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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.

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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.


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By Joan, March 14, 2007 at 5:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 1

Well it was word choice and delivery that threw me off. I just thought we were all warm and cozy again and then ka-pow!!!.  But whatever… we have muddled through in our way Joan/Tebaldi way….

Re: Darwin… To satisfy me Darwin’s theory seems to have not connected all the dots that need to be connected from chimp to man. How it is that man really diverges from other species and just what mechanism was in play that resulted in such a uniquely different species as man? For instance there are no chimps or other species posting on this thread. How come? Why such a big gap? 

Ever watch “Law and Order”? These guys have moral conflicts all the time. I certainly do not agree with you that there are no moral conflicts.  BTW, given your ideas about leadership during shortages, you may not last long as team leader and your decision diametrically opposes the universally held moral directive against killing people. The industrialist case is an oft- studied problem that Americans deal with. Interestingly you assert that UT is incorrect in this case of the Amer. industrialist but you cite it as a way to deal with the water shortage problem because it may serve the overall good despite the death of some people. Yet who is not to say the quick building with a certain number of avoidable deaths is not in the long run going to result in raising the economic standard across the board and help thousands, in other words, highly beneficial…a few lives for the many or as Mr. Spock might say the needs of the few do not out weigh the needs of many. You argued this was good practice with the water shortage scenario…

Joan

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By Tebaldi, March 14, 2007 at 7:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:  Comment #58346 by Maani on 3/13 at 10:28 am

Hi Maani,

Re:  Terry/Maria
Ooops.  How embarrassing for me.  Old age is a bother.  You see how closely I followed the Schiavo situation (and California politics too).  I apologize to Maria.  I would extend this apology to Arnold also, with a caveat that he apologizes to me for making such horrible movies.

Re:  Chimp to man
One should never reject that which is feasible.  Sounds like something Confucius might have said (or perhaps Sherlock Holmes).

Re: the sky is green
Your retention of this near-useless (albeit interesting) information is impressive.  Was this supposed to be some obscure remark about perspective, or did you intend on the reader to take it at face value?

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

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By Keith Henson, March 13, 2007 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As some people reading this know, I have a lot of irons in the fire.

One of them:

http://eugen.leitl.org/A-2000-tonne-per-day-Space-Elevator1.ppt

Is a presentation I wrote for a recent European Space Agency Conference on a potential solution to the energy and global warming problem.

To my surprise, there has been no interest I know about in the method to make plutonium.

And there has been a bizarre twist develop in my long running attempts to expose a certain criminal cult.  I don’t want to go into more details, but might provide more details in email if you want to ask.

Keith Henson
hkhenson(at)rogers(dot)com

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By Maani, March 13, 2007 at 11:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi:

As far as I know, Maria Shriver (Ah-nuld’s wife) is still very much alive and well.  I think you mean Terry Schiavo…(Well, all those “SH” (LOL) names sound the same, right?  LOL)

Re chimps/man, you refer only to the “physical” aspects of Darwin’s theory: random mutation, natural selection, evolution.  But what we (or at least I) am noting is the “awareness” level, which is more about psychology and spirit.  Yes, there is a theory via evolutionary psychology about how the first hominid arrived at Descartes famous thought.  However, that theory is FAR less evidentiarily supportable than the physical aspects.  I continue to believe in the physical aspects of Darwinism, but reject the hypotheses of the evolutionary psychologists re the “self-awareness” level of humans vs. chimps.

Re “the sky is green,” it actually is.  Or rather, that is how it WOULD appear were just a little more light reflected from the sea, which IS green.  We learned in high school science that if there were no refraction of the light coming from the sun (which refraction occurs in the upper levels of the atmosphere), the sea would be blue and the sky would be green.  (And if our rods and cones did not reverse the image on the retina, we would appear upside down to each other…)

Peace.

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By Tebaldi, March 13, 2007 at 8:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:  Comment #58092 by Joan on 3/12 at 8:22 am

Joan,

Ha!  What better way to spend a lovely day than with a friend? 
Hard ball, soft ball, slow pitch, or fast… It makes no difference as long as we don’t intentionally hit the batter.

- Tebaldi

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By Tebaldi, March 13, 2007 at 8:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:  Comment #57428 by Joan on 3/08 at 2:25 pm
Hello Joan,

Re:  Punch line
You were concerned with my taking offence, and I (teasingly) said that you can’t hit that hard.  It was a friendly poke.  I know that you have a sense of humor… perhaps it was in the delivery.  Or perhaps my timing was off.  Either way, Sorry.  The take- away from that paragraph was that I appreciated your thoughtfulness, not the stupid joke.

Re:  Chimp to man
You wanted to hear my argument; I’ve already laid it out.  You’ve heard it all before, from me as well as other (more credible) sources.  Darwin et al have theorized how this transition could have taken place.  Natural selection, adaptation and mutation have proven to be part of a persistent, highly scrutinized theory.  This theory shows, scientifically, how all animals from amoeba to man came to be.  This theory directly contradicts your transcendent experience via God, of whom you have an immutable knowledge.  Why would I lay out an argument that will fall on deaf ears?  I may as well argue that the sky is green. 

Re:  Moral problem
I knew you were going to bring up utilitarianism (UT).  UT has its applications.  The example you gave, obviously is not the correct moral choice, but the UT solution can be proper under different circumstances. 
Let’s say that there are ten people trapped in a room.  They will be rescued in two weeks.  They know that there is not enough water for all ten people to survive.  You, as the leader of the group, ask for volunteers to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of the group (UT).  No one volunteers, and you are now faced with a decision.  Should all 10 folks die, or just 5?  UT works here, as far as I’m concerned.  Are we treating the 5 folks that will be eliminated as we would like to have them do unto you?  Arguably, yes.  While I would not like to die, I would like for others to live.  So I, as part of a group, am doing unto others as I would like them to do unto me (the me that is part of a group).  Along these lines, UT that is coupled with other moral considerations will always agree with GR. 
I think that there is always a way to come up with the right answer using GR, it is just more obvious when applying UT in this scenario.
I don’t think there are any good examples of contradictory moral codes.  I believe the reason is because the vast majority of people have a moral divining rod which is almost exactly the same. 

(Continued)

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By Tebaldi, March 13, 2007 at 8:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

(Part II) Re:  Comment #57428 by Joan on 3/08 at 2:25 pm

Re: SH
Your comments on SH are assertive (and a bit lengthy).  I enjoyed the sarcasm deftly infused throughout the critique, and laughed more than once.  I think that the gist of it could be summed up by the suggestion taken from my afterthought, “I think SH is a bunch of wishy-washy, irresolute BS”.  I completely get it.  I too have similar problems with SH.  The way I look at it is a truly wise and learned SHist will always make the right decision.  The careless and ignorant SHist may often make the wrong decision. 

Thanks for mocking me with the communism/Americanism analogy.  I think what you’re trying to point out is that there is nothing that binds a SH to uphold the principles of SH.  This is not entirely true.  I don’t need a God to hold me to my convictions.  Or perhaps I do, I just don’t feel that He is doing so.  They are my convictions nonetheless.  To suggest that SHists are somehow less bound to their convictions is unfounded and presumptuous.  The origins of my convictions are an ever evolving culmination of my upbringing, cultural influence, education, experience etc.
You said, “Now you have offered SH as a viable moral theory”.  Not true.  I never said this.  SH is an outlook on life, a philosophy, an ethical system perhaps.  SH does not claim to have a moral theory.  Moral theories already exist.  (I don’t think that some one is going to come up with a different theory that will offer greater insight)  So the SHist must choose his own method of solving moral dilemmas in keeping with the precepts of SH.
Another problem you have with SH – You imply (via a barrage of sarcasm) that SH is not very unique, and that all ways of life hold individual worth and dignity in the highest regard.  Like I said, there are not a lot of differences between the widely accepted ethical systems.  I will give you an example of a difference, however:  The Maria Shriver debacle.  A SHist would look at the situation and consider all aspects of everyone involved.  He could feasibly come to the conclusion that the plug should be pulled.  If it were proven beyond a reasonable doubt, that Maria had no hope of recovery and that she stopped being Maria (or any semblance of that which makes us a sentient being) when the accident happened, the SH can conclude that Maria no longer exists.  He is therefore not bound to consider that Maria’s body has dignity and worth.  If he came to such a conclusion, he may then consider how the situation affects his family and friends, and make his decision based on this analysis.  He is not bound by God to keep her alive.  Most Ten Commandment moralists would ill-consider pulling the plug, regardless of the situation.  You see how devotion to a single moral code severely limits your options?  This “schematic” decision making overlooks the intricacies and dynamics of a dilemma and shuts down paths that might otherwise lead to the best course of action.  This is evidenced by the zealots Washington who got a cursory synopsis of the situation and blindly ran to Maria’s “defense”.

(Continued)

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By Tebaldi, March 13, 2007 at 8:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

(Part III) Re:  Comment #57428 by Joan on 3/08 at 2:25 pm


Re: SH (continued)

You say, “… [SH] taps into other theories or discards the moral viewpoints that do not serve his purpose, his personal self- interest.” 
Abjectly unfair.  Why do you presume that we act in accordance to our self-interest?

Re:  “…making high- minded claims about man being of greater self worth but in the center of these claims is the agent himself.”
Incorrect perception.  The center of our claims is man, not a man (I guess that answers the previous question)

As I have admitted, a problem with SH is what you aptly name the “unbridled options” available to the SHist.  As I pointed to earlier, there are “good” SHists and “Bad” SHists.  Just as there are good and bad Taoists.  Not understanding the foundation of ones beliefs, and failure to completely internalize this belief can have a disastrous effect on anyone regardless of their chosen way of life.  However, because there are so many avenues available to the SH, he can get in more trouble than the wayward Taoist who at least has some more restrictive boundaries. 

>>> The upshot of having these unbridled options is that the SH owns the diversity and latitude to tackle an issue virtually without boundary.  You see that boundaries protect, and they restrict.  A wise SHist needs no protection and thrives from the absence of boundaries. 

You state, “I have no real bone to pick when people adhere to other primary moral philosophies in addition to SH”.  Well then, you have no bone to pick with SH.  Admittedly, I only know a few other people who claim to be SHist, but all of them have adopted some sort of moral philosophy(s).  SH doesn’t work as a stand-alone philosophy.  They adopt positions based on the ideals of SH i.e. - reason and intelligence tempered in humility are the most effective instruments that humankind possesses. 

You seem to have a great deal of distain for SH.  This perplexes me, because I don’t see a vast difference in the way that Christians and I live our lives/raise our children.  (I realize that you are speaking of SH and not Tebaldi).  You truly do seem to hold a grudge against SHists.  This is ironic, and quite fascinating to me. 
I recognize and understand the issues you have with SH.  But the only source of this utter distain that I can fathom is your direct knowledge of folks whom you say, “…would be observant of this creed, few though they are, operate in this [selfish] fashion as far as I can observe…” 
If I’m reading this right, you know folks who WOULD be (but not are?) observant of SH, and they are assholes, so you conclude that SH produces assholes?  Or perhaps assholes gravitate to SH? 

A.  You repeatedly infer that SH is self-serving.  B.  I have repeatedly said that GR is a perfect reflection of the ideals of SH.  Since A and B cannot coexist, one of us is way off base here.  Perhaps you lack the knowledge of some defining characteristics of SH.  If you would like, I can write a summery of what I feel SH is all about, and compare this with other humanist’s points of view.

Your onslaught continues, “…and disavow God for pretty much the same reasons rather than some epiphany that there is no God. The epiphany is that they do not want to be bothered and basically want a morality that soothes their conscience.” 
Wow.  Given the choice between the comfort / joy of knowing God, and superficially enjoying a hedonistic lifestyle, who the hell would choose option B?  Not believing in God, much like homosexuality, is not a choice.

I hope this post finds you in good health/spirits.

Ciao!  -  Tebaldi

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By Joan, March 12, 2007 at 9:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

It’s a lovely warm sunny day and time for softball season or some other ball season to start, I’m sure…so shall we try some slow pitch soft ball, no curves…and no hardball?

Joan

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By Joan, March 12, 2007 at 9:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Richard,

I agree with you that proof-texting can be a double- edged sword. Still motivated by his religious ideas Bonhoeffer tried to end the ignominy to his own peril.I’m sure you do agree that Hitler needed to be stopped. We would certainly have been pleased if Bonhoeffer had succeeded or if James Bond took Hitler out for God and Queen, no matter how he interpreted his commitment to Merry Old England. I would also suggest that there are some interpretations of the Bible that are more accurate than others, including Bonhoeffer’s. Here I would think Bonhoeffer has a more high-minded morality than Hitler.

Furthermore, I never understood what Christian tenets you believe Hitler operated on? Just what principles of Christianity that Christ preached did Hitler actually undertake to actualize? It seems to me the only authentic attachment that Hitler had to Christianity was exploiting anti- Semitism, which is not any part of the message Christ preached. Christ, a Jew, preached the extremely revolutionary idea of loving your neighbor and forgiving your enemy, pretty antithetical to Hitler. I make a big distinction between what Christ taught and how people ran with it, a lot like I make a distinction between what the founders dreamed and what the Bush administration has done in interpreting that dream when faced with threat. Do you make this kind of distinction, separating organized religion from its founder and his beliefs and intentions? Not fighting for any religious principles that I can identify, Hitler it seems was fighting to regain lost ground, pride and improved economic standing for his people, making scapegoats of the Jews…things people are still fighting over today again using religion as an excuse and making others the scapegoats for their problems. No religion no matter how well intentioned can win when it is exploited politically for those ends.

BTW, still making beer?  St. Pat’ is not far off!!!! No matter what you feel about religion, you can still enjoy a good drinking party, can’t you? 

Joan

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By Richard, March 9, 2007 at 10:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As I said to Maani, using a spiritual, proof-text method of interpreting the scriptures, you can come up with any message you want from the Bible.

The assassination attempt against Hitler by Dietrich Bonhoeffer just reinforces the point that people are killing each other over something that doesn’t make sense to begin with. One guy can come up with the Nazi message and get an entire government behind him. Another guy can believe it’s his sacred duty to subvert that government. They both believe they are on a mission from God, the God they imagine and interpret the Bible according to.

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By Joan, March 9, 2007 at 9:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Richard,

Did you know there was an assassination attempt against Hitler carried undertaken by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a very devout Christian, who believed this was a duty and a part of his cost of discipleship? How would you reconcile this diametrically held position and the actions of Bonhoeffer with your theory that Hitler was Christian?

Joan

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By Joan, March 8, 2007 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Richard,

How are you doing???

I know I owe you a post but I could not find it again when I looked again. That was quite a while ago. Sorry. 

Just my 2 cents on Heil Hitler…I always thought that was more borrowed from Hail Caesar and that Hitler tried to have himself dubbed as a Caesar at one point…

RE: your specific points to me. Male hardship…. Let’s see…. Well, they rule the world, mostly white males do, soooooooooooo…what’s the problem again??? Ever heard of rape and the way women are so indiscriminately beaten or killed off????? by strangers but more by husbands, lovers and in some countries by fathers and brothers…in addition to the disease and poverty and social institutions stacked against them etc. Women are naturally prey for all sorts of bad things.
Men rule the world and if they cannot make it with all that advantage, what is anyone to do about it????

Re: Equality. What I have said is that these godlike founders had a few flaws such as they were subject to their own political ambitions and the prejudices of the day and certainly did NOT offer the goodies of the new political order to females or to blacks slaves…that is what I have said…so I do not see them as the infallible, chosen ones, just a few good men and they were…they certainly were…

I absolutely agree with you that here is a difference between equality before the law and being born with equal capabilities…Americans should be equal before the law but clearly we are not born with the same capabilities or really the same opportunity for that matter. The problem facing the founders was to convince the general public who had to ratify and ultimately go to battle over their ideas that despite traditional discrimination and privilege based on social status that in this new country all should be equal before the law. As you well know I have argued that that was accomplished by Jefferson’s appeal to the Creator because of the power such an appeal would have when made to to a basically Christian/religious audience. The founders certainly maneuvered to their own ends here but marginalized those groups like slaves and women because attempting to get them equal status would probably have jeopardized their project, not enough support to overturn that much tradition.

Joan

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By Joan, March 8, 2007 at 3:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi,

Part 2

One woman’s passion vs. one man’s rant…(surely no one has to read this or any of my posts at all)
I am talking in general now about how SH operates and not about how Tebaldi makes his own personal decisions. What does all this previously said about SH tell us about the merits of Secular Humanism in and of itself as a morality? Is it self -sufficient and uniquely insightful?  Without having specific guidelines for behavior, how can SH function as a guide for lawmaking, or as a tool to deal with issues like the morality of war, a prolonged war, abortion, health care issues or euthanasia for starters? SH says that man is valuable and what follows from that that we don’t already know???? Its precise appeal is that SH is without dogma or guidelines. Worse case scenario, the agent is free to figure out a way to get what he wants for himself because in the end, when push comes to shove, the one with the most intrinsic worth is the winner, namely me. The SH finds a way to satisfy himself, making it morally OK to serve his own personal interest.I understand despite my reservations that SH adherents are the most gallant, high-minded uber alles because of course we all have intrinsic worth, SH’s unique and insightful understanding of man in his universe. Recalcitrant as I am for me, SH, as a sole moral code for atheists, is a warm fuzzy that has little to do with offering bona fide tenets for moral behavior that people are willing to commit to. It is absent the inconvenient or self- sacrificing demands that moralities make on moral agents from time to time. With for a set of SH disciples, like our lawyers, hopefully there is always a way for the agent to justify whatever he wants, get rid of troublesome moral directives and override the position of others because essentially anything goes. Many SH look for the arguments that let them off the hook. And people I know who would be observant of this creed, few though they are, operate in this fashion as far as I can observe which has given me a very skeptical view of this theory as a good moral one. It owns the very minimum of moral necessity—- man is better than the slug. It functions as a pseudo morality for people not willing to commit to any value system because those values get in the way of their own personal enjoyment, freedom or fulfillment of their own self - interest. So they disavow commitment to anything but the very minimum of moral guidelines to govern life and disavow God for pretty much the same reasons rather than some epiphany that there is no God. The epiphany is that they do not want to be bothered and basically want a morality that soothes their conscience. Without me telling you, based on some of your latest entries, you seem to know some issues regarding SH that make it highly problematic as a working morality to be used in lieu of religion for those who do so. These are some of my issues with SH not be confused with how you act as a moral agent.

RE: afterthoughts:  As much as you feel I am detached, plese know what I give you is as much “Joan” as any other part of me is “Joan”. I work hard on these responses and there are certainly reasons why I am protective of myself. On this thread I am swimming with some sharks and I never know when one of them will start to circle and try to draw first blood now do I? 

Joan

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By Joan, March 8, 2007 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 1

Just what was the punch line of your joke about me being too full of myself because I expressed concern about you and the direction our discussion was heading for both of us????

On to old business…
I have mystical experiences and during them I have had changes in breathing rhythms. I came to understand this as the mechanism God uses to connect to man regardless of how man evolved to be. If I have to hazard a guess about the similarities of my experience with the written word, it would be the authors too had a similar experience and came to the same conclusion. Let’s hear your arguments, I guess not demonstrable proof either, however, that man comes from chimp, no finger of God necessary.

You requested an example of a moral problem in which accepted moral theories clash…EXAMPLE…Utilitarianism is the morality that says the act that is morally correct is the one that brings the greatest good to the greatest number of people. The Golden Rule is the morality that says to treat others the way you want to be treated. Now here is a very typical moral dilemma in business ethics that American capitalists face when doing business in Third World countries. In Third World countries labor is cheap and building codes less stringent. So, losing people on a building project is morally OK because the project brings the greatest good to the greatest number or it is not morally OK because we are not treating others the way we want to be treated?

This exercise dramatizes one reason why serious ethicists evaluate each theory on its merits or ability to solve ethical problems.

Now you have offered SH as a viable moral theory. To elucidate you inform that “A SH is bound to act accordingly insofar as he is bound to the principles of secular humanism.” So too a communist is bound to act in accordance with principles of communism and probably an American is bound to act in accordance with being an American. Here’s another helpful insight…man evolved from chimps in accordance with principles of how man would evolve from chimps. So now I know how that happened.

You explain the mechanism of how to apply SH. SH seems to be the grand unifying theory of all moral theories. SH astutely concludes that man is valuable as opposed to all those moral theories that say man is worthless and should just be treated like a bunch of irritating slugs. When faced with a moral challenge the SH with his unique sense of man’s worth, as you describe it, just pulls out another moral theory and applies it. So there you have it—- SH, the theory with no specific moral theory behind it other than the extraordinary revelation that man has worth. The SH has no moral guideline or dogma but instead taps into other theories or discards the moral viewpoints that do not serve his purpose, his personal self- interest. And this nicely brings me to one of my major criticisms of SH. I have no real bone to pick when people adhere to other primary moral philosophies in addition to SH, including faith based persons, because the other moral convictions will temper the unbridled options SH permits. My issue is with SH as the singular morality that many atheists wrap themselves in quite cozily, making high- minded claims about man being of greater self worth but in the center of these claims is the agent himself. He is after all the one with the most self worth as are we all. So he can argue, justify in his mind whatever he wants because regardless of how you, Tebaldi, practice SH, no one else who practices it has to appeal to another moral theory for guidance because there is no dogma or guideline imposed on its disciples. Hence SH is the ultimate self- serving morality. Already that sends up red flags to me as far as its legitimacy as a moral theory standing on its own. 

Joan

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By Malini, March 7, 2007 at 1:23 pm Link to this comment
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Thanks Richard!

Your comments are a breath of fresh air!  I love the value you place on all life…  Please continue being a part of the dialogue!

With best wishes,

Malini

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By Richard, March 6, 2007 at 7:19 pm Link to this comment
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Wow, it’s been over a month and you guys haven’t simmered down yet. I searched to see who I owed a response to:

Maani, asking me to respond to Tebaldi’s remark: ‘If [sic] you one is not capable of compassion and remorse, he is of less worth in my eyes [than a dog].” Richard: Would you agree with this?  If so, how do you square this statement with your contention that Hitler was “Christian?”’

I never argued that Hitler was a Christian as you define Christianity (in your modern, make-nice way; more Greek than biblical). I argued that Hitler was a Christian as defined in his day. He contracted with the Papacy to remain in power, as did Mussolini. The term “heil Hitler” is the same as “hail Hitler” and closely connected, etymologically to “holy Hitler.” He was truly messianic to his followers. The danger of his atrocities being repeated is ever-present if theocracy is encouraged. I think we reached agreement on that point, since you also say theocracy is wrong.

Whatever we may agree on, I don’t support the church or the need to have one. I follow in the footsteps of our founders. They told the authorities of their day where to stick it, ridiculed the church and its ministers, and created a nation without an official god.

I think clerics are still given too much power and credit for their supposed “gifts.” They are worthy mostly only of ridicule, especially the Catholic priests, who are still just as fascist as ever. Why revert back to a state of lesser freedom by reinforcing the authority of these people and the scriptures they quote? Those texts can be used to achieve almost any end, using the same Greek methods you employ.

Joan:

You were searching for a post on equality. I said you should be careful what you wish for; you might just get it. Men are more privileged than women indeed—privileged to die younger, live unhealthier lives, get in more accidents, become alcoholic, drug addicted, insane, etc. You name it, if something F~!@ed up can happen to a human being, it happens more often to men (in higher percentages).

Maybe this is a good opportunity to bring back up another subject you never adequately addressed. You see, you want women to have an equal chance. That is the right trend, and what the founders meant when they said all men were created equal—not with equal ability, but equal rights. Twice in our dialogue you confused the two concepts, throwing out a red herring. I pointed it out, and you didn’t respond.

Both:

I don’t think you understood my point about the question “why?” and my assertion that you claim to have all the answers. I used the phrase “all the answers” flippantly, and really meant, “the big answer.”

That’s what it comes down to when you say the value of human life comes from God. Why is life valuable? Because it comes from God. It doesn’t really answer the question, but substitutes as an answer. “God said so” or “God did it” are used that way a lot.

I approach the question of value differently. Our own lives are simply the basis of all value that we know of. We call the other animals “lesser creatures,” although they also want to live, and that is their value. We are capable of expressing that value through art and literature, and perhaps being more emotional about it. It’s still a mystery. Everything that lives [and apparently came from the primordial soup] seeks to protect its life, generally, above all else. What is the origin of that value? I don’t claim to have the answer because I don’t believe in god. I recognize others’ rights to love their lives just the same. It’s their inborn right to do so, and nobody is right to deny it.

Richard

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By Joan, March 6, 2007 at 8:23 am Link to this comment
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Keith,

Sorry about the Times thing…good luck with WS.

There seems to never have been any shortage of threats and there never will be in all likelihood…be they Vikings or Vandals or nuclear weapons…it is terrifying as we think of it.

Joan

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By Tebaldi, March 5, 2007 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment
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Re:  Comment #56428 by Maani on 3/02 at 6:22 pm
Hi Maani.

Glad you got some enjoyment from the last exchange between Joan and me.  I thought it might help to interject some levity into this sometimes belabored forum.  (plus, I honestly thought Joan was offended).  It’s interesting to note all of the miscommunication, presumptions, misinterpretations, etc. that are revealed.  Despite that we are all adept at communicating, the written word leaves out essential cues that make the spoken word so much more revealing.  On the other hand, writing allows for more organization, editing, etc.  Nothing that we haven’t learned before, but it’s always good to get a refresher class… 
Incidentally, I never had the impression that an evangelical minister lacked the ability to guffaw. 

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

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By Tebaldi, March 5, 2007 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment
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Re:  Comment #56561 by Joan on 3/03 at 3:15 pm

Hello Joan,

Re:  “my concern is for you”
That’s sweet my dear, quite thoughtful.  A lesser person would be more concerned with getting their point across, than the effect it was having on the other party.  I assumed that it was I who was offending you.  (And don’t be so full of yourself, Joan, you can’t hit that hard.) 
The preceding parenthetical sentence is an excellent example (as I was discussing with Maani) of the fallible properties of the written word.  I want you to take it as a joke.  I think you would, but I’m not completely sure.  I guess it gives validity to those ubiquitous “smiley faces” you see in e-traffic, but I loath to use them.  (I deduce they may be a needed annoyance, though).  Much like Mark Twain’s dry, sarcastic humor, if you have to point it out it looses its efficacy.  Can you imagine reading Twain with smiley faces that follow his sporadic wit?  I further deduce that I should get off my high horse and quit implying that my writing is even remotely comparable to a legendary American writer.
 
But I digress.  First, some old business.  You mentioned again in the previous post that I still have presumptions about the effect that the Bible has on you.  I told you that I don’t presume, and I stand by this.  Your persistence probably stems from comments like, “You were taught many years ago of the creation of man.  I suggest that this seed may have something to do with your “knowledge”.”  These are mere alternate perspectives, as evidenced by the use of the words “suggest” and “may”.  I assume that you don’t take the Bible literally because you said so, and have demonstrated as such.  I have no reason to doubt you.  That being said, there are instances that arise that set off alarms I can not ignore.  For example, it is certainly a coincidence (to me) that your knowledge of the creation of man coincides with the teachings of the Bible.  There are two reasons for this happenstance.  The folks who wrote of the creation of man had the same divine knowledge that you have.  Or you were taught of creation and your psyche accepted this as reality. 
I suggest that this doesn’t make any sense to you because the former (or something similar) is the absolute truth; it is definitive.  In turn, you falsely perceive me not accepting you’re claim.  For me, it is not definitive.  Even though it is useless to attempt to convince you that man evolved from chimp, I can still present arguments that logically support my assertion (I know, what do I care what you think).  I present them to you as a perspective, and you take them as, in the words of Ronald Reagan, “there you go again”.  I imagine the roles are reversed with the SH v. GR argument.  The difference is that while I use words like “assume” and “may”, you use words like “in fact”.  (“But this ethic, do unto others, is in fact not secular humanism”)
Quite astute, eh?  I feel that I’m definitely going to get an ‘A’ in your class. 

(Continued)

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By Tebaldi, March 5, 2007 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment
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(Part 2) Re:  Comment #56561 by Joan on 3/03 at 3:15 pm


Re:  how does SH function as a moral code
IT FUNCTIONS AS A MORAL CODE, BASED ON WHAT SH BELIEVES IN.  Again, the world is our oyster.  Beyond that, we can pick and choose ELEMENTS from a moral code and discard the rest (how do you like them apples?).  First, as I’ve said before, SH seek wisdom of all moral codes and apply all components of these codes that are commensurate with the spirit of SH.  Feasibly, a SH may choose to concentrate on one moral code to avoid the “jack of all trades” phenomenon.  One small example – SH believe that the Noble Eightfold Path model fits nicely within the confines of SH.  Wisdom, Ethical conduct, and mental discipline are paramount in following the idea of SH.  You won’t find me going into great detail on this; I personally don’t have several years of my life to devote to this way of life.  I do however, think that I understand the premise of the code (and I used to own a Dharma wheel). 
    So how would I use the Buddhist teachings to resolve the Dr/Patient dilemma?  Perhaps by following Buddhist lessons:  “One should seek for others the happiness one desires for one’s self.”  “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”  “I will act towards others exactly as I would act towards myself.”  Sound familiar?  (I love wikipedia - it can make the ignorant seem learned) 

Re:  what does SH require or forbid the moral agent to do?
There are no requirements.  No dogma = no requirements.  No leaders = no one to enforce the requirements if they existed in the first place.  A SH is bound to act accordingly only insofar that he is bound to the principles of secular humanism.  Nothing is forbidden for the same reasons.  Sounds like a bunch of free-love, hippy crap doesn’t it?  There are elements of hippyism. 
    To be a little less cryptic, I’ll just say that if one is not holding individual dignity and worth uppermost in his mind, he can certainly not be considered to be a SH.

Re:  “…they claim they are humanists in lieu of having any religious beliefs.”
In lieu of?  Is that what you meant to say?  You can be a humanist AND a believer, dear.  We exclude exactly no one.  Exclusion, after all wouldn’t be treating others like we would want to be treated. 

I think that you are having trouble embracing the breadth of the humanist platform. 

Re:  “ethical systems are defined differently because they are different and if applied may have different consequences. They say different things and direct the moral agent to behave differently” 
You, of course are more learned on the subject, but it is my understanding that the widely accepted systems share much more similarities than they do differences.  Further, I would be interested in specific contradictory teachings, if you can provide me an example. 

Afterthought -  You are trying to divorce yourself from the issues, taking the “Joan” out of the discussion.  First, I’m not sure you can achieve this.  Second, why would you want to?  The more “Joan” the more interesting, as far as I’m concerned.  Wouldn’t you like to say, “I think SH is a bunch of wishy-washy, irresolute BS.  It seems that you base your life on a foundation of flimsy cards.”? 
You see, you have the latitude in this forum to do just that.  Why not let go a little?  After all, you seem to eschew political correctness.  As long as your statement is preceded by “I think” rather than speaking in absolutes, you’re ok.  You have to play nice here, but you don’t have to play by all the rules. 

I hope that your medical treatments are going well, and this post finds you in good health/spirits.

Ciao!  -  Tebaldi

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By Joan, March 3, 2007 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Gee… I got the feeling I was sideswiping you for the most part…I am pretty thick skinned in these discussions because I have had to become so to survive on the battlefield of my profession…my concern is for you …I felt after your last post and maybe in some instances leading up to it that I have been hitting you more deeply than I should. I was not angry at all but felt I should step back from something that I thought was getting out of hand.  No apologies necessary, especially for being spirited or passionate but put up the flags that let me know you are OK so I know I am not making inroads where I should not venture.

So you still want to have at it, pal buddy…well, all right…let me chew over some of your critiques and see what I want to do with them. In the meantime try to see the method to my madness as I explained in my last post. Please know that for me I am seeing this as essentially an academic exercise, no personal judgments made except on rare occasions as I did with Dave Summers who was being just inexcusably nasty.

And, after my last post can you understand that I naturally make a distinction between SH and GR as two different ethical theories no matter that they may be used by many people with differing ethical codes? This may be a starting point in untangling some of the missed arguments on both sides. My underlying question professionally is—-how does SH function as a moral code from an academic point of view not how does Tebaldi himself make moral decisions? 

So play ball…

I may be offline a bit ...knee injections this week…

Joan

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By Keith Henson, March 3, 2007 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment
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Joan wrote:

>Please keep us updated about your op-ed piece and I would be interested to read it.

NYT didn’t take it.  Rewrote slightly and shipped off to the WSJ

It may be too technical for newspapers. 

It is widely thought that the North Korean bomb test was much smaller than intended.

If they used plutonium reprocessed from a reactor that might be the reason.  U 238 absorbs a neutron and becomes plutonium 239 in reactors.  But the Pu 239 *also* absorbs a neutron becoming Pu 240.

That turns out to be a major problem for making bombs because Pu 240 has a high rate of spontaneous fission.  I.e., it releases neutrons to start a chain reaction.

For making bombs (this is all in a Clancy novel) you have to compress the plutonium and then set it off with a shot of neutrons.  This becomes hard to do when there is a lot of Pu 240 spitting out neutrons.

Bomb grade plutonium is upwards of 90% Pu 239.  You can raise the percentage by shortening the exposure to neutrons but you also reduce the amount being made.

There might be a way to have your cake and eat it too.  The idea is to use U 238 in solution, expose it briefly to neutrons by pumping it through a reactor and sort the plutonium out of the solution before it has picked up a second neutron.

What this means is that any power reactor with a bit of added plumbing and a few tanks can be used to make exceptionally good bomb grade plutonium.

This is a bummer since large numbers of power reactors are one of the few ways to cope with global warming and peak oil problems.

Keith Henson

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By Maani, March 2, 2007 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi:

You said, “I get the impression that you visualize me seething behind my computer with a crazed look in my eyes.  I’m a pretty mellow dude.  It takes a lot to set me off.  I can assure you, if I weren’t having fun here, I wouldn’t be here.  I look forward to your responses regardless of whether they frustrate me or not…Before you abandon me, think back to all the good times we’ve had and pleasantries exchanged.  To put it otherwise, please don’t dump me, I’ll change.”

LOL!  Even as a hopelessly irrational, unreasonable, dogmatic, doctrinaire evangelical minister (LOL), this brought on a wonderful belly laugh!  Yes, I must admit to having imagined you (at least once or twice…LOL) “seething behind my computer with a crazed look in my eyes.”  But isn’t that why we taunt and “frustrate” you so?  LOL.

Anyway, thanks for putting an enormous smile on my face.  And yes, I knew that you were a good guy behind that self-satisfied smirk…LOL.

Peace.

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By Tebaldi, March 2, 2007 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment
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I can’t believe that you would suggest halting our exchange.  We are a team.  I had no idea that you (or were you suggesting me) were getting side-swiped.  As I re-looked my last post, from the “how did I piss off Joan” point of view, I can see how you might get the impression that I am being aggressive.  Like any other relationship, familiarity leads to taking people for granted.  We tend to dispense with the pleasantries, and focus on the task.  I apologize.
First, I can assure you that I do not hold you in contempt.  I get the impression that you visualize me seething behind my computer with a crazed look in my eyes.  I’m a pretty mellow dude.  It takes a lot to set me off.  I can assure you, if I weren’t having fun here, I wouldn’t be here.  I look forward to your responses regardless of whether they frustrate me or not.
 
By the same token, it is aggravating for me to have the same questions thrown at me with out acknowledgment of the validity or invalidity of my previous argument.  For example, SH and GR.  I was confused by your question and I asked, “ I don’t see a clear difference between our methods of reaching a conclusion.  What is this rule book are you using that secular humanists don’t have access to?”  In your response, not only do you not answer this question, you say, “I need a guideline so that I can appease my conscience. I am using the Golden Rule in these cases. What rule does one have to follow to be a secular humanist?” 
Do you see how this might be frustrating for me?
Further more, in my response, I say, “I’ve said before, the Golden Rule is the perfect reflection of the principles of secular humanism; this rule should be paramount in resolving ethical dilemmas for us.”
I didn’t know what to think by your next response.  “…you are also partial to the Golden Rule. But this ethic, do unto others, is in fact not secular humanism”  I recognize that I went overboard on this one.  Perhaps I was having a bad day when I wrote that last post. 
So I apologize for being impatient.  Some of our exchanges are fluid and revealing, while others like worth v. ooze and SH v GR, seem to run in circles.  Before you abandon me, think back to all the good times we’ve had and pleasantries exchanged. 
To put it otherwise, please don’t dump me, I’ll change.  (do you feel those heartstrings being pulled?)

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

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By Joan, March 2, 2007 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,


Where I am coming from….
I am a formally trained philosopher with a specialty in ethics, specifically in meta- ethics. Meta- ethics is the study of various ethical theories, comparing them at times, and analyzing them as far as their applicability to and their ease in solving moral dilemmas or the ramifications for society if such systems were adopted etc.. Some of the theories I studied are the Golden Rule or Aristotelian ethics, utilitarianism, theories of justice or ethical systems that are predicated on appeals to God’s authority, like the Ten Commandments and so on and so on.  In my field, all these ethical systems are defined differently because they are different, and if applied may have different consequences. They say different things and direct the moral agent to behave differently. These are separate schools of thought like cognitive theory and behaviorist theory are different schools of thought in psychology. That’s it. That’s what I have been trying to do here, namely see how SH works in the world. How particular people actually solve moral problems is an entirely different ball of wax. They may not even know how they do it so many things come into play. But if someone tells me they are a secular humanist, I honestly do not see how it is unfair to ask what that code of ethics directs them to do. Christians are supposed to follow the Golden Rule and Muslims, the Koran etc, etc, in this line of thought, I ask—-what does SH require or forbid the moral agent to do? I think these are fair questions, especially on this thread in which people claim they are humanists in lieu of having any religious beliefs. Well, what does SH require them to do to behave morally? As an ethicist and a faith- based person I am all ears. As for my students, they have ranged from those who just finished high school to professionals like EMT workers to nurses to a 70 year old retired engineer to a Palestinian conflicted about the appeal of American freedom and American hegemony. Some were thinkers; some were not. But I did not try to outwit them for the sake of just putting something over on them. My mission, as I saw it, was to make people think about many, many things. Not give into peer pressure or be swept up by rhetoric, but to dissect ideologies and popular campaigns for their value and rightness…to teach them not what to think, but how to think for themselves, to think independently. And I tried to be very thought provoking. When engaging with me in this kind of debate, I do want people to revisit their comfortably held views. Maybe that is the bit of Socrates in me. But if our exchanges are upsetting to you, I am not trying to do that. Stir up ideas… yes, hit below the belt… no. My challenges about SH were challenges about the helpfulness and adequacy of the theory not about you or your personal moral worthiness or value as a human being. I would never do that. You strike me as a very sensitive and highly moral person. You and I are both worth more than a slug. Maybe even worth more than 5 or 6 “upper crust” slugs! LOL. This is now upsetting you and truth be told, I feel that these last few weeks you have really berated or condescended to me on more than one occasion. I think we should stop. We had interesting exchanges but no one needs to open their e- mail and get sideswiped. This should be primarily enjoyable.

Finally, in general Harris and Dawkins, with their knee jerk fear reactions to 9/11, have made it open season on faith- based people under the guise of a pseudo intellectualism that seems to legitimize religious bigotry and intolerance. Religious tensions and bigotry have been held in check by a wise and hard fought battle that brought us Pax Romana in the West. I want Harris or his followers to respect and to understand that if they continue to preach bigotry they will get a fair amount of resistance. So, being here is my own small way of doing my part.

All the best,

Joan

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By Joan, March 1, 2007 at 5:41 pm Link to this comment
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Keith,

If we had god-like powers I do not know if we would create different males and females then we have…do you think we would and if so, how so?

Please keep us updated about your op-ed piece and I would be interested to read it.

We share the same concerns about the Middle East with its growing population and more easy access to nuclear materials/weapons. I hope we come out of this not terribly scathed by all of this. But???!!!  I think we have some wild cards in play. China too is now a bigger player and not a terribly ethical one. It is unclear how Africa will fare in the long run with its business dealings with China.

And what do you mean that we will see in within the next generation the end of humanity as we know it?

Joan

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By Tebaldi, February 28, 2007 at 3:46 pm Link to this comment
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(Re:  Comment #55736 by Joan on 2/27 at 2:12 pm

Joan,

Re:  “Your God is my individual sense of morality.” I do not know how to interpret that because you say you are agnostic.
This is all irrelevant.  We all have a sense of morality.  From whence it comes is immaterial. 
  That I believe that I have worth is sufficient reason for me to adopt the GR.  Where you come up with the notion that GR does not mesh perfectly with Secular Humanism (SH) is beyond me.  You fall back on the pointless argument of ooze v. worth.  As was revealed by my epiphany, I will never convince you that there is another possibility, regardless of the plethora of evidence and documented theories. 
    Please explain to me how you’ve come to intimately know SH?  It is arrogant to claim to know another person’s way of life.  Yes, I question Religion, but I have never claimed to understand it well enough to dub it false.  You are inclined, at this point, to deny that this is what you are doing.  But when you say matter-of-factly that SH does not allow for the adoption of GR, this is precisely what you are doing.  I’ve repeatedly explained that the Golden Rule is the perfect reflection of the principles of secular humanism.  If you would like, I can cut and paste a hundred examples of this from SH doctrine.  Alas, this will not do for you, because of your insistence that ooze can not beget worth (do you see the pointless circles we construct?).  Well, my dear, I am a SH, and I whole-heartedly believe in the GR.  You can no more argue with that than I can argue your transcendent experience. 
    I feel that I have been profoundly respectful of you and your God.  I have always been reverent of people’s way of life (with very few exceptions).  I do so, because to mock the foundation on which a man leads his life is malicious, and hurtful.  These are “I statements”; I realize that you have not intended to elicit these feelings.  I believe that you are kind and understanding, and no apology is necessary or desired. 

Re:  Chimp to man
Ok, let’s see if I got the essence of your answers. 
COMMENT:  “… but to say that he has bestowed you divine knowledge of the creation of man seems odd.”
RETORT:  He loves us and knows that we would enjoy knowing of our creation
QUESTION:  “How is it that you’ve come to realize the creation of man, precisely?”
ANSWER:  (I assume) transcendent experience.
QUESTION:  “Why would you need this information?”
ANSWER:  For you enjoyment.
QUESTION:  “Why would He feel the need to disclose this?”
ANSWER:  see “retort” above.
Am I tracking?

Re:  Your rejection of polygamy seems inconsistent to me with respect to your insistence of same (equal) rights.
You are using false logic (or at least misdirection) with this statement.  Equal rights obviously has limitations.  This is like me saying, “I like chicken” and having someone conclude that in addition to grilled and fried chicken, I like raw chicken.  I’ve stated my position on polygamy in numerous posts.  You’ve summarily noted, and dismissed them.  How about going into detail on why you’ve dismissed them?  I will list them again:

>>> Sexual orientation is a NATURAL INCLINATION.  Polygamy and incest are not.  Anyone can point out anomalies.  It’s not a fair to say that if it happens in nature its natural.  So the argument turns to one of varying degrees.  My first argument is that homosexuality has been around since the beginning of history, and is therefore most likely prehistoric.  To me, an anomaly would be something that doesn’t stand the test of time.  Secondly, homosexuality is not odd, peculiar, strange, incongruous (arguable I guess), or inconsistent (all antonyms of “natural”).  Lastly, to put it in perspective, there are 15 million gay people in America alone. 

(Continued)

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By Tebaldi, February 28, 2007 at 3:38 pm Link to this comment
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(Continued) Re:  Comment #55736 by Joan on 2/27 at 2:12 pm

>>>…it can be argued that wives of polygamists do not receive the optimal emotional support that monogamous relationships foster. Therefore it is not in the best interest of society

>>>  The group should be larger than 10,000 people, the foundation for the love should be based on a natural inclination, and the result of the union should benefit society.

I think that if the principles of what I’ve outlined here (et al) were infused in the consenting opinion of a court ruling, it would set a precedent that would preclude polygamists from riding on the shirt tails of the decision.

Can you provide one example of an American law that has opened the door to legislation which supports questionable behavior? 

Re:  “gay fever and the novelty of gay marriage” 
Homosexuals and gay rights advocates hope to see gay unions open the door to a society that will become tolerant enough to not dismiss their concerns using words like “gay fever” and “novelty”.  Again, I’m not one of your zit-faced, wet-behind-the-ears students (apparently my writing style doesn’t elucidate this assertion).  I assure you, my position is not very much en vogue here in the buckle of the Bible belt.  (In fact, it just might get my ass kicked.)  I suppose, however, that it would be disingenuous not to acknowledge that I still hold a soft spot for the bleeding heart liberals I partied with at U-Mass.


So you’re going to hop on the fence and wait to see how it plays out, huh?  I won’t berate you for your position.  Your apprehensions are well intentioned.  Just remember that “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”.  (A quote from the song, “Free will”, by Rush, although I don’t know if they coined it.)

Re:  Gay pride demonstration
I’m sure there are many gays who cringe when they see their brethren behave as such.

Re:  Today’s enlightenment is the out of vogue ideology of tomorrow
I concur.  Although I may not be as “seasoned” as you, I am no spring chicken.  I too recognize that ideologies come and go (and sometimes, come back again).  This is society’s way of saying “what the hell were we thinking?” or, more often, “our intention was good, but we may have went too far.”  I see the later as an example of affirmative action – frequently concepts have a way of out-growing their usefulness.  But while blacks will not always need the doors of opportunity opened for them, homosexuals will always have the desire to commit to monogamous relationships.  There is a temporal factor that differentiates the two scenarios. 

Your continued apprehension of the social sciences is understandable (you may want to jump on the scientology bandwagon).  By the same token, we’ve come a long way since Aristotle and Plato.  We’ve stood on the shoulders of giants, and expanded our understanding of the psyche exponentially.  While we eschew many of Freud’s psychosexual concepts, his innovation has earned him the title of the Father of Psychology, and his theories persist to this day.  And we grow, and we learn, and we make mistakes, and we learn again. 
The leaps and bounds we’ve made in the medical community mirror the advances in psychology.  We were dying from TB around the same time that Freud was forming theories.  I’m not saying we’ve got the psyche all figured out here, but we are definitely not selling snake oil any more.

Arrivederci!  - Tebaldi

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By Keith Henson, February 28, 2007 at 9:39 am Link to this comment
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Joan wrote

>I do not follow you about the blow up dolls, what ‘s the attraction? Do you see maybe just sperm banks? It seems that evolution’s bestowing the male and female with different things that serve to attract them to one another, wide hips for males, and chest and faces for females has worked quite well thus far and reproduction is cheaply accomplished.

Imagine for a minute that females and male had god like powers and were able to create what they thought of as ideal mates.  How close would they resemble existing males and females?

>With the end of humanity as we know it being less then a generation into our future, if you envision a worse case scenario, let’s stop the blogging and quick, everyone to Dairy Queen!!!  If you’re thinking we will be over the rainbow, to the land once dreamed of in lullabies, well what can I say to that ??? I am keeping my eye on DQ, with the corrupt, underfed, sickly continent of Africa dying off with no rescue in sight, and the nuclear weapons in the hands of fanatics

Unfortunately recent advances have made getting the materials for nuclear weapons and building them a lot less complicate.  I might post my NYT op ed piece about it here if they don’t publish it.

>and the US mainly worried about pleasuring itself, Europe in the la-la land of political correctness and denial, Russia returning to being, well, Russia and China expanding itself with no moral conscience. This is not the recipe for a Pax Romana. Considering your propensity for science, maybe though the question is will the double edge sword of science lead to our demise or our salvation?

It could go either way.

>My sense is that you think science will lead to salvation but I am not so sure,

I am not sure which way it will go.

>Iranian fanaticism is a wild card. But they may settle out if not too threatened in the context of your sustenance is the cause for all wars theory, i.e. once they conclude their needs are met, they may calm down.

Have you looked at the birth rate in Islamic countries lately? 

In the hunter-gatherer world food and in some cases water are the factors that are known to cause fighting.  (See Azar Gat on this.)

I don’t know all the elements that have slipped into the modern “must have” category, but low cost gasoline is likely one of them.

Keith Henson

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By Joan, February 27, 2007 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 2

Re: women’s issues and gay rights …As long as one disagrees respectfully, I am never angry with anyone for disagreeing with me on these posts and I hope no one is angry with me because I do not agree with them. We are all entitled to our viewpoints. Just a basic position statement.
Heterosexual couples have to go through legal channels with advance directives, naming guardians and getting insurance and setting up wills and trusts. We are all dealing with the hassle of the legalization of our everyday lives. Your rejection of polygamy seems inconsistent to me with respect to your insistence of same (equal) rights, more of your personal preference. Except our egalitarian society once we open the door to other forms of marriage, we have to open to door to all other forms of marriage, Keith’s and your’s objections duly noted. I do not think these objections will carry the day legally, if we Americans are to be equalized, by making all things the same for all people.

Fifteen years down the road, after we have seen how gay marriage or unions have fared once gay fever and the novelty of gay marriage/union has worn off, if the majority of these folks have walked the walk of long-term commitment and the sacrifice of childrearing as have heterosexual relationships done throughout history, I will re-visit my position. I want to see what happens because there are always surprises and I am skeptical of some things, which I have already noted.  As far as what I would do to rectify certain ways gay persons have been treated poorly,  I am serious when I say that churches need to do a lot more to address these abuses instead of preaching biblical rejection. Make it illegal to discriminate for jobs based on sexual preference and it probably is already illegal except for the military, which is a whole different can of worms. Gay persons need to stop the shock and awe they practice in some of their demonstrations. I was utterly repelled and infuriated at what my young daughters saw in NY outside of St. Pat’s one year when we took them into see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza and the desecration gays were involved in the so-called name of gay pride. They need to act more respectfully of others’ (middle class) values that they now seem to think are the be all and end all of their acceptance. We all have to live together.  They don’t get any free passes to be ugly, either.

Rejecting the current rage in thinking (ala the APA) in a society does not make me a conspiracy theorist. It is just a healthy skepticism about what is in vogue at the moment. At the risk of sounding like an old fogy and I am not one, after you live a few decades—- raise a family, bury a few parents and walk them through the end of days, deal with your own physical limitations and psychological limitations as well, medical limitations, face you own mortality—- you feel you come to understand a little bit about human nature and the world…gain a little wisdom, I daresay. Today’s enlightenment is the out of vogue ideology of tomorrow. Science is the science of the moment much of the time. Especially the so- called social sciences. These are the inquiries that keep us searching to figure it all out. I am always opening up to ideas, and revising and gaining certainty or thinking I know nothing at all, in fact at the same time, as the beat goes on.

Joan

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By Joan, February 27, 2007 at 3:12 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 1

I honestly do not recall your comment about “Your God is my individual sense of morality.” I do not know how to interpret that because you say you are agnostic. My sense of what is morally correct generally does not come from God per se or is not deduced from God. I guess I have a roving intellect and just have to probe an idea to the death. You had identified me as a Christian ethicist, post #53661, not so. You have indicated you thought that my belief in the Bible has prevented me from accepting evolution, not so. These are some of the bases of my remarks about what you have presumed here. I believe some about evolution, with the finger of God imprinted on it. I believe that the spark of Divinity was breathed into man by God, poetically put but literally as well because my transcendent experiences are replete with changes in breathing rhythms to different ends. Breath is life both spiritually and physically is my grasp of this experience. Maybe this is why breathing techniques and energy flow are of such interest to Eastern mystics. If you think it is hard to be gay in 2007, you should know that seems easy to someone who is mystically enhanced. Talk about living in a closet.

God is awesome as you say. But I do not agree that all His actions are mired in mystery but we have been taught this about Him. The Father Almighty/Creator has become an obscured figure with the prominence of Christ in Christianity. But the Father is vulnerable and in love with His creation and, lovingly with great anticipation of our enjoyment, shares with His beloved people His powers to make, understand and even create human life. His actions with respect to me and I believe others are those of an incredible and all- powerful Lover but the love has a lot of depth and character building to it. He is humbly willing to share of Himself and when you come to know more of Him, you come to know more of what we are about. Through science He seems more than willing to share the methods of His madness. Christ explored the Father, one- on- one and modeled this for us, one- on- one with His somewhat lonely Father. Each of us can do likewise and the Father will guide as will Christ.  You start the adventure and may turn out to be the next Moses but it is easier not to be Moses, given the hassles of the fame.

Re: Moral dilemmas… I can understand your inquiry here…First, let’s look at the moral dilemmas, such as the doctor/ pain patient scenario…this is a type of typical dilemma model because it can easily turn out that very good and justifiable arguments can be made to give the pain meds or to withhold them. That is what I am referring to when I say “equally valid” moral arguments can be made and hence you can wind up with the conclusion to “A” give the meds and “-A” to withhold the meds. So you again have the “A” and”-A” dilemma. So how do you break the tie, meaning what moral guideline do you choose to make a final decision. Here is when I appeal to the Golden Rule for instance. Second, you are also partial to the Golden Rule. But this ethic, do unto others, is in fact not secular humanism. Secular humanism and the Golden Rule are two different schools of moral thought. The GR is consistent with ideas that we have worth. The GR pivots on our neighbor being at least worth as much as we are. So worth is based on whom is a part of the decision making process and how much worth one gives oneself. But the GR gives us a command to follow as most ethical systems do,i.e we are to do what we would want done for us in the same circumstance.

My quandary with secular humanism is twofold, first, if one accepts Darwinism sans God, how does man get his special worth that justifies a morality to be imposed on him and second, what does secular humanism command us to do in the case of moral dilemmas?

Joan

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By Tebaldi, February 26, 2007 at 12:10 pm Link to this comment
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Hello Maani,

I overlooked your post, I addressed a couple of points in the recent post to Joan (Re:  conflation of Genesis with the Big Bang).

Thank you for the laudatory comments; I’m sure that what I’ve conjectured has been said before, though. 

Did you see my post (Comment #52668, about half way down the page)?  I don’t recall a response from you. 

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

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By Tebaldi, February 26, 2007 at 11:49 am Link to this comment
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Re:  Comment #55209 by Joan on 2/24 at 5:33 pm

Hi Joan,

Re:  My (alleged) presumption
I learned that you don’t rely on the Bible as the purveyor of truth many posts ago.  I think it is you who presume that I presume.  If you read carefully, I started with “If not the Bible,…”  This indicates that I assume the Bible is not the source of not accepting ‘chimp to man’.  I think the confusion began with me not understanding from whence your “moral rule or guidelines” derive.  Rules and guidelines are generally written.  This is why I made the obvious connection to the Bible.  After I deduced that you’re sense of what is morally correct comes from God, I suggested that “commanding foundation” was a better choice of words.  If you recall, I said “…your God is my individual sense of morality.  And I guess this brings us back to our worth/ooze argument.”  I don’t recall you directly commenting on this comment, and I’ve touched on this below (Re:  Moral dilemma).

Re:  conflation of Genesis with the Big Bang
Conflation, huh?  I had to look that one up.  As Emily Dickenson would say, “there’s a word you can tip your hat to”.
While I appreciate your applause, you seem to have (dis)missed a point.  I gave an example of how chimp to man could have reasonably happened with in the context of the existence of God.  You are blessed to know God, if He exists (sounds paradoxal), but how you presume knowledge of God’s specific method of the creation of man seems a bit, well… presumptuous.  Allow me to postulate (again):  To me, God is very near unfathomable.  His powers are limitless, his actions mired in mystery.  It seems sensible for you to feel his love, and that he helps you through troubled times, etc, but to say that he has bestowed you divine knowledge of the creation of man seems odd.  How is it that you’ve come to realize the creation of man, precisely?  Why would you need this information?  Why would He feel the need to disclose this?
No one, to include myself, can divorce himself completely from dogma.  You were taught many years ago of the creation of man.  I suggest that this seed may have something to do with your “knowledge”.   

Re:  Moral dilemma
I don’t understand the significance of your highlighting “opposing” in the equally valid moral answers.  If they are both valid, and scrutinized IAW aforementioned methods, and neither of the potential solutions appear to more morally acceptable, it doesn’t matter whether the answers are opposing or congruent.  Maybe I’m stuck on “equally valid”.  Perhaps I need an example for my meager brain to comprehend.
  You say “I am using the Golden Rule in these cases. What rule does one have to follow to be a secular humanist?”  As I’ve said before, the Golden Rule is the perfect reflection of the principles of secular humanism; this rule should be paramount in resolving ethical dilemmas for us.  I hate to answer a question with a question, but… Why do you have to use it? 
Am I “bound” to use it?  Yes, Insofar that I am bound to the principles of secular humanism.

You didn’t really answer my question:  “I don’t see a clear difference between our methods of reaching a conclusion.  What is this rule book are you using that secular humanists don’t have access to?”

(continued)

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By Tebaldi, February 26, 2007 at 11:40 am Link to this comment
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(continued) Re:  Comment #55209 by Joan on 2/24 at 5:33 pm

Re: Gay unions
OK.  You’ve (tenuously) agreed that change was necessary to right an inequitable condition that women endured.  It follows that you would also agree that change is necessary to right inequality and discrimination that gays currently endure.  What change do you suggest take place to disolve these inequities? 
You mention that Gay’s have many of many of the same benefits.  Many, but not all.  Additionally, it is a pain in the ass to convince people of your status and initiate many of the benefits.  When you are married, you’ve made a declaration to the government, that you are now a family unit, and everything falls into place.  Married folk don’t have to search for alternatives, and waste their time cutting through red tape. 
Yes, there is an element of “principle”.  As you have agreed, gays can share the same love, commitment, societal contributions, stability etc as their hetero counterparts.  Doesn’t it seem unprincipled that they aren’t recognized as a family?

I’ve explained why polygamy et al will not be accepted, you continue to regurgitate your point with out refuting my reasoning. 

Similarly, you repeat your concerns for the children.  We can’t know everything.  That which we don’t experience is revealed to us through other credible sources that HAVE experienced it.  If I wanted to find out the mean temperature in Africa, I would reference an encyclopedia.  If I wanted to verify it I would check another encyclopedia.  Good enough for me.  I’m not going to fly to Africa, stay there for 10 years and find out for myself. 
Similarly, I’m not going to study the wellbeing of children of gay couples.  I defer to the experts.  If not the APA, who would be the authority on this matter?  You propose that the APA is too politically correct.  This (although probably somewhat true) is a conspiracy theory (your pessimism rears its ugly head again).  Multiple people have documented this study.  It was shared within the organization, and then edited by other party/parties).  Of all the persons involved in the publication of this study, we can assume that at least one has unwavering integrity and at least one didn’t like the outcome of the study.  There are checks and balances that are integrated into publication by reputable organizations.  Generally, dissenting opinions are noted and whistleblowers are afforded the opportunity to cry foul. 
I am not saying that this study is watertight.  I am saying that it comes from a known authority and that it, along with other studies, should be enough to form a reasonable conclusion. 
So here’s the second study: 
“CPA’s review of the psychological research led us to conclude that the children of same-sex parents do not differ from the children of heterosexual parents in terms of their psychosocial development, their gender development and their gender identity.”  - Canadian Psychological Association

Lastly you mention, “we have always been discriminated against despite all these laws”.  Agreed, but the laws beget improved behavior (begrudged or not), which begets tolerance which begets acceptance.  It’s a well documented progression.  In my opinion, there is a step that precedes the passing of laws – Army regulations.  Our army has been a leader in equality for centuries.  I hesitate to mention this because of the troubles it has encountered assimilating gays as opposed to blacks, women, et al.  We can assume this is due to the heavy influence of conservatives in the army, and the fact that the army can’t increase their numbers significantly with the comparatively smaller group. 

Re: Worth scale
Fair enough.  A little wishy-washy, but revealing and eloquent nonetheless.  I’ll let this one rest. 

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

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By Joan, February 24, 2007 at 7:11 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 2

Re: truthdig… I began to engage those on this post more because very candidly I admired Maani’s diligence and I wanted his other interlocutors to know that there were other well thought out persons beside Maani who are faith based. The world is filled with them and despite Harris’ condescension towards us, were not mindless sops who gullibly scarf down all kinds of silly ideas. That’s it. I know you cannot rebut transcendent experience. But that is my personal experience and so I cannot acquiesce to something else. Like little Cole in Sixth Sense who sees ghosts, I cannot seem to avoid transcendence. I did not think I had any obligation to assert my beliefs up front nor have I hid them intentionally. I engage rationally on the topics at hand and do not try to force my beliefs on anyone. But I have said more than once in my discourse with you that man has greater worth than the slug because God
breathed a spark of Divinity into man.  I know this through transcendence.

I do not know what animals are worth without humans to experience them. I do not really think like this. I see the universe as a unit, a cohesive interaction of all things bright and beautiful and all creatures great and small because to me there is smidge of His Nature in this interaction and all that is unfolding, be it a creature or a natural phenomenon, from lions to the wind to the rolling waves and expanding universe. Do animals appreciate life within the context of their own lives without man? Maybe. I am not zoologically versed but after watching silverbacks as I have one would think gorillas have affection and emotional ties without man as do puppies. So there you have it.  My comment about worth as a function of an entity is that worth is a relative concept, like beauty being in the eye of the beholder.

RE: a gay marriage being legal meaning it is morally acceptable…what I say is merely my view of it but I have not done any polls…my view is just a function of life’s experience and it goes back to a question I have asked you…what do you care about what other people think? What do gay persons care what other people think? Gay persons/ couples as far as I am aware have many if not all the legal benefits of married couples but not the title or the recognition of marriage…they too want acceptance as you asserted you sought. Gay marriage seems to me to be the principle of the thing. As for the children, this is all I can say…if we open the door to this form of marriage, we open the door to other forms and these persons, if deprived will argue they are being discriminated against and they are if gay marriage is favored but other forms are summarily rejected. My view is a macro one, one about the long-term effects of the various marriage arrangements and their stability and our failure to make sure our children are in stable situations even if it means we cannot indulge all of our wants. We did it with feminism and easy divorce and how much can we do this before it gets too dicey for us? I lecture my daughters all the time about being mothers…if it means they cannot do it all, that ‘s what motherhood means…not having gay marriage is not taking away anyone’s gay life or their partnerships, until now as it is being promoted.
About the danger of being gay, certainly I never condone anyone hurting another person but just being female is dangerous and has always been dangerous. It is a danger to be a single female, a little girl or a married woman and we have always been discriminated against despite all these laws and consciousness raising. What are we do to, change our sex, get rid of men in general and revert to sperm banks and blow up dolls as Keith foresees, or be very careful and take precautions? Being a minority, perhaps I am more skeptical about interventions and their efficacy.

Joan

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By Joan, February 24, 2007 at 6:33 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 1
Re: God having nothing to do with it…it seems to me that in your previous post you traced my acceptance and/validation of the Golden Rule to God ultimately and I believe you have done something similar to this before but I am not going to search the posts… here’s one…your presumption that the Bible somehow prevents me from accepting evolution which is not the case…I am with Maani as he applauds your conflation of Genesis with the Big Bang…very good and actually what I have thought occurred. He just “poofed” it out somehow and such was the beginning of our involvement with being and essence. His potential was manifest.

Re: moral conflicts…my dilemma is about when equally valid but OPPOSING moral answers appear that are distilled after an evaluation of the problem. This is how I posed the problem in my last post because after rational analysis this predicament often occurs, again an “A” and “–A” situation. On what moral guideline do you rest your case to resolve the contradiction?  I need a guideline so that I can appease my conscience. I am using the Golden Rule in these cases. What rule does one have to follow to be a secular humanist?

Re: Women. Perhaps one woman’s passion is one man’s rant. I did not think I was ranting just explaining a different point of view. I think some special things have been lost. No, it was not a utopia. Why do you thing I was pushing a baby stroller in demonstrations to pass the ERA? I am one of the women who brought the changes, like being the only female in the all male bastion, philosophy, a pathfinder of sorts. I was sure the only reason I got the fellowship was that I was a female and the department needed one, affirmative action and all that stuff. That kind of stuff doesn’t make you feel all that good, you know.  I have seen the movement from both sides and I have seen what women had to do as liberation was defined to be taking on manhood. And it wasn’t all pretty. And I do wonder if the gains could have been made more realistically and less brutally by making it illegal to discriminate in the job market based on sex and make salaries equitable, prosecuting wife beaters, husband/ rapists. You can generalize by saying the change needed to be made but those of us who are personally affected might be a little fussy about how it is done. And different voices should be included and not just quashed. We may have point or two worth taking seriously and addressing. What we have
today is not utopia either.

Joan

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By Joan, February 24, 2007 at 10:02 am Link to this comment
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Keith,

I do not follow you about the blow up dolls, what ‘s the attraction? Do you see maybe just sperm banks? It seems that evolution’s bestowing the male and female with different things that serve to attract them to one another, wide hips for males, and chest and faces for females has worked quite well thus far and reproduction is cheaply accomplished.

With the end of humanity as we know it being less then a generation into our future, if you envision a worse case scenario, let’s stop the blogging and quick, everyone to Dairy Queen!!!  If you’re thinking we will be over the rainbow, to the land once dreamed of in lullabies, well what can I say to that ??? I am keeping my eye on DQ, with the corrupt, underfed, sickly continent of Africa dying off with no rescue in sight, and the nuclear weapons in the hands of fanatics and the US mainly worried about pleasuring itself, Europe in the la-la land of political correctness and denial, Russia returning to being, well, Russia and China expanding itself with no moral conscience. This is not the recipe for a Pax Romana. Considering your propensity for science, maybe though the question is will the double edge sword of science lead to our demise or our salvation? My sense is that you think science will lead to salvation but I am not so sure, Iranian fanaticism is a wild card. But they may settle out if not too threatened in the context of your sustenance is the cause for all wars theory, i.e. once they conclude their needs are met, they may calm down.

Joan

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By Maani, February 23, 2007 at 6:58 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi:

You ask, “Are we taking credit away from God by suggesting that He didn’t step in during the evolution of the universe and add…man?  The creation of man (separate from the other animals) seems…anti-climatic considering the wonder and beauty of the universe…Perhaps He knew that the creature who would emerge at the top of the food chain would be of great worth, and designed it as such from the get go.”

I have always agreed with basic Darwinian theory: that species were not “specially created” but were the result of the processes of random mutation and natural selection. However, I also believe (as Darwin did) that “life” was created by God (perhaps from the “primordial ooze,” but deliberately so), and that He “set in motion” the processes of evolution. That humankind may have been “pre-planned” is a fabulous way of looking at it.

You add, “Just because we are the only species that can interact with God…doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love our fellow animals, and that he hasn’t assigned the “lesser” animals worth also.  God may even be pissed that we have elevated ourselves too high above our fellow beasts.”

I completely agree.  And this is why, as Joan points out, it is hopeless to assign a “scale” to the relative “worth” of living creatures.  As the saying goes, the more I know of people, the more I love my dog.  LOL.

You add, “Maybe when ape evolved in to cave man, God saw fit to bestow us with a heightened sense of morality and self worth?”

As I have stated, I reject (though I cannot speak for Joan) the evolutionary psychology view that mankind’s “self-awareness” was the result of a “process,” no matter how long.  As stated, I believe that the moment at which the first hominid was able to think (if not speak) Descartes’ famous phrase was, in fact, the moment that God “saw fit to bestow us with” that self-awareness - and THROUGH that self-awareness a “heightened sense of morality and self-worth.”

You say, “No one can fathom the ultimate power of God…I submit that He chose the easiest way to create stuff – the big bang.  Why mess around with six days of work, when He could masterfully implement a plan that took less than a second?”

Bravo!  This is one of the best integrations of the scientific and Biblical views that I have ever read – i.e., that the “six days of creation” and the 13 billion years starting with the Big Bang are not mutually exclusive.  And it supposes (correctly) that, if there is a God - and if that God is outside of time, omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent – He would certainly have been able to “implement” His “master plan” in a single stroke.  Excellent.

Finally, you say, “I’ve oft wondered what the communication barrier between us was.  As an agnostic, I am able to entertain the possibility of a God.  As an immutable believer, you are powerless to entertain the possibility of a Godless Universe.  How can I possibly rebut your “transcendent experience”?

There is a famous quote from one of the “big five” in psychology (I forget which) that states this as axiom: that one can claim never to have had a mystical or transcendent experience, but one cannot deny the mystical or transcendent experiences of others.

I believe the important thing here is how that transcendent experience (in this case, an “immutable” belief in God) affects one’s view of the temporal world.  If a person becomes myopically dogmatic or doctrinaire – utterly ignoring physics, psychology, biochemistry, archeology, geology, etc. - then they deserve the criticism, and even opprobrium, of others.  However, if they do not lose all “rationality” and reason as a result of that belief, then they should be given the same intellectual and debative respect given to scientists and other rational empirical atheists.

In this regard, I believe that Joan and I have both shown that we…transcend our transcendent experiences and are no less intelligent, rational or reasonable than anyone else in this “lion’s den.”

Peace.

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By Maani, February 23, 2007 at 6:51 pm Link to this comment
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Keith:

You say, “There isn’t any ‘long run.’ The end of humanity as we know it is less than a generation into the future.”

On this I basically agree with you – though for significantly different reasons!!  LOL.

Peace.

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By Tebaldi, February 23, 2007 at 3:16 pm Link to this comment
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(Part 1)  Re:  Comment #54776 by Joan on 2/21 at 5:34 pm

Hello Joan.
 
Re:  “God had nothing to do with it. You do not accept what I tell you but this is how it was”
When did I indicate that I don’t accept this?

Re:  “what do you when reason and intellect give you several equally valid but very different or opposing moral directions…how do you choose???”
As I said, “You should subsequently use your philosophy to filter/check/focus.  The most important part of the process is inviting others to work out a solution and consideration of the ensuing discussion(s).” 
If you are still left with several equally valid moral directions (seems unlikely that more than three would remain after this process), then you point to one of the choices and start with “eeny”  then proceed to “meeny” followed by “miney”  and “moe”.  Seriously, if all three choices are equally moral, is it really going to make a difference? 
For example:  After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, we can’t decide who should take the risk – the Dr who risks his livelihood, or the patient who risks being in too much pain to live out the rest of his life (this is hypothetical so don’t freak out).  We’ve applied the golden rule, and determined that “do unto others” does not conclusively present the optimal choice.  Some one may loose regardless of our decision.  What we are left with then is two equal choices.  It’s not hard to choose, because both of them are “right”.

>>> I don’t see a clear difference between our methods of reaching a conclusion.  What is this rule book are you using that secular humanists don’t have access to?

Re:  “like now, your thinking I do not know what I am talking about…it is so typical.”
This is an inaccurate assumption.  I’m picking up what you’re laying down.  We have had discussions (mostly dealing with slugs) where we can’t fully understand each other’s reasoning, but this is not one of them.
The qualities that you lament womankind “loosing” are not missing as far as I can see.  They are not lost in you.  Nor are they lost in the important women in my life.  The movement did suppress these qualities but I think you overreact when you rant about the situation. 
You seem to yearn for yesteryear as if it were utopian.  I agree that many women had an equitable place in their home.  I agree that promoting women in the workforce had some negative consequences on the children.  I agree that women’s lib unfortunately resulted in a stigma placed on some feminine qualities, prompting the suppression of her individuality.  That being said, many women were under the yolk of oppression.  It was ok for a man to beat his wife.  There was (and still is to a lesser extent) an inequality.  The nation needed to be freed from the mindset; we needed a wake up call.  Something had to be done.  I won’t argue the specifics on the methods and agendas used to attain woman’s equality.  The point is that change was necessary.  Likewise, change is required to harmoniously assimilate the gay population.  At least agree to this so we can get back on subject. 

(Continued)

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By Tebaldi, February 23, 2007 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment
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(Part 2)  Re:  Comment #54776 by Joan on 2/21 at 5:34 pm


Re:  Re: Chimp to man
I think I had an epiphany.  **You can no more consider my argument valid than I can consider the sky being green.**  If you told me that the sky is green and referred me to a group of scientists who confirm this, I would cry B.S.  If I then polled everyone I knew and 30% of them, without any doubt, told me that indeed the sky is green, I would still not even consider the claim.  I don’t care how fancy the theory may sound, and what they are teaching in school; I know that the sky is blue.  Similarly, this is the knowledge you have of God.

You claim to not have all the answers but you certainly have an unshakeable knowledge of God.  Knowledge so complete, there is no room for “what ifs”.  “What ifs” are impertinent and senseless to you.  What is interesting is that instead of insisting on your truth, you allowed us to conduct inscrutable conversations (ooze/slug & chimp to man).  Doing so, you’ve earned my ear as well as my respect.  I’m unsure that we would have had the same conversations had you insisted on your truth from the onset.
I’ve oft wondered what the communication barrier between us was.  As an agnostic, I am able to entertain the possibility of a God.  As an immutable believer, you are powerless to entertain the possibility of a Godless Universe.  How can I possibly rebut your “transcendent experience”? 
I am genuinely impressed with your faith.  In retrospect, I suppose a person who had a modicum of doubt in his God, would avoid a lion’s den such as a Sam Harris web page.
The only question that lingers concerns motive.  Did you deliberately play down the “I know God exists and that’s final” talk?  Did you engage us for the purpose of fostering tolerance among the heretics?  If so, bravo madam.  If not, I guess it just worked out that way.  The downside to my epiphany is that we can no longer argue worth/ooze, or chimp/man. 

You wrote “Churches can be more diligent in teaching and insisting that we treat each other the way we want to be treated…
Alternatively, gay people need to understand their agendas and be clear about what they are demanding as far as legal changes and the limitations of legislating equality.”

Well spoken.  I couldn’t agree more. 

(Continued)

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By Tebaldi, February 23, 2007 at 3:12 pm Link to this comment
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(Part 3)  Re:  Comment #54776 by Joan on 2/21 at 5:34 pm

Re: “…and will not have my hand forced and do not see why you feel entitled to try to force it.”
Aw, that wasn’t so bad now, was it?  There was meant to be some levity in my inquiry, you’ve taken great offence at something rather jejune (so lighten up).  I was truly interested in what your response would be, though.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly didn’t expect what you wrote.  I felt out of place, and a little foolish when I proposed the scale to Maani (where is Maani anyway?), but I find myself queerly intrigued by it.
Besides, you’ve bugged the crap out of me with the ooze/slug argument, and now it’s my turn.  That’s what friends do.  I know this line of reasoning (or the lack thereof) wears on your patience, so I’ll only pose one question.  Thank you for responding.
>>>You wrote “Things have worth in the context of what it is worth to us”.  Do you suggest that animals are worthless sans a human to appreciate them?  (Does a tree that falls in the woods…)

I predicted that a believer would not place animals as high on the worth scale as Darwinians would.  You’re response seems to agree with this, but assigning a 100 to both dog and a human (potentially) perplexes me.  When you accept the ape to man theory, I propose that you tend to have more of an affinity with our fellow animals. 

Re:  “Being legal does not mean it is morally acceptable and I think this what gay people think they are accomplishing by insisting on marital recognition”

  The gay couple I know have iterated their reasons to me (in order of importance):  1.  to affirm each other’s love through an officially recognized ceremony   2. (and a distant 2nd at that)  to receive benefits that other couples have been afforded.  3.  to accelerate the assimilation of gays in society. 
They laughed when I asked if they wanted their behavior to be accepted as moral.  They recognize that many folks don’t accept their behavior as such and that a ceremony certainly won’t change that (conversely, it will just piss them off). 
This is the consensus of all the gay couples they know (some times 2 and 3 are reversed).   

Re: the “plight of homosexuals”
Definition of plight:  “a condition, state, or situation, esp. an unfavorable or unfortunate one”
It seems reasonable that I would attach this to homosexuals.  They suffer from prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. 
“Perceived animosity”??? are you serious?  Tell that to the guy that just got his face rearranged for stepping out of a gay bar.
You continue to suggest that our children may suffer from allowing gay unions.  What am I teaching my son when I’m outspoken on this subject?  Tolerance?  Equality?  Acceptance?  The inherent worth of all persons regardless of sexual orientation?  Do unto others?  I agree.  These are all pseudo values that I should not be imparting on my offspring. 
Conversely, if one chooses not to support gay equality, or chooses not to choose, then isn’t he guilty of contradicting his own values? 

If my son were gay, and he asked me to sign a petition in support of legislation for gay unions, how could I look him in the eye and say no? 

  I’m not pretending to be holier than thou, and I am certainly not judging.  Sorry for the cheap shots, just throwing it out there; as you are fond of saying, “thoughts, thoughts, thoughts” 

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

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By Joan, February 22, 2007 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

I don’t have any trouble with the thought of man evolving but I think creation and evolution were put into motion by God and I think that God had a hand in elevating the status of man. I believe that we are as likened to animals as we are to His image. These conclusions have nothing in particular to do with the Bible for me. Does that clear things up for you? I think in one of my recent posts I asserted that I did not believe in evolution sans the Creator. I do not have any problem with man evolving as described until we get to the quantum leap from animal to man. Here I think man was given a special puff of Divine Breath.

Joan

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By Maani, February 22, 2007 at 4:44 pm Link to this comment
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Keith:

You say, “There isn’t any ‘long run.’ The end of humanity as we know it is less than a generation into the future.”

On this I basically agree with you – though for significantly different reasons!!  LOL.

Tebaldi:

I would very much like to respond to a couple of your queries to Joan, as you seem to be getting closer and closer to MY views of certain things (though I cannot speak for Joan).

You say, “Are we taking credit away from God by suggesting that He didn’t step in during the evolution of the universe and add that which is man?  The creation of man (separate from the other animals) seems kind of anti-climatic considering the wonder and beauty of the universe, and all the intricacies involved in creating sustainable life.  Perhaps He knew that the creature who would emerge at the top of the food chain would be of great worth, and designed it as such from the get go.”

I have always agreed with (and stated so) the basic premise of Darwin’s theory: that species were not “specially created,” but were the result of the processes of random mutation and natural selection.  However, also as Darwin did, I believe that “life” was created by God (perhaps from the “primordial ooze,” but deliberately so), and that He “set in motion” the processes of evolution.  That humankind may have been “pre-planned” is a fabulous way of looking at it.

You add, “Just because we are the only species that can interact with God (that we know of), doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love our fellow animals, and that he hasn’t assigned the “lesser” animals worth also.  God may even be pissed that we have elevated ourselves too high above our fellow beasts.”

With this I also agree.  And this is why, as Joan points out, it is hopeless to assign a “scale” to the relative “worth” of living creatures.  As the saying goes, the more I know of people, the more I love my dog.  LOL.

You add, “Maybe when ape evolved in to cave man, God saw fit to bestow us with a heightened sense of morality and self worth?”

As I have stated, I reject the view of evolutionary psychology that humankind’s “self-awareness” or “self-consciousness” could have been the result of a “process,” no matter how long.  As stated, I believe that the moment at which the first hominid was able to think (if not speak) Descartes’ famous phrase was, in fact, the moment that God “saw fit to bestow us with” that awareness - and THROUGH that awareness a “heightened sense of morality and self-worth.”

Finally, you say, “No one can fathom the ultimate power of God.  If you will allow me to take further liberties, I submit that He choose the easiest way to create stuff – the big bang.  Why mess around with six days of work, when He could masterfully implement a plan that took less than a second?”

Bravo!  This is one of the best integrations of the scientific and Biblical views of creation I have ever read – i.e., that the “six days of creation” and the 13 billion years starting with the Big Bang are not mutually exclusive, and may very well be the same thing.  And it supposes (correctly) that, if there is a God - and if that God is outside of time, omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent – He would certainly have been able to “implement” His “master plan” in a single stroke.  Excellent.

Peace.

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By Joan, February 21, 2007 at 7:03 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 4

Being legal does not mean it is morally acceptable and I think this what gay people think they are accomplishing by insisting on marital recognition. I predict they will be disappointed. I wonder are they really willing to walk the walk of long-term intimate relationships or is gay marriage a catchall that is in their eyes a way to get rid of animosity and will it? If we do have civil unions, I believe ultimately if we open the door to gay marriage we will open the door to all kinds of civil unions/ contracts, between many types of consenting adults and that marriage, as we know it, will no longer be the bastion of social stability but just a religious service. Is this in anyone’s self interest?  With our politic and belief that egalitarianism is the answer to all social problems from feminism to education to the gay plight, whatever that maybe be,  we are weakening the structure of our society and harming our children. We do have civil unions in more and more states…and I hope there will be a lot of review of results but I am sure that will not happen. And we no longer even consider giving up what we want for the sake of the common good. We have even sacrificed our children’s well being to advance our personal agendas and this is problematic but who really cares???? Sadly having gay marriage may foster more animosity rather than allay it. And this ultra liberalism is for many a bona fide moral issue.  Now you will ask if it is for me and I do not know…I have lots of scattered thought. I believe all love is sacred but that does not mean we are free to live every love that comes along because it initially feels good without at thought to future harm to people. I honestly do not know if the gay lifestyle is morally acceptable but I have to guess that those who are involved in gay love have satisfied their own conscience and as I have asked before, what does a gay person care about what I think???  Alternatively, nature doesn’t promote homosexuality genetically…Why??? I surmise that you think that this answer is a cop out but after studying so many theories, I, and many philosophers, really live in the state of un- resolution and we wait and see. Do people really care anymore if what they do is morally acceptable???

I have found a reference about the lesser fortunes of children of divorced/single parents. You will have to check the archives of the Washington Post ...www.washingtonpost.com…search the author…Leah Ward Sears…”A Case for Strengthening Marriage”. She is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia.
Or I can mail a copy to you or anyone else, if you give me an address. Also try to find Child Trends, this is a nonpartisan research organization. Or check the new book “Reconceiving the Family”, Cambridge University Press. Or the Institute for American Values…All of these are referenced in the article…

Joan

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By Joan, February 21, 2007 at 6:57 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 3

What you call philosophical BS are theories or techniques in analysis I have spent a lot of time coming to understand or ideas that I have distilled over the course of my life. They are my positions and ways I would counter a position that I have come up with after a lot of work on my part. I see things differently than you do and will not have my hand forced and do not see why you feel entitled to try to force it. This is all I will give you in addition to what I have which you evidently dismissed…Things have worth in the context of what it is worth to us, in this case, what it is worth to me me. From 1- 100…for me a slug is a 0, for me a chimp is a 2, for me a human is worth anywhere from minus 0 to 100+, for me a dog, if it is not vicious, is 100+,  re: Trump, I have no idea.. I do not see things in the context of numerical worth…Maybe it’s a female thing like our general preference for words over numbers.

I am not sure what the homosexual plight is. I think gay people have been living together as they wish with no one throwing them out on the street or even bothering them. They have legal options to have their rights protected, wills and advanced directives. Insurance companies extend coverage to spouses and domestic partners including same sex partners. What is the plight here but the perceived animosity gay persons think they are subjected to? I personally know of no one who goes gay hunting or tries to hurt gay people. Women are subject to more perverse predators than gay people and always have been. Usually these predators are men. Should we outlaw all men? I think the plight is one that gay persons defined and marriage is the way in their eyes to fix all their feelings of persecution. But laws do not change the skepticism some people feel about the morality of the gay lifestyle. Churches can be more diligent in teaching and insisting that we treat each other the way we want to be treated…
Alternatively, gay people need to understand their agendas and be clear about what they are demanding as far as legal changes and the limitations of legislating equality.

Joan

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By Joan, February 21, 2007 at 6:39 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 2

Women’s lib …Re: the Honeymooners and Lucy…who do you think had the upper hand in the end…growing up the men I knew basically respected their wives and bickered with them… they had the upper hand at times and then the wives had the upper hand, as it is still today. One day she gave in and the next day he gave in…”give a little and take a little…that’s the story of, that ‘s the glory of love”… an old fashioned song.  …Check out some fifties’ and sixties’ movies …they depict some very strong females and they were not unusual…one- on –one, women very much held their own with men even though social institutions were certainly stacked against them …I think there has been a significant loss for women…I do not know how to weigh the positive and the negatives but yes, I do think other voices should have been heard and not resisted so much, like now, your thinking I do not know what I am talking about…it is so typical. Men like to be dominant and there is a reason for this. We may need this and its brother, aggression, in the world that may be on our horizon. Women are equally determined and aggressive when necessary, be assured of this, perhaps more so then men when they want to protect is threatened. Ever seen “Gone with the Wind” made in the thirties, I believe? But it is my final opinion that women need to get what they want in the context of being women. They should not have to forsake their biology or dignity. How is that respectful of women? And they got no choice as feminism was sold to them and promised them, if they are forced into a job market in lieu of their choice to stay home and raise their own children. I am not a pessimist. I do not think I am, anyway. I have lived long enough to realize that we all just do not live happily ever after. We live with errors, ours and others, a built in justice and education system of sorts. These errora come with a price.

Glad to hear you have manners…and there are many men who do…but I have seen the difference in the dating game as my daughters have had to deal with it and it is not always pretty. And I think men have lost too by having to forsake what is perhaps natural to them and not be sure who they are anymore and who they must be can change from woman to woman, depending on who they are involved with.

Joan

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By Joan, February 21, 2007 at 6:34 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 1

I settled on the Golden Rule after reviewing many other moral systems like utilitarianism, humanism, justice as fairness, the morally correct thing is what is virtuous (Aristotle)…selecting the Golden Rule was for me intuitive, it hit me as I was jogging that it seemed the best and easiest morality to apply for reasons I have already mentioned. Jesus was, as I understand it, not the first Jewish rabbi to promote this morality but he was the one who made it famous. God had nothing to do with it. You do not accept what I tell you but this is how it was. FYI, my connection to God has not all that much to do with seeing Him as the boss of what is right or wrong. As an adult I am equipped with a pretty good moral sense of it…I like God for daily His companionship and His advice or willingness to pitch in and help me with everyday tasks, His eagerness to share His powers with me, like making things including bringing forth life.

I realize we use our reason and intellect etc, to deal with moral conflicts but what do you when reason and intellect give you several equally valid but very different or opposing moral directions…how do you choose???

Re: Chimp to man…I answered you…I know from transcendent experience that we are made by Him and made likened to Him…I cannot transfer this experience to you …but I cannot acquiesce either…

Joan

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By Tebaldi, February 21, 2007 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment
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Joan, here’s what troubles me.  You have said that the Bible is a collection of stories, and have indicated that its contents should not be wholly accepted as the will and law of God.  If not the Bible, what prevents you from accepting the theory that man has evolved from ape? 

Allow me to postulate: 
>>> Are we taking credit away from God by suggesting that He didn’t step in during the evolution of the universe and add that which is man?  The creation of man (separate from the other animals) seems kind of anti-climatic considering the wonder and beauty of the universe, and all the intricacies involved in creating sustainable life.  Perhaps He knew that the creature who would emerge at the top of the food chain would be of great worth, and designed it as such from the get go. 
>>> Just because we are the only species that can interact with God (that we know of), doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love our fellow animals, and that he hasn’t assigned the “lesser” animals worth also.  God may even be pissed that we have elevated ourselves too high above our fellow beasts. 
>>> Maybe when ape evolved in to cave man, God saw fit to bestow us with a heightened sense of morality and self worth? 
>>> No one can fathom the ultimate power of God.  If you will allow me to take further liberties, I submit that He choose the easiest way to create stuff – the big bang.  Why mess around with six days of work, when He could masterfully implement a plan that took less than a second? 

Just some thoughts, Arrivederci - Tebaldi

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By Keith Henson, February 20, 2007 at 8:03 pm Link to this comment
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Joan wrote:

>Well, OK….Still hold to my position that a marriage free for all may not be in the best interest of our children

Heh.  Not certain about this, but I suspect that the future of sex involves the descendants of blow up dolls.

Reason is that evolution has left males and females with different ideals of what a good mate should be like.

>and hence the stability of our society in the long run

There isn’t any “long run.”  The end of humanity as we know it is less than a generation into the future.

Keith Henson

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By Tebaldi, February 20, 2007 at 2:44 pm Link to this comment
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(Part II)  Re:  Comment #54016 by Joan on 2/16 at 1:06 pm


Re:  Women’s lib
First, let me apologize for my poor choice of words; and I certainly wasn’t presuming that I am more of an authority on the subject.  I was just trying to get across that woman’s lib was a package deal; the unfortunate consequences don’t out-weigh the positive effect it has had on society. 
    I completely agree with what you wrote, although I must have had the same education as your daughters; I too was told (and shown) of the abject subjugation of women before the movement.  Are you suggesting that the Honeymooners, Leave it to beaver, and I love Lucy, were not an accurate cross-section of American society? 

You may be right.  Perhaps the good does not outweigh the bad.  I question if it could have happened another way, though.  I wonder if it would be possible to teach a society not to discriminate against women in the workforce without women taking on more of a male role.  Do you think that women could have retained their pre-movement demeanor / roles and enjoyed the same success?  Without an in-your-face, lead-by-example style remonstration, I suggest that the movement may have petered out.  Men can be primal; we tend to hang on to control until it’s forcefully removed (just ask a guy for the spatula at your next barbeque).

Re:  “…will not restore the dignity once accorded to women and the respect for their special biology. It is a shame but there is no going back.”

There’s that pessimistic attitude again.  I assure you, Madam, that chivalry is not dead.  Man will always revere women.  I ALWAYS offer my seat to the elderly/pregnant/etc. women.  I have ALWAYS been outspoken regarding the degrading lyrics of today’s music, and the way that some of the younger ladies degrade themselves.  The people’s morality is not commensurate with what’s on the TV/Computer.  I am living testament to counter your cynicism, and I am not alone in my views by any stretch of the imagination.

Re:  Worth Scale
I know that you’re used to giving, not receiving homework, so I’ll break it down for you again:  And don’t come back with your philosophical B.S. – just fill the darn thing out (please, thank you, and with all due respect).

On a scale of 0-100 a slug gets a ___.  A dog gets a ___.  A chimpanzee gets a ___.  Humans get a ___.  … and for extra credit - Donald Trump earns a ___.

Re:  Homosexual civil unions
So, what is your solution to the plight of our homosexual population?  I sense that, at a minimum, you are not an advocate of civil unions.

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

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By Tebaldi, February 20, 2007 at 2:40 pm Link to this comment
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Re:  Comment #54016 by Joan on 2/16 at 1:06 pm

Joan, sorry for the delay – long weekend.

If you don’t consider the golden rule to be part of “the divinity”, then what gives you the “command” which bolsters your decision making process more so than the humanist?  From whence to you derive your “code of action”?  Let me take a stab at the answer… God.  Ok, quite simply your God is my individual sense of morality.  And I guess this brings us back to our worth/ooze argument. 
You write, “secular humanism does not give people any moral rule”.  This is utter nonsense.  Humanism has been practiced for thousands of years and doctrine is virtually inexhaustible. The reason that it exists under a common name is because the folks who embrace it share a common mindset.  For many, it serves as a way if life.  You stop short of calling secular humanism ineffectual, but this is where you’re remarks are leading. 
I don’t mind your attack on humanism, I just don’t get how you can state that it gives us no rule when humanism is replete with doctrine that addresses morality.  The very premise of humanism gives the individual a moral guide.
Additionally, you put too much responsibility on philosophy; Reason, intellect, and my individual sense of morality derived from cultural and biological evolution (or God in your case) is where everyone’s moral code is derived.  Having a philosophical outlook (transcendentalism, egalitarianism, etc.) simply focuses the individual’s reasoning process.  This outlook also serves as a starting point, a filter, and a method of checks & balances.
I think, when faced with a moral dilemma, you should first attempt to divorce your self from all dogma, doctrine, and philosophy (admittedly impossible to achieve entirely) and objectively look at the situation.  Your primary tools should be your reason, intellect, and individual sense of morality.  You should subsequently use your philosophy to filter/check/focus.  The most important part of the process is inviting others to work out a solution and consideration of the ensuing discussion(s).

Re Re:  Chimp to man:
Man, you can be difficult!  I wasn’t asking for you to acquiesce (although for some warped reason I want you to).  I was asking if you see any holes in this logic: 
“I accept the premise of your position that God created man.  What prevents you from making a similar acquiescence?  Neither of us have unequivocal supporting arguments for our equally feasible positions.”

(continued)

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By Joan, February 18, 2007 at 6:07 pm Link to this comment
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Keith,

Well, OK….Still hold to my position that a marriage free for all may not be in the best interest of our children and hence the stability of our society in the long run…cannot comment on any situations in Tibet…

Joan

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By Joan, February 16, 2007 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 4

RE: what I have not addressed…your “either/ or” ethicist question is a lot like the doctor/ pain patient question…lots of questions come to mind, for instance what is the topic they are discussing??? Off hand, I really don’t know if I would prefer one to the other. Why would I? It has not been my experience that Christians have a profound respect for separation of church and state and do not attempt to impose personal religious beliefs on a public constituency with the glaring exception of the Bush administration which is at odds with I think the overwhelming majority of Christians who believe that Christ meant it when he said to separate Caesar’s business from God’s, exactly to avoid the horrors we see in theocracies today. Whoa! What a long sentence!! One would think I was German!!! So I do not see why I would, off hand, have a preference…I do not know what a brilliant humanist would be like.  I do not know how a humanist would respond because he has no real code of action… but all in all, I guess I would prefer centrists… I do not want ultra liberals imposing extreme measures on us on us either…

Re: biblical oscillation…I think my earlier remarks speak to your confusion…I do not see the Golden Rule as a biblical exhortation as much as a brilliant ethical directive compared to others I have studied…I see no reference or appeal to God in this insight…I generally do not appeal to the Bible for commands that I am to obey. I am not big on obeying but love a lot of assistance. I see Christ as a very world wise and slick thinker and I look at his ideas as good advice and clever understanding of how to function, measured against what I personally observe. I generally see the Bible as a book of adventures with God, some of the recordings are on track and some questionable…like the order to kill Isaac. I construe this story quite differently and think Abraham had a bad connection with Divinity that day…there is something of a dropped call there…I am hard pressed to advise someone to do something because the Bible just told you to do it. One has to see the wisdom there and make sense of what the Bible says, not just shut off his brain and behave mindlessly. If you grow to trust the wisdom, sometimes you take a chance on new advice and see how it plays out…my major tradition, Catholicism is a religion of reason and rules, with a tradition of scholarship that I think is not surpassed by any other Christian sect. Judaism is probably the only faith tradition that does more scholarly debate. Presbyterianism also my tradition is just one question after another about the written word. The Bible has adventure, wisdom, sex and mystery….and as far as its downside, any ideology can be bastardized…it is the people we need to point fingers at…no ideology per se is without danger in the hands of mankind. 

Re: ”worth scale”…are you referring to your post # 52502? I do think I am not getting it here. But I will give you what I have… Utilitarianism is an ethical system that argues that an action is morally correct if it brings the most happiness. Jeremy Bentham, a modern day British philosopher (not contemporary which is a different era) proposed this system of ethics. He actually attempted to do something like you did for his system by assigning weights of the amount of happiness our actions bring. It is an undoable task. Leave it to the British. His idea of weighting happiness parallels your of weighting the worth of a slug as opposed to a dog or man, etc.
If you are asking me about how I see myself in the grand scheme of things, I think I am nothing, like the slug. But Yahweh counters that I am everything to Him. And He treats me that way. So, go figure!

Joan

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By Joan, February 16, 2007 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 3

Women are of course the ultimate in sexuality and designed so by nature and her worthy agendas but there were once ways to acknowledge the sexual differences and keep us dignified and treasured for our precious sexy sexuality we are graced with instead of using it to degrade us with no opportunities and no money to be independent. We are now so publicly degraded that we no longer even raise an eyebrow. I am just to sit there while these pretty but starved women parade around in the company of the young men or any men that are at my home religiously observing the Yankees or the Giants, whatever…don’t get me started on men and young boys sitting on trains etc… in the presence of elderly or pregnant women…

Of course social change is necessary. We grow or we die. But we have the responsibility to be judicious. Like detached academics we are speaking here from a distance about how the market forces will respond to our social changes and they will. But I see the predicament of MY CHILDREN first hand and I do not like to see them pay the price for our folly. The sins of the father pass onto the children…sounds biblical, doesn’t it? Market forces will not restore the dignity once accorded to women and the respect for their special biology. It is a shame but there is no going back.

Joan

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By Joan, February 16, 2007 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi, 

Part 2

I lived through all of the current feminist movement, marching in my kelly green and white in support of the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment, “Equality of rights under the law cannot (shall not?) be abridged based (on account of? )on sex.” That’s all it said.), while pushing my oldest daughter in her baby stroller. It failed to pass so they had better ‘expletive deleted’ well not try to draft women. Or I will be marching again…YOU THINK “I” SHOULD HAVE BETTER APPRECIATION OF THE MOVEMENT …“I” WHO WAS PASSED OVER JOBS GIVEN TO MALE CONTERPARTS IN A MAJOR INSURANCE COMPANY OR WHO WAS THE ONLY FEMALE IN A PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT OTHER THAN THE SECRETARY. “I” WHO ATENDED FORUMS RUN BY G.STEINEM AND KATE MILLET THEMSELVES!!!! Interesting that you do not think I understand or appreciate the sisterhood well enough. Have you read ” The Bitch of the House” or “The Bastard on the Couch”? These are books written by a husband and wife duo that dissect problems with the feminist revolution or why are women who have it all are still so angry???? I would suggest that those of my generation who think the good outweighs the bad have just done a cursory analysis. And I contend this is why the pendulum is swinging away from the world that the feminists promised but did not deliver back to a more realistic and manageable lifestyle.  Women are not just men with different plumbing. If the louder feminist voices ever let scientists and different minded women discuss this, we women may get our needs as women addressed in realistic ways such that we can taste more of the world than previously but not disavow our extraordinarily beautiful biology and more natural inclinations as women without apology but with pride and a mutually presumed sense of equality. It is a man who makes a woman know how much she is uniquely a woman and her child if she is lucky enough to be mother, not a corporate title or a paycheck. I would hazard to guess that likewise it is a woman who most makes a man feel most like a man or understand the beauty of his maleness. Yet we have tried to eliminate sexual differences, make us the same. And the myths…If you think women of the fifties were shy and submissive just check out a few movies made then instead of the revisionist feminist history taught in colleges. I had to undo the hooey my daughters were taught about females. Watch” The Parent Trap “with Haley Mills or, here is one, given the upcoming Christian season… “The Ten Commandments “ with the incomparable Yul Bryner and listen to how submissive women were (especially, note the compliant little chat the queen of Egypt had with pharaoh after he released the Jews). We have lost a dignified sense of sexual difference and today women are depicted as sex objects as a matter of daily fare. I am sitting with my young son in law when V” Secret lingerie models come on and I am not too much a prude but I want my dignity and respect as a matriarch here left in tact. I am not a bimbo.  We are no longer even allowed to look like mature female adults but are supposed to look like 80 pound “trampy” adolescents the rest of our lives, miniatures like “Barbie” dolls instead of females that look males eye to eye with the physique that looks quite dominant too (See Maureen O‘Sullivan in “”Parent Trap”.  PLEEEASSSSSSE…all we needed was equal pay and no more job discrimination based on sex. Women are more sex objects than I can ever remember and that is what was supposed be played down, not keeping us as mere as sex objects.

Joan

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By Joan, February 16, 2007 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 1

Position statement: In my posts I am evaluating ideas, i.e. what we buy into if we accept a certain position or ethic etc. and what logically follows from a given position. I am not making judgments about people because they believe something.

Very well done on the doctor/ pain patient problem…with ethical dilemmas there are a lot of questions…and the diligent moral agent attempts to answer them but the way this often plays out is that we have to make a moral decision somewhat blindly, without all the answers we may want to have… here is where a simple directive that claims being moral is merely a function of treating another the way you want to be treated gives you a guideline about how to decide what to do. The Golden Rule is a basic tenet of Christianity but I do not consider it to be about Divinity, which is the sense that I take you to mean by biblical. For me,it is a secular morality with no appeal to Divinty but happens to be a tenet of Christianity, a very basic one. But it is unlike the first major command of Christ, which is to love God. That to me is now about a Divinity or biblical. So perhaps this clears up an equivocation we are having. Many people believe in the validity of and practice the Golden Rule without practicing any faith. It is discussed in and of itself in ethics sans any connection to the Bible, as does Harris in his works. This is how I am discussing it here.

Yes, my point is that unlike other ethical systems, secular humanism does not give people any moral rule or general guideline to follow so that we know we are being moral, especially in the case of a thorny moral conflict. Do I think you are not an upstanding moral agent? Not what I think. I don’t make any assumptions about your personal moral behavior. How could I possibly? I am debating ideas for the sake of following through on the consequences of these ideas. Again, however, what do you care what other people think?  And you have already answered me.

Thank you for your efforts to have faith based persons recognized as rational persons. We are as analytical as thethe next person and there is a lot of faith behavior among scientists.

RE: Darwinism…I stand by my position because I think my interpretation is a standard interpretation of Darwinism, not one peculiar to me. I have never heard of any scientific support for us being of a different substance than that of the general primordial ooze or soup out of which all were begotten… no caveats until our distinct ooze is explained or identified. I fully realize human beings are qualitatively different from slugs. The quandary… how is it so? This is the mystery.

Re: Chimp to man…I do not really follow but that you are willing to say that in order to accept Darwin, you are willing to make some kind of leap of faith within the context of his theory that it will explain eventually the leap from chimp to man and you think I make a leap of faith in believing that God breathed a spark of Divinity into man and that for me this explains the leap from chimp to man. Have all the faith in Darwin you want. My experience with God per se is such that to me it is not a leap of faith but He is like us and without His breath we are not what we are. Beyond that I am not sure what kind of acquiescence you want of me. It is sort of new to me that you feel that if you concede to something that I, based on your acquiescence, also should concede to something. I feel a little like Mr. Spock here.

Joan

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By Keith Henson, February 15, 2007 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment
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Joan wrote

>I see Bunker’s assertion allowing that there maybe be evidence but to believe in it is nutty…just my read there…this is significant to me with respect to you position that memes are known through there effects and I counter so is God…but maybe there is no real issue in the context we are in at this point in time….

I don’t think there is, your (Bunker’s) definition of faith sounds reasonable to me.

>I don’t believe in our egalitarian hungry society that social policy reasons will override the push for all marriage forms once we open the door to alternative marriage styles…and if we people do push in this direction, I predict as confidently the sun rising tomorrow, there will be a strong push with many new political lobbyists like the gay movement established to institutionalize other marriage styles and we will have no way to deny these interests once gay marriage opens the door.

For most of them, who cares?  It makes zip difference to me that my doctor married her long time lesbian partner (in Canada).

But with respect to monogamy, even if it incidentally is a way to limit women’s choices, it is probably a good idea to ban polygamy.  On the other hand, if the US is going to lock up half the black males in the marriage market, maybe the ones left should be permitted to take multiple wives.  It might improve things in that community.

>It seems to me that the female taking several husbands addresses your concerns to a tee…many males married, fewer children and an easier financial situation is always a plus…

Not at all.  The Tibetians were doing this out of dire necessity as their alternative to birth control.  The plots of land they lived on were too small to survive on it they broke them up.  The surplus women got shipped off to nunneries.  The participants told researchers that the mode of marriage was difficult to maintain.

>and then there is group marriage maybe then women’s concerns about not being able to hold jobs outside the home as there could be several moms some with children and others who held more fulfilling jobs. One big, happy family of sorts.

Our evolutionary background does not lend itself to this kind of family.  (Being a Heinlein fan, that’s unfortunate as far as I am concerned.)  It’s a topic that is well researched.  I can find you URLs if you want to read them.

>I am serious; expect challenges once gay marriage is accepted. It is interesting to me that folks support gay marriage but not polygamy…what about all of this equality???

See above.

>Social changes always bring unexpected results…

Snip (yes)

>Re: transhumanism… I am thinking here about the human spirit being able to transcend biology

Snip

That’s the idea.

Keith Henson

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By Tebaldi, February 15, 2007 at 10:36 am Link to this comment
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(Part II) Re:  Comment #53661 by Joan on 2/14 at 5:29 pm

Re:  “I generally am skeptical of fooling around too much with the basic foundations of our society”
Your post to Keith gave me a better sense of where you’re coming from on this.
Having lived through (part of) the women’s lib movement, I would think that you should have a greater appreciation for the progress made therein.  Through conversations with persons of your generation, the general consensus is that they would never turn back the clock pre-women’s lib.  They too recognize the complications generated by this social change, but consider the good to out-weigh the bad. 
  I previously referenced the text, “Marriages and Family” (Lamina & Reidmann).  They also conclude that there is a trend towards women moving back to traditional roles.  Society recognizes when questionable changes have been made, and through cultural evolution, we “fix” them.
    These “social experiments” as you call them carry a negative connotation.  It conjures visions of white coat government scientists in a lab injecting lab rats.  From a different perspective, we could label it a “social change”, and change is good (right?).  Living in stagnation is comfortable, but not always the best choice for society.  I liken society to a company.  If you’re not changing, you’re dying. 
I suggest that shaking things up a bit is healthy for us.  We are extremely resilient; the occasional bad decision will be identified, corrected, and life presses on.  In order to reach the fruit of a tree, you have to go out on a limb.  Think about all the major changes our founding fathers made that affected society.  The Constitution, the Bill of Rights, subsequent amendments to the Constitution, The Federalist Papers etc.  All of these were a form of “social experimentation”.  Change (et al) is what made our country great.
Incidentally, sometimes regression is a positive direction (regression is change too). 
You made an excellent point when you said that the economy has changed to make it difficult for single income families to live.  This is a natural economic reaction to societal change.  Note, however, that the economy reacts to societal change, not the other way around (in this case).  If we, as Lamina & Reidmann suggest, choose to revert back to single income families, the economy will adjust accordingly. 

>>>> Joan, you haven’t addressed some of my comments/questions from previous posts.  As your opinions are valuable to me, I hope that you will entertain them.

>>.  If you had a choice between a brilliant humanist, and an intelligent Christian, who would you rather have on your ethics committee?
>> Re:  “Christianity gives you a command that anyone can identify with and understand.”
I assume these commands are derived from the Bible.  If so, you oscillate between “the bible is a collection of stories” and “the bible commands us to live by these rules”. 
>> Finally, I’m still waiting for the “worth questionnaire” with bated breath.  As this is my third request, I would like for you to comply or tell me that you refuse to humor me.

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

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By Tebaldi, February 15, 2007 at 10:35 am Link to this comment
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Re:  Comment #53661 by Joan on 2/14 at 5:29 pm

Hello Joan, you’re belated post caused me to think that you might have given up on me.  Glad to have received your response.


Re:  “Still wondering how humanism resolves the doctor/ pain patient dilemma.”
I addressed this in my previous post.  I’m not sure what is unclear from my response.  If you want ME to work out a solution to this, I need more information.  Is there a legal amount of opiates that can not be exceeded?  How upstanding is the good doctor’s reputation?  What are the potential results of the DEA inquiry?  What are the odds that the inquiry will be initiated?  Can Marijuana relieve the pain, or does it require an opiate?  Has this Dr been hassled before by the DEA, and if so, what was the outcome?  Are there other doctors in the area that could produce the desired results?  At this point I have more questions than answers. 

I think the point you’re trying to make here, is that I don’t have a “commanding” foundation for resolving ethical dilemmas.  Do you feel that you hold “do unto others” closer to your heart than I?  If so, how can you make such an assumption? 

Re:  “we are not given credit for being rational were the credit is due” 
I agree.  Through our posts, I hope that my fellow non-believers will recognize, as I always have, that believers are not the adversary.  You and I are not so different, nor do we threaten each other’s way of life.  We are, after all, made from the same primordial ooze (sorry, I had to slip that one in there).

Re:  “Darwinism does not logically support secular humanism.” 
Reword this, “According to my logic (and stubbornly discarding other’s logic), Darwinism does not support secular humanism.”

Re: Chimp to man
I’ve argued from quarks/gluons all the way to modern human cultural evolution.  I went into great detail in my response to Maani’s post (Comment #52588). This is not something I can explain indisputably.  You have to make some leaps of faith to traverse the holes in the evolution theory (as opposed to the one big leap of faith that I must make).  Again, I accept the premise of your position that God created man.  What prevents you from making a similar acquiescence?  Neither of us have unequivocal supporting arguments for our equally feasible positions.

(Continued)

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By Joan, February 14, 2007 at 6:40 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 2


I am married 30+ years and there were very rough times and I wondered if I should get divorced. And I saw my husband with my daughters and their joy together and I knew immediately what Christ meant when he said we are not supposed to separate what God joins together. That love I saw is not to be broken apart without breaking the people themselves. A marriage is a work of art, toiled on over a life time and you have to live it through its ups and downs to bring it to maturity, the benefit you get from riding it out. As a partner in your marriage God gives you and your spouse lessons needed to live with one another over the course of the marriage. These lessons are not learned in a matter of a few years.  Statistics indicate that children of single parent/divorce are more likely to be less financially well off than their counterparts, use more drugs and have higher rates of dropping out of school and more trouble with the law. I read this over and over in newspapers. I have learned also from articles that the premise that children are better off in divorce than in a family that has some fighting is not true. It was an untested premise sold as true. Guess why? A psychologist told me this over a decade ago and she is one I trust. Then I too read it. I cannot tell you my sources because I had no reason to document this. But I am sure if you poke around you will find some verification of my assertions.

Of course no one should be discriminated against. But in the case of dealing with discrimination against women there are some measures that have backfired. Equal pay for equal work and no sex discrimination on the job were very appropriate measures. To avoid redundancy, please see last post to Keith for expansion, (#53575, paragraph 4).

We no longer need to bear a child. Childbearing is by preference today. Once there is a child in the picture we surrender certain freedoms in order to care for a child. A child is entitled to that because that sacrifice is needed to prepare him as much as possible for a very demanding world. And a child is entitled to the best upbringing. It is about the child now. It is to our great disadvantage to shortchange the upbringing of our children for our further personal aggrandizement because we are discounting the stability of our future. We surely will ultimately pay for not having given our children our full attention. They are already paying. In nature we notice that the offspring that are not close to the parent are the ones most easily picked off by predators or the harsh elements of the environment. So too it is for human children, for instance there is a correlation between the number of meals a family eats together and drug abuse. The more meals the less abuse.

Despite all the support for equality and the demand for recognition of different marriage styles, I see no male endorsements of polygamy practiced by women. What does that tell you about the male ego? Men still have power over all the major social, political and religious institutions and there has never been the practice of females as polygamists. Need I say more about the male ego? Personally, I can fully understand why. But in an egalitarian society there may be no stopping it, if we open the door to different marriage styles.  I see nothing in the arguments for gay marriage that cannot be used to support polygamy, group marriage or God only knows what…after all, it is between consenting adults who love each other and how can we deny them?

Joan

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By Joan, February 14, 2007 at 6:29 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 1

I write as clearly and directly as I know how to write. I am not intentionally trying to condescend to anyone and I most certainly do not want to personally hurt anyone’s feelings. But I feel that I am entitled to my viewpoints. I do not ever expect to convince someone to believe in God. I feel I have neither the capability to convert someone nor the inclination do so. I do argue and am professionally trained to do so. I like it. I am not a Christian ethicist but a formally trained ethicist and personally use many ethical systems to do an analysis but I find the Golden Rule a very successful one because it does not require one have any absolute truth, just doing what you want another to do for you is adequate enough to say you have done the right thing morally. Yes, that means there will be different answers to dilemmas for different people. There is nothing biblical about this except that Jesus of Nazareth popularized this ethic. It makes no appeal to God for rightness or wrongness of a given act. I made no appeals to God or the Bible in any analysis but the quantum leap from chimp to man. Still wondering how humanism resolves the doctor/ pain patient dilemma.

I have admittedly little patience left for what I see as the double standard on this post. Those who purport that science will explain all and believe themselves to be impeccably logical feel justified in chiding faith- based people for their non rational beliefs. But if a faith based person demonstrates logically that there is faulty reasoning with the idea that science is the alpha and omega such as Darwinism does not logically support secular humanism as an ethic, we are not given credit for being rational were the credit is due. Or what we say is distorted. We do not appeal to God but for one instance only. As Maani stated, we only claim that God places His spark in man and that accounts for the quantum leap from chimp to man, something Darwinism fails to explain and may never explain. Neither Maani nor I nor any other faith- based people I know appeal to God for explanations and we fully respect the endeavors of science. We are stereotyped and positions are projected on us that we do not maintain.

Darwinism states essentially that we are all of the same primordial ooze. Secular humanism claims man has intrinsic worth. There is no explanation in Darwinism that I am aware of that accounts for the position maintained in secular humanism. I personally would find it difficult to reconcile these two opposing positions. I like, even as a faith- based person, a modicum of logical consistency. This is one reason I support Darwinism with the caveat that God got the ball rolling.  Like for you…where did the stuff come from?


I generally am skeptical of fooling around too much with the basic foundations of our society, like heterosexual marriage with little divorce. I believe easy divorce has had a devastating effect on our children as has the exodus of mothers from mothering to perform so- called more fulfilling work. I see gay marriage opening the door to many marriage forms that cannot be denied out of fairness should gay marriage be institutionalized. And what I see is a big question mark as to the long-term stability of these new ways of life and hence the stability of our children’s home life, not that gay people per se are bad to children on a case-by- case basis.  Never said that at all.

Joan

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By Joan, February 14, 2007 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment
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Keith,

I see Bunker’s assertion allowing that there maybe be evidence but to believe in it is nutty…just my read there…this is significant to me with respect to you position that memes are known through there effects and I counter so is God…but maybe there is no real issue in the context we are in at this point in time….

I don’t believe in our egalitarian hungry society that social policy reasons will override the push for all marriage forms once we open the door to alternative marriage styles…and if we people do push in this direction, I predict as confidently the sun rising tomorrow,
there will be a strong push with many new political lobbyists like the gay movement established to institutionalize other marriage styles and we will have no way to deny these interests once gay marriage opens the door. 

It seems to me that the female taking several husbands addresses your concerns to a tee…many males married, fewer children and an easier financial situation is always a plus…and then there is group marriage maybe then women’s concerns about not being able to hold jobs outside the home as there could be several moms some with children and others who held more fulfilling jobs. One big, happy family of sorts. I am serious; expect challenges once gay marriage is accepted. It is interesting to me that folks support gay marriage but not polygamy…what about all of this equality???

Social changes always bring unexpected results…the feminist movement had some very serious unintended side effects such as housing predicated on 2 incomes so women cannot stay home and raise their own children if they want to live in decent homes OR women pressured to work outside the home if they are to be considered acceptable but they windup doing that and also most of the housework and child rearing and many are now enslaved and exhausted to identify a few. With feminism as it was defined and played out, ironically my 2 twenty-something daughters may not live nearly as well as I have. All that was necessary was equal pay and the end to sex discrimination per se. Women have different needs than men and should not have been pushed to be men. Men and women are equal but not the same. Equal does not automatically mean the same. Women pushed for change with these untested theories that men would equally share house work or childrearing and notions of quality time and really quality en masse daycare. All of this did not really pan out as expected. Then there is Megan’s Law which now is resulting in sex offenders clustering in the only zones they can find to live in given their restrictions. How good is this? Yes, I am skeptical about our social engineering, especially with respect to heterosexual marriage because it is the bedrock of our community’ stability and we have been slowly chipping away at it with easy divorces and absent parenting in the name of adult gratification and equality and these will trump social policy reasons that you refer to every time in America. It is a function of our law and our political beliefs.

Re: transhumanism… I am thinking here about the human spirit being able to transcend biology be it what we get from birth or what we get through science…if we are just determined like water boiling at 100 degrees C, then we are in fact just biologically determined and that is a great fall in our status…to me there is no point to the game. It is moot then. The randomness and chaos of our human behavior has been what makes humans defy the determinism necessary for hardcore science. It sets humanity apart from the deterministic nature of science. We make judgments. If those judgments are biologically determined or necessary due to brain function or chemistry, we are again nothing remarkable and probably need to come down off our high horse.

Joan

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By A.L., February 13, 2007 at 9:57 pm Link to this comment
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Maani,
I broad stroked nothing, I fully understand you did not mean scientific proof for everything. The context to which you spoke was obvious. So too was my response.

““You made this comment about one particular thing: the ability to be self-aware and “self”-conscious - and KNOW that one is so.””

Are you saying that the ability to be self aware is divine in humans? Or is it our self awareness that simply drive us crazy when confronted with our own historical creation?

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By Keith Henson, February 13, 2007 at 8:36 pm Link to this comment
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Joan wrote:

>I like Archie Bunker’s definition of faith which is not as you cite…believing in something for which there is no evidence. That actually causes a lot of epistemological problems such as how can you believe in something you have no knowledge of or information about?

>Bunker says “Faith is believing in something that no one in their right mind would believe”.

That’s close enough to what I said.

>Re: styles of marriage. From my scant knowledge on the subject, nature reflects a number of mating styles …

Snip

If you just consider human mating styles there is considerable variation.  You left out one, Tibetan fraternal polyandry. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyandry_in_Tibet

snip

>There were no same sex situations that I am aware of. All styles were intended to procreate.

Indeed.  All of them had the function of raising children.  Now, given the problems of extremely large populations, perhaps family units that tend to produce few if any children are a good idea.

>I will see about the Wright book and maybe peruse it.

Good.

Snip

>So I probably would agree that polygamy practiced only by males is highly unsuitable as a style of marriage for women.

If I remember correctly, Wright argues that being a second (or nth) wife to a rich man is a better deal than being the only wife of a very poor man.

>But in our egalitarian society, once the door is opened to alternative marriage styles, I believe we don’t have leg to stand on legally to allow same sex marriage and to deny polygamy, either practiced by men or women. I am just following the logic here.

While I agree with you at the logic level, there are good social policy reasons to permit the relatively rare same sex partnerships and very much discourage wide spread polygamy.  The reason is that unpaired males tend to be a danger to society.

>RE: the sort of discussion about man, biology and faith…. I just want to say a little something here too. I wholeheartedly believe that we have a brain chemistry and brain function that accounts for certain behaviors.

At least for the statistical tendency toward certain behaviors.  Nothing is certain.

>But it would for me be sad day if we came to conclude that humanity does not at will transcend that chemistry.

You should look into transhumanism. 

>If we don’t transcend it, we are just determined

Determinism is outmoded.  Statistically we may see determinism in large groups, but in individuals there is a large element of random or chaos.

>as is any other scientific reaction and with that idea comes our downfall maybe more of a downfall than the biblical so-called fall of Adam. Afterwards, he was at a least man, still transcendent of his physical make up or brain chemistry. Utterly determined by chemistry and biology, humanity is nothing, and all that we credit ourselves of is wiped away. It was never of our doing and that would be very sad for us. I personally think we transcend our brain biology perhaps because of the health challenges I have had. At times I have had to tell myself that black is white and then make it so.

You *really* should look into transhumanism or the extropians.  Not the squabbling political groups involved, but the philosophy.

Keith Henson

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By Joan, February 13, 2007 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment
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Keith,

Again on the argument for monogamy, if my memory serves me correctly, In ”Marriage and the Family”, a short book by the incomparable Bertrand Russell, he argues that monogamy is again a male favored state of marriage because the men did not want to be paying for raising another man’s offspring and hence their attempt to control women and their sexuality.

Joan

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By Joan, February 12, 2007 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

I am speechless or need to write volumes to respond…but I feel like I should post something until I get my bearings back. My sense is that I post and you run with it in so many directions…let me see what I can do…re: state Supreme Court’s acting capriciously. I took a case upline to our state Supreme Court and I saw a little bit of how the game is played…there are so many “amicus” briefs filed by all sorts of vested interests often with money that the average citizen cannot hope to counter them…

More to come…

Oh, to confuse the issue more, the elderly aunts did not have a child but were family aged 90+.

I make no judgments of your personal situation about divorce. My comments are in general or an overview. Please accept them in that light.

I wear mules, no place for switchblades. If I say you win, it is not a statement of an eternal state of affairs…just the state of affairs of that moment in time. It’s not like there are any prizes being given out.

Joan

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By Joan, February 12, 2007 at 6:05 pm Link to this comment
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Keith,


I like Archie Bunker’s definition of faith which is not as you cite…believing in something for which there is no evidence. That actually causes a lot of epistemological problems such as how can you believe in something you have no knowledge of or information about?

Bunker says ”Faith is believing in something that no one in their right mind would believe”.

Joan

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By Joan, February 12, 2007 at 5:56 pm Link to this comment
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Keith,


Let me address 2 points.

Re: styles of marriage. From my scant knowledge on the subject, nature reflects a number of mating styles ….polygamy (sea lions or walruses?), monogamy (penguins) and love’em and leave’em promiscuity and perhaps others. There were no same sex situations that I am aware of. All styles were intended to procreate. Polygamy interestingly enough was hardest on the male who had to fight off suitors time and again over a life time because there were not enough females for all the males to have a harem. So while their dear husbands fought to keep them, the females lay around filing their nails and exchanging recipes. Eventually the male was overthrown through battle and a younger bull took over the harem usually then the old bull was isolated and died off. Sounds pretty sad to me. The females seemed very indifferent too. Many males never mated.

I will see about the Wright book and maybe peruse it. Right off the bat though I have a long time ago realized that monogamy is the safest and most dignified marriage form for women until there was mass education available for both men and women. Until monogamy with little divorce insisted on by religion, women were still pretty much horse traded and killed off if unsuitable in other parts of the world and it is very much the same today in those regions that do not practice Christianity( See ” The Bookseller of Kabul” by Asne Seierstad). Essentially there polygamy is the way to achieve upward mobility and so is female virginity. So I probably would agree that polygamy practiced only by males is highly unsuitable as a style of marriage for women. But in our egalitarian society, once the door is opened to alternative marriage styles, I believe we don’t have leg to stand on legally to allow same sex marriage and to deny polygamy, either practiced by men or women. I am just following the logic here.

RE: the sort of discussion about man, biology and faith…. I just want to say a little something here too. I wholeheartedly believe that we have a brain chemistry and brain function that accounts for certain behaviors. But it would for me be sad day if we came to conclude that humanity does not at will transcend that chemistry. If we don’t transcend it, we are just determined as is any other scientific reaction and with that idea comes our downfall maybe more of a downfall than the biblical so-called fall of Adam. Afterwards, he was at a least man, still transcendent of his physical make up or brain chemistry. Utterly determined by chemistry and biology, humanity is nothing, and all that we credit ourselves of is wiped away. It was never of our doing and that would be very sad for us. I personally think we transcend our brain biology perhaps because of the health challenges I have had. At times I have had to tell myself that black is white and then make it so.

Joan

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By Tebaldi, February 12, 2007 at 3:12 pm Link to this comment
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Re:  Comment #53005 by Joan on 2/11 at 2:48 pm

Re:  Secular humanist ethicist.
For the life of me, Joan, I can’t see why you’re resisting me on this.  I have a pretty good idea that you argue for argument’s sake.  Confess.  You honestly don’t have a problem with secular humanism.  If you had a choice between a brilliant humanist, and an intelligent Christian, who would you rather have on your ethics committee?
Re:  “We do not live in a vacuum of thought”
Obviously.  However, dogma prevents some points of view from being considered (Abortion, stem-cell research, etc).  It also assumes certain “rules” as more imperative than others.
As I was wading through the initial condescension in your post, I came across my first speaking point.  You state, “…secular humanism, which admittedly is full of “warm fuzzies” but does not tell you what to do to in a face-off.”
Do your rules tell give you the end-all answers?  Out of 100 Christians, how many different answers will you get using the golden rule?  Does everyone want to be treated the same way? 
Humanists believe in the dignity and worth of all humans.  How would a humanist address an ethical dilemma without consulting the golden rule, Confucius’ version, “What you do not want done to you, do not do to others” or Oscar Wilde’s “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live”?  It is inferred that if I believe that I have dignity, then I would want to test the solution on me to know if the solution will uphold the dignity of others (via the golden rule).  I’m sure Jesus doesn’t mind us secular humanists adopting his guidance.
You imply that, as a Christian ethicist, you are issued a complete set of divine rules (bound in a handsome leather cover), ordained by God, and infallible.  Given a scenario, you reference it in an easy-to-use schematic, and BAM!  You have the right answer. 
You go oscillate between “the bible is a collection of stories” and “the bible commands us to live by these rules”. 
Nobody’s “begging up their hands” over here.  If I were an ethicist, I imagine that I would adopt several different “rules” that I found to be most effective in solving ethical dilemmas.  They may be different than another humanist’s.  Why does that bother you?  I could see if you were to hire an anarchist ethicist, you might have reason for concern; don’t worry about us, we dig humanity.  We want to see it blossom.  I’m sure that two different Secular Humanist Ethicists can have two distinct set of rules (although we can assume that many of the rules will overlap), and still come up with the same answer, or as you say, “the right answer”.
Finally, I’m sure that you are forced to “bend” you’re rules in certain ethical dilemma’s.  You present them as indestructible. 

As I went back to prepare for publication, I noticed that I came across as rather callous.  I’m to lazy to edit it, so I’ll just offer my apologies instead

I hope that the “worth questionnaire” I proposed is forthcoming. 

Yours truly,  -Tebaldi

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By Keith Henson, February 12, 2007 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment
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Joan wrote:

>Re: the epilepsy question… I thought you were going to say Christianity given the light flash that struck Saul of Tarsus and led to his subsequently becoming a major architect of organized Christian theology. I have read that a light flash was a symptom of epileptic seizures and that this was one account of Paul’s experience. So…but I don’t know if that theory ever went anywhere…a lot of people have seizures and don’t convert to Christianity…or end up in anyway acting like Paul.

There has been speculation along that line for decades.  I didn’t discuss it because the evidence one way or the other is too sparse.  But for the founders of Christian Science and Seventh-day Adventists the historical evidence they suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy is pretty good.

Maani wrote:

>I cited you - “In the not so distant future, the contribution of genes to such features as the “religious” parts of the temporal lobe will be understood” - and asked, “‘Will be?’ Do you know this to be an absolute certainty?  Or do you have…faith (in science) that it ‘will?’ You see your dilemma here?” You then responded that “All parts of all animals are the result of genes.  The temporal lobe is not expected to be an exception.”

>“Not expected to be…” But what if it is? 

I would be delighted.  There is something in human psychological make up that longs for the supernatural.  Alas, I don’t hold out any hope.  I think we are going to have to make do with the physical world as we find it.

>Do you see how you move from one “faith”-based phrase - “will be” - to another, “Not expected to be?”

Is it faith to expect the sun to come up tomorrow?  Is it faith to expect next year’s computers to be better than the current ones?  Is it faith to expect the Neanderthal genome will be reconstructed?  (It’s partly done already.)

>And while you may or may not be correct - only time will tell, you neither of us may be around when the answer appears (or does not) -

My father lived to be 25 years older than I am now.  I don’t know your natural life expectancy, but given the accelerating rate of scientific understanding, that should be plenty of time for temporal lobe wiring to be understood.

>your continued use of “hopeful” phrases as “factual” phrases weakens your position, and continues to prove that “science” is as much about faith as “faith” is…

To me, faith in the religious sense is to believe in something where there is no evidence at all for it.  There is (in my opinion) an awful lot of evidence that science is up to the task of understanding the physical world including such things as brain lobe functions.

Now I fully admit that I could be just wrong about this.  So you could say my faith in the ability of science to understand the world around us is weak because it could be crushed with evidence to the contrary.

But I haven’t seen that evidence yet.

Keith Henson

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By Keith Henson, February 12, 2007 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment
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Joan wrote

>Tuesday night @ 9 or 10 EST on Primetime (ABC)they will be talking to polygamists…after permitting gay marraige, are all marriage forms to be accepted??? This my question…I do not know the angle that Primtime will feature…the important thing is that it is being featured and I am sure we will hear that their children are not fazed either by the polygamy…

You might want to locate a copy of _Moral Animal_ and read what Robert Wright has to say about monogamy.  Legally restricted monogamy is the unusual state for humans.  Permitted polygamy was and is much more common in a count of human cultures, though most marriages in those cultures are in fact monogamous. 

It has been too many years since I read the book to reconstruct his argument in detail, but as I recall, Wright presented it as an agreement between men that had the effect of making men better off and women worse off.

Wright’s argument was unique in my reading and I wonder what your take on it might be.

Keith Henson

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By Tebaldi, February 12, 2007 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment
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(part 2)  Re:  Comment #52724 by Joan on 2/09 at 2:07 pm


Re:  Gay civil unions   I think that I get your point.  I may be putting words in your mouth, but this is the straight-forward answer I was looking for:  “I fear that homosexual marriage will lead to increased level of children with homosexual parents.  Since there is no long-term study on the effects on children in this setting, we are gambling with their well-being.”
If this is accurate, I wish you would just be more succinct in the future.  As I’ve stated before, my intellectual capacity is limited.  Also (if I’m on the mark), I’d like to formally retract my phobia accusation and pardon you from therapy. 
I sense that you were avoiding coming out and saying this matter-of-factly.  While I can appreciate that you are avoiding misrepresentation, I can assure you that (I think) your’s is a perfectly reasonable argument.  Ironically, it seems that in your quest to avoid misrepresentation, I misrepresented you - based on my (incorrect) assumptions and your penchant for obfuscation (and my limited attention span). 
I perceive that the worst-case scenario here will not be the tragedy you fear.  I will allow for you to be apprehensive about the APA, but you can’t just wholly dismiss it.  Surely they can’t be COMPLETELY wrong?  If there are issues with kids of homosexual partners, I predict that they will be manageable.  Have some faith in our ability to do the right thing; you would be hard-pressed to meet anybody who is not a staunch advocate for the children.  In the meantime, look at what steps we will have taken towards a more tolerant and equitable society.


Re:  Women rights
I get that the rights that women were fighting for are not necessarily the best thing for a family.  Are you suggesting that equal rights was, generally a bad direction for our society to take?  Just because you have the right to do something, doesn’t mean you should do it.  There are a percentage of women who don’t have children, have a stay-at-home husband, or have reached a healthy balance between their work and children.  It would be a travesty for these women not to have the opportunity to realize their dream.  Further (and I don’t have to tell you), women rights were not just about women in the work force.  It was a long over due statement against prejudice and all forms of discrimination.  It was ripping free from the subjugation of men and shouting “I am woman, hear me roar!”
Ok, that last part was a little cheesy, but you get my point.
You also wrote, “middle class life is predicated on two incomes”.  This is a perception, not a fact.  (Most) All families are dual income by choice, not necessity.  They create a standard of living for themselves which makes it difficult for them to undo. 

Re:  Two sisters / elderly aunts civil union – I balked at this one.  But sure, why not?  It doesn’t pass one of my requisites, but I don’t have the final say here.  If two sisters are raising a child, why shouldn’t they receive the benefits from the state?  It would be, after all, in the best interest of the kids. 
Let me guess.  Now we will have an influx of same-sex “couples” applying for benefits fraudulently. 
If true, all we will have done is effectively doubled the number of current marriages for convenience, which I really don’t think are that prevalent in America. 
None of these issues are without merit.  I don’t pretend that gay marriage should be implemented with out some sort of think tank weighing all of these issues and generating solutions for potential problems.  I’m quite sure that Massachusetts didn’t broach the subject capriciously; I neither believe that our government, state or federal, would do so. 
Although I advocate a look before we leap process, I think that waiting 30 years to run a comprehensive study is unreasonable to ask of hetero and homosexuals alike. 

Ciao!  - Tebaldi

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By Tebaldi, February 12, 2007 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment
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Re:  Comment #52724 by Joan on 2/09 at 2:07 pm

Hello Joan

Re:  Faith based people are chided for appealing to God as an explanation.
The reason you are chided is that historically, this rings true.  How many phenomenons were explained away as God-induced, only to later be disproved by science?  These close-minded folk who chide you, assume that everything fits into their perfect scientific model.  They have a “we’ve proved most of it, so we’ll prove the rest” mentality.  Oddly enough, these “logical” people rest easy on this false-logic premise. 

Re:  the ooze argument that will never die
Not fair.  You said I won, and then got the last word in.  And this is after I was generous enough to offer you an olive branch.  (“I completely see where the premise of your argument lies.  I hope that you can see at least some validity to the arguments I have presented.”) 
So instead of ending this on a harmonious note, you choose to pull a knife from your boot after the sword fight.  Very well, my dear.  En garde!
You (falsely) accuse me of not allowing for the unreasonable, yet you can’t divorce yourself from your God to look at the argument from another point of view.  I’ve already said that there may very well be a God, although a very detached God by my hypothesis.  If He bequeathed our worth, why is it only evident to some? – This is rhetorical, and beside the point.  You, on the other hand, can’t even fathom a being that can assign itself worth.  If you see absolutely no validity to my argument, I suggest that one of two conditions exist:  You are ill-equipped to engage in such discussions based on your beliefs. – or - I may very well be completely irrational.
I deduce a third condition might be that I suck at explaining my point of view. 


Re:  Polygamy
Wow.  If I read you correctly, you suggest that polygamy will not be accepted because man’s ego will never tolerate a woman having multiple husbands.  Not because it strains the family, not because (in the traditional polygamist family) women are often subjected and manipulated.  What a defeatist attitude you have toward men… (again, if I read you correctly)
You wrote “…polygamy, which is mirrored in nature…”
I went in to detail about what I believe constitutes a “natural inclination”.  The first thing I said was that “It’s not fair to say that if it occurs in nature, it’s natural.”  I then continued to describe what “natural” meant to me.  You didn’t dispute my reasoning, so I wonder why you do so now. 
If by “social contrivance”, you mean “an elaborate or deceitful scheme contrived to deceive or evade”, then I don’t follow you.  If you mean, simply, that it is an institution borne out of a societal need/desire, then I agree (and so is heterosexual marriage).

You continue to argue that which I completely agree.  Families seem to be taking a turn for the worse.  Don’t lose complete faith in America, however.  Regardless of our selfishness, we generally continue to make sacrifices for our children.  You wrote, in reference to divorce that, “children are not better off as it turns out” what reference do you cite?  In a widely used text named “marriage and family” they did not come to this conclusion (their conclusion was that it was inconclusive). 
I paid particular attention to this because I have custody of a child as a result of my divorce.  I rationalize divorcing by looking at the complete change of environment for him.  He was removed from a volatile, unhappy place.  I don’t ignore that he is separated from his mother; I know that this creates problems. 
You suggest that increased divorce is a result of hedonistic behavior.  To suggest that I didn’t SERIOUSLY weigh the repercussions of divorce on my child is, quite frankly, insulting.  (and I’m almost certain that that’s not what you implied)

(Continued)

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By Joan, February 12, 2007 at 9:15 am Link to this comment
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FYI…

Tuesday night @ 9 or 10 EST on Primetime (ABC)they will be talking to polygamists…after permitting gay marraige, are all marriage forms to be accepted??? This my question…I do not know the angle that Primtime will feature…the important thing is that it is being featured and I am sure we will hear that their children are not fazed either by the polygamy… 

Joan

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By Joan, February 11, 2007 at 3:48 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Re. #52529

#52529 could be the topic of an entire ethics convention. 

The easy things first…

Faith based people can certainly benefit from the wisdom of others maybe even Bill O’Reilly. We do not live in a vacuum of thought. Moralities and religions have overlapping values such as the wanton killing of a human being is universally considered to be morally wrong.

Secular humanism asserts that we have intrinsic worth in virtue of being human. If you have a situation with a mosquito keeping you awake at night, there is no moral dilemma about swatting that annoying pest but you cannot do so with a crying baby that has kept you up all night. Easy, no dilemma. But in the previously discussed doctor/patient scenario there is a dilemma. How does the secular humanist deal with this dilemma, two parties of equal worth in conflict, not like the mosquito and baby?

Ethicists do in fact try to resolve these dilemmas. And they appeal to moral theories and apply these theories to these dilemmas to determine whether these theories are at all efficacious.  We look for theories that work just as scientists look for scientific theories that work if applied to everyday scientific problems.  Moralities generally consist of rules or an overall directive that we are supposed to follow. The Golden Rule obliges one to treat another the way one wants to be treated. I don’t see what secular humanism commands anyone to do in a conflict. I applied the Golden Rule to the doctor/patient scenario and came up with a solution that satisfied me as moral agent that I had followed the command of the Rule, implicit to which is that the other party has at least the same worth as I have. I do not have to know any ultimate or absolute moral truth here. This is a good morality because we can apply it if we do not have perfect or complete knowledge necessary for an absolute moral truth here. I only have to know I accorded someone in a given circumstance the treatment I want were I in that same circumstance which is consistent with what the Golden Rule commands. Sometimes this is easy. Sometimes it is very difficult. But in the world in which live we do not have perfect knowledge, I know the morally correct thing to do. We like to think that the morality we live by tells us we are doing the morally correct thing. This is one reason I chose the Golden Rule as morality over all the others in general that I had learned about, even secular humanism, which admittedly is full of “warm fuzzies” but does not tell you what to do to in a face-off. Note that the Golden Rule itself makes no appeal to Divinity for the rightness of the behavior. It is also a morality based on man’s worth but gives you a rule or command to follow based on that worth.  Another is worth being treated the way one, himself, wants to be treated. He is at least worth as much as you are. 
So I am curious as to how secular humanist would resolve this doctor/patient dilemma. If we throw up our hands up and beg off because these dilemmas are not expected to be resolved we revert back to the state of nature…and our humanity seems too delicate to live well in such an amoral and brutal way of life.

Too often as of late we have confused the American legal system with morality. We have come to think, if it is legal, it is moral. Hence, we more and more abdicate our personal moral responsibility. This is not very good either.

Joan

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By Joan, February 11, 2007 at 9:38 am Link to this comment
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Keith and Everyone,

Re: the epilepsy question… I thought you were going to say Christianity given the light flash that struck Saul of Tarsus and led to his subsequently becoming a major architect of organized Christian theology. I have read that a light flash was a symptom of epileptic seizures and that this was one account of Paul’s experience. So…but I don’t know if that theory ever went anywhere…a lot of people have seizures and don’t convert to Christianity…or end up in anyway acting like Paul.

Joan

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By Maani, February 10, 2007 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment
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Keith:

I cited you - “In the not so distant future, the contribution of genes to such features as the “religious” parts of the temporal lobe will be understood” - and asked, “‘Will be?’ Do you know this to be an absolute certainty?  Or do you have…faith (in science) that it ‘will?’ You see your dilemma here?”  You then responded that “All parts of all animals are the result of genes.  The temporal lobe is not expected to be an exception.”

“Not expected to be…”  But what if it is?  Do you see how you move from one “faith”-based phrase - “will be” - to another, “Not expected to be?”

And while you may or may not be correct - only time will tell, you neither of us may be around when the answer appears (or does not) - your continued use of “hopeful” phrases as “factual” phrases weakens your position, and continues to prove that “science” is as much about faith as “faith” is…

Peace.

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By Tebaldi, February 10, 2007 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment
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Re:  Comment #52332 by Keith Henson on 2/07 at 3:36 pm

Hello Keith

Thanks for the gene info on homosexuals; I can’t speak much on the science involved on this issue.  I can only speak from experience that it has never been explained to me other than as a natural inclination. 
Incidentally, I read up on you (wikipedia) “low distortion quadrature oscillators and non-linear function modules—multipliers” huh?  Sounds like you’ve led an interesting life.  Sorry hear of your Scientologist woes, I hope that works out for you.

Ciao,  -Tebaldi

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By Joan, February 9, 2007 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

We tend to think that the way to fix past mistreatment comes in the form of equal rights. Take women for example.To fix this injustice, women claimed they needed to be like men, do the same things, have the same opportunities, and so they marched us into manhood. And now women are more enslaved than ever with as much financial responsibility as men and doing most of the housework and childrearing. They are enslaved and exhausted by these ideologies instead of being realistic about the their biological needs and their unchangeable difference from males. Many women no longer have the option to even raise their own children because middle class life is predicated on two incomes now as a result of equality being based on same treatment not the treatment needed for your specific needs or biology. How this equal treatment backfired on women!

We are a nation of entitlement whose morality is hedonism that tells us to do what gives us the most pleasure.  Our sense of entitlement is so unquenchable it may be our final undoing in the end as we are trying to please everyone without a thought as to how it impacts our entire community which we must keep solvent for our overall well- being and safety.
I don’t know the answer to the gay issue because it has been defined as an equal rights one but I think if we are allowing so called civil unions, we must allow civil contracts for all people who want the entitlements that were exclusively for married people, you know the people who pretty much bear the burden and make the sacrifices necessary for raising the children needed to keep the community going, a helluva an undertaking, that the DINKS and many others in the community have opted out of. But please everyone we must, so we maybe should have civil contracts open to all, allowing all partnerships or sexual arrangements with any special marital benefits open to all…hetero sexual people too… and I mean 2 sisters living together as a family should get the benefits as they are in a union, all in unions do not necessarily have sex, do they?  And this is not moot, my elderly aunts once widowed, lived together and shouldn’t they have the same rights and benefits in a civil union/contract, as they are family, and they really are family by blood??? So if I must because of the logical consistency that the law and courts must observe, I go with civil contracts open to any two or more gathered in the name of unqualified equality. Let’s hope their contribution holds a candle to the gift of children made to the community by those of us who raise them to support with Social Security all those who would not make the sacrifice and have children, raise them in a stable home to keep the community solvent for the next generation…why indeed should they have any treatment designed by the state to enhance marriage and child rearing an a stable environment and make it a little more easily managed?


More to come but I have party to put on so be patient, please.

Joan

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By Joan, February 9, 2007 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,


But again I say if you open the door to marriage by sexual preference, then you open the door to lots of marriage styles…and this is where I think our children will continue to be hurt, just as they have been hurt by divorce and upper- class, dual income family lifestyles. We are in a free- for- all right now and I include the experiment of gay marriage as part of it…re: children, we used to say we needed to stay in marriage for our children’s sake but then we wanted out. Our personal self- interest began to override the interest of the family and our children. Children were once the center of married life and the community,  not just an item of our life’s to do list as now in this era of neo- enlightenment when we think we are almost guaranteed constitutionally, entitled to do it all, everything there is that we can possibly do. So when we wanted to divorce, we allayed our pangs of conscience saying that children of divorce were better off in split families than they were in families in which the parents fought …children are not better off as it turns out… I do not know and neither do you know for certain how children will fare living in the context of institutionalized gay marriage, long-term.  No, I do not take at face value the pronouncements of the American Psychological Association because our psychologists and therapists are the ones who told us kids would be just fine in broken homes as long the parents were not fighting… as if divorced parents did not fight! So we adults pretty much tell ourselves what we need to hear to go off on do our thing. I realize you are having trouble with this line of reasoning…well…I do not know how to say this better.

Joan

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By Joan, February 9, 2007 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

You may believe in God because…how is there stuff? and I too actually believe in a God for that reason and also for me because God explains the quantum leap from chimp to man that Darwinism has not, does not, cannot, and will not explain. Some atheists accept the obvious that man has greater intrinsic worth without a “jot or tittle” of support from nature as to how that greater worth is derived from the nature or Darwinism. Many atheists hold that nature is the final explanation of all occurrences but they cannot explain using nature or science why man has greater worth than the ameba. Faith based people are chided for appealing to God as an explanation. The faith- based are as hungry for an explanation as anyone else.  Seeing God in our daily lives, it is not odd to see Him in the grand scheme of things. We too scratch our heads and wonder where is the superior reasoning that is appealed to by those who think our appeals to God to are unworthy when the nature/science they appeal to for complete and perfect knowledge cannot begin to explain how we got from chimp to man, the species that qualitatively transcends all others despite the commonalities we share with other species.

I am having trouble with this dialogue because quite frankly I do not know how to address a few things…one is prejudice and another is accepting the simultaneous concurrence of “A” (having greater intrinsic worth than the slug), and “-A” (not having greater worth because we are the same primordial ooze as the slug) as a logically consistent line of reasoning or even a consistent stream of consciousness or arguing in general against the obvious…So you win. And as Scrooge says, ”I’ll retire to bedlam.”

About a week ago you sort of lectured me about opening my heart to love gay people…hence, the hetero phobe remark…my positions have nothing to do with me opening my heart to gay persons. Just treat me the way you want to be treated. That’s what I ask. That’s what I attempt to give. If anything, my heart is perhaps too open to the disenfranchised of our society. Gay people are handily looking out for themselves. Our children have the expendable voices in America. I look at gay marriage as a social contrivance even though gay couples certainly have had long term relationships, as opposed to polygamy, which is mirrored in nature as demonstrated by nature in sea lions or walruses, a case in point.
Many mating styles are mirrored in nature from monogamy to promiscuity to polygamy. Polygamy is a very hard marriage style as the males are always fighting other males to protect their harems. Why do you assume polygamists would all be males? Why shouldn’t I take several husbands? This style of mating certainly would be to my financial advantage. Our very under the gun but admirably tenacious Keith would be happy because it would keep the population rates low and avert war which for the Darwininst whois logically consistent in all his thought patterns is morally acceptable, an outcome that has several readers rightly and mightily disturbed. Polygamy will not ever be legalized, not because of fewer numbers than gays but because men will not tolerate their being the multiple partners and not the less valuable women. Logically, a woman taking multiple partners makes a great deal of sense, especially financially. Men will just not tolerate a woman having several husbands, no matter how we clamor for equal rights for all partnerships now that gay marriage is on the table, thanks you home state.


Joan

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By Keith Henson, February 9, 2007 at 11:33 am Link to this comment
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Maani wrote

[Keith], “In the not so distant future, the contribution of genes to such features as the “religious” parts of the temporal lobe will be understood.” “Will be?” Do you know this to be an absolute certainty?  Or do you have…faith (in science) that it “will?” You see your dilemma here?

No.  All parts of all animals are the result of genes.  The temporal lobe is not expected to be an exception.  There are fewer than 30,000 genes for a whole human.  Even if half are expressed in the brain, that’s only 15,000 genes (and regulators).  We understand what perhaps a thousand genes do now.  Progress in this area is exponential. 

>You then add, “Not only are those involved in maintaining faith in humans but epileptic activity in those area is fairly certain to behind the founding of at least two significant religions.  Do you know which ones I refer to here?”

My guess is Judaism and Islam

Snip

Not what I was thinking about.  The ones I had in mind were Christian Science and Seventh-day Adventists.

Google for “Mary Baker Eddy” temporal lobe epilepsy and for Ellen White temporal lobe epilepsy.  Both of them suffered head injury.  Fascinating reading.

“While a neurological explanation for Ellen White’s vision appears to have the potential to rescue her reputation as a truthful woman, it simultaneously seems to preclude supernatural explanations.”

http://www.ellenwhite.org/headinjury.htm

Keith Henson

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By Maani, February 9, 2007 at 11:13 am Link to this comment
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A.L.:

To my comment that the moment at which the first hominid was able to make Descartes claim “CANNOT be accounted for by science, and MUST have been the result of something else.  I believe that that “moment” was the result of divine influence,” you ask, “Why is it when we can not prove something thru science, people believe it MUST be divine influence?”

I have never suggested that anything and everything that has not yet been explained by science is therefore a result of divine influence.  I made this comment about one particular thing: the ability to be self-aware and “self”-conscious - and KNOW that one is so.

Please don’t broad-brush things.  There are plenty of things that science has not yet explained that I do not think are the result of divine influence.

Peace.

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By Tebaldi, February 9, 2007 at 9:34 am Link to this comment
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Re:  Comment #52588 by Maani on 2/08 at 9:10 pm

Hi Manni,

Re:  Why omit the truth?
  One man’s truth is another man’s hooey.  Man wrote this passage, and men are fallible.  This is not to say that Paul wasn’t a man to revere.  He was a wise, and learned man who is worthy of quoting (mostly).

Re:  I wonder if you (or others here) would accept this of Islam as well.
Absolutely.  Extremists exist in the majority of all factions (to include secular humanism).  There are very few exceptions (KKK, Nazis, etc.) that are considered to be FOUNDED in extremist beliefs.  By and large, all groups have a small contingency that take their party’s beliefs and twist it into something harmful.  I believe, however, that Islamic extremism runs a bit higher than my previously stated 5%.  No one really knows, but I’ve seen figures that run from 6 – 11%.  Islam is a religion grounded in peace and tolerance (although, admittedly, I’ve only read a few excerpts from the Quran).  Blaming the root of extremism on a belief system is ignorant.  Cultural factors, economic conditions, and lack of education are the driving force behind extremism. 

Re:  Exclusiveness of Christianity
What I said squares perfectly with my prior comments.  You are trying to make this out to be a comparison of religions.  I can assure you that this is not my intent.  I am unqualified to attempt this in the first place.
My point was simply that Christianity excludes a lot of folks who just don’t, and will never, believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God. 
 
Re:  …that humans were “selected” for cognitive thought.  I find this virtually impossible to accept.
If you agree that chimpanzee’s brain is vastly more advanced than a marmoset’s, than why would it be difficult to arrive at Darwin’s claim? 
The Neanderthal had a brain that was capable of constructing tools, organizing societies, and verbal communication.  They constructed complex shelters, controlled fire, made cave drawings, and skinned animals.  To suggest that Neanderthals were not capable of some level of cognitive thought is hard for me to believe.  Perhaps they were still a long way before they could contemplate Descartes claim, but I suggest they were well on their way.
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, the Neanderthals didn’t make it.  Smart, but not smart enough. 
In short, if you believe that a fish can evolve and adapt to land, it’s not a far stretch for a bi-ped to evolve and adapt to their harsh environment.  The fish didn’t just flop out of water and start his life anew as a land dweller.  Similarly, our ancestors didn’t spontaneously develop cognitive thought.
I understand that there are some holes in the theory of evolution.  But to completely discount a crucial part of it is not logical to me.  A theory is not accepted until it is scrutinized (and boy has it been scrutinized).  It seems short-sighted that you would dismiss a widely accepted and oft tested concept.  After all, I don’t discount the intelligent design theory, which hasn’t been in the spotlight for near as long as evolution.

Ciao!  -Tebaldi

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By A.L. Shumaker, February 8, 2007 at 10:25 pm Link to this comment
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““CANNOT be accounted for by science, and MUST have been the result of something else.  I believe that that “moment” was the result of divine influence.”“

Why is it when we can not prove something thru science, people believe it MUST be divine influence?

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By Maani, February 8, 2007 at 10:13 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi [Part 2]:

Finally, you say, “I’ve suggested before that humans don’t have the “runt instinct” because nature selected a human with cognitive thought and the ability to effectively feel, and demonstrate emotion.”

This leads to my most serious problem with Darwinism, the bulk of which I fully accept.  That is, that humans were “selected” for cognitive thought.  I find this virtually impossible to accept.  What it suggests is that cognitive thought is something that could have been “arrived at” through some sort of “gradations” or “levels.”  Yet this simply cannot be.  There must have been a moment – a single, specific moment – at which some hominid became “self-aware” to the degree that s/he could make Descartes claim: “I think, therefore I am.”  And having done so, could then turn that cognitive thought outward in a way that had never been done before.

It defies logic, common sense and every other human capacity for understanding to believe that this could have been the result of some lengthy “process” of cognitive evolution.  And if it wasn’t (and evolutionary biology and psychology have not even come CLOSE to explaining, much less proving, this particular aspect of human evolution), then that “moment” – that specific moment, like a light switch being turned on – CANNOT be accounted for by science, and MUST have been the result of something else.  I believe that that “moment” was the result of divine influence.

Peace.

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By Maani, February 8, 2007 at 10:13 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi [Part 1]:

You say, “The “need” to have specific “gay communities” you speak of is a result of gay-bashing and the natural inclination to be with other people of the same orientation.  If 5% of the population were heterosexual, then we would have hetero communities.”

I agree with you 100%.  And it is one of the saddest things in the history of human relations.

You also say, “Looks like I erred yet again by misreading the Romans 1:26-27.  Ok, got it.  I just wish such passages were omitted from the bible; there would be a lot less unnecessary guilt, and gay-bashing in the world.”

Why omit the truth?  Because it is not the truth of the passage per se that is wrong, but the way in which it has been used by many throughout history to support anti-gay attitudes.  But that is a function of interpretation, not of truth.  What is needed is re-education of the Christian masses, not wholesale editing of Scripture.

Re my comment that “Even were I to agree with this, you almost prove my point by saying “adds intimacy.” This presumes that a relationship already exists…,” you say, “You lost me on this one, Maani.  I agree with everything you wrote in this paragraph, but I don’t know which point of yours that I’m proving.  Did I give you some idea that I condone promiscuity?”

No, it is not promiscuity; it is “sex for pleasure,” especially with multiple partners – which many people do not consider “promiscuity.”  (After all, one person’s “few partners” is another person’s “promiscuity.”)

You then say, “We shouldn’t be down trodden by their behavior.  Extremists are in the 3rd standard deviation (less than 5% of the population).”

I wonder if you (or others here) would accept this of Islam as well.  As you know, I have stated ad nauseam that Harris et al are not being intellectually honest when they broad-brush Islam as a violent religion.  Just as with Judaism and Christianity, the vast majority of Muslims are happy to practice their faith quietly, and do not support the fundamentalist extremists, much less dance in the street to celebrate every anti-West action.
You also say that you have “never disputed your assertion that Christianity was the most inclusive of the exclusive religions.  This doesn’t hide the fact that it is exclusive.”

Yet this does not square with your earlier comment: “Most Taoists, Jews, and Islamic folk won’t even consider professing this [Jesus].  You ask what could be more inclusive; I (still) ask what could be more exclusive?”

The additional exclusivist features that I noted are those of Judaism and Islam – none of which apply to Christianity which, again, has but a single “requirement” for inclusion.

[More coming]

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By Maani, February 8, 2007 at 10:10 pm Link to this comment
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Keith:

You say, “In the not so distant future, the contribution of genes to such features as the “religious” parts of the temporal lobe will be understood.”  “Will be?”  Do you know this to be an absolute certainty?  Or do you have…faith (in science) that it “will?”  You see your dilemma here?

You then add, “Not only are those involved in maintaining faith in humans but epileptic activity in those area is fairly certain to behind the founding of at least two significant religions.  Do you know which ones I refer to here?”

My guess is Judaism and Islam.  In any case, if you refer to the oft-claimed canard that prophets (whether Jeremiah or Mohammad) who underwent “visions” were actually displaying epileptic activity (some have even claimed it was simple migraines), you had better have some pretty strong supporting data for that contention, since few, if any, religious scholars (whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim or atheist) support that belief.

Peace.

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By Tebaldi, February 8, 2007 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment
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Joan, I forgot to answer two of your questions:

Re:  “… how do you know you have done something wrong in secular humanism?
Not a very fair question; I could pose the same one to you.  The reason that dilemmas are labeled as such is because there are no easy answers, and often one or all parties involved lose something.  The complexity of these dilemmas can easily put two parties from the SAME FACTION at odds with each other.  Obviously, the secular humanist ethicist’s (SHEs) proposed solution would be logical, viable, and compassionate.  It may very well coincide with one of the aforementioned parties.  And if the SHEs solution is implemented, and failed to produce the desired results – THAT’S how we know we did something wrong!  (Better late than never)

Re:  “What law did you disobey?”
First, all laws are subject to interpretation, this is often where dilemmas are born.  Second, as I mentioned earlier, the world is the secular humanist’s oyster.  He has the latitude to adopt doctrine from Christians, Jews, Wiccas, the Dali-lama, Thoreau, Bill O’riely, Marvin Gaye, Noam Chomsky… 
The only law that we are compelled to obey is the one that declares that the preciousness and dignity of the individual are paramount.  I will caveat this.  I believe that declarations outlined in the humanist manifestos may serve as an excellent tool for checking the validity of a solution to an ethical dilemma.
Again I will state that I am blessedly dogma-free.  In the preamble to one of the manifestos (I think it’s the 3rd one) it states “(the manifesto states) not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe”
Ciao!  - Tebaldi

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By Tebaldi, February 8, 2007 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment
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Re:  Comment #52357 by Joan on 2/07 at 6:23 pm

Hello Joan.

It seems that we may have reached some sort of compromise here.  Shall we call it a civil union instead of marriage, and let these people receive the same benefits enjoyed by married couples? 
You ask “how can we deny others without being accused of discrimination?”  We may very well be accused of discriminating against polygamists.  Oh well.  As I inferred in a previous post, it polygamy doesn’t pass the smell test.  Sexual orientation is a NATURAL INCLINATION; polygamy is not.  Additionally, it can be argued that wives of polygamists do not receive the optimal emotional support that monogamous relationships foster. Therefore it is not in the best interest of society.  On an evolutionary scale, it can be argued that if a man can have 5 wives, this leaves 4 men without mates – bad for business. 
I don’t think that “A” will beget “B” though.  It’s like saying if we pass an abortion bill, pretty soon we will be allowed to kill infants up to 3 months old. 
You ask “On what grounds after extending rights to gay persons are they denied to others and their sexual preferences?”  It would require more thought than I’m putting into it, and it should be considered by a panel of adept ethicists, religious leaders, statesmen etc.  But off the top of my head, I would say the ground rules should be:  The group should be larger than 10,000 people, the foundation for the love should be based on a natural inclination, and the result of the union should benefit society.
You continue to argue (at length) a point that I don’t dispute.  I completely agree with the divorce/family structure issues that plague our society.  Somehow, and you’re not doing it directly, you are tying homosexual unions to a bad family situation for children.  You say,
“…negative effects on children already are evident when we undermine the stability of marriage with easy divorce or the absentee parent situation of upscale dual income families.” 
What the heck does this have to do with homosexual unions?

You have yet to answer my direct question, so sadly I must officially label your fear as a phobia (see a psychologist about this; she should clear it up in 4-5 sessions). 

Incidentally, you asked “Do you think I am a hetero phobe too?” 
This implies that I think that you are homophobe.  I have never accused you of this.

Re:  Slugs
At your request (and much to my relief), I will drop the slug/human/ooze argument.  Let the record show, however, that you quit first – I won by default.
Seriously though, I completely see where the premise of your argument lies.  I hope that you can see at least some validity to the arguments I have presented.  (And thank you for allowing me to be a secular humanist)
In the interest of tying off some loose strings, I wonder if you would humor me by cutting and pasting my half-jokingly assembled “worth scale” I presented to Maani, and punching in your numbers.  I’m curious how you compare your own worth to that of other animals…
On a scale of 0-100 a slug gets a 7.  A dog gets a 58.  A chimpanzee gets a 72.  Humans get a 100.  How ultimately silly is that?  Incidentally, Donald Trump comes in at a 96.3 because he’s infinitely annoying.

Re:  “…who wins, how do you decide who gets the advantage in a conflict of interest, if both have the same worth????” 
I had to read this a couple times to figure out what you’re asking.  Taking this literally, I have no idea how the two subjects in your scenario have anything to do with them having equal worth.  By Christian standards does one of the subjects have more worth?  Does it really matter?  More importantly, can this be ascertained? 
I would decide the matter by a simple composite risk management process; weighing the risks with the expected outcomes.  Although I’m not familiar with the specifics of the scenario, your solution seems ethically sound.

Until we meet again,    - Tebaldi

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By Joan, February 7, 2007 at 7:32 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 2

Let’s drop the slugs…I don’t see logically how man can claim greater worth based on Darwinism as there is no basis thus far in that theory for that claim. We destroyed all the evidence?? Really??? How was that managed? There are evolutionary modifications that are multifaceted that can be extrapolated to explain men???? Seems very speculative to say the very least. Man has worth more than a slug…unquestionably obvious. How does Darwinism explain that the whole of man is greater than the sum of his slug parts or conversely that the slug is not as great as man. Darwinism does not get you there and does no support secular humanism. But you can still be a secular humanist.

Patient vs. doctor conflict…Christian ethic… treat others as you wish to be treated…my answer to the conflict from the Christian perspective….run the risk with the DEA and give the meds to relieve the pain but the patient must not abuse the meds and hence protect the doctor…Ethical dilemmas are hard to resolve but Christianity gives you a command that anyone can identify with and understand in terms about how you feel about a certain way of being treated and I think that it gives you a peace of mind that you treated someone with a certain level of care you desire…pretty much sometimes all we can do…i think you can run many dilemmas through a sort of Christian machine and understand what you should do because you very much know how you want to be treated.

I don’t see how secular humanism gives you a command… my sense is that the individual thinks his need is paramount and gives himself worth and others… well, lots of luck… how do you know you have done something wrong in secular humanism? What law did you disobey? … it’s the practice more than the lofty words about how well we treat people…Or if both have the same worth, again who wins, how do you decide who gets the advantage in a conflct of interest, if both have the same worth????

Joan

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By Joan, February 7, 2007 at 7:23 pm Link to this comment
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Tebaldi,

Part 1

Regarding gay marriage I am talking marriage not rights. I do not use these terms interchangeably. Gays can have many rights legally protected through advanced directives and legal wills. I understand that many adoption agencies permit adoption by gay couples and single parents. Among other things gay people are making a point other than rights. More like the principle of the thing. I don’t see how you eliminate other forms of marriage from the discussion. If we change the definition of marriage to include any kind of sexual partnership under the sun for gays, how can we deny others without being accused of discrimination? Pandora’s Box that if adopted over the decades will further put our children at risk. Statistics indicate that the children in single family /divorced homes are more likely to live in poverty, have trouble with the law, us drugs…And I attribute this to hetero behavior. Do you think I am a hetero phobe too? We have made sweeping social changes over the last few decades usually in order to give adults more freedom to do as they please without ever looking back to see if these changes hurt our children. Women have become more enslaved than ever as we advance to be free from household drudgery. I am not sure how it is that you need me to give more proof. It seems self- evident to me. And I think our children are hurting from a generation of absentee, self- absorbed parents as aer women who now must do everything. I do not care what sexual orientation we are talking about, the basic heterosexual marriage is proven to be a safe we to raise our family and it is the lynch pin of a strong community. If you change marriage for one group,  I do not see how you can deny it for any other group and the sexual preferences. And reason heterosexual marriage is stable is that the law is mirroring the strongest call of nature between two people we have. Do I think some gay people have a deep life sustaining love. Yes, of course I do. I have spoken to that before. Check my posts. I believe that love is blessed. And their rights can be legally protected to a great extent, if they so desire. Yes, of course I realize gays have been doing the gay thing since time in memoriam…and they were never married…

Extending voting rights to women is not a bad cursory parallel here but negative effects on children already are evident when we undermine the stability of marriage with easy divorce or the absentee parent situation of upscale dual income families. There has been no obvious negative effect of women voting over the years. Let’s just say I am very cautious because I hear the stories and I am not impressed with some aspects of our new lifestyle. Just my views on the issue. I see gay marriage as a package. We cannot extend these rights to one group and not extend the same rights to any group and their sexual preferences. On what grounds after extending rights to gay persons are they denied to others and their sexual preferences?

Joan

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By Keith Henson, February 7, 2007 at 4:36 pm Link to this comment
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Re the discussions of homosexuality, the evolution question is why the genes (and genes there are) that contribute to homosexuality are not weeded out.

I have not read this recently, but there was at least one study of extended families where there were several members who were gay males.

At that time, the genes that contribute to being gay were thought to be located on the X chromosome so they would be inherited only though female ancestors.

The thing that got noticed in the data was that the lifetime number of children from women who were (from having a gay son) assumed to have this particular gene was substantially higher than the population average.

I don’t know if this association held up in subsequent studies.  I think the effect was much larger than could be accounted for by the well known but small effect that having older brothers increases the chance that a kid will turn out gay.  (The mechanism—involving rising maternal antigens to a particular male hormone—is well understood.)

If it did hold up, it is an example of a gene that is hard on one sex while providing a substantial reproductive boost in the other.

Keith Henson

PS, if you think this is strange look up segregation distorters.  In mice that gene results in all male mice, and a population in which it arises in goes extinct over wide areas.

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By Tebaldi, February 7, 2007 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment
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(Part 2) Re:  Comment #52145 by Maani on 2/06 at 9:18 pm


Looks like I erred yet again by misreading the Romans 1:26-27.  Ok, got it.  I just wish such passages were omitted from the bible; there would be a lot less unnecessary guilt, and gay-bashing in the world.

Re:  “Even were I to agree with this, you almost prove my point by saying “adds intimacy.” This presumes that a relationship already exists…”
You lost me on this one, Maani.  I agree with everything you wrote in this paragraph, but I don’t know which point of yours that I’m proving.  Did I give you some idea that I condone promiscuity? 

Re:  More exclusive? 
I never disputed your assertion that Christianity was the most inclusive of the exclusive religions.  This doesn’t hide the fact that it is exclusive. 

Re:  The missing link
“It is commonly stated by critics of evolution that there are no known transitional fossils. This position is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of what represents a transitional feature. A common creationist argument is that no fossils are found with partially functional features. It is plausible, however, that a complex feature with one function can adapt a wholly different function through evolution.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transitional_fossil 
There are additional supporting arguments on this site.

Re:  Harris
Yes, fighting fire with fire is not the optimal solution.  You have to be a realist here, though; these guys are not going to just lay down they’re guns.  It would require a revolt from the middle to take these guys to the table and this is just not going to happen.  The only time that extremists are exposed and dealt with is when they start (physically) harming people.  Ergo, a balance of powers is optimal. 
We shouldn’t be down trodden by their behavior.  Extremists are in the 3rd standard deviation (less than 5% of the population).  Most of us have the sense to extract what is useful from these whackos and discard the rest.  I have learned from Limbaugh’s fiscal teachings, and Zinn’s viewpoints on achieving peace. 

Ciao!  -Tebaldi

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By Tebaldi, February 7, 2007 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment
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Re:  Comment #52145 by Maani on 2/06 at 9:18 pm

Hello Maani. 

Re:  And this “survival instinct (the runt factor)” strongly trumps any concept of “worthiness.” So, by Darwinian rules, it should be the same for humans.
Darwin never suggested that all animals behave the same way, nor have the same instincts (although many do).  We aren’t breaking any Darwinian rules here.  I’ve suggested before that humans don’t have the “runt instinct” because nature selected a human with cognitive thought and the ability to effectively feel, and demonstrate emotion.  An unavoidable consequence of this selection is that we don’t discard our weak.  It would be interesting to research whether the great apes have “the runt instinct”. 

Re:  You misquote me. 
You’re right.  I confused you with Joan.  It’s interesting (and I’m oversimplifying) that Joan is ok with Homosexual behavior, yet doesn’t condone same sex marriage, and you are not ok with Homosexual behavior, yet condone same sex marriage. 
So I will restate:  It seems duplicitous to me that you would condone both hetero and homosexual marriages, and all the facets that marriage entails… except sex (for gays only). 

Re:  AIDS
If I acquiesce and admit that gays are more promiscuous, than this is a separate issue.  My original point is that homosexuals don’t hurt anyone.  A very small percentage of homosexuals willfully, and with complete knowledge, hurt other people by spreading AIDS.  Do you suggest otherwise? 
The “need” to have specific “gay communities” you speak of is a result of gay-bashing and the natural inclination to be with other people of the same orientation.  If 5% of the population were heterosexual, then we would have hetero communities.

(continued)

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By Keith Henson, February 7, 2007 at 11:23 am Link to this comment
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Maani wrote:

>You say, “Whatever word you use, it is a fundamental observed property of evolutionary biology that without known exception EVERY characteristic feature of every species is the result of evolutionary selection, either direct or a side effect of some feature that was selected. The assumption is without known exceptions…[That all aspects of human nature are products of evolution through selection] is fundamental to evolutionary biology.  If you know of an exception, please speak up.”

>And how can you be sure that “faith” is not that exception? 

It could be.  God could have let the universe run for 13.7 billion years and life for a few billion and *then* come on the scene to install a faith mental module in humans at sometime after our line diverged from the chimps.

And while he was at it, he put faith in pigeons.  (“Faith” for pigeons is acting in strange ways to get food rewards that are in fact provided at random intervals.)  It’s not impossible, but it’s a real stretch to account for a human characteristic as not evolved or not a side effect of some characteristic that did evolve.  I make a strong case that evolution accounts for capture-bonding and attention rewards.  Both contribute to getting into and staying in cults (early stage religions).

I understand only dimly how the characteristics behind humans having faith evolved, but I don’t doubt they came to be because of evolution.

In the not so distant future, the contribution of genes to such features as the “religious” parts of the temporal lobe will be understood.  Not only are those involved in maintaining faith in humans but epileptic activity in those area is fairly certain to behind the founding of at least two significant religions.  Do you know which ones I refer to here?

>The answer is that you have set up (ironically enough) a self-fulfilling prophecy: “There are no exceptions, since no one has yet found an exception.  Thus, your alleged exception is not an exception.” Don’t you see how hopeless and narrow this closed-loop logic is?

Not at all.  It is like the often used example in logic “All swans are white.”  The statement is falsified by finding one black swan.  If you find one single example otherwise, the statement is falsified.  Do you know of *anything* that has only a supernatural explanation?

>Similarly, to my comment that “In both of these cases, something Joan pointed out early in this discussion is operative: that science believes that, given enough time, it will find “empirical” evidence for everything in the universe.  And is this not as much “faith” as faith is?,” you respond, “That’s poorly worded, but so far there have been no exceptions I know about.”

>“No exceptions?” You mean like the thousands of things that science has NOT yet been able to explain? 

You mean like crop circles and UFOs?  Those are not hard to explain.  I used to *make* UFOs.

>This goes beyond self-fulfilling prophecy to…hopefully filled prophecy - to say nothing of poor logic, since your conclusion does not follow from your premise: “Premise: Science has thus far been able to explain many, perhaps even most, things.  Conclusion: Science can, and will, explain everything about the known universe, both macro and micro, given enough time.”

Find one thing that has only a supernatural explanation, and you can falsify the “conclusion.” 

>Sorry, Keith.  Even I can see the fallacy in this claim.

If you can bring forth evidence, not only will I be impressed, but you can collect a million bucks from the James Randi foundation.

I hope you can though I don’t expect it.  The world would be a more interesting place if there was some supernatural in it.

Keith Henson

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By Tebaldi, February 7, 2007 at 8:39 am Link to this comment
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Re:  Comment #51307 by Joan on 2/02 at 1:22 pm

Joan, it seems I missed one of your posts which I will address now.  More to come on your other posts (you guys are keeping me busy)

Re:  “How does one solve an ethical conflict of interest between two persons, namely moral agents, using secular humanism as a moral guideline to behavior?”  You ask, given your scenario, “The MD and patient have equal intrinsic worth in virtue of being human, the very definition of secular humanism as a morality. Who wins ethically speaking?”
You are vastly more knowledgeable in this area, so you’ll have to excuse my ignorance; I’m shooting from the hip here.  When one argues ethics, I don’t see that there are winners and losers, but rather a compromise.  Just because Humanists don’t have a set of rules to guide (restrict) us, doesn’t mean that we can’t come to some sort of consensus with other humanists and non-humanists alike.  A humanist ethicist would use the same tools (precedents, statistics, varied ethical models, human references, etc.) to reach a proposal.  I think holding the dignity, and worth of man in the highest regard, as humanists believe, makes for a mighty fine ethicist.  The additional benefit of NOT having guidelines is that it fosters adaptation, and creativity. 
Don’t get the false impression that Humanism is devoid of dogma.  Hundreds of writings from all eras contribute to the Humanist belief - Everyone from Plato to Vonnegut.  There are even the Humanist manifestos (although all of them have a disclaimer that frees all humanists from adherence. 
I see your point that you can’t generally have a stance if you don’t have anything to stand on.  My retort is that we have EVERYTHING to stand on (admittedly though, we don’t know everything).  If (for example) a Christian ethicist has such a clear guiding force, why would we need ethicists?  Any Christian should be able to take an issue, punch it in the Christian ethicist computer, and it will spit out the solution.  They don’t need to discuss brood over, or even put thought into an issue; the answer should be glaring. 
    You ask, “Does secular humanism as a morality give adequate moral direction in the case of a given moral conflict”.  You answered your own question many times over, and I completely agree – nobody’s got it all licked. 

A few more bits and pieces:  >>>War – we detest it.  >>>abortion – We are either strongly for it (the dignity of the mother) or strongly against it (the dignity of the child).  It depends on the perception of when life begins.  (Bet that has you reeling) >>> How is intrinsic worth established – Not sure I understand the question?  >>> Thanks for helping Manni in saving Mr. Brown. 

Farewell,  - Tebaldi

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By Maani, February 6, 2007 at 10:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tebaldi (Part 3):

Finally, you say “I agree what you said about Harris.  On the other hand we need the Harris’ in the world to offset the radically religious, just like we need Zinn to offset Limbaugh.  The radically left and right can battle it out, while the essence of America remains somewhere in the middle, on saner ground. “

I’m grateful to hear that you, too, accept that Harris is an extremist who is not trying to find any kind of “middle ground” (or what Jim Wallis calls “common ground”), but is a “foil” for the extremists on the other side.  However, what Joan and I have been arguing all this time is that, although it would seem that, as you say, “we need” Harris et al to “offset” the other side, that is simply “fighting fire with fire” - which is more often than not the WRONG way to approach things.  As I have said before, if Harris were truly and honestly interested in adding to the “peace” in the world, he would not be so incendiary, inflammatory, divisive and dismissive.  He has good arguments about the “dangers” of religion.  But he is too ready (even happy) to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” – and this is not a “peace-building” method.

…Peace.

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