Winner 2013 Webby Awards for Best Political Website
Top Banner, Site wide
Apr 19, 2014

 Choose a size
Text Size

Top Leaderboard, Site wide

Drought Adds to Syria’s Misery




The Divide


Truthdig Bazaar
Losing the News

Losing the News

By Alex Jones
$16.47

more items

 
Report

Sam Harris: ‘God’s Rottweiler’ Barks

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Sep 16, 2006
Pope Benedict XVI
AP/ Jens Meyer

Pope Benedict XVI waves to pilgrims as he climbs the stairs of a stage before celebrating Mass at a Munich fairground Sept. 10. The German-born pontiff visited his homeland Sept. 9-14.

By Sam Harris

The bestselling author of “The End of Faith” responds to Pope Benedict XVI’s speech on the interplay between faith and reason. Harris: “It is ironic that a man who has just disparaged Islam as ‘evil’ and ‘inhuman’ before 250,000 onlookers and the world press, is now talking about a ‘genuine dialogue of cultures.’ ”

Harris’ new book, “Letter to a Christian Nation” is available here.

Cross-posted at Huffington Post



The world is still talking about the pope?s recent speech?a speech so boring, convoluted and oblique to the real concerns of humanity that it could well have been intended as a weapon of war. It might start a war, in fact, given that it contained a stupendously derogatory appraisal of Islam. For some reason, the Holy Father found it necessary to quote the Emperor Manual II Paleologos, who said: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman….” Now the Muslim world is buzzing with pious rage. It?s a pity that Pope Benedict doesn?t also draw cartoons. Joining a craven chorus of terrified supplicants, The New York Times has urged him to muster a ?deep and persuasive’’ apology. He now appears to be mincing his way toward the performance of just such a feat.

Advertisement

Square, Site wide
While the pope succeeded in enraging millions of Muslims, the main purpose of his speech was to chastise scientists and secularists for being, well, too reasonable. It seems that nonbelievers still (perversely) demand too much empirical evidence and logical support for their worldview.  Believing that he was cutting to the quick of the human dilemma, the pope reminded an expectant world that science cannot pull itself up by its own bootstraps: It cannot, for instance, explain why the universe is comprehensible at all. It turns out that this is a job for? (wait for it) ? Christianity. Why is the world susceptible to rational understanding? Because God made it that way. While the pope is not much of a conjurer, many intelligent and well-intentioned people imagined they actually glimpsed a rabbit in this old hat. Andrew Sullivan, for instance, praised the pope?s ?deep and complicated? address for its ?clarity and openness.? Here is the heart of the pope?s argument, excerpted from his concluding remarks. I have added my own commentary throughout.

“The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application. While we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them. We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizon….”

The pope suggests that reason should be broadened to include the empirically unverifiable. And is there any question these new ?vast horizons? will include the plump dogmas of the Catholic Church? Here, the pope gets the spirit of science exactly wrong. Science does not limit itself merely to what is currently verifiable. But it is interested in questions that are potentially verifiable (or, rather, falsifiable). And it does mean to exclude the gratuitously stupid. With these distinctions in mind, consider one of the core dogmas of Catholicism, from the Profession of Faith of the Roman Catholic Church:

?I likewise profess that in the Mass a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice is offered to God on behalf of the living and the dead, and that the Body and the Blood, together with the soul and the divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ is truly, really, and substantially present in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist, and there is a change of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into Blood; and this change the Catholic Mass calls transubstantiation. I also profess that the whole and entire Christ and a true sacrament is received under each separate species.?

While one can always find a Catholic who is reluctant to admit that cannibalism lies at the heart of the faith, there is no question whatsoever that the Church intends the above passage to be read literally. The real presence of the body and blood of Christ at the Mass is to be understood as a material fact. As such, this is a claim about the physical world. It is, as it happens, a perfectly ludicrous claim about the physical world. (Unlike most religious claims, however, the doctrine of Transubstantiation is actually falsifiable. It just happens to be false.) Despite the pope?s solemn ruminations on the subject, reason is not so elastic as to encompass the favorite dogmas of Catholicism. Needless to say, the virgin birth of Jesus, the physical resurrection of the dead, the entrance of an immortal soul into the zygote at the moment of conception, and almost every other article of the Catholic faith will land in the same, ill-dignified bin. These are beliefs that Catholics hold without sufficient reason. They are, therefore, unreasonable. There is no broadening of the purview of 21st-century rationality that can, or should, embrace them.

“Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today….”

It is ironic that a man who has just disparaged Islam as ?evil? and ?inhuman? before 250,000 onlookers and the world press is now talking about a ?genuine dialogue of cultures.? How much genuine dialogue can he hope for? The Koran says that anybody who believes that Jesus was divine?as all real Catholics must?will spend eternity in hell (Koran 5:71-75; 19:30-38). This appears to be a deal-breaker. The pope knows this. The Muslim world knows that he knows it. And he knows that the Muslim world knows that he knows it. This is not a good basis for interfaith dialogue.

“In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures….”

Astrologers don?t like ?their most profound convictions? attacked either. Neither do people who believe that space aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Happily, these groups do not take to the streets and start killing people when their irrational beliefs are challenged. I suspect that the pope would be the first to admit that there are millions of people on this Earth who harbor ?most profound convictions? that are neither profound nor compatible with real dialogue. Indeed, one doesn?t even need to read between the lines of his speech to glean that he would place the entire Muslim world beyond the ?universality of reason.? He is surely right to be alarmed by Islam?particularly by its doctrines of martyrdom and jihad. He is right to find the treatment of Muslim women throughout the world abhorrent (if, indeed, he does find it abhorrent). He is right to be concerned that any Muslim who converts to Christianity (or to atheism) has put his life in jeopardy, as conversion away from the faith is punishable by death. These profundities are worthy objects of our derision. No apologies necessary, Your Holiness.

We might, however, note in passing that one of the pope?s ?most profound convictions? is that contraception is a sin. His agents continue to preach this diabolical dogma in the developing world, and even in sub-Saharan Africa, where over 3 million people die from AIDS each year. This is unconscionable and irredeemably stupid. It is also a point on which the Church has not shown much of an intelligent capacity for dialogue. Despite their inclination to breed themselves into a state of world domination, Muslims tend to be far more reasonable on the subject of family planning. They do not consider the use of temporary forms of birth control to be a sin.

“Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based. Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought—to philosophy and theology….”

This may have been where Sullivan found the Holy Father to be particularly ?deep and complicated? and ?profound.? Granted, questions of epistemology can make one sweat, and there are many interesting and even controversial things to be said about the foundations of our knowledge. The pope has not said anything interesting or controversial here, however. He has merely insinuated that placing the God of Abraham at the back of every natural process will somehow reduce the quotient of mystery in the cosmos. It won?t. Nearly a billion Hindus place three gods?Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver) and Shiva (the Destroyer)?in the space provided. Just how intellectually illuminating should we find that?

“The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur—this is the program with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. “Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God”, said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor….”

Please read that first sentence again. I hope it doesn?t seem peevish to point out that the West faces several dangers even greater than those posed by an incomplete epistemology. The West is endangered, primarily, by the religious fragmentation of the human community, by religious impediments to clear thinking, and by the religious willingness of millions to sacrifice the real possibility of happiness in this world for a fantasy of a world to come. We are living in a world where untold millions of grown men and women can rationalize the violent sacrifice of their own children by recourse to fairy tales. We are living in world where millions of Muslims believe that there is nothing better than to be killed in defense of Islam. We are living in a world in which millions of American Christians hope to soon be raptured into the sky by Jesus so that they can safely enjoy the holy genocide that will inaugurate the end of human history. We are living in a world in which a silly old priest, by merely giving voice to his religious inanities, could conceivably start a war with 1.4 billion Muslims who take their own inanities in deadly earnest. These are real dangers. And they are not dangers for which more ?Biblical faith? is a remedy.


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

By Tebaldi, April 17, 2007 at 7:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:  #64028 by Maani on 4/14 at 12:23 pm


Hi Maani

Great article.  It conjures images of the medieval, elderly sycophant who advises the king in religious matters.  Comfortable in his lifestyle and vehemently opposed to anything that might upset it.  Scary stuff really. 
McElroy sounds like a reasonable fellow.  “Moral scrutiny of the decision to wage war should take place not merely at the beginning of a conflict, but at every stage of its duration.”… Absolutely.

- Tebaldi

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 17, 2007 at 7:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

#63864 by Dave Summers, M.D. on 4/13

Dave,

One of the following conditions exists:  You writeon a higher education level than I read, you writetoo fast, or your writing style is eclectic and near incomprehensible. 

Having said this, there are two things that I am compelled to address. 

First, do you subscribe to the conspiracy theory that the Vatican initiated the AIDS epidemic? 

Second, it seems that you disapprove of “CBS-NBC despotic ‘toleration’ of the Don Imus ‘free speech’ distortions”.  How does firing Imus equate with tolerance?  Or were you referring to his previous indiscretions? 
I am sickened by Imus’ comment and I abhor many of the hip-hop lyrics.  However, I think we walk down a treacherous path with your line of thinking.  Here is what I recently submitted to NBC.

“NBC has successfully shocked the public twice.  Once with Imus’ deplorable statement, and again with their direct attack on the 1st amendment.  Leave free speech alone, and let the public seal the fate of Imus.  Why should one man (and several CEOs) make a decision we, as Americans should be making?  Let democracy and capitalism run its course.  If enough folks felt that his apology was insufficient or his actions too heinous, his ratings would reflect.  The KKK was never suppressed; where are they now?  The public has eschewed them, as they would Imus if they deemed it necessary.  Now that we’ve set this unfortunate precedent we are OBLIGED to go after the hip-hop business.  Sharpton’s response:  “There’s a difference between music performers whose work is sold by others and a talk show host”.  Huh?  I wish someone would explain this, because it makes little sense to me.  And why isn’t the media pursuing this question?  Because you’re as scared of the thought police as Imus apparently should have been.”

- Tebaldi

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 17, 2007 at 7:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:  #63660 by Joan on 4/12 at 4:56 pm

Hi Joan.

Re:  WWII
Yea, that’s why I put ‘punish’ in quotations; I was too lazy to think of the right word… ‘fought’ would have been more appropriate.

Re:  Mentoring
No apology necessary.  As you’ve poetically declared previously, we muddle through the topic in our own Joan-Tebaldi way

Re:  Social approval
I concur.  Like anything else, issues should be approached with independent thought.  As the adage goes, a person is rational and thoughtful; people are foolish and fickle (or something like that).  I think that gays are very mindful of opposing views.  They accept that there will be resistance along the way, and don’t expect an immediate change of attitude/opinion. 

Re:  I am curious as to what you would like Him to do that He is not doing.
It’s not apparent to me that He is doing ANYTHING.  My answer makes me look rather callow.  If He exists, I would like Him to make Himself known to me (preferably before the rapture). 
This Sunday, the chaplain preached about Isaiah’s interaction with God.  “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” 
The premise of the sermon was that God cares little about your ability; he cares mostly about your availability (send me!).  And I thought to myself, “This is kind of a no-brainer on Isaiah’s behalf; if I heard His calling, I would raise my hand as well…” 

Re:  Discrediting someone’s reasoning
Accepting the reasoning process, is what I’m stressing here, not my position. 

Re:  Christian church must make its case
I agree.  Maani is our local spokesperson regarding the immorality of homosexual behavior.  In his last post, I learned that Maani’s perception was intuitive.  I suggested that his “intuition” was actually a view that was a result of learned behavior.  I also accused him of being prejudiced (I threw a stone at myself too).  I conjectured that there were “mental roadblocks that prevent the proper application of reason”.  After his statement that homosexuality is not a choice, I issued the following challenge:
“Heterosexuality is not a choice either.  Ergo the natural sexual conduct of both heteros and gays should either be both considered immoral, or both considered moral.  How can you argue with this reason?”
He hasn’t responded thus far.  As near as I can tell, intuition and obscure passages in the Bible is the foundation of Maani’s position.  (Although this provocative and one-sided comment will no doubt stir up a response from the dear fellow.) 

Re:  Nothing of significance happens randomly
You are coming dangerously close to advocating intelligent design.  ID is antithetical to some of your previous acceptances of evolution.  Randomness (random mutation) is only a part of begetting something of “significance”.  Natural selection and adaptation complete the process. 
I can see how you construe the God-man relationship as transcending that of God-puppy based on your transcendent experiences.  For those of us that have missed out on these experiences:  Some choose to reject a God, and others just shrug their shoulders and plead ignorance.  For the later folk, it would seem that your dog has an equal connection with the divinity (if there is a God).  He simply lacks the ability to process this information because his environment did not demand a high-functioning brain in order to survive.  This is not taking anything away from the lab, I’m sure he’s a clever fellow in his own right.

Re:  Guilty conscience
Did you feel you were taking a risk by rejecting catholic beliefs?
Fortunately, you fell into the comfort of Christianity; I can only imagine the grief that a pious homosexual must go through when he learns that there are no churches/clergy that are accepting of gays within a 100 mile radius.

Re:  Migration book
Interesting stuff on affirmative action, but I’m not sure how you’re relating this to our discussion.

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

Report this

By Joan, April 15, 2007 at 9:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani,

I like this article you referenced on post # 64028. I may have to dust off that told catechism after all…not really…But the article demonstrates the complexity involved in trying to sort out moral theory in order for it to be applied to the nature of the beast, man’s behavior. This project is tedious and frustrating at times as ethicists sit around in a swells of coffee cups and in the olden days cigarette and stale pipe smoke and refine definitions that are usable in all sorts of cases for going to war or if it is legitimate to even fight wars.  Additionally it validates a point I have made more than once. That is that Catholicism, while appearing dogmatic to the observer, is a religion that is replete with constant internal debate and a large legacy of academic scholarship. Are the conclusions challengeable? Of course. No one has it all knocked but the scholarship is academically impressive and thorough. The problem I see in Catholicism is that it does not take into account that it has a literate laity that also can read the texts, as well as time to do this and can make judgments too.  So its traditional paternalism perhaps helpful in times when the common man did not have these advantages is now working against the religion. The Catholic Church must, if it is to survive, adapt its ways to accommodate the literate laity. It will grow or it will die off as do those species that do not accommodate and show flexibility with change in the environment. 

One of the thorny issues these writers are trying come to grips with is a real problem in ethics, namely the road to hell is paved with good intentions or a diligent moral agent is trying to do a good thing that turns out very badly. Good act or bad act? In the case of Iraq, I have concluded that the intentions were good but the moral agents utterly failed morally nevertheless not because of the outcome per se but because they disregarded the input of knowledgeable people who had very good reasons and did try to tell the president and other neo cons that this war was very dangerous and could explode in our faces, doing more harm than good. There were experts here who should have been heeded but were arrogantly silenced. This is a moral catastrophe, on their hands. Can we pull out? For me we do have an obligation to do all we can to make it right. You break it, you fix it as one of the wise, fallen soldiers warned well before the invasion. I hope we can and will do all humanly possible to fix it in any way it can be fixed.

In view of my recent comments on war, I am arguing in favor of self -defense although I do not at all discount just war theory the church has propounded. I am arguing here specifically WW2 and not Iraq, which to me is a very different can of worms. I will say that WW2 did meet some of the just war criteria. It certainly resulted in a more stable and safe Europe and Japan which definitely benefited mankind to date. The aftermath of the war also introduced to the world the ideas of accountability of behavior of world leaders and the treatment soldiers.  As controversial as this last anomaly is, it is a beginning of trying to establish worldwide condemnation of crazy and dangerous men who get into power and begin a reign of terror.

Again apropos to our further enlightenment (re the gay debate) is an article in our local paper…www.c-n.com…click on “opinion”...”your opinion” category and then click on the article “ ‘Migration’ book vital to affirmative action debate”, noting the last 5 paragraphs in particular or just search the article, http://www.c-n.com , April 15, 2007…no direct link available .

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 14, 2007 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dave,

No matter how you try to embed your message in people like Jefferson or enlightenment or science, yours is essentially a message of hate, intolerance and prejudice. And that is always a dangerous ideology to spread. Your attitudes are more the problem rather than the solution you think you offer with them.  You seem blind to this destructive message but others of us are not.

Joan

Report this

By Maani, April 14, 2007 at 1:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Joan/Tebaldi:

Apropos one of the topics we have been discussing:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/14/us/14beliefs.html?pagewanted=print

Peace.

Report this

By Dave Summers, M.D., April 13, 2007 at 8:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

RE:  63885, Malini, 4/13/07

Before this Friday the 13th ends, I must apologize to Dr. Paul Kurtz, for not spelling his name correctly (Kurst!?) and to the readership.  Thanks, Malini, for your response with an expression of agape.  Incidentally, I suggested to CBS that the years of Imus toxicity, although deserving of his firing, might also stimulate a national reappraisal & dialogue of the perpetual institutional, despotically approved tolerance & intolerance of the racist & sexist hatred which have been allowed so long.  Imus was correct to remind Rev. Sharpton of the accepted, even praised & financially rewarding vulgarity & racist slurs among “black” rappers, comedians, etc. plus the history of anti-Semitic remarks by a few “black” leaders.  But you remind me, Malini, of the first requirement for the humanhood that the world needs, in beginning a path to peace: membership in the Homo sapiens species, to be eligible for love, individual rights, justice, respect, decency, etc.  Incidentally, I often use “white” and “black” in quotes, for the simple, realistic & truthful reason that the world’s humans are multiple hues of the rainbow, yes, but not the achromatic white nor the achromatic black of the physical color scale (which Editors of the Utah Historical Quarterly & innumerable others failed to comprehend in 1974).
But America & much of the world readily substituted its/their discrimination scale for the physical color scale centuries ago.
Every Best!

Report this

By Malini, April 13, 2007 at 4:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Happy Friday to you too Dave Summers, M.D., and all the others!

With love,

Malini

Report this

By Dave Summers, M.D., April 13, 2007 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Happy Friday, April 13th to all!

Since today is the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, also the day for announcing the annual “Muzzle Awards” by the Ctr for Protection of Free Expression, given to those who preclude, distort or denounce free speech & a free press, while the Center for Inquiry Transnational promotes a mockery of “Friday the 13th” superstitutions at Amherst NY, I am reminded of the Jeffersonian truthful, well-analyzed, anti-faith query & response:

“What has been the effect of coericve Christianity?  To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites spreading roguery & error over all the earth” (and clearly this applies to Judaism, Islam, Hindi, LDS, etc. also).

I suppose Joan & Maani, regular contributors to this dialogue, still disbelieve this bit of Jeffersonia or still find his conclusion to be a mere figment of my imagination if not a fabrication.  But his words remain part of the national fabric and indeed essential to the survival of our democratic republic, especially when its foremost threat in the 21st c. remains religion, specifically the Christianity which “moderates” perpetually defend, thereby defending also every fundamentalist fanatic, every murder for their imagined “god”, every instance of “God’s will” nonsense, every “Cristero” influenced by the Vatican.
Likewise, HIV/AIDS, Catholicism-mandated genocide persists on the African continent and elsewhere, and the CBS-NBC despotic “toleration” of the Don Imus “free speech” distortions has been undeniably augmented by 2 millennia of Torah & Biblical dogma of hatred—sexist, racist, homophobic and even dismissive of or cynical about “the least of these”: “the sick, the depraved, the desperate, the tired”, yes, even the disabled.  That such remains sacred-text-based will preclude all glory for theists “here & now”, hence Harris, Dawkins, Kurst, Stenger & others must remain steadfast in showing that “only the sleep eternal in an eternal night” awaits both theists & nontheists “when all is done”.

Report this

By Joan, April 13, 2007 at 8:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 3


Re: evolution… I am with you until you assert that faith based people are trying to protect themselves from those who would threaten the knowledge of their existence. I am someone who just thinks that all this happening without design is ludicrous. Nothing of significance happens randomly, without design and forethought, no less an entire universe. Design implies Designer. Don’t follow the next paragraph too well but I have no real problem with all creatures having a bit of Divinity. I can readily admit pantheism. Gosh… our grandpuppy yellow Lab demonstrates more Divinity than some people I know. But man transcends even the Lab puppy. He somehow connects with Divinity in a way that values and appreciates Divinity more for what it is, for one thing. And this is special. Ego…well, yes, we are all very busy being God. But isn’t that what God was trying to do, give us a taste of being Divinity by giving us on a lesser scale the things that make Him God? And He did it just for the hell of it, the sheer pleasure of it. Isn’t there a bit of Santa Claus in Him?  How can we not just respect that kind of thinking on His part? I think it is one of the very cool things about Him. And as we previously agreed being God is tough, like having to decide questions about water shortage moralities and gay issues, etc. 

Guilty conscience… I agree the “guilty conscience” occurs when we do something we were taught is wrong. No differences there. What I am saying and have been arguing is that the gay person has to satisfy himself that this love is morally acceptable no matter what society says. If God is important to a gay person, that person has to find a way to deal with this. Divorced Catholics and those who practice birth control have sidestepped church teaching all the time. One reason I did not remain loyal to the Catholicism was seeing the effect of the prohibition against birth control had on families with numerous children. So gays are not alone in risk taking with God. And again society’s approval is overrated.

I am not encouraging anyone to anything (i.e. go find a gay lover) but doing what they feel is right for them about which I make no judgment as long as they are not intentionally hurting another… gay behavior, divorce whatever…I really do not have the wisdom… And God judges if that matters here, not man. If man judges, you take it for what it is.

Sorry you found the post troublesome…hope the problems are cleared up…

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 13, 2007 at 8:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 2

Discrediting someone’s reasoning … I thought I was addressing your idea that someone is more rational in your mind if they accepted evolution and that acceptance would make you think their other arguments were more worthy of consideration. Isn’t that what we are talking about?  You are not omniscient? Well, that changes everything!

Church’s position…Last I heard the Episcopal Church is virtually on the verge of a schism over the gay issue. I think churches are going to have to address this issue in the here and now and again there has to be reformation. I am not sure what the outcome will be. Minimally there has to be serious second look. Bottom line, I don’t see how Christian churches cannot open their arms to members of the gay community. Christ said let the ones without sin cast the first stone. I take this to mean that we are not to inflict drastic punishment at will. I think refusing people official interplay with God is rather ruthless. If gay behavior is inherently sinful, the Christian church must make its case. I cannot accept a defense of the rejection of gay behavior by a sole appeal to the Bible because there are many behaviors in the Bible that are inherently immoral that the Bible does not reject, i.e. brutality in war and slavery, offering your virgin daughters to the town rapists as Lot did, (Lot being the one righteous man saved in Sodom and these same daughters sleeping with there father to re -populate the world after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Who thinks up this stuff?). The Bible not commenting on such perversity hence is not reliable as a comprehensive catalogue of what is sinful and what is not. It is a book of stories about some people, not all the people, who know God and what happened to them.  Sin itself is something that has hurtful consequences for mankind and this why we are counseled by God or Christ to avoid these behaviors.  God is not just making arbitrary and capricious pronouncements. So if gay behavior is itself inherently immoral, let’s hear the reasoning. We are now literate laity and we need do hear the debate. This is important. Thomas Aquinas is a major architect of Catholic theology. As a scholar he realized that as people were getting more enlightened that Christianity had to be understood through reason too. He undertook to sort of “Aristotelianize” Catholic theology. He blended some of Aristotle’s reasoning methods with matters of faith. This is one response to a more literate laity that demanded more of their faith than blind obedience. For me faith comes into play when I must circumnavigate unknown waters and maybe take a guess at how to act. Invoking God seems a natural thing to do. I want to trust that the God I invoke will not act to harm me. This is a great part of what I call faith. 

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 12, 2007 at 5:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 1

Re: Last post…a clarification. I would not support fighting WW2 in order to “punish”…I do not believe in punishment in general.  All that does is cause resentment. I believe we fought WW2 to save our lives…basic self- defense.

Let’s start with the last being first.

Water shortage problem…Well you will certainly got any lengths to make a point…the water shortage problem to me from my ethicist’s training is no slam dunk. It is one reason why I argue that there are very good moral theories that when applied to a problem still leave you in a quandary. I have concluded that no matter what Adam and Eve did in that garden, it seems that God did not give man the knowledge of good and evil comprehensively. 

Mentoring…I fully accept your response that I misread you. I took a few days to think through your comments because I was puzzled about where you were coming from. So just disregard my comments and I am sorry for any pangs they may have caused you.

Gays demonstrate their behavior by how they live with their ideas about unions and seeking a life that is beneficial for them and the community. Seeing this we all grow into the change together.  It is fine to raise awareness but that goes in hand in hand with capability and behavior that demonstrates what you are trying to achieve. It is up to everyone to change and grow. I don’t mean to imply that it is the responsibility of just one group.  But I get the feeling sometimes that those who want change are waiting for all the world to embrace their views as if change is contingent on everyone agreeing with them before the change can happen. Change can happen in the midst of debate. The world has not all fallen into line about others and their social needs either but people still have to break new ground and forge ahead whether or not they believe you are right. We have to forge ahead with what we believe in our hearts is right.  I know this as a woman in the male bastion of philosophy as well as spiritual woman. In the Bible the only women who seem worthy are virgins. Most others are conniving or are harlots. Where are the decent but sexually active women in the Bible? Social approval is overrated.  Maybe I say this because I learned that to win what I have won in life I realized that you have to be a bit of a warrior. Maybe this is not fair or maybe it is what makes you strong and compassionate.   

Mission impossible…well definitely there is benefit to exchange…let’s just jabber on and see what new doors we open…As a true philosopher would say, I think philosophy should be required course work for all liberal arts degrees in order to teach skilled analysis…We will surely need it in the coming years.

Accepting God…Given your passion about social movements I think He has
been filling your ear and that you have been very open to it.  I am curious as to what you would like Him to do that He is not doing.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 12, 2007 at 5:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 1

Re: Last post…a clarification. I would not support fighting WW2 in order to “punish”…I do not believe in punishment in general.  All that does is cause resentment. I believe we fought WW2 to save our lives…basic self- defense.

Let’s start with the last being first.

Water shortage problem…Well you will certainly got any lengths to make a point…the water shortage problem to me from my ethicist’s training is no slam dunk. It is one reason why I argue that there are very good moral theories that when applied to a problem still leave you in a quandary. I have concluded that no matter what Adam and Eve did in that garden, it seems that God did not give man the knowledge of good and evil comprehensively. 

Mentoring…I fully accept your response that I misread you. I took a few days to think through your comments because I was puzzled about where you were coming from. So just disregard my comments and I am sorry for any pangs they may have caused you.

Gays demonstrate their behavior by how they live with their ideas about unions and seeking a life that is beneficial for them and the community. Seeing this, we all grow into the change together.  It is fine to raise awareness but that goes in hand in hand with capability and behavior that demonstrates what you are trying to achieve. It is up to everyone to change and grow. I don’t mean to imply that it is the responsibility of just one group.  But I get the feeling sometimes that those who want change are waiting for all the world to embrace their views as if change is contingent on everyone agreeing with them before the change can happen. Change can happen in the midst of debate. The world has not all fallen into line about others and their social needs either but people still have to break new ground and forge ahead whether or not they believe you are right. We have to forge ahead with what we believe in our hearts is right.  I know this as a woman in the male bastion of philosophy as well as spiritual woman. In the Bible the only women who seem worthy are virgins. Most others are conniving or are harlots. Where are the decent but sexually active women in the Bible? Social approval is overrated.  Maybe I say this because I learned that to win what I have won in life I realized that you have to be a bit of a warrior. Maybe this is not fair or maybe it is what makes you strong and compassionate.   

Mission impossible…well definitely there is benefit to exchange…let’s just jabber on and see what new doors we open…As a true philosopher would say, I think philosophy should be required course work for all liberal arts degrees in order to teach skilled analysis…We will surely need it in the coming years.

Accepting God…Given your passion about social movements I think He has been filling your ear and that you have been very open to it.  I am curious as to what you would like Him to do that He is not doing.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 12, 2007 at 5:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani,

Thanks for the article. It seems consistent with the attitudes that were around when I learned about evolution.

Joan

Report this

By Maani, April 12, 2007 at 10:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Joan/Tebaldi:

I hope to get my (lengthy) response to you by the end of the day.  In the meantime, I thought everyone would find the following interesting.  It is from today’s NYT:

About Creation, Pope Melds Faith With Science
By IAN FISHER

ROME, April 11 — Science cannot fully explain the mystery of creation, Pope Benedict XVI said in comments about evolution that were published in a book on Wednesday. At the same time, he did not reject evolutionary theory or endorse any alternative for the origins of life.

“I would not depend on faith alone to explain the whole picture,” Benedict, a former theology professor, told his former students in September at a private seminar outside Rome on evolution, according to an account of the book from Reuters.

As pope, Benedict has not publicly defined his position, amid angry debates in the United States over “intelligent design” and questions raised two years ago by a leading cardinal on whether evolution was compatible with Catholicism.

But his comments at the seminar, published in German by students who were present, seemed largely to avoid any such debate: Rather, they seemed consistent with his often-stated views on other subjects — that science and reason, however valuable, should not rule out God.

The debate over evolution, he said, concerned “the great fundamental questions of philosophy: where man and the world came from and where they are going.”

The book, called “Creation and Evolution,” was not publicly available on Wednesday, and Reuters did not say how it had obtained a copy.

Apart from the pope’s comments, the book includes essays from Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, a former student of the pope who set off much debate in 2005 after seeming to raise doubts about evolution.

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, before he became pope two years ago, Benedict had expressed concern that on several fronts, including evolution, science was overstepping its competence, denying the existence of God and becoming its own system of belief. Though he did not reject evolution, he noted in the remarks quoted from the book that science could not completely prove evolution because it could not be duplicated in the laboratory.

But, Reuters reported, he also defended what is known as theistic evolution, the idea that God could use evolutionary processes to create life, if not through the direct engineering suggested by “intelligent design,” which posits that life is so complex that it requires an active creator.

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 11, 2007 at 8:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:  #63056 by Maani on 4/09 at 7:05 pm

Maani & Joan,

I am glad that Joan responded to this one, she is far more qualified (I didn’t know that wasn’t in the Bible).  Joan hinted at the possible reason this is not included.  I am much more cynical.  I conjecture that ‘God helps those who help themselves’ is a statement that bolsters freewill – something the architects of religion eschewed.  They envisioned a subjugated society where the Church was the machine that kept things running.  Don’t worry about why or how it runs.  Don’t bother with making decisions.  The Church is the mother who will coddle you from cradle to grave, and mommy knows best. 
Joan’s interpretation rings true for me.  But Maani, you have some valid points.  While I believe that evil must be dealt with harshly, our world certainly needs the Kings, Gandhis, and Zinns of this world.  These figures set the example of turning the other cheek.  Forgiveness, I believe, is as close as one can get to altruism (or divinity as you would say).  To further bolster Maani’s position, the aggressors that we ‘punished’ in WWII were not, save a small portion, evil.  How can we justify the killing of non-evil people?  Where do you draw the line?  The problem with UT is that that line is elusive. 

The scary thing to me is the way that you dismiss this life and endanger our children.  The only difference between the results of your actions and those of Hitler’s is that there is no blood on your hands.  To simplify, should you kill Germans and save Jews, or don’t kill German’s and kill more Jews?  So there may not be any blood on your hands, but you’ve handed the knife to those who do. 

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 10, 2007 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:  #62957 by Joan on 4/09 at 9:29 am

Hi Joan,

I got beat up quite a bit on this one.  I’ll take a couple of these licks, but I think there is some miscommunication that needs to be cleared up.

Re: Conscience
I suggest that the root of this guilty conscience is a result of learned behavior (I misused imprinting previously).  Someone, long ago has planted a seed of prejudice in a young mind that resulted in his “conscience” conflicting with his attraction to those of the same sex.  You suggest, “If a gay person is not comfortable about what he is doing and about facing his God, I would not advise the behavior.”
I suggest that you should encourage him to love, and be intimate with whomever he chooses.  Love well.  Love as God intends.  He is not comfortable because society has told him that homosexuality is wrong.  How do I know this?  Because not all gays are UNcomfortable with their behavior.  If homosexuality is wrong, it should feel wrong for everybody.  One’s “personal mechanism for moral judgment” is a rulebook implanted in your brain long ago by fallible sources.  So I say, “go young lad, race into your lover’s arms and know that you share in one of God’s greatest creations.” 

Re:  Evolution
You said, “It seems to me removing the finger of God is a thrust by atheists”.
I have no issues with your conflation of Darwin and Religion; live and let live and to each, his own.  However, it seems more reasonable to me that inserting the finger of God is a way that believers can reconcile their beliefs with this theory.  They bend the words of the bible, adopt a loosely fabricated rationale, and protect themselves from those who would threaten their knowledge of their very existence.  Darwin understandably steered clear of this issue, but today we are free to relate, without persecution, his theory to explain all living things and their subcomponents (to include morality and conscience).
The interesting part of all this is that, as I’ve offered earlier, evolution (sans the extra ‘splash’ from God) and God can coexist perfectly.  If this is the case, then all creatures great and small have the “splash of divinity” – and what’s wrong with that?  Why this overwhelming need to throw God in the middle of evolution?  He created it!  What, did He make a mistake?  Did He realize all of the sudden that the Homo sapiens were missing something? 
I actually think He did make a mistake.  He created people with egos that are out of control.  They elevate themselves to levels reserved for deities.  They can’t possibly accept that they didn’t receive anything more than what was bestowed on a slug, despite evidence to the contrary.
Conversely, perhaps I will be summarily smote by God for not appreciating His divine touch.  More appropriately, He will reincarnate me as a slug in my next life – in the back yard of a home in which a curious child with a salt shaker resides. 

Re:  church’s position
The only reason I pointed this out is to show that there are churches that, as per your position, are truly advocating tolerance.  They recognize the gay issue as an important one, and really seem to be addressing it head-on. 

Re:  discrediting someone’s reasoning
You’ve completely misread me on this one.  Our arguments are the same.  I am not looking for anyone to agree with me (necessarily), nor am I discrediting anyone’s reasoning.  I want them to recognize the validity of my reasoning or explain how my reasoning is faulty.  I want to know where I stand.  Do we just have differing opinions, or do you think that I’m coming out of left field?  This is what I want to know at some point of any given discussion.  Contrary to my jests, I am not omniscient.  I seek feedback that will, in turn, lend additional credence to he with whom I converse.

(Continued)

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 10, 2007 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

(Part II)  Re:  #62957 by Joan on 4/09 at 9:29 am

Re:  Accepting God
  Interesting.  Aren’t I knocking on His door now?  I should say at a minimum I must have piqued His curiosity.

Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate your sincerity and tenacity also.  I think that you are being too kind though; sometimes I go beyond tenacious and become stubborn and obstinate.

Re:  mission impossible
While I agree that it takes a lot to change a man’s opinion, I believe that through debate we soften our stance and become more accepting of opposing opinions.

Re:  Mentoring
I agree for the most part.  ‘Profitable governance’ seems a little cold though.  The best book I read about leadership is called, “The Servant”.  It suggests how one should love one’s subordinates (in the Greek ‘agape’ definition of love).  It advocates the leader as a servant of his subordinates. 

You completely misread me when you suggest that I have a desire to assert my control over others.  I can see how you would form this opinion of me based on my zealous debates, but I assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.  There is a huge difference between our discussion about homosexuality and the way I would conduct dialogue with some one else, under different circumstances.  The advantage of this forum is that we are able to jump in with both feet and get to the meat of the issue (pardon the mixing of metaphors).  These are the discussions you have with your buddy after you’ve had too much to drink.  Barroom bullshitting, throwing caution into the wind.  As we’ve discussed, there are still rules and etiquette, but the beauty of it lies in the lack of restraints, and the anonymity.  So when I strong arm you on an issue, it is certainly not out of malice, disrespect, or an attempt at controlling you.  It is simply an outspoken challenge.  Besides, you are certainly not a stranger of engaging in feisty debate. 

Mentoring, to me, is a process of understanding (the person and the situation) and throwing things on the table.  The 3rd party resource is the most effective tool in conflict resolution.  His job is not to referee or judge though, it is to recognize miscommunications, offer alternatives, validate opinions, and point out unhealthy communication techniques. 

I appreciate your concern that I may be infantilizing folks and realize how you may have read into this, but again, you’re off-base.  I don’t want to appear defensive here, but I think you infer way too much based on the limited knowledge you have of me. 

You’re absolutely correct that social movements have a way of influencing people’s attitudes and behavior – this is psych 101.  Your repeated arguments about social movements imply that I haven’t considered this factor and base my opinions more from culture than reason.  For some reason, I can’t disabuse you of this notion.  As you’ve agreed, social movements grow from a source of need – a deficiency that requires action.  I agree that we could be treading in dangerous waters here.  But to wash your hands of it and place the onus of fixing this entirely on those affected is not proper application of GR. 

You ask that they “demonstrate for us that the changes they want are for the overall good of the community” This seems impractical; how might you suggest that they do this?  How about this – Massachusetts has allowed civil unions to take place for two years.  Latest figures show that the divorce rate in MA has fell to a 50 year low.  That’s more folks getting married and less getting divorced.  Low divorce rate sounds like a pretty good social health indicator. 

Re:  Water shortage
Ok.  Fair enough.  I’m fairly certain we won’t find ourselves in this scenario anyway.  If we did, I would gladly give my life for yours. – Mostly just to prove a point, though. smile 

Yours truly,  - Tebaldi

Report this

By Joan, April 10, 2007 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani,

Part 3

One thing I find particularly disturbing about your interpretation that Christ’s common sense passivity is really a statement of absolute political pacifism is that it opens up Christian theology to a backdoor culture of suicidal/martyr-hood behavior that has Christians submit to evil instead of giving life and limb to prevent evil. Your position excuses us from this dirty work by suggesting that God (Who has been historically passive here and bitterly criticized for His passivity) will make all come out right in the end. When God has intervened as in the case of Exodus, He did what it took to get the job done.  When we raise our hands against the “Hitlers” of the world, we are not intending to assault persons because they are people as much as we are preventing evil that they are engendering, the evil to which they are giving life and ruining hope for mankind. If a Christian or any person is going to die in war, his life ought to be given to ending the evil not strengthening its power. The preservation of certain principles has always trumped the preservation of life and always should.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 10, 2007 at 3:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani,

Part 2

This reminds me of a point I forgot to address, the idea of God testing us. In the context of discussing that we have the strong natural instincts to survive placed in us by design, I argued that as these instincts are God-given, we would be rightly motivated by them to defend ourselves in times of assault. Addressing your theory of absolute pacifism, I asked if you thought in the context of this instinct for self-preservation and your position that Christ counseled us to absolute pacifism if you thought God was toying with us. In response, you appealed to the traditional Christian position that God tests us. Personally, I don’t think He tests us but laid out a nature and environment that forces us to grow in Him or die to Him. I see this as an education with Him in which He is eager to participate like we are eager to show our children new things and watch their faces light up with the sense of pleasure and achievement or brushing away the tears when things don’t go so well. There is a reason why Christ addresses Yahweh intimately as Father not Sarge.  But OK, let’s say it is a test. Were does the testing end and acting sadistically begin? We are vulnerable and driven toward life by His own intention. So He gives us the instinct, allows wars and says we cannot use it. And He sits back and watches us squirm, terrified, but the rule is we are not allowed to defend when in fact He is reputedly to have done so in His kingdom as the story goes biblically. He is not a Father but a sadistic taskmaster. And this is juxtaposed against the backdrop of my observation that traditional Christianity has seriously marginalized the Father Creator and cast Him as a very dark, forbidding and unappealing figure instead of the joyful celebrant of our lives He dreams to share with us. Christ in Christian tradition should be the Way and the Truth and the Light for His Father, not an obstacle and an end in himself.

Regarding violence in the grand scheme of things, I certainly am not promoting violence as the way to go but I cannot overlook the role violence plays in changing our lives for the better. We, humanity, supposedly came through violent eruption. Our children are born through painful physical violence to our bodies and blood. Our outstanding civilizations like Greece, Rome, France, England and America were “midwifed” through violence. The ultimate act of man’s redemption in Christian theology is a violent one. King’s success, accomplished through a lot of peaceful demonstrations, was also bolstered by the Watts and the Newark riots. Moses and his people were saved in the exodus when the Red Sea covered over pharaoh’s army and destroyed it. So I cannot blatantly say that violence does not beget things for the better. Nature evolves through violent eruptions all the time, human life notwithstanding. Violence plays a pivotal role in the furtherance of the universe and building of civilizations, heavenly and earthly.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 10, 2007 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani,

Part 1

Never said the quote was biblical. I think it may be one of B. Franklin’s. I don’t believe that all we know of God can be captured in the Bible just like I don’t believe all we would know about, for instance, say…a new place or a beautiful place like the breathtaking mountains of Colorado can be captured in a book. God is a living a dynamic of which the Bible supplies a starting point perhaps in the connection with Him. Relating to a book must be transcended for the personal friendship to grow more intimate and extensive with God, so He is no longer objectified. Such limitation keeps Him like an academic subject, placing Him in a box in which He will be stifled and eventually suffocate. I think in fact He is doing just that these days. Not to worry, He’ll land on His Feet, but we will loose out for doing this to Him. The authors and those who compiled the Bible selected what went into the Bible and what was not to go in and who knows what kind of spin that put on its contents. That is why it is important to compare what is written in the Bible to what we also live and observe. These authors are just people like you and me.

God has given us resources to manage our lives. Things go best for us if we do so in consort with His input and the guidance of His steady Hand. I have not seen things work out in my daily life by sitting back and telling Him the ball is in His court and that ”x”, ”y” and ”z” are not for me to handle. Additionally, from His viewpoint this is like the man, standing on the roof wanting to be rescued from the rising floodwaters. He finally drowns. He then chastens God saying he placed his faith in Him to save him and God let him drown. God responds by saying I sent you a boat and a helicopter etc. I gave you the resources for you to save yourself. What are you waiting for, my grand entrance? On the cross Christ lamented that his God had forsaken him. God will oversee me like the lily of the field He for some reason thinks I am. ( I am more like at thorny little cactus but love is blind)  Unlike the lily, He sees me as of Himself, a laborer and creator, an action figure.  I have to address my problems to the best of my ability with the resources He supplies in consort with His counsel, including His personal counsel not just what is in a text. This is how we grow strong like Him and/ or pass the tests you think He gives us. In fact in WW2 delaying action, waiting for whatever, only afforded Hitler more time to do more damage and God never intervened globally to offset Hitler’s behavior, although He, I am sure, assisted on a one to one basis. We the people had to slug it out. The Jews did not defend themselves and were left with greater drives for survival that have brought serious issues to the Middle East, including much additional war.

Joan

Report this

By Maani, April 9, 2007 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Joan & Tebaldi:

I will address all of your comments to me at length soon; I am swamped at the moment.  However, one comment I must make.

You have both used the line “The Lord helps those who help themselves.”  Not only is this line NOT from the Bible, it is actually UTTERLY antithetical to the Judeo-Christian construct.  The Lord does NOT “help those who help themselves;” He helps those who help others.  Indeed, I challenge either of you to find Scriptural passages (particularly from the NT) that support your contention that “the Lord helps those who help themselves”; in return, I will provide dozens - no, hundreds - of passages that belie your claim and show exactly the opposite.

This is not to suggest that we do not have a responsibility to ourselves to some degree; of course we do.  However, the constant misuse of this adage, especially directly counter to the truth of the Christian life - and ESPECIALLY when it is cited to suggest a connection to Scriptural teaching - is as wrong as wrong can be.

Peace.

Report this

By Joan, April 9, 2007 at 11:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

You and I seem to have the same ideas about how pacifism works. It has to be addressed to a humane population. We have to recognize evil as evil and evil cannot be expected to monitor itself. The Lord does not want His work to be wantonly destroyed.

My example of the Poles was not meant to be comprehensive but just emotional as these are my people who did suffer under Hitler. I am but a second generation American, pure bred Slav. Appeasement utterly failed here and cost millions of lives. Our task is to identify evil and address it. This is not vengeance. It is a part of our human responsibility to ourselves and others. God’s law must work for our self- preservation, general well being and safety. As the pope argued in this article on this post, faith and God must be tempered with reason or God can be utilized as a dangerous maniac. God’s law is very manifest in nature including the nature He gave man, which is governed by the instinct for self- preservation and a sense of repugnance or intolerance for evil.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 9, 2007 at 10:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 4

I am very unlikely to change my stance about gay marriage at this stage of the movement. I don’t see social movements always going as expected. In the civil rights movement and the feminist movement there were destructive side effects, unforeseen, that have hurt the ones who were supposed to be helped. There are always surprises. For me the gay community will have to navigate this one and demonstrate for us that the changes they want are for the overall good of the community. Went to P-town in the sixties as all good little hippies made their journey to that mecca. It was certainly a gay haven then among other things. I don’t think a sexual orientation makes anyone good or bad. Rightness and wrongness derives from how sex is managed. Rampant hooking up is going on between young heterosexuals nowadays. I think this is morally unacceptable because it too is injurious. Back to P-town…great clam chowder, the best I ever had.

Water shortage…Congratulations, ”T”. You have killed off 5 persons and left the survivors here too traumatized to have a mentally peaceful life. For me this problem you pose is not a math problem. Saving life to me is not all that life is about. I answered your question. ANSWER…you can make a UT case for your viewpoint. I would not kill off 5 persons as if solving a math equation. My reluctance is not entirely based on my preference for the Ten Commandments but I am surely respectful of the messages of the commandments. The potential damage resulting from your solution to me outweighs the benefits. I would ask for guidance because I am not in this alone. There are circumstances in which I might deliberately end life as in the case of a soldier mangled beyond repair. I may end his life to prevent hours of un-relievable suffering for naught because I could face God with that, with Him knowing and understanding my intentions. I would take my chances with Him here. The proverbial matter of conscience. If you have been following my dialogues Maani, you see that I maintain that the commandments are not meant to be applied without our judgment lest that result in gave injustice and immorality. I do believe that man must be courageous enough to work these decisions as you are attempting to. We primarily have dominion here, working our lives and our challenges as He does over that over which He reigns. This is how He elevates us to the level of His Eye, raising us from His Feet.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 9, 2007 at 10:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 3

Persuasion is not something I want to do. I did once upon a time try to persuade and convince. Today I find that growing together in our own ways is more satisfying. You grow speaking to me and refining your positions, I would guess and I grow learning from you, your tenacity and sincerity. I refine my positions too. Persuasion is pressure on both parties. BTW, we always talked politics and religion and there has not been one homicide.

Regarding the gay issue, I am just little ole me and I do not influence much of anything in general anymore then next “Joe” does. I really do not seek to other then venting by writing some letters to newspapers. People have to make up their own minds and they are very complex, invested deeply in their attitudes. I think it is easier to pass through the eye of a needle than to change an opinion for the most part. I think attempting this is undertaking mission impossible. Live and let live for the most part.  The best of all possible worlds is when something I say or you say does inadvertently open doors that were not opened, to maybe even passageways that I did not know were there and begin to checkout our ideas in these new passageways on our own. But that is an independent study of sorts that can go on for a long time. Discussions can hit certain trigger points and stay with us long past the discussion. And this is a good thing that helps us grow, comprehend the world more comprehensively.

I have been mulling over your ideas about mentoring and persuading for a few days here and I think there are levels in mentoring. In parenthood there is mentoring together with benign dictatorship. By the teen years this is very hard as nature has them rightfully beginning to divest themselves of their dependency on mom and dad. Yet we the parents have to make sure we skillfully navigate them through the dangerous waters they have to navigate.  My husband and I barely got out with our lives…not really…we have wonderful daughters but the teen years were the challenge of a lifetime.
With colleagues who are subordinates mentoring is a type of profitable governance. But among equals, intentionally trying to intervene against their own experiences and judgments and to try to have yours override them can be perceived as overbearing minimally and what if you are wrong and they pay a price?  And I wonder isn’t this coercing someone to subjugate their own judgments and experiences as if they are not valid?  Now I wholeheartedly believe there are some interpretations of life and what is going on that are better than others. We don’t all grasp what’s happening in life with equal skill. And you will see people bumbling and making mistakes but I think that is what is needed sometimes for them to make a respectable go of life. We are entitled to our lives as we see fit, God’s personal gift to each of us. Speaking very candidly, the paternalism you describe may risk “infantilizing” those you really probably care about.  The other red flag I see here is the control you are wanting to assert over others. It is a control I felt once upon a time and I feel you are suggesting with the gay issue, intensely lobbying me to reject my own assessment. What is that about? This is rhetorical because I would think you do not want to explore such things here.  You have argued that good communication is very much about listening. And I agree. But is it listening to explore or is it listening to refute?

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 9, 2007 at 10:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 2

Truth be told, I think it is kind of judgmental discrediting someone’s reasoning who holds different views from yours, all things being equal, meaning unless the person is just amazingly whacko in some way.  Reason should stand on its own merits. If the person makes a well- reasoned case but diametrically opposed your well- reasoned case, then the ideas need to be hammered out more rather than dismissed. Excellent philosophers oppose each other all the time with well- reasoned arguments that I cannot dismiss out of hand just because I disagree with them. I respect the skill in the context that I do not have perfect knowledge either. Just my opinion.

Accepting God without understanding Him…how can I know God? Well I am open to the outlandish ideas of people like Hawking and Brain Green and Richard Feynman with his anti particles traveling backward in time…yep, seems pretty clear to me. But with a little time and effort I may understand some particle physics, too.  I guess I worked on it…I resented that I was indoctrinated before I ever had a chance to figure out things for myself regarding God. Before I basically knew anything I was filled with ideas about things like faith or miracles or commandments, brutal crucifixions to offset awful things I a virtual baby supposedly committed just in virtue of being human. Why should I believe all that stuff, says I? I guess I piqued His curiosity.  I don’t know. But He wanted me to know Him and to be satisfied. I did not think I couldn’t do this or needed faith to do this or could not know God, thereby dismissing my entire quest and curiosity. And interestingly there is a biblical quote that says, “Knock and it shall be opened to you.” So here again is why I believe the Bible relates experiences of people who have also known this same God. I did not objectify Him so much but operated on the idea that He was knowable not letting previous indoctrination stand in my way. I have faith in my doctors because they have earned it not because I have some magical feeling about them.  It was not this magic feeling people think is faith the led me. It was my own inquisitiveness and sense of self- sufficiency and pure adventurism. I never expected what I got and again realized what Christ said was true. He brought life and he brought life with abundance, through his ways to his God.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 9, 2007 at 10:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Conscience: My position is that conscience is more intuitively based than environmentally generated, meaning intuition is prior to experience. I am not sure that is the same as innate which includes ideas like imprinting, ie learning to swallow in utero so we can eat ex utero etc. Understanding math propositions is often argued to be like intuitive based knowledge. I perceive conscience to be like this. But math propositions are also argued to be learned from experience or to be a posteriori knowledge. I will be tripping over my formal background here too much and I don’t want to get us off on problems with the synthetic a priori knowledge which I would think Kant, the founder of this epistemological mess, would classify conscience…...sooooo….bottom line, I do not take a position about how conscience comes to be, other than I use “conscience” for the sake of discussion to mean a gut understanding of rightness or wrongness and the reasoning behind the assessment may resist full verbal and logical explication… a little like pornography. Don’t know how to fully describe porn but I know it when I see it.…I cannot explain why “x” is wrong necessarily, but I know it when I see it. I have not a clue about what you mean about your conscience telling you to do something other than basic human moral behavior. When does your conscience tell you to do that? That would seem not to be an act of the conscience. Some gay persons may think their behavior is all right in their personal circumstances based on their conscience and others with their particular understanding of things may come to the opposite conclusion. I don’t think conscience, a personal mechanism for moral judgment, generates universal moral law. It is a mechanism, unique to the individual and delivering very personalized moral judgments.  Personal judgments of right and wrong may resist universal application.

Evolution: I accept evolution as the mechanism for creation as opposed to creationism. It has never been my understanding that Darwin was attempting to remove the finger of God from the act but was trying to explain the mechanism. It seems to me removing the finger of God is a thrust by atheists, claiming that faith based people do not believe in science. It is an utterly false position.  Yes, we learned about the chimp to man connection in high school lectures by Sister Rosarita.

You don’t have to get a subscription to “The Atlantic”. Go to the library or just buy the May issue. After the unexplained biblical rejection of homosexuality is there anything interesting in the church’s position here that makes it worth a read?

Joan

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 9, 2007 at 9:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani,

Evil, by its very nature does not acknowledge much less respect pacifism.  If pacifism worked, do you think that there would be much more public support for such endeavors?  There isn’t because most people are realists, not idealists (of course there are varying degrees of realism/idealism).  Yes, it worked for King.  Americans weren’t evil, they were ignorant.  It also worked in Vietnam to a certain degree – but again, we were appealing to Americans, not the Vietcong.  Passivism certainly has its merits, but in the face of Hitler?... 

You are paving the way for evil agenda when you don’t react with the only thing that evil responds to – bullets.  War is the ultimate application of UT.  What needs to happen in order to preserve the most innocent lives, and uphold humanitarian ideals.  Yes, bullets are evil too.  We can rationalize this any way we want, but essentially you’re right, this is answering evil with evil.  Hard decisions usually involve choosing the lesser of two evils. 

    You dismiss the human race as a cursory prelude to that which really matters – eternity in the kingdom of heaven.  What would be world state of affairs the moment before nukes destroyed the earth.  Predators would thrive, the unscrupulous would prosper, and our children would suffer.  I don’t imagine that Yahweh would want it to go down like this.  Like Joan iterated, the Lord helps those who help themselves. 

How many violent criminals are off the street because they didn’t want to get shot?  If everyone were pacifists (except for criminals), there would be no reason for a criminal to stop when confronted by a police officer (freeze, or I’ll yell ‘freeze’ again?).  It would be nice if it did, but pacifism just doesn’t work in a large society.

Peace smile  -Tebaldi

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 9, 2007 at 9:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Joan,

While you’re throwing stones at the Germans for mowing down the Poles, you may want to aim some of those at us too.  Our superior arms technology is comparable to guns v stones in our current war(s).  It’s the agenda of the aggressor which needs to be judged more than the methods of aggression – although these methods must always be kept in check.

- Tebaldi

Report this

By Joan, April 8, 2007 at 11:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani,

The author here too is interpreting the texts as he sees them as you and I are also doing. In my understanding of Christ he is not and never offered ideas about social and political movements. The author is applying Christ’s words to other scenarios or out of context of the object to Christ teachings, personal relationships and the relationship to God. Christ’s answers were to align with God as salvation not man made institutions or trusting your fate or the fate of mankind to alignment with social and political groups and programs to reform things. Christ as a spiritual person fled to be alone and separate from the world and it workings when he was not ministering. But people need a Christ for all seasons and will place him in many scenarios that he never personally addressed.
Surely his message to approach contention with kindness and consideration is the way to go. You certainly catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, personally and politically, sometimes. And doing so encourages kindness and understanding and mutual respect, all great things for us to garner.
But he did not address per se the Hitler scenario. He was talking about the context of day to day life and personal human relationships, not world wide politics.  The onslaught of Hitler was an infestation of a spiritual disease and disease like this has to be checked lest we all succumb to it. Eradicating disease is not a pretty process but still may have to be done. The world will not survive too many Hitler’s or nuclear attacks. Turning the other cheek in Sudan and with respect to North Korea is dangerous business because while doing so we are silently condemning the innocents to death and unspeakable cruelty without protection. This is then minimally tacit acceptance of that immorality. This is something to the best of his ability Christ avoided doing with his behavior as he did protect the innocents through passivity not necessarily pacifism. What Christ would counsel here is open to debate…Sorry…I am not convinced at all. This is more of the same…taking Christ and doing a makeover on him. There are just many things he did address. And we have to live with that.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 7, 2007 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani,

Part 2

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-9…To everything there is a season and a purpose for everything under the heavens…”a time for war and a time for peace”. In the Hitler scenario, I see no reason to think Ghandi could have saved the day. It would be great if that pacifism did avert war, don’t get me wrong. I am not convinced at all that Christ walked this path and I am not all convinced that that sort of pacifism in the face of Hitler is realistic. And I heartily believe to let evil go unchecked is evil itself. It was not left unchecked in the heavens and we are hence not to let it go ineffectively un-addressed in our domain.  Self- defense is very distinguishable from vengeance and it is necessary at times for self preservation. We are of worth, not worthless. Turning the other cheek is not the same as letting someone just run their sword through you. You are a temple of the Holy Spirit too. You have a right to the gift of life bestowed on you too.

Saving human life here is not paramount either. I agree with you. Letting it be wantonly destroyed is wasting God’s progeny. Not a good idea either.  Our principles are greater than life and they are worth defending and dying for, even violently, again modeled by Christ. The overall good served by fighting through WW2 is unquestionable as the overall nightmare that could have prevailed if Hitler were left unchecked is predictable.  Each case is specific and needs evaluation. Although I am one to let time pass and see if things can be ironed out I also know that things aren’t always ironed out. There are people out there capable of great cruelty, sociopaths who get powerful like Kim Jong IL. All that is needed for evil to occur is for good men to do nothing. Sitting around and expecting God to intervene like a deus ex machina is not our place. We are to work the problem in consort with Him always but this is this is our dominion and we have to be willing to step up to the plate too. There is a covenant and we are supposed to be governing our own real estate. The question is are we going have God do all the dirty work? This I believe is the thrust behind Tebaldi’s water shortage scenario. Are we willing to rollup our sleeves and get our hands dirty when faced with a dire situation? I am unconvinced of his answer there but I appreciate the importance of the question.In the face of Hitler, it is morally wrong let this evil go unchecked, ruining mankind and then pawning it off as God’s job to fix so we take no responsibility in any real sense for protecting the innocent. God helps those who help themselves and doing their fair share of work in the covenant.

And again, the law is for man not vice versa. It should not be applied against his self- interest, basic Christ 101.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 7, 2007 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani.

I am not seeking any forgiveness for what I am. And if I need forgiveness, it would only matter if it came from my Beloved, Yahweh.  He taught me to overcome the “sin based” psychology of Christianity and be proud of how I am designed. I am proud of how I was designed and realize that I am not a lesser being for trying to understand.

More theological differences. I believe that this kingdom is a parallel to another, more lovely kingdom. In that more lovely kingdom as the story goes, there was a lot of evil beginning to coming into play. A great general, Michel, led the onslaught and gave evil the boot. He is the traditional protector against evil. This earth is our kingdom for which we are responsible. We like God must impose justice and protect the innocent. He gave us dominion and He gave us capability—minds and instincts to guide us. 

In countries that basically respect human life of course Ghandi is the way to go to institute social change. You have not satisfied me with respect to Hitler or Japan though or Alexander or even the great Caesar to some extent. What you offer is theory and conjecture. Look at Hitler, the man and his actions. The Poles fought with sticks and stones. All they had and he mowed them down like insignificant blades of grass. No respect for the common people and their dignity. I think you are conflating Christ with Ghandi and King. He inspired them but was not directly addressing their issues of overall political social injustice and orchestrating social movements to rectify them. Christ was not addressing social reform en masse. Certainly pacifism is the preferred route to instigate for social change on one’s behalf but Hitler was not undertaking a social reform. And those he assaulted were not undertaking social reform. He was taking over the world viciously and annihilating millions of innocent people. Peaceful resistance was not a realistic option. Just made his job easier. Christ did not endorse confrontation with Rome on any level for any reason. It was good way to get your followers killed. He was working another angle to help his brethren and ease their burdens, securing the daily assistance of his Father no matters the life’s circumstances. He was there for the Romans as well as for the Jews. He was not a part of the “them vs. us” mentality. Remember how he healed the son (gay lover?) of the Roman centurion.  Christ was more about teaching one on one to improve personal spiritual life in the context of a not very fair world. He said his kingdom was not of this world. Ghandi and King were working the kingdoms of this world and were undertaking missions of political and social reform en masse, not the mission of Christ. They politicized some of his ideas but these are their own contributions to the world, re working his ideas to their ends that were of course noble in themselves. With his separation of church and state ideas I don’t know if he would have approved of this kind of campaign. He seemed to be sidestepping these movements maybe because the Jews were always getting killed and the temple was always being destroyed.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 7, 2007 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani,

Part 3

Maani, I am not absurd nor do I say absurd things. You may not agree and you are entitled to make your case. I am entitled to evaluate it and vice versa. Talk about violence.  Do you think violence is only physical?  I have studied and lived in a Christian culture for over 50 years. Lots of living experience here as well as formal education. If I make an assertion I am prepared to make my case. All things in religion are arguable by the nature of the discipline. I am very careful to avoid using ideas like I have the ultimate truth. This to me is dangerous and hubristic.

Christ challenged the high priests by coming to Jerusalem in the first place, knowing he was persona non- grata. For some reason, as He saw the soldiers descending toward Gethsemane, Christ did not leave. According to monks caring for this spot today, Christ would have seen the soldiers coming, could have exited and crossed the terrain and lost himself in a nearby village. He did not, by choice, nor did he tell his followers to run for it. He stood his ground and brought forth the events that followed. He was noble and certainly very worthy of our admiration for his conduct in the face of this terror. But he would not win here and decided not to escape or to put his followers in danger. Like the strategist that he was at this point in time, he knew there was no point in violence. Nor likewise, was there any point for violence and resistance as the Brits were surrounded by several Iranian boats with guns pointed on them. This is responsible leadership. Common sense as well as moral obligation to protect the innocent directs you to choose not to resist rather than pacifism as you are describing it.  Do I think Christ would have taken the position that to keep his religion going or to spread it that he would have advocated that his followers take up arms as Muhammad did? Of course not. That was not his way or message. But I think with regard to self- defense and just war and pacifism, you are putting words in Christ’s mouth here or filling voids he left. His words were few.

In the end, he entreated that his Father forgive but I do not know what Christ’s feelings were as he died other than that he felt he had been forsaken by his beloved Father.  A very sad moment of torment, perhaps the worst torment he endured. I like to think he did forgive and hang onto that idea. But forgiveness has to be authentic and understood in the venues of a very high order spirituality and spiritual success not romantic notions of Christ. It cannot be feigned. Truthfulness about hard feelings is better than feigned forgiveness. Because God can do wonders with you if you tell Him the truth about your hard feelings but really has little use for trying to bluff Him. He gets to your truth anyway, personal experience. 

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 7, 2007 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani,

Part 2

Third, you say that the Christ experience never allowed for violence yet the traditional Christian theology embraces the violent death of Christ. It explains his violent death as a redemptive act undertaken to appease his Father for all the sins of mankind. First off, if Christians got to know Yahweh, they would realize 2 things. He has no ego that would require such a redemptive act and that He made as we are because He wants us this way. People are made to feel things. People get angry or hurt or despair because this is how He likes us. We are made likened to Him.  He did not design us to fail in virtue of His very own design for us. As much as He can be volcanic, He is gentle and kind to us by His own Hand. He is a Lover.  Christians claim a very violent and abhorrent act as necessary for their very salvation. Can’t have it both ways. And the crucifixion makes no sense as a redemptive act. How can torturing a beloved son to death ever appease a loving Father? If it did, is the kind of God who should find shelter in our hearts and this “perfect sacrifice to a God” theory smacks more of OT Judaism than it does of Christ’s teachings about God’s ultimate forgiveness and how we should forgive and turn the other cheek. I think God is big enough to turn the other cheek and I think He does it so much His Head is spinning. More likely what happened to Christ here broke His Heart. And that we think of Yahweh as being appeased by this act may hurt Him tremendously. This convoluted thinking in Christianity about the Father I believe influenced the Islamic movement to reassert the primacy of the Father and restore His dignity with the first pillar of Islam ...There is no God but God.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 7, 2007 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani,

Part 1

We have some distinct theological differences.

First, even though Christ came to fulfill the new covenant between God and man, I would never presume he meant to transcend his Father whose will Christ pursued and openly submitted to and directed us to obey as well in the Lord’s prayer. Describing Christ as a spiritual person, Matthew, I believed held that the will of the Father was the very sustenance of Christ’s life, the food that fed Christ. Christ I think would be astounded at the way traditional Christianity has marginalized Yahweh in favor of Christ, making Yahweh some obscure background figure that is dark, not knowable or particularly relevant to the practice of religion or faith. Christ referred to himself as the way to the Father not his replacement. Christ never abandoned his Father but was enamored of the Yahweh of the OT. So, transcending the morality of the OT in my mind does not permit excluding Yahweh and His law, which Christ referred to when he exhorted his followers to obey the laws of Moses as well.  He held Abraham as his father too. What I see as Christ’s major intervention in the NT is making us understand that the law is for man not vice versa and the law should not be used against man. This he well demonstrated when he cured on the Sabbath, brazenly in violation of Jewish Sabbath law. He hereby demonstrated that the law serves man and not vice versa. That is why I always say that the Bible needs man as much as man needs the Bible. The law and the Bible must be understood in a way to bring good to man and serving the law is not an end in itself. Christ’s second major revolution was teaching people to connect to God one on one and letting them know they did not need a medium.  He gave people a prayer to invoke the Ear of his Father. And this set people free from the tyranny over the common people displayed by clergy at times. This and other reasons made him not popular with high order Jewish clergy. His other major intervention was teaching us the importance of love as the basis for our relationships and how it takes form in daily living.
 
Second, Christ’s disgust with the money changers and merchants in the temple, his Father’s house, a house of prayer that required purification to enter, led to his overturning tables which I would think damaged merchandise and caused all sorts of havoc, while flailing whips. This is quite an awesome display. To label this as impatience to me is a stretch.  This was not a teaching moment. This was a moment of vigorous rejection and open hostility to that disrespectful behavior directed at the love of his life, His Father. Maybe it was a teaching moment. Maybe it is a matter of opinion but here is mine. Christ was angry. At times he was sad and at times he was frightened and brave. He was of us, Emmanuel. His feeling for his Father were personal, again evidenced at the time he died, accusing God of forsaking him.

Joan

Report this

By Maani, April 7, 2007 at 8:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Joan:

How amazingly, uncoincidentally apropos!  The following Op-Ed appears in today’s (Sat) NYTimes.  I swear I did not see this when I wrote my…missive.

Peace.

http://select.nytimes.com/2007/04/07/opinion/07wright.html?pagewanted=print

Report this

By Maani, April 6, 2007 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Joan (Part 3 of 3):

Re “justice,” it was a wise man who said, “justice is never achieved at the point of a gun.”  Even setting aside the fact that Jesus never exhorted His followers to take up arms against the Romans (even in self-defense), you may be right that “justice is not always pretty.”  But that does not mean it ever REQUIRES the use of violence.  Next you will be telling me there are “legitimate reasons” for the death penalty.  And yes, they are similar, even related, and are not “apples and oranges.”

You say, “This seems to lead us into a world in which evil gets a free pass and the reign of the righteous would be short lived, if it ever occurred at all.”  Again I must ask: are you listening to yourself?  Who exactly do you think is “in charge” here: temporal, mortal humans, however “righteous” they may be?  Or Yahweh?  Because your statement would seem to suggest the former: that somehow Yahweh is not “in control” enough to prevent “evil” from “getting a free pass.”  You are of course correct that “evil behavior needs challenge.”  But are you suggesting exchanging evil for evil?  “Stooping to the level” of that evil?  “Fighting fire with fire?  Because violence and war are the tools of “evil,” NOT the tools of the righteous!

Re your comments about Hitler, I invite you to read “For Pacifists” by Gandhi.  In it, he addresses this very question (almost exactly as you ask it), and provides the most amazing, cogent, “Christian” answer I have ever come across.  In brief, however, he believes (as I do) that Hitler would never ultimately have “won” in the long run even if the Allies had never engaged him, and that his regime would have collapsed long before he got much further than he did.

As for whether we (in fighting Hitler as we did) were “acting on our survival instincts but in violation of Christ as you interpret Christ,” my answer is an unqualified and resounding “yes.”  And that is because of my deep belief that Gandhi and King had it right in their interpretation of Jesus’ pacifism.

You ask, “Does God only toy with us when we are in these circumstances?”  Your use of the word “toy” is unnecessarily provocative.  We are ALWAYS “tested.”  Some tests we pass, some we don’t.  And God does not love us any less for failing those we don’t.  But that does not mean we haven’t failed.  If Gandhi and King are correct, then each time we are tempted to go to war – for WHATEVER reason, no matter how seemingly “just” – we are being tested to see whether we have learned yet that war is NOT the answer, and does NOT lead to peace.  And each time we choose war and its associated violence, we fail that test.

Ultimately, much of your response is far too “analytical” – something for which you are certainly forgiven, given your academic predilections.  (LOL)  However, there is nothing intellectual or cerebral about Jesus’ pacifism, or how He lived and taught it.  It was an integral part of the most basic aspects of His ministry: love, peace, forgiveness, humility, patience.  There is no room in these five precepts for violence of any type – even if that seems antithetical to “basic human design.”  Because it was our “basic human design” – our hatreds, fears, angers, etc. – that He was trying to get us to transcend, to be more like Him, to experience “the kingdom of God.”  To suggest that there is ANY justification for violence is anathema to everything He lived, taught and stood for.

Peace.

Report this

By Maani, April 6, 2007 at 8:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Joan (Part 2 of 3):

Indeed, re Gandhi and King, I believe that your statement is completely backward: Jesus not a pacifist “in the spirit of Gandhi or…King?”  Au contraire!  It was Gandhi and King who understood the TRUE nature of what Jesus represented vis-a-vis pacifism, non-violence and social struggle.  Jesus was the ULTIMATE pacifist - preaching and living a life that was antithetical to violence of ANY type, and willingly undergoing the most brutal treatment and death - without even being guilty of the crimes for which He was executed!  How can you possibly say that He would have condoned violence in any respect?  As well, He never ONCE suggested to His followers that they engage in violence or war with the Romans, did He?  How come?  After all, if ever there was “cause” for a “just war,” it was right there, right then, no?  Indeed, you admit that “He was more likely teaching his followers…who cannot take on governments per se, maybe can survive them reasonably intact.”  So which is it?  If He was teaching them NOT to engage in violence, either offensive or defensive, then what WAS He teaching them, except NON-violence?

You say, “Turning the other cheek is not the same as telling us we should let someone run their sword through us and destroy our lives.  We can all easily survive the proverbial slap in the face without upping the ante.  But being killed off without defending ourselves is an extreme position and I think counter to our basic human design.”

Are you listening to yourself?  How dearly you hold on to your temporal, mortal life! The entire POINT of “living a Christ-like life” is to attempt to go BEYOND the “basic human design” and live the precepts of His ministry to their fullest extent!  Yes, I know, no human being will ever be able to live a “perfect” Christ-like life; we all have our foibles, fears, etc., and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  But does that mean we should not strive to do so anyway, even to the point of sacrifice – even to the sacrifice of our own lives?  What is so goll-darned important about this temporal life that you feel we all need to cling so tenaciously to it?  Isn’t the point of being a “spiritual,” “faith-based” Christian to (among other things) attempt to transcend the temporal, worldly lives we live in these mortal bodies – to be “as Christ was” to the greatest extent possible within each of us?  If not, why bother being a Christian?

“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” means just that.  And even if the “evil” referred to here is limited to physical violence (as the context would suggest, though some broaden it even further), it is not “limited” to “the proverbial slap in the face”; it is far broader than that.  And it is a CLEAR admonishment AGAINST self-defensive violence.

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” means just that.  And it is another CLEAR admonishment AGAINST violence in self-defense – and a clarion call for a TOTALLY DIFFERENT APPROACH: one of love, forgiveness and non-violence.

There are no “hidden” meanings in either of these statements.  And they are not “suggestions” - they are imperatives; almost “commandments.”

Report this

By Maani, April 6, 2007 at 7:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Joan (Part 1 of 3):

I can’t help but be a bit surprised.  You seem to fall into the same traps as so many others re this issue.

First, it is important to keep in mind that, while the OT was indeed Jesus “playbook,” His life and ministry “transcended” it, and thus when one refers to Scripture for support for a particular issue, Jesus’ words, actions and ministry must “outweigh” any OT text.  (Indeed, Jesus deliberately “re-interpreted” many passages of the OT (including a couple of the Commandments), which is why the Temple Priests believed Him to be a heretic.)

Second, you note that Jesus “displayed anger” when He “destroyed the temple” (actually, He simply overturned the tables of the moneychangers) and in His dealings with the Jewish leaders.  However, you undermine much of your position when you ignore the fact that these were the ONLY two instances in which He displayed such impatience - and both were displayed for the same reason: the moneychangers and Temple Priests were bringing “corruption” into the Temple; i.e., into the place where the Jews of that time went to “commune” with their God.  As well, re the Temple Priests, they were even more to be reviled, since they were harming the populace spiritually, having become corrupt and engaging in corrupt practices which included forbidding people from entering the temple without “payment.”  THIS is why Jesus was impatient with the Jewish leaders and “angry” with the moneychangers.

HOWEVER, Jesus NEVER displayed (or taught) either anger (even “righteous indignance”) or “selfish impatience” with anyone else at any time.  Indeed, as I have noted ad nauseam, the precepts of his Ministry were love, peace, humility, compassion, forgiveness, patience, charity, selflessness, service, justice, truth - and NONE of these allow room for anger - much less violence - for any reason whatsoever.

You say, “I do not believe that in his final hours Jesus was ever a pacifist in the spirit of Gandhi or…King.”  This is patently absurd.  In fact, it was in His “final hours” that Jesus displayed his pacifism to the nth degree.  He went to the cross - enduring the outrageous pain and suffering of unearned beatings, whippings, thorn-crownings, and other physical and psycho-emotional abuses before it - WILLINGLY, without even a HINT of anger or impatience, much less violence.  He even continuously forgave those who were engaging in those vicious practices - literally up to His final breaths (“Father forgive them for they know not what they do”).  As a related aside, don’t forget that He not only admonished a disciple for cutting off the ear of one of the centurions who had come to arrest Him, but He miraculously repaired that ear on the spot.  These are not the actions, words or ministry of someone who would condone violence for ANY reason - INCLUDING self-defense.  Indeed, if any person in the history of the world had the “right” to engage in self-defense, it was Jesus, who was arrested, tried and convicted on trumped-up charges, and then subjected to the most brutal treatment and death in recorded history.  But that is NOT what He did.

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 6, 2007 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:  Comment #61968 by Joan on 4/03 at 11:52 am

Re:  skirting the issue
Your right, any subject worthy of debate is not black and white.  I recognize that there are a multitude of factors that generate ambiguity.  I was just throwing out a blanket statement, speaking in generalities (both you and Maani don’t like this method for some reason). 

I don’t have the time or the motivation to research gay relationships in ancient Greece (although I appreciate you taking the time to elucidate this matter).    Incidentally, your reference to the Iliad has reminded me that it’s been too long since I’ve read Homer.

Re:  Conscience
I sense that the conscience is more psychological than innate.  That is, “Conscience can prompt different people in quite different directions, depending on their beliefs, suggesting that while the capacity for conscience is probably genetically determined, its subject matter is probably learnt, or imprinted, like language, as part of a culture.” (Wikipedia)
I’ve watched my 16 month-old hit her mother (hard and in the face) and then laugh.  She hasn’t developed empathy – she hasn’t fully developed her conscience.  Teaching a child empathy, usually involves bringing basic emotions into play (pretending to cry when she hits you).  The child instinctively recognizes the sadness emotion, and then makes a connection between her behavior and the emotion.  If the imprinter does not use this technique, they must wait longer for the child to correct their behavior; in this stage of her development, she hasn’t learned to distinguish the natural, non-theatrical reaction to getting slapped in the face.  To expedite the learning process, our particular method of teaching her is to lock her in a dark closet for 3 or 4 hours.  This teaches her discipline, empathy, AND it encourages her to self-sooth.  (I’m kidding).
Getting back to the point, if you’re conscience is telling you something other than basic human morals (don’t do something that makes other people sad) then this specific notion is a result of something you learned at some earlier point in time.  In your example, you suggest that some gays will have a guilty conscience and some will not.  This points directly at imprinting, not innateness. 


Re:  I am nonplussed as to why you think I do not accept evolution
Because you don’t.  Evolution is a theory of how all animals have evolved to their present state (conscience, sense of morality, and all).  Nowhere in the theory of evolution will you find God having a hand in the evolution of man.  I am not suggesting, absolutely, that He did not.  I am merely saying that from my foxhole, in keeping with the theory of evolution, it seems that He did not.  Evolution is one equation that is applied to all life on earth.  How can you change the equation for one species, and still claim to accept it? 
You ask, “…can you accept that as a reason for the qualitative distinction between men and chimp…?”  Yes.  But my money is on evolution.  It doesn’t hold a candle to my “why is there stuff” argument.
Out of curiosity, did the good sisters teach you that man evolved from man-ape, or did they leave that part of the theory out of the curriculum?

(continued)

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 6, 2007 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

(Part II) Re:  Comment #61968 by Joan on 4/03 at 11:52 am

Re:  Are you suggesting that if I agree with you, I am rational? LOL
Yes.  I don’t see what’s so funny though.  As I’ve explained before, it is my truth that you seek and shall accept.
Seriously, when you have a puzzle with a few missing pieces, you still have a pretty good idea what the image is.  Accepting chimp to man as a distinct possibility bolsters your credibility in my eyes.  I’m sorry this comes across as arrogant, It’s just the way I perceive things.  The problem here, is that this discussion is turning (once again) back to the irresolvable “ooze” discussion.
Later you wrote, “…doesn’t necessarily follow that [believers] other cogitations are wrong.  I concur.  I said that it discredits himself a little.  I wasn’t suggesting that the believer lacks credibility just because he may have not listened to reason in a few instances. 

Re:  your dance here with God
Such is the life and times of an agnostic. 

Re:  Accepting Him without understanding, I think, degrades Him
Are you serious?  How the hell can I understand God?  Shall I use the Bible?  Whose Bible should I use?  Should I come up with my own religion such as you have?  Should I intuitively come up with my ideas about God and assume they are true because it makes sense to me?  You talk directly with Him.  I find this truly amazing because you are the first person I’ve met who can do this.  As for the rest of us poor sods, we are left with doubt and uncertainties. 
The problem, Joan, is that I lack the fundamental ingredient in establishing a relationship with God – Faith. 

You’re curious why I seek agreement from people and don’t just agree to disagree.  This is my nature.  I naturally seek order/harmony - Although it’s perfectly fine that you believe in God and I don’t, and we can remain harmonious.  I like to conduct a discussion where, in addition to a series of rebuttals, there is more personal inspection & interaction.  The best way to persuade someone is to NOT recognize the other party’s position.  The best way to conduct a discussion is to truly seek to understand the opposing point of view. 
    I consider the most important part of my job (at work and at home) is to mentor.  I have always been the guy that people go to for conflict resolution, mediation, and problem solving.  I’ve always prided myself on my ability to effectively communicate.  A large part of my seeking agreement is validation of this skill.  I am constantly examining ways to improve in this arena. 
If you want a specific explanation of my attitude, I can only guess.  There are probably a myriad of psychological concepts that affect my mind set.  Most healthy, but some probably not so healthy.
I rarely get the opportunity to discuss these taboo topics.  Finding (intelligent) people that are willing to entertain the debate is harder than you might think.  There are social constraints that preclude you from conducting such discussions (two things you don’t argue – politics and religion).  When I happen on a person with whom I feel comfortable discussing, I sometimes run the risk of alienating that person.  This rarely happens because I am careful with whom I engage these subjects.
With the Gay union discussion I have an additional motive, although not my primary reason for conducting this discussion.  I think that it is important that I attempt to ease your position on gay unions.  You are, no doubt, a respected member of your community, an authority figure, and a trusted source of wisdom.  When someone else broaches this subject with you, I hope that you lend your opinion with our discussions in mind.  This way, perhaps, we will have contributed to chipping away at some pretty solid and aged barriers. 
Having said all this.  I recognize that there are topics on which we can not meet in the middle or acquiesce.  After all, I gave up on worth v. ooze (it just took a long time to finally resign).

(Continued)

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 6, 2007 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

(Part III) Re:  Comment #61968 by Joan on 4/03 at 11:52 am


Re:  Water shortage.
I do not avoid the trauma aspect, It simply hasn’t been brought up until now.  I can only imagine how abjectly horrible it would be to have to kill someone under these circumstances.  I might volunteer myself to avoid such inescapable guilt from consuming me.  If I were to volunteer, I would do everything I could to alleviate the inexorable guilt the survivors would have to endure.
You say, “But I would not kill one off to save another life”.  This is misrepresenting the scenario.  You are saving 5 lives instead of letting 10 people die.  The group has a chance to save 5 people and the vote has to be unanimous.  Your “nay”, has just killed 5 people.  Good job, Joan. 
No, I’m kidding – intentionally being over dramatic.  I am kind of playing devil’s advocate here.  I’m not completely sure that I would go through with it.  Like you say, there are no black and whites.  Although we all would like to believe how we would react in given situations, you never really know until you’re ass-deep in it.  Seen it happen in the war – the guys you’d never suspect were the ones hiding behind the trucks, instead of engaging the enemy.  That being said, I still think that I would vote yea. 
In the interest of intellectual honesty, you have to divorce yourself from any notion that a “turn of event” might happen in this scenario.  Get it out of your mind.  Address the dilemma as stated, don’t chicken out and say “well, there is a possibility”.  No one is going to berate you for answering either way. 

I think this dilemma would be more interesting if there were only two people.  You and an acquaintance.  Would you give your life for him?  Would you let him give his life for you?  Would you flip a coin?  Would you stab him in the neck in his sleep?

Re:  Gay unions
You make a good point about homosexuals changing their act – If you want to be a part of our society, behave accordingly.  The ironic thing about this is that gay unions would facilitate a change in this behavior.
I see two things that might account for our different views on gay unions.  First, although I don’t condone promiscuity, I subscribe to the live and let live policy on it (hetero and homo).  Second, in my 38 years of hanging out on this rock, I don’t see that much of a difference between hetero and homo behavior.  Since I know you wouldn’t base your opinions on stereotypes and biased writings, I would assume that your experience with the gay community has clearly been more negative than mine has.  I’ve been to Provence Town (MA) on more than one occasion.  If you weren’t aware, P. Town is a Mecca for homosexuals in the N. East.  One of the jokes back in the day (which perpetuated prejudice) was that if you dropped your hat in P.town, you should kick it into mayflower heights (a neighboring town).  Anyway, observed behavior in P.town has not led me to believe that gays are overly promiscuous.  I’ve had other random encounters with gays throughout the years, but the only other real experience that I have to go by is my (platonic) relationship with the gay couple I previously mentioned. 
There doesn’t seem to be too much hard evidence (pardon the pun) to back the promiscuity claim, but like most stereo-types, it is probably based on at least a seed of truth. 

BTW, I don’t have the desire to spend $30.00 on a subscription to “Atlantic”.
Here’s an interesting dissertation of church views on homosexuality.  http://www.dioceseofnewark.org/jsspong/catech.html

p.s. I’m not going to touch the “thou shall not kill” subject.  Looks like you reeled in Maani, though.  I think I’ll just sit back and watch you guys argue the whole “morality of war” thing.

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

Report this

By Joan, April 6, 2007 at 11:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani,

“…whoever shall kill is in danger of judgment”…I believe we are all judged, for our actions, killer and those who do not kill and we had better be able to explain them, all of our actions. But remember too throughout Cain’s lifetime, God protected Cain, who committed the first act of the countless fratricides to come, allowing Cain to father a child and to build the first known city. God was literally in love with David who killed Goliath, was an adulterer and had Uriah killed off in battle, then taking Bathsheba for himself. God judges for Himself.

“... angry with his brothers without cause…”… “without cause” is an important qualification…remember the anger Jesus displayed when he destroyed the temple. He had just cause to be angry too. I do not believe that in his final hours Jesus was ever a pacifist in the spirit of Ghandi or Martin Luther King. His people, the Jews, were constantly bickering and fighting against Rome and were not winning. He was more likely teaching his followers how to operate in the parallel universe of the soul so that the average man, for whom this religion was designed to assist and who cannot take on governments per se, maybe can survive them reasonably in tact. Jesus challenged the high priests all the time but did not involve himself in any political movements. He was clear that his kingdom was not of this world. By not resisting, he in his final hours was protecting his people and his new ideas, nothing more. He was trying, like a general, not to get the rest of his followers killed.


I don’ t agree with your interpretations of the first quote you cited. I see the key words here “without cause “ or “wantonly “, a term I used. Yes, we will be judged for killing or anger without cause. This I see as the case. But I don’t in the quote see killing being put on the same plane as being angry but more like anger too is questionable, and “without cause” is key…even Mosaic law took into account the reasons for killing before judgment is meted out. Both Yahweh and Christ exhibited justified anger.  There must be assessment not just unanalyzed adherence to law. 

The second quote I take as an exhortation against vengeance which is the Lord’s because we do not have the wisdom. But self- defense is not vengeance. It is nature taking its course. We have no moral obligation or exhortation from God or Christ succumb to evil. Turning the other cheek is not the same as telling us we should let someone run their sword through us and destroy our lives. We can all easily survive the proverbial slap in the face without upping the ante. But being killed off without defending ourselves is an extreme position and I think counter to our basic human design. The Bible needs man as much as man needs the Bible. Its exhortations have to be tempered with reason and wisdom. Yahweh by design made us instinctively protective of ourselves. We by design should not let ourselves be wantonly destroyed. The instinct to survive is perhaps the strongest one we have. There is a reason we have it.

Neither quote you cite, for me, refutes the notion of “just wars” nor prohibits self- defense. I do not see the term “just war” as an oxymoron but a very complex concept. What is justice is not always pretty.  I also think of the logical consequences of your interpretations. This seems to lead us into a world in which evil gets a free pass and the reign of the righteous would be short lived, if it ever occurred at all. It seems to me that evil behavior needs challenge. It needs a real run for its money.

Do you think Hitler should have been given free reign while the rest of the world laid down its swords or that we are just doomed to evil behavior through no fault of our own when we fought against Hitler, acting on our survival instincts but in violation of Christ as you interpret Christ? Does God just toy with us when we are in these circumstances? I don’t think you believe that.

Joan

Report this

By Maani, April 5, 2007 at 8:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Joan:

You say, “There are reasons why we are permitted to kill like for instance, just wars and self defense to name a few. There behaviors are not considered violations of the commandment ”Thou shalt not kill.””

Really?  Then how do you interpret the following statements of Jesus Himself?:

“Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

In the first instance, Jesus seems to be saying that simply remaining angry with someone is as bad as killing, making killing wrong in any regard.

In the second instance, Jesus is clearly dispelling the notion that “self-defense” is a justification for violence, much less killing.

Thus, I cannot agree with your assessment that there are justifications for killing, least of all “just wars” (a supremely ironic oxymoron) or self-defense.

Peace.

Report this

By Joan, April 5, 2007 at 6:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

FYI….Apropos to our discussions about the complexity of gay behavior and choice, there is an interesting article in the May 2007 issue of “The Atlantic “ entitled “The Kingdom in the Closet”.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 4, 2007 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 2

Water shortage…you neatly avoided the trauma aspect of your solution. Or would everyone be just oblivious to that in your scenario?  “T;’ I believe you evoke an elementary interpretation of the commandments and how they operate. There are reasons why we are permitted to kill like for instance, just wars and self defense to name a few. There behaviors are not considered violations of the commandment ”Thou shalt not kill.” (wantonly). And those Bible- belters you mentioned makeup a goodly portion of our armed forces’ ground troops, as I understand it. So there you have it…they observe Judeo-Christian values but fight in wars.  But to maybe satisfy your deeper question about whether there may be a time I would decide to kill I think I may euthanize in a case of war for instance if a fellow soldier were so severely injured and there was no help on the way. I think I could face God with such a decision in the context of a matter of conscience. Of course I would give my life for a loved one. This is almost instinct. But I would not kill one off to save another life. Who is to say what life is the one to be saved or ended? If there are volunteers, fine. Maybe by choosing, you are killing off the person who will save the day in some other way. I am not near as confident of outcomes as you are. Seen too many turns of events. I guess.

Gay behavior and societal responsibility…it’s like “West Side Story” here with the social diseases…Being moral while facing and dealing with rejection is part of life for us all. We all have to accept rejection, gay or straight, male or female etc.  You neatly skirted that women have been treated as bad or worse than gays and have not opted for sexual irresponsibility.  I accept people, not lifestyles that I find not healthy for the rest of us or for them. Promiscuity is not worthy of acceptance.  Gay persons living sincerely, dealing with actual love is a matter between man and His God, not for me to judge because I believe that God respects all love. And I would not judge a sincere person, trying to do what he thinks is right. I surely don’t know everything. I think society’s rejection of this promiscuity is something the gay community should address, admitting their behavior is less than savory, and stop the finger pointing about the sins of the other. Clean up your own act too. In general and I have argued this previously, all sorts of legal adjustments have been made acknowledging gay partnerships, insurance and wills etc.. A great deal has been done to integrate gay relationships into society. Where is the good will and is their intention of addressing the valid objections to a way of life?  As I ended #61746 I said that accepting someone does not mean accepting all they do. And that is my prerogative to make such a judgment. Nor do I stand in the way society moves forward here. Society moves forward in directions I don’t always think are the ways to go and I have to live with it too. It is the gay person who has to be morally at peace with what he does, not me. If I am not hurting a gay person, what does he care what I think? No doubt, there are people who don’t like things I say or do. It’s their right. If I am OK with what I do, I have to accept their differences. Personally I think the gay community has to polish up its tarnished image if it wants to build confidence and the long-term respect of society, rather than adopting trendy “liberalocracy” changes and thinking some miracle is going to occur.

I am surprised and glad that you thought my analyses here were respectable.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 4, 2007 at 3:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 1

Once I learned about it, I have always accepted evolution as the mechanics for creation. I was taught about it in St. Cecelia’s sophomore biology class. And we little Catholics saw no conflict with the science and our faith in creation by a happily busy God, including the nuns who taught us about evolution and physics and chemistry.  So I am nonplussed as to why you think I do not accept evolution. (I think part of the confusion comes from people like Harris who really make serious mistakes when interpreting Christianity.) By inspection, I maintain though that man is qualitatively different from other species and was made so by deliberate intention. He was imbibed with a little something extra, like a splash of Divinity in ways other species were not. So can you accept that as a reason for the qualitative distinction between men and chimp that has yet too be explained by evolution as an additional support for God’s existence to your idea that He exists because the stuff comes from somewhere? 

Are you suggesting that if I agree with you, I am rational? LOL

All along I have been very, very curious as to why you care if I agree with you. I am virtually a stranger. And I do not have a thought as to why it is important but your speculation about yourself I would think would be very interesting for you to unravel. And I have wondered about your dance here with God, is He or isn’t He there? And maybe time will answer that question for you rather than reason. But once you have sincerely answered it for yourself, I think God will be satisfied because you need to be sincerely satisfied, not just buying into a lot of unexamined ideas about Him. Accepting Him without understanding, I think, degrades Him, does not take Him seriously and you evidently do take the issue seriously even though you have not psyched it all out yet to your satisfaction.

As for me, I have lived for decades in a context in which I don’t expect agreement. So let’s say this is a real cultural difference between us. I expect dispute all around and think it is normal and healthy. Raised by Europeans essentially, there was always debate, especially political and about religion, with a lot of beer and whiskey and food.

If believers don’t buy into one idea such as evolution, it doesn’t necessarily follow that all their other cogitations are wrong. That is really an error in formal logic as well.  Each position has to be decided on its own merit. If your reasoning is off about one thing, does it follow your reasoning is off about everything?  Maybe you like black and white more than gray.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 3, 2007 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebldi,

Part 2

Re: I am not an expert here either but as I understand it Greek homosexuality is not just a function of the military.  Male athletes, held in the highest esteem in Greek culture, practiced it also and, as I noted, Socrates was very married. I understand it too as an older man often with a younger one and this was about physical love and the sharing of wisdom, the signature commodity and foremost lover in the Greek polis. This is not necessity. It is the culture of those on the top of the Greek food chain, the cream of the Greek crop. This is not like prison gay behavior as I understand that behavior, which is not necessarily sought after and is often violent, controlling, demeaning and manipulative.  Other cultures had warriors like the Romans sans the homosexual culture of the Greeks. Furthermore, let’s not forget our basic “Illiad” 101 in which King Agamemnon consummately insults the great warrior/hunk Achilles, handily played by the clearly Mediterranean looking Brad Pitt in ‘Troy’, by taking the warrior/hunk’s war prize, Briseis (?), and attempting to sleep with her, insulting and almost pushing Achilles right out of the war and jeopardizing the entire Trojan war effort. Obliviously, Agamemnon, this charm school graduate who sacrificed his daughter, Iphigenia, at Aulis to get the winds blowing so he could sail off to war, a real sensitive “Joe” brings home another prize, Cassandra to his adoring, genteel wife, Clytemnestra who immediately kills them both. Greek warriors were like all others, scavenging for women prizes.

I believe the Greek homosexual relationships were often monogamous relationships but not lifelong ones. The Greeks had enemies and had to reproduce. Spartan women dying in childbirth were given the same burial honors as fallen Spartan warriors. In Greek culture homosexual love between males, not lesbianism, was the preferred love over heterosexual love, not in lieu of it. This is my recollection, something I studied long before I suspect Greek behavior was sanitized and co-opted on behalf of the gay movement initiatives.

I believe that conscience is more intuitive based than environmental. Very young children instinctively protest the unfairness of circumstances well before they perceive environmental influences. I see lots of people doing things around me and I still get that twinge that it is wrong. I place a lot of freedom and personal responsibility on my shoulders as a moral agent with respect to matters of conscience. And I would think this approach gives SHers the freedom they want to make their own moral decisions.

I think I have really said pretty much how I see the morality of gay behavior. I really don’t know if it is immoral per se but I think all should be treated with care especially by institutions that preach GR. You can check my last post to you and Maani for further expansion. I have shown you my hand here.

The weekend was good. Thanks. How about yours?

Joan

Report this

By Joan, April 3, 2007 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 1

Back to the grocer…I can go with the just having an off day, being human. That we are not always perfect maybe is not really a character flaw…Thank you for you vote of confidence. I really am very nice to my grocer even if he broke my eggs but he has not…He gives me extra goodies sometimes too like fresh corn on the cob…it’s a match made in heaven…

Everyday folk like you and me debate Christian theology all the time and for me again there is the matter of conscience clause. Regarding the big wigs of the RC Church, they too are revising all the time. There are encyclicals coming out with change. You may like the first one released last year by Benedict, “ Deus Caritas Est”. Check the Vatican website. It takes a different slant on marriage than previously held and is inching away from the idea that celibacy is a spiritually superior way of life.
I don’t see how I am skirting the issue. I just don’t see the positions as black and white. The Bible rejects homosexuality and I have acknowledged that. Is this a very Christian position? Well, I gave you my explanations. I have learned that most moral analysis is not black and white and this is true of moral analysis in the context of Christianity. There is analysis in Christianity. Regarding theological analysis, there are some lines in a movie that I highly recommend, especially on the eve of Easter. The movie is ”The Body” starring Antonio Banderas as a Jesuit priest. The Jesuits are one of priesthoods dedicated to dealing with the some of the very intellectual issues we are discussing as well as science etc.. In the movie, the Jesuit and a scholarly rabbi have an exchange in which they agree the Talmud needs man as much as man needs the Talmud. This means that one does not apply the tenets of the Good Books without man processing what the Good Book says and being responsible for it being applied to man’s benefit and God’s enhancement.  Christianity is not a free for all but few ethical systems are.


Joan

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 3, 2007 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:  Comment #61773 by Joan on 4/02 at 9:45 am

Hi Joan.

Re:  Pope joke
…Much more congenial than a poop joke

Re:  [He] graced His own spark on a species evolving or otherwise
Evidence points to man evolving from ape; that you are able to accept this as a distinct possibility demonstrates that your ability to reason is sound.  In my mind, a believer who discounts the reasonable discredits himself a little – thus he discredits his case on the existence of God.  I hope this makes sense to you because I feel that this is significant.  This begs the question:  Why am I compelled to have others share in my assessments?  Two reasons occur to me.  Either I simply want to validate my thought processes/communication skills, or I surreptitiously want God to exist – but cannot do so without a believer corroborating what I (almost surely) know to be true.  (Once again, I have dazzled myself with my sagaciousness; I’m definitely getting an “A” in your class)

Re:  Water shortage
Noble indeed.  You’re a better person than I.  I’d rather have a 50/50 shot at being ignoble and alive than choosing to be a noble and dead.  This is not purely selfish either; you have to consider that there could have been 5 families/friends that would be spared grief and loss had you used UT.  Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. 
Let’s change the scenario here.  What if it were only you and your significant other in a similar situation?  Would you not readily give your life for theirs?  Isn’t this a UT decision?  Why would you be willing to break a commandment in this scenario, but not in the original one? 

Re:  Gays/Pillar of the community
By no means did I intend on suggesting that gays are somehow absolved of personal responsibility.  I was merely pondering the influence of society’s denial of equitable conditions has on the gay community.
  It shouldn’t be ‘society is nicer’, as you said; it should be ‘society has accepted them’.  A huge difference.  Self-fulfilling prophesy is a well-documented concept.  I don’t think it is outlandish to apply this theory to the gay/promiscuity scenario.
So while I believe that personal responsibility is paramount, I also believe that society should also take some responsibility by supporting and affecting this desired change. 
    Here in the bible-belt, as far as I can see, there are no gays.  No gay bars, no ‘gay towns’, and certainly no gays holding hands in the park.  It’s amazing that gays are only born in California and New England. 
  Or just maybe there are gays here (do you think?), and they are forced by society to live secret lives, sometimes in guilt and in shame.  You’ve expertly defended them in Comment #61746; now let’s take this a step further and advocate acceptance of their lifestyle – What better way to demonstrate our recognition than through authenticating gay unions?

Ciao!  -Tebaldi

Report this

By Joan, April 2, 2007 at 6:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Re: post # 61769

Just a quick one here. I cannot accept the argument that “society made me do it” anymore than the devil made me do it. We have to be responsible for our actions and make good judgments in the face of what we are exposed to. Women have been extremely marginalized by religion and society. Until very recently women had no say in religions that governed them in every way. They had few legal rights and were economically dependent. They could be beaten and raped by husbands and even today in the Middle East they can be killed off by fathers and brothers.  Gay males who did not tell had many more advantages than females traditionally have had. Sexual promiscuity is not an acceptable response to societal difficulties.
I think you are presuming that gay marriages will correct this but I do not see a basis for assuming this. Moral behavior emanates from the agent in the face of a rather immoral world. If the agent is not moral in given circumstances, why think different circumstances will change the internal moral attitudes. Society is nicer to me now so I ought to be morally responsible? Don’t we have to be moral in the face of immoral behavior directed at us or is it everyone’s fault that I am not behaving morally?

More to come.

Joan

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 2, 2007 at 11:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:  Comment #61290 by Maani on 3/29 at 8:45 pm

Hello Maani.

I guess I stand corrected.  I withdraw my doubts on the origin of your views on homosexuality.  It is still my opinion, however, that if you were raised in a more gay-tolerant environment you would wrestle with this issue more than you are now.  It’s a no-brainer for me.  Especially after forming a relationship with a gay couple; I couldn’t fathom condemning their behavior. 

Re:  getting too hung up on “words.”
I believe it is you who is over analyzing words.  ‘Prejudice’, as it is used today, is not ‘pre-judging’ as you suggest.  It is defined as “an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.”
It’s not that you are unreasonable or that you’ve not taken the time/effort to reason.  I think that there are mental roadblocks that prevent you from the proper application of reason.  I realize that you treat/love a gay person as much as a hetero.  This is good, because you are not discriminating.  You do have prejudice though; and like I said, that’s ok.  We are all prejudiced to one degree or another (to include myself). 
I wonder if you are misconstruing your repulsion for gay sex as an indicator of immoral behavior.  I too am repulsed by it (Interestingly, only male gay sex, not female).  The holding hands, friendly kisses, etc. doesn’t bother me at all - just the things that happen behind closed doors.  I am also repulsed by vomiting – This doesn’t make it immoral.  Who knows where these feelings originate.  More importantly, who cares? 

Re:  Gayness is not a choice.
Heterosexuality is not a choice either.  Ergo the natural sexual conduct of both heteros and gays should either be both considered immoral, or both considered moral.  How can you argue with this reason? 


Incidentally, the details about your upbringing were not in a post addressed specifically to me.  It may have been pre-Tebaldi (remember I came in at half-time), or I simply didn’t read that particular post.  In short, I can not listen to that which I do not hear. 

Speaking of this, you never responded to Comment #59917.  What gives?

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 2, 2007 at 11:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

(part II)  Re:  Comment #61134 by Joan on 3/29 at 6:26 am

For some reason, this didn’t make it through the first time.

Re:  moral transgression or character flaw
Your original question was, ‘I am I just mean or have I committed a breach against SH?’  I said, “[being mean is] not keeping with the ideals of SH.  I’m not trying to elevate meanness to sin status.  Occasionally we treat people in a way we normally would not.  This is neither a moral transgression nor a character flaw.  This is human behavior. 
BTW, I can’t imagine you being mean to your grocer, even if you had a bad day, he broke your eggs, AND squashed your bread.

Re:  tenets of Christianity
You are skirting the issue.  What is Christianity’s (by and large) opinion on homosexuality?  Isn’t this a direct reflection of the church suppressing rational thought?  You speak of the big brains in the church community – I agree.  There are a plethora of wicked smart believers.  They could talk circles around me.  The problem is that these smart guys haven’t got the political clout to affect church leaders.  The bottom line is that at the end of the day, the official stance of the church remains unchanged.  You can accuse me of ignorantly viewing Christianity from afar, but I’m interested in results, not the details.

Re:  Homosexuality
Excellent analysis, Joan.  I was hung up on a couple of things though. 
First, you wrote, “Homosexual love in Paul’s Greek days was a choice”.  This is not a fair statement.  The homosexual ‘love’ (HL) in ancient Greece to which you refer is much different than ‘acceptable’ homosexual relationships.  Literature on ancient Greek HL predominantly focuses on the common relationships between seasoned warriors and apprentices in the army.  This type of homosexuality mirrors increased HL activities in prisons today – what I’ll call hedonistic HL.  When there is no access to females, these guys simply want to get their rocks off.  This is not the type of relationship that I am condoning here.  I’m not an expert, but I think monogamous homosexual relationships were not culturally acceptable back then; because of this, such desires were not commonly recorded. 
If a gay person is not comfortable with gay conduct, I would first attempt to reverse the conditioning he received that, no doubt causes his apprehension.  The problem with the ‘conscience route’ you speak of is that your conscience is affected by your environment – what if your environment was screwed up?

If you wish to continue the homosexual discussion, comment #55991 was the last remark on this issue (before our near-falling out) It starts with “Re:  Your rejection of polygamy” on the first post.
I’m still exceedingly interested in how it is that we have such a different opinion, given that you are not dissuaded by the Bible or the church’s views.

Hope you had a pleasant weekend…  - Tebaldi

Report this

By Joan, April 2, 2007 at 10:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hello “T”,

It was a pope joke…but the “matter of conscience” aspect of Catholicism is a loophole that allows many behaviors that are not generally permitted. It makes Catholicism less dogmatic than it appears at times.

Evolution has not explained all it needs to explain or been comprehensively verified.  Hence my idea that it is still theoretical and subject to revision as we learn more.

I don’t attribute “chi” solely to mind over body. The energy is warm, can be felt, manipulated and can be somewhat quantified. I believe chi is an entity in and of itself, like electricity. So we differ there. I believe chi is the life force as the Taoists do. I believe that spirituality is somewhat physiological, an idea not included in the Western notion of spirituality. This is our loss. I shared this with the pastor of the local Presbyterian Church and he said he believed this also. He said the night before his bypass surgery he was very rattled, understandably. He said he hammered away at God until he felt a sense of peace and calm. Catholicism is a Christian sect disposed to mysticism. Christ vividly demonstrates this internalization of material Divine Substance.  During the Last Supper he gave his friends bread and wine. In this tradition, Christ is to have transposed those substances into his substance, his body and blood (Transubstantiation) and told us to partake of them. I believe this is an analogue to God breathing His Substance into us to make us like Him and able to connect with Him and He literally blows His Substance (different from ours) through us, His life force. We are now internalizing the material Divine Substance. Christ modeled the mechanism. And for me this the chi…His life energy is all around us too like an ether, of which air is an analogue. We need both for life.  Now for you this is probably “out there” but for me living it, it all falls into place. I believe all spiritualities, the Eastern and Western, capture some part of Divinity. So for me, thinking Eastern too, spirituality is not just a mental exercise but a physiological one too. If there is to be religious reformation, people must be open to thinking outside the box and let go of what needs to be revised in the face of more encompassing understanding.  I was forced to think outside of the box after the cascade of experiences I was having. I had to see how and accept how other spiritualities were coming into play.  There is no doubt in my mind that with mystical experience comes a physiology. Man and God and nature are one great Cohesion, all playing off one another.

Don’t know if God specifically or personally bestowed a sense of morality on earliest man. I think we are designed as a species to be moral for own sake, self- preservation. Maybe God gives us a nudge with certain commandments to get the ball rolling in a better moral direction. Life was not too pretty in pre Christian times. Not pretty afterwards but I think going much more in the right direction. I think He gives us enough resources directly and indirectly to “get it”, to learn to behave morally.

Reason…so we are both rational and glad not to be God. Like you I feel I am barely managing my own little garden of life but I think I would have been a mean God, at least in my earlier days.

Water shortage…I would not vote for your proposal because I have had some very extraordinary things surprise me. I never rule out the unexpected and wait and see what the intervention will be as I plot and scheme.I am impressed with the meteorological credentials of your weatherologist…I think your proposal is a rational moral option though but the survivors will be extremely traumatized by such a solution…again everything in life is not about being rational. Some things are about nobility and acceptance. Preserving human life is not paramount. And I will probably never go to the desert again.

Joan

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 2, 2007 at 10:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Joan,

I forgot to address something.  “You wrote, “But the gay lifestyle often is filled with multiple partners, is not healthy and not particularly a ‘pillar of the community’.”
Do you imagine that as society accepts gay unions, then gays will have an institution worthy of aspiration?  What are we telling gays now?  You can’t get married, God doesn’t accept your lifestyle, and you are behaving immorally.  This doesn’t contribute positively to the ‘pillar of the community’ problem, does it?  It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for many, I assume.  So do we address this by offering to gays, the same tried and true solution to a healthy society we’ve adopted as heteros?  Or do we continue to selfishly exclude them from the benefits of marriage, perpetuating the problem? 

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

Report this

By Joan, April 2, 2007 at 8:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani and Tebladi and Everyone,

When I pose the question of homosexuality as choice verses biology, it is the question I mean to ask. There may be psychological factors regarding gay behavior. Surely, I will not argue against that and that is another reason I would argue that the biblical exhortations against gay behavior should not be accepted at face value but needs re-evaluation. It seems unfair to deem gay behavior per se as immoral if it is inevitable or not reversible no matter the reason. But in ancient Greek society, it is my fervent recollection that choosing a male lover from Socrates (Gorgias was his name I think. I would not swear it was he who was Socrates lover. It may have been Alcibiades. Remember that Soc. is also very married.) to the young, aspiring Olympic athletes, male lovers were taken by choice and love between males was held in higher regard than heterosexual love which maybe was just breeding. Older males matched up with younger ones oft-times. So, I do not see evidence to entirely exclude it as choice at this point in time either because it was choice in Greece once upon a time. Additionally, in the here and now, women, considered to be more naturally bisexual, are dabbling into lesbianism by choice (Britney/ Madonna LOL) if the women’s magazines are accurate. They do this for reasons like greater emotional compatibility for example. If it is chosen, Paul is fair to assess its morality in the context of it consequences to mankind. Homosexuality practiced en masse may be detrimental to the species.

It seems to me when we hold a position about the rightness or wrongness of an act like certain sexual behavior, it is moot when the moral agent has no choice about performing the act. Qualifying something as right or wrong seems to imply the agent had a choice to do the morally correct thing, avoid homosexual behavior in this case, but chose to do the wrong thing instead. If it is not avoidable behavior for psychological reasons, to condemn it seems to violate a sense of fairness that we like to attribute to moral judgments because we are condemning behavior over which people have no choice.  We can wind up with a scenario in which the agent is doomed through no fault of his own to performing morally unacceptable acts. I find this perplexing.  Is this what you are intending to say? If, as you argue, much gay behavior is the result of imprinting and not reversible, I as a moral agent cannot condemn the act out of fairness. I can condemn promiscuity which is choice however as I would also do with heterosexual couples.  To me promiscuity is wrong because it is unhealthy, both physically and psychologically.

I do not know definitively what gay behavior is and hence refrain from making the moral assessment. In the absence of conclusive moral analysis, churches that preach the primacy of the GR I would think should not exclude others from acceptance. In fact I do not think churches should exclude, particularly the Christian ones. People refused Christ but I do not recall him refusing one of them, not a one. It is not up to churches to decide who is God- worthy or worthy enough to join, provided a person is sincere and respectful of the church. They do not have the wisdom and I surely don’t have it. As I said before it is very good that I am not God. I certainly am not up to the task. Alternatively, accepting someone does not mean blessing all they do either.

Joan

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 2, 2007 at 7:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:  Comment #61134 by Joan on 3/29 at 6:26 am

Hi Joan.

Re:  Where does the Pope fit in on the scale radical assessment scale? 
I’m not qualified to answer this.  I didn’t mean to imply that the Pope is radical.  He’s definitely on the other side of you and Maani though.  Catholicism is centralized, resistant to change, political and painfully dogmatic.

Re:  Seems to me your missing links are conjecture
Last I checked, evolution is a theory - not conjecture.

Re:  physiology connected to mystical experience
The human mind is an amazing organ.  We’ve only begun to tap into its mysteries.  Many moons ago I studied Karate (Isshin~ryu).  We were taught how to recognize, develop, and utilize chi to achieve balance, center, and power.  Over the years, I came to believe that I had a physical/mental advantage as a result of this chi training.
I attribute this phenomenon to mind over body.  Our brain is capable of extraordinary things when it’s trained or as a reaction to stimuli.  I believe these occurrences are physiological, not spiritual.  You lost me on how measured physiological changes are going to lend credence to mysticism.  I can make my mind move my arm, or concentrate/magnify my inner energy.  It’s a series of synapses not divinity (in my opinion). 

Re:  [He] graced His own spark on a species evolving or otherwise
From my recollection, you rejected the concept of God bestowing a sense of morality unto the first Homo sapiens when they evolved from man-ape.  You seem nonchalant about this, but I think that it is critical to the discussion.  We have been arguing chimp to man for quite some time now, and now you’re just going to say ‘maybe, maybe not – whatever’?  Please elucidate. 
BTW, it’s definitely good that I’m not God - I can barely run my own life.

Re:  SH
Everything you wrote makes sense to me.  You question the primacy of reason.  I agree that reason only takes you as far as your ability and information allow.  As I am not an ethicist, I can’t tell you whether GR is the end all solution to dilemmas.  Keep in mind that GR is limited to the ability and perceptions of the user.  The laymen can just as easily misapply GR, as he can unaided reason.
I can’t think of an ethical dilemma that GR won’t solve ‘correctly’.  Then again, I can tweak GR to come up with two different answers.  People’s realities differ.  This is why when faced with a dilemma, we seek council from others.  We naturally want to validate our thought process, and search for/consider all possible solutions.

RE: the water shortage problem…
The meteorologist in the group, who knows the current/projected weather conditions and happens to have done his thesis on rainfall in the Gobi desert, has got up with the statistician in the group and they figured out that the chances of getting rain in the next two weeks are 1:1,000,000,000,007.  (I told you I was going to argue variables out of this dilemma)  As far as selecting the unlucky ‘volunteers’ – pick a straw.  Perhaps ‘fight or flight’ response would kick in after the straws were drawn, and the strongest would survive… but let’s ignore that for now.  Would you vote yea or nay for my proposal?  If nay, why?

(continued)

Report this

By Tebaldi, April 2, 2007 at 7:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

(part II)  Re:  Comment #61134 by Joan on 3/29 at 6:26 am

Re:  moral transgression or character flaw
Your original question was, ‘I am I just mean or have I committed a breach against SH?’  I said, “[being mean is] not keeping with the ideals of SH.  I’m not trying to elevate meanness to sin status.  Occasionally we treat people in a way we normally would not.  This is neither a moral transgression nor a character flaw.  This is human behavior. 
BTW, I can’t imagine you being mean to your grocer, even if you had a bad day, he broke your eggs, AND squashed your bread.

Re:  tenets of Christianity
You are skirting the issue.  What is Christianity’s (by and large) opinion on homosexuality?  Isn’t this a direct reflection of the church suppressing rational thought?  You speak of the big brains in the church community – I agree.  There are a plethora of wicked smart believers.  They could talk circles around me.  The problem is that these smart guys haven’t got the political clout to affect church leaders.  The bottom line is that at the end of the day, the official stance of the church remains unchanged.  You can accuse me of ignorantly viewing Christianity from afar, but I’m interested in results, not the details.

Re:  Homosexuality
Excellent analysis, Joan.  I was hung up on a couple of things though. 
First, you wrote, “Homosexual love in Paul’s Greek days was a choice”.  This is not a fair statement.  The homosexual ‘love’ (HL) in ancient Greece to which you refer is much different than ‘acceptable’ homosexual relationships.  Literature on ancient Greek HL predominantly focuses on the common relationships between seasoned warriors and apprentices in the army.  This type of homosexuality mirrors increased HL activities in prisons today – what I’ll call hedonistic HL.  When there is no access to females, these guys simply want to get their rocks off.  This is not the type of relationship that I am condoning here.  I’m not an expert, but I think monogamous homosexual relationships were not culturally acceptable back then; because of this, such desires were not commonly recorded. 
If a gay person is not comfortable with gay conduct, I would first attempt to reverse the conditioning he received that, no doubt causes his apprehension.  The problem with the ‘conscience route’ you speak of is that your conscience is affected by your environment – what if your environment was screwed up?

If you wish to continue the homosexual discussion, comment #55991 was the last remark on this issue (before our near-falling out) It starts with “Re:  Your rejection of polygamy” on the first post.
I’m still exceedingly interested in how it is that we have such a different opinion, given that you are not dissuaded by the Bible or the church’s views.

Hope you had a pleasant weekend…  - Tebaldi

Report this

By Keith Henson, March 30, 2007 at 4:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As some of you know, I have serious problem with a religion, scientology.  Before you say it isn’t a religion, it is as close as you can get to the US state religion, having been given tax advantages by the IRS that no other religion is permitted.

If you happen to be interested in the latest chapter in the saga, I was recently handed evidence that scientology corrupted the Riverside County court.  So I worked it into a court filing.

Exhibit A http://www.keithhenson.org/misin3.htm
Exhibit B http://www.skeptictank.org/gen3/gen02169.htm
Exhibit C http://www3.sympatico.ca/jdorsay/henson/

The filing:
http://groups.google.com/group/alt.religion.scientology/msg/d22cba392a29d601?hl=en&

Keith Henson

Report this

By Maani, March 30, 2007 at 8:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All:

I believe something Joan said requires comment.  In discussing homosexuality, she asks, “Is gay behavior choice or biology?...[T]oday gays are not now ever apt to say it is choice.”

I believe there is a third possibility: that homosexuality is neither biology NOR choice, but psychology.

Joan is correct that there are no solid studies proving the existence of a “gay gene’ - and, indeed, the vast majority of such studies show the opposite.  And it is true that some, perhaps many, gays are gay as a result of a “choice” at some level.

However, I believe that the overwhelming number of gay people are gay as a result of psychology, either during “infancy” or “early cognizance.”

By “early cognizance” I mean as young as 4 or 5, when children first become cognizant of the behavior of others, both children and adult, and start developing their own reactions to that behavior.  One example here is persons who become gay as the result of developing a resentment, fear, hatred, etc. of the opposite sex.  I know many who fit into this category. And there are other reasons for “becoming” gay during “early cognizance.”

Re “infancy,” this is the grayest area of all, but one which I believe merits intense, serious study.  I believe that the “psychology” of “gay”-ness can and does often begin before there is any cognizance at all.  I believe this is the result of either the above (i.e., in this case, a “subliminal” or “pre-cognizant” “feeling” about the opposite sex) or as the result of any number of actions taken or not taken by parents, which are part of the “imprinting” process long before either the parents or child are aware of that process.  And given how little we know and understand of this “imprinting” process in infancy, my hypothesis would seem to make very good sense.

Indeed, I firmly believe that this “imprinting” process - often the result of simple, small, completely unwitting acts and situations during a child’s infancy - is the “missing link” in how and why many (perhaps even most) children grow up to be gay.  And if I am correct, it would explain why so many people become gay despite there being no “gay gene” and not having had any “post-infancy” psycho-emotional “reason” for becoming gay.

Perhaps most importantly, however, it would prove that “gay”-ness is most often NOT a choice.  Yet neither is it something that gay people can “help,” much less “undo,” even should they want to, since the “roots” are so deep - and are not simply unknown, but could never even be expressed, much less explored - that psychotherapy would have little or no effect.  Indeed, if this is true, it would provide the unquestionable basis for why gay people should be treated no different from anyone else, no matter what Scriptural or other religious tenets suggest.

This is why I believe it is possible to hold a moral position on the homosexual act while being neither judgmental nor prejudice - and, in fact, embracing and loving gay people all the more because, in most cases, they DIDN’T have a choice of what they became.

Peace.

Report this

By Maani, March 29, 2007 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi:

First, I agree with the “hierarchy” (or whatever…LOL) you provide re the “regulars” here.  Very perceptive.

Second, re your comments.

“Little or nothing to do with your faith?  I question how honest you are being with yourself.  Just because you adopted your stance on the morality of homosexual acts before you were saved, doesn’t mean that your religion does not reinforce/validate prejudice.”

I am being completely honest with myself.  Indeed, if anything, my faith has actually “tempered” my feelings in a positive way.

“How did you come to adopt your views on homosexuality?  Was it intuition?  Can you knowingly say that your family/peers/mentors etc. had nothing to do with it?  If you acquiesce, can you further state that those influencers were not influenced by religion?”

I came to adopt my original view of homosexuality through a combination of “intuition” and “life experience” (i.e., the sum total of background, upbringing, education, human interaction, etc.)  As for “family/peers/mentors” as “influencers,” and whether or not they were “influenced by religion,” if you truly have been “listening” (LOL), you would remember that I was raised in a rabidly atheist household, by rabidly atheist parents, and had very few (if any) “religious” friends at all at the time.  So, no, there is no way that “religion” was an influence on my original position re homosexuality.

“Please note that I did not accuse you of discrimination.  I accused you of having prejudice.”

The word “prejudice” literally means “to pre-judge.”  But that is not what is occurring; I am not “judging” (much less “pre-judging”) anyone. Yes, I hold a position on the morality of homosexuality that predates my faith and was in fact tempered by it.  But that does not mean that I “pre-judge” any aspect, facet, belief, talent, potential, etc. of any gay person, any more than I might (which I don’t) of straight people.

I think you are getting too hung up on “words.” Although I agree that discrimination is an “act,” and you are not accusing me of such, neither am I “prejudiced” against gay people in any way.  That is, my feeling about the morality of homosexuality does not affect my love for or interactions with gay people in any other way.

Peace.

Report this

By Joan, March 29, 2007 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 6

I cannot argue that there isn’t hypocrisy regarding the GR and the personal mistreatment of gay persons by members of any Christian sect. I also don’t see that much mistreatment today, quite frankly. Still, it is confounding and saying you are a Christian does not mean you are a Christian. There are some great Christians who never call themselves that.  I cannot fault atheists’ annoyance over this hypocrisy and would not try. But on the flip side as Maani noted, there is a lifestyle there too that I find less than savory. I realize there are gay partnerships punctuated with sincere love and lifetime commitment. I believe God blesses all love and love is too precious to waste. But the gay lifestyle often is filled with multiple partners, is not healthy and not particularly a “pillar of the community” way of life, especially conducive to childrearing. And we have already covered this. So I cannot at this point, say in the face of my acceptance of the sacredness of all love, that I follow the American “liberalocracy” and agree we should run with it, gay marriage, in the name of equality. The community is entitled to institutionalize lifestyles that seek its long-term safety and benefit. So for me as certain stances in the Bible deserve review, so do certain gay practices. It would help the gay cause tremendously, if gay persons built a way of life for all to admire.

So there you have it, my gray world of gay moral issues.

Living with God…I think God, like woman, comes after a little bit of courtship. Or He comes after you get struck by a thunderbolt of sorts in your life and He is standing there ready to assist. But this relationship is likewise embellished after some courtship. And I get the impression that you think God is somehow just going to somehow appear out of nowhere to you. Maybe He will. He is a loose cannon.  But my best bet is on the courtship method, just showing some interest or eagerness in getting to know Him. Or He may instigate to come after you…I really don’t know…and it’s not over ‘til it’s over…so keep that in mind. Who knows what you will feel tomorrow and how your tastes may change.

Why be moral?  Aristotle, that great mind of the universe, said we are moral because we get a sort of happiness from it. For him, being moral was being virtuous, the life well lived and all that Greek stuff. This is not necessarily altruism but I think more of having
the right stuff like milder Athenian versions of the “300”. Moral behavior is life saving behavior and vital to our survival. I like to deal with it because you don’t have to study much and you can talk a lot…as you have noticed, brevity is not one of my Aristotelian virtues.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, March 29, 2007 at 6:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 5

A little context… Homosexual love in Greek society, Paul’s home court, was thought to be more noble love than heterosexual love. Perhaps Paul thought practiced extensively, it is a threat to the species. These people needed a lot of children. Also, I noted earlier that nature/evolution does not see fit to pass gay genes on to future generations.  Why is that nature’s position? Is gay behavior choice or biology…today gays are not now ever apt to say it is choice.  Homosexual love in Paul’s Greek days was a choice.  So how do we reconcile these opposite viewpoints? Christ personally never spoke out against this behavior so I look at it as a matter of conscience, behavior that is between man and his God to sort out. I do not have the wisdom to make the moral judgment. And if the gay person is comfortable practicing his lifestyle and honestly facing God with it, I cannot judge on God’s behalf nor condemn my brother’s morality. If a gay person is not comfortable about what he is doing and about facing his God, I would not advise the behavior. That is risky business.  But again it is a matter of conscience between a man and his God. I just do not have the wisdom or the actual factual information to understand gay behavior to make a definitive judgment.  The matter of conscience route is a legitimate approach in Catholic theology invoked in cases that are not clear. Did you know that?  I believe Kerry, a practicing Catholic, appealed to it in the presidential debates when discussing abortion.

Were I ruling all churches, I would make the above pitches. In the spirit I believe Christ embodied, namely openness to all, I would advise churches that they should judge not, lest they also be judged. They do not have sufficient wisdom yet to continue to condemn. There are certainly unacceptable behaviors found in the Bible, some against women, stoning people for sexual behavior or the tacit acceptance of slaves in Paul’s letters, just a few examples. I think we are entitled to and wise to re-visit these kinds of biblical stances. Gays are not alone in feeling let down by the Good Book. So were women. But let them examine their consciences. Is their push for recognition by churches about making a point or being with God? Gays need to realize that as Christ modeled for us, you need no middleman, no letter of introduction from a priest or mullah to get jiggy with God. In fact sometimes it goes better without the middleman. One on one, God is more free to be what He wants to be, and like a Marine, He, without the middleman, is free to be all He can be. And Yahweh is a loose cannon in my experience. He will talk to anyone who gives Him the time of day as best as I can tell. Give Him an inch and He will take a mile. So if the gay person wants God, He is there for the taking. Forget the church as so many women have done, including me, and eventually as the numbers dwindle, the church will be forced to re- think.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, March 29, 2007 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 4

I see we are back to the gay issue. Well, why not?  Maani has already made the distinction between rejecting a behavior and mistreating a person. According to Christ, it is never permissible to mistreat a person…one reason I like him so much…So those supposed Christians who are mistreating gay persons are, of course, in violation of the GR.  Furthermore, it is pretty sickening to see this done in the name of Christianity.  I suspect though, you are thinking that Christian churches rejecting homosexuality is a form of mistreatment. I think this is a good conundrum. I don’t have a definitive answer but I will share my perspectives on the problem I have thus far gathered.

Homosexual behavior is rejected in the Old Testament. Why? Is it because of the spread of disease? Like other behaviors, was it rejected for health reasons, like the prohibition against eating pork? To me the OT is a set of books about people and their first primitive reactions and interactions with the invisible God of Abraham, a work in progress. As the saga unfolds, things weren’t going well and Yahweh decided to send someone to teach us better manners, maybe so we could have more fruitful companionship with Divinity. So Christ comes to us and simplifies. He says we are to essentially love God and practice GR, and follow the law of Moses or the Ten Commandments. Shouldn’t be too hard to do, especially after pouring over the Talmud for all manner of direction about Divinity for centuries. Christ, to my recollection never really identified a lot of sins per se. He exhorted us to sin no more and told us it was wholly unacceptable to separate one from the Father. He at times violated the religious law himself by healing on the Sabbath, affirming that meeting the needs of man was more important than upholding the law for its own sake. He was a “live and let live” sort of guy. So what is the view about homosexuality in the New Testament that Christ, easy going as he was, was sent to override with respect to the teachings of the OT, which include the teachings about homosexuality?  In the NT, homosexuality was rejected by Paul. I think the trouble rests with Paul who was the first major Christian theologian. He seemed compelled to codify the so very loose morality of Christ into law as the Jews had done with their theology (first mistake and major mistake in my view). Paul was sort of a Greek Jew turned Christian but he never knew Christ. Today certain theological writers like the Episcopal Bishop John Spong (” Living in Sin?”) think Paul’s invectives about homosexuality were a result of Paul’s general problems with sexuality. Indeed, Paul did have his problems not only with gay persons but it is Paul who gave us so much of the anti- female and anti -sex sentiment in Christianity. Why was he so disposed? Here are a few theories. Perhaps, he was gay and not proud. He was uptight about sex in general. He was from a society that practiced homosexual behavior and perhaps thought it was too distracting from life’s tasks and interfered with marriage and procreation or it repelled him as unclean and lust for the sake of lust alone. After I die I would like to be alone in a room with Paul for about 5 minutes myself, if you are allowed to do those kinds of things. I get the feeling it isn’t allowed.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, March 29, 2007 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 2
For some reason this did not make it onto the thread the first time…sorry.

Re: Killing people and SH info…Truth be told having a lot of background in moral theory made moral decision-making more difficult at times because I could argue several positions, using reason and get different conclusions. Which one to choose? There really are no masters here. So that is when I for practical reasons picked a philosopher who I thought very wise for his years and began to trust his judgments. That person would be Christ. Ideally when faced with an ethical dilemma, I would like if people would be judicious and not blindly follow rules blindly because this can result in unethical or unjust behavior. That being said, I would like people to commit to a morality, as I did GR, and stay with it even if the going gets tough. That is why I am inclined to having some set of guidelines. Maybe committing to some rules makes you less analytical at times but we don’t have to re-invent the wheel over and over either. And I disagree that being analytical does in the end bring you to the so- called right answer. To me that is an act of faith in the higher power of reason. Reason is not a sure way to truth. Reason functions only in a defined context of given ideas. Change the context and the reasoning changes with it. We make mistakes using reason all the time. We do what we can. When we know better, we do better. It also seems to me, no matter what rules we manipulate in our decision-making, that in the case of a bona fide moral dilemma, people very often are naturally inclined to be filled with questions and considerations about what actions to take no matter their moral code. It’s not like my brain is turned off because of my preference for GR, for instance. And if people will blindly enforce a moral rule without a care for the results, is there any other morality that will make them better moral agents? Here it is not the failure of the moral code but the inadequacy of the moral agent. Right?

RE: the water shortage problem…any moral dilemma is affected radically by the variables. Your purported absence of variables is a variable.  In the end in this case unless there are volunteers willing to be sacrificed, you would be hard pressed to justify who you would select for killing…maybe you just have to take your chances…maybe it isn’t all about optimum efficiency. Maybe it will rain….

Closet Christians…granted Americans who are SH are influenced by Judeo-Christian heritage but there is more to selecting an adequate morality than cultural exposure, especially if we are educated to other schools of thought. Some moralities are better than others. I would argue that the moralities that are the best insure a lot of human growth and development and inadequate moralities are reflected by a failure to thrive. Judeo- Christian heritage, for all of its flaws, encourages lot of human growth and development by securing a safe society in which each person is to have dignity, whether or not we have completely achieved this ideal.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, March 29, 2007 at 5:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

You have certainly given our group some thought ..never thought of such a group assessment…I just muddle along, yammering away at whoever comes along…God help these poor souls LOL… but again appreciate the support and respect…

Where does the Pope fit in on the scale radical assessment scale???

Joan

Report this

By Tebaldi, March 29, 2007 at 11:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ALCON

Correction - (this way you and RICHARD don’t have to double-team). 

Should read - (this way you and MAANI don’t have to double-team).

Sorry for any confusion

- Tebaldi

Report this

By Tebaldi, March 29, 2007 at 8:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:  Comment #60993 by Joan on 3/28 at 12:28 pm

Joan,

You’re welcome.  I felt that frankness was in order. 
I think that we need a ‘Richard’ in this forum.  He’s an intelligent guy, with the radical viewpoint.  I don’t want to come off as holier than thou, or some sort of Billy-bad-ass, but like most radicals, he needs to be put in check now and again.  I view Maani as being on the other side, just way less drastic.  I see you and me being more in the middle, with one essential difference – faith.  Keith fits somewhere between Richard and me.  An oversimplification, but this is the way that my meager mind organizes things.  (I may be O.C.)
The only character we’re missing from this play is a nemesis for Richard (this way you and Richard don’t have to double-team).  Perhaps the Pope himself can chime in every once in a while.  After all, he is partially responsible for our Ka-tet.  smile

Staying tuned…  - Tebaldi

Report this

By Joan, March 29, 2007 at 7:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 3

Re: my poor grocer (who is doing very well BTW)…for me a smidge of meanness is not a sin and does not reduce the overall world happiness index…We all have our off days and again to be perfectly clear, I am not mean to him or other persons in general…Re: the “devil made me do it”, the little Catholic school girl in me must tell you that would never fly as an explanation. You would be the sole transgressor in that neck of the woods… back to the grocer…meanness, a moral transgression or character flaw? You have argued for the SH saying it is more a moral transgression. I am inclined to say it is a character flaw or sign of humanness, unless it is a pattern or attempt to undercut someone’s dignity by taking personal snipes as part of a campaign to demonstrate disdain. That for me is now a moral transgression. 

I am not sure I totally agree that churches suppress rational thought. I believe there are problems with organized religion and how people use them but I have to say the Catholic Church is replete with philosophical and theological analysis that would give any scholar serious pause.  I don’t agree with all the conclusions but respect the scholarship. The Presbyterians discuss everything in the Bible as if it were a symposium too. I am getting the idea here that those who view Christianity from afar have drawn the erroneous conclusion that Christians believe all tenets unequivocally. In truth, and I never use that word “truth”,do I now, darlin’? There is infinite discussion as to what the tenets of Christianity mean… infinite discussion. There is constant chatter except for maybe the fundamentalist factions.

More to come. Stay tuned.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, March 29, 2007 at 7:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 2

Re: Killing people and SH info…Truth be told having a lot of background in moral theory made moral decision-making more difficult for me at times because I could argue several positions, using reason and get different conclusions. Which one to choose? There really are no masters here. So that is when I for practical reasons picked a philosopher who I thought very wise for his years and began to trust his judgments. That person would be Christ. Ideally when faced with an ethical dilemma, I would like if people would be judicious and not blindly follow rules because this can result in unethical or unjust behavior. That being said, I would like people to commit to a morality, as I did GR, and stay with it even if the going gets tough, mainly because the agent is unlikely to hurt anyone when applying this special ethic, a very superior ethic in my professional opinion. That is why I am inclined to having some set of guidelines. Maybe committing to some rules makes you less analytical at times but we don’t have to re-invent the wheel over and over either. And I disagree that being more analytical does in the end bring you to the so- called right answer. To me that is an act of faith in the higher power of reason. Reason is not a sure way to truth. Reason functions only in a defined context of given ideas. Change the context and the reasoning changes with it. We make mistakes using reason all the time. We do what we can. When we know better, we do better. It also seems to me, no matter what rules we manipulate in our decision-making, that in the case of a bona fide moral dilemma, people very often are naturally inclined to be filled with questions and considerations about what actions to take no matter their moral code. Its’ not like my brain is turned off because of my preference for GR, for instance. And if people will blindly enforce a rule without a care for the results, is there any other morality that will make them better moral agents? Here it is not the failure of the moral code but the inadequacy of the moral agent. Right? Re: Obeying the Bible there is a great line in the movie “The Body’, a movie I highly recommend BTW. When arguing over following the letter of the Talmud, the religious scholars agree that the Talmud needs man as much as man needs the Talmud. So the texts themselves need man to apply them judiciously, not blindly. Seems pretty rational to me.

RE: the water shortage problem…any moral dilemma is affected radically by the variables. Your purported absence of variables is a variable.  In the end in this case unless there are volunteers willing to be sacrificed, you would be hard pressed to justify who you would select for killing…maybe you just have to take your chances…maybe it isn’t all about optimum efficiency. Maybe it will rain….

Closet Christians…granted Americans who are SH are influenced by Judeo-Christian heritage but there is more to selecting an adequate morality than cultural exposure, especially if we are educated to other schools of thought. Some moralities are better than others. I would argue that the moralities that are the best insure a lot of human growth and development and inadequate moralities are reflected by a failure to thrive. Judeo- Christian heritage, for all of its flaws, encourages lot of human growth and development by securing a safe society in which each person is to have dignity, whether or not we have completely achieved this ideal. I think GR has this kind of “superior ethic” appeal.

Joan

Report this

By Tebaldi, March 29, 2007 at 7:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

•  Re:  Comment #60937 by Maani on 3/28 at 8:19 am

Hello Maani, I had hoped and expected that you would comment on this.

.  Little or nothing to do with your faith?  I question how honest you are being with yourself.  Just because you adopted your stance on the morality of homosexual acts before you were saved, doesn’t mean that your religion does not reinforce/validate prejudice.  How did you come to adopt your views on homosexuality?  Was it intuition?  Can you knowingly say that your family/peers/mentors etc. had nothing to do with it?  If you acquiesce, can you further state that those influencers were not influenced by religion? 
  Please note that I did not accuse you of discrimination.  I accused you of having prejudice.  While I’m throwing stones here, I’ll chuck one at myself.  I too am prejudiced.  Though I am acutely aware of my perceptions of other people, there are times that I will catch myself succumbing to stereotypes.  There are probably times that I am prejudiced, and not aware of it.  But there is a world of difference between prejudice and discrimination.  The former is an irrational perception of peoples; the later is an act (positive or negative) that is carried out as a result of one’s prejudice. 
    I was taught (and shown) by professional equal opportunity instructors that everyone has prejudice, and that’s ok.  The important part is to recognize your prejudices, try to overcome them, but never act upon them. 
Incidentally, there was no need for you to reiterate your position; I, unlike Richard, am listening. 

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

Report this

By Joan, March 29, 2007 at 7:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 1

Un-verifiability: Seems to me your missing links are conjecture too and as of yet not verified and in the end maybe not verifiable either. Also, I am not so sure that God is ultimately unverifiable given how technology is advancing and given that God is very physically inclined, evidenced by the physicality of His labors.  I would love to have my experiences verified for a lot of obvious reasons. I believe there is physiology connected to mystical experience a little like the Taoists believe in the concept of “chi’ or life energy. I believe that the “Divine Breath” is a real physical occurrence or thing. And I believe there is now some technology capable of identifying the chakras and energy flow on which acupuncture is based. If there is physiology, it can be measured. Western religions have ignored this side of Divinity and life energy but I believe that this as much God as is His Fatherhood to mankind. Furthermore I believe that the Word was made Flesh/material and that the mind/body or body/spirit duality is more a Cartesian contrivance to achieve certain results in philosophy than perhaps Yahweh’s intent. He is sensuous which is evidenced by so much that is pleasing to the senses and understood through the senses. God is sensuous in that the life force or energy (again believing like the Taoists) is sexual and our life’s creating energy is sexual therefore highly physical. I think Judeo-Christian heritage needs to address this side of the Creator.  There is as much room for free thinking here as there is any other intellectual endeavor or as there is in the field of science.

I don’t think God is a deceiver or as mischievous as you muse but perhaps a smidge mischievous. Don’t think He hung out here playing in the sand, fashioning this man type or that man type. My vision is that He just thought not to be alone anymore and graced His own spark on a species evolving or otherwise to have connection on a greater plane with what we call human over other species of His fanciful doodling.  Don’t think He has left the so-called building but is here and about all the time, because this is where the action is. If He ever occupied a distant throne this was only to placate us.  Perhaps it is good you are not God. It is definitely good that I am not God.  Why evolution to keep us guessing about His Hand in the matter? He keeps us entertained and to learn through this process of science and this is a good way to understand the genius behind the universe. To learn about evolution fills me with awe and respect for the Creator as opposed to diminishing the stature of God. And as I said in some post or other lately, I doubt Darwin had any idea of the complexity of the universe and I daresay he presumed knowledge was a finite body of information rather than the infinite and expansive system it has shown itself to be so I thing evolutionary theory itself is maybe rudimentary. All of this is not verifiable but it keeps us thinking, good mental exercise and good for the species. And I believe by Design the universe is set up for the good of the species with the end of understanding Divinity and enjoying it.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, March 28, 2007 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Thank you…in my own “Joan” way, in my response to Richard, I was trying to let him know that words hurt…

I think through our rough passages, and they have been little rough at times, and through having ironed out the wrinkles, we have become more candid, sharing more personal and risky viewpoints. I taught my students that of all the 40+ definitions of philosophy I have come across, philosophy is primarily the art of gentlemanly disputation, with the “gentlemanly” part being most important…because words can hurt. Even with great care, we never know what kind of chord we may be inadvertently striking. I do not through these exercises want to hurt anyone, including myself, nor do I want anyone to hurt me. I appreciate your consideration of me here.

More to come. Stay tuned.

Joan

Report this

By Maani, March 28, 2007 at 9:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Richard:

I misspoke slightly.  Along with the creation story, the only other event in the Bible with which I have a problem (at least as far as it is presented) is the flood.

Tebaldi:

You say, “But when I see a likable, intelligent guy like Maani, whom I deeply respect, come to such a skewed conclusion about the morality of homosexuality, it doesn’t lend confidence to the product that religion turns out.”

Perhaps I should make my position as clear as possible.

I believe that the sexual act of homosexuality is immoral - and I believed this even when I was an atheist and then an agnostic (my first 20 years), so it has little or nothing to do with my faith.

Jesus also felt this way.  [N.B.  I explained how the story of the adulteress (“He who is without sin…”) would have come to the same conclusion (“Go, and sin no more”) had it been a gay man or woman.]  However, like Jesus, I show the same love, peace, forgiveness, humility, compassion, etc. to gays as I do to anyone else.

I also admire and respect the accomplishments - political, artistic, etc. - of the many prominent gays throughout history and currently.  However, this does not mean I must respect and admire their lifestyle.  But neither does it mean that I “disciminate” against them in any way.  There is nothing I would do for a staight person - as a minister, as a Christian, as a human being - that I would not do for a gay person.

I hope this clarifies my position: both in terms of my feelings having predated my faith, and in terms of how I actually ACT on my faith and feelings with respect to my interactions with and support for gay people.

Peace.

Report this

By Tebaldi, March 28, 2007 at 7:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Richard,

Your conversation skills are abhorrent.  If you deem the dialogue worthy of pursuit, it is incumbent on you to conduct yourself accordingly.  I don’t know if you lack the social skills, patience, open-mindedness or what, but as an outsider looking in, you come off as self-important, condescending, tactless, and cruel.  You are consistently off the mark with your assumptions, and appear not to be conducting the most important part of a discussion… listening and understanding. 

    I’ve had rather unpleasant exchanges with Maani and Joan.  I assure you, however, that I’ve made an effort to temper these with civility and a show of respect (and a bit of oft-misinterpreted humor).  I do this not because I’m some sort of sycophant, but because I’ve listened and learned that they are worthy of respect. 

    I certainly don’t condone mincing words and hiding emotions.  As Thoreau says, “Say what you have to say, not what you ought. Any truth is better than make-believe.”  This being said, if you’re intent is to exchange ideas, defend your position, or any other form of two way conversation, I assure you that you’re methods are off the path that leads to the desired result. 

Scincerely,  -Tebaldi

Report this

By Tebaldi, March 27, 2007 at 11:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:  Comment #60043 by Joan on 3/23 at 9:35 am

Hi Joan,

Much like I would need a “transcendent experience” to know the existence of God, you need every single i dotted and t crossed in order to reverse your “knowledge” of the creation of man.  Thankfully for you, you’ll never have to accept that your “knowledge” is false (if indeed it is); proving something that occurred 200,000+ years ago is never going to transcend “theory” status. 

While the chasm between chimp and man is wide, the gaps between the fourteen unique Homo species are not.  The gaps between some of the rudimentary Homos and the later Australopithecus/Kenyathropus species are not either. 
You say what is missing is extremely significant.  I say when something is missing, you fill in the holes, not come up with a completely different (unverifiable) theory.

I find it quite inconceivable that God hung out until a man-like being (Homo erectus) was evolved and living for a million years, and then decided, “Hey that Homo erectus dude turned out pretty cool and so did that Neanderthal.  I’m going to create a ‘special’ homo species that will be smarter and… I’ll give him a sense of morality.  And just to screw with them, I’ll make it seem plausible that he evolved from those ape-man thingies.” 

I mean if I were God, I would invent some off the wall species.  I wouldn’t be restricted to make a better version of what has already evolved.  Why mask a ‘special’ divine creation in the convoluted process of evolution?

Then again, who the hell am I to presume how God might think. 

Re: the “GR bail out”
No, I don’t think we can distort GR to make it congruent with other ethical rules – especially UT.

Re:  My trepidations
Thank you for taking in to consideration my laymen status.  And thank you for assuring me that I’m hanging in there ok.

Re: Killing people
You, a professionally trained ethicist, have the tools to deviate from Judeo-Christian “rules”.  But you insist that the layman requires a set standard.  If the layman adopts a Judeo-Christian moral code, isn’t he going to be less analytical when confronted with a deviation?  How does this differ from a layman SH?  SH is a staunch advocate of reason and the intellectual process.  Christianity (the Bible) actually eschews knowledge (sometimes, not generally), and asks the follower to place his fate in God’s hands, instead of his own (again - sometimes, not generally).  I think we are arguing the same thing here.  Both the SHist and the Christian/Jew/etc. can get it “right”.  They also have the propensity to get it wrong.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both.  I don’t look at it as SH is somehow “better” than Christianity or vice versa.  Both lifestyles can lead you down the path of righteousness. 

(Continued)

Report this

By Tebaldi, March 27, 2007 at 11:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

(Part II) Re:  Comment #60043 by Joan on 3/23 at 9:35 am

Re:  water shortage
As in a math problem, I conveniently removed other variables.  You can argue them back into my scenario, but I will argue them back out.  For example, they are in a remote (as opposed to heavily populated?) section of the Gobi desert where not even the Bedouins would travel, in an inescapable hole that was subsequently covered and masked by the blowing sands, during the dry season, everyone outwardly appears fit as a fiddle, and prior coordination for transportation was made for a specific time/place – no reason to them to come early.

Re:  SH info
You understandably still have problems with the SH rulebook (or the lack thereof).  Two things – First, to my knowledge all moral rules, by their very definition, are designed to help not hurt; This coupled with applied reason, intelligence, and analysis, should get the SHist pretty close to the right answer.  They aren’t just capriciously making up new moral standards with every scenario.  Second, you yourself have said many times, “I think what God intends…”, “I sense that God…” etc; the religion-based moralists are not immune from interpretation of, and deviation from, their code. 

Re:  closet Christians
In a sense you’re right.  We American SHists are heavily influenced by the Christian rulebook.  We were exposed to it.  We naturally extract all of the many wise teachings from it.  Were I to be Asian SHist, perhaps I would be more influenced by/knowledgeable of Buddhism. 

Re:  Let’s see if [SH] evolves into something more substantive.
If you’re looking for rules/dogma, by its very nature it will not happen.  I will say again that a wise SHist needs no protection from rules and thrives from the absence of boundaries.  (I think I may offer that phrase for the next Humanist Manifesto)

Re:  you’re Grocer
Ask any SHist.  If you are mean to anyone, you are not keeping with the ideals of SH.  “Mean” is not conducive to a happy society.  Additionally (applying reason and intellect) if one is mean, SH demands that further introspection is required to ascertain the root of one’s meanness.  This is a cheap shot, but… a believer may say the “devil made me do it” and pray for God to help him change his behavior.  The SHist is bound to find the true root of his “meanness” and make changes to prevent this from manifesting in the future. 

I’ll give you another example of why I believe that SH, in some cases, holds an advantage over religious based moral codes.  To date, there has been very minimal complete acceptance of homosexuals in the church.  What sort of application of GR are they using?  A highly distorted one by my standard.  Anyone with an unclouded sense of reason should be able to reach the correct conclusion. 

As you’ve agreed, there are poisonous aspects ingrained in the culture of the church which perpetuate suppression of rational thought. 

This is not “brainwashing” as others have suggested.  It’s comparable to any other prejudice that we all have.  The church is just one of many sources from which our prejudice is derived.  The obscure passages in the Bible that shun homosexuality are just another (albeit powerful) form of antilocution. 

(Continued)

Report this

By Tebaldi, March 27, 2007 at 11:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

(Part III) Re:  Comment #60043 by Joan on 3/23 at 9:35 am

To me, it smells of hypocrisy.  Think about and apply the GR.  Use the “what would Jesus do?” method here.  This is why atheists get so pissed.  They see the irrational, discriminatory practices of the masses and can’t help but have ill feelings toward religion.  I understand that, if applied ‘correctly’, religion can get it right.  But when I see a likable, intelligent guy like Maani, whom I deeply respect, come to such a skewed conclusion about the morality of homosexuality, it doesn’t lend confidence to the product that religion turns out.  I’m not suggesting that Maani doesn’t own a keen sense of reason.  He does.  I neither suggest that he lacks the ability to go against the flow of the church; he has demonstrated otherwise.  I do think, however, the church has planted the seeds of prejudice and perpetually cultivates them. 
My point is that there is no way that there would be wide-spread ethically questionable behavior amongst SHists.

Re:  Is it God, or about how people behave about God that is your issue?
It’s people’s behavior.  How can I can I reasonably have an issue with something (God) I have little knowledge of? 

Re:  wanting to live without connection or companionship with God
Again, not knowing God is not a decision.  I have no desire to live without God; I just do.  You continue to imply that I have rejected God; I have not.  Nor do I think that He has rejected me (if He exists, I am not bitter for Him not revealing Himself to me).  I enjoy going to church with my fiancé (except for the singing part – It makes me feel uncomfortable).  I particularly like interpretations of Bible passages.  I know that this is not a very active, personal search for God, but it certainly can’t be construed as rejection.  Why would I reject the feasible – this would be counter-reasonable. 
  As I’ve said on many occasions, who would choose the appetizers and not the entrée?  It’s not a choice.  Interesting analogy though.  If one is not hungry enough one may not even want the entrée.  This may be my issue.  Perhaps I need a significant emotional event before I hunger for the warmth of His embrace.  Conversely, perhaps God is a figment, created to deal with great loss and pain; commonly, folks don’t ask for God unless they “need” Him.
So which truth is the true truth? 

Re:  overhauling religion
I agree wholeheartedly. 

Re:  like Aristotle says, [morality] gives you a kind of happiness
This is an age-old discussion.  Is there such a thing as altruism, or are we simply satisfying a desire to give ourselves a pat on the back?  Do we do it for love, or do we do it to keep the demons from our heads?  I would like to believe the former, but this, my dear, I can not answer.  Shakespeare shows us that when selfishness overpowers morality, a tragedy will ensue.  What is the optimal way to best the darkness that lurks in everyone’s heart?  Do we need to become more honest, and come to terms with our selfishness?  Do we avoid reason, or hide inside the comfort of religion?  I think we could speak volumes on it.  I have the sneaking suspicion that you just may:) 

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

Report this

By Joan, March 25, 2007 at 11:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Richard,

Part 2

Faith: For me faith is not sitting around wringing my hands wishing and hoping the world will be better. It is more like taking a teaching as simple as the exhortation to treat others the way you want to be treated, paying it forward, so to speak. If we do this collectively, we will be a far safer species worldwide. Faith is not mental state alone. It is an action plan as well. For me the deep faith has come after seeing a lot of good come from these teachings and realizing these teachings are ones I can trust when I have to act blindly, without all the information I would like to have to make a considered judgment. I have faith in these teachings.

Government and accountability: Just how accountable has our government been of late and is this situation getting any better? It’s been a reign of terror against our most sacred political principles and who is supposed stop this? I know… God is supposed to stop it.

Disadvantage in understanding the universe:  A child understands his world better if there is a parent to interpret, especially before adulthood. And likewise I think without God one limits his understanding of the universe. You think God is there to smother you. I think He opens up the windows of your being and essence so we can scan greater parameters not immediately obvious, focusing on our most vital needs and joys of being human. I believe we die more happily knowing we loved well and developed character then if we come to understand the grand unifying theory. Enjoying intellectual candy is different from enjoying a profound respect for yourself and the brilliance of creation as a package deal …not totally dissected into minutiae but comprehended as a whole that is far greater than the sum of is parts. 

I did not follow your comments about cells and the big bang…what comments of mine are you referring to? A post #,  maybe???

Overview…I get the idea that you see God as having to be a knight in shining armor, here to rescue us from war and human aggression. Governments and God are to be our salvation. While I hope for a protective government, I have few illusions about guarantees. Government is a people project, limited by human flaws. As for God, I see Him more in tune with personal development as opposed to stopping all out wars. If He did that, I have no doubt a goodly number of intellectuals would be lamenting that God was nothing more than a giant puppeteer, always pulling our strings and jerking us around, having no real respect for our abilities to live here and handle ourselves. I think He elevates us to some extent by having us be responsible for our lives and our universe as He is responsible for Himself and His universe.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, March 25, 2007 at 11:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Richard,

Part 1

Well now, I have eased my grip on the machete. I find some of your comments and the attitude I pick up as I read them disturbing. If we dissect major assaults on one group or another, it is clear that the first step in the process is diminishing the humanity or worthiness of the target group. They are not as good or smart or whatever as we are. Less human. The Jews are not this or the Jews are that. The Catholics are evil. Women are not smart. Blacks are blah, blah, and blah, placing the perpetrator in the position of superiority. This superiority becomes the vindication for the assault, be it verbal, emotional or physical violence against them. And your commentary, downgrading the wisdom or intelligence of faith -based people, has shreds of this strategy embedded in it. At least that is how it strikes me. And I am not convinced that you realize that but it is how it comes across. Harris and Islamic extremists, lots of assailants are doing the same thing on a grand scale. I do not see how pitting groups against each other is ever a good thing, no matter the issue, with one group believing itself to be pre-eminently superior intellectually or morally for instance. Furthermore Harris is not as informed on his subject matter as he thinks he is or as he should be in order to be drawing the conclusions he is drawing.  On some level he is just running scared after this “California” boy woke up and realized that the world is a dangerous place, no guarantees of safety for any of us. So let’s blame some group of people for all our tribulations. Let’s scapegoat. 

RE: Hitler…In the best of all worlds I would have liked the RC Church to have excommunicated Hitler and banned his works. I take you at your word that this was not done. To claim from this or other equally weak lack of action on the part of the Church that Catholic Church is directly complicit in Hitler’s actions is quite a leap. I would have liked to have seen the entire world, including the US take Hitler on long before they did. But on the flip side, banning readings and excommunicating Hitler I daresay would have had little effect. Hitler was not a little diligent Catholic, exploited by the Church, obeying the pope like a Knight Templar, doing the Church’s bidding, imposing some Church policy or doctrine.  It was vice versa. Hitler was using the Church, playing on the sentiments of Christians regarding the feelings of Christians to scapegoat the German Jews for Germany’s economic problems after WWI, problems in which the Germans were complicit due to their prior aggressions. But let’s distract the masses from the real reason for their woes and shift the blame from the Germans themselves to the Jews as you shift the blame from the Germans to the Catholic Church.

Joan

Report this

By Maani, March 23, 2007 at 5:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Richard:

You say, “Instead you favor a spiritual interpretation that homogenizes the Bible to suit your feelings.”

Not so.  With the sole exception of the creation story (both the “universe” and Adam and Eve), I believe that about 95% of the remainder of the Bible (both books) are inerrant.  There is no attempt to “homogenize” it in any way.  Indeed, I see no contradictions between remainder of it and any facet of the “secular” world, including science in all regards.

You say, “Your minds obviously haven’t completely disintegrated. You can carry on a conversation, and probably function acceptably well in society.”

“Acceptably well?”  Gee, thanks.  Is that some sort of backhanded compliment?  Or a forehanded insult?

You say, “I just think you probably copped out on the skepticism your parents tried to teach.”

Again, not so.  I remain a committed Darwinist, though I believe in “first cause” and, as we have been discussing, a point at which God DID intervene, for the sole purpose of giving us self-awareness.  As well, as noted above, I remain as rational, empirical and reasoned as any of the non-believers I know in all other regards re science, psychology, etc.

You say, “You lend support to a Protestant form of Christianity, the mainstream version of which sponsors anti-science extremism and holy war waging overseas.”

Actually, it is self-contradictory to say that the “mainstream” is “extremist.”  In this regard, you are right on the second count: the extremist version of Christianity is anti-science and apocalyptic.  But the mainstream is not - not even most Catholics.  You need to keep in mind that not all Catholics “toe the line” of the official word, and, indeed, a large number do not.

Fonally, you say “Your mind may be functioning well enough to do business or whatever. I don’t think you comprehend the long-term implications of the ideology you espouse.”

The ideology that I espouse has NOTHING to do with the radical, extremist ideology you dislike and fear.  It is based on love, peace, humility, etc., not on hate, judgment, condemnation, etc.

Peace.

Report this

By Joan, March 23, 2007 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Richard, Richard, Richard…


How could you write those things about me after all we have been through together? I am brokenhearted.

Now listen up…for the record.

1. I was raised Catholic. In my early 20’s I undertook the Cartesian journey of ultimate skepticism, trying to answer my question—What, if anything, do I know about God other than what I have been taught? I am not a practicing Catholic, do not attend church but am very impressed professionally with Christ and the wisdom of his teachings and through his ideas found my own way to my religion of one person, me. The Catholic Church has its good points and its bad ones.

2. I have not given up on reason. In fact I use it all the time. Check my posts. You will find a fair amount of reasoning there. I do believe that reason has it limitations. I believe that doctors have their limitations but use them also. My brain function is good and have the MRI’s to back me up scientifically. But these conclusions have not been signed off my T. Jefferson, much to your disappointment perhaps.

3. Analytic philosophers, by definition almost, are professional skeptics.

Your response to St. Paddy’ sounds a bit curmudgeonly to me, darlin’. I would think a beer lover such as yourself would put aside your animosity a wee bit to join in the fun and be Irish for a day just for the pint or two of Guinness that’ll be in it for ye’. There now, laddy, don’t get yourself all in a fret. Maybe next year, darlin’…

I will respond to your prior post to me after I pry the machete from my cold steely fingers. It just found its way there after I read your latest commentary. Hell hath no fury and yada, yada, yada ...

Joan

Report this

By Joan, March 23, 2007 at 10:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part5

You, “T”, are a moral person not because of some guideline but like Aristotle says… it is what gives you a kind of happiness. You have a personal striving to be so, the moral disposition driving you to be so. Observing morality gives you a contentment I spoke about in a previous post. This striving is something innate, i.e. conscience or moral intuition.  See… and you can have this without a formal belief in a Deity. God is a rather nice guy, isn’t He? For me being a Christian is about GR but more about watching Christ as he transcended his humanness and related to Divinity just for the sake of doing it, the sheer pleasure of it as opposed to getting a moment by moment set of moral instructions from a drill sergeant. Christ said he came to give life and to give it in abundance and that is what God is about, abundance in life.  Christ modeled for us the behavior and explained the ideas that are like an E-Z pass way to intimacy with the One that Christ called Father. Certainly we are very capable of being moral, maybe more so than those with a specific religion at times, moral but without the transcendence. Why not go for it?
If we are hardwired for connection to Divinity, Transcendence, God (through a special Breath or a royal Bloodline that is commingled with our blood), why limit ourselves to humanity? If Majesty prepares a banquet for you, why not feast on the main course instead of limiting yourself to a few appetizers, albeit as tasty as those appetizers themselves may be?

Re: Terry Schiavo… This was political expediency, exploiting extremism and ignorance and bereft parents more than sound theology or good moral theory. The only other intellectual sense that I can make of it other than what I have stated is that the religion of liberalism foisted on Americans too needs an overhaul and Schiavo was backlash against this liberalism.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, March 23, 2007 at 10:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 4

Do you really think they let me into Sunday school? Atheists are more welcome there than mystics. Anyway, I do not keep “the” Lord’s Day. He seems to own them all. 

Things that hang you up about God are a turn off for me too. Is it God, or about how people behave about God that is your issue? He may not be too enthralled about how people behave in His name either. I am an ethicist and ethics most certainly presumes that we must be responsible for our own lives and our own decisions and their results. We have to address our circumstances. Believing in God, I still have to find my way but I have Him for counsel and He is good at this counsel business. If you want the benefits of counsel, you have to apply the counsel just like if you want the benefits of medical help, you have to do what the doc says even if you are not too crazy about the protocols. I believe that God’s intentions towards us are about sharing His Divinity and power and wisdom, not bossing us around. He knows more than we do so there does have to be trust but with discussion too. We were deliberately designed to be not mindless. He seems to have little ego as far as I can see so challenge away. Obviously, little ego… why would He be so eager to hang out with a bunch of humans? 

Even though we are struck with challenges that are bigger than we are at times, as humans we have conscience and moral intuition and can make a goodly number of moral judgments based on life and what we learn without formal training about GR and UT and SH, many of us can at least. So can we function morally without direct appeal to God? I think so in some fashion. But that is different from wanting to live without connection or companionship with God. Before making such a decision and making any meaningful judgments about God and relating to Him, God needs to be teased out from organized religion. My sense is that He wants to be a shepherd wanting us to graze carefree in the warmth of sunlight and plenty under His protective gaze. He is being lost with our enlightenment and love of reason. These are not exclusive of God but are expressions of Divinity. Enlightenment and loss of reason may be exclusive of organized religion as it is practiced today. Put into context, these religions were put in place when the masses were ignorant and uneducated and many literally hacking each other to the death. Organized religion was not such a bad option for self- preservation. But times have changed. We are more intellectually self sufficient and self possessed, capable of reading and discussing the religious texts too. We have time for such endeavors. It is not rational without examination of God to relinquish Him when unshackling oneself from organized religions or dissolving organized religion for those how need this as an anchor in the overwhelming and terrifying world of man’s making. Organized religions should not be prisons, spiritual or mental ones for people and should not keep God in restraints, tethered in some distant place away from full intimacy with us. We were meant for Eden. I do not think they should be shelved either at this point in time but should definitely undergo major self- reflection or they will perish. And of course we cannot live in the 7th century or even the 20th—- technologically, intellectually or spiritually. I include science here too. Darwin could not possibly have been aware of the complexity of cellular biology and how this would interface with his ideas of adaptation etc. This theory I think needs some overhauling too, without atheistic prejudice but objectivity.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, March 23, 2007 at 10:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 3

RE: mistakes…in my own quirky way I don’t think it is a mistake because one does not know something. After all, knowing everything is unrealistic. But I think one makes a mistake when one does not re-evaluate and integrate new input but tenaciously just resists for the sake of argument, digging in their heels in the face of opposing evidence.

Qualities of SH: Well you are really good to give me all this SH info. I was just thinking a few qualities but here is your “A”…

As per “T”, SH =Very high-minded goals and ideals but I have no idea about how to get to the ends they describe from what you give me here other than the one instance of overlap of SH and GR, GR being a moral specific “to do”. What is the process??? Like say I want to convert to humanism, how would I do this? When am I in violation here of SH? Without guidelines per se can’t the agent weasel out of just about anything, no toeing the line here when push comes to shove? Now you touch on this by talking about having a moral disposition, in other words the agent is personally motivated to be good, highly motivated to do so…But there is the double edged word…the SH remains an SH while he can pick and choose his moral battles and his obligation to engage in them because he follows no rules. This is what I see in practice. They talk the talk but I question how much do they walk the walk. One can certainly say this about Christians or others who are faith based, no immunity here. However, Christians roughly know they are in violation of the guidelines. With SH, how does one know he has violated his morality because he sort of makes it up as he goes along? On the flip side, how does he know what he is doing when sincere? Does he just feel good? And what about the moral acts that make you not feel so good but are necessary, like dragging an aging parent mother from her home to live closer to her children because she can no longer care for herself but doesn’t realize this and kicks and screams and fusses all the way?

I totally disagree with the notion that the morality of the act is a function of its outcome because here to be moral there must perfect and complete knowledge. This is too high to be a reasonable standard.

In summary, humanism relies on humans to solve problems. Right? Well, I thought God helped those who helped themselves. You’re all closet (“closet” for me here meaning “subconscious” rather than “hiding”) Christians!!!!  The academic ethicist in me has to be more demanding of moral theory and needs careful delineation of a morality. Humanists want to be nice people who don’t need God…fair enough a re-cap? But we both agree that they need some moral guidelines in addition to humanism to be effective moral agents. So in and of itself, SH in not an adequate morality but it needs another morality to prop it up. However, I will give this much latitude. Specifically, I believe that organized religions must undergo their own Renaissance. So let’s cut SH a little slack in the meantime and see if it evolves into something more substantive. Here’s your opportunity to do a position paper on the need of SH to place more stringent demands on itself as a morality and post it somewhere in the great hallowed halls of SH.  Also, SH requires a lot of personal motivation. Also, when do SHists (?) fail as moral agents?  When are they not nice people? Is that a moral failure? Under what circumstance does that happen?? When I am mean to my grocer who is always nice to me—- and he always is nice to me, gives me free clementines at Christmas even though he is Korean and probably a Buddhist or Taoist—-am I just mean or have I committed a breach against SH??? BTW, I am not mean to my grocer and give him cookies and chocolate at Christmas.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, March 23, 2007 at 10:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 2

Trepidations: Ordinarily I would feel it unmannerly for me to argue from my professional background. Unquestionably, it is not fair to you. Regardless of this unfairness, I decided to do so on this thread because here many who criticize faith- based people wrongly conclude that we don’t think and analyze life or problems and just blindly follow supposed “God commands” all day long. I interjected a lot of secular ethics to demonstrate that we all do not live this way. I was upfront though about my background and would have understood if someone did not want to engage me in that area. I proceeded because the UT in me said that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of one, you. So I did argue from my advantage. Gutsy as you are, you stayed in the game.  As a result, I think we have had meaty and fruitful dialogues, learning from each other. And maybe you get a free look at the incessant bickering that goes on in the inner world of philosophers and can swipe for yourself some of their techniques, like the “make or break the argument” need for meticulous word-smithing you mentioned to Maani. Your come backs are good and well thought out.My challenging is just by definition what I do. So just have at it, if you want to.

Killing people: As I learned of the Ten Commandments we were taught what the commandments commanded and what were the exceptions. Judeo/Christians are also willing to deviate from the “thou shalt not kill commandment” and others, appealing to concepts like just war and self- defense. Your water shortage scenario could be re-cast as one of self-defense possibly. Also, there are many people who do not feel qualified to make moral decisions on their own and are relieved to have moral guidelines. I cannot fault these folks. I can’t be a nuclear physicist and am grateful for those who interpret the physical universe for me. But we are endowed with reason and I believe if it is God- given, it is there for the taking. Many who criticized the pope on this thread missed the point of the entire papal exercise, including the high priest of atheism Sam Harris, that God is only safe if He is connected with reason, not vice versa. God is not safe for us if we believe He is commanding acts like suicide bombing in His name precisely or if we believe that He is arbitrary and capricious.  Re: water shortage scenario…in general the variables make or break any ethical decision in the universe that will be settled on ultimately…in the water shortage case maybe there will be an unexpected rainstorm. How do you know there will not be a rescue???? Or some will not get sick and/or die off naturally? There is always the unexpected.

Re: UT and GR, perfect together? At times, maybe. One can argue that Christ, the greatest proponent of GR, in the end made a UT decision when he decided not to resist and told his followers not to become violent. He saved his followers from certain death and preserved his philosophy for the next generation. So practically he appealed to other moralities in his decision making too. I think GR and UT may be compatible as you argued but intuitively I suspect they will more or less clash, all things being equal, as do moral absolutes and ethical relativism. Taking one for the team or UT is rarely in the primary interest of the needs of the individual. But your analysis shows how moral issues can be creatively redefined to find a solution to a moral dilemma. And that gets people thinking more in depth about ethic decision-making.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, March 23, 2007 at 10:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 1

Love the visuals. Are they self- portraits? I guess they are in the Nixonian spirit…”Let me be perfectly clear.”

Big gap between man and chimp: Nitpicking as I can be as can any analytic philosopher, my experience in analysis tells me I need the dots connected because what is missing may be extremely significant. Also, I would not extrapolate a linear evolutionary path automatically because of the immense chasm between chimp and man. I am more inclined to argue that there is a qualitative distinction between man and chimp that a linear evolutionary progression will not necessarily account for. (Also, one of my acts of faith is NOT to assume that with enough time science will reveal all. I am not sure that science is encompassing enough to accomplish this kind of perfectly complete knowledge.) I think the basic reason chimps do not participate on this thread despite your secret suspicions, is that they are not capable of doing so, a qualitative distinction. Brilliant, huh? On another note I might add that in my experience with transcendence over the course of almost two decades I have concluded that the chasm between man and Divinity is far greater than the chasm between man and slug, despite our spark of Divinity. So for me I don‘t see myself as being undignified by evolving from whatever. In the presence of that Awesomeness, you are de facto diminished. It is Divinity Who is humbled when He takes up with us and our set of endless limitations. He amicably disagrees. But love is blind. 

No moral conflicts: I may be misconstruing you here. I got the idea that you felt these moral conflicts could sort of all be boiled down to the “GR bail out” and hence were illusory.

Joan

Report this

By Richard, March 22, 2007 at 7:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani:

I think you’ve given up on a critical understanding of Biblical theology finding that YAHWEH has done things that thinking human beings can’t stomach, Jesus claimed to be his Only Begotten, and in the end everybody who doesn’t go along with the “plan of salvation” will be toast. Instead you favor a spiritual interpretation that homogenizes the Bible to suit your feelings.

Previously Joan admitted to giving up on what reason can do for humanity, during her deep study of western philosophy.

Your minds obviously haven’t completely disintegrated. You can carry on a conversation, and probably function acceptably well in society. Since I don’t personally know either of you, I cant say you are “so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good.” I just think you probably copped out on the skepticism your parents tried to teach, just as Joan, admittedly, copped out on reason.

Joan is still a Catholic, lending support to an organization that has always thrived on coercing and terrorizing the human spirit. You lend support to a Protestant form of Christianity, the mainstream version of which sponsors anti-science extremism and holy war waging overseas.

Your mind may be functioning well enough to do business or whatever. I don’t think you comprehend the long-term implications of the ideology you espouse.

Richard

Report this

By Tebaldi, March 22, 2007 at 12:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani,

It seems that we are arguing semantics.  Alright, I’m not opposed to that…

Webster’s definition of “reject”:
1.  to refuse to have, take, recognize, etc.: to reject the offer of a better job.
2.  to refuse to grant (a request, demand, etc.).
3.  to refuse to accept (someone or something); rebuff: The other children rejected him. The publisher rejected the author’s latest novel.
4.  to discard as useless or unsatisfactory: The mind rejects painful memories.
5.  to cast out or eject; vomit.
6.  to cast out or off.
7.  Medicine/Medical. (of a human or other animal)... 

Which definition did you intend?  Of these 7 definitions, only the 4th meaning, “discarding as unsatisfactory”, fits.  To pacify me, you could have elucidated your statement by saying that you find the hypothesis improbable.  Or if you wanted to use “reject”, you could “reject it as unlikely”. It is logical to assume the average person would not infer that you found the hypothesis to be feasible.  Or perhaps you’re saying that the feasibility is so remote that it may as well be discarded? 

Re: chimp/man
Speaking of semantics, “self aware” is a vague term.  Chimps and orangutans pass the mirror test (arguably dolphins and elephants too).  So there is some level of self awareness in non-human animals. 

It follows that there is a correlation between complex (high functioning) animal behaviors and self awareness.  If you agree that man-ape was higher functioning than a chimp, then man-ape’s level of self awareness must have also been higher.

Evidence of now human-specific social behavior (ritual burials, teaching methods of constructing complex tools and shelters, etc) suggests that Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons were quite aware of self and other’s self as well. 

I, of course, believe that self awareness was a result of biological and cultural evolution – a process.  It started with the missing link looking at his reflection and realizing that it was him.  At this point, he still lacked the ability to explicitly understand that he exists, but he was learning (and his frontal lobe was getting bigger).  I propose that the first human 160,000+ years ago had a lower level of self awareness than modern day humans.  Though there are little differences between ancient and modern human remains, I think that our brain continued to evolve.  This evolution begot a proportionate expansion of self awareness.

Re:  why self-awareness is a “necessary” adaptation for survival.
Self awareness is the result of a brain that can reason.  Reason is necessary for survival (for those of us who can’t run fast, aren’t well protected, and are not relatively strong).

You go to great lengths to separate man from our fellow animals.  Your attempts to over-rationalize, points to an understandable fear of being associated with “beasts”.  Alas, “Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin”

p.s. How DARE you sir.  Mocking the sacred Flying Spaghetti Monster God marks a new low for you.  I must warn you, continuing this sacrilege will result in great peril. 
If it is not your wish to be pelted with meatballs traveling at unfathomable speeds, I suggest that you say 40 “Hail Chef Boyardee’s” to appease the angered God.

Report this

By Maani, March 20, 2007 at 5:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Richard:

You say, “all religion disintegrates the human mind, distracting us with things that are invisible, mystical and ineffable.”

Would you say that Joan’s and my minds have been “disintegrated?”  Aren’t you broad-brushing just a tad?  LOL.

Tebaldi:

Thank you for your kind comment.  I am glad that I do not come across as “inflexible” or “irrational.”  LOL.

There is no conflict in “rejecting” something that may be “feasible.”  It is feasible that there is (as some spoofers believe) a Flying Spaghetti Monster God.  However, I reject that that is the case.  Where is the conflict?  One can “reject” one theory over another without presuming that the rejected theory is not “feasible.”

Re your chimp/man comments, you are still missing the point (at least MY point).  There is a difference between “higher-functioning” and “self-awareness.”  Some apes are higher-functioning than others, and the various hominid species could have been increasingly “high-functioning” vis-a-vis both the high0est-functioning apes and each other.  But this is separate and apart from being “self-aware.”  Again, one can function at extremely high levels without being able to say, “I think, therefore I am.”

Indeed, there seems little in evolutionary theory that would explain why self-awareness is a “necessary” adaptation for survival.  After all, the “survival instinct” is “built in” to every mobile species - and, indeed, is stronger in most of the NON-self-aware species than the aware ones (i.e., man).  In fact, evolutionary theory should properly view self-awareness as a DETRIMENT, since it leads to a “lessening” of the survival instinct vis-a-vis altruism, compassion, selflessness, etc.

I would be interested to hear how you would reverse this: how evolutionary theory would account for self-awareness as a necessary adaptation for survival.

Peace.

Report this

By Richard, March 20, 2007 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Joan:

Sure Hitler needed to be stopped. My point was that the Catholic Church contracted with him instead. The current Pope, who’s words sparked this thread, was a member of the Hitler youth. Apologists claim it was only because membership was required after 1933. Regardless, that most fascist of all organizations, the Papacy, never excommunicated Hitler or banned his writings.

Hitler may not have been the perfect role model for today’s Christianity, or imitator of Maani’s timeless, make-nice Jesus. However, Hitler served the Catholic purpose of authoritarianism better than anybody else could have, casting society as rigidly as possible. Disregarding scholarly NT theological interpretations the commoner never cared for, Hitler was also a crowd pleaser, gaining revenge against a bunch of “christ killers.”

Faith in Jesus isn’t going to keep any of that from happening again. No wish or prayer can change the world we live in or keep it moving the way we want. The only hope for progress is human will, reason, and skepticism directed towards a Government that can still be held accountable. While the current administration was busy patting itself on the back for military successes in its holy war overseas, the only war truly being won was the one against the Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution. This is backward progress, backed up by a religious, frightened public.

We seem to agree, in ways, since you said, “No religion, no matter how well intentioned, can win when it is exploited politically for those ends.”

We differ because I say that all religion disintegrates the human mind, distracting us with things that are invisible, mystical and ineffable. You can find the answer to any problem in the universe, but you begin at a disadvantage with that mindset.

Your previous remark about the improbability of a living cell evolving, or a big bang occuring, I think reflects that mindset. Probability statements can only be made after statistical assumptions have been made regarding a system. You have just made a statistical assumption about the infinite, which is just another way of saying you made a meaningless guess, I think because of your faith.

I could just as easily say that it would have been improbable for nothingness to continue for eternity. The fact is that we do have this universe before us now, however it came to be. Only studying the universe will give us answers about the universe. Closing our eyes and reflecting upon imaginary beings from a leatherbound book with gold foiled pages doesn’t accomplish anything other than lending credence to the aforementioned abuses.

Yes, I made a batch of spiced ale in January. I completely forgot about the Irish Catholic holiday last weekend, since I don’t believe in or care about supposed “saints.” [If there was a powerful god who cared about the Irish, the British wouldn’t have been permitted to take over Ireland for the sake of the Pound Sterling]. I didn’t wear anything green and didn’t get drunk in the morning. I just lived another day of my life. Gladly, I was with my wife and children at our home in CA (where it was 94 degrees F) before having to come back to the (cold, damp) east coast.

Report this

By Tebaldi, March 20, 2007 at 1:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hello Maani

Both you and Joan assume that I perceive you guys as inflexible and irrational.  While I may have made some assumptions early in our conversations, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of where you’re coming from at this point.
That being said, I had no idea that you espoused concepts from the Australian aborigine (or “the force” for that matter).  I had to do a google search on “dream time” - quite fascinating. 

“Illusions” is a good read; I was more captivated by “One”.  Bach is quite spiritual (and hippy), I’m only mildly surprised that you dig him.

In an earlier post you said, “I did not say the evolutionary theory of self-awareness was not feasible.” 
You used the word “reject”, which means that you do not find it feasible.  I’ve erred plenty in this forum as a result of casually choosing words, so I’m not throwing any stones here. 

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

Report this

By Tebaldi, March 20, 2007 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:  Comment #58672 by Joan on 3/14 at 4:17 pm

Hi Joan,

I’ll try my best not to come up with any “ka-pows”; I would like to maintain a ‘warm & cozy’ relationship with you:)

Re:  Big gap

There is extensive fossil and artifact evidence that shows an evolved ape, despite the fact that well preserved fossil evidence is rare (sorry we can’t connect all the dots for you).  That we haven’t conclusively come up with the missing link doesn’t bother me much.  Australopithecines, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Java Man, Peking Man, Eoanthropus dawsoni, Hesperopithecus, Orce Man, Neanderthals, etc. - Many of these ape-men demonstrated that they had a much higher intellectual capacity than their ape ancestors.  If you accept that there were high-functioning apes, and you further agree that they evolved from ape-like beings, how hard is it to conceptualize the continual evolution to Homo sapiens?  It certainly doesn’t seem like a very big gap to me.

Why aren’t there chimps posting on this thread?  First of all this may be arguable.  Second, chimps are expertly adapted to their environment; they don’t need a bigger brain (which would facilitate the capability to type coherently).  I explained to Maani many moons ago, “Being a man-like animal was not an easy thing.  They weren’t well protected, they couldn’t run very fast, and they weren’t comparatively strong.  They had two (viable) ways to go, according to Darwin.  Increased capacity for thought… or extinction.”  Sadly, our cousins didn’t survive.  Of all the man-apes, only one ancestor had the right stuff (and a little luck, I imagine) to make it to the big time.  In a sense, you are correct.  There is a gap.  But perfectly understandable considering that man-ape doesn’t hold many characteristics that aid in sustaining survivability (case and point:  there’s only a handful of sasquatches):).  We’re lucky to have an ancestor that hung in there long enough to develop a brain capable of out-smarting the threats in his environment.

  It’s proven that Homo erectus and Homo sapiens existed in the same time.  If man had invented computers a little earlier, perhaps we WOULD have a couple of “chimps” in the mix here.
 
  Birds evolved from reptiles.  The difference between bird and reptile seem outwardly vast also.  Why aren’t there lizard-birds?  Did God create our fine feathered friends out of the earth also?

(Continued)

Report this

By Tebaldi, March 20, 2007 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

(Part II) Re:  Comment #58672 by Joan on 3/14 at 4:17 pm

Re:  Moral conflicts

I never said that there weren’t moral conflicts.  I said, “…there are not a lot of differences between the widely accepted ethical systems”.

Re:  Killing people

Every time I argue ethics with you I walk on eggshells.  I am apprehensive about speaking confidently with a subject matter expert.  You must keep in mind that I am a layman.
In my scenario the conditions were absolute.  There was no hope of getting rescued before the 2 week mark, and only 5 out of 10 could sustain survive with their water supply.  The industrialist scenario you offered holds thousands of variables.  There are always methods to mitigate the risks. 
That I am willing to deviate from the Judeo-Christian canon of thou shall not kill (not an easy decision for a SHist to make), illustrates the way SH can look at each dilemma sans boundary. 

>>>What do you think of how I coupled my UT decision to GR in my previous post?  I think that I showed that sometimes UT is commensurate with GR.

Re:  SH

Here are some qualities / expectations of the SHist.  As I am pressed for time/space (not to mention I’m lazy), I will cut & paste some applicable excerpts from the humanist manifestos.  Try to resist the urge to rhetorically dissect these into out-of-context subparts, and counter sarcastically. 

“morality of actions should be judged by their consequences in THIS world.”

“SH is not so much a body of beliefs as a method for reaching understanding. It is an approach to life that tries to be positive, rational, realistic, and open-minded. A common approach to issues often leads to common answers.”

This is funny, I’ve never read this before – “Humanist and religious morality share many basic principles because in fact both are underpinned by the fundamental human moral sense summarized in the Golden Rule”

“Humanists realize that individuals alone cannot solve all our problems, but instead of turning to the supernatural, we believe that problems are solved by people working together, relying on understanding and creativity. That is why humanists are committed to promoting human values, human understanding, and human development. Humanists also emphasize the importance of self-determination - the right of individuals to control their own lives, so long as they do not harm others.”

“The goal of humanism is a free and universal society in which people voluntarily and intelligently cooperate for the common good [and must] endeavor to establish the conditions of a satisfactory life for all, not merely for the few.”

“…moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational needing no theological or ideological sanction. Ethics stems from human need and interest. To deny this distorts the whole basis of life.”

“Reason and intelligence are the most effective instruments that humankind possesses.
…but reason must be tempered by humility, since no group has a monopoly of wisdom or virtue”

“…critical intelligence, infused by a sense of human caring, is the best method that humanity has for resolving problems. Reason should be balanced with compassion and empathy and the whole person fulfilled. Thus, we are not advocating the use of scientific intelligence independent of or in opposition to emotion, for we believe in the cultivation of feeling and love”

“Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.”

(Continued)

Report this

By Tebaldi, March 20, 2007 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

(Part III) Re:  Comment #58672 by Joan on 3/14 at 4:17 pm

Re:  closet Christian

I completely get that you have a very personal and fairly non-dogmatic approach to internalizing Christianity.  I think it’s cool. 
Were I to be a Christian, first of all, I wouldn’t be in the closet.  Second, I too would have a very untraditional practice of the religion.  I know that you don’t live in a plastic bubble with your Bible and Sunday school lessons.  I fully understand that you have constructed your way of life through a variety of teachings coupled with your experience (transcendent and otherwise).
I am not “hung up” on the method that you, or most other Christians, develop/practice their ethical model.  Religion is arguably the best way to instill morals/ethics/values.  What I am hung up on is when people blindly make decisions because “God said so”, rationalize their situation using God (ignoring their own responsibilities), and state unequivocally that their answer can be the only true answer. 
The only empirical evidence I can lend to the “what binds a SH to his morals” debate is that my commitment to my morals/values is commensurate with any upstanding believer.  SH was not the driving force behind my adopting these morals. 
SH is a way of life that made sense to me.  The more I read, the more I nodded my head.  I don’t agree with all of its claims, especially when it borders on religion-bashing.  SH has solidified my mindset, lending credence and direction to the way I lead my life.  As the minority, I often asked myself why I can’t know God.  Through secular humanism, I learned that not knowing is ok, and there are others who share my thought process. 
So when you insist that SH does not bind you to moral conduct, all I can say is that I am securely attached to my morals.  As I’ve said, “the origins of my convictions are an ever evolving culmination of my upbringing, cultural influence, education, reason, and experience”; this is textbook SH.  This being said, if I knew nothing of SH, I would still hold my moral convictions, they would just be a little less organized/refined.  I think this holds true for believers as well.  The unsaved, would be Christian already has a moral code.  Once saved, his moral/ethical convictions are refined through his new found devotion and the teachings of Christ.  Does being a Christian necessarily bind one to a moral code more so than I?  If so, I can’t see it from my foxhole.

Re:  Terry Schiavo

As evidenced by my faux pas, all I know of the situation is from what I saw on the news periodically.  If Catholics/Christians are not opposed to pulling the plug, why did it receive national attention and opposition from the conservative (Christian) Politicians? 

I hope this post finds you in agreeable mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. 

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

Report this

By Maani, March 17, 2007 at 11:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For all, two interesting articles:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/17/us/17beliefs.html?pagewanted=print

http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0316-31.htm

Peace.

Report this

By Maani, March 16, 2007 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi:

I would like to add to Joan’s comments that “My secret suspicion is that…you are a smidge of a closet Christian…but what hangs you up is thinking, as do many, that to be Christian means you can no longer take advantage of all the other moral goodies/theories out there… not so, in my opinion.”

I am a minister - one who had a “personal Pentecost” experience - so my belief in the divinity of Christ is absolute.  However, I totally agree with Joan, though I would word it thus: as long as they do not directly conflict with the “Judeo-Christian construct,” I do not see anything wrong with including other spiritual and philosophical beliefs in my belief system.

Indeed, my personal belief system includes ideas and beliefs from other spiritual beliefs (Buddhism, Jainism, the Native American “Great Spirit” and Australian aborigine “dreamtime” constructs, among others), as well as “fictional” concepts such as “The Force” in Star Wars.  Other authors who have contributed philosophically to my belief system include Richard Bach (Illusions), Daniel Quinn (Ishmael) and James Redfield (The Celestine Prophecy).  I am also something of an amateur “metaphysicist,” and I include many related concepts in my belief system as well.  Indeed, many of the other constructs contain beliefs that are supportive of the J-C construct.

Joan is correct that people get hung up on the divinity issue, and on J-C dogma and doctrine in general.  And while I adhere to the vast majority of that dogma/doctrine, I do not “interpret” it the same way as most mainstream Christians, so there is more room for “openness” vis-a-vis other beliefs.

Peace.

Report this

By Maani, March 14, 2007 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi:

Watch what you say about Ah-nuld!  I happen to like many of his films.  After all, he may be no Laurence Olivier, but that was not his “thing.”  In this regard, while you may not like action films, he was the best at what he did.  Give him at least that much respect.  LOL.

Re chimp to man, I did not say the evolutionary theory of self-awareness was not feasible.  I simply noted that I do not believe it is THE answer - and, indeed, that I find it weak.

Re “the sky is green,” I retain an amazing amount of near-useless - and indeed, COMPLETELY useless - information.  (For example, did you know that the average sneeze travels 105 miles per hour?  Or that the rarest food allergy in the world is bananas?)  I only brought it up because you used that phrase to mean “something that is patently ridiculous.”  As noted, it is not.  Thus, you need to find a different metaphor. (Or is that “simile?”)

Peace.

Report this

By Joan, March 14, 2007 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 3

RE: Terry Schiavo/ Maria Shriver…the position of the Catholic Church has been that it is not necessary to use artificial means/extraordinary/overly burdensome etc. to prolong life in which there is no realistic hope of recovery. The idea is that man’s ultimate goal is not life on earth but heavenly life. Human life on earth is important but not paramount. As the largest Christian sect it is not correct to hold that Christians in general support the Schiavo debacle. Recall that Pope Paul had himself taken off feeding tubes and declined life support or vice versa, I forget. BTW, I disagree with a lot of behavior in the Catholic Church but as far as analyzing moral problems, it has a rich academic history put together by some pretty smart people. You may not like the outcomes but these theologians are far from simpleminded in their interpretations of the Ten Commandments, which are far from basic directives upon further scrutiny.

I believe that believing in God is some about choice, taking the opportunity to get to know Him. Being moral is about living in accordance with certain moral creeds that are not necessarily gratifying in the short term but as life unfolds. If you have a really good moral code, there should be very deep and long-term gratification as a result of abiding in a morality. I think we are wired to be moral and our lives make sense when we work at being moral.  I include believing in God as an aspect of moral behavior, as long as one does not abuse theology or abuse people by using theology. Your idea about hedonism touches on what I am talking about some regarding my skepticism of SH as an adequate moral guide. We all naturally want to enjoy life but SH with virtually no moral necessity to it, gives people the optimum way to soothe their consciences while bagging what are their moral responsibilities, if they want to and that is what I see in the few SH I have observed. Not bad people but not the ones I count on, as far as one thinks it fair to generalize. And as I have seen some of these lives lived out, there is an emptiness that these folks cannot quite admit to but stems from their decision to be too easy on themselves and the demands they place on themselves. The seasoned character that should be theirs at the end of the road is just not, because they would not walk the walk. 

For orthopedic reasons my computer time is limited. If there is something specific you want me to address that I have not, please let me know.

Joan

Report this

By Joan, March 14, 2007 at 5:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 2

One reason I like the Golden Rule is that it is forgiving about decisions, not appealing to inflexible moral absolutes. Being well intended is good enough to establish an act as morally acceptable, especially in the case in which our good intentions unintentionally wind up paving the road to hell which would be a violation of UT. UT is a morality solely based on results, again diametrically opposed to GR, which is based on intention not outcome. 

Re: the American/communism analogy… I was trying to say that telling me the SH has to follow SH tells me not much of anything special or enlightening about SH. So I am left to my own devices as are its followers left to their own devices about how SH functions. Saying for instance that Darwinists follow Darwin does not explain Darwinism. Darwinism has specific principles unique to it i.e., random or natural selection. Newtonian physics has specific laws. The Golden Rule has a principle or law unique to it. SH has what??? So will you give me a few qualities or expectations that are placed on one who is an SH? And I cannot accept that man has worth is one of them because all moralities function on the idea that man has worth. It’s understood.

You see, “T”, since we are so chummy now, my secret suspicion is that with your absolute confidence in the GR, greater than mine even, you are a smidge of a closet Christian …but what hangs you up is thinking, as do many, that to be Christian means you can no longer take advantage of all the other moral goodies/theories out there… not so, in my opinion.  I have a pretty broad interpretation of what it means to be Christian and as you know I maintain that these books like the Bible and ideas about God are not owned by a few religions but we, each of us, is entitled to come to understand these ideas too on our own terms in our own way…Christ gave us the GR ideology which I understand was not original with him but popularized by him. ASa Jew/rabbi, he was addressing the question Jews had toyed with all the time, namely how is it best to live? If you believe GR, you are minimally following the answer Christ came up with to sell to the masses, like a disciple. Well then you counter… what about all that Divinity stuff? Here we all find our own way. What does Divinity mean to me, by Joan or by Tebaldi…This is the essay we are supposed to ultimately write across our lifetime. Harris answered the question but I thought the answer was knee jerk and based on fear. Not that good in other words. I am a maverick. I set my pace and terms and found that Yahweh can pretty much cope with that. Imagine that???!!! And I have not been disappointed here… I think He rather liked the freedom it gave Him to be Him. But whatever… people are forced onto this path of coming to terms with Divinity in one way or another. It’s the way the game is set up. I believe He personally gives us a flick here and a nudge there, also forcing us to come to terms with the question… What about all the Divinity stuff?  It is a question each answers over a lifetime of schooling in life and what they took away from it. To believe or not to believe, that is the question. To answer it, some use organized religions and ideologies or some need other methodologies, especially in the light of a more and more literate populace who cannot and should not be dictated to. And God should be seen far more for as His own inimitable genius rather than an enforcer with a big stick…that’s primitive.  Maybe He is more about companionship and sharing and less about explaining gaps in evolution or what happened the split second before the Bid Bang, again not all that interesting, for example.

Joan

Report this

Page 3 of 12 pages  <  1 2 3 4 5 >  Last »

Newsletter

sign up to get updates


 
 
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.

Like Truthdig on Facebook