input and social niceties? Must we
    ‘check in’ with a representative of God wherever we go, or be ostracized?

  • Susan

    Okay, too many ideas at one time. Let’s concentrate on one: theocracy.

    The U.S. is not a theocracy, but it is moving in the directions of a theocracy when people like you believe our laws should be based on Christian beliefs that clash with minority rights.

    Therefore, don’t you think it’s wrong to have students recite “one nation under God indivisible” when it’s not true?

    Aren’t you disgusted with the the court rulings that say it’s only okay for the kids to recite because it doesn’t really mean anything?

  • Evan

    Comment 302 posted by Randy Kirk on July 23, 2005 09:58 AM:

    How are atheists denied any rights?

    Well, a widely publicised example of the denial of rights to not just atheists, but anyone not Christian, is when Christian pharmacists deny birth control. It may not be legistlature (that’s just a matter of time anyway), but all across America women are being denied this right because of the pharmacists beliefs.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4425603.stm

    “The issue has become heated in several states, which already have laws allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for contraceptives, including birth control pills.”

    And more appallingly:

    “There are many incidences of pharmacists not giving back the prescription so that the women can fill it somewhere else.”

  • Marcia L. Neil

    ‘God wouldn’t…’, so no one would/
    will, sneers academiao peddling pills? Perhaps each pill should be infused with a drop of cod-liver oil, just to satisfy the purely mercenary leanings of manufacturing concerns.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan, thanks for agreement on not being a theocracy. That helps. Now you say we are moving towards. I would say, if anything, we are moving away. Today’s legal position towards most social issues is not what the Christians want.

    Evan, that is not government stopping anyone from doing anything. It is individual businessmen who are doing that. It should be their right, but if the majority votes to say that part of your license as a pharmacist requires that you offer all drugs, then that will be the law. I would be in favor of letting them decide what they dispense. But, let the majority decide.

    And the right that would be denied should the law stay as it is now, would be the minor inconvenience of finding another pharm who will fill it, including 1000’s of online pharms.

  • Susan

    RANDY: “Susan, thanks for agreement on not being a theocracy.”

    Hey, you’re welcome, but I never said we were. My concern has always been that people like you want to turn it into one. I realize now that part of the problem is you don’t even realize that is what you are doing.

    RANDY: “I would be in favor of letting [pharmacists] decide what they dispense.”

    This is theocratic thinking. It’s only a “minor inconvenience” by your definition if it’s someone else whose rights are being trampled. What if a pharmacist had a religious belief that antibiotics were doing more harm than good, causing him to rip up your daughter’s prescription for it. Don’t you think that should be illegal?

  • KYS

    I would be vehemently opposed to allowing a state licensed pharmacist to decide which medicines he/she would dispense. A pharmacist has no right to impose his/her personal beliefs on a patient. That decision lies with the prescribing doctor and the patient. The problem here is that too many hard core Christians think that everybody else is too daft to reconcile their own behavior with their own spiritual beliefs. If I want to take birth control, and I believe it does not conflict with my beliefs, why should it concern the pharmacist? That conflicts with free will.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    NO! And I’m not just saying that. I’m in business. I don’t want the government telling me anything about how I run it. They intrude into every aspect. So, I don’t want the government telling the pharm or the grocery what they have to carry or what they can’t carry, except in the most extreme case.

    BALANCE is the key. We have to balance your rights with my rights. My real needs against your real needs. My minority desires against yours. And they all need to get balanced against the degeree of harm.

    Example: 30 years ago, Blacks needed to be given a leg up if they were ever going to compete. We, as a society, had beat them down and descriminated against them for so long, there needed to be a way to level the playing field.

    So whites gave up rights that the law said they were entitled to. They VOTED to give them up. Today, the harm is less (not gone) to blacks. Many blacks are doing quite well, and the institutional racism is largely gone. So, the entire society is VOTING to reduce the special rights that were so needed then.

    I don’t like that we can’t sell good bug sprays in this state. The bug sprays kill the ants, but they don’t keep them from coming back. 10 years ago I could buy stuff that would keep them out. Now, I fight them at least once a week.

    We voted to get rid of those bug sprays. Some day if the ants are a big problem for a lot of folks, we may vote to sell those sprays again.

    No Christian I have spoken to or read about wants the church to be in charge of this country. We just want our vote to count as much as yours. Not more. The same.

  • KYS

    I see your point with the bug spray. It’s very inconvenient for you. But pollutants negatively impacts all of us (even those that choose not to use them). My choice to take birth control impacts only me (and, if you believe in God, my chances of salvation- not yours). That’s the main issue for me.

  • Susan

    RANDY: BALANCE is the key.

    Is it really? Then you agree that the schools should require two more pledges to be recited after the current one: “One nation without a God, indivisible” and “One nation with many Gods, indivisible.”

    This would balance out “one nation under God, indivisible.”

  • Evan

    Randy, you’re right. I do believe balance is the key. But I don’t agree with your extreme idea of balance. I wouldn’t call giving a pharmacist the right to personally decide if others can fill prescriptions or not balance. If you’re a pharmacist, your job is to serve people, no matter what religion/race/ethnicity, not to impose your beliefs on others. And no, it’s not a minor inconvenience when they rip up the prescription so you can’t go to “another pharm who will fill it, including 1000’s of online pharms”.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t believe we’re moving away from a theocratic state. Not with the current administration.

  • Evan

    Oh, and the bug spray argument is laughable at best.

  • Susan

    “Majority rule is a means for organizing government and deciding public issues; it is not another road to oppression. Just as no self-appointed group has the right to oppress others, so no majority, even in a democracy, should take away the basic rights and freedoms of a minority group or individual.”

    http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/principles/majority.htm

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Guess it boils down to the definition of basic rights then. Because many things that you may call basic rights for you would impinge on mine. That’s what I’ve been trying to say for days. There are conflicts. Your right to be free of the residue of bug spray deprives me of my right to kill the ants in my house. We have to review the conflict and deside how we draw the line. If the ants become carriers of an infectious disease, society may choose to use stronger bug sprays.

    No Susan, the balance is not to have three pledges unless we vote to do so. Organize, get other folks to agree with you and vote. I will choose whether or not I say under no god if that becomes the pledge. I may be aggrevated every time I say the pledge, but it will be the law. I can then organize and try to get it changed. The pendulum is always swinging. For 50 years it has been toward secularism. With any luck, maybe will swing back a bit now towards “my” view of morality. Because I truly believe that if we continue on our current path of hedonism, we will find the Muslims or the Chinese taking this place over in 30 years or so.

  • KYS

    First of all, you are allowed to kill the ants in your house in a way that works for both you and environmentalists. It seems to me that the use of less toxic chemicals addresses the problem (kills your ants) while pleasing the greenies (less toxic). Looks like a win-win to me.

    But Randy, how about birth control? Please address how my use of contraceptives effects you, and why we should allow state licensed professionals to make that choice for their consumers.

  • http://wisdomandmurder.blogspot.com Lisa McKay

    Randy, which of your rights is impinged upon when we keep religion out of public schools? Are you not free to pray in the privacy of your own home? Are you not free to go to the church of your choosing every day if that’s your wish? Are you not free to pray whenever and wherever you choose?

  • Susan

    Randy, the point of all this is not to try to get you to say you live under no god. It’s to get you to realize that our society now says it’s okay to force children to say (or face ridicule) the reverse.

    If a group of atheists got the power to change the Pledge to “no God,” I would fight for your children’s right not to have to hear that Pledge in a public school. I realize it is inappropriate.

    The answer is to take out the phrase or don’t have children recite the Pledge.

    RANDY: “Because I truly believe that if we continue on our current path of hedonism, we will find the Muslims or the Chinese taking this place over in 30 years or so.”

    When you say things like this, how do you think it makes me feel? Do you think this is nice? You are saying the country’s move toward secularism is causing hedonism, which will result in other cultures taking over. This means you think atheists are amoral and incapable of protecting their country. Do you start to understand that we feel your hatred of us even when you dish out kind platitudes from the other side of your mouth?

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    atheists don’t cause hedonism. Folks who want give the ok to hedonism cause hedonism. Those who make money to exploit hedonistic tendancies cause hedonism. I know lots of atheist who are neither hedonistic nor embrace this trend. You jumped to a conclusion that was not in the comment.

  • KYS

    “For 50 years it has been toward secularism. With any luck, maybe will swing back a bit now towards “my” view of morality. Because I truly believe that if we continue on our current path of hedonism, we will find the Muslims or the Chinese taking this place over in 30 years or so.”

    This comment suggests that you equate secularlism with hedonism. Way harsh.

  • KYS

    Secularism
    Oops

  • Susan

    RANDY: “The pendulum is always swinging. For 50 years it has been toward secularism. With any luck, maybe will swing back a bit now towards ‘my’ view of morality. Because I truly believe that if we continue on our current path of hedonism, we will find the Muslims or the Chinese taking this place over in 30 years or so.”

    Why did you use “because” to link these two sentences together?

    How was hedonism or your belief that other cultures might take over our country relevant to our discussion?

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Hedonism which is an outgrowth of secularism has lead to laziness and lack of preparedness many times in history. Zelous hordes can then come and pick the bones of those who only thought about themselves and their rights, only wanted to taste all of the pleasures without doing any of the disclipline.

    I do believe that the Christian ethic and disciplines are another benefit of the faith. Once again, this has nothing to do with whether an atheist might be just as ethical, work just as hard, and be just as disciplined. It has to do with the way the leadership leads the culture. I do not believe that we can have 50 or 100 or 200 years of democracy and freedom if we lead from whoevers philosophy of the moment is in charge.

    But I will say. If we vote to put those in charge who have no core ethic or philosophy, so be it. I will work hard to elect the next guy who will.

  • KYS

    Hedonism is not an outgrowth of secularism. That’s like saying Natzism is an outgrowth of Christianity.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    KYS,

    I will back a way a bit from that claim. Lets say that to the extent that secularism promotes the idea that everyone’s moral code is equal, therefore those who are hedonistic have no reason to turn from the hedonism, then it promotes it.

    And I’ll even say that this para above is a work in progress. : )

  • KYS

    To clarify, I don’t equate hedonism with Natzism, and, to your point, I wouldn’t expect any hedonist to turn from hedonsim. Nor would I ask them to do so, as long as it didn’t interfere with my life choices.

  • Duane

    Before you guys start debating the history of Hedonism, you might want to make sure that you know what it is. What are your working definitions of the term?

  • Susan

    Secularism does not promote the idea that everyone’s moral code is equal. [Secularism is “the belief that life can be best lived by applying ethics, and the universe best understood, by processes of reasoning, without reference to a god or gods or other supernatural concepts.”]

    Demagogues appeal to people’s fears and emotions, telling them what they want to hear. It’s usually about how one ethnic group is responsible for all the ills society is experiencing. Scapegoating allows people to feel good about themselves only by hating another group. Do your Christian preachers and leaders fill you with this hate, or are you coming up with this theory on your own. I can’t tell you how shocked I am at your last 2-3 posts, Randy. They are really hateful.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I don’t see anything hateful in anything I’m saying. I am not suggesting that any group should be vilified. I’m only saying that certain actions lead to certain consequences.

    If secularism doesn’t promote the idea that everyones moral code is equal, then which moral code does it claim is superior?

    Hedonism: Self love. Seeking after pleasure. That’s my understanding without looking it up.

  • Susan

    You are wrong about hedonism being self-love; you’re thinking of narcissism or egoism.

    When you satisfy the passion you feel to help people, you are practicing hedonism. Duane is right about using correct definitions. (However, I knew you meant it as a slam.)

    I sent you the definition of secularism, which states that we know how to behave based on ethics and reasoning not on superstitious ideas. Many secularists are spiritual people who just see the need to keep church and state separate.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    We’re back to that slippery question again. Whose ethics?

    Dictionary def of hedonism. The doctrine that the chief good and man’s primary moral duty is the persuit of pleasure. The psychological idea that man’s chief aim is to experience pleasant feelings and avoid pain.

    Secularism: A system of belief that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship.

    Those defs seem to be what I said, so why are you questioning them without going to the dictionary?

    The key issue, however, keeps coming back to voting. I hope we never vote for a president who has as part of the agenda the establishment of one church as the national church. I hope we never have a congressman who gets elected on a platform of creating books, movies, or art that promotes Christianity (though there have been such in the past paid for by government.)

    I also hope we don’t end up voting to make prostitution legal or sex with kids under 18. I hope we will vote to make it a serious criminal act to put kiddie porn on the internet and then inforce it. Religious ideas are behind my thinking. Does that fact make these religious bills?

    I believe that abortion is damaging to women. I could be an atheist and take that position. Don’t get yourself into a position that thinks a religious position is a priori not well reasoned.

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    this seems like a fine place for the Jester to step back into the Fray…

    Randy, i’m going to skip over many of the excellent bits of discussion other folks have raised here in favor of replying to your original Post…

    advantages of atheism and agnosticism is a purely pragmatic sense..

    1) intellectual honesty…those that adhere to the two “A”s in this case have utilized theor own faculties of Reason to arrive at their conclusions and personal philosophy…pragmatically, to them, this allows them to be free of inner conflicts between “belief” and “reasoned thought”

    2) in the macro sense…the terms of the World and Humanity as a whole…
    unlike ANY major religion, there has never been a case, to my knowledge, where a tribe or nation that adhered to atheism or agnosticism has waged a War on philosophical grounds…no agnostic has burned innocent women to death for the false crime of being “witches” due to mistranslation of a “holy” book (side note …the actual tranlation is “suffer ye not a poisoner to continue…a far cry from “witches”)
    no tribe or nation adhering to the two “A”s, that i am aware of, has ever engaged in any kind of “crusade” to wipe out the “infidels” and caused the deaths of untold numbers of relatively innocent people whose only criome was unwillingness to be “converted” to the “true faith”

    many examples in history of both these bahavious being rampant in EVERY “fundamentalist” religion in history…a case could be made that it is a prime tenet of such “fundamentalist” doctrines to eliminate and eradicate those tht don’t adhere to their religious views either via conversion or death

    example: the Inquisition in all it’s forms in europoean history, notably the wiping out of the christian Cathar and Albigensian sects

    the pragmatic advantage to those that follow the two “A”s can also be seen in their tolerance for those that follow whatever Faith they find personally fufilling, whereas the converse is the exception rather than the Rule, and usually limited to secular forms of government wherein the majority of the population is of one Faith but accepts, due to political law, the rights of other Faiths to exist within the community.

    America is a prime example of such a secular government, and the Islamic caliphate was an example of tolerance established by political means in an otherwise mono-faith environment…

    the Rule of Genghis Kahn is another prime example of a secular government that tolerated any Faith as long as it did not interfere with secular Law…and this was possiby one of the safest governments in HIstory…an unescorted woman wearing jewels coudl walk from one end of the empire to another, unmolested, safe under the Kahn’s Law…because violation of that Law got your entire village burnt to the ground…a bit harsh, but the same principle applied to religious tolerance

    gnosis > dogma

    as for your contention that “life goes better with Christ”..i reject the coca cola approach to this type of advertising slogan…where i do admire the teachings of Jesus greatly, the dogmatic contentions of the priest class over the centuries, as well as the words of Men added to the Bible, clearly show a push and play for secular Power utilizing the “moral” authority of “God” as spewed forth from the mouths of Men, rather than adherence to the Principles and Ethics taught by the words of Jesus himself…

    those lessons are clear in both History, and via the Man’s greatest tool, his own Reason

    you might want to actually read Jefferson’s “bible” and study a bit of the history surrounding the text you dogmatically adhere to, compare them and think about it…then perhaps study some of the histoy surrounding the compilation of the text you espouse

    or not, only you can determine your own Path to Enlightenment…i do honestly hope you find what you are looking for

    this has been a public service announcement brought to you by the Jester, apostate and heretic…we now return you to your regularily scheduled program…

    Excelsior!

  • Eric Olsen

    very nice to see you Gonzo

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    thanx Eric..it’s all gotten straightened out. and a very Public thank you to you personally for all your Understanding in this silly matter..

    *smoochies to All*

    Excelsior!

  • Eric Olsen

    I’m very happy to hear that – welcome back!

  • Duane

    Good to see that you’re back Gonzo. You too, Eric.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Yep – gonzo IS Eric;) they both appear and disappear simultaneously

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    heh…not that easy Aaman…i’m my own person.

    i’m fairly certain that Eric’s better half wouldn’t put up with the likes of me for more than 10 minutes or so before chasing me away with whatever implement of destruction was closest at hand…

    now i’m feeling all kinds of warm and fuzzy…

    Excelsior!

  • Duane

    Randy, I think I will try to address your original question: What are the practical advantages to being an atheist?

    or

    What are the practical advantages to not becoming a Christian?

    I think the question is disingenuous. You already know the answer. The answer is that there are no significant practical advantages. By contrast, one could cite several practical advantages to living the Christian life (some of which have been mentioned):

    1) fellowship

    2) possible improvement of social standing in the community

    3) increased involvement in charitable activities

    4) learning more about the Bible

    5) a excellent way to meet women

    And possibly other advantages.

    Instead of joining a church, I could just as well enlist myself as a little league baseball coach. Instead of learning about the Bible, I will learn more about baseball. I will learn about the Bible on my own time.

    So, Randy, what are the practical advantages of not becoming a coach? Same answer. Nothing substantial. There are hundreds of similar questions that could be asked:

    “What are the practical advantages of not becoming a ____?”

    Now, I expect that at some point you will tally the score and tell us that the practical advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and then you will make the leap that Christians are leading better lives than atheists because of all the advantages conferred upon them. I hope you can see that this argument will cut very little wood. You may as well try to convince me to join a country line dancing club.

    What is really at stake is a choice between belief systems, not trivial practical advantages. Let’s consider your belief system for a moment. You choose to be a Christian because you believe that your only alternative is a literal eternity in a literal Hell. You are motivated to act in a way that will spare you from this pain. Simultaneously, you find the thought of eternal joy in a literal Heaven to be equally compelling in motivating your behavior.

    ————-

    As an aside, let’s sum up the previous paragraph: Avoidance of torment (Hell) and the pursuit of pleasure (Heaven) — that means that Christians are the ultimate Hedonists. I hope you will agree then that maybe Hedonism is not such a bad thing. Perhaps you could clarify your comments concerning secularism and Hedonism.

    ————-

    There are numerous practical disadvantages to you choice. A few examples might be, no dirty jokes, you can’t write anything at BC that includes the word “fuck,” you can’t say the word “fuck” during sex, you can’t talk to you buddies about the most outrageous place you’ve had sex, you can’t get drunk, you have to sing church hymns, some of the worst music ever, you have to give monetary offerings or tithe, you have to show up at jello mold picnics, when you’d rather be at home reading Flicker by Theodore Roszak (which you would have to keep secret because of the questionable content), you have to steel yourself against the eye rolling behavior accorded you by atheists, etc. So, in spite of all the disadvantages, you feel that the overall Hedonistic philosophy (getting to Heaven, staying outta Hell) outweighs those practical issues. Same here. I don’t care about the practical issues. That’s not the point.

    So, Randy, I think you are attempting a little misdirection in getting us to admit that there are no practical advantages to atheism, after which we are expected to be more open to Christianity as a philosophical choice. That’s why I said that your question is disingenuous.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    May I add my welcome back to you, as well, Gonzo and Eric. And to Duane and Gonzo, may I just compliment you on good new fuel for the fire.

    I don’t have the necessary time to give a complete answer this afternoon. Maybe tomorrow. My granddaughter gets to see her Poppy in a while.

    However, a couple of quick notes. Duane, no misdirection. I have a very close friend of over 26 years who has been my intellectual foil for all of that time. Main topic. He’s a total atheist, spare no prisoners, there couldn’t be a God, period, obectivist. I have read his stuff. He’s read some of mine.

    In the course of 1000’s of hours of debate, this was the only question that ever stumped him. It was next sent out to the entire email list over at Skeptic Mag which resulted in 100’s of responses, and eventually a few protacted debates with a few of the writers of same. And a couple of new email friends.

    I still like the question because look at this thread after 2.5 weeks. It really creates a great discussion. It causes folks to think about this issue from a different direction.

    The difference between Christian Hedonism and secular is that the Christian is willing to delay gratification and accept great potential pain for the Hope of heaven and the understanding that the overall approach makes more sense to them than any other.

    As stated much earlier, I can’t prove it but I believe that most Christians make their decision on very practical grounds, with the faith to follow. I will add that there are undoubtedly those whose faith comes in a flash, but eventually they will practical aspects will enter in.

    And I think that holds true for those who believe in a totally natural world as well.

    With my remaining minute – Even the decision that there is a God is formed by reason. To suggest otherwise would be the height of the word we all love so much here, arrogance.

    I know that I didn’t even start on the Gonzo stuff, but was excellent and deserves comment. Maybe one of my fellow travelers will take you on in my absence.

  • Susan

    Randy, in post 340 you found a definition of secularism, “A system of belief that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship,” and claimed it was just what you had been saying all along

    I am sorry to say that you are either outright lying or you are not a clear thinker. Before (in 334) you had claimed that secularism to some extent promoted “the idea that everyone’s moral code is equal.” Nowhere in your definition of 340 does it say secularism means morality is a free for all. The definition I provided for you in post 337 says secularists use ethics and reasoning to guide behavior.

    And then (in 338), you wondered whose moral code does a secularist use? Well, Randy, secularists would use logic and reasoning (as stated in 337). And that brings us full circle, doesn’t it? The prime advantage of atheism is one has the responsibility to think for oneself. However, some people are so reliant on the Bible doing their thinking for them that they can’t even comprehend the beauty of a human being who is capable of thinking for herself. Giving that up is to stay in childhood and to lead an unexamined life. Why you would give that up, Randy?

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    “what are the practical advantages to being an atheist? If I were to give up my faith today, what would I gain? What would I lose?”

    These hypothetical questions do make for great discussion — as evidenced by the 349 comments over 2 weeks thus far — but even though they might inspire some people to think about faith and religion from a different direction, they cannot be answered pragmatically because belief is not something that is actively chosen by weighing the practical advantages and disadvantages of various religious doctrines.

    Belief is an emotion that stems from what is intellectually plausible depending upon one’s temporal knowledge (or the lack thereof) of Earthly phenomenon.

    Sure, we can all choose which church to join/attend or we may decide to not join/attend any church at all, but belief itself is not chosen in the mind, it is only formed there. It is felt in the heart.

    So it doesn’t really matter whether there are more or fewer practical advantages to atheism, agnosticism or theism. We believe what we believe because it is believable to us and gives us comfort.

    Belief can shift, change and evolve with the acquisition of knowledge, but faith is a constant because faith is not an emotion or an intellectual process, it is a natural human virtue whose capacity is inborn and manifested in our souls/selves. We all have it in one form or another, regardless of our beliefs.

    I, too, am glad to see that gonzo marx is back. Now he needs to copy and paste his remarkable historical analyses from comment #341 into an editor of some sort and make them into an article — there might even be a whole book in there somewhere.

  • Duane

    Margaret says:

    … belief is not something that is actively chosen by weighing the practical advantages and disadvantages of various religious doctrines.

    That’s what I said.

    Belief is an emotion …

    No, it isn’t.

    It is felt in the heart.

    Your heart is not a second brain. It’s a pump.

    We believe what we believe because it is believable to us and gives us comfort.

    More over-generalized nonsense. There is no comfort in coming to grips with the atheistic version of reality. Comfort is sought by believers.

    … faith is not an emotion or an intellectual process, it is a natural human virtue whose capacity is inborn and manifested in our souls/selves.

    Faith, feeling, reason, belief, virtues, souls. Mush.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Comfort is sought by all, Duane, it is an essential human need whether or not one believes in a deity or deities.

    Faith is the human virtue that naturally makes us seek comfort so that we do not lose our minds in the midst of conundrums that they cannot fully grasp due to their natural limitations.

    Perhaps you yourself have found no comfort in the atheistic version of reality, but others have because their inborn faith causes them to believe in something.

    I am familiar with human anatomy, the functions of the heart muscle, how it reacts to the chemical processes of emotions that originate in the brain and how the expression, “felt in the heart” came to be.

    Nobody but me really knows what my personal religious beliefs are and I like it that way.

    If belief is not an emotion, then what is it, exactly?

  • Duane

    Margaret, yes we all want comfort. But more important than comfort for many people is an understanding of our existence and our place in the Universe. Since the dawn of civilization, part of humanity has had to grapple with the uncomfortable fact that (maybe, just maybe) the Universe was not blinked into existence by a caring superbeing. It is uncomfortable to think that there is no grand purpose to our existence. That’s why some people buy in to superstitions — it gives them comfort. Others, whether comfortable or not, march ahead and try to understand the Universe — that would be your secularists.

    Faith is the human virtue that naturally makes us seek comfort so that we do not lose our minds in the midst of conundrums that they cannot fully grasp due to their natural limitations.

    I must say, it sounds like you vastly underestimate a large fraction of the human race.

    If belief is not an emotion, then what is it, exactly?

    Easy enough:

    “A belief is an intellectual assent to a conclusion compelled by the balance of evidence.”

    “Emotion is a strong feeling state, such as excitement, distress, happiness, sadness, love, hate, fear, or anger, arising subjectively and directed toward a specific object, with physiological, somatic, and behavioral components.”

  • Susan

    Margaret, I have to question what you mean by “comfort is sought by all.” I can’t imagine you mean it in the sense of “My leg is falling asleep; I need to readjust it.” If you mean some sort of spiritual comfort, then you are wrong to be so inclusive. Many people seek spiritual confort. I don’t.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    The desire to understand our existence and our place in the universe is a manifestation of faith in the notion that such things are knowable.

    The quest for such knowledge is a form of comfort for those who do not find the idea that the universe was blinked into existence by a caring superbeing (or some other superstition/mystical explanation) plausible.

    I did not underestimate humanity. If the human mind was capable of fully grasping the conundrums of our existence and place in the universe (the Great Unanswered Questions), we would have no need of faith.

    “…an intellectual assent to a conclusion compelled by the balance of evidence” is an emotional response to the perceived evidence. Some beliefs may seem more or less logical, depending upon individual conclusions drawn, but belief is an emotion, unless the word belief is used in the context of describing the tenets of creeds.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Susan, we all seek comfort in one form or another be it spiritual, emotional or physical.

    If you are not seeking spiritual comfort, then you have already found it somewhere, whether you realize it or not.

    Faith is all-inclusive because all humans have it, even if we might discover it in a variety of different ways, including atheism.

  • Duane

    Margaret says:

    The desire to understand our existence and our place in the universe is a manifestation of faith in the notion that such things are knowable.

    You’re being elusive. The issue was comfort. I said that the desire for understanding supersedes the desire for comfort, and this was your response. Are you trying to have a discussion with the aim of achieveing some kind of an understanding, or are you trying to win?

    The quest for such knowledge is a form of comfort …

    You’re splitting hairs. The point is, again, that there is nothing comfortable about the realization that we alone are responsible for ourselves, and that there is no big guy in the sky watching over us. Believers are afraid of this, and seek comfort in superstition. Can we at least agree on that much?

    And you want to equate “faith” with “belief.” I took the trouble to give you a definition of “belief” in #354. “Faith” has nothing to do with evidence. You’re muddying the waters with your semantic games, but it’s not fooling anyone.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Duane, the point of contention here is with the belief that “there is nothing comfortable about the realization that we alone are responsible for ourselves, and that there is no big guy in the sky watching over us.”

    My assertion is (and was, albeit unclearly so) that atheism is about having faith and finding comfort in atheistic convictions. If a so-called atheist is uncomfortable contemplating atheism or fears its ramifications, then he or she is not really an atheist, but rather a confused soul who has yet to discover his or her faith.

    Duane, you are absolutely right about “believers” being afraid of atheistic conviction and that this fear compels them to seek comfort in superstitions.

    However, the inverse is not true of atheists, who find the believers’ beliefs implausible as opposed to frightening and are compelled to seek comfort in Earthly, scientific explanations rather than in religious scriptures.

    Faith is in all of us, it just takes so many different forms that it can be difficult to recognize as such.

    I understand how it might seem strange to use words like “faith” and “comfort” (or even “spirituality”) in the context of describing atheism. That is an effect of anti-atheist bigotry, a prejudice that is still so accepted in our society that atheists themselves often manifest it, believing that they have no faith and can take no real comfort in their beliefs.

    Duane wrote, “I said that the desire for understanding supersedes the desire for comfort.”

    And I wrote, “The desire to understand our existence and our place in the universe is a manifestation of faith in the notion that such things are knowable,” which means that the two desires are one and the same.

    The desire for understanding is the comfort, faith in the notion that the unknown will eventually be knowable, even if it we have not yet reached the point of being able to scientifically discover, test and prove it. Atheism is not only about faith in what is currently known, it is about faith in and hope for a future in which the unanswered questions will have plausible answers.

    Comfort in the context of faith can take many forms and it is not necessarily found in a belief that there is “a big guy in the sky watching over us,” because an increasing number of people are realizing that the scientific implausibilities of mysticism, superstition and religion do not inspire their faith, which does indeed require some form of believable, but not necessarily provable, evidence.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    “A belief is an intellectual assent to a conclusion compelled by the balance of evidence.”

    Why do you folks find it so hard to believe that 85% of the population in the US has come to the conclusion that there is a God because of a conclusion compelled by the balance of the evidence? This is the arrogance I refered to in my last post. Do you really think you are that superior because you have rejected God as the answer?

    I do find it interesting to think of the faith of an atheist. There is a book out right now with a title like that. I think its “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.”

    C.S. Lewis would have to be considered one of the most amazing minds of the 20th Century. He didn’t have an “experience” of God that drew him back to faith. He merely reread the Bible and decided on the basis of the EVIDENCE that the Bible was true.

    I think all atheists who conclude that God believers are chasing superstition would be better THINKERS if the gave credit to those people. I certainly give credit to you. I can believe that you have reached a wrong conclusion or that you haven’t seen all the evidence, but I don’t conclude that you are chasing comfort to the exculsion of your brain or being overpowered by emotion.

    Change the lens in your glasses to see more than your own version of what you think is going on. Have you truly read all of my post and comments and those of the other Christians who have commented here and concluded that we are brain dead and dillusional?

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    Randy, nice sophistry…

    still waiting for you to address the points raised in my comment…

    and while i respect CS Lewis’ writings, there is no empirical data to show that he was any knid of a great mind, or that he had superior powers of logic and thus coudl deduce the factual “evidence” of all creation from readnig the Bible..

    that was, by definition, a leap of Faith

    i refute the 85% number you keep shoutin g…while i may agree that 85% will have stated they believe in “god”…the sheer number of jews alone in this country, much less hindu’s, buddhits, atheists, agnostics, gnostics and followers of JuJu add up to more than 15%…so please, unless you can shoq US Census statistics to back that claim up..i wold ask you to rethink it…fallacious statements do you no justice nor aid in the discussion…

    i put it to you, that the “faith” of many “christians” would rapidly fade to deism or agnosticism if they were aware of the bible’s full history and the circumstances surrounding it all…even the reading of and history surrounding the Jefferson bible would change many minds if it became mainstream knowledge..

    as for your last paragraph..i in no way contend that anyoen of Faith are “brain dead”….most are raised in their church, and have comfort from the familiar…many find their Faith themselves, and it brings them comfort or joy…

    i merely contend that most that utilize Reason, learn their History, and examine the facts closely and are honest with themselves about the results…would more than likely not be able to reconcile any kind of Literalist interpertation and still remain based in reality…those that tend to adhere to the Literalist viewpoint usually do not know any better, were raised in that dogma…to allow belief to cloud their faculties of Reason…

    add this comment to #341 and i think that sums up my thoughts pretty decently…

    gnosis > dogma

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • Duane

    Thanks for the reply Margaret.

    So, you say If a so-called atheist is uncomfortable contemplating atheism or fears its ramifications, then he or she is not really an atheist, but rather a confused soul who has yet to discover his or her faith.

    Nah. Take an example, say, the recent tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people. Christians, while mourning the loss of all these lives, can still take comfort in the fact that God has a purpose in allowing (or causing) this to happen. An atheist sees nothing but nature acting naturally, without a grand purpose, without compassion, without malice. I take no comfort away from the events surrounding the tsunami. That does not make me a “confused soul,” just a realist. We are products of nature, and we live within nature. No more, no less. That can be a bit daunting to one who cannot rest assured that there is a reason for natural disasters, a reason that only God knows, and is keeping secret.

  • Duane

    Randy asks:

    Why do you folks find it so hard to believe that 85% of the population in the US has come to the conclusion that there is a God because of a conclusion compelled by the balance of the evidence?

    Let’s suppose 85% is the right number. It’s true that 85% of the US population also thinks that watching the backstabbing on reality TV is an edifying experience. I am not impressed by the majority.

    Let’s talk about weighing the evidence.

    So, if there is a God, and God gave you a soul, then you cannot have evolved from a soulless single-celled lifeform. Therefore, you can’t believe in Evolution. You also can’t believe in the mass extinction of dinosaurs prior to Adam and Eve appearing on Earth, because there was no death or disease in God’s creation prior to the introduction of sin. Therefore, you can’t believe in nuclear isotopic dating. Therefore, you don’t believe in Nuclear Physics, Paleontology, or Geology. Similarly, you can’t believe in Physical Cosmology, as well as major pieces of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

    So, what I see is that 85% (by your stats) of the U.S. population considers themselves qualified to dismiss science. (That seems a little arrogant to me. ) So, while for some reason you are trying to change your faith to a belief based on evidence, I claim that about 99% of your 85% of the U.S. hasn’t got a clue about the evidence, and that their a priori dismissal of it is based on nothing more than the “God says so” criterion.

    Do you really think you are that superior because you have rejected God as the answer?

    Them there is fightin’ words, and I’d rather not go there. We can do better than that, eh?

    And I don’t think your brain dead, Randy. Even intelligent folks can be misguided.

  • http://home.comcast.net/~proy1/ Paul Roy

    Thanks Duane for expressing my beliefs so eloquently. It is often difficult to argue or discuss religion with a Christian because you are usually confronted with the standard “Because the Bible said so” or “it just is” type arguments, which get you nowhere. At least Randy is a little better than that, which is what makes this thread such a fascinating read.

    I too don’t buy the 85% stat being thrown out there, because if you really talk to some of these 85 percent, it often comes down to the fact that they have never really questioned their beliefs, studied any history or science, and their religion was basically handed down to them from their parents.

  • Bennett

    Duane – Wow man, this is a great paragraph:

    “So, if there is a God, and God gave you a soul, then you cannot have evolved from a soulless single-celled lifeform. Therefore, you can’t believe in Evolution. You also can’t believe in the mass extinction of dinosaurs prior to Adam and Eve appearing on Earth, because there was no death or disease in God’s creation prior to the introduction of sin. Therefore, you can’t believe in nuclear isotopic dating. Therefore, you don’t believe in Nuclear Physics, Paleontology, or Geology. Similarly, you can’t believe in Physical Cosmology, as well as major pieces of Astronomy and Astrophysics.”

    I don’t understand how folks who claim that the bible is either “historical” or “true” can be willing to throw out so much established science in order to buy into it.

    Or that they can selectively ignore parts of the bible while fervently believing in other parts.

    I’ve been thinking about this debate over the last few days, and have decided that if there IS a “God” out there, and “She/He/It” wants me to “believe” that it exists and that “She/He/It” is a “loving God”, all “She/He/It” has to do (in the blink of an eye) is remove all biting insects from our planet.

    There’s just no excuse for deer flies, mosquitoes, ticks, and all the other pesky bugs that bite and sting. What kind of “intelligent designer” would have these bastard bugs torture it’s “children”?

    Or, “She/He/It” can leave ‘em on Earth, but cause them to “bite humans no more!”

    That’d be your “loving God”.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com alienboy

    To refer to not believing in the existence of gods as atheism is deceptive.

    The very word atheism is a part of the rhetoric of belief.

    People who do not believe in the existence of gods simply do not share in one of these comforting but misleading belief systems.

    It’s a bit like describing people who don’t believe in astrology as non-believers rather than rational.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Duane wrote, “Christians, while mourning the loss of all these lives, can still take comfort in the fact that God has a purpose in allowing (or causing) this to happen. An atheist sees nothing but nature acting naturally, without a grand purpose, without compassion, without malice.”

    One of the reasons why atheism requires a lot of faith is that atheists cannot dismiss tragedies as being the result of the will of some supernatural force with a purpose that must be accepted without question.

    However, because atheists believe that nature acts without a grand purpose and has no compassion or malice, they can take comfort in their understanding of the scientific realities of nature in action and then get onto the pragmatic Earthly matter of helping others in any way that they are able, which is really the best way for anyone of any faith to heal after a tragedy.

    You’re not a confused soul, Duane. Everyone feels the sadness and loss of tragedy, no matter how we may deal with it.

    Just because people believe that there is a God who has a purpose and a reason (even if us mortals are not privy made to the details of it) does not mean that they do not feel the same loss and sadness.

    We all seek comfort because it is an essential human need. Even when atheists are unable to take comfort in the fact that “nature happens,” they can find comfort in taking action to bring comfort to others by donating money, supplies, their services or whatever else may help.

    Randy Kirk asked, “Do you really think you are that superior because you have rejected God as the answer?”

    It is socially acceptable to discriminate against, exclude, stereotype and slur atheists.

    When these things are done to other minorities, people get up in arms and cry bigotry, but everyone is still allowed to make fun of and insult the atheists.

    Some people actually say that atheists have no souls, no morals and no values because they don’t answer to anyone — as if conscience is nothing more than the result of threatened punishments and promises of reward in the afterlife.

    No one considers just how offensive it is for an atheist to know that the words “under God” were shoehorned into the Pledge of Allegiance during the Red Scare of the 1950s so that Americans would be distinguished from the “godless commies.”

    And there are still people out there who think that all atheists are communists and that it is okay to say so.

    Atheists make up only 5% of the worlds population and no one sticks up for them, except for other atheists. Can you really blame them for striking back at a majority that has treated them so badly, seemingly without remorse?

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Excerpted because I don’t think this is available at the link online anymore.

    What if he’s a Christian man?

    By Robert S. McElvaine. Robert S. McElvaine teaches history at Millsaps College and is the author of “Eve’s Seed: Biology, the Sexes, and the Course of History.”
    Published July 17, 2005

    CLINTON, Miss. — A Birmingham, Ala., jury’s surprising acquittal of former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy raises again the question of the relationship between “Christianity” and business. “I want to give all the glory to God,” Scrushy proclaimed after the verdict was announced.

    How easy is it to persuade a Southern jury composed of many self-identified Christians that a man who talks a great deal about Christianity is a “good man,” regardless of how un-Christlike his behavior has been?

    As a resident of Clinton, Miss., the town where Bernard Ebbers established his WorldCom headquarters, I have long been familiar with the issue of whether un-Christlike behavior is seen as having any bearing on a person’s claim to be a “good Christian.” In the wake of Ebbers’ conviction in the largest corporate fraud case in American history, the comment most often heard here was: “But Bernie’s a good Christian man.”

    When the fraud was first exposed in June 2002, Ebbers refused to comment to the media but walked to the front of his Southern Baptist church and made a statement in which he said, “I just want you to know you aren’t going to church with a crook.” He went on to tell his fellow worshipers, with tears in his eyes, “More than anything else, I hope that my witness for Jesus Christ will not be jeopardized.” The congregation gave the unrepentant Christian a standing ovation.

    Indeed, for some, the willingness to place a higher value on the claim of Christianity than on behavior extends to criminal deeds far worse than corporate fraud. We have been reminded in the past few weeks with the trial in Mississippi of “Preacher” Edgar Ray Killen for the murder of three civil rights workers that the only reason he was not convicted on federal civil rights violation charges in 1967 was that one of the 12 jurors said she could never convict a preacher.

    I have slowly come to comprehend the theological beliefs upon which such attitudes are based. Last fall, two of my students independently wrote in their journals that Christianity differs from Hinduism in that Hindus believe in karma and so that what one does in this world determines what happens to him or her after death, but Christians are, in the words of one of the students, not judged “on their actions in life but rather their belief in Jesus as the son of the one living God.” The other student wrote that karma “differs from Christianity in that [Hindus] believe in good works, whereas works are not very important in Christianity.”

    It is unsurprising that people who believed that Ebbers and Scrushy could bring them huge wealth without effort also are adherents to a religion that might best be called Christianity Lite, which promises eternal salvation in return for nothing more than professing acceptance of Jesus as one’s lord and savior. Believe in Jesus and he will instantly save you. Believe in Bernie and he will instantly make you rich.

    The brand of Christianity embraced by Bernie Ebbers, Richard Scrushy and those who still see them as “good Christian men” is one that basically says all you need to do is accept Jesus and then you can do whatever the hell you want (unless, of course, your name is Bill Clinton). This perversion of Christianity reduces Jesus to a “get-out-of-jail-free” card–which is just what that good Christian Richard Scrushy got and that other good Christian Bernie Ebbers couldn’t get. On the same day that Scrushy was acquitted, federal prosecutors in New York–where just saying “I’m a good Christian” doesn’t go as far as it does in Alabama and Mississippi–asked that Ebbers, 63, be sent to jail for the rest of his life. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

  • Susan

    MARGARET: “atheism is about having faith and finding comfort in atheistic convictions.”

    Margaret, atheism is no such thing. It is simply a denial of a god or gods. Beyond that, you can believe what you want about finding comfort, but it has nothing to do with atheism.

    I think perhaps you are projecting your world-view onto all atheists. I am an atheist, but you are not describing me.

    I don’t have faith that man will eventually know everything. It doesn’t matter to me whether it happens or not. I enjoy learning about each discovery that is made when it is made. Before discoveries are made, I did not set up a belief system around them: they simply were not part of my world. And that’s how I view the god belief–it’s simply not part of my world.

    It would be interesting to know if there is an atheist out there who has a faith. I’d like to ask why they call it “faith” and not “wonder.”

    Randy wonders why atheists “find it so hard to believe that [religious people have] come to the conclusion that there is a God because of a conclusion compelled by the balance of the evidence? This is the arrogance I referred to in my last post. Do you really think you are that superior because you have rejected God as the answer?”

    I don’t find it hard to believe that people turn to superstition. I understand how emotion can trump logic. I allow you to live your life your way. But I expect the same consideration in return. It is arrogant of believers to think they are right and can force their beliefs through legislation.

    There are lots of God theories out there. They sometimes agree with each other, but in important ways they contradict (giving us holy wars). We can consider two possibilities: one god theory could be right. rendering the others incorrect, or they could all be wrong. The only thing we know for certain is they can’t all be right. Many of them have equally compelling reasons to believe their god, but none of them have a compelling reason why their god is more real than the others. And none of them has a compelling intellectual reason why their god makes more sense than no god. The “no god” belief puts all god theories on the same level without lifting one over the other. That makes sense.

    I don’t won’t claim to be a superior person (whatever that means). But I am a superior thinker.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    ***i merely contend that most that utilize Reason, learn their History, and examine the facts closely and are honest with themselves about the results…would more than likely not be able to reconcile any kind of Literalist interpertation and still remain based in reality…those that tend to adhere to the Literalist viewpoint usually do not know any better, were raised in that dogma…to allow belief to cloud their faculties of Reason…***

    After Gonzo says the above, several folks kind of add their own two cents along the same path. (And who cares about the 85%. That wasn’t the point. It could be 25%, the point would be valid.)

    Basically, each in his turn continues to attempt to make anyone who believes in God to be suscetible to their history, their upbringing, their current powerful leadership, need for comfort, predeliction for superstition over science, or even failure to study the options, or to fully understand the options once studied. This is the utter arrogance I’m talking about.

    Meanwhile if you are an atheist and believe in naturalism through scientific discovery, you have perfectly threaded the needle of all available information without any kind of filter, whether neural or experiential. None of your professors or mentors or parents or predelictions could possibly have anything to do with skewing your thought patterns.

    At least Christians, after examining the facts, assessing the possibilities and probabilities, and making a judgement about reality, state that in the end it comes to faith. Then, because we have that faith, we do say it is TRUTH. You all say it is truth because your smart.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Susan wrote, “It is simply a denial of a god or gods. Beyond that, you can believe what you want about finding comfort, but it has nothing to do with atheism.”

    Faith in the notion that there is no superbeing(s) watching over us and manipulating nature and fate is still faith. Having faith in something, no matter what it may be, brings us comfort.

    The trouble here seems to be with the word “faith.” Many atheists think that they should not use that word because they have been conditioned by society’s prejudices against them.

    Susan writes, “I don’t have faith that man will eventually know everything. It doesn’t matter to me whether it happens or not.”

    If it doesn’t matter to you, then you have no need of faith in the idea that man will eventually know everything — or at least gain a more thorough understanding of life, the universe and everything else through research, study and discovery.

    Atheists are rarely so incurious about these things because they have no need to maintain faith in ancient superstitions that science has since disproven or explained, sometimes to the point of rendering them ridiculous — such as the notion of a 6000 year-old flat Earth around which the entire universe revolves.

    Susan wrote, “It would be interesting to know if there is an atheist out there who has a faith. I�d like to ask why they call it ‘faith’ and not ‘wonder.'”

    To say that atheists have no faith is tantamount to saying that atheists are not human.

    Wonder cannot exist without faith. How can one be curious about or feel in awe of phenomena that are inexplicable by the laws of nature as they are currently understood without having faith in the laws of nature as they are currently understood?

  • beadtot

    What is the real anxiety which is being pontificated? That ‘God’ of the Bible is foreign [EurAsian] and that the word ‘God’ is capitalized? What is expected from such a deity — capital crimes, as tribute? — if He is worshipped as the Hymns proscribe? The words of both Bible and Hymns are speci-fically addressed within prevalent American church services — to teach us that such people have actually existed and may yet be ‘available’ as immigrant henchmen? And the phenomena of ‘prevaricating’ or ‘lying’ religious singers, prejudiced against such a God — must they then live in fear that He can be called upon to brand them as infidels among the human species as a whole? — such that a capital crime might proceed as a logical sequence of thought and action?

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com alienboy

    i beg your pardon, but – what?

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    WORSHIP ME.

    If you are weak sheep in need of a cult (that includes Al Barger and the Ayn Rand dorks and the classic rock dorks and the Harry Potter dorks), follow me and preach my gospel. Spread my greatness to every corner of the Earth.

    Here’s my definitive statement on religion to answer all your silly questions: you don’t know if there’s a God. You’re not smart enough to know anything about him or to even interpret the various religious bodies of literature correctly that deal with various historical records that deal with anthropomorphic gods. So I suppose that would make me agree with you agnostics. I was raised a Christian and my ethics are profoundly, radically Christian, but I can offer no objective proof for Christian doctrine or the Bible. And frankly, I’m not interested in doing so. I think religion (at its best) works kind of the same way psychology does — neither are objectively true in a scientific way and both have a history of a lot of BS and a poor track records when applied to society, but it’s possible that both can *work* because they touch upon some common, predictable themes of human culture and behavior that can compel people to connect to something broader outside themselves, something that’s necessary for psychic functioning in the universe. That’s about all you can get out of any religious faith, although the irony is that faith can only be experienced blindly without that sort of detached viewpoint.

    Religion is socially functional if it makes people ethical — the Golden Rule is a great idea and wonderful shorthand for basic ethics. The problem is that religion no longer makes people ethical because modern life, capitalism, and the narcissism/individualim of our time makes religious faith something that’s easily compartmentalized. The New Testament Jesus has been basically completely ignored in the conduct of modern life — he exists as an idea, a symbol of martyrdom to believe in iconically, but the substance of his message is completely ignored by almost everyone, not just religious conservatives. Christianity, especially, has been an abject failure in the West in creating moral people and it’s probably not a coincidence that is has ridden the back of war on conquest throughout the parts of the world where it has spread. Some historians would argue that inaccurate interpretations of Christian theology and ideas have made much of that violence possible, not just the obvious ones like the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition.

    A note for those of you who are atheists: stop wasting your time. All the atheists I have known are just as arrogant and ignorant as the worst Religious Right Christians I have known, and perhaps even more obsessed about theological questions they aren’t equipped to answer. How narcissistic is it to say that “God is dead” or doesn’t exist just because you, a pale kid with goth hair, a junior college 2.5 GPA, and piercings, decree it so? What’s worse is the anger at God that I see in some atheists — it’s not God you’re angry with, it’s society and people. Just like I think many religious folks use God to project their anxieties and hatreds onto society, I think atheists are doing much of the same. Yes, some of the worst people in the world drape themselves in religion and they probably far, far outnumber the good ones. But some of the best people in the world are also religious, and I think that those who believe in good works and pratice altruism are the kind of people who probably best affirm the idea of God, regardless of what religion they are from.

    For you Christians who think atheists and agnostics are the Anti-Christ and Satanic and heretics, give it a break. Atheists are weak and depressed — they hate themselves and their lives more than they hate you and God. It’s themselves they want to kill, not God. Agnostics are lazy and indifferent to anything involving serious commitment or thought.

    That is all.

  • http://elfrederick.blogspot.com E L Frederick

    “I find your lack of faith disturbing” – Darth Benedict XVI

  • beadtot

    Some remained aloof from Faith’s churches and are not guilty.

  • Duane

    Bob, you’re such a gadfly. Thanks for introducing your “Everybody Sucks” philosophy (Incompetism) into the mix. That should add a bit of pepper.

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    Randy,

    no, the point abuot the percentages would not be valid…you keep touting the erroneous 85% in an attempt to show a vast majority…a decent debating tactic, but as i have always said, one cannot prove an Hypothesis by beginning with a fallacious Postulate…so my point in that comment is more crucial than you admit…

    next, please notice the valid points made in comment #341 as they pertain to the original Post’s topic…i am honestly curious as to your thoughts on the matters…

    Susan makes very interesting points, but i do have a simple difficulty with one of them…she contends that the Issue of “god(s)” are mutually exclusive…i will say that in the case of Infinity and Eternity, there should be plenty of room for ALL such beliefs to be True…multidimensional theory would make this statement almost an axiom…

    and Randy sez…
    *At least Christians, after examining the facts, assessing the possibilities and probabilities, and making a judgement about reality, state that in the end it comes to faith. Then, because we have that faith, we do say it is TRUTH. You all say it is truth because your smart.*

    first, please show me where i have ever said anything about knowing the “Truth” on these matters?

    second, you make my point more forcefully by your stating that it all comes down to “faith” after examination and that this leads to a belief in holding the “Truth”…i put it to you that just because something is believed, especially something taken on “faith” that does not neccesarily make it “True”

    the vast majority of humankind thought the world was flat and that the universe revolved around the earth, taken as a matter of “faith”…this did not make it true, did it?

    you speak of utter arrogance, and allow me to give you this Thought…my stating that gnosis(knowledge) is greater than dogma(authoritarian doctrine, accepted on faith) specifically applies to folks such as yourself…you have looked at the Question, and via your own thoughts and personal convictions have achieved an unprovable Knowledge that helps and sustains you …good for you, i have no desire to take any of that from you, or convince you of anything different

    my points have been twofold…one is that the Journey for other folks is different than your own, and no less valid…that many fundamentalists display supreme arrogance in stating that their “Way” is the ONLY “Way” possible…especially when dealing with Literalists who do not examine the historical information concerning the Book they are taking Literally…

    the second was delineated in comment #341…that History has shown many practical advantages to a secular government over any form of government that involves religion…
    to recap that last point, in case #341 is not clear enough…let us look at Rome
    prior to Constantine, the Roman Empire has a very strict policy of leaving local religions, temples and priests alone, as long as they did not speak sedition or exhort their followers to rebel against Rome…many examples in the Roman records of officers and governors being disciplined and/or removed for violating that principle of Roman Law
    during the time of Constantine, Sun God worship became the official religion of Rome, which was melded with the nascent christianity to form the Roman Catholic church…the sabbath went form the traditional saturday of Jewish tradition to “sun”day of the Roman tradition, the celebrations of Christs birth was made the date of the winter festival, and the celebration fo the Resurrection was placed at the spring fertility festival date and so on…
    it was after this point that Rome became intolerant of other religions, waged wars based on conquest of heathens, destroyed whole peoples in the name of god and suppressed the faith of many Citizens of the Empire…if you look closely, you can even see the pattern for the decline of the Roman Empire tie in almost exactly with the adherence to these policies and practices…

    just a small example to make the point..
    easily shown, here and in #341 what the practical advantages are to humanity, if our governments remain secular

    Excelsior!

  • Bennett

    Bob – Man, you ARE full of hot air, eh?

    Sounds like you *really* think your own opinions are freakin gospel.

    “Atheists are weak and depressed — they hate themselves and their lives more than they hate you and God.”

    No. Not weak, or depressed. No, don’t hate Randy or Margarette. Just don’t see things the same way, or always agree with their opinions.

    Your broad brush strokes are kinda funny though.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Bob – Man, you ARE full of hot air, eh?

    if it is the Bob A. Booey from about 8 months to a year ago, then it’s his writing style. He will cut both sides, like Shark does.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Atheism is to me an absense of caring one way or the other whether anything exists in the big sky.

    It’s not faith. It’s not caring.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    It is indeed me, Steve/Boom.

    Except that dull old knife wishes he could cut like me. Just kidding, Sharky poo.

    Temple: I think caring’s necessary. Because caring is sharing.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Unfortunately, I have a company to run which is keeping me from the much greater fun of full participating. Gonzo, I really need some space to answer your reintroduction to blogcritics. I need to really read, reflect, and prepare.

    Bob, What a great read. I may never know exactly what you were getting to, but it was very cool.

    Real quick:

    I am curious about many things including beginnings, purposes, endings, and the way things work.
    I assume everyone writing here is also curious about these same things to varying degrees.

    Because of this curiosity, I have spent a huge percentage of my 57 years reading, listening, conversing, debating, and contemplating.

    I assume that each of you has done a lot of the same.

    From time-to-time dots are connected, theories take on a life of their own, things that made some sense make more, and I begin to accept that thing as truth.

    I may be wrong, but suspect that this process will be familiar to all of you.

    Once I have added a belief (eg. White men can’t jump), I begin to compare my life experience and new arguments from reading or mentors to this truth. If it holds up, fine. If it doesn’t, I modify or discard it.

    Does this still sound familiar?

    At some point the belief becomes an article of faith. I have arrived at the conclusion by reason, but so much data has now been processed that only a major new bit will have much impact on my faith in this idea.

    Does anyone do it differently?

    Now I act based on this faith, pretty much automatically.

    You, too?

    I don’t believe that any atheist of agnostic or Buddhist or Wiccan who has gone through this process is any more or less intelligent, messed up, confused, or threatening in their belief, based merely on their belief that me.

    If their actions begin to threaten me or my kin and friends, I will respond to the threat in a measured way (I hope.) In the meantime, if I believe that my belief that white men can’t jump can add benefit to your life, or save you from some kind of malady, I will undoubted tell you about my belief. I promise to never kill you or hurt you because you say no.

    I have arrived at my belief in God and the Bible through this process. I’m glad that Gonzo has no desire to deprive me of my belief. I have no desire to deprive you of yours either. I am just sharing, as you are.

    I have already shown how this same set of equal methods applies to law in this country with each of us having an equal ability to start organizations, speak our piece, raise money, and get out the vote.

    Now, if you find serious issues with what I just said, I suppose we can continue to fight about who is superstitious, etc., and who has use REASON to reach their pov.

    I think it is more useful to get back to the original idea (thank you Gonzo), and just for fun assume that we are all, the 85% or the 75% or the 65% or the 25% or the 15% reasonable and thoughtful.

    P.S. I believe that 10% of the population is not reasonable or thoughtful about anything. The other 90% are trying their best.

  • Susan

    Margaret, what definition of faith are you using? I’m using this one: “Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence” (American Heritage) Now do you see why an atheist would not have this kind of faith?

    Being curious does not require faith. I am very curious about how the world works.

    Bob A. Booey: “stop wasting your time [discussing god]…Agnostics are lazy and indifferent to anything involving serious commitment or thought.”

    Bob, let us know when you’ve worked it out.

    Gonzo, if the universe contains multi-dimensions, wouldn’t each religion’s god claim rule over all the dimensions? Omnipotence knows no dimensional boundaries. It would be interesting to ask a religious person this. Randy? Is this Christian God you worship in charge of all the dimensions or just the four we know of?

    RANDY: “At some point the belief becomes an article of faith. I have arrived at the conclusion by reason.”

    This is illogical reasoning. Just because you believe something for a while doesn’t make it reasonable.

    RANDY: “If their actions begin to threaten me or my kin and friends, I will respond to the threat in a measured way (I hope.)”

    That’s all I’ve been asking of you. Randy, I am asking for your help to be one of the good guys who doesn’t threaten my way of life with your views. Let’s just focus on one example: the Pledge in classrooms. Doesn’t that deprive atheists of their right?

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    There is more to faith than the simple belief in things that do not rest on logical proof or material evidence, that is but one part of its definition.

    The word faith is also used to describe loyalty to people, places, objects and/or ideas as well as confidence in the truth or value of people, places, objects and/or ideas.

    Faith is not so much about what you believe or to what or whom you are loyal as it is about the actual belief and loyalty.

    Faith is a virtue that all humans have to one degree or another. Atheists do not place their faith in things that do not rest on logical proof or material evidence. Their faith lies in those things for which there is logical proof or material evidence. The proof and the evidence are what inspire atheists’ faith.

    This is why atheists must be possessed of a great deal of faith, not only to believe in those things which are logically or materially provable, but to remain loyal to the idea of reserving confidence, belief and loyalty until such time that material evidence or logical proof is discovered and presented.

    There are hateful people out there who say that atheists have no faith, but that is pure bigotry. And that bigotry is so accepted that even atheists believe it — even though their adherence to atheistic convictions is evident of a very strong sense of faith.

    The words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance (which were put in there during the Red Scare of the 1950s so that Americans could feel superior to “godless commies”) are not only an affront to atheists’ First Amendment rights, but to anyone who finds such an exclusion to be contrary to the founding principles of our Constitution.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan, have you ever seen someone do carbon dating? Have you been there when they did the carbon dating on the items you believe were properly carbon dated? Do you eat food out of cans or boxes prepared by big corporations and put into those cans and boxes by folks you’ll never meet? Do you drive on the right side of the road and have FAITH that others will adhear?

    Your belief that things are the way you think they are is constantly a factor of faith. Maybe you are an expert at every type of science, but I doubt it. Therefore you have to have faith that these mathmatical formula are true. Or that the pictures of various things in the cosmos are not distorted by things undiscovered as yet.

    Faith in God is not that different. Ultimately no one will continue to believe in God if his/her experience shows it to be wrong. Billy Graham and Mother Theresa have both described their God/faith crises.

    If you heard that everybody who was eating a certain brand of beans was getting sick, you’d stop eating those beans until you were sure it was ok again. Different, but not as different as you make it out to be.

    By the way, Margaret, I can’t ever remember one of my friend or associates ever speaking of atheists that way. They may speak that way of specific groups like the ACLU or Communists who are trying to take away our rights and who appear to be atheists, but it isn’t about the atheism. I don’t see hate there.

    I have seen hatred in my life for Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Koreans, Mexicans, and in a certain way, homosexuals (more fear than hate), but not athesists.

  • Susan

    Margaret, the definition of faith you selected has nothing to do with atheism, so my question is why bring it into the discussion?

    The reason we might have “loyalty to people, places, objects and/or ideas as well as confidence in the truth or value of people, places, objects and/or ideas” is because they have been there for us before and we have an expectation that they will be there for us again. If they are not, we lose faith in them. This has nothing to do with a god-belief. Context is key. If we’re having a religious discussion, why bring in other definitions of “faith”? It’s irrelevant.

    We can play the same word games with the word “soul.” In the context of music, I have soul. In a religious sense, I do not have a soul. To prove it, I will sell you mine on eBay.

  • Susan

    Margaret, you see what happens when you blur your definitions? You get Randy asking if I have faith in people driving on the right side of the road (post 386). I guess Randy thinks his faith in God will falter if he sees someone driving the wrong side of the road.

    Randy, what is defensive driving? Is it a useful strategy? Do you have a defensive belief in God? This is an interesting analogy.

    RANDY: “I have seen hatred in my life for [others], but not atheists.”

    The people who hate often don’t see their responses as hate-filled. In this case, the people who oppress others often don’t see their responses as opression. How about that Pledge?

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Funny to mention it but I have my doubts about carbon dating. It’s a man-made construct, measured by man-made tools, with measurements created by man. Half of a man-made X seems meaningless to me.

    I thought that a long time ago when I first heard about it and was first learning about it. It’s always stayed with me as a thought.

    I’m going to try and step lightly into this later. Not the carbon-dating thing. Everything else. By the way – Carbon is a lousy kisser.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Randy, it is hateful to suggest that a group of people have no faith because that is the same thing as suggesting that they are not human. This prejudice is so ingrained in our society that some atheists actually believe they have no faith.

    Sure, you don’t hear very many stories of “atheist bashing” in the news. However, there are people who would instantly condemn slurs and discrimination against people of certain religions, ethnicities and orientations while having no consternations about the proclamation that atheists have no souls, morals, values or faith.

    Then there are those negative stereotypes such as the one about all atheists being communists, which dates back to the Red Scare of the 1950s.

    And, of course there are those atheists — some of whom were represented by the ACLU in court cases — who have fought for the recognition of their First Amendment rights only to face accusations of wanting to deprive others of their First Amendment rights.

    Some people simply cannot understand that “one nation under God” means liberty and justice for all, except for atheists.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Is faith absolute or are there levels of faith to consider?

    As suggested above a faith that someone will obey the laws of the road seems entirely different from the thought that a great presence will allow enternal life if you believe in it.

    After all God’s will would surely decide if it was your time to die. I hear that all the time, so the laws of the road are meaningless to belivers.

    That’s a scary thought and may explain why funeral processions are so slow – they don’t care about the rules of the road. (That would be a joke).

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Faith is not limited to God and its definition is much broader than those of the words belief, conviction and religion.

    And we all have souls regardless of whether we believe they are immortal or mortal.

    I am advocating in favor of atheists’ First Amendment rights to faith and souls as they interpret those concepts. To limit the definitions of faith and souls to those of religious doctrine is as oppressive as the words, “under God” being in the Pledge of Allegiance.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    >>And we all have souls regardless of whether we believe they are immortal or mortal.

    But that’s merely a belief.

    I am advocating for continuing a great discussion and rail-roading through the !@#$-stirring asides. I may dismiss your beliefs for me but I won’t dismiss that you have them for yourself.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    First, Susan, as to the pledge. The question has been answered several times. Vote kiddo, vote. In the meantime, give the pledge whatever meaning it has to you. Let God in the pledge be for you “all of nature.” It is not hate filled to have that in the pledge. It is odd to me that atheists would get their knickers in a twist over those words when they don’t even believe he exists.

    Whey I was a borderline agnostic, I didn’t really want to pray at public meetings. I just quietly waited for the prayer to be over. It was insulting to me that others wished to pray.

    Faith. I think some are hung up on the two ways to come to faith expressed above. Faith commonly starts with reason, then must be sustained by reason. That is the kind I was referring to above. Once the person reaches faith in God, it is not unlike the soul part of music. Only those that have that kind of soul get it. I don’t have that kind of soul. I’ve tried to get it, but I can’t, even though I am quite musically inclined and very well trained.

    Others come to faith through expectations of their family, neighbors, boyfriend, etc. These folks at some point generally face a crisis of faith the must either be dealt with through reason or through “soul.”

    Others come to faith 100% through the soul route. They still eventually must deal with things that don’t seem reasonable, or they will have serious issue. Some who have problems of reason with their faith, become less faithful. There are many of those in the church.

    But everything I said above could have other aspects of life inserted. Sure, the God thing is the biggest, but not the only. For instance, even some who believe in God have issues with heaven, hell, angels, devils, whether or not God is active or passive, whether he speaks directly to us, etc.

    Gonzo. With luck, I will get to your comment tonight. Its only 6:20 here.

  • Bennett

    I got soul.

    and I’m super bad.

  • Bennett

    Randy sez “It is not hate filled to have that [God] in the pledge.”

    No, not hate filled, but semi-offensive to anyone not of your religion. You illuminate this offense in your comment:

    “When I was a borderline agnostic… it was insulting to me that others wished to pray.”

    Do you see the contradiction here, Randy?

    To require that every school day start out with a mantra to a hypothetical superior watchful being, is our government endorsing the concept of a living diety.

    An unproven myth, a handed-down “the earth is flat” belief system.

    Yeah, I’d like to see the pledge go back to the pre “commie scare” version.

  • Duane

    Do you have faith in “on the one,” Bennett?

  • Susan

    Randy, you sure don’t want to touch my Pledge question:

    1) In a democracy basic rights are not something the majority can vote away against the minority.

    “Majority rule is a means for organizing government and deciding public issues; it is not another road to oppression. Just as no self-appointed group has the right to oppress others, so no majority, even in a democracy, should take away the basic rights and freedoms of a minority group or individual.”

    Your solution to let the Pledge mean what I want it to mean is offensive. Would you yell, “Hey, n***” at a black person and then say, “Hey, don’t get your knickers all twisted. Let the word ‘n***’ mean whatever you want it to mean”?

    2) The Pledge as revised in 1954 is a lie. We are not one nation under God. And please don’t tell me I am under God in your eyes. That is also offensive.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Sorry, major typo. It was not insulting that others wished to pray.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan, surely you know the difference between incorporating a part of our founding documents into our pledge and yelling a personally offensive insult at someone. And the difference between taking away a basic right and including under god in the pledge. I have not avoided your issue at all. Get the votes. Secularists have gotten the votes to get prayer taken out of the huddle. How hard can getting God out of the pledge be.

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    excuse me..but there is no “god” n the founding documents…the Declaration does refer to the “Creator”..in very typical Masonic and deist fashion…but no “god”

    this has been a public service announcement from your friendly neighborhood Jester…

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    this seems like a fine place for the Jester to step back into the Fray…

    Randy, i’m going to skip over many of the excellent bits of discussion other folks have raised here in favor of replying to your original Post…

    advantages of atheism and agnosticism is a purely pragmatic sense..

    1) intellectual honesty…those that adhere to the two “A”s in this case have utilized theor own faculties of Reason to arrive at their conclusions and personal philosophy…pragmatically, to them, this allows them to be free of inner conflicts between “belief” and “reasoned thought”

    2) in the macro sense…the terms of the World and Humanity as a whole…
    unlike ANY major religion, there has never been a case, to my knowledge, where a tribe or nation that adhered to atheism or agnosticism has waged a War on philosophical grounds…no agnostic has burned innocent women to death for the false crime of being “witches” due to mistranslation of a “holy” book (side note …the actual tranlation is “suffer ye not a poisoner to continue…a far cry from “witches”)
    no tribe or nation adhering to the two “A”s, that i am aware of, has ever engaged in any kind of “crusade” to wipe out the “infidels” and caused the deaths of untold numbers of relatively innocent people whose only criome was unwillingness to be “converted” to the “true faith”

    many examples in history of both these bahavious being rampant in EVERY “fundamentalist” religion in history…a case could be made that it is a prime tenet of such “fundamentalist” doctrines to eliminate and eradicate those tht don’t adhere to their religious views either via conversion or death

    example: the Inquisition in all it’s forms in europoean history, notably the wiping out of the christian Cathar and Albigensian sects

    the pragmatic advantage to those that follow the two “A”s can also be seen in their tolerance for those that follow whatever Faith they find personally fufilling, whereas the converse is the exception rather than the Rule, and usually limited to secular forms of government wherein the majority of the population is of one Faith but accepts, due to political law, the rights of other Faiths to exist within the community.

    America is a prime example of such a secular government, and the Islamic caliphate was an example of tolerance established by political means in an otherwise mono-faith environment…

    the Rule of Genghis Kahn is another prime example of a secular government that tolerated any Faith as long as it did not interfere with secular Law…and this was possiby one of the safest governments in HIstory…an unescorted woman wearing jewels coudl walk from one end of the empire to another, unmolested, safe under the Kahn’s Law…because violation of that Law got your entire village burnt to the ground…a bit harsh, but the same principle applied to religious tolerance

    gnosis > dogma

    as for your contention that “life goes better with Christ”..i reject the coca cola approach to this type of advertising slogan…where i do admire the teachings of Jesus greatly, the dogmatic contentions of the priest class over the centuries, as well as the words of Men added to the Bible, clearly show a push and play for secular Power utilizing the “moral” authority of “God” as spewed forth from the mouths of Men, rather than adherence to the Principles and Ethics taught by the words of Jesus himself…

    those lessons are clear in both History, and via the Man’s greatest tool, his own Reason

    you might want to actually read Jefferson’s “bible” and study a bit of the history surrounding the text you dogmatically adhere to, compare them and think about it…then perhaps study some of the histoy surrounding the compilation of the text you espouse

    or not, only you can determine your own Path to Enlightenment…i do honestly hope you find what you are looking for

    this has been a public service announcement brought to you by the Jester, apostate and heretic…we now return you to your regularily scheduled program…

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    heh…

    and you repost my comment..i am taking it by accident?

    good times..

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I didn’t intend to rerun Gonzo’s comment, but maybe it will make it easier to follow my response.

    I think I have answered #1 in great detail. Just because one of my sources is the Bible or those who believe in the Bible doesn’t take away the credibility of the Bible. Everyone has sources. No one comes with the info built in.

    Regarding #2 – You posit that atheistic or agnostic tribes or nations are not inclined to wipe out those who don’t go along with the “true” faith. Where would communism fit into your historical review?

    Doesn’t England fit the mold of a country who didn’t ever go to war to convert others. I love history, but never cared much for all the details of the various wars. Off hand I can’t remember them doing so. I will agree that they tried to keep their own population in check in this regard sometimes, and some died.

    Jefferson Bible – Read it. Studied Jefferson in great depth. Understand totally why he took out that which he did. Doesn’t mean that Jefferson had greater insite into the word than others.

    Many humans have screwed up lots of ideas. Ayn Rand messed up her own “faith” by her adultry. We all fall short.
    The various men who have misused and misread the Bible for their own gain or fully believing they were doing the right thing have received their justice.

    Gonzo, I don’t say this to brag, but as a defense to your admonition that I needed to go study up, I have probably read more writings of those in opposition to the Christian faith and doctrine than any who are commenting. My 27 year debate with two excellent and amazingly shrewd atheists plus shorter debates with maybe 100 others, has required me to read and understand these things. I have a long way to go, which is why I’m having a great time with this thread.

  • Bennett

    Duane – “Watch Me!”

    Me, I got faith in soul.

    Randy sez “Get the vote. How hard can getting God out of the pledge be?”

    So, you’re okay with it as long as it’s your religion being infused into a school mantra. Smug. Happy even.

    Knowing that if the tables were turned you’d be frothing at the mouth to get “Allah” removed from a mandated daily recital in public schools.

    Is that a bit hypocitical, or is it just me?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Quite frankly, Christians are a minority in many countries of the world. Last I heard they weren’t frothing at the mouth to take Islam or Buddhim or anything else out of the government’s plans. They would be happy to just not be shot at.

    I know that words matter, and that it may we upsetting to folks to see in God We Trust on the money and such, but I don’t think it raises to the level of horror that you seem to . And I really will not be upset if you get the votes.

    But remember, if you get the votes to put something in I don’t like, I need to retain the right to get my own group and money together, and see if I can get a new vote. Reasonable?

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    and England’s invasion of China and India?

    was for money, not to convert the heathen..yes..post Magna Carta, Britian utilized the same tactics as Rome..leave the priests and temples alone after you conquet a county..

    communism was none of the above, it was a totalitarian regime that claimed many things, but in actuality was just another tin pot oligarchy to replace the dictatorial monarchy..it had no internal philosophy but fear and power

    and i agree that many humans have screwed up many things…my entire contention here is twofold

    one..secular governments have historically been better for their citizens and humanity in general than theocratic ones…thus a clear pragmatic reason for governmental atheism or agnosticism over established religion…i personally prefer the casually indifferent secularism or our own Republic, myself…but that’s just me

    and two..that humans have royally screwed up the Bible you speak of so much, in more ways than i have gotten into here…this leads me to the why of my admonition…i have read your claims over and over on these mateers…and i do honestly believe you have read as much of it as you say…

    i am just uncertain as to how much of it you understood, that is not meant as any type of slight…just a personal boggling of mind

    you see, i find many of your statements and arguments hold to a pattern, always trying to bend and twist towards the goal of convincing the reader that “things go better with Christ”, as you put it…and that you continue to strive to make this statement work towards wantin gus to believe that those “things” would, could and should include our Government

    and that is why i will continuously oppose you, and all those like you…

    why i will remain a Cynic and Skeptic towards yor honeyed words and assertations

    why i will continue to point out logical flaws, factual inaccuracies as well as outright silliness as required

    our Founders were very wise Men, and chose their words with care when it came to how they Declared and Constituted our Nation…and it was to be secular..with an innate wall between Church and State…

    if there is ANY crumbling in that wall, it would be an Abomination

    to clarify and elucidate…let me share with you the contents of a letter written by Jefferson on this very subject, written to a Danbury church’s clergy.

    *Gentlemen,
    The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

    I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect and esteem.*

    Jefferson’s Words say it all , so much better than i ever could…

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • Susan

    Randy, you have continued to ignore the question of minority rights. It’s wrong and not nice to use your majority status to trample on the rights of the minority. It’s one of the foundations of democracy.

    RANDY: “surely you know the difference between incorporating a part of our founding documents into our pledge and yelling a personally offensive insult at someone. And the difference between taking away a basic right and including under god in the pledge.”

    You just took my comment out of context. I was pointing out how absurd it is for you to placate me with how harmless the Pledge should be for me if I just pretend the word “God” means something else. Words matter. If they didn’t matter, then why are you so keen on forcing little kids to recite some words?

    You are coming off as smug.

  • Bennett

    Randy, You wrote “I know that words matter, and that it may we upsetting to folks to see in God We Trust on the money and such, but I don’t think it raises to the level of horror that you seem to . And I really will not be upset if you get the votes.”

    But as an American, a citizen of an amazing experiment in free speech, cultural diversity, and an embrace of a vaiety of belief systems, don’t you want our country to live up to its potential? In matters large and small? I certainly do!

    And there IS a difference between a phrase printed on a dollar bill, and the required recitation of a non-secular mantra in a tax payer supported public school. No?

    It’s not horror I feel, it’s a desire for fairness, and a fear that the Religious Right is capable of wielding its zealous might to break the wall of separation that Gonzo speaks of so eloquently.

    I want our country to embrace all, and favor none.

    Isn’t that reasonable?

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    The main reason I will not take up the cr to take away from the influence of Christ on our way of governing, is because I honestly believe that those fundamentals are critical to the continuation of the success of this experiment. I could give you 10 quotes, Gonzo, for every one like Jeffersons, reminding us of the importance of our Judeo/Christian way of thinking on our system. Almost every president. Almost every Supreme Ct Justice until recently.

    I don’t want, as stated earlier, the government to be Christian run. I do want the country to keep in mind where the fundamentals came from. I fear that as we remove the trappings, we will remove the memory. It is already happening. Read high school or college history books.

    But, I am prepared for folks to vote their consciences and I’ll be prepared to fight for the things I believe really matter.

    GONZO. Communist and Godless are used in the same sentance almost automatically. How can you make your claim with a straight face. They did and continue today to burn down churches outlaw all forms of worship (except state directed forms), and imprison those who would cross them. And I’m the only one challenging you. Huh. Talk about your preconceived ideas coloring your answers.

    I suppose that we all are guilty of that little thing, too.

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    pardon me?..i clearly stated that communism had no intern al belief structure…they were evil, rapacious men who ruled by fear and with abuse of power…far worse than the dictatorial monarchs they replaced..

    what i did not do, was equate them with atheists…their “god” was the Party, thei r”messiah” was whomever was Chairman at the moment…they turned the tricks of religion into tools of their oligarchy

    do NOT confuse facts with propaganda form the McCarthy era when you go saying “godless” = “communist”…or are you unaware of the heroics of thos ewithin the Russian Orthodox church, who risked all for their Faith?

    try actually reading what i type towards you, and thinking a moment, rather than knee jerk reacting utilizing tired GOP tactics

    as for what they do today, remember it was the Shrub that stated “I’ve looked into his (Putin’s) eyes, and he is a good man”…so when you think of any burned churches being done today, you can thank the Shrub, in part, for enabling the ex-KGB thug that currently is running the Kremlin

    i am waiting for those 10 Quotes from the Founders to back up your claims please…in return, there are the entire works of Jefferson, Franklin and others to show their thinking on these matters…

    all of these men were Masons, and thus share certain philosophical traits…being mostly deists rather than theists…and there is muc in the historical record from their writings to show that they attended church and spoke the correct niceities for political purposes rather than from personal beliefs..

    so, i call your bluff …give me 10 quotes form our Founders…men who signed the Declaration…that state your point…then i will produce more that state mine, and await the next ten

    we will see who runs dry first

    and i will gladly leave it up to the gentle Readers as to the veracity and internal consistency of this humble Narrator…

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    This is largely a boring discussion, but I recognize there are some smart people participating even though I’m not particularly interested in following most of what you’ve had to say. It’s too much and too uninteresting to me for the most part. Thanks to all my fans.

    Susan: good catch on picking up my self-criticism in what I wrote. Here’s the problem with atheist “truth” — to say that there is no God is as grand a metaphysical statement as to posit that there is a God active in human affairs. You can sit and think about it all you want and read all the religious or anti-religious texts you want, but it won’t get you any further in resolving that question, now will it? Someone accused me of subscribing to some jive-ass theory named “incompetism,” but that’s not even quite it. Even very smart people like Susan are simply incapable of thinking through metaphysical questions. I don’t know who is capable of that — religious texts are telling because the people that were able to resolve these doubts were literal visionaries, people who would be hospitalized today for suffering schizoid hallucinations. Leaps of faith are utterly impossible in technical, rational cultures. The bigger problem for those who were once Christian like myself in America is that there seems to be an ethical void in Christian practice. Not only the lack of good works, not only the exclusion and judgment upon the poor and suffering, but the complacency and seeming lack of desperation, a necessary condition that characterizes all true faith throughout history.

    I came across a survey result a long time ago that I think was taken from a poll from several years before that. Americans were asked whether they thought they’d go to heaven, hell, or whether they weren’t sure. 89% thought they’d go to heaven, only 2% thought they’d go to hell, and only 9% said they didn’t know. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time believing that only 2% of the world is bad people and that 89% are so good that they deserve eternal paradise. The most shocking number might be that only 9% are unsure of their eternal soul. When people are already so self-satisfied, how can religion motivate anyone to alter radically their ethics and behavior? Why help people and avoid harming others if you’re already so damn sure you’re part of the Elect?

    Ethical and social questions are definitely something smart people can think through, commit to and follow through on. I think they’re also more necessary, immediate questions than abstract metaphysics and cosmology you’re completely unable to grasp because they just aren’t things that can be solved by abstract human thought. And let’s be honest: how much actual, physical time do you really spend staring at a wall or sitting at your desk figuring out the exact nature of God and how to prove or disprove His existence? That’s what I thought. Atheism falls into the trap of affirming the primacy of that which it denies in its obsession with metaphysical thought. Metaphysical questions in general are largely a waste of time and thoughts about God even more so, especially when most of our thoughts about anthropomorphized Gods are really just projections of our views about other human beings and society.

    That is all.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Gonzo,

    No knee jerk here. Have you been reading anything about what is happening to people of faith in China or Cuba or N Korea. It is a word game to say that their god is the state. There god was no “god” in the metaphysical sense.

    Sorry, no time for the game you suggest. I do suggest to readers who are interested that they do their own google or library work.

    I agree that some of the FF were diests at times. They wavered and waffled, too. However, many were devout believers.

    Nice writing Bob. Good ideas, too. You have left out one thing. That spiritual feeling. The sense of God. Do we discount it because we can’t see it or measure it? Those who pray and worship and meet God there are just kidding themselves?

  • JB

    The main problem with Christianity is the following scenario :

    1. Prisoner who murdered 20 people but then truly asks for salvation and takes the Lord as his Savior.
    2. Agnostic (or Hindu or Taoist) who lives his life morally and well, but doesn’t beleive in Christian God.

    Who goes to heaven if Christian God is true god? Does that seem fair? If not, you got a problem.

  • Susan

    RANDY: “I don’t want, as stated earlier, the government to be Christian run. I do want the country to keep in mind where the fundamentals came from.”

    These two seem to contradict. How does a country show that it is keeping your Christian belief system alive but not running on Christian principles? It can’t be done. It either uses them or it doesn’t. When Christian beliefs coincide with common sense and rational thought, then there’s no problem and no point in calling them Christian. Lately we have been experiencing conflict between Christians and atheists. Your answer is that atheists must follow Christian decision-making (moving us toward a theocracy).

    Multiple times I have given you the perfect example of how this creates a division: the Pledge. Each time you refuse to explain why it is okay for this Christianized recitation to take place despite the objection of the minority who would rather not have their children forced to say something just because the majority wants it to be true. You have refused to address the concept of minority rights being voted down by the majority. You have also refused to address the fact that the Pledge is a lie. We are not united by a belief in God.

    Bob A., much improved. Here’s why I am an atheist and not some other term. It’s the closest word to describing a person who does not believe all the God theories proposed so far (as they contradict each other). I have no special knowledge that there is no “God/creative designer/thing that go us all going,” but it seems ridiculous to attach morality to this thing–if it exists–that got us all started. If it wanted to be worshipped it wouldn’t require such secrecy. There’s simply no evidence that such a thing exists, so to grant men the ability to have figured it out on their own without any evidence defies logic. If that were the case, why didn’t men come up with the structure of DNA in Biblical times? That’s why I can’t call myself agnostic.

    Bob, you ask why we should bother talking about it. Simple. Randy needs to be made aware that he and others are trampling on our rights and they are tyrants who don’t know how to practice what they preach.

  • Duane

    Bob, in spite of your “I’m the life of the party” attitude, you make some points worth thinking about. Why don’t you stick around?

    While I was typing this, Susan posted her comment 415.

    The term “atheism” has a number of definitions. The definition that you’re using is sometimes called strong atheism, which is the outright denial of the existence of gods. I would tend to agree with you that such a position is untenable, in that a strong atheist is saddled with having to prove that there is no God. That’s impossible. Similarly, it’s impossible to prove that there is no tooth fairy.

    My own position would be described as weak atheism, which is simply the absence of belief in gods. A weak atheist claims that there is no evidence for gods. Therefore, gods play no role in my world view. Similarly, I dismiss the existence of the tooth fairy, because I haven’t been convinced that this fairy, or any other fairy, exists. But please don’t ask me to prove the tooth fairy does not exist, because I can’t. Since the word “weak” has obvious negative connotations, I could also call myself an implicit atheist, as opposed to an explicit atheist (strong atheist).

    A strong atheist may consider a weak atheist to be better described as an agnostic. The difference between agnostics and weak atheists is that an agnostic is more open-minded to the possibility of the existence of gods, whereas a weak atheist doubts their existence. It’s just a matter of degree. An agnostic may regard a weak atheist with skepticism, claiming that such things are simply unknowable, and that the doubt is unjustified.

    The point is that I don’t need to have read all of Aquinas, Kant, Kierkegaard, etc., to call myself a weak atheist. It’s not a grand metaphysical position. It’s just practical, doubting skepticism.

    The “ethical void” you refer to is irrelevant when it comes to faith.

    By the way, I just made up the term “incompetism.”

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan, sorry you feel I haven’t answered your question regarding the pledge, even though I’ve devoted multiple paragraphs to it.

    However, I think the other historical aspects of our nation bears more talk. A great nation needs to understand its history. It is really easy to get off track. Our nations history is that of a Christian people using Biblical ideas COMBINED with British common law and other bits of this and that. Some of the common law and other bits are also primarily from the Bible.

    If you take away that underpinning, I truly believe you will begin to unwind the “American idea” that has thus far made us the greatest nation in history.

    There is great danger of losing those underpinnings if the nation (not the government) goes completely secular, and if the secularists of every stripe do all they can to limit the traditions, festivals, and historical attributes of Christianity. I might be wrong. I was once : )

    So, in general I would like to see Bible taught in schools, ten commandments posted, and in God We Trust on the Currancy. Not in hopes of converting you. That happens one by one. Only in hopes of preserving the underpinnings.

    Some of my own fellows think that these things secularize the faith. There is some truth to that. It is also to be avoided.

    Now, what were the advantages of atheism?

  • Bennett

    In general, Randy believes that his bible, and his religion, trump the rights of all non Christians.

    Anything else to add?

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    some underpinnings like slavery, or categorizing women as unable to vote, etc. need to be done away with. Not all underpinnings should be kept.

    Government endorsement of religion would be one undepinning I would vote to remove.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    C’mon with the rights thing. The majority’s rights are the ones being done away with. The secularists have been winning every battle. Some folks are real upset about not being able to have prayer in schools. I think its a shame, but I’m not looking for a constitutional amendment to change it.

    Show me the RIGHT that is being trampled. What you’re really talking about is policies and methods and such.

    I may want to reduce your right to view porn so that my son is less likely to view it at age 9. Or I may want to reduce it because I think it is harmful to kids you might encounter if your a pervert, or to your wife and kids, or to those who are pictured in the porn. I might even want to reduce your right to view it because I think it will hurt you. I don’t have to have a religious reason. It can be based on psych or soc. or anthro. or history or just plain police science. And I know that you all agree from a previous thread that we shouldn’t be allowing kiddie porn for most of those same reasons.

    I may want to end abortion in the 9th month because of any of the things above. Gonzo does. He’s not a religious wacko like me. And all of you would agree we shouldn’t kill the baby after its 100% out of the womb, so how far away are we. This is not about religion even if religion is part of my set of values that leads me to the conclusion.

    I think prayer in school and posting the 10 commandments will make schools better, and the kids better. Put up other well known legal codes on the board next to the big TEN. Have the prayer time be silent prayer for all I care, with special instruction to non believers that they can pray to mother nature, themselves, or just daydream about how they’d like to live their life.

    We have now completely turned the post into a discussion of government rights instead of any possible pragmatic benefit of atheism.

    Gonzo, I answered you. Its your turn.

  • Susan

    Silent meditation time is fine with me. Not sure why taxpayers would feel good about a teacher being paid to oversee that activity, but I have no problem with it.

    Randy, I want you to have your religion. I just don’t want to force it on others.

    Tell me what post I missed where you explained that it’s okay for a democracy to vote away minority rights. Tell me what post I missed in which you explained that the phrase “on nation, indivisible Under God” is not a lie. Look, I’ll stop pestering you if you just admit you don’t believe in minority rights and you don’t mind lying.

    This answers your practical benefits of atheism: we aren’t hypocrites.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    Of course you’re hypocrites. I’m sure if I traveled with you for more than a couple of hours you would slip on some issue somewhere. If you keep claiming that your perfect and never do anything wrong, I’ll start thinking you’re Jesus and I’ll have to worship you.

    There are folks whose religion says they can’t pledge to the flag, so now we can’t have a pledge because their feelings will be hurt?

    There are people in our classrooms who aren’t citizens. In fact, they are here illeagle and pledge allegiance to completely other flags. They probably don’t like their kids to hear your kid pledge to our flag with or without the God part.

    One person being granted a right commonly means someone else loses one. We can’t possibly come up with rules to take care of every minority position. Although in this nation we try pretty hard.

  • Susan

    You are completely ignoring my two points:
    1. Why don’t you believe in minority rights?
    2. The Pledge is a lie.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    “Bob, you ask why we should bother talking about it. Simple. Randy needs to be made aware that he and others are trampling on our rights and they are tyrants who don’t know how to practice what they preach.”

    We agree then, Susan — religion is only worth talking about for what it says about society. That’s not a theological or metaphysical justification you offered about why it’s worth our time to speculate on God’s existence. It is worth discussing what our religious practice and behavior demonstrates about people and society.

    Duane: Why is the “ethical void” irrelevant when it comes to faith? I think it has everything to do with whether faith is genuine or misguided. Your distinctions between the types of atheists are valid, but don’t mean much to me. For those who are not religious, doubt and skepticism are already implied and to spend time or energy promoting that doubt doesn’t accomplish anything to prove or disprove religion. One thing to admire about Nietzsche is that he rejects the weakness of people who would meekly doubt tradition (the black sheep in the herd) without actively destroying it and replacing it with something life-affirming. This is why I say atheism is a position of weakness that reinforces the position of God as the central question determining one’s life.

    All Christians, on the other hand, should read Kierkegaard to realize that there is absolutely no rational basis for your faith and that it is in fact absurd. I think the only way I could ever consider myself a Christian is in this radically absurd sense, divorced of any practical social consideration or rational logical argument. God must be radically Other from man, unknowable and completely alien to our being, if faith is to mean anything compelling and for Christians to think that God is understandable through rational thought and practice flies in the face of the absurdity of the religious condition. Christianity can’t be punching your ticket to get into heaven and praying to Jesus every night to keep your nice suburban home beautiful, your kids safe, and your lawn manicured. It has to mean something more than that and shake your rational nature to the core. Otherwise, “faith” is nothing more than investment in conventional cultural tradition motivated by a desire to belong and the projection of social or personal desires, emotions and fears onto a safe, unmoving God. If 89% of people are convinced that their diffident lives will lead them to heaven without sacrifice or being tested as a result of their faith, how can that “spiritual feeling” Randy speaks of be very strong at all? I think this is very evident in the fact that much of our discourse about evangelical Christian faith, especially, is now borrowed from the cheap language of romantic love. We sing love songs to God borrowed from pop music in our churches and youth services and we view the Christian God as some kind of wonderful, benevolent benefactor who we “give our heart away to.” These are trite feelings cheapened by the embarrassingly artificial language we now use to talk about religious conversion and commitment. A leap of faith means nothing unless you are radically consumed by doubt and fear that God might not exist and that you might not be special and cared for in the universe. If you are so sure that you, all your loved ones, your whole perfect blessed life are to be whisked across a bridge of gold to the afterlife, what sacrifices and radical commitments to ethical behavior does that entail? What emotion is involved? Faith shouldn’t make sense or else it’s not faith, it’s self-satisfaction.

    Randy: The “spiritual feeling” you cite is important because we need to feel connected to something outside ourselves in the universe. Prayer (or meditation) works whether or not there is a God because it has a psychological effect on us to help us cope with problems in our own minds. The reality, in my mind, is that we use religions to offer us a body of moral tradition so we can have an external representation, literally icons, of social values. But the emotions attached are only supernatural dressing for a sense of connectedness to other human beings and society. Do we need the fear of God and sacred histories to get people to have that feeling you speak of? Maybe. But that feeling or emotion itself, valuable as it is, is not proof that your religions or ideas of God are true.

    –BABsie, Life of the Party

  • Dan

    Wow, that’s some deep stuff Bob. Provocative. I don’t quite understand why the Atheist position would be “weak” if not accompanied by an alternative “life affirming” view. Seems like some people who ascribe to chaos theory, or something like that, would feel like there’s no life affirming view to take. Dissent from orthodoxy is about all they’ve got.

  • Duane

    Very nice, Bob.

    Why is the “ethical void” irrelevant when it comes to faith? I think it has everything to do with whether faith is genuine or misguided.

    I have often told myself and others that if I were a believer, really a believer, if I thought Heaven and Hell really existed, I would be virtually useless as a citizen, as a friend, husband, Father, son, etc. I would be so full of the notion of Eternity, that I would abandon all worldly concerns. What is 60 or 70 years in the face of FOREVER? I suppose that I would try to join some religious fraternity or other to keep from starving to death — O, the selfishness — but beyond what I was absolutely required to do, I would contemplate eternity, evangelize, discuss, learn, philosophize, dream, pray about the hereafter. I know myself that much. I would become obsessed.

    So why aren’t all the Christians in this country obsessed? By Randy’s estimate, there would have to be close to 200,000,000 Christians in the US alone. Why aren’t at least half of them without homes, cars, 40 hr a week jobs, a closet full of clothes, a CD collection, magazine subscriptions, cable TV, etc? How can Christians concern themselves with what Skippy and Melissa are learning in 4th Grade? The ethical void follows closely on the heels of worldly concerns. I have to speculate (and Randy can straighten me out here) that the whole notion of ETERNITY does not rattle the vast majority of Christians. Thus I speculate that their faith is not actual, just professed.

    And there I agree with you, Bob.

    All I meant to say that the way Christians behave does not alter whether or not a given person can have true faith in Christianity. A belief in God is so far beyond the rituals of religion and human nature that ethics is irrelevant by comparison. Again, if I were a believer, my behavior would be dictated entirely by that belief, and I would probably be considered a nut case by most modern Christians.

  • Ken

    Randy,
    Just to clarify: If there was a vote on whether to take ‘under God’ out of the Pledge, what would you vote for?

    Ken

  • Duane

    Also, referring back to Bob’s post 424,

    … to spend time or energy promoting that doubt doesn’t accomplish anything to prove or disprove religion.

    I wouldn’t disagree. But I’m not trying to “disprove religion,” by which I think you mean “disprove the existence of God.” I was merely responding to your contention that I and other atheists were biting off more than we can chew.

    My overriding interest is in protecting science, not demolishing religion. But I don’t mind having a good argument over some of the other issues brought up on threads like this. I do have some expertise in science, so it’s not altogether unreasonable to at least try to correct some of the misapprehensions spread around by believers. Even if believers don’t change their tune, it’s still worth it to try to add to the knowledge of the non-believers.

  • Bennett

    Great stuff Bob and Duane.

    I’m with you Duane, in that I have no desire to talk anyone out of their personal belief system.

    It’s just that I really don’t want our country taken over (even more) by the religious right, and I don’t want a whole slew of new legislation that’s based on a fundamentalist interpretation of the bible, and what they believe “God” wants.

    Keep up the good work Duane, you are right in using this venue to provide reasonable arguments for preserving pure science education in our schools.

  • Dan

    Of course “pure science” in regard to evolution is spiced with leaps of faith as well. It’s one thing to assert spontaneous life, but difficult to re-create the feat in a lab. Even if that is ever accomplished, it still wouldn’t preclude a creator.

  • Duane

    That’s right, Dan, it wouldn’t preclude a Creator. But just realize that scientists are not trying to preclude the Creator. As you know, many scientists believe in a Creator. Evolutionary biologists have no agenda other than doing their research (it’s quite fascinating), making some money (gotta pay for Skippy’s braces), and getting famous within their profession (big egos, yes). I believe that what most science-supporters are concerned with is that it is counter-productive to the country’s scientific advancement to water down science by introducing non-scientific topics, such as Creationsim, into the science classroom. It’s as simple as that.

  • Dan

    Also Bennett, I don’t know what “whole slew of new legislation that’s based on a fundamentalist interpretation of the bible” you refer to, but most believe the Constitution prohibits this type of thing. However, there is a wide body of rules society can approve democratically that have compatibility with fundamentalist interpretation. Laws against theft for example.

    Or maybe your thinking of an amendment defining marriage as a hetero thing. This would please fundamentalists, but it’s compatibility with fundamentalist interpretation wouldn’t be a violation of seperation laws, unless a legislator was stupid enough to word it as a religous decree. It would be simple public whim, or, ornery prejudice. Whichever way you want to characterize it.

  • Ken

    Evolution is not faith based. I’ve heard this arguement that ‘faith’ in science and ‘faith’ in religion are the same. Evolution is the most logical scenario based on the evidence we have. Science keeps questioning and testing. That process allows for a new hypothesis to become dominant if there is more evidence for it. That is where science differs from religion. It is not faith based at all. Unless, to paraphrase Susan from an earlier post, you have faith that gravity will continue to hold you to the earth.

    Ken

  • Bennett

    Dan – It’s just an uneducated guess, but I’d put my money on “Laws against theft” predating the bible and christianity.

    Yeah, Constitutional Amendments to limit or deny make me nervous. I’m okay with expansion and inclusion however.

  • Dan

    I agree Duane, but if Science, as it’s taught in the classroom, doesn’t preclude a creator, then it wouldn’t seem to be harmful to mention a creator as a legitimate scientific possibility that answers to the flaws and contradictions in evolutionary theory an honest, humble evolutionary biologist would admit to. Not that you would have to get preachy or anything.

    Maybe this is how it’s being done anyway. I dunno. It’s just seems like there is some kind of creator-phobia among evolutionists. Evolution wouldn’t preclude a creator, but a creator would also not preclude evolution. Especially the evolution that is scientifically verifiable.

  • Dan

    Bennett, what about an amendment limiting gun ownership? Or an amendment expanding an inclusive right for children to have consensual sex?

  • Duane

    Dan says:

    … then it wouldn’t seem to be harmful to mention a creator as a legitimate scientific possibility that answers to the flaws and contradictions in evolutionary theory …

    This is known as the Gap Theory. Fill in all the gaps in our understanding with a Creator. Throughout history, natural philosophers of the ancient world, Renaissance scientists, even some present day scientists, ascribe outstanding problems to the will of the Creator. I’ll give you an example: The known planets in Newton’s time were observed to lie pretty much in a plane (the plain of the ecliptic). Newton himself, struggling with uninformed ideas as to how the Solar System could have come into being, stated that the probability of the planets lining up in that way was so miniscule that it could only be taken as evidence of the hand of the Creator. Modern astronomy, using Newtonian physics no less, is quite familiar with disk systems (our own Galaxy, for example), and demonstrates quite easily that the laws of conservation of angular momentum and energy naturally lead to a flattened rotating configuration, from which planes coalesce under local gravitational influences.

    The gap approach has been exercised repeatedly throughout the history of science, only to be disregarded by future generations, when new information, understanding, and techniques become available.

  • Dan

    Ken, I wouldn’t argue that evolutionary science is “faith based”. I would say though that science is, so far, woefully inadequate to preclude the existence of a creator. I’m not aware, for example, of any compelling scientific theory of how conscious awareness came to be. Maybe there is, and I don’t know it.

    I guess I would argue that the adamant dismisal of the possibility of a creator is faith based.

  • Ken

    Dan types:

    … then it wouldn’t seem to be harmful to mention a creator as a legitimate scientific possibility that answers to the flaws and contradictions in evolutionary theory …

    By that (il)logic, it shouldn’t be harmful to mention that the creator may have been a 500 ft tall blind space monkey. I mean, it’s a possibility, right?
    (On second thought, given the state of the world today and that intelligent people have to have debates such as this one, all humanity being created by a giant blind space monkey is starting to seem pretty likely…)

    Ken

  • Duane

    Dan says:

    I guess I would argue that the adamant dismisal of the possibility of a creator is faith based.

    In my post 416 above, I mentioned that dismissing the possibility of a Creator is an untenable position — the strong atheism position. But this is one of those examples of “tilting at windmills.” Scientists do not adamantly dismiss a Creator, at least not in their capacity as scientists. That’s not their job. That’s grist for the Philosophy Department.

    But that’s not the point. Discussing the possibility of a Creator is not a topic for science class. Creationism is not science, as has been pointed out many times around BC. You will also note the absence of Ancient Astronauts as a worthwhile topic in archaeology classes, even though a lot of people believe that idea. If and when Creationsim does become a valid competing scientific theory, great, let’s put it in the classroom. Until then, it’s faith.

  • Dan

    Duane, Interestingly, Isaac Newton was a man of devout faith. Which is why I would reject the arrogant impulse to feel myself mentally superior to him. I’m not up to it. Not that there is any relevance, but I read that he remained celibate throughout his life.
    I would imagine he figured that God not only filled in the gaps, but also created the orderly mathematical constructions that governed planetary motions.

    One distinguishing characteristic of evolution as compared to other sciences is that plausability is accepted as being equivalent to evidence. The more we don’t know, the more things are plausible. Chemistry can be demonstrated, but evolution is believed. Admittedly, some natural selection can be demonstrated, but the origins of life can only be theorized.

    What I don’t understand is the peculiar proclivity for evolutionists to be obsessed by creationism. It seems like a skeptic of evolution is deemed an enemy of scientific truth. A loon to be demonized. Other sciences, like geology and astronomy, would seem to be equally threatened by creationist notions. Yet they don’t seem to be bothered. Is it because these sciences are on firmer ground?

    Creationist is to evolution, what racist is to politics: A way of preventing dissent from the belief in weak theories.

  • Dan

    Ken, I don’t know that it would be harmful to assert that the creator was a 500ft tall blind space monkey, but identifying a physical emodiment of a creator wouldn’t be relevant. Some would say though that it might be as likely a possibility as the spontaneous generation of life through chemical mis-adventure that cannot as of yet be re-created in the laboratory. Your students would probably get a kick out of it.

  • Dan

    Duane, would you adamantly reject the introduction of the possibility of ancient astronauts in an archaeology class, say, pertaining to Easter Island and how those super huge designs could have been engineered from the air. I wouldn’t.

    Again, evolution is the political correctness of science. It mustn’t be questioned, or you are a primitive creationist.

  • Ken

    Dan, in reading your last two posts, I hope your not confusing origin of life theories with evolution.

    You also missed my point,which is that if you think we need to mention every possible theory regardless of evidence, you open a pandora’s box of pointless ideas.

  • Duane

    Dan says:

    Interestingly, Isaac Newton was a man of devout faith. Which is why I would reject the arrogant impulse to feel myself mentally superior to him.

    I don’t get this part about the arrogant impulse. Splain, please. And nobody is mentally superior to Newton when to comes to physics. In other areas, he is viewed as somewhat of a quack.

    I would imagine he figured that God not only filled in the gaps, but also created the orderly mathematical constructions that governed planetary motions.

    No doubt. That was standard for his day and age.

    One distinguishing characteristic of evolution as compared to other sciences is that plausability is accepted as being equivalent to evidence.

    Let’s get our terms straight so we are talking about the same things. Do you mean to say, “Plausibility is accepted as being equivalent to proof” ?

    The more we don’t know, the more things are plausible.

    Are you suggesting that no progress is being made?

    … but the origins of life can only be theorized.

    Again, let’s get the terminology straight, because it leads to endless confusion. Do you mean to say, “… but the origins of life can only be hypothesized” ?

    What I don’t understand is the peculiar proclivity for evolutionists to be obsessed by creationism.

    I assume you mean professional evolutionists. Evolutionists are annoyed by Creationists, not obsessed with them.

    It seems like a skeptic of evolution is deemed an enemy of scientific truth.

    No more than you would be my enemy if you tried to convince me that the Earth is flat.

    Other sciences, like geology and astronomy, would seem to be equally threatened by creationist notions. Yet they don’t seem to be bothered. Is it because these sciences are on firmer ground?

    Ah, now you’re trying to slip one by me. Biology is not “threatened” by Creationists, although Creationists tend to make that claim.

    There is a difference between the believer’s view of biology and the so-called hard sciences, like geology and astronomy. The latter two do not threaten the believer’s concept of the soul. Excerpting from my post 363:

    “So, if there is a God, and God gave you a soul, then you cannot have evolved from a soulless single-celled lifeform. Therefore, you can’t believe in Evolution. You also can’t believe in the mass extinction of dinosaurs prior to Adam and Eve appearing on Earth, because there was no death or disease in God’s creation prior to the introduction of sin. Therefore, you can’t believe in nuclear isotopic dating. Therefore, you don’t believe in Nuclear Physics, Paleontology, or Geology. Similarly, you can’t believe in Physical Cosmology, as well as major pieces of Astronomy and Astrophysics.”

    So, yeah, believers are already trying to punch holes in the Big Bang theory, knowing nothing about it. I have some books here at home that contain dozens of fallacious arguments by believers as to why geology and astronomy are all wrong. To be consistent, anti-evolutionists need to go after most all science, borrowing scientific tidbits from the scientists themselves and turning them against science. It’s really sneaky, and I’m constantly amazed at how Christians will play these underhanded games.

    It’s annoying, but that’s what the Creationists want — to be annoying so that when scientists protest, Creationists can make the claim that, “Ha! We’ve got those atheist scientists on the run now!” and the Christians just lap that up.

  • Ken

    Dan types:

    Again, evolution is the political correctness of science. It mustn’t be questioned, or you are a primitive creationist.

    This couldn’t be more incorrect. Science is constantly questioning, testing and correcting as necessary. Just because the evidence stacks up in a way you don’t like doesn’t make it a ‘belief’.

    I’d also like to point out that post 443 proves the my point in post 444.

    Ken

  • Duane

    Dan, I’ve enjoyed discussing this stuff with you. I appreciate the good points Ken is making, as well. I hope the rest of the gang will be back tomorrow. I think we may have hijacked Randy’s post.

    This might be my last post for the day. Time to attend to things at the homestead.

    Again, evolution is the political correctness of science. It mustn’t be questioned, or you are a primitive creationist.

    These are typical misconceptions that non-scientists have about science.

    1) That there is dogma in science.

    There is one thing about scientists that you really need to know. There are a lot of extremely arrogant egomaniacs in the field. What this means is that scientists spend a lot of time trying to prove that they are smarter than the other people in their field. The way they do this is by shooting down another’s work and getting their own work noticed. The amazing thing is that this system of turning ambitious egomaniacs loose on a problem results in progress. Believe me, there is nothing that a young up-and-coming biologist would like better than overthrowing the great Darwin. Worldwide fame would follow. So, why do you think that a scientists would want to sit around and echo other people’s opinions? Scientists don’t get paid to do that.

    2) That scientists look down on believers.

    This is really offensive. Scientists, unlike those evil guys and those nerdy guys portrayed by Hollywood, are fairly average when they’re off the job. They mow the lawn, pay bills, take out the garbage, help kids with homework, rent movies, hang out with the neighbors, and everything else that most people do. They live in the real world, and are able to carry on decent conversations with non-scientists about most anything — sports, politics, the weather, whatever. They don’t look down on people any more than would a dentist, a firefighter, a pilot, a teacher, or any other professional. They’re not perfect by any means. But that’s pretty normal, isn’t it?

    There is one crucial difference, though. Professional scientists know way more about science than non-scientists. As Bob would say, that is all. In all other respects, scientists are pretty average. Trust me. I know hundreds of them.

  • Dan

    “Dan, in reading your last two posts, I hope your not confusing origin of life theories with evolution.”

    I think I’m pretty clear, “origin of life theories” is what is taught that is least compatible with creationism. To discuss origin of life, you discuss life evolving on the planet. Natural selection is another matter, but they’re both evolution. I’m not firmly arguing either to the exclusion of the other.

    “You also missed my point,which is that if you think we need to mention every possible theory regardless of evidence, you open a pandora’s box of pointless ideas.”

    No, I got it. My point is that describing what a God might look like, is a pointless idea. What other relevant theories besides spontaneous chemical mis-adventure and intelligent design are in pandora’s box?

    ” In other areas, he” [Newton]” is viewed as somewhat of a quack.”

    I’ve never heard this. I’m sure he exhibited some eccentric traits that often accompany genius, but how was he a quack?

    “Do you mean to say, “Plausibility is accepted as being equivalent to proof” ?”

    No, I’m saying plausibility is accepted as evidence.

    “No more than you would be my enemy if you tried to convince me that the Earth is flat.”

    But you could prove to me the earth isn’t flat. Not so with evolution.

    “Ah, now you’re trying to slip one by me.”

    Nah, I wouldn’t do that. I was simply implying that *it’s my opinion* that Evolutionists, professional and casual, are obbsessively “annoyed” by dissenting opinions from creationists, where as the hard sciences are not. It’s as if they feel threatened. Sort of like competing Religons. Not trying to be sneaky. Just observation.

    I’m still wondering if you would as adamantly object to introducing the theory that ancient astronauts had a hand in Easter Island in a classroom. If so why? You said a lot of people believe that idea. Other explanations are mysteriously inadequate. If you happened to be discussing Easter Island in archeology class, why wouldn’t you inform your students what “a lot of people” believe. I think you might see what I’m getting at.

    ” Just because the evidence stacks up in a way you don’t like doesn’t make it a ‘belief’.”

    Whoever said the evidence stacks up in a way I don’t like. All I want is a correct world view. I could handle there not being God…if that’s how the evidence stacked up.

    goodnight fellas, thanks for the conversation.

  • Bennett

    Dan wrote “Bennett, what about an amendment limiting gun ownership? Or an amendment expanding an inclusive right for children to have consensual sex?”

    Get real, Dan. Is anyone proposing that? Is this the type of thing likely to be propsed by the RR? That IS what we’re talking about, isn’t it? Bah!

  • JR

    Dan: Other sciences, like geology and astronomy, would seem to be equally threatened by creationist notions. Yet they don’t seem to be bothered. Is it because these sciences are on firmer ground?

    I have personally heard geologists bitching about Creationism being taught in schools. I have heard geology professors complain about their students who refuse to accept any evidence of evolution (hominid fossils, isotope dating, etc.) I also knew a meteorite scientist who spent some of his time debunking Creationists.

    And by the way, microbiology, genetics, evolutionary biology, etc. are hard sciences. They do experiments and use math.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I don’t feel that the post has been hijacked, but I do want to know if we can turn it into a movie.

    However, there is also no possible way to adequately respond to what has transpired in the last 20 hours or so.

    A couple of things:

    I earnestly believe that two very intelligent, even 145 plus IQ, people with extensive backgrounds in a broad range of science and theology could reasonably view existing evidence and come to very different conclusions about beginnings, life origins, biological transitions, etc. No one has to feel threatened. It is very useful to discuss and conclude things from those discussions.

    Where the fear comes in is not even what is taught in the classroom, but how it filters into the rest of the culture. If man is an accident, then it allows for a much different way of deciding how to live than if there is a God, heaven etc.

    That brings me to Duane’s 426 comment. I just read it to an on fire Christian, and he said “Preach it.” I’m surprised there wasn’t more comment about it. This would surely be the greatest way to confront Chritianity as a “practical” idea.

    The answer is twofold. One, there is a bell shaped curve of Christian passion. There are some who do as you suggest, Duane. There are some at the other end who rarely pray, read the Bible, or even mention their faith. There are some who when asked would say that the believe, who may not. People’s behavior generally changes on becoming Christian, but that is also true of other aspects of life. There are many for whom the change is profound.

    The other answer is that the Bible doesn’t even propose that people act that way. We are to be good stewards, parents, spouses, workers, etc. It is all about balance. We can’t be so earthly minded that we are no heavenly good. But we also can’t be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. I think that is C.S. Lewis.

    Back to work.

  • Susan

    DAN: “Again, evolution is the political correctness of science. It mustn’t be questioned, or you are a primitive creationist.”

    Dan, using reason only, what % belief do you have in evolution and what % belief do you have in a God? Then tell me what evidence you trust for both, including authorities whom you trust.

    Then does belief in evolution cause anybody to kill, harm, or restrict the rights of anybody else?

  • billy

    anyone can question evolution, thats the beauty of science. the problem is it is such a solid theory, there is little to question. it works under any scrutiny.

    scientists dont just throw up their hands and say:
    “the universie is so complex, i give up, god must have done this”.

    that is illogical and unfounded. if you have a better theory present it. intelligent design and creationism arent theories so they dont count for anything.

  • Susan

    I’m wondering how solid a theory Dan thinks evolution is. He seems puzzled that some scientists are “obsessively ‘annoyed’ by dissenting opinions from creationists.” While most of Dan’s observation is true, the reason for all scientific annoyance is pretty obvious. The “obsessive” quality is directly proportional to the peskiness of the swarms of religionists who want equal time in an area outside their field.

    All scientists should be annoyed when the work they do is put on the same level as storytelling. (Nothing wrong with storytelling–it’s just a different field.) You can put science to the test, you can’t put God to the test; it’s a no-no. Science doesn’t create Job stories to keep its practitioners from being skeptical. There’s a reason why religionists don’t have peer-review.

  • billy

    here is why scientists are

    “obsessively ‘annoyed’ by dissenting opinions from creationists.”

    because creationists want to knock evolution but they have no alternative theory. that is real annoying. fine, if you have a problem with an aspect of evolution, PROVE its wrong and PROVE your new theory is better.

    i.e., go find some ancient bones that are in the form of a modern humnan proving evolution false.

    i have never EVER seen a creationist present an alternate theory other than to throw up their hands and say GEE the universe is SO COMPLEX.

    thats really not helpful nor an alternative theory, so their annoyance is well founded.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Billy,

    check back on a thread a few weeks ago where Gonzo through down the same gauntlet re: a real scientif theory of intelligent design with possible experiments. Graham came up with a very solid example.

    Susan,

    Examples of where the misuse of Darwinian evolutinary theory has hurt someone. Surely you jest. Eugenics, Hitler, need I go on.

  • billy

    “Darwinian evolutinary theory has hurt someone. Surely you jest. Eugenics, Hitler, need I go on.”

    just because hitler was a madman does not weaken the theory of evolution.

    “with possible experiments”

    how can a conclusion be tested. again, throwing up your hands and saying the universe is so complex it must have been intelligently designed is a CONCLUSION, and might i say a conclusion without basis.

    by definition it cant be tested.

  • beadtot

    There is evolution, there is planned parenthood, and there is an oracle bead chronicle safely tucked away underneath a limestone chapel monument where small wildlife can view the contents. Each has planet-wide ramifications as an influence upon the human race. From time to time people ‘touch base’ with fragments of information or treatises which validate the effects of one or all.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Go check out Graham’s comment. It was part of a thread on Intelligent Design.

  • Susan

    RANDY: “Examples of where the misuse of Darwinian evolutionary theory has hurt someone. Surely you jest. Eugenics, Hitler, need I go on.

    I didn’t say “misuse” I said “belief in.” The question I asked is “Does the way evolution is meant to be used result in hurt to others?”

    The way you mean to used Christianity results in hurt to me by trampling on my rights. The Pledge.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    OK. Susan, I was thinking about your pledge argument today. I have the answer finally.

    I don’t like the fact that people who believe in Darwin’s theories are using my tax money to put up plaques, create movies, and write books that are used in schools, public parks, public museums, etc., where the verbage makes statements that assume evolution as true. It bothers me when I read it. I wish it were otherwise. I explain to my kids that it is theory not fact. But I don’t think anybody is trampling my rights because they believe the evolution myth.

    I think they do trample my rights when they do so in schools. When teachers teach it as fact. When Christian students or others who don’t believe it, are ridiculed by those teachers for their belief in a Creator or in Intelligent Design.

    But I know I have a vote. I know that is the way to change it. And I believe that the way people use evolutionary theory to justify their other world views as preached by these preachers in our classrooms is among the most dangerous things happening in society today. It results in the idea that all ideas are equal on the world stage. That there is no good or evil. And that the highest moral position is tolerance. That is tolerance of everybody and everything buy Christians and their beliefs.

    There is a huge majority of the population that believes that the High School curricula regarding evolution needs to be changed to include creationism, and the arguments against evolution which even the major proponents of evolution are engaged in. But somehow the minority is able to trample the rights of the majority in this case. Go figure. So stop trampling on my rights, Susan.

    And what horrible thing will happen to your children as a result of saying the pledge, or not saying it. They will be embarassed. Please. If thats a problem you’ll have to take them out of school entirely. The main goal of most kids through high school is to embarass other kids.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    By way of review. So far I think these are the advantages of atheism.

    The Practical Advantages of Atheism

    1. Free thinking – don’t need to use Bible as touchstone for ideas. No pressure to
    conform to Christian teaching.

    2. Ethical, moral, and daily decision making is totally up to the individual.

    3. No information, entertainment, sexual acts, drugs, lifestyles, etc., are taboo.

    4. No pressure to attend meetings, participate in rituals, or do other Christian disciiplines.

    I may have missed some. No, I’m not tallying in order to prove anything. Just trying to get a complete view.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    You missed one:

    Roll-your-own versions of “the undiscovered country”

  • gonzo marx

    geeez, i lieave yas alone for a few days, and look what happens…

    Randy sez..
    *The majority’s rights are the ones being done away with.The majority’s rights are the ones being done away with.*

    Objection:factually incorrect and misleading!
    no”rights” of the “majority” have been “done away with”…what has occured, that you do not like, are the civil Rights of EVERYONE being recognized and enforced…you cite “prayer in schools”…NOT a “Right” under the Constitution, actually it is exactly the opposite, as has been fvound by the SCOTUS

    what ANY Fundamentalist , including yourself, have been arguing for has been establishment , by the secular State, of your religious traditions and preferences….vote all you like, unless you repeal the establishment clause of the First Amendment, you have no case

    as for Newton being a “man of Faith”..perhaps, but he was definately NOT a man of the Church…on his deathbed he refused “last Rites” of both Anglican and Catholic clergy…not once, but repeatedly

    back to Randy…you say you “answered me” and that it was my turn…yet not only did you not give me the 10 reponses from a Founder stating we were a “christian” nation…you failed to even supply one…

    so i ask..if it is my “turn”..what is your Question?

    in comment 422,Randy sez…
    *One person being granted a right commonly means someone else loses one*

    Objection, your Honor…another unsubstantiated lie…

    acknowledging a Right is a universal thing that applies to EVERYONE, and thus, cannot diminish another’s Rights…by definition, the Rights set forth in the Constitution apply to EVERYONE…and are not exclusive

    if you feel that something has been “taken” then that is a matter of percetion, not actuality

    Excelsior!

  • gonzo marx

    to comment #461

    you cannot change scientific theory’s by voting…sorry

    you keep trying to state “majority” and voting, but you keep wanting to use those to change either universal Rights set forth in the Constitution, or to change scientific data by fiat

    and in these endeavors, you show your true colors as an authoritarian theocrat on par with any mullah preaching jihad…

    Objection: comment #462 is innaccurate, misleading as well as grossly insulting…in this case Randy is attempting to propagandize that anyoen not utilizing his Bible for their moral/ethical compass have none and thus behave like animals…

    i hereby cite ALL the civilizations that have doen just fine on a moral and ethical basis without the Bible, from Chine to India to the North American Indian Tribes…Incas,Aztecs and Egyptians…I put it to you that if you total all the good, and moral/ethical people in human history, the vast majority are NOT “christian”….and that using History, one can show that the record of “christians” sows that they are not exemplars of moral/ethical behaviour….

    since you still have not shown any proof of the Founders stating that this is a “christian” nation, but i have given you a clear example of Jefferson’s thoughts on the matter, allow me to add another..

    many enjoy touting the “in God we Trust” on US money…here’s a little mind bender…

    take out a dollar bill, look at the back…you see the Eagle on one side, the Symbology there is well known to everyone…look at “the Great Seal” on the left of the bill

    a Pyramid with an eye in a triangle over it?….where are there pyramids or this Symbol in christianity?..nowhere…but they are well know Masonic symbols…
    now..look at the words under the Seal
    *Novus Ordo Seclorum*

    latin for “New Secular Order”

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    The SCOTUS recently found that there is a right of the community to take my home so that you can build a home on that same property if it will create more revenue. You get a right, I lose one.

    Same with every right. Name one that doesn’t. This is a basic premise of law taught to all law students.

    Gonzo. I guess I thought you were pretty weak on the communist thing. I’m perfectly happy to accept that crazed so-called Christians have done bad things. I think you could agree that crazed atheists have done equally bad things to other believers because they were believers.

    By the way, nice work on the abortion thread. Well reasoned.

    Did I leave out any of the benfits in my list.

  • gonzo marx

    yes..you left out the only true cost/benefit, and instead implied an insulting array

    those that do not adhere to the scapegoat Concept involved in fundamentalist beliefs consciously accept Self Responsibility for their actions …

    as for the property rights bit from the recent SCOTUS decision, i have not read all of it yet…but i am completely opposed to it on the principle that it does not qualify for proper use of “eminent domain”…the case involved was reasoned that the tax revenue gathereed, being greater .than the previous usage, would benefit the town

    i am quite insulted by your use of “you benefit” when it came ot the property rights issue…no individual besides the contractor benefits from this ruling…the Rights to property were taken away from an Individual and by a town government , and given to a Corporation…a non-living, unable to be held Responsible, legal fiction that has been granted “rights” by a prior, also bad, SCOTUS decision….the consequences of which have fucked up our society to this very day, and will continue to do so….especially under political idealogues that agree that a “souless” Corp has ANY rights compared to an Individual Citizen

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Gonzo, that was the “you” from the example. I merely set you up as the “buyer” of my property. So sensitive. But the larger issue is still true. One person’s “right” necessarily reduces someone else “right.”

    I didn’t think the list was insulting at all. I believe that I truly listed them as they were given. Please help me by rewording as you see fit. Maybe it will help me see why you thought it was insulting.

    And, where do you see any scapegoating in the Bible. From chapter one, verse one, you do the crime, you do the time.

  • Duane

    No, I’m not tallying in order to prove anything. Just trying to get a complete view.

    Why don’t you let it go, Randy. This particular aspect of the thread is the least interesting and maybe the most insulting to our intelligence. We all get the picture, OK? Really.

    Your post 461 is just stunning. That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? There is simply no learning on your part. Just twisting and spinning. You actually choose to close off your mind, and you deliberately mislead others. Why am I surprised? It just seems so … I don’t know … un-Christian.

    It’s been fun.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Gonzo, I must have been writing while you were posting 465.

    I don’t suggest that we change any theories or facts by voting. I suggest, however, that it is foundational to this nation that we vote based on how we see things. I don’t hold your scientific views to be bad or evil in and of themselves. They may even turn out to be right. But so might mine. Maybe neither. Maybe some combination. But I should get a say over the use of my tax dollar if I’m in the majority moreso than Susan if she’s in the minority. Unless it is a basic right – say free speech, freedom to worship etc. Not freedom to not have my kids embarrassed.

  • gonzo marx

    definition of scapegoat…
    *One that is made to bear the blame of others*

    now, if the Christ died for humanity’s sins, past and present…that makes him a scapegoat in the traditions of the Old Testament, from whence the term comes…

    if one can wash away all sins merely by professing belief in this…it abrogates the individual from all Responsibility for their actions via the relegation of said sin to the scapegoat

    as to why i find the aforementioned insulting…if i need to explain it, then there is no communication between us, and i feel pity for the state of your own ethical compass

    nuff said

    Excelsior!

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Gonzo – yr very Buddhist

  • gonzo marx

    as for the right to “not have my kids embarrassed”…you belittle the establishment clause of the First Amendment once again

    and since you have once again shown you are not really interested in discussion, but merely in propagandizing your Agenda…i will say once again…

    Novus Ordo Seclorum

    Excelsior!

  • Nick Jones

    Here’s one benefit you forgot, Randy (Comment 462).

    5. Not having some old geezer glare at you because you haven’t put anything in the collection plate.

  • gonzo marx

    Aaman….namaste’

    thanks for the compliment…in this last week i have been called “very Buddhist”..and that i have “spoken like a true Gnostic”

    higher Praise i cannot ever expect, nor ask for

    makes me all happy in my pants that some folks, at least, appreciate my mad pecking at the keyboard…

    Excelsior!

  • Ken

    Randy, you have been asked many times about the pledge thing. You finally say you’re going to answer it, then you go on a tirade about teaching evolution in schools. I’ve read this entire thread and watched you spin and twist and evade over and over again. It’s sickening. This is what is annoying about fundamentalists. You have your beliefs, based on no real evidence, that give you comfort and you’ll say whatever you can to convince yourself and others that it’s all true and serves a purpose. But, like most great debators who tread on thin ice of flimsy ideas, you’ve fallen through. You’re last couple of posts have been very telling.

    Practical advantages of atheism? I don’t know if there are any, except my own peace of mind. I don’t believe in fake things. That’s it. If I wanted to believe in something to make me happy or give me comfort, I’d believe in god. And if something I believe in is shown to be fake, I accept it and move on. I’m a critical thinker. 9/11/01 showed everyone how dangerous believing in fake things can be.

    Let’s see if I can explain the pledge thing so you can understand…Taking ‘under god’ out of the pledge does NOT take anything away from you. It would be neutral. Having it there does take something away from me. Why you can’t get that concept, is beyond me. If you do get it, then the fact that you won’t admit it is hypocritical. It’s similar to the abortion arguement. Making abortion illegal takes away rights from people. Making it legal does not. No one has to have an abortion.

    I’ll end with a quote that really sums up how I feel much more eloquently than I could ever say it:

    I certainly can’t see any sensible position to assume aside from that of complete scepticism tempered by a leaning toward that which existing evidence makes most probable. All I say is that I think it is damned unlikely that anything like a central cosmic will, a spirit world, or an eternal survival of personality, exist. They are the most preposterous and unjustified of all the guesses which can be made about the universe, and I am not enough of a hair-splitter to pretend that I don’t regard them as arrant and negligible moonshine.
    In theory I am an agnostic, but pending the appearance of rational evidence I must be classed, practically and provisionally, as an atheist. The chances of theism’s truth being to my mind so microscopically small, I would be a pedant and a hypocrite to call myself anything else…fantasy author Howard Phillip Lovecraft

  • Susan

    RANDY: “…the way people use evolutionary theory to justify their other world views as preached by these preachers in our classrooms is among the most dangerous things happening in society today.”

    How do people like me use evolutionary theory to justify a world-view? I believe in the Golden Rule. How is that linked to evolution? I do not believe in killing off the weak, because if I were weak, I wouldn’t want to be killed.

    How is knowledge of evolution dangerous to good people? I am sure you don’t equate science teachers with Hitler, right?

    Public school teachers don’t preach. If they do, we all have the right to get them fired. I have never heard of a science teacher (I know lots of them) who presents evolution as fact, especially in this political climate. Why would they? They don’t care. It doesn’t affect their real world-view (one of them is even a born-again Christian).

    You don’t seem to understand the difference between science and faith. No human law can protect you against what science explains. Only an ignorant legislator can attempt to mandate an antigravity law to protect people from their carelessness. Same is true for evolution. Legislators who want to take a scientific theory out of the classroom are just ignorant. This is where science belongs. How would you feel if scientists started taking over your church sermons? I would be outraged if they did that to you? How come you’re not outraged when the reverse is actually happening in places like Michigan, Kansas, and others?

    Do you think creationism is a science? If so, name one discovery of the natural world that creationism explains.

    Plus, you haven’t answered why it’s okay to have kids recite a lie. The Pledge as changed in 1954 is a lie.

  • Susan

    I just read an article that says there are 13 states considering changing their science standards to change the way evolution is taught. So, Randy, it must feel good to see us sailing into a theocracy, hmm?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Of course allowing abortion takes away rights. If the mom is 100% decision maker, it takes away rights of biological father, grandparents on both sides, and societies general need and right to procreate. As it turns out, it is probably taking away the right to rule for the dems, because most of the aborted babies to date would probably have been dems.

    Of course, changing the pledge takes away rights. Many people want to be able to express themselves in this way regarding the pledge. I say that their right in this regard is a tiny right. About the same size right that atheists would have to get rid of it. Small potatoes.

    I look over these last few comments and see a great deal of tunnel vision. Of course there are biology teachers preaching evolution as fact. My son just had one in his bio class. He had a nutrition teacher and a history teacher who bashed Christians and Republicans and Bush in class. Where do you live? I live in the heart of blue city in blue state.

    When you can prove that the Big Bang is true, and the source of the matter and energy that created it, and that life came from non-life and that Man evolved from anything, then I will withdraw any desire to teach that God might have done it. But I’m not asking to have evolution taken out of the classroom. That is the difference. Its kind of like I offer you a product for $1.00, you say you will pay $.50. I say %.76. You say $.50. I say $.65. You say $.50. You want it all your way. Its a great way to negotiate and worked really well for the Gipper, but it is a bit frustrating in a forum where I’m already outnumbered 100 – 1.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Societies do need to maintain a certain birthrate in order to survive (with an expanding population of almost 300 million, the US is currently in no danger whatsoever of dying out), but societies do not have rights. People have rights, one of which is the right to self-determination.

    The words, “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance make it exclusionary. The absence of them make it inclusionary.

    Our right to believe that America is “one nation, under God” is secured and guaranteed by the First Amendment. Taking the words, “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance cannot change that.

    The phrase, “under God,” is not an expression of faith in God, but rather an assertion that those who do not believe America is “one nation, under God” are not entitled to the “liberty and justice” that is supposed to be “for all.”

  • JR

    Randy Kirk: Of course there are biology teachers preaching evolution as fact. My son just had one in his bio class.

    Yeah, and I’ll bet he had a math teacher preaching addition and multiplication, and an English teacher preaching punctuation, and a P.E. teacher preaching weight training and cardio. What’s our education system coming to these days?

  • Susan

    I would help you get that biology teacher fired if I lived in your town. This “educator” should not be preaching and should not be saying evolution is a fact. Give me a name and an email addresss, and I will let this teacher know that at least one atheist does not approve. I am completely serious. I will write this teacher. The email address should be on your district’s website.

    RANDY: “You want it all your way.”

    Your bargaining scenario starts in the middle when atheists have already conceded much to religionists to enable us all to get along and live together happily. It is irritating that after giving so much, you not only don’t recognize it, but you want more. What you call “my way” is already my compromise to Christians.

    Here’s the real extremes from which both of us must compromise.

    The America I would prefer contains no religion. No tax exempt status to churches because there are no churches or need for them. There is no belief system taught in public schools or in churches because there are no churches.

    The America you would prefer contains no atheism or any religion than Christian; children can actually say “One nation under God, indivisible” without it being a lie. There is one belief system taught in two settings: educational and church. All laws are based on Christian doctrine, and no one is hurt because Christian law does not contradict any other citizens’ views.

    This is the true beginning. Now let the real bargaining begin.

    Meanwhile, the Pledge is still a lie.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Running out the door, but check this article out for the facts about our country and its constitution.

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=45486

  • Susan

    D. JAMES KENNEDY: “And the mere display of the Ten Commandments cannot possibly “establish” this non-religion.”

    It doesn’t? “I am the Lord, your God” and here are my rules is not religious? Well, okay, if you say, but it sorta ruins your argument. So since 7 of the 10 commandments are not actual laws, the darn thing is not the basis of our judicial system either. So let’s jettison all of these advertisements for Cecil B. de Mille’s movie. Hey, did you know that these monuments do not actually have all ten commandments! They only have 9. The tenth one about not creating graven images (like say, using God to advertise your movie) is missing. Isn’t that interesting, Randy? That’s the one the Supreme Court said Texas could keep. Aren’t you outraged?

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Facts? From WorldNet Daily? OK.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Natalie Davis: do you prefer shaved or trimmed? Please advise. IMMEDIATELY.

    It is a matter of the utmost urgence and time is of the essence. We have no one else to turn to in this time of emergency.

    Thank you. End stop./###

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Bob you haven’t started stop – how can you end stop?

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    The Commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3), does not belong on government buildings because of the unseemly suggestion that the “me” refers to the US government.

    But since many of the authoritarians who think the Decalogue belongs in/on our courthouses also seem to believe that the US government is fit to do God’s job of judging and punishing sin, they might think it appropriate in that context.

  • Ken

    Randy:
    “Of course allowing abortion takes away rights. If the mom is 100% decision maker, it takes away rights of biological father, grandparents on both sides,”

    So you think that legislation should be passed outlawing abortions for everyone to stop the small percentage of moms who have abortions w/out consulting anyone around them? We should restrict rights of everyone for the carelessness/selfishness of a few? If that’s the case, then we need LOTS of new laws.

    Randy:
    “and societies general need and right to procreate.”

    Abortion has been legal in this country for a while (and has been performed world wide for even longer), yet the population continues to grow, perhaps even at rate the earth cannot withstand. The arguement that legalized abortion takes away the right to procreate is completely ridiculous. That you make that arguement exposes your true character even more.

    Randy:
    “Of course, changing the pledge takes away rights.”

    Nope. It would be neutral and open to everyone if you take out ‘under god’. It would take away your rights if it included something about a ‘non-existent god’ or some such thing.

    “Many people want to be able to express themselves in this way regarding the pledge.”

    Personally, I’d like to be able to express myself by programming the music in the grocery store when I’m shopping. BUt I wouldn’t push for legislation for it, as that would be unfair to the other people who go there to buy food who prefer something else. As a true follower of the GR, I understand this. As someone who only gives it lip service, you don’t.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    I would not want to live in a place where everyone was Christian. I have always lived in areas where I was a distinct minority. I grew up in a 98% Jewish neighborhood where I felt left out because I didn’t get to go to Hebrew School. One girl I wanted to date couldn’t because her parents wouldn’t let her date Goya.

    I love diversity. It is way exciting.

    So you see, your wish that there were no churches is pretty radical compared to my being fine with the status quo.

    Thank you for your offer with regard to the science teacher. My son had a great time bringing in the data to destroy his arguments. Even arranged for a evolution vs Design debated between two experts. I don’t mind the debate. I want to have a seat at the table, however.

    Right now, my political and religious point of view does not have a seat at the table in the Universities that exist because of my tax dollars. That is a far great dillution of my rights than the under God in the pledge

    As to the article. The writer is well respected. The website is just that, a repository for the article. If you want to take it on, take on the reality that this country was founded on Christian principles. Gonzo through down the gauntlet, there is his answer. SCOTUS among others.

    My above point on abortion was merely illustrative. One person getting rights deprives someone else of rights. Don’t try to make it into an argument on what to do about it. Just offer a right that if you give someone that right, it doesn’t subtract from someone elses.

  • Susan

    RANDY: ” Just offer a right that if you give someone that right, it doesn’t subtract from someone else’s.”

    The right for two gay people to marry.

    RANDY: “your wish that there were no churches is pretty radical compared to my being fine with the status quo.”

    Oh, you like the status quo? You are okay with abortion on demand? You are fine that pharmacists must dispense birth control/the morning after pill on demand or lose their jobs? You are fine with no faith-based initiatives sponsored by tax-payer money? You are glad there’s no creationism or I.D. in public schools, no prayer at public school football games, no elementary Christmas pageants? I guess I was confused because in previous postings you said you wanted those things changed. Well, I’m glad we changed you mind. I guess, I’ll let you have your churches.

    I was serious about getting your son’s teacher’s email. Did this happen this year, or was this a long time ago? What data did your son bring in to support I.D.? When challendged did the teacher really stick to the story that evolution was a fact? You see, I don’t like teachers who lie or encourage lying. That’s why the Pledge irritates me so much. I told you I was not a hypocrite. If you don’t have the teacher’s email, what is the school district’s name and what city and state? That teacher needs to come clean.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    No fair twisting things to say what you know they don’t mean. You know that when I said I was happy with the status quo that I said exactly what that meant, and it was in the context of your own comment. I am happy with the status quo that has people of all persuasions interacting. So there you have it. You aren’t perfect after all.

    Venice High School. Take your best shot. But you have a very big battle ahead. My daughter started a Christian anti-defimation effort at California State University at San Diego after several of her teachers in the Master of Social Work program specifically defamed Christians as a group from the podium on numerous occassions. The department head didn’t fire the teachers or even reprimand them. She did encourage the forming of the club.

    My daughter was concerned about making too many waves as she was graduating and didn’t want the teacher to do anything that might have kept her from graduating.

    There are entire efforts in place now to try and stop this kind of thing on our campuses. It is being led by David Harowitz. He has had some success getting legislation passed in some states.

  • Susan

    Perhaps you didn’t read carefully what I wrote. Let’s review our conversation. I compared what I thought were our two ideal worlds. I said mine had “no churches or need for them.” And I thought yours would contain no atheism or other religions since in an earlier post you said the pendulum is always swinging and you hoped it would soon be swinging “back towards ‘my’ view of morality” which I assume means church and state are not separated (324). Why shouldn’t I wonder what your true position is what you call my ideal world of no churches “radical” compared to your contentment with the “status quo”? Did you misread what I said or do you not have a consistent point of view?

    One thing at a time. Venice High School in Los Angeles? What was the science teacher’s name?

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I don’t agree that there should be seperation of church and state. Its not in the constitution, and was not what our forefathers intended.

    However, I certainly don’t want our church/state. I don’t want our government saying setting up a religion or endorsing a religion under the auspices of the government.

    The argument is over where to draw the line. When I was living in that Jewish neighborhood as a boy, the kids would save their dimes and we would all march down to the Christmas tree lot and buy a tree. I was probably the only Christian in my class. No one was offended. No one was embarassed or thought their rights were being infringed. They just wanted to participate in celebrating the season.

    Venice is in Venice CA., which is part of L.A. I don’t recall the teacher’s name and my son isn’t home right now.

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    Randy sez..
    *I don’t agree that there should be seperation of church and state. Its not in the constitution, and was not what our forefathers intended.*

    still waiting for thos eQuotes that support your position from ANY of the Founders Randy…

    i gave you one from Jefferson..and showed where many more can come from

    but that doesn’t matter to you…you don’t want separation between chruch and state

    so you will continue to fabricate, prevaricate, obfuscate, spin and distract…

    because to you, the Ends justify the Means…since the End to you involves your view of God..anything is justified in accomplishing it

    494 comments into a thread, and at least you finally state it plainly

    to quote both Sun Tzu and Rage against the Machine…
    “know your Enemy”

    Excelsior!

  • Bennett

    Fucking Amen Gonzo! How many times I’ve held off walking it to ‘ol Randy?

    No way he gets it, even as plain as you spell it out.

    Watch, his next comment will be yet another spin, ignoring all of the clear points made against his premise. A lone voice of myth, lost in the wilderness of reason, how will he survive?

    It’s time to tell us how the fossil record is a “mystery of god” and how “Adam and Eve frolicked with the dinosaurs”, and how ID is worthy of being taught alongsiide of biology.

    It’s no use. He has total brain lock.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    This post is even about the downstream results. Its about the practical advantages.

    However, Gonzo, I did give you an article to go to above. It had plenty of the kind of things that refute your position. I didn’t think it would be right to just copy and paste. It would take me years to do the kind of research the SCOTUS did.

    Moreover, why would I want seperation of church and state? What would ever cause you to think I want such a thing. And why would you consider that seperation of church and state to be such a cornerstone of your needs when it was not even a glimmer in the eye of our leadership until a few years ago. The country did just fine without the judicial fiat that is taken place compliments of the ACLU. Great, they managed to keep kids from singing Silent Night in grade schools. WHoopie. I’m sure that will save the union.

  • beadtot

    Did one of you mention that you might want to make a movie about life without churches? That won’t be easy — most communities have some religious building or other prominently displayed. Suppose such communities get more sleep than others, and are therefore more healthy and creative? Will the movie show the truth, or yet another scramble to block out reality?

  • Susan

    Randy, it is now clear that you do not know what separation of church and state means.

    It means no government money goes to churches. It means no church paraphernalia is placed on government property. It means the Pledge in public schools is unconstitutional and when the SCOTUS faces the issue honestly instead of hiding behind a ruling that the non-custodial father has no standing, they will be forced to remove it from classrooms because that’s what separation of church and state means!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    And Susan, that is not in the constitution or in the laws of our nation, except as imposed on us out of whole cloth by the SCOTUS.

    By the way Gonzo,

    Your idea about Christs blood on the cross relieving Christians of responsibility for their poor behavior. You are joking right. If not, let me know. I’ll be happy to provide you with the contrary evidence.

  • JR

    Susan: I would help you get that biology teacher fired if I lived in your town. This “educator” should not be preaching and should not be saying evolution is a fact. Give me a name and an email addresss, and I will let this teacher know that at least one atheist does not approve. I am completely serious. I will write this teacher.

    You gotta be kidding. You’re going to try to have a teacher fired based on taking Randy Kirk’s claim at face value? You don’t think he’s capable of using loaded language to spin his arguments?

    It is perfectly reasonable and appropriate for science teachers to call evolution a fact, just as they would call the laws of mechanics and thermodynamics facts. If students want to pick and choose what parts to believe, it’s not the teachers’ job to cater to them. That would be like asking the referees to adjust their calls to which rules each football team wants to follow.

    As a student you can write the answers the teacher expects, and go home and believe what you want. If you don’t have the courage of your convictions to listen to anything contrary to them, save us all the trouble and stay out of school.

  • Susan

    JR, it is just as important for atheists to be honest as it is for religionists. Evolution is very close to fact, but it’s not worth it to misrepresent it as fact. There’s no point.

    I don’t have a problem with a science teacher slipping up and implying or even saying it is a fact. What I do have a problem with is a teacher disregarding a student (religious crazy or realist) who asks for correction. That teacher had better know the difference between fact and extremely good theory and easily acknowledge the student’s correction. It is a small point, but it is truth. Randy does have a lot of it to give us, so we ought to recognize it when he does.

    It is also not a fact that the sun will rise tomorrow.

    Randy, please ask your son for the teacher’s name when he gets home. Also, what evidence did he give the teacher for I.D.? I don’t know of any.

  • Susan

    CORRECTION: Randy doesn’t have a lot of it to give us, so we ought to recognize it when he does.

  • JR

    Susan: It is a small point, but it is truth. Randy does have a lot of it to give us, so we ought to recognize it when he does.

    I’m just not ready to assume this is one of those times. I am amazed you would take it upon yourself to harass a teacher based on what someone known for partisan spin writes in a comment on a blog. Why don’t you give us all the address so some of us can write the teacher a letter of support?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Now we can take an entire new line of thinking off into what is the definition of a fact. It isn’t a fact that the sun will rise tomorrow?

    Susan, go into the thread on Intelligent design from a few weeks ago. It will help you to understand what the evidence is for ID far better than I can in a short comment here. I commented in great detail on the subject there. But Graham had the best comment of all. Kind of stopped the whole show. However, the teacher didn’t give evidence for ID. My son did.

    I have decided not to offer the name of the teacher. Two reasons. I have no reason or desire to see him or her fired, as I stated in an earlier comment.

    #2. I don’t want to create problems for my son who has two years to go at Venice. He and I would be more than happy to create problems if the issue were important to us. This one is important to you, not us.

    Susan. Did you think it was naughty or nice to give me the back of your hand with the correction above. Hmmmmm.

    JR. What to say to you. I don’t know a single biologist or other scientist willing to say when confronted that evolution is a fact. Leading theory, yes. I will say that. I will even agree that there is monumental amounts of evidence that point to many aspects of evolution.

    Here’s the rub, and its an important rub:

    1. While we are still unable to show life coming from non life, we are stumped to eliminate creative action. Really, really stumped.

    2. Because of various aspects of humans such as delight, love, hate, spiritual awareness, self awareness, etc. that have no precursers in lower species, it is hard to get away from seeing a designer’s hand rather than some blind watchmaker.

    3. Real problems with transitional forms, both not existing in abundance, and wondering how they even survived, much less thrived when they were in transition.

    4. Real problems with not having enough time for evolution to make the changes.

    And there is much more. But these would all have to be answered before we could begin to say that evolution was “almost fact.”

  • Susan

    JR, I never said harass. The teacher needs to come clean, but first I will ask the teacher for his or her side. Randy doesn’t deliberately lie; I just don’t think he knows truth. Nowadays parents take their child’s side, never entertaining the notion that their child could be responsible for misrepresentig what went on in the classroom. It is possible that a teacher foolishly held his or her ground to subdue a possibly rude child. It’s still no excuse.

  • Susan

    RANDY: “It isn’t a fact that the sun will rise tomorrow?”

    Nothing can be considered a fact until it actually happens. All predictions are opinions. They are not facts. Some opinions are better than others. It’s just the definitions of the words, Randy. I am not in charge of these definitions. If the sun will rise tomorrow is a fact in your mind, then I would say you should also accept evolution as fact. Evolution has that much predictive power.

    RANDY: “Did you think it was naughty or nice to give me the back of your hand with the correction above.”

    Truthful of me. You are not very good at seeing truth, Randy. Maybe that is why you can accept the whole God thing. I don’t mean it as a slam. I mean it as truth. I miss typed. I corrected it.

    RANDY: “go into the thread on Intelligent design from a few weeks ago.”

    I don’t know what thread that is. If it’s this one, I didn’t read any evidence. I am reluctant to take stock in evidence that you refuse to explain yourself, wondering if perhaps you don’t get it either.

    RANDY: ” I will even agree that there is monumental amounts of evidence that point to many aspects of evolution.”

    Can you even verbalize what this evidence is? I don’t think you know the specifics on either side of this issue.

    About you son: I assumed he had already graduated. I understand the need to let it go. This is the same need that many atheist families have who will not challenge the Pledge in their schools (my sister is one of those). Lying still does harm. I don’t care which side lies. I want it all to stop.

    Golden Rule: No one wants to be lied to. If you can’t present your worldview without lying, then maybe there is something wrong with your worldview.

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    Randy…

    the article you cited was NOT a response to what i asked..i gave you a letter from Jefferson, which clearly spells out , and even uses the phrase, “a wall of separation between church and state”…and shows his Reasoning…you then said you could cite 10 examples to refute…i asked for ANY from a Founder(someone that signed either the Declaration or the Constitution)…you respond with something frmo a known partisan..NOT a Founder, from the “worldnet daily” website..

    he does NOT show any factual refutation, merely makes unfounded assertions…and then expects us to take them as truth because he SAYS so…

    unacceptable…

    and to show once more how intellectually bankrupt you appear to be by utilizing sophistry and unfounded assertions , let’s go through your bullets in #505

    1) sorry, axiom of Science, one cannot nor does one have to prove a negative..

    2)wrong again…many animals exhibit emotional behaviour…my dog and cat are both individuals in their reactions…what they love, hate…what gives them pleasure, what they dislike…any pet owner will show you emotional personality in their creatures..

    even moreso from higher mammals…dolphin and elephant behaviour as well as gorilla are all well documented, scientifically…all demonstrate emotional and thinking responses…gorillas have even learned sign language and can create their own compound words to define complex new descriptions for which hteir vocabulary has no word up until then

    3)see biology texts…plenty of work done there…even scientific predictions which have later been found to prove accurate…also plenty of prediction models which have been able to be disproved..

    4)incorrect…timelines have been proven and disproven quite a bit..they are changed and modified as well as codified whenever new data is gathered

    again and again, you make false assertations, and ask us to just “believe” without you ever providing any factual data…links you provide for substantiation are constantly to articles from non-experts who utilize the exact same tactics

    and finally, as to Jesus being utilized as a scapegoat in fundamentalist doctrine…i was NOT joking there
    tell me part of Fundamentalist belief does not state the dogma that you can sin all you like, and before you die, all you have to do is “accept Jesus as your personal saviour”…and then all sins are instantly forgiven, you automatically go to “heaven”

    while i was in Georgia this week, i did take some time to actually watch some charismatic and fundamentalist as well as evangelical preacher types…one thing they had in common, is each saying repeatedly “Jesus died for your sins, his sacrifice gave us forgiveness”

    check…

    Excelsior!

  • ClubhouseCancer

    For what it’s worth, I don’t believe Randy grew up in a Jewish neighborhood or tried to date one. Someone that was in any way close to Jews would know that the plural of “goy” is, of course, “goyim.”

    “Goya” is a brand of Latino food products.

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    Clubhouse…

    one cannot expect some meshugennah like this to do more than kvetch about what isn’t apparent..so i remind myself that a yutz is a yutz, and no amount of kibbitzing will change it

    for the record…no i’m not of hebrew descent…my ex-drummer and guitar player (brothers) were …drummer lived with me for 6 years

    Excelsior!

  • Dan

    Duane, comment #447: “These are typical misconceptions that non-scientists have about science.

    1) That there is dogma in science.”

    Unlike the scientific endeavor of yesteryear, todays scientists are often funded by groups with political motivations. They have pre-concieved notions that they appropriate grants to have “proved”. Think about contentious things like second hand smoke, or global warming. I agree with you that scientists seem like regular people, But it’s because they are regular people. Just like regular people, they whore themselves out for money. Most are principled, and well meaning, but they practice a form of “lawyer science” for their benefactors. They accentuate positive evidence, and ignore the negative.

    Bennett, comment #449: “Get real, Dan. Is anyone proposing that?”

    No. In comment #429 you expressed a fear that “the religous right” might take over the country through legislation based on what they think God wants. In comment #432, I explained that there could be a lot of broadly popular legislation that would please fundamentalists, but would not be necessarily “based” on religous ideology. In comment #434, you said “Constitutional Amendments to limit or deny make me nervous. I’m okay with expansion and inclusion however.” To me that sounded somewhat like trite liberalism, so I countered in comment #436 with hypothetical amendments that “limited or denied” gun ownership and an “expansion and inclusion” of childrens sexual rights. (thinking that you would be for, and against respectively.)

    Susan, comment #452: “Dan, using reason only, what % belief do you have in evolution and what % belief do you have in a God?”

    This is kind of the crux of what I’m getting at. I think atheist’s often mis-apply evolution as a refutation of God. Or maybe it’s fundamentalists who start it. Whichever, the other side joins the battle, and the argument seems pointlessly silly and devoid of reason.

    I’m not going to argue that carbon dating is a ‘trick of the devil’, but the evolutionists need to realize the limits of their “science” as well. It’s a science where plausibility, without demonstration passes for evidence. Much of it contradictory.

    Even natural selection, the least suspect supposition of evolution has it’s problems.

    Example: evolutionists say that some birds evolve to be naturally camouflauged from years of surviving predators who can’t see them as well. Yet some birds evolve brilliantly gaudy. evolutionists then say that they do that to attract a mate. In order to make that fit, they’ll say that the gaudy ones evolved in areas with few predators. Yet the invisible birds seem to have found love easy enough. See how it works? Plausibility.

    I guess I’m agnostic on both God and evolution.

    Billy, comment #455: “PROVE its wrong”…” i.e., go find some ancient bones that are in the form of a modern humnan proving evolution false.”

    Not that it “proves” anything, but, during the beginning of the Paleozoic era, the Cambrian period, there was, evidently, an “explosion” of new, varied life forms without common ancestral beginnings. Evolutionists think they’ll still find them, but in the meantime they claim that the evolutionary process became so accelerated, this one time, that the evidence might be sparce. Evolution has a throttle, apparantly.

    Gonzo, comment #464: “as for Newton being a “man of Faith”..perhaps, but he was definately NOT a man of the Church…on his deathbed he refused “last Rites” of both Anglican and Catholic clergy…not once, but repeatedly”

    Perhaps, but I’ve read accounts where he was described as almost monk like in his devotion. He poured over ancient religous texts to determine when the millenium would occur, and he considered himself to be among what he called “the sons of the ressurection”. Seventh day adventists worship Newton as a prophet.

    Einstein was a believer, and oh yea, so was Darwin. Darwin believed evolution was God’s mechanism for change.

    disclaimer: I can’t prove anything, it’s just stuff I’ve read… Like all of you. But it seems plausible.

  • billy

    “explosion” of new, varied life forms without common ancestral beginnings.”

    whoever told you that was a liar. all life has a common ancestral beginning.

    and since evolution speeds up and slows down, IT ISNT REAL, in your view.

    sounds a little illogical to me.

  • Mihos

    if i were a practiying boy scout only stupidity could keep me in the service of play soldier. I think the god of consciousness is trying to say something to the youth by electrifying its leaders

  • Dan

    ” IT ISNT REAL, in your view.”

    Billy, didn’t say it wasn’t real, just that it doesn’t disprove God.

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    to dvprect,

    Newton was an Alchemist as well as being a homosexual…his monklike habits stemmed from him eschewing sensual pleasures, a chronic eating disorder(as in , he wouldn’t remember to eat unless someone set food in front of him)

    add to it his nocturnal lifestyle, mandated by his obsession with Astronomy

    in Principia Mathematica, the closing paragraph, titled Scholium: Newton very carefully views the Logic of Deity and it’s implications

    read the words with an open mind and a sharp eye and you will clearly see that he qualifies every statement to be deliberately non-definitive when it comes to any supreme Being…neither asserting nor refuting.

    study of Newton’s writing will leave one frustrated, to the best of my Knowledge, he NEVER commits one way or the other, being a true man of Reason he remains agnostic in all his writing

    no record of Newton ever entering a church after his enrollment at Cambridge

    and again, refusing Last Rites on his deathbed, multiple times

    his writings seem to indicate that he WANTED to believe, that he was searchign for “deus ex machina” in all of the Universe’s workings…he wanted to findd the “watchmaker” in the clockwork universe he envisioned…but never found “proof”

    his work clearly shows that he may have been the first advocate of “Intelligent Design” but for all his wanting, he remained intellectually honest enough to admit he never found it

    your mileage may vary

    Excelsior!

  • Dan

    Gonzo, I’m Dan, I accidently typed the Email address in the Name section.

    I could take Billie’s tact and claim “whoever told you that was a liar”, but that would devolve the discussion.

    Anyway, if Newton did discover the “watchmaker” and the date of the millenium, as a member of “the sons of the ressurection” he would have had to keep it secret. So it wouldn’t be evident in his writings.

    Personally, I think Alchemy may one day be realized. You know, just flick off a couple of electrons… change matter.

    As for his homosexuality. Are you sure that’s not just wishfull thinking?

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    do you know the name Flavio?

    or the writings of Daniel Waterhouse, who did not share the same proclivities, but was Newton’s room mate at Cambridge, and another fellow in the Royal Society..oh yeah..he also founded M.I.T.

    there are others…but i do admit, it is sheer speculation based on the writings i mention

    as for “wishful thinking”…nope…as i stated, based on the writings of the ment who were there at the time

    none of which does anything to diminish Newton’s incredible body of work…all based upon experimentation, mathematics and Reason

    Newton was also quite admant in his habits of publishing any of his work that had passed the rigors of his own Intellect, even if it was just papers scribbled from notes, given to the Royal society for publication and peer review

    it is relatively safe to say that all of his major work and thinking, which passed his own strenuous review, was then given to the likes of Hooke, etc of the Royal Society for peer review, so it is doubtful any major work went unreported

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Gonzo. Lets begin with authority. You want to deny the authority of the experts I offer. That’s fine, but you would have to show evidence that they lack scholorship. Moreover, with regard to the article on the founders intentions and statements, there was substantial authority quoted and represented in the article. Did you research those and find them to be untrue. No you just dissed the article. Maybe you hoped the readers would just take your word for it.

    Billy. Either provide some kind of rationale for your statements of truth or give it up.

    Sorry for the mispelling of Goyim. I don’t even spell that well in English. You can believe or not believe. Look up the history of the suburb of St. Louis called University City. See what the demographics were during the 50’s. Then check out who owned the house 4th from the end of the intersection of Braddock and Orchard Ave. Pretty rough crowd when your called a liar for not knowing how to spell in Yiddish.

    1) My statement does not require you to prove a negative. It only says that any rational person looking at something that appears to stem from design is going to assume design unless there is a good reason to assume otherwise. There isn’t the slightest hint at a method by which life could have come from non-life. Nothing. Nada. I can spell a little in Spanish.

    2) Please. We know what we’re talking about here. I love my dogs personality. Don’t offer it as a precurser for human self awareness, 7 variations of love, etc. Poppycock. I’m not sure what language that is, and I might have spelled it wrong, too.

    3)Lots of idle speculation. Did the bat have radar first or ears tuned to radar first? Did he need radar because he lived in caves? How many failures and deaths occurred as the radar was perfected?

    Scientific thinking on the issue of transitions reminds me of James Bond Movies. He has to get the bad guy, live to tell about it, and get the girl. Now we just have to come up with some kind of way to get him there, no matter how fanciful.

    4) How long does it take to create a cat eye. What is the precurser. Why did it need a different eye.

    Christian Responsibility: I keep thinking you are the well read one. Forgivess and redemption are for folks who are truly saved and apply to heaven and hell. There are consequences for behavior while you are living and there is potential for gain and loss in heaven, based on your actions here.

    The basic understanding is this. When you are saved, as someone way above this comment said, it will change your life. You’re love of Jesus will be seen in your acts. If they are not, Paul and James, among others say, you must not be a Christ Follower.

    If you continue in sin without remorse and a strong desire to rid yourself of the bondage of sins as they are revealed to you, you have to question whether your decision was a true one.

    If you don’t exhibit the fruits of the spirit, kindness, longsuffering, etc. you need to determine if Jesus is truly Lord, or if you still worship the things of this earth more than him.

    Does that sound like LESS responsibility for our actions. For most people, the number one reason they state for not becoming a Christian, is that they can’t handle that kind of responsibility. They can’t give up the behavior that are not of Christ, nor exhibit the behaviors that look like Jesus.

  • KYS

    Regarding the comment, **How long does it take to create a cat eye. What is the precurser. Why did it need a different eye.** It didn’t need a different eye, the eye evolved with the species.

    Evolution has direction only in retrospect. The need for any biological change is dictated by the environment. A poignant example of this is Darwin’s Finches (http://natureniche.tripod.com/evolution2.html).

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    KYS – Your comment does and doesn’t make sense. If I change to adapt, I am adapting to a perceived need. So why did the eye of some previous catlike creature change? What was it adapting to?

  • KYS

    Your “personal change” means nothing evolutionarily. It is not even a blip on the radar of existence. If we are talking about physiological change, it’s a different story. Can you change the physiology of your eyeball???

  • KYS

    PS, you clearly didn’t read the link

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    KYS

    I was so totally absorbed in the Galopogas Islands that I saved a Life Magazine Issue on it for years. I wanted more than anything to travel there. Even this year, Skeptic Magazine did a tour to Galopogas, and I was tempted to go.

    It is easy to think that because I’m a Christian that I haven’t done my homework in these other areas. Right this second, in between these posts, I’m reading the only mag I still subscribe to. WIRED. I love science. Always have. Was a member of the Audobon Society when I was 7.

    Now. The Finch doesn’t end up with a beak designed to dig holes in the bottom of the ocean. He doesn’t need that feature. He also can’t make his beak change. The change occurs over generations, according to theory, based on passing genes of the best survivors.

    What was it about the environment of some early cat that resulted over 1000’s of years in their totally unique eyes? Why did the bat end up using radar? How could this transition in ear and sound take place simultaneously, or if it didn’t which one came first and what was it adapting to?

    And, what are the practical advantages of Atheism? Are there any more? Should we start a new thread with the practical advantages of Christianity?

  • billy

    “So why did the eye of some previous catlike creature change? ”

    what you need to ask yourself is why does every mammal have eyes, teeth, hair, ears, noses, mouths, . . . .

    did the evolve from a common ancestor?

    or by magic did someone snap their fingers and they appeared that way.

    i go with the former since it is supported by evidence.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Billy, that also supports a design theory. The use of similar design features. Evolution would potentially predict really wild variations like Star Wars.

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    Dan, I fixed up the comment for you.

  • billy

    RK
    why close with some wild reference to star wars? we are talking about the real world here, not movies.

    evolution typically is not about predictions of the future, it is looking back at the past and figuring out how we got here.

    yes as time goes by cats, people, lizards will diverge more, who knows maybe lizards dont need eyes and they will go away? maybe they will look like a star wars creature, maybe they will die off altogether? who knows

    thats not what evolution is about at a basic level.

    if we have a common ancestor it is evidenced by the fact that we retain the same features from our common ancestor, namely eyes, nose, ears, mouth, hair, feet, hands, stomachs, teeth, tongues, hearts, dna, cells, they are all the same.

    shall i go on?

    how can you deny a common ancestor when we all have common features? they dont just magically happen independantly.

    what the heck does that have to do with design?
    i could spit on the ground right now and my loogey is complex if you look at it with a microscope. who cares?

    knowing something is complex proves nothing. we all know things are complex. so what? what does that prove? knowing it is complex makes you say “why is it complex”, not “it was intelligently designed” what basis is there to say it was intelligently designed?.

    at best you could look at dna that is common to all life, single cell, plant, and animal, and call it like a code for life, or a “design” implicit in all life, but it doesnt show god exists, it just shows that is how life evolved.

  • Dan

    Gonzo sez: “in Principia Mathematica, the closing paragraph, titled Scholium: Newton very carefully views the Logic of Deity and it’s implications

    read the words with an open mind and a sharp eye and you will clearly see that he qualifies every statement to be deliberately non-definitive when it comes to any supreme Being…neither asserting nor refuting.”

    Here’s what I found at http://www.austheos.org.au/magazine/newton.htm :

    “Although the main body of the Principia is solid logically developed mathematics, Newton introduced at various points what he called Scholia making subsidiary non-mathematical statements and at the end of the third edition there was a General Scholium, in the course of which he said:

    The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect….. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity…. He is not eternity and infinity but eternal and infinite; He is not duration or space, but endures and is always present. He endures forever, and is everywhere present; and by existing always and everywhere, He constitutes duration and space. In him are all things contained and moved.”

    Keeping as open a mind as I possibly can, it sure sounds like he’s asserting here.

    Personally, I think an agnostic mind-set is the most befitting of a scientist. Why would you corner yourself into having to defend something that can’t be proven?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Billy, we’ve already done this debate. Check out the thread on Intelligent design. I just honestly don’t have the time to do it again.

    There is one new thought here, however. I make water bottles. They all have a bottle, a lid, the bottle and cap link together in a leakproof way, and there is a way to get the water from inside into your mouth. These are designs that make sense to replicate. Some have pop tops, some screw caps, some are made of one kind of plastic, some another. Some have survived because they fit a need. Others have been discontinued because they weren’t functioning in the market anymore. I guess that was all because of random mutation.

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    to Dan…

    dangerous and foolhardy indeed to place your Trust and Faith in what others tell you, or to blindly accept that a cherry picked paragraph in an article shows the entire picture…far better for you to read it yourself, eh?

    the full translation of the Scholium can be found here…
    http://www.spirasolaris.ca/scholium1c.html

    from this, I have always taken away the Impression that Newton was an impassioned Deist

    your mileage may vary…

    Excelsior!

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    Randy,

    you cited article is meaningless in our discussion, and here’s why

    i cited Jefferson, and gave you his Thoughts as set down in a letter, and quoted exactly from the text…

    in this, he clearly uses the phrase “a wall of separation between church and state” and gives the establisment clause as being the Source.

    he IS one of the Founders, and did write it out with his own hand…one might think he knew a bit of what he was talking about

    you then stated you could find 10 sources to refute it..

    i asked for ANY quote from ANY Founder’s writing that refuted the separation of church and state

    i’m still waiting, because your article cited is NOT what we are discussing…and yes, i read it

    so..ANY verifiable quote from any Founder that refutes the Separation?

    you keep trying to say that our is a christian nation, and i state that it is secular….

    i have provided a quote from Jefferson and shown how on the money you hold so dear, it clearly states “Novus Ordo Seclorum”…latin for “new secular order”….that’s under the Great Seal on the back of the dollar bill…you know the bit with the Masonic pyramid and the Great Eye of Illumination above it?

    now, try and explain how “christian” is that?…or how you could possibly confuse the latin i have quoted?

    the dollar bit is merely an amusement for the gentle Readers…along with this reminder, which i have stated over and over again

    NEVER just believe me…look it up , find multiple Sources, synthesize and analyze the facts for yourself…roll them around in your mouth and see how they taste to you…utilize your own Reason and make up your own Mind…NEVER trust something just because someone says so…if they try and imply that you shouold, be wary..if they insist they have the “whole and ONLY Truth” …they are your Mind’s Foe…

    gnosis > dogma

    your mileage may vary

    Excelsior!

  • Susan

    SUSAN: “what % belief do you have in evolution and what % belief do you have in a God?”

    DAN: “This is kind of the crux of what I’m getting at. I think atheist’s often mis-apply evolution as a refutation of God.”

    Naw, this was a question about amount of evidence to justify belief in a theory. They are not mutually exclusive theories. If evolution is proved to be a fact, the religious will just say how clever their God is to have set it in motion. That’s why we don’t need to say it is a fact.

    Randy, what is the evidence in your own words for I.D.? If we talked about it during these 500+ comments, I don’t remember any proof given other than, “Gosh, look at all that complexity.”

    Your water bottle designing makes you God? Do those bottles worship you? Someone who understands science (as you purport to do) uses better analogies to describe things, (and doesn’t use them at all as logical proof).

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    I’ll state my evidence again, but only the very most compelling. Other than that, if you really want to know, not just badger me, go read the entire thread on ID. It was really, really excellent for both sides. Gonzo was amazing. Duane, too. But Graham stole the show.

    I believe that those who conclude that matter has been derived from chaos or have no explaination as to how matter ws derived, and those who claim life came from non-life, and those who look at complexity and suggest randomness or purposelessness, have the burndon of proof.

    Analogies are very revealing in all aspects of life, and you don’t get to choose the tools of debate.

    When an anthropologist finds an object in a cave that is shaped like a bowl, and another item sitting next to it that is shaped like a spoon, he assumes design by and intelligence, not that the wind blew the sand into those shapes. If I suggest that these object could not have been formed by intelligence because no men lived there at the time, or that the men who did weren’t that intelligent or otherwise capable, the burdon would be on me, don’t ya think.

    Gonzo,

    I admit to misunderstanding your specific gauntlet in this case. I’m not a historian, though I love and have studied history my whole life, and I don’t have time to do the details. It isn’t even the subject of this post. However, for 200+ years of this republic, the leadership in all three branches of government did not see a wall of seperation as described by Jefferson. Jefferson’s wall is the only source I know of with this claim.

    The public school books of 60 years ago talked about God. Public entities celebrated Easter and Christmas without any question of it being constitutional and appropriate.

    Supreme Court Justices, virtually every president, and most congressfolk have publically called on God for help in times of Crisis.

    We live in a nation that was founded on Biblical principles by a largely Christian population, which is still a Christian majority place today. That doesn’t change the fact that we expect our government to act independent of the and church, and we don’t want the government to create any churches, destroy and churches or interfere with any. In no way does that reach to not participating in the culture and continuing traditions. Sorry, that is merely the secularists attempt to destroy those traditions in hopes of destroying the root.

    It isn’t news about the Masonic symbol on the dollar. While some Christians have real problems with the Masons, I don’t. I don’t respect the evidence against them, and appreciate the wonderful work they have done. Every Mason I have known has been among the most upstanding members of the community.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Randy Kirk writes, “The public school books of 60 years ago talked about God. Public entities celebrated Easter and Christmas without any question of it being constitutional and appropriate.”

    Indeed they did. 60 years ago, we also had such things as “whites only” restrooms and drinking fountains down South.

    I use segregation as an example of how our culture evolved to become more inclusionary over a period of time.

    What we are witnessing now, as we did during the civil rights movements of the 1950s and 60s, is a pretty major — and relatively fast-moving — cultural paradigm shift in which the recognition of our diversity as being who and what we are as Americans is replacing the old notion of diversity as anti-discrimination legislation and the toleration of minorities by the majority.

    The idea of America as a “Christian nation,” in which public school books of talk about God and public entities celebrate Easter and Christmas without constitutional question, is fading away because we have reached a point when we can no longer afford take our diversity for granted in that manner.

    Minorities are no longer something to be tolerated and treated fairly while the majority is still given preference, they are truly equals and no one is given preference.

    The process is not yet complete, but we’re getting there.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    As stated earlier, I love diversity and prefer having among my friends folks from all kinds of backgrounds. I also see them as completely equal, not merely to be tolerated.

    This is distinct from Constitutional issues and the intentions of our founding fathers. Two different issues.

    From a cultural standpoint, there is an effort by some to destroy Christianianity through cultural means. Season’s greetings is offensive to me. Why won’t a non-Christian acknowledge my joy in the birth of my savior. Regardless of his/her belief. I don’t do that on Jewish or Muslim holidays. Do you?

    In the law, the same effort is underfoot. It is impossible for me to believe that Susan or anyone else is so offended by the inclusion of a few words in the pledge about a creature she doesn’t even believes exists, that she would deprive the vast majority of their desire to include it. I assure you that I have been in her position on other issues, and it is part of my need to be tolerant to let folks have their way on non consequential issues.

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com/ gonzo marx

    to Randy…

    ok, so you admit you can’t find any quote from a Founder to back up you claim…not suprising..because there isn’t any. your bogus claim about this benig a “christian nation” stands unsubstantiated still.

    as for mistakes in schoolbooks, or by public officials prior to the Issue being brought up to the SCOTUS, allow me to explain why the contention that just because somethign wrong happened for a long time, it doesn’t make it correct…

    you see, contrary to what you may think, the SCOTUS does NOT make any Law, and can NOT “create” anything…

    they must wait until a Case is brought before a lower Court, this Case must then be Decided, go throught the Appeals process, be determined to have no factual or procedural error and be brought up to the highest level due to a conflict on Constitutional grounds…

    this means that all kinds of unConstitutional actions can occur, without a SCOTUS ruling on Constitutionality, until such due process has been realized…

    so, as in the Case of prayer in school…SCOTUS had NOTHING to do with it, until a Case had passed all the way up to SCOTUS…they then Review all the Issues, hearing Arguments from both sides and then research and Decide based upon their Interpertation of the Constitutional Issue at hand

    in the Cases involving the “wall of separation between church and state”, the Establishment clause was immediately studied, as were many other records from the Founders…including, specifically, the letter from Jefferson i quoted for you…an dthus the decision which has stood to this day, based upon the Reasoning stemming frmo the Establishment Clause and documents such as Jefferson’s writings, among others…

    you keep dodging and avoiding the Issues, all the while asserting your position with no substantiation…whereas not only my feeble efforts, but the SCOTUS and their resources, have determined otherwise

    as for the dollar bill, my point there was to show that there are many Symbological facts that can indicate a heavier preferance to Deism than Theism in our Government’s founding, codified principles and underlying principles…as shown in the latin phriase i quoted for you

    Novus Seclorum Ordo….New Secular Order

    interesting that you state your thinking of Mason’s as upstanding pople, such has also been my experience…a prime example of non-christians being ethical, moral, charitable and good citizens…without any “church”

    Randy sez…
    *Supreme Court Justices, virtually every president, and most congressfolk have publically called on God for help in times of Crisis.*

    here you mistake the people holdin gthe Office, who can have any religious belief in their Lives, with the secular Offices they hold…again, a logical fallacy that attempts to mislead, whether deliberately or via faulty thinking…

    so, you believe that “Jefferson’s wall” is the only source..incorrect..many other Founders stated the same, Franklin for instance…and it is NOT the only source…SCOTUS also stated the same when the case came before them…

    as for the celebration of Christman, one woudl think you would be happier that the pagan celebration of Christmas was downplayed…i know the common misconception is that it celebrates the “birth of Christ”..but check you Bible here…Jesus was born, according to the Bible, in March…the December 25th date was installed by Constantine, to coincide with the Winter Solstice Festival of the Sun’s return…

    after Nicea, many of Rome’s sun god religious iconography was co-opted into the new “official” christianity…

    the halo above holy figures heads, the winter and spring festival and so much more ….

    in conclusion , we will touch upon the topic of the original Post here again…

    pragmatic advantages to being other than a fundamentalist, literalist, Christian..
    1)not having to tithe to support the idle con men running the “church”
    2) not having the faculty of your Reason bound by Dogma
    3) the ability to observe and percieve the world around you without having to follow the dogmatic assertions of those mentioned in point #1

    this holds true for Atheists, Agnostics, Buddhists, followers of JuJu , and many others…there are more…

    but, this entire Thread is an excercise in attempting to direct and color the debate…very few people choose their point of view, or postulate of Faith based on pragmatic “advantages”…those that do are lying to themselves…

    one holds and arrives at their philosophical Viewpoint either via Reason or Faith, sometimes a bit of both

    anything less is self deception…your implication that Atheists or Agnostics hold their views for pragmatic reasons is insulting and demeaning, as is any bigotry

    gnosis > dogma

    Excelsior!

  • Ken

    Randy :”From a cultural standpoint, there is an effort by some to destroy Christianianity through cultural means. Season’s greetings is offensive to me.”

    So having Season’s Greetings, which is inclusionary, be the dominant message from Thanksgiving to New Years, instead of Merry Christmas, which alienates people of other faiths/beliefs, is a way of destroying Christianity? Once again, you show what you really want, and it has everything to do with trampling minority rights.

    Randy: “It is impossible for me to believe that Susan or anyone else is so offended by the inclusion of a few words in the pledge about a creature she doesn’t even believes exists, that she would deprive the vast majority of their desire to include it. I assure you that I have been in her position on other issues, and it is part of my need to be tolerant to let folks have their way on non consequential issues.”

    I think that having kids exposed to an outright lie every day they go to school is consequential. But then, I hold the truth in high regard. That’s just me. Feeding people small lies is a way of getting them to accept big lies later.

    I’d like to take the time to thank Randy for giving us all a chance to see how a fundamentalist thinks. I hope this does not come across as sarcasm. It’s not often someone will give you this much of what they truly believe (even if you have to read between the lines sometimes), and Randy has done a genuine service to atheists everywhere.

  • Susan

    RANDY: “It is impossible for me to believe that Susan or anyone else is so offended by the inclusion of a few words in the pledge about a creature she doesn’t even believes exists, that she would deprive the vast majority of their desire to include it.”

    You refuse to understand.

    RANDY: “I assure you that I have been in her position on other issues, and it is part of my need to be tolerant to let folks have their way on non consequential issues.”

    No, I don’t think you have ever been placed in my position. In what public setting has atheist authority required you to stand and be respectful if not repeat a pledge to your country that included the phrase “we are all united under the belief that there is no god”? Don’t you think you would be offended? It is impossible for me to believe that you would shrug it off.

    You best proof for I.D. is that the burden rests on other people to disprove it is the height of non-thought. I can make all sorts of claims (such as Ken’s space money claim) and demand that be taught in school cause you can’t disprove it.

    You should also know that analogies are not and can never be used as proof. They are helpful to describe a situation, but only as helpful as the two items compared share similar characteristics. Your analogy of design in water bottles being similar to design in all of nature has very few shared characteristics. It is like comparing an orchestra to an orange because they both have sections.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Time for a quicky.

    Please don’t read between the lines. This is written word. It is better to accept what each of us says without seeking to think for the other person.

  • Ken

    You have evaded, twisted, used false analogies and avoided answering direct questions throughout this entire thread. You’ve been painted into corners and we’ve watched you spin out and change the subject over and over. Go back and read the posts and look at the story it tells.

    Perhaps ‘read between the lines’ was not the best phrase. I’m not ‘thinking for you’. If I were to say read between the lines for Susan, I’d say she’s a principled person who demands honesty regardless if it’s inconvenient for her or not. Gonzo focuses on historical accuracy. I could go on and on.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    That’s exactly the kind of reading between the lines that I’m talking about. Gonzo is smart, and writes well, and is a good student of history. But please don’t confuse that with not bobbing, weaving, and avoiding. All of our arguments have their strong and weak points. To suggest otherwise would get us back into that arrogant thing or possibly that intolerance thing.

  • Ken

    Your ‘looking chinks in the armor’ technique is tired. Try dealing with any of the direct questions that have been asked of you over and over.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    As stated above, I have been in places where prayers were being offered that I had no interest in participating in.

    I have attended classes in College where my tax dollars were spent on Communist professors who were telling me that women and men were exactly alike in every way. UCLA, 1970. I forget here name. She was a big deal.

    You may not think its the same. Sorry. I think it is even more important. It still goes on today.

    We can just agree to disagree. But your battle on the pledge issue isn’t with me. There are avenues of redress, and in a democracy, the issue will be up for debate until everyone who cares either wins or gives up. I’m not trying to elude any answer here, just telling you an opinion.

    Gonzo,

    Thanks for the lecture on how our jurisprudence system works. I would have never known.

    The Supreme Court in January, 1844 in a case named Vidal v. Girard’s Executors, a school was to be built in which no ecclesiastic, missionary, or minister of any sect whatsoever was to be allowed to even step on the property of the school. They argued over whether a layman could teach or not, but they agreed that, “…there is an obligation to teach what the Bible alone can teach, viz. a pure system of morality.” This has been the precedent throughout 185 years. From http://www.noapathy.org/tracts/mythofseparation.html

    My earlier reference to another website pointed to dozens of illustrations of the actions of the founders and public officials since the founding. They all point to the idea that the establishment cause was about keeping the government from establishing a specific denomination or favoring one over another. Show me a quote ANYWHERE that specifically points to any of the founders saying that Bible should not be taught in public schools, prayers uttered before public meetings (like the meetings of the consititutional congress) or other aspects of Christianity posted in public places.

    What other specifics do you want answered?

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    ***pragmatic advantages to being other than a fundamentalist, literalist, Christian..
    1)not having to tithe to support the idle con men running the “church”
    2) not having the faculty of your Reason bound by Dogma
    3) the ability to observe and percieve the world around you without having to follow the dogmatic assertions of those mentioned in point #1

    Gonzo,

    1. Do we also stop paying the idle con men running our schools. At least I have a choice of churches and leadership. With the schools, I have to pay them to teach my kids regardless of whether I think they have talent or skill or are teaching right info. Don’t get me wrong, I think most teachers are great. So are most preachers. Don’t think much of you for this characterization.

    2. Already discussed above. Why is my reason bound by dogma. If reason says the dogma is wrong, I can move away. I have asked Mike Shermer a million times why he isn’t as skeptical of science as he is of religion or magicians. Never gave me an answer.

    3. Help me on this one. It seems to be the same as 1 and 2.

    ***one holds and arrives at their philosophical Viewpoint either via Reason or Faith, sometimes a bit of both*** Gonzo. How does one reason something out without evaluating the pragmatic aspects. If I am concerned about and feeling hopeless about my future and someone says, “Hey, don’t fret. Follow me and you can look forward to heaven.” I respond that I don’t believe in heaven or even God.

    The someone says, well lets look over the evidence again. My mind may do a little jig at this point. Man, that heaven thing seems great. How much of what I now believe is so locked in that I’m so dead sure of that a little more evidence might sway me. After all, very few folks are confirmed atheists, and of those, many stated they were believers at some time. Small change in thinking on subject that is open to very wide speculation, now I have the hope of heaven.

    The other way. I feel pressure of dogmatic thinking in my church. My parents are all over my case about being more devout. Or maybe they claim to be devout, but I see rank hypocracy. A little help from an atheistic professor, and I begin to see that the evidence for God is up for grabs. I could be shed of my need to get up on Sunday morning and the feelings that I will be hyporcritical like my parents by a slight change in my view.

  • Ken

    Randy, per your example above, what percentage of atheists do you think are that way due to rebellious nature as opposed to rational thought?

  • Ken

    Randy, per the example above, what percentage of religious people do you think are that way simply for the desire to have hope?

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I haven’t done or seen a survey on either. I’m only going by my own experience. By no plan of my own, I seem to have ended up talking to a lot, a whole lot of atheists about God. At least 50% grew up in church or had parents who were religious. Many of those were pretty angry at either the church or their parents. In only one case did I ask if the anger at the father was being transferred. He didn’t think so.

    With regard to Christians, I have been asking around a bit whether pragmatism seems to them to be a part of coming to faith or staying in the faith. So far, no one has argued against it. I’m sure some will.

    Today, I posted the beginning of Practical Reasons for being a believer on my blog. It addresses this issue. I’ll be interested to see the result. How about you or others?

  • Susan

    RANDY: “My mind may do a little jig at this point. Man, that heaven thing seems great. How much of what I now believe is so locked in that I’m so dead sure of that a little more evidence might sway me.”

    I think I understand how Michael Shermer felt. There is no more reason left in you, I don’t know what you are saying any more. All I am left with is the sense that born-again Christians can only sustain a logical argument so far before they fall apart. I’ll wait a bit before I drift on to the next blog, but Ken is right. This has been rewarding because now I see how the RR works. It works sans logic while all the time thinking it’s using it. You really can’t handle the truth. Good luck to you, Randy. I wish you knew how to be kind to the diverse people you pretend to understand.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Ken,

    Thought of another example. Fellow like a girl. Wants to marry her. She says you have to come to church and join. He comes for totally pragmatic reason, but has never really been exposed to things of God. He hears new ideas that appeal to him, strike him as true (reasonable), and he comes to faith.

    Could go the other way. Girl likes a guy. He’s an atheist. He says he’ll never go to church. She leaves church to be with him. She hears his arguments and his friends. They strike her as true.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan, I have found much of what you write to be well thought through, well written, and helpful in understanding a bit more about life in general. Thanks for your insites.

  • Dan

    Gonzo, comment #530: “dangerous and foolhardy indeed to place your Trust and Faith in what others tell you…”

    This could be a worthy admonition to consider when you assert Newton was a homo.

    “…or to blindly accept that a cherry picked paragraph in an article shows the entire picture”

    That’s true of course, but in this instance there are far more juicy cherries on lower lying branches. Consider this from the “full translation of the Scholium”.

    ” This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”

    or this:

    ” It is allowed by all that the Supreme God exists necessarily; and by the same necessity he exists always and everywhere. ”

    Gonzo: “from this, I have always taken away the Impression that Newton was an impassioned Deist”

    Strangely, we’re now in agreement. I’ve never argued otherwise. He certainly wasn’t a literal interpretive fundamentalist. Yet he was passionately consumed in interpreting religous text. Not the sort of weight you would expect an extraordinary genius to devote to mere “story telling”.

  • Bennett

    RANDY sez “Show me a quote ANYWHERE that specifically points to any of the founders saying that Bible should not be taught in public schools…”

    Thomas Paine “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistant that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.” [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]

    The adulterous connection between church and state… [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]

    ..but the Bible is such a book of lies and contradictions there is no knowing which part to believe or whether any… [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]

    That God cannot lie, is no advantage to your argument, because it is no proof that priests can not, or that the Bible does not. [The Life and Works of Thomas Paine, Vol. 9 p. 134]

    As to the book called the bible, it is blasphemy to call it the Word of God. It is a book of lies and contradictions and a history of bad times and bad men. [Thomas Paine, writing to Andrew Dean August 15, 1806]

    As to the book called the Bible, it is blasphemy to call it the Word of God. It is a book of lies and contradictions, and a history of bad times and bad men. There are but a few good characters in the whole book. [Thomas Paine, Letter to William Duane, April 23, 1806]

    The age of ignorance commenced with the Christian system. [Thomas Paine, quoted in 2000 Years of Disbelief, Famous People with the Courage to Doubt by James Haught]

    Science is the true theology. [Thomas Paine, quoted in Emerson, The Mind on Fire pg 153]

    List Of Founding Fathers

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Thomas Paine

    Throughout most of his life, he was a failure, living off the gratitude and generosity of others, but his writings helped inspire a nation. He communicated the ideas of the Revolution to common farmers as easily as to intellectuals, creating prose that stirred the hearts of the fledgling United States. He had a grand vision for society: he was staunchly anti-slavery, and he was one of the first to advocate a world peace organization and social security for the poor and elderly. But his radical views on religion would destroy his success, and by the end of his life, only a handful of people attended his funeral.

    Any others

  • Susan

    Randy, sounds like you dismiss people based on their fame and not their ideas. Very shallow. You might want to rethink that.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    No,

    I have absolutely no interest in people’s fame. I live in the land of famous people, and don’t even go look at the homes of the stars, the stars on the Hollywood walk of fame, or look up when the famous walk into a restaurant.

    My point was that the one example Gonzo was able to offer was so far out of the mainstream that the gang of 14 would have had to fillibuster him.

  • Bennett

    The quotes came from me, not Gonzo.

    It’s laughable, how “Show me a quote ANYWHERE” turns into “Paine…was so far out of the mainstream…”

    WTF does mainstream have to do with it?

    Paine WAS a Founding Father, and he despised the Bible. But you wll now say “specifically points to any of the founders saying that Bible should not be taught in public schools…”

    Go for it. My point is made, no matter how you weasel and spin.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Sorry Bennett for the missed credit.

    Above, Gonzo (actually) dissed my source when the quotes the source offered were not in question. I’m dissing your source because he doesn’t represent the thinking of his time, as pointed to by the quote I posted.

    Call it spin. The whole point of this exercise within an exercise was to prove what our forefathers were thinking at the time about seperation of church and state.

  • Bennett

    Cool. Here are a few more. Pretty much “mainstream” fellas, no?

    John Adams The second president of the United States

    “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.”

    “As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?”

    “Have you considered that system of holy lies and pious frauds that has raged and triumphed for 1,500 years?”

    Thomas Jefferson The third president of the United States

    “Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”

    “On the dogmas of religion, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind.”

    “The priests of the superstition, a bloodthirsty race, are as cruel and remorseless as the being whom they represented as the family God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, and the local God of Israel. That Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God, physically speaking, I have been convinced by the writings of men more learned than myself in that lore.”

    “I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.”

    “We discover in the gospels a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstition, fanaticism and fabrication .”

    “Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the Common Law.”
    -letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, 1814

    James Madison The fourth president of the United States

    “Experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

    “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.”

    “Ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects.”

    “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.”
    -1803 letter objecting use of gov. land for churches

    Benjamin Franklin

    “Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.”

    “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”

    “In the affairs of the world, men are saved, not by faith, but by the lack of it.”

    George Washington The first president of the United States

    The father of this country was very private about his beliefs, but it is widely considered that he was a Deist like his colleagues. He was a Freemason.

    Historian Barry Schwartz writes: “George Washington’s practice of Christianity was limited and superficial because he was not himself a Christian… He repeatedly declined the church’s sacraments. Never did he take communion, and when his wife, Martha, did, he waited for her outside the sanctuary… Even on his deathbed, Washington asked for no ritual, uttered no prayer to Christ, and expressed no wish to be attended by His representative.”

    That pretty much does it, no?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Pretty impressive.

  • Susan

    Bennett, nice summation. I have copy/pasted it for later use–as, no surprise I’m sure, I am a public school teacher who must recite the Pledge with my students. I teach American Literature to 11th graders. This discussion has been excellent fodder for my curriculum which needs much more nonfiction in it.

    RANDY: “I’m dissing your source because [Payne] doesn’t represent the thinking of his time.”

    Randy, this is my point about fame. Do not dismiss people because they weren’t famous for echoing what all other people during their era were saying. Dismiss them because what they said is foolish then and now.

    That’s what’s so dumb about this talk of Newton. He’s only important for his scientific advancements. Who cares if he was gay or a bible thumper? I’ve heard nothing insightful about his understanding of humanity or anything connected to philosophy, so let’s ignore him when he talks about god or the lack thereof. He is as ignorant in this context as the rest of us–more so, because he was living in an era in which public disbelief was met with a punitive response, much more than it is today. Let’s not blame great intellect with cowardice.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    Sometimes I think that you and I speak different languages. We just don’t seem to connect.

    Duane’s info was to the point and dealt with the issue in a way that might give substance to the idea that there was real debate on the issue of allowing religious symbols etc. into the public square supported by public money. That’s why I applaud it. The Paine reference clearly came from a single source who didn’t have much credibility. Not because of his fame or lack of it, but because he was fringe.

    Interesting to know your profession. It also helps, because I now see why you are passionate about aspects of this discussion that apply to the classroom.

    Duane, I have no doubt that many of the founders were diests. I’ve seen the evidence and find it credible. However, I think if you and the rest put aside your bias, you would acknowledge that the vast majority were fundamentalist Christians, active in their churches, and that the founding documents reflect that. Further, you would acknowledge that the actions of government at that time and until recently reflected the reality that God was not excluded from the public square or from publicly funded enterprise.

    Of course, that is far from where this post started. It would appear that we have as complete a list of practical advantages of atheism as we are going to get.

    I have started the list of practical advantages of Christianity. First post is on my blog. More to follow. I have vacation coming up. When I get back around Sept 1, I hope to put up a succinct list, so we can bat that ball around.

  • Bennett

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I invite you to attend a world class Dodge by Randy of Christ!

    Having thrown down the gauntlet of “Show me a quote ANYWHERE that specifically points to any of the founders saying that Bible should not be taught in public schools…”

    So we did. Post #552 & #558

    Irrefutably, and believe me folks, I didn’t use a tenth of what’s out there on the blogosphere regarding quotes from our Founding Fathers that show clearly that they were damn glad to be living in a time when they were not dictated to by a religious order.

    But Randy has no eyes, so he sees not, and he has no ears so he hears not.

    In response to the documented quotes, and biographical information from a respected historian, he glibly replies…

    “However, I think if you and the rest put aside your bias, you would acknowledge that the vast majority were fundamentalist Christians, active in their churches, and that the founding documents reflect that. “

    No eyes, no ears, no intellect capable of realizing that he’s dead, fucking, wrong.

    Sorry Randy, but it’s like catching an animal in a leg-hold trap. I feel sadness.

    Bennett

    I’ll try to stay out of here, because truly, it’s pointless.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    So Bennett,

    In case you’re still paying attention, you really want me to go get the entire books full of quotes from that era that have been used to prove my pov. Fine. However, how many quotes from how many of the top names of the time do i need to prove it. OR will we just enter into a war of quotes where you will never believe it? I have not entered the fray, because I don’t think if I gave you 5000 quotes from 95% of the top leaders of the day, including the founding charters of most of the states, 100’s of quotes from the federalist papers, etc. you would ever say enough.

    You accuse me of a dodge. I ackowledged your resourcefulness. I suggested that we merely meet at the line that is the accepted line by virtually all historians. So set the ground rules, and I’ll decide if I want to play.

  • Evan

    Randy, I’d be happy with ten quotes. From different people and credible sources.

  • Susan

    The quote game is kind of amusing. But the founders did something more meaningful than leave behind inflexible quotes that may or may not reflect the way to live today. They left us a document telling us how to run a government so no one would be persecuted. It is a living document because they were smart enough to know we would want to change it as times change.

    Randy and his ilk get to think however they want as long as they doesn’t use their majority status to persecute the rest of us. Unfortunately he seems quite willing to step on our rights and hypocritically claim that he is not doing anything of the sort. Apparently this is one of the advantages of Christianity.

  • gonzo marx

    oh boy…hard drive crashed, and am in a library to catch up on al this…

    a cookie for Bennett, doing great work while i was missing…

    so Randy, i gave Jefferson, with a direct quote to the “wall of separation between church and state”

    then Bennett give quotes form Tom Paine, and some Presidents who also signed both the Declaration and Constitution…

    you have still yet to come up with a quote from a Founder to support your position…

    nuff said

    Excelsior!

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Randy’s gonna quote Genesis,

    Cos jesus he knows me
    And he knows I’m right
    I’ve been talking to jesus all my life
    Oh yes he knows me
    And he knows I’m right
    And he’s been telling me
    Everything is alright

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    So the game is 10 quotes? I have that from Evan, not Bennett.

    Susan, find me the clause in the consitution that says it’s a living document. The way to change it is clearly noted. Amend. If they thought the way to amend it was by judicial fiat, why did the provide an amendment process?

    Potentially your high school student will get worn down by repeating the same thing over and over. Being a very ancient adult, it won’t matter how many times you say I’m trampling your rights or desire to, it won’t make it so.

  • Evan

    The game is 10 quotes.

  • gonzo marx

    Objection, your Honor…

    Mr Kirk is postulatinng that the Constitution has ben “changed by judicial fiat”…when it is the Court’s own position that nothing has been changed, merely interpeted as per the individual and collective understanding of a moajority of the SCOTUS’ learned opinions, based on Constitutional study as well as other legal influences

    SUSTAINED

    Excelsior!

  • Susan

    Randy, a living document is something that can change and adapt. It does not mean it has a brain, a heart, and a gender. It cannot have babies. I didn’t mean it in that sense. I didn’t realize you were metaphorically challenged.

    I’m gald you understand the difference between repeated lies to a child versus repeated lies to an adult. So how come you are not on my side?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    ***I’m gald you understand the difference between repeated lies to a child versus repeated lies to an adult. So how come you are not on my side?***

    A VERY HEARTY LOL on that one. Almost fell off my chair. Touche’

    But talk about a dodge on the other one. I didn’t say anything about “living” in any sense other than the one you stated. I’m the law school grad. Big debate, Susan and Gonzo, on whether constitution living or not. Basic argument in the whole choice of candidates over last upteen or more years. Strict constructionists vs living document.

    What do the 10 quotes have to prove? Note, I am making the classic error in allowing you to frame the debate.

  • Evan

    Sigh, are you going to give us the quotes or not?

  • Dan

    Not to interrupt the gang assault, but which of the quotes is it “that specifically points to any of the founders saying that Bible should not be taught in public schools…”

    That is a pretty high standard that I don’t see being met in the quotes above.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Dan,

    I gave them a silent pass on that. I realize they wouldn’t have done so for me, but I’m a Christian. : )

    I think it can be implied from these comments that at least three of these individuals might have, at the moment of their quote, not wanted Bible taught in schools. It isn’t a certainty by a long shot, and it may be that this was during their skeptic “period.” But, I was impressed, as stated earlier.

  • Bennett

    Dan – Randy’s question was a trick question. Christians in the New England colonies believed that their children should learn about Christianity at home. To that end, parents taught their children to read so they could read the Bible, at home.

    And once those kids knew how to read, they could read school books as well.

    New England villages having more than 100 families set up grammar schools, which taught boys Latin and math and other subjects needed to get into college. And although girls could read, they weren’t allowed to go to grammar school or to college.

    Middle Colonies schools were also largely religious but taught the teachings of one religion. If you were a Catholic, you learned about the Catholic religion.

    Most schools were private. Students also learned other subjects so they could get into college. Again, girls weren’t allowed to attend, unless they were Quakers.

    School-age kids in the Southern Colonies were taught at home, for the most part, by their parents or by private tutors. When these kids became teenagers, they would then go off to college or to Europe. As in the other colonies, Southern girls did not go to school.

    So I provided the quotes to show that many, if not most, of our Founding Fathers were deists, and had no great love for the Bible or fundamentalist Christianity.

    That they were so outspoken in their disdain, and in the case of Thomas Paine, outright loathing, speaks volumes about what they opinions on “teaching the Bible” in a “Secular Public School” would have been, had a school like that existed in the late 1700s.

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    I don’t do trick questions. I don’t know a lot about the history of public schools back then, but I’m pretty sure there were some. I know that I have a copy of a 1850 primer that refers to God throughout.

    What do the quotations need to prove? Pick your poison.

  • Bennett

    Nah, it’s pointless Randy. Play quote games with other folks. My quotes show what I wanted to show, and even that was pointless.

    I only dropped in to make the point about “public schools” in the 13 Colonies, and how it related to “teaching” the bible. It was a home and church thing. Wish your sect could do the same.

    Have a nice life.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Eliminating public schools has a nice sound to it. But if we’re going to have them, it seems we should learn to share all ideas, since we all contribute to them.

  • Bennett

    Okay Randy, one last comment for you, then I’m off to bed.

    You wrote “But if we’re going to have them, it seems we should learn to share all ideas, since we all contribute to them.”

    Okay, fine. In high schools there is an optional class called “Belief Systems 101″, and it’s curriculum is to examine the various belief systems, or lack of, that represent the citizens of the United States. All belief systems are given equal time, but logically the first class would recognize that many people either do not believe in a “supreme power”, or that some people require verifiable proof to the existence of a “supreme power” before they will commit to any lifestyle change based on any book written by men who lived 2000-5000 years ago, and only if the book is specifically recognized through overt communications with this supreme being, who acknowledges the tenets set forth in ONE version of a “Holy Writ” the it says are a complete and true description of what the “supreme being ” is all about.

    We’re talkin’ worldwide visions and a loudspeaker voice coming from everywhere on the planet so that every fucking human being on the planet hears this GOD talkin’.

    What’s with the mystery? What’s with the “Oh, I see every sparrow fall, but I can’t pick up the phone and let you know why I haven’t eliminated cancer and mosquitoes yet, or kept asswipes with guns from killing women and children… (but you devout Christians should kill an “Abortion Doctor” now and then, to “save the unborn”, for the love of Christ)

    Oh, and sorry ‘about that death thingy.”
    ————–

    So then, the totally balanced High School class on “Belief Systems”.

    Teacher: “G’morning Class. Today we’re going to discuss the concept of belief systems.”

    “First, I have to tell you THE most basic truth about the hundreds of Belief Systems that humanity holds to be true.

    And here it is…

    The one and only thing that’s common about ALL of the different Belief Systems is….

    There is no proof – none at all.

    None of it can be proven, there is NO evidence, and it’s all purely speculative. Class? Are you following me, class? Okay then,

    Please turn to Chapter One of your textbook.

    [teacher reading from textbook] “In our world, different people believe in different things. Some people believe that there is some type of power greater that what we see clearly around us, some kind of “system” or “God” or “Allah” or “Buddha” or “Vishnu” or “Hierarchy” or “Zeus”, or one of the dozens of other symbolic representations of a “god” or “supreme power “. OR a combination of these conceptual deities that potentially have a personal interest in the human race, and in one way or another, wants to interact with us somehow, with our personal lives, what we do and how we live.

    Some of the Belief Systems, “Christianity” is a good example, go so far as to postulate that this “God” wants human beings to “worship” it. Please note, class, that other than the fables and parables that exist in old books that have been copied and repeatedly translated by inherently flawed men, and there is no verifiable proof for any of ANY belief system held as truth by the peoples of today’s world.

    “Some people do not believe ANY of this, and think that we are simply responsible for our actions while we are here on this earth, and that it is the best course to act morally and civilly with everyone we meet, if at all possible.”

    […]

    Sorry, out out steam at this point.

    But I’d fine with a class like that. One that looks at the concepts of “God” and “Belief Systems” from a point of view that represents ALL of the citizens of our diverse country. Those who believe, and those who don’t believe.

    Would you be fine with a class like that?

    And that’s IT. No other “Bible Study” in K through eighth? No Koran, no Bible, no Wiccan Cookbook?

    No “indoctrination” of any kind by any of the world’s religions?

    And you can do your “big focus” on the Christian Bible and your personal religion at home, and in your church, yes?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Bennett,

    They have classes like that in College. Its a real good idea. However, one would hope that at least it could be done from the viewpoint of anthropology, you know, empathetically, not derisively.

  • Susan

    We have a class like that, and I have taught it. It’s called Values. It’s a focus on how different cultures reveal their belief systems in their literature. It’s not difficult to present information without indoctrinating. It’s really easy to tell the two apart when you are 16 and older. But when you are a little kid, you have the belief that adults won’t lie to you. It’s important not to lie to little kids.

  • Susan

    Randy, read this NYT article if you still think the pendulum is swinging away from religion in public places. The Pledge was just a warm-up exercise. Why won’t you help me stop this mixing of religion in public life. You say you believe in separation of church and state, but it’s just another lie.

    Bible Course Becomes a Test for Public Schools in Texas

    By RALPH BLUMENTHAL and BARBARA NOVOVITCH

    Published: August 1, 2005

    HOUSTON, July 31 – When the school board in Odessa, the West Texas oil town, voted unanimously in April to add an elective Bible study course to the 2006 high school curriculum, some parents dropped to their knees in prayerful thanks that God would be returned to the classroom, while others assailed it as an effort to instill religious training in the public schools.

    REST OF THE ARTICLE IS HERE.

  • Susan

    Here’s a line from the textbook:
    “Throughout most of the last 2,000 years, the majority of men living in the Western world have accepted the statements of the Scriptures as genuine.”

    Just what Duane and Dan and Bennett have been trying to debunk. You can’t present statements like that as fact.

    ALSO FROM THE ARTICLE: “It cites supposed NASA findings to suggest that the earth stopped twice in its orbit, in support of the literal truth of the biblical text that the sun stood still in Joshua and II Kings.”

    If you have to lie to convert people, something is wrong with your belief system.

  • gonzo marx

    ok Randy,

    in your own comments above, after i gave you the Jefferson quote about the wall of separation between church and state , and how that was spoken of in the establishment clause…you stated you could find 10 quotes to differ and gave a link to an article…

    i then asked, not for any article..but at least ONE quote from a Founder to support your position..taken in context(note, i quoted you the ENTIRE letter from Jefferson)…

    then you got some Tom Paine ..which you reject, referring to him as “fringe”…fair enough…

    but then Bennett gave you a few more Quotes, each from Presidents, who were also Founders

    you have yet to produce any quotes form a Founder, in context, that support your position that they were trying to establish a “christian” nation…whereas you have been given numerous bits of evidence, from Founder who were Presidents, to support my position that they established a SECULAR nation, that would not interfere in religious matters and that religious matters would not interfere with the Nation on a governmental level

    why this is important, is in context of the Title of this Post…you asked for “pragmatic” advantages…i then gave you some posts showing how in the macro and micro sense, it is very pragmatic for a government to be secular , rather than theological in constitution, the Rule of Law and everyday practice…

    hope that summary helps..

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan said “You say you believe in separation of church and state” If I had said that, it would be a lie. I believe in the constitional mandate that the government not be involved in the establishment of a religion. I have stated repeatedly that I think it is a wise thing to have our government participating in the culture, which includes religion.

    Also, I had read the article. Haven’t had a chance to do research into it. The state of California has explicit laws on its books saying that the Bible should be part of curriculum when appropriate. World Literature, Ancient World History, almost all other history courses, and others would be deemed appropriate. A class that studied the Bible without effort or intent to convert anyone would seem like a very wise thing.

    No, I would have no problem with other religious texts being studied in that way. None at all. Even Ayn Rand.

    Thanks Gonzo for clearing the mud a bit. I didn’t want to do research on something that would have been way off the mark. No time. Vacation coming up in 10 days. Trade show tomorrow.

    So, let me clear the mud a bit more. I did not say that the ff set out to create a Christian as opposed to secular national government. The National government is secular and based on Judeo Christian ideas and ideals.

    The Nation (all of us) as contrasted with the government, is Christian to this day, though trending heavily secular.

    My contention was that most of the FF would have had no problem with the involvement of Christian thought, pictures, other art, Bible reading, Christmas carol singing, etc. in the public square including schools, courthouses, and other government property. I say that I can produce quotes that would support that.

    Of course there are also plenty of quotes from the FF and leadership since that say the Christianity is the bedrock of our nation and itegrally involved in our laws, etc. Truly, how could it be any other way. We are a Western Nation up until now, and those are the notions of the Western Culture.

  • gonzo marx

    Randy sez…
    *Of course there are also plenty of quotes from the FF and leadership since that say the Christianity is the bedrock of our nation and itegrally involved in our laws, etc.*

    ok..where are said quotes form the Founders….one for my Jefferson, and one each for the presidential quotes Bennett supplied…

    remember, they must be from someone that signed the Declaration, and/or the Constitution…

    since you disqualified Paine as being “fringe”…i reserve the right to do the same….however, i very highly doubt i will do so…more than likely i will gladly accept any full context Quotes that support your viewpoint once i get to read them…

    you see Randy…your position is diametrically opposed to ANYTHING i have ever read from ANY of the Founders in this regard…Jefferson’s position of a “wall of separation” appears to be the accepted, and common thought of all the Founders i have read…

    that being said, i know i could not possibly have seen all of it, and thus i do allow for the possibility for quotes to support your viewpoint to exist…

    i have yet to see any

    why is this Important, you may ask, gentle Readers…simplicity itself..it goes to the very Heart of the vast majority of Arguments set forward by american fundamentalists…they postulate tat ours is supposed to be a “christian nation” and tat it has ben/is/should be ruled by literal interpertation of the Bible, rather than a secular Rule of Law

    your humble Narrator, as well as the SCOTUS, don’t agree…and i put forward the Hypothesis that a secular Nation, whose government is “athiest/agnostic” in policy/philosophy is good for all in a pragmatic sense

    hope that helps…

    Excelsior!

  • Susan

    Since you guys like quotes so much, here’s some I just happen to run across:

    Agnostic Robert Ingersoll said, “The notion that faith in Christ is to be rewarded by an eternity of bliss, while a dependence upon reason, observation, and experience merits everlasting pain, is too absurd for refutation, and can be relieved only by that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance called ‘faith.’” 

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton, woman’s suffragist leader stated, “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation.” 

    Journalist H. L. Mencken stated, “The Christian religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration- courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth.” 

    Astronomer Carl Sagan said, “My view is that if there is no evidence for it, then forget about it. An agnostic is somebody who doesn’t believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I’m agnostic.” 

    President Abraham Lincoln said, “The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession.  I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma.” 

    Pantheist Albert Einstein said, “I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own — a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.” 

    President Thomas Jefferson said, “The Christian god can easily be pictured as virtually the same god as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites.” 

    President James Madison said, “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.” 

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    John Adams and John Hancock:
    We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus! [April 18, 1775]

    John Adams:
    “ The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
    • “[July 4th] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”
    –John Adams in a letter written to Abigail on the day the Declaration was approved by Congress

    “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” –October 11, 1798

    “I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen.” December 25, 1813 letter to Thomas Jefferson

    “Without Religion this World would be Something not fit to be mentioned in polite Company, I mean Hell.” [John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, April 19, 1817] | photographs of this letter: Page 2…. page 1…. page 3… page 4
    …….click here to see this quote in its context and to see John Adams’ quotes taken OUT of context!

    Samuel Adams: | Portrait of Sam Adams | Powerpoint presentation on John, John Quincy, and Sam Adams
    “ He who made all men hath made the truths necessary to human happiness obvious to all… Our forefathers opened the Bible to all.” [ “American Independence,” August 1, 1776. Speech delivered at the State House in Philadelphia]

    “ Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity… and leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system.” [October 4, 1790]

    John Quincy Adams:
    • “Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [the Fourth of July]?” “Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity”?
    –1837, at the age of 69, when he delivered a Fourth of July speech at Newburyport, Massachusetts.

    “The Law given from Sinai [The Ten Commandments] was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code.”
    John Quincy Adams. Letters to his son. p. 61

    Elias Boudinot: | Portrait of Elias Boudinot
    “ Be religiously careful in our choice of all public officers . . . and judge of the tree by its fruits.”

    Charles Carroll – signer of the Declaration of Independence | Portrait of Charles Carroll
    ” Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.” [Source: To James McHenry on November 4, 1800.]

    Benjamin Franklin: | Portrait of Ben Franklin
    “ God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel” –Constitutional Convention of 1787 | original manuscript of this speech

    “In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered… do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?” [Constitutional Convention, Thursday June 28, 1787]

    In Benjamin Franklin’s 1749 plan of education for public schools in Pennsylvania, he insisted that schools teach “the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern.”

    In 1787 when Franklin helped found Benjamin Franklin University, it was dedicated as “a nursery of religion and learning, built on Christ, the Cornerstone.”

    Alexander Hamilton:
    • Hamilton began work with the Rev. James Bayard to form the Christian Constitutional Society to help spread over the world the two things which Hamilton said made America great:
    (1) Christianity
    (2) a Constitution formed under Christianity.
    “The Christian Constitutional Society, its object is first: The support of the Christian religion. Second: The support of the United States.”

    On July 12, 1804 at his death, Hamilton said, “I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I look to Him for mercy; pray for me.”

    “For my own part, I sincerely esteem it [the Constitution] a system which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests.” [1787 after the Constitutional Convention]

    “I have carefully examined the evidences of the Christian religion, and if I was sitting as a juror upon its authenticity I would unhesitatingly give my verdict in its favor. I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man.”

    John Hancock: | Portrait of John Hancock
    • “In circumstances as dark as these, it becomes us, as Men and Christians, to reflect that whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgments, …at the same time all confidence must be withheld from the means we use; and reposed only on that God rules in the armies of Heaven, and without His whole blessing, the best human counsels are but foolishness… Resolved; …Thursday the 11th of May…to humble themselves before God under the heavy judgments felt and feared, to confess the sins that have deserved them, to implore the Forgiveness of all our transgressions, and a spirit of repentance and reformation …and a Blessing on the … Union of the American Colonies in Defense of their Rights [for which hitherto we desire to thank Almighty God]…That the people of Great Britain and their rulers may have their eyes opened to discern the things that shall make for the peace of the nation…for the redress of America’s many grievances, the restoration of all her invaded liberties, and their security to the latest generations.
    “A Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, with a total abstinence from labor and recreation. Proclamation on April 15, 1775″

    Patrick Henry: | Portrait of Patrick Henry
    “Orator of the Revolution.”
    • This is all the inheritance I can give my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.”
    —The Last Will and Testament of Patrick Henry

    “It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” [May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses]

    “The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed.”

    John Jay: | Portrait of John Jay
    “ Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Source: October 12, 1816. The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, Henry P. Johnston, ed., (New York: Burt Franklin, 1970), Vol. IV, p. 393.

    “Whether our religion permits Christians to vote for infidel rulers is a question which merits more consideration than it seems yet to have generally received either from the clergy or the laity. It appears to me that what the prophet said to Jehoshaphat about his attachment to Ahab [“Shouldest thou help the ungodly and love them that hate the Lord?” 2 Chronicles 19:2] affords a salutary lesson.” [The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, 1794-1826, Henry P. Johnston, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1893), Vol. IV, p.365]

    Thomas Jefferson:
    “ The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man.”

    “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus.”

    “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.”

    “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.” (excerpts are inscribed on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial in the nations capital) [Source: Merrill . D. Peterson, ed., Jefferson Writings, (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 1984), Vol. IV, p. 289. From Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, 1781.]

    Samuel Johnston:
    • “It is apprehended that Jews, Mahometans (Muslims), pagans, etc., may be elected to high offices under the government of the United States. Those who are Mahometans, or any others who are not professors of the Christian religion, can never be elected to the office of President or other high office, [unless] first the people of America lay aside the Christian religion altogether, it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves.
    [Elliot’s Debates, Vol. IV, pp 198-199, Governor Samuel Johnston, July 30, 1788 at the North Carolina Ratifying Convention]

    James Madison
    “ We’ve staked our future on our ability to follow the Ten Commandments with all of our heart.”

    “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” [1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia]

    • I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare the unsatisfactoriness [of temportal enjoyments] by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way.
    Letter by Madison to William Bradford (September 25, 1773)
    • In 1812, President Madison signed a federal bill which economically aided the Bible Society of Philadelphia in its goal of the mass distribution of the Bible.
    “ An Act for the relief of the Bible Society of Philadelphia” Approved February 2, 1813 by Congress

    “It is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.”

    • A watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest, while we are building ideal monuments of renown and bliss here, we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven. [Letter by Madison to William Bradford [urging him to make sure of his own salvation] November 9, 1772]

    At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, James Madison proposed the plan to divide the central government into three branches. He discovered this model of government from the Perfect Governor, as he read Isaiah 33:22;
    “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver,
    the LORD is our king;
    He will save us.”
    [Baron Charles Montesquieu, wrote in 1748; “Nor is there liberty if the power of judging is not separated from legislative power and from executive power. If it [the power of judging] were joined to legislative power, the power over life and liberty of the citizens would be arbitrary, for the judge would be the legislature if it were joined to the executive power, the judge could have the force of an oppressor. All would be lost if the same … body of principal men … exercised these three powers.” Madison claimed Isaiah 33:22 as the source of division of power in government
    See also: pp.241-242 in Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History: The Principle approach by Rosalie Slater]

    James McHenry – Signer of the Constitution | Portrait of James McHenry
    Public utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness. In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience.

    Jedediah Morse: | portrait of Jedediah Morse
    “To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. . . . Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.”

    John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg | Statue of John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg
    In a sermon delivered to his Virginia congregation on Jan. 21, 1776, he preached from Ecclesiastes 3.
    Arriving at verse 8, which declares that there is a time of war and a time of peace, Muhlenberg noted that this surely was not the time of peace; this was the time of war. Concluding with a prayer, and while standing in full view of the congregation, he removed his clerical robes to reveal that beneath them he was wearing the uniform of an officer in the Continental army! He marched to the back of the church; ordered the drum to beat for recruits and over three hundred men joined him, becoming the Eighth Virginia Brigade. John Peter Muhlenberg finished the Revolution as a Major-General, having been at Valley Forge and having participated in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, Stonypoint, and Yorktown.

    Thomas Paine:
    “ It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences, and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles: he can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.”
    “ The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools, in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only, has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of his existence. They labour with studied ingenuity to ascribe every thing they behold to innate properties of matter, and jump over all the rest by saying, that matter is eternal.” “The Existence of God–1810”

    Benjamin Rush:
    • “I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them…we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government; that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible; for this Divine Book, above all others, constitutes the soul of republicanism.” “By withholding the knowledge of [the Scriptures] from children, we deprive ourselves of the best means of awakening moral sensibility in their minds.” [Letter written (1790’s) in Defense of the Bible in all schools in America]
    • “Christianity is the only true and perfect religion.”
    • “If moral precepts alone could have reformed mankind, the mission of the Son of God into our world would have been unnecessary.”

    “Let the children who are sent to those schools be taught to read and write and above all, let both sexes be carefully instructed in the principles and obligations of the Christian religion. This is the most essential part of education”
    Letters of Benjamin Rush, “To the citizens of Philadelphia: A Plan for Free Schools”, March 28, 1787

    Justice Joseph Story:
    “ I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society. One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law. . . There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying its foundations.”
    [Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States p. 593]
    “ Infidels and pagans were banished from the halls of justice as unworthy of credit.” [Life and letters of Joseph Story, Vol. II 1851, pp. 8-9.]
    “ At the time of the adoption of the constitution, and of the amendment to it, now under consideration [i.e., the First Amendment], the general, if not the universal sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship.”
    [Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States p. 593]

    Noah Webster: | Portrait of Noah Webster
    “ The duties of men are summarily comprised in the Ten Commandments, consisting of two tables; one comprehending the duties which we owe immediately to God-the other, the duties we owe to our fellow men.”

    “In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed…No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”
    [Source: 1828, in the preface to his American Dictionary of the English Language]

    Let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God [Exodus 18:21]. . . . If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted . . . If our government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws. [Noah Webster, The History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie and Peck, 1832), pp. 336-337, 49]

    “All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.” [Noah Webster. History. p. 339]

    “The Bible was America’s basic textbook
    in all fields.” [Noah Webster. Our Christian Heritage p.5]

    “Education is useless without the Bible” [Noah Webster. Our Christian Heritage p.5 ]

    George Washington:

    Farewell Address: The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion” …and later: “…reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle…” | photo of Farewell address original manuscript

    “ It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible.”

    “What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.” [speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs May 12, 1779]

    “To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian” [May 2, 1778, at Valley Forge]

    During his inauguration, Washington took the oath as prescribed by the Constitution but added several religious components to that official ceremony. Before taking his oath of office, he summoned a Bible on which to take the oath, added the words “So help me God!” to the end of the oath, then leaned over and kissed the Bible.

    Nelly Custis-Lewis (Washington’s adopted daughter):
    Is it necessary that any one should [ask], “Did General Washington avow himself to be a believer in Christianity?” As well may we question his patriotism, his heroic devotion to his country. His mottos were, “Deeds, not Words”; and, “For God and my Country.”

    “ O Most Glorious God, in Jesus Christ, my merciful and loving Father; I acknowledge and confess my guilt in the weak and imperfect performance of the duties of this day. I have called on Thee for pardon and forgiveness of my sins, but so coldly and carelessly that my prayers are become my sin, and they stand in need of pardon.”
    “ I have sinned against heaven and before Thee in thought, word, and deed. I have contemned Thy majesty and holy laws. I have likewise sinned by omitting what I ought to have done and committing what I ought not. I have rebelled against the light, despising Thy mercies and judgment, and broken my vows and promise. I have neglected the better things. My iniquities are multiplied and my sins are very great. I confess them, O Lord, with shame and sorrow, detestation and loathing and desire to be vile in my own eyes as I have rendered myself vile in Thine. I humbly beseech Thee to be merciful to me in the free pardon of my sins for the sake of Thy dear Son and only Savior Jesus Christ who came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Thou gavest Thy Son to die for me.”
    [George Washington; from a 24 page authentic handwritten manuscript book dated April 21-23, 1752
    William J. Johnson George Washington, the Christian (New York: The Abingdon Press, New York & Cincinnati, 1919), pp. 24-35.]
    Click here for George Washington’s Prayer Journal

    “Although guided by our excellent Constitution in the discharge of official duties, and actuated, through the whole course of my public life, solely by a wish to promote the best interests of our country; yet, without the beneficial interposition of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, we could not have reached the distinguished situation which we have attained with such unprecedented rapidity. To HIM, therefore, should we bow with gratitude and reverence, and endeavor to merit a continuance of HIS special favors”. [1797 letter to John Adams]

    James Wilson: | Portrait of James Wilson
    Signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution
    Supreme Court Justice appointed by George Washington
    Spoke 168 times during the Constitutional Convention

    “Christianity is part of the common law”
    [Sources: James Wilson, Course of Lectures [vol 3, p.122]; and quoted in Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, 11 Serg, & R. 393, 403 (1824).]

    ___________________________________________________________

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    I failed to give proper credit to that list of quotes.

    here

    Please note that many of the quotes actually do refer to the schools.

  • Susan

    Randy, you need to go through and edit this. Which of these quotes do you think support your view about no separation between church and state? (I’m still not sure what your view is.) There’s lots of filler that for politeness’ sake should be excised. Another item to edit is the God references that work against even religious inclusiveness, like “We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!” This sounds like you advocate Jews as well as atheists from being citizens.

    You’ll notice that quotes from dead guys are no substitute for your own thinking. The constitution is living because we can amend it. These guys because they are dead cannot correct their mistaken ideas. Interestingly, Bush Sr. is still alive and refuses to correct his atheists-are-not-patriots gaffe.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    The quote in from Adams does not claim that Jews won’t be citizens, it is his claim and his view of their being only one true God, and his view that our country is founded on that principle.

    I don’t think anyone suggested that only Christians be citizens. Even women, blacks, and the landless were citizens.

    Glad we agree that the “living” aspect of the constitution is our ability to amend it, not the judiciaries ability to change in by fiat.

  • Susan

    RANDY: “The quote in from Adams does not claim that Jews won’t be citizens”

    Then what was the purpose of finding the quote? Do any of the quotes you found tell us that we are a Christian nation whose Christianity should be taught in the school and whose laws should be followed? (One of the Ten Commandments and the Bible says we should stone to death people who work on Saturday.)

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    If one of your students read those quotes and couldn’t answer the question you just posed on their own, you flunk them on the spot. Or maybe not, liberal teachers believe in passing folks whether they get the material or not.

  • Susan

    Randy,

    That analogy is going to work against you. We are not in a student-teacher relationship, so what follows is a bad fit. But remember you started it.

    Say a student (that’s you in this analogy) was assigned to find 10 quotes on a certain topic, and the student turned in twenty pages of miscellaneous quotes and links to unrelated content. Upon receiving the assignment, the surprised teacher was met with the student’s justification, “If you can’t find your assignment in there, you must not be a very smart teacher.” Guess what grade that student gets?

    Good teachers require students to prove they actually understood the material and didn’t just copy/paste an entire website and submit that as something they read and understood. Let’s face it, Randy, you didn’t read through those quotes recently, did you?

  • JR

    Randy Kirk: …liberal teachers believe in passing folks whether they get the material or not.

    Apparently so do you, if the material is evolution.

  • Susan

    FROM THE NEW REPUBLIC: “In a capital awash in falsehoods, no falsehood has been greater than this recent pronouncement by Senator John Cornyn: “We have no religious tests for public office in this country.” About the Constitution, this is right. About the Bush administration, this is wrong, ludicrously wrong. Never in modernity has American politics been more religiose. Conservatives seem to do nothing except in the name of God, and liberals are increasingly embarrassed that in their policies, not to mention in their worldviews, they may sometimes be godless. At the door to American democracy, God is the bouncer.”

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    Yeah, you could have forgotten the analogy. I read every word of the first 10 or so, then scanned the rest. Clearly, they stated exactly on point what we were discussing and more. So much so that Gonzo hasn’t even come back with a comment. Nor have you or anyone else specifically challanged anything in there.

    I work for a living, write 2 blogs, participate here, have two sons at home, a wife, 2 adult daughters and three young grandchildren. In addition, i am extremely active in helping folks who could use a little help. So, excuse me for not spending an hour creating a list of quotes that any high school educated person should have known existed in some form close to that. The only reason anyone would fail to know that this country has the foundation laid out by those quotes would be the failure of our current education system to properly teach it.

    And your other comment is so far off track as to be sad. The entire social welfare and civil rights efforts of the 60’s were based on the social gospel and Christian leadership like the Rev Martin Luther King.

    Today, we have liberals who require that any judge pass a litmus test on abortion which, if they are evangelical or Catholic is pretty hard. The religious test isn’t on our side.

  • gonzo marx

    oh Randy..again, sinful Pride…

    has it ever occured to you that i might be a seni-busy personj as well?

    after all, scroll up..how long after you were asked for said quotes did you finally respond?..and i don’t get a few days after my hard drive fries?..

    tsk tsk…

    so i have a borrowed laptop, and a few minutes to look everything over…i was waiting fro you to find Madison, since he is a poster boy for your Position on thes eissues..glad you did find him…lets go over some of the rest, eh?

    you’ve found many good Quotes, which when coupled with those supplied by Bennett and myself show one clear Truth…

    this very same argument has been going on since the Founding of our Nation…

    if you look closely at soem of what you have supplied, you might find different readfs…mention of Deity…and “principles of Christianity”…lending some credence to my position that many of the Founders were Deists rather than Theists…although just as many were devout Christians in the sense you define the term as well…

    the funniest ones are from Franklin’s speech…this is the very same individual which said ” I am unconvinced of the Divinity of Christ”….yet who greatly admired and respected the teachings of Jesus…

    one for you to note…how many of these come from public speeches?

    as is clearly shown in the discrepencey between some of your quotes and some of Bennett’s…what folks say in the public eye, and what tey said in private letters, or once they no longer had to run for public office, are completely different things…

    that is something Jefferson touches on in his own writings…always being careful to attend church and say the right things in context…until after he was elected President…and the bulk of his personal writings becoming public after his death bear this out…

    again , i refer you to the Jefferson Bible…the content and very existance of which bears out much of my position in these matters..

    i find it very telling that after all yoru yammwering about Paine being a “fringe” element…you can cherry pick a quote form yhimn out of context with a straight face, as opposed to the full piece that Bennett supplied…

    ah well…it seems neither will convince the other…i do easily grant that many early Americans were indeed devout church goers..and used the Bible to teach with, consider as well how common that Book was, as opposed to anything resembling a text book…it was very useful for it’s time..and still can be, in the proper context…as can many other texts…

    the bottom line to this all is that this discussion was taking place even then..and that, as is shown in the letter from Jefferson that i quoted in it’s entirety…the Establishment clause was placed in the Constitutions Bill of Rights, to allow this discussion, but to keep government out of church, and church out of government…

    i know you disagree, and that’s ok…SCOTUS makes those decisions, not you or i…and it has…repeatedly

    as for the topic of this Posts..i think i have denmonstrated 2 things..that it ispragmatic for a governet to be agnostic or even athieistic about religion…but for theindividual, it’s all about their own Viewpoint…and it should remain thus

    you peurile attempt to place a pragmatic or practical value uopn spiritual matters can only either be completely disingenuous, a cheap debaters Trick , or totally shallow on the part of the one posing the Question…

    i don’t care, either way…i think i have dealt with it enough, and borne the implied insult in a manner i am comfortable with…

    after reading over you writings once again…i cannot envision us ever being anything less than adversarial for many reasons…

    and thus i remain, apostate and heretic

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Interesting Gonzo that you think we would always be adverarial. I was thinking just the opposite. Many of my closest friends now and in the past have had many opinions that were the opposite of mine, but then we had other areas of very firm agreement. The fun, many times, was in the debate.

    You see, I agree that this debate was going at the time. I agree that many were diests. You probably also know or suspect that some of these guys went through changes in their opinions. Franklin and Jefferson for instance. So it wasn’t always public posturing, though I’m sure sometimes it was.

    The key thing we aren’t seeming to agree on is whether the ff had any intent of keeping religion out of government and to what extent. It is clear that they didn’t want the government to create a religion or favor one over another (within Christianity)

    However, it is also clear that the vast majority had no problem with art, literature, prayers, etc. as part of the public participation in government.

    For once and for all, however, I will state that if we vote to have no singing of the First Noel in public schools, I will not even fight to get it back in. I just don’t like the judges doing it.

  • gonzo marx

    and here is why we will remain adversarial…

    Randy sez…
    *However, it is also clear that the vast majority had no problem with art, literature, prayers, etc. as part of the public participation in government.
    However, it is also clear that the vast majority had no problem with art, literature, prayers, etc. as part of the public participation in government.*

    it is my contention that you are mistaking what an INDIVIDUAL condohnes, or pursues , in these matters…and the actions of the Government….

    two completely different things…just because a devout person who has been elected does something as you state, does NOT mean that the government is doing it…big difference which you constantly seem to ignore, or just don’t see…

    again..Randy sez…
    * It is clear that they didn’t want the government to create a religion or favor one over another (within Christianity)*

    i was with you until your parenthetical…i put it to you that NO religion means NONE…no christian is to be favored over a buddhist, or over an atheist, or over JuJu…or ANYTHING, including NOTHING

    again…a baseline bit of your foundational belief system…and one that is antithetical to my way of Reason and Thought….

    fortunately for me, and those like me (meaning anyone NOT “christian” by your definition), weo are under no obligation to conform..we have the Liberty to think and believe as we like…to worship as we chose,l or to not worship at all…

    THAT is the paradigm meant by our Founders…and that is one of our Republic’s greatest strengths

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    You misunderstood my comment (within Christianity.) I was refering to what the ff would have said. Not for now. The pluralism that we have today requires a very different approach. We can’t prefer one religion over another period, including no religion. That, however should not preclude some of the things that judges are stopping in the public arena.

    By the way, I have real mixed emotions on the prayer in school, huddles, graduations, deal. It saddens me that it has been taken out by judges, and I’m not sure we haven’t lost something we will later regret. But I am unclear as to how we do the prayer in a pluralistic society like today.

  • gonzo marx

    i misunderstood nothing, i think it probable that you were wearing your Freudian Slip with your evening gown tonight…

    as for prayer…do as you Will, just keep it out of public schools as a requirement or indoctrination…if an individual nods their head and prays within themselves, that is their choice, and i have no problem with it…but to impose that upon others within the confines of a secular institution, by the Authority of the school, and upon the impressionable mind of a child…is wrong…that is something that is up to the parents and for them and in their home and church, not in the public school…

    as for the Founders, you must remember the context…for one, what needed to be done and said in public, within the Puritanical society in which they lived(remember, the ghost of Cotton Mather and the burning stake was still possible), made it neccesary to say one thing in public, no matter their personal belief…a forced Duality that Mason’s were quite used to…and oru Founders were of that Brotherhood…

    the same secrecy that allowed them to explore Free Thought also enabled them to plan out the Revolution, and gave them the structure required to accomplish it….

    but i digress…

    we are far off track with the subject of the original Post…and i have made my position on that as clear as i can…

    Excelsior!

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    This thread is STILL going?

  • http://hungrytroll.com troll

    There once was a devoutly Catholic young woman from Boston who fell from grace

    when she discovered her pregnancy she drowned herself in the Charles

    It would have been advantageous for her to be an atheist

    People say that religious guilt and social shame have no survival value – that they are not what modern religion is about

    can you maintain a religious social structure without them

    remove your religiouness from my bridge and take that damned goat with you

    troll

  • Susan

    It is clear, Randy, that you believe that if God is not mentioned in public schools, then the atheists have “won.” How wrong you are! We “win” if teachers get to say, “There’s no God.” We have never said that or tried to say that. You can’t even get your mind around the fact that the door you are opening to prayer in public school, opens the door for me to give equal time to denying God to my students.

    RANDY: “I have real mixed emotions on the prayer in school, huddles, graduations, deal. It saddens me that it has been taken out by judges, and I’m not sure we haven’t lost something we will later regret. But I am unclear as to how we do the prayer in a pluralistic society like today.”

    Under my plan, you get your huddles back, but after each religious prayer, the atheist response will be allowed: “There is no God. We rely on ourselves. If there were a God, he would love the other team just as much, so asking for an advantage would be asking the Devil for help.” Do you start to get why you can’t impose your beliefs on others unless you set up a special school that your religion funds?

    The true compromise is to have no mention of God (either in support or denial).

    Your side has all the power of the majority and you can easily trample us, but trampling an honest minority has never been Good or honest. If your religion tells you it’s okay, then you are worshipping Evil not Good. But you can’t tell because you can’t think for yourself.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Troll, there are so many logical issues with your comment that we can probably get 600 more comments on this thread just from the discussion.

    Guilt is not a Christian or religious concept. Shame isn’t either.

    Chrisitianity provides a way to deal psychologically/emotionally with guilt and shame in order to move on with life. Forgiveness. A believer should do better in the situation you put up than a non-believer. She is unlikely to have drowned herself because of the shame she felt in the eyes of God, but from her parents or friends who would be imposing that shame on her.

    As a society, we don’t want to eliminate guilt and shame. What would be the outcome of that. The goal should be to have that guilt/shame be dealt wih in an appropriate way so that it is constructive in one’s life and in the life of the community, not destructive.

    Susan, I welcome back the really logical version of you. Sure, those are the issues aren’t they. If you read Christian mags and such you will find that we struggle with just those issues. That’s why I commented as I did regarding prayer. It isn’t an open/shut thing. Neither is abortion, death penalty, war, or any of these issues we struggle over. There is wide disagreement among Christians on all of them.

    Some true believers think we should never go to war for any reason. Some believe that every war the US has ever fought is righteous. And so on.

    In our own little church in Venice CA, we have folks who voted for Bush, for Kerry, and for nobody.

    And, I have no problem with you telling your students you don’t believe and why. I would have a problem with you trying to convince them to believe as you do. Believe me, teachers at Venice are trying to convince their students how to vote, to be vegetarians, to send letters protesting the war, and to believe in evolution.

    A couple of years ago on the Larry Elder’s radio show, he had a kid from Santa Monica High on once per week to give examples of this kind of conduct at SAMOHI. Books are being written about it. Bills are going to legislators about it. Are you writing letters of support for this legislation.

  • http://hungrytroll.com troll

    “Troll, there are so many logical issues with your comment that we can probably get 600 more comments on this thread just from the discussion.”

    note the name – that’s my job

    “Guilt is not a Christian or religious concept”

    I read The Book too (and a bit of history) and the only possible response is: hahahahahahahaha

    same with social shame which is a tool in religious societies

    forgiveness? first let us condemn you then we can forgive you

    take your denials and deceptions off my bridge

    btw it’s dangerous to censor religious expression…it’s all that holds many people together…we don’t need more psychic meltdowns

    ‘talk about suffering here below and just keep following Jesus’ – logic has little to do with it

    troll

  • Susan

    RANDY: “And, I have no problem with you telling your students you don’t believe and why. I would have a problem with you trying to convince them to believe as you do.”

    What is prayer lead by a public school teacher?
    Is it A) a teacher telling students how he believes and why? or B) convincing students to believe as the teacher does?

    The answer is “B.” All things taught in a public school classroom should be able to be evaluated. What kind of an evaluation system is set up for saying one’s prayers?

    A teacher can study the logic of the words in a prayer, the effectiveness of prayer in scientific studies. Then the teacher can test the students on this information. But merely having students repeat a prayer is indoctrination.

    RANDY: “Believe me, teachers at Venice are trying to convince their students how to vote, to be vegetarians, to send letters protesting the war, and to believe in evolution.”

    Teachers SHOULD be getting students to believe in evolution (even though it is not an established fact). It is a very sound scientific theory with lots of evidence behind it (ID has none). I would never write a letter against such teaching, and if you think I would, you have not been listening to a word I’ve said.

    The last time I taught “The Crucible,” I pointed out a well-known flaw in Arthur Miller’s comparison between the Salem witch trials and McCarthyism: witches are not real but communists are. I had an otherwise intelligent student say he believes in witches, so I can’t say that. I immediately corrected myself to say that most people can see a flaw in Miller’s play because there is no scientific evidence for witches.

    Is this student’s thinking and complaint typical of the student Larry Elder interviewed? If not, how was it any different?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Just had a wild idea. As with so many things in debate, whether casual or societal, he who defines the terms wins. I suspect that the whole “science” debate comes down to what the definition of science is. Some would hold that science can only be about a limited scope of things seen, testable theories, etc. Others would say that science is the study of all aspects of life in this universe, and therefore can not be bound by the limitations of what is seen or “testable” under current known tesing methods.

    As you point out, there are ongoing tests regarding the efficacy of prayer and other such elements of religiosity. Scientists like to say, “we are evolving in our understanding.” Who’s to say we won’t evolve into seeing an entire spiritual dimension that would explain huge amounts of human behavior and thinking. We don’t understand anything about the elmental aspects of how gravity does what it does, we merely see the outcome. We see lots of spiritual outcomes. Does that mean that we deny the source of those because we can’t figure it out yet?

    So. Whoever gets to DEFINE science will end up the “winner” of the debate. That really is what the fight is about.

    Troll,

    better read it again. You missed a bunch. Maybe try reading a few of the folks who write about the Bible, so you can get deeper understanding. Much like you would not just read the theorist of a scientific idea, but those who have written about it.

    Jesus kept saying, “go and sin no more.” He never said anything nasty or condemnatory about the sinners, only those “believers” who were hypocrits.

  • gonzo marx

    once again, the Truth will out

    Randy admits what the conflict is all about, the redefinition of Terms..

    Science is :quantifiable, qualifiable, testable, predictable and can be described mathematically…among other things…have a look at a dictionary sometime for better definitions than mine…or just scroll up..the Terms have been defined many times…

    ID is metaphysics, which covers a lot off the existential “fuzzy subjects” that do NOT fall into any of the above classes listed by me just now

    hence Evolutionary Theory = Science

    ID = Metaphysics

    the fact that so many on the “religious right” want to change the definitions of terms to legitimize their belief systems in the guise of secular “science” is exactly what much of the conflict is about

    it’s also a prime political tactic of the GOP…note the difference between an “estate tax” and a “death tax”…both are the same Law…but by chaging the definition it chages the connotations, especially in the minds of folks who are not completely familiar with the details

    Herr Goebbels and Signor Machiavelli would be proud…

    Excelsior!

  • http://hungrytroll.com troll

    “science is the study of all aspects of life in this universe, and therefore can not be bound by the limitations of what is seen or “testable” under current known tesing methods”

    like I said – logic has little to do with it

    but I’m with you Randy – far to little time in high scholl is devoted to study of the up and coming science of alchemy

    troll

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    This post wasn’t about what to study in school, but if the schools would teach rrr in 1st three grades, plus a bit of music and art to give depth, the kids would have such a bredth of knowledge by grade 10, that it would be quite easy to cover all this stuff.

    How would I know this. My own kids, and other kids I see around me who could actually read at 3rd grade level at the end of third grade.

    By the time those kids are through with 8th grade, they have the science fundies well under their belt. It shouldn’t be thier junior year when the first hear about or understand evolution. By that age they should be ready to hear all the arguments. Call the class whatever you want.

    Gonzo, just be real with me for a minute. Both sides do what you’re talking about. Balance please.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    A mere moment of cruising the web, my dictionaries at home, an old encyclopedia, etc., remind me that the definition of science is as fluid as the study of science. In fact, there is an entire field, philosophy of science, which at its core fights over the definition of science.

    Some of the definitions I ran into were as broad and vague and almost word for word that which I proposed above. One tried to limit science to the natural. But wouldn’t that just result in a new discussion of the definition of the “natural.”

    Gonzo, many offered that we need quantifiable, repeatable, etc. Some didn’t

  • Susan

    Randy, here’s a short quiz you can take to determine what you think is science.

    1. If you want to fly through the air without falling, you should use A) science or B) prayer.

    2. If you want to survive an operation, you should consult a person who has studied A) science or B) prayer.

    3. If humans see an entire spiritual dimension that would explain huge amounts of human behavior and thinking and can be tested and are repeatable, humans will call it A) science or B) prayer.

    The very fact that you want ID and prayer to have the characteristics of science proves that you value science more than prayer.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Once again you miss the point. The answer in each case is both. I have the freedom of thinking and experience to be interested, aware, and teachable in both. You don’t. You are limited by science. I love and respect good science, read about it all the time, and have a degree in a “soft” science. But I can also open mindedly explore and use things that some scientists think are outside of science.

    But as the philosophy of science has proven. Some scientists think science should be more inclusive of realms we don’t understand yet.

  • gonzo marx

    i AM being “real” here…nad i think my comments and thoughts have been well balanced…

    can you agree upon the definition of terms?

    if not, then there is no further point of discussion..

    i see NO advocate of science wanting to add philosophy or metaphysics into their category, yet i see many that wish to place thier “fuzzy subject” into the realm os “science” without passing the basic hurdles required, as discussed above as well as elsewhere

    you were completely honest in your statement that it is about definition of terms…don’t back away from it now…

    as for what is taught in schools…that is up to each and every School Board…locally elected officials that make the agenda, set and spend the budget and hire the administrators…possibly the most “small government conservative” unit of governence in our Nation…

    i can readily agree, that for the most part, our schools are NOT doing an adequate job of teaching our nation’s youth…i would like to see HS graduates able to read, write, have at least an algebraic knowledge of mathematics…art and music would be good, but then again, so would greek and latin…history rounds it out …

    but it’s not up to me, it IS up to the local school boards..

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Your thoughts and comments were very well balanced in that comment. : )

    Actually, I don’t think we will ever agree, not you and me, but mankind, on the definition of science. It might be necessary to break it down a bit.

    Maybe we could agree that physics is not open to so called supernatural explainations? But what if it turns out that gravity is 100% the result of God just holding things in place through something from another dimension? It is superstring, but it isn’t explainable without the spiritual dimension?

    Hmmm. I still think you have to leave the door open to string, randomness, aliens, and God.

  • Susan

    No, it’s not both. An airplane does not stay aloft with prayer, and a person with a burst appendix does not recover with prayer. You do not have the freedom to use prayer only. Try it some time, and you will see that I am right. You do, however, have the freedom to fool yourself that you are using both, but we all really know which one is working for you. You do not have the freedom to teach children that both work equally well in a public school. We only teach truth in pucliv school.

  • Duane

    If you want to save your child from polio, you can pray or you can inoculate. — Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World, p. 30

  • Susan

    RANDY: “But what if it turns out that gravity is 100% the result of God just holding things in place through something from another dimension?”

    This is the difference between the real edfinition of science and the one you want. A real scientist who discovers God holding things together does not pray to Him, but asks a new question: who created God? If you think otherwise then why aren’t we worshipping gravity or superstrings?

    It’s funny how you want science and religion to be the same thing. Why?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Science began its existance as man’s effort to learn more about God’s world. Now we have man trying to become God, or to explain away God, or to explain things assuming no God.

    Why do you so strongly want to eliminate the potential for a spiritual dimension from the quest for knowledge of all things regarding the universe?

    And here we go with the arrogance again regarding my decision to pray for my friends or family who may need help with their emotioinal, social, or physical life. You can say what you want about my belief without the loaded comment “fool yourself.”

    Or is that the approach you take with your husband, kids, and students when you disagree with them. Hope not.

  • gonzo marx

    once again, Randy makes fallacious assertations that stand contradictory to historical facts…

    Randy sez…
    *Science began its existance as man’s effort to learn more about God’s world.*

    really?….

    and which god(s) were Euclid and Pythagoras trying to define or quatify in their studies of geometry?

    how about those silly Muslims with their kooky al gebra?

    try Aristotle, Copernicus, Galileo, or Da Vinci….Bog knows they went over well with the Church…

    you keep trying to place “god” into various context where there is no need or relevace , or even factual basis…

    i will definately agree there were many that did pursue sciece as you say…but far from all

    and even there, it was to describe, quatify ad seek causal effects in the Natural world…

    in the Enlightenent we have the birth of modern science surrounding the Royal Society of Natural Philosophy…while some like Waterhouse came from devout , Puritan backgrounds..you will find no “god” in their work…even devout Deists like Newton kept science seperate when it came to their methods…refusing to state “god did it” as a Postulate…searchign instead for “natural” explanations with which to base their Theorys…it was considered metaphysics to attribute primary causes to “god”…and science to find the natural explanations that could be proven by man utilizing Reason and experimentation…

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • http://sussfr.blogspot.com Matthew T. Sussman

    Gonzo, I got a very refreshing laugh out of “al-Gebra.”

    And I was just about to give you credit. Blame Google.

    Al-gebra

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Like Susan, you find it necessary to make it personal. Oh Well.

    Thanks for the acknowledgement that “many that did pursue sciece as you say…” Could even be most.

    Maybe every major Western University was started as a Christian institution dedicated to expanding man’s knowledge of the Universe as created by God.

    Therefore, I stand by my original statement and the now we have’s that flow from it. The universe is holistic. The physical can never be understood without the context of the spiritual.

    Another way to view this would be to assume for the purposes of arguement, that Susan is right. 5,000,000,000 people who believe in a spiritual domain are all ignorant flat earthers, and hopefully the few million brilliant scientists in the West and Communist countries will eventually convince the rest of us.

    In the meantime, even the belief is a dynamic which effect everything. War, peace, laws, relationships, births, deaths, emotions, mental health. Thus, even if false, it becomes a part of the total picture. In fact, the meme’s should be effecting the babies. If Christian’s survive and make more babies, then it should predict more Christians. Muslims, too. All part of the dynamic.

  • gonzo marx

    Randy…give the “victim” bit a rest…i assault your words..i could care less about you..the person…

    when you can pour me a mug of the “spiritual” , then i will gladly take it into account as part of any Universal Field Theory…

    i can readily admit, there may be something there, call it spirit, or chi or what have you…kirilian aura photography is fascinating…and i do not even pretend to contemplate that anything but a small fraction of what is Knowable is Known…

    i just prefer the scientific method for working this all out from a strictly human perspective…rather than dogmatic and authoritarian statements from the “priest class”…that “it is so because i said that God said that it is so”

    objects in mirror are closer than they appear…

    Excelsior!

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Daniel Waterhouse is a fictional character. If I recall correctly, Neal Stephenson distinguishes between the characters he created and those he adapted from real figures of history in an appendix to Quicksilver.

  • gonzo marx

    argh..thanx Victor…i was thinking more along the lines of the economist whose family helped found Price-Waterhouse

    but i readily confess to some con fusion and stand duly corrected on the point

    mea culpa

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Its a real kick to be part of all this. Though my wife thinks I have become more argumentative with her and blames all of you.

  • gonzo marx

    my heartfelt Apologies to your Mrs. for my part in it all then…and my condoleces to her for her Burden as well

    heh

    just Jesting…

    {8^P~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Excelsior!

  • gonzo marx

    ah yes, Matthew…glad you got a laugh..

    but, if memory serves, that IS how the arabs that created it would spell it in anglicanized fashion…was trying to be punny and accurate…

    at least you chuckled…

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Gonzo,

    Do you have a blog?

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Just wanted to reiterate Randy – though it amounts to a hil of beans – that I appreciate you here. You stay focused and try and twist with the evolving argument / discussion – as everyone does.

    And you are respectful where warranted.

    Nice.

  • gonzo marx

    eh?…me?…sort of..only 2 entries..i am more the Conversationalist than a writer…

    click my name and ya should be there…

    i might even write more there, as well as an article for BC…a few things stewing in the melting pot of my cranium…

    we shall see, eh?

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    To be honest, I just wanted to know a bit more about you. So I guess I’ll just have to wait.

    For some reason, clicking on your name takes me back to the bc home page. Maybe because I use Safari?

  • gonzo marx

    you will find me relatively obscure about myself…take me by my words…out here in the aether…it’s all i offer…

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Have you revealed small things like kids, ages? I think I recall you mentioning working in the computer world.

  • gonzo marx

    i’m 43…work in electronics…and like long walks on the beach, puppies and Heinlein…

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Thanks. I spend more time with you than with my mother, so its nice to know a bit more than just your scribbles.

  • gonzo marx

    for shame…call yer Mom..

    Excelsior!

  • Susan

    This blog has been a rare opportunity to hear so many interesting atheist voices. We might have been a little drunk with a majority power we never experience in the real world, so we ganged up on Randy a bit, some of us even swearing at him. Randy, you took it all in stride, answered respectfully–even to trolls–and reached out to ask personal questions in a sign of friendship. Randy, you seem like a very nice person in so many ways.

    I have met many religious people like you in Group #2. Group #3s are the nasty ones, the sanctimonious who put on the religious show in order to take advantage of others. Group #1s are my favorites. They prove their true belief by acting on it and not indoctrinating or forcing their beliefs on others.

    Group #2s are interesting. Nice people, but there’s something in there that just doesn’t allow them to see that they are forcing others to live by all their values. Perhaps it’s that they think they know what is best for us all. There’s something a little Group #3ish about Group #2 in that regard.

    I want you to have your religion if that is what you want for yourself. But I’d like you better if you were a Group #1.

  • gonzo marx

    for the record..never said i was an atheist…

    so that relieves me from the “ganging up on” part…yes?

    whew…good thing..i’d hate ta hafta take the other side just to make things more even…

    still apostate and heretic…

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Gonzo,

    never figured you for an antheist. Reading between the lines, I guess.

    Susan, thanks. Think about who I am. Salesman, psych degree, writer, teacher, law degree, inventor, marketer. My main goal my whole life is to contribute to people and things improving.

    If I think I have a magic pill that will make you better, and you’re my friend. I’m gonna tell you about it until I sense you want me to stop or you tell me to stop. Just built that way.

  • Susan

    RANDY: “until I sense you want me to stop or you tell me to stop. ”

    This is the broken part in you. Your sensor doesn’t work, but you don’t know it. You say you back off with friends, but judging how you refuse to back off with legislating your Christian beliefs that don’t overlap with other good people’s beliefs (only 3 of the 10C’s overlap), it is clear that you can’t sense when to stop.

    RANDY: “to contribute to people and things improving”

    Randy, you would be a very unhappy atheist; I would be a very unhappy Christian. We are different people who are improved by different things. I gag on your magic pill, and you would feel less than whole with truth sans faith. It has never crossed my mind to think of you as needing to improve by giving up your faith. I only ask that you not legislate your faith against what improves me.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Susan,

    I spent 14 years outside the church, struggled with what I believed during part of that, and certainly wasn’t acting very Christian (nothing too, too bad.)

    I came back for practical reasons. Then as I read the Bible again and again, read those who were expert on the subject, and worked elbow to elbow with those who trusted God, my faith grew. I suspect that this is why I came up with the original question of this post.

    I don’t think you have to worry too much about what I might legislate. I hate lawyers (not all of them, of course) and politicians are mostly just the worst of lawyers (many quite well meaning, I’m sure.) I was involved in one political moment years ago, and hated the bull that you had to deal with.

    You might not gag on all of my magic pills, though. I’ve been taking this vitamin called Juice Plus for three years and . . . .

    P.S. I don’t know what you meant by 3C’s out of 10.

  • gonzo marx

    Randy, she means 3 of the 10 Commandments…

    have more coffee

    Excelsior!

  • Susan

    Thanks, Gonzo. It took me a few posts to figure out what you guys were referring to with SCOTUS.

    Randy, you say you were a bad citien until you found faith. Cool. I’m glad you found what you needed. It doesn’t work that way for me. I will always gag on magic presented as truth, always.

    When I asked you not to push for legislation, I didn’t mean as a lawmaker or lawyer, I meant as an average citizen who writes to newspapers and his Congressperson, and as someone who talks to others via blogs or neighborhood get-togethers, etc.

    I think all good people can live together without stepping on each others’ rights.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    You can visit my blog and find out my passions. I am very passionate about sexual purity. I am very concerned about where we are headed in that regard. But I don’t suggest legislation. Changed hearts is always way better than legislation.

    I’m very passionate about the health benefits of dark chocolate, but same thing.

  • gonzo marx

    “sexual purity” ?????

    oh my stars and garters…WTF is that supposed to mean?

    as defined by whom?…Solomon?

    how the hell is anyone’s sexual habits and proclivities (when between consenting adults, of course) ANYONE’S business but those involved?

    arrogance, hubris and authoritarian dogmatism at it’s apex…

    i’ll stick with JuJu’s , may his tail keep the flies of intolerance from the Holy Anus, strictures…if folks say “yes”, have fun with it…

    sexual purity..oh my aching back…

    now i’ve gotta clean up the orange soda from this laptop….

    Excelsior!

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Randy said nothing about forcing anyone else to conform to his ideas about sexual purity.

    Surely the subject can be discussed without impairing anyone’s right to make their own decisions.

    Unless perhaps some people feel so insecure in their decisions that even mere discussion feels like a threat to them.

  • gonzo marx

    feel free to discuss away…all the same ta lil ole me…

    i just get a hoot out of the very concept involved in the phrase…

    so let’s start at the basics..how does one deifne “sexualo purity”

    and we can take it from there

    fair enough?

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Definition in this case shouldn’t be that hard. Sex only within marriage with the marriage partner.

    Victor is correct. I have stated early and often that I am not proposing legislation.

    Sex outside of marriage effects everybody. Those involved, their parents and kids, and all of society.

    There, how’s that for starters, Gonzo.

  • gonzo marx

    oh, that’s just ducky…thanx for the definition…

    now..responsible sex doesn’t affect ANYONE but those involved…usually, no one but those having the sex even know it’s going on..as long as they are responsible about being safe…i fail to see any harm

    but i know where you are coming from here, and there is no changing your mind in this one…fair enough..you live as you like…as will others..

    again, that whole silly “pursuit of Happiness” thingy…

    i’l just stay on the record that i think the whole concept is silly and unhealthy, for individuals and society

    fair enough?

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    So, you think promescuity, orgies, sadomasocism, sex with kids, kiddie porn, prostitution, and adultry are all just fine. Just make sure everybody wears a condom, and only do it in private? Or are some of those things irresponsible? Which?

  • gonzo marx

    read what i said…

    consenting adults ( state law sets the age of consent, correct?..i would have it at 18, but it does vary by state)

    “safe” as in protection from spreading disease(health matter there) as well as from unwanted pregnancy that should be within a comitted relationship, and done with thought by those involved)

    within those parameters…anything goes

    how’s that, clear enough?

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Why only that limit? Why not 16 or 21? Do you want government to encourage the listed behaviors, discourage, or just stay out of it? Should we promote these behaviors in sex ed in school? If the leadership is silent on these issues, what effect does that have on how the citizens are likely to act?

    Do you believe society will be better off or worse off to the extent that we have more or even much more of those kinds of things going on?

    I think you said you had no kids, or didn’t mention any. Do you think people with children worry more about these things than those who don’t? Rightly?

  • gonzo marx

    made my point..and see no reason to change or explain further

    government should stay out of it

    sex ed is determined by local school boards

    as far as educating children is concerned, as i said,sex ed curriculuum is determined by the local school board…not me

    parents always have the option to keep their kids out of it…until children reach the legal age the responsibility is up to the parents, once age of consent is reached, then it is up to theindividual…hence the legal definition of “consent”…as i said, varies from state to state

    otherwise, once consent age is reached, it’s nobody’s business but those involved…

    and that ends direct commentary between us

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Free unfettered sex for all over 18. I’d like to see someone win the next Pres election with that on the platform.

  • gonzo marx

    remember what i said about Responsibility

    as for the rest…file it under “the pursuit of Happiness”

    nuff said

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    My name is Hillary Clinton, and I want to be your next president of the US. As your president I would be in complete agreement with those who say that this society should allow and never judge those who have unfettered sex of any kind as long as it takes place in the privacy of your home or oval office, both parties are over 18, and you use a condom. Vote for me.

  • gonzo marx

    hello, My name is Laura Bush..and my husband tries to milk horses…boy horses

    but we like him anyway

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Tried and tried. Have no idea what that has to do with it. Maybe I missed a news event.

  • gonzo marx

    yours was slanderous fiction…

    mine was taken from the First Lady (paraphrased slightly), at the last press club dinner

    done now

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    I think it has come down to just you and me on all of these threads. I’m gonna give it a rest for an hour or so and see if anyone else want to come out and play.

    As always, great fun and sometimes useful.

  • Susan

    Randy? Gonzo? What is wrong with a President saying she will not tell others what to do in the bedroom? The only thing wrong with Randy’s portray is the exact same thing he doesn’t get with the religion issue: government must be mum. President Clinton should not encourage or discourage consensual sex just as she should not encourage or discourage God worship. Both are private matters unless they harm another human (as in cult abduction or pedophilia).

  • gonzo marx

    good point Susan

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Glad to see new voices, especially Susan.

    Hey, if you make two exceptions, then you open the floodgates. I say all those things do harm, and I can give you mountains of stats.

  • beadtot

    You are not a witch if you are a Methodist.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Burn the Methodists!

    Dave

  • Ken

    Umm…Best that I can tell, free unfettered sex between consenting adults is legal, and has been for a long long time. It’s left up for the individual to decide how they will live their sexual lives. Randy, would taking away all or some of that choice cure the ills of the world?

    Wasn’t the Taliban pretty big on the sexual repression thing? Didn’t they do some bad stuff, or was I imagining things?

    If you think the Taliban is too harsh of a comparison, where do you think the balance lies? Do we make laws? How do you enforce laws that make sex outside of marriage illegal and maintain a civil society? Especially if homosexuals are not allowed to marry? Who decides exactly what ‘sex’ is?

    If not laws, how do you think the idea of not having sex outside of marriage should be promoted more than it is today? Do you think that “promiscuity, orgies, sadomasocism, sex with kids, kiddie porn, prostitution, and adultery” are being promoted in society today? If so, how?

    Thanks,
    Ken

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Go back and reread my umpteenth statement that I propose no laws. I propose that the leadership take a moral high ground which they generally do. I propose that we all work towards moral purity and against sexual conduct which is destructive. That is the trend, now, as opposed to the trend in the late 60’s through the early 90’s. But we need to see it extended.

  • Ken

    Randy: “I propose that the leadership take a moral high ground which they generally do.”

    If they generally do, then what are you proposing?

    Randy: “I propose that we all work towards moral purity and against sexual conduct which is destructive. That is the trend, now, as opposed to the trend in the late 60’s through the early 90’s. But we need to see it extended.”

    How were “promiscuity, orgies, sadomasocism, sex with kids, kiddie porn, prostitution, and adultery” promoted in the late 60’s thru early 90’s? I’m pretty sure I was in the U.S. during those years. I feel as if I’ve missed something here.

    And, to try and stay in some regard of the original topic, how do you feel religious belief factors in?

    Ken

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    And what’s wrong with promiscuity, orgies, S&M, and prostitution, anyway? And why is non-monogamous, non-marital sex between consenting adults always lumped in with pedophilia or kiddie porn? Or bestiality, which Randy conveniently left out.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Sorry for all the straying. I’m afraid this thread has taken on a life of its own.

    Mainstream media, internet, movies, radio, and many in leadership were doing all they could to move the envelope. Many still are. But the trend has shifted.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Example. Clinton could have come out and said that using interns in the way he did was inappropriate on a whole bunch of levels. All he did was try and duck it.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Sorry,

    Now we have a generation of kids who think oral sex is fine at age 12.

    Time to say good night.

  • Ken

    BHW: “Or bestiality, which Randy conveniently left out.”

    Aha, so Randy is pro-beastiality. Since he did not openly condemn it, he must be all for it, if not practicing it himself.

    Randy,that is what it’s like being an atheist within a society of people of your ilk. I’ve also faced the inverse as well. I can’t count how many times I’ve been in a debate where I’ve defended gay rights only to have someone assume I’m gay or have a close family member who is. Or “if you don’t believe in heaven and hell, why aren’t you running around commiting crimes and killing people all day? It must be beacuse you don’t want to go to jail.”

    Randy: “Mainstream media, internet, movies, radio, and many in leadership were doing all they could to move the envelope. Many still are. But the trend has shifted.”

    My opinion is that media reflects society much, much, much more than it shapes it. If you start asking the media to shape society, who makes the decision how to shape it? How do you avoid a Citizen Kane-esque “people will think what I want them to think” situation?

    Ken

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    “Go back and reread my umpteenth statement that I propose no laws.”

    How about when it comes to gay people, Mr. Kirk? Did you support sodomy laws? How about the federal marriage amendment and DoMA?

    “I propose that the leadership take a moral high ground which they generally do.”

    Based on whose morality? Who determines what is high ground and low ground?

    “I propose that we all work towards moral purity and against sexual conduct which is destructive.”

    Who defines what is destructive? I would wager there are forms of sex you find destructive that millions of people find constructive, life-affirming, even god-blessed and god-given.

  • Susan

    RANDY: I propose that the leadership take a moral high ground which they generally do.”

    I think the idea of the leadership needing to set an example for the masses is only true for religious people because they are the ones who can’t think for themselves and must look to others for answers. I have no such confusion. If a politician told the masses that it is wrong to have sex before marriage or it is okay to have sex with children, my code of ethics trumps the voices of the leaders. It’s when they start talking about making laws that go against my moral code that I get upset, which is all I have been concerned about with Randy.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    The last set of comments share on common theme. Leave the folks alone. They’ll do fine. When has it ever happened that way.

    Whether you believe that the Bible is God inspired or not, it sets out a set of instructions for life. You can pick at it and say this or that doesn’t work for you, or get into the OT NT debate. But in the final analysis, those who follow the instrutions laid out in the Bible will do better than those who don’t. Thus, America and Western Europe has done better than other non-Judeo Christian societies.

    And yes, there have been laws that support these Biblical ideas. Sometimes they are supported by the majority. Sometimes not. Sometimes the major media and the government support the ideals, sometimes not.

    But if you assume that the people change and then the media and the leadership follow, you are in the truly small minority of marketers, leadership theorists, and sociologists. Pepsi and GM better pull their ads. Queer Eye might as well stop writing scripts. Playboy mag didn’t effect thinking at all.

    Look. I’ll be dead in 30 years, but I would like my kids to grow up in a world closer to USA 1960 than USA 1970. How we get there may be open to debate. But there are plenty of folks who will drive us to the cesspool if others aren’t willing to stand up and lead us to the light.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    So you admit it: You want the nation reclaimed for Christ. You want everyone, whether they believe or not, to follow the rules set in your holy book and to suffer the consequences if they do not. This is thoroughly offensive. Mr. Kirk, it is Christians like you who make a bad name for Christians like me.

  • JR

    Randy Kirk: But in the final analysis, those who follow the instrutions laid out in the Bible will do better than those who don’t. Thus, America and Western Europe has done better than other non-Judeo Christian societies.

    I’m not sure history really bears that out. Europe has been mostly Christian for a good 1600 years. For much of that period it was doing quite poorly compared with, say, Muslim lands; indeed, once the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, it promptly collapsed. Only in the last 500 years did European culture come to dominate the world stage. It must be something else that came after Christianity which made the difference.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Many believe it was the combination of Guns, Germs, and Steel: Geography, luck, warfare and killing may have made the difference.

  • Duane

    It has been argued that the Protestant work ethic has been, historically speaking, instrumental in the economic success of America and Europe.

    “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”

    It makes some sense, but I’m not sufficiently knowledgable about history to argue one way or another.

    Whether or not these ideas pertain to motivation in modern society, I’m not prepared to comment. However, it might be argued that, with capitalism and democracy in place, there is sufficient motivation to produce, create, and succeed, even in the absence of the vestiges of religion.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Historically, people not fortunate enough to live in Western culture work just as hard as those under Puritan influence (which included witch burning, if I recall). Even so they tend to be less successful than those who sprung from Europe. Why is that? Check out the previous link; you may find what you learn most enlightening.

  • gonzo marx

    one might note that the greatest gains in Western civilization came with the Renaisance and the Enlightenment…both times when the Church was put “aside” , if you will, by th edeveloping scientific community…each era, great advances were made…and many of the great Minds of those times were persecuted and prosecuted by the Church for their “heresies”

    next was the Industrial Revolution, once again…pretty much secular advancement…now in the Information Age, is it the Church that is responsible for the advances made?

    the past few hundred years are mere eyeblinks in history, an earlier comment touched on Muslim civilization and the advances created there…how about India?…very old civilization with much to offer…and they are on the upswing yet again…their morals and ethics are not bound to the OT and NT…to say the least…

    let’s not forget China, arguably the oldest “civilization”, her fortunes rise and fall over the eons…she had movable type, arches, roadways and gunpowder when european civilization was still hollowing out trees to go down river…again she is on the rise…her great philosophers (Lao Tzu,chinese Buddhism, Confucious), share some baseline tenets with some teachings in the NT…but far from what todays christian fundamentalists would accept…and the Middle Kingdom is advancing swiftly into the 21st century

    i’ve always liked the Quote from Ghandi…he was asked what he thought about Western Civilization and he said…
    “I think it would be a good idea”

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Many other civilizations have done quite well, and under various kinds of leadership. Some kings and dictators have been quite warm and fuzzy and lead their countries into times of peace and prosperity.

    Some of you probably don’t think that America is the greatest country ever to grace this earth, but I do. And I believe that it is largely because of Judeo Christian principles. Sure, luck, oceans, other innovations in thinking, work ethic has all contributed. But at the root is real freedom to be what you want to be and to make it or totally fail. That kind of freedom is rooted in Biblical teaching, even if despotic leadership in some places has kept it from flowering over the centuries.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Real freedom is being what you want to be? What has that to do with fundamentalist Christianity? You have to do what the Bible says; whether or not you want to is not the point. You’re supposed to do what God supposedly wants.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    No. You are supposed to do those things because you love God. You are free to do as you want. Clearly stated old and new testament. It is legalism to do things because they are law or because you think your leader wants you to.

    In America we are free to do what we want. We are supposed to do the things we believe in here because we love the idea of America. We don’t have to.

    In both cases, you may be cut off if you do harm. But you are free none the less.

  • Evan

    Randy Kirk: “But in the final analysis, those who follow the instrutions laid out in the Bible will do better than those who don’t.”

    Concerning minorities (especially homosexuals), Christians are some of the most hateful people I’ve ever encountered. I’m not saying all Christians are hateful, or all hateful people are Christians. I’m just saying that in my experience, the crudest, most hate-filled people I’ve encountered personally in my time have been serious Christians.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    My next question is not meant as a defense or denial, but what have they done that was hateful?

  • Susan

    RANDY: “In America we are free to do what we want.”

    and

    RANDY: “Leave the folks alone. They’ll do fine. When has it ever happened that way. ”

    Randy, do you hear the contradiction in what you are saying? Are you going to leave us alone to do what we want or are you going to advocate legislation that tells us how we must comply to your Christian beliefs? Your America is not a free America unless you back off from making us all believe the way you believe.

    As to Evan’s point about hate-filled Christians: Some of them are quite cruel to homosexuals, not letting them marry is only the tip of their hatred. A religion that allows its followers to believe a group can be discriminated against, helps the extremists to justify their hatred.

  • Evan

    One quick example that springs to mind would be, in the middle of a public mall, verbally attacking an openly gay couple, and informing the majority of us that we should pray for them. I’ve also encountered people who have, quite unpleasantly, attempted to convert me.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    The person who yelled at you in the mall should be put in stocks and flogged publically. It sounds very juvenile to me, and suspect it was juveniles who did it. But at whatever age, they should be ashamed. Are you quite certain they were Christians. Remember the old saw, if I say I’m a hamburger, does that make me a hamburger? Or something like that?

    The folks who want to convert you. Was that to Christianity or to hetero? What do you think their motives were? Was it because they hated? You see, people can be offensive even when they think they are being loving. I’m quite sure I’m guilty of that, even with my wife.

    Susan,

    look at the whole quote. We all agree that in society, we need rules to prevent harm. You have said so yourself, and I so stated.

    The fact that some Christians (myself included) do not want to extend the definition of marriage to include anyone other than a couple consisting of one person of each sex, does not mean we hate anyone. Otherwise 99% of the population were haters 20 years ago.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Sure, luck, oceans, other innovations in thinking,

    Such as slavery, indentured servitude, and child labor?

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com randy Kirk

    Yes, those things happened. I doubt whether they made us better. Might have actually dragged us down. But, whichever, the American idea finally determined that these things were wrong, and we led the world in ending them.

  • gonzo marx

    next up, extending equal rights to same sex folks

    stay tuned

    Excelsior!

  • Bennett

    I’ve kept my mouth shut until now, but I can’t take this statement siting down…

    “and we led the world in ending them.”

    Randy, the USA was one of the LAST countries to eliminate slavery. Over 20 countries had eliminated slavery by 1830, most by compensated emancipation. We were the ONLY country to go through a civil war, ostensibly over slavery.

    You do tend to pose fiction as facts to suit your argument, eh?

  • Evan

    Randy: “Are you quite certain they were Christians. Remember the old saw, if I say I’m a hamburger, does that make me a hamburger? Or something like that?

    The folks who want to convert you. Was that to Christianity or to hetero? What do you think their motives were? Was it because they hated? You see, people can be offensive even when they think they are being loving.”

    I’m QUITE certain the family was Christian. Family. I found it even more horrifying because it was a family. These children will grow up believing that is the right way to act, that they have God on their side.

    People have tried to convert me to Christianity, as well as an anti-gay/abortion/many other issues stance.

    Here is where I think the fundamental flaw is. You pose the thought that they acted in such a manner out of love for me, and they want me to live the right way. But there are two sides to that coin, because the fact that I need to be converted to the right way, (in their eyes) God’s way, means that I am in fact living my life the wrong way. This is perhaps one of the greatest insults to my personal dignity that I can think of. So perhaps they do love me, but that’s really besides the point. When someone decides to pray for me, I take it as an insult, and I’m sure many others like me do as well.

    Everyone has the capacity for hatred and cruelty, I’ve just never seen it displayed more “righteously” by anyone other than Christians.

  • gonzo marx

    Evan, next time invite them over for a Black Mass, and offer a mug of goat’s blood…if they haven’t started running yet…ask if any are a virgin, you are short one for a Ritual..

    it always works on the Jehovah’s Witnesses when they bang on my door, they don’t tend to come back either..

    your mileage may vary

    Excelsior!

  • Evan

    Hahaha, sigh, indeed.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Evan, If there is one thing that the Bible talks about is grace. I have found that I make mistakes every day, almost every hour. So when my employees or my kids or my wife makes a mistake, I really try to look to the motive, and decide where their heart was. If intentional, I can be pretty ticked. If flagrently negligent, consequences can be significant. If merely negligent, is there a teaching opty (not my wife, of course).

    I think you seem to be the kind of person who would have that grace for others, and know that 9 days out of 10, and in 9 situations out of 10 they might be doing real well. But if there intent is evil, a whole other thing.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Bennet, I don’t know all the history, but there are still lots of countries with slavery.

  • Susan

    RANDY: “look at the whole quote. We all agree that in society, we need rules to prevent harm.”

    But, Randy, YOU are deciding what is harmful; in your world view atheists and Gonzo are left out. The freedom of America is no one’s religion can be used to condemn another person.

    RANDY: “You see, people can be offensive even when they think they are being loving. I’m quite sure I’m guilty of that, even with my wife.”

    You are very guilty of this. The fact that you cloak your hatred with a religious covering fools no one. If you know you are being offensive and still refuse to change, you have to ask yourself why you continue to call that “loving.” Clear thinking people recognize that as hatred.

  • http://ideaplace.blogspot.com Randy Kirk

    Susan,

    You are so very wrong about your definition of hatred, and that is one of the biggest obstacles we face in this society. What used to be called honest difference of opinion is now hatred. What used to be called lack of tolerance is now called hatred. But, of course, only when it is directed at Christians. Folks who are intollerant or disagree with Christians can be as virulant as they want, and try to convince them to do any number of things they don’t wish to do, but that’s not hatred. It’s perfectly fine.

    If I see my child trying to slit their throat and I hit them with a baseball bat to stop it, that isn’t hatred, though it looks like I’m a meany.

  • Susan

    RANDY: ” If I see my child trying to slit their throat and I hit them with a baseball bat to stop it, that isn’t hatred, though it looks like I’m a meany.”

    Huh?

    Randy, I’m not following that one. Let’s take a different issue: premarital sex. I’m for people over age 18 making up their own minds. I think they are old enough to make up their own minds and take the consequences. Some single mothers are more loving than a married couple and neither you nor the President are in any position to cast stones nor to come into bedrooms and stop the sex. Go ahead and shame the ones that come to your congregation, but leave the rest of us to raise our children the best we know how. Might not be the way you think is best, but it’s really none of your business.

  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    Randy-I assume you are a big fan of sophistry, because your posts are full of it.
    So, only fundamentalist Christians are recipients of hatred & intolerance in America? Re-read YOUR #594: “liberal teachers believe in passing folks whether they get the material or not”.
    Don’t you consider that an intolerant, hateful remark? Are you really so blinded by bias that you don’t recognize your prejudice? Isn’t it a fact that good teachers (as well as bad ones) can be liberal, conservative, Christian, Jewish, atheists, black, white, men, women, old, young, gay, straight, Republican or Democrat?
    Don’t you find spouting such blatant mean-spirited untruth and bigotry to be the least bit un-Christian and un-American? Or do you actually always equate ‘liberal’ with bad and wrong?
    As to the pragmatic benefits of atheism/agnosticism: It seems to me that freethinkers-whatever they choose to call themselves-are more likely to want to preserve democratic ideals and protect individual rights than fundamentalists are.
    Fund. are certain that they alone possess the whole (and holy) truth and so, logically (to them) there is absolutely no reason to compromise with, accomodate or grant rights and freedoms to those who disagree with or oppose their ‘revelation’.

  • mikebForJesus

    The most important advantage of committing to Christ is abundant (eternal) life with God. Additionally is a peace that passes understanding and TRUE fulfillment.

    Selfishness stands in the way. Why? Because we fall for the “sin is fun” deception. It offers brief pleasure but cannot grant true and permanent fulfillment. Vicious cycle, that, but Jesus can free us from it.

    The gospel, the good news is how much God loves us and what He has done for us in Jesus Christ.

  • mikebForJesus

    RJ,

    Can we CHOOSE faith?

    In fact, is the avoidance of a faith decision possible?

    FAITH CATEGORIES
    Theism: God exists
    Atheism: God does not exist
    Agnostic (soft): We don’t know if God exists
    Agnostic (hard): We can’t know if God exists

  • mikebForJesus

    Susan,

    I’m in education, and your premarital sex comment hurts me. It troubles me that women/young girls think they have to give a guy sex to keep him. If they do, is he really the right guy? I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to learn the hard way that even when it’s difficult, God’s way is best.

  • mikebForJesus

    I agree with Randy, that “tough love” is sometimes necessary.

    Christians don’t decide what is harmful. They simply accept that what God has revealed in the scriptures as true, so He decides.

  • ebie

    i stopped going yo church since i was 12. at a young age, i realized that religion is not something that i am comfortable with… i was raised a catholic, went to a catholic school & had a religion class for 12 years. it’s not lack of faith, but i find religion the most dangerous organization in the world. when you are a believer, you can’t even touch that part. you deny all other existence.

  • neil horne

    I do not believe in god,But i would one day like to have a relationship with a Muslim women and change her beliefs.I have been her friend for so many years but i do not know how to tell her that i am in love with her.
    i have tried all the subtle tricks in the book i would like to take her to bed.
    i don’t give a damn what her family thinks as they are very strict.