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Tilting at Windmills

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March 13, 2006
By: Ogged

The Christian Left

Atrios says (I think) that liberal hostility to religion is just a Republican talking point. That's true, in the sense that most liberals are also religious. But isn't it undeniable that "religious" and particularly "Christian" have come to be synonymous in politics with "conservative evangelical Christian?" Recovering the sense of "religious" as progressive, socially conscious, and principled will actually take some work. When Kevin asked me to guest here, and before I knew what Amy and Steve would blog about, I asked whether any of the liberal divinity students I knew would write something about how they see the situation of the Christian left. Here's the response. You might also want to check out this group.

Ogged 7:14 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (210)

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Comments

Yes, you're sick of posts about religion. Yes, you want Kevin back. Noted. But until at least half the comments describe conversion experiences, I'm keeping Kevin locked in my basement.

Posted by: ogged on March 13, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

But isn't it undeniable that "religious" and particularly "Christian" have come to be synonymous in politics with "conservative evangelical Christian?"

Only to the brain-dead and the propagandists.

Posted by: Boronx on March 13, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

I don't mind religion at all even though I do not know if it is based on anything true. Aside form that I am practically religious myself. I do mind people telling me and everyone else what to do.

Posted by: Joe Frank on March 13, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Atrios says (I think) that liberal hostility to religion is just a Republican talking point. That's true, in the sense that most liberals are also religious.

Its also true in that "liberal hostility to religion" is a talking point invented by the political right as part of an effort to build a solid base built on Christian identity which was, in a sense, a way of securing the Southern Strategy, as overt white racial identity politics were prone to backfire, whereas overt religious identity politics work a lot better, and work very well in a lot of the same places.

But isn't it undeniable that "religious" and particularly "Christian" have come to be synonymous in politics with "conservative evangelical Christian?"

If by "in politics" you mean "in mainstream American political dialogue and, particularly, in the mainstream media talking-head-ism", then that's largely, though only approximately, correct, but that's just an illustration of the success of the Republican-engineered Christians vs. Leftists memeplex, not evidence that it has some substance beyond carefully designed partisan talking points.

Recovering the sense of "religious" as progressive, socially conscious, and principled will actually take some work.

Yes, its goint to take work; the first step of that work is understanding what it is we're fighting against, which requires recognizing that the Christians vs. Leftists memeplex is a deliberately engineered fraud, and not failing to point that out at every available opportunity.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK
Only to the brain-dead and the propagandists.

The problem is that most of the American "news media", particularly of the television form, seems to fit into the former category.

And the most of the rest fits in the latter.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

How about Liberals versus Religious Militant Fundamentalist Whackjobs?

I don't care if they're Christian whackjobs or Muslim whackjobs. The whackjobs stand for hate, intolerance, war, oppression, blowing up buildings, slavery, and willful ignorance. If they want to fight eachother to the death, I wish they'd leave the rest of us out of it, to live in peace.

I'm a believer of Christ, myself. But I do not stand with the whackjobs.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on March 13, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is that most of the American "news media", particularly of the television form, seems to fit into the former category.

And the most of the rest fits in the latter.

Including half of Kevin's guest posters.

Posted by: Boronx on March 13, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

the right has given religion a bad name.

Posted by: cleek on March 13, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

The left has given religion a bad name too.

Posted by: Don P. on March 13, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Ogged:


You're obsessed, bro.

I swear to the gods I'm going to "befriend" you irl until you trust me enough to be guest commentator on *your* blog while you go on vacation -- and then leave 23 posts about odd time signatures and the great polyrhythmists of music history -- just cuz, you know, I'm a composer and I'm fascinated by that shit and think everyone else should be, too.

Or maybe just foot fetish spam. I haven't decided yet ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK
How about Liberals versus Religious Militant Fundamentalist Whackjobs?

I'm happy with "Liberals vs. Militant Whackjobs" or even "Liberals vs. Whackjobs"; there's plenty of non-religious whackjobs to oppose, too.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Atrios says (I think) that liberal hostility to religion is just a Republican talking point.

There is plenty of evidence of liberal hostility to religion here on this blog.

I find it regrettable.

Posted by: obscure on March 13, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK
The whackjobs stand for hate, intolerance, war, oppression, blowing up buildings, slavery, and willful ignorance.

Hate and intolerance, sure; the rest are just instrumentalities for advancing those.

(Except for the fake-fundamentalist opportunists usign the real religious whackjobs; for them, the war, oppression, and slavery are the real things they "stand for", and the rest are all instrumentalities.)

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

Ogged:

What you don't seem to understand, my friend, is that by continually putting up new posts on tiny variations of the same topic, you wind up killing any discussions happening on the topic, because anyone who's interested in it at all will move on to the new thread.

In other words, your posting style promotes Attention Deficit Disorder.

Even if, you know, this obsession with religion of yours could somehow be justified in its own terms.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, you do realize that this is the first post I've written on religion, yes?

Posted by: ogged on March 13, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Its not so much an obsession with religion in politics, but an obsession with a particularly narrow issue within that broad topic: dealing with the "Liberal v. Christian" meme.

Though its not all Ogged -- having three guest bloggers each having taken at least one swing at the issue creates more of an impression of obsession than is really justified, I think.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

"There is plenty of evidence of liberal hostility to religion here on this blog."

It never ceases to amaze me how often and how many people translate "disagreement and a lack of deference towards my particular religious beliefs" into "hostility to religion." So many people seem to imagine that religion begins and ends with their beliefs - which, quite often, is precisely why they find disagreement and a lack of deference.

Even more amazing is the idea that "hostility to religion" should be remarkable or problematic. We can find hostility towards every other belief system out there, so why should religion generally or any religion in particular be different? Once again, it seems like the "lack of deference" is the problem - some people just can't handle others not privileging religion overall and their religion even more.

Liberal hostility to religion... so what? We can find conservative "hostility to religion" as well. Liberals are hostile to certain religious dogmas; conservatives are hostile to others. The former makes news while the latter doesn't. So what if some liberals are hostile to religion or hostile to some religious beliefs? So what if some liberals don't think that YOUR religion is worthy of special privileges and deference? They aren't trying to impinge upon your right to have or follow those beliefs, unlike conservatives, so get over yourselves for once. Stop whining and grow up.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 13, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Ogged:

Hardly. How quickly you forget about the little cartoonifada you attempted to provoke two threads ago, eh?

That's a really bad excuse, anyway -- as if you, as a blogger, are somehow disconnected to what your colleagues are doing. Does it ultimately matter to the commentors if it's you, Waldman or Sullivan who's the *real* religious foot fetishist here?

I think not. You might try reading the blog and applying a little sympathetic introspection to our position.

Besides -- what do you expect when the first post in the thread is a taunt by you to the effect that you're already well aware of our reaction?

Are you, like, *trying* to piss off Kevin's usual audience?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

I think the right uses religion as a lense through which to demonstrate, and magnify, the differences between the left and the right. It's a frame, and one that is very personal and so touches their target audience.

As an aside, in Dupont Circle DC where I live, I regularly have nice conversations with pastors of local churches, be they Methodist or Baptist. People are people. It's all context.

Posted by: Mark on March 13, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Christians have given Christianity a bad name by not standing for Christianity against the Fundamentalists. A friend of my, a devout liberal Christian doesn't say a word out loud against the fundamentalist power mongers. Not out of fear, or any belief in their nonsense, but because he doesn't believe it is his role to judge. If somebody calls himself a Christian, who is he to judge. I disagree. He isn't called to judge the Rovian wack jobs. He is called to demonstrate what it means to be a follower of Christ. Unfortunately too many stand silent out of a false sense of loyalty to anybody who calls himself "Christian."

As I read Christian history there really isn't a role for a "Christian" government, although Christians can certainly participate in government.

Christianity and liberalism fit very well together, because historically liberalism arose as part of a long standing Christian tradition. Just read the gospels.

Christianity and liberalism are both enabling philosophies. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is a core Christian belief. It is a core liberal belief as well.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK
Bob, you do realize that this is the first post I've written on religion, yes?

Aside from the snarky 12:20 one that invoked the religion/politics issue, and your second post as a guest.

But, yeah, I think a lot of the impression of "obsession" during the interregnum here comes from Steve's two posts and Roxanne's one post earlier today...

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK
That's a really bad excuse, anyway -- as if you, as a blogger, are somehow disconnected to what your colleagues are doing. Does it ultimately matter to the commentors if it's you, Waldman or Sullivan who's the *real* religious foot fetishist here?

Well, there's a difference between a half-dozen posts from one blogger, and three bloggers each providing their own take on the same issue (though the latter would probably be better if each would respond to the points made by the others and in the comments, and advance the discussion.)

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers:

As I read Christian history there really isn't a role for a "Christian" government . . .

Haven't read much about the time period covering Constantine to the Church of England then? You do realize that Vatican City is an official "government" too (even cmdicely could tell you that).

Posted by: Don P. on March 13, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

atrios is an asshole -- since when is he "qualified" to make meaningful proclaimations on this one.

Pleaes, pander for the links if you must, but it stupid to suggest that eschaton is a meaningful source on most issues, most of all, this one.

Posted by: anonymous on March 13, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Here's the problem, though. The minute variations of the topic are never discussed -- which is par for the course in blog comments. The religious discussions default to *same exact theme* in every single thread.

And by now, the comments have become *excrutiatingly boring*.

If I have to read another "It's not religion *per se* that liberals object to, it's fundamentalist self-righteous yada yada yada fucking YADA.

ARRRGGHH. I think I need to find something else to occupy my time right now.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Geez, link to a guy on a cross and everyone thinks it's about religion...

Seriously, I did figure everyone was sick of religion, but I had asked for the post just after Kevin asked me to guest, and before I knew what Amy and Steve were going to blog about, so when it was written, I couldn't ignore it.

Posted by: ogged on March 13, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

It's not religion that this liberal Christian is opposed to, it's the vulgarization of religion, particularly as practiced by the modern evangelical movement. Christianity is far too complicated a subject to be reduced to a list of talking points, which is basically what the megachurches do.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 13, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Don P. I have read a lot about the period from when Constantine subverted Christianity to the will of the state right up to today. As I posted elsewhere the Reformation was all about separating the church from the state. The separation found in the constitution didn't arise out of whole cloth. It was the product of a long history that corrected.

Do you realize that only in the last few years Baptists have started believing and saying a creed. Before that they were firmly against any effort of the church or the state to stand between an individual and his or her God. Power corrupts. Men want power and no power is greater than the power of the state. That is what happened to the church leaders at the time of Constitine and that is what has happened to the Baptist leaders of today.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

For god's sake, let's all eat pie!

Posted by: Lucy on March 13, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

""University of Michigan or the Convention Delegate Surveys done from 1972-1992. The text is available at thepublicinterest.com. It owes much to a 2001 book by Vanderbilt political scientist Geoffrey Layman called ''The Great Divide: Religious and Cultural Conflict in American Party Politics'' (Columbia University Press).
Democratic secularists are defined as agnostics, atheists or people who rarely attend church, if ever. According to the national convention delegate surveys, write Messrs. Bolce and De Maio, ''60% of first-time white delegates at the [1992] Democratic convention in New York City either claimed no attachment to religion or displayed the minimal attachment by attending worship services 'a few times a year' or less. About 5% of first-time delegates at the Republican convention in Houston identified themselves as secularists.''
In the 1992 election, Bill Clinton got 75% of the secularist vote, while the current President's father received support from traditionalists (church-goers) by 2 to 1. That pattern held in the 2000 election. ''In terms of their size and party loyalty,'' Messrs. Bolce and De Maio argue, ''secularists today are as important to the Democratic party as another key constituency, organized labor.''

Posted by: Fitz on March 13, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

If I have to read another "It's not religion *per se* that liberals object to

Sorry,Bob...

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 13, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

dr sardonicus:

There are plenty of megachurches that present the entire, complicated picture of Christianity too - which ones are you talking about?

Posted by: Don P. on March 13, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Great Post, Thanks for the link to Sojouners. The Jim Dobson's, and Pat Robertsons are the anti-jesus. They turn more people away from the Word while they twist scripture to justify greed, hatred, and bigotry. If they were really concerned about abortion or homosexuality they could be working as individuals to comfort women who find themselves in desparte conditions - but there empires and judas gold profit from the hyperbole they create about gay agenda's and baby killers. They cause more abortions and the unbeliever flees from their words as the spit their blasphemous filth.

The most Christ-like politician in modern times was Jimmy Carter and he was reviled by the extreme right. George Bush is embraced by these false prophets as he murders, lies, impoverishes, and suffers the little children (i.e. Katrina/Iraq/Afganistan/Head Start/School Lunch/Left behind).

What really hurts me is that in my fervor to be disassociate myself from the filth(Dobson...), it makes it difficult for me to find opportunity to spread the word.

Posted by: farmerJack on March 13, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

The first thing that leaps to this atheist's mind is that, yet again, these discussions spring from the presumption that somehow the power in liberal circles is in the hands of us seculars. That entire premise (endemic in Amy's posts and certainly present in Steve's today) is a severe misstep in many of our eyes because we're well aware that nonbelievers have no power, within the Democratic Party or any other public-policy apparatus. Our detractors here and elsewhere claim to be so dispossessed, but my kind has seen every single Democratic Party figure kowtow toward orthodox religiosity every time the opportunity has presented itself, from public "God bless" statements to the 99-0 vote to smack down Michael Newdow. (Again--count the Congressmen. Christians? Liberal Christians? Jews? Gays? Atheists? Only one of those groups scores a 0, and it ain't liberal Christians.) We seculars get whacked constantly by the powers-that-be, left and right, but somehow we're supposed to buy that it's believers who are put upon. That's hard to swallow, and the total lack of attention by our detractors here to (and indeed their complicity in) the Right's attacks on the secular left cuts mightily against the detractors' credibility.


Second, though it is widely ignored by a society that holds criticism of religion to be one of its staunchest taboos ( http://tinyurl.com/z7dxz ), the grounds for dissent from Christianity and/or religion-more-broadly are frequently at least as well thought-out and well founded in personal principle as are the beliefs of the faithful. Many of us think we have good reasons to oppose ideas such as "We should suspend scientific inquiry when it comes to concepts like supernatural entities that billions of people believe created the universe" or "It is useful to found ethical systems on the dictates of deities" or "The torture and murder of an innocent person is a useful tool in the forgiveness of wrongdoing." (Yes, how nice, liberal Christians are thoroughly convinced that fundamentalists are perverting Christianity. Well, lots of us seculars know plenty about Christianity (and other religions in similar circumstances) and tend to think that the fundies all too often have it right.)

I don't know any atheists who are interested in bringing such objections into discussions of public policy that have no particular connection to religious belief--we tend to be a very "live and let live" lot. But when believers, liberal or not, decide that it's necessary to shove their theology into our faces as (alleged) justification for their policy decisions, it sometimes gets hard to hold one's tongue. How much easier would it be on everyone if we left religion out of it?


Finally, some of the policy issues we're talking about are themselves central issues that allow us nonbelievers to be members of society in the first place. When Amy and company advocate playing games on separation of church and state to kowtow to the Religious Right, then they're toying none too indirectly with our lives. When separation goes, we seculars will be the first ones in line for Guantanamo.

You don't have to be Martin ("First they came for the Jews") Niemoeller to see that the left ought to be standing up for nonbelievers rather than kicking us in the teeth. Given that the only anti-religious lefty expression anyone on this blog has actually cited has been... angry responses to the anti-secular nastiness on this blog, it seems like there's ample room for a truce. Stop beating us up, and we'll be happy to go back to working toward progressive goals with you.

Posted by: Rieux on March 13, 2006 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Ogged:

Let me at least give you props for recommending that NYT series on the Brooklyn imam in the second Pie Strategy thread.

That was a great series and I hope there are more installments. I think guys like him really demonstrate the strength of the American system, the egalitarianism, that helps these guys develop a kind of dialogue that I'd guess would be much more difficult in an equivalent situation in France or Denmark.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Beyers:

Not "every" Baptist leader - everything I've read about this Rick Warren fellow, and his megachurch, lead me to believe he at least is striking the right balance on separation og church and state (even though I disagree with him on every one of the "Right's" hot button social issues - he's arguably the most "visible voice" among Baptists today.

Posted by: Don P. on March 13, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK
As I read Christian history there really isn't a role for a "Christian" government, although Christians can certainly participate in government.

Now, if you said "as I read the Bible..." I could understand that, as the New Testament talks a lot, directly and indirectly, about how the faithful should react to government, but little about how they might run one, treating government as if it were essentially foreign (which, given the political environment in which the early Church operated, for the most part, is fairly easily understood.)

Or perhaps your point is that, reading history, overtly Christian governments of real states* don't work very well, and certainly that's not a point without some merit, though it could use further development and refinement.

*By real states, I mean entities with resident subject populations other than voluntary members of religious organizations; the State of Vatican City and, e.g., the Sovereign Military order of Malta don't count.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Rieux:

Excellent post.

I concur.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

ogged on March 13, 2006 at 7:15 PM:

But until at least half the comments describe conversion experiences, I'm keeping Kevin locked in my basement.

Right now I'm coverting a couple of glasses of Riesling into a pleasant buzz.

That's gotta count for something...Can Kevin have his keyboard back, please?

Posted by: grape_crush on March 13, 2006 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

Rieux

I am sorry you feel that your position is not considered. The fact is the atheist position seems to be pretty far along the arc of religious thought. As a religion it has much to commend it. From many gods to one God to none.

The problem for "religious" people is that reason often demands a change in thought, but "religion" seems to find change difficult.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

What? We secular leftys are supposed to pretend to be religous progressives just because you think it would get more votes for the Democratic party? How about you progressive churchy people pretend to be, say, free trade purists so that the Cato crowd will vote for Democrats? Yesh, if you think liberal evangelicals aren't heard, speak up.

Posted by: decon on March 13, 2006 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

I've been a devout atheist since I first grasped the second law of thermodynamics in grade school. However, I've lived amongst liberal christians my whole life. I acknowledge their existance. I understand their hearts. I appreciate their efforts. Personally, I'd rather hang out with liberal christian gardeners (and buddhists) than most people on the planet. They're not the most politically savvy lot (like their role model), they sometimes don't grasp my favorite law of thermodynamics, there are evangalists amongst them, and they sometimes blur the line between self respect and self-righteousness -- but so what. We can't all be perfect.

What was the question?

Posted by: B on March 13, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

. . . Christians . . . are left out of the debate on the left unless we are willing to somehow bracket off our religious values.

Since when? What values is Mr. Warfield talking about? Examples please.

Warfield's remark is suffused with bigotry and its thoughtless utterance explains why the "left" has trouble taking the holier-than-thou Christian left seriously.

Posted by: Ellen1910 on March 13, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

Rieux:

The problem is your talking about a very small definition of secularist. The agenda of the cultural left moves beyond direct confrontations with the philosophical beliefs of Christianity. This cultural agenda includes things like gay marriage, (speaking of forcing values down peoples throats ) abortion, God out of the Pledge, and the public square.

(You write)
it seems like there's ample room for a truce. Stop beating us up, and we'll be happy to go back to working toward progressive goals with you.

Im afraid there has been a truce since 68, you do work together, and work together well.

Posted by: Fitz on March 13, 2006 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

decon

I don't want you to pretend to be anything. I want you to be what you are. I want you to understand that the folks who call themselves Fundamentalist Christians are not the only people who call themselves Christian. There are others who do and have all along. They are a much more tolerant bunch.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK
We secular leftys are supposed to pretend to be religous progressives just because you think it would get more votes for the Democratic party?

You don't have to pretend to be a religious lefty to understand the values of the religious and try to cast your existing policy proposals so as to appeal to their preferences.

Politics is marketing, after all.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK
Even more amazing is the idea that "hostility to religion" should be remarkable or problematic. ...Once again, it seems like the "lack of deference" is the problem - some people just can't handle others not privileging religion overall and their religion even more.

Well, I give you the benefit of the doubt as to whether you're familiar with the frequency of profanity directed at Amy Sullivan when she posts on religious themes here.

And you're obviously unfamiliar with where I'm coming from. "Deference" is not it.

Posted by: obscure on March 13, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

For those who've seen this before (from a couple threads ago), sorry for the double post. Blame it on the excessive amount of religious threads which wind up killing the convos in earlier threads.

Since we have a fanatical anti-gay freak with us now (hi, Fitz!), I figured he needed to see this:

John Hansen:

> The main point is that liberal people read Jesus' teachings and
> then assume that Jesus would have voted democratic because they
> think the best way to help the poor is through the government.

Well, it's much more than this. It's that Jesus consorted with
prostitutes, lepers and outcasts, challenged the Sadduces on
their religious understanding, threw the moneychangers forcibly out
of the Temple. Jesus may not have been the political revolutionary
that certain liberation theologists have painted him to be -- but
there's no question that he was both an opponent of the Roman social
order and a staunch friend of the lowliest on the social ladder.

> I am merely suggesting that you must separate the command "You Love
> others.." from the way liberals typically apply this - "You Love
> others through government programs..." My personal experience is
> that Love is bettered administered through private volunteers than
> government agencies. The government does a poor job of charitable
> work because societies do not Love.

Well, to quote Tina T, "what's love got to do with it?" Government
programs to help the poor can be justified in any number of ways,
many of them, like with public health, entirely instrumental. If
people want to supplement that with charity, let them. But don't
pretend that charity is the sole answer to poverty, either.

> Jesus and further teachings of the apostles never
> encouraged his followers to take over the government
> and use the power of the government to enforce giving.

Jesus also said "Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's."

> Dennis Prager covers this excellently. He separates out for
> religious people what is "Holy" from what is "Moral". I should
> endorse criminal penalties for "Moral" behavior which is good
> for the whole society. (Example: we still out law murder even
> though it is one of the 10 commanments. )

Morality in a democracy is determined by consensus -- and this is
precisely what troubles Christian political activists, because they
see nothing substantial to ground it. So they're constantly trying
to fudge the distinction between the holy and the moral, or to argue
that the moral is derived if not in fact irreducible from the holy.

That's why you had Roy's Rock gracing a government courthouse.

> It is really difficult to separate out the merely "Holy" from
> the "Moral" but this is why we need to discuss these things in
> a manner where we are not just simply calling each other names.

Everyone in a democracy -- including atheists, Satanists and
wiccans -- participates in that ongoing discussion. Social
morality is contingent and evolving, not transcendent and fixed.

> You have mixed two separate things which do not necessarily
> belong together. I strongly believe that we should not criminalize
> homosexual or other consensual behavior. An adult's private
> consensual sexual life I think falls within the "Holy". I
> would not pass laws to enforce my viewpoint on someone.

Kudos. Many Christians would, however.

> On the other hand, if somone chooses to
> advocate the homosexual lifestyle,

And here's the first glaring flaw in your worldview. Look, bro, I'm a
straight guy, but I've known and worked with my share of gay people.
Only someone whose experience with gays is limited to watching videos
of a Gay Pride parade would call homosexuality a "lifestyle." As if,
you know, someone decides to become gay because he thinks he'll have
better orgasms with direct prostate stimulation or something. Or
somebody really, you know, *wants* to be persecuted, because he thinks
that will give him social status. Or, you know, hates himself enough
to want to die of the excrutiating condition of full-blown AIDS.

You've been thoroughly brainwashed by Christian anti-gay propaganda
if you can even let the phrase "gay lifestyle" crawl off your
fingers. Whether inherited, acquired or both is still up for
debate, but being homosexual is an involuntary condition; the DSM
IV doesn't call it a pathology and hasn't for well over a decade.

> I reserve the right not to allow him to be a Boy Scout troop
> leader, or public school teacher. This is about discrimination
> based on public advocacy of ideas, not on private practice.

Once again, you reek of ignorance about gay people. The idea
that gay people "publicly advocate" for their orientation is
a flat-out myth. You've heard of Don't Ask / Don't Tell, right?
While many human rights activists oppose that policy because
it prevents otherwise honorable openly gay people from serving,
it nonetheless has allowed thousands of gay men and women to
remain in the military provided they keep their orientations
to themselves. No gay person I have ever known or known
of has attempted to proselytize for their orientation.

Teachers, scout masters, priests, etc. who engage in pedophilia
are *perverts* -- and many more of them are heterosexual than gay.

> Is it ok to use the new testament which condemns
> homosexuality in much stronger terms than the old testament.

Aside from one passage in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus alludes
to the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, Jesus himself remains entirely
mute on issues of sexuality and family life. The *later* Paul of
Titus and Timothy and the other deutero-Pauline letters (not to
be confused with the earlier, literally different Paul, the radical
aescetic zealot who wrote in Corinthians "it is better to marry than
to burn" but otherwise preferred celebacy) spoke about family life
issues and scourged homosexuality -- after the church was becoming
established in communities in the waning of the Apostolic age.

> Its not about criminalizing behaviors I do not like. Its about
> deciding what is in the best interest of the state to outlaw.

Which again, in a democracy, is not the province of any particular
religion but rather a discussion among the entire nation.

> It does not say that it is wrong to use the government to feed
> the poor, but again - forced giving is not giving. I think
> private charity does a lot better at charity than govt. programs.
> I think it is more consistent with the teachings of Jesus.
> Other people may have different opinions.

Of course they do, as it's an entirely political judgment.

> Let me turn the question back upon you. Why do you think Jesus wants
> you to criminalize not giving to your particular program to help the
> poor? ( That's essentially what government welfare is. Criminalizing
> withholding taxes that go to government charity programs ).

Once again, render unto Ceasar, bro ...

> Again I am interested in your thoughts,

Well, here are mine :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

"The fact is the atheist position seems to be pretty far along the arc of religious thought. As a religion it has much to commend it."

Atheism isn't a religion - no more than mere theism is. Theism is the presence of a belief in the existence of at least one god; atheism is the absence of any such god. Both can be part of religions, philosophies, ideologies, world views, etc, but neither qualify as any of those things all on their own.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 13, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

Although one rarely finds fault in cm's posts, I can't quite sign on to the concept that "Christians v. Leftists" is a manufactured fraud.

If you want to see a manufactured fraud, I submit the demonization of any attempt to reform health care. In this case the problem of significant portions of the population lacking coverage combined with the expense of coverage is an undeniable fact, and an equally undeniable fact is the existence of systems in other countries which work at less cost. Yet, the same manufactured arguments are trotted out time after time.

In this case, I don't think Christian fundamentalists who do not want evolution taught in schools are in any way misinformed or misled. I don't think Christians who are against homosexuality are misled, and, of course, those who find a religious basis to criminalize abortion are hardly taking the position through some sort of propaganda from Republicans.

cm's comment on the "Southern Strategy" I think better represents the whole concept of"anti-welfare," and "anti-affirmative actionism", with a nice helping of "the war against drugs." In the case of these issues the fact that brown people are disproportionately affected is viewed as a plus.

I would say what has really happened is that the Republican party, forced to try to figure out a way to cobble together 51% of the vote, found a couple of issues which existed with a certain set of religious voters, and glommed on to those issues.

The fact that those issues are hardly conservtative is of course, ironic, but I don't believe they are manufactured issues.

Posted by: hank on March 13, 2006 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

We secular leftys are supposed to pretend to be religous progressives just because you think it would get more votes for the Democratic party?

No. We secular lefties are supposed to be polite in general. And in particular, we should be polite to liberal Christians and rejoice in the many wonderful values we share.

Posted by: obscure on March 13, 2006 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

Let's talk about those specific hot button issues. Gay marriage. I am Episcopalian. There is actually a gay Episcopal bishop. The issue has been causing trouble with some, but I know gay people are welcome in my church. My question is what the hell does state sanctioned sexual union have to do with the church anyway. Remember what I said about a separation of church and state.

Abortion. I want abortion to be rare, but I also want it to be safe. While I don't agree with abortion, ultimately the question is best left to the mother. Lots of liberal Christians think the same way.

What was the third hot button issue again?

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

"You don't have to pretend to be a religious lefty to understand the values of the religious and try to cast your existing policy proposals so as to appeal to their preferences."

No, but, mostly, that is simply craven. Religious interest is an easily exploited medical condition that should be treated as a medical condition, like malaria. Capitalizing on it, whether with a good intention or not, takes unfair advantage of anothers disability, the more religious appeal trumping the less religious appeal, a self-perpetuating justification ending in theocracy, or theocratic menace.

We see too easily now the evils of theocracy, we can use this moment, just as we can use Hurricane Katrina. Giving up and going to church is letting the terrorists win.

Posted by: cld on March 13, 2006 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

When it comes to odd time signatures and great polyrhythmists, I can't help but think of Ockeghem's Missa Prolationum, although technically he doesn't use time signatures. When I studied that piece, it certainly opened my eyes to a number of compositional possibilities.

Posted by: Mornington Crescent on March 13, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Austin Cline

Atheism is a belief there is no god. It is faith based because it is no more grounded in fact than any theistic religion. Its believers hold themselves out as being morally and intellectually superior. They are often evangelical spreading the "good news" of their belief as though it were established fact.

If you really get into it is clear that Atheism is a religion all right. Now agnostics, people with true open minds, are not practicing a religion.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

The orthodoxy of Christian Lefties is Liberalism, not scripture. Their church is the Democratic Party, not a cathedral.

Posted by: MountainDan on March 13, 2006 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Well, I give you the benefit of the doubt as to whether you're familiar with the frequency of profanity directed at Amy Sullivan when she posts on religious themes here."

And that *must* be "hostility to religion." It couldn't *possibly* be "hostility to stupid opinions about the relationship between religion and politics." When people here are "hostile" on other topics, does *that* get categorized as hostility to some general category, or is it recognized as hostility towards something more narrow/specific? When people complain about George W. Bush, is that "hostility to white men" or just "hostility to something dumb Bush did"???

Most of what gets marked as "hostility" is just a refusal to treat religion as special. Some of what's seen as hostility is indeed hostility - and, like I said, so what? Why *shouldn't* there be just as much hostility to religion as there is to every/any other belief system in the world? The mere fact that people complain about "hostility to religion" as if it's obvious why that's any worse than hostility to any other ideology does, in fact, demonstrate that people think religion should be treated deferentially (and that brings us right back to the first group, ironically).

"And you're obviously unfamiliar with where I'm coming from. "Deference" is not it."

If "deference" is not where you are coming from, then don't expect people to treat religion (either generally or your religion in particular) any differently than any other ideology - and, sometimes, that means with hostility.

I doubt that there is any more "hostility to religion" among liberals than among conservatives (it just takes different forms), so why are so many people here so whiny? So there are liberals who are hostility to religion. Get over it and don't talk about religion with them - just like you probably don't talk about golf or reality TV with people hostile to those things.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 13, 2006 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Mornington Crescent:

I've never heard of either that composer or that piece.

By all means, share :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

But isn't it undeniable that "religious" and particularly "Christian" have come to be synonymous in politics with "conservative evangelical Christian?"

Why no. It's completely deniable that "religious" and "Christian" are synonymous with conservative politics.

But as long as you have us denying that we have ever been a secular humanist, or that we have ever beaten our wives, why don't you have us deny that the Sun revolves around the Earth?

Look, the framework of this discussion really sucks. In an era in which the United Church of Christ cannot even buy advertising time on FOX, ABC, or CBS to air a commercial featuring the confluence of faith and patriotism in the form of a Christ-like love, acceptance, and embrace of the downtrodden -- namely gay men and women.. ....shouldn't you be posing the question so that it challenges the conventional wisdom of the Democratic Party? Why buy into such uneven terms of debate?

Liberals of faith have not gone away. But there most assuredly has been a media blackout since the Civil Rights and Vietnam era. The UCC can't even buy their way onto the airwaves. The supposedly "moderate" or "responsible" DLC Democrats won't even begin to entertain the principled political stance of the liberal faithful.

In short, strong liberals don't need to recover ANY sense of "religious" as progressive.

Bush succeeded because the Republican Party has reached out to fundamentalists and heeded their concerns. Those tight ties include promised action on a social agenda, increased influence, a substantive party role, and fiscal goodies. Not so on the Dem side of the aisle.

So when you write that --
Recovering the sense of "religious" as progressive, socially conscious, and principled will actually take some work.

-- you need to be aware that it is Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Joe Lieberman, Charles Schumer, and Harry Reid who will have to do that work. They will have to reach out, honor their base, and move their agenda forward. Encourage Paul Hackett and his religious analog to run -- instead of cutting them off at the knees.

It is also the media which will have to do that work by doing their job. Religious patriots showed up pre-Iraq invasion in DC -- and they were clubbed down in Lafayette Park. NO coverage. No outcry. No one reported that they acted on deeply held patriotic beliefs, and on their religious faith.

No one.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on March 13, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers (writes)
Gay marriage. I am Episcopalian. There is actually a gay Episcopal bishop. The issue has been causing trouble with some,

Ya Ron, Its splitting your Church into schism with the Episcopalians being kicked out of the Anglican Union, taking a 70 million plus church down to a dwindling few million.

but I know gay people are welcome in my church.
They are in mine to, but we dont have openly gay Bishops, nor are we in schism, nor are we trying to rewrite the Christian sexual ethic.

My question is what the hell does state sanctioned sexual union have to do with the church anyway
Nothing (at least necessarily) , but it does have something to do with marriage. And plenty of people have concern for the health and vitality of that institution.

Abortion. I want abortion to be rare, but I also want it to be safe.
Why do you want it to be rare? Why was it illegal in the west up to 73?

Posted by: Fitz on March 13, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Why do you want it to be rare?" Because I want every person to have the opportunity to develop his or her unique identity before taking on the responsiblities of becoming part of a couple, so I don't want to force people to decide to become couples or not before they are ready. Anyway the decision to abort was very emotionally trying for every woman I have ever known to have one, even under the best of circumstances.

If you don't want abortion to be rare, you are really a heartless bastard.


Why was it illegal in the west up to 73? Because state governments made bad decisions based on their religious views. So much for the battle cry "freedom."

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

This is the SEVENTH thread about religion here -- Seven. Plus the current WM cover. Even if you aqre religious you're probably screaming for mercy.

Here's a religious idea, Ogged and Amy and Steve -- pray to God you aren't as irritating and boring as your posts here imply. Before you do an eight post, you guys should just get together and share your lowbrow theological chattering with each other and leave the rest of us alone. Just yesterday I would have sworn that Debra Dickinson's affected prattle could never be outdone here.

Posted by: Pat on March 13, 2006 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

Ogged: Recovering the sense of "religious" as progressive, socially conscious, and principled will actually take some work.

But not by me, I'm an atheist. What would you suggest I do? Besides not burn down any churches, that is. Well, in fact we atheists don't burn churches anyway, it's those silly Baptist College boys that do that.

Posted by: W. Kiernan on March 13, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

There is plenty of evidence of liberal hostility to religion here on this blog.

They started it!

Nobody is more hostile to religion than the religious. Just ask any Baptist how they feel about a Catholic, or either of them how they feel about the Mormons, or them about the Jews, or them about the Muslims, ....

Hate is the number one religious values. Makes me hope that they are right and that they all go to hell.

Posted by: Ray on March 13, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

State sponsored "marriage" is an obsolete pre-enlightenment artifact. If individual churches want to sponsor marriage as a sacriment, then the rules they impose are entirely up to them. I just don't want one churches rules imposed on others. Am I the only person who sees an establishment issue in the gay "marriage" question.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Atheism is a belief there is no god."

No, it's not. It's the absence of belief in gods. Some atheists go on to deny the existence of some or all gods, but not all atheists do. The only thing all atheists have in common is the absence of belief in gods.

http://atheism.about.com/od/aboutatheism/p/atheism101.htm


"It is faith based because it is no more grounded in fact than any theistic religion."

Even if your definition were accurate, this wouldn't necessarily be true. Whether gods can be disproved or not depends upon how they are defined.

"Its believers hold themselves out as being morally and intellectually superior."

Some do, some don't. Those who do usually do so on the basis of inaccurate and unfair generalizations about others - rather like what you are doing right now.

"They are often evangelical spreading the "good news" of their belief as though it were established fact."

Some do, some don't. Fact is, atheists all believe different things and it isn't possible to accurately or fairly generalize about all of them like you do.

"If you really get into it is clear that Atheism is a religion all right."

There is no "religion of atheism" common to secular humanists, religious humanists, Raelians, Ethical Culture, Humanistic Judaism, Scientologists, some Buddhists, some Hindus, Marxists, communists, Objectivists... need I go on? There is as much diversity among atheists as there is among theists, which makes talking about a "religion of atheism" as sensible and coherent as talking about a "religion of theism."

Recognizing that, however, requires that one "really get into it."

"Now agnostics, people with true open minds, are not practicing a religion."

Like everything else you wrote, that last bit is wrong, too - and on several levels. First, it presumes a distinction between agnostics and atheists/theists that doesn't exist. Agnosticism is about knowledge; atheism & theism are about belief. Those are related, but separate issues - they are orthogonal, to be preicse.

http://atheism.about.com/od/aboutagnosticism/

A person who says that they are an agnostic says that they don't claim to know for sure if any gods exist or not. They haven't said whether they believe anyway (like based on faith, making them agnostic theists) or dont bother believing (perhaps because they can't know, making them agnostic atheists).

Most atheists I encounter are agnostic atheists. Quite a few theists in history have been agnostic themselves - the Jewish theologian Maimonedes is often mentioned in this context.

Finally, agnosticism is not necessarily "open minded." Some agnostics insist not only that they don't know if any gods exist, but that such knowledge isn't even possible. That's not an "open minded" position, it's a dogmatic one.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 13, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Ron.
You answered why you want it to be safe and legal.
You did not express what about it makes you want it to be "rare".

Why should it be rare?

Posted by: Fitz on March 13, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Great book recommendation for those who are seriously trying to make sense of the modern Christian church: Marcus Borg's "The Heart of Christianity."

Borg proposes that Christianity today is divided between two paradigms: an "earlier" church and the "emerging" church. The earlier paradigm is doctrinal, insists that the Bible is literally true and views God as external, some entity out there who punishes wrongdoers. Its adherents tend to vote Republican. The emerging church emphasizes the need to love one another, views the Bible as metaphor and views God as incorporate within us. Religious liberals tend to fall in the "emerging" paradigm.

The challenge is for this emerging church to get political traction against the earlier church, which has been able to sell itself as the Christian church to the media and to secular society.

Posted by: PTate in MN on March 13, 2006 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers writes:
"
Atheism is a belief there is no god. It is faith based because it is no more grounded in fact than any theistic religion. Its believers hold themselves out as being morally and intellectually superior. They are often evangelical spreading the "good news" of their belief as though it were established fact.

If you really get into it is clear that Atheism is a religion all right. Now agnostics, people with true open minds, are not practicing a religion. '

Why on earth do you have an urge to believe in God? That is the real question. Your sophistic attempt to divert some of the shame for your unfounded faith onto atheists fails to address this key point. Look, if I substituted "tooth fairy" for "god" in your argument, it would have exactly the same strength. Yet, there are no agnostics on the question of the tooth fairy's existence. Rational people do not believe in things for which there is no evidence---except in the sole case of a belief in a divine being.
The onus is on you to justify not only this belief, but if you are a rational being, you should want to understand the basis for your urges towards divinity. I happen to think there is a perfectly naturalistic explanation for these feelings. I admit I could be wrong, but it would take evidence to sway my opinion. Atheism is not a type of faith, anymore than "belief" that 2+2=4.
Stop playing word games, and look into your own heart for the source of your own inner desire to believe in a God.


Posted by: Marky on March 13, 2006 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers, "Atheism is a belief there is no god. It is faith based because it is no more grounded in fact than any theistic religion. "


Atheism is based on the lack of facts in theism.

The areas of the brain that are associated with the immune system and the same or adjacent to those activated during religious experience, or continuously active in those who are religious maniacs.

Religious experience is self-consciousness of the immune system, and a religion is an aesthetic of that experience.

Posted by: cld on March 13, 2006 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz, I gave several perfectly valid reasons why abortion should be rare. That I did so without expressing an argument about the beginning of life, if that's the argument you want to get into, well that is your problem. You can argue both sides by yourself. You don't need my help.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

Ogged's posts haven't been nearly as annoying or off base as Stephen's and Amy's. That said, I am converting my home page back to FARK.

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

*raises hand*. Um, about abortion: I would like abortion in the case of a 13 year old girl to be the norm. I think the state and the family have a vested interest in terminating such a pregnancy at the earliest possible stage.
I actually don't believe that abortion should be rare, depending on the circumstances. I believe that unwanted pregnancies should be rare, and early teen pregnancies as well; were these conditions to come about, then abortion rates would also decrease.

Abortion at the earliest possible stage of pregnancies which are due to rape, incest, and which occur at a too-young age, are not an evil.

Posted by: marky on March 13, 2006 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

Austin Cline:

A weak atheist position is a simple lack of belief in god, usually accompanied by a strong intuition that god doesn't exist.

A strong atheist position is a hardcore ontological assertion that god does not and furthermore cannot exist. Some would call this dogmatic.

A weak agnostic position is a simple lack of knowledge to determine for oneself whether or not god exists.

A strong agnostic position is a hardcore epistemological assertion that human knowledge of god is impossible. Some would call this dogmatic.

Others, however, might call strong agnosticism a humble acknowledment of the limits of human knowledge, and not dogmatic at all. If other evidence presents itself either way, so be it.

Put me down in the latter camp.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Why should it be rare?"

I'm not Ron, but since I believe that abortion should be "rare," I hope you'll tolerate an answer from me...

I don't think that there are any women who would prefer an abortion to the alternative of never having been pregnant in the first place - it's only preferable to becoming a parent. This, in turn, often means that they don't have the sort of control over their lives that they deserve (access to effective contraception, having the financial ability to raise a child, not having to choose between a career and a child, etc.).

People should be able to avoid getting pregnant in the first place. Some of the things which make abortion preferable to being a parent (like poverty) should be reduced as much as possible. Both of these (but mostly the first, I think) would make abortion more "rare" than it is now. So: I think that abortion should be rare because that seems like it would be the natural consequence if other things were working the way they should be.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 13, 2006 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

I just wanted to say, the Christian Peacemaker Team rocks.

Bush, Blair, Falwell, Robertson, all hate Jesus.

Brokeback Bush Wears a Burka

Posted by: Balzac on March 13, 2006 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

Someday I'll be able to afford a proofreader for my forum posts.

Posted by: cld on March 13, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

RMCK,

I'm familiar with all that. I have written extensively on the definitions of agnosticism and atheism here:

http://atheism.about.com/od/aboutagnosticism/
http://atheism.about.com/od/definitionofatheism/p/overview.htm

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 13, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

Ockeghem was a 15th century Flemish composer. At the time, I was proofreading the book by the man who translated Boethius' De Musica, which consisted of taking turns reading the entire book out loud to each other to catch errors. In exchange, he paid me minimum wage out of the budget, and gave my some private instruction in what he was working on. Since it was an area I knew little about at the time, I took the opportunity.

Missa Prolationum is a four-part mass. In the Kyrie (the first section), he takes the four primary prolations (speed and metrical measurements, two and three to a "beat", and groups of two and three beats in a metrical division), and gives one combination to each of the four voices. Each voice enters in succession, and because of the different prolations, the note values in each voice are successively longer.

To top it all off, there's only one line of music, with each voice reading the same single staff of notes, each in its own clef and prolation signature, with little marks on the score to indicate when the next voice enters and where each voice ends (because of the differing speeds of the notes, each voice gets successively less far into the music).

It all fits together within the rules of 15-century harmony. You can probably find a modern translated score at any decent music library. When I first came across it, it made me want to go home and try it.

Posted by: Mornington Crescent on March 13, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Marky,

I'll promise not to try to convert you if you promise not to try to convert me. Both of our beliefs are faith based. The real issues concern how we relate to one another.

That is the real issue in all these posts. You atheists are finding it uncomfortable to be told that you don't have a corner on tolerance and humanity. Forget about it. After all no religion including atheism has a corner on morality.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Hi all the powers that be. We have finally had a very good and very enlightening conversation about liberalism and religion. I have learned a lot. I think some of the others have learned a lot.

Can we talk about Republican incompetence now. I really want to know more about that issue.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers, "You atheists are finding it uncomfortable to be told that you don't have a corner on tolerance and humanity. Forget about it. After all no religion including atheism has a corner on morality."


We're finding you utterly disrespectful and are trying to diagnose your blind ignorance. There is a large part of your consciousness that's notably distracted leaving you as unfit as chronic drunk.

I do not mean that disrespectfully, I mean that literally.

Posted by: cld on March 13, 2006 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

This discussion is really useful for advancing the party's interests, isn't it?

I want to say something that may surprise some of you, given my hostility to Amy and assorted other nitwits who insist on trying to gain acceptance of their brand of religious experience with a brickbat. I actually accept the importance of religion to most people, and I accept that the temples of the faithful are the place where most people get their moral instruction. I think it is a societal good, generally speaking, that religion instructs people in morality; however, the Church has a history of abusing its moral authority. To my mind, the most egregious current example of an abuse of moral authority is the Catholic Church's stance on condom use to prevent the transmission of AIDS. Not only do they preach against condom use, the Church has an active propaganda campaign which distorts the risks of condom use---even to the point where bishops in Africa have told their congregations that "Condoms cause AIDS", because use of condoms leads to more sex, and hence more AIDS cases, condoms being very unreliable, says the Bishop.

Back to domestic politics, and away from the child-rapist protection racket: I could see the utility of some Democrats consorting with religious leaders with whom they share common values. I think it would be useful for Democrats to know more about the values breakdown of the major churches. I feel that Ogged's post is in this spirit, and I think it is very unfortunate that the eminently rational Oggged has been paired with the stupid, intolerant Sullivan and her accomplice in stupitude, Waldmann.

Amy is doing two things, both of which are unhelpful in the extreme. First off, she is suggesting that Democratic leaders pander to the religious right, especially on the abortion issue. She has a clear sympathy for that streak of Christianity which has almost no natural sympathy for Democrats, and suggesting that, say, Howard Dean pose with Falwell, is very damaging.
The second harm that Amy perpetrates is to needlessly denigrate those who have very strong values, yet who do not agree with her, or hold her religious beliefs.

Posted by: marky on March 13, 2006 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

"You atheists are finding it uncomfortable to be told that you don't have a corner on tolerance and humanity."

Actually, it's something that I try to remind atheist myself: being an atheist doesn't automatically make a person more rational, sensible, or reasonable than anyone else. That's because the reasons for atheism aren't necessarily rational or sensible.

Of course, this is all based on the fact that atheism is merely the absence of belief in gods and, as such, could have any sort of origin - including ignorance or apathy.

So, no, I'm not uncomfortable about being told that atheists aren't all more tolerant than others. You are simply following a pattern of unfair and inaccurate generalizations about other people you don't know and have never met.

"After all no religion including atheism has a corner on morality."

Atheism isn't a religion, but you're right that it doesnt have a "corner" on morality. That's because atheism has no moral implications - atheism is consistent with a wide array of philosophies, religions, ideologies, ethical systems, etc. That's exactly what you'd expect from something that isn't a religion.

All the same things are true about theism, too - and agnosticism.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 13, 2006 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, Fitz Fitz Fitz Fitz Fitz (sigh)

How does gay marriage get "forced down your throat"? (Speaking of unfortunate metaphors, but hey).... Is some gay matchmaker out there going to force you to ditch the ball-and-chain and fix you up with a lovely gentleman?

No?

Then what the FUCK are you talking about?

Posted by: jprichva on March 13, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers,
There's nothing more offensive than an ignoramus telling you the actual nature of your philosophy, in contradiction to every statement you make on the matter.
Atheism is no more a faith than a "belief" in the gravitational force. Both are evidence-based approaches to the universe---your faith is not.
If your faith has any validity, then actually my atheism does not. Show me the respect of acknowledging that we are in fundamental disagreement, and don't patronize me by putting my world view in your own terms.

In short: stop being an intolerant prick.

Posted by: marky on March 13, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Religious aesthetics evolve quickly into fan clubs, churches and temples, and, as organized groups, are necessarily political organizations. A secular society, that 'shall not respect as an establishment of religion', cannot regard a religious organization, as such, at all, but can only relate to them as political organizations.

Religious political organizations, like the Catholic Church, have so grossly abused the priveleges they have, finalged out of our society I think if someone had the guts to run for office on an explicitly anti-religious platform we would find that missing percentage of people who never vote.

Posted by: cld on March 13, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Mornington Crescent:

The four-part accompaniment I wrote to one of my pieces, Nancarrow's Metronome (dedicated to Conlon Nancarrow), uses what I call a "brick structure" canon with a similar idea to the prolations you're talking about.

I first composed a melody line (not quite serial, but freely atonal) with its own (rather extremely bent) rhythmic phraseology, based on four sequential repetitions of the "tone row" of the intial germ idea, though each with an entirely different rhythmic phrasing.

Then, for the accomp, I made the line rhythmically uniform and gave it to four voices, distributed from 8va bass to treble clef. Though the lines were melodically the same, treble was eighths, alto was quarters, tenor was halves and bass was wholes.

One full cycle of the bass part determined the length of this section. Since there were an odd number of notes in this line (49), it made an interesting interlock. I had the melody (a flute an octave above treble clef) "solo" over it at appropriate places, though not otherwise linked directly to the canon.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, CLD,
I'm half of a mind to suggest the end of religious tax exemptions, with the idea that the free market could sort out the religious preferences of the masses---abetted, of course, with the sponsorship of the corporations; allowing advertising in the services, etc.

Posted by: marky on March 13, 2006 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Atrios says (I think) that liberal hostility to religion is just a Republican talking point. That's true, in the sense that most liberals are also religious."

You must be setting the bar very low for what constitutes "religious."

Posted by: jibjab on March 13, 2006 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

Here is how liberals should deal with religion: do it as liberals.

Let's explore the beliefs and attitudes of the religous. Make them answer questions about their beliefs.

Ask the simple questions, "President Bush, do you believe that Catholics can go to heaven?"

A sure winner for the Democrats and liberals. Either Bush says yes, and demonstrates to the Fundamentalist and Evangelicals that he isn't a "real" Christian, or he says no and ends up losing the Catholic vote and has an awkward dinner with Nino.

"Senator Hatch, you are opposed to gay marriage. How do you feel about polygamy?"

"Senator Lieberman you have been very open about how you keep the Sabbath, could you detail how you interact with unclean women?"

Let them own up to their stone age beliefs and attitudes. I look forward to their squirms.

Posted by: Ray on March 13, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

I have an acquaintance who is a fundamentalist Protestant who refuses to acknowledge there is a difference between secular and secular humanist. He is angry that Christianity is not taught in every public classroom. I have another acquaintance who is an apocalyptic Catholic who feels that any criticism of Bush is treason, but believes Clinton should have been convicted and jailed.

If you want an angry brawl on a thread, bring up this topic. It is the same in public. There is very little room for rational discourse when dealing with faith and revealed truth. I no longer feel safe discussing it in public, so perhaps threads like this are a public service.

Posted by: Nat on March 13, 2006 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

marky,

I'm of more than half a mind about that. The Catholic Church by itself has such extensive land holdings just taxing it on its fair market value would pay for the Iraq war. Well, maybe not the whole war. But a good part of it.

Doing away with religious tax relief it would be most practical to simply re-categorize the whole field as political organizations and tax them the way we tax the Democratic and Republican parties. Though, that would open the door to religious organizations directly running their own candidates for office. Which is why we need to be sure every one understands they suffer an enfeebling medical condition, like crack addicts.

Posted by: cld on March 13, 2006 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who doesn't acknowledge the majesty of assymetrical meter is a heretic, and anyone who can't dance in 13/8 needs to be stoned.

After they're stoned, dancing in 13/8 shouldn't be any problem at all :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

CLD,
I could say that religious indoctrination of children is a form of child abuse which should be prevented, but I'll back off from that claim.
The reason I mention this idea is it reminds me of something that has been on my mind recently, which is why do we allow advertising to children at all? Picture this scenario: A family with two small children is at the mall. The parents have their backs turned to the children, but the children are right behind them. Now, suppose I go up to the children and say "Hey, how would you like this tasty candy bar", or "Hey, take a look at this great toy---will your mom and dad by this?", I think that most of us would agree that such behavior is out of bounds, with the degree of impropriety depending on the childrens' ages.
And yet, this is exactly what happens when advertising is directed towards kids.
I just wanted to throw this out under the topic of morality, welfare of children, which is somewhat appropriate for any discussion on religion, isn't it?

Posted by: marky on March 13, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

I'll promise not to try to convert you if you promise not to try to convert me. Both of our beliefs are faith based.

Not every theist's belief in God is faith based nor is every atheist's disbelief in God.

I consider myself an atheist because I am of the opinion that there is no God. Because almost certainly the existence of God is not dependent on my opinion, I don't hold it to be of much value or importance. I lack faith in it, so to speak.

Posted by: Boronx on March 13, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

I think part of the problem is that no one but right-wing fundies or evangelicals goes around calling themselves "Christians." In contrast, members of mainline Christian churches will say "I'm a Presbyterian," "I'm UCC" or "I'm an Episcopalian." Christian is unspoken but understood. Only the right-wing Christians say, "I'm a CHRISTIAN." So when you hear somebody say that, you know you're talking to a fundie or conservative evangelical. And they say it, I believe, with the implication that they are *the* Christians, the *true* Christians, while others--and particularly members of mainline denominations--are not.

So yes, liberals are hostile to people who go around *calling* themselves "Christian."

Posted by: Nancy Irving on March 13, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

I think we should indoctrinate all children into odd time signature appreciation by affixing a prosthetic device to one of their legs so that it's longer than the other one, and then playing them Dave Brubeck's Take Five while we force them to stagger around until they finally get it :)

I believe we should start this program no later than age 4.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

marky,

I agree entirely. " I could say that religious indoctrination of children is a form of child abuse which should be prevented, but I'll back off from that claim."

Well, I won't. Just as children shouldn't be allowed to smoke or take acid. It disrupts their development.

When you feel strength from your religious beliefs you are self-conscious of the strength of your immune system. This is good. You should feel more strength in your immune system. But you should understand what it is.

A religion is not history, philosophy, journalism or science, though it may be the subject of any of those things. It's an aesthetic.

This is my entire point here. I am not anti-religious experience. I am against people not knowing what they're doing.

It is because experience of god is self-consciousness of your immune system that religious violence is so ruthless and immutable.

To over-emphasize this in childhood while adding supernatural spin to it is simply to inspire a lasting derangement in outlook.

Posted by: cld on March 13, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

As a Roosevelt-Truman Democrat, I liked FDR's belief, when confronted by a young reporter, who tried to pin him down: "I'm a Christian and a Democrat."

But for over a generation, it's been pc on the left to be an athiest. Correction: White left, mostly. But they all profess to love MLK et al.

I say take on the Christian right on their own playing field: What Chritian principal was GW Bush exercising when he mocked Karla Faye Tucker, whom he would later execute - to the strong objections of most of the Christian right leaders. (Gary Baur was horrified and very public about this, you might recall.)

Just where in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John does Jesus say, "Give your money to the rich; they don't have enough."? I must have missed that.

But to cite that great philosopher, Nixon Sec. of Agriculture, Earl Butz, as he said of Pope Paul XI, on the issue of birth control, "He no play-a da game; he no make-a da rules." So is it with the athiest left. Existential puritanism.

Posted by: MaxGowan on March 13, 2006 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

But isn't it undeniable that "religious" and particularly "Christian" have come to be synonymous in politics with "conservative evangelical Christian?"

Why no. It's completely deniable that "religious" and "Christian" are synonymous with conservative politics.

But as long as you have us denying that we have ever been a secular humanist, or that we have ever beaten our wives, why don't you have us deny that the Sun revolves around the Earth?

Look, the framework of this discussion really sucks. In an era in which the United Church of Christ cannot even buy advertising time on FOX, ABC, or CBS to air a commercial featuring the confluence of faith and patriotism in the form of a Christ-like love, acceptance, and embrace of the downtrodden -- namely gay men and women.. ....shouldn't you be posing the question so that it challenges the conventional wisdom of the Democratic Party? Why buy into such uneven terms of debate?

Liberals of faith have not gone away. But there most assuredly has been a media blackout since the Civil Rights and Vietnam era. The UCC can't even buy their way onto the airwaves. The supposedly "moderate" or "responsible" DLC Democrats won't even begin to entertain the principled political stance of the liberal faithful.

In short, strong liberals don't need to recover ANY sense of "religious" as progressive.

Bush succeeded because the Republican Party has reached out to fundamentalists and heeded their concerns. Those tight ties include promised action on a social agenda, increased influence, a substantive party role, and fiscal goodies. Not so on the Dem side of the aisle.

So when you write that --
"Recovering the sense of "religious" as progressive, socially conscious, and principled will actually take some work."

-- you need to be aware that it is Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Joe Lieberman, Charles Schumer, and Harry Reid who will have to do that work. They will have to reach out, honor their base, and move their agenda forward. Encourage Paul Hackett and his religious analog to run -- instead of cutting them off at the knees.

It is also the media which will have to do that work by doing their job. Religious patriots showed up pre-Iraq invasion in DC -- and they were clubbed down in Lafayette Park. NO coverage. No outcry. No one reported that they acted on deeply held patriotic beliefs, and on their religious faith.

No one.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on March 13, 2006 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

I can see why you like Nancarrow. The Wergo recording of the Studies is great. I just took it out of my current CD changer set a few weeks ago, after about 2 months in (replaced by Paul Lansky's "Idle Chatter" and other computer music).

A friend of mine found a complete set of scores of the Studies in a used book store in Albuquerque while on vacation about 5 years ago for like $10 dollars or something. I have no idea how he does this. Never happens to me. He made a point of letting me know.

Posted by: Mornington Crescent on March 13, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Progressive people didn't used to be hostile to religion.

Now they spend all their time:

-Pushing gay marriage and the breakdown of family values

-Calling Christians bigots and Southern rednecks (When many aren't even white)

-Attacking any mention of prayer of the Christian God while taking no action on other equivalencies (ever saw anyone ban Witch costumes on Halloween?)

The only Churches liberals like to feature are 'fronts' set up to score political points instead of getting on with the actual work of Christianity.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, we might have greater success if we nailed their other foot to the floor and played them the last movement of Le Sacre du Printemps :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Only the right-wing Christians say, "I'm a CHRISTIAN." So when you hear somebody say that, you know you're talking to a fundie or conservative evangelical. And they say it, I believe, with the implication that they are *the* Christians, the *true* Christians, while others--and particularly members of mainline denominations--are not.

So yes, liberals are hostile to people who go around *calling* themselves "Christian."

Posted by: Nancy Irving on March 13, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

If I was a non-evangelical, I wouldn't be too happy about being the Church then is afraid to admit to being Christian. If that's the impression those Churches are making on the secular world, they have a problem.

I think it would be healthier for a Church to offend the secular world than to withold the Christ's message.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. Ron Byers is a troll. He also is apparently a fake lawyer, although he has claimed he just retired from being a lawyer.

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

"P.S. Ron Byers is a troll. He also is apparently a fake lawyer, although he has claimed he just retired from being a lawyer."

Jerry, I wish I was as well paid as the trolls.

I am a lawyer and too young to retire. Please point me to the post where I claimed to retire. I want to read it and dream. :)

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

What Chritian principal was GW Bush exercising when he mocked Karla Faye Tucker?

Seriously.

What Christian principal was GW Bush exercising when he pursued Al Queda with force?

A special metaphorical turning of the other cheek?

Apparently all that stuff in the Bible about the meek and the poor and turning the other cheek was just filler. The really important stuff was all about the importance of the nuclear family, David, Solomon and forsaking of parents notwithstanding.

So not only are liberal hostile to religion, and the members of other religions are hostile to religion, Christians (for instance) are hostile to their _own_ religion.


Posted by: Ray on March 13, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

You claimed to have retired from family law. Maybe you still claim to be a lawyer. Back then you were lambasting any man that was divorced because they all did it to screw their wives and abandon their children. d00d, you have some problems.

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

"it's been pc on the left to be an athiest"

It's been pc on the left to be 'spiritual', atheism is rarely talked about.

McA, "instead of getting on with the actual work of Christianity."

Which is what? Organized child abuse on cosmic scale? Christianity is about nothing at all except the transmission of neurotic and fetishistic psycholigical injury.

Posted by: cld on March 13, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, I think we should nail *both* of McAristotle's feet to the floor, just on principle.

And then make him watch old newsreels of Nijinsky choreography until he gets dizzy and pukes :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

So Christianity forbids mockery, does it? Or is it just mockery of people you think don't deserve it that is forbidden?

Posted by: jibjab on March 13, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Why should it be rare?

Posted by: Fitz on March 13, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Because its cruel for something with potential for adult life to die just because humans can't manage contraception or control their desires.

Forceps abortions pull little lifeforms to bits without anasthetic. It would be illegal to kill a hamster that way.

And its a sick, sick man a little bit dead inside who renders a potential life into a worthless abstraction in his mind.

I can understand regard for the mother superseding the child but not the sort of disdain for life that the American Abortion lobby breeds.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

I think it would be healthier for a Church to offend the secular world than to withold the Christ's message.
Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'll agree with you that the Church is offensive.

As to knowing Christ's message, not so much.

Posted by: Ray on March 13, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Mornington Crescent:

Have you heard The Ensemble Modern's transcrptions of Mancarrow's piano studies?

Phenomenal ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

McA, "instead of getting on with the actual work of Christianity."

Which is what? Organized child abuse on cosmic scale? Christianity is about nothing at all except the transmission of neurotic and fetishistic psycholigical injury.

Apparently from last night (early this morning) the actual work of Christianity is the forced conversion of Jews.

Why do people engage the idiot bigot troll McA?

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Jerry I did retire from family law.

I think I remember you. You are a one trick pony. You are a "father's rights activist." The only kind of law you know about is family law. You hate all judges and lawyers because they won't let you leave your children penniless and starving. Yeh, I remember you. How are your efforts to abandon your children going?

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

think we should nail *both* of McAristotle's feet to the floor, just on principle.

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

Organized child abuse on cosmic scale? Christianity is about nothing at all except the transmission of neurotic and fetishistic psycholigical injury.

Posted by: cld on March 13, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

The liberal base, seems a bit hostile to Christians to me. I'm not sure the die-hard political Conservatives have it wrong when they say that the Democrats have a substantial anti-Christian component.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Oh mean ... cld and marky vs McAristotle and Fitz.

Talk about a tag team grudge match :)

I can feel my head being nailed to a wall already ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

than to withold the Christ's message.
Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

McA,

I deduce from the phrase, "the Christ's" that you are Catholic (or maybe high church Anglican, but they don't allow Mc's).

You do realize that GW Bush thinks you are going to hell for your failure to have a personal relationship with Jesus, don't you?

Just asking.


Posted by: Ray on March 13, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

How are your efforts to abandon your children going?

I now have a court date to increase my parenting time from 25% to 50%, thanks for asking.

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, we might have greater success if we nailed their other foot to the floor and played them the last movement of Le Sacre du Printemps

I believe they're currently employing this tactic at Gitmo to evince false confessions from farmers who were rounded up in security sweeps.

Posted by: trex on March 13, 2006 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

McAristotle:

You really have, like, *no* sense of humor, do you. Totally literal-minded. He, no *wonder* fundie Christianity is so attractive to you ...

I'd work on that, if I were you. Wouldn't want to go confirming any odious stereotypes, I'm sure :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

You are a "father's rights activist." ... How are your efforts to abandon your children going?

Not that I am a father's rights activist, but the prime number one item on the agenda for father's rights activists is to get MORE time with their kids, not less.

This is representative of the facts that constantly elude you.

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Have you heard The Ensemble Modern's transcrptions of Mancarrow's piano studies?

Yes, I have the recording. Excellent. I haven't listened to it for a while. I may pull it off the shelf.

Posted by: Mornington Crescent on March 13, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

I want to apologize to the Christian Left.

Please forgive me for my hostile and profane posts.

I've got a serious problem.

You see my parents never raised me on the Santa Claus myth.

So I never got encultured into believing that if I was a good boy I would get a red wagon full of gifts.

Obviously that makes it hard today for me to believe in Jesus and Heaven.

So please forgive me.

And just to let you know I am reformed...
A filing broke off my molar today...
I am putting it under my pillow tonight...

There is hope for me yet.

Posted by: koreyel on March 13, 2006 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

You and I are apparently the Democrat's substantial anti-Christian component. They're doing worse than I'd thought.

Or --is it --could it be, like, say, we're tuned in to Schrodinger's Website, superpositioned between similar, but divergent universes?

Some days I am really more than half-convinced of this.

Posted by: cld on March 13, 2006 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

I believe they're currently employing this tactic at Gitmo to evince false confessions from farmers who were rounded up in security sweeps.

Steve Reich said that at the premiere of his Four Organs a woman went up to the stage and shouted "I confess! I confess!".

Posted by: Mornington Crescent on March 13, 2006 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Jerry

What you want is to pay less child support so you can spend more money on yourself. The stuff about seeing your kids more is a myth.

Well, as I recall not in your case, because you failed in your effort to tie your wife and children to the same city where you live. What has you pissed is that your wife decided it was best for her to move to a different city. She took the kids with her because your lawyer was unable to obtain custody or something like that.

By the way, my position on wanting to discourage divorce by making it harder to marry is not based on my religion. It is based entirely on dealing with folks like you who think they can go through life parenting kids they conveniently abandon for the next piece of ass they find.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not any more hostile to Christians than I am towards Scientologists, children who believe in Santa Claus, or anyone else who believes that fairy tales are true.

Whatever you need to give your miserable life some meaning. You can be a complete piece of shit your whole life, but as long as you believe in Jesus and ask for forgiveness, you get to go the cloud city paradise in the sky along with Mother Theresa.
Okay.

Posted by: haha on March 13, 2006 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

And its a sick, sick man a little bit dead inside who renders a potential life into a worthless abstraction in his mind.

It is a very, very sick man -- probably pretty dead -- inside who renders actual lives into worthless abstractions in his mind.

See every post McAristotle has ever written on the deaths in Iraq, particularly in regard to his feelings about the Sunni.

Christian sentiments, they are not.

Posted by: Windhorse on March 13, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Well, as I recall not in your case, because you failed in your effort to tie your wife and children to the same city where you live. What has you pissed is that your wife decided it was best for her to move to a different city. She took the kids with her because your lawyer was unable to obtain custody or something like that.

Don't know about Jerry, or his case, but what possible justification could there be for allowing one parent to that the children and move to a different city?

Perhaps it is better for the moving parent, but it's hard to imagine the case where it would be better for the children.

Posted by: Ray on March 13, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

cld:

No, truthfully, I'm just an agnostic who tries to use empathy and sympathetic introspection to appreciate religion and religious people.

But I also have an *extremely* snarky sense of humor. I think watching debates between hardcore atheists who equate religion to child abuse with fundamentalist Christians who think homosexuality is an abomination to be the height of absurdist entertainment :)

I mean ... bring it on -- please :) Call McA some sort of inconscionable name ... I want to imagine the flecks of spit flying onto his screen :) And McA -- for your part, please reassure cld and marky how rotten it's going to be for them, for the next untold milliennia listening to old scratchy Lawrence Welk records on 78 rpm without so much as a bathroom break :)

Mornington Crescent:

You should. One of the pieces on that disc he composed for live instruments in the 30s, prior to building that custom lathe to cut his piano rolls ... I forget the name of it and it's very short (my friend actually has the record and I haven't heard it in a number of years).

It's absolutely marvelous ....

I'm a big Frank Zappa fan, too. The Ensemble Modern's record of Zappa's music, The Yellow Shark, is something else ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

What you want is to pay less child support so you can spend more money on yourself. The stuff about seeing your kids more is a myth.

Yes, that's right. I have paid $3,000 for a custody evaluation ($6,000 if it goes against me) and am prepared for another $8,000-$15,000 in legal fees so that I can share custody of my children 50% of the time so that I can spend more money on myself. When the kids are with me I shall keep them clothed in old rags and not buy them any toys or computers. I will not help them with their homework or shuttle them to their activities. I will put them to bed at 6pm after which I will spend all that money I have saved on the QVC network.

Ron, permit me to suggest you do not have too fine a grasp on reality. This potentially is what sunk your practice.

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1, please be sure to let us know when you actually find a "hardcore atheist" who equates religion with child abuse.

Posted by: Dinkins on March 13, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

I was just down at the atheistic chicken burrito luncheon and poetry slam where everyone talked about what a dick god is. But only Yahweh.

True fact: Yahweh appears in the Middle East along with the spread of chickens as a minor war god, that is, the god of cockfighting. In time he becomes incorporated in Canaanite religion as the 69th of 69 sibling deities. Over the next few centuries they all disappear. Pecked to death. That's where they get monotheism. You can't argue with success.

Posted by: cld on March 13, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Ray, the Marriage of Burgess was a case that allowed a woman to move with her kids, no questions asked to 40 miles to the other side of the county. Which was possibly reasonable. It was then misinterpreted to allow the custodial parent to move anywhere they ever wanted to move, no questions asked, including out of state, and including out of the country.

It has since been overturned.

Posted by: jerry on March 13, 2006 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Dinkins:

Read upthread and draw the conclusion for yourself.

Marky stopped right at that edge -- but cld took it to the next level :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Christians have stood against slavery, discrimination, war, poverty, homelessness, hunger, unemployment, regressive taxation, and on, and on, and on,..."

the trouble with these arguments in defense of christianity is that you can change "against" to "for" and you'd be just as correct, especially when it comes to the christian right - the loud and proud face of christianity in the US doing untold damage to humanity.

Posted by: pluege on March 13, 2006 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

cld:

Actually, Freud makes something of a similar argument (believe it or not) in Moses and Monotheism.

He argues that Moses was actually an Egyptian who brought monotheism to the Hebrews and supplanted Yaweh, who was always just one violent war god among many -- until the story got rewritten to cover the tracks.

Hey -- that's Freud's idea, not mine ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

According to the notes, it's called "Toccata" and was composed in 1935, timing 1:37. I've also got that Yellow Shark recording here, too (along with everything else Zappa released).

Jeez, time to change the listening cycle again, it appears. More to look for in the used bins, and for the next time I get new recordings.

Posted by: Mornington Crescent on March 13, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1, please be sure to let us know when you actually find a "hardcore atheist" who equates religion with child abuse.

I found one!

A friend of mine from college was raised in a bizarro Baptist environment, replete with the kind of science schooling that taught that Satan placed dinosaurs bones in the ground to discredit the Bible.

He pretty much equates his upbringing to child abuse.

Of course, he's a pornographer now, which when he ran as far as he could from religion and finally ran out of breath is where he stopped.

One of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.

Posted by: Windhorse on March 13, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Mornington Crescent:

So, do you play or compose?

I'm a progrock freak. That stuff pushed into an appreciation for classical, jazz, various ethnic musics and modern avant garde ...

I'm a total sucker for crunchy power chords in bizarro meter :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

Ray,

I agree with you. If a mother wants to move away from a good father, I would think that normally a change of custody would be in order. I don't recall Jerry's claims or what state he lives in. Maybe, just maybe, Jerry lost because the court didn't think he was much of a father. It happens.

Jerry does have a lot of rage.

But like you I don't know the facts of his case. I just know that there has never been a losing parent who didn't blame the court or his or her lawyer. They never take responsiblity for their own actions. If they did they couldn't live with themselves.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Equating one's upbringing with child abuse is not the same thing as equating religion with child abuse.

I think most "hardcore atheists" would probably say that indoctrinating children from a young age in controversial claims of truth unsupported by evidence is abusive, or something close to abuse, but that's not the same thing as "equating" religion with child abuse.

The latter statement sure is more effective if you're trying to discredit "hardcore atheists," though.

Posted by: Dinkins on March 13, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

I no longer do either, but used to do both. I graduated from a well-known music conservatory in Baltimore, played professionally. Then later did graduate work in music theory at an ivy league institution in New York City (insert the names yourself). I left before graduation. I was offered a technical position at several times what I would make in the music business, and I said "looks good to me". Never looked back, but am grateful for the education.

Posted by: Mornington Crescent on March 13, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

McAristotle has ever written on the deaths in Iraq, particularly in regard to his feelings about the Sunni.

Posted by: Windhorse on March 13, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think Christianity would be well expressed by mourning deaths of Serbian Dictators while pretending mass slaughter didn't happen either.

The Sunni's chose to shelter some very bad men because they shot at Americans, that those men have chosen to provoke the Shiite's into attacking the Sunni's seems to be sad but inevitable. Shiite funerals and sites of worship have been getting bombed by Sunni's for more than a year.

While non-violence is called for in the Bible, there is a recognition that state exercise of power has a place.

Romans 13: 1-4
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Posted by: McA on March 13, 2006 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

Austin Cline wrote:
I'm familiar with all that. I have written extensively on the definitions of agnosticism and atheism here:

http://atheism.about.com/od/aboutagnosticism/
http://atheism.about.com/od/definitionofatheism/p/overview.htm

I met Austin ten years ago this summer at a national convention for the Campus Freethought Alliance (an umbrella organization for college atheist/agnostic groups). I thought he was a nice guy then. After years of reading his atheism.about.com site, he's my hero.

You rock, Austin.

- Rieux the Brownnoser

Posted by: Rieux on March 13, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers on March 13, 2006 at 10:56 PM:

They never take responsiblity for their own actions.

...Ron, Ron, RON!...

Just when I begin respecting you, you gotta go and start sucking ass again. I am truly sorry that your involvement in divorce law has left you so cynical.

rmck1, your buddy John let you another Love note back in the An Alternative Narrative thread. I left him a couple of things to chew on...But I was nice about it...

What was this comment thread about again?

Posted by: grape_crush on March 13, 2006 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

Real info on Canaanite mythology is relatively hard to come by in the US since all the books in University libraries have to be kept locked up to prevent the Yahwists from defacing them.

I've just been trying to locate a picture of Yahweh online, but even the internet has failed. He has a rooster's head and four snakes for arms and legs. He probably originated in Yemen, since ancient Yemeni religious imagery looks just as if it developed from stories about Egypt, but without first-hand experience; at some point, for instance, they mummified the dead, but in a totally idiosyncratic way.

Posted by: cld on March 13, 2006 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

Hell yeah, Romans 13! Love that stuff:
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

But then there's this other thing I read that goes
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.


Man, whoever wrote that drivel must have had incredible hostility toward Christianity, huh?

Good thing that we live in a Christian Nation that has never had time or patience for that kind of rabid blasphemy.

Posted by: Rieux on March 13, 2006 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

There is plenty of evidence of liberal hostility to religion here on this blog.

There are some good rebuttals to this gibberish upthread, but let me add mine: I am not a member of the YMCA. I never go there. I never think about going there. I don't think about the YMCA at all. The activities of the local Y, or any Y, never enter into my mind. In the truest sense of the term, I do not care what they get up to down there.

Does this make me "hostile" to the YMCA?

According to the logic of the unbelievably thin-skinned religious folks, yes.

Posted by: craigie on March 13, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

I just type too fast.

By 'tuned in to Schrodinger's Website, superpositioned between similar, but divergent universes' I meant the rightists and the world we live in. And I did mean that I more than half believe it. The internet is such a large and complex device might it not be doing more than we intended?


Posted by: cld on March 13, 2006 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

cld:

Yahweh is not a very fun guy. Snark away at him with my full blessing :)

grapey:

Yeah, I caught up with ol' John. Since you handled the gay stuff, I sourced my reference to the deutero-Pauline letters which triggered that little "how dare you know more than me" minuet :)

Mornington Crescent:

Awesome, bro. You're a helluva lot more qualified to speak of this stuff than I. Save for some piano lessons as an early teen, I'm a complete autodidact, doing the Zappa thing, taking words from liner notes I didn't understand and pouring through Grove's Dictionarty. Taught myself the cycle of fifths and meter notation in class when I should have been doing algebra :)

I took theory and analysis as an elective when I went to college. Easiest As I ever received. "Oh *that's* what you call that ... "

Sadly, I am not graced with the physical coordination I'd need to be the kind of musician that could satisfy my ear and creativity. So I've long given up playing, doing the low-rent Zappa thang with a scoring program, setting down and elaborating all the stuff I've been scribbling on manuscripts since highschool as well as stuff composed entirely sans instruments.

One of these days the concertmaster of the Ensemble Modern is going to hear these MIDI demos of my music and go "holy shit! An American Original! The New Ives!" offer me a contract, and the rest will be history :)

Hey, a guy can dream, can't he? ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

If one party wants to be the party of folks in believing in fairy tales (and insist that others believe them, too), what's the problem with the other being the party of those don't?

I will now take my beating.

Posted by: Bob on March 13, 2006 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

I apologize grape. You are right I should never have said "they never take responsibility." You did and you do. Please forgive me.

This has been a fun evening, all of these devout atheists telling liberal Christians that atheism is not a religion trying to convert folks to their "non-religion" in the fervent language of faith. All of the intolerance from the dispassionate non-religious atheists who sound for all the world like Baptists attacking Catholics or Muslims attacking Buddhists or name your favorite two denominations.

All in all an amusing thread and evening.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 14, 2006 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers,
Which atheist was trying to convert religious people? I didn't read one post with that position.
You're the one who has been trying to foist his beliefs on others all evening long.

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

What has Ron Byers been reading? Or drinking? If he leaps off a building does he float?

Again, we have a window into another world.

Posted by: cld on March 14, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

cld, marky-

Let me see. Religious believers are "deluded", "blind", believe in "fairy tales", have "brain disorders", etc. If that's not at the very least intellectual hostility to religion, what is? Can you empirically prove any of these claims? There are plenty of ways of squaring religious faith with modern science (as attested to by the fact that there are lots of scientists smarter and more accomplished than you or I who are religious believers), and if you don't realize this, you are, with all due respect, either too ignorant of logic and philosophical reasoning or too burdened by your own irrational prejudices to participate in this debate intelligently. As for the notion that no human being should believe anything without empirical proof of it - it's patently absurd. EVERY human being holds such beliefs. Do you believe you love your spouse, your parents, your children? Do you believe in concepts such as justice or tolerance? Do you believe that chocolate tastes good? If so, prove it. Many people experience faith in the same way they experience their realizations of these assertions - subjectively. Certain religious doctrines may be empirically debunkable, but others are not. As for faith itself, you can't anymore disprove its validity than you can disprove the validity of the taste experience of someone who dislikes chocolate. It's a subjective experience. If you're as smart and rational as you pride yourselves on being, you should know the difference between subjective and objective. When you lurch into this absurd talk of equating a religious upbringing with child abuse or the like, well, I hate to break it to you, but you are spewing exactly the same sort of intolerant nonsense as the Jerry Falwells of the world, and are every bit as deserving of the label of "fundamentalist".

Posted by: Tolerant agnostic on March 14, 2006 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

Mornington Crescent and Bob, thank you for a fabulously informative read. I have added a number of items to my wishlist based on your recommendations.

On another comment I read as I was scrolling through to see music recommendations:

As far as atheism being a faith, I don't believe in unicorns, either, but that doesn't make me a faithful worshipper of the non-existence of unicorns.

Posted by: winna on March 14, 2006 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

"Tolerant Agnostic" (I suspect you're not agnostic in the least, actually)
Your incoherent rant completely fails to address my challenge, which was to show where atheists are trying to convert religious people.
I'm doing no such thing. I have my opinion of religious belief, which I am free to express because I do not live in a religious-totalitarian state.

You make numerous challenges re what science can demonstrate with respect to religion. There is already research on brain states associated with religious experience and belief; there is sociological research into the transmission of religious beliefs and inculcation of dogma; etc.
There is virtually no aspect of the religious experience which cannot be studied scientifically---except, of course, the question of the existence of God. This last seems firmly and forever outside of the grasp of the human intellect. For some of thus, this inaccessability is a sign that the very concept of God is flawed; others take this is as a necessary aspect of God's being. My statements about religious belief are fact-based---or so I intend them. There should be nothing controversial to a modern man in the assertion that God cannot be empirically proven to exist. Your other examples are manifestations of the category error, and not worth discussion---especially since your whole post misses the mark.

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

marky:

God can't be proven *not* to exist, either.

I'm with Tolerant Agnostic on this one. If you don't like "subjective," try the Kantian categorical a-prioris.

You can't demonstrate them, either -- yet our entire perceptual edifice is founded on them.

winna:

Glad to be of service :)

What sort of music do you generally like?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 14, 2006 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

Rmck,
Are you illiterate as well? I thought better of you. I did not say that the existence of God can be disproven. I would expect someone as educated as yourself to understand that empiricism could not possibly disprove any statement which is broad enough and vague enough. The bottom line is that for some reason, human beings feel a need to believe in God, despite the lack of evidence. It is this desire to have belief which is interesting, but it gives no weight to theological being.

As to your last aside: concepts of sufficient abstraction cannot be empirically demonstrated. This is true of some kinds of numbers, for example. If one has a concept of God which is so abstract as to have no possibility of verifiability---why have it at all? Or why have one God-construct and not another? The choices appear random to me.

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 11:49 PM:

Since you handled the gay stuff

Um, handled the gay stuff? Thanks, Bob...No, really...Thank you...

which triggered that little "how dare you know more than me" minuet

Heh. Bet he doesn't even realize that he admitted that you were smarter than he. Poor guy couldn't keep up...Bring in the Gnostic Gospels and watch the heads explode, particularly the Gospel of Philip:

"...the companion of the Savior is Mary Magdalene. But Christ loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples were offended... They said to him, "Why do you love her more than all of us? the Savior answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you as I love her?"

Heh. Heh-heh.

Ron Byers on March 14, 2006 at 12:02 AM:

All in all an amusing thread and evening.

Apology accepted, good point on the infighting, and we aim to please. ;)

G'night all!

Posted by: grape_crush on March 14, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

at the very least intellectual hostility to religion

Pointing out that the religious beliefs of many - especially those who'd like to tell us how to run our lives on the right - are tantamount to fairy tales is hardly being hostile.

How can simply speaking the truth be hostile?

Demons, Satan, guardian angels, heaven, hell, transubstantiation, the resurrection, the virgin birth: these are all tantamount to fairy tales.

Sorry if that offends. No hostility intended at all however, as anyone who actually knows me could tell you.

Have ya'll noticed that any expression of doubt is denounced as "hostility" by the religious? This is how the manage to keep a lock on their fairy tales over the ages.

They guilt you out of criticizing or even doubting religious belief. I say, let that particular taboo fall.

Posted by: Bob on March 14, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

Your incoherent rant completely fails to address my challenge, which was to show where atheists are trying to convert religious people.
I'm doing no such thing. I have my opinion of religious belief, which I am free to express because I do not live in a religious-totalitarian state.

There are lots of religious people (most, actually) who don't go around trying to convert people, and whether you want to admit or not, more than a few atheists who do, sometimes violently (Pol Pot executed Buddhist monks who would not renounce their beliefs, for example). I have met both types in my life. As for your opinion of religious belief, no one is denying that you are free to express it. But I would hardly apply the labels "tolerant" or "open-minded" to it.

There is already research on brain states associated with religious experience and belief;

I am well aware of this research, but it does not logically follow that because there is a correlation between brain activity and religious experience, religious experience is not real. When you eat a piece of apple pie, your brain shows a particular pattern of neurological activity associated with the experience. Does that prove that apple pie doesn't exist? In case you're not yet convinced, Andrew Newberg of the university of Pennsylvania, one of the leading researchers in this field and hence it's safe to say more of an expert than you or I, agrees entirely with me (and is a religious practioner himself).

there is sociological research into the transmission of religious beliefs and inculcation of dogma; etc.
There is virtually no aspect of the religious experience which cannot be studied scientifically

And there is sociological/anthropological research on music, dance, the arts, etc. yet you're not denying that these things exist independently of peoples' experience of them. Again, your argument is logically incoherent.

---except, of course, the question of the existence of God. This last seems firmly and forever outside of the grasp of the human intellect. For some of thus, this inaccessability is a sign that the very concept of God is flawed; others take this is as a necessary aspect of God's being.

There are lots of things, including some scientific phenomena, that may be "firmly and forever" outside the grasp of the human intellect. Do you take it as a sign that these concepts are flawed? Position (B) seems perfectly defensible to me.

My statements about religious belief are fact-based---or so I intend them. There should be nothing controversial to a modern man in the assertion that God cannot be empirically proven to exist. Your other examples are manifestations of the category error, and not worth discussion---especially since your whole post misses the mark.

They may be based on facts, but they still betray your own cognitive biases in how you interpret those facts. Given my handle, it'd be surprising if I disagreed with you the assertion that "God cannot be empirically proven to exist", but theologians have acknowledged that for CENTURIES. You need to read up a little bit more on this subject before you try debating it. But thanks for the gratuitous insult at the end of your post anyways. ;)

Posted by: Tolerant agnostic on March 14, 2006 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

Tolerant Agnostic,
Will you admit your error in ascribing evangelical atheism to me? I see you have dropped the charge.
Theologians have accepted for centuries that the existence of God cannot be empirically proven?
Not all of them, obviously, or why would the Catholic Church insist on proof of miracles for elevation to Sainthood?

What about the creation myth? In one form or another, this is still a central belief for Christians. To say that God intervened, either at the beginning or as history unfolded, is to make an empirical statement about God.
Face it---while there may be a small minority of theologians who do not believe any proof of God can be made, the mainstream Christian viewpoint is of an God who actively participates in the physical events of the universe---the Resurrection of course being the prime example.

We're really getting far afield here, because I don't care to get into the details of others' fairy tale belief systems.

Admit that you falsely accused me of proselytizing for "UN-God", and we'll call it a night.

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

Pointing out that the religious beliefs of many - especially those who'd like to tell us how to run our lives on the right - are tantamount to fairy tales is hardly being hostile.

How can simply speaking the truth be hostile?

Demons, Satan, guardian angels, heaven, hell, transubstantiation, the resurrection, the virgin birth: these are all tantamount to fairy tales.

You are going to have to demonstrate how you are "speaking the truth" in denying the existence of these things, because I don't see any proof of your denial.

Have ya'll noticed that any expression of doubt is denounced as "hostility" by the religious? This is how the manage to keep a lock on their fairy tales over the ages.

They guilt you out of criticizing or even doubting religious belief. I say, let that particular taboo fall.

It's not doubt that offends - it's using a condescending and deliberately pejorative term like "fairy tales", as well as the refusal to acknowledge that it's possible for rational people to find personal truth in things that you don't personally believe. You are welcome to continue along this line if you choose, but if you do, at least as so far as you are concerned, the charge that (some) secular liberals are hostile to/dismissive of religion is unquestionably true.

Posted by: Tolerant agnostic on March 14, 2006 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, by the way, I missed your gratuitous insertion of a falsehood, TA.
What is your example of a scientific phenomenon which is firmly outside of the grasp of the human intellect?
The closest I would come to that is to say that some systems are too complex to model, but even in those cases, the underlying principles are often understood.

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

LOL
TA has been reduced to defending the existence of fairies! I can't take it!

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

You are welcome to continue along this line if you choose, but if you do, at least as so far as you are concerned, the charge that (some) secular liberals are hostile to/dismissive of religion is unquestionably true.

In other words, the man who doubts that 2 + 2 equals 5 is hostile to the beliefs of those who believe it is.

Your reasoning, which I undertstand quite clearly and which is nothing I haven't heard before, is tantamount to intellectual masturbation.

You've simply fallen prey to the Oprah-esque idea that all ideas are worthy of equal respect. I try to respect people, not every idea that comes along. I find it harder to respect people who refuse to examine their beliefs, whilst simulltaneously mocking my reality-based one. Fortunately, not all religious folk fall into that category.

Posted by: Bob on March 14, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

find it harder to respect people who refuse to examine their beliefs, whilst simulltaneously mocking my reality-based one.

Posted by: Bob on March 14, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

And why is your belief more worthy of respect than any other?

Chrsitians live with their belief being mocked all the time, the only reason they are active nowadays is because they are trying to keep their beliefs from being banned in preference of another.

Posted by: McA on March 14, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

Chrsitians live with their belief being mocked all the time, the only reason they are active nowadays is because they are trying to keep their beliefs from being banned in preference of another.

Nonsense. Christians make up the majority of the United States and no one is suggesting their beleifs be outlawed, including this non-believer.

Of course, like every person who subscribed to a religion or philosophy, I believe mine is worthy of respect. George Bush Sr, however, who said that atheists should not be Americans, is among many who do not respect my beliefs.

And any beliefs which are rooted in reality, and searches for truth rather than clinging to demonstrably falsifiable tradition - of course that belief system is more worthy of respect. Much in the same way that honesty is generally considered more worthy of respect than dishonesty. Many (not all) religious folks are not interested in pursuing truth at all (ironically), but cling to the beliefs passed on to them, without allowing so much as a moment's doubt (McA, actually being an excellent example of this phenomenon).

Posted by: Bob on March 14, 2006 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

marky:

> Are you illiterate as well?

Sadly ... yes I am. Totally insensate to the written word. Been
that way ever since I finished my seventh rereading of Gravity's
Rainbow. Thomas Pynchon has this corruscating ability to burn
out all the intelligence one has has ever believed they possess.

> I thought better of you.

I'm deeply sorry for disappointing you, marky. What can I say? I
mean ... here I am, posting on this blog for days on end. Eventually
it *would* have to come out, of course. My shameful secret exposed
for all to see. It's amazing I carried the charade on this far, eh?

> I did not say that the existence of God can be disproven.

Well then, there you go. This is why atheism
is not a satisfactory position for me.

> I would expect someone as educated as yourself

Don't believe everything you read :)

> to understand that empiricism could not possibly disprove
> any statement which is broad enough and vague enough.

We were either created by some entity we have no other direct
knowledge of -- or we weren't. Nothing broad or vague about
that question. Just logically unfalsifiable either way.

> The bottom line is that for some reason, human beings feel
> a need to believe in God, despite the lack of evidence.

Well, it's pretty obvious why. Nothing in the realm of direct sense
experience would lead one to conclude that something was created
without a creator. If god indeed doesn't exist -- it would be the
first and only violation of this otherwise uniformly true observation.

> It is this desire to have belief which is interesting,

It is; it's fascinating. Nothing tells us more about
any given culture than what they choose to believe.

> but it gives no weight to theological being.

No weight to any *particular* theological being. Again, I'm
agnostic but also operationally atheist (atheist agnostic); I
don't believe in god. But I can't rule out the possibility of
intentional creation, either. And because I can't, I can't get
all excited about mocking people who have stronger spiritual
experiences than I. Maybe they have access to a kind of knowledge
that I don't? Because religious belief is subjective, I'd have
to share someone's subjective experiences in order to validate
or invalidate them. I can't; no one can. To assert otherwise is
to diminish the subjectivity of other people. And that's dangerous.

> As to your last aside: concepts of sufficient abstraction
> cannot be empirically demonstrated. This is true of some
> kinds of numbers, for example. If one has a concept of God
> which is so abstract as to have no possibility of verifiability
> ---why have it at all? Or why have one God-construct
> and not another? The choices appear random to me.

Well, the notion of necessary creation (the First Cause) doesn't
fall into the realm of verifiability. Even if we were to somehow
find proof that god does exist, we'd have to question who or
what created god -- so we're back to the same place we started.

What it is, though, is an extraordinarily powerful intuition, in
line with everything we know otherwise about cause and effect. To
believe in creation ex nihilo (out of nothing) is to believe something
that appears so out of joint with our ordinary experience that only
a small percentage of people can convince themselves of it beyond
a shadow of a doubt. A possibility? Yes. A strong possibility?
Perhaps. But people balk when asked to call it a *certainty*.

And that certainty is what you need
to be a strong (ontological) atheist.

I just don't have that kind of certainty about it.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 14, 2006 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

Sometimes overanalysis can lead one astray, when applied to concepts which are not rooted in the physical world.
No one would divide those who disbelieve in the extistence of the tooth fairy into "strong ontological" or other types; similarly, I reject your categories in the matter of atheism.
I do not believe there is evidence to support the existence of God. There is no reason to be agnostic----especially after Darwin.

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

marky:

The Tooth Fairy isn't necessary for an attempt to account for our existence.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 14, 2006 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

marky:

Notice the different ways in which I'm discussing this and you are.

I don't claim absolute certitude. You do.

One of us is being dogmatic.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 14, 2006 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

RMCK,
We exist whether or not we have an explanation for the universe. I deny that the discussion of existence of God is even necessary. Again, you express a human desire for a cause.
The desire that such a cause exist in no way ensures that one does.

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

marky:

Who said anything about "ensures"?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 14, 2006 at 2:10 AM | PERMALINK

Bob, The problem is not claims of certitude, but false imputations of religious-type belief to atheists. And you are confused about rationality if you think a statement that I don't believe God exists is an expression of certainty. I would change my mind on the basis of evidence.
By the way, it always amazes me that people who believe they know the ultimate cause of the universe---on a first-name basis, no less!---accuse me of arrogance for saying that I don't agree with them.

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

Bob, You obviously want the last word, so be my guest. You certainly haven't posted anything that actually merits a response in the last half hour.
Suffice to say, you give no reason that the question of God need even be discussed. I say it does not, anymore than one must discuss whether zephyrs have sprite personalities. At least Tolerant Agnostice was honest---he realizes that he must defend the possibility of all fairy tales if he defends one.

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

True Christianity is about as subversive to established secular order as is anarchy. Problem is, those who are calling themselves Christians for the most part ARE the established order. As a result they do not truly fit the definition. cf. The Inquisitor's Story from Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment.

Posted by: moe99 on March 14, 2006 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

marky:

You're shadowboxing.

Did I ever say anything to remotely imply that I was on a "first name basis with the creator?" You *are* reading what I'm actually writing, right?

You're claiming with certitude that god does not exist.

I'm saying that the issue is not provable either way, so I have to leave the possiblity of intentional creation open -- if any evidence happens to come up to settle the question either way.

I'm not implying that you wouldn't be as open-minded to that evidence -- whatever it says -- than I would be. I trust you take a scientific approach to questions of verifiablity.

But our positions are clear. I'm leaving the door open. You think it's already been shut.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 14, 2006 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

marky:

I'm not attempting to prove anything to you.

I merely stated my own position -- and the reasoning I have for it.

You were the one who jumped on it for being incorrect.

If you'd like to remain a hardcore atheist, by all means be my guest.

I really don't enjoy preaching to people what they should or shouldn't believe :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 14, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

marky:

When someone alleges that the Tooth Fairy created the world, I'll consider taking the Tooth Fairy seriously enough to engage the argument :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 14, 2006 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

ANAL CUNT - HITLER WAS A SENSITIVE MAN

HITLER WAS A SENSITIVE MAN
HITLER WAS A SENSITIVE MAN
HITLER WAS A SENSITIVE MAN
HITLER WAS A SENSITIVE MAN

HE WENT TO ART SCHOOL WHEN HE WAS YOUNGER
HE WANTED TO BE A PAINTER
HITLER WAS A VEGETARIAN
HE WAS ALSO A NON SMOKER

HITLER WAS A SENSITIVE MAN
HITLER WAS A SENSITIVE MAN
HITLER WAS A SENSITIVE MAN
HITLER WAS A SENSITIVE MAN

HE HIRED GAY AND HANDICAPPED OFFICERS
HE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT OVERPOPULATION
IF HITLER WAS ALIVE TODAY
HE'D LISTENED TO THE CURE, THE SMITHS, AND DEPECHE MODE

HITLER WAS A SENSITIVE MAN
HITLER WAS A SENSITIVE MAN
HITLER WAS A SENSITIVE MAN
HITLER WAS A SENSITIVE MAN

Posted by: Anal Cunt on March 14, 2006 at 5:03 AM | PERMALINK

Tolerant Agnostic,
Will you admit your error in ascribing evangelical atheism to me? I see you have dropped the charge.

Somebody may have made this charge, but it wasn't me. Your atheism seems to me dogmatic, self-righteous, inflexible, poorly argued, even irrational, but I never accused it of being evangelical.

Theologians have accepted for centuries that the existence of God cannot be empirically proven?
Not all of them, obviously, or why would the Catholic Church insist on proof of miracles for elevation to Sainthood?

Exactly how well read are you in the field of theology? Care to offer some details? I'm not familiar with the Catholic church's rituals re: sainthood, but I know they have a different standard of proof for teachings of the church than they do for scientific findings. Once you assume belief in God as a baseline assumption of your worldview, it's acceptable to reason about God as theologians do. But they don't claim that has the same force as science. As far as I know the Catholics accept modern scientific findings - it's the conflation of materialistic, atheistic metaphysical systems and science that they object to, and rightfully so. The fundamentalist idiots are another matter.

What about the creation myth? In one form or another, this is still a central belief for Christians. To say that God intervened, either at the beginning or as history unfolded, is to make an empirical statement about God.

That's not what they say, though. They say they believe God intervened, and that belief is perfectly plausible, if not empirically verifiable.

Face it---while there may be a small minority of theologians who do not believe any proof of God can be made, the mainstream Christian viewpoint is of an God who actively participates in the physical events of the universe---the Resurrection of course being the prime example.

And you can disprove the existence of a God who actively participates in the Universe, how?

We're really getting far afield here, because I don't care to get into the details of others' fairy tale belief systems.

A fine debating tactic. When the flaws in your argument are exposed, change the subject, signing off with an ad hominem attack if possible.

Admit that you falsely accused me of proselytizing for "UN-God", and we'll call it a night.

As I said, I didn't accuse you of anything other than small-mindedness, arrogance, and disregard for dissenting opinions. And I'm afraid you've shown yourself guilty on all counts. But I agree with you that we should call it a night - I've never gotten anywhere arguing with anyone who holds opinions as rigid as yours.

Posted by: Tolerant agnostic on March 14, 2006 at 5:05 AM | PERMALINK

Anal Cunt:

> HE HIRED GAY AND HANDICAPPED OFFICERS
> HE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT OVERPOPULATION
> IF HITLER WAS ALIVE TODAY
> HE'D LISTENED TO THE CURE, THE SMITHS, AND DEPECHE MODE

You forgot Joy Division :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 14, 2006 at 5:35 AM | PERMALINK

You've simply fallen prey to the Oprah-esque idea that all ideas are worthy of equal respect. I try to respect people, not every idea that comes along. I find it harder to respect people who refuse to examine their beliefs, whilst simulltaneously mocking my reality-based one. Fortunately, not all religious folk fall into that category.

Actually, no. I'm an agnostic, and have at times argued the atheist position myself. But I am at the same time sympathetic to the religious quest. The notion that all religious people are incapable of thinking critically about their own beliefs is, as you acknowledge, false. But the notion that every atheist has arrived at their position through careful, self-critical analysis is likewise false. And irrespective of what you say, equating belief in any religious concept as tantamount to belief in "fairy tales" is dismissing a wide variety of beliefs, some of them quite carefully reasoned and, unlike your assertion that all religious claims are verifiably false, logically inassaible. That's hardly respectful. The thing that irritates me about religious fundamentalists is not that they hold false beliefs - we all do, at one time or another - but that they are so arrogant and inflexible in holding them. And you, my friend, are displaying those very same unpleasant qualities. I'm a freethinker too, but I've never had religious people come knocking down my door to force their beliefs on me. So claiming to me that atheists are persecuted seems as absurd as claiming that Christians are persecuted.

Posted by: Tolerant agnostic on March 14, 2006 at 6:48 AM | PERMALINK

What is your example of a scientific phenomenon which is firmly outside of the grasp of the human intellect?

Consciousness, for one. "Firmly outside the grasp of the human intellect" may be too strong a phrase, and it's possible we may someday explain it. But we are not close to doing so now, and there's not even agreement on a good theoretical model for how it might work. It seems to me that it still exists though.

Posted by: Tolerant agnostic on March 14, 2006 at 6:56 AM | PERMALINK

myspacide.ytmnd.com


Anal Cunt - Limp Bizkit Think They're Black, But They're Just Gay

Fred Durst is a fucking faggot
He thinks he's black, but he's just gay
He cancelled a show cuz he sprained his ankle
He's also a fucking midget

[Chorus:]
You're not fucking black, you're just fucking gay (x2)
You're fucking gay

The guitarist wears a mask
To hide the cum stains on his face
They're the gayest band I've ever seen
And I've seen the Culture Club live

[Chorus]

Fred wears a hat to hide his baldness
I refuse to believe blacks think he's cool
I wish he'd beaten and raped by some black guy
And see if he still wants to be black

Posted by: Nigga G Unit In Da Crib on March 14, 2006 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: It is evident the time has come to do some policing.

Posted by: MaxGowan on March 14, 2006 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

There is very little room for rational discourse when dealing with faith and revealed truth.

I'm half of a mind to suggest the end of religious tax exemptions

I'm of more than half a mind about that. The Catholic Church by itself has such extensive land holdings just taxing it on its fair market value would pay for the Iraq war. Well, maybe not the whole war. But a good part of it.
I could say that religious indoctrination of children is a form of child abuse which should be prevented, but I'll back off from that claim.

To over-emphasize this in childhood while adding supernatural spin to it is simply to inspire a lasting derangement in outlook.
Which is what? Organized child abuse on cosmic scale? Christianity is about nothing at all except the transmission of neurotic and fetishistic psycholigical injury.
I'm not any more hostile to Christians than I am towards Scientologists, children who believe in Santa Claus, or anyone else who believes that fairy tales are true.
Demons, Satan, guardian angels, heaven, hell, transubstantiation, the resurrection, the virgin birth: these are all tantamount to fairy tales.
Whatever you need to give your miserable life some meaning.
especially when it comes to the christian right - the loud and proud face of christianity in the US doing untold damage to humanity.

Pew Research Center for the People and the Press
That poll revealed that 63 percent of people who attend services more than once a week vote Republican, while 37 percent of regular attendees vote Democratic. On the flip side, 62 percent of those who attend a religious service only once a year or not at all vote Democrat, while 38 of these voters align themselves with the GOP.

Gosh (I wonder why?)

Posted by: Fitz on March 14, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Is this another of those liberal christians we keep hearing about?

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 14, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Liberal hostility to religion is a response to the authoritarianism that religion is based upon. Conservatives embrace religion for the authority it is based upon. Those opposed to arbitrary authority that does not add value to life are not going to find common ground with those who require authority in order to make sense out of the mundane.

Posted by: Hostile on March 14, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK
Well, I give you the benefit of the doubt as to whether you're familiar with the frequency of profanity directed at Amy Sullivan when she posts on religious themes here.

There is a difference between hostility to the repetition of recommendations of a particular political strategy designed to appeal to Christian voters and hostility toward Christianity.

It doesn't help that Amy does a very bad job of articulating what it is she thinks the party should do and, consequently, a lot of commenters here read into Amy's posts their worst fears about what the Democratic Party could do to appeal to the kind of Christians those commenters dislike the most.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 14, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Tolerant agnostic opines,

"They say they believe God intervened, and that belief is perfectly plausible, if not empirically verifiable."

No, many of them, including many supposedly liberal Christians, say not merely that they believe, but that they know God intervened, that they know Jesus is the Son of God, etc. It's their "other ways of knowing" shtick.

I would be most interested to see your argument in support of the claim that the God of Christianity is "plausible."

Posted by: Spanglish on March 14, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK
Although one rarely finds fault in cm's posts, I can't quite sign on to the concept that "Christians v. Leftists" is a manufactured fraud.

That it is a valid generality is an engineered fraud -- or at least a carefully spun and nurtured media frame of the right. Certainly, there are strands of Christianity that are outright hostile to liberalism, and it is not at all accurate to portray those as in an ongoing struggle with liberalism. There are also strands of Christianity that are in tension with liberalism on many key points, but in accord with liberalism and opposed to, or at least in tension with, conservatism on many key points. And there are strands of Christianity that are far more in accord with liberalism than not. The political right has, for its own purposes, worked very hard (along with Christian groups that are on the right) to get the media focus on right-wing Christianity as "Christianity" and its conflict with liberalism as a fundamental fight between Christianity and liberalism.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 14, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK
State sponsored "marriage" is an obsolete pre-enlightenment artifact. If individual churches want to sponsor marriage as a sacriment, then the rules they impose are entirely up to them. I just don't want one churches rules imposed on others. Am I the only person who sees an establishment issue in the gay "marriage" question.

I have to disagree; while the particular rules and structures associated with civil marriage are often obsolete, poorly targetted, and artifacts of the religious heritage of the institution that have dubious utility to secular society, there are certainly good reasons for the state to recognize a pair's intent to create a family unit.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 14, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Don't blame the non-religious left. We can't be expected to talk about faith, because we aren't people of faith. We would love to talk about our values, but contemporary American culture discounts value systems that are not religiously based, even if they are parallel in every respect. We would love to have progressives of faith alongside us on the playing field, but frankly we can't find them. If the religious left is not willing to get its hands dirty and speak up against the right's faux Christianity, then it will continue to be irrelevant as a political force in this country.

Posted by: TG on March 14, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Respect for the common deity, its priests and its followers is near universal, allowing for political manipulation by the faction which can best communicate the common beliefs of the majority.

Posted by: Hostile on March 14, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK
Don't blame the non-religious left. We can't be expected to talk about faith, because we aren't people of faith.

That's as dumb as saying only black candidates can speak to the interests of the black community.

We would love to talk about our values, but contemporary American culture discounts value systems that are not religiously based, even if they are parallel in every respect.

I don't think that's really that true; I just think that lots of people on the left, with and without faith, have been very bad at articulating their values -- particularly, articulating how tolerance works as a positive value rather than allowing it, without effective response, to be caricatured as the absence of values.

We would love to have progressives of faith alongside us on the playing field, but frankly we can't find them.

Yep. Its pretty much impossible to find any major liberal or progressive figure in America that isn't a professed atheist.

No, wait, they're virtually all religious. So what are you talking about?

Posted by: cmdicely on March 14, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that most progressive politicians are tend to be secular, in the sense that faith does not play a central role in their lives. Some strive to appear more religious than they are; others are uncomforatible making a case for their beliefs on the basis of faith.

I also beleive that there is a large and strong religious left in this country, but for reasons of temperment, it has been unwilling to engage in the daily grime of politics.

Unless the religious left is willing to get its hands dirty and begin criticizing the right's trampling of the legacy of Jesus, it will remain a marginialized political force in this country. If the regligious left doesn't field candidates for office and criticize right-wing counterparts on television, than it will be impossible to for the secular left to *stop* ignoring them.

Posted by: TG on March 14, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

State sponsored "marriage" is an obsolete pre-enlightenment artifact. If individual churches want to sponsor marriage as a sacriment, then the rules they impose are entirely up to them. I just don't want one churches rules imposed on others. Am I the only person who sees an establishment issue in the gay "marriage" question.

Think about the secularist boob who wrote this
"marriage" is an obsolete pre-enlightenment artifact.
pre-enlightenment - hmmm
Well gee, Im married and this is way after the enlightenment.
People have been getting married ever since the enlightenment. (and before)

"marriage" is an obsolete -- artifact
Well gosh, 80% of prison inmates grew up in fatherless homes. Its more of a indicator of criminality than either race or class. 70% of our black underclass are born into illegitimacy. If marriage is obsolete than you can kiss Rev. Martin Luther Kings dream goodbye.

But I guess he already answered his own question, it obsolete, over, de trope, its a fate acompli!
(I thought it was a vital and foundational social institution, under great stress and requiring a vigourous defence- but heh, Im religious; we hold onto these fairytales)


Am I the only person who sees an establishment issue in the gay "marriage" question.

Well, the only person with any legal training who saw such. Otherwise we have serious establishment issues with those darn Thou Shalt Not Steal laws.

Its thinking like this that makes people of faith smirk at secular liberals claims of sophistication.

Posted by: Fitz on March 14, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

TA, if your'e still there, thanks for giving me the example of consciousness as something that science cannot explain.
I strongly disagree, but obviously the current state of human understanding does not encompass a model for consciousness.

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

When does Kevin get back? All this heavy handed talk about religion is exactly why I don't read right wing blogs.

Posted by: s5 on March 14, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Like walking back in to the remains of the party the morning after.

As I tried to describe, religious experience is related to structures in the brain that are the same as, associated with or adjacent to, those regions that are involved with the immune system. The best explanation for this is that religious experience is self-consciousness of the immune system, which has been evolutionarily selected for. Some people have more of it, some have less of it, but, probably, everyone is capable of it.

Religious aesthetic is designed explicitly to help people get in the zone.

I think this is illustrated in Tolerant Agnostics' highly defensive reaction against any atheistic argument --it's an immune reaction.

However, religious people have never been demonstrated to be more or less healthy than the average. This suggests two things, that just to remain normal takes a religious dedication on their part; and, that religious self-consciousness can be addictive, requiring greater and greater inputs and public displays for the sense of reward.

Posted by: cld on March 14, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Consciousness will be understood all but entirely within the next century, there is a huge mass of direct information on the subject. 'God', on the other hand, has no information concerning it, except the evidence of the brain regions activated during religious experience. That Tolerant Agnostic defends her subjective experience, with exactly that term, with hortatory triumphalism, is strong evidence for 'god' as a subsidiary element of general consciousness, one that is perhaps also somehow involved in attention seeking and social organization.

An important element of this is probably the recently discovered phenomena of 'celebrity', or 'brandedness' neurons.

Posted by: cld on March 14, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Spanglish,

There are lots of books out there. Check out John Polkinghorne, Arthur Peacocke, Kenneth Miller, or John Haught - all scientifically trained religious believers who have written extensively on the subject. I'm not going to lay out the arguments for you if you're too lazy to read them.

cld,

I'm an AGNOSTIC. I don't BELIEVE in God. What I DO believe is that atheism isn't necessary any more logically deduceable from the observable universe than belief is, and that belief in God is perfectly consonant with rationality. Stop putting words in my mouth. Speaking of triumphalism, I'd can it with the talk of consciousness being on the cusp of being explained. The research is still new and lots of cognitive scientists and neurologists acknowledge that it's a mystery still a long way from being solved, theoretical models of which people disagree about strongly.

I'm not going to argue with you anymore - it's obvious you're afflicted with the same small-minded, childish stubbornness and infantile inflexibility of worldview of the Southern Baptist creationist who lives across the street, and I've got work to do.

Posted by: Tolerant agnostic on March 14, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Tolerant Agnostic:

I'm with ya, bro. I think all this warmed-over, half-understood evolutionary neuro-psych bullshit that gets into the popular discourse is why so many smart (and atheistic) people I know fucking *despise* Daniel Dennet.

A pompous know-it-all who delights in citing his own works. Sheesh, gimme Bertrand Russell any day of the week.

As for the cognitive science debate on the nature of consciousness -- I'm a "mysterian" along with Colin McGuinn. I don't think our wiring is capable of understanding the "technicolor phenomenology" produced by a wet, grey sponge in our heads.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 15, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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