Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Politics and faith entwined

At 7:43 on Aug. 20, jason k. responded: "While Church and State should be seperate, Politics and Faith should not, and cannot be seperate. ... To suggest someone check their faith at the door, when they step into the ballot box, is akin to telling them not to vote in accordance to their values."

He raises an excellent point. On an individual level, politics and faith cannot be separate in anyone who takes both seriously. Sincere faith shapes - or should shape - every perspective, every decision, every action. And choosing a president is not a minor decision.

I have no problem whatsoever with anyone voting based on his or her values. We don't leave that part of us behind when we enter the voting booth.

The problems arise when politics and faith become entwined on the institutional, not the personal, level. That's why the tax laws prohibit pastors from making political endorsements from the pulpit or using church resources to help a candidate. The government can't tell you what church to attend and the church can't tell you what party to elect.

That's as it should be.

In this nation, there are limits to political power. Those who hold it can't tell you what to believe - and they sure can't keep you from voting in accordance with those beliefs.

How will faith shape your decision?

325 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   1 – 200 of 325   Newer›   Newest»
The Heretic said...

Fifty years from now, when the rapidly growing Muslim population of this country approaches the majority line, democracy as we know it will be in serious trouble if folks can’t step outside their faith when voting for leaders who will set policy.

Let’s say I’m a devout Muslim. I refuse to step outside my faith in the voting booth. While Shari’a isn’t one of the five pillars of Islam, it runs a close sixth. Fundamentalist Muslims believe it to be an adequate basis for a legal system, religious and secular. And so I’ll vote for candidates to Congress who will turn us toward Shari’a. Sure, I’ll be aware that there are minority religions and plenty of agnostics and atheists with whom I share this nation. But screw them. I’m the majority. Let them convert to MY faith-based values.

But isn’t this the case we’ve already seen with fundamentalist Christians in this country?

For example, fundamentalist Christians condemn homosexuality, mainly because their religion condemns it. We have plenty of homosexuals who are citizens of this country, but they are in the minority. Any attempts to grant them equal rights is met with stiff opposition at the voting booths by religious folks who can’t step outside their faith when casting a vote that decides the future of all Americans. They instead project their sectarian faith into secular affairs.

Jane, when you enter that booth, you ARE on the institutional level. As Tom Hanks’ character in “A League of Their Own” said, “There’s no crying in baseball”. And there shouldn’t be any faith-based values affecting secular institutional decisions, either. If one were voting for church deacons, vestry or clergy, that’s a different matter. Faith and personal relations can mix there. But in a general election, citizens should have enough brains to realize that it is not about their religion. Just hanker down, put on a blindfold, and use your own mind when casting that ballot, not your minister’s. The only faith-based thing that should dictate your decision should be “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You”.

I don’t think the problem is so much “can’t” step outside their faith as it is “won’t”.

Jason K. said...

With the separation of Church and State, firmly rooted in the first amendment, it would take a constitutional amendment to not only win a 2/3rds vote in both the House and Senate, not to mention 2/3rds of the states in the union to ratify such amendment for Shari'a law to become a reality in this nation. The argument is alarmist at best.

As an evangelical, I don't vote for the most "Christian Candidate." Or the Candidate that would turn this nation into a Fundamental Theocracy as some would claim.

I look for candidates who have similar values as mine. Pro-Life, stress the importance of Personal Responsibility, seem to have a character of integrity.

The question remains, can I separate my faith from politics, or is it something I refuse to do.

While I don't believe I can the real answer, It doesn't matter at all to you, why I vote the way I do, the Constitution gave me my right to, and I will most certainly use all that makes up the person "jason k" to do so, even if part of that is my faith.

Anonymous said...

Heretic, that was a good example. The point being that when the religious can't or won't step outside their faith when voting or participating in our secular government, they start to turn things toward the sectarian side. How true.

Rather than looking for candidates with similar values as our own, shouldn't we be asking ourselves what sort of values our Constitution allows? And then basing an intelligent voting decision on that criteria?

But that seems to be the crux of the problem. We have way too many people basing secular decisions on sectarian upbringing.

Gamecock said...

Jason K quoted Pastor Warren re faith and politics. Good quote.

more later on how faith shapes my votes

Pete said...

When one candidate wants abortion illegal and the other doesn't, and when one wants gay marriage illegal and the other doesn't, and paid church leaders are teaching their members that abortion and gay marriage are wrong, then there isn't a separation between Church and politics.

But shouldn't the majority get what it wants in a democracy? If it happens that a democratic country is mostly religious fundamentalists and they want abortion and homosexuality illegal, then that's how it should be. The Constitution can be changed.

Iztok said...

I've learned long time ago that when I make my decisions on something other then reason (such as emotions or faith) it can have very bad consequences down the road. Issue I see is that religious people (of all kinds) are willing to sacrifice their freedoms for favors of their deity. Even more of an issue is that they are trying to sacrifice our freedoms with theirs as well. If you want (like Rick Warren) surrender yourself to your deity, go ahead, just don't ask or expect others to sacrifice our freedoms as well.

Faith is not and should not be counted as a virtue. It causes people to believe in something without examining evidence and applying reason. It causes people to follow and admire bigots like Rick Warren. (Rick doesn't really quite grasp how idiotic Pascal's Wager is as well and uses it. Sorry but people who don't understand how illogical Pascal's Wager is shouldn't be questioning presidential candidates.)

Bringing faith into politics is against what our founding fathers envisioned for this country. It is also opening doors for this country to be taken over my extremists (either Christian or later Muslim) that will in turn destroy freedoms and democracy we all came to know. Too bad that many don't see how important freedoms are.

Pete said...

My last comment would have readers think I want abortion and homosexuality illegal. I don't. I'm not a fundamentalist. Just making a point.

Pete said...

As a democracy the majority chooses what limits there will be on our freedom. If the majority wants to put atheists in prison, too bad for the atheists.

Constitutional amendments can be repealed, changed and added. There isn't a freedom that can't be taken. As far as what our founding fathers wanted, it doesn't matter because they can't vote.

Iztok said...

Pete: "But shouldn't the majority get what it wants in a democracy?"

Simple answer is NO.

More complex is that democracy by itself will always become a tyranny in the long run (either by majority or a tyrant that will seize the power at one point). Hence it is more important to protect our freedoms.

To clearly paint the issue with democracy in general one just has to remember a story when fox and wolf are confused why rabbit is objecting their democratic decision to have it (rabbit) for dinner.

Iztok said...

Pete: "As a democracy the majority chooses what limits there will be on our freedom. If the majority wants to put atheists in prison, too bad for the atheists."

Let me make this clearer for others so they can grasp what you've said:

"As a democracy the majority chooses what limits there will be on our freedom. If the majority wants to put Jews in concentration camps and/or killed, too bad for the Jews."

Pete said...

Iztok,

I agree. My freedom is more important than democracy. But we can't always get what we want.

Let's put what I said in another context: "If the majority wants to take money from the middle class and give it to the poor, too bad for the middle class."

Iztok said...

Pete, that is not what you were saying initially. You said (with me paraphrasing by changing atheists with Jews and prisons with concentration camps) that if majority decides to put Jews in concentration camps it is too bad for Jews.

Sorry but that kind of mentality is simply wrong and should not be tolerated at all. It is mentality that propelled Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and others alike to do horrible things against humanity. It is mentality that caused many to be burnt at stake for heresy.

Pete said...

In another context: "If the majority wants to force 18 year olds to kill Russians, too bad for the 18 year olds (and Russians)."

There is more to faith than belief in God. How can we know what is more important when deciding between freedom, democracy and civil rights? We often give up freedom and democracy for love of others--compassion for the atheists, Jews, poor, gays, 18 year olds and Russians. Maybe it should be faith in the rightness of Love that we take into the voting booth.

Bob said...

Religious ideas should never be mixed into politics because, as Lincoln said, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Rev. Mike said...

Jane, et al, a couple of things here.

First, the notion of values-free voting is silly and basically a non-starter in any conversation about this subject. The old chestnut about not legislating morality is just that because we do it all the time and about matters that both the religious and the irreligious agree.

However, second, where this truly becomes a problem is not that Christians or anyone else are bringing their religions to the voting booth. The problem is twofold--a church that does not understand its own gospel message and a state that does not properly understand the limits of its role either. Both entities, in their self-deluded idea that all problems can be solved, proceed down a hubristic path of coercing and compelling the individual to adopt their proscriptions, backed by the threat of force.

How the church can reconcile such an approach to power with a Bible that tells them Jesus said that the secular rulers love to lord their authority over others, but it shall not be so with you and with Paul's appeal to the church at Philippi to a Christ who emptied himself of the power of deity, is beyond my comprehension. How the state, grounded in its cynical view of human nature, can conclude that it can possibly effect the types of wholesale societal changes it seeks to accomplish apart from values other than the will to power is likewise beyond my comprehension.

Why is it acceptable for the state to use tax policy for any number of ends, whether it is to encourage marriage or to encourage us to buy more houses, buy cars, buy more stuff in general? Are these not values-based policies? Who determines that these are "good" values?

The Heretic said...

“Maybe it should be faith in the rightness of Love that we take into the voting booth.”

Pete, I can accept that. That would certainly be an improvement over the vindictiveness that often controls some voters’ minds.

I note, however, that juries are asked to decide a case based on the evidence presented, not on personal preferences, faith or gut feelings. No doubt that there have been many jurors over time who have refused to step outside the box when deciding the fate of a fellow human. And as Jason K. points out, not even the judge can prevent that from happening.

But voting should be taken at least as seriously as jury duty. You shouldn’t ask yourself what Jesus would do when you’re sitting in that secular jury (or ballot) box, you should ask yourself if your interpretation and decision complies with what the judge (or the Constitution) asks you to do.

After all, before the President can take office, he must swear to uphold the Constitution, not to uphold the Bible (or other book) on which he rests his hand.

As for Majority Rule, that may be the case at the ballot box, but our founders made it clear with their elaborate system of checks and balances – including one mentioned by Jason K. – that this country would also protect individual and civil rights. The fact that one has a choice in this nation between being pro choice or pro life, not just one or the other, is evidence of that.

Gamecock said...

Yes Pete, all have free speech and all get to vote.

Gamecock said...

Yes Pete, and when it comes to the Bill of Rights, it was super majorities that put them in place as well as the Constitution and it is a viaolation of the Oath when 5 lawyers in robes re-write the document.

Gamecock said...

Bob, what a non sequitur! And what an opportunity for my holistic essay in response to Jane's query.

Separation of church and state was a concept meant to protect the Church from the State. The so-called wall that Jefferson spoke of in a letter was telling Danbury Connecticut Baptists that the "wall" between the State (fed govt) could not help them with the Congregationalist state Church in Connecticut. The Establishment Clause only applied to the federal government. States could have state churches, only the federal govt could not have fund or require obeisance to, a National church ala the Church of England they fled.

Those phrases are all well and good, but we have a Constitution that protects a federal system and individual rights.

Free exercise means that the government cannot prevent you from attending the church of your choice. Prohibition of establishment, now applied to the states via the 14th means that you cannot be made to fund an official state church. That is all they mean.

No one's free exercise is inhibited by HEARING prayer or SEEING Zeus or Moses or Christ on a wall.

All speech is free in the marketplace of ideas, not just secular speech. Anyone can vote for any law for any reason. The law itself must not transgress the Constitution. Whether a law does violate same is determined by the operation of the law, not intent.

Therefore, religious and non-religious speech is allowed in the arena of ideas and then all get to vote.

America. It works.

As to how faith affects my political choices. It does not matter if the candidate is a professing Christian like me. For example, I believe Obama is a Christian but that he, like most of the leaders of the Democrat Party of which an official for 18 years until 2000, advances policies and world view that is anathema to the Judeo-Christian values and Constitutional principles of self government via a federal republic that has made us the wealthiest, most moral and greatest nation on Earth in its history.

To say nothing of Obama's lack of character, and especially his positions on Life, liberty in private property and defense via the nation-state model ordained by God.

I love my neighbor. That love requires me to look at what policies work. Peace thru strength works. The Bible teaches and history shows that evil has and will always exist and that it must be deterred and defeated as possible.

No enemy would fear Obama or any democrat.

Obama and the liberals favor imposing there views via judicial fiat, against the Constitution. They favor taking away too much of the fruits of one's labor to show their compassion.

Most liberals mean well, as i did when I was a democrat. I was Christian the whole time then. But I was wrong.

I watched the democrat party belie their racial inclusive rhetoric to become a party obsessed with race based laws in contravention of MLK's dream.

I watch them belie their care for the poor by insisting on policies that are proven failures.

Real love wants results that help the poor, not laws that make me feel better for having supported it due to class envy.

more later

Anonymous said...

I think, before blaming both sides -secular and sectarian - we should ask ourselves just who the aggressor is.

Let's see: Sectarians don't want anyone to have an abortion, period! Secularlists say if you don't want one, we're not going to force you. But if you want one, that decision is up to you.

Sectarians: Win/Lose
Secularlists: Win/Win

Sectarians don't want gay "marriages", period! Secularlists say that if churches don't want to ordain, admit or marry gays, that's their right. But if gays want to marry or unite, they should have that right and equal protection of the law in the secular realm.

Sectarians: Win/Lose
Secularlists: Win/Win

Anonymous said...

More news at eleven. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

"For example, I believe Obama ... advances policies and world view that is anathema to the Judeo-Christian values ... especially his positions on Life, liberty in private property and defense via the nation-state model ordained by God."

In other words, if Jesus came back today and ran as a Democrat - which he likely would since he had such liberal views for his day during his prior visit - you wouldn't vote for him. Maybe you can persuade him to run as a Rockefeller Republican.

And naturally god or gods would ordain a nation-state (usually known as theocracy) and headed by him, wouldn't he? Another good reason to keep god or gods out of state business and our freedom and liberties.

pornstudent said...

I'm thinking of not voting. North Carolina is going Republican, so it doesn't matter. In a real democracy the popular vote would be the one that counted.

Jesus probably wouldn't have voted either. He didn't want much to do (anything?) with politics.

Anonymous said...

In God We Trust.

Great motto. Just as long as it's my God and his values we're trusting.

Anonymous said...

You may be right, Pornstudent. I interpret his "Render unto Caesar" comment as admitting that there are governments beyond the control of God, so follow their rules and values when you're dealing with them, follow God's when you are dealing with God. A clear example of God-ordained separation of church and state.

pornstudent said...

I think faith in country, i.e., nationalism, has killed more people than faith in God.

JED1013 said...

The Constition of the Uinted States of America gives each citizen the right and freedom to vote in manner they choose. If they choose to vote based on thier religous values, then so be it. If they choose to vote based on thier mental reasoning, so be it.

Tha fact is, that no one can tell how or for who you should vote. And that's the way it should be.

In the words of another: Either you like it or don't like it, but it's the best game in town.

D.J. Williams said...

Anonymous said...
"Let's see: Sectarians don't want anyone to have an abortion, period! Secularlists say if you don't want one, we're not going to force you. But if you want one, that decision is up to you.

Sectarians: Win/Lose
Secularlists: Win/Win"


I find it interesting and ironic that the unborn human persons being killed don't factor into the win/lose equation. In the pro-choice view espoused by secularists, they most certainly lose.

Soli Deo Gloria

The Heretic said...

"If they choose to vote based on thier religous values, then so be it. If they choose to vote based on thier mental reasoning, so be it."

Jed, I sure hope you don't pull jury duty when I'm on trial. I've served twice, and the judge doesn't tell you that your decision is to be based on what Jesus would do, or on what you learned in Sunday School, or on the values you and your friends espouse, but on the evidence and the judge's instructions.

Voting is just like jury duty. Both are secular civic duties. In a federal election, it's the secular Constitution that should govern our secular actions, not the Bible, Koran or Mishnah. We're expected to step outside our faith when we make jury decisions. We should be expected to do the same when we decide on a President.

Seems that it's likely there are a lot of Americans who never received a fair trial, as well as a lot of Presidential candidates who were elected for the wrong reasons.

Anonymous said...

Unborn human beings don't exist as citizens. They are unborn.

You might as well try arguing that a sperm cell is human life. Therefore in the pro-life view espoused by sectarians, masturbation is a sin. Therefore we shouldn't masturbate, even if the secular law doesn't forbid it, because your faith says God made or makes all life. Therefore God also doesn't want fetuses aborted, regardless of the circumstances. I don't recall God telling me that.

It may seem unfair to you, but unborn children in this secular nation are the responsibility of their parents, and the parents are responsible for any decision regarding that fetus, unless the fetus or God can argue otherwise.

We can prove that the parents are responsible for the creation of the fetus and therefore should be allowed to choose. Can you prove that God is responsible for creating that fetus, and therefore the parents should do what you perceive God wants?

Anonymous said...

I've heard that they almost never pick engineers or people with graduate degrees for a jury.

They don't exempt you, but they rarely pick you.

The idea, as I understand it, is to avoid people who are likely to be "too" analytical.

-anon1

Rev. Mike said...

Wow. A couple of observations/comments about some of Anonymous's statements:

"We can prove that the parents are responsible for the creation of the fetus and therefore should be allowed to choose. Can you prove that God is responsible for creating that fetus, and therefore the parents should do what you perceive God wants?"

The question for a person of faith in that equation is one of authority, not responsibility. The acknowledgement of that authority is only partly a matter of reason. It also includes some element of revelation according to orthodox Christian theology, i.e., God revealing himself and our responding to that revelation. Since a secular framework does not allow for such an element to enter into the discussion, the secularlist would not accept a fundamental premise for a Christian as being valid. Thus, you might say they are rigging the question, whereas they would say you are asking the wrong question to begin with. The dialogue comes to a screeching halt as a result.

"I've heard that they almost never pick engineers or people with graduate degrees for a jury.

They don't exempt you, but they rarely pick you.

The idea, as I understand it, is to avoid people who are likely to be 'too' analytical."

I guess as an engineer with a graduate degree I'm doubly screwed! (Or lucky not to have to serve on the jury if your inclinations go accordingly.) :)

Anonymous said...

rev. mike,

I did some Googling on this jury selection stuff. Found a somewhat interesting report here on selecting juries favorable to corporations:

http://www.persuasionstrategies.com/


Look under "articles" for "Jurors in Red and Blue America".

There is some discussion about how to select a pro-corporate jury.

In summary, more religious, less educated, lower level employees are best.

If you can stack a jury, maybe you can stack an election.

And maybe someone has a vested interest in the dumbing and impoverishment of America...

-anon1

Anonymous said...

"It also includes some element of revelation according to orthodox Christian theology, i.e., God revealing himself and our responding to that revelation. Since a secular framework does not allow for such an element to enter into the discussion, the secularlist would not accept a fundamental premise for a Christian as being valid."

Hello, knock-knock, anybody home?

That's exactly the point, Rev. Mike. We don't have a theocracy. We have a secular government. If you have some valid secularist arguments as to why secular decisions should be based on sectarian values, let's hear them.

And while you're at it, do you have a videotape, sound recording or other physical of God's revelation that he and what you perceive to be his beliefs should be in control of our government?

Gamecock said...

Pornstudent, let me encourage you to not vote. I am not one of those people that thinks everyone should vote, no matter what.

Iztok said...

Pornstudent: "I think faith in country, i.e., nationalism, has killed more people than faith in God."

I guess you didn't read the Bible? It counts over 2 million killed attributed to God and followers. Not to mention the flood that eradicated wast population of not only humans.

Compared to flood there is no greater massacre in history by far (percentage of population wise).

Unless one really doesn't believe things written in the Bible :)

Gamecock said...

Faith in this country is an exception to that "rule". Communists did not die for nationalism btw.

But nation-states are the preferred damage control device east of Eden. Unified man increases evil exponentially. Nation states are checks on power.

Gamecock said...

amen JED

Our system is the worst in history and today, except for all the others that have been tried.

Iztok said...

"I find it interesting and ironic that the unborn human persons being killed don't factor into the win/lose equation. In the pro-choice view espoused by secularists, they most certainly lose."

I wonder if unborn human persons being killed during spontaneous abortion (i.e. part of "God's plan") are counted in this by anti-abortion people or not. After all, someone has to be responsible for those killings as well, right?

Gamecock said...

heretic, voting is not like jury duty (I have addressed hundreds of juries btw) but, if you want to go there, where witnesses take oaths on Bibles, we can.

Jurors steeped in judeo-christian principles, like an eye for eye, which was a liberal improvement or proportional punishment over pagan virgib sacrifice, are much better than secular non-values.

Most of what you would calls ecular values became the norm thanks to Christians.

Nick said...

Now let me see if I can get this straight. You want me to leave my religious values outside the voting booth like I take my coat off when I go into my house. In the voting booth I should just use my common sense.

Basically, I think I'd end up the same way. The Constitution guarantees that all men are created equal with the right to LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. My religious values support the rights of the least among us, and so does the Constitution.

For those who posit that the fetus isn't human, a strict interpretation of the Constitution would imply that only "men," not women, boys, or girls, have the stated rights. Since that is clearly not the case, the word "men" is used in the broad sense and must therefore include everybody, even the unborn. I would say that applies particularly to the unborn since the right to life would apply particularly to developing life. If some want to call it "potential life," the principal still applies - the right to life must apply particularly to one that is facing life, coming into life. Life is in its future and it has the right to that life.

If we can arbitrarily say that the right to life applies only to the born, and not to the unborn, the defenseless, those that cannot speak for themselves, it is not a full-orbed right, and we are only being selfish. We don't really care about others, we only care about ourselves.

If we're not decided on that question - i.e., if some contend that the fetus is not human and some contend that it is - why shouldn't the fetus be given the benefit of the doubt? What kind of people are we, anyway, when we would take potential human life and suck its brains up a hose?

And you want me to forget my religious values when I vote?

Iztok said...

If anyone ever wondered what Christian theocracy in US would look like if we wouldn't be a secular government...

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/2/story.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10528229

Iztok said...

"where witnesses take oaths on Bibles"

Last time when I was in front of a judge I wasn't even asked to put my hand on a Bible (or any other holy book). (Was here in Charlotte.) Which was just as good as if asked I would simply say I don't believe in fairy tales.

Iztok said...

"What kind of people are we, anyway, when we would take potential human life and suck its brains up a hose?"

What kind of loving God allows spontaneous abortions all the time?

Pete said...

Jesus wasn't a conservative. He was killed by a conservative religion because he was a threat to it. Conservatism is more concerned about doing things according to tradition than in loving each other. My faith in Love will influence my decision in the voting booth. I want more opportunities for people to make a livable wage. I want everyone to be able to get a yearly physical examination and care when they need it. I want us to stop killing the planet. I want us to value and believe in Love more than consumerism, competition and pride.

Bob said...

Behavior is rational if the expected return exceeds the cost, discounted by the likelihood that the return will occur. Voting obivously has costs, at least in terms of time. Informed voting even more so. The only reasonably likely return one can expect from voting is personal satisfaction (since the one vote won't decide the election and, even if it did, the election, standing alone, probably won't bring about any policies that matter to the voter). So voting for a candidate in order to obtain policy results is irrational, while voting to affirm one's moral or religious or civic identity is rational. That may be the only rational way to vote, since those are the kinds of things that move people in a way that generates a sufficient psychic payday to justify the costs. In the same way, it is rational to believe in God -- even a difficult and absent God -- so long as the personal reward exceeds the costs. Perhaps the personal reward is especially great if the God is difficult and absent. I have no expertise there. But I do know that the only thing we atheists have to sell is a potentially meaningless existence. So, even if we had better-quality sales personnel than you commonly find around here, it's unsurprising that people are not lining up for a jolt of emptiness.

Now, back to the slugfest.

JED1013 said...

Jed, I sure hope you don't pull jury duty when I'm on trial. I've served twice, and the judge doesn't tell you that your decision is to be based on what Jesus would do, or on what you learned in Sunday School, or on the values you and your friends espouse, but on the evidence and the judge's instructions.

The Heretic.

When serving on a jury, I am obligated by my religious values to follow the the instructions of the judge according to the laws of this country, unless those laws contradict my religious values, in which case I am obligated by law to inform the judge of that contradiction.

Not so with voting. The Constitution of the United States of America does not obligate me to vote according anything. It doesn't even obligate me to vote at all. It only gives me the right to vote. I have the right to cast my vote based on any values I choose. It's that simple.

It seems a little strange to me, that the same people who cry "the religious people are trying to tell us how we should live", are the very same ones that are trying to tell everyone on what values a vote should be based on.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

A truly cynical, self-serving atheist would probably go to church just for the social perks.

Most of us could "pass" without any problem.

Pascals Wager makes no sense in reality, but when you factor in the obvious worldly benefits of belief (such as being able to get elected to public office or having a ready source of "trusting" clients) it can be the rational bet.

It's a lot like someone from an impoverished country "converting" to get a higher standard of living.

Not that uncommon.

-anon1

D.J. Williams said...

Iztok said...
""What kind of people are we, anyway, when we would take potential human life and suck its brains up a hose?"

What kind of loving God allows spontaneous abortions all the time?"


Can I option this to Webster's for a perfect definition of dodging the question? Come on, Iztok, we've been down this road before more times than I can count. If you're going to say that miscarriages make abortion okay then you have to say that senior citizens dying of natural causes makes killing them okay. Unless you're willing to pull a full Peter Singer, your argument is fallacious.

Anonymous said...
"You might as well try arguing that a sperm cell is human life."

I wouldn't argue that a sperm cell is human life, but the scientific community is pretty comforable arguing that an unborn child is...

Dr. Hymie Gordon (Mayo Clinic): “By all criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.”

Dr. Micheline Matthews-Roth (Harvard University Medical School): “It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.”

Dr. Alfred Bongioanni (University of Pennsylvania): “I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception.”

Dr. Jerome LeJeune, “the Father of Modern Genetics” (University of Descartes, Paris): “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion . . . it is plain experimental evidence.”

But what do I know. I'm just a crazy religious sectarian who doesn't believe in science. :)

Soli Deo Gloria

Bob said...

Anon 1:

Don't forget there is a cost to perceiving yourself to be cynical and self-serving. But a good potluck supper can certainly go a long way. You are right about that.

Bob said...

D.J.:

In Oxford's New English Bible, God commands that an unfaithful wife shall be punished with an induced miscarriage. Numbers 5:11-30. Other translations are less explicit, but can at least reasonably be read as having the same meaning. Doesn't that create some room for differing views?

D.J. Williams said...

Bob,

A few thoughts...

1) I'm not really a big fan of dynamic equivalence translations like the NEB (because of situations like this where the committee engages in interpretation rather than translation. The NASB and ESV are much more faithful to the original Hebrew, and after some reading I don't see any mention of a forced miscarriage. In fact, the promise to the woman who is found to be unjustly accused is that she will be able to concieve children - a silly promise if she's already pregnant. You're going to have to further explain your case textually for me.

2) How is this an appropriate Biblical analogy for abortion-on-demand? In what way would your viewpoint make room for differing views (Biblically speaking)?

3) In the end, from a legal standpoint, Numbers 5 is irrelevant to the discussion. Though my convictions are biblical in nature, my case for outlawing abortion is a constitutional one, not a Biblical one. Scour my long history of posting on this board and show me one place where I make a religious argument for outlawing abortion.

Soli Deo Gloria

Bob said...

DJ:

Thanks for the response. Right or wrong, you are always interesting.

1. I have the Harper Collins New Revised Standard Version. I assume that is the same as the RSV. (I don't know what the other initials stand for.) Even in the Harper Collins, the fate of the unfaithful wife sounds a lot like a miscarriage. But there is some ambiguity. My point is not to resolve the question so much as to suggest that certainty on the abortion issue is, from a strictly biblical perspective, problematic.

2. I don't think that the New English version necessarily supports abortion on demand. But it does raise doubt as to the moral status of the fetus, from a biblical perspective. Again, humility.

3. Whatever its faults, Roe v. Wade does a good job of refuting any idea that the word "person" in the Fourteenth Amendment was ever intended or understood to mean a fetus. And there is certainly no emerging consensus on the point. So I don't see any constitutional argument.

I had assumed, obviously incorrectly, that your position was Bible-based. I am happy to be corrected. But please, please don't make me reread Iztok's comments to verify it. There are limits to fair argument!

Anonymous said...

In my case, perceiving myself as cynical and self-serving is already a sunk cost.

I just need to maximize that investment somehow.

And I have taken advantage of a few "suppers" in my day, so pass me a plate.

(And I don't mean an offering plate...)

-anon1

Anonymous said...

In my case, perceiving myself as cynical and self-serving is already a sunk cost.

I just need to maximize that investment somehow.

And I have taken advantage of a few "suppers" in my day, so pass me a plate.

(And I don't mean an offering plate...)

-anon1

Anonymous said...

Don't know how I got that double post...

So pass me 2 plates.

-anon1

Gamecock said...

Pete

There was nothing analogously conservative about those powers that be that wanted to snuff out Jesus.

Jesus taught the concept of sin, the wages for which is death. That's conservative as Hell.

And I came to find that the liberalism in the Dem Party metastacized sometime between 1965-2000 to seek love of oneself an big government rather than a love that sought lovong results for the object of govt policy. Conservative policies produce actual loving results.

D.J. Williams said...

Bob,

First off, thanks for the intelligent and charitable discussion. I’ve stayed away recently because those qualities have been increasingly hard to find around here. Thought-out and vitriol-free responses like yours make productive discussion possible. I don't want to take that attitude for granted.

For textual clarity in reproducing the original Hebrew, I’ve found the New American Standard Version to be best. The translators go for word-for-word precision, though the differences in grammatical structure between English and Hebrew ensure that the translation reads as a little wooden in places. However, this keeps interpretation squarely in the court of the reader, not the translator. The English Standard Version is my choice for daily reading and study, since it takes the word-for-word methodology of the NASB and irons out some of the awkward spots literarily. At any rate – I can see how you can get that reading from the imagery used, but I ultimately don’t think that interpretation fits the textual data. My reasoning…

1) Pregnancy is nowhere mentioned. This is a text dealing with accusations of adultery and the consequences of such. Not every instance of adultery results in pregnancy, obviously. We would have to read a pregnancy into the text, since it is not actually present in the text. I think this is inadvisable because…

2) The promise to a woman vindicated from false accusations is that she will not be barren (what I think is the actual threat here, not miscarriage), but will be able to conceive. As I said above, if she is already pregnant, the promise that she will conceive children is strange.

So, I don’t think the miscarriage interpretation matches the textual context. Thus, I don’t think this casts a whole lot of doubt on the personhood of a fetus from a biblical perspective. There are consequences laid out in the OT law for killing a woman’s unborn child while attacking her, a pre-natal encounter between Jesus and John the Baptist seems to assume personhood, et al. I don’t see a passage that, as you’ve admitted, is ambiguous at best turning these other passages on their heads.

I believe Roe v. Wade to be bad constitutional law. In the 36 years that have passed, medical technology has advanced to the point where we are able to see the amazing nature of the unborn in a way they never could. The quotes I reproduced from leading scientists show that scientifically, there is no question that an unborn child is a unique and individual human life. Thus, the only reason to deny constitutional rights in light of this science is to further define human “personhood.” My belief is that whatever criteria are used to make this distinction (development, size, dependency, etc.) carry grave ethical implications elsewhere. Thus my mention earlier of Princeton prof. Peter Singer, who has taken many of these views to their abhorrent, though logically consistent, ends.

BTW, for the sake of clarity, my beliefs and convictions are most certainly Bible-based, but my arguments are not. I also have the conviction that Christ alone is the way to God, but I do not believe that Christian faith should be mandated by the government of our free society (or any society – faith can’t be forced by definition). However, I believe that the government has the duty to protect human rights – the right to life chief among them – thus I seek to take my convictions about the personhood of the unborn and make a secular, constitutional case. The government shouldn’t be in the business of religious faith – but it should be in the business of protecting human rights, and for that reason I see abortion as a viable political issue in our society.

Soli Deo Gloria

Anonymous said...

In two generations, the US will mostly be an extension of Mexico.

Hispanics will be in control and they will liberalize immigration and probably grant amnesty to whomever they wish the democratic way.

Both the economy and education levels will have dropped significantly from today.

We should take very good care of our soil and water so we have something of value to trade with the rest of the world besides our cheap labor.

-anon1

Anonymous said...

And making abortions illegal will only make these demographic changes come about sooner.

-anon1

Pete said...

The religious leaders that had Jesus crucified were conservative. Following the traditions of their religion was more important to them than loving people; for example, they complained that Jesus healed on the Sabbath. The sin that Jesus complained about was the hypocrisy of the religious.

Iztok said...

"If you're going to say that miscarriages make abortion okay then you have to say that senior citizens dying of natural causes makes killing them okay."

I am not saying abortions are okay. I am just questioning how they go with notion of a loving God. Fact is that God is not really loving. Problem of evil is something you can't really avoid at all. I am not talking about human caused evil. I am talking about natural disasters for example.

For your records, I am not pro-abortion as many falsely claim. I am simply pro-choice. It is not for me (or any other human) to decide what a woman in distress can do with her body. Fetus does not think. Many animals have higher sensing capabilities at the time men slaughter them. Further more, if you read the Bible you can see that God required his followers to kill pregnant women and sometimes cause abortions as well. So how immoral abortion is if God orders or causes it himself? Unless you claim that same act is moral and OK if conducted by God and immoral if conducted by man?

The Heretic said...

Jed said “When serving on a jury, I am obligated by my religious values to follow the the instructions of the judge according to the laws of this country, unless those laws contradict my religious values, in which case I am obligated by law to inform the judge of that contradiction."

Jed, I couldn’t agree more with the obvious outcome of your statement: If you can’t follow a judge’s instructions in a secular trial and base your decision on the applicable secular law, then the judge should dismiss you, which is probably what is going to happen. But if you can step outside your faith, the judge will probably allow you to serve. That’s how it’s supposed to be in the secular world.


Jed said "Not so with voting. The Constitution of the United States of America does not obligate me to vote according anything. It doesn't even obligate me to vote at all. It only gives me the right to vote. I have the right to cast my vote based on any values I choose. It's that simple.”

Jed, I agree that no one is going to lock you up for not voting, but the right to a fair trial by jury and the right to vote are both expressed or implied in the Constitution. Both are to be taken as serious duties. The fact that they are guaranteed by secular law, not religious law, should tip you off that the criteria to be used in the jury box or in the voting booth is secular, not religious.

The Heretic said...

Gamecock said: "Jurors steeped in judeo-christian principles, like an eye for eye, which was a liberal improvement or proportional punishment over pagan virgib sacrifice, are much better than secular non-values. Most of what you would calls ecular values became the norm thanks to Christians.”

My friend, let’s say you are correct, and that “Judeo-Christian values are much better than secular non-values”. And let’s say that a juror who adheres to Judeo-Christian values willfully decides to remain on a jury and apply “Judeo-Christian principles”, rather than follow the judge’s instruction regarding applicable secular law, or that he or she does not ask to be excused. In other words, the juror refuses to step outside their faith.

The result is that the values the juror is personally displaying (albeit under the covers) are dishonesty and deceitfulness. On top of that the juror is cheating the defendant, the plaintiff and the people. So, this may have become the norm thanks to Christians who can’t step outside their faith. But give me good old honest secular court values any day.

Similarly, the President swears to preserve, protect, defend the Constitution. Not the Bible, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Koran or the Talmud. If he has his fingers crossed behind his back when reciting the oath, or if he winks at the camera to let the Judeo-Christian Principles Crowd that he’s going to do what the “moral majority” wants and the heck with the Constitution, then he is apparently displaying his values of dishonesty and deceitfulness, and one must assume they are of Judeo-Christian origin.

Ditto for those who voted for him based on adherence to Judeo-Christian values, rather then stepping outside of their “faith” and voting based on what this nation is really all about.

And Gamecock, Christians didn’t and don’t have a lock on developing our legal codes. Frankly, when you come down to it, most laws are there to protect one citizen from another. A law to punish theft, for example, would just as likely have the same intention and reason whether the person who developed it is a pagan, Muslim, Hindu or atheist. In other words, most laws are generic – common to all mankind’s need for justice. Most of mankind claims one or another religious affiliation. That doesn’t mean the law couldn’t or wouldn't have been developed in a purely secular sense.

Gamecock said...

H

It is judeo-christian values that produced most jury instructions. But within those instructions are vague areas that are left to the juror.

Nick said...

Iztok said "It is not for me (or any other human) to decide what a woman in distress can do with her body."

I couldn't agree with you more. But the fetus isn't her body. It has its own beating heart, its own brain, its own arms and legs. It has its own DNA, which makes it a distinct, unique human being.

The fetus isn't a lump of flesh attached to the mother's body, it is a growing, developing being in its own right. It's alive because it is growing. This isn't religion, it's science.

To say that the fetus is less than human is to hearken back to a dark period of history when an entire race was labeled as subhuman. That reasoning was the rationale for exterminating six million of them.

The fetus is a separate and unique person, endowed by it's Creator with certain inalienable rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That isn't religion, it's the Constitution.

Iztok said...

Nick, fetus can't survive on its own or with help from outside source other then mother. People like you seem overly committed to fetus until it is born, however after it is born or esp. when they grow bit older. There are around 13 thousand of kids in NC alone that are in foster care. One would think that people in Bible belt would be the first ones to step up to the plate and show their Christian values. But no, only about 4% of kids once they turn 10 years old ever gets adopted and find permanent family. Yet most of those were born to Christian girls with parents failing to provide them proper sexual education.

So tell me, how come your concern for someone's fetus is bigger then concern for already born children in foster care? Are you just full of talk or are you walking the walk? Sounds like Luke 6:41 to me.

My position: Adoption of my 17 year old daughter was final on July 30th.

pornstudent said...

Nick,

I'm glad you're back commenting.

I agree with you about a fetus being alive, but not all life has the same value. We value people more than ants, our children more than someone else's, our friends more than strangers, and Americans more than Malawians.

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is not in the Constitution. So it can't be used as a legal reason to outlaw abortion.

I don't have much feeling either way on abortion, but here's an idea: Have those who think abortion is murder adopt all the babies that would have been aborted. What if those who think abortion is murder can't afford to adopt the fetuses or have other plans for their lives or think kids would make them crazy? Well, they could ask the government to help with child care and health insurance.

Iztok said...

""Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is not in the Constitution."

I was about to point that out earlier but decided not to. Funny thing is that people not only don't know the difference between Declaration of Independence and Constitution, but even when they pull the phrase when it comes to abortion they forget that it includes happiness that they should apply to homosexuality. (I.e. defend homosexuality with the same phrase.) It just shows how they are used to pick and choose from the Bible what works and doesn't work for them. (And find all sorts of excuses why not.)

Nick said...

Iztok and Pornstudent - I adopted my 2 sons. I put my money where my mouth is, I walk the talk.

I'll admit I didn't look up the reference to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but I won't admit to being neglectful of other people's children.

The Declaration of Independence (there, I got it right that time) guarantees the right to the "pursuit of happiness." To use that to say that I have a right to whatever makes me happy is a real stretch. Let's not even go there.

Iztok said...

Nick, you adopted them from foster care? Or some "commercial adoption babies from China"? Big difference.

"To use that to say that I have a right to whatever makes me happy is a real stretch."

No one said that at all. However homosexuality (as an act of pursuing happiness by two consenting adults) is not a real stretch. What two adults engage in (as long as it is not harming any of them) privacy of their homes is not your (or anyone's) business except their own. Homosexuality is natural (i.e. people are born with homosexual tendencies) so why objecting it? (On the other hand, religion is not natural it is learned process. Babies are born atheist just as "God intended".)

Gamecock said...

There is no case to made from the Constitution that it prohibits States from outlawing abortion, but one could make a case (I don't think its a great case.) that the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments require "due process" before a baby in the womb is executed.

Bob said...

At the risk of elevating the conversion and (gasp!) returning vaguely to topic, I would like to revisit DJ's constitutional analysis of the abortion issue. The pro-life result for which he contends requires a non-originalist jurisprudence (that is, an evolving concept of what the word "person" means in the Fourteenth Amendment). I like the jurisprudence (though not the result), but my point lies elsewhere. Miscellany excluded, the only presidential candidate who is pro-life says he opposes non-originalist jurisprudence. Presumbly, he would appoint justices who would make DJ's result impossible. How to vote?

Bob said...

I meant "conversation." Eyes going bad.

Bob said...

Come to think, "conversion" might work, too.

Gamecock said...

Bob, as much as I would love for the word person in the constitution to include babies in the womb (although such a sweeping change might have some unintended consequences I haven't thought of.), I would not favor activist judges to re-write the document to favor a result I desire.

The Constitution is a contract between we the people and the government just like your mortgage is a contract between you and bank. You wouldn't want a judge to conclude that evolving standards of equal protection requires that you pay another $5000 would you?

No, originalism is the only legitimate mode of interpretation that honors the oath.

Gamecock said...

Eyes going bad? This conversation is so elevated now that my nose is bleeding! haha

Anonymous said...

On the state level, voters are more apt not to step outside their faith in the voting booth. However, when the federal government finally gets around to overriding these freedom-restricting actions - usually by Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitution - this fortunately trumps the locals. The result is usually Win-Win, although obviously that’s not fair enough for the faith-based.

Here’s another pro life/pro choice matter to toss around:

Dr. Kevorkian was convicted of second-degree murder in a state court (Michigan) for assisting in a suicide. The basis for that state law seems to have been the religious belief of majority legislators and voters that suicide is against God’s pro-life wishes, rather than on any rational, secular basis.

A friend of mine recently died of cancer. This past year he made more and more hospital stays. Pain and quality of life became issues. He finally told his family and doctors a few weeks ago that he no longer wished to continue the measures that could prolong his life. Hospice took over and he soon died.

So presumably if this had occurred in Michigan, or in any other of the many states in which assisted suicide is illegal, could his doctors and family been tried for murder, or at least neglect, since their “actions” effectively assisted him in achieving the same end that Dr. Kevorkian’s patient wanted? The result sure seems the same to me. Their decision assisted him in dying prematurely, albeit a more natural death occured in my friend’s case.

Are we to “believe” that when the suffering gets too unbearable, the competent patient who hasn’t the physical strength to end his life by his own hand can’t ask for assistance? So what is so great about forcing religious pro-life values on secular men and women? And what’s the Constitutional difference in these two examples? (And please remember that God didn’t write the Constitution, so don’t tell me about how God has a say in this ).


Regardless, a man or woman should be able to decide when he wants to die, assisted or otherwise. The Supreme Court has already backed Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide law. A woman should be able to decide what she wants to do with her body and the fetus she, not God, helped create. That’s been Constitutionally decided as well. Neither act is murder in the common secular realm under which we all must interact.

Maybe the solution to the question Jane posed is to let the faith-based stay inside their faith and vote only in local and state elections. That way they can be governed by their religion. Good luck with that! Let the secular-based enjoy the freedoms and rights under our Constitution.

Bob said...

Gamecock:

LOL. I wasn't commenting on your immediately preceding post. You snuck in whilst I was composing.

Bob said...

Gamecock:

If a contract spoke in terms of fair-market value, I would expect the amount to change with evolving ideas of fairness, markets and values. So, too, with broad concepts like "due process" and "cruel and unusual punishment." I would not, however, expect a "right to bear arms" that was expressly tied to the need for militias to extend beyond weapons necessary for militias. But we are off topic again. The question I want answered is whether the fetus-equals-personists should vote for a grumpy old originalist who promises not to deliver the very result they want.

Nick said...

Iztok - why do you say two consenting adults? What's your frame of reference? Do you have one? Why not three? Or four? Or more?

Why adults? Why not adults and children? Or animals? And drugs? And whatever else?

Your frame of reference seems to be whatever is trendy at the moment. The next fad will have your support, too, I suppose. Where will it end?

Iztok said...

Nick, you are right, I shouldn't limit to two adults. I just say adults and stay at that.

Animals can't consent and children enjoy different status in our society. God forbid we would have prophets raping 9 year old girls!

Gamecock said...

Kevorkian's case shows one of the best objective reasons why suicide should remain illegal. Assisters that wish to murder could claim assisted suicide.

Gamecock said...

Good points Bob, and would that the court would stick to process in that clause rather than substance. Yes, the cruel AND unusual clause does confer a certain limited level of judgment, but the rulings don't stay within the parameters, esp with respect to the word AND.

I would concede that the 2nd amendment is poorly worded, but given its history and esp the fact that the militia was considered to be all adults that could carry arms and that they kept them at home, and that the militia was to be a check on the federal government settles any claim that it only applies to organized armies. But, the case can also be made that before incorporation, rights were secured by states, but to your main question.

Yes, if we want to retain capital L Liberty, i.e. self government, rather than trading it in for 5 kings, we must hold the judiciary to their limited role.

The main issue is one of character. Judicial restraint is what is required. Judges can easily couch their rulings in terms that pretends to adhere to the words of the Constitution.

Read Bork's

The Tempting of America: The Political Seduction of the Law

and Slouching towards Gomorrah

The fact is this. Conservatives get their wish by originalism because they usually win on issues when the majority rules. That is as it should be. We have minority rights but everything else is left the majority. In fact, even the minority rights were first enacted by super majorities.

Majority rule is an improvement over Kings and Oligarchs.

pornstudent said...

But your idea of Heaven is a Kingdom?

Gamecock said...

The nature and character of the King is dispositive and affords no reasonable analogy.

Anonymous said...

We don't function with anything near the government our "Founding Fathers" had in mind.

Our "democracy" is much closer to a mob rule than it was then.

Too many politicians are at the mercy of the whim of the moment.

I don't know when or how it started (some say 17th amendment), but it's here for sure.

We cannot act on problems any longer, we can only pander to public opinion.

-anon1

Iztok said...

Gamecock: "Majority rule is an improvement over Kings and Oligarchs."

Ramen!

No kings! (of real or imaginary kind)

pornstudent said...

If the idea of Heaven as a Kingdom can't be used as an analogy when describing the kind of government we'd like, then maybe the idea of a heavenly Kingdom should be left outside the voting booth.

If I were a Bible believing Christian, I'd think God would appoint someone to be a Governor of the Earth. He would be a benevolent King and his decrees would come from God. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit Christians would know who this person would be and we would do what was necessary to put him in power. With the omnipotent and omniscient leading us, how could we fail?

One of the reasons I'm not a Christian, and a reason Christians prefer democracy over theocracy, is that God has left us on our own when deciding to go to war, tax, build roads, educate children, etc... The Holy Spirit isn't communicating to the voters. Does God tell one Christian to vote Republican and another to vote Democrat? One to invade Iraq and another to find peace?

We haven't a King. We're on our own. And that's the way I like it.

pornstudent said...

There is a best answer to all the decisions our government has to make, eg, where to drill for oil, pay for social security. If we knew a King would have all the best answers, why wouldn't we want him to take control? Because we value our freedom more than the survival of the United States and the welfare of old people.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, if we want to retain capital L Liberty, i.e. self government, rather than trading it in for 5 kings, we must hold the judiciary to their limited role."

No, If we want to preserve Liberty, we must keep the Big King and his narrow-minded followers on their side of the church-state border. Otherwise we'll end up with a theocracy.

When in Rome (or in the secular realm), do what the Romans (or secularists) do.

Anonymous said...

That's the fun part of a democracy.

If you have enough babies, you eventually get to make the rules.

Or at least get think you make the rules.

-anon1

Gamecock said...

If There is no God
By Dennis Prager

We are constantly reminded about the destructive consequences of religion -- intolerance, hatred, division, inquisitions, persecutions of "heretics," holy wars. Though far from the whole story, they are, nevertheless, true. There have been many awful consequences of religion.

What one almost never hears described are the deleterious consequences of secularism -- the terrible developments that have accompanied the breakdown of traditional religion and belief in God. For every thousand students who learn about the Spanish Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials, maybe two learn to associate Gulag, Auschwitz, The Cultural Revolution and the Cambodian genocide with secular regimes and ideologies.

For all the problems associated with belief in God, the death of God leads to far more of them.

So, while it is not possible to prove (or disprove) God's existence, what is provable is what happens when people stop believing in God.

1. Without God there is no good and evil; there are only subjective opinions that we then label "good" and "evil." This does not mean that an atheist cannot be a good person. Nor does it mean that all those who believe in God are good; there are good atheists and there are bad believers in God. It simply means that unless there is a moral authority that transcends humans from which emanates an objective right and wrong, "right" and "wrong" no more objectively exist than do "beautiful" and "ugly."

read it all

http://townhall.com/columnists/DennisPrager/2008/08/19/if_there_is_no_god

Iztok said...

From: 34 Unconvincing Arguments for God by August Berkshire

(23) Morality/Ethics
This is the idea that without a god we’d have no basis for morality. However, a secular moral code existed before the Bible: the Code of Hammurabi. In Plato’s dialogue called Euthyphro, Socrates asks a man named Euthyphro whether something is good because God says it is, or does God announce something to be good because it has intrinsic goodness? If something is good because God says it is, then God might change his mind about what is good. Thus, there would be no absolute morality. If God merely announces something to be good because it has intrinsic goodness, then we might be able to discover this intrinsic goodness ourselves, without the need for god belief. Christians can’t even agree among themselves what’s moral when it comes to things like masturbation, premarital sex, homosexuality, divorce, contraception, abortion, war, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, and the death penalty. Christians reject some of the moral laws found in the Bible, such as killing disobedient children or people who work on the Sabbath. Therefore, Christians must be applying their own ethical standards from outside the Bible to be able to recognize that these commandments in the Bible are unethical. [Thanks to Dan Barker for this point.] In fact, most religious people ignore the bad ethics in their holy books and concentrate on the good advice. In other words, theists pick and choose their ethics just like atheists do. Other animals exhibit kindness toward one another and a sense of justice. We have found the part of our brains responsible for feelings of sympathy and empathy – “mirror neurons” – which serve as the foundation for much of our ethics. Morality is something that evolved from us being social animals. It’s based on the selfish advantage we get from cooperation, and on consequences. Helping one another is a selfish act that has evolutionary rewards. (See also Argument 25, against the existence of altruism.) We also judge actions by their consequences, through trial and error. The best formula we have come up with is to allow the maximum amount of freedom that does not harm another person or impinge on that person’s freedom. This creates the greatest amount of happiness and prosperity in society, which benefits the greatest amount of people (the greatest good for the greatest number). This view includes the protection of minority rights, since in some way we are each a minority. Since there is no evidence for any gods, it follows that any moral belief can be attributed to a god. So, rather than being a certain guide, religion can be used to justify any behavior. One simply has to say “God told me to do it.” The best way to refute this reasoning is to discard the idea of gods altogether. Even if a god doesn’t exist, some people think that a belief in a god is useful to get people to behave – kind of like an invisible policeman, or, in the words of President George W. Bush: “(God) is constantly searching our hearts and minds. He’s kind of like Santa Claus. He knows if you’ve been good or if you’ve been bad.” [April 8, 2007 (Easter), Army post, Fort Hood, Texas.] Do we really want to make this the basis for our ethics? Any decent ethical system does not need the supernatural to justify it. However, belief in the supernatural has been used to justify many unethical acts, such as the Inquisition, the Salem Witch trials, gay-bashing, and 9/11.

Bob said...

Iztok:

Wouldn't altruism work better for the selfish gene if the individual genuinely believed -- and believed absolutely -- that certain unselfish behavior was good, rather than merely thinking that such behavior was ultimately advantageous or, for that matter, merely thinking that such behavior was good? If so, wouldn't believing be more efficient than reasoning with respect to delivering adaptive altruism? And, even with all danger of fanatics admitted, couldn't it still be the more efficient delivery system even today? Hence, the staying power of belief?

Gamecock:

Good post. It strikes me that, technological advantages aside, totalitarianism out-murdered religion for one basic reason: totalitarianism lacked religion's competing (and subversive) undercurrent of love, humility, etc. In modern psuedo-religious totalitarianism, fairness and kindness were counter-revolutionary sissy stuff. So, while religious fanaticism could be periodically reformed, not so totalitarianism.

Iztok said...

Bob, from the same source as above:

(25) Altruism
People sometimes say that without a god there would be no altruism, that evolution only rewards selfish behavior. However, it can be argued that there is no such thing as altruism, that people always do what they want to do. If they are only faced with bad choices, then people choose the thing they hate the least. Our choices are based on what gives us (our genes) the best advantage for survival, including raising our reputation in society. “Altruism” towards family members benefits people who share our genes. “Altruism” towards friends benefits people who may someday return the favor. Even “altruism” towards strangers has a basis in evolution. This behavior first evolved in small tribes, where everyone knew each other and a good reputation enhanced one’s survival. It is now hard-wired in our brains as a general mode of conduct. [Thanks to Richard Dawkins for this point.]

Iztok said...

Bob: "If so, wouldn't believing be more efficient than reasoning with respect to delivering adaptive altruism?"

Believing is more efficient in respect that it doesn't require any explanations or work to be done. On the other hand reasoning requires more effort and actual work to be done.

For example, it requires no effort to claim (for anything) that "God did it" on the other hand it usually requires years or decades of hard scientific labor to try to explain things in a sufficient manner. Explaining evolution is typical example. Believers would say that "God did it" (yet they don't explain God at all) on the other hand scientists explain evolution with theory of evolution. They go further more, they even explain how and what would falsify that theory vs. blind faith.

So yes, reasoning requires more work and energy. But it actually explains things that belief doesn't.

BTW: I think you do not understand the biological definition of selfishness.

Gamecock said...

God and the belief in God existed before the Bible.

Did you read the article?

Iztok said...

"God and the belief in God existed before the Bible."

Gamecock, I agree that belief in god or gods existed before the Bible. However still no evidence that god or gods exist.

Just mere existence of belief in something does not that something make.

For argument sake, if we ask our ancestors their gods were just as real as yours. For them there was no doubt that Thor, Zeus and others existed. You however do not believe in Thor or Zeus, do you? Do you doubt that those who believed in Thor thought he was just as real as your God?

Even Bible speaks of other gods and its existence. It commands you not to have other gods in front of yours. It even says that Adam and Even shouldn't' become like one of them. So do you believe in other gods as well?

I don't see any evidence of existence of neither Thor, Zeus and hundreds of others. I don't pick and choose.

Gamecock said...

Bob, great post, but libs on the court didn't let medical technology stop them. Casey v PParenhood and the "health" of the mother exception is wide enough to drive Arnold's humvee and the Titanic thru it.

They never cared about viability of the fetus. They care about being better able to make BMW payments and not have to bother with diapers.

Iztok said...

"They never cared about viability of the fetus. They care about being better able to make BMW payments and not have to bother with diapers."

Sounds like you are talking about Catholic priests here :)

Bob said...

Iztok:

As usual, you are speaking when you should be listening. The evolutionary value of reciprocal altruism is rooted in the fact that no thinking is required. It is a behavioral inclination, not an idea. And it is a behaviorial inclination that presumably was hard-wired long before tribes appeared. The adaptive altruistic behavior is produced efficiently precisely because it is performed without question by the human (or other)organism. This absolutism also lends credence to the sincerity of the "giver," and the "desired" reciprocity is therefore secured that much more efficiently, as well. If humans are hard-wired for at least a certain amount of reciprocal altruism, why do you find it so astonishing that they are also inclined to perform those deeds perceived to be altruistic in an unquestioning, or, if you will, religious manner? Just because religion is no longer an efficient way of securing knowledge about the physical world hardly makes it an inefficient way of securing mutual cooperation, ethical behavior and social cohesion. (Note that I am taking about relative efficiency, not necessity.) Look at you. With all your (self-perceived) reasoning powers, you are unable to anything but antagonize people. Whereas Gamecock and I, who are nothing if not caustic, enjoy an (almost) thoughtful give and take (sometimes). Learn from your betters. And certainly do not mindlessly sneer at time-tested beliefs that, based on the evidence available to us so far, appear to be superior vehicles for securing ethical conduct and mutual cooperation than your own feeble reasoning powers.

Gamecock said...

Great point Bob, on the virtues of religion

Gamecock said...

Iztok, you act on your beliefs

Beliefs matter

Gamecock said...

Yes! Bob

The power of ideas.

Iztok said...

"Iztok, you act on your beliefs"

No, I act on my reasoning.

Iztok said...

Bob: "And certainly do not mindlessly sneer at time-tested beliefs that, based on the evidence available to us so far, appear to be superior vehicles for securing ethical conduct and mutual cooperation than your own feeble reasoning powers."

Bob, you tend to forget the "teachings" of Leviticus and other horrors of "time tested beliefs". Again, when faith and dogma become to powerful we see the worst in man. On the other hand where reasoning prevails we see the best in man. Just have a look at the biggest scientists in the world today, mostly they are not believers in higher power. Much of our progress as humans came in the last few centuries due to enlightenment and age of reason. Sure some atheists did commit some horrible crimes but not in the name of atheism as opposed to acts committed in the name of religion.

Further more, pointing out that certain beliefs are funny to say at least (such as that cracker is anything more but a cracker) is the most "antagonistic" thing. On the other hand we have religious on this forum that abuse their children and are proud of it and back it up with Bible (spare the rod ...). You need to realize once and for all that it is religion not religious that is the issue (just think of homosexuality vs. homosexuals most of religious bring up, same thing, except that homosexuals are "made that way" and religious are being raised that way).

pornstudent said...

Since altruism is hardwired in our brains, it doesn't need to be delivered through religion or reason--it comes naturally. Morality can be explained by neuroscience (see If It Feels Good to Be Good, It Might Be Only Natural).

Danbo59 said...

The Heretic wrote, "Any attempts to grant them equal rights is met with stiff opposition at the voting booths by religious folks who can’t step outside their faith when casting a vote that decides the future of all Americans. They instead project their sectarian faith into secular affairs."

There's a difference between equal rights and special rights. Most of the time homosexuals disguise their pleas for special rights as pleas for equal rights.

Bob said...

Iztok:

The League of the Militant Godless (Soviet Union) committed mass slaughter in the name of what exactly? The Reign of Terror (France) was carried out in the name of unreason, was it? I tend to forget nothing. The interesting question is not why religion sometimes produces murderers but why reason has proven to be so much more efficient at it. Science suceeds so well precisely because it excludes the subjective and the ethical (that is, the human) from the analysis. Reason alone is inhuman and produces inhuman results when applied to society, as the Twentieth Century demonstrates.

The Heretic said...

"Most of the time homosexuals disguise their pleas for special rights as pleas for equal rights."

Danbo, what special rights have they been pleading for? Why are those rights special, and not common to citizenry in general?

Iztok said...

Bob, Stalin (while being extensively trained in seminary) was an atheist but did not commit its crimes in the name of atheism nor in the name of reason. In fact his actions were very unreasonable and very dogmatic.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

Secular totalitarian regimes can reform.

See Mao vs. Deng in China.

-anon1

Bob said...

Itzok:

You don't know what you are talking about. Stalin committed his crimes in the name of both atheism and reason. (By the way, the League of the Militant Godless was created under Lenin.) And Stalin was hardly dogmatic. He was a master of policy changes. What principle of Marxism lead to the Hitler-Stalin pact?

pornstudent said...

Reason has proven to be so much more efficient than religion at just about everything, eg, medicine, engineering and astronomy. Reason often corrects the faux morality of religion, eg, sex outside of marriage and homosexuality.

Bob said...

Iztok:

By the way, Stalin was not "extensively trained" in a seminary. He attended a seminary because it was the only form of higher education practicably available to youth in Georgia at the time. But what he learned there was Marxism, from his peers. Read some history books on the subject. (e.g., Robert Service's biography of Stalin).

Anonymous said...

Bob,

Where has "reason alone" ruled?

Did Atlas Shrug and we all miss it?

-anon1

Bob said...

Reason alone rules in Iztokland. Scientific socialism has ruled half the world. What I am suggesting is that a dogmatic belief that life is sacred, for instance, is a better hedge against mass slaughter than a reasoned opinion that the cost of liquidating class enemies exceeds the benefits. If a certain amount of irrationality is necessary for a humane society, then why fuss about the Invisible Man in the Sky? Deal with something else that actually matters.

Anonymous said...

I agree about the last part, which is why I don't argue about the religious texts.

But calling something "scientific" doesn't make it so, whether socialism or creationism.

-anon1

D.J. Williams said...

Iztok,

This is a bit after the fact, but I've got to call you on this - you shouldn't get a free pass. Accusing a man you've never met of not "walking the talk" is presumptuous enough, but deriding the adoption of "commercial babies from China" is insulting and classless. For one who always decries the judgmental nature of religion, you just spewed a revolting amount of vitriol at people who seek to give orphans half a world away a loving family.

Soli Deo Gloria

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:

Just so. Trying to determine what is humane by reference to science alone is unlikely to produce humane results because science is ill-suited to determining fundamental values. So the argument is about better modes of irrationality, not rationality versus belief.

j. said...

I belive that it would be a large step in our cultural evolution if humans were to incorporate into our minds a persistent belief that life "in total" is sacred and not just reserved for humans.

Perhaps if we respected the whole process of life and how our existence depends on the ecological health and continunce of other species and biological systems,we would not be at a point where not only are other species existence being threatened with extinction but our own existence is being daily diminsihed and threatened by our lack of care or awareness of the biological and ecological foundations that keep us alive and in fact are responsible for our physical evolution.

Instead of dedicating our lives to supernatural and unverifiable entities, I believe we should be focused on sustaining and preserving life right here and now.

Being "pro-life" can embrace much more than just the narrow focus that religion has mostly been obssessed with especially in this country.

I have to agree with Iztok and others that the horrible crimes that were done in the name of Communism and other "isms" has nothing to do with scientific reason or logic as most scientists or huminists would recognize as reasoned and logical
actions.

I know that I am a admirer of scientific reason and thoughtful planning and action and the idea of dominating and exterminating other humans holds absolutely no appeal for me.

I believe that We can fervently embrace a higher form of love,ethics and respect for life without having to depend on some supernatural force or being to give us the permission or inspiration to be fully self-actualized humans.

Anonymous said...

Gamecock, you said..
"Bob, as much as I would love for the word person in the constitution to include babies in the womb (although such a sweeping change might have some unintended consequences I haven't thought of.), I would not favor activist judges to re-write the document to favor a result I desire.

The Constitution is a contract between we the people and the government just like your mortgage is a contract between you and bank. You wouldn't want a judge to conclude that evolving standards of equal protection requires that you pay another $5000 would you?

No, originalism is the only legitimate mode of interpretation that honors the oath."

By that reasoning, the only parties to the Constitution would be White, male landowners... which would leave me out on two out of three.

Bob said...

To declare anything "sacred" is to disagree with everything Iztok and company stand for.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that science is ill suited to determine fundamental values, only that it won't happen in my lifetime, if ever.

So, yes, for now we must choose between the lesser of the evils in that regard because irrational beliefs are more attractive.

Maybe they will always be more attractive to most people.

The best I can hope for is a system that doesn't totally turn its back on science and the scientific method in its pursuit of whatever appeases the masses.

-anon1

Anonymous said...

I should point out that I mean the majority won't USE science/reason, etc., for its fundamental values.

-anon1

Bob said...

I think we're on pretty much the same page now, Anon 1. Whew. One thing that might help is to emphasize the extent to which the Bible is an anthology best used for purposes of discussion, rather than a theological tract wherein certain answers to hard questions are necessarily to be found.

Anonymous said...

"Accusing a man you've never met of not "walking the talk" is PRESUMPTUOUS enough..."

DJ, weren't you taught to "let he who is without sin cast the first bottle of presumptuous vitriol against the man in the glass house?

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't mind using any source for historical perspective for what worked/didn't work for various times and cultures.

I just think it's sad when we see things like the recent Observer article about this science teacher in Florida having to pussyfoot around teaching science because it offends someone's faith.

I just think that societies which don't have this "problem" will do better.

-anon1

j. said...

Just as there are legitimate complaints against political correctness, when a teacher has to "censor" a class subject like science because of someone's religious beliefs then we are giving into the tyranny of "religious correctness".

If a student is offended by the teachings of science in a public school, then they should be in a private school that teaches what they want to hear.

Bob said...

Maybe, Anon 1. But if you attack everything equally, everything will be defended equally. Teaching the scientific method in science class is a no-brainer. Banishing religion from the scope of all respectable thought is not.

Anonymous said...

I definitely think you have to pick your battles in these so-called "cultural wars".

In the mean time, societies without these wars can spend more time and money on education.

And they are.

We're slipping again, and we may not hear the next Sputnik until it's too late.

-anon1

pornstudent said...

Bob,

"To declare anything 'sacred' is to disagree with everything Iztok and company stand for."

You said you are an atheist. What is it that you consider sacred, if anything, and why?

Here are the defintions:
1 a: dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity b: devoted exclusively to one service or use (as of a person or purpose)
2 a: worthy of religious veneration : holy b: entitled to reverence and respect
3: of or relating to religion : not secular or profane
4 archaic : accursed
5 a: unassailable, inviolable b: highly valued and important

I think Iztok, myself and other atheists would agree that there are some things entitled to reverence and respect (2b). And of course we'd agree that much music is sacred because it is religious (3) and there are some sacred responsibilities (5).

There can be a "sacred" without belief in God, though I must admit, it's not one of my favorite words.

You who are putting people in boxes with "... everything Iztok and company stand for." Besides, you and Iztok are both atheists, so you do agree on something.

Anonymous said...

As an example of how zealots of all varieties can cripple us...

Look at the current energy situation. We are in desperate need of solutions.

And while our various zealots "debate" such things as global warming and oil exploration before a largely illiterate society, here's what Duke Energy CEO has to say about his recent trip to China:

http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewarticle+articleid_2537184.html

We've seen these energy "crises" before and did little about it in the 80's.

Or rather, we started, but then stopped due to a change in administrations.

Jimmy saw it coming but Ronnie pulled the plug and pointed to his "shining city on the hill" without a single thought as to how to keep it shining.


Two undoubtedly religious presidents, but one with at least some understanding of science.


-anon1

pornstudent said...

Bob - "One thing that might help is to emphasize the extent to which the Bible is an anthology best used for purposes of discussion, rather than a theological tract wherein certain answers to hard questions are necessarily to be found."

I agree. This country isn't far from electing an Irrational (maybe it's too late) that believes Armageddon, as described in the Bible, is good because it means the return of Christ. Let's keep them arguing about baptisms and communion wafers and keep them away from the hard questions.

I also agree with J. Good points anon1.

Bob said...

Being is sacred.

j. said...

To be or not to be...

Bob said...

So says Camus.

j. said...

Thanks Bob for the reference to Camus who I am not that familiar with but here is another interesting quote I found online:

"If there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life."

Albert Camus

Bob said...

The sun also rises.

Bob said...

There are crimes of passion and crimes of logic. The boundary between them is not clearly defined. -- The Rebel

Anonymous said...

"I do not believe in God and I am not an atheist." - Albert Camus

Anonymous said...

"What? Me Worry?" - Alfred E. Neuman

Iztok said...

Here is an interesting review of secular vs. religious when it comes to hospitals in US.

Numbers speak for themselves.

http://www.americanatheist.org/aut03/T1/ittner.html

"The religious hospitals aren't the least charitable of hospitals, but they're close to it. For-profit hospitals provided, on average, only 0.8% of their gross patient revenue as charity care; religious hospitals came in with 1.9%. On the other hand the secular non-profit hospitals had 2% and the godless secular public hospitals provided 5.1%."

It dispels the myth for sure.

Bob said...

Large public hospitals get
"disprortionate share" payments from Medicare for the purpose of compensating them for handling a disprortionate share of indigent patients. Teaching hosptials also get indirect medical education payments that, effectively, serve the same purpose. Large public hospitals also tend to have emergency rooms in urban areas that increase their indigent caseload. But then when did evidence have any bearing on Iztok-think?

Bob said...

That was in an interesting Camus quote. Where did it come from?

Gamecock said...

Bob

Thanks for the info on hospitals. You are a wealth of knowledge rivaling google!

Bob said...

Gamecock:

I'll generously assume you didn't mean Barney.

Iztok said...

Bob, here is from the article:

"Religious hospitals get 36% of all their revenue from Medicare; public hospitals get only 27%. In addition to that 36% of public funding they get 12% of their funding from Medicaid. Of the remaining 44% of funding, 31% comes from county appropriations, 30% comes from investments, and only 5% comes from charitable contributions (not necessarily religious). The percentage of Church funding for Church-run hospitals comes to a grand total of 0.0015 percent."

info from: Uttley, L. J, "No strings attached: Public funding of religiously-sponsored hospitals in the United States," Mergerwatch, 2002, p.13-15

But you are welcome to share your sources of your claims.

Bob said...

Iztok:

You are a handful, aren't you? Medicare patients and indigent patients are entirely separate groups. Disproportionate-share funding and indirect-medical education funding are "add on" Medicare payments that compensate hospitals for otherwise uncompensated care. That's why hospitals that receive these funds can care for more of the indigent. It's not a matter of being more or less generous. The relative share of Medicare and Medicaid patients is completely irrelevant to the analysis. Obviously, if a hospital of any kind loses enough money, it closes its doors and no one gets any care.

Iztok said...

Bob,

"For-profit hospitals provided, on average, only 0.8% of their gross patient revenue as charity care; religious hospitals came in with 1.9%. On the other hand the secular non-profit hospitals had 2% and the godless secular public hospitals provided 5.1%."

So 1.9% vs. 5.1%? Or almost 270% more of their gross patient revenue?

Fact is that claims we see that religious hospitals provide more is false.

Bob said...

Iztok:

The RELEVANT point is that the gross revenue of disproportionate-share hospitals and teaching hospitals includes federal DSH and indirect medical education payments, and those payments facilitate expanded uncompensated care. If there was ever a myth that a subsidy fails to increase the subsidized actvity, you have disproven it. Bravo! (Btw, if you think religiously affiliated hospitals should do more uncompensated care, I bet one of the contributors who didn't sleep through Sunday School can provide you with some conscience-pricking Bible verses. Just a thought.)

Iztok said...

Bob, sources?

Also, I am not claiming religious hospitals should do more. I am merely stating that public health care does more despite the fact that many religious claim otherwise. In fact I prefer public hospitals do more.

j. said...

bob,

If you are referring to my post this is one source of quotes:

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/albert_camus.html

Anonymous said...

Bob,

Here's some info on the source of that Camus qoute, as well as some others of his regarding the gods.

On the subject of his belief or not in God, he writes in the third volume of his notebooks: "I do not believe in God and I am not an atheist."

"I have no idea what's awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing."
— Albert Camus (The Stranger)

"I had only a little time left and I didn't want to waste it on God."
— Albert Camus (L'etranger)

"Moreover, most people, assuming they had not altogether abandoned religious observances, or did not combine them naively with a thoroughly immoral way of living, had replace[d] normal religious practice by more or less extravagant superstitions."
— Albert Camus

"I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain. One always finds one's burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."
— Albert Camus

Bob said...

Anon,

Much thanks. I try not to think independently if Camus or Orwell has spoken on a subject, so it is important to keep up. Getting the notebooks is on my to-do list.

Bob said...

Iztok:

The DSH and indirect medical education programs are in title 42of the United States Code. Is that what you meant by sources?

Iztok said...

Bob, sources with revenue breakdown as noted above.

Bob said...

Iztok:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services puts out an annual document called CMS Statistics. It is available on the HHS website.

pornstudent said...

Former Reagan Administration lawyer who wrote briefs for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade says the Democrats have a stronger approach to reducing abortions. http://www.catholic.org/politics/story.php?id=27820

Iztok said...

Bob, link and page for the numbers? I did provide you source including page numbers for the claims.

Those included Medicaid/Medicare numbers. Which you initially said that Medicaid/Medicare doesn't matter now you are looking at it?

Still, point remains that secular public hospitals get less percentage of Medicaid/Medicare and provide more charity work then religious hospitals. If you have source saying otherwise, provide.

Bob said...

Iztok:

One last time. The relevant Medicare funding is the DSH funding and the IME funding, not the total Medicare/Medicaid funding. Annual DSH and IME funding is broken down in the CMS Statistics. I'm not going to do any more for you. The Democratic Convention is on, and I want to see who wins. Everyone else is asleep.

Iztok said...

Bob, in other words, no source. Good enough.

Back to the politics/faith issue:

http://www.elizabethdole.org/docs/articles/Godless-Americans-PAC.html

Elizabeth Dole is spewing her religious hatred again. She is against protecting civil rights as she spews her hatred on her press release: "Kaminer is also an advisory board member (Woody is the chairman) of The Secular Coalition for America which is "the national lobby for atheists, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheistic Americans with the unique mission of protecting their civil rights.”" She goes further: ""Kay Hagan does not represent the values of this state; she is a Trojan Horse for a long list of wacky left-wing outside groups bent on policies that would horrify most North Carolinians if they knew about it," McLagan said. "This latest revelation of support from anti-religion activists will not sit well with the 90% of state residents who identify with a specific religious faith.""

Good thing that according to The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 20% of people in the state attend a worship service “seldom or never.”

Next, we’ll see the Dole campaign ripping on Hagan for “associating with known Jews.”

Anonymous said...

Pornstudent:

1. As the 1960s hippies advised, "Consider the Source".

2.The writer worries over Obama's remarks it is “very hard to know . . . when life begins. Is it when a cell separates? Is it when the soul stirs? So I don't presume to know the answer to that question.”

What difference does it make? When a woman is raped, or when early tests show she is carrying a fetus that has a severe genetic disorder that will pose serious hardships for both the child (if allowed to go to term) and the mother,why does the Roman Catholic Church or any other religious group get to decide how the carrier of that fetus must act under our secular laws?

Are they the creator of that child? Are they carrying it? Is God the creator? If so, can he please show himself so he can responsibly solve the dilemma?

And is the RCC in charge of our government?

Danbo59 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danbo59 said...

How will faith guide my voting? It'll guide me by helping to elect other people of faith who share the same morals as do I; the same idea as do I -- the idea that mankind is ultimately answerable to God and that every single action taken here should be to His glory and in synch with His plan for creation.

In God there is all -- justice, peace, salvation. If we would all be more Christ-like we could reduce the evils of this world to by 99%.

j. said...

danbo59,

Other than your own subjective faith and reliance on the written words in your particular book(s)of religious beliefs, can you show us verifiable and repeatable proof and evidence to back up these absolute statements...the ones after the dashes...in your post?

Bob said...

Danbo can explain the second half of his post on his own terms. But the first half is a nice illustration of rational voting behavior.

Anonymous said...

“In God there is all -- justice, peace, salvation.” – Tomas de Torquemada?

Danbo59 said...

Anonymous the Brave wrote, "'In God there is all -- justice, peace, salvation.' – Tomas de Torquemada?"

Nope. Me.

j. said...

Not a very nice guy... this Torguemada :)

http://www.answers.com/topic/tom-s-de-torquemada

Anonymous said...

Do be do be doooo...

- Frank Sinatra

Bob said...

J:

Your turn now. Justice, peace, salvation and moral responsibility are all ideas. Your request for evidence and experimental test seems out of place. How would you prove what these things "really" are? Or even whether they "really" are?

Pete said...

We don't allow Bush to torture, yet many Christians think billions will be tormented for not believing. Jesus said, "According to your faith be it unto you." Many of us have faith that everyone is saved, so they are.

j. said...

bob,

Yes,those are all subjective ideas and concepts that were developed by the human mind and have no "intrinsic" reality beyond what we have given them(as least as far as we can presently determine)

I am not a nihlist though, I am glad that humans have over time developed such ideas as justice and moral responsibility to give us mutual safety and a form of social cohesion .

What I was asking danbo59 for was to offer hard proof for the absolute beliefs that there is a plan by a creator that we are to be in sync with. Also is there proof that if everybody was a believer as he is that 99% of all our "evils" or problems would be solved?

I think my question is very applicable here or anywhere because for so long we have been told by the religious world that faith in unverifiable things and entities is a desirable virtue and should not be questioned as if out of bounds. I respectfully disagree and so do a growing number of many others.

Since religion is being pushed on all of us as some type of unquestionable absolute and practioners are trying to make it a part of our politics, then religious beliefs should be expected to be a subject of scrutiny and critical examination.

As an agnostic, I am willing to say I do not know if there is a god as described by most religions overseeing the universe. Most religions though are not willing to accept that everything they believe could be in partial or complete error.

Perhaps science has theories that are in error but science's "virtue" is that when practiced correctly, it is to be open to overturning accepted facts if more data is discovered that changes these facts.

In other words, philosophies, beliefs, ideas and theories are all approximations of truth and subject to revision. I feel that this is a open-ended way to see and live in the universe and frankly alleviates a lot of the emotional anguish of feeling I must know the "absolute truth" which in my view is impossible because we have no personal experience of the whole "width and breath" of the universe to make complete judgements.

In my opinion though we can use what we have here to live ethically and wisely without having to make pleas to powers we have no way(as of yet) to prove their existence.

Anonymous said...

Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.

- Eric Hoffer

Bob said...

J:

What is your evidence that there is a "truth" to approximate? That notion is as metaphysical as anybody else's. But don't worry. I don't feel bullied, so I won't pounce on you if you use your approximation of truth as a guide to voting. Provided you learn to articulate it as poetically as Danbo.

j. said...

Bob,

Truth may be another subjective word for ideas that many of us have agreed on as having relevance to us and our mutual well being. That still mysterious thing called consciouness recognizes certain things as having"value"to us.(another subjective thing but there has to be something basic we can agree on or we go nowhere fast.)

I don't know how to define absolute truth for reasons I gave in my last post.
However there may be absolute truths,but my argument for approximation is that I do not have complete access to all information to call my "truth" absolute. I just use the reasonable information I have at this time and live with it and hope there is agreement it is reasonable,but be open to revison if presented with new information.

Maybe the most we can hope for is consensus among most of our species on what works and makes our lives by mutual respect a"quality"experience.

I did not know I was expected to compete with danbo59 in my capacity to be poetic :)

Bob said...

J:

I don't think seriously-minded religious people claim to know anything more than approximations about their God(s), either. Some aren't even allowed to name the Name, just to emphasize the point. Put an implied "I think" in front of anything that sounds too absolutist, evaluate their philosophies as best you can, and enjoy the poetry. All this harping about scientific evidence is inane. And that is the absolute truth.

I think.

Gamecock said...

Pete, please cite the verse quoting Jesus supporting your universalism.

Anonymous said...

If we allow sectarian control of secular elections, why not allow secular control of church elections?

Pete said...

Gamecock,

Some verses that come to mind are: "God is love." "According to your faith." and "Whatsoever you pray, believe that it will be so, and it will be."

I pray and believe that all are saved, so they are.

Besides, it makes sense that the death and resurrection of Christ doesn't require belief in it in order for it to accomplish what it was intended.

The following link has more information about everyone going to heaven. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Universalism

Iztok said...

Pete, I guess Revelations is wrong? That only 144000 will go to heaven and countless will stay (and survive) on Earth.

Pete said...

Iztok, my faith isn't limited by the Book of Revelations.

Bob said...

Although I have no dog in this fight, might I suggest Habukkuk for another take on theodicy and divine justice?

Jason K. said...

The belief, that one can seperate their Faith/Values from their politics was almost the demise of the Democratic Party.

People shouldn't be asked to, or be expected to seperate the two.

Danbo59 said...

Belief (faith), alone, in Christ is not enough to be saved. [My apologies to the Protestants amongst us.] Faith must lead to good works, and one must actually and sincerely be sorry for one's sins.

A fine point to be made is that it is not God who separates us from God -- it is we who separate ourselves from God. Free will follows us to the next life in that we will receive, in the next life, what we have chosen in this one.

Bob said...

I like the Protestant view better. You don't do good to obtain reward or avoid punishment. You do good because you're happy to be here. For now.

j. said...

I second that Bob. I think doing good without thinking about whether we will be rewarded here (or a so-called hereafter)is more noble and mature attitude.

Iztok said...

Bob: "You don't do good to obtain reward or avoid punishment. You do good because you're happy to be here."

Ra'men to that!

Do good because you want rather to avoid punishment or score brownie points is also more moral

Anonymous said...

Bob, Did you mean to say "theoidiocy" in your post at 12:46 pm 8/28?

Anonymous said...

Or maybe "theoidiotcy"?

Iztok said...

Jason K.: "The belief, that one can seperate their Faith/Values from their politics was almost the demise of the Democratic Party.

People shouldn't be asked to, or be expected to seperate the two."

yes they should. You are only talking this way because right now you are in religious majority. When many years from now some other religion might be in majority I bet you will sing another tune as you will want your religious rights protected.

We are not voting for religious-leader-in-chief of the nation but commander-in-chief. The leader we choose may have a faith of his own, but he must lead members of all faiths present in the nation - as well as those with no faith at all.

Nick said...

It's "Revelation," not "Revelations."

There's only one revelation in the book, as it states - Jesus. Something that is revealed is not to be found by means of physical proof - "show me and I'll believe." The believing part comes first: "believe and I'll show you."

j. said...

As long as revelation takes the form of a personal subjective experience that cannot be shown or duplicated to others for comparison and for establishment of a standard or control then this so-called "proof" remains subject to individual interpretation.

Why is that type of unsubstantiated faith looked on as virtuous and something we all should embrace?

In other parts of our lives like economic matters we usually expect more solid evidence and documentation before we "believe".

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Iztok, for clearly stating the crux of the faith-based voting problem. So many of us have been raised to believe that we are the only show in town that it is inconceivable to us that there are others. So many are willing to ignore minority rights because we’ve been raised to falsely believe that the freedom of the majority is the only thing that counts.

Too many of us have accepted as faith that our particular god is the only one, that our religion is the only correct one, and that our god is everywhere all the time, and therefore must be involved in everything – even the secular. Too many of us confuse faith with fact. No wonder we can’t separate church and state.

This nation existed more than 175 years without “God” being required in a pledge of allegiance. “One Nation” prior to 1954 meant not only peoples of ALL faiths, but also atheists and agnostics. Yet in that year the majority religion decided we had to show the “godless” Communists where our allegiance really was, and so we took one more step toward putting someone’s “God” in control of our secular government. The first thing that did was to state in effect that many of our citizens no longer counted, because they weren’t “under” the control of the majority religion’s God. (And if it isn’t the majority religion’s God who is in that pledge, please tell me just whose God it is talking about.)

I think gods are a great thing to have. It’s the good-intentioned but often inappropriate actions of their believers that scare me.

Anonymous said...

You'll see it when you believe it.

Sounds like Bigfoot.

-anon1

Nick said...

Big God.

Gamecock said...

Sarah Palin is a living, breathing example of faith/politics intertwined.

Pro-life talker that walks the walk with five children, the last of which a new born with Down's Syndrome she never thought one second about aborting.

Not one second.

Iztok said...

Gamecock: "Sarah Palin is a living, breathing example of faith/politics intertwined."

- strong pro death penalty
- supports teaching myth of creationism in science classes in school
- opposes same sex marriage
- used marijuana

Good thing she stands no chance to be elected with McCain and be VP.

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 325   Newer› Newest»