Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

March 28, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

RELIGION UPDATE....Hey, remember that post last week where I suggested that we atheists "don't suffer much serious social ostracism"? Well, it turns out that was pretty stupid. Andrew Sullivan reports:

Eugene Volokh has just written a law article on how atheist fathers and mothers are routinely discriminated against in child custody cases. He cites over 70 recent cases across the country and these were only the ones which were appealed, so they probably represent a fraction of the actual cases.

Eugene's article is here. I'm actually willing to concede that 70 incidents out of millions of custody cases over the last decade isn't exactly a sign of the apocalypse (so to speak), but it's still pretty discouraging news.

Meanwhile, among the religious demographic that isn't routinely discriminated against in custody cases, the "War on Christians" conference presents us with the wingnut Bill of Rights a full 29 items long, including all the usual greatest hits. And as Steve Benen says:

Remember, before you laugh these folks off as fringe activists that no credible person should take seriously, take a look at the conference's guest list, which includes three leading House Republicans (Tom DeLay, Todd Akin, and Louis Gohmert) and two leading Senate Republicans (John Cornyn and Sam Brownback), the latter of which is considered a credible presidential candidate in 2008.

Elsewhere, Steve makes the following observation:

You wouldn't know it from watching the major news networks, but progressive religious leaders are more articulate and thoughtful on the key issues of the day than anyone in the religious right. Before a TV producer calls James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, or Pat Robertson to comment on a story, they might also put a call into Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, or Barry Lynn.

Unfortunately, television producers aren't very interested in "articulate and thoughtful." They're interested in provocative and influential. If our guys were more willing to spout obviously unhinged opinions, maybe they'd get more air time. That's good TV!

Kevin Drum 1:21 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (320)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

America was not founded for Freedom from Religion but for Freedom of Religion.

Posted by: daveyo on March 28, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

This, and most other conservative christian political movements, blatantly violates the principles of separation of church and state. I am a christian but the "bill of rights" is totally against what I believe.

Posted by: coldhotel on March 28, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

They'd have to be spouting obviously unhinged right-wing opinions. There are already people who can spout obviously unhinged liberal opinions, but when was the last time a TV producer called one of them (not that I want them to)? This isn't just about good TV, it's about following an approved message.

Posted by: KCinDC on March 28, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't you be protesting a funeral somewhere, daveyo?

Posted by: Matt on March 28, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Although I think that analyzing what Sullivan says about economics or foreign policy is both foolish and a waste of time, he does know a thing or two about social ostracism.

And on the question of Americans disliking and discriminating against atheists it's just obvious. In US politics faith = good, no faith = bad.

Although Amy Sullivan and others try to make a case for the left needing to repect faith -it's just not serious when you look at how promoting one's faith is just a standard part of US politics.

The ironies of course are many, such as:
1) The Jesus parable where he explains that the man who ostentatiously fasts will get his reward on earth, while the man who just fasts and goes about his business will receive his reward in the kingdom of heaven. That parable clearly implies that politicians trumpeting their Christian faith aren't being good Christians.
2) The excessive attention to what people say about their faith seems to detract attention on what people actually do about it.

But please, Kevin, doesn't reading Sullivan make most people get more sick? We'd like you to get better.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on March 28, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

As an atheist I take great solace in the fact that most of the people who claim to be religious are either really not so or assholes.

Posted by: lib on March 28, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom of religion does include the freedom to have none.

Posted by: theorajones on March 28, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

America was not founded for Freedom from Religion but for Freedom of Religion.

And here I thought it was founded to be a giant cage of retarded parrots.

Posted by: shortstop on March 28, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

For the first 20 years the hall of congress was used on sunday mornings for a worship center. For those of you unfamiliar with the background of the founding fathers and why america was formed I would encourage you to read the history books. Yes the democratic party is the refuge of those who do not believe in existince outside of themselves.

Posted by: daveyo on March 28, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Enough! with religion. It should only inform people politics on a private level. Otherwise, I should not be able to tell someone is a Christian, Jew, Muslim or Seventh Day Frisbeeist when discussing politics. If you cannot discuss policy and such without dragging in unreasonable and irrational personal philosophy informed by the teachings of your imaginary friends, stay home.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 28, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK
America was not founded for Freedom from Religion but for Freedom of Religion.

America was founded (and even moreso settled) by people who understood that freedom of my religion requires freedom from your religion being entangled with the state.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

I do not believe in 'existince' at all, within or without myself.

Posted by: lib on March 28, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

I have some sympathy for some of the ideas and view in that list, but it's pretty heavy on the government force solutions for my taste. The red flag goes up for me when either side of the aisle invokes the words "constitutional amendment."

Posted by: tbrosz on March 28, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

It would be nice if religion were not under attack. It is not the religous community trying to remove God from the pledge, from the buildings, from the hall of congress, from our money. Those who wish to practice their atheists views are not under attack and are welcome to be just as atheististic as they like. However when activist judges and others bring cases to diminish our freedom of religion you will continue to see George W's elected.

Posted by: daveyo on March 28, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, daveyo, I've got a religion for you: keep your trap shut.

My religion, which as you point out is protected by the Constitution, says you should shut up already about your religion.

You should not ask me, tell me, lecture me, or opine about what religion I follow. Otherwise, you would be disrespecting my religion.

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 28, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

And when you read daveyo's history books, please ignore Jefferson's evil "wall" between church and state! Only get the GOOD history books, where Jesus spoke through George Washington, just like he does through W today!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on March 28, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

And here I thought it was founded to be a giant cage of retarded parrots.

"Cuttlebonia the Beautiful"

"My seed tray tis of thee...."

Posted by: trex on March 28, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you just keep posting from your rich, white, male, SoCal perspective! Everything is grand for everyone!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on March 28, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, we might strike out at custody hearings, but on the positive side, we secularists hold all that undue influence over the Democratic party, pushing through our religion-hating atheist candidates to the dismay of God-fearing liberals everywhere. At least, that's what I read on some blog.

Posted by: Royko on March 28, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you for making our point. It does not bother me in the least that you wish to believe when you die you die like a dog. However, your comments that I should not speak openly about my faith is exactly why the pilgrims got on the boats. In the news as we speak is a christian convert who was going to be killed because of his faith. Will that be your next suggestion. That in a country with freedom of speech, everyone has the right to do so, except those who do not believe like you....

Posted by: daveyo on March 28, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

"giant cage of retarded parrots"

hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

I'm going to be giggling about that for the rest of the afternoon.

Posted by: nolo on March 28, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Will that be your next suggestion. That in a country with freedom of speech, everyone has the right to do so, except those who do not believe like you.... Posted by: daveyo

No. Will just silence annoying, know-nothing pricks like yourself. I think even your co-religionists would agree to that.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 28, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

To daveyo and other wingnuts: many of the most influential of the Founding Fathers were not Christians, and were accused of being atheists by their political opponents (Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, etc). Jefferson explicitly denied the divinity of Christ or the existence of miracles.
He backtracked on this a bit later when it became a political problem for him, but it was clear what he believed.

Properly speaking, they weren't atheists; they believed in an Aristotelean prime mover who designed and started the universe and that did not intervene in it afterward, and thus does not answer prayers, send prophets, or punish the wicked in this life. As for the next life, if any, they considered it a mystery.

Posted by: Joe Buck on March 28, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

It would be nice if religion were not under attack.

Well, in the real world, it is not.

It is not the religous community trying to remove God from the pledge, from the buildings, from the hall of congress, from our money.

Its worth noting that the references to God in the pledge and on the money are fairly recent alterations of both of those items.

Those who wish to practice their atheists views are not under attack and are welcome to be just as atheististic as they like.

And those who, like me, wish to be religious are free to be just as religious as they like. What the religious are not entitled to is the expectation that the state will endorse their religious viewpoints.

However when activist judges and others bring cases to diminish our freedom of religion you will continue to see George W's elected.

Judges, activist or otherwise, don't bring cases at all, generally, at least in their capacity as judgest. That aside, name one case that has diminished religious freedom.


Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

I do hope you have a tall ladder. Written on the top of the washington monument 555 ft 5 inches high are 2 words. Laus Deo being interpreted "Praise be to God". In the hall of Congress is Moses with the 10 commandmnets. In the rotundra of the supreme court are the 10 commandments. You see that is what I like about you guys, your vast knowledge of our founding fathers beliefs.

Posted by: daveyo on March 28, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

If I can't force my One True Religion on you via the State, you might start up with something about caring for the poor, rich man and camels and needles, rendering unto Ceasar, etc.

We can't have that!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on March 28, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

The jokes write themselves.

Thank you daveyo for the hilarities of the day.

Posted by: lib on March 28, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely I guess you are not familiar with the activist judges in Mass. that in fact did not have a case in front of them, but on their own told the elected legislature what they should do concerning recognizing gay marriages.

Posted by: daveyo on March 28, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

...government force solutions for my taste..

Perhaps eating paste from a tube would be a better course of action.

Posted by: nut on March 28, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Thus spake the sheetrock.

What is it this week? Mary on a freeway overpass?

All Hail 'Cuttlebonia', indeed. Where's Groucho when you really need him?

"Americans are getting stronger. Twenty years ago it took two people to carry 10 dollars worth of groceries. Today a 5 year old can do it." Henny Youngman

Posted by: CFShep on March 28, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

It would be nice if religion were not under attack.

It's not.

It is not the religous community trying to remove God from the pledge, from the buildings, from the hall of congress, from our money.

Do you think the government should be telling its citizens that there is only one way to properly honor the Lord and his influence in our lives?

What about those who think it's blasphemy to speak or write the name of God? How can you write his name without giving offense to the pious, and why should your piety be given accordance while theirs is spit on?

And really, do you think God is so weak that if his name is not written on buildings, He will be removed? That's sad. But it's your problem, not mine.

Those who wish to practice their atheists views are not under attack and are welcome to be just as atheististic as they like.

Unless, of course, they want to raise their children. Then they have to hide their atheism, or lose their children. But other than that, they're totally not under attack at all.

Posted by: theorajones on March 28, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Daveyo is right -- some words are on a monument! That means the U.S. was meant to be a theocracy! Not a Bad one like Iran, but a Good one, like Inquisition-era Spain!

Keep fighting, Daveyo! We'll get camps set up for these godless commies yet!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on March 28, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

I do appreciate the fact that you allow me the opportunity to share that our founding fathers held a belief that this new country would stand for something. I also give you the right to believe at this time you are allowed to believe that this country stands for nothing.

Posted by: daveyo on March 28, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

I had some thoughts about this a week or so ago. I concluded that the victimization card worked for Milosevic, so why not for the US religious right?

Posted by: Linkmeister on March 28, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Daveyo's comments are amusing and remind me of one other funny part of the whole displaying the 10 commandments argument: the 10 commandments in Judaism, Catholicism and Protestatism are slightly different. (same stuff, numbered a wee bit differently.)

So which one should we post?

And of course anyone who's read Deutoronomy can tell you that G*d was just getting warmed up with the 10 commandments, there were a heck of a lot more after that. Which led to Paul's question: which ones of those rules were still valid for Christians? etc.

Those theological questions are a great reason for the state to stay out of religon.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on March 28, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

If our guys were more willing to spout obviously unhinged opinions, maybe they'd get more air time.

There are plenty on the left with unhinged and radical opinions they are willing to share. They mostly only get TV time when the media wants to underestimate the number of them marching through the streets of San Francisco or a more prominent member says something apolitic about Venezuela or September 11th. Their lack of air time (in comparison to unhinged idiots on the right who say stupid things about Venezuela and September 11th) must have another explanation.

Maybe it has something to do with influence. The media seems to be stressing the "moderate old school Republican vs. the inept radical, corrupt young Republican" meme and the "babbling inarticulate democrat on the sideline begging to be put in the game" meme. Moderate articulate religious and secular liberals who love America and stress shared values in the community don't fit in.

Posted by: B on March 28, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK
Those who wish to practice their atheists views are not under attack and are welcome to be just as atheististic as they like.

You might, y'know, try actually reading the article before spouting blatant falsehoods like this.

Got an experiment for you, if you wish to try. Try walking through the most populated public square of every town in the US with a population larger than 10,000, wearing a prominent button saying, perhaps, "Ask me about Christianity." You might get laughed at or mocked in one or two of the bluest of blue strongholds.

Now try the same experiment with "Ask me about atheism." You'd be needing stitches before you were done with Georgia alone.

Posted by: Mithrandir on March 28, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

While certainly a politically correct position to take these days and highly fashionable what does this have to do with regligion in this country? Does the bible have provisions on public vs. private use that I'm not aware of?

6. TO SECURE our God-given stewardship of property, we call for the passage of Legislation affirming that government may not redefine public use to take the private property of one person to give to another.

In this vein are they also going to fight against zoning restrictions that keep out x rated theaters and book stores as an undue restriction on private property? Oh I see thats out under number 7 and you can restrict property rights and freedom of expression so long as its in the name of deceny instead of public benefit.

What part of the bible says we must reduce taxes?

8. TO SECURE just taxes, and end immorally destructive taxation, we call for the passage of
Legislation to fundamentally reform the national tax system and reduce the tax burden on Americans; and
Legislation to make permanent Marriage Penalty Relief and the Child Tax Credit.


Similarly, what part of the Bible does this come from?

9. TO SECURE our national borders and identity, we call for the passage of
True Enforcement and Border Security; and
Legislation to prohibit, in cases of constitutional interpretation, the use of foreign law as authority.

Posted by: Catch22 on March 28, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK
cmdicely I guess you are not familiar with the activist judges in Mass. that in fact did not have a case in front of them, but on their own told the elected legislature what they should do concerning recognizing gay marriages.

You are correct, I am not familiar with any such activist judges. I am familiar with the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachussetts, who, in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, declared that the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage violated the Massuchessetts state constitution, and, later, clarified its ruling in that case at the request of the legislature to underline that only equal marriage rights would be constitutional.

Please point me to evidence of the situation you describe, if you really believe it exists.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

it's like clockwork isn't it? the epitomy of a knee-jerk reaction.

the mere assertion that christians aren't actually being discriminated against is enough for some guy to run up and shout "no, no, we are, we are, we're not getting our way ENOUGH! you disbelievers exist and you have the audacity to SAY so!!! that means we're under attack dontcha gettit???"

Posted by: e1 on March 28, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK
I do appreciate the fact that you allow me the opportunity to share that our founding fathers held a belief that this new country would stand for something.

Of course they did. The difference between you and most people here is that you think what they wanted it to stand for was "theocracy", where we think it was "liberty".

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Question for wingnuts:

How many atheists have attacked religion publicly and when?

How many Chritian evangelists have attacked other religions?

Methinks Christian evangelists are more anti-religion (if you consider, as you should, the attack on non-christian religions as attack on religion too) than aheists.

Posted by: lib on March 28, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Catch22

Bible Schmible they don't need no stinkin' Bible. they have the WORD true from God's own messanger GWB. and/or James Dobson, with a little help from Turd Blossom.

Posted by: e1 on March 28, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Before we laugh these people off as the fringe... yeah, as I recall there were senators and congressmen present at the coronation of Rev Moon.

Posted by: bubba on March 28, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Here you go, daveyo. You can argue with the Founding Fathers, John Quincy Adams, and Abraham Lincoln:

I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies.

Thomas Jefferson

Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. I had hoped that liberal and enlightened thought would have reconciled the Christians so that their religious fights would not endanger the peace of Society.

George Washington

How has it happened that millions of myths, fables, legends and tales have been blended with Jewish and Christian fables and myths and have made them the most bloody religion that has ever existed? Filled with the sordid and detestable purposes of superstition and fraud?

John Adams

Some volumes against deism fell into my hands. They were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyles Lecture. It happened that they produced on me an effect precisely the reverse of what was intended by the writers; for the arguments of the Deists, which were cited in order to be refuted, appealed to me much more forcibly than the refutation itself. In a word, I soon became a thorough Deist.

Benjamin Franklin

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

Thomas Paine

There are in this country, as in all others, a certain proportion of restless and turbulent spirits - poor, unoccupied, ambitious - who must always have something to quarrel about with their neighbors. These people are the authors of religious revivals.

John Quincy Adams

My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.

Abraham Lincoln

Posted by: BarrettBrown on March 28, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

I got a C in a required mechanical drawing class because I was not Christian.

Posted by: Matt on March 28, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

thank you again for this wonderful exercise. I will have to agree that the d's have that all so important atheists vote wrapped up and since they weild such influence I am sure this country will soon be turned around. Just wonder what will be thought when Justice Stevens resigns and George W. puts on his 3rd justice. I guess the atheists will then have to take it to a "higher power".

Posted by: daveyo on March 28, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin says: "I'm actually willing to concede that 70 incidents out of millions of custody cases over the last decade isn't exactly a sign of the apocalypse (so to speak), but it's still pretty discouraging news."

Gee, that's generous of you, if extremely misleading - considering that only a small fraction of those "millions of custody cases" are likely to have included an atheist parent. The operative ratio is the percentage of such cases that result in custody for the "religious" parent over the atheist parent.

So instead of talking about 70 cases out of millions, we are talking about 70 cases out of the total number of such cases (those involving an atheist parent) that were appealed. (I can't find the actual numbers in Volokh's lengthy article, if they are there, so I am relying somewhat on Sullivan's characterization of the article's import.)

But whatever the actual ratio within the relevant subset of custody cases, it is certainly far greater that 70/1,000,000. It is dishonest and disingenuous of you to suggest otherwise.

Posted by: athos on March 28, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Just wonder what will be thought when Justice Stevens resigns and George W. puts on his 3rd justice. I guess the atheists will then have to take it to a "higher power".

Then there is nothing for you to worry about. Let the atheists wallow in their powerlessness. Why are you so worked up?

Posted by: lib on March 28, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Dear lib, I do like to venture as it were into the lions den (something to identify with) just to actually engage in the forum of free expression. I am currently working on 7 campaigns and for the most part only have 1 race where there is a d who may put up some opposition. In these days of districting basically all seats are usually safe. Thus, there is not much excitement. Here in florida, we have a 85 to 35 majority and really no opposition. So thanks for allowing me the chance to engage.

Posted by: daveyo on March 28, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

DaveyO,

Don't take this the wrong way, i.e. as some sort of "love it or leave it" admonition. Of course, your are welcome in this country to espouse your views on religion and government, no matter how ignorant or misguided.

But - don't you feel you might be more comfortable in a society where your ignorance and dogmatism could bear down on society with more authority? Have you considered, in other words, the possibility of moving to Saudi Arabia and converting to the Wahabi sect of Islam? I really feel you might be happier there, once you get over the culture shock and become acclimated to the desert temperatures.

With only your well-being in mind,

Athos

Posted by: athos on March 28, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

daveyo the fist in the hornet's nest who can't understand why he gets stung.

Posted by: e1 on March 28, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Another reminder: the constitution prohibits any kind of religious test for public office. Yet it seems that there is a de facto religious test anymore if you want to run for congress/presidency/etc. it's just not official.
Personally I'd trust a person of faith who walked the walk more than the one who talks the talk. and there's a whole lotta talking going on.

Posted by: lou on March 28, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Articulate and thoughtful" is bipartisan code for "agrees with me."

Posted by: trotsky on March 28, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

lou's version:Personally I'd trust a person of faith who walked the walk more than the one who talks the talk. and there's a whole lotta talking going on.

my version: Personally I'd trust a person of principle who walked the walk more than the one who talks the talk. and there's a whole lotta talking going on.

Posted by: e1 on March 28, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Before we laugh these people off as the fringe... yeah, as I recall there were senators and congressmen present at the coronation of Rev Moon. posted by: bubba

Quite a number, many still in office. I don't think anyone should hesitate in using this during the next campaign. Moon's alleged Christianity doesn't protect him here in the U.S. Everyone knows he's a fucking nutbag. He's really S. Korea's Kim Il Jong.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 28, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Make up your tiny mind daveyo, is Religion under attack, in imminent peril, as you say or are atheists and in your view therefore Democrats weak and powerless as you also say?. You can't have it both ways.

Posted by: ckelly on March 28, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom of Religion can be certain only if government has no interest in religion at all, which is why religious believers should be unqualified for public office, necessarily. And also why government should not view religion as a privileged condition, or recognize it at all as any definable category of thing outside a coloration of a corporation of some kind or political organization. To see it in any other way leads to the corruption of a secular government.

Posted by: cld on March 28, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Dear lib, I do like to venture as it were into the lions den (something to identify with) just to actually engage in the forum of free expression.

Speaking as a Christian, daveyo, I resent the implication that you are Daniel and this side is the "lion's den."

The GOP is playing you for a sucker. Generally speaking, they really don't care whether your ideas for a more "moral" society are implemented or not. They say they do, but only so you'll vote for them.

Look at the last 25 years. For all that time, people like you have been voting for Republicans in the hopes that they will "do something" about what you see as a tide of rampant immorality engulfing the country. Well, you've had Reagan for eight years and two Bushes that will total twelve years; you currently have control of both houses of Congress; you have a good part of the judiciary. Conservative voices dominate the media and conservatives control the terms under which debate takes place. "Liberals" control nothing. So why do things seem to continue to get worse rather than better? The people you want are in power. So why aren't things getting fixed?

So thanks for allowing me the chance to engage.

Frankly, I don't think you're engaging at all. You have not responded, for instance, to what cmdicely has said.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on March 28, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

I also give you the right

Sorry, but my rights are not yours to give.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 28, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

In these days of districting basically all seats are usually safe. Thus, there is not much excitement.

Aaaah the stench of 21st century US "democracy".

Posted by: ckelly on March 28, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Did anybody else think it was creepy that they want the Federal Government to help them control their kids? Eeeew.

Posted by: Saam Barrager on March 28, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Alek, I am currently 35 an 1 in races. the one we lost by 5 votes and now has asked us to run their next campaign. I am the R's. At no time in our life time have we had the influence and opportunity that we do at this time. On a weekly basis I donate to campaigns nation wide. On a weekly basis I help volunteer for campaigns. To turn it around. We have no fear of the other side as for the most part they spend their time engaged with each other and rarely make a cameo in the real world. So keep feeling good about your side and realize that only 12 years ago you had the house senate and presidency. Oh those were the days.

Posted by: daveyo on March 28, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Quote dump.

Another history lesson for daveyo, along with the others that have been posted. Read and learn, davey. You may think you're a good Christian, but your beliefs make you a lousy American.


"One of the embarrassing problems for the early nineteenth-century champions of the Christian faith was that not one of the first six Presidents of the United States was an orthodox Christian." (Mortimer Adler, 1902- , American philosopher and educator, ed. "Chapter 22: Religion and Religious Groups in America,"

"Say nothing of my religion. It is known to my god and myself alone."
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams, 11 January 1817 (capitalization as in the original)

"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

"I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, 1799

"I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance, or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Dowse, April 19, 1803

"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion--as it has itself no character of enmity against the law, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] ..." (Article 11, Treaty of Peace and Friendship between The United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary, 1796-1797. )

"I know," Jefferson had written, ... "that Gouverneur Morris, who pretended to be in his [George Washington's] secrets & believed himself to be so, has often told me that Genl. Washington believed no more of that system [Christianity] than he himself did."

"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize [sic], every expanded prospect." (James Madison, in a letter to William Bradford, April 1, 1774

...Congress in voting a plan for the government of the Western territories, retained a clause setting aside one section in each township for the support of public schools, while striking out the provision reserving a section for the support of religion. Commented Madison:" How a regulation so unjust in itself, so foreign to the authority of Congress, and so hurtful to the sale of public land, and smelling so strongly of an antiquated bigotry, could have received the countenance of a committee is truly a matter of astonishment."

On Feb. 21, 1811, Madison vetoed a bill for incorporating the Episcopal Church in Alexandria and on Feb. 28, 1811, one reserving land in Mississippi territory for a Baptist Church.

"Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative".- James Madison, Essay on Monopolies

"Better also, to disarm in the same way [the legal doctrine of de minimus non curat lex- the law does not bother with trifles], the precedent of Chaplainships for the army and navy, than erect them into a political authority in matters of religion." James Madison, ibid.

"Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society." (George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792)

"Among many other weighty objections to the Measure, it has been suggested, that it has a tendency to introduce religious disputes into the Army, which above all things should be avoided, and in many instances would compel men to a mode of Worship which they do not profess."
-- George Washington, to John Hancock, then president of Congress,

"... In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man's religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States."
-- George Washington, letter to the members of the New Church in Baltimore, January 27, 1793,

"Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated." (Geo. Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792)

"Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and Dogmatism cannot confine it." (John Adams, letter to John Quincy Adams, November 13, 1816.

Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, ...are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind. (John Adams, "A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" [1787-1788]


"When a Religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its Professors are obliged to call for help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one." (Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790, American statesman, diplomat, scientist, and printer, from a letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780)

"As to Jesus ... I have ... some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble." -Benjamin Franklin

"Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly-marked feature of all law-religions, or religions established by law." (Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791-1792.

"Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies." (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794-1795.)

"The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion." (Thomas Paine, ibid.)

E PLURIBUS UNUM ... is the Latin motto on the face of the Great Seal of the United States; .... This phrase means one out of the many. It refers to the creation of one nation, the United States, out of 13 colonies. It is equally appropriate to today's federal system. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, members of the first committee for the selection of the seal, suggested the motto in 1776

"The motto "In God We Trust" did not appear on any U. S. coin until 1864, when "Its presence on the new coin was due largely to the increased religious sentiment during the Civil War Crisis,"...( R. S. Yeoman, A Guide Book of United States Coins, 38th ed., Racine, Wisc.: Western Publishing Co., p. 89. The religious motto did not appear regularly on U. S. paper money until the 1950s.)

"The Washington Monument, built at intervals between 1848 and 1885..."

"Of the eleven states that ratified the First Amendment, nine (counting Maryland) adhered to the viewpoint that support of churches should be voluntary, that any government financial assistance to religion constituted an establishment of religion and violated its free exercise." (Thomas Curry, The First Freedoms: Church and State in America to the Passage of the First Amendment

In 1791 there was no establishment of a single church. Four states never had establishment practices: those colonies had ended their establishments during the Revolution. The remaining six states had "multiple" establishments, aiding all churches in each state on a nonpreferential basis. It was this nonpreferential aid to religion that the Establishment Clause was intended to prevent. It is a mistake to assume that established churches and religious tests for public office holders in some of the colonies and early states show approval of state support for religion....The concept of separation of church and state is generally attributed to Jefferson and Madison, but it was really a product of popular resistance, in every state, to state support of religion. (Jacob C. Meyer, Church and State in Massachusetts from 1740 to 1833.)

"In the mid-eighteenth century, America had a smaller proportion of church members than any other nation in Christendom. American religious statistics are notoriously unreliable, but it has been estimated that in 1800 about one of every fifteen Americans was a church member" ... (Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life,

Posted by: HR on March 28, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't read the article, but as a lawyer I can tell you that 70 recent appellate cases on an issue is a huge number. Not only does that reflect only a fraction of cases actually litigated in the trial court, but an even smaller fraction of cases that settle where this is an issue. With that much precedent, it would be pretty easy to browbeat an atheist on the other side and tell them "You will get nowhere in the courts. You better deal on our terms."

Posted by: G Spot1 on March 28, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

And of course anyone who's read Deutoronomy can tell you that G*d was just getting warmed up with the 10 commandments, there were a heck of a lot more after that.

Samuel Knight

My favorite is the prohibition of cloth made of two kinds of thread. Cotton-polyester blend is an abomination unto God.

Posted by: anandine on March 28, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

I grew up in a religious family (i guess most of us did) but we never spoke of it in public. Religion, like money, sex, and politics, isn't really fit for polite conversation among strangers.

So, whenever I watch the news or read the paper and hear the kind of private crap that people put out there about themselves, I can't help think they're crass.

Posted by: Mark on March 28, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Alek, I am currently 35 an 1 in races. the one we lost by 5 votes and now has asked us to run their next campaign. I am the R's. At no time in our life time have we had the influence and opportunity that we do at this time. On a weekly basis I donate to campaigns nation wide. On a weekly basis I help volunteer for campaigns. To turn it around. We have no fear of the other side as for the most part they spend their time engaged with each other and rarely make a cameo in the real world. So keep feeling good about your side and realize that only 12 years ago you had the house senate and presidency. Oh those were the days.

I don't feel good about "my" side. The Democrats suck. But I loathe almost everything your side has come to stand for.

That notwithstanding, this "response" to my post was almost completely non-responsive. I don't understand it at all. You apparently read what we say here, but then go off on a tangent from it.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on March 28, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

12 years ago we had a President who not only said he was a Christian, but actually went to church and raised his child in the tradition.

Anyone want to bet on how many Bible verses the twins can quote?

Posted by: snoey on March 28, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry daveyo, your "Value Voters" are America's Pharisees; they like to stand on the street corners and loudly proclaim their piety, while ignoring the suffering around them.

We all know what Jesus thought of such pharisees..."offspring of vipers" was one of the nicer things he had to say about such hypoocrites.

You're free to be a Pharisee in America, daveyo, but you're not entitled to use the power of the state to compel everyone else to stand around and admire you as you pray on your street corner...

Posted by: A Hermit on March 28, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Nice quote collection HR!

Posted by: A Hermit on March 28, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

I think people are making the understandable mistake of assuming that when daveyo talks about his religion he is referring to Christianity. It is clear that his religion is Republicanism, not Christianity. How else to explain the ease with which he moves from a discussion about religious freedom to his good works with the Republican party?

Posted by: ibid on March 28, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Snopes.com has an interesting take on the "Laus Deo" inscription on the Washington Monument:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/monument.asp

It concludes:
"... although many of the inscriptions associated with the Washington Monument do indeed include religious references and sentiments, they reflect the tenor of public thought in mid-19th century America, not the America of George Washington's time. Washington died in 1799, and the country he helped found was a very different place half a century later."

"Laus Deo" turns out to also be the title of a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, written in 1964 or 1865. Whittier wanted to praise God for his presumed hand in the abolition of slavery. That's fine with me; but Whittier was a poet, not a public policymaker.

Posted by: McVouty on March 28, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

That was my first thought too Alex, that daveyo was completely unresponsive to your question. And he still resists addressing any of the cogent points that cmdicely has raised. I fear that daveyo is simply part of the problem - a Republican campaigner completely devoid of real concern for the country or your valid question as to "Why don't things get fixed?". He's too busy tallying his won-loss record, win-at-all costs, solidify the incumbency mindset so nothing truly gets done. It's all about the "win". Whatever it is daveyo thinks he's won.

Posted by: ckelly on March 28, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Oops! Make that "1865 or 1865."

Posted by: McVouty on March 28, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry...AleK

Posted by: ckelly on March 28, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Oops! Make that "1864 or 1865."

Posted by: McVouty on March 28, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Did anybody else think it was creepy that they want the Federal Government to help them control their kids? Eeeew.

yup, the one consistent thing i've noticed about so-called values voters is that they're all for personal responsibility except when it comes to taking care of all those kids they have {and want to make everyone else have}. 'yup the gov't needs to stay the hell outta my life, unless, y'kno, i need it to control what's on the teevee cuz i sure can't bring myself to pay any attention, or actually be in the room with my 7 y/o while he's playing the playstation.' that would be too much to ask.

i get just ast many "i can't stand my kid YOU'VE GOTTA DO something!" phone calls from religious/wealthy/ and/or rep leaning parents as i do from the secular/poor/single parents.

Posted by: e1 on March 28, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an atheist and a lawyer, and I've posted a few comments on this blog in the recent past complaining about the antipathy that American society shows atheists.

Nevertheless, I find the data uncovered by Volokh and reported by Andrew Sullivan and Kevin utterly shocking. I had no idea that judges so consistently participate in bigoted (and unconstitutional) atheist-bashing from the bench. For shame.

Posted by: Rieux on March 28, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely (I think it was you) way up-thread: I thought "In God We Trust" started appearing on US currency somewhere in the 1860s. In Europe 150 years of history is the blink of an eye, but here it looks like "In God We Trust" has been on the currency about 2/3 of the life of the country. "Relatively recently"? Everything we've ever done is relatively recent in those terms.

Posted by: waterfowl on March 28, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

I had no idea that judges so consistently participate in bigoted (and unconstitutional) atheist-bashing from the bench.

Would those be "activist" judges? Nah, Justice Sunday likes the atheist-bashing.

Posted by: ckelly on March 28, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK
cmdicely (I think it was you) way up-thread: I thought "In God We Trust" started appearing on US currency somewhere in the 1860s.

Which is quite a while after the founders, and, hence, "relatively recent", where the context is largely discussion of what values this country was founded on.

Not as recent as the "in God we trust" in the pledge, to be sure.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

In Europe 150 years of history is the blink of an eye, but here it looks like "In God We Trust" has been on the currency about 2/3 of the life of the country. "Relatively recently"? Everything we've ever done is relatively recent in those terms.
Posted by: waterfowl

I second this. While many of the Founding Fathers were thoughful educated men, until after WWII, most Americans were pretty ignorant, minimally educated, "god fearing" folk, if not exactly religious. Few were inclined to engage in debates about the meaning of the separation of church and state we take for granted today.

In short, the use of "In God We Trust" kind of sloganeering, official and unofficial, was fairly common.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 28, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

It's my understanding that "In God We Trust" first appeared on coins in the Civil War era; it wasn't made the official motto of the United States until the McCarthy era.

Posted by: A Hermit on March 28, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking we can solve this problem by just changing it to "In My God We Trust."

Posted by: craigie on March 28, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Daveyo-
Are you thinking about religious minorities in general, or just the question of atheists?

Do you think your ideas of how church and state meet, as proposed at a time when Christians are in the majority, would be as desirable if Christians were the minority?

Would a group ever want to set up rules as the majority they wouldn't accept if they were a minority? Isn't this a case of 'do unto others'?

Consider a country like Egypt, where one of the oldest Christian churches exists. Christians there are under 15% of the population. Or consider Japan or Taiwan as fully democratic countries.

Is the US setting a good example for how countries where Christians are in the minority should act towards religious minorities?

Posted by: kathryn from Sunnyvale on March 28, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever happened to actual theological dispute? Has it really been completely jettisoned in favor of two bland flavors of "religiosity": conservative non-denominational anti-secularism and liberal ecumenical "tolerance"?

It used to be fun to watch the different sorts of Christians argue about whether there's barbecues in heaven and stuff like that. Now it all just seems like the politics is driving the religion. But religion doesn't really get much life simply out of defining itself in opposition to the "secular" world. It gets its real life out of defining itself in opposition to other religions. I don't see any of that.

The sign of an era that cares about religion is constant theological bickering. The sign of an era that doesn't give a shit about it is a slumbering adherence to broad and vague ideas of "faith". Guess which era we live in.

Posted by: kokblok on March 28, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

The mistake you are making is assuming Daveyos position is wrong. Stop looking at the principle and look at the effect. It was constitutional to have the Ten Commandments in court rooms for over 200 years. Now there is the possibility that this is unconstitutional. How can someone in favor of such displays not see the attempted removals as an attack on their beliefs? There are recent attempts to remove prayer in school, In God We Trust from currency, the Pledge of Allegiance, religious symbols from state seals. For people who find those issues important, how can they not help but see a pattern?

Posted by: james on March 28, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

kokblok,

I think conservatives still care a lot about theological and denominational differences. But they see the primary public battle as one of defending religious worldviews (of whatever kind) against creeping secularism and disbelief. So they tend to put their theological differences aside in public to try and present a united front against the dreaded secularists.

As for liberal religionists, I agree that they no longer take theological differences very seriously. All that really matters to them is adherence to broad liberal-democratic values like "tolerance." Other than that, one denomination or theology is basically as good as another, and choosing between them is a matter of picking whichever one "works best" for you--it's more a matter of personality and temperament and lifestyle than objective truth.

Posted by: Cold Feet on March 28, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Cold Feet--
Actually, I don't think you're right about conservatives. By and large, their choice of denomination is just as much a "lifestyle" thing as it is for liberals. Witness the precipitous decline of anti-Catholicism among us evangelicals, in private as well as in public.

This is an important point. A lot of people say that liberal Christians are just "half-ass" Christians while the true serious Christians are all conservative. But have you ever been inside one of these new mega-churches or the many mainstream churches they have influenced? It's all Oprah-type confessions and soft lighting in there. People shift from church to church like they're changing a diaper. Of course it's a lifestyle thing for the "right" as well. Only well-meaning self-hating liberals can't see this fact.

Posted by: kokblok on March 28, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Oops,
Dangerous typo there: I meant "U.S." evangelicals, not "us" evangelicals.

Posted by: kokblok on March 28, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

daveyo doesn't sound like a campaign manager at all. More like a chair stacker.

Posted by: cld on March 28, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Lyrics to Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (The Recognized Anthem of World Contact Day), by The Carpenters, their paean to Scientology, w/mp3 link.

http://www.lyrics007.com/Carpenters%20Lyrics/Calling%20Occupants%20Of%20Interplanetary%20Craft%20Lyrics.html


Does Scientology count with these judges?

Posted by: cld on March 28, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Does Scientology count with these judges?
Posted by: cld

Why not? Is is any sillier than Judaism, Christianity, Islam or Mormonism (no, it isn't part of Christianity)?

Posted by: Jeff II on March 28, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Does Scientology count with these judges?

Posted by: cld on March 28, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

That's an idea for another great paper by Mr. Volkoth.

Posted by: Mca on March 28, 2006 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

s the US setting a good example for how countries where Christians are in the minority should act towards religious minorities?

Posted by: kathryn from Sunnyvale on March 28, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Christian convert nearly executed and released from prison?

I think you guys are OK on average.

Posted by: Mca on March 28, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Well, it looks like the courts agree than atheists have no moral education...:)

Perhaps the time at Church is just a proxy for time with your kid.

If the daddy in question cited the time he spent making the kid read philosophy, without the wife around he would have got better treatment.

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

kokblok,
I think you're confusing the decline of social prejudice against Catholics with acceptance of Catholic theology. Conservative protestants and conservative Catholics still take their theological differences very seriously. They're just less likely to discriminate against each other than they used to be. Conservatives may take theological differences somewhat less seriously than they used to, but it's the wishy-washy liberals, who recoil at any suggestion of "intolerance" or exclusivity ("There are many paths to God", "No religion has a monopoly on the truth," "Everyone must follow his own spiritual journey," etc. etc.), that are the primary cause of the dumbing-down of theology.

Posted by: Cold Feet on March 28, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone want to bet on how many Bible verses the twins can quote?

Posted by: snoey on March 28, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't bet on that one actually. They grew up in Texas with Barbara Bush as a grandma. They probably had to learn some against their will.

Posted by: Mca on March 28, 2006 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

Cold Feet--
No, I do not agree. I believe that the liberal ecumenalism and the conservative free-for-all are two sides of the same coin: the decoupling of religion from ordinary, everyday life and the decoupling of everyday life from theological imagination. People don't NEED religious fellowship in the way that they used to, therefore it has become a lifestyle choice, for the "right" as much as for the "left". Read up on what church membership meant for the average person one hundred, fifty, or even thirty years ago. Then look at what it means today.

I know it is hard for some people to understand that "salt of the earth" people can be just as "fake" as those darn elite liberals, but Jesus, just go to one of those mega-churches and tell me exactly how that is not "dumbing-down" theology!

Posted by: kokblok on March 28, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

kokblok-
but Jesus, just go to one of those mega-churches and tell me exactly how that is not "dumbing-down" theology!

i think the best recent example of that was when several of the largest "mega-churches" didn't have services on Christmas day last year because it fell on a Sunday, and they knew that their attendance would be so poor it wouldn't be worth it to open up. the articles talked about Christmas day being "more of a family day than a religious day" and emphasized that they would have several services in the days leading up to Christmas.

personally, i thought it was hilarious.

Posted by: e1 on March 28, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

that they would have several services in the days leading up to Christmas.

personally, i thought it was hilarious.

Posted by: e1 on March 28, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Actually I thought the Christmas eve service was more traditional than the day service.

But your assumption on their motives may or may not be right. Got a link to support it?

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

How can someone in favor of such displays not see the attempted removals as an attack on their beliefs? There are recent attempts to remove prayer in school, In God We Trust from currency, the Pledge of Allegiance, religious symbols from state seals. For people who find those issues important, how can they not help but see a pattern?

Well, they could start by realizing that attempts to remove the mention of God from money, the Pledge, state seals, etc. is an attempt to remove the mention of God from symbols of secular, state-sanctioned power, and then they should think to themselves as to why they should have a problem with that? After all, one should render unto God what is God's, and unto Caesar what is Caesar's. No one is trying to tell these people what to do in their religious services, or their churches, or in their private lives -- they are merely trying to remove specific Christian imagery from state symbols that belong to all of us, Christian, Jewish, Mormom, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan, Hindu, and atheist.


It is not the religous community trying to remove God from the pledge, from the buildings, from the hall of congress, from our money.

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

McA, let me quote you when you're right, "Perhaps the time at Church is just a proxy for time with your kid."

that really might be part of it. But, before that you said, "Well, it looks like the courts agree than atheists have no moral education..."


If it weren't for Christianity you couldn't tell if you were robbed, or not? Couldn't tell if a price was fair, or not? Couldn't say if the guy who jumped out of an ally and broke your legs was wrong, or not? But because God exists, you know the answer to those questions that otherwise were a mystery to you?

Posted by: cld on March 28, 2006 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, you think the pattern that no self-avowed atheist can be elected to high office in this country isn't a sign of oppression and intolerance towards the nonreligious?

Posted by: Librul on March 28, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

Koblok and Cold Feet both bemoan the "dumbing down" of theology and the ascendance of "wishy washy tolerance." Two comments:

1. How is it possible to "dumb down" something as dumb as theology? Serious scholars debating whether or not communicants are literally eating and drinking the flesh and blood of Christ? The persecution of heretical sects? Crusades against the infidels? Yes, those were the good old days, when people took theology seriously!

2. How sad that two obviously intelligent persons actually find tolerance to be a sign of moral decadance rather than a sign of human progress.

Posted by: athos on March 28, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

cld, thank you for the compliment I have indeed stacked many a chair. Last election cycle my little group registered over 600,000 new voters in florida. We then took that list and easily won the state of Florida for George W. for Mel for the 85 to 35 ratio in the state house, etc....
The reason we clean your clock so well is exactly because of the way you think of us as insignificant. Well George W. just appointed 2 new supreme court justices, because he carried our state and because of my little group which delivered 600,000 votes. Please keep underestimating the importance of stacking chairs. It sure beats those empty ones in your party.

Posted by: daveyo on March 28, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

How can someone in favor of such displays not see the attempted removals as an attack on their beliefs? There are recent attempts to remove prayer in school, In God We Trust from currency, the Pledge of Allegiance, religious symbols from state seals. For people who find those issues important, how can they not help but see a pattern?

I see what you're saying, but what's really happening is an adjustment to accomodate non-Protestants. Most of these expressions are specifically Christian, and often specifically non-Catholic. So they become tantamount to a governmental endorsement of a certain branch of religious faith.

The lawsuits that ended school prayer were brought by Catholics and Mormons. If I had kids, I'd fight school prayer tooth and nail, as I'm a religious minority because I live in the South, and I don't believe in decision theology or millenialism. Hell, I read recently that belief in the latter could get you excommunicated back in the day. (And they say there are no juicy theological fights!)

Here in Nashvegas, even if every other person is either Baptist or Church of Christ, we've got Muslims and Buddhists and B'ahais and Greek Orthodox in addition to your Jews, Catholics, and mainliners. Any attempt to bring back school prayer would get real ugly real quick.

Posted by: hamletta on March 28, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

kathryn from Sunnyvale you asked some very good questions and the open discussion concerning theology is a very good start. First of all Evangelicals (i.e. Billy Graham) decided to start being engaged in the political arena a number of years ago. In the past 20 years we have gone from being on the outside to being in control. The shocking exit question in 2004 was that "faith matters". We do take a stand and because of that we are no longer over looked. In florida, my organization just got the green light for the marriage ammendment to go on the ballot in 2008. We collected 400,000 signatures in 6 weeks, all done by volunteers. Politicians are running to us to sign and to us to deliver the vote. I just completed a campaign with a Conservative Democrat who won re-election. He voted for George W. last election also and has been a D all his life and is now 85. We do not think about repressing religion, but we no longer cower when we think about libs, aclu or any other group who is nearing extinction in this country. I hope you are free to worship and do so.

Posted by: daveyo on March 28, 2006 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

daveyo,

That's not what I meant. I don't think of you as insignificant, I think of you as mentally incompetent.

The Diebold revolution in Florida is world famous and bragging about it is hardly going to endear you to the masses.

But working out how to make it sound tough for when you're sharing a prison cell with some giant retarded bald guy who's in there for killing a cat may be pretty practical for a guy in your position.

Posted by: cld on March 28, 2006 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

cld again thank you for displaying the difference, you view us as "mentally incompetent" and we now control every aspect of the political structure both here in florida and nationally. Our little secret is the difference between us is that as a "mentally incompetent" person and group we will be going door to door this weekend, finding other "like minded". While the d's in florida hired ex-felons (much like the one you just described) to go door to door last election cycle. In essence we view your side as lazy, those who think us dumb and count on this mis-calculation. I remember when Janet Reno was going to "take out jeb", thanks to that move we regained the senate since your brain thrusts spent all their money here to get clobbered. So Again please keep looking down your nose as we complete what we started 20 years ago.

Posted by: daveyo on March 28, 2006 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Mimsy male god jabberwocks.

"In God We Trust"?

Ha! You will feel the wrath of the Goddess in 20 years.

Posted by: Mother Earth on March 28, 2006 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

and we now control every aspect of the political structure both here in florida and nationally.

And yet, somehow, you are being constantly persecuted. How does that work, exactly?

Posted by: craigie on March 28, 2006 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

daveyo,
Florida? You working for that loser Harris? haha!

Posted by: joe on March 28, 2006 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Thank God I'm an atheist.

Posted by: BumperSticker on March 28, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

daveyo wrote: "The shocking exit question in 2004 was that 'faith matters'."

Well, no, actually, it wasn't, as a quick look at the actual exit poll questions would reveal.

What's interesting about daveyo is that he's stopped trying to argue the merits of the case and has resorted to childish "nyah, nyah" tactics. Poor guy....

Posted by: PaulB on March 28, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

But because God exists, you know the answer to those questions that otherwise were a mystery to you?

Posted by: cld on March 28, 2006 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

I'll say it again.

Atheism is logically immoral unless you make assumptions on abstract morality, independent of God. Only threat of punishment or social penalties enforce morality.

An atheist who believes in a moral ideal like humanism, cannot explain why that ideal exists without resorting to spirituality.

I can. God made it so.

----------

Gee, you think the pattern that no self-avowed atheist can be elected to high office in this country isn't a sign of oppression and intolerance towards the nonreligious?

Posted by: Librul on March 28, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

No just unpopularity. No atheist is stopped from campaigning or registering as a candidate.

No one thinks that they an 'oath of office' means anything to an atheist. What does he swear on?


Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

"What does he swear on?"

The Constitution. What should he swear on? The Bible? The one that calls for theocracy?

Posted by: BarrettBrown on March 28, 2006 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

"God created it" is not an explanation, least of all for morality. It is a completely unsupported and unsupportable assertion. When it comes to understanding the origin and valuing the extent of morality, atheists are a priori on equal footing with theists. It's just that some theists like to pretend otherwise.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 28, 2006 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

For all the valuable snark on this issue, I fear we may have a real long-term problem on our hands. I just learned that the real reason my middle schooler has been "checking out" (not paying attention or performing) in school is that her table-mates and some other kids who profess to be Christian informed her that "we hate you" (in those words) and have been bullying her because, when they asked, she told them she doesn't believe in god. She doesn't have backup in the classroom - i.e., no other kids taking her side - and while the teachers are being responsive it isn't clear what we can do to make it stop.

This has never been a problem fir her before. Her best friend goes to church every Sunday and summers she and her brother hang with their very church-going cousins whose mother is studying for the ministry, and they get along very well.

I have to wonder how it is that Christian tolerance disappeared from public view and what can be done about it. I can't do anything myself because, frankly, I share my daughter's view - I'm not a Christian, though I can't imagine finding it appropriate to bully someone for being a Christian or any other religion (or having no faith).

I deeply hope tolerant Christians re-enter the public square soon. Isn't there an old line somewhere about what happens when you sow the wind? We all may reap what is currently being sown . . .

Posted by: Unknown Parental Unit on March 29, 2006 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

There is a disconnect between how a democracy works and how some posters wish it to work. If voters choose to select the worst possible individual for the worst possible reasons, that is there choice. It in no way gives anyone the right to think for them. People are allowed to vote based on any and every reason or whim that crosses their mind. If this means they choose never to select the athiest candiate, that is there choice. No one has the right to restrict the voting process based only on a dislike of the voters choice.

Posted by: james on March 29, 2006 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

Atheism is logically immoral unless you make assumptions on abstract morality, independent of God. Only threat of punishment or social penalties enforce morality.

That's just nutty.

I would say that there is something wrong with you, if you only do the right thing because of a fear of punishment. I do the right thing - and I tell my children to do the right thing - because it is the right thing I don't need an invisible daddy to make it so.

Posted by: craigie on March 29, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

craigie,

McA the self-professed sociopath made the same self-serving remark on the last atheism related thread. I'm quite relieved that his belief in hell curbs his homocidal urges.

Posted by: joe on March 29, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

because it is the right thing

Posted by: craigie on March 29, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

So why is it the right thing?

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

and while the teachers are being responsive it isn't clear what we can do to make it stop.

Posted by: Unknown Parental Unit on March 29, 2006 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

But how can the teacher's make it stop? Separation of church and state remember?

But it might be something more than that.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

That parable clearly implies that politicians trumpeting their Christian faith aren't being good Christians.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on March 28, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but they can't deny it either. Remember the Peter story.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

The lawsuits that ended school prayer were brought by Catholics and Mormons.

Posted by: hamletta on March 28, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Lately, by atheists. Last I checked Catholics and Mormons believed in God.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

Daveyo:

Oh for the love of Cthulhu. Do you really think if someone swears on the Bible, they're more likely to tell the truth?

This atheist has encountered a number of ordained men (or close to being ordained). More often than not, these guys are not interested in celibacy or even moderation. Gay or straight, they are prey to human nature.

Sometimes it seems like outward displays of piousness and loyalty to the religious hierarchy are actually more important than living the ideals one pretends to espouse.

Posted by: Librul on March 29, 2006 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

So why is it the right thing?

Like I said, people who have to have morality defined for them, and imposed upon them, are not very moral.

Oh, and I bet 100% of the GOP hacks who are now being sentenced to jail, or who soon will be, believe in God. Yet strangely, they are lawbreakers, and I am not. What a conundrum!

Posted by: craigie on March 29, 2006 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

"No one thinks that they an 'oath of office' means anything to an atheist. What does he swear on?"

You may not have noticed that the Constitution contains are proscription against religious tests for public office. As such, the laws that require the swearing of public oaths always call for subjects to make an "oath or affirmation".

Amusingly, many atheists have no problem keeping oaths with solemnity. Pragmatism is sufficient reason for atheists to maintain fidelity to the oaths they swear. The language about affirmations as an alternative to oaths is there to protect the religious freedom of sects with prohibitions against the taking of oaths, but if you'd rather not consider atheists to be capable of swearing oaths, then you must admit that they are still legally allowed to substitute an affirmation in its place.

People who think atheists shouldn't hold public office because their oaths have no "meaning" are bigots, who hate America, and who want to rewrite the Constitution into the charter for a theocracy. I will add that it seems pretty hypocritical to complain about atheists not being fit for holding public office due to the meaninglessness of their oaths, while not having a single word to say about the many, many atheists who routinely swear oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution when they enlist or are commissioned in the military. Nobody thinks those oaths are meaningless. Certainly not the Veterans Administration.

So yes, McA I'd say you just dropped an "honor question" on every atheist who ever served your country in uniform. Feel free to begin explaining why you hate the troops.

Posted by: s9 on March 29, 2006 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK


Someone explain to me why an atheist keeps an oath, other than prosecution. Without reference to what is not supported by evidence.

If it means something, its because the person is probably a humanist or an agnostic.

True atheism is 'do what you will is the whole of the law' including breaking oaths.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

Like I said, people who have to have morality defined for them, and imposed upon them, are not very moral.

Posted by: craigie on March 29, 2006 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

And people who can define it as their wishes, have no burden following it. Charles Manson thinks he was doing the right thing.

So why do you believe in morality if you are an atheist? You beleive in nothing but reality, remember?

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

True atheism is 'do what you will is the whole of the law' including breaking oaths.

You just define your own belief system, thank you. That seems to be plenty of work for you as it is.

Posted by: craigie on March 29, 2006 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

So why do you believe in morality if you are an atheist? You beleive in nothing but reality, remember?

Are you aware that chimps, to choose one animal, have a very highly developed sense of quid pro quo, or what you might call the Golden Rule? "Do Unto Others" is what we do (mostly) because it's a good strategy for survival in a complex social environment with other creatures which are our equal in size and strength and intelligence (I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here).

So morality is very, very real. Without it, we couldn't have civilization, and we probably couldn't even have families (which are themselves good structures for individual survival).

You keep bringing up Manson, as if that means something profound. Killing people is wrong on several levels; one of them is that we say so, as a society. Societies are allowed to define their own rules; indeed, that is what they do, explicitly or implicitly. So being a mass murderer is wrong (partly) because we have all agreed that it is wrong. If you think that killing people was ok until Moses came down with the tablets, then I think we are done here.

Posted by: craigie on March 29, 2006 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

Eugene Volokh has just written a law article on how atheist fathers and mothers are routinely discriminated against in child custody cases. He cites over 70 recent cases across the country and these were only the ones which were appealed, so they probably represent a fraction of the actual cases.

Eugene's article is here. I'm actually willing to concede that 70 incidents out of millions of custody cases over the last decade isn't exactly a sign of the apocalypse (so to speak), but it's still pretty discouraging news.

You fucking moron Drum. I wish you a nasty divorce and you finding yourself in a position in which you cannot appeal any decision against you due to lack of funds.

What part of "these were only the ones which were appealed, so they probably represent a fraction of the actual cases" do you not understand?

Posted by: jerry on March 29, 2006 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

Someone explain to me why an atheist keeps an oath, other than prosecution. Without reference to what is not supported by evidence.

I would submit that any decent person, theist or atheist, keeps an oath for the exact same reasons - because it is the right thing to do. In my mind that defines a decent person.

Morality is piss-poor if it's defined only as what you do under fear of getting caught doing otherwise. But apparently some spritually-bereft people are motivated to be moral for no other reason than by thinking that they score points with their deity for doing so, and will be able to read some scoreboard in the afterlife and shout some "Boo-yah! How ya like me now!?" smacktalk to everyone else standing in line at the pearly gates.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

Do Unto Others" is what we do (mostly) because it's a good strategy for survival in a complex social environment with other creatures which are our equal in size and strength and intelligence (I'll

Posted by: craigie on March 29, 2006 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

But if you know it's just an evolutionary strategy. You know you don't have to follow it when no one's around to see you or if you don't think there will be survival consequences.

Besides if evolution is about the most viable, cheating on your wife would be pretty cool for you, if:

1. It resulted in a kid who's mum couldn't sue you for support

2. Your family never found out.

Atheism, is either:

1. Totally amoral

2. Adopts assumptions that are no different from those under Sikhism or Wicca or Islam.

3. Or is a petty excuse to not think used by people who can't think.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

So being a mass murderer is wrong (partly) because we have all agreed that it is wrong.

Posted by: craigie on March 29, 2006 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

But society doesn't always watch you. So then, nothing is wrong according to atheism.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

McA,
Game theory provides a very sound scientific basis for a code of conduct that bases itself in benevolence and just punishment for cheaters. Peaceful cooperation is the essential foundation of a successful society. Without a society (and all that encompasses) a human is the most helpless of all animals --naked and dumb in a strange wilderness. By your very words, you identify yourself as one of the cheaters that society must defend itself from.
A truly civilized human need not be coerced into benevolence.

Posted by: joe on March 29, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

McA,

Game theory provides a very sound scientific basis for a code of conduct that bases itself in benevolence and just punishment for cheaters.

Posted by: joe on March 29, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

But only because of retaliation and reputation effects. Game theory rewards anonymous theft if there is no reputation effect.

You can cheat and not be expelled from society where it doesn't know what you did or clearly doesn't expel.

I am moral, I just know why.

And as I wasn't born a Christian, I have thought through atheism and its shallow.

----------
'A truly civilized human need not be coerced into benevolence' -

If you are benevolent to keep society on your side, because you might be expelled and that would be bad for your strategy.

You are coerced.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

Honestly, this topic has been done by philosophers a long time ago. Any test used to establish atheism (weak or strong) can be used to knock down morality other than social pressure.

Atheism, leads to Hedonism or possibly Social Darwinism as the logical conclusions.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

It is bad enough that this site is inundated with small-minded religious bigots who spew their pedantic rantings strewn with infantile arguments.

What makes it much worse is that they all are possessed of a pathological inability to write the English language in any kind of coherent manner, and that their spelling is dreadful.

Posted by: Atheist Observer on March 29, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

and that their spelling is dreadful.

Posted by: Atheist Observer on March 29, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

But they can pose a question which atheism other than immoral atheism cannot answer.

Why does an atheist follow morality if no one is watching?

Posted by: Mca on March 29, 2006 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

Why do some of you persist in replying to McA(sshohle)'s drivel. He is not interested in any kind of meaningful discussion of the issue, as witnessed by the way his definition of atheism simply morphs to support whatever lamebrained point he wishes to make. Now he's decided that all atheists are nihilists - on what authority, his pitiful god only knows...

I suppose this post will itself be seen as a response to McA(nal fissure), and, worse, may even provoke a response from (him, her, it?). Mea culpa...

Posted by: athos on March 29, 2006 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

Can anyone here answer?

I notice the personal attacks are all you have left.

Where's Secular Animist? There's a real atheist for you.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

McA> I am moral, I just know why.

So here's a question. What's the why? Because god says so? Deference to a virtual authority figure? That's it? You're that simple minded?

What are the motives behind this god thing's rules? Is he collecting souls like hockey cards, the most subservient and guillable being the most valuable? Is he playing a big nasty game, watching the ant colony down here? The concept is insane, childish.

Theism doesn't solve the problem of morality. It just chases it up a level, making the it "god's" problem as to why we should be moral. Then theists pretend that there's something mysterious and deep behind a magic curtain that'll make sense once we're dead. It's a joke.

Here's my motive: I'm going to die, and when I do I'll just stop. No more me. But other people I make contact with sure seem as real as I do, and the society around me does as well. I'm made out of the genes from that pool, the ideas (very few of which are mine) from that society, the emotions of those people. They'll go on without the little collage, myself, that dies.

If I'm a derivative of all that, then I should value such life and society as being not just an extension of myself, but the "immortal" part of myself.

So I don't have to believe in some fairy tale of life after death or an immortal god, to be motivated to have a system of morality. I believe in people. That's enough. Nothing supernatural is needed.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on March 29, 2006 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

Bruce, "Researcher" (heh) is moral because if he isn't, his god is going to bust his kneecaps in the afterlife. Ultimately it's his own selfishness and vanity that makes him behave within societal norms, not any actual concern or compassion for those around him.

And of course, that fear of getting his ass kicked by a higher being (and the ignominy associated therewith) becomes the lens through which he views everyone else's sense of morality.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 3:19 AM | PERMALINK

I believe in people. That's enough. Nothing supernatural is needed.

............
I'm a derivative of all that, then I should value such life and society as being not just an extension of myself, but the "immortal" part of myself.


Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on March 29, 2006 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

So your basis for morality is social obligation.
This means that:

1. If there's no feedback to that society, who cares? Alone on a desert island, you'd kill and eat someone if neither of you would eventually make it back to world society.

2. Plus another rival society is meat for the kill! Take that Oil for your SUV then because it has little contribution to your genepool/cultural values. Why do you think 'God is Dead' Nietzche became so cool with White Power groups.

3. Lastly that implies a sense of obligation to society. But why that? You are going to die. Whether or not society goes on you are dead.

That sense of obligation comes fromA somewhere. Is it just biology or education? Or is it something more.

All you are doing is using obligation as a dodge. And failing to analyze it with the same tests you use for God.

---------------

Morality is simple. I agree as an assumption that morality exists.

It seem logical that God could exist, if morality exists independently of reality.

And once I got that far, my personal experience with God convinced me he has my interests at heart and is loving.

So since he created the universe, who better to define morality?.

That doesn't involve accepting human authority all the time. It involves the exercise of reason to determine his will. And scripture, has through personal experience, been uniquely powerful in my life and way ahead of secular philosophy.

Ecclesiastics covered the whole of atheist philosophy in a nutshell and came up with a coherent answer.

That all is meaningless without God.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 3:25 AM | PERMALINK

And of course, that fear of getting his ass kicked by a higher being (and the ignominy associated therewith) becomes the lens through which he views everyone else's sense of morality.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 3:19 AM | PERMALINK

Especially as no one can give an answer on 'why they are moral in the absence of consequences on your own society'.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 3:29 AM | PERMALINK

McA>So your basis for morality is social obligation.

No. It's that I think the boundary between myself and the society that generated me is an illusion, of the same kind that seperates my conscious from unconscious mind.

No matter what I do, the little truncated bit that's me will die. The larger whole doesn't have to. Being individually selfish is just equivalent to failing to recognize that my future self is as real as my present self, despite the fact I am not conscious yet of that future self's emotional state. A person's memory and identity are not a perfectly continuous, anyways. The fact other members of the same society after I die are not accessible to my conscious mind, I see as no different.

And in fact most "immoral" or criminal people make both errors in judgement; failure of foresight re their own future interests, and failure to see themselves as part of something larger.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on March 29, 2006 at 3:41 AM | PERMALINK

Bruce,

Let me understand your post:

So you have a future self after death?
-Subject this to a test of reason.

So your future emotional state is linked to society?
-Well, how does society communicate/make you fell better with you when you are dead? A shared subconscious. A shared identity. ESP.
Try your test of reason on those

Only a part of you dies?
-That sounds like life after death to me.

Some of what you say sounds like Chinese ancestor worship. Where people do good deeds, so they have descendents who will do things for them after death or they have life through their descendents.

Some of what you say sounds like really deep Hindu beliefs or a belief in Platonic reality - some of which postulate that there is a shared consciousness in all of us, resulting in life after death.

This is all non-deistic religion, dressed up in new words.

So are you sure you are an atheist or an agnostic?

Sound like you believe in life after death, through telepathy.


Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 4:01 AM | PERMALINK

when considering the origins of morality, it would to to remember a little thing called "empathy." that is, i won't knowingly do harm to anyone because i know what it feels like to be harmed, and i do not wish for people to suffer like i have.

so maybe a codified morality helps those without the capacity for empathy to conduct themselves in a way that is minimally harmful to society.

if a spirit of goodwill and cooperation won't keep 'em in line, the promise of a personal reward and the fear of eternal damnation will, right?

frankly, you can have it. i'll let my conscience be my guide.

as for daveyo, can someone please direct me to the post where he acknowleges the staggering weight of evidence against the founding fathers' intentions to establish a theocracy, and admits that his reading of history is, at best, selective? i think i missed it.

Posted by: rob on March 29, 2006 at 4:12 AM | PERMALINK

Rob,

Back to 'empathy' and 'conscience'. You just happen to feel bad, when people feel bad.
Why believe in that? Try your tests of reason on it. It fails.

Probability-based
-What are the odds that evolution, an unguided process without a Creator, decides to give
intelligent life a 'conscience' that emotionally punishes their sins?

Superiority-based
-Conscience is a crutch and a superstition for fools, the overman is beyond conscience!

Reason-based
-Where's the scientific evidence of a conscience?

Equity-based
-Why do sociopaths get rewarded for not having a conscience?

History-based
-Dude, look at what happened to the native Americans. I'm sure White people feel bad, but they feel way worse. A conscience is stupid.


I believe in a conscience. I believe that God endowed everyone with a sense of right and wrong that preceded his deal with Abraham. Its in the Bible in the story of the Statue to the Unknown God.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK

"So your future emotional state is linked to society?
-Well, how does society communicate/make you fell better with you when you are dead? A shared subconscious. A shared identity. ESP.
Try your test of reason on those"

No. What I'm saying is that the emotional state of people who live after I die, is as seperate from me and theoretical as the emotional state of my future self. It is not part of my present experience.

No ESP, or shared subconscious. You just have to genuinely believe that other people are as real as you are, and that your identity is temporary. Empathy, like rob said above. Identity is something of an illusion anyways, even the most hyper-materialist researchers into consciousness/neuroscience tend to believe that.

Athiesm doesn't mean not believing in the reality of conscious awareness. Just that it is a natural phenomenon, arising from our human bodies and culture, with no invisible alpha-primate authority figure involved.

And you evaded the question. How and why - with what motivation - did "god" choose the morality system in question? If you're just obeying authority, the problem has only been moved up one level and declared forbidden.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on March 29, 2006 at 4:32 AM | PERMALINK

How and why - with what motivation - did "god" choose the morality system in question? If you're just obeying authority, the problem has only been moved up one level and declared forbidden.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on March 29, 2006 at 4:32 AM | PERMALINK

Some elements of the why of God's morality are unclear.

So yes, I accept the nature of God as an assumption. Just as you speculate the 'empathy' as an assumption. Which is why we always so there's a leap of faith in belief.

On the motive, not always sure. But I know on his guidance in my life he loves me. So I'll take it on faith.

But why is this impersonal empathy arising from natural something or other any better an assumption than a God who made empathy?

Show me your scientific reason for believing what you put down.

----------------

the emotional state of people who live after I die, is as seperate from me and theoretical as the emotional state of my future self. It is not part of my present experience.

No ESP, or shared subconscious. You just have to genuinely believe that other people are as real as you are, and that your identity is temporary. Empathy, like rob said above. Identity is something of an illusion anyways, even the most hyper-materialist researchers into consciousness/neuroscience tend to believe that.

Athiesm doesn't mean not believing in the reality of conscious awareness. Just that it is a natural phenomenon, arising from our human bodies and culture

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on March 29, 2006 at 4:32 AM | PERMALINK

I think you are using jargon to try and pretend what you believe is not a Theology.

If the emotional state of others is 'separate to you' after your death, what is the basis for caring? You could place a bomb, die but not care.
The pain of the victim doesn't hurt you under 'empathy'.

'Identity' is temporary and an 'illusion'. So what do you mean and how does it imply you should care? Are you suggesting that we are all part of something else? Sounds Hindu, 'All is illusion and we are all God'.

And if you can't even define what you mean, how to you claim to have a reason-based argument for morality. You can do better than 'researchers say' as a reason. Tell me what 'hyper-materialist' branch of science you quote and show me a few journals.

Plus, what do you mean 'conscious awareness' that is a 'natural phenomenon' and why does it justify morality. Does the conscious or subconscious have telepathy. Does the conscious or subconscious live on after death?

If so, why not call it a 'soul' that exists 'because'?

And by the way, not all religions believe God is an alpha-primate authority figure. Wicca, Zoroastrians, Enochian Warlocks for example.


Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 5:33 AM | PERMALINK

If you're just obeying authority, the problem has only been moved up one level and declared forbidden.

Or to use a common phrase: "I vas just vollowink orders!"

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on March 29, 2006 at 7:29 AM | PERMALINK

In a society, anyone who can break the rules without getting caught may earn greater rewards (of wealth, power, happiness, etc.) but they also have the effect of making the society as a whole marginally less efficient and less fair. That is, they reduce the average wealth and happiness of the members of the society of a whole and cause some people to end up with less than wealth, happiness, etc than their efforts should have earned them. These effects are visible to the members of the society even when the specific individual(s) responsible cannot be identified.

Therefore, as I wish to live in a society that rewards me appropriately for my efforts, that has as much total wealth as possible so that my share of those rewards will be higher and that offers as many opporunities as possible for happiness, I will generally try to live within the rules of the society and treat others as I would wish to be treated.

Some of the other reasons for acting appropriately include the fear of getting caught, the tension in oneself created by trying to present a virtuous image to society while you actually lie, cheat and steal, and the need for most criminals to associate with other criminals in the course of their activities.

Note that the Christian afterlife effectively tries to enforce the moral code by the fear of getting caught with the added incentive that there is no way to avoid being caught in the end.

The observable fact that religious individuals are not universally virtuous and that on average they are not significantly more virtuous than the non-religious has several possible explanations.

One possibility is that the despite their claimed piety, many religious people are not ultimately any more certain about such things than I am.

Another is that people may choose to take the immediate rewards from cheating even at the expense of eventual divine punishment. This may ultimately be a poor trade, but people engage in short-term thinking and self-destructive behaviour all the time.

Another is that they may think they can game the system. Many creeds recognize that nobody can be perfectly virtuous and offer various methods of repentance, atonement and redemption. I suspect that even if these creeds are correct, anyone that deliberately engages in sinful behaviour and then goes through the motions without a true change of heart is going to be disappointed in the effect outcome. Once again, however, self-deception and being to clever for your own good are common enough failures even outside the field of morality.

The last possibility I can suggest at this time is that people may feel that their actions are justified by some higher purpose. This is particularly noticeable and objectionable in those sects that believe it is okay to lie, cheat, steal, assault and even murder if these actions serve to spread their system of beliefs to the unbelievers.

I suspect that all of these different rationales and probably others I haven't mentioned, apply to at least some of the people whose actions do not match their stated moral code. Some people may have more that one way to attempt to justify their behaviour.

Posted by: tanj on March 29, 2006 at 7:42 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent article.

And thanks to the right wing-nuts on the board who prove, over and over again that not only do they know nothing about atheists, but they're also going to show us over and over again that they don't.

To quote the AN: There are 200 sects of Xianity in the US - 8000 worldwide. When you guys can all agree on what your *snicker* infallible bible says, THEN you can tell us we're wrong.

But, since you can't all agree, one has to wonder why a supposed omnipotent, loving god couldn't get his act together enough to make his desires clear. I mean, why leave falliable humans to guess, lie and kill each other over it.

Atheism (or agnosticism) is the only sane and logical position to take. Because we don't know and clearly, neither do you.

And spare us the "we're under attack" garbage. You're making yourselves look like clueless fools.

Posted by: Lya Kahlo on March 29, 2006 at 7:45 AM | PERMALINK

Since each of your liberal expressions are so deep and so good. Which Atheism or agnostic will win the next election. where do you think the constitution and the laws were written from, where do you think "thou shalt not murder, steal, etc. came from". I will stay with the simple fact that those who believe in something are far more motivated than those who beliee in nothing. Every sunday I take a politician to church. I recall how Kerry all of sudden showed up at the catholic church during his campaign, and was promptly turned down for communion. If you want to have a say in political life, you cannot do it from the position that all of you enlightened ones have argued. Simple tell me which leading candidate for president on your side embraces Atheism or agnosticism. I do not have any more to prove, we have done it so many times it is actually getting too easy.

Posted by: daveyo on March 29, 2006 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

But they can pose a question which atheism other than immoral atheism cannot answer. Why does an atheist follow morality if no one is watching?

The person posting under the handle McA is beneath contempt.

Since 1) McA is wrong, the question has been repeatedly answered by non-theists, and since 2) McA has repeatedly failed to acknowledge the answers given, and thus failed to think about or grapple with those answers, it is therefore highly likely that he simply projects his own inability to understand morality on those he purportedly 'disagrees with.'

You are saying, in so many words, McA, that you see no reason to respect other people and be mindful of their rights unless you imagine a "Big Brother" looking over your shoulder.

You are simply incapable of understanding that other people can genuinely care about the consequences of their actions solely on the grounds of the consequences themselves.

It is you who are bereft of conscience. By your own testimony. Time & again.

Posted by: YELLOW in front, BROWN in back on March 29, 2006 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

I do not have any more to prove, we have done it so many times it is actually getting too easy.

daveyo,

Sir, you have proved--convincingly--that not all human beings, or even a majority, are necessarily intelligent. Like you, for instance.

There are plenty of ignorant people in this world. That helps to explain why ignorant politicians often get elected.

Whaddya' know!

Posted by: YELLOW in front, BROWN in back on March 29, 2006 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

I suspect that all of these different rationales and probably others I haven't mentioned

Posted by: tanj on March 29, 2006 at 7:42 AM | PERMALINK

Your only reason for morality, is fear of punishment by society. When society does not punish, morality encourages evil.

Your reasons for morality under atheism without social punishment are:

- Its hard to lie.

Really, how is this consistent with scandal after scandal and the liberal world-view of a corrupt world run by plutocrats?

The evidence favors learning to lie, especially if the only reason for 'guilt' when lying is evolution (which favors only survival not morality)

This is no different than saying 'Truth is good because man are predisposed to tell the truth'.

- Because you wish it. And you wish a better world even if no one gets caught.

In other words, morality is a preference that encourages you to take short-term losses (illicit profit with no one finding out) for a better world.

And you choose to accept it without explanation. A logical person would stop caring about the group, and if he could lie without guilt, be happy.

Well, believing in a moral God is a preference as valid as morality without reason. So why hate people praying to him in schools?

Plus for some people it gives a basis for moral behaviour, and is a net social plus. Surely it can't beat atheism. A philosophy, which cannot tell someone who can cheat well not to cheat!

- Plus there's plenty of situation's where your share of wealth is not linked to the wealth of your society as a whole. Dictators sitting on top
of an exploitation structure like Stalin, Mao and Saddam are clear examples.

-----------------------

- " suspect that even if these creeds are correct, anyone that deliberately engages in sinful behaviour and then goes through the motions without a true change of heart is going to be disappointed in the effect outcome"
Posted by: tanj on March 29, 2006 at 7:42 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, Christ will say he never knew you. He says there will be those who call his name who don't really know him.

Grace says thay you have to genuinely accept the Lord as saviour.

You may sin after or even be in denial on some sins but an entitlement mentality doesn't help.
There is a section in James where he argues faith without deeds will not save you...

I was taught that you are saved by grace but a genuine recognition of Christ as Lord will almost certainly result in voluntarily progress out of gratitude.

-----------------------

But, since you can't all agree, one has to wonder why a supposed omnipotent, loving god couldn't get his act together enough to make his desires clear. I mean, why leave falliable humans to guess, lie and kill each other over it.

Posted by: Lya Kahlo on March 29, 2006 at 7:45 AM | PERMALINK

Well, he's made his desires clear enough for Islam, Judaism and Christianity to all agree that God is the God of Abraham and Moses was a prophet. And the other major religions all have a spirituality based reason for morality.

And where is atheism?. Its the religion of Communism - great track record, guys! Certainly not good enough to lecturer the rest of the known world.

But at the end of the day, why is he obligated to prove himself to you?

If humankind is so determined to challenge him that they declare a response to prayer a hallucination, what proof exists:

1) That they deserve
2) That would work?

Lya, if you are so smart. Why not name an item of evidence that would satisfy your standards?

Most atheists ask for something like the elimination of all suffering. Unfortunately that might involve eliminating human nature along with the atheist.. and god isn't doing that yet (but might).

----------------

Atheism (or agnosticism) is the only sane and logical position to take. Because we don't know and clearly, neither do you.

Posted by: Lya Kahlo on March 29, 2006 at 7:45 AM | PERMALINK


Actually amoral atheism could be a logical position.

Agnosticism could be logical. In which case, morality is just insurance against the existance of a God.

But atheism with an assumed moral code is certainly not self-consistent. It involves a leap of faith, while claiming superiority because it is just reason.

If its so logical, why is everyone so stumped?

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

"Sir, you have proved--convincingly--that not all human beings, or even a majority, are necessarily intelligent. Like you, for instance."
Dear Yellow I am sure that it must be hard on you "intellectuals" to be so consistently beaten by us "ignorant ones". I dare you to run for office. I dare you to spend all day on the phone raising thousands for a race, I dare you to get off the computer and go door to door. We love how your side displays George W. as not smart. But since you are so busy figuring out whats wrong with all of us dumb people, we won't worry that you will ever run for anything. That is why I love coming to this site, it's like one of those old barbershops where the old men sit around discussing what wrong with this world.

Posted by: daveyo on March 29, 2006 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

I believe that God endowed everyone with a sense of right and wrong

A sense which only makes sense if it is independent of the deity doing the endowing.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

If its so logical, why is everyone so stumped?

We're not stumped - you are, because you are hung up on self-serving definitions of the terms involved which don't actually apply to the real world.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Since 1) McA is wrong, the question has been repeatedly answered by non-theists, and since 2) McA has repeatedly failed to acknowledge the answers given, and thus failed to think about or grapple with those answers

Posted by: YELLOW in front, BROWN in back on March 29, 2006 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Yellow,

Post the answer then. Everyone just makes up an assumption. I say atheism has no reason to be moral where there are no social penalties:

'conscience'

'empathy'

'lying is bad'

'society never fails to punish evil, so morality applies always'

'identity is an illusion'

'eternal consciousness'

But you push a little further, and none of you have a why for the assumption? None of your postulates could survive the logical tests you apply to the existance of God.

It is impossible to postulate good and evil in the absence of social punishment, without resorting to theological concepts whether or not you dress them up in different names.

I say you have no logical reason, for people caring about consequences other than 'They do, you must be evil to think they don't'.

Tell that to SecularAnimist who has posted regularly, 'Do what thou will is the whole of the law'.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

So why hate people praying to him in schools?

There is no hate of people praying to deities in schools. There is only hate of forcing people to pray to deities against their will.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

daveyo on March 28, 2006 at 1:25 PM |

America was not founded for Freedom from Religion but for Freedom of Religion.

Bumper sticker logic.

I'll go you one further: My freedom of religion includes my freedom from your religion.

Posted by: raj on March 29, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Especially as no one can give an answer on 'why they are moral in the absence of consequences on your own society'.

The answer has been given repeatedly - you simply choose to ignore it. That's your prerogative of course, but it bears the consequence that no one, myself included, can take arguments from you seriously.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

A sense which only makes sense if it is independent of the deity doing the endowing.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

So right or wrong exists independently of a deity?
Sounds like Plato's ideal reality.

So show me how this passes the logical test you apply to God. Show me how evolution and the big bang make 'right or wrong'.

------------

because you are hung up on self-serving definitions of the terms involved which don't actually apply to the real world.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

So why don't you describe to me in layman's terms, an atheistic basis for morality when no one will catch you?

And show me how that makes sense with big bang and evolution - since that's the test you use to justify unbelief in God.

You can't do it without jargon that is actually disguised theology.


Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

There is only hate of forcing people to pray to deities against their will.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

So why ban bible studies from using school grounds? Or teachers running bible studies in their after school time?

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Atheism, leads to Hedonism or possibly Social Darwinism as the logical conclusions.

Only some brands of atheism do so, in the same way that some brands of theism logically lead to hedonism and social darwinism as well.

There is nothing specific to worshipping a god that precludes moral depravity.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

I'll go you one further: My freedom of religion includes my freedom from your religion.

Posted by: raj on March 29, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

My freedom of religion includes challenging people who refuse to think about religion.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

So why ban bible studies from using school grounds? Or teachers running bible studies in their after school time?

This question makes no sense as a followup to my assertion.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

My freedom of religion includes challenging people who refuse to think about religion.

Only to a limit.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Only some brands of atheism do so, in the same way that some brands of theism logically lead to hedonism and social darwinism as well.

There is nothing specific to worshipping a god that precludes moral depravity.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Its hard to blame Christians for Satan worship or Militant Islam given that they kinda hate us.

The difference is that atheism logically leads to amorality.

But find me a branch of atheism that postulates morality without a hidden assumption, a leap of faith - there is none.

The only one is unsure atheism. I don't believe God exists but just in case I'm good even when no one is looking.



Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

My freedom of religion includes challenging people who refuse to think about religion.

Only to a limit.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

And who are you to tell me what my freedom means?

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

There is only hate of forcing people to pray to deities against their will.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

So why ban bible studies from using school grounds? Or teachers running bible studies in their after school time?

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

This question makes no sense as a followup to my assertion.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

People at bible studies are willing participants.
Banned all the same.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

And show me how that makes sense with big bang and evolution

It doesn't have to, because my sense of morality doesn't depend on the specifics of natural history.

The biggest mistake that revealed religions make is attempting to intertwine morality with cosmology. This internal contradiction is exposed when certain theists attempt to portray the superiority of man and his behavior to the natural world, while at the same time pointing to that natural world as an example of how things "are" and "ought to be". They don't even realize that they are making two contradictory assertions at once - their theism doesn't seem to prevent it.

It is as if these theists don't even have the confidence of their own beliefs to refuse to look at the world around them in the same way non-believers do. Which is fine, since there is in fact much to learn by paying close attention to the natural world. It's just that intellectual honest is lacking in certain individuals.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

daveyo: I will stay with the simple fact that those who believe in something are far more motivated than those who [believe] in nothing.

If such is fact, then you won't mind posting up the study and link that proves that " those who believe in something are far more motivated than those who [believe] in nothing." I think you're full of BS, but I'm open to scientific proof that proves your statement. Please advise. You don't want us to think you're bearing false witness against your neighbor, eh?

I recall how Kerry all of sudden showed up at the catholic church during his campaign, and was promptly turned down for communion.

All of a sudden Kerry showed up at church? You make it sound as if Kerry never attended church. Prove it. The fact that the press didn't cover his church-going before his presidential candidacy doesn't prove your implication.

You are aware, I hope (maybe not) that President Bush doesn't go to church? Read this excerpt with emphasis added:

What most--including many of the president's fiercest supporters--don't know, however, is that Bush doesn't go to church. Sure, when he weekends at Camp David, Bush spends Sunday morning with the compound's chaplain. And, every so often, he drops in on the little Episcopal church across Lafayette Park from the White House. But the president who has staked much of his domestic agenda on the argument that religious communities hold the key to solving social problems doesn't belong to a congregation.
It should be a politically intriguing story. Bush is one of the most explicitly religious politicians in American history. Both of his presidential campaigns have used religion to appeal emotionally to voters. The entire philosophy behind his signature slogan, "compassionate conservatism," rests on the belief that religious communities have a unique ability to tend to the nation's social ills. And yet, after the flood of coverage around Bush's first--and only--visit to a neighborhood church during inauguration weekend in Washington, D.C., no one has bothered to report on the president's whereabouts on Sunday mornings.
[...]
It's not as if political reporters have ignored the church-going habits of Bush's opponent. During the "John Kerry Wafer Watch," they have done everything short of inspect the senator's molars for evidence of any unswallowed Host. Hyperbole? A recent Kerry campaign pool report included this observation: "Both Mr. and Mrs. [Kerry] received communion, taking the host from the priests in their hands (others took direct to mouth). They spent ample time on the kneeler."

Can you explain your remarks in light of the above report? And can you explain why you hold Bush to a different standard than, say, John Kerry? And why, if you are so keen on the Ten Commandments, do you bear false witness against John Kerry? I dunno but maybe you don't have a good handle on the facts. Maybe you could check your facts before spreading false information. Someone could think you're lying.


Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 29, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

I think your answer was because 'morality defines a decent person'.

e.g. 'morality is decent, because it is'

Give me the why of it and run it through the 'how does evolution and the big bang prove this' test you use on God.

But you can't.

My assumption is 'God is good, spiritual experiences are not hallucinations'...Christian belief flows very naturally from that.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Its hard to blame Christians for Satan worship or Militant Islam given that they kinda hate us.

The theism of Islam doesn't prevent certain radicalize individuals from feeling intense hate and engaging in moral depravity. The same goes for Christianity.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

And show me how that makes sense with big bang and evolution

It doesn't have to, because my sense of morality doesn't depend on the specifics of natural history.
..................

It is as if these theists don't even have the confidence of their own beliefs to refuse to look at the world around them in the same way non-believers do. Which is fine, since there is in fact much to learn by paying close attention to the natural world. It's just that intellectual honest is lacking in certain individuals.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Self contradiction. There's much to learn from the natural world but 'your sense of morality doesn't depend on the specifics of natural history'

Gee. My creation belief doesn't depend on the specifics of natural history. How come atheism refused to accept that?

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

The theism of Islam doesn't prevent certain radicalize individuals from feeling intense hate and engaging in moral depravity. The same goes for Christianity.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, but its got better odds than a philosophy which has no reason for morality. What if I raised a kid as an atheist and he asked me 'why can't I just take it, I'm bigger and no one will tell?'

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

My assumption is 'God is good

And you are free to assume that. But that is all that it is. That is your article of faith. But a god is not required for good to exist.

If you *do* require a god for good to exist, then you fall into the moralists trap in which you only do good things under fear of punishment and humiliation. I consider those motivations to be shallow and spiritually bereft.

And I certainly wouldn't want to be in close quarters with people having those motivations.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

My creation belief doesn't depend on the specifics of natural history.

Many of your fellow travelers conflate morality with natural history, apparently without being aware of it.

This discussion isn't all about you, you know.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

I think an interesting question to ask wingnut Republicans would be: Do you think Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin are burning in hell?

Posted by: david1234 on March 29, 2006 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

But a god is not required for good to exist.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

So you are a Goodist.

You worship Good but there's no reward for it (other than when society gains and you get your share) and no punishment for evil (when society doesn't enforce it) - but it makes you well not 'shallow and spiritually bereft'.

Wait a minute, you are meant to be defending atheism! You aren't suppose to care about being 'spiritually bereft'.

How logical are your beliefs?


Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, but its got better odds

Thank you for conceding my point, that morality does not by definition flow from a belief in a punitive higher being. Too bad you have to try to soft-pedal it and turn it into a ridiculous probabilistic discussion.

I guess I now know the appeal of gambling to fumbling moralists like Bill Bennett.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Do you think Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin are burning in hell?

Posted by: david1234 on March 29, 2006 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Not my place to know. And what he did in his life is irrelevant - because if he genuinely converted on his death bed, he could be saved.

Voltaire could be Heaven for all I know.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

You worship Good but there's no reward for it

Wow, I really am talking to a Ringwraith.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

How logical are your beliefs?

I posit them to be at least as logical as anyone elses, perhaps not moreso however. I just try to make sense of the world as I see it, but I can't understand what it is that possesses some people to be such assholes about the whole mystery.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

that morality does not by definition flow from a belief in a punitive higher being.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Well, Satan-worshippers believe in a higher being.

But lets face it, not having any logical basis for morality can't help atheist morality.

I'll place bets on most Pope's versus Mao/Stalin/Lenin on who made more 'good' moral decisions.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Not my place to know.

This false humility is belied by your overconfident assertions about morality, theism, and the fate of humanity made throughout this entire thread. Which means it's merely a dodge to avoid answering a very uncomfortable question, a question which has its origins in a completely bizarre and ridiculous belief system but which cannot logically be ignored by holders of that belief system.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

Do you think Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin are burning in hell?

Posted by: david1234 on March 29, 2006 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Not my place to know. And what he did in his life is irrelevant - because if he genuinely converted on his death bed, he could be saved.

Voltaire could be Heaven for all I know.


Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Well, if they did not convert on their deathbeds, do you think they are probably burning in hell?

Posted by: david1234 on March 29, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Well, Satan-worshippers believe in a higher being.

Hey, you're quick!

I'll place bets on most Pope's

There it is with the gambling again. Heh. "Most" popes. I love it!

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Only an asshole, because I hitting you in your comfort zone of Denial.

How's it feel as a Goodist?

http://www.stormfront.org/forum/showthread.php?t=135479&goto=nextnewest

By the way, when you make up your own morality, you can come up with some nasty philosophies.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.geocities.com/ianb723/What-is-Goodism.html

This guy is just into the Golden Rule and no Self-Destruction.

Another goodist. And he admits there is no why.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Good education and good parenting are what's required for ethical behavior. It's true that when I was younger, fear of my parents' disapproval kept me in line. In college I read Kant, Aristotle, Plato, St. Augustin. I see clearly now that if everyone just behaved themselves and worked hard, life would be a helluva lot better. So I treat people the way I would want to be treated, even though sometimes altruism goes unrewarded. And yes sometimes I fall short of my ideals, but I'm trying to be a good person.

Here is a practical viewpoint for you: my parents are atheists and have been 100% faithful to each other. They don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. They have never abused their children. Contrast this with so many religious parents. (Like a high school friend whose parents were active in a Protestant church . . . while at home the father was raping the daughter, beating the wife and son, and engaging in extrafamilial affairs on the side).

Posted by: Librul on March 29, 2006 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

"Most" popes. I love it!

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Not my place, to say if anyone is in heaven or not. Really!

------------

Well, if they did not convert on their deathbeds, do you think they are probably burning in hell?

Posted by: david1234 on March 29, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

If they were not saved by Jesus Christ (or somehow know Christ through the Spirit or God) then they will at some point be burning in hell (I'm not sure if the dead stay in their graves until the Last Trump or not).

----------------

Which means it's merely a dodge to avoid answering a very uncomfortable question, a question which has its origins in a completely bizarre and ridiculous belief system but which cannot logically be ignored by holders of that belief system.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

No. Salvation by God's Grace. Logically, not mine to understand. His. It involves knowing what he believed at the point of death and I don't believe in ESP.

There's scripture on the worker's in the vineyard. If the owner decides to pay latecomers the full wage, its his right.

And god owns the vineyard.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

No one who discrimiates against atheists is a follower of Jesus. When Jesus said "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise" (Luke 6:31), he meant it.

Posted by: david1234 on March 29, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Here is a practical viewpoint for you: my parents are atheists and have been 100% faithful to each other. They don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. They have never abused their children.

Posted by: Librul on March 29, 2006 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

But they don't have a why for you, did they?
I'm not saying that atheists are immoral people or that perceived Christians are moral people.
Its just that atheists who believe in morals have no basis claiming their belief is based on reason.

And they have no basis, saying Christians are stupid or backward.

Not everyone know this, but the Christian faith withstands genuine examination quite well.

I was not brought up in a Christian environment. Was exposed to Islam and Buddhism. Took more than 10 years from initial spiritual experience to formal Baptism. I take this stuff seriously.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

When Jesus said "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise" (Luke 6:31), he meant it.

Posted by: david1234 on March 29, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Sure. But I became a Christian and I thank the person who brought me the Good News.

All I'm doing here is challenging atheism with its own logic.

On the Dads in custody battles. I think you have to see if the cases showed they had another means of moral instruction or time with their kids.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

McA: All I'm doing here is challenging atheism with its own logic.

You haven't succeeded. You've challenged atheism through the prism of your own religious bias and you're ignoring several Scriptures in doing so by judging others. That's not your job as a Christian -- only God is the Judge -- if Christianity is truly your denomination. I know plenty of atheists including those here who behave more Christ-like than you do via your comments here. Perhaps you should repent and ask forgiveness.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 29, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I note that McA has decided not to respond to my earlier comment challenging her to defend her disrespect of the military.

I'd say that shows cowardice in addition to all the other character flaws so apparent in her writings here. Either that, or it proves she's a "tactical syntax" practitioner, here not to defend the actual arguments she's making, but to serve as an embarassing parody of the people who really hold these beliefs but choose not to express them, even pseudonymously in the comments on a weblog.

Either way, I see no reason to take her seriously.

Posted by: s9 on March 29, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, a morality debate and no one has raised the Euthyphro dilemna yet!?

Tell us McA; is the moral behaviour revealed to you by your God a) moral because God has revealed it, or b) does God reveal it because it is moral?

Posted by: A Hermit on March 29, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

McA: "A conscience is stupid."

A concise summation of your point of view. See, what you don't understand about conscience is that it's preemtive. People who genuinely feel the pain (or joy, or whatever) of others can predict, for the most part, the outcomes of their behaviours. That's where reason comes into it.

If you can't use your innate human sensibilities to guide you, then you may yourself fit the definition of a psychopath. Are you being rewarded? I don't know, but society is suffering.

To address your other points:

"-What are the odds that evolution, an unguided process without a Creator, decides to give
intelligent life a 'conscience' that emotionally punishes their sins?"

Why shouldn't it? If mutual consideration is beneficial to the species, wouldn't it be preserved? Evolution is not an unguided process and you've demonstrated the weakness of your understanding.

"Superiority-based
-Conscience is a crutch and a superstition for fools, the overman is beyond conscience!"

What does that mean? Are you joking? Who is the overman? You? So if you're powerful, you shouldn't be bound by conscience? That's frightening.

"Reason-based
-Where's the scientific evidence of a conscience?"

Well, most people have one. I don't think there's ever been a question of the existence of conscience, only that some people don't have one. The lack of a conscience is associated with psychopathy, and you're doing an admirable job of proving that you don't have one.

"Equity-based
-Why do sociopaths get rewarded for not having a conscience?"

I don't know, ask Jack Abramoff. Ask Jeffrey Dahmer. Ask Hitler. Ask Ken Lay. Some get away with it, some don't.

"History-based
-Dude, look at what happened to the native Americans. I'm sure White people feel bad, but they feel way worse. A conscience is stupid."

Would you have slaughtered women and children? Burned villages? I wouldn't have. Granted, whites in those times may genuinely considered Native Americans to be sub-human, but most wouldn't have been so cruel to a horse. Those activities represent the suspension of conscience.

"I believe in a conscience. I believe that God endowed everyone with a sense of right and wrong that preceded his deal with Abraham. Its in the Bible in the story of the Statue to the Unknown God."

You've gone a long way to try and prove that conscience is a joke, and have contradicted yourself in your last point. I believe in conscience too, whether it be imparted by God or by evolution, but you've done much to downplay and ridicule it.

Posted by: rob on March 29, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

One of the McAas on March 29, 2006 at 10:20 AM:

they will at some point be burning in hell

Billy Graham and the departed Pope John Paul II aren't quite so sure about that...

During his weekly address to the general audience of 8,500 people at the Vatican on July 28, 1999, Pope John Paul II rejected the reality of a physical, literal hell as a place of eternal fire and torment. Rather, the pope said hell is separation, even in this life, from the joyful communion with God.
Such a statement on hell is strikingly similar to that made by Billy Graham several years ago in which he was quoted,
"The only thing I could say for sure is that hell means separation from God. We are separated from his light, from his fellowship. That is going to be hell. When it comes to a literal fire, I don't preach it because I'm not sure about it."

Now you can make the argument that Graham and the Pope weren't really Christians...But if they aren't, then who really is?

Posted by: grape_crush on March 29, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Do you believe God makes mistakes?
Whether you agree with Evangelicals or not is not the issue and you are more than welcome to believe whatever you want.
For us we believe that "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, and that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life".
So if there was any other way to Heaven than through Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection then God made a mistake by sending Him.
Again you do not need to believe in any of this. Just wanted to make the simple point.

Posted by: daveyo on March 29, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Do you believe God makes mistakes?

If he doesn't, then a lot of it is deliberate, and he's one sick bastard....

Posted by: Stefan on March 29, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

But you push a little further, and none of you have a why for the assumption? None of your postulates could survive the logical tests you apply to the existance of God.

OK, McA.

First, do YOU have a 'why' for your deal? Do YOU have a why for God? Or are you like a little child who just keeps saying "Why?" Forever.

I think we know the answer to that.

Second, there's this queer, odd little word in the English language, "love." Ever heard of it? Ever used it? Have any experience with it?

Go ahead, make my day.

I attempt to treat my family well because I love them. I attempt to treat my friends well because I love them. I attempt to treat strangers well because even though I don't 'love' them in the sense that I love my friends & family, still, I believe that if I got to know them I would learn to love them.

In addition to that, I attempt to treat people with whom I've had bad experiences well, because I believe that in the long run it will benefit both myself and everyone else if I succeed in treating them well.

OK?

So, in short, I believe it is to my advantage and to the advantage of everyone in this world for me to treat other people with respect and love. It isn't always easy. Especially when dealing with particularly obdurate ignorance, of the sort that you seem to specialize in.

McA, you are constantly being exposed as a complete and utter ignoramous here. And yet you persist in making a pest of yourself.

What a shame...

It is impossible to postulate good and evil in the absence of social punishment, without resorting to theological concepts whether or not you dress them up in different names.

Myself, I don't believe in evil. I believe in ignorance. And when I use the word 'good' I have no meaning beyond "that which benefits beings in particular and in general." That is all.

I say you have no logical reason, for people caring about consequences other than 'They do, you must be evil to think they don't'.

I say you're a dolt. I care about consequences because I care about myself, AND, just as I care about myself, I ALSO care about other people. This is called 'love.' See above.

On some deep level--with which I haven't been able to connect with yet--I even care about you so fully that I would say, McA, I love you too.

But as I say, I haven't really been able to go that deep yet. And until I do, you'll just be a pathetic schmuck to me.

Have a nice day.

Posted by: YELLOW in front, BROWN in back on March 29, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Do you believe God makes mistakes?

daveyo,

If it weren't for bedtime stories you'd really be up the creek, wouldn't ya?

Posted by: YELLOW in front, BROWN in back on March 29, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Daveyo,

People wrote the Bible. I said no such thing. What kind of Father sends His Son to death on a cross? Are you mocking Me? The things that people say about Me are silly. They made it up. That's right. ALL religions have made up what God is or isn't, what I said or didn't say without asking Me first. Why don't you talk to Me and leave My Children alone.

Posted by: God on March 29, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Funny, how on a website where the majority of "non-trolls" ( whatever that means ) are agnostic or athiest, posts about religion tend to generate the most comments.

Thank you for helping to affirm the importance of God and religion in our everyday lives.

Methinks thou dost protest too much.

Posted by: John Hansen on March 29, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

john,

nobody denies that religion is important, but to some it's important as a cause of terrorism, persecution, evironmental degredation, inhibition of scientific inquiry and the denial of basic freedoms.

most atheists, unfortunately, ridicule religion, but the fact is that they'll do everything they can to see that you have the freedom to practice.

Posted by: rob on March 29, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

"most atheists, unfortunately, ridicule religion"

Religion should be ridiculed.

Posted by: Jones on March 29, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

McA, " An atheist who believes in a moral ideal like humanism, cannot explain why that ideal exists without resorting to spirituality. "

I'll say it again as well, the evidence of the evolutionary development of altruism and cooperative behaviour in primates is overwhelming, it's a central element in the behaviour of animal species that live in groups, more developed in primates than in any other, our morality and conscience grows out of that, which is why I earlier suggested any decent etiquette book as an alternative to the Bible if you really need to feel in thrall to some external authority.


"Only threat of punishment or social penalties enforce morality."

Would you say the ability to justly kill someone, as in executing someone for a crime, is the foundation of the legitimacy of the state?

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

McA, " I am moral, I just know why."

It strikes me you are deeply immoral and don't know it.

Social conservatives have so many mental problems, but it basically revolves around their singular desire to be respected for exactly what they can't do or don't have. Nearly every one of them thinks they have deep and impressive historical insights, and every time those 'insights' are ridiculous to someone who knows anything about it. Almost all of them are obsessed with politics, yet are incapable of working with anyone who isn't also a social conservative; or respect the position, the individuality, of anyone who isn't a social conservative, an attitude they then blithely ascribe to others.

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Religion should be ridiculed."

I do it too, sometimes, but in the context of a discussion with religious people it's not helpful. A religion is its members and ALL people are deserving of a degree of basic human respect.

I try to respect people, and I hope for the same in return. Obviously, humilty and respect are in short supply on both sides of the issue.

Posted by: rob on March 29, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

It's not about a threat of coercion, it's about ensuring the future of your species. People who need a threat of coercion to respect this simple value are a threat to society, and the future of our species.

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Kevin, your comment was pretty stupid from the get go.

No serious social ostracism? You obviously don't hang out with religious people very much.

Also, ask yourself this: what are the odds that an atheist could get elected president, senator, representative, governor etc. etc.? Slim to none. That's some pretty serious social ostracization.

Posted by: The Fool on March 29, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Back to 'empathy' and 'conscience'. You just happen to feel bad, when people feel bad.
Why believe in that? Try your tests of reason on it. It fails.

So because some guy on a Web site doesn't explain his personal philosophy in perfect depth at 3 in the morning to someone he personally couldn't care less about, you conclude... what? All atheists are nihilists? All atheists haven't thought their position through (but all Christians (of the denomination of your choice) have)? If an atheist is neither Charles Manson nor Locutus of Borg, they are the most vile form of hypocrite? I'm not following your "reasoning".

Posted by: Cyrus on March 29, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

OK, I'll repeat the question:

Is the moral behaviour revealed by God a) moral because God has revealed it, or b) does God reveal it because it is moral?

McA? daveyo? Beuller? Beuller?

---------------

Ya know it always amazes me that whereas I, a humanist who supposedly has no basis for moral behaviour, can be opposed to something like torture without exception (on the priniciple that causing gratuitous suffering to any creature is a practice with serious negative consequences for not only the victim but also for the torturer himself and for any society which sanctions such beghaviour) yet the theistic moralists of the right are apparently more prepared to accept that torture may be justified in the name of national security. In other words, their fear allows them to abandon a moral principle for the sake of their own "false) sense of security.

And then they accuse people like me of being "moral relativists"...

Now, I don't know if McA or daveyo support the Bush Administration's use of torture, but perhaps they can enlighten us and explain why, a) if they do support it, we should believe their morality has any more secure basis than a rational, secular morality or
b) if they do not support it how can they explain their fellow believers' support for it?

Americans, especially Catholics, approve of torture

Posted by: A Hermit on March 29, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

"I do it too, sometimes, but in the context of a discussion with religious people it's not helpful. A religion is its members and ALL people are deserving of a degree of basic human respect."

Respecting people and respecting religion are two completely different things.

Posted by: Jones on March 29, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

I also don't get the whole "God says so" line of reasoning as a basis for "good" behavior. Why did those hijacker guys fly planes into the World Trade Center? Oh yeah - because their God told them to.

Or is it that only the Christian god is moral? Good luck with that one.

Posted by: craigie on March 29, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Funny, how on a website where the majority of "non-trolls" ( whatever that means ) are agnostic or athiest[sic], posts about religion tend to generate the most comments.

I believe it was Clark Kerr who once said that the reason academic debates are so drawn-out and vitriolic are because the stakes are so low.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

A Hermit,

I think it's interesting that the poll found that that majorities of both secularists and religionists believe that torture is sometimes justified. That suggests to me (as a secularist who, with the majority, believes that torture is sometimes justified) that religionists are not as morally absolutist as they sometimes pretend to be. I think that's a good thing.

Posted by: Jones on March 29, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Respecting people and respecting religion are two completely different things."

Yes, and people are worthy of their dignity, no matter how ridiculous their religion is. Go ahead and attack the rationale, the scriptures, everything. But acknowlege the rights of people to believe what they want.

One can call for tolerance, but it's pointless to do so unless you intend to live it yourself.

Posted by: rob on March 29, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Go ahead and attack the rationale, the scriptures, everything."

I will. As I said, religion should be ridiculed.

Posted by: Jones on March 29, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Well Jones, I've yet to hear a rationale for torture that made any sense to me, but what I found interesting was the fact that secularists were most likely to say there was never justification, and the religious believers who were more willing to allow for a situational approach to the problem.

Posted by: A Hermit on March 29, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Well Jones, I've yet to hear a rationale for torture that made any sense to me,"

Using torture in a "ticking time bomb" scenario to save a large number of lives makes a lot of sense to me.

I think the most important finding of the poll was that a substantial majority of Americans, regardless of whether they are religious or secular, believe that torture is sometimes justified.

Posted by: Jones on March 29, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Jones wrote: That suggests to me (as a secularist who, with the majority, believes that torture is sometimes justified)

If you were mistakenly arrested by people who mistakenly believed that you had information about a "ticking bomb", what methods of torture do you believe would be justified to use on you?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 29, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

"If you were mistakenly arrested by people who mistakenly believed that you had information about a "ticking bomb", what methods of torture do you believe would be justified to use on you?"

None. The use of torture in that situation would be unjust. Likewise, imposing criminal penalties on innocent people mistakenly convicted of crimes is unjust. Unfortunately, mistakes sometimes happen.

Posted by: Jones on March 29, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK
Using torture in a "ticking time bomb" scenario to save a large number of lives makes a lot of sense to me.

Since torture is not, in any identifiable, knowable-in-advance set of circumstances, more reliable at extracting accurate information than non-torture approaches, why?

Posted by: cmdicely on March 29, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Jones wrote: Unfortunately, mistakes sometimes happen.

Whatever "mistake" you find it acceptable to happen to somebody else, should happen to you.

That would be just.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 29, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

"... torture is not, in any identifiable, knowable-in-advance set of circumstances, more reliable at extracting accurate information than non-torture approaches, ..."

You know this, how?

Posted by: Jones on March 29, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Whatever "mistake" you find it acceptable to happen to somebody else, should happen to you. That would be just."

Thank you for confirming my suspicions about you.

Posted by: Jones on March 29, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Jones wrote: Thank you for confirming my suspicions about you.

Thank you for trotting out a lame, tired, stale, hackneyed rhetorical gambit that was old when Usenet was young and confirming that you are a rather unintelligent and uninformed individual who is excessively impressed with himself.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 29, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK
You know this, how?

Its the unanimous verdict I've seen from every source that actually has expertise in the field of extracting information, from military to law enforcement.

Of course, if you have contrary information that shows that it is reliable in some identifiable set of circumstancse, that would provide the basis for an argument that it does, indeed, make sense. Do you?

Posted by: cmdicely on March 29, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote: "... torture is not, in any identifiable, knowable-in-advance set of circumstances, more reliable at extracting accurate information than non-torture approaches, ..."

Jones replied: You know this, how?

If you are not aware of the research by the FBI and the Israeli government, among others, that conclusively establishes the truth of what cmdicely wrote, then you are really quite ignorant about the subject of torture and your banal opinions about whether or not torture is "justified" are nothing but the worthless, ill-informed drivel that they appear to be.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 29, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

It's not up to me to refute your claim about reliability. It's up to you to support it. You haven't done that. I think that's probably because you can't.

Posted by: Jones on March 29, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

Still waiting for this alleged "research."

Posted by: Jones on March 29, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Not my place, to say if anyone is in heaven or not.

Except for those times when it is, apparently.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not saying that atheists are immoral people

Yes you are, and therefore you are a liar and a charlatan.

"True atheism is 'do what you will is the whole of the law' including breaking oaths."

This is yet another data point for my assertion that theism (or at least posited theism) does nothing to prevent the moral depravity of those who believe.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 29, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

Jones,

Just pointing out your error doesn't obligate anyone to actually force you to be a better person. That matter is so well-attested I doubt anyone will bother doing any work to try and clue you in.

I certainly won't.

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

cld,

If you think have a clear argument supporting the claim that torture is never justified under any circumstances, then present it. Any factual claims you make about torture need to be backed up with evidence, not just your personal assurances that they are true.

Posted by: Jones on March 29, 2006 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

Religious maniacs engage political action through their religious mania, while religious people who aren't nuts engage political activity and interest through other channels, so a broader interest informs their politics. This is why religious maniacs can be more focused, while normal people have so much more on their minds. Religious people have less to lose in public life because their interests are simply more trivial.

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Jones,

The claim was that it can't be relied upon to extract reliable data, the circumstances are irrelevant.

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

cld,
"The claim was that it can't be relied upon to extract reliable data"

If "the claim" means cmdicely's claim, no, that isn't what he claimed.

Torture obviously doesn't have to be reliable to be effective on some occasions, including "ticking time bomb" situations.

Posted by: Jones on March 29, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

you're ignoring several Scriptures in doing so by judging others

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 29, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not judging anyone, I'm just saying that atheism is immoral unless it modifies itself with assumptions.

You are confusing not judging with total passivity.

I'm suppose to be the salt in the bread too. Which means that you have ot notice it. But yes, not everyone likes the salt.

And you are resorting to defending atheism with reference to the bible which you dispute, so how is atheism founded on reason again?

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

I note that McA has decided not to respond to my earlier comment challenging her to defend her disrespect of the military.

Posted by: s9 on March 29, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

I did answer. And unless the person swearing believed in more than atheism, then his oath is meaningless except for the eyes of his fellow man.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

I believe in conscience too, whether it be imparted by God or by evolution, but you've done much to downplay and ridicule it.

Posted by: rob on March 29, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Rob, you are resorting to offence to avoid an issue. Conscience is by God or it does not apply when no one is looking.

Evolution is about survival of a species, it enforces a characteristic or a behavioural tendency to improve survival of the species.

But a reasoning human being does not have to
wait for natural selection to work, he can think and realise that in some situations - he gains while his species loses. Like opportunities for rape in war time, pre-WWI - its just a bonus gene-pool contribution for you.

Did you realise that Genghis Khan or a close relative is perceived by science to be the most widely spread human gene profile?

If evolution is the only thing enforcing morality, Genghis was a saint.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

to have freedom of religion, no religion can be favored in a court of law. "freedom of" and "freedom from" are one in the same

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

Jones, "Torture obviously doesn't have to be reliable to be effective on some occasions, including "ticking time bomb" situations."


When has the ticking bomb situation ever happened in real life? Is there even one example?

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

If you allow exceptions enthusiastic morons will always imagine they're having an exception. The only realistic answer has to be absolutely never. If some far out scenario were actually to occur, someone would just have to take the initiative and take the consequences, consequences that would have to be understood as if no possible justification had existed, whether it had or not. But I don't think that's ever happened in real life, just on tv.

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

cld,

"When has the ticking bomb situation ever happened in real life?"

I don't know. It might never have happened yet. That obviously doesn't mean it could not happen.

"If you allow exceptions enthusiastic morons will always imagine they're having an exception."

I'm not proposing that we give the authority to decide whether to use torture to morons.

"If some far out scenario were actually to occur, someone would just have to take the initiative and take the consequences, consequences that would have to be understood as if no possible justification had existed, whether it had or not."

I don't really understand what you're trying to say here. What do you mean by "take the initiative?" Torture?

Posted by: Jones on March 29, 2006 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose that could mean anything in a far out scenario that's never happened in real life, or is ever likely to happen.

Morons always seem to assume they have authority to do anything they like unless explicitly denied, so it's really best to deny them outright.

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

If dave yo is still listening,

here's your first peak at that Republican landslide you're dreaming of,

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002273782

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

If evolution is the only thing enforcing morality, Genghis was a saint.


Fuckwit or Pissant? You decide.

Hey, McAsshat. Check this out- The only thing enforcing morality in this world is the government.

To an extent, people police each other. Friends help friends to behave better, etc.

But when push comes to shove what do we have? We've got our own conscience, and we've got the government.

Well, most of us have a conscience, anyway.

Posted by: Yellow, etc. on March 29, 2006 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

cld,

I don't know how you think you know that a ticking time bomb scenario is never likely to happen. It may already have happened, for all we know. We certainly do know that in Israel, for example, torture has been used successfully to extract accurate information from terrorists about planned suicide bomb attacks.

I still don't get your point about "morons." If you're worried about interrogators secretly using torture on prisoners without authorization from their superiors, that could obviously happen whether torture is permitted or not.

Posted by: Jones on March 29, 2006 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

McA, " I am moral, I just know why."

It strikes me you are deeply immoral and don't know it.

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Attack the person, its better than thinking.

Tell me again how atheism is reason-based and how its so much more tolerant than faith.

Posted by: Mca on March 29, 2006 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Now you can make the argument that Graham and the Pope weren't really Christians...But if they aren't, then who really is?

Posted by: grape_crush on March 29, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Why would I make that argument? The physical flames came in from Dante.

The bible only says hell is:

1. Eternal separation from god while having awareness of heaven

2. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth

3. There will be thirst*

* Which implies heat and burning but not actually flames

I know it will be bad and it will be forever.

I can have wonderful differences on whether something in the bible is metaphor or not without questioning someone's faith. Heck, there's a Gay Bishop in one of the Churches now.

I think its nuts, but I'm not sure he's not a Christian. I just don't know how he's an effective pastoral influence.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

So if there was any other way to Heaven than through Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection then God made a mistake by sending Him.
Again you do not need to believe in any of this. Just wanted to make the simple point.

Posted by: daveyo on March 29, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Although, given the fact that Christ was present at Creation for people to be saved prior to his actual arrival.
e.g. David, Moses

Implying that there is room in heaven for a few to be saved by Grace while pursuing the Law.

But this is all very debatable theology.

Posted by: Mca on March 29, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Mca,

Just to amplify your comment, all theology is not only debatable, it is complete bullshit.

Posted by: athos on March 29, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Tell us McA; is the moral behaviour revealed to you by your God a) moral because God has revealed it, or b) does God reveal it because it is moral?

Posted by: A Hermit on March 29, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

I'm answering this one based on the bible.

I don't know.

But if it is revealed by God (creator of mankind) it should be followed.

Why do I need to know?

If I had to guess. I guess b). As morality seems to pre-date its relevation to me, if not there wouldn't have been a Great Flood.

If you are asking whether it existed prior to relevation to mankind. Yes. Because Satan rebelled before mankind existed.

If you are asking whether it existing before God.
No, because in John, God is revealed to be unchanging and always in existance.

But I can always ask him in prayer? If I need to know, he'll tell me. But really, why do I need to know?

If the Creator of the Universe reveals it, listen to it.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Jones,

Not on the scale of Abu Ghraib it couldn't. If they had known what they were doing was in every way the wrong thing to do, that it violated every reason we might have to presume we could use force in the first place, they never would have done anything close to that. But they thought it was not only justified, but condoned, in fact, the reason they were there. There is no reason those people shouldn't have gotten life in prison, and no reason why the people who, purposefully, allowed them to think like that, should not get life in prison.

I can think of so many things that 'could' happen, it's just not reasonable to worry about something like a ticking bomb scenario, because if it could happen, it probably would have in a world as dangerous as this. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.

My favorite thing that 'could' happen, where I win the lottery and Angelina Jolie has a radical change of heart, is at least as likely as the ticking bomb scenario.

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

whom I've had bad experiences well, because I believe that in the long run it will benefit both myself and everyone else if I succeed in treating them well.

OK?

Posted by: YELLOW in front, BROWN in back on March 29, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

But besides calling me a schmuck...do you have a why you believe treating people well has payback in the absence of a supernatural?

Do you?

Using the atheist logical tests normally used challenge God's existance

1. Evolution does not justify such a belief it rewards wartime rape. (Genghiz Khan is the most prolific man in history according to science)

2. In situations, where you won't get punished or criticized you do not have a reality based mechanism for this long term benefit to result.

You sound like a Taoist, talking about 'Retribution' all the time. Well, they believed in the Heavenly Court and the Jade Emperor.

3. The assumption that being good will benefit yourself and society is not consistent with history. No offence, but your society has prospered relative to the Apache Indian.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

So because some guy on a Web site doesn't explain his personal philosophy in perfect depth at 3 in the morning to someone he personally couldn't care less about, you conclude... what? All atheists are nihilists? .............I'm not following your "reasoning".

Posted by: Cyrus on March 29, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

No, because if you read up on philosophy. All forms of atheism that are sure God does not exist are immoral or make assumptions equivalent to theological assumptions.

It just happens that atheists regardless of the time or place, have largely all refused to apply the tests they use on God's existance to their own moral standards.

Because if they did. None of their arguments hold up.

1. Society will benefit even if no one's watching. Its a rule because it is.

2. Empathy/consience/good for good's sake/because decency is good with no why?

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

daveyo,

If it weren't for bedtime stories you'd really be up the creek, wouldn't ya?

Posted by: YELLOW in front, BROWN in back on March 29, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

If it weren't for bed-time stories - you'd be an amoral sociopath if you wouldn't get caught, wouldn't ya?

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

most atheists, unfortunately, ridicule religion"

Religion should be ridiculed.

Posted by: Jones on March 29, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

So should atheists who can't defend their beliefs.

Posted by: Mca on March 29, 2006 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'll say it again as well, the evidence of the evolutionary development of altruism and cooperative behaviour in primates is overwhelming, it's a central element in the behaviour of animal species that live in groups, more developed in primates than in any other, our morality and conscience grows out of that,

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

So you follow your conscience because it comes from evolution. That fails all the logical tests used by atheism to query God.

See these please.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK
Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

---------------
"Only threat of punishment or social penalties enforce morality."

Would you say the ability to justly kill someone, as in executing someone for a crime, is the foundation of the legitimacy of the state?

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Not always to kill. But the power to punish or shame is part of how states work.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Reason-based
-Where's the scientific evidence of a conscience?"

Well, most people have one. I don't think there's ever been a question of the existence of cconscience, only that some people don't have one.
.........

-Why do sociopaths get rewarded for not having a conscience?"

I don't know

...

I wouldn't have. Granted, whites in those times may genuinely considered Native Americans to be sub-human, but most wouldn't have been so cruel to a horse. Those activities represent the suspension of conscience.

Posted by: rob on March 29, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

So the answer to the above three is:

1. No, you have no scientific support which is the criteria atheists use to challenge God.

2. You don't know why you follow it and why not everyone has it. Just like believers can't always explain why some people have not been saved.

3. So you wouldn't do genocide, but your ancestors got away from it and their children have benefited. So how is atheism with a moral sense,a theory that is reality-based?

You don't believe God 'cos of evil. But you believe in something else that also can't explain evil.

There's nothing new here except the accusation I'm sociopathic to question morality without a reason.

If I applied that logic, I should think atheists are sociopathic to question the existance of a moral God? I don't.

I just think that denial is silly.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

McA,

Not always to kill. But the power to punish or shame is part of how states work.


With 'not always to kill' are you saying the basis of the legitimacy of the state is circumstantially flexible? But that the power to punish or shame is in every case a basis of the legitimacy of a state?

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

To an extent, people police each other. Friends help friends to behave better, etc.

But when push comes to shove what do we have? We've got our own conscience, and we've got the government.

Well, most of us have a conscience, anyway.

Posted by: Yellow, etc. on March 29, 2006 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

But you have no why for that conscience and that conscience fails all the logical tests commonly applied to challenge God by atheists.
Look for this post "Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK"

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

So you follow your conscience because it comes from evolution. That fails all the logical tests used by atheism to query God.


Atheism has no intention or interest in 'querying' god. At least not without his actually showing up.

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

basis of the legitimacy of the state is circumstantially flexible? basis of the legitimacy of a state?

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

No. I don't have huge opinions on the legitimacy of the state.

So far states without a death penalty like France work, I'm not sure they work all that well (20% sales tax?) but they work.

And they are legitimate enough for the French.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

Look, it seems to me that many of the 'atheists' here believe in a truism of some kind - as their basis for morality.

Their resistance to faith seems to be:

1. Hatred of people perceived as religious and their behaviour

2. Fear that religion will be more restrictive than their current standard

3. Pride in 'reason' which they don't apply to their basis of morality.

4. Insistence on evidence.

You can seek God without the involvement of an organised religion, I suspect that over time it would be easier though. So don't worry about 1.

Just pray and ask God for the evidence you want and ask him for the philosophical objection you want an answer to. That would be the best way to deal with it.

If he answers so be it. If not, tell religious people who hassle you that you are agnostic and have prayed for a sign. If someone gives it to you, without you explaining it - you'll know its a sign.

But he might answer. He did mine.

But if you insist on using coincidence and hallucination to set standards to make evidence impossible, or refuse to even pray. Then don't expect anything.

2 is likely to be true, but as indicated by the Gay Bishop, there are many houses out there. I have to say that by the time, you can stick to any behaviour, you usually have been taught by the Lord that the behaviour is self-destructive

On 3, Ecclesisatics is a really good book written a long time ago gets to the short of it. Not a lot on this earth is really meaningful. You will grow old and die.

Christianity stands up to serious philosophical examination. Its base is faith but its a consistent structure.


Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

Here's an article about the development of cooperative behaviour,

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/309/5731/93

If you argue that this evolved because of the 'coercion' of predators it would say that predators have a scale of free will identical with a human, and that one cannot do anything with an interest in the future, but only with an interest in present necessity.

But, what if all one's needs are met? Why do anything? There are many examples of wealthy people, who have no care in the world, yet find a lot to care about, and, with them, only the stupid or the trivial fall into religious mania.

It isn't about social coercion, it's about the future.

However, as you so fetishize coercion, I'll say that you could argue it's about the coercion of circumstances, of the natural exigencies of life, of preparing against famine, or flood, or the stupidity of others. But to invoke an ideal of religious dementia to protect society against your inner psychopath really says more about the kind of personal issues you have to work out than the reality of supernatural beings.

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

I read your link and am familiar with the theory.
Yes, coooperation exists as a species characteristic and game theory shows it works for a species.

But game theory is founded on retaliation. As the article says:

'Game theory has helped reveal a seemingly innate desire for fairness: Game players will spend time and energy to punish unfair actions, even though there's nothing to be gained by these actions for themselves. '

You are not an animal. And you understand evolutionary mechanisms. As a rational individual, you know that the tendency to be fair is invalid where no retaliation/social stigma is possible. Hence you have no logical basis for morality when no one is watching.

Just like the tendency to eat huge amounts of sugar is a survival instinct, not applicable to modern life.

And really, if you believe that cooperative behaviour is such a natural success, it really doesn't explain the success of Genghis Khan in the genepool. Or how White Colonizers own America, not Native Americans.

Game theory was also discussed in "Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK "

So I read yours, will you read mine?
Can you read the section on 'why does God allow suffering in this one'?

http://www.evidenceofgod.com

Posted by: McA on March 30, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

It isn't about social coercion, it's about the future.

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

But why care about the future? Do you believe in existance/consciousness/life after death?

You are resorting to theology again.

----------------

But, what if all one's needs are met? Why do anything? There are many examples of wealthy people, who have no care in the world, yet find a lot to care about, and, with them, only the stupid or the trivial fall into religious mania.

Posted by: cld on March 29, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

First. Its an assumption that the religious ones are stupid or trivial.

And unless you make some assumptions that sound like theology*, people with all their needs met will find more needs to seek more pleasure.
Like rich celebrities and their drinking, drugs, anorexia, divorces, trophy wives, etc.

* Like stoic philosophy, where excessive pleasure weakens character.

Posted by: McA on March 30, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Plus in terms of human nature being never satisfied with enough without God...

What sane men would divorce Jessica Simpson or Jennifer Aniston or Demi Moore ?

And yet Nick LeShae and Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis did.

The best there is on this earth, is not enough for mortal man.

Posted by: McA on March 30, 2006 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

Who besides Mrs. Brownback and the former school board of Dover, PA, consder Brownback a credible Prez candidate?

Posted by: Brian Boru on March 30, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

McA, Hence you have no logical basis for morality when no one is watching.


If that is true, what is it that you would have to be moral about? If no one were watching what could you do? Murder someone? Some else would notice they were missing. Torture a frog? you would be watching. Whether it bothers you or not, you know how it would bother everyone else, and that consciousness will always be with you, and will be available to everyone you meet, whether they can put a finger on it or not.

Punishing unfair actions. It's because the actions are unfair. Game theory says nothing about religion. In your view the unfair actions should be seen as normal and the punishment bizarre unless there is a religious interest. So, why are the unfair actions wrong, without religion? All crime is essentially theft, which overburdens an otherwise well-funtioning person with debt, and a not-well-functioning person with an unfair amount of capability. The not-well-funtioning person with greater capability will have a greater capacity to pursue his interests, the interests of someone who is not legitimately as capable as he should be, which interests will be generally stupid, and thereby detrimental to society; while the well-funtioning person will be less capable of adding to the greater good, due to the unfair theft of his resources. That is why unfair actions are punished and why coercion is not a part of why we behave well.


Genghis Khan and the white colonizers of America succeeded through superior method and luck.

The future is hardly the province of theology. I expect tomorrow to come and it really isn't practical to live my life thinking it won't. And it will come again, and for a long time after. Do you want your children to have no future?


people with all their needs met will find more needs to seek more pleasure.

Or establish the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Or Ted Turner's conservation projects. Or bust some trusts. Or create the New Deal. Or the MacArthur Foundation. Or the Howard Hughes Medical Center.

I tried to take the quiz How Well Do You Know Your Salvation Essentials? at that evidenceofgod.com and it crashed my browser. Badly. Is it a sign?

As to the rest of it, well, I'm sorry, McA, but you're more convincing than they are. They seem to be, you might say, in need of money.

Posted by: cld on March 30, 2006 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK


I tried to take the quiz How Well Do You Know Your Salvation Essentials? at that evidenceofgod.com and it crashed my browser. Badly. Is it a sign?

Posted by: cld on March 30, 2006 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps. Did you try the section on evil I recommended? If you are going to try the sign approach, I'd pray for it first.

On the rest:

-If I remember Melinda Gates is Catholic. Bill is a humanist. Improving the human race, computer on every desk....

-My questions aren't on moral acts where society can punish you, reward you or think better of you. And that includes Bill's deeds and your children's respect for you.

What makes you moral when there is no retaliation?

-The future isn't just theological. But you haven't pointed out the mechanism to incentivize you to avoid crimes that you know you will not be found out for in your lifetime.

Because life after death, or any way from you to benefit from your children's life after you die is all theological.

-"Punishing unfair actions. It's because the actions are unfair. Game theory says nothing about religion".

No, it describes the mechanism for punishment. Other people, taking short term losses to punish a cheater.

Game theory, doesn't justify being good when no one is looking.

Unless you want to use it as a magic word, like 'Intelligent Design' to dodge discussion.

-"you would be watching. Whether it bothers you or not, you know how it would bother everyone else, and that consciousness will always be with you, and will be available to everyone you meet, whether they can put a finger on it or not."

This is the ESP argument. You cannot do wrong because everyone will know it and you will be punished.

Tell that to the American Indians and Genghiz Khan who you say "triumphed through superior tactics and luck".

Did the American Indians work out white man has forked tongue in time?

Besides, it doesn't prevent a Mao figure who is in a position to ignore everyone else from ordering up young virgins from the boondocks.

Even if they know, who cares?

Posted by: McA on March 30, 2006 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

Joe "Do I support that looser Harris". Please help fill me in. What election has she ever lost, Zero. Now as for your side loosing a race makes them the leading person in your party. Gore, Kerry, Dean, Daschle..... In Florida since there are not state elected D's each year they trot out their most recent looser to run. But again for the record, for all of the Harris bashing she has never lost a race. Same is true of our President. So who is the looser?

Posted by: daveyo on March 30, 2006 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

OK, I'm sort of sorry I raised the torture example now...

Look Jones, your "ticking time bomb" scenario is nonsense. The logical conclusion of that line of reasoning is that we should torture all suspects in case they know something that can prevent a future crime. Problem with that is you inevitably end up torturing a lot of innocent people, so even if torture produced useful intellignece (which it doesn't) the "ticking time bomb" argument is a moral mess.

Torture is good for two things; it satisfies the sadist, and it produces false confessions. That's why totalitarians use it.

Posted by: A Hermit on March 30, 2006 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

"McA; is the moral behaviour revealed to you by your God a) moral because God has revealed it, or b) does God reveal it because it is moral?"

Still haven't got a clear answer on this one, have we? McA's response is "Idnon't know....Why should I need to know?"

Well, I'll try to explain it to you.

You're whole argument here has been that we cannot have morality without a god; and a morality not emanting from a god is no good.

But, if that which is morally good is so defined only because "God says so" than it is, in fact, an arbitrary morality, and not the wellspring of absolute values you claim it to be. You say God is unchanging, but in the Old Testament we have clear examples of God ordering his people to slaughter the women and children, and even the farm animals, of their enemies. Does this mean genocide is a legitimate moral choice today? If God reveals to you tomorrow that killing your neighbour and raping his wife is OK with Him, would it be a morally good act to do so?

If, on the other hand, God reveals that which is morally good in and of itself, and raping and killing your neighbours is always wrong (which is my secular, humanist moral belief) then morality exists independantly of God and it is not necessary to posit the existence of a god or gods to explain morality.

Euthyphro...look it up. ;-)

Posted by: A Hermit on March 30, 2006 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

More from McA:

"Their resistance to faith seems to be:

1. Hatred of people perceived as religious and their behaviour"

Now this is an unwarranted assumption, and frankly just plain insulting. My own parents are people of profound faith; I love respect and admire them for it. Starting your argument with a nasty ad hominem assumption like this is pretty weak.


"2. Fear that religion will be more restrictive than their current standard"

See 1) above. You know nothing about me or my moral standards. In fact I would argue that since I shed my faith I've become a much better person; more tolerant of those who are differnet from me, more accepting, more forgiving, less judgemental. Your mileage may vary, but please don't think you're going to win any debate with me by relying on this kind of baseless generalization.

So far, your arguments don't rise much above the level of character assassination...


"3. Pride in 'reason' which they don't apply to their basis of morality."

More of the same. A number of us here have been arguing that there is a rational basis for morality, and have been attempting to show you how such reasoning can be applied. To turn around and suggest that we don't apply reason to our morality tells me you haven't been paying attention...

"4. Insistence on evidence."

This is a bad thing!? Should I base the most important choices in my life on hunches, feelings, what?

The agnostic principle is to suspend belief in the absence of evidence; I don't deny the possibility of anything, but I cannot accept as true that which is not supported by clear evidence and sound reasoning. To do otherwise is to rely on blind faith, which, in my experience, is not a reliable approach to life.


So to sum up, you present a series of insulting, baseless generalizations about people you've never met and reject, without explanation, any method involving reason or evidence, (while simultaneously insisting that "they" don't use those methods anyway). Do you really expect to convince anyone of the superiority of your morality with an approach like that!?

--------------

I also find this interesting:

"Just pray and ask God for the evidence you want and ask him for the philosophical objection you want an answer to. That would be the best way to deal with it.

If he answers so be it. If not, tell religious people who hassle you that you are agnostic and have prayed for a sign."

Now suppose I have done just that, McA, and received no answer, no sign, no revalation. Why would this be? Doesn't your God want us all to know HIm? So why would he not reveal himself? And if I am unable to believe becasue He has hidden Himself from me, do I then deserve to be tortured for eternity because I am honest about nmy unbelief? And am I to believe that a consistent morality can arise only from the existence of a deity who would hide His existence from me and then punish me for not believing in Him?

Again, not a very persuasive proposition I'm afraid. I think your method of argument here tells us a lot about you, but it doesn't really enlighten our understanding of moral behaviour, faith or reason.

But thanks for trying...;-)

Posted by: A Hermit on March 30, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

I think your method of argument here tells us a lot about you, but it doesn't really enlighten our understanding of moral behaviour, faith or reason.

Thank you for saying in one sentence what I failed to get across in my misguided attempt at "engagement" above.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 30, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Euthyphro...look it up. ;-)

Posted by: A Hermit on March 30, 2006 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Much better explained.

I am not saying that you can arrive at a belief in God by reason alone. This is the 'leap of faith' aspect of it and why conversion is a process that involves personal spiritual experiences through the holy spirit.

What I am saying is that atheism's belief that it is superior because of reason, ignores the fact that most atheists aren't immoral and make an unreasonable assumption to justify their beliefs.
The only branch of atheism that can claim to be anchored on only reason is the 'do what you will is the whole of the law' branch.

As to why God is good. That certainly doesn't come immediately. New Christians struggle, they question and sometimes disobey or go into denial. You grow to lean on the Lord, grow to trust more and do more. Much of that is founded on prayer and on faith-based activities.

As a early Christian, I never did understand why the bible was so tough on sexual immorality? Who keeps it in their pants forever anyway? 1 in 3 at most. But people do and there is a reason for it.

Why do I feel confident God is good? Because he sent his son to die for us. Because Christ changed my life for the better and keeps changing me everyday.

My answer to Euthypro is I agree reason is sufficient, you need the leap of faith to accept God's will and that its Good for you. The holy spirit helps a lot as does the evidence of God's sacrifice.

On the cruelty in the Old Testament. Big test of faith, for many. One way to look at it is to realise:

-That part of the world was uniquely cruel and brutal. And the societies the Israelites punished were some of those. One reason why Arabs are so violent is because Islam replaced some religions founded on activities I would associate with demon-worship (temple prostitution and human sacrifice)

-The other is that God forgave the Israelites anyway. The people who he saved, appeared to as a pillar of fire and parted the dead sea for who then built the Golden Bull.

God worked with what he had, because he loves us enough not to flood the world and start again.


Posted by: McA on March 30, 2006 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

A Hermit,

"Look Jones, your "ticking time bomb" scenario is nonsense. The logical conclusion of that line of reasoning is that we should torture all suspects in case they know something that can prevent a future crime. "

No, that's not the logical conclusion of that line of reasoning.

"Problem with that is you inevitably end up torturing a lot of innocent people, so even if torture produced useful intellignece (which it doesn't) the "ticking time bomb" argument is a moral mess."

There might be some torture of innocent people, but the risk of harming innocents is part of any police and security and criminal justice system. Any time we arrest someone or send them to jail we risk doing harm to an innocent person.

"Torture is good for two things; it satisfies the sadist, and it produces false confessions."

Torture sometimes produces true confessions.

Posted by: Jones on March 30, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

cld,

"I can think of so many things that 'could' happen, it's just not reasonable to worry about something like a ticking bomb scenario, because if it could happen, it probably would have in a world as dangerous as this. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof."

I'm not "worrying" about the ticking time bomb scenario. I'm saying that it's an example of a situation in which the use of torture might be justified.

I think this is basically a matter of common sense. That's why such a small minority of Americans take the position that torture is "never" justified. In fact, if the ticking time bomb situation was cited specifically, I suspect the proportion of Americans who would say torture is never justified in that situation would be even lower, probably in the single digits.

Posted by: Jones on March 30, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for responding McA; I have a ton of work I should be doing right now, but I'll try to get back to you here later. As you might imagine I have a lot to say about the points you raise.

Posted by: A Hermit on March 30, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

"There might be some torture of innocent people, but the risk of harming innocents is part of any police and security and criminal justice system. Any time we arrest someone or send them to jail we risk doing harm to an innocent person."

So you're not bothered with occasional torture of innocent people?!

Have you ever met a torture victim, Jones? I'd love to watch you try to explain to Maher Arar and his children why his torture was unfortunate but necessary...http://www.maherarar.ca/

Can you give us one example (I mean a real world example, not some hypothetical fantasy, or a plot synopsis from "24" or a Schwarzenegger movie) which makes the torture of an innocent person acceptable?

I can post here all day giving you examples of innocent people tortured for no reason, false confessions and bad intelligence extracted from torture, the use of torture to turn people into willing killers and torturers themselves...can you honestly give us even one real world example of torture producing something good enough to justify all of that evil?

I'll be very surprised if you can...

Posted by: A Hermit on March 30, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

"Any time we arrest someone or send them to jail we risk doing harm to an innocent person."

Daniel Webster said it is better that ten guilty men go free than that the state should imprison one innocent. That's why you have things like Miranda rights, legal representaion, and no punishment without a fair, open trial, and a right to appeal. Torture does away with all those protections.

It's sad that so many Americans have allowed the terrorists to have their way; to frighten you into abandoning the very principles on which your great nation was founded. And make no mistake, that's where htese pro-torture justifications come from; fear, not reason.

Posted by: A Hermit on March 30, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Look, it seems to me that many of the 'atheists' here believe in a truism of some kind - as their basis for morality.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hermit, my criticism is of 'atheists'. Agnosticism is more reasonable. I can't say not
believing without evidence is unreasonable - I have the advantage of a spiritual experience.

But there isn't a rational basis for morality under the atheist standard. No one here has delivered the 'why' using reason alone. Its all attempts to use jargon that fall down when they run the logical tests they apply to God.

If you say 'the agnostic principle is to suspend belief' without evidence, what is your evidence morality works? What is your mechanism for it?
Logically you'd suspend belief in morality too.

Agnosticism still has the 'just in case' reason though. I mentioned it earlier.

"The only one is unsure atheism. I don't believe God exists but just in case I'm good even when no one is looking.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK "

----------

Now suppose I have done just that, McA, and received no answer, no sign, no revalation. Why would this be? Doesn't your God want us all to know HIm? So why would he not reveal himself?

Posted by: A Hermit on March 30, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Have you prayed? Or are you just speculating that he'll reject you and blaming him before you exercise the option. He says 'seek and ye shall find'.

If you pray once and you get no answer - then go ahead and disbelieve, for all I care. You are now an agnostic with evidence of your position. You can now tell any Christian, "Actually, I prayed and am still waiting for my answer."

Why speculate? Afraid?

I think if you seek and don't get your answer yet...that's got to count for something with him. But I really don't know exactly how.

I think most people like to wail about God hiding from them. He's not hiding & morality is one of his signs.

Read Acts 17:16-34 .

Its a story of the 'Temple of the Unknown God' and the story of Paul meeting greek philosophy. The greeks without hearing the Good News had arrived by their philosophy, the existance of the 'Unknown God'.

Read Romans 1: 20. God's qualities are evident in the creation of the world.

'For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualitieshis eternal power and divine naturehave been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.'

Romans 2:14-15 - Where Paul says Gentiles know the law and have their consciences and thoughts judging them. So he thinks God made conscience!

(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)

Posted by: McA on March 30, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Can you give us one example (I mean a real world example, not some hypothetical fantasy, or a plot synopsis from "24" or a Schwarzenegger movie) which makes the torture of an innocent person acceptable?

Posted by: A Hermit on March 30, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

For secular people, between consenting adults.

Posted by: McA on March 30, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Jones: Still waiting for this alleged "research."

No, you are still choosing to wallow in comfortable ignorance because you are intellectually lazy and slovenly. You pontificate on the "justifiability" of torture when it is obvious that you are entirely ignorant of the work that's been done by the FBI, the Israeli government and others which establishes the ineffectiveness of torture, and the effectiveness of humane interrogation techniques, in obtaining accurate information from suspects. All you have is your dogmatic a priori beliefs which you recite over and over as though they were incontrovertible facts, when in reality they are just plain wrong, as you would know if you made the slightest effort to learn anything about the subject. Your insistence that I do the research for you is pathetic.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 30, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Can you give us one example (I mean a real world example, not some hypothetical fantasy, or a plot synopsis from "24" or a Schwarzenegger movie) which makes the torture of an innocent person acceptable?

Posted by: A Hermit on March 30, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

When you train Marines and Airforce officers for capture. Hooah!

Or if you define acceptable as 'we let it happen' not 'is right'.

In LA, when you have a race riot and you are a minority with the sympathy of the press!

When you are a Kennedy, and you need to let someone drown to save your political career.

When you are a state prison with insufficient budget to prevent the 30 year old gay lifer from abusing the 18 year old fresh meat.

Posted by: McA on March 30, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Hey SecularAnimist, were you the 'do what thou wilt is the whole of the law' guy or was that SecularAtheist?

Posted by: McA on March 30, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Any time we arrest someone or send them to jail we risk doing harm to an innocent person."...Jones...

William Blackstone, whose thinking provides a basis for so much Western legal precedence, famously said It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer. That's why you have things like Miranda rights, legal representaion, no punishment without a fair, open trial, and a right to appeal. Torture does away with all those protections.

It also doesn't work...

Outside of a very narrow, and strictly hypothetical, "ticking time bomb" there is simply no valid moral justification for torture, and even if we conceded the possibility of a moral justification in the time bomb scenario, that alone does not justify the institution of torture as a regular method of intelligence gathering, which the Bush administration's position.

It's sad that so many Americans have allowed the terrorists to have their way; to frighten you into abandoning the very principles on which your great nation was founded. And make no mistake, that's where htese pro-torture justifications come from; fear, not reason.

Posted by: A Hermit on March 30, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

McA, you're making a whole host of wildly erroneous assumptions about me...asking me if I've prayed?! You have no idea...

And don't imagine you can quote a Bible verse at me that I haven't quoted myself sometime in the past. In fact studying the Bible with an open mind did more to relieve me of my faith than anything else.

You also have apparently have a poor understanding of the meaning of words like "agnostic". In my opinion atheism is the only logical product of an agnostic approach; if I can find no compelling evidence for something's existence, I suspend belief in that existence. I do not deny it as a possibility but I do not believe it to be true.

Your torture arguments, by the way, are just silly. I hope you were trying to be funny...have you ever met a torture victim? and I'm not talking about a training exersize I'm talking about someone siezed from their home in the dark of night, beaten, electrocuted, raped...not a funny subject if you ask me.

Posted by: A Hermit on March 30, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

McA wrote: Hey SecularAnimist, were you the 'do what thou wilt is the whole of the law' guy or was that SecularAtheist?

That was me, quoting Aleister Crowley.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 30, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Jones,

As an argument, you can say the ticking bomb scenario has a veneer of reasonableness, but as a practical matter it's on the order of being attacked by Ming the Merciless, and serves only to cloud the issue and provide a rhetorical safe haven for evil. It creates a false popular impression that it might be alright and degrades us all. You can see how much encouragement such views have given to McA, whose wonderously fetishistic view of Chrisitanity is pretty much exactly as I'd have described that religion, as a mechanism for the transference of neuroses and sado-masochsitic abuse. McA is just unusual in that he really doesn't mind sharing.

I met someone once who'd been tortured in a South American country because he just wasn't their type. He'd had electrodes stuck on his balls. It had happened fifteen years earlier, but it was still pretty much all he could talk about.

Posted by: cld on March 30, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

First. Its an assumption that the religious ones are stupid or trivial. And unless you make some assumptions that sound like theology*, people with all their needs met will find more needs to seek more pleasure.

And that's not an assumption?


Lest we get off on a red herring, I'm not interested in game theory. However, game theory does have that cheating is beneficial only when one party accurately foresees the conclusion of the game, as when a chess player can spot mate several moves ahead. But if the player is wrong, it all degenerates into chaos. In society, and life generally, we can foresee no end to the game. It goes on forever, and we can easily imagine rational scenarios for society continuing billions of years into the future, beyond even the death of the solar system, so the more we know of science and the more our lifespans increase, the more cheating becomes maladaptive.


Because life after death, or any way from you to benefit from your children's life after you die is all theological.

An expectation that ones' children will live after he dies is not theological, it's the whole basis of culture.


This is the ESP argument. You cannot do wrong because everyone will know it and you will be punished.

Not what I meant. I meant the ugliness of the self-consciousness of your behaviour in that regard would help to degrade the future and present motivations of others, which is why ugliness is wrong.


Besides, it doesn't prevent a Mao figure who is in a position to ignore everyone else from ordering up young virgins from the boondocks. Even if they know, who cares?

I do think the virgins must have cared. (Though this brings up an interesting question, How many bastards did Mao have? Where are they now?)


I didn't see a part about evil at the Evidence of God website, but I didn't get much further than this,

Does Scientific evidence support Creation?

ABSOLUTELY. And NEVER more than now! Biochemistry just discovered that Evolution is impossible even at the molecular level - so how could it exist at the species level? The electron microscope (not available in the early 1900s) has allowed us to see the vast complexity of the human cell - FAR more complex than the most modern factory. Space scientists (Astrophysicists) have "proven" that General Relativity is FACT. This means time and space had a beginning - just like the Bible says. Since 1992, the Hubble telescope and several deep-space probes provided evidence about the beginning of the Universe, never seen before - again supporting the Bible. Combining just Biochemistry and Astrophysics, we can compute that there couldnt possibly be enough time and matter to have randomly produced ONE reproducible living cell - let alone, a parade of complex changes of species. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Microbiology is filled with other Creation evidence. Old theories of missing links and "random, synthetic" production of DNA molecules now are ridiculous.


This is like arguing that John Kennedy was really Adolf Hitler after extensive plastic surgery. This is such outright lying that it invalidates everything on that site and rather proves the whole field of interest to be more a genre of entertainment than anything else. Self-entertainment.

Posted by: cld on March 30, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

When I was seventeen I had the opportunity to attend the North American gathering of the General Conference of Mennonite Churches in Bluffton Ohio as a youth delegate. One of the sessions I attended was a meeting with a young woman who had recently testified before the US congress about her arrest and torture by security forces in Argentina. (She was the daughter of an Argentine/American couple and had dual citizenship...a fact which saved her life).

She described her abduction in the middle of the night, the conditions in which she was held for three weeks sleeping blindfolded on a concrete floor, with grain poured over her to attract the rats; the interrogations, which involved being tied to a metal bedframe wired to a truck battery, repeated pentrations with a wine bottle and beatings. All because she was part of a University sociolgy class which had organized service programs for the occupants of the Buenos Aires barrios.

The men who did those things to her thought she could lead them to her "Communist" friends, who they considered a threat to their good, Christian way of life.

Were they morally justified, Jones?

------

Thirty years later I can't get the sound of her voice out of my head, calmly describing those horrors. I've met other victims since and the horror only grows. Fuck you and your torture. You have no idea of the reality of what you're defending.

Posted by: A Hermit on March 30, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

A Hermit:

"So you're not bothered with occasional torture of innocent people?!"

No, I'm very bothered by it. I'm also very bothered that innocent people are sometimes wrongly convicted of crimes and sent to jail. I don't think that's a good reason to scrap the criminal justice system and never convict anyone of a crime, however.

"Can you give us one example (I mean a real world example, not some hypothetical fantasy, or a plot synopsis from "24" or a Schwarzenegger movie) which makes the torture of an innocent person acceptable?"

The ticking time bomb scenario. I'm not sure what you mean by "innocent," though.

"I can post here all day giving you examples of innocent people tortured for no reason, false confessions and bad intelligence extracted from torture, the use of torture to turn people into willing killers and torturers themselves...can you honestly give us even one real world example of torture producing something good enough to justify all of that evil?"

You keep talking to me as if I said I think all use of torture is justified. I don't. I think torture is justifiable under certain circumstances, such as the ticking time bomb scenario.

Posted by: Jones on March 30, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

A Hermit,

"Daniel Webster said it is better that ten guilty men go free than that the state should imprison one innocent. That's why you have things like Miranda rights, legal representaion, and no punishment without a fair, open trial, and a right to appeal. Torture does away with all those protections."

No it doesn't. It's really hard to discuss this when you keep conflating and confusing different issues.

First, the claim I am making is that torture is sometimes justified. I haven't said anything about whether I think it should be legal. Second, if torture were legal, it would not "do away with" the legal safeguards you list.

Posted by: Jones on March 30, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

A Hermit,

"It also doesn't work..."

Torture has definitely been effective on occasion at extracting accurate information about planned terrorist attacks.

"Outside of a very narrow, and strictly hypothetical, "ticking time bomb" there is simply no valid moral justification for torture, and even if we conceded the possibility of a moral justification in the time bomb scenario, that alone does not justify the institution of torture as a regular method of intelligence gathering,"

I didn't say I think torture is justified as a regular method of intelligence gathering. I think it is justified in certain circumstances such as the ticking time bomb scenario.

Posted by: Jones on March 30, 2006 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

Hermit,

"McA, you're making a whole host of wildly erroneous assumptions about me...asking me if I've prayed?! You have no idea..."

Have you prayed for the Lord to send you the evidence you need?

And have you defined that evidence?

If you have, then your position is way more reasonable and I will pray for you as well. But I presume you don't want me to do so without verifying you want me to do so?

"I can find no compelling evidence for something's existence, I suspend belief in that existence. I do not deny it as a possibility but I do not believe it to be true."

Sure. What's your reason for being moral when no one's lookin? Is it this one?

"The only one is unsure atheism. I don't believe God exists but just in case I'm good even when no one is looking.
Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK "

"An expectation that ones' children will live after he dies is not theological, it's the whole basis of culture."

Sure, if your children are all that matters. Then the Genghiz Khan strategy works. He's the most prolific male in history. And you'd be spending all your time as a sperm donor.

" meant the ugliness of the self-consciousness of your behaviour in that regard would help to degrade the future and present motivations of others"

Then again how do they know you are ugly from an individual act?. I think you are arguing that unethical people are visibly so*. History would show that some unethical people are tremendously successful?

*If not ESP.

Besides it doesn't answer the 'Evil on a desert island scenario'. If you were alone with someone else. You'd do what you want and kill the witness.
You might never make it back.

" do think the virgins must have cared. (Though this brings up an interesting question, How many bastards did Mao have? Where are they now?)"

But did they impact his rule in anyway? Did he die earlier or have less than absolute power? Nope.

And Mao didn't have much legitimate issue - but his genes would be prolific. Thus proving that those who live for children aren't automatically moral.

On creation - does evolution happen at a molecular level? Do you see a better Oxygen molecule? Evolution works at the simplest lifeform that reproduces and mutates....but that's
not all that simple. Which leads a gap in the theory that evolution made all life.

It think God got a point or two by having his scripture predict the Big Bang, thousands of years ago. By describing rainfall and evaporation. By getting the order of creation right in the Jewish creation myth. Plants, fishes, animals, man.

Sure the definition of a day is in dispute but he's still doing OK.

Whether he chose to use evolution as his process or created stuff in a manner that looks like they evolved.

And before you ask. Why not do it this way? He decides what evidence he wants to give you.
If he wants to offer proof, you'd get a pillar of fire.

------------------
On the Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering?

http://www.evidenceofgod.com/answers/pain.htm

Posted by: McA on March 30, 2006 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Thirty years later I can't get the sound of her voice out of my head, calmly describing those horrors.

Posted by: A Hermit on March 30, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

But are you accusing American soldiers of the electrical stuff?

Or are you conflating the stress positions, sleep deprivation and 'water boarding' (with a doctor present) to the Latin American electrical and rat torture clubs?

Torture is a definition debate. It gets no where unless you defined the term.

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

Youth, Culture and Religion


The Reverend Nathan Day Wilson will deliver the 2006 Rockefeller Lecture on Youth, Culture and Religion. The title of his lecture is "Caught and Taught: The Art of Generating Faith with Older Adolescents."

"Nathan is relentlessly curious and an engaging speaker," said Dr. Benjamin Woods, the Dottie M. Rae Chair of Classics.

Posted by: Youth Culture and Religion on March 31, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

"I didn't say I think torture is justified as a regular method of intelligence gathering. I think it is justified in certain circumstances such as the ticking time bomb scenario."...Jones

I asked for a real world example of torture producing useful information, Jones. I guess you haven't found one yet if you all you can come back with is a reprise of the hypothetical "ticking bomb" fantasy.

Look, the people who tortured that Argentinian girl thought they were justified, Jones. People will always find a justification for evil behaviour. That kind of hypothetical rationalization doesn't cut it, it just provides cover for a wider use of torture.

Americans are suppoesed to be the good guys, why would you want to adopt the methods of tyrants?

----------

"are you conflating the stress positions, sleep deprivation and 'water boarding' (with a doctor present) to the Latin American electrical and rat torture clubs?"...McA

Tell ya what McA; lets handcuff you by the wrists to the ceiling for twelve hours, then drag you to antother room down the hall for a beating, chain you back up to the ceiling in your "stress position" for another twelve hours and then we'll ask you if you think you've been tortured.

Or stick your head underwater until you think your going to drown, pull it out and let you catch one breath and then repeat the process until you agree that you're being tortured. How many dunks do you think it would take?

Yes, I'm equating the "harsh interrogation techniques" with Latin American torture, beacause they are some of the same methods. Inflicting that kind of pain and fear on someone is torture. Giving it a pretty name doesn't make it any less morally repugnant, if you actually have any morals that is.

Posted by: A Hermit on March 31, 2006 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

"Torture is a definition debate. It gets no where unless you defined the term."
Posted by: McA on March 30, 2006 at 10:10 PM |

Here ya go....

Definitions of torture on the Web:

* anguish: extreme mental distress
* unbearable physical pain
* agony: intense feelings of suffering; acute mental or physical pain; "an agony of doubt"; "the torments of the damned"
* torment: torment emotionally or mentally
* distortion: the act of distorting something so it seems to mean something it was not intended to mean
* subject to torture; "The sinners will be tormented in Hell, according to the Bible"
* the deliberate, systematic, or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more persons in an attempt to force another person to yield information or to make a confession or for any other reason; "it required unnatural torturing to extract a confession"
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

* Torture is the infliction of severe physical or psychological pain as an expression of cruelty, a means of intimidation, deterrent or punishment, or as a tool for the extraction of information or confessions.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torture

* severe mental anguish or physical pain
encarta.msn.com/dictionary_1861720977/torment.html

-----------

Geneva Convention Definition of Torture:


For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

-------

Now, McA why don't we get someone to tie your wrists to your ankles, strip you naked, pour cold water over you, leave you lying on a concrete floor with the air conditioning turned up all the way until you can't hold your water any longer, let you lie in that pool of your own urine for a few more hours, while playing heavy metal music at volumes loud enough to rupture your eardrums and then I'll ask you if you think that treatment fits the above definitions.

If you say no, we'll repeat the process on you or a loved one until you say yes. How long do you think it would take?

All of those methods have been documented as having been used by American forces (their proxies in Syria, Egypt, Uzbekistan and other places do similar things).

You are trying to defend the indefensible here. And you question my morality?!

Posted by: A Hermit on March 31, 2006 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

"Have you prayed for the Lord to send you the evidence you need?

And have you defined that evidence?" ....McA


I've done all of that and more over the years. As I told you above, it was studying the Bible that helped me let go of my faith, I'm a little rusty but at one time I could have given you chapter and verse on just about any subject you care to mention. You really haven't been paying attention have you? I doubt there's anything you can quote at me that I haven't either heard, read, discussed at Bible study, sung in a hymn or preached myself at one tme or another.

Now I have profound respect for people of faith, when that faith is the result of careful contemplation, self examination and especially when it's accompanied by an honest expression of doubt. Too often however I encounter people like you and daveyo, who kicked off this thread; triumphalists who are smugly convinced of the superiority of their own illusions and attack the reasonable beliefs of others without knowing anything about them. I've encountered a lot of different expressions of faith in my life and what I've seen of yours here seems to be one of the more immature types. Your method of argument seems to require you to ignore valid points raised by others so you can return to the same rote talking points and "born again" jargon. Pardon me for not being impressed. Frankly it makes me cringe when I realize how much some of your posts remind me of me twenty five or thirty years ago...

But maybe that's just the nature of the format; it's hard to have a decent converstaion in blog comments. There's a real e-mail address under my nickname at the bottom of all my posts. Feel free to use it if you really want to pursue a genuine conversation. But make it interesting...and be prepared to learn something. Single minded proseletyzing will bore me pretty quickly; like I said I've probably heard it all before.

"If you have, then your position is way more reasonable and I will pray for you as well. But I presume you don't want me to do so without verifying you want me to do so?"

LOL...Ya know, last night I would have said "go ahead and pray", but then I saw this morning's headlines:

Prayer for the ill may do more harm than good

...so maybe you shouldn't...;-)

--------

"What's your reason for being moral when no one's lookin? Is it this one?

"The only one is unsure atheism. I don't believe God exists but just in case I'm good even when no one is looking.
Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK "


I don't believe God exists and I behave morally and ethically for a whole host of reasons none of which have anything to do with whether or not God exists. Others have outlined a number of them, and I've touched on a few of those ideas; I don't think there's any point in repeating them again since you haven't paid attention yet, and if you're really interested now you can go back and re-read the thread.

I'm done here I think, like I said if you're interested in learning something you can e-mail me.

Posted by: A Hermit on March 31, 2006 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

OK Ok, I said I was done, but I had one more thought...

To tie together the two threads of torture and morality; someone way upthread raised the concept of empathy as a part of moral reasoning. Now, I can imagine what it would be like to, for example, have my head repeatedly ducked under water to the point of feeling that I was going to drown. I can imagine how awful it would be, and I can't imagine myself willingly inflicting that kind of suffering on another person.

Perhaps its an inability, or an unwillingness, to imagine themselves in those circumstances that leads some people to accept that there might be some justification for such behaviour. It seems to me that fear is one of the things can over-ride our sense of empathy and allows us to block out that kind of imagining. Stop being afraid and think about it rationally and I don't think there's any way torture can be justified.

Posted by: A Hermit on March 31, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter McA, all of society proceeds out of the barrel of a gun.

Posted by: cld on March 31, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Too late, I know,

http://www.discover.com/issues/apr-04/features/whose-life-would-you-save/?page=1

on how morality is hardwired by evolution.

Posted by: cld on March 31, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Nice site http://freewebhosting.hostdepartment.com/b/baila19/

Posted by: stacey-keebler on March 31, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly