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Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 5:23amSanction this postReply
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You penned an interesting article, Richard.  The organization called Americans United (AU) for Separation of Church and State also bears mentioning:

http://www.au.org

Ironically, the Baptists once strongly supported the wall of separation, but over the last 50 years they have drifted towards a theocratic viewpoint.  Barry Lynn, current leader of AU, remains an "old school" Baptist.

I think Objectivists can form productive "single issue" alliances toward worthwhile common goals like rebuilding the wall of separation.

(Edited by Luke Setzer on 6/08, 5:25am)


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Post 1

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 7:13amSanction this postReply
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Objectivists do not particularly care whether others hold religious beliefs. Objectivists SHOULDN'T make a high priority of converting people or telling them that they are wrong. Unless there is a conflict, or unless asked. It is none of my business if someone holds a bad idea as true. Conflicts between ideas divorced from a concrete situation are a prescription for a waste of time. And, while I am not an Othrodox Objectivist, I would agree that atheism is required to be an Objectivist. I cannot reconcile a philosophy of reason with a philosophy of faith/superstition. I do not think anyone can without evasion.

Post 2

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 7:34amSanction this postReply
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Thank you Luke and Scott for reading my first SOLO article.

Scott: I understand your position. I think that some of  the matter has to do with comparing sense of life, and what others would call the spiritual or religious experience.


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Post 3

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 7:40amSanction this postReply
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No existing major religion in the world actually endorses intolerance. Believe it, take it to the bank.


 

Patently absurd.  Most are all familiar with the intolerant verses in the Bible.   Here are some from the Quran. 

 

Suras 2:62-5, 5:59-60, and 7:166, FALLEN ONLY THIS IS MISLEADING all of which depict Jews as "pigs and monkeys." Sura 9:30 says Jews and Christians are under the curse of Allah. Mainstream Islam does recognize Jews as fellow monotheists, but these other aspects are part of it also.

 

[2:190] You may fight in the cause of GOD against those who attack you, but do not aggress. GOD does not love the aggressors.

_____________________________________________________________________
*2:189 The literal Quranic idiom says: "Do not enter the homes through the back doors." The question about the phases of the moon is an example of beating around the bush; there were bad ulterior motives behind this question.
*2:190 All fighting is regulated by the basic rule in 60:8-9. Fighting is allowed strictly in self-defense, while aggression and oppression are strongly condemned throughout the Quran.
128 9372

[2:191] You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict them whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Masjid, unless they attack you therein. If they attack you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those disbelievers.

[2:192] If they refrain, then GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.

[2:193] You may also fight them to eliminate oppression, and to worship GOD freely. If they refrain, you shall not aggress; aggression is permitted only against the aggressors.

[2:194] During the Sacred Months, aggression may be met by an equivalent response. If they attack you, you may retaliate by inflicting an equitable retribution. You shall observe GOD and know that GOD is with the righteous.

[2:195] You shall spend in the cause of GOD; do not throw yourselves with your own hands into destruction. You shall be charitable; GOD loves the charitable.

 

 

[9:29] You shall fight back against those who do not believe in GOD, nor in the Last Day, nor do they prohibit what GOD and His messenger have prohibited, nor do they abide by the religion of truth - among those who received the scripture - until they pay the due tax, willingly or unwillingly.

Blasphemies

[9:30] The Jews said, "Ezra is the son of GOD," while the Christians said, "Jesus is the son of GOD!" These are blasphemies uttered by their mouths. They thus match the blasphemies of those who have disbelieved in the past. GOD condemns them. They have surely deviated.

Upholding the Teachings of Religious Leaders Instead of
God's Teachings

[9:31] They have set up their religious leaders and scholars as lords, instead of GOD. Others deified the Messiah, son of Mary. They were all commanded to worship only one god. There is no god except He. Be He glorified, high above having any partners.

_____________________________________________________________________
*9:31 If you consult the "Muslim scholars" about worshiping God alone, and upholding the word of God alone, as taught in this proven scripture, they will advise you against it. If you consult the Pope about the identity of Jesus, he will advise you to uphold a trinity. If you obey the "Muslim scholars" whose advice is contrary to God's teachings, or if you take the Pope's advice instead of God's, you have set up these religious leaders as gods instead of God.
1150 73233

 

[9:32] They want to put out GOD's light with their mouths, but GOD insists upon perfecting His light, in spite of the disbelievers.

"Submission" Destined to Prevail*

[9:33] He is the One who sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, and will make it dominate all religions, in spite of the idol worshipers.


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Post 4

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 8:43amSanction this postReply
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I liked this piece, which is thought provoking. In my personal experience, I've found that there are so many varieties of people who refer to themselves as "religious" or "spiritual" that few generalizations are useful. Even within specific religions, the diversity of beliefs is remarkable.

Not all people professing a "faith" are committed to blind belief without evidence, or contrary to reason. Quite a few people who believe in God do so for what they think are "logical" reasons, and ground their views in the traditional Thomistic arguments from Design, First Cause, etc. Those people are mistaken, but not necessary "irrational" in the sense of rejecting reason and logic. Rather, they arrive at their views because of their misunderstandings of the requirements of reason and logic -- not necessarily due to some primitive preference for blind faith over reason. Many in fact are open to rational critiques of their views. Particularly, many Americans who pay lip service to traditional Christian teachings behave like happiness-seeking, self-interested Deists in their personal lives. In terms of how they work and relate to others on a daily basis, Objectivists would have few complaints.

The more pressing problem lies within a subset of religious people: the fundamentalists. They explicitly reject reason and extol blind faith and obedience to religious authority. Their day-to-day behavior is clearly affected by their True Believer mindset, and is destructive of every aspect of rational individualism. It's the fundamentalists (of all stripes) who pose the major threat in today's world.

So if the message of Richard's article is that we should discriminate more carefully among these various types when criticizing religious people, and not equally damn the nominally religious and closet Deists along with the rabid fundamentalists, I heartily agree.


Post 5

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 8:48amSanction this postReply
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Robert Davison says:

(snip: lots of scriptural quotations, great job too...)

I'm not going to get into the Big Debate, for the reason I wrote.  Of course I expect responses like this, I understand where you are coming from thoroughly.  Scripture is innately fucked and fucked-with on various levels.   That doesn't matter right now. As a matter of fact, for a  lot of us it never matters. I consider this an us-or-them situation, us happening to include a helluva lot of non-atheists.

best,
rde


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Post 6

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 9:47amSanction this postReply
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Rich,
     I have to disagree with your basic premise.  Although I agree that it is the fundamentalists who pose the greatest danger, it is "your spiritual neighbors" who are the enablers.  It would be very hard for the fundamentalists to exist without the rest of the religious spectrum.  The latter think the former go too far, while the former think the latter don't have the courage of their convictions.  But, their core beliefs are the same.

Thanks,
Glenn


Post 7

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 9:58amSanction this postReply
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Iím able to find common ground with a broad range of Americans who describe themselves as religious. Like Bobby B, the religious people I know take a natural approach to ethics and politics. Iíve rarely had a religious person tell me the reason for X is ďit is written.Ē The one exception is arguments about abortion and even there they feel the need to concoct some natural explanation.

I do think you are wrong about Bush. Not only does he accept that religion is a personal subjective matter, but he may be the first President to explicitly note that you can be an atheist and a good American. I talk about it here.

In any case, letís remember that the leading intellectuals among our founding fathers were deists or tended towards deism. However, they didnít put off the American Revolution because of a lack of agreement on the nature of religion. Reconciling the rights-based libertarian worldview and religion was a private matter dealt with by each religious sub-group in their own manner. It would be ridiculous for us to get side-tracked with an atheist-only policy. Good article, Rich.


Post 8

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 10:23amSanction this postReply
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Rich,

I, too, agree with the point you are making, which is that Deism is not axiomatically mentally crippling as atheists would like to believe.  Personally, I think militant atheists make the same mistake that of excess that fundamentalists do, and I think atheists forget that logic can not prove the existence of God but it can't disprove it either.

My only problem with the article was the statement I addressed in my first post,

No existing major religion in the world actually endorses intolerance. Believe it, take it to the bank.
I saying so, I think you give quarter to the extremists.



Post 9

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 10:27amSanction this postReply
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Glenn Fletcher writes:

I have to disagree with your basic premise.  Although I agree that it is the fundamentalists who pose the greatest danger, it is "your spiritual neighbors" who are the enablers.  It would be very hard for the fundamentalists to exist without the rest of the religious spectrum.  The latter think the former go too far, while the former think the latter don't have the courage of their convictions.  But, their core beliefs are the same.
 
Disagree: I am one of your spiritual neighbors, for one thing! I am a recently-joined member of the Unitarian Universalist Church,  with 25 years of O'ism before  that. My core beliefs are diametrically opposed to the Fundamental Right, down to the theology level. What you are giving is a generalization- I am far from being a unique exception. Remember, groups like www.christianalliance.org represent the viewpoints of a significant part of the population, much larger than O'ism- and they are turned proactively 180 degrees at the RWFC's. I am not enabling, I am fighting for tolerance and individual freedoms- it wouldn't matter if it were the Objectivists (never happen, of course) or the corner Masonic Temple that was doing what the FRWC bloc is doing. They're messing with everyone else's "fundamentals," and I say fuck them, and the horse they rode in on (or stole).

Your perception, I sympathize with. It's sort of like when Chris Rock was talking about wife-beating: "I know it's wrong, I wouldn't do it, but I understand."
 
 





Post 10

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 10:45amSanction this postReply
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Robert Davison:

My only problem with the article was the statement I addressed in my first post,


No existing major religion in the world actually endorses intolerance. Believe it, take it to the bank.
I saying so, I think you give quarter to the extremists
 
Thank you again, Robert. I guess what I will say to that is I look at religion as a living, evolving thing, and what I said comes from that experience, not how/ if /when the scripture is manhandled . For whatever reason, most of the trouble comes out of creed- rather than convenant- based religions.

 The creepy-crawlies are pretty easy to spot. :) 



Post 11

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 10:56amSanction this postReply
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I found this article hard to follow.

Post 12

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 11:40amSanction this postReply
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Scott DeSalvo: Excellent post! You summed it up clearly.

Ethan


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Post 13

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 3:02amSanction this postReply
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I think atheists forget that logic can not prove the existence of God but it can't disprove it either.

Reason can prove that God does NOT exist, in several ways. The simplest is this:

1) A positive assertion cannot be accepted as true without evidence. Since all our knowledge -- the complete and total body of knowledge -- comes either directly or indirectly from our senses, then everything that we KNOW will have evidence behind its veracity. Positive assertions without evidence must be reasonably rejected; else an infinite number of contradictory positive assertions could be made, contradicting the first. For example: It doesn't make any sense to say that there is a race of purple, intelligent, humanoids, living on Pluto. Since we have no way of knowing of such beings, the statement is meaningless. Likewise, it's meaningless to say that there is a God.

Also:

2) The idea of a God fails on a more fundamental level than the one above using logic. For something to exist in this Universe -- at all -- it must be definable. Since Gold is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, the idea is removed completely from our Universe. Without definition, the concept is meaningless.

With regard to the church: I recently attended my local Unitarian Universalist Church for about a year, but left when I realized how illogical most of them are. In this church I attended, they are patently anti-Christian, pro-American liberal, and will provide a forum -- as FACT -- for just about any idea or belief. Some of the purely mystical "we know it because we feel it" ideas disturbed me from time to time when they presented these ideas to the children -- as FACT -- without any instruction as to how to discriminate between true ideas and false ideas. At least the Christians will tell you how to find truth. Another thing that disturbed me about the UUA is that they will tolerate any idea, belief, or culture -- except mainstream Christian ideas, beliefs, and cultures. Many of them seem tolerant of anything except Christians.

What I like about the UUA is that they believe in and help people. They are social, spiritual, people who love and help each other, and I appreciate this aspect of them a great deal. In short, they are all good people. They just have some 'whacked' ideas.

Sincerely,

Craig

(Edited by SnowDog on 6/09, 3:25am)


Post 14

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 7:16amSanction this postReply
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SnowDog:

They just have some 'whacked' ideas.
 
You'll have that in any diverse, pluralistic religious community. Fortunately where I go is very different than that.

There's always a true story like that for everything.

Thanks,
rde
Whacking brings me down.




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Post 15

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 3:44amSanction this postReply
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Babel Fish

The Babel fish is small, yellow, leechlike, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centers of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.  Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the NONexistence of God. The argument goes like this:
`I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, `for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.'
`But,' says Man, `The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.'
`Oh dear,' says God, `I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly disappears in a puff of logic.
`Oh, that was easy,' says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next pedestrian crossing.
Most leading theologians claim that this argument is a load of dingo's kidneys, but that didn't stop Oolon Colluphid making a small fortune when he used it as the central theme of his best-selling book, "Well, That about Wraps It Up for God."  Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.


Post 16

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 8:20amSanction this postReply
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Dave gets a sanction for that post!

Post 17

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 10:06amSanction this postReply
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Dave Stewart:

The Babel fish is small, yellow, leechlike, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe.
 
 
Was that movie any good? I heard the special effects are a little dated from it languishing in production.


Post 18

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 10:44amSanction this postReply
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The movie was surprisingly well done. It's difficult to capture such an involved and creative book in 90 minutes, but I thought the movie did a very good job of telling the story and having enough of the interesting tidbits. As for special effects, don't expect light saber wars in lava or anything, but the scenes of the world-building factory I thought were impressive.


Post 19

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 11:57amSanction this postReply
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The film was cool!

Not for religious types though :)

Loved the point of view gun.

The person that is shot by it immediately sees the point of view of the person who fires it.

"It doesn't work on me", says Trillian the only female character. "I'm already a woman." ;)

(Edited by Dave Stewart on 6/09, 11:58am)


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