The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Daily Headline

December 29, 2008 | 203 Comments

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Comments

203 Responses to “Daily Headline”

  1. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 29th, 2008 @ 10:01 pm

    Is that the Titanic?

  2. Kelly Clark
    December 29th, 2008 @ 10:23 pm

    I wish you joy. Welcome home. And thank you.

  3. Christina
    December 29th, 2008 @ 10:39 pm

    LOL!

    BTW, here’s this evening’s Real Exchange:

    ME: (reading Fark headline) Guess who Tripp is.

    MY DAUGHTER: (pondering a moment) A Palin?

    That’s my girl!

  4. Don Bocologist
    December 30th, 2008 @ 1:35 am

    RA:
    Funny, funny.  That explains nothing, as you know.  But of course this is your point — reductionist explanations are unsatisfying, so … ?  So, you have turned to a less reductionist explanation for the universe?
    The thing that people are curious about is this:
    Yes, atheists (and deists) would generally argue that your thoughts could in principle be fully explained by electrochemical reactions in your brain; in other words, there is nothing more to thinking than electrochemical reactions in the brain.  But we are very far from being able to understand individual thoughts in terms of the electrochemistry of the brain.  As we think, however, we tell ourselves narratives about our thoughts.  We understand our thoughts in terms of high-level language, like logic, and rhetoric.  So, when people ask what made you convert, since you obviously cannot describe the precise molecular reactions that led to this conversion, they are clearly wondering what narrative you told yourself about the thought process.  How did stories fit together logically in such a way that it seemed compelling to you that Jesus (a) existed and (b) more important, was the human instantiation of God?

    My best wishes this holiday season,
    Don

  5. Adam
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:55 am

    Hi RA,
    Welcome to theism.  If you truly are an honest person seeking absolute truth, you will not find it in any form of Christianity.  You might feel high right now, but wait for the euphoria to dissipate, that’s when the fun truly begins..

    Good luck on your journey

  6. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 7:58 am

    Hey, you made the paper!! Awesome! Happy New Year, TRT!

  7. Philboid Studge
    December 30th, 2008 @ 8:59 am

    I hear there’s not enough lifeboats on that thing for all of us.

  8. Julie D.
    December 30th, 2008 @ 9:09 am

    First you make me happy, then you make me laugh. The perfect combo! :-D

  9. IA_
    December 30th, 2008 @ 9:22 am

    Julie D.

    You are not being rational.  You can not laugh of your own free will, it is just an electrochemical reaction in your brain.  Sheesh, get on the boat.

  10. Julie D.
    December 30th, 2008 @ 9:26 am

    No, no, I am going DOWN with the boat … tenaciously clinging to my lack of recognition in electrical reactions. At least until the cold, cold water makes me let go!

  11. Carbon Monoxide
    December 30th, 2008 @ 9:31 am

    John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    “the church, which is his body” (Eph. 1:22-23)

    Matt 16:18: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. ”

    1 Tim 3:16 “the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. “

  12. Julie D.
    December 30th, 2008 @ 9:35 am

    You might feel high right now, but wait for the euphoria to dissipate, that’s when the fun truly begins

    Actually, having just been through one of the saddest times of my life, I can testify to that truth. Not, of course, in the way that Adam meant when writing it in the comment above. But that is when the rubber meets the road. And it is when we find out that there is so much more than euphoria to faith. Something deeper and better and ultimately the Truth.

  13. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 9:37 am

    I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever heard of a religion that didn’t claim to be the one true path.  Carbon Monoxide, how do you distinguish one true path from the large assortment of other paths?

  14. Livingstrong
    December 30th, 2008 @ 10:11 am

    Raving Theist, one thing I must ask from you. Could you please be a nice Theist and not try to impose your beliefs onto others? That would be very nice if you could do it.
    Wars and problems start when people try to convert others and try to control them by making it impossible for them to have freedom of choice. And by that I mean, freedom of religion, freedom from/away from religion, freedom to live a straight or gay/lesbian life, freedom to choose to abort or not to abort, etc.
    I will be reading your blog since I have admiration for your writing.
    I sincerely hope that you find peace and I wish you well and over all, I wish you health, love and prosperity in this upcoming year 2009.

  15. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 10:46 am

    The mock headline is false. The former Raving Atheist has not explained his conversion; he’s merely announced it, which is very different than his former tack when he was a professed atheist. Even if one disagreed with his conclusions, the former Raving Atheist was scrupulous in explaining  the reasons for the position he assumed. The Raving Theist, not so much.

     I’m not even sure what kind of Christian he has become: Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Evangelical Born-Again, Baptist, Lutheran, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, Methodist, Presbyterian, African-Methodist Episcopal, Church of God In Christ, Progressive Baptist, Eastern Orthodox, Seventh-Day Adventist, Apostolic? Much less why?

    Of course, no matter how curious others may be about the reasons for his conversion, he is not bound to explain it to anyone. I suppose that is why he hasn’t.

  16. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 10:47 am

    Asking others to not impose their beliefs on others is imposing your beliefs or lack thereof on others.

    Haven’t seen TRT even attempt to convert or control anyone or even comment on his own blog.

  17. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 10:55 am

    Carla wrote:
    “Asking others to not impose their beliefs on others is imposing your beliefs or lack thereof on others.”

    Would you be imposing your beliefs on a Muslim if you demanded of  him that he refrain from insisting that you observe sharia law?

  18. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:09 am

    Irr,
    RT specifically mentions the Catholic Church in his conversion post.  Am I missing something?

  19. Livingstrong
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:11 am

    Carla, let me educate you a little bit.

    Definitions of the verb ‘to impose’:
    “1. To apply or make prevail by or as if by authority: impose a peace settlement.
    2. To obtrude or force (oneself, for example) on another or others.”~~~Thesaurus Dictionay.

    Definitions of the verb ‘to ask': (within the context I used)
    “To invite, to make inquiry, to make a request for” ~~~Thesaurus Dictionay.

  20. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:14 am

    Yeeeeesssss.

  21. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:16 am

    Perhaps, I am confused then, nkb. I understood that there was some disagreement here over whether  the RT was a small “c” catholic  (whatever that means) or a Roman Catholic. I’m not sure he has directly addressed the controversy.

  22. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:21 am

    If that sibilant “yes” was in response to my question, Carla, then am I to infer from that that you also adhere to the position that “might makes right?”

    In other words, if one has the force of authority to impose his or her will on another, then the imposition is valid?    

  23. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:22 am

    Thank you Mr. Armstrong.
    I can now go impose my beliefs on my children as their educated Momma!

  24. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:27 am

    Livingstrong is a woman, Carla. And what does your imposing your will on your children have to do with religious people presuming to impose their will on other, independent adults? I’m afraid I am not following your line of reasoning here. 

  25. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:33 am

    The idea of  not imposing beliefs on others is usually directed at Christians by non Christians. LivingStrong was asking Raving Theist to not impose his beliefs on others now that he is a Christian. 

  26. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:34 am

    My apologies to LivingStrong.

  27. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:43 am

    Carla wrote:
    “The idea of  not imposing beliefs on others is usually directed at Christians by non Christians. LivingStrong was asking Raving Theist to not impose his beliefs on others now that he is a Christian.” 

    I understood that. Of course, Christians are not the only human beings who seek to impose their will on others. However, as Christians (of all different stripes) are plentiful in the U.S., Latin America and Europe, they are very much in a position to impose their will on others. That is not to suggest that all Christians do this, but examples abound where Christians exercise their authority, by sheer dint of numbers, to deny rights to others that they retain for themselves. 

    Livingstrong was merely asking the RT not to be that kind of Christian, and you appeared to think that was an unreasonable request. If I got that right, I’m just curious as to why you think it is unreasonable. 

  28. deb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:44 am

    I agree with Julie D.–it’s not all about euphoria. God and/or faith in God is not meant as a drug. Regardless of one’s belief system we all face troubles in this world. I could have no respect for a Supreme Being who would come along with a magic wand and wave it over my life, magically erasing every trial and sorrow.

    Besides, we don’t journey with God because he’s a bouncer or bodyguard; we journey with him because he is our delight.

  29. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:47 am

    Not unreasonable. Typical.

  30. SteveG
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:56 am

    If I got that right, I’m just curious as to why you think it is unreasonable.

    Not answering for Carla, just my own thoughts here.

    It is not only unreasonable, it’s impossible.

    If we take our beliefs (or unbeliefs) seriously, each of us will allow them to impact our actions.  Those actions include (but are not limited to) how we spend our money, how we vote, what we do with our free time, etc.

    The moment those actions)are undertaken, they by their nature cause us to attempt to ‘impose’ our will. 

    If I vote for a candidate who is against abortion, I am attempting to codify my values into the social system.  Likewise, when you vote for a candidate who supports allowing abortions, you are trying to codify your values into the system.

    Both actions are an attempt to ‘impose’ and that is inevitable in a free society.  That’s why it is beyond unreasonable for either side to request this of the other.

    What is reasonable is that we undertake all such actions with as much charity as possible, while trying our best to assume good will on the part of those who disagree, and while remaining respectful of the dignity of the persons with who we disagree.

  31. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:58 am

    Deb and Julie,  consider the entire set-up on this planet.  Half of the life forms can bind the sun’s energy and the rest must take life to survive.  All of the life forms use the same repetitive building block – and it even winds in the same direction.

    If it’s a design, it’s one built by an unimaginative  sadist.

    Let me ask you this, if God appeared today and made faith unnecessary, but turned out to be a real ass – killing and torturing people including children on a drunken whim, I think we can all agree that we would fear him, but would you worship him?

  32. Christine the Soccer Mom
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:59 am

    Welcome home.  I’ve always enjoyed your writings when I come across them.  

    I look forward to when you decide to delve into more details, too. 

    The Lord bless you and keep you.  

  33. Alexa
    December 30th, 2008 @ 12:03 pm

    I think it’s funny how the atheists are all ticked off – and want you to basically “keep it to yourself” yet they keep coming back here wanting you to write more about your conversion. Faith is a compelling gift from God – as is Love – it compels itself to spread – as we accept our life as a member of the Body of Christ – we find that Love and Faith issue forth from us like breathing. It is not possible to stop it – some by words, others by actions. Even atheists are members of the Body of Christ, though dormant, in a sense. Waking to the Truth of who they really are – fully human and fully alive in Christ – will one day compel them too to share in Life’s fullness and the joy of the Truth. Until then, they are numb and if they freely choose to not accept their membership in Christ’s Body, gangrene sets in and ultimately they will be amputated due to His justice and His Mercy and His Love.

  34. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 12:25 pm

    Steve G:
    “What is reasonable is that we undertake all such actions with as much charity as possible, while trying our best to assume good will on the part of those who disagree, and while remaining respectful of the dignity of the persons with who we disagree.”

    I know you mean well, Steve G, but I don’t want your charity. I just want you to stay out of my business. I don’t say that to be rude, and I am certain that that is nothing more or less than you want for yourself. That is, for me to stay out of your business.

    Christians have every right to abhor abortion, dislike gays,or even other religious folks who are not Christians. However, neither they or anyone else (that includes atheists) should be put in a position of deciding what is appropriate for others. Not in a secular society.

    If Christians abhor abortion, they should be free to refrain from having one. If they dislike gays, they ought to be free to exclude them from their churches, but their whims should not extend beyond there.

    Live your beliefs and allow others to live theirs is all I would ever ask of any Christian.    

  35. Nina
    December 30th, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

    No, Alexa…not everyone who is concerned is an atheist.  There are those of us who’ve seen too many of the mean, ugly little piggies who use God to hurt others just for fun, people posting on this thread, even. 

    It’s great if someone finally comes face to face with God and recognizes him as such. 

    It’s a tragedy if they become just one more of the mean, mindless, stupid, small hypocrites this planet is already littered with.

  36. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

    In your opinion that is all I should be able to do as a Christ follower who abhors abortion?? Not have one??(Too late for that anyway) I should not be able to voice my opinion, allow my story of regret to be used in prolife legislation, vote my values,  blog on prolife blogs?  I can only live and move and breath in my church building?

    You on the other hand are entitled to have the freedoms you would deny me?

  37. Chris
    December 30th, 2008 @ 1:15 pm

    Irreligious:

    Every act of legislation is an imposition of someone’s will on another’s.

    What you ask is impossible in any society. The issue isn’t whether or not anyone is being imposed upon, but whether or not there is sufficient rationale (i.e. reasons) for said imposition.

  38. Jeffrey L Miller
    December 30th, 2008 @ 1:22 pm

    Ha! One of the great thing about conversion is that we don’t have to leave our humor behind.

  39. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

    Carla, you have a right to your opinion. No one is seeking to deny you that. I certainly am not. I seek only to proscribe you ability to impose your will on me and others who disagree with your religious points of view. I do not wish to be burdened with your beliefs and lifestyle any more than you seek to entertain mine. But we have to co-exist.

    You are free to have as many children as your body and pocketbook can handle. No pro-choice person I know has ever advanced the view that abortion should be imposed on you.

    However, you should have no more right to deny another woman that right that a Muslim should have the right to force sharia law on you.

    Yes, this is a Christian majority country, but it is not a Christian country any more than it is a Muslim one or a Jewish one or a Hindu one.

    Preach, if you like. I can’t stop you from doing that.  Again, I have no desire to impose my secular values on you and yours. You have a right to them. Likewise, I have the same right to my own that don’t run afoul of the U.S. Constitution. 

  40. AL
    December 30th, 2008 @ 1:35 pm

    I think it’s funny how the atheists are all ticked off – and want you to basically “keep it to yourself” yet they keep coming back here wanting you to write more about your conversion.

    Could you not generalize atheists please?  We’re not “all ticked off,” and I’m certain the atheists who want RT to “keep it to [himself]” are NOT the same ones who want to hear his reasons for conversion.  I’m in the latter camp.  I would like to hear his reasons, just out of honest curiosity.  The “reasons” we have so far are “first, there is a god, figure the rest out for yourself,” and “all my beliefs predetermined by electrochemical reactions in my brain,” which I take are just jokes as the former is no explanation at all, and the latter, while an “explanation” of sorts, is at the wrong level, just as if you asked me why did Microsoft Vista crash and I responded with “well, 001011001010101111010101….”

  41. AnglicanPeggy
    December 30th, 2008 @ 1:42 pm

    Ok.  Now I believe you really have come home.  Welcome.

    I apologize for doubting you.

  42. Retha
    December 30th, 2008 @ 1:50 pm

    Irreligious said: “However, neither [Christians] or anyone else (that includes atheists) should be put in a position of deciding what is appropriate for others. ”

    So, the country’s law books cannot forbid murder – that decides what is appropriate for the would-be-murderer?
    It cannot forbid child rape- that would be to decide what is appropriate for the pedophile?

    No country can force it’s children to attend school untill a certain age- that would be to decide what is appropriate for 9-year olds?
    Nobody can decide that any taxes should be paid – that would be to decide what is appropriate for the taxpayer?

    In the real world, part of being a member of society is that, sometimes, you will have to fall in with rules that society wrote. And society, by and large, tries to make rules for the good of society.

  43. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 1:53 pm

    Abortion was imposed on me. 
    I shall even quote the Raving Theist on that. “But is choice truly choice when a lack of knowledge and access gives one no choice?”
    I certainly will work to “deny a woman the right” to kill her own child. Through the sharing of my testimony and through prayer.  In a couple of weeks I will march in Wash. D.C. with others who believe that abortion hurts women and that unborn children have a right to live.

    Was I preaching? :)

    I like you, Irreligious.  I apologize if I was snarky with you before. Judging by some of the comments on the other thread I was prepared for the effenheimer.

  44. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 1:56 pm

    It’s true that all laws infringe upon freedoms, but I beleive that everyone here is capable of understanding the injustice of infringing upon the rights of people with whom you have no contact.

    Is there anyone here that thinks investing millions in controlling the marital practices of people two states away was the right thing to do?  Would it be OK with you if people in the middle east dictated female castration in this country?  I’m sure they would feel it morally justified.

  45. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 1:58 pm

    Carla, you were forced to have an abortion?  In the USA?  I think we need to have more of the story.

  46. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:01 pm

    I didn’t say forced I said imposed. 
    Of course, there are women that are forced to have abortions in the good ol US of A. You find that hard to believe?

  47. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:02 pm

    Chris wrote:
    “Every act of legislation is an imposition of someone’s will on another’s.
    What you ask is impossible in any society. The issue isn’t whether or not anyone is being imposed upon, but whether or not there is sufficient rationale (i.e. reasons) for said imposition.”

    It most certainly is not true that every act of legislation is an imposition on someone’s will. In fact, there is much legislation that specifically grants us rights. The First Amendment to the Constitution grants you the right to practice your religion. Even if it was my desire, I am enjoined from denying you that right.

    As far as I can see, you have a right to your opinion, but you don’t have a sound basis outside of your faith for denying other women the right to a first trimester abortion or enjoining gays from having rights to civil marriages. 

  48. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:03 pm

    Science is a sound enough basis outside of my faith. When sperm meets egg a new human being is formed. Life begins at conception. That is not above my paygrade to say.

  49. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:08 pm

    Actually the sperm and egg are both alive prior to their meeting, as are most of the cells you carry with you every day….all of them human and all of them containing the dna to create another you.

    Life began (on this planet) four billion years ago.

  50. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

    Retha:

    Equal protection. The 14th amendment. Check it out. I’m not allowed to murder you. You are not allowed to murder me. That protects us all.

    You are allowed to marry the consenting-age  individual of your choice, and I should be, too. Even if that individual is of the same sex as I am.  The fact that you think it’s wrong should have no bearing on the matter. Mind your business and let me mind mine. Is that really too much to ask? 

  51. Heather Barrett
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:18 pm

    RT:  Best regards and lots of prayers storming Heaven for you as you go through this time in your life.  I re-converted to the Catholicism of my childhood almost 4 years ago, after being an atheist (and far worse things) for over a decade. 

    I know everybody is different, but based on my experience of conversion, it’s completely understandable if you aren’t ready, or even able, to divulge any details about your conversion right now.  For me, it was such a monumental event, such a fundamental life change, that it’s taken me years to tell the story of my initial conversion, and even now I can’t tell all there is to tell.  Words just can’t capture it. 

    Conversion is an ongoing and very adventurous journey.  It will push you to your limits: physical and spiritual, intellectual and emotional.  Genuine Christianity is full of longing and overcoming, love and war, sufferings, deaths, and resurrections.  It’s no collective fantasy land, no mass hallucination, and definitely no “opiate of the people.”  It’s a thing of wonder and beauty.  It demands courage and commitment.  It’s an all-consuming encounter with an Other who is truly extraordinary. 

    I wish you well!  God be with you.

  52. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:18 pm

    Carla wrote:
    Science is a sound enough basis outside of my faith. When sperm meets egg a new human being is formed. Life begins at conception. That is not above my paygrade to say.”
    That’s awfully convenient and quite debatable. Again, you are entitled to your view, but you do not have the right to impose it on unwilling others.  Say what you want and as loudly as you want. I am talking very specifically about your rights to have your opinions actively imposed on others. You don’t have that right, nor should you. That’s all.
    Otherwise, I give a damn  what think or do or what you choose to worship that does not have a direct impact on me. It’s obvious you don’t share that position and why, unfortunately, many Christians and secularists can’t get along. 

  53. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:20 pm

    That should read: I don’t  give a damn…

  54. Chris
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:34 pm

    Irreligious,

    It most certainly is not true that every act of legislation is an imposition on someone’s will. In fact, there is much legislation that specifically grants us rights.

    You’re right… my statement was too absolute. Let me amend it to read that many if not most acts of legislation entail the imposition of will, insofar as they determine what can or cannot be done.

  55. SteveG
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:35 pm

    I know you mean well, Steve G, but I don’t want your charity. I just want you to stay out of my business. I don’t say that to be rude, and I am certain that that is nothing more or less than you want for yourself. That is, for me to stay out of your business.
    No, not really, because the world simply doesn’t work that way and I can admit that.  As I said, the moment I act upon my beliefs in ANY way, I am impacting society, and vice versa.
    It is simply impossible for each of us to ‘stay out of each others’ business as you’d hope.  By virtue of the fact that we live in a shared community, we attempt to impose the moment we act.
    What you want is simply impossible.  It is beyond fantasy.
    Christians have every right to abhor abortion, dislike gays,or even other religious folks who are not Christians. However, neither they or anyone else (that includes atheists) should be put in a position of deciding what is appropriate for others. Not in a secular society.
    This is preposterous.  We decide all the time as a society what we will and won’t accept of other members from the largest of matters to the smallest of minutia.  That is part of the nature of a society (even a secular one).  There simply is now way around that and wishing otherwise won’t make it so.
    Live your beliefs and allow others to live theirs is all I would ever ask of any Christian.

    Again, this is what I do, and by virtue of the fact that we are in a connected society, we inevitably affect one another.

  56. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:39 pm

    So, Steve G, you don’t have a problem with other people imposing their beliefs on you via legislation?  Even when your don’t affect them.  You just accept it?  It wasn’t that long ago when oral sex was illegal in many states – and I think it still is in Texas.

    If that were enforced while you were in your bedroom, with your wife….you would be cool with that?

  57. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

    Jane,
    I didn’t say that sperm and egg weren’t alive. Anyone buying condoms knows what cells they are trying to keep away from each other and what they are trying to prevent.

    Irreligious,
    The rights I have are given to me by my Creator. Same as yours.
    I will shout long and loud and from any rooftop I can find about any  thing I want.  You are free to do the same. 
    Why is it ok for you and not for me? Cause I am a Believah??

    I stand in front of very diverse groups of people with a sign that says I Regret My Abortion.  You don’t have to give a damn about that. I happen to.

  58. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

    Chris:
    “You’re right… my statement was too absolute. Let me amend it to read that many if not most acts of legislation entail the imposition of will, insofar as they determine what can or cannot be done.”

    And as you previously mentioned, a sound basis for proscribing the rights of others is supposed to be a requirement.

    “My religion says that  it’s wrong” is not a sound basis in a secular society. That is the way things are done in theocracies, like Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

    We are supposed to be a pluralistic, secular nation, where folks who are compelled to impose religious restrictions on themselves are free to do so and leave everybody else the hell alone. 

  59. Lily
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:43 pm

    If I live another 250 years, I will never understand the mindset of someone who really believes that we can all do our own thing just so long as we don’t “impose” our beliefs on others. By what reasoning does such a one believe that society is possible, unless there are common values and overarching principles that form some sort of ground for our common life? 

    Given that 300 million people will have 299 million different opinions on how we should organize society, those opinions have to be argued and wrestled with. That means that there will be winners and losers.  One can ignore reality but not the results of reality.

    Reality. There will be laws. Those laws will reflect the will of the majority and will be grounded in what the majority believes is the right way to conduct its common life.  The constitution makes clear that no state can establish an official church. It is silent on the role that religion plays or should play in forming a citizen’s conscience. No atheist can legitimately rule religiously shaped consciences beyond the pale. The attempt can only cause trouble.

    None of us are shaped in a vacuum and I have yet to see any proof that the values atheists hold (all atheists? Some of them?) Just whose values are we talking about and how were they formed?  Those who hold minority opinions have, in this country, an absolute right to argue their beliefs, to marshal the evidence for their opinions, and to soldier on with the sad messy business of actually convincing others that what they want is what everyone else should want. So far, the majority isn’t buying what too many atheists (if the comment box warriors here are typical of what atheists want) are selling.  

    Reality is a harsh mistress.

  60. SteveG
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:47 pm

    So, Steve G, you don’t have a problem with other people imposing their beliefs on you via legislation?  Even when your don’t affect them.  You just accept it? 

    I didn’t say that at all.
    I said that I accept that this is reality.  I very well might have a problem with someone imposing their beliefs via legislation, but my response wouldn’t be to wish for them to stop.  My response would be to try to change the situation to reflect my own values.  That’s just the way things work.
    If that were enforced while you were in your bedroom, with your wife….you would be cool with that?
    Without commenting on my wife’s and my particular bedroom life, I’ll use this to illustrate the point I am making. 

    How did that change in many of the states where it is no longer the case?  The folks who disagreed with it worked to overturn it.  If enough folks in Texas do the same, it’ll be overturned there as well.
    As I’ve said, that’s just the reality of how the system works.

     

  61. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:48 pm

    Jane:

    What right of yours am I proscribing? Did I not already say in several posts that your are entitled to your opinion, to vocalize it, loudly if need be?

    I don’t care about your opinions, any more than you care about mine. All I care about is that we don’t interfere in each other’s lives. I would like for you to be free to live out your beliefs as long as you do it without denying me my rights to live the way I want to.

    I am not seeking any rights that you don’t have, nor am Idenying you any rights that I enjoy.

  62. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:51 pm

    Lily wrote:

    “If I live another 250 years, I will never understand the mindset of someone who really believes that we can all do our own thing just so long as we don’t “impose” our beliefs on others…”

    I know, Lily. It’s why I will not engage you, specifically, on the topic.
    Otherwise, I hope all is going well with  you in your life.

  63. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:53 pm

    Carla,

    First, I’m sorry you regret your decision, but I can’t help but think that embracing a crowd that views abortion as murder is a kind of self flagellation.

    We practice social triage every day.  Two cells do not trump the life of an adult.  You wouldn’t expect a man to sacrifice his life to keep someone on life support.

    Second, you said life begins when sperm and egg meet and if they were alive before they met, then life did not begin.

    And finally I don’t think Irr is objecting to anyone expressing opinion, only in using force in the form of police to interfere with lives that are not your and that don’t affect you.

  64. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:53 pm

    It never fails that some genius brings up the asinine argument that we are imposing our values on would-be murderers t not murder, therefore it’s ok to impose anything the majority wants.
    .
    The laws against murder/theft/rape all deal with protecting the rights of the would-be-victims.  By committing murder, you are denying the rights of another person.
    .
    Please point out whose rights are being violated in a same-sex marriage.

  65. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:55 pm

    Irreligious, I think there was a miscommunication.  Which post are you addressing?

  66. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 2:57 pm

    If Lily woke up tomorrow, and the country was majority Muslim, and Sharia law was in effect, she would just shut her trap, because that’s what the majority wants.

  67. Lily
    December 30th, 2008 @ 3:04 pm

    On living with laws one doesn’t like, SteveG said it best and so it bears repeating:

     I very well might have a problem with someone imposing their beliefs via legislation, but my response wouldn’t be to wish for them to stop.  My response would be to try to change the situation to reflect my own values.  That’s just the way things work.

    As long as I live in a democracy, I have the right, as does everyone, to try and change the laws. This is reality.

    Anyone who lives under shari’a law, does not live in a democracy and is very much obliged to walk and talk circumspectly. That is also reality.

  68. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 3:11 pm

    Lily,
    You and SteveG are missing the underlying point: Why is it necessary to impose these personal rules on others, when it shouldn’t concern you what other people are doing?

    The point is not that this is the way society is (no shit!), it is why is society (and, specifically, the people who can’t mind their own business) that way?

  69. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 3:14 pm

    Steve G, as a Roman Catholic living in a majority Protestant country, you ought to know that what you say is patently untrue.

    Protestants are not free to impose their dogma on you, even if many of them want to. Likewise, you are not free to keep them from using birth control, nor were you free decades ago to insist that they enjoy meatless Fridays.

    You have to respect each other where you disagree if you are to avoid inviting  the spectre of a Northern Ireland over to these shores.  It takes tolerance and the ability to search, instead, for common ground.

    As an atheist, I seek nothing less from most devout Christians. We both agree that stealing is wrong, and where we agree on the definition of what constitutes murder, we agree on that, too.

    In our secular lives together, we can agree on similar work goals, the appropriate zoning and building codes for the neighborhoods that we share, we have elections to decide which public officials will represent us in our bodies of government, etc.

    When it comes to what we do in our personal lives, I would think it would be the easiest thing in the world to let each other be.  All it takes is will. I have that. Maybe you don’t.   

  70. Lurker
    December 30th, 2008 @ 3:25 pm

    SteveG,
    Howya doing these days?! Email me when you have some time.

    Lurker

  71. James Stephenson
    December 30th, 2008 @ 3:38 pm

    ‘That is not to suggest that all Christians do this, but examples abound where Christians exercise their authority, by sheer dint of numbers, to deny rights to others that they retain for themselves. ‘

    – Irreligious

    Examples?

  72. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 3:38 pm

    Jane,
    Irr was addressing that post to me I believe, not you.
    When sperm meets egg a new human being is formed. Life begins at conception. That is what I said.

    Think what you want BUT
    Being involved with a group of women and men that regret their abortions has been one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me. I happen to enjoy being with people who love me for who I am, in spite of the fact that I had one of my children killed. So have they.
    My abortion story is in the right sidebar of my blog.

    I wouldn’t expect someone to lay down their life for anyone else and yet people do.  I would die for my husband and my children.

  73. Johanna Holmes
    December 30th, 2008 @ 3:40 pm

    Dear Raving Theist,

    Welcome home!  I am so happy for you.  I’ve been reading through the comment threads here and on PZ Myers blog, and I caught sight of the “invisible friend” reference.  It’s so easy to say that God does not exist if one does not see Him, but reality is not just what we can see.  Very few of the truly valuable things in life (such as love) can be empirically demonstrated, and everything is invisible to those who are somehow blinded or who shut their eyes.  My thoughts and prayers are with you, and have a blessed Christmas season!

  74. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 3:45 pm

    James Stephenson,
    How about gay marriage?

  75. Matthew
    December 30th, 2008 @ 3:53 pm

    Congratulations RT. 
    Imagine that, reason leading to God.  What a concept. 

    God bless!

  76. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 3:56 pm

    Hi Carla,

    I beleive that you would lay down your life for your family as would I, but if one of your children was on life support and your husband decided it was time to pull the plug, would he be a murderer?

  77. Taquoriaan
    December 30th, 2008 @ 3:56 pm

    Matthew, that happened to me too…

    Beware guys, you could be rationality’s next victim :D

  78. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 3:56 pm

    Matthew – point to the “reason” please.

  79. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 3:58 pm

    Christians who seek to proscribe abortion rights and gay rights are but two examples already being discussed here, James Stephenson. No amount of discussion will dissuade many Christians from believing they have a right to use their religion as the sole basis from denying these rights to others.

    There are countless other examples that would probably seem benign or banal to you. They’re just little indignities that nonChristians must endure on a daily basis: Prayers to a Christian god at during meetings of publicly elected bodies; obstreperous street corner preachers (though, I think they also annoy some Christians); well-meaning (if I’m being charitable) Christian folk who assume you share their religion and their values, and who invite you to attend their churches and you politely decline are compelled to lecture you or “threaten” to pray for you, etc.

    There are others so insidious that I fear they won’t make much sense to most Christians, unless they happen to be minority Christians, like the couple of Jehovah Witnesses and the more numerous Jewish people with whom I work who have to endure all the public Christmas celebrations at work.

    A lot of those things, we all take in stride. Non-majority Christians have their sanctuaries, after all–  their Synagoges and Kingdom Halls– where they can take refuge. Roman Catholics have their Catholic schools, so their children won’t have to be infected too much by secularism and can avoid being tainted too much by the rampant Protestantism in broader American life.

    Atheists just have to struggle harder.     

  80. SteveG
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:01 pm

    Steve G, as a Roman Catholic living in a majority Protestant country, you ought to know that what you say is patently untrue.


    You couldn’t be more wrong.
     
    Protestants are not free to impose their dogma on you, even if many of them want to.


    Dogma? Not directly no, but in terms of values? Yes.  In many areas from the economy, to immigration, healthcare, foreign policy, etc., etc., etc.,
    There are any number of big ticket items where Protestant values and Catholic values generally are at odds based on some underlying religious understandings.
    In most cases, the current culture is more in line with a Protestant influenced outlook. I am not whining about that, but acting in whatever way possible to allow my Catholic outlook to influence my actions and bring about change.
    Likewise, you are not free to keep them from using birth control, nor were you free decades ago to insist that they enjoy meatless Fridays.
    Birth control used to be illegal in nearly every state.
    Society decided that it no longer agreed with that stance, and those who believed it should be changed worked to successfully change it. Again, and again, this is the way it works in our society whether I agree with the outcomes or not.
    You have to respect each other where you disagree if you are to avoid inviting the spectre of a Northern Ireland over to these shores.  It takes tolerance and the ability to search, instead, for common ground.
    Agreed, and that’s what I said at the outset. The most we can hope from each other is charity, and respect (tolerance) for the other person while we ‘battle’ these things out.
    When it comes to what we do in our personal lives, I would think it would be the easiest thing in the world to let each other be.  All it takes is will. I have that. Maybe you don’t.
    Neither of us has this ability in actuality. You might have it in your imagination, but this distinction between your personal life and your communal life is a fantasy. It doesn’t exist in reality.
    Where I shop, what shows I watch, what I buy, who I vote for, etc., etc. etc. all connect us to the wider society and whether we like it or not the impact (impose) part of our belief system on that culture.  I realize that you think you live this way, but it is not so.  It can not be so in this society.

    Until you can come to terms with that reality, we are at an impasse.

  81. SteveG
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:02 pm

    apologies for the spacing in the comments.  I can’t seem to get the line spacing right, and I realize this makes it hard to read.

  82. SteveG
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:03 pm

    SteveG,
    Howya doing these days?! Email me when you have some time.

    Doing very well.  I had a computer meltdown mid year last year and lost a lot of email addresses in the process.  If you still have mine shoot me an email, if not, we’ll figure out something else.

  83. CJ
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:04 pm

    This thread of imposing wills is very fascinating to me. It reminds me of a book I read a few years back by C.S. Lewis called “The Abolition of Man”. It was written in the 1940’s  and was originally a lecture series that was compiled to make a book. It is a short read, but mind-bendingly fascinating. I highly recommend people on both sides of this issue read it. It is available at Amazon.com.
    Sidebar note: C.S. Lewis was an Atheist who converted to Christianity.

  84. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:05 pm

    Jane,
    If one of our children showed no brain activity and the machines were pumping blood and breathing for our child, my husband and I would decide together what we should do. We would pray about it and seek wise counsel.

  85. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:06 pm

    I meant Christians … who invite you to attend their churches and, when you politely decline, are compelled to lecture you…”

    I also should have said non-majority Christians and non-Christians.

  86. Matthew
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:08 pm

    UnspeakableyViolentJane,

    How RT came to his conclusions is his business but I’m sure it was a resonable decision.
    Belief in God can be logically and rationaly arrived at using reason.  People have been doing it for ages.  Try Aquinas or hundreds of others.  Quite resonable people if you ask me. 

  87. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:15 pm

    Steve G, I am not trying to be flippant, really I am not. But all I got from your last post directed towards me is that you adhere to a credo that pretty much says “might makes right.” If it’s the will of the majority, that’s all that matters.

    Correct me if Iam wrong.

    If I am not, then all I can say is that we disagree so fundamentally on this topic that there is no further room for civil discussion. I hope to remain civil here, so all I can say is we disagree.

    But iIn our nonvirtual lives, there will be no peace for us, corporately speaking.  That’s sad, but c’est la vie.

  88. James Stephenson
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:17 pm

    ‘Christians have every right to abhor abortion, dislike gays,or even other religious folks who are not Christians. However, neither they or anyone else (that includes atheists) should be put in a position of deciding what is appropriate for others. Not in a secular society.’

    – Irreligious

    Again, another Atheist defining terms to suit themselves and trying to prevent Christians from taking part in the democratic process.

    The defining terms bit is calling society secular, which is used to try and say that religious views should ot be a part of it.

    Whilst Christians have a vote, can lobby their political representatives or even become politicians, they will have the right to ‘impose’ their views upon others. Just like everyone else.

    I know this annoys a lot of (not all) Atheists who would love to prevent anyone who does not agree with them from taking part in in the democratic process.

  89. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:20 pm

    Carla – Since this is hypothetical, humor me and assume that for some reason he is making the decision on his own.  The child is on life support and he says “OK pull the plug.”  If he did that, would he be a murderer.

    Matthew – RT, made a public announcement.  You congratulated RT on achieving his position via reason.  Since he never mentioned why or how he had converted it was confusing to say the least.

  90. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:24 pm

    I shall humor you Jane.
    No, he would not be a murderer. 
    If one of our children is brain damaged and uses a feeding tube and my husband denies our child food and water, then I would consider him a murderer. Over my dead body would he do that to one of my babes of course. :)

  91. Don Bocologist
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:25 pm

    nkb, Irreligious:

    The abortion is fundamentally different from the gay marriage issue.

    With anti-gay marriage statutes, it requires major contortions of logic and rhetoric to claim that the act being banned in any way harms anyone.

    With abortion, though, the anti-abortion crowd can claim with more justification that the act they seek to ban does harm individuals (namely, fetuses).  The “If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one.” argument fails for the same reason as the “If you don’t like murder, don’t kill.” argument.  We, as society, can ban murder because it harms people — and not the people who are doing it (I say this to distinguish from, say, binge-eating bacon, which also harms people, but just the bacon-eaters, and for the most part I think people should be free to harm themselves).

    So the question is, does abortion harm people? (In particular, people other than the mothers, because, again, people should be free to harm themselves).  The claim that a fertilized egg is a human life is awfully specious.  Sure, it’s alive, and it’s not canine life or avian life, so, for want of a better adjective it might make some sense in some circumstances to call it human life.  But does it have humanity?  It doesn’t have any thought processes.  Even after some development into a rudimentary fetus, it is developmentally similar to a fish, a frog, and a bird, before finally taking on mammalian characteristics.  I don’t love wantonly killing frogs, but in my opinion any good reason is a good enough reason to kill a frog.  (And there are circumstances where it’s not okay to do whatever you want to animals, too — there are laws against cruelty to animals.)  Anyway, I don’t want to get bogged down in the whole debate.  The point is just to clarify that the crux of the issue with abortion is whether abortion involves killing a life that ought not to be killed (similar to murder).  If so, it’s legitimate for the anti-abortion to try to legislate a ban on abortion.

  92. Irreligious
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:25 pm

    James Stephenson, for the last time here,  I am not trying to steal anyone’s right to free speech. You are entitled to your opinions, your dislikes, your religious beliefs, your rituals, etc.

    I do not seek to invade your churches or tell you what is appropriate to teach your children, and I sure as hell don’t want to keep you out of the democratic process.

    Honestly, I don’t want to take anything from you. In fact, I would like very much to have limited contact with you. 

    All I want is to stay out of your business and for you to stay out of mine. It is really no more complex or nefarious than that. Honest.

  93. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:28 pm

    James,
    Can you give me one valid reason why you should have any say on what I do in my personal life, as long as I am not violating another person’s rights?
    .
    Let’s take same-sex marriage: Explain to me why I shouldn’t have the same rights as you, and be able to marry the person I love (assuming that they are willing as well).

  94. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:30 pm

    Hi Carla,

    I agree with both your positions in our hypothetical situation and would add that a zygote – which is not sentient and which is on life support is also vulnerable to decision of the adult making the sacrifice to keep them alive. 

    A woman having an abortion is less of a murderer than the father that takes his child off the many machines keeping the meat alive because the comatose child has more cells than the zygote.

  95. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:32 pm

    Don Bocologist,
    I agree with your argument.  I wasn’t in any way implying that they are similar issues, and I’m positive that Irreligious doesn’t either.  They just happen to be the two favorite pet causes for the religious right, and both involve individuals’ rights.

  96. SteveG
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:32 pm

    …might makes right. If it’s the will of the majority, that’s all that matters.

    Of course that’s not all that matters, or even something worthy of support (i.e. might makes right is probably the opposite of what I subscribe to).

    If I am not, then all I can say is that we disagree so fundamentally on this topic that there is no further room for civil discussion. I hope to remain civil here, so all I can say is we disagree.
    I think you may be right.  We disagree so fundamentally, that I think we must both be talking past each other.  I’ve tried to get my underlying point across several times and failed.  I want to sum it up in two sentences one last time, and hope for the best…

    By nature of living in a connected society, we can not avoid the attempted imposition (willed or not) of our values upon one another.  Either of us asking the other to not impose upon each other is an impossibility.

    …I think I’ve said all I can, and I realize that we probably do have to leave it at ‘we disagree.’

  97. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:37 pm

    Jane,
    I had my child murdered by abortion. I am a murderer set free by Christ.  A child growing in my womb had her legs and arms ripped off and her body was suctioned from mine. Murder. I was almost 11 weeks along. My baby was a fully formed human being. How do I know this? 5 years later I had a miscarriage at almost 11 weeks along and delivered that baby into my hand. There is no mistaking the humanity of the unborn.

    So what I hear you saying is abortion isn’t really murder because a zygote is smaller than a child on life support that you lovingly call meat. Is that right?

  98. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:38 pm

    SteveG,
    Can you elaborate on the “impossibility” of not imposing your will on others?
    .
    I understand that there will be interaction between members of the same society, but what we’re talking about are specific issues where you choose to try to impose your will.

    Regarding same-sex marriage, can you not choose to live and let live?  What compels you to give your vote to the politician that promotes anti-homosexual values, over one that doesn’t?

  99. Don Bocologist
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:41 pm

    SteveG and others:

    There’s a kind of legal scrutiny that certain laws have to pass, called “strict scrutiny”.  Strict scrutiny means that the state must demonstrate a compelling governmental interest that will be served by the law (also, that the law is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest).  Laws related to groups that are members of protected classes (gender and race) must pass strict scrutiny.  Some other laws must only “rational basis scrutiny”, which means just that the state must have a rational basis for the law.  Nearly any basis can be construed as a rational basis, so nearly any law can pass rational basis scrutiny.  (An example of a law that probably could not is: “People with blue eyes must pay triple the taxes of people with brown eyes.”  Hard to generate any rational basis for that.)

    Some people (and I’m one), think that the country would be better if every law had to pass strict scrutiny.  This would eliminate a lot of laws about preferences.  It would be very difficult to justify a ban on gay marriage in terms of a compelling state interest that is narrowly served by that ban.  (If the purpose of marriage is procreation, and IF gay people make poor parents — not at all demonstrated — then why are octogenarians allowed to marry?)

    SteveG, you keep describing the basis for laws in terms of the preferences of the majority.  The point that Irreligious is getting at is the mere preferences should be insufficient basis for passing laws.  The Bill of Rights was designed to prevent exactly this sort of tyranny of the majority.  Instead of saying, “Well, try to get a majority and overturn laws based on preferences you don’t share,” it would be very heartening to hear you agree that laws should have a stronger basis than simply the preferences of the majority.  And if they can’t be justified in terms of compelling state interest, they probably should not be laws at all.

  100. Carbon Monoxide
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:43 pm

    Trying to address everyone at once:

    No really Christian would dislike (or hate) an individual because they have same sex attraction.  Homosexual acts, however are a sin.
     
    The fetus in a woman has a different DNA from the mother.  Even if it were one cell, it would have a uniquely identifiable DNA different from the mother.  It has the DNA of a human being. Even if it is one cell, you can identify that cell as a cell from a human being from its DNA. The fetus, even if it is one cell, metabolizes nutrients, eliminates waste and divides (grows).  Therefore it is clearly alive.  If it is alive and it is human, it is a human being distinguishable from its mother.
     
    No pro-choice person would force anyone to have an abortion – no but the U.N. will withhold food money from countries that do not allow abortion.
     
    The first amendment of the Constitution gives NO rights.  Read the Declaration of Independence.  The founding fathers believe that rights were granted by God and were inalienable.  The Bill of Rights merely enumerates some of these rights.  The first amendment is not a piece of legislation.
     
    The idea that no one should impose their beliefs on others is imposing a belief on others.  Without a moral absolute (i.e. God) all political action is merely imposing one belief over the beliefs of others.  Many people don’t believe the government should bail out the auto industry, yet they will have to pay the taxes to do so.
     
    Where in the world do you get the idea that abortion and same sex marriage are rights?  Look at the history of the development of the concept of individual rights.  Find same sex marriage in the Magna Carta, in the Mayflower Compact, in the Rights of Man, in the Declaration of Independence, in the Constitutions, anywhere!
     
    Protestants imposing their beliefs?  Let me give you some examples.  First, here in Maryland, as soon as the Protestants could, they outlawed Catholicism though the Catholics who started this stated allowed religious freedom.  Next, public schools which were a response to Catholics developing a school system.  I have to pay for the public schools even though none of my children attend them.  Next, my friend who is a Catholic pharmacist must prescribe morning after abortion pills or lose his job.  I do not get my religious holidays off even though Jews and Moslems can take their holidays off.  Birth control: all protestant religions condemned artificial birth control until the Episcopalians changed their doctrine that it was sinful in 1930. Soon, most all protestant denominations changed their doctrine that artificial birth control was sinful.  Some protestant denominations have changed their doctrine on abortion and same sex marriage as well, notably the Episcopalians (again).  It goes on and on.  Someone is imposing their belief system on you….get over it.

  101. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:44 pm

    Carla,
    I was almost 11 weeks along. My baby was a fully formed human being.
    .
    This is obviously an emotional issue, especially for you, but, no, no it wasn’t.  I don’t want to marginalize the apparent trauma that you experienced, but an 11 week old fetus is not a “fully formed human being”.

  102. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:50 pm

    You’re absolutely right, Carbon Monoxide (can I call you CO?).
    .
    Why didn’t those uppity black people, and their enabling abolitionists, just shut the fuck up, and just accept that they were lower forms of life, to be owned by white landowners?  It was the will of the voting majority, just get over it.

  103. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:52 pm

    nkb,
    You don’t want to minimize, but you went ahead and did it anyway. :)
    My miscarriage is irrefutable.  It is emotional for me as that was my child I was holding.

    Google fetal development. Look up the child at 11 weeks along. 
    What is missing that makes it a non human being?

  104. Melissa
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:54 pm

    Looking forward to more “headlines” from you!! God bless you RT!!! :) 

  105. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:55 pm

    Child on life support is human, but not a sentient being.  That is there are no thoughts – no brain waves. Yes meat.  A human carrot.

    To me murder is the ending of a life that is self aware and neither the pulling of the plug, nor the abortion fills that definition.

    I don’t think you’re a murderer Carla, I think you are being manipulated by an organization that seeks to control reproduction and who teaches you feel grateful for forgiveness that you shouldn’t have to ask for in the first place. 

    You are the “example” they use to keep the other women in line.  “See how traumatized she is!?!?!  Do you want that to happen to you?”  Phewy!

    In the time of Roman Empire, and before it was the job women – including Christian women – to decide whether their family could handle the weight of another child and if not, or if the child was handicapped, it was the mother’s job to expose that baby.

  106. Carbon Monoxide
    December 30th, 2008 @ 4:57 pm

     
    NKB:

    No, fortunately due to a group of dedicated Christian abolitionist, slavery was abolished by imposing their Christian views on others.  By the way, can you quote me any anti-slavery remarks or and anti-slavery advocacy by famous atheists of the time?

  107. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:00 pm

    Well, I said “marginalize”, not “minimize”, but let’s not quibble.  How did I marginalize what you went through?
    .
    All I’m stating is that an 11-week old fetus is not a “fully-formed human being”.  If that were the case, it would be able to survive outside the womb.  There is a reason the fetus requires another 29 weeks (give or take) of development, mainly because it is not “fully-formed”.
    .
    Now, if you were trying to say that it was distinctly human, or human looking, I won’t argue with you on that.

  108. Carbon Monoxide
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:04 pm

    Actually, one of the reasons Christianity grew so fast in ancient Rome was that Christians (they were all Catholic at the time) went out and rescued children who were left out to die.  Christians did not participate in this practice as it was condemned by the Church.
     
    The Didache ca 120 AD
     
    “Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion.”  2:2
     
    “The Way of Death is filled with people who are … murderers of children and abortionists of God’s creatures.”  5:1-2
     
    The Epistle or Barnabas ca 125 AD
     
    “Thou shalt love thy neighbor more than thy own life. Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion.” 19:5
     
    The Apocalypse of Peter ca 135
     
    “I saw a gorge in which the discharge and excrement of the tortured ran down and became like a lake. There sat women, and the discharge came up to their throats; and opposite them sat many children, who were born prematurely, weeping. And from them went forth rays of fire and smote the women on the eyes. These were those who produced children outside of marriage and who procured abortions.” -26
     
    “Those who slew the unborn children will be tortured forever, for God wills it to so.”  -2:264
     
    Clement of Alexandria ca 150-180
     
    “Our whole life can go on in observation of the laws of nature, if we gain dominion over our desires from the beginning and if we do not kill, by various means of a perverse art, the human offspring, born according to the designs of divine providence; for these women who, if order to hide their immorality, use abortive drugs which expel the child completely dead, abort at the same time their own human feelings.”  -Paedagogus 2
     
    Tertullian ca 160-240
     
     
    “For us [Christians] we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter when you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to birth. That is a man which is going to be one: you have the fruit already in the seed.”  -Apology 9:6
     
     
    “They [John and Jesus] were both alive while still in the womb. Elizabeth rejoiced as the infant leaped in her womb; Mary glorifies the Lord because Christ within inspired her. Each mother recognizes her child and is known by her child who is alive, being not merely souls but also spirits.” 
    -De A ninta 26:4

    Fortunately, all sins can be forgiven (even mine).

  109. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:06 pm

    I would not refer to one of my children as produce. They have names.

    You are placing your thoughts on an “organization” you know nothing about. Well you know only what I have told you.  Women who regret their abortions are trying to heal. They find that healing in Christ then they come together to support one another.

    I hardly doubt that we are held up to keep anyone “in line.” I happen to believe it’s the other way around. If you are pregnant, alone, jobless, homeless, boyfriendless THEN WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO? Best abort and move on, right Jane?
    I was manipulated by the abortion clinic. They told me it wasn’t a baby, it was a clump of cells, it was just some tissue. I bought it.

  110. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:07 pm

    CO: “No, fortunately due to a group of dedicated Christian abolitionist, slavery was abolished by imposing their Christian views on others.  By the way, can you quote me any anti-slavery remarks or and anti-slavery advocacy by famous atheists of the time?
    .
    Wow, Holy Non-Sequitur, Batman!
    .
    You’ll have to explain to me where these Christian views came from, and how they are different from the Christian views that keeping slaves was fine and dandy, even according to Jesus himself.
    .
    But, congratulations, you completely missed the point.

  111. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:13 pm

    nkb,
    Marginalize didn’t sound right so I changed it to minimize.

    Yes, my baby looked human because it was. All that baby needed was 29 more weeks to GROW. All organ systems were in place. 
    I have been pregnant 7 times. I have given birth 4 times. 
    I know a little bit. :)

  112. Carbon Monoxide
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:17 pm

    By the end of the second month of pregnancy, the fetus has a vertebral column, a bony jaw, clavicle, and palate, a cranium, ribcage, femur, tibia, forearms that can be distinguished from arms, and thighs that can be distinguished from legs, a developing nervous system, sympathetic nerves (meaning the fetus can feel pain), a closed circulatory system and a working heart, eyes, developing ears and nose, lungs, arms and forearms, legs and thighs, hands and feet, a pancreas, a bladder, kidneys, a tongue, a larynx, a thyroid, germs of teeth, and developing muscles.

    A full term, new born baby will not survive outside the womb either.  As a father of five, I would say that some teenagers can’t survive for long without their mom.

    Since when did your ability to perform tasks become the criteria for being human?  When is a child human, when it can hold its bottle?  When it can walk?  Who gets to choose and what happens if that person decides that YOU can’t perform the required tasks to be considered human.

    nkb:  You mentioned slavery.  All slavery is the decision that a class of human beings is no longer human, deserving of the dignity that God wishes for each of us.  If society can declare a person (distinct human DNA, demonstrably alive) non-human by virtue of their inability to survive on their own, what is your beef with slavery?  Why can’t a society declare any class of individuals “not human” based on any criteria it feels?  If jane can decide that the baby in her body (distinct human DNA, demonstrably alive) is her property, why can’t she decide that her Salvadorian maid is her property?  Where is the constancy?

  113. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:18 pm

    I guess you know more than the doctors, Carla.
    .
    No matter how many times you’ve been pregnant, they aren’t “fully-formed human beings”.
    .
    I’ve been on airplanes thousands of times, it doesn’t qualify me to fly them, design them, or make expert remarks about them.

  114. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:21 pm

    I’m a mom!!! Nuff said.

    Gotta go make supper for my fully formed human beings that are still dependent on me.

    Thanks Carbon Monoxide. Very good.

  115. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:22 pm

    A full-term ( and many pre-term) baby can survive outside the mother’s womb.  A fetus can not.
    .
    Until someone comes up with an artificial womb, or a way to transplant a fetus into another (willing) woman, then it is not for you to decide whether or not a woman carries to term or terminates the pregnancy.
    Even then, you have some ethical obstacles to overcome.

  116. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:25 pm

    CO,
    That’s quite a stretch, comparing sentient human beings, who happen to have a different skin color, to a non-sentient fetus, who can’t survive outside the mother’s womb.
    .
    Of course, let’s ignore the fact that you are misdirecting the issue, which was that we should just “get over it” when there are laws on the books that discriminate against people.

  117. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:26 pm

    Carla,
    I’m a dad.  What’s your point?

  118. Don Bocologist
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:29 pm

    CO:

    Mice have vertebral columns, crania, ribs, femurs, etc., too.  Most people will agree that this is insufficient reason to ban mousetraps.  You’ll say: “Yes, but mice don’t have human DNA.”

    Why are we so concerned about DNA?  If there were a creature with canine DNA but could talk, emote, and had various other characteristics of humanity, would you want to deny it human rights based simply on its having the wrong genetic code?  Conversely, if a collection of cells has human DNA but lacks functional characteristics of humanity, why is it such a tragedy to kill it?

    Incidentally every cell of yours is alive, is not canine or avian and so, in some sense, is human life, and contains all the DNA needed to create a new version of you.  Yet every time you brush your teeth, you scrub off and kill thousands of such cells.  Thousands of human lives!  This is clearly ridiculous.  A gum cell is not a person.  And neither is a fertilized egg.

  119. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:29 pm

    I would not refer to one of my children as produce. They have names.
    When a person’s brain stops working, the person that you knew – to whom you are attached is gone.

    Best abort and move on, right Jane?
    Absolutely.  You are more than a womb, and your potential for yourself and your potential contribution to the rest of the group is greater if you wait until you are able to afford a child.

    They find that healing in Christ then they come together to support one another.
    No, they are defining and adult decision as “evil” and then encouraging you perseverate over it endlessly.

    Is the woman who can’t afford to have another baby and who does anyway, allowing her older children to go hungry, a good person?  Or who is too old to launch a child into successful adulthood?  Or diabetic or putting her life at risk?

    Loving babies is easy.  The species would expire without that drive, but our brain enables us to reach beyond our instincts and sometimes being an adult means making a choice against cuddly and cute.

  120. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:32 pm

    Don, I loved what you wrote about the talking dog.  I’m stealing it (though I know that’s wrong).

  121. Don Bocologist
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:39 pm

    No sweat.  (Now it’s not wrong.)

  122. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 6:12 pm

    By the way Carla, I think you’re very brave to debate here with us and appreciate your input.

  123. James Stephenson
    December 30th, 2008 @ 6:24 pm

    ‘Let’s take same-sex marriage: Explain to me why I shouldn’t have the same rights as you, and be able to marry the person I love (assuming that they are willing as well).’

    – NKB

    NKB – I and most Christians do not wish to prevent you from living with whomever you choose. As far as I am concerned I have no issue with you having civil rights and legal rights within the normal framework of a monogamous relationship. I also have no issue with what you do in your bedroom – it is not my issue.

    I just want marriage to be reserved for a man and a woman. I want the traditional family to be accorded a different status. I do not want to prevent you from making a life-long commitment and living happily with your partner.

  124. James Stephenson
    December 30th, 2008 @ 6:30 pm


    A full-term ( and many pre-term) baby can survive outside the mother’s womb.  A fetus can not.
    .
    Until someone comes up with an artificial womb, or a way to transplant a fetus into another (willing) woman, then it is not for you to decide whether or not a woman carries to term or terminates the pregnancy.
    Even then, you have some ethical obstacles to overcome.’

    – NKB

    So if a scientific breakthrough occurs and allows a two month fetus to survive outside of the womb, then it would be wrong for a Mother to abort a fetus above 8 weeks?

  125. Carbon Monoxide
    December 30th, 2008 @ 6:42 pm

    Don:

    When you can find a creature with human intelligence and a soul that is not human or that someone has created a human from the detritus of brushing their teeth, then we can talk.  Until then, you are dealing with silly hypotheticals.

  126. Carbon Monoxide
    December 30th, 2008 @ 6:48 pm

    NKB:

    It is not a stretch to compare a pre-born baby to a slave.  As an atheist, you have no moral absolutes.  All you need to do is find a country where you can vote in any arbitrary standard of what is human and what is not and you’re good to go.

    Don:
    If you did to a dog or a mouse what abortionist does to a pre-born baby, you would be arrested and put in jail for being cruel to animals.  Even if you were granted the argument that a pre-born baby was less then human, why wouldn’t you grant that being the same protection that society grants to dogs and mice?

  127. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 6:50 pm

    James,
    You already have marriage that is reserved for a man and a woman: the one that is officiated by your church.
    .
    However, why do you need to restrict the secular definition, as it is administered by the government?  What business is that of yours?
    .
    Is the word “marriage” sacred?

  128. Carbon Monoxide
    December 30th, 2008 @ 6:52 pm

    The little boy who pulls the wings off of flies is considered disturbed.   The doctor who pulls the arms and legs off of a pre-born baby is considered a hero.

  129. ep
    December 30th, 2008 @ 6:53 pm

    nkb, yes, it is sacred.

  130. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 6:53 pm

    So if a scientific breakthrough occurs and allows a two month fetus to survive outside of the womb, then it would be wrong for a Mother to abort a fetus above 8 weeks?
    .
    In my mind, yes (bit some may argue that it opens new questions).
    If the fetus is not wanted by the mother, and it’s coming out either way, I don’t see how the woman would have a valid objection to preserving the fetus, and letting it continue to develop.

  131. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 6:54 pm

    CO,
    Show us evidence that humans have souls, and maybe we can continue that angle.

  132. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 6:55 pm

    Carbon,

    Would you lie to protect the escaped slaves in your basement?  Would you shoot Pol Pot if you had the chance?  Do you think a child that was pimped out by his father should “honor” him?

    I’m sure both of us could work through every one of the ten commandments and find exceptions.  Even so called moral absolutists aren’t moral absolutists.

  133. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 30th, 2008 @ 6:58 pm

    To nkb

    If you and your wife had some frozen some embryos and then decide against babies, should the embryos be open for adoption against your wishes?

  134. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 7:02 pm

    It is not a stretch to compare a pre-born baby to a slave.  As an atheist, you have no moral absolutes.  All you need to do is find a country where you can vote in any arbitrary standard of what is human and what is not and you’re good to go.
    .
    You are committing the usual theist error: Just because I don’t have moral absolutes, doesn’t mean I don’t have morals.
    I believe in individual’s rights, my morals towards other humans are based on empathy (or the golden rule, if you will), so why would I want to go to a country that has arbitrary morals that allow for the enslavement of people?

    And, just because you say it’s not a stretch, doesn’t make it so.  Despite your protestations, comparing sentient humans to a clump of cells or a non-sentient fetus is a stretch.

  135. Eric
    December 30th, 2008 @ 7:43 pm

    I’ve noticed a persistent thread in these comments regarding the nature of imposition and the tendency/right of one group to impose over another. For the most part, the responses have been too brief, leaving one with the impression that atheists and theists are doing little more than hurling bumper stickers at each other, so I thought I would try to do a little better.
    First, I apologize if I wind up repeating a lot of what has been said already, the last I checked, the thread was 121 comments long. I just haven’t the time to read it all. I also apologize for not giving proper credit to the statements I will repeat. Again, I don’t have the time to go back and double check, not for a comment on a blog anyway.
    Second, in the interest of full disclosure, I am a Catholic convert. I don’t think this makes much difference to anything I will right in a religious sense as I will not be discussing anything peculiar to the religion. However, with the Church there is a long and rich tradition of philosophy that I simply cannot help but draw from.
    Third, I apologize for the length of the post.
    Okay, what do we mean by imposition? I know someone throughout the dictionary definition a while back, but my concern is not so much with that but with the way most people actually use and understand the term. What people usually seem to mean by “don’t you impose your beliefs on me” is “don’t force me to believe what you believe.” Now, if the typical situation was, “I will kill you if you don’t accept that frozen yogurt is better than ice cream,” I would definitely say that the term was being used accurately. However, the way the term is actually used is more like this, “How dare you say that ice cream is better! Even worse, you offer me some to try!”
    Obviously, this is not a case of the ice cream lover attempting to force his preference on the other but simply of saying “This is better. Here, try some.” The parallel here is of course when a Christian (or other believer of some sort) attempts to persuade another person of the truth of their faith. So long as we are talking about a simple discussion in which both parties are willing participants, then I don’t think we can seriously talk of any actual imposition taking place. If this is imposition, then we had best drop any pretense of rational debate about anything, ever.
    Now, I think thus far, most people commenting here would be in agreement with me, at least in principle. The real disagreement comes when beliefs enter into the political realm. As has been noted already, any law that prohibits an act is in an imposition of a particular belief, the classic example being laws against murder imposing a belief in the value of human life. Following a post pointing this out, there seemed to be an attempt to refute the notion that this is an imposition by pointing out the equal protection clause in the 14th amendment of the constitution. This does not refute that prohibiting murder is an imposition, it merely moves the imposition over two hundred years into the past. Societies prohibit certain actions because those actions are seem to be detrimental to that society, not simply because the rich and the powerful got a wild hair up their collective butt (at least not usually). This isn’t to say that any democratically established prohibition is legitimate, only that such prohibitions are not arbitrary.
    Okay, I’m willing to be that most of you are still with me. So, let’s get right to the real issues that we are talking about, abortion and homosexual marriage. I know, hot button issues, but let’s face it, they are the two elephants in the room that we are trying to ignore when the idea of imposing beliefs comes up (there is a younger member of heard called “intelligent design” but I’m already getting carpal tunnel).
    As for abortion, opposition to it is only religious insofar as we Christians believe that every life is of inestimable value and that we are to promote this basic truth. This basic belief is at heart of opposition to slavery, murder, torture, unjust imprisonment, etc. Opposition to abortion is simply another manifestation of the belief in the worth of humanity. I of course can say this simply because the science does say that when the sperm fertilizes the egg there is a new creature with its own unique DNA, in other words, a human life. All we Christians say is that this is a life of worth and should be protected, the same as any other. And yes, because it is science that informs us that we are dealing with a life and not a particular religious belief, we are certainly justified in seeking to codify prohibitions against abortion in law. An example of codifying a particularly religious belief in law would be if I tried to impose a requirement on all people to go Mass on Sunday.
    Of course, you can still say that we are imposing a belief in the value of every human being. All I can say to this is that it has been enshrined in our law from the beginning (as pointed out somewhat unintentionally by the earlier poster I mentioned). Certainly, you can reject this as an imposition in itself (as I pointed out earlier) but are you really willing to live in a society that does rejects this basic belief?
    It also worth pointing out that allowing abortion and forbidding laws that restrict it even in small ways is itself an imposition of the idea that it is a perfectly valid option. Certainly, one is still free to not have one, but the message of society is that is doesn’t matter one way or another which at least is in an inculcation of an apathetic viewpoint. And when we force medical professionals to participate in abortions against their conscience society is definitely imposing the idea that abortion is actually a good, and so much of a good that it trumps a doctor’s own conscience.
    As for opposition to homosexual marriage, this too is largely grounded in science insofar as it would seem clear that homosexual intercourse is not the norm in nature and does not conform to the primary purpose of intercourse which is procreation. I am fully aware that homosexual behavior has been observed in animals but that is not the same as saying that it is normal. Let’s face it, where it exists it is an aberration, whether it stems from trauma or genetics. Now, that doesn’t mean that there should be laws specifically prohibiting homosexual activity. Such laws are simply unenforceable. However, I do not think it should be encouraged. And that is what attempts to enshrine homosexual marriage are, an attempt to get society place its stamp of approval on such relations. And not only approval but financial support in the form of tax incentives. Basically, making homosexual marriage law, would impose the belief that this is a good that should be supported upon people who disagree with this position. Attempts to ban state recognition of homosexual marriage are simply attempts to leave things as they are. That is, homosexuals are free to walk into an Episcopal church, have a ceremony and call themselves married and to grant power of attorney to whomever they choose so that decisions may be made in the even of incapacity.
    To conclude, it is true that all people try to impose their views in some way through the legislative process. This is simply a fact of human nature and in fact of the way that things have to work. Ideas meet, they are debated and one wins over another and the process repeats continually. This is not to say that might makes right, but might does in a sense make law. As a Catholic, I believe in the existence of objective truth, independent of the law, and therefore, if I believe the law is wrong, I will seek to change it, just as the atheist who also believes in a kind of truth will seek to change laws that he disagrees with. Concerning the promotion of our values in the political realms, it is important not that we twist ourselves into knots worrying about “imposition” but that we present our beliefs openly and honestly and seek to make an honest effort to understand our opponents rather than engaging in trickery or even dismissing the opposing point of view as stupid and not worth our time. That is the difference between settling our differences in the public square and settling them on the battlefield (which would be real imposition).

  136. Bob Larch
    December 30th, 2008 @ 7:51 pm

    CO wrote:  “No really Christian would dislike (or hate) an individual because they have same sex attraction.  Homosexual acts, however are a sin.”

    So, your argument seems to be that it’s ok to deny others the right to do things that you believe are sins? 

    There sure are a lot of sins.  Ever eaten too much?  Gluttony is one of the seven deadly ones.  I guess we need a new government agency to keep track of how much people eat and prosecute the ones who eat too much.  And another agency to keep track of people who work on the sabbath and ticket them for violating one of the ten commandments. 

    Christians can’t even completely agree on what is sinful and what is not.  I know of some denominations who believe it’s sinful for women to wear pants.  So clearly we need the government to step in and confiscate all female pants, right?

    Or think about this…  what if old order Amish became the majority in this country, and voted their values into laws?  Would you protest when they came for your TV, your stereo, your car?  Would you still think you live in a free society?  Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t allow blood transfusions.  What if they voted their personal values into law?  Would it be ok with you if your child died because blood transfusions are illegal?  I mean, they’re just voting their personal values, right?  They’re just making something that they consider to be a sin illegal, the same as you would. 

    In a free society, laws have to be about protecting people’s rights, rather than taking them away.  As someone pointed about before, laws against murder and theft are about protecting the rights of the victims to keep living and keep their property.  And the “right” to live in a country where homosexuals are prevented from marrying doesn’t count, any more than a racist’s “right” to live in a country where black people are property.  Because those “rights” come at the expense of the rights of others to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    It’s not a free country until everybody is free.

  137. Bob Larch
    December 30th, 2008 @ 7:53 pm

    Oh and P.S.

    I’m not a homosexual, or even an atheist.  You don’t need to be to see what’s wrong with making everything the someone considers a sin against the law.

  138. Lily
    December 30th, 2008 @ 8:20 pm

    Not every sin is against the law. Not by a long shot. Those that have a direct impact on others, i.e. the community and its members, usually are, unless the community, on balance, decides that the cure, a law against X,  is worse than X.  It is simply silly to posit that the government should track gluttons. Oh wait! Something like that is afoot in NYC and California too. Ditto tracking those who work on Sunday. It’s called management, or Human Resources. Yet I haven’t noticed anyone pushing for prosecution. If , however, those Sunday workers are also gluttons, I confidently predict trouble…

    At some point, we need to allow common sense a place at the table of this discussion. Yes, if the Old Order Amish became the majority, they would impose their views on quite a number of areas of our laws. As long as they are subject to the constitution, that is the way it is. If I don’t like it, I can fight it by all legal means or I can go elsewhere.

    Many here are downright promiscuous in their “rights” talk. I think a little sober reflection is in order. Rights and obligations are the obverse and reverse of the same coin. Homosexuals have the exact same right to marry  as every other person in this country.  They don’t have the right to redefine a particular institution that predates the state  out of existence. Marriage does not exist to ratify our romantic choices.  That is why arranged marriages were the norm for many centuries (and still are in some parts of the world). There are sound sociological reasons to not only continue to define marriage as we traditionally have but to strengthen it greatly.

    It simply isn’t all about you. Nor is it about me. No man is an island and all that. 

  139. Bob Larch
    December 30th, 2008 @ 8:23 pm

    Eric wrote “As for opposition to homosexual marriage, this too is largely grounded in science insofar as it would seem clear that homosexual intercourse is not the norm in nature and does not conform to the primary purpose of intercourse which is procreation.”

    In nature, sentience is an aberration.  Out of all the species who live on this planet, only one (us) has the intelligence and ability to have conversations like these.  It is certainly abnormal for a species to manufacture and purchase ice cream, and then argue the merits of it vs. frozen yogurt!  You never see animals constructing complex tools that allow them to communicate with others of their kind thousands of miles away. These computers we’re using are definitely not natural, and therefore their use should not be encouraged!

    My point is:  Humans vs. The Animal Kingdom is apples vs. oranges.  We’re the only beings intelligent enough to do most of the stuff we do on a daily basis.  Marry someone for love, for example.  You know, even monogamy can’t be considered the norm in nature.  There may be a few examples of it, but the majority of animals are not loyal to one mate their whole lives.  So by your logic, marriage and monogamy should not be encouraged either, because they aren’t the natural norm. 

    I call foul.  You’re picking one thing, out of the many things we do that aren’t the norm in the natural world, and saying it shouldn’t  be encouraged on that basis.  Your logic is inconsistent.

  140. Paolo
    December 30th, 2008 @ 8:31 pm

    I write from Italy so I beg your pardon for my, possibly bad, English.
    I want to make a point about gay-marriage which is, in my opinion, at the core of its refusal by the majority in California and elsewhere: I think that most would be more or less fine (or indifferent) with gay *unions*, granting them some rights and warranties, as long as it doesn’t extend to a right to have children.
    Marriage is (almost?) universally understood and valued as the union between a man and a woman naturally open to and appropriate for the raising of children: they need both their father and their mother, their complementarity, and this is a great value aknowledged and protected by the society. It’s hard, so I think, to make the case for an homosexual “right” to marriage.
    It is difficult to say that the extension of this very marriage to homosexual  couples would bear no consequences upon people of a different understanding, so you can do your business while I do mine. You’re probably aware of  such cases in which religious orphanages or similar institutions have been forced to close facing the imposition to give the children to homosexual couples, contrary to their convictions; indeed, similar convictions are shared by many non religious people. This is just an example about the inescapable implications affecting the whole society as a consequence of a change in a basic institution such as marriage.
    Democracy is the best tool devised so far in order to pacifically address these tensions and, yes, this system implies that the minority be subject to the majority, granted certain rights to protest and expose his own point of view. The fact is that the homosexuals are asking for *public* aknowledgment and ratification of their views: nothing grants them such an outcome.

  141. Adeodatus
    December 30th, 2008 @ 9:15 pm

    RT: Welcome to the company of Thomas Aquinas, Aurelius Augustinus, Edith Stein, George Lemaitre, Gregor Mendel, G. K. Chesterton, John Tolkien, Albertus Magnus, John Poinsot and many others who have taken the quest for truth so seriously. If you always unflinchingly examine and embrace the unvarnished truth, it will lead you to Christ. You will have to get used to being villified, of course. But that’s alright… it’s good for you. Just offer it up as a sacrifice to God.

    Abortion: That abortion is homicide is an absolute fact of biology. The fetus is a homo sapiens. That’s how it is specified and there’s no getting around it. In some biology classes you dissect a felis domesticus; in others a sus scrofa domestica. How is that possible? Because the species pertains to the fetus… the fetus is not some species-neutral free parking zone. Mainly, pro-homicide agitators just want to be able to get their freak on without lasting consequence… even if it costs human lives to do it. Then they call themselves responsible citizens.

    Well, enough of that. A man has recognized his dynamism for the Infinite God and that is a matter for rejoicing. Deo gratias!

  142. Bob Larch
    December 30th, 2008 @ 9:24 pm

    At some point, we need to allow common sense a place at the table of this discussion….
    Many here are downright promiscuous in their “rights” talk. I think a little sober reflection is in order.

    Ah, this is of course meant to imply that those who don’t hold the same views you do aren’t using common sense, and that those of us that don’t have that view haven’t come to our conclusions in a sober, rational manner. 

    Of course it was once “common sense” that people with a different skin color were inferior to white people and that it was ok to own them as property. 

    As long as they are subject to the constitution, that is the way it is. If I don’t like it, I can fight it by all legal means or I can go elsewhere.

    You missed a couple of options.  As long as you still have freedom of speech and press, you can also stand up against what you feel are unjust laws in a public forum, which is what I’m doing here.  And if all else fails (I hope it never does again, but,a few times in our history, it has) you can take up arms and attempt to overthrow your government.  Still, I’m not sure what your point here is, exactly.  MY point was that if you follow the idea that homosexuality is a sin, therefore it should be outlawed to it’s logical conclusion, we’re all criminals in somebody’s eyes.

    There are sound sociological reasons to not only continue to define marriage as we traditionally have but to strengthen it greatly.

    Well, “sound” is a matter of debate, of course. It could also be argued that there are sound sociological reasons for treating all people as equals, and the marginalizing people with a different sexual orientation than you have by saying, in effect, “you can’t call it marriage because it’s not as valid as what we have!” teaches children bigotry.  A case of a law against X being worse than X. 

    It simply isn’t all about you. Nor is it about me. No man is an island and all that.

    Yes, finally we have something we can agree on wholeheartedly!  Like I said, I’m not a homosexual or an atheist.  It’s not about me.  I simply believe that laws that marginalize a minority are wrong.

  143. Carla
    December 30th, 2008 @ 9:25 pm

    Thank you Jane.
    You might want to take the time and look up Operation Outcry, Silent No More etc.  You can call it perseverating if  you want. MADD must do the same thing.

    I think abortion is always wrong.

  144. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 9:25 pm

    For the most part, the responses have been too brief, leaving one with the impression that atheists and theists are doing little more than hurling bumper stickers at each other, so I thought I would try to do a little better.

    Great way to start, Eric.  Nothing like condescension and inflated ego to get people to take you seriously.


    “How dare you say that ice cream is better! Even worse, you offer me some to try!”
    .
    No, that is exactly wrong.  We’re arguing about imposing your values about personal life on others.  Therefore, the correct analogy would be, “How dare you try to force me to eat your turd sandwich!”
    .
    Obviously, this is not a case of the ice cream lover attempting to force his preference on the other but simply of saying “This is better. Here, try some.” The parallel here is of course when a Christian (or other believer of some sort) attempts to persuade another person of the truth of their faith. So long as we are talking about a simple discussion in which both parties are willing participants, then I don’t think we can seriously talk of any actual imposition taking place. If this is imposition, then we had best drop any pretense of rational debate about anything, ever.
    .
    Like I mentioned, this is not at all what the atheists here are complaining about. Maybe you should take the time to actually read what people have read, instead of wading in with your own ideas of what atheists would argue.
    Most atheists I know have no problem discussing faith, religion, and assorted other myths, although it would be nice if some of the Christians would learn to take “no” for an answer, and stop repeating the same tired arguments.
    However, when you impose your own rules on who can marry who (for example), you have ceased to try to persuade, and have gone into full-on coercion.
    .
    As for abortion, opposition to it is only religious insofar as we Christians believe that every life is of inestimable value and that we are to promote this basic truth.
    .
    Incorrect.  Ignoring the obvious swipe at non-Christians not believing in the value of human life, that is not the disconnect.  The difference is specifically what constitutes human life, and when does an adult’s life take a backseat to another life.
    .
    This basic belief is at heart of opposition to slavery, murder, torture, unjust imprisonment, etc.
    .
    That’s a Christian belief, huh?  That must be someone else’s holy book I was reading.
    .
    Opposition to abortion is simply another manifestation of the belief in the worth of humanity. I of course can say this simply because the science does say that when the sperm fertilizes the egg there is a new creature with its own unique DNA, in other words, a human life.
    .
    Last I checked, science does not define a fertilized egg as a human life.  Nice try (not really)!
    .
    All we Christians say is that this is a life of worth and should be protected, the same as any other.
    .
    I thought this wasn’t a religious issue.  Make up your mind.

    And yes, because it is science that informs us that we are dealing with a life [it does not, as mentioned above] and not a particular religious belief, we are certainly justified in seeking to codify prohibitions against abortion in law.
    .
    Except that you have no say over the body of the woman with the fertilized egg.  Therefore, you are not justified in codifying these prohibitions.
    .
    Of course, you can still say that we are imposing a belief in the value of every human being. All I can say to this is that it has been enshrined in our law from the beginning (as pointed out somewhat unintentionally by the earlier poster I mentioned). Certainly, you can reject this as an imposition in itself (as I pointed out earlier) but are you really willing to live in a society that does rejects this basic belief?
    .
    There you go again, misrepresenting the argument.  It is not a debate on the value of human life, but on what constitutes human life.
    .
    And when we force medical professionals to participate in abortions against their conscience society is definitely imposing the idea that abortion is actually a good, and so much of a good that it trumps a doctor’s own conscience.
    .
    This oughta be good.  Can you please give some examples of doctor’s being forced to do abortions?

    I will tackle the same-sex marriage issue in the next post.

  145. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 9:39 pm

    As for opposition to homosexual marriage, this too is largely grounded in science insofar as it would seem clear that homosexual intercourse is not the norm in nature and does not conform to the primary purpose of intercourse which is procreation.
    .
    This is news to me: marriage is the norm in nature?  You learn something new every day.
    .
    I am fully aware that homosexual behavior has been observed in animals but that is not the same as saying that it is normal. Let’s face it, where it exists it is an aberration, whether it stems from trauma or genetics.
    .
    Are redheads aberrations?  Are they not normal?
    .
    Homosexuality stemming from trauma?  Can you elaborate?  Or are you pulling stuff out of your ass?
    .

    Now, that doesn’t mean that there should be laws specifically prohibiting homosexual activity. Such laws are simply unenforceable.
    .
    So, if they were enforceable, you would advocate for them?
    .
    However, I do not think it should be encouraged. And that is what attempts to enshrine homosexual marriage are, an attempt to get society place its stamp of approval on such relations.
    .
    Really, is that what those sneaky little gays are doing?  They’re trying to win converts, by making it seem cool and accepted to be gay?  Those dirty scheming homos!
    .

    And not only approval but financial support in the form of tax incentives.
    .
    What tax incentives are you talking about?  Last time I checked, married couples pay more taxes than singles.
    .
    Basically, making homosexual marriage law, would impose the belief that this is a good that should be supported upon people who disagree with this position.
    .
    You lost me on this one.  What does “supported upon” mean?
    .
    Attempts to ban state recognition of homosexual marriage are simply attempts to leave things as they are.
    .
    States that opposed abolition or desegregation also just wanted to leave things as they were.
    .
    That is, homosexuals are free to walk into an Episcopal church, have a ceremony and call themselves married and to grant power of attorney to whomever they choose so that decisions may be made in the even of incapacity.
    .
    If that’s the case, what’s the problem?  If they are already allowed to pronounce themselves married, what difference does it make.  Or do you advocate making it illegal to call yourselves married if you’re gay?

  146. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 9:40 pm

    Sorry about the lack of italics to delineate the quotes from Eric.  Apparently, cutting and pasting loses the formatting.

  147. Lily
    December 30th, 2008 @ 9:51 pm

    I said previously: As long as they are subject to the constitution, that is the way it is. If I don’t like it, I can fight it by all legal means or I can go elsewhere.

    To which Bob replied:

    You missed a couple of options.  As long as you still have freedom of speech and press, you can also stand up against what you feel are unjust laws in a public forum, which is what I’m doing here. 

    How is this not “fighting it by all legal means?”  It is hard to come up with something more quintessentially American than protesting loudly and publically.

    You wrote: And if all else fails (I hope it never does again, but,a few times in our history, it has) you can take up arms and attempt to overthrow your government

    Indeed you can. But I suggest that few are going to be willing to die to enshrine into law “gay marriage”. Some things are worth dying for. Societal approval of any and all romantic relationships is not likely to be one of them.

    You wrote further:  Still, I’m not sure what your point here is, exactly.  MY  point was that if you follow the idea that homosexuality is a sin, therefore it should be outlawed to it’s logical conclusion, we’re all criminals in somebody’s eyes.

    I have said, as clearly as I know how, that not all sins are or should be crimes. There is nothing controversial about this. Virtually all Christians agree, even though there are often disagreements about where to draw the line. Occasionally you might get small weirdo groups that think they can legislate  the kingdom of heaven into being. Most Christians know that is impossible, even as we strive to create as equitable and just a society as possible.

  148. Beelzebub
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:26 pm

    Could you be a bit more specific?

  149. nkb
    December 30th, 2008 @ 11:59 pm

    Paolo,
    If children need a father and a mother, as you claim (and is not at all supported by studies) do you propose to disallow single parents?
    .
    What’s worse, a single parent, or two parents of the same sex?

  150. Eric
    December 31st, 2008 @ 12:39 am

    Bob,

    Thank you for your reasoned response.  I understand your logic.  Allow me to clarify mine.

    I brought up the animal kingdom example simply because one of the pro-homosexuality arguments that I am used to hearing is that there are examples of it in the animal world which is then taken to mean that there is nothing at all unnatural about homosexual activity.  Since we are sentient animals we are indeed part of the animal kingdom (although certianly in a unique position within that kingdom). 
    You are however quite right to bring up the fact that much what we do is not exactly the norm in the animal kingdom.  Yet, even on a strictly human level, homosexuality is not exactly the norm.  Even if we take Kinsey’s research at face value, then we are dealing with only 10% of the population leaving homosexuals in the vast minority. 
    I grant that simply saying that something is abnormal does not affect the rightness or wrongness of the action.  Or perhaps I should leave it at the level of whether or not a particular action should or should not be encouraged.  I’ll try to get to that in other responses.

  151. Eva
    December 31st, 2008 @ 1:02 am

    “encouraging” homosexuality will only make gays come out of the closet. it will not create more homosexuality/
    coming out of the closet is a good thing. if christians don’t discriminate against them.
    treating the differently is discrimination.

  152. Irreligious
    December 31st, 2008 @ 1:20 am

    In the end, this kind of discussion is pretty futile. We will never see eye-to-eye, so we are destined to be enemies, the hardcore religious zealots and the secularists. That’s pretty sad, but I guess that’s just the way it is.

    You refuse to let me be and I will refuse, until my dying breath, to give in to your tyranny. That’s the bottom line.

  153. Eric
    December 31st, 2008 @ 1:23 am

    nkb,

    For the most part, the responses have been too brief, leaving one with the impression that atheists and theists are doing little more than hurling bumper stickers at each other, so I thought I would try to do a little better.

    Great way to start, Eric.  Nothing like condescension and inflated ego to get people to take you seriously.

    Sorry to come off that way.  I just thought that there needed to be something more that couple sentences thrown out.  After all, it is an important issue and wanted to give it some of the attention it deserves.
    Like I mentioned, this is not at all what the atheists here are complaining about. Maybe you should take the time to actually read what people have read, instead of wading in with your own ideas of what atheists would argue.
    Most atheists I know have no problem discussing faith, religion, and assorted other myths, although it would be nice if some of the Christians would learn to take “no” for an answer, and stop repeating the same tired arguments.
    However, when you impose your own rules on who can marry who (for example), you have ceased to try to persuade, and have gone into full-on coercion.

    I think that you misunderstand me here.  My point is that it seems that the imposition acqusation is through specifically in cases where the only thing being attempted is rational persuasion.  Later on in my post, I state that I think most people would agree with me that rational persuasion is not actually imposition.  From what you write, you do in fact agree with me up until that point. 
    Again, it is when our conflicting beliefs enter the political realm that the conflict arises.  Regarding the specific example you bring up, I stated (implicitly) that I have no problem from a legal perspective with homosexuals having a ceremony and calling themselves married.  My problem comes when attempts are made to enshrine this as an insitution recognized by the state and given the same legal protections given to marriage as it has been traditionally understood.  To make laws that recognize homosexual relationships as equal with marriage imposes the belief that this is so.   

    As for abortion, opposition to it is only religious insofar as we Christians believe that every life is of inestimable value and that we are to promote this basic truth.
    .
    Incorrect.  Ignoring the obvious swipe at non-Christians not believing in the value of human life, that is not the disconnect.  The difference is specifically what constitutes human life, and when does an adult’s life take a backseat to another life.
    .
    This basic belief is at heart of opposition to slavery, murder, torture, unjust imprisonment, etc.
    .
    That’s a Christian belief, huh?  That must be someone else’s holy book I was reading.

    Again, I must apologize for not being clear enough.  I do not say that non-believers do not value human life, only that is a belief that is very much a part of Christianity.  That said, on what shall we base this value?
    I confess that I’m not sure what you mean by you comment about which holy book you are reading. 

    Opposition to abortion is simply another manifestation of the belief in the worth of humanity. I of course can say this simply because the science does say that when the sperm fertilizes the egg there is a new creature with its own unique DNA, in other words, a human life.
    .
    Last I checked, science does not define a fertilized egg as a human life.  Nice try (not really)!

    I speak only in biological terms on this point.  If a given organism shares the genetic structure of another organism, it seems very reasonable to assume that they are two organisms of the same species.  Thus, the fertilized egg of an ape is a very small ape.  What is growing inside a fertizlixed chicken egg is in fact a chicken.  To be honest, the only argument I can really see for denying that a fertilized human egg is in fact an embryo, i.e. the beginning of a human life, is a metaphysical one based on when that being receives a soul. 

    All we Christians say is that this is a life of worth and should be protected, the same as any other.
    .
    I thought this wasn’t a religious issue.  Make up your mind.

    I only mention Christians specifilly because we are obviously at the forefront of the pro-life side of the abortion debate, not because it is a necessarily Christian perspective.

    And yes, because it is science that informs us that we are dealing with a life [it does not, as mentioned above] and not a particular religious belief, we are certainly justified in seeking to codify prohibitions against abortion in law.
    .
    Except that you have no say over the body of the woman with the fertilized egg.  Therefore, you are not justified in codifying these prohibitions.

    The point is that the tiny human life is a whole other body, regardless of how small it is and thus worthy of protection.  Incidentally, I understand that many people who hold a pro-choice position due so out of concern for the well-being of the mother.  To that I say that all should be concerned about this and many in fact are.  Numerous programs exist to help women in difficult situations.

    And when we force medical professionals to participate in abortions against their conscience society is definitely imposing the idea that abortion is actually a good, and so much of a good that it trumps a doctor’s own conscience.
    .
    This oughta be good.  Can you please give some examples of doctor’s being forced to do abortions?

    There have been numerous attempts to do just this through legislation, basically doing away with conscience clauses.  For example, recently in Conneticut (I think, it may have been New York), legislation was passed that forces Catholic hospitals to distribute Plan B to rape victims.  This, forces physicians to participate in chemical abortions.  Similar legislation was recently was proposed in Colorado but was dropped when Archbishop Chaput threatened to close down the Catholic health care system if it was passed.  It is also my understanding that FOCA If passed) could be used to abolish conscience protections on a national level.

    All for now.
     

  154. joanne
    December 31st, 2008 @ 1:41 am

    “Christians have every right to abhor abortion, dislike gays,or even other religious folks who are not Christians. However, neither they or anyone else (that includes atheists) should be put in a position of deciding what is appropriate for others. Not in a secular society.”
    By this reasoning, children in the womb should certainly be allowed to live. Especially when we consider that every human fetus is referred to as a “baby”, especially by doctors, until the day when a pregnant mother schedules the baby’s death, whereupon and thereafter he/she is referred to as a “fetus” , at best, or, later, a “product of conception”, just prior to being labeled “waste”.  A human person should not lose their humanity according to whether or not they are on an abortionist’s calendar.
    I wonder if we should assign “pencil” or “ink” as the cause of death for the 50 million American children who were aborted legally since 1973…
    Raving Theist, my family is praying for you, that you will find great joy in your journey home.  Your news has caused many to rejoice already! Merry Christmas! May God continue to bless you and amaze you with His great Love!

  155. Irreligious
    December 31st, 2008 @ 1:55 am

    Joanne, you have every right to disagree with me, as I have the right to disagree with you. I cannot counter reasoning in any way that you would find satisfying and your points of view  are just as abhorrent and unsatisfactory to me.  So what is there left for us to say to each other? Fight for what you believe in and I will do the same. That’s all we can do. 

  156. Bob Larch
    December 31st, 2008 @ 4:54 am

    Yet, even on a strictly human level, homosexuality is not exactly the norm.  Even if we take Kinsey’s research at face value, then we are dealing with only 10% of the population leaving homosexuals in the vast minority. 

    A minority, yes, but is it really that vast?  Lets do the math.  The world population is estimated at around 6.7 billion.  10% of 6.7 billion is 670 million, which is more than double the estimated population of the united states.  

    To put it even more into perspective, homosexuality is just as common or slightly more common than left handedness (between 7 and 10 percent of the population), and way more common than red hair (around 1 or 2 percent of the population).  

    Today, discrimination against people for having the “abberations” of red hair or left handedness is more or less a thing of the past.  Or perhaps people with red hair shouldn’t be allowed to call it “hair”?  That right should be reserved for those of us lucky enough to be born with a less abnormal hair color.  Anyway, they’re still allowed to have hair, so what’s the difference?  Allowing them to call it “hair” will only encourage and legitimize their perverse hair color!

    Ah, but I can hear you say “But homosexuality is different!  Think of the children!  Think of the negative effect on society!”.  And yet I can find no credible evidence that sexual preference for the same sex is in any way harmful to society, or to children raised by same sex couples are disadvantaged in any way except for the fact that their family is targeted by bigotry.  But it was the same for interracial couples and their children, and I don’t think that the fact that many people are prejudiced would have been a good reason to keep interracial marriages illegal, do you?  

    The science behind homosexual tendencies being anything more insidious than a genetic quirk just isn’t there, as far as I can determine.

  157. IngoB
    December 31st, 2008 @ 5:22 am

    On the imposition of certain ideas and rules: Can we just agree that we all have made lots of historical progress together?

    All societies impose on their members, and members in turn try to make their own point of view the one being imposed – to some extent or the other. But in the West we have made considerable historical progress in making this process orderly, and in agreeing on some fundamentals that are protected against easy change. It is pointless to argue the whole process from scratch now, since we all stand in much the same historical tradition and current social reality.

    For example, in discussing abortion most people actually agree that one may not murder innocent human beings, even if that is “convenient”. Hence the discussion is mostly about what a human being actually is. Similarly, most people actually agree that freedom of speech and religion is a necessary condition for a humane society. Hence the discussion is mostly about the scope and nature of such freedom. It is a rhetorical tactic to portray the other side as having abandoned the underlying social consensus, when really there is only a disagreement on its interpretation. But by constantly using this tactic, we lose our ability to detect and protect ourselves from the loony fringes actually endangering the established consensus – whether it is the ultra-rational infanticide of a Peter Singer or the irrational homophobia of a Fred Phelps.

    On requiring reasons for his conversion from RT: I agree that a more detailed description would be interesting, though the newspaper headlines were both clever and funny.

    But just because RT must have rejected the usual reasons against theism sufficiently to convert doesn’t mean that he must have a worked out a rationale for theism. It is traditional Christian doctrine that while Christian belief is not contrary to reason (“truth cannot contradict truth”), it cannot be acquired through reason alone (faith is a theological, i.e., God-given, virtue). RT need no be irrational if he cannot provide a neat rationale, his decision may well have been largely non-rational, after rational stumbling blocks had been removed. That is not the same thing.

    “Reason” also is not historically equivalent to ratiocination. Christians can argue rationally for a considerable part of their doctrines. In fact, the Roman pagan opposition to early Christianity often classed Christianity as a philosophical system rather than as a proper religion. But the scope of Christian reason is the classical one, which includes metaphysics and the natural moral law. If those are rejected a priori, as by many modern atheists implicitly or explicitly, then reasoned argument about religion becomes basically impossible. Hence those asking for RT’s “reasons” should also clarify what they consider as “reasonable” anyhow.

  158. Bob Larch
    December 31st, 2008 @ 5:23 am

    Lily wrote:  How is this not “fighting it by all legal means?”  It is hard to come up with something more quintessentially American than protesting loudly and publically.

    Ah, I misread this as “fighting it by legal means”, meaning in the courts.
    .
     I suggest that few are going to be willing to die to enshrine into law “gay marriage”. Some things are worth dying for. Societal approval of any and all romantic relationships is not likely to be one of them.
    .
    If you’ll recall, the specific hypothetical example we were discussing was one of our TVs and cars being taken away because they are sinful (in amish eyes), and I think quite a few people would be willing to take up arms in defense of their cars and TVs.  But it’s irrelevant, because my point is that most christians would find it unjust if their technology was made illegal just because a certain religious sect finds it sinful, and that denying homosexuals the same rights as heterosexuals is also unjust if the basis for doing so is because a certain religious sect finds it sinful (no matter how popular that religious sect is.)
    Now if you’re not arguing that same sex marriage should be illegal on the grounds that it’s sinful, fine.  But my original post wasn’t in response to you, it was in response to someone what basically said same sex marriage should be illegal because it is a sin.
     
     

  159. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    December 31st, 2008 @ 8:05 am

    We should just eliminate the State recognition of marriage for everyone.  Right now it serves two functions – a stars upon thars game for bigoted conservative voters, and a short hand version of granting rights in the event of a medical emergency. 

    People that want to belong to a speacial club, can do it in the privacy of their church, like the FLDS does now and the rest of us can just include power of attorney specifications and advance directives in our estate planning.

    Enough already, just level the playing field.

  160. Carbon Monoxide
    December 31st, 2008 @ 11:32 am
  161. Carbon Monoxide
    December 31st, 2008 @ 11:41 am

     
    Suppose for a moment that you are not really a human being with an actual body. In reality, you are nothing more than a brain floating in a vat of fluids, with electrodes attached to various parts of your exterior that allow evil scientists to manipulate you into thinking that what you perceive is actually there, when in fact it is nothing more than an imaginary world constructed by the scientists. Right now, they are making you think that you are reading this article when in fact you are not.
     
    From this point of extreme skepticism, we will prove beyond all possible doubt that God exists.
     
     
    1. One cannot deny one’s own existence.
     
     
    Cogito, ergo sum. Even if you’re just a brain in a vat, your own existence can be verified simply by the fact that you perceive—that is, you see, hear, smell, taste and touch things. Whether or not your perceptions are accurate is another question, but even if you doubt your own existence, you must exist, for it is impossible for a non-existent thing to doubt. In fact, the very act of doubting proves that you exist. Therefore, denying your own existence is a contradiction in terms. I can deny yours and you can deny mine, but I can’t doubt mine, nor can you doubt yours.
     
     
    2. There is at least one thing that exists.
     
     
    It is possible for you to be deceived in your perception. In fact, it’s conceivable that every one of your perceptions is a delusion. But even if that is the case—even if nothing you think exists actually exists—you still must exist.
     
    Entity is the word we have for anything that exists. You exist, so you are an entity.
     
     
    3. There is such a thing as existence.
     
     
    You can know with certainty that there is at least one entity, at least one thing of which the term existence can be predicated. If there were no such thing as existence, nothing would exist, not even you. But, as we have seen already, that is impossible.

     
    As Aquinas would say, there must be an “act of being” in which all entities participate. This act of being must itself exist; it must be an entity. Thomas calls this entity esse, which is Latin for “to be” or “to exist.”
     
     
    4. The nature of esse is actuality.
     
     
    Now that we have established that esse is an entity, we must ask: What is the nature of this entity? What is its definition?
     
    To answer these questions, we must consider existence by itself, apart from everything else.
     
    What do we mean when we say that something exists? We mean that it is actual. For example, an acorn is actually an acorn and potentially a tree. A tree is actually a tree and potentially lumber. Lumber is actually lumber and potentially a desk. A desk is actually a desk and potentially firewood. Firewood is actually firewood and potentially ashes.
     
    In other words, a thing is actually what it is right now; it is potentially what it might be in the future.
     
    Now when we say that something exists, we normally refer to actuality rather than potentiality. For instance, if I held up an egg and said, “This egg exists,” you would understand me, because what I am saying is “This egg is actual” or “This is actually an egg.” But if I held up the egg and said, “This chicken exists,” that would not make sense to you, because even though the egg is potentially a chicken (that is, the chicken exists potentially), the concept of existence applies primarily to the egg’s actual state and only secondarily to its potential state.
     
    Now potentiality is still a form of existence, but we realize that it is, in some sense, inferior to actuality. In other words, potentiality is a “shade” of existence the same way that pink is a shade of red. Just as we would say that pink lemonade is red but not in the same way that Hawaiian punch is red, so we say that potentiality exists but not as much as actuality does. Actuality is the fullness of existence.
     
    So, again, taking the brain-in-a-vat hypothesis, you know that you are actual, even if nothing else you perceive exists.
     
     
    5. Esse is nothing but pure actuality.
     
     
    Potentiality is a privation of actuality. That is, it is not a thing in itself but the absence of something. In the same way, darkness is not a substance itself but the absence (or privation) of light.
     
    Now a thing considered in itself contains nothing but its fullness. The nature (or essence) of light consists of nothing but light itself; it does not contain darkness. Therefore, the essence of esse contains nothing but its fullness, actuality. There is no potentiality in the nature of esse. Thus, the essence of esse is pure actuality, just as the essence of light is pure light.
     
    Thomas argues that all entities participate in esse insofar as they are actual. Therefore, that in which they participate—esse—must be actual. In fact, it cannot admit of any potentiality.
     
     
    6. Esse not only does exist but must exist.
     
     
    Existence itself is pure actuality, with no potentiality in it. This means that the essence of existence is nothing other than existence. Existence is its own essence.
     
    From this it follows that esse itself must exist, for if it did not, it would violate its own essence, which is impossible.
     
     
    7. Esse is distinct from everything else that exists.
     
     
    You can know from step 1 that you exist, and we know from step 3 that esse exists. But we also know that the two are not identical.
     
    Let’s say you’re just a brain in a vat, that everything you perceive is an illusion. You can still recognize that, while you are actual in some ways, you are potential in other ways. You actually perceive that you’re reading this blog right now; you’re potentially perceiving something else. You are actually existing right now; you potentially exist five minutes from now. Moreover, anything else that may exist has the same attribute: Its essence is composed of both actuality and potentiality.
     
    But, as we saw in step 5, esse is nothing but pure actuality. Thus, it must be distinct from any other entity.
     
     
    8. Esse must be one.
     
     
    If there were more than one esse, then there would be distinctions among them. But distinctions imply limitations, and limitations imply potentiality. But since esse is pure actuality, it has no limitations, which means there is no distinction in esse. Therefore, there is only one esse.
     
     
    9. Esse must be immutable.
     
     
    Change involves potentiality. In order for something to change, it must first have the potential to change; it must have a potentiality that is to be actualized. But since esse is purely actual, it has no potential to change. Therefore, esse is unchanging.
     
     
    10. Esse must be eternal.
     
     
    Time is nothing but the passing of the future into the present into the past. It is the changing of the not-yet into the now into the no-longer. But because esse does not change, it does not change from the future to the present to the past. It must be outside the realm of time, which means that there is no future, present, or past with esse. In other words, esse is non-temporal, or eternal.
     
     
    11. Esse must be infinite.
     
     
    Space is nothing but the changing of the over-here to the over-there. Anything that is actually here is potentially there. But because esse is immutable, it must be outside the realm of space. It has no spatial constraints—that is, esse is infinite.
     
     
    12. Esse must be omniscient.
     
     
    Even if you’re a brain in a vat, you can perceive that you have the capacity to know. Because you are only partly actual, and esse is purely actual, esse must know all there is to know. That is, esse is all-knowing, or omniscient.
     
     
    13. Esse must be omnipotent.
     
     
    You can perceive that you have the capacity to do some things that are logically possible. Since you are only partly actual, and esse is purely actual, esse must be able to do all things that are logically possible. That is, esse is all-powerful, or omnipotent.
     
    We have thus proven the existence of a being (esse) that not only does exist but must exist and is one, unchanging, eternal, infinite, omniscient, and omnipotent. This matches our definition of God that we stated at the beginning.
     
    We can conclude, then, that even if all of your sense perceptions are false, even if you are nothing but a brain in a vat being manipulated by scientists into believing that you are reading this blog right now when in fact you are not, there are two things you can know with absolute, 100 percent certainty: (1) You exist, and (2) God exists.

  162. Paolo
    December 31st, 2008 @ 3:43 pm

    Ciao nkb,
    thanks for your fair questions.

    “If children need a father and a mother, as you claim (and is not at all supported by studies) do you propose to disallow single parents?”

    No, I don’t propose that, I call it a disgrace. By the way, my mother left home when I was eight, my brother ten and my sister four: since then we lived with my father alone. I have great respect for my father and I love my mother too, but it was not a good exeperience and I know very well what I missed.

    “What’s worse, a single parent, or two parents of the same sex?”

    Two “parents” of the same sex are not two parents, they are a double father or a double mother and this is a mess: something essential is missing and what’s present is distorted.

    Thanks again

  163. Harrison
    December 31st, 2008 @ 4:54 pm

    HAHAHAHAAA!!! Awesome!

  164. Eric
    January 2nd, 2009 @ 7:26 am

                   As for opposition to homosexual marriage, this too is largely grounded in science insofar as it would seem clear that homosexual intercourse is not the norm in nature and does not conform to the primary purpose of intercourse which is procreation.
    .
    This is news to me: marriage is the norm in nature?  You learn something new every day.

                       Okay, it should be clear that I was referring to the intercourse, not the context in which it takes place.
                     
    I am fully aware that homosexual behavior has been observed in animals but that is not the same as saying that it is normal. Let’s face it, where it exists it is an aberration, whether it stems from trauma or genetics.
    .
    Are redheads aberrations?  Are they not normal?
    .

                        How strange that you bring this up as I happen to be a redhead.  While it is certainly a genetic aberration, it does not express itself through any sort of behavior.  Save perhaps for a correlation with a short fuse, which I may add is not something that is regarded as helpful and is thus something that I try to control.  A genetic predisposition to homosexuality is only that, a predisposition, not noticed by anyone else until the disposition is acted upon which is the result of a choice.  A parallel could be made with alcoholism, which is also a behavior suspected of being rooted in a genetic predisposition.  Do we unjustly impose our views by discouraging alcoholism?

    Homosexuality stemming from trauma?  Can you elaborate?  Or are you pulling stuff out of your ass?
                       
    Various studies have shown that homosexuals come from some sort of abusive past.  It is possible that abuse triggers the genetic predisposition in the way that whiskey does for the budding alcoholic. 
    .
    Now, that doesn’t mean that there should be laws specifically prohibiting homosexual activity. Such laws are simply unenforceable.
    .
    So, if they were enforceable, you would advocate for them?

     
    I’ll be honest, I’m conflicted here.  However, it seems that to enforce such laws, the level of government intrusion into people’s lives would make Big Brother seem like a recluse.  And that is not something I would support in the slightets
    .
    However, I do not think it should be encouraged. And that is what attempts to enshrine homosexual marriage are, an attempt to get society place its stamp of approval on such relations.
    .
    Really, is that what those sneaky little gays are doing?  They’re trying to win converts, by making it seem cool and accepted to be gay?  Those dirty scheming homos!

     
    Well, yes.  Tolerance is one thing.  I am more than willing to tolerate their existence and not get in the way of their basic right to have a good job and place to live.  But that does not seem to be enough.  What people seem to be after is not tolerance, but approval. 
    .
    And not only approval but financial support in the form of tax incentives.
    .
    What tax incentives are you talking about?  Last time I checked, married couples pay more taxes than singles.

     
    It probably depends on the precise situation.  I know where I work, the single guys complain about how much they get taxed versus us married types.  It probably has a lot to do with write-offs based on whether or not both spouses work, how many kids they have, etc.
    .
    Basically, making homosexual marriage law, would impose the belief that this is a good that should be supported upon people who disagree with this position.
    .
    You lost me on this one.  What does “supported upon” mean?

     
    Sorry, typo.  I meant “imposed upon.”
    .
    Attempts to ban state recognition of homosexual marriage are simply attempts to leave things as they are.
    .
    States that opposed abolition or desegregation also just wanted to leave things as they were.

     
    True, but that is apples and oranges.  No one chooses the color of their skin.  People to choose to engage in a homosexual relationship and they do choose to promote such relationships.
    .
    That is, homosexuals are free to walk into an Episcopal church, have a ceremony and call themselves married and to grant power of attorney to whomever they choose so that decisions may be made in the even of incapacity.
    .
    If that’s the case, what’s the problem?  If they are already allowed to pronounce themselves married, what difference does it make.  Or do you advocate making it illegal to call yourselves married if you’re gay?

     
    The problem is the seeking of state recognition and thus approval, with all the connotations described above.  Look into the situation in Massachusetts to see how the legal recognition of homosexual relationships by the state has led to the imposition of approval upon those who do not believe that such relationships are a good.

  165. nkb
    January 2nd, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

    Again, it is when our conflicting beliefs enter the political realm that the conflict arises.  Regarding the specific example you bring up, I stated (implicitly) that I have no problem from a legal perspective with homosexuals having a ceremony and calling themselves married.  My problem comes when attempts are made to enshrine this as an insitution recognized by the state and given the same legal protections given to marriage as it has been traditionally understood.  To make laws that recognize homosexual relationships as equal with marriage imposes the belief that this is so.
    .
    Traditional marriage used to be between one man and multiple women.  I can’t believe you usurped that to mean one man and just one woman.
    .
    So, if I understand you correctly, you’re ok with letting gays have meaningless ceremonies to appease them and shut them up, but you don’t want to actually grant them any of the meaningful protections that come with marriage.  How very magnanimous of you!
    .
    I think I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Restrict marriage to whomever you want, in your church!  When it comes to the secular definition, keep your opinions to yourself, as long as nobody is forcing you to marry someone you don’t want to wed.
    .
    Again, I must apologize for not being clear enough.  I do not say that non-believers do not value human life, only that is a belief that is very much a part of Christianity.  That said, on what shall we base this value?
    I confess that I’m not sure what you mean by you comment about which holy book you are reading.
    .
    I’ll say it one more time: this has nothing to do with valuing life (and you admit that it is not necessary to be Christian to do so), but the disagreement on where life starts.
    .
    My comment about your holy book, and your assertion that valuing human life is a part of Christianity, is based on the fact that your bible is the biggest collection of stories that devalue human life.  Hence my confusion on which book you were referring to.
    .
    I speak only in biological terms on this point.  If a given organism shares the genetic structure of another organism, it seems very reasonable to assume that they are two organisms of the same species.  Thus, the fertilized egg of an ape is a very small ape.  What is growing inside a fertizlixed chicken egg is in fact a chicken.
    .
    And, again, I will disagree with you.  I do not share your view that a fertilized egg (of any species) is the equivalent of an actual living creature, which, of course, I have already pointed out is the crux of the disagreement.

    To be honest, the only argument I can really see for denying that a fertilized human egg is in fact an embryo, i.e. the beginning of a human life, is a metaphysical one based on when that being receives a soul.
    .
    Do share with us who you would be having this argument with, considering that atheists generally don’t believe that souls exist, and theists have never produced even a shred of evidence for its existence.
    .
    The point is that the tiny human life is a whole other body, regardless of how small it is and thus worthy of protection.
    .
    Which I disagree with.  Now what?
    .
    Incidentally, I understand that many people who hold a pro-choice position due so out of concern for the well-being of the mother.  To that I say that all should be concerned about this and many in fact are.  Numerous programs exist to help women in difficult situations.
    .
    Out of curiosity, what is the worth of a fetus, compared to that of an adult?  You mention the well-being of the woman, but how do you decide when the mother’s health takes precedence over a fetus’ health?
    What if the woman is assured of dying if she proceeds with the pregnancy?  What if there is an 80% chance?  50-50?
    Who should have the final say in these medical matters?
    .
    There have been numerous attempts to do just this through legislation, basically doing away with conscience clauses.  For example, recently in Conneticut (I think, it may have been New York), legislation was passed that forces Catholic hospitals to distribute Plan B to rape victims.  This, forces physicians to participate in chemical abortions.  Similar legislation was recently was proposed in Colorado but was dropped when Archbishop Chaput threatened to close down the Catholic health care system if it was passed.  It is also my understanding that FOCA If passed) could be used to abolish conscience protections on a national level.
    .
    How very sneaky of you to mention forced participation in abortions, only to find out you’re talking about pills.  Much more dramatic the other way, huh?
    .
    So, are you one of those misogynistic pricks who would force a woman who has been raped to endure the emotional torture of having the rapist’s baby?
    .
    Let me ask you this: How would you feel if you had a terrible accident, lost a lot of blood, but the only doctor on call was a Jehovah’s Witness or a Christian Scientist?  Would you be ok with their exercise of their conscience, and deny you a blood transfusion?

  166. nkb
    January 2nd, 2009 @ 4:11 pm

    If you and your wife had some frozen some embryos and then decide against babies, should the embryos be open for adoption against your wishes?
    .
    To be honest, I really don’t know.  I think this falls under the new set of moral and ethical questions I mentioned.

    I think it would come down to the parents’ discretion, whether to destroy them, donate them for research, or have them available for adoption.

  167. nkb
    January 2nd, 2009 @ 4:19 pm

    Bob Larch,
    Well stated on the “minority” status of homosexuals.

    Just to add to it a little, the reason the animal kingdom is brought up as an argument is to show that it does occur naturally in many other species, and is therefore not a choice, as many theists argue.
    .
    If it’s not a choice, then how can you logically discriminate against it?

  168. nkb
    January 2nd, 2009 @ 6:07 pm

    How strange that you bring this up as I happen to be a redhead.  While it is certainly a genetic aberration, it does not express itself through any sort of behavior.  Save perhaps for a correlation with a short fuse, which I may add is not something that is regarded as helpful and is thus something that I try to control.
    .
    Well, you and I have different opinions on redheads.  I think they are an abomination, and should not be allowed to have kids.  That is their intention, to have more redheads, and I don’t like it.  We should pass laws, which should be easy, since they’re a distinct minority.
    .
    A genetic predisposition to homosexuality is only that, a predisposition, not noticed by anyone else until the disposition is acted upon which is the result of a choice.
    .
    I see that you are making very definitive statements on the cause of homosexuality.  Are you an expert?  Care to elaborate on what kind of trauma causes homosexuality in animals?
    As far as I know, nobody has determined what makes a person homosexual, so I would suggest you stop pretending that you know.
    .
    A parallel could be made with alcoholism, which is also a behavior suspected of being rooted in a genetic predisposition.  Do we unjustly impose our views by discouraging alcoholism?
    .
    Well, considering that you have not established what causes homosexuality, it seems silly to compare it to other things and expect to draw any kind of useful conclusions.
    .                  
    Various studies have shown that homosexuals come from some sort of abusive past.  It is possible that abuse triggers the genetic predisposition in the way that whiskey does for the budding alcoholic.
    .
    Care to be specific about which studies?
    .
    I’ll be honest, I’m conflicted here.  However, it seems that to enforce such laws, the level of government intrusion into people’s lives would make Big Brother seem like a recluse.  And that is not something I would support in the slightets
    .
    So, the only reason you do not want to mandate what homosexuals can do in their private lives, even if it were possible, is that you don’t like the potential scrutiny in your life.
    You’re a real sweetheart, you know that?
    .
    Well, yes.  Tolerance is one thing.  I am more than willing to tolerate their existence and not get in the way of their basic right to have a good job and place to live.  But that does not seem to be enough.  What people seem to be after is not tolerance, but approval.
    .
    And that is the beauty of living in this country.  We don’t have to give a shit what you are willing to tolerate, because the Constitution guarantees equal rights, without exception.
    Prior to desegregation, many white people were willing to tolerate blacks, as long as they knew their place.  Sure, they could have a job (but not a good one that took one away from a white person), and a place to live, but they shouldn’t have expected other rights, like being able to vote, or marry anyone they wanted.
    .
    It probably depends on the precise situation.  I know where I work, the single guys complain about how much they get taxed versus us married types.  It probably has a lot to do with write-offs based on whether or not both spouses work, how many kids they have, etc.
    .
    Yes, it has everything to do with whether you have two incomes or not.  Filing as two singles is financially better than filing as a married couple (maybe that’s why they call it the “marriage penalty”).
    So, a gay couple would have to pay the exact same taxes as a heterosexual couple.  What a concept!
    .
    Basically, making homosexual marriage law, would impose the belief that this is a good that should be [imposed] upon people who disagree with this position.
    .
    No, it does no such thing.  You can keep your belief that it is not a good thing, but it just isn’t any of your damn business.
    To fall back on racist laws again, some people still don’t think that interracial marriages are a good thing.  Thank goodness they don’t have any say in the matter.
    .
    True, but that is apples and oranges.  No one chooses the color of their skin.  People to choose to engage in a homosexual relationship and they do choose to promote such relationships.
    .
    No one chooses to be attracted to the same sex.  What an asinine position to have.  Could you choose to get aroused by another man?  If you could, would you, and bring on all the discrimination from bigots such as you?
    .
    The problem is the seeking of state recognition and thus approval, with all the connotations described above.  Look into the situation in Massachusetts to see how the legal recognition of homosexual relationships by the state has led to the imposition of approval upon those who do not believe that such relationships are a good.
    .
    I don’t want to speak for gay people, but I don’t think they give a rat’s ass about your approval.  All they’re asking for is equal rights, mainly, the ability to marry the person they love.  What fucking nerve!

  169. nkb
    January 2nd, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

    Paolo: No, I don’t propose that, I call it a disgrace.
    .
    I will be sure to let my mother know that she is a disgrace.
    .
    By the way, my mother left home when I was eight, my brother ten and my sister four: since then we lived with my father alone. I have great respect for my father and I love my mother too, but it was not a good exeperience and I know very well what I missed.
    .
    My experience with a single parent was quite nice.  My mother did an excellent job raising me, if I may say so myself.  In fact, if my father, who I loved very much, had still been married to my mother, it probably would have been a worse experience.
    .
    Two “parents” of the same sex are not two parents, they are a double father or a double mother and this is a mess: something essential is missing and what’s present is distorted.
    .
    You didn’t answer my question: What is worse?

  170. Eric
    January 4th, 2009 @ 3:17 pm

    nkb,

    Before I respond to any of your questions, let’s change the pace. Please offer the reasons for your own position. I and others have offered ours, in order to have a discussion. Please do the same so that we can perhaps continue the discussion before it devolves into hurling bumper stickers and insults.

  171. Irreligious
    January 4th, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

    Paolo wrote:
    Two “parents” of the same sex are not two parents, they are a double father or a double mother and this is a mess: something essential is missing and what’s present is distorted.

    A single-parent household is “missing” either a mother or a father. So, something is “missing,” as you put it, from those households, too. 

    What  is it, exactly, that troubles you about  two fathers or two mothers who love each other and are committed to loving and raising their children doing it together?
     
    Are your concerns borne out of your religious beliefs? If so, why should people who don’t share your religious views care on whit what you think about their choices?

    You haven’t presented any incontrovertible evidence that same-sex households are inherently harmful to children, just that you don’t like the idea. 

  172. Irreligious
    January 4th, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

    Eric, if you don’t mind, I’d like to weigh in here. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a gay man who has among his friends same-sex couples who are raising children together.

    Their children are no less happy, healthy and well-cared for than the children of my opposite-sex friends who are raising children together. Are there in existence same-sex households where children ought not be? Undboubtedly. Just as there are opposite-sex households in which the children are prisoners of dysfunction and ought to be released.  

    And I like to respond to this from you, Eric:
    ” Please offer the reasons for your own position. I and others have offered ours, in order to have a discussion.”

    As far as I can see, nkb already has offered the reasons for his position. Apparently, you don’t find them satisfactory. Paolo alluded to his reasons for not wanting same-sex households to exist, and while I think he is entitled to his opinion, he most certainly is not entitled to have it imposed on my friends who don’t share his views. He has offered no rational reasons for wanting to deny them the right to raise children. That’s my opinion, of course.

    But the larger issue here is not whether or not he likes the idea of two men or two women raising children together, but whether or not Paolo  thinks his opinion ought to carry more weight than those who disagree with him, especially as it concerns their choices for themselves.  

  173. Christologist
    January 4th, 2009 @ 6:35 pm

    “To put it even more into perspective, homosexuality is just as common or slightly more common than left handedness (between 7 and 10 percent of the population), and way more common than red hair (around 1 or 2 percent of the population). ”

    A left handed gay redhead would truly be an abomination

  174. Lily
    January 4th, 2009 @ 7:19 pm

    Study after study after study has demonstrated quite conclusively that opposite sex parents play critical roles in children’s lives. This is even more the case with fathers and daughters. If anyone really needs a bibliography on this subject, I can offer the following  (plus their citations), which may or may not be online– I found them in a quick search of an Ebsco database I have available to me:

    Fathers and Daughters: A Needed Course in Family Studies. Nielsen, Linda. Marriage & Family Review; 2005, Vol. 38 Issue 3, p1-13

    Fathers and Daughters: Recognizing the Significance. Morgen, J. V. and Wilcoxon, S. Allen. Family Therapy – The Journal of the California Graduate School of Family Psychology; 1998, Vol. 25 Issue 2, p73-84.

    Hart, Craig H.  Parents Do Matter: The Myth that Parents Don’t Matter.  Marriage & Families; August, 2000, p2-8. Here is a bit from the abstract:

    This article discusses the following four mistaken views about parenting: (1) married heterosexual parents are not essential for children; (2) fathers and mothers do not make unique contributions to children’s development; (3) there is no evidence that parenting is reflected in child behavior outside of the home; and (4) genetics and peers matter, not parents. 
    It is pretty incomprenensible to me that what we humans have known for 10,000 years (give or take a couple thousand) should need to be explained, much less defended; in peer-reviewed journals, no less.
    Oh yeah. There is another recent study out that hasn’t been published in the databases I have available but there is a summary of Girls Need a Dad and Boys Need a Mom at American Thinker.

    The evidence is there. One just needs to want to believe it, even in the face of individual cases that defy the norm.

  175. Irreligious
    January 4th, 2009 @ 9:48 pm

    There are studies to refute those studies.

    [url]http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20051012/study-same-sex-parents-raise-well-adjusted-kids[/url]

    It ain’t no neat trick to find studies that confirm one’s biases. No one arguing they’re not out there.

    Gay parents don’t live on an island. Lesbians have male friends and gay men have female friends just like single parents do who can serve as other role models for their opposite sex children.

    For thousands of years in many places around the world, girl children were raised to be little more than human chattel and brood mares, but societies evolve and improve based on new information. Some of us appreciate that and some of us don’t, apparently. 

  176. Irreligious
    January 4th, 2009 @ 10:01 pm

    There are studies that refute those studies:

    http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20051012/study-same-sex-parents-raise-well-adjusted-kids

    In fact, it’s fairly easy to find studies that confirm one’s biases and prejudices over the Internet.

    Same sex couples don’t raise their children on “Gay Island.” Many same sex couples have friends and family members of the opposite sex who often serve as role models for their opposite-sex children. The same can be said for single parents, including those who lose their spouses to, say, death, and choose not to re-marry. No one would think of taking their children from them because there wasn’t an opposite-sex parent in the house.

    Over 1,000 of years in various cultures around the world, girl children were raised to be little more than chattel and brood mares and sans the quality of interaction between father and daughter that we assume ought be the norm today. But societies and customs sometimes evolve with new information. I, for one, am glad for that. 

  177. Eric
    January 4th, 2009 @ 10:40 pm

    Irreligious,

    Regarding nkb, if he has given good reasons for his position in posts other than responses to my own, then I am at fault for not having read them. However, in his responses to my posts, I do not see reasons, although his positions are clear enough. All I see are attacks on my own reasons for the position I adhere to. I’m not complaining about criticism, I’m asking for it by posting at all. I’m asking only for a coherent account of his own reasons for his positions.

    Regarding your post, I haven’t followed your conversation with Paolo, so I simply can’t comment save to offer my own two-cents, and I fear I would probably just be repeating things already said. So unless I read your conversation with Paolo, I don’t think I am likely to contribute anything worthwhile.

    However, I did want to address an earlier post of yours regarding the apparent futility of these kinds of discussions. To be frank, I share a lot of your frustration, although obviously from a very different perspective. It seems we often spend time argueing with brick walls rather than with people. I think this is because we tend to talk past each other, simply asserting our own respective positions while making no attempt to understand the other side. I’ve seen this a lot in discussions between Protestants and Catholics, both sides hurl their favorite arguments over the wall and little is ever accomplished.
    My original post was an attempt to get past that, to try to at least find a little common ground in the definition of terms and their application. That’s exactly why I spent so much time talking about imposition isn’t before I even went into what it is and some discussion of how even the present liberal position on a couple of big social issues is an imposition (when codified in law) of a certain point of view just as much as the present conservative position on those same issues is.
    It seems that recognizing this may be necessary before we even debate the merits of the positions themselves. That way we can actually get to the merits rather than being stuck in a cycle of accusation and defense.
    That said, if you wish to debate that basic premise, I’m all for it as I’d say the premise is a work in progress and is likely to benefit from debate.

  178. Irreligious
    January 4th, 2009 @ 11:56 pm

    Eric, I’m at a disadvantage when it comes to defending my position on gay civil marriage to those who claim to be God-fearing. First of all, I don’t deal in absolutes in quite the same way as, say, Christians and Muslims have the luxury of doing.

    You both have rule books and sectarian dogma by which to guide  and defend your chosen lifestyles. I don’t. I am literally irreligious (which is why I use that handle). I’m well aware that that makes some religious people uncomfortable, but  I adhere to a basic philosophy of live and let live, so long as no harm comes to others.

    All I can say to you is that lesbians and gay men raising their children together is not in any way imposing on you and how you choose to live your life. So I honestly don’t understand why you should have any more say in their choices than they have a say in the choices you make for yourself.  Gay men and women aren’t seeking to restrict the rights of Christians, nor are they seeking to legislate  whether or not you may marry and raise children with the same legal protections that others enjoy.  I just can’t understand where people– in America, at least–  who disagree with other’s choices get the temerity to make restrictions and demands on the rights others– rights they already enjoy. I imagine they would rightly resent it if  the same were being done to them.

    I could make a lot of arguments against children being raised in certain religious households, but it’s not my business how people with whom I disagree choose to raise their children. They are protected from my interference, which is as it should be. The same basic rules that already apply to them would apply to me if I had the same rights. I have a (now grown) daughter and I love her as much as any decent heterosexual man loves his daughter. And like any thinking and caring parent, I would go out of my way to keep her from harm. That’s a given for heterosexual parents, yet others are allowed to actually vote on my fitness as a parent.   

    And what kills me is that there are, perhaps, many more thousands of children in the USA who are being raised in households headed by opposite-sex parents who are also registered Ku Klux Klansmen, but I don’t see any orchestrated effort to strip parental rights from those parents. Why is that? I’d like to think that this state of affairs (among others) actually concerns Christians of goodwill, but what are they doing about it? Where are the Proposition 8s on those people’s rights?

     Gays who seek to parent are a much, much smaller percentage of the population and are, thus,  far more vulnerable and easy targets. That’s what I honestly think.

       

  179. nkb
    January 6th, 2009 @ 5:51 pm

    Eric,
    You will have to be more specific on which position you want me to elaborate.
    .
    Although Irreligious has already addressed some of  your points, I just want to add that I do not agree with your definition of “imposition”.
    .
    When a law is enacted that you may disagree with, but does not affect you personally, how is this an imposition on you?  Nobody is forcing you to do anything with which you disagree.
    .
    Now, if you had a child up for adoption, you can argue that you have some say on whether a same-sex couple qualifies (I honestly don’t know if the law addresses this), but it is none of your damn business in the case of someone else’s child.

  180. nkb
    January 6th, 2009 @ 5:56 pm

    Let’s stipulate, for the sake of argument, that a heterosexual couple is the ideal for raising a kid.
    .
    If you use that reasoning to disqualify homosexual couples from adopting, then I want to see the same kind of support behind legislation that bans single people from doing the same.
    .
    To take it further, unmarried people should not be allowed to have kids (it’s all about protecting the kids, right?).

  181. Lily
    January 6th, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

    It is all about protecting children’s well-being which, in turn, protects society’s well-being. And yes, there is a strong case to be made that singles should not be allowed to adopt or, at least, it should be restricted to certain circumstances. We don’t keep unmarried people from having children naturally for rather obvious reasons. Let’s return to reality on the subject, shall we?

    Neither you nor irreligious will even address the sociological arguments. You prefer to argue that this is all about religion and its values being imposed on your rights. Well, that is a stretch. Irr has already exercised this right, produced a daughter and is free to do so again.  Marrriage  is not and never has been a “right” extended to homosexuals. It is crass manipulation of language to pretend that it is.

    Let’s stick to the sociological reasons for resisting such a degradation of the family and leave religion out of it. OK?

  182. nkb
    January 7th, 2009 @ 1:35 pm

    Lily,
    So I take it that you didn’t read the study that Irr posted?
    .
    It is all about protecting children’s well-being which, in turn, protects society’s well-being.
    .
    And you and all the other gay-bashers have yet to demonstrate that there is any detriment to kids growing up in a same-sex parented home.  In fact, the webmd article posted by Irr states that there is no difference, even suggesting that it may make them more sociable.
    How do you reconcile with your view?

    And yes, there is a strong case to be made that singles should not be allowed to adopt or, at least, it should be restricted to certain circumstances.
    .
    You would prefer that kids not be adopted then, and left in foster homes?
    .
    Neither you nor irreligious will even address the sociological arguments.
    .
    Which sociological arguments are we allegedly failing to address?
    .
    You prefer to argue that this is all about religion and its values being imposed on your rights. Well, that is a stretch.
    .
    Yes, I wonder where we ever got that silly idea.  But, I do agree with you, it’s not exclusively a religious issue for the opponents of same-sex marriage (although they seem to make up the vast majority), but it applies to any bigot who fears people who are different than they are.
    .
    Marrriage  is not and never has been a “right” extended to homosexuals. It is crass manipulation of language to pretend that it is.
    .
    “Freedom is not and never has been a “right” extended to negroes.”
    “Voting is not and never has been a “right” extended to women.”
    .
    These statements are just as accurate as yours, just in a different timeframe.  What a weak argument, to argue from history or tradition, as if prior injustices somehow excuse the same injustices in the future.
    .
    Let’s stick to the sociological reasons for resisting such a degradation of the family and leave religion out of it. OK?
    .
    I’m all for that, except that you already fail at your own premise, by using the term “degradation of the family”, which is religiously motivated.

  183. Lily
    January 7th, 2009 @ 1:56 pm

    As always, you are wrong. Neither you nor Irr read any of the articles I posted which all come from scholarly, peer reviewed journals retrieved from an academic database. I could have provided one hundred more, if I had the time and patience to cut and paste the citations. Then there are the whole books on the subject.

    I did read the WebMd article. It cites nothing. It claims to report what was said at a conference. If it was a legitimate scholarly conference, I know that no such claim was made.  There have been no longitudinal studies done to support such a conclusion. In 10 or 15 years there likely will be. Whether the sample will be big enough to draw reliable conclusions from I cannot say.

    “Degradation” of the family is not a religious term. It is an observation that anyone can make right now, just from observing what wide-spread divorce has done to children.

    I failed to edit properly a sentence that I had cast differently in my original message. It should have read “Marriage is not and never has been a “right”.  As I have told both of you repeatedly, marriage is the name we give to pair bonding that results in children. It predates tribe, clan and nation. Keeping families strong and intact is critical because families are the bedrock upon which strong, stable societies are built. Hence modern states surround it with all sorts of laws and some privileges to keep it strong. This is reality. Every move we have made to weaken it has harmed children. That is also reality.

  184. nkb
    January 7th, 2009 @ 10:21 pm

    Lily,
    Ever the condescending know-it-all.  What else is new?
    .
    Care to explain the relevance of divorce to same-sex parents?
    .
    Of course, degradation is a very subjective term, isn’t it?  I consider people, who make each other, and their kids, miserable, getting divorced a good thing.
    I consider a person getting away from an abusive spouse a good thing.  These things didn’t happen in the past, because divorce was such a taboo (thanks, religion), so people stayed miserable, or abused, and it had an effect on the kids.
    .
    You have told us many a thing in the time I’ve known you, and almost all of it is subjective opinion that I don’t agree with, so what’s your point now?
    Of course, it’s always presented as irrefutable fact, but we learned early on to distinguish your wishful thinking from reality.
    .
    Polygamous relationships were a-ok in the past (the bible really dug that), does that mean it should be allowed now?
    .
    I will let every childless married couple know that you don’t consider their relationship a marriage.

  185. Lily
    January 7th, 2009 @ 11:09 pm

    I cite scholarly studies in support of my opinions. You cite nothing. I have provided whole bibliographies to support my opinions on various subjects that have come up over the last couple of years. You provide your unsupported opinions and reject the scholarly literature which you have not read. 

    You dare to call my readings of the OT “selective”, which you cannot know because you have never read a single Bible commentary, Sunday School guide nor scholarly article on any of it. Based on absolutely nothing, you opine and comment and sneer. Oh wait! It isn’t based on absolutely nothing is it? You are an atheist. That is enough to make you correct on any matter you address, isn’t it?  

  186. nkb
    January 8th, 2009 @ 12:03 am

    You cite scholarly studies that happen to support your views.  Are you saying that you couldn’t possibly find studies that contradict them?
    .
    I call them the way I see them.  Yes, your readings, and the vast amounts of apologetics that you keep bringing up is all selective reading and interpretation, in a vain attempt to twist the bible to conform to all the knowledge the human race has amassed.
    .
    How come you never cite sources that claim the bible is to be taken literally?  Oh, because you don’t agree with that approach?  Got it.
    .
    I have never claimed to be correct on any matter I address (nice strawman).  That’s not a claim that you can ever (honestly) make, though.
    Your standard MO is to search for documentation that supports your opinion, and discard anything that doesn’t, with a dash of anecdotal evidence, to pretend like you have researched an issue thoroughly.
    .
    You are the epitome of confirmational bias.

  187. aldenswan.com » Blog Archive » Check out the Raving Atheist
    January 8th, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

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  188. Items of Interest - Thinking Christian
    January 8th, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

    […] and changed the title of his blog—and the tone. Quite remarkably, in fact. Check out these two posts especially, and also this […]

  189. Eric
    January 8th, 2009 @ 9:12 pm

    Irreligious,

    Thanks for the honest response, I can’t ask for more. Concerning, the whole dogma thing, the way we use it in public discourse varies alot. When disputing other Christians, I wouldn’t hesitate to use a Biblical arguement to support my position because it should mean something to that person. On this blog and in the secular sphere, I generally would not because I know that it isn’t going to mean anything to most people. That’s where I follow natural law arguments, appeals to reason alone. If I use an explicitly Biblical argument around here, it actually be to show some of where a particular position of mine comes from, not as a rejoinder to you (or any other atheist or even agnostic).
    Now, before you cry foul and state that I’m just rationalizing my dogma, please understand that when it comes to faith and reason, we Christians don’t see a contradiction. I know you see it otherwise and I’m not asking you to agree here, just to understand that this is where I am coming from.
    Concerning homosexuality and law, I freely admit, that it is more difficult to make a natural law case against homosexual marriage that it is against legalized abortion. That said, a fair case against homosexuality itself I think can be made on a natural law basis. I can elaborte if you would like in another post.
    In any case, at root in the Christian opposition to homosexual marriage is the freedom of religion and the well being of children. Concerning the latter, it looks like (at a glance) that Lily and Paolo have been posting arguments on that score, including links to studies to support their views. Regarding your own situation, I can’t dispute your relationship with your daughter, I’m no position to do so. All I can say (and this will sound dismissive, please realize it is not meant that way) is that it would seem to be a happy exception to the way things often go.
    Now, the former needs a bit of explanation. If the state recognizes homosexual relationships, companies will be forced to provide benefits for them where the owners may have religious convictions against them, the public schools will teach that such relationships are equivalent to heterosexual ones and quite likely not even allow parents such as my self to not opt their children out of the relevant classes. This has already happened in Masschusetts. Religous organizations may well be forced to allow homosexual marriages in their facilities etc. Concerning this last, in Canada the Knights of Columbus (a Catholic organization) was fined for not allowing a reception for a lesbian wedding in one of its halls and in another case a preacher (don’t know which denomination) was told he could no longer preach against homosexuality. I realize that Canada is not the U.S. but I don’t think that it is unreasonable to think that things will go a similar direction here. In fact, a photographer in New Mexico was fined for declining to photograph a lesbian wedding. I understand that much of this may not be of great importance to you and others who share your views but suffice to say, we already see the imposition of your own views on us happening, even if the laws and views are presented in a soft pluralistic fashion. I think the best quote here is that “ideas have consequences.”
    That leads to your comment about the KKK and kids those types raise. To be fair, this is a very good point, but since my wife is calling me, I’ll have to address it in another post, hopefully tomorrow.

  190. nkb
    January 9th, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

    That said, a fair case against homosexuality itself I think can be made on a natural law basis. I can elaborte if you would like in another post.
    .
    I know this is addressed at Irr, but I would love to see your argument against same-sex marriage, without resorting to religious reasons.
    .
    In any case, at root in the Christian opposition to homosexual marriage is the freedom of religion and the well being of children. Concerning the latter, it looks like (at a glance) that Lily and Paolo have been posting arguments on that score, including links to studies to support their views.
    .
    Apart from their arguments being weak (imo), you can find just as many studies that argue the exact opposite. What’s your point? That you can find studies to support your individual bias? That’s not news.
    .
    Regarding your own situation, I can’t dispute your relationship with your daughter, I’m no position to do so. All I can say (and this will sound dismissive, please realize it is not meant that way) is that it would seem to be a happy exception to the way things often go.
    .
    And wouldn’t it be nice if you could provide some evidence of this being an exception?
    .
    If the state recognizes homosexual relationships, companies will be forced to provide benefits for them where the owners may have religious convictions against them,…
    .
    Yes, that is exactly the point. It’s called “battling discrimination”. I hate to bring up the segregation issue over and over, but do you disagree with the government’s role in not allowing to discriminate against black people from working for any employer, regardless of the owners’ convictions that black people are intellectually inferior?
    .
    How about a company not providing spousal benefits to a wife of a different ethnicity than the husband, because the owner doesn’t believe that races should mix? Should that be allowed?
    .
    … the public schools will teach that such relationships are equivalent to heterosexual ones and quite likely not even allow parents such as my self to not opt their children out of the relevant classes. This has already happened in Masschusetts.
    .
    You will have to provide some support for this, as I’m not sure what exactly they teach in Massachusetts. Do they teach that they are equivalent, or that there is nothing wrong with same-sex marriages, and gay couples should not be treated as lesser people?
    .
    Should parents have the right to opt their children out of classes that teach that all people are equal, regardless of skin color? I guarantee you that some would like that option.
    .
    Religous organizations may well be forced to allow homosexual marriages in their facilities etc.
    .
    And with this statement you have shown your basic lack of understanding on the issue. The equal rights that are being pursued have nothing at all to do with religious marriage, but with secular marriage. Churches can continue to discriminate on who they allow to get married, and the only pressure that can be exerted on them is from their own members.
    .
    You do understand the difference between secular and religious marriage, right?
    .
    Concerning this last, in Canada the Knights of Columbus (a Catholic organization) was fined for not allowing a reception for a lesbian wedding in one of its halls…
    .
    I’m not a lawyer, but if that hall was being rented out to the general public, and they are receiving money for it, then they probably can’t discriminate on who rents it.
    .
    … and in another case a preacher (don’t know which denomination) was told he could no longer preach against homosexuality.
    .
    Go figure, those bleeding-heart liberal Canadians don’t look kindly on hate-speech. Not to beat this parallel to death, but should a preacher be allowed to preach against black people?
    .
    I understand that much of this may not be of great importance to you and others who share your views but suffice to say, we already see the imposition of your own views on us happening, even if the laws and views are presented in a soft pluralistic fashion. I think the best quote here is that “ideas have consequences.”
    .
    And, once again, your definition of “imposition” is very different from mine. Please explain how you are being imposed upon?
    If you don’t like eating olives, is it an imposition on you when someone else eats them?

  191. Lily
    January 9th, 2009 @ 12:54 pm

    Honestly, this is the lamest attempt at waving away reality that I have ever read. Let’s number a few of  the problems:
    1. No, you cannot find “just as many” studies that say that gay marriage and parenting don’t harm children. Those studies don’t exist. Some preliminary claims have been made but, in the absence of longitudinal studies that cover a large enough sample, they are virtually worthless.

    2. Canada has essentially outlawed freedom of speech, although after years of enduring the various “Human Rights Commissions”  set up in the provinces, the people and even some in the Gov’t are finally rebelling.. The young Baptis pastor in question, Stephen Boissoin, was fined and nearly ruined financially for exercising his supposed free speech rights in making the case against homosexuality being normalized. It can happen here.

    3.  I have documented at long length in the past what has happened in Massachusetts. The information is easily found on the web. Brian Camenker, the most prominent of the resisters, because he was one of the first who fought back publicly,  has written about his experiences fighting the loss of his rights and other parents’ to protect their children from incredibly age-inappropriate activities and instruction, as well as the normalizing of homosexuality. He, too, was bankrupted by the gay lobby’s lawsuits and persecution.

    It is embarassing to see you, a grown man, blithely and ignorantly assuming positions because they are “liberal,” when  you obviously have no actual information about any of them. You just regurgitate the party line.  Try thinking for yourself. Try actually investigating any of these subjects. And no, that doesn’t mean 5 minutes on the web skimming something, no matter how irrelevant to a sober assessment  of these matters, with which you already agree.

  192. nkb
    January 9th, 2009 @ 2:31 pm

    1. There are no longitudinal studies on the subject (I will take your word on it) because same-sex marriage, let alone same-sex parenting, has not even been a concept until recently.  Where would you recommend they get their data, that needs to be collected over a long period of time?
    .
    But I guess it’s ok to stick your head in the sand, and ignore all the other information available, that indicates that same-sex parents are every bit as capable as others.
    .
    Do you suppose that there were many longitudinal studies that supported women in the workforce, before there were any significant amount of women in the workforce?
    .
    2. I actually agree with you on the freedom of speech issue.  I don’t really care if some ignorant bigot who happens to be a priest is giving his bronze-age opinions on homosexuals, as long as he is not inciting actual discrimination or violence.
    Of course, that’s easy for me to say, since I am not the target.  Those who face discriminations every day may disagree.
    .
    3. What an excellent, unbiased source for what is going down in Massachusetts.  Nothing like misleading stories, and anecdotal evidence to make your case, but that is status quo for you.
    .
    The gay lobby?  You are so funny when you get all paranoid.
    .
    And, lastly, I agree, it would be embarassing if I assumed positions because they were “liberal”.  Since I don’t do that, and evaluate my positions based on the merits of the arguments, it’s a strawman.
    .
    But, how embarassing would it be if someone leveled accusations like this, while blindly assuming positions just because they are “conservative” or “religious”, and used studies that confirmed their stance to support it?

  193. Lily
    January 9th, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

    There you go again. You ignore the first person testimony of some one who was hounded and financially ruined by the gay lobby (and yes there is such a thing in Massachusetts and elsewhere) which can be verified easily; you ignore the father who was put in jail for objecting to the school teaching his small child things that were totally against his beliefs– another matter that can easily be verified.

    And on and on it goes. You are pathetic.

  194. Lily
    January 9th, 2009 @ 2:40 pm

    Oh and as for the lack of longitudinal studies and how the gays are supposed to obtain it–  who cares? I am not willing to turn a generation or two of children into guinea pigs to test a ridiculous attempt to redefine marriage and parenthood. We already did that with no-fault divorce and serial polygamy. It has been a disaster. How many more children must suffer from  the reckless attempts of  “adults” to rewrite human nature?

  195. UnspeakablyViolentJane
    January 9th, 2009 @ 2:48 pm

    No fault divorce is wonderful for kids!  The scarring part of a seperation is the couple taking shots at each other, Lily and no fault divorce reduces that.

    And the problem with polygamy is the whole private ranch thing.  Get rid of home schooling so that the kids can report to when someone is groping them, and the problem is solved.

  196. Lily
    January 9th, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

    You might want to look at the longitudinal studies on the children of divorce, UVJ. It is simply irrefutable. These children suffer serious harm on every measure of child well-being that has ever been devised. Google
    “children divorce”. The first entries that come up are a staggering number of professional and lay help groups and sites to help parents  help their children with the trauma.  The research has demonstrated that it is long-lasting and the damage permanent. (yes, of course there are exceptions. So what in the face of the untold thousands of children harmed?)

  197. UnspeakablyViolentJane
    January 9th, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

    Yes, but prior to no fault people still got a divorce.  The difference was the need to villainize each other, which increased the hardship on the kids.  Nofault was a good move.

    I don’t think the best plan for encouraging relationships to last is to shackle unwilling adults together.  Rather, we should promote a healthy economy, which  reduces divorce (and abortion).  Every US recession but one started during a Republican administration.

    You would think that the party of pro-life and family values would take notice, but apparently not.

  198. Eric
    January 12th, 2009 @ 4:13 am

    nkb,

    Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. Been busy.

    Anyway, specific positions that could be explained are
    “When does life begin and why?”
    “Why should homosexuality be accepted as normal?”

    I do want to respond to some of your stuff from last week, but I need about half an hour of computer time with no one talking to me. Hard to come by.

    Irreligious,

    I’ll try to address the whole KKK point you brought up as soon as I have time.

  199. nkb
    January 13th, 2009 @ 5:22 pm

    Lily wrote:”There you go again. You ignore the first person testimony of some one who was hounded and financially ruined by the gay lobby (and yes there is such a thing in Massachusetts and elsewhere) which can be verified easily; you ignore the father who was put in jail for objecting to the school teaching his small child things that were totally against his beliefs– another matter that can easily be verified.”
    .
    I addressed this in the other entry. The man was not jailed for pretsting, but for refusing to leave the principal’s office. Slight difference, and puts the objectivity of the rest of the stories in serious peril.

  200. Eric
    January 18th, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

    Irreligious,

    Finally, I have time to get to the whole KKK thing (if anyone is still following this thread). And really, it didn’t take two weeks for me to come up with an answer.
    Anyway, the basic difference is in the nature of the relationship. The heterosexual relationship if the KKK parents is perfectly natural and healthy, even if their ideology is not. People are free in this country to believe any crazy thing they wish, but not necessarily to act on it. Thus, the harmful beliefs and teachings of the KKK family are tolerated (in the true sense of the word which does not equate with condoning the beliefs and teachings but merely allowing it to exist) but any harmful acts will be punished.
    A homosexual marriage is itself something that is not natural (in this sense natural means something that conforms with our nature – I expect fundamental disagreement here for obvious reasons) and thus not to be encouraged (just as the KKK ideology is not to be encouraged). Also, because it goes against the grain of human nature, it is potentially harmful to those who pracitce and, yes to children raised in the midst of such relationships. Please note that I say potentially, not necessarily in every single case, although I do think the studies Lily has posted will demonstrate that it is likely.
    One last caveat. It should also be recognized that our definitions of harm in this case will be somewhat different. The most obvious case would be that I would consider the recognition of a homosexual relationship as normal as in itself evidence of harm, whereas you will (again, obviously) disagree.
    I don’t expect it satisfy, but I hope it helps in some way.

  201. Louise
    January 19th, 2009 @ 1:42 am

    No fault divorce is wonderful for kids! The scarring part of a seperation is the couple taking shots at each other, Lily and no fault divorce reduces that.

    Well, as the child of (an amicable) divorce, I can assure you that it is very bad for kids. No fault divorce just encourages more and more divorce and leaves more people miserable than there would have been without it.

    No fault divorce is useless. Where else do we have legal contracts being broken willy nilly without penalty?

    Hopeless.

  202. Louise
    January 19th, 2009 @ 1:45 am

    I don’t think the best plan for encouraging relationships to last is to shackle unwilling adults together.

    I do. If married people are miserable, too bad. They have already shackled themselves together in the first place. If they leave each other and are happier, others will only be made miserable instead. There is no reason that parents’ happiness should come before the happiness of the children whom they have brought into the world.

    People need to be held to their promises.

  203. Lily
    January 19th, 2009 @ 10:36 am

    Marriages don’t break down, as a very wise man observed once. They aren’t machines. Instead there are two people who can decide to live together in harmony working for common goals or they can decide to go off and do their own thing.

    Where children are concerned, there simply is no argument to be made about where their best interests lie. Except when actual abuse is present (and I would include mental/emotional abuse), children are far better off in intact families with their biological parents.

    I remember when my sister and her husband were in the midst of their break up. She told me a story that haunts me 20 years later. She had had to take her 5 year old son to a pediatric psychiatrist because he was deeply depressed. While talking to the doctor, he blurted out “my mommy and daddy don’t kiss anymore. When people don’t kiss, they don’t love each other”. That is how one 5 year old perceived his world crumbling around him. Well, never mind, kiddo. Suck it up and don’t forget to take those nice pills the doctor gave you.

    His parents had taken no shots at each other, as far as I know. I am aware that they both tried very hard to hide what was happening from their son which is why my sister was shocked and upset by what he told the psychiatrist. The thing is, we now have a generation of children who believe that divorce is just the way things are; who deal with multiple homes and are very afraid of commitment (sp?) themselves because they have had no model and have no idea how it happens.

    What is good about this state of affairs? What?

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