How atheist-friendly is Northfield? (also, religious vs. legal views on marital rights)

atheist bus President Barack Obama personally did me and other atheists a big favor in his inaugural speech this week when he said:

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.  We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. (continued)

I’m not going to start a campaign to put signs on Northfield’s buses like they’re doing in the UK with the Atheist Bus project. But it has made me wonder (like I wondered back in May of 2007 with a How gay-friendly is Northfield? blog post): How atheist-friendly is Northfield?

1,517 Comments

  1. David Ludescher said:

    Kiffi: PC BS is equating John with all those people who are spewing hatred of homosexuals. Your comments are not only unfair, but intellectually dishonest.

    Saying that homosexual actions are sins is an intellectual conclusion. I can only speak for the Catholic faith in saying that the intellectual conclusion of sin has no relationship how the person should be treated.

    August 27, 2009
    Reply
    • kiffi summa said:

      Actually David, I don’t see how confronting the disagreement squarely, instead of with what I call a lot of PC BS, is INTELLECTUALLY dishonest, as you say.

      Maybe you want to consider it harsh, rude, whatever, but it is not INTELLECTUALLY dishonest.

      What IS intellectually dishonest as well as content avoidant, is being afraid to vehemently disagree with a religious POV, just because it is a religious POV.

      Religious POVs take second place to basic humanity, IMO… Sorry, but that’s how it is with me: Your Heart, Soul, and especially your Brain are ‘bigger’ (more evolutionarily dominant) than your acquired religion.

      Whether you believe in Evolution , or Creation, I think MAYBE we could all agree that you are not delivered out of your mother’s womb with an intact religion.

      I don’t believe in Crucifixion as a form of capital punishment either…

      August 27, 2009
      Reply
  2. Jane Moline said:

    David–you are right. I am opposed to plural marriage.

    Howver, my comment as to your responses is that you “doth protest too much”. (Shakespere, not the bible.)

    You claim that you are liberal and tolerant but your arguments do not ring true. I have read your responses reapeatedly, and you are not so clever. I repeat: your argument on behalf of your brother who choses to live with a woman without marriage are false-he is not suffering. Many gay and lesbian couples are however, truly suffering the results of a society that practices discrimination–even if those doing are in the minority.

    John, I do not doubt either your sincerity or your devotion to your faith and struggle to become a better person for it. (Sorry about the dangling participle.) However, you also are smart enough to see that the your interpretation of the bible can have a profound, negative affect on others.

    In a simple example, if your interpretation was that a woman driving a car was a sinner, or a woman having a conversation with a man that is not her husband or father was committing adultery, you would have a difficult time in our society going to work or church or school. It is not so difficult for you to see that some are offended by someone claiming that the bible tells them their gay son is going to hell because –he is gay–but that you can save him by providing a safe place where he can find Jesus and change his “lifestyle.” For many, many people this is the same as claiming you can make a paralyzed child walk by helping him find his faith–only more insulting–like telling a black person they will become white if they would just accept Jesus in their life.

    Being homosexual is not a sin,or a perversion, or a mistake. It just is. This is not a religious belief, nor a matter of faith. Gay is gay. Straight is straight.

    August 27, 2009
    Reply
    • David Ludescher said:

      Jane: I don’t recall saying that I was liberal or tolerant. Perhaps I am neither. Nevertheless, we need a “marriage” system that is fair to all. Doing so requires an honest assessment of marriage. That assessment is this – today’s civil marriage is only a contract. That is a legal fact, not a belief. By allowing plural marriages we admit the obvious: Once we get rid of the requirement that marriage is between a man and a woman, all other conditions upon the parties are arbitrary.

      August 27, 2009
      Reply
    • Jerry Friedman said:

      David: As discussed, limiting marriage to man + woman is arbitrary.

      As discussed, limiting marriage to two adults is the first guard against exploitative marriage, as polygamists tend to be old men taking girls. As the homosexual community has done, if such a rule is oppressive, would-be polygamists can incite public debate and change that rule.

      As discussed, if and until polygamy is legalized, polygamists can participate in monogamy if they wish, and still enjoy a contractless marriage with whomever else.

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
    • David Ludescher said:

      Jerry: I don’t understand your principle governing what should be a marriage and what shouldn’t be a marriage.

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
    • Jerry Friedman said:

      David:

      1. Public policy. On average, (a) society benefits when its citizens form families; (b) individuals benefit (increase happiness) when they are married.

      2. Public policy and civil rights. It is immoral and a deprivation of civil liberties not to afford all U.S. citizens with the same ‘equal opportunity’ as other U.S. citizens.

      David, I am wondering why it’s intellectually honest to rely on a book, written before science matured, before journalism matured, that has no known original manuscripts, and is known to have more than 400,000 edits since its earliest known copies. A book that celebrates racism and slavery. A book that has inspired wars and bigotry. A book that condones murder and misogyny.

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
    • David Ludescher said:

      Jerry: I’m not relying upon the Bible. I am relying upon legal principles that require that the restriction be objective, quantifiable, and enforceable.

      How is three men marrying any different than two men marrying? What is the harm to anyone?

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
    • Jerry Friedman said:

      David: I know of no objective harm for three mental competents to be mutually married. You know this: Historically, harm results because of exploitation.

      How about answering my question…?

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
    • john george said:

      Jerry- Hope you don’t mind me cjhiming in here, but in answer to your comments

      I am wondering why it’s intellectually
      honest to rely on a book, written
      before science matured, before
      journalism matured, that has no known
      original manuscripts, and is known to
      have more than 400,000 edits since its
      earliest known copies. A book that
      celebrates racism and slavery. A book
      that has inspired wars and bigotry. A
      book that condones murder and
      misogyny.

      I direct you to I Cor 2:4. There is a demonstration of this “Spirit and power” in many contemporary churches that I am related to. I have my own theory as to whay we do not see it in every church, and I think there is scriptural basis for it, but it is just that- my theory. I believe we as believers must walk in a greater level of holiness and humility to see this early church release of the “Spirit and power”. People in general are tired of hearing “persuasive words.” What they want is reality. I see this reality in many churches, but not enough. The greatest demonstration of the truth of Scripture is a changed life. I’m not satisfied with winning an argument. I want others who have not experienced God to experience Him. The only way I know of is to demonstrate the reality of Scripture, not just talk about it. Too bad you are so far away, now. But, God has His “ways and means” committees in every location. I believe He will demonstrate Himself to you in a way that you will not be able to deny, and at a time you least expect it.

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
    • David Ludescher said:

      Jerry: What is the question?

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
    • Jerry Friedman said:

      David: You wrote, “What is the question?”

      I had said, “David, I am wondering why it’s intellectually honest to rely on a book, written before science matured, before journalism matured, that has no known original manuscripts, and is known to have more than 400,000 edits since its earliest known copies. A book that celebrates racism and slavery. A book that has inspired wars and bigotry. A book that condones murder and misogyny.” Please note the underlined section. You tout intellectual honesty, which is splendid, but you defend public policy based on an intellectually dishonest book. John G. even says that the Bible cannot be discerned intellectually, but through the Holy Spirit.

      You said that some things, like murder, are inherently evil.

      Is homosexuality inherently evil?

      August 31, 2009
      Reply
  3. john george said:

    Jane- I guess I have to ask, did you really read what I wrote? I’m really not sure where you came up with your examples you cite about the woman driving the car or the woman talking to a man who is not her husband as having any correlation to what I wrote about sin and redemption. There is a large world-wide religion that does interpret these actions as sinful, but it is not Christianity. I know that you do not agree with my interpretation, and that is your choice. The Biblical perspective is no more true because I believe it than it is any less true because you do not. In my study of the Scriptures, I have not found support of the concept that commiting sins sends a person to hell. In my understanding, we all are born under that judgement. It does appear that refusal to acknowlege sin can have that consequence. The reason being is that Jesus gave his life for our sins and rose from the dead so we can have newness of life. That is why I contend that viewing homosexuality as a sin has hope, but viewing it as a condition does not allow for hope (I will not re-cite the Scriptures concerning this). And, I believe there is no correlation between a person’s sexual preference and the permanence of their skin color. Much as I have heard persuasions that would equate civil rights issues to homosexuality, I do not believe they are valid. If you want to believe that, again, that is your choice.

    August 27, 2009
    Reply
  4. Jane Moline said:

    Yeah, John, I specifically used those examples of another world-wide religion because your Christianity beliefs are just like other religions beliefs–they are yours and you have to determine how they affect how you live day to day-and whether they interfere with living. I used those examples because I think the interpretation of the Koran by extremists is similar to many Christians interpretation of the Bible–it is extreme and not necessarily a logical result of a reading of the respective text. However, I have no desire to convert you or even affect your belief in your religion. My overall desire is to not have your interpretation or any other interpretation of religious texts adversely affect my life or be used to oppress others.

    The continual claim that the Bible says that homosexual sex is a sin and that we have to guard against that in our secular lives is oppressive to many people. It is just as if you are claiming the Bible says that blacks are suppose to be segregated from whites or that women are to be submissive to their husbands. Your public life is affected by these religious beliefs, and your interactions with those you work with and see are affected by these beliefs. I do not think this is healthy or good for society. It is not something I can stop, but I don’t like it and I think it is, well, hateful. So I guess I am even coming around to Kiffi’s thinking.

    So, John, what if your interpretation is just wrong? There is so much in the Bible where the violations are clearly spelled out, but over time, the church and believers have decided they can be ignored–from eating the meat of pigs to wearing clothes made of threads from different sources. Yet you cling to this somewhat vague inference to homosexuality as the WORD OF GOD. What is it about this that makes it so different from the other minor references in the bible?

    August 27, 2009
    Reply
  5. john george said:

    Jane- I agree that many extremists have hijacked various world religions and poluted the basic message of each. The thing that is so puzzling to me is why i would be lumped together with this group from Texas whom 1)I have never heard about, 2)I do not agree with, 3)and no one even asked me? It appears to me that just because I say I am Christian and my position that homosexuality is a sin somehow lumps me in with that crowd. It would be like saying that every Islamic believer is evudently a terrorist and bent on the demise of “infidels” because there are some groups who actually carry out these threats.

    The other position you seem to think I embrace is that just because I consider something a sin that I am automatically condeming that person who practices that sin. This is a false concept about Christianity in general and my beliefs in specific. Again, did ou really read what I wrote with an open mind? My message through all this has been that there is hope for the sinner. If there wasn’t, I would be in terrible straits.

    Also, your comment

    somewhat vague inference to
    homosexuality

    does not fit the scripture in I Cor. 6 that I cited. It reads pretty clearly in my Bible. One thing I have always appreciated about God in the 37 years I have followed Him is that He is always clear about His expectations. My hearing is not always clear, but His statutes are always clear. This is where the point of disagreement usually comes- is the Bible supposed to be our authority to test the various doctrines that come along? For me as a Christian, it is. If you chose not to believe it, then it really doesn’t matter.

    As far as the other “minor infractions”, there have been many books written on just these topics, so I don’t have any hope of simply explaining it here. I can only refer to the great commandment in Matt 22:37, Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27. You say that to point out sin to a person is unloving and even hateful. I say it is not, and I base that on James 5:20. I am willing to allow God to judge whether I am right or wrong.

    August 27, 2009
    Reply
    • Jerry Friedman said:

      John: How can you determine if the faith you follow was not hijacked and polluted? Wouldn’t Jews claim that Christianity is a hijacking and polluting of Judaism? The Christians took the Hebrew Bible, reinterpreted it in favor of Yeshua, and plagiarized tons of other material.

      Did you know that every supposed resurrection in the New Testament copied another supposed resurrection? Most of the NT resurrections follow the same model as the Hebrew Bible. The resurrection of Lazarus follows the resurrection of Osiris from Egyptian mythology.

      Does it reveal anything that the miracles of the NT are knock offs of miracles from pagan religions? Why do you believe in NT miracles but not Egyptian, if they are the same story and the Egyptians came first?

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
    • john george said:

      Jerry- I’m using “hijacked” in a different way than you. I’m not sure the jews fell that Christianity hijacked their religion. It was forst called “The Way”. “Christians” was a derrogatory term first used in Antioch. By hijacking, I’m refering to those radical fringe groups of about every religion out there who call themselves part of the religion but demonstrate by their actions they are missing some of the important tennets of the faith.

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
    • Anthony Pierre said:

      some would say christians highjacked christianity from jesus. I think jesus would throw up in his mouth a little if he knew what was happening to his name.

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
    • Jerry Friedman said:

      John: Yes, I am using “hijacked” in the same way as you. You can tell because the Christians took the Hebrew Bible and renamed it the Old Testament. By calling it Old, you can see that they hijacked the religion, usurped their holy writings, then called it their own (albeit, “Old”). They took Hebrew prophecies and reinterpreted them to apply to Yeshua. The Christians took Hebrew mythology and relabeled it as Christian. I think you’d learn a great deal of Christian origins by looking at how many Christian things were actually Jewish or pagan.

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
    • john george said:

      Jerry- I think we are talking in circles, here. If you want to refer to Christianity as a hijacking of Judaism, go ahead, but I don’t agree with your analysis of the roots of Christianity. The early followers of Jesus considered themselves Jews, but with the inclusion of the Gentiles, calling themselves Jews didn’t fit. It definitely grew out of Judaism, and considers itself as having the same foundation as Judaism. Of course, Islaam also considers its foundation is in Abraham, the same as Judaism and Christianity. They follow the lineage of Ishmael rather than Isaac.

      I know I’m not telling you anything new, here, but the terms Old and New Testaments date to the King James era. This demarcation is used to organize the Bible between events that happened before the birth of Jesus from those that happened after the birth. There are references in the NT writings to the Torah as the “scriptures”. In fact. Peter refers to Paul’s writings as being hard to understand, but often distorted by false teachers as they distort the “other scriptures”.

      The “Testaments” are divided into the prediction of the coming of the Messiah (Old) and the fulfillment of the coming (New). As far as the Messianic prophecies, the difference between Judaism and Christianity is what a person believes about Jesus. Christians believe He is the fulfillment of those prophecies. Judaism does not, and is still looking for the coming of the Messiah.

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
  6. Matthew Rich said:

    I stumbled across an interesting article online this morning regarding the possible vote this November for same-sex marriage in Washington. The article appears today on the Seattle Weekly website and was authored by Kevin Phinney. The title of the article is Are Gays Too Late to Destroy Marriage? Their influence may ultimately be nothing compared to what straights have done.

    Here is the link to the article.

    August 28, 2009
    Reply
  7. Jane Moline said:

    John: I am saying that your misinterpretation of scripture regarding homosexuality is the same as the Islamic extremist misinterpretation of the Koran to oppress women or radical Christians who misinterpret scripture to oppress women, support segregation or white supremacy or otherwise USE their religiion to fit a warped view. I am saying straight out that you are wrong, and it is harmful. And it is unChristian. Gays are gays. Nor perverts. Not mistakes. Not bad. Not sinners except as much sin as straight people. And learn more about Judaism before making those pronouncements.

    August 28, 2009
    Reply
    • john george said:

      Jane- I don’t understand your reasoning for calling my use of I Cor. 6:9 to be a “misinterpretation”. I’m just quoting it straight up. Just because you don’t like it, does that make me wrong? I really do not understand your animosity, aside from it just being something you do not believe. As I said before, there is hope for the sinner.

      Also, what else do you propose I learn about Judaism? There is a lot of detail to that religion, and I certainly do not profess to know all of it.

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
  8. Jane Moline said:

    I am glad you think there is hope for me.
    Judaism is not based on waiting for the Messiah.

    August 28, 2009
    Reply
  9. Jane Moline said:

    P.S.Glad only male prostitutes are immoral.

    And, again, you are reading a passage that has been translated from its original language. Not at all straight forward.

    August 28, 2009
    Reply
  10. john george said:

    Jane- Re 757 & 758. No, judaism is not based on waiting for the Messiah. That is my way of explaining the Jewish approach to the Messianic scriptures in the Scrolls and the Christian approach to the same scriptures. If I understand what you are saying here, then the Jewish religion is based upon being the chosen race through the lineage of Abraham.

    As far as my Bible, yes, it is a translation. When it comes to the original Greek, there are many manuscripts, again, so there are probably some variations in how a specific line is translated and by whom is doing it. Rob Hardy, are you lurking in the bushes somewhere? You have the expertise in Romantic Languages.

    August 28, 2009
    Reply
  11. Jane Moline said:

    John: check the King James version. Silent on homosexuality.

    August 28, 2009
    Reply
    • john george said:

      Jane- Hang tight. I have a response coming as soon as Griff can get it out of his trap.

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
    • john george said:

      Jane- A search of some of the references in Google proves that a person can even manipulate the original Greek to support whatever viewpoint they prefer. There was one reference on this link
      http://www.geocities.com/ears_tickled/christiangreek_corinthians.html
      that seemed more reasoned than many of them. Take a look at it. I’m not sure that this point can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, as David L. would say, either direction. When I look at the whole of creation and mankind, it would appear that there is a natural reason for having two genders. From this observation, I would naturally question relationships outside this pattern whether I was Christian or not.

      August 29, 2009
      Reply
  12. Jane Moline said:

    And when did Jesus say this?

    August 28, 2009
    Reply
    • john george said:

      Jane- Are the scriptures inspired by the Holy Spirit or not? This is a question of belief, since Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are one (Triune God).

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
  13. john george said:

    Griff- I tried a post with a link in it that your spam filter did not like. Could you puuullleeeeessse fix it for me? While you’re at it, why don’t you get a spam filter that is developed in Minnesota? I’m sure Hormel objects to their product being deterred.

    August 28, 2009
    Reply
    • Griff Wigley said:

      I found it, John. It’s now posted at 760.2

      August 29, 2009
      Reply
  14. Jane Moline said:

    John: I think you have the interpretation wrong–you are focusing on one part (badly translated) and missing the overall message. I think Paul was instructing the Corinthians to live moral lives–and was admonishing them against promiscuous sex. (Some translatios will say “male prostitutes” others “effiminate” and so forth–but it seems to be a passage about excess in sex–adultery, prostitution, etc.

    I do not think it wise to base public policy on one small passage in a letter to the Corinthians, although I do not think promiscuous sex is good for anybody, including society.

    I would be more worried about the Gov of SC,who was chasing some Argentina tail, than about same sex couples. At least he has admitted to violating one of the ten commandments.

    I guess I wonder why some, calling themselves Christians, have raised a prohibition for homosexual sex up to being like one of the ten commandments. At the same time, many of these same Christians can explain that it is ok for soldiers to kill people even though that is definitely one of the ten commandments. That is the one that says “Thou shalt not kill.” Fairly simple language, easy to interpret as meaning–you should not kill. Period.

    Training young men and women and sending them off to kill. Perhaps I missed the part in the translation with the footnotes and exceptions that make this OK.

    Wage peace.

    August 28, 2009
    Reply
    • john george said:

      Jane- I have no argument with your position on training people to kill. I don’t blame God or use Him to justify us having to do that, though. I see it as a necessary evil to survivie certain time periods in this fallen world. I also have no problem with encouraging people to live moral lives.

      I would like to hear your reaction to the link that (hopefully) Griff is going to free from his trap. I read a whole bunch of them, and it was quite evident which predjudice the translators bring to their task. The link I cited had, what I thought, at least, the most neutral logic in the way it translated the original Greek. What makes this passage most difficult is that the Apostle Paul combined some root words that have not been found in the same combinations in contemporary secular writings. This, unfortunately, opens up the gate for various opinions about what he meant, without anyone having corroborating contexts from which to draw.

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
    • john george said:

      Jane- A response to your comment

      I do not think it wise to base public
      policy on one small passage in a
      letter to the Corinthians

      is well taken. We all would hope that the government representatives we elect would pass laws that align with our own convictions. This means that someone is going to be disappointed all the time. Public opinion ebbs and flows and is not necessarily based upon any Biblical principles. But, when it comes to a segment of the Christian Church making a decision that is contrary to a couple millenia of Biblical understanding, then I think they had better be sure they have it right. The Church is the pillar and support of the truth, according to Col. 3:15

      August 28, 2009
      Reply
  15. Jane Moline said:

    I don’t think the church has been a source of truth. (Some truth but a lot of hooey, too.) And I don’t think it is a question of a small group of Christians against Bible understanding. I think it is a large group of people of all faiths (and no faiths) who do not care to follow a minority interpretation of scripture. The church has claimed many things for years and years but that does not make creation the truth or anything else in the bible, for that matter. Just repeating something over and over does not make it true. You may accept it as truth because of your faith. To impose that on others makes it the same as any other radical imposition of religious rule.

    August 29, 2009
    Reply
    • john george said:

      Jane- I agree with all your points, here. And, I, nor anyone else, for that matter, can force any opinion upon anyone else. We are free moral agents and therefore have congnitive abilities. I do accept the Bible as truth because of my faith. I would take one additional step that is recorded in James- I will show you my faith by my works. This scripture really bothered Martin Luther and many of the Reformationists, because it takes the whole argument of faith out of the intellectual realm and puts it in the here and now realm. I just revel in it, though, because I believe Christianity is something to be demonstrated and not just talked about. Don’t get me wrong, I do love to talk about it, as is evidenced by my posts. But, this does me no good if I do not live it. How that is worked out can be cause for much misunderstanding, especially for anyone on the outside looking in, and especially when dealing with people trapped in their sins. All of us were in that trap before repenting and turning to the Lord. That is why I think it is important to develope relationships within our community.

      August 29, 2009
      Reply
    • Anthony Pierre said:

      truth and understanding is not the same as blind faith.

      August 31, 2009
      Reply
  16. David Ludescher said:

    Jane: In 1858, the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the Constitution to mean that blacks did not have any rights. Did we lose faith in the Constitution and claim that it was a bunch of hooey? No. We realize that the Constitution can be interpreted narrowly and incorrectly.

    So it is with the Bible (and I suspect other holy books). An atheist will discover, if its words are read in a spirit of understanding and truth, that there is a humanism surpassing even the most sophisticated Constitutions of today.

    August 30, 2009
    Reply
    • Anthony Pierre said:

      The bible’s words are rarely read in that spirit, david.

      August 30, 2009
      Reply
    • john george said:

      David- Ah! The spirit of understanding and truth. I suppose you and I may have differing definitions from Anthony and Jane as to what is “truth” in the church and what is “hooey.”

      August 30, 2009
      Reply
    • David Ludescher said:

      Anthony: As an example, the Bible does condemn same-sex sexual behavior. Read within the context of the times, it is easy to understand why the behavior was condemned. And truthfully, some of the reasons for that condemnation still exist, just as the reasons for condemnations of adultery, fornication, and prostitution still exist. Read within its context, the Bible’s teachings about sex are not about religious versus legal views; they are more about teaching responsible sexual behavior.

      August 30, 2009
      Reply
    • Jane Moline said:

      Yes David–the bible teaches against promiscuous sex. It does not prohibit sex, but that is the interpretation of some.

      August 31, 2009
      Reply
  17. Jane Moline said:

    Luckily, David, we did not stick with the US Supreme courts interpretation of the constitution for that 1858 case –in a few decades we were able to move beyond their bigoted interpretation of the constitution. It is too bad we are unable to amend the bible for the truths discovered in the last 4000 years. And it is too bad that many cling to their bigoted “interpretations” of the bibles “truth.”

    August 30, 2009
    Reply
    • David Ludescher said:

      Jane: And it is too bad that you have let your dislike of some people and their interpretations of the Bible color your perceptions of the Bible’s literary, cultural, social, and humanistic value.

      The Bible doesn’t cause discrimination against gays any more than the Constitution caused discrimination against blacks. Rather, both documents were written in a spirit of revealing truths about how man should live and treat each other.

      August 30, 2009
      Reply
    • Jerry Friedman said:

      David: Do you mean Article IV, Section 2?

      “No Person held to Service or Labour in one State [i.e., slave], under the Laws thereof, escaping into another [i.e., runaway slave], shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour [i.e., no asylum], But shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due [i.e., escapes slaves shall be returned to their enslaver].”

      August 30, 2009
      Reply
    • Jane Moline said:

      Right David–guns don’t kill people–people do. The bible is used to promote discrimination against women and gays and you’all just claim to be a bunch of true believers.

      August 31, 2009
      Reply
  18. kiffi summa said:

    I’m apprehensive of Griff’s ‘link trap’ , so go to the people of the American Way website, then a related org called Right Wing Watch and ask for content on the “God Commands you to kill gays” sermon preached by Steve Anderson, of the Faithful Word Church, in Tempe AZ.

    Anyone would be shocked by the degree of language used, and the assumptions made, concluding in the directions given. The language cannot be characterized as anything other than ‘hate speech’ and the people using it should be held accountable for the havoc they cause, whether the words were spoken in a church or not.

    The same preacher gave a sermon about wishing for President Obama’s death, and the next day one of his parishioners is the guy( all over the news) with the assault rifle over his shoulder, in a crowd of people, outside a health care forum.

    My question is this: if the ‘Christian Right’ which does not support these extremist views does in fact NOT support these views, shouldn’t they actively work to disavow these extreme statements?
    If the ‘Christian Right” who do not feel that these statements which refer to gays as “rapists, sodomites”, etc are acceptable, shouldn’t those ‘Christians’ stop linking descriptors of a similar nature to the word homosexual?

    August 31, 2009
    Reply
    • Jerry Friedman said:

      I have to ask, what’s the Christian view on parading around in a bikini, trying to get the award for being the most popular sex object? Might Sarah Palin have the answer?

      August 31, 2009
      Reply
    • Anthony Pierre said:

      I have a feeling they are saying ‘get off my side’

      August 31, 2009
      Reply
    • john george said:

      Anthony- You might be right. I have the opinion that foolish and hateful behavior have no political or religious boundaries. I remember after the Viet Nam war, when the GI’s were coming home and disembarking at airports, there were SDS members and every other disrespectful person out in the welcoming crowds spitting on these guys and accusing them of being baby killers. The only reason these “protesters” were not shot on the spot is because these GI’s had been taught to respect other people, something those off-scourings of society had never learned. And to think, “civil disobedience” and destruction of property are still esteemed as an acceptable means of protest. I don’t think those protesters 30+ years ago realized the damage their actions were doing to their own cause.

      The same can be said for those deceived parishoners in Texas. This type of activist behavior really has no place in the Church, IMNSHO. I think a good example of this is what Peter did to the high priest’s servant in the Garden of Gethsemanie, and how Jesus rebuked him. He went one step further and restored the servant’s ear, according to one Gospel. We Christians can only have an effect upon a world of unholiness by how we exhibit holiness. Our admonishment is to love those who hate us, not kill them.

      Jerry- I don’t think there is a “Christian view” on beauty pagents. I hesitate to condemn those who participate, just because they don’t happen to fit my expectations, because if God could use Balaam’s donkey to talk to him, He can probably use a beauty pageant contestant. A good example of how God can arrange things for His children to keep them from violating their conscience is the example in the movie, “Chariots of Fire.” My opinion of Carrie Prejean’s actions is that she was not walking in righteousness in many of her actions, and therefore negated her opportunity to be a witness for the truth.

      August 31, 2009
      Reply
  19. john george said:

    Griff- I forgot to thank you for rescuing my post with the errant link. It is much appreciated.

    August 31, 2009
    Reply
  20. Jane Moline said:

    John George: Unfortunately,some of them were baby killers. Some have even apologized.

    See, when you send people to war to kill people, they do just that. I am grateful to the Vietnam war protestors for not giving up and not giving in. War is wrong. Teaching people to kill is wrong. Claiming they are honourable is….pretty weird.

    August 31, 2009
    Reply
    • john george said:

      Jane- Yes, some of them were. But what about the ones who weren’t? What about the ones with no choice in the matter? Just because a few Muslims attacked the World Trade Center, does that mean all Muslims are terrorists? Should we go around spitting in their faces and calling them baby killers? I don’t have any problem with protesting attricities. What I have a problem with is taking out a person’s frustrations on everyone associated with a group whether or not they participated in attrocities. No matter how much you disagree with a person and no matter what side of a position you are on, I do not think it is appropriate to treat them with this type of disrespect.

      August 31, 2009
      Reply
  21. David Ludescher said:

    Jerry: (752 thread): My original claim, which I still stand by, is that an atheist-friendly analysis of civil marriage would conclude that it is seriously broken. (See Matthew Rich’s post at 756).

    Proponents of same-sex marriage are right that including gays in marriage is only fair. Opponents of same-sex marriage are right that adoption of same-sex marriage is not curing the brokenness of today’s marriages.

    September 1, 2009
    Reply
  22. Jane Moline said:

    David L: Opponents of same-sex marriage are not claiming anything about same-sex marriage “not curing the brokenness of today’s marriages.”

    Instead, they are claiming that extending marriage recognition to same sex couples will CAUSE the destruction of marriage–while the real culprits are opposite-sex couples failing–like our little Christian buddy, the governor of South Carolina, who cannot seem to understand marriage vows.

    September 1, 2009
    Reply
  23. Anthony Pierre said:

    Have you guys read about ‘The family’?

    September 1, 2009
    Reply
  24. john george said:

    Jerry- One more thought on beauty pageants. Take a look at the book of Esther. That whole scenario started out as what sounds to me like a beauty pageant. Remember Mordecai’s words to her in chapter 4. We do not always know ahead of time why we have an opportunity to be in a place of influence or honor. In fact, God can even use the disobedient, as with Samson.

    September 2, 2009
    Reply
  25. kiffi summa said:

    OK, Griff … a few hours short of a week, with no comments…

    Isn’t it time to bury these old scrolls, and let someone dig them up a thousand years from now?

    September 9, 2009
    Reply
    • Jerry Friedman said:

      A week is hasty. I’m traveling far out of state and haven’t had the opportunity to respond. I’d suggest agnosticism on when to bury the old scrolls until the body rises from the grave or smells so bad that the corpse has risen through bacterial action. In other words, wait…

      September 9, 2009
      Reply
  26. kiffi summa said:

    Another week has gone by with no additional comments, Griff.

    Can’t we admit the subject has gone to Hell? Give the Devils their due and consign it to the flames!

    September 16, 2009
    Reply
  27. john george said:

    Griff- I don’t know what your standards are on keeping a thread open, and it really doesn’t matter to me, but I know other threads have sat dormant for a couple months and are then revived as some new event sparks interest. The characteristic of this particular thread is that it can never really be resolved, so do what you like. I was still waiting for a response from Jerry F. on my #775 post, but he knows how to get ahold of me if he has any more comments.

    September 16, 2009
    Reply
  28. Patrick Enders said:

    It’s not dead, it’s only resting!

    September 16, 2009
    Reply
  29. Jerry Friedman said:

    Indeed, it’s resting. I’m amused that some people want to declare it dead, when it’s really an immortal web page. It’s not like Griff has a crew of gnomes working hard to maintain it.

    I’ve been overwhelmed with work, a trial in California (the stingy insurance company of the guy who rear-ended me didn’t want to settle), and writing deadlines so my LGN cruising has plummeted. Like the believers in the apocalypse have said, “The end is near!” I’m not dead so I’ll be back.

    September 16, 2009
    Reply
    • john george said:

      Jerry-That’s great to hear. Hope you didn’t have any neck or back injuries.

      September 17, 2009
      Reply
    • john george said:

      Wait a minute! That didn’t come out right! I’m not glad to hear you were rear-ended. I’m glad to hear you are not dead and just busy. Sorry.

      September 17, 2009
      Reply
  30. Griff Wigley said:

    Immortal… I like that characterization of this message thread.

    September 17, 2009
    Reply
  31. kiffi summa said:

    Griff: Why don’t you just do a new thread on “How Fundamentalist-friendly is Northfield?”

    and then those who feel immortality is within their grasp can have the same conversation all over again?

    September 17, 2009
    Reply
  32. Patrick Enders said:

    There can be only one… immortal thread.

    September 17, 2009
    Reply
    • kiffi summa said:

      Another no comment week … Dead… but immortal?

      Griff: Can you find a cover of the issue of Time magazine (how many years ago?) which shocked some of the country with its headline … what was it? “God is Dead!”, or was it: “Is God dead?”

      September 25, 2009
      Reply
    • Jerry Friedman said:

      Kiffi: Atheists are not used to waiting endlessly for an imminent response. OK, cheap jab. Strike the statement.

      September 25, 2009
      Reply
  33. Curt Benson said:

    ….. apparently God has responded to Griff’s criticism that he operates with a disturbing lack of transparency. He’s blogging too:

    http://www.holygodblog.com/

    Griff, is he a client?

    September 28, 2009
    Reply
  34. Peter Millin said:

    God has been declared dead way before Time magazine had pronounced it.

    Have you heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly, “I seek God! I seek God!” As many of those who do not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter…

    Whither is God,” he cried. “I shall tell you. We have killed him – you and I. All of us are murderers…. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him…

    September 29, 2009
    Reply
  35. Patrick Enders said:

    God was declared dead by Nietzsche. It’s actually a fairly interesting concept – unless, I suppose, you are a true believer in divine inspiration:

    “God is dead” never meant that Nietzsche believed in an actual God who first existed and then died in a literal sense. It may be more appropriate to consider the statement as Nietzsche’s way of saying that the “God” of the times (religion and other such spirituality) is no longer a viable source of any received wisdom. Nietzsche recognizes the crisis which the death of God represents for existing moral considerations, because “When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident… By breaking one main concept out of Christianity, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one’s hands.”[1] This is why in “The Madman”, a work which primarily addresses atheists, the problem is to retain any system of values in the absence of a divine order.

    The death of God is a way of saying that humans are no longer able to believe in any such cosmic order since they themselves no longer recognize it. The death of God will lead, Nietzsche says, not only to the rejection of a belief of cosmic or physical order but also to a rejection of absolute values themselves — to the rejection of belief in an objective and universal moral law, binding upon all individuals. In this manner, the loss of an absolute basis for morality leads to nihilism. This nihilism is what Nietzsche worked to find a solution for by re-evaluating the foundations of human values. This meant, to Nietzsche, looking for foundations that went deeper than Christian values. He would find a basis in the “will to power” that he described as “the essence of reality.”

    Nietzsche believed that the majority of people did not recognize (or refused to acknowledge) this death out of the deepest-seated fear or angst. Therefore, when the death did begin to become widely acknowledged, people would despair and nihilism would become rampant. This is partly why Nietzsche saw Christianity as nihilistic. He may have seen himself as a historical figure like Zarathustra, Socrates or Jesus, giving a new philosophical orientation to future generations to overcome the impending nihilism.

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

    (I took a philosophy course on postmodernism at Marquette University, titled “The Death of God and the Emergence of Technology.” It won an “Enny” – my own personal award – for best Philosophy course title ever.)

    There is a stark dichotomy between traditional mystical thought and post-enlightenment technical thought. Nietzsche recognized this, and sought to find philosophical roots for morality in the philosophical absence of divinely-inspired absolute morality. I don’t know that he got it right, but I’m glad that he (and others) have tried.

    September 29, 2009
    Reply
    • David Ludescher said:

      Patrick: Nietzsche’s warning has largely been misinterpreted.

      Beyond the scientific question of God’s existence (which seems to dominate the thinking of Dawkins and other atheists) is the consequences of believing in God’s death (atheism). In this way, Nietzsche was more of a prophet than a moralist.

      Nietzsche predicted a nihilism would eventually overtake humanity, and man would eventually revert back to his will to power. He warned that without God, man’s life would lose meaning and value. In the end, all that would matter would be who had the power.

      I think we are seeing some of the signs of what Nietzsche predicted in Western Europe and America.

      October 1, 2009
      Reply
    • Patrick Enders said:

      David,
      I understand Nietzsche’s insight. The Nihilism he feared had to do with the crisis of faith/identity/morality that believers would face – and does not necessarily apply to those who do not attribute morality to divine inspiration.

      As it is, I believe that human morality is a result of our natural biological tendency to do good towards our kin, reinforced through socialization and enforcement of laws. As such, I think that philosophy is merely an effort to apply formal, rational theoretical structure to a visceral, and not inherently rational, urge to take care of our kin.

      Interestingly, this evolutionary idea of morality is getting some support from studies that look at how we make moral decisions.

      My google-fu is running up against my need to get my little girl to daycare, so this is the best (and it is not very detailed or exactly what I was looking for) reference that I could find regarding the biological origin of morality, as found through observation and experimentation:

      http://health.howstuffworks.com/human-nature/emotions/other/trolley-problem2.htm

      I’ll try to find more detailed discussion at some point.

      October 1, 2009
      Reply
    • David Ludescher said:

      Patrick: I didn’t understand Nietzsche the same way. I understood Nietzsche to say that without God, all man’s actions, including man’s morality, are directed to the will to power.

      I think we see this pathology in politics today. Without a belief in God, there are no absolute values; rights become alienable; and art of justice is reduced to amassment of power structures that serve the person rather than the whole of humanity.

      October 2, 2009
      Reply
    • Patrick Enders said:

      David,
      I guess we all see what we want to see. Nietzsche saw a crisis for traditional systems of morality. I see that philosophies of morality are just window dressing for rationalizing and organizing our intrinsic impulses.

      I share neither your despair, nor Nietzsche’s, for our present state and for our future. Why? Because my background is in science (including a major in biological anthropology), and at the same time I was reading Nietzsche, I was also learning of Franz de Waal’s work, and other scientific research that reveals altruistic behavior in our primate relatives that in many cases closely mirror our own.

      A couple interesting reads that I’ve found on the web regarding the empirical/scientific study of morality:

      “If It Feels Good to Be Good, It Might Be Only Natural”
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/27/AR2007052701056.html

      “The Biological Basis of Morality”
      http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/98apr/biomoral.htm

      “Virtuous Species: The Biological Origins of Human Morality: An Interview with Frans de Waal”
      http://www.science-spirit.org/article_detail.php?article_id=184

      http://atheism.about.com/b/2006/10/23/biological-basis-for-morality.htm

      Oh, and thanks for prompting me to check out a couple books:
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0262600722/ref=pd_luc_sim_01_01
      http://www.amazon.com/Primates-Philosophers-Morality-Evolved-Princeton/dp/0691141290/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_b

      October 2, 2009
      Reply
    • Patrick Enders said:

      Griff, can you please unmoderate my post? Thanks.

      October 2, 2009
      Reply
    • David Ludescher said:

      Patrick: I don’t have to look any further than the invasion of Iraq to see the foolishness of a system of morality without the concept of God. Nietzsche understood that without God (or at least the concept of God) that man will drift to into the land of nihilism where everything and nothing can be justified.

      With a biologically based concept of morality, what is wrong with invading another country, and killing their women and children? What is wrong with torturing captives? What is wrong with holding prisoners for years without the opportunity for truth-telling? An explanation that refuses to admit of the permanent, the universal, and the eternal cannot provide an answer. All it can state is, “In my opinion …”.

      Why did the vast majority of the American people, and our political leaders not see the moral atrocity? And, why were the vast majority of religious leaders, including Pope John Paul II so vehemently opposed to this war? In retrospect, can’t we say absolutely and unequivocally that this war was wrong? Or, do we still have to settle for the answer, “In my opinion …”?

      October 2, 2009
      Reply
    • Patrick Enders said:

      David,
      Most of the people who supported that war of aggression were ostensibly Christians. The leader of that war effort believes that he is a Christian, and according to some around him, he believed at the time that he was acting as an instrument of God (IIRC… I forget exactly how his special relationship with Divine Purpose was characterized).

      There is a long history of Christians fighting brutal wars of aggression in the name of their Christianity. The Pope-sanctioned Crusades (1095-1272+) were particularly immoral wars of aggression. Jerry has already detailed many other violent Christian acts. The history of Christian Europe (not to mention the history of Christian Europe vs. Africans and Americans) is full of ongoing violence.

      My point is this: the Christian Epoch has been long and bloody. It is full of violence by Christians – often in the name of Christianity – upon Christians and non-Christians alike. It seems silly to suggest that the modern period is any more immoral or bloody than that past, or to suggest that people are fundamentally any worse in their tendencies to do evil (as well as good) than they were in those past, more exclusively Christian, times.

      By contrast, I do not consider myself to be a Christian believer. However, I know that killing a person is always wrong. By extension, unlike so many American Christians, I know that war is wrong, and that – if indeed waging war can ever be justified, it can only be in the truly direst of circumstances, when a greater wrong must be ended and no other means is available.

      It doesn’t take an idiot to see that our war of aggression against Iraq never rose to that level of imperative. But yet, many Christians supported it. Maybe you should ask why they did so, in spite of – or could it even be in concordance with – their concept(s) of God?

      October 2, 2009
      Reply
    • David Ludescher said:

      Patrick: What you say has a lot of merit. But, I fear that you are drawing the wrong conclusion.

      My faith (Catholic) has some fairly sophisticated principles governing war. (I think you would find them to be nearly identical with your thoughts.) Having examined those principles in relation to the Iraqi war, I find the war unjustified on numerous grounds. That was also the conclusion of Pope Paul II. In line with his duty, he instructed the faithful to reject war as an answer to the crimes of 9/11.

      It is my understanding that leaders of the Islamic faith have also rejected the violence of 9/11, and have instructed the faithful to reject violence as a means of performing God’s will.

      So, it may be true that some believers supported acts of violence in concordance with what they believed were the dictates of God. But, I would suspect that most believers’ support was done in spite of, not because of, their beliefs.

      Interestingly, because atheists didn’t have to work out the Christian/Muslim overtones, I think it was easier for them to view the situation in more neutral (and God-like) terms than someone who identified himself as a Christian.

      October 3, 2009
      Reply
  36. john george said:

    I just got a new book from a good friend. It is written by Francis Chan, titled “Crazy Love- Overwhelmed by a Relentless God.” In the first chapter, he responds to all the “Why…” questions by quoting Daniel 4:35, “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: ‘What have You done?'” The next two sentences are riveting. “Can you worship a God who isn’t obliged to explain His actions to you? Could it be your arrogance that makes you think God owes you an explanination?” These are a couple of pretty pointed questions that, IMO, get to the heart of the issue of believing in God or not.

    September 30, 2009
    Reply
  37. Anthony Pierre said:

    I don’t know dude, I would love for it/him/her to explain this

    13 If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her 14 and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,” 15 then the girl’s father and mother shall bring proof that she was a virgin to the town elders at the gate. 16 The girl’s father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. 17 Now he has slandered her and said, ‘I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, 18 and the elders shall take the man and punish him. 19 They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver [a] and give them to the girl’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.

    20 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, 21 she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.

    Deuteronomy 22:13-21

    September 30, 2009
    Reply
    • john george said:

      Anthony- “You must purge the evil from among you.” Is that explanation enough?
      But, then Jesus comes with this one in John 8:7, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Hmmmmmmm.
      Then, we have Hosea 6:6, “…for I desired mercy (some vs- loyalty, obedience) rather than sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
      Then, God’s dwelling above the Arc of the Testament was called the “mercy seat.”
      I’m very glad that Jesus paid the price for my sin, and had mercy upon me, because I was worthy of death. That same mercy is available for you, also, if you want it.

      September 30, 2009
      Reply
    • john george said:

      Sorry- That should be “Ark”, not “Arc”, although there were flashes of lightning associated with it.

      September 30, 2009
      Reply
    • Anthony Pierre said:

      in a word.

      no

      October 1, 2009
      Reply
    • john george said:

      Anthony- If we have a god that has to answer to us, then he wouldn’t be much of a god, IMO. (I used the lower case “g” for emphasis.)

      October 1, 2009
      Reply
  38. John, I don’t mean to put words into your mouth, but it sounds as if you’re saying essentially that you couldn’t have a god worthy of the name whose joy and purpose was to explain things so that its creations could understand them, or that such a god would be less worthy of our love and worship than one who did not explain. It sounds as if it all comes down to power, in the end, then, doesn’t it? Well, really, I think it’s circular reasoning: we can’t explain some things about a presumptive God’s supposed actions that we would find abhorrent by the standards of our time, so the solution is to take that as proof that God must be a real god, in fact the best/most powerful kind of God, rather than admit that the mythology doesn’t stand up to rational moral scrutiny.

    I acknowledge that plenty of people would say they do not recognize the God they worship in some of these biblical descriptions.

    October 1, 2009
    Reply
    • john george said:

      Penny- Re. your comment “…whose joy and purpose was to explain things so that its creations could understand them, or that such a god would be less worthy of our love and worship than one who did not explain.”, no I did not say that. What I said is that God does not have to ANSWER to me. (I’ll be glad when Griff gets his tool bar back.) To me there is a difference, and I have had God show me many things that I did not understand. It comes through revelation and a renewed mind, and I have found that He takes delight in revealing truth and insight to me. I should iterate that His delight is in each of His children, not just me only, as if I had some inside track with Him that is not available to other believers.

      October 1, 2009
      Reply
  39. Can we now concede that this blog has beaten the dead horse many, many times?

    October 12, 2009
    Reply
    • Patrick Enders said:

      My love,
      It’s always dangerous to revive a slumbering thread by suggesting that has worn out its welcome. See above, or ask Kiffi.

      Unfortunately, until Griff turns over the keys to the blog to the rest of us (or we find a better place to carry on our local online repartee), there really is no other option than to post at the bottom of some tangentially-related set of comments which have precious little to do with the original post.

      October 12, 2009
      Reply
    • Jerry Friedman said:

      Felicity: Again I ponder what it matters if this thread is awake or slumbers for eternity. Is there a shortage of space on the Internet? Does Griff pay rent for this HTML file?

      October 12, 2009
      Reply
  40. Patrick Enders said:

    Slight tangent: MPR broadcast an excellent episode of “Radiolab” last night, which looked at randomness, and the human tendency to perceive patterns in random events.

    The show is quite entertaining, and does a great job of discussing the patterns that we see in random(?) events. I can’t help but believe that the biggest difference between non-theists and those theists who perceive miracles in our daily lives has to do with how people process the seemingly strange events that occur either due to chance, or perhaps due to some outside influence guiding our world from behind the scenes.

    This hour, Radiolab examines Stochasticity, which is just a wonderfully slippery and smarty-pants word for randomness. How big a role does randomness play in our lives? Do we live in a world of magic and meaning or … is it all just chance and happenstance? To tackle this question, we look at the role chance and randomness play in sports, lottery tickets, and even the cells in our own body. Along the way, we talk to a woman suddenly consumed by a frenzied gambling addiction, two friends whose meeting seems purely providential, and some very noisy bacteria.

    http://blogs.wnyc.org/radiolab/2009/06/15/stochasticity/

    And hey.. it’s available as a podcast!

    October 12, 2009
    Reply
    • Patrick Enders said:

      p.s. Felicity: I highly recommend this podcast for any of your statistically-challenged students.

      October 12, 2009
      Reply
    • john george said:

      Patrick & Felicity- It is good to see that other couples are schedule-challenged when it comes to having time to communicate with our spouses. Now, if I could only get Karen interested in posting here…

      October 12, 2009
      Reply
  41. kiffi summa said:

    Felicity: I tried, several times to get ‘Them’ to give it up; now you have tried…
    I can’t believe any exhortations will do any good , because they are ADDICTED to this discussion.
    I think, that they think, they have discovered a new and infinitely renewable energy source!

    October 12, 2009
    Reply
  42. Anthony Pierre said:

    it would power downtown for a year with the amount of hot air in this thread

    October 12, 2009
    Reply
  43. john george said:

    Come on, folks! This is Griff’s blog. Can’t you allow him one opportunity at immortality? Or, is he just beside himself, since some of you refer to “them” in regards to this thread? Or, perhaps some of you all are beside yourselves?

    October 12, 2009
    Reply
  44. David Ludescher said:

    Patrick: I think there is a lot of merit in suggesting that the main difference between atheists and theists is the method that is used to process unexplainable events.

    I would suggest that it is much more rational to assume that every event has an explanation, although it may be unknown, then to suggest that all events are purely random.

    October 15, 2009
    Reply
    • Jerry Friedman said:

      David: You don’t need to fret about random events. I don’t know of any science that rests on random anything. (I understand that some subatomic particles appear to make random movements, but there may yet be smaller forces at work upon them. The science of quarks has not rested.)

      October 15, 2009
      Reply
  45. Patrick Enders said:

    David,
    I completely agree with your statement that

    it is much more rational to assume that every event has an explanation, although it may be unknown, then to suggest that all events are purely random.

    The difference is that a scientist, agnostic or non-theistic rationalist assumes that “there is a cause (or causes), but I do not yet know what it is.”

    A theist assumes, “I do not know what the cause is, so it must be God.”

    The radio show I linked to actually has to do with the step that precedes that process of explanation. It discusses the first step of observation which is: “Is there a discernible pattern in a set of observed events, or is it all just complex noise?”

    A skeptical scientist or statistician assumes that it is probably all just noise (that is, the patterns have not yet been discerned), until a pattern can be measured and characterized, and shown to be different from that which would be expected to be generated by background noise (that is, a complex interplay of many webs of cause and effect, which adds up to the lack of predictibility that you characterize as “random”).

    Again, scientists do not accept “random” as an explanation in and of itself. It is simply a shorthand for “lack of predictibility.”

    On the other hand, some nonskeptical theists seem to simply assume, “Wow! That must have been an act of God!”

    October 15, 2009
    Reply
    • john george said:

      Patrick- Another perspective, from a believer, in your observation is in the area of healing. It is written that when a believer prays for the sick, then they will be healed (simple cause and effect). This is not paranormal, at least from a believer’s perspective. We don’t assume that every unexplained event is caused by God. We act upon His word (pray for the sick) and believe He will confirm His word with the appropriate manefestation. What is not normal is when we pray for the sick and they are not healed. This is hard to explain, and therefore has the appearance of a “lack of predictability”, as you say.

      October 15, 2009
      Reply
  46. Patrick Enders said:

    The South continues to prove that racism is not quite dead yet:

    Interracial couple denied marriage license in La.

    Staff
    AP News
    Oct 15, 2009 15:47 EST

    A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

    Neither Bardwell nor the couple immediately returned phone calls from The Associated Press. But Bardwell told the Daily Star of Hammond that he was not a racist.

    “I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house,” Bardwell said. “My main concern is for the children.”

    Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.

    “I don’t do interracial marriages because I don’t want to put children in a situation they didn’t bring on themselves,” Bardwell said. “In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer.”

    If he does an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said.

    “I try to treat everyone equally,” he said.

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2009/10/interracial_couple_denied_marriage_license_in_la.php?ref=fpblg

    Sheesh.

    October 15, 2009
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    • john george said:

      Sheesh is right. Just one more reason I live in Minnesota, not to be racial about it, though. There is a reason the Irealites wandered in the desert for 40 years. I think you remember my link to the Newsweek article about race patterns in the DNC/RNC thread.

      October 15, 2009
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    • Jerry Friedman said:

      Patrick: “Sheesh” is not my first reaction.

      I think that racism will exist as long as the myth of human races exist. If this bigot took a modern science class or read current science literature, he might realize that all humans alive today belong to the Homo sapiens sapiens race, and that the nearest human race to be “racist” against are Homo sapiens neanderthalis. No one would be upset if the bigot denied a marriage license between a modern human and a Neanderthal.

      October 15, 2009
      Reply
  47. Scott Oney said:

    Patrick: More faux news? Notice that the article you link to doesn’t mention the race of either member of the couple. It also doesn’t explain how Judge Bardwell’s wife could tell by talking to the bride-to-be over the phone that they were an interracial couple, if indeed they were.

    I found a picture of the groom on another Web site, though, and based on his bandanna, I’d guess “Crips.”

    October 16, 2009
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    • john george said:

      Scott- This isn’t faux news. I found it on my MSN home page. You do raise a couple good questions about how the whole event, though.

      October 16, 2009
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    • Patrick Enders said:

      Scott,
      It’s from the AP. They tend to be more slightly more accurate than Fox.

      I’m not sure how the Judge decided the race of the members of the couple. How, exactly, would the means by which he determined that justify his quotes, above?

      Thanks in advance for your explanation, because I don’t see how his justifications could ever seem anywhere near okay.

      October 16, 2009
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    • Patrick Enders said:

      Scott, there’s an expanded version of the AP article, after the authors reached the judge for comment:

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091016/ap_on_re_us/us_interracial_rebuff_19

      It explains that he learned that they were of mixed race when they called to get a marriage license signed:

      “Humphrey said she called Bardwell on Oct. 6 to inquire about getting a marriage license signed. She says Bardwell’s wife told her that Bardwell will not sign marriage licenses for interracial couples. Bardwell suggested the couple go to another justice of the peace in the parish who agreed to marry them.”

      But it’s okay, because Judge Bardwell explains:

      “I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way,” Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. “I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.”

      Again, Scott, how does the fact that they determined the couple’s race by phone make this okay?

      Thanks again.

      October 16, 2009
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    • Scott Oney said:

      Patrick: Sorry, Dude; your head must be spinning! As for your question, I really can’t answer it. I have no idea why you think the means by which the judge determined the race(s) of the couple are relevant to the accuracy of the quotes attributed to him in the article. So your thanks in advance were misplaced.

      And notice that it was the judge’s wife, not the judge, who took the phone call. I don’t know if it was a publicity stunt or just a prank call that went too far, but it just doesn’t ring totally true. The reporter should have tried to find out.

      John: Most style guides tell you not to mention race unless it’s relevant, but they don’t give good examples, so people usually err on the side of caution. But in this story, it’s the whole point, so it especially stood out that AP shied away from identifying the subjects by race. I thought it was kind of funny.

      October 16, 2009
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    • Patrick Enders said:

      Scott,
      From your current response, I take it that your interest in the race of the husband and wife – and how the judge’s wife determined it – had nothing to do with suggesting that what the judge did or said wass okay, and was merely an interest in journalistic accuracy? If so, I am very glad to learn that.

      If you could, though, please explain your “Crips” comment.

      October 16, 2009
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    • Patrick Enders said:

      Scott,
      Perhaps too, you could more clearly explain your comment that

      “I don’t know if it was a publicity stunt or just a prank call that went too far, but it just doesn’t ring totally true.”

      You seem to be hinting at some kind of a thought, rather than just stating what you think. Perhaps you could explain your hypothesis about a “publicity stunt” or “prank call that went too far”?

      October 16, 2009
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    • Scott Oney said:

      Patrick: So many questions! I’ll try to help you out with a couple.

      If you could, though, please explain your “Crips” comment.

      In the world of gang colors, red is associated with Bloods, blue with Crips. The would-be groom is pictured wearing a blue bandanna, which would be consistent with Crips affiliation but place him in danger in a neighborhood controlled by Bloods. It’s also important to note that wearing colors consonant with those of a controlling gang would be considered disrespectful for one unaffiliated with that gang. I know it to be true in Mpls., and also in Schenectady, N.Y.; I think it’s a nationwide phenomenon.

      Perhaps you could explain your hypothesis about a “publicity stunt” or “prank call that went too far”?

      People stage publicity stunts to draw attention to themselves, someone in whom they have an interest, or some cause. If that’s the case here, it worked. There’s more and more every time I google these guys.

      I must admit I’m as flummoxed as you are about how a person could determine the race of a girl’s boyfriend by simply talking to her over the phone, unless she for some reason mentioned it.

      October 16, 2009
      Reply

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