Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 2, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

BUSH AND ATHEISTS....Quick note. A few days ago I quoted George Bush Sr.'s 1987 statement to Rob Sherman that "I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots." I also noted that Sherman had refused to release a tape of the statement and no one else had ever verified it.

I've now exchanged several emails with Sherman, who says he didn't tape this exchange, which happened during a media scrum at O'Hare airport in Chicago. However, he also confirms that no one else reported Bush's remarks. It's just him.

Sherman has posted the full story here, including a subsequent letter from C. Boyden Gray to Jon Murray that Murray says is "a clear admission by the President, through his counsel, that he had indeed made the remarks and was not backing down from them."

For what it's worth, Gray's statement doesn't seem like a clear admission of anything to me, though it's obviously not a denial either. However, you can decide for yourself.

In any case, I just wanted to set the record straight and provide a link to Shermans' full account. I was wrong to say there was a tape of the exchange, but apparently it's correct that no other reporters have ever corroborated the exchange. I will say, however, that Bush's followup statement to Sherman ("I'm just not very high on atheists") sure sounds like the George Bush Sr. we all know and love.

Beyond that, click the link and make up your own mind.

Kevin Drum 3:16 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (100)

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Comments

In the last couple days I saw a comment that a Reagan era politico--perhaps James Watt of Interior?--didn't use the terms "democrat" and "republican." He intentionally used "liberal" and American."

So, too, in Bushspeak, "atheist" and "American".

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 2, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Regardless of whether the Bush 41 statement is correct: I wonder why so many libertarian/rationalist types are enamored of the Republican party, knowing how dangerously theocratic it is (indeed, see benevolent traitor Kevin Phillip's _American Theocracy_ about the drive to "disenlightenment.") I guess they want the class war advantages badly enough.

Posted by: Neil' on April 2, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately atheists are the last group that it's okay to openly discriminate against in America.

But somehow there's a War Against Christians...

What about the War against Pirates that is undermining Flying Spagetti Monsterism and causing Global Warming!!??

Posted by: rm on April 2, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately I think part of the problem is that most atheists are invisible. The only time the religious see us is when someone sues over a cross or "under God" and so they see us as this little sue-happy minority. In this day and age where millions of "Christians" never set foot in a church, it's almost impossible for someone to spot an atheist unless they ask. They don't realize that the friendly neighbor across the street who watches their dog when they are on vacation is an atheist. They don't realize that the nice guy at the bookstore is an atheist. It's almost impossible to show a lack of belief in this society if you take a live and let live attitude to other religions.

Posted by: sburnap on April 2, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

To the extent that

(a) Sherman is not known for fabricating things
(b) Gray says "Your letter of December 19, 1988, to President Bush has been referred to me for reply."
(c) Gray does not explicitly deny that GHWB made those remarks but gives a BS generality as a reply

it would seem that Sherman's claim ought to be accepted until someone proves it false. If there was a roomful of other reporters present, it shouldn't be hard to get more corroboration for or against Sherman at some point. A 30 year-old reporter in 1987 would be only 59 today, and comments like these are not easily forgotten.

Posted by: JS on April 2, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Ah Kevin,

Another athiest lover post.

The fact of the matter is that athiests are by definition untrustworthy. A person who can't even give himself to God certainly can't be depended on to give his allegiance to his country. An athiest is the worst kind of scum, because they made their decision by choice.

Posted by: egbert on April 2, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Make that 49.

Posted by: JS on April 2, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Dan Rather aka Kevin Drum. So your report is Bush did not say this but "sure sounds like the George Bush Sr". Now what story involving a Bush does this sound like. Next thing we will hear is that Bill Clinton was not spotted with a lovely lady on a private home, but "sure sounds like the Bill Clinton we know". So why re-print a story that there is no validity to.....

Posted by: daveyo on April 2, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

It is common for people to believe that atheists are "bad people", and that having an imaginary friend who lives in the clouds and who you ask for favors makes you a "good person". I don't know if the Bush family believe this or not, but they act as if they do, which amounts to the same thing (Neill Bush not withstanding).

People believe these things in large measure because they are indoctrinated as children. It would be interesting to know what is the religious attitude of the fairly small subset of people who were not indoctrinated as children, and who therefore had a blank slate from which they could make their decisions as adults.

Posted by: Ba'al on April 2, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

No, egbert, the worst kind of scum are people who use fairy tales as a basis for really bad policy decisions, like the ones that lead to war, genocide, and environmental depradation. This is true in Afganistan and in the United States and throughout history.

Of course, you probably believe that we are in the state we are in because a woman once ate an apple on the advice of a talking snake.

Posted by: Ba'al on April 2, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Sherman doesn't quote Murray's letter to Bush. We therefore don't know what Gray was responding to.

If Murray asked for confirmation of the accuracy of the quotes then Gray's response may have been a nondenial (though nondenials from Bushes or anyone else can't always count as confirmations).

But if Murray only asked whether Bush believed that atheists should be regarded as citizens then Gray's response would be unremarkable.

Nothing we've heard so far inspires confidence in Sherman's account. His general sloppiness of argument and proof counsels caution. His story could be true. But agnosticism sounds like the best policy.


Posted by: Ross Best on April 2, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

It's worth remembering that until (and after) the use of "under God" in the Gettysburg Address, "under God" was understood as "God willing." This expression appears in the Gettysburg Address as
"that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom...." But this was very likely a mis-transcription for "that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom...." Either way, Lincoln meant "God willing."

Linguist Geoffrey Nunber has written on this topic.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on April 2, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I meant Geoffrey Nunberg.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on April 2, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

In any case Sherman seems to have tried hard to find an official tape of the event, and one may be forthcoming. He says:

I contacted the Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. I asked if there was any chance that such documents could possibly exist; if they did exist, was there any chance that the documents would be stored at the Bush Presidential Library; if the documents did exist and were housed at the Bush Library, what was the chance that they could find such documents amongst the millions of items in their collection; and if they could find the documents, could I please obtain a copy?

A team of archivists went to work on the matter right away. Within a couple of hours, they had found the documents. They are archived as Item # CF01193-002. They'd be glad to send me a copy, but I'd have to send in an FOI (Freedom of Information Act) request. Due to a backlog of requests, it would take about two years for them to get the documents to me.

I have begun the process of obtaining copies. In the meantime, if you're ever in Texas, stop by the Bush Library and maybe you can see those documents for yourself.

Of course, it's not clear that "documents" means a tape. If they are just transcripts, or summaries, then it's quite likely that these comments are not included even if they were made.

Posted by: JS on April 2, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

"The fact of the matter is that athiests are by definition untrustworthy."
Posted by: egbert on April 2, 2006 at 4:07 PM

Would you prefer atheists to be hypocrites and pretend to believe in a God they don't believe in?

Those are funny standards you have there...

Posted by: A Hermit on April 2, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Breaking news! Kevin Drum found a controversial quote from GHW Bush!

Call KOS! Email Instapundit! Get Marshall right away!

The quote is 2 decades old but who cares?!

Posted by: BigRiver on April 2, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Breaking news! Kevin Drum found a controversial quote from GHW Bush!

Call KOS! Email Instapundit! Get Marshall right away!

The quote is 2 decades old but who cares?!

Posted by: Ben Domenech on April 2, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

BigRiver, you got it backwards. The quote has been around for a long time. Check Wikipedia for example.

What Kevin Drum has just done is to question its authenticity.

Knee-jerk reactions are oftn wrong.

Posted by: JS on April 2, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an atheist, and I go to a progressive church, the Unitarian Universalist Church. In our fellowship in the conservative, southern Central Valley of CA, about 1/3 to 1/2 of us are atheist/agnostic/humanist types, and feel right at home. Most of us believe in reason, science & evolution, and protecting the environment. More than 90% of us are Democrats or Green Party voters.

Posted by: JoAnn on April 2, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Whether the scum of the earth is atheists or christians - or those who believe that Elvis is not relly dead - is not important.
What is important - and wrong - is going after people on the basis of what they believe to be the final truth about Life, the Universe and Everything.
If the guy down the street is nice and walks your dog, then that is what is important. Trust people unless you have reason not to. How hard can that be?

Whether it is an historical account or not, the story of the Tower of Babel should give food for thought, no matter what your conviction is.

Posted by: OmniDane on April 2, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt that Bush 1 actually believes that, that atheists arent good citizens or patriots, etc... He just doesnt seem to me to be the kind of intolerant, fundamentalist person that would think that. My guess is that that was right in the middle of a presidential campaign and that he was pandering to the 'christian right' who was already skeptical about him.

I dont understand why he doesnt take-back those comments now though. He's never going to be running for anything again, and neither is George W. The only reason I can think of is because of Jeb. Maybe he does really believe that though, that would surprise me though and really disappoint me. I am an atheist too btw.

Posted by: Jonesy on April 2, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

"This is one nation under God"

Disgusting. If he refers to the bowlderized version of the pledge of allegiance he's a revisionist historian. If God wants to be over us all, let him present himself and lay lawful claim, dammit!

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on April 2, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

A 30 year-old reporter in 1987 would be only 59 today...
...
Make that 49.

Phew, thanks! For a moment there I was afraid my clock had been set forward a lot more than an hour last night!

Posted by: tom on April 2, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Flying Spagetti Monsterism"

Uh, no. You mean "Pastafarianism."

Posted by: Joel on April 2, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

" Sherman is not known for fabricating things.."

Sherman is also a publicity seeking goofball who has had his share of odd mishaps that made my local Chicago news, if not the national press. Check the Trib, Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Herald archives if you are interested.

Posted by: mark safranski on April 2, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Hopefully Kevin can locate a psychiatrist who can treat poor Kevin for his obsession with everything about the Bush family. Kevin is tormented by the way Bush mangles the English language, the way he walks. Tormented that Bush, a mediocre student, is president while smarter people (like Kevin Drum) are ignored. Just a few days ago poor Kevin was in a funk over the fact that Andy Card was loyal to GW.

Today, poor Kevin is bothered by an old quote from Bush 41, whose term as President ended more than a decade ago.

Kevin, seek help!

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on April 2, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

The post cited above by Geoffrey Nunberg concludes,

In short, the phrase "under God" had nothing to do with God's temporal sovereignity; it was, rather, a way of acknowledging that the efforts of men are always contingent on His providence. And that is how Lincoln intended it, as meaning something like "with God's help, of course"

This is an excellent example of how social-conservatives characteristically misunderstand idiomatic expressions of non-contemporary language, while complaining about how they'd like people to imagine they're looking at a 'literal' reading of the Constitution, or the Bible.

When a social-conservative objects to seeing the Constitution as a 'living' document it's the most characteristic thing they might do, since that is exactly what they themselves are actually doing.

It takes a serious person to work out complex language found in something like the US Constitution, even though it is only a little over two centuries old. They like to pretend they're serious. They like others to think of them as serious. But there is nothing serious about them. Take Our Leaders' speaking style. It's just like he's laboriously explaining a joke to someone who just won't get it, and you're the punchline.

Posted by: cld on April 2, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Christ, Kevin...put up something on Gen. Zinni's interview on Meet The Press this morning. It was awesome - a primer on the war and it's origins that was totally free of bullshit and 100% credible.

The single most important, informed and convincing 20 or so minutes of talk-show commentary I've ever seen on Iraq.

Posted by: brucds on April 2, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

I have news for FK: Bush 43 is President, unfortunately, and a lot is now the way it is because of him. That gives any of us good reason to "obsess" over him, something which you ad hominem diversionists incredibly gloss over in your idiotic chase after the motives of people whose complaints you don't like. BTW, his father B41 set the stage for the current theocratic disenlightenment by courting the irrational vote (evangelicals etc.) just to get elected. B41 was maybe just a cynical pol about that, but B43 is just a crazy as those supporters. As for the voters, well: they're stupid. And don't dodge the substance of that remark with a tangent about how much the voters don't like to hear that and the political consequences of same, which has nothing to do with material facts.

Posted by: Neil' on April 2, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Here's something pertinent to comment threads,

from http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/002978.html#more

The research team, which included a classroom teacher, first investigated various speech acts, excluding agreeing, requesting, giving opinions, etc. before hitting on those speech acts that came closest to reflecting real fluency-the students' ability to communicate effectively their wrath, meanness, ill-temper, rudeness, insults, and disdain.

Thus, the researchers came up with the length of mean utterance (LMU) to replace the mean length of utterance (MLU), suggesting that it should be used in future studies of written language fluency. According to this study, students who remain focused longer on meanness and rudeness invariably display the greatest progress in their ability to produce effective written texts.

Posted by: cld on April 2, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Second paragraph italics, missed.

(Hah! Trying to post the above, I get, 'In an effort to curb malicious comment posting by abusive users,')

Posted by: cld on April 2, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

"This is one nation under God"

Disgusting. If he refers to the bowlderized version of the pledge of allegiance he's a revisionist historian. If God wants to be over us all, let him present himself and lay lawful claim, dammit! Posted by: Hedley Lamarr

Damn straight.

The whole idea that man is some sort of work in progress is retarded. At what point is the supreme being going to give up on us? We've been around for about 5,000 years of semi-reliably recorded history maltreating one another with only the reasons and methodolgy changing from millenium to millenium.

To be sure there has been some social and scientific progress. But we seem to be backsliding or stuck in a groove at the very best. Africa is, for example, is worse shape than it was 40 years ago in terms of poverty and disease.

While I'd love to know that there was a reason for it all (face it, if there isn't a reason, it's all rather pointless), I can't afford to lose sleep worrying about whether I'm offending some supreme being that, if he/she/it exists, has to date "choosen" a huge group of losers to give us the message.

Posted by: Jeff II on April 2, 2006 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Link to Zinni on MTP...bad news is you have to watch through a half hour of Vote Troll McCain soiling himself.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10005066/

This is the most scathing and credible short-form indictment of the Bushniks on Iraq I've ever seen.

Posted by: brucds on April 2, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

"Conservative" atheists are as rare as hens' teeth. Finding a cure for religion should be the next Manhattan Project.

Posted by: melior (in Austin) on April 2, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

I am an atheist and doubly reciprocate all the prejudices that the theists have about me.

I also think that all theists are morons.

Posted by: lib on April 2, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

'An athiest is the worst kind of scum'

By the rectal tears and chancres of the long-dead mortal Christ, that takes me back to my happy childhood when religion was just another chain to yank when picking fights, no hard feelings; those were the days: 'A dirty filthy protestant! Crucify him, crucify him!' 'Dago mackerelsnapper! Get in your gondola and go back to Italy!' 'Roller!' Retard! Spastic! Trenchmouth!

We've lost the art of sporting slurs, goddammit. The only insults still in common use are class slurs.

Posted by: 666 Hail Satan 666 on April 2, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

I recall a statement by Bill Clinton wherein he stated that liberals were complete losers and that he considered them to be brain dead and easy to get their votes. Now, this statement wasn't recorded or verified by anyone other than myself but I know it's true.

Posted by: Jay on April 2, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Zinni's MTP appearance and his riveting account of the lead up to war is exactly what has been said over and over now for three years. On that note, If you really want to see a good movie try Titanic, I have just heard it's really good.

Posted by: Jay on April 2, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Why no tape?

Sherman represents American Atheists.

I can see a comment on Atheists missing the American bit.

But Atheists of the sue to impose their views kind are pathetic and are asking for a political reaction on the part of Christians trying to stay out of politics..............

As I under your system, Suprem Courts change as do Living Constitutions

Posted by: McA on April 2, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Titantic was a piece of crap.

But Zinni encapsulated this case in a short interview and brought it up to date - including dispensing with the wingnut attacks on the media - more effectively and with more credibility than any other person I've seen on one of these network gabfests.


Of course, with your sub to The Nation, you probably know just about everything anyone would ever need to hear. Get busy...

Posted by: brucds on April 2, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Atheists are the most vital creatures on the planet.

It is not even worth arguing about.

Crikey...
That's why we call ourselves "brights."

All other creatures:

Hither...
Thither...
And
Yon...

Are merely playing charades...

[And the absolute worst charade players are creatures that we might categorize as "republican baboons." These simple-minded simians are an embarrassment to Evolution itself. They are vermin.]


Posted by: koreyel on April 2, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

They are vermin.

What, You got something against "rodents" and "morons" ?

Posted by: moshe moshe on April 2, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

You may have discussed this before, but why on earth would you be mentioning 41's comment when 43 explicitly set a religious belief requirement for court appointees?

Obviously, he's not going to appoint anyone who doesn't believe in God. But I just can't imagine him saying "I won't appoint any judge who doesn't acknowledge that Christ is God", whereas he has no problem saying he wouldn't appoint a judge who didn't acknowledge that our rights come from God.

And of course, it's because it's safe to attack non-believers. Still, it was unpleasant.

Posted by: Cal on April 2, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Back to our regularly scheduled topic, seems to me that this is bullshit.

Does anyone really believe that that quote wouldn't have hit the news when it was made if it was really made?

You can hardly claim the media would have suppressed it - after all, the story, with no credible evidence, has remained alive and been repeatedly cited for 19 years.

C. Boyden Gray's letter seems a typical kiss off that was probably written by a lower level person and just signed (and maybe reviewed) by him. Whether or not Bush actually made the statement I doubt the author knew or checked. The response to that kind of question was almost certainly already canned.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on April 2, 2006 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how many atheists egbert actually knows?

I haven't met any atheists who weren't profoundly concerned with the nature of morality. I'm sure there are dishonest atheists out there, just as there as dishonest Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc. There are dishonest people egbert.

Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, Michael Kinsley, Isaac Asimov, Ian McEwan, Milan Kundera, Salman Rushdie, Gene Roddenberry (hope you're not a Star Trek fan, egbert), Christopher Hitchens, hell, David Cross, Lewis Black and Penn and Teller - like 'em or hate 'em - all atheists, all obviously concerned with ethics and morality if you know their work.

Maybe moreso than you, egbert, since your first inclination is to start ankle-biting and name-calling. Where's the morality in that?

Hell, didja know Lance Armstrong is an atheist?

Everyone should believe in something, and I believed in surgery, chemotherapy, and my doctors. - Lance Armstrong

For a more complete listing - I only named a small few - check this out:

http://www.celebatheists.com/index.php?title=Main_Page

Posted by: Robert S. on April 2, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

Either way, George H.W. Bush doesn't qualify as a charter member of the American Taliban.

His son, on the other hand...

Posted by: AvengingAngel on April 2, 2006 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

put all of the GHWB information into his centrifuge , spin rapidly for five minutes and we may hear " read my lips " ; if the cream is on top.

Posted by: LET THE SPINNING WHEEL SPIN on April 2, 2006 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

"Flying Spagetti Monsterism"

Uh, no. You mean "Pastafarianism."

Actually, I'm a Frisbeetarian. I believe that when we die our soul flies up and gets stuck in the gutter.

Posted by: floopmeister on April 2, 2006 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

like 'em or hate 'em - all atheists, all obviously concerned with ethics and morality if you know their work.

Posted by: Robert S. on April 2, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

Quite a lot of them are humanists who admit their concern for the human race is a belief...which is why you don't get huge atheist lectures on how they are so reason-based anymore.

That only happens with shallow, stupid atheists who don't read up on philosophy before disparging other religions.

Posted by: McA on April 2, 2006 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

That only happens with shallow, stupid atheists who don't read up on philosophy before disparging other religions.

As opposed to shallow, stupid Christians (and Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc) who don't read up on philosophy before disparging other religions?

Posted by: floopmeister on April 2, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

Hey fellas...

That's "disparaging" with two "a"s.

As in MacAsshole.

Posted by: Jesus had an itchy butt on April 2, 2006 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

Actually around these parts he is know as McAnus.
Only one 'A.'

And since you are obviously new posting here, you should know that "McAnus" actually believes Bush is one smart cookie.

Enough said.

Posted by: Mary Rosh on April 2, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Hey fellas...

That's "disparaging" with two "a"s.

As in MacAsshole

Really?

/end sarcasm

You know that I would never correct McA's spelling for him...

BTW, are you sure it's not McAsshole? The difference between Mc and Mac is more than correct spelling, you know.

Posted by: floopmeister on April 2, 2006 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

As an atheist, I reject the term "bright", and consider it kind of offensive (because of the implication that everyone else is not bright; because even without that implication I would not like the term).

There was an old term that goes back 100-150 years: "freethinker", which I have no problem with as a general term for those who do not subscribe to any religious dogma, and might be atheist, agnostic, vaguely spiritual Unitarians, whatever.

As for Bush Sr.'s comment, as an atheist I closely followed the reporting at the time (since I was greatly angered by it), and recall that Poppy's people were repeatedly challenged on the comment, and they defended it. There were no denials at the time that he said it. If revisionists are now claiming that he didn't say it, after all this time, they are wrong.

Posted by: Joe Buck on April 2, 2006 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

McA needs to more closely consider the difference between "belief" and "faith."

And where did I disparage religion, McA?

I said, people are dishonest - I didn't single out any religion.

Posted by: Robert S. on April 2, 2006 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

The Word "Liberal" has been so overly used it's lost meaning. Now it means Atheist?
WoW.
Rush says its Blacks on Welfare
The Economists says its the Anti-Capitalists like Noam Chomsky, whom actually create quite a bit of greenbacks.
The theres the Trailer Trash 'Liberal' of jerry Springer Fame.
But yet comes the 'Liberal' Hollywood Elite "Druggies"
YaY here comes the 'Libertines' which were a bunch of very 'loose' people so to speak, you know the LOVE SEX PEACE thing..
Of course Hippies are :iberals too.
Rentiers are 'Liberal' as well.
And Here comes the NEO-LIBERAL Neo-COns!!
YaY oh YaY a New Name for LIBERALS! WWooOOwwww
KaaaaBBllallaaaAAAAMMmmMM!!!
AMERICAN!!

Of course its Crap, because to the Corporate Government you are either a Creditor or a Debtor.
----------------------------------------------
Yet LETS LOOK at the Neo-Liberal Pigs at the Public trough, Whom for SOME ODD REASON, lord knows what, why they aren't conservative are they?? Why NO...NO A million times NO!! Are thy Daft?
-----------------------------------------
Dan Guttman, a Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, who works with the Center for Public Integrity, told The New Yorker's Mayer that after five years of Bush-Cheney cuts in government jobs, replacing them with PMCs, "contractors have become so big and entrenched that it's a fiction that the government maintains any control."

Peter W. Singer, a Fellow at Brookings Institutionan attendee at the Shultz-Rohatyn Middlebury conference, who authored a 2003 book, Corporate Warriorswarned, "We're turning the lifeblood of our defense over to the marketplace."

Retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner zeroed in on another critical factor driving Cheney, Shultz, and Rohatyn to push the privatization of national security: their commitment to a strategy of imperial perpetual war. "It makes it too easy to go to war," Gardiner warned. "When you can hire people to go to war, there's none of the grumbling and the political friction." Gardiner told Mayer that he is convinced that, without the ability to draw on well over 150,000 PMC contractors in Iraq, Cheney et al. might never have succeeded in selling the Iraq War to Congress, because the invasion and occupation would have required well over 300,000 troopsprecisely the number that Gen. Eric Shinseki told Rumsfeld would be needed to do the job. (For his candor, Shinseki was sacked as Army Chief of Staff.) "Think how much harder it would have been to get Congress, or the American people, to support those numbers," Gardiner concluded.
-------------------

LIBERALS, Republicans, 'groups' of names, flip flop, LOL make me Laugh.

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on April 2, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Lemme Simplify this for the Itellyecktulls

Dan Guttman, a Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, who works with the Center for Public Integrity, told The New Yorker's Mayer that after five years of Bush-Cheney cuts in government jobs, replacing them with PMCs, "contractors have become so big and entrenched that it's a fiction that the government maintains any control."

Peter W. Singer, a Fellow at Brookings Institutionan attendee at the Shultz-Rohatyn Middlebury conference, who authored a 2003 book, Corporate Warriorswarned, "We're turning the lifeblood of our defense over to the marketplace."

Retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner zeroed in on another critical factor driving Cheney, Shultz, and Rohatyn to push the privatization of national security: their commitment to a strategy of imperial perpetual war. "It makes it too easy to go to war," Gardiner warned

Neo-Feudalism Anyone? The NEXT level of Capitalism!

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on April 2, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, this is the elder Bush whose dad helped finance the Nazi war machine, who bailed out of his torpedo bomber prematurely, sending two airmen to their deaths, carried on an extramarital affair for a decade with a married woman while married himself and raised three miscreant sons, all of whom have criminal records.

Maybe he would have been better off as an atheist!!

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on April 2, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

You have an odd way of presenting your arguments, one eye buck tooth, but I agree with the thesis of your last post!

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on April 2, 2006 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

This quote should be publicized over and over again until they renounce it. Make the Bushes and all like them repeat how huge numbers of hard-working lawful Americans should be denied citizenship. There's no reason belief in a deity should be a prerequisite for high office in a country founded by agnostics. It's time to turn that notion on it's head and make them pay for their obvious intolerance.

Posted by: dennisS on April 2, 2006 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Bush Jr is God's emissary on earth, doing his very best to prepare for the second coming of Christ. And that's the truth and fact that has been preached to most born-again evangelicals.

Posted by: Mini Al on April 2, 2006 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

I said, people are dishonest - I didn't single out any religion.

Posted by: Robert S. on April 2, 2006 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

I said shallow, stupid Atheists. Why do you think that includes you?

Posted by: McA on April 2, 2006 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, we can't all be as honest as creationist Christian Ben Domenech...

By the way, you realize that the Founding Fathers disliked Christians, don't you?

Posted by: BarrettBrown on April 3, 2006 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: craigie on April 3, 2006 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

Potty mouth.

Posted by: shortstop on April 3, 2006 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, I'm a Frisbeetarian. I believe that when we die our soul flies up and gets stuck in the gutter. Posted by: floopmeister

Heretic! All true believers know that when you die your soul flies up on to the roof and you can't it down.

Posted by: JeffII on April 3, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

That's the way I always heard it. But they do things differently in Oz...

Posted by: shortstop on April 3, 2006 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

This quote should be publicized over and over again until they renounce it.

You realize that would be Rove's wet dream, right? To link the Democrats to atheism -- and on their dime to boot?

Posted by: JS on April 3, 2006 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder what Poppy Bush thinks about Repub strategist Kevin Phillips' op/ed in WaPo, How the GOP Became God's Own Party. Nut grafs:

Unfortunately, more danger lurks in the responsiveness of the new GOP coalition to Christian evangelicals, fundamentalists and Pentecostals, who muster some 40 percent of the party electorate. Many millions believe that the Armageddon described in the Bible is coming soon. Chaos in the explosive Middle East, far from being a threat, actually heralds the second coming of Jesus Christ. Oil price spikes, murderous hurricanes, deadly tsunamis and melting polar ice caps lend further credence.
The potential interaction between the end-times electorate, inept pursuit of Persian Gulf oil, Washington's multiple deceptions and the financial crisis that could follow a substantial liquidation by foreign holders of U.S. bonds is the stuff of nightmares. To watch U.S. voters enable such policies -- the GOP coalition is unlikely to turn back -- is depressing to someone who spent many years researching, watching and cheering those grass roots.
Four decades ago, the new GOP coalition seemed certain to enjoy a major infusion of conservative northern Catholics and southern Protestants. This troubled me not at all. I agreed with the predominating Republican argument at the time that "secular" liberals, by badly misjudging the depth and importance of religion in the United States, had given conservatives a powerful and legitimate electoral opportunity.
Since then, my appreciation of the intensity of religion in the United States has deepened. When religion was trod upon in the 1960s and thereafter by secular advocates determined to push Christianity out of the public square, the move unleashed an evangelical, fundamentalist and Pentecostal counterreformation, with strong theocratic pressures becoming visible in the Republican national coalition and its leadership.
Besides providing critical support for invading Iraq -- widely anathematized by preachers as a second Babylon -- the Republican coalition has also seeded half a dozen controversies in the realm of science. These include Bible-based disbelief in Darwinian theories of evolution, dismissal of global warming, disagreement with geological explanations of fossil-fuel depletion, religious rejection of global population planning, derogation of women's rights and opposition to stem cell research. This suggests that U.S. society and politics may again be heading for a defining controversy such as the Scopes trial of 1925. That embarrassment chastened fundamentalism for a generation, but the outcome of the eventual 21st century test is hardly assured.
These developments have warped the Republican Party and its electoral coalition, muted Democratic voices and become a gathering threat to America's future. No leading world power in modern memory has become a captive of the sort of biblical inerrancy that dismisses modern knowledge and science. The last parallel was in the early 17th century, when the papacy, with the agreement of inquisitional Spain, disciplined the astronomer Galileo for saying that the sun, not the Earth, was the center of our solar system.
Such strong criticism from the political strategist who wrote, "The Emerging Republican Majority," in 1969 and helped build the GOP coalition. Religion is but one of three "preeminent weaknesses" -- along with "a declining energy and industrial base, and debt often linked to foreign and military overstretch" -- that Phillips describes as a "fatal convergence" of "forces in America today."

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 3, 2006 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not really sure what egbert means by:


An athiest is the worst kind of scum, because they made their decision by choice.

The fact that atheists can make rationale decisions makes them scum? So Christians (and Muslims) are to be admired because of their ability to follow blindly, no matter what the order? I'm beginning to understand the mindset of the 9-11 terrorists now..

Posted by: Andy on April 3, 2006 at 4:33 AM | PERMALINK

The fact that atheists can make rationale decisions makes them scum?

Posted by: Andy on April 3, 2006 at 4:33 AM | PERMALINK

The fact that you assume only atheists make rational decisions is what makes you scum.
Next thing you know you'll be justifying wiping out people of faith for a new 'enlightened age of reason'. Or taking away our votes as a 'threat to the constitution'.

Dogma is dogma whether or not its dogma about God.

Why are atheists moral when no social punishment applies again? No rational reason. And since they have no reason other than that they happen to like, they are vulnerable to theories of a 'new world order'.

If yevolution is your only source of creation, 'survival of the fittest' is a 'naturalistic' morality.

Posted by: McA on April 3, 2006 at 7:14 AM | PERMALINK

The interesting thing about war is that it provides a severe reality check on whether the public funds are being expended in return for anything of value.

The weapons systems that Rumsfeld has been buying seem to work pretty well. One can argue that aircraft carriers cost too much and aren't suited to the type of regime-change, nation-building wars that the U.S.A. tends to get into to, but for what they are, the aircraft carrier is a wonder.

It's kind of like the reason that football coaches make so much more on most campuses than do professors--the coach has to go out and produce in a way that is very public. The professor of English literature with tenure can sit back and do nothing but write and talk utter nonsense for decades and no one notices, until they finally go over the edge and cheer for the terrorists after 9/11 or something.

I'd like to grade a lot of environmental experts on this question: Using gene-mapping techniques, how can calling the "Northern" or "Western" Spotted Owls a species distinct from common spotted owls be justified? Are not these differences genetically even less than whatever causes racial characteristics in humans?

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on April 3, 2006 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.atheists.org/Atheism/ethics.html

Cooperation implies reciprocity. Justice has its roots in the problem of determining fairness and reciprocity in cooperation. Do to others as they would have you do to them. Tit for tat is as logical and rational as it gets (mathematics - game theory). Rational enough for everyone?

Posted by: royalblue_tom on April 3, 2006 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

It bears repeating - faith and intellect are orthogonal. The state of one has no bearing on the state of the other.

If you want to study a group of people not indoctrinated by any organized religion while children study the Japanese. I don't think they have very much in the way of organized religion.

The human brain desperately needs explanations for things. Religion provides those explanations. To the extent that science cannot explain everything then religion will always have a place.

Also, religion springs from the older parts of our brain and the potential for 'spirituality' is in all of us. Religion involves feelings and emotions that we are just starting to understand with the rational part of our brains.

Posted by: Tripp on April 3, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

I never hear anyone say "orthogonal" except on this blog, where someone or other is always saying it. Er, carry on; nothing to add.

Posted by: shortstop on April 3, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

"Quite a lot of them are humanists who admit their concern for the human race is a belief...which is why you don't get huge atheist lectures on how they are so reason-based anymore." Posted by: McA on April 2, 2006 at 9:02 PM

Are you saying that concern for other people is irrational or unreasonable? What makes you think so?


Posted by: A Hermit on April 3, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: McA on April 3, 2006 at 7:14 AM

"Why are atheists moral when no social punishment applies again? No rational reason."

Except natural empathy, social order, positive reinforcement feedback, self respect, enlightened self interest, the "Golden Rule" principle...nope, no reason at all...

"And since they have no reason other than that they happen to like, they are vulnerable to theories of a 'new world order'."

Wasn't "New World Order" one of Poppy "atheists can't be real Americans" Bush's pet phrases?

"If yevolution(sic) is your only source of creation, 'survival of the fittest' is a 'naturalistic' morality."

Do you understand how "survival of the fittest" actually works, McA? It doesn't mean "survival of the biggest, strongest, most ruthless and selfish". It means those most well suited to their environment will increase their survivability. Any trait which increases the overall rate of survivability accross a population will therefore come to predominate. If altruism, co-operation and empathy increase the overall surviveability of a population (which is clearly the case when we're talking about social animals like human beings) those behaviours will be reinforced.

What was it someone said earlier about "shallow, stupid" people who "don't read up on philosophy before disparging other" beliefs?. Who was that....?

Maybe you need to hit the books yourself there McA...;-) (speaking of which, have you brushed up on Euthyphro yet?)

Posted by: A Hermit on April 3, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Why are atheists moral when no social punishment applies again? No rational reason. And since they have no reason other than that they happen to like, they are vulnerable to theories of a 'new world order'.
If yevolution is your only source of creation, 'survival of the fittest' is a 'naturalistic' morality.
Posted by: McA on April 3, 2006 at 7:14 AM


Mca:

Your postings are so mind-numbingly repetitious that I feel absolutely free to skip them knowing that I will not miss one iota of new information. If your time spent here is focused on getting others to confront new ideas, you are sadly missing that opportunity. What a waste.

Posted by: Keith G on April 3, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

"I never hear anyone say "orthogonal" except on this blog, where someone or other is always saying it. Er, carry on; nothing to add."

It's a favorite of cmdicely, who never uses a 50-cent word if he thinks there's a 5-dollar one that sounds better.

What Tripp is trying to say is that he thinks faith and reason are independent. But "orthogonal" has a faux-erudite ring to it, so he uses that instead.

Posted by: Kelso on April 3, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Using gene-mapping techniques, how can calling the "Northern" or "Western" Spotted Owls a species distinct from common spotted owls be justified?

Northern, Mexican, and California are not considered separate species - they are all subspecies of "Spotted Owl".

Posted by: Irony Man on April 3, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Phillips is an idiot.

But he says things Alpo13 wants to hear.

Posted by: GOP on April 3, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Jeeper, Kelso, you're awfully hard on Dice and Tripp. I was simply making a little joke about how this word has become part of the PA tribal lexicon.

Posted by: shortstop on April 3, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Kelso,

Close. by orthogonal I meant:

" adj. [from mathematics] Mutually independent; well
separated; sometimes, irrelevant to. Used in a generalization of
its mathematical meaning to describe sets of primitives or
capabilities that, like a vector basis in geometry, span the entire
`capability space' of the system and are in some sense
non-overlapping or mutually independent.

Specifically I meant the 4-quadrant maps that were all the rage in psychology back in the stone age when I was in college.

The X - axis could be 'smarts' and the Y - axis could be 'spirituality.'

Thus it is possible to be stupid/faithful, stupid/unfaithful, smart/faithful, or smart/unfaithful.

I'll let you guess which quadrant I reside in. (grin)

Besides, I figure a trip to the dictionary never hurt anyone.

Posted by: Tripp on April 3, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Whenever we read ... the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize humankind. And, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.

-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

Posted by: JS on April 3, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Besides, I figure a trip to the dictionary never hurt anyone.

Okay, but look up "throve" while you're there.

Posted by: shortstop on April 3, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'll see your "Throve" and raise you a "scatological."

Both are words I learned on the internets.

Posted by: Tripp on April 3, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

In connection with all this, three LiveScience articles found right in a row,

Churchgoers Live Longer,
http://www.livescience.com/humanbiology/060403_church_good.html

Optimists Live Longer,
http://www.livescience.com/humanbiology/041101_optimist_heart.html

Loneliness Kills,
http://www.livescience.com/humanbiology/060331_loneliness.html

Posted by: cld on April 3, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

I agreed with the predominating Republican argument at the time that "secular" liberals, by badly misjudging the depth and importance of religion in the United States, had given conservatives a powerful and legitimate electoral opportunity.

And continue to. It's a simple math problem. ALL self-described liberals, including the religious left AND the anti-religious Dean enthusiasts compose about 20% of the voting electorate on good day - needless to add that's very regionally concentrated in northern coastal areas. By campaigning on the social issues they favor they simply can't win. Worse, they alieante Democrats from mainstream voters and conservatives in 95% of the country by consistently flapping their arms over anythng and everything religous - which they do. he In short, leftwing athiest liberals can thank themselves for their contemporary political irrelevance/extinction.

Posted by: ps on April 3, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

cld, other studies show that owning pets makes up for not going to church. Which is the reason behind the success of Friday catblogging. You get your fix on Friday so you don't get the religious urge to congregate Saturday or Sunday, get it?

Posted by: JS on April 3, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Tit for tat is as logical and rational as it gets (mathematics - game theory). Rational enough for everyone?

Posted by: royalblue_tom on April 3, 2006 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Nope, that's an uninformed view of game theory models in evolution. Game theory on fairness relies on individual's willingness to punish unfairness.

If you know that and that's Science you know nothing stops you from cheating when no one is looking.

And if you ignore Science, what's the difference between you and a creationist who likes the big bang but not micro-evolution.

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

Any trait which increases the overall rate of survivability accross a population will therefore come to predominate. If altruism, co-operation and empathy increase the overall surviveability of a population (which is clearly the case when we're talking about social animals like human beings) those behaviours will be reinforced.

Posted by: A Hermit on April 3, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Well, tell that to the most prolific man in history, Genghiz Khan. Where social behaviour was used to bind a coalition of war-rapists together.

But the fact is,if you use evolution as the only reason for morality. The drive to social behaviour is like sex. Its a biological, hormonal, pleasure reaction at best.

A rational person can choose to get the pleasure benefit and 'withdraw' without pregnancy which the effect was meant to incentivize. In the same way, a rational person can get all the social benefits and status of being moral by being immoral when he can't get caught or is in a position of impunity.

Check with a biologist.

-------------
Maybe you need to hit the books yourself there McA...;-) (speaking of which, have you brushed up on Euthyphro yet?)

Posted by: A Hermit on April 3, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Answered that. I did say Christianity is founded on faith so I don't need to know the exact timing of the origin of God and morality. Although, I would say that the Bible which I believe in by faith implies they are both eternal because morality is a characteristic of God who is eternal (or outside time).

Posted by: McA on April 3, 2006 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

Whenever we read ... the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize humankind. And, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.

-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

Posted by: JS on April 3, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the thing is the bible is a historical document. And the entire world was cruel once. If it pretended otherwise it wouldn't be historical.

And one would point out many elements of that improvement came from the coming of Christ and his conversion of the Roman Empire (which was the basis for most Western morality). And the idea of "He who is without sin cast the first stone".

---------

Except natural empathy, social order, positive reinforcement feedback, self respect, enlightened self interest, the "Golden Rule" principle...nope, no reason at all...

Posted by: A Hermit on April 3, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

All of these fail the tests that atheists used to deny God.

1. Obeying social order says nothing on morality when no one is watching or you have impunity. Evolution and game theory show the mechanism to enforce being social as a survival strategy is retaliation....which doesn't apply when no one is watching or you are on top of the heap (Mao)

2. And the rest is inconsistent with the existance of evil. If the human race is predisposed to good deeds (through empathy,self-respect or reinforcement based mechanisms) , why is America not Native American? Or why did Genghiz Khan have so many descendents?

3. The Golden Rule is a definition of morality. No reason for adopting it. Especially when you don't believe in retaliation or you are in a position of morality.

Besides, 'what you want done unto you' is a dangerous definition of right. If I were an atheist, I'd want someone to convert me using fairly agressive means. I do know though, that most atheists would dislike that.

Posted by: McA on April 3, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Mca:

Your postings are so mind-numbingly repetitious that I feel absolutely free to skip them knowing that I will not miss one iota of new information.

Posted by: Keith G on April 3, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

La, la, la. If I can't refute the logic, I'll pretend its no here.

Gee, I thought atheist made fun of evolutionists for not being willing to entertain reason.

Posted by: McA on April 3, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

cld, other studies show that owning pets makes up for not going to church.

Posted by: JS on April 3, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Egyptians liked Cats. Intermediaries with the realm of the dead, they were.

And if you die alone in a room with them. They'll eat you and keep the rats from eating you.

A dog would howl for help first.

Posted by: McA on April 3, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

If you want to study a group of people not indoctrinated by any organized religion while children study the Japanese. I don't think they have very much in the way of organized religion.

Posted by: Tripp on April 3, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Shintoism?

You should look at Mainland Chinese of a certain age.And its depressing.

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

3. The Golden Rule is a definition of morality. No reason for adopting it. Especially when you don't believe in retaliation or you are in a position of morality.

'position of morality' should be 'position of perceived morality' like Mao who could make it up and have people follow.

Posted by: McA on April 3, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

McA, first you said "...the Bible which I believe in by faith...".

And later: "Well, the thing is the bible is a historical document. And the entire world was cruel once. If it pretended otherwise it wouldn't be historical."

So you believe by faith in a historical document that simply depicted the realities of a cruel world?

Posted by: JS on April 4, 2006 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: McA on April 3, 2006 at 10:33 PM

"Well, tell that to the most prolific man in history, Genghiz Khan. Where social behaviour was used to bind a coalition of war-rapists together."

And where are the Mongols today?

"But the fact is,if you use evolution as the only reason for morality."

The fact is neither I nor anyone else has claimed that evolution is the "only reason for morality". Why do you feel it necessary to invent nonsense like that to frame your arguments?

"The drive to social behaviour is like sex. Its a biological, hormonal, pleasure reaction at best."

It's all about sex with you guys, isn't it? ;-) Were the genocide questions too difficult?

"A rational person can choose to get the pleasure benefit and 'withdraw' without pregnancy which the effect was meant to incentivize. In the same way, a rational person can get all the social benefits and status of being moral by being immoral when he can't get caught or is in a position of impunity."

There's a little problem with that called "cognitive dissonance"

Check with a psychologist.

-------------
"Maybe you need to hit the books yourself there McA...;-) (speaking of which, have you brushed up on Euthyphro yet?)"

Posted by: A Hermit on April 3, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

"Answered that."

Sorry. I don't consider "I don't know and I don't care" to be much of an answer...

"I did say Christianity is founded on faith so I don't need to know the exact timing of the origin of God and morality. Although, I would say that the Bible which I believe in by faith implies they are both eternal because morality is a characteristic of God who is eternal (or outside time)."

Time has nothing to do with it, you're avoiding the problem again.

If, however, morality is "a characteristic" of God's doesn't that imply that morality itself is independant of God?

And how do you explain the apparent changes in God's own morality; is there a moral justification for the genocidal orders he gives his followers (in Joshua and Deuteronomy for example), or is genocide always morally wrong? Saying the world was a cruel place at the time is not responsive, we're talking about God's morality here, the one you say is consistent, unchanging and superior to all other forms of morality. The Bible accounts are quite clear in laying the responsibility for the slaughter of innocents at God's feet; in fact, He is even angry when his followers aren't bloody enough and actually show some mercy. (read the account of the massacre of the Midianites in Exodus).

How do you square such behaviour with your claims of superios morality? Can you justify genocide? When Yaweh orders the killing of everyone except the virgin girls (and demands a share of them for Himself) is He behaving morally? If morality is nothing more than what God says it is then you a re making the case that genocide can be morally correct.

Posted by: A Hermit on April 4, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

McA continues:

"And one would point out many elements of that improvement came from the coming of Christ and his conversion of the Roman Empire (which was the basis for most Western morality). And the idea of "He who is without sin cast the first stone".

Read a history of the early Church sometime; take note of how dissidents from official doctrine were dealt with. Is it moral to burn someone at the stake for having different opinion than yours?

Then read Augustine, and see how much contemporary Christian doctrine (in terms of moral behaviour) is actually derived from his interpretations of Aristotle and the othe pagan Greek philosophers. Ideas like "He who is without sin cast the first stone" or "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" predate Christianity (as do many features of the Christ story, from virgin births to crucifiction between two thieves see the Horus myth form Egyptian religion).

These ideas have much older, human origins.

---------

Except natural empathy, social order, positive reinforcement feedback, self respect, enlightened self interest, the "Golden Rule" principle...nope, no reason at all...

-------

"1. Obeying social order says nothing on morality when no one is watching or you have impunity. Evolution and game theory show the mechanism to enforce being social as a survival strategy is retaliation....which doesn't apply when no one is watching or you are on top of the heap (Mao)"

You're ignoring the utility of consistency in behaviour; it's very difficult for most people to maintain a false moral front in public while practicing the opposite in private. It's not enough fo rme to simply put on a public act of morality; that might work for Republican's like Tom DeLay and other Pharisees but I have this little thing called "self respect". I think I'm healthier in general if my private behaviour is consistent with my public face. Ask a bioligist...;-)

In any case, the whole idea is just silly. Behaviour which is immoral has a negative impact on one's self or on others (take that as a rough definition if you like). Mao's mad policies were immoral because they hurt a lot of people, caused unneccessary suffering on a massive scale. It's the damage to others that makes the behaviour immoral; the fact that some pepole "get away with it" doesn't mitigate the damage or justify the behaviour.

"2. And the rest is inconsistent with the existance of evil. If the human race is predisposed to good deeds (through empathy,self-respect or reinforcement based mechanisms) , why is America not Native American? Or why did Genghiz Khan have so many descendents?"

You'll have to explain your reasoning here, I'm afraid you're not making much sense. I'm talking about individual huiman behaviour in general; the fact that human beings are also capable of violence does not negate the utility or the desirabilty or ong term superiority of co-operation and altruism.

North America is a much better place since good Christians stopped trying to massacre every Aboriginal on the continent, wouldn't you agree?

I guess if you think of society as being succesful only in terms of conquest and temporary dominance over other societies your arguments might make sense, but I'm arguing a more universal point.

"3. The Golden Rule is a definition of morality. No reason for adopting it. Especially when you don't believe in retaliation or you are in a position of morality."


The reason for adopting it is clear; if I want others to treat me with respect, I need to treat them with respect. QED

It's telling that you still seem to think retaliation is a necessary element in moral reasoning. It's only in the most immature, childish kind of moral reasoning that such considerations are really important, and "when I became a man I put away childish things"...I suggest you do the same.

Posted by: A Hermit on April 4, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

All of which takes us far from the original point of this post, which is whether or not it's reasonable to consider atheists as second class citizens in America. I'd say it's Bush the Elder's comments which are un-American.

Posted by: A Hermit on April 4, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

"The fact of the matter is that athiests are by definition untrustworthy"

Atheist: One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods. (as per websters) Where does it say untrustworthy? I don't see it.

"A person who can't even give himself to God certainly can't be depended on to give his allegiance to his country. "

Ah, so if a person doubts the existence of a being that has no one shred of evidence behind it, they can't be trusted. But those who believe in invisible men in the sky who care what you eat on Friday and who you sleep with - are. Hmm.

Well then you must not need your doctor to provide proof of your health problems. You must just trust his saying so on faith.

"An athiest is the worst kind of scum, because they made their decision by choice."

As opposed to letting indoctrination from other zombies do the thinking for him. How scary!!

Posted by: Lya Kahlo on April 4, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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