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An honest dialogue on religion


Guest Paul
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Gene, your posts here inspired me to try this. It’s amazing what a little Faith can do.

My girlfriend of many years ago once told me about an experience she had with her father, who was a plumber by trade. As a teenager, while she was helping him with some work around the house, he said to her “hand me the female part.” Innocently, she asked “How do I know which one that is.” He replied “Look at them.” She was embarrassed, but she got the point instantly.

It’s endlessly fascinating that scriptural literalists never really look at the texts they claim to believe in. They’ll do what they call “Bible study” as a happy-happy, but if anyone really tries to discuss what the Bible, or the Koran, etc., actually says, self-styled “believers” will take offense and refuse to participate in the discussion. That’s why the self-proclaimed Christians who come to this page won’t get involved when someone opens a topic for honest discussion about the Bible. See, for example: http://forums.kearnyontheweb.com/index.php?showtopic=24653

There was at least one older topic on this subject, but those archives appear to have been deleted.

There’s much to be said for mutual and community support, but when it becomes denial, it ceases being religious and becomes anti-religious. It no longer gets people on the straight and narrow path of righteous behavior; just the opposite, it gives them license to justify anything, making them self-righteous instead of righteous. Many of the most fervent religious zealots see themselves as the only moral people in the world; truth is, their behavior is often destructive, unethical and immoral, and it’s a direct result of their belief system, the way it cuts them off from others, and their refusal to hold themselves accountable. Their belief system systematically trains them to do it that way. In such belief systems, truth is not the highest ideal; the highest ideal is defending one’s beliefs as ultimate truth.

Increasingly over the past few years, I have come to the view of Sam Harris (The End of Faith) and my friend Austin Dacey (The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life) that we must end what Dacey calls the Privacy Fallacy – the mistaken notion that criticism of religious doctrines and beliefs is out of bounds. The religious right is correct in observing that laws and society are not possible without moral and ethical foundations. They cannot have it both ways. When they offer their religious beliefs as moral foundations for us all, they are fair game. The same is true of any theist who offers his religion for public consumption among friends, but doesn’t really want to hear their response, except in the form of a happy-happy. They're not looking for truth, they're desperately seeking support.

Some of my most painful experiences have been the inability to reach people because religious dogmas got in the way. Felix Adler, who founded Ethical Culture, identified separation/alienation as one of the three fundamental sources of human anguish. Even my “relationship” with David Paszkiewicz, with whom I’ve never spoken more than a few words, is deeply unsatisfying. There is no excuse for two people of good will to allow things to remain as they are between the two of us. If one takes that as true, there are only a few viable conclusions to draw, perhaps only one.

If fundamentalists and literalists from all religions really looked at their scriptures, themselves and their behavior honestly, they would see this. If they would only listen openly and honestly for an hour to someone who sees the problems with various theistic doctrines, scriptures, etc., they would see what my friend saw; I say “would” and not “might” because if they really looked, they would see. The thing identifies itself, but anyone who refuses to look at it cannot see it, and we live in a culture that not only tells them “that’s OK,” but affirmatively encourages it; and not only that, but puts the hammer down on anyone who would challenge that way of doing things. This video does a superb job making the point:

Might we have a real dialogue this time?

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Gene, your posts here inspired me to try this. It’s amazing what a little Faith can do.

My girlfriend of many years ago once told me about an experience she had with her father, who was a plumber by trade. As a teenager, while she was helping him with some work around the house, he said to her “hand me the female part.” Innocently, she asked “How do I know which one that is.” He replied “Look at them.” She was embarrassed, but she got the point instantly.

It’s endlessly fascinating that scriptural literalists never really look at the texts they claim to believe in. They’ll do what they call “Bible study” as a happy-happy, but if anyone really tries to discuss what the Bible, or the Koran, etc., actually says, self-styled “believers” will take offense and refuse to participate in the discussion. That’s why the self-proclaimed Christians who come to this page won’t get involved when someone opens a topic for honest discussion about the Bible. See, for example: http://forums.kearnyontheweb.com/index.php?showtopic=24653

There was at least one older topic on this subject, but those archives appear to have been deleted.

There’s much to be said for mutual and community support, but when it becomes denial, it ceases being religious and becomes anti-religious. It no longer gets people on the straight and narrow path of righteous behavior; just the opposite, it gives them license to justify anything, making them self-righteous instead of righteous. Many of the most fervent religious zealots see themselves as the only moral people in the world; truth is, their behavior is often destructive, unethical and immoral, and it’s a direct result of their belief system, the way it cuts them off from others, and their refusal to hold themselves accountable. Their belief system systematically trains them to do it that way. In such belief systems, truth is not the highest ideal; the highest ideal is defending one’s beliefs as ultimate truth.

Increasingly over the past few years, I have come to the view of Sam Harris (The End of Faith) and my friend Austin Dacey (The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life) that we must end what Dacey calls the Privacy Fallacy – the mistaken notion that criticism of religious doctrines and beliefs is out of bounds. The religious right is correct in observing that laws and society are not possible without moral and ethical foundations. They cannot have it both ways. When they offer their religious beliefs as moral foundations for us all, they are fair game. The same is true of any theist who offers his religion for public consumption among friends, but doesn’t really want to hear their response, except in the form of a happy-happy. They're not looking for truth, they're desperately seeking support.

Some of my most painful experiences have been the inability to reach people because religious dogmas got in the way. Felix Adler, who founded Ethical Culture, identified separation/alienation as one of the three fundamental sources of human anguish. Even my “relationship” with David Paszkiewicz, with whom I’ve never spoken more than a few words, is deeply unsatisfying. There is no excuse for two people of good will to allow things to remain as they are between the two of us. If one takes that as true, there are only a few viable conclusions to draw, perhaps only one.

If fundamentalists and literalists from all religions really looked at their scriptures, themselves and their behavior honestly, they would see this. If they would only listen openly and honestly for an hour to someone who sees the problems with various theistic doctrines, scriptures, etc., they would see what my friend saw; I say “would” and not “might” because if they really looked, they would see. The thing identifies itself, but anyone who refuses to look at it cannot see it, and we live in a culture that not only tells them “that’s OK,” but affirmatively encourages it; and not only that, but puts the hammer down on anyone who would challenge that way of doing things. This video does a superb job making the point:

Might we have a real dialogue this time?

So, what you're trying to accomplish here, is to make others defend their faith? You have a problem with what happened in the school I get it ,(I don't agree), but I get it. No one here has asked you to adopt their faith. And yet, you want everyone to either defend it or abandon it.

I learned a long time ago to be accepting of all things, PROVIDED their beliefs or principle do not have a direct, negative impact on me. You do not believe, as is your right, and this has no bearing on me, so I don't care. But what you have suggested here is moronic. It's like saying "I want it all my way, and these believers must be stopped."

I'm certain I've typed these words before, to you in fact, but LET IT GO!!

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Guest 2smart4u
Gene, your posts here inspired me to try this. It’s amazing what a little Faith can do.

My girlfriend of many years ago once told me about an experience she had with her father, who was a plumber by trade. As a teenager, while she was helping him with some work around the house, he said to her “hand me the female part.” Innocently, she asked “How do I know which one that is.” He replied “Look at them.” She was embarrassed, but she got the point instantly.

It’s endlessly fascinating that scriptural literalists never really look at the texts they claim to believe in. They’ll do what they call “Bible study” as a happy-happy, but if anyone really tries to discuss what the Bible, or the Koran, etc., actually says, self-styled “believers” will take offense and refuse to participate in the discussion. That’s why the self-proclaimed Christians who come to this page won’t get involved when someone opens a topic for honest discussion about the Bible. See, for example: http://forums.kearnyontheweb.com/index.php?showtopic=24653

There was at least one older topic on this subject, but those archives appear to have been deleted.

There’s much to be said for mutual and community support, but when it becomes denial, it ceases being religious and becomes anti-religious. It no longer gets people on the straight and narrow path of righteous behavior; just the opposite, it gives them license to justify anything, making them self-righteous instead of righteous. Many of the most fervent religious zealots see themselves as the only moral people in the world; truth is, their behavior is often destructive, unethical and immoral, and it’s a direct result of their belief system, the way it cuts them off from others, and their refusal to hold themselves accountable. Their belief system systematically trains them to do it that way. In such belief systems, truth is not the highest ideal; the highest ideal is defending one’s beliefs as ultimate truth.

Increasingly over the past few years, I have come to the view of Sam Harris (The End of Faith) and my friend Austin Dacey (The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life) that we must end what Dacey calls the Privacy Fallacy – the mistaken notion that criticism of religious doctrines and beliefs is out of bounds. The religious right is correct in observing that laws and society are not possible without moral and ethical foundations. They cannot have it both ways. When they offer their religious beliefs as moral foundations for us all, they are fair game. The same is true of any theist who offers his religion for public consumption among friends, but doesn’t really want to hear their response, except in the form of a happy-happy. They're not looking for truth, they're desperately seeking support.

Some of my most painful experiences have been the inability to reach people because religious dogmas got in the way. Felix Adler, who founded Ethical Culture, identified separation/alienation as one of the three fundamental sources of human anguish. Even my “relationship” with David Paszkiewicz, with whom I’ve never spoken more than a few words, is deeply unsatisfying. There is no excuse for two people of good will to allow things to remain as they are between the two of us. If one takes that as true, there are only a few viable conclusions to draw, perhaps only one.

If fundamentalists and literalists from all religions really looked at their scriptures, themselves and their behavior honestly, they would see this. If they would only listen openly and honestly for an hour to someone who sees the problems with various theistic doctrines, scriptures, etc., they would see what my friend saw; I say “would” and not “might” because if they really looked, they would see. The thing identifies itself, but anyone who refuses to look at it cannot see it, and we live in a culture that not only tells them “that’s OK,” but affirmatively encourages it; and not only that, but puts the hammer down on anyone who would challenge that way of doing things. This video does a superb job making the point:

Might we have a real dialogue this time?

An "honest dialogue" with a stone cold atheist. Right!

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Hi Paul,

You cannot get honest discussions because ultimately the issue is about the power of money and the ability to keep duping the public legally and profitably. Once they realize that a group or person can't be converted they have to demonize. Its like all the other political claptrap being promoted. People believe that the dems will end the occupations or that the reps will win the wars.

As Ghandi said " an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind."

There's a lot of that here.

The objective is to keep the government looking stupid and expensive so that all manners of real ripoffs can occur.

The same nastiness is on so many websites.

Keep on keeping on!

Your Friend,

Gene

Gene, your posts here inspired me to try this. It’s amazing what a little Faith can do.

My girlfriend of many years ago once told me about an experience she had with her father, who was a plumber by trade. As a teenager, while she was helping him with some work around the house, he said to her “hand me the female part.” Innocently, she asked “How do I know which one that is.” He replied “Look at them.” She was embarrassed, but she got the point instantly.

It’s endlessly fascinating that scriptural literalists never really look at the texts they claim to believe in. They’ll do what they call “Bible study” as a happy-happy, but if anyone really tries to discuss what the Bible, or the Koran, etc., actually says, self-styled “believers” will take offense and refuse to participate in the discussion. That’s why the self-proclaimed Christians who come to this page won’t get involved when someone opens a topic for honest discussion about the Bible. See, for example: http://forums.kearnyontheweb.com/index.php?showtopic=24653

There was at least one older topic on this subject, but those archives appear to have been deleted.

There’s much to be said for mutual and community support, but when it becomes denial, it ceases being religious and becomes anti-religious. It no longer gets people on the straight and narrow path of righteous behavior; just the opposite, it gives them license to justify anything, making them self-righteous instead of righteous. Many of the most fervent religious zealots see themselves as the only moral people in the world; truth is, their behavior is often destructive, unethical and immoral, and it’s a direct result of their belief system, the way it cuts them off from others, and their refusal to hold themselves accountable. Their belief system systematically trains them to do it that way. In such belief systems, truth is not the highest ideal; the highest ideal is defending one’s beliefs as ultimate truth.

Increasingly over the past few years, I have come to the view of Sam Harris (The End of Faith) and my friend Austin Dacey (The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life) that we must end what Dacey calls the Privacy Fallacy – the mistaken notion that criticism of religious doctrines and beliefs is out of bounds. The religious right is correct in observing that laws and society are not possible without moral and ethical foundations. They cannot have it both ways. When they offer their religious beliefs as moral foundations for us all, they are fair game. The same is true of any theist who offers his religion for public consumption among friends, but doesn’t really want to hear their response, except in the form of a happy-happy. They're not looking for truth, they're desperately seeking support.

Some of my most painful experiences have been the inability to reach people because religious dogmas got in the way. Felix Adler, who founded Ethical Culture, identified separation/alienation as one of the three fundamental sources of human anguish. Even my “relationship” with David Paszkiewicz, with whom I’ve never spoken more than a few words, is deeply unsatisfying. There is no excuse for two people of good will to allow things to remain as they are between the two of us. If one takes that as true, there are only a few viable conclusions to draw, perhaps only one.

If fundamentalists and literalists from all religions really looked at their scriptures, themselves and their behavior honestly, they would see this. If they would only listen openly and honestly for an hour to someone who sees the problems with various theistic doctrines, scriptures, etc., they would see what my friend saw; I say “would” and not “might” because if they really looked, they would see. The thing identifies itself, but anyone who refuses to look at it cannot see it, and we live in a culture that not only tells them “that’s OK,” but affirmatively encourages it; and not only that, but puts the hammer down on anyone who would challenge that way of doing things. This video does a superb job making the point:

Might we have a real dialogue this time?

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Guest 2smart4u
Hi Paul,

You cannot get honest discussions because ultimately the issue is about the power of money and the ability to keep duping the public legally and profitably. Once they realize that a group or person can't be converted they have to demonize. Its like all the other political claptrap being promoted. People believe that the dems will end the occupations or that the reps will win the wars.

As Ghandi said " an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind."

There's a lot of that here.

The objective is to keep the government looking stupid and expensive so that all manners of real ripoffs can occur.

The same nastiness is on so many websites.

Keep on keeping on!

Your Friend,

Gene

Welcome another far left Loony to KOTW. "Reverend" Gene Qu will make a fine addition to the

"Blame America First" club that Paul is a charter member of.

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So, what you're trying to accomplish here, is to make others defend their faith? You have a problem with what happened in the school I get it ,(I don't agree), but I get it. No one here has asked you to adopt their faith. And yet, you want everyone to either defend it or abandon it.

I learned a long time ago to be accepting of all things, PROVIDED their beliefs or principle do not have a direct, negative impact on me. You do not believe, as is your right, and this has no bearing on me, so I don't care. But what you have suggested here is moronic. It's like saying "I want it all my way, and these believers must be stopped."

I'm certain I've typed these words before, to you in fact, but LET IT GO!!

It isn't just what happened in the school. What led to that is culture-wide. We are in the midst of an attempt to convert our democracy into a theocracy. We are facing a direct threat from extremism in a non-Christian religion. So it's a legitimate concern.

And yes, I am asking people to defend what they believe. I can't force it, but I think it's a moral obligation. If no one agrees, then there will be no dialogue, but you can't honestly say I didn't ask.

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Hi Paul,

You cannot get honest discussions because ultimately the issue is about the power of money and the ability to keep duping the public legally and profitably. Once they realize that a group or person can't be converted they have to demonize. Its like all the other political claptrap being promoted. People believe that the dems will end the occupations or that the reps will win the wars.

As Ghandi said " an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind."

There's a lot of that here.

The objective is to keep the government looking stupid and expensive so that all manners of real ripoffs can occur.

The same nastiness is on so many websites.

Keep on keeping on!

Your Friend,

Gene

Gene, I don't think this one is about money. It's about power, some, but mainly I think it's about fear and a sense of personal security. People feel comforted by their stories, and their whole culture tells them they're true, so they're unwilling to think about them clearly, much less part with them.

But you know me. I keep on keeping on.

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So, what you're trying to accomplish here, is to make others defend their faith? You have a problem with what happened in the school I get it ,(I don't agree), but I get it. No one here has asked you to adopt their faith. And yet, you want everyone to either defend it or abandon it.

I learned a long time ago to be accepting of all things, PROVIDED their beliefs or principle do not have a direct, negative impact on me. You do not believe, as is your right, and this has no bearing on me, so I don't care. But what you have suggested here is moronic. It's like saying "I want it all my way, and these believers must be stopped."

I'm certain I've typed these words before, to you in fact, but LET IT GO!!

Amazing how quickly you get twisted out of shape when a non-Christian is persistent. You're the one yelling.

Also, do you really think that right and wrong is a function of what affects you directly and personally, and nothing else? A "direct, negative impact" on you, and that's all that matters? That's all you care about? There's no such thing as civic responsibility? That's what you're saying. Every man for himself, screw everyone else. If everyone thought like that, where would we get soldiers, police, firefighters, etc? How do you justify remarks like that?

Why is it wrong for someone to say that we are responsible for what we believe? That's what he believes, and you're not being shy about criticizing it. So you're not even being consistent.

Think.

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It isn't just what happened in the school. What led to that is culture-wide. We are in the midst of an attempt to convert our democracy into a theocracy. We are facing a direct threat from extremism in a non-Christian religion. So it's a legitimate concern.

And yes, I am asking people to defend what they believe. I can't force it, but I think it's a moral obligation. If no one agrees, then there will be no dialogue, but you can't honestly say I didn't ask.

... said the guy who takes every opportunity to duck defending what he supposedly believes.

Take Paul to task on his supposedly "universal" moral system and he hems like a seamstress and haws like Roy Clark.

His religion is as ill-founded as any, but he has blinded himself to the fact.

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Guest Patriot
It isn't just what happened in the school. What led to that is culture-wide. We are in the midst of an attempt to convert our democracy into a theocracy. We are facing a direct threat from extremism in a non-Christian religion. So it's a legitimate concern.

And yes, I am asking people to defend what they believe. I can't force it, but I think it's a moral obligation. If no one agrees, then there will be no dialogue, but you can't honestly say I didn't ask.

We're a Christian nation whether you like it or not, 80% profess to a belief in God. There's always been

a minority of Loony atheists (like yourself) who see a vast Christian conspiracy to take over the world.

My advice is to calm down, we Christians don't want you. We like you just where you are, out on the

fringe.

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I’m saying there’s a middle ground between legal compulsion and the complete absence of responsibility. We’ve been trained to think that an act is either legal or illegal. It’s more complicated than that. For example:

No law requires you to vote, but if you don’t, you’re not taking part in our democratic system. If enough people don’t take part, it won’t work.

When you go into the voting booth, you can vote for a candidate because you think he or she is “hot,” or because you’d sooner have a beer with that candidate than the other one. Those are frivolous reasons, or more accurately, non-reasons. Many people vote for candidates based on shared ethnic or religious background; those are also anti-democratic reasons, based on prejudice and usually bigotry. No one can force you not to vote that way, but if you do, you’re putting one more tiny rip in the fabric of democracy. If the people, collectively, rip it to enough shreds, it will fall apart.

One of the reasons I’m pressing this issue is that it’s happening. The sense of civic duty has all but vanished during my lifetime, with the gradual but steady erosion of citizenship. “Ask what you can do for your country” gave way to “lookin’ out for number one” a long time ago, and it has only gotten worse since then.

And yet legally, no one can force you to vote for reasons that make sense and are consistent with our democratic values of universal inclusion. It must remain that way. Legally, you must remain free to vote as you choose, and yet democracy is based on the people voluntarily shouldering and carrying their civic duty. The Framers adopted our form of government based on a Faith that the people could be trusted to exercise the franchise responsibly. They made that explicit in what they said and wrote at the time. They were relying on a middle ground between legal compulsion and complete personal freedom with no responsibility of any kind.

Patriotism occupies that middle ground. There’s nothing patriotic about doing what the law requires us to do. Patriotism is doing what we don’t have to do, just because it’s right for our country. A country can make all the laws it can conceive; they won’t mean a thing if people don’t care enough to cover the vast ground that remains in the middle. That middle ground is what led the Framers to fashion a democracy in the first place, and it is the ground on which any nation ultimately rises or falls.

Some people think patriotism is a collection of outward displays, like saluting the flag, saying a pledge or wearing a flag pin. If the guards see anyone sitting during the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, they will say “It is requested that you stand during the changing of the guard.” That statement, coming from a soldier carrying a gun, is usually enough to get everyone to stand, but if someone chooses not to stand, there’s no punishment for not standing. The community knows that we often don’t stand for the pledge of allegiance. When people criticize us for that, they’re invoking that middle ground. When we don’t stand, we’re not arguing that there’s no middle ground; we’re saying that’s not where it is. We’re saying that patriotism is meaningful civic action, not ritual display.

So let’s discuss how this applies to religion. The right wing, which is the group that is making this issue so urgent, cries the most fervently about anyone like me who does not participate in pseudo-patriotic rituals. Both presidents Bush argued, with complete political immunity, that an atheist is not a good American, a statement that alone should have disqualified them from the presidency, and would have if Americans took religious freedom seriously. The American political right invokes the middle ground of patriotism all the time, but they do it as they do pretty much everything: selectively.

If you can figure out a way to make religion irrelevant to public life, then I’ll back off this subject. I’ll still argue the case for Humanism, but I won’t be so persistent about bringing it up, if you can do that. I don’t think you, or anyone, can do it.

So until someone can do it, I’m going to argue this case, because it’s important. These theologies have done considerable damage. When I say that the religions, historically, have contributed to more wars and more suffering than perhaps any other institution in history, Christians, Jews and Muslims nod their heads in agreement as readily as Humanists do. We all know it’s true, but when it comes to preserving that little area of personal space where we want to have license to comfort ourselves with the stories of our own religion of choice, we choose to forget that it matters. You say you get it, but you don’t really get it, because every time you’re challenged by person or circumstance to do something about it, you don’t. That’s why no one did anything about David Paszkiewicz for fourteen years, even though plenty of people must have known. You say you’re for personal responsibility, but you want to carve out exceptions for yourself whenever you want them. That’s what I’m arguing against. That’s what I’m inviting a dialogue on.

People get upset with me for making this argument. I’m just upsetting everyone, they say. People don’t like to be told how to think, they say, especially when you’re telling them they’re not being responsible.

Yeah, so tell me something I don’t know. Nothing draws public outrage faster than challenging people’s comforting assumptions. Ironically, David Paszkiewicz calls it “taking you out of your comfort zone.” He’s right, but like most of us he doesn’t apply it to himself. We’re all guilty of it sometimes, he’s just more obvious and more extreme than most of us. This trait isn’t confined to the human species. In any social species, nothing will get a member ostracized faster than challenging common ways of doing things. In the human species, nothing will draw rebuke faster than challenging the commonly held myth.

So why do it? I do it because someone has to, and no one else is. What distinguishes us humans from other animals is the ability to think in a way that elevates us above our evolutionary background. Christians may see it in a different way, but your own scriptures bring you to the same point if you really follow them. They tell you that we are morally responsible, which “the beasts of the field” are not, and they command you to do unto others as you would have others do unto you. “From him who has much, much will be expected.” Well, I have much, and so do you. Whether we are products of evolution or divine creation, or both, we have the capacity to think, reason and act responsibly in uniquely human ways.

Having that capacity, we also have that obligation. I learned that ethic as a Catholic boy, and I’ve kept it because it is good and just and right. I can be consistent keeping that ethic, but you can’t be consistent denying it or running away from it when it’s not convenient. If you truly believe the moral and ethical lessons of your chosen scripture, then you have the obligation to think carefully, rationally and to the best of your ability, without giving yourself excuses just because you want to.

People respond to that as though I’m forcing them just by making and pressing the point. I don’t have that kind of power. When you respond that way, I believe you’re just reflecting your own sense of guilt. I know that’s not how to win friends and influence people. I know you see me as a noodge and a pain in the ass. I also know that you’re at least partly right. I don’t care. Your moral responsibility has nothing to do with me. You tell me to get over it, I say no, you get over it. You tell me this is just about what happened at KHS, I tell you no it’s not, but that’s part of it. So I admit, I’m being selective about where I choose to focus my energies, and part of it is personal. So sue me.

This is a free forum, and I’m pressing this point as long as I choose and the moderators will allow me to do it. You can tell me on the one hand that there's no such thing as personal responsibility apart from legal command, and then tell me to shut up even though I'm free to speak and write and try to persuade; but if you do, you're being a hypocrite, and I'm going to call you on it, and try to appeal to your sense or reason. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it, and you don’t have to respond. But I wish you would. This is in that middle ground, where you don’t have to, but you should. Take it or leave it. The choice is yours, but don’t expect me to tell you that you don’t have a moral responsibility for what you believe. You can wrap yourself in an illusion if you want to, but don’t expect me to help you do it.

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I hear there is archeological evidence that shows some tales told in the Bible are more than just the mythological delusions of dramatic or eccentric scribes who allegedly authored their observations of certain events that may or may not have been recorded by first hand sight in real time. The only thing I have seen about mans idea of God or his or her collusion with any God is that most verbal religious confrontations always have arisen to World war.

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Gene, I don't think this one is about money. It's about power, some, but mainly I think it's about fear and a sense of personal security. People feel comforted by their stories, and their whole culture tells them they're true, so they're unwilling to think about them clearly, much less part with them.

But you know me. I keep on keeping on.

... keep right on believing in "universal" human values regardless of their universality, that is.

"... they're unwilling to think about them clearly, much less part with them."

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Guest Guest
We're a Christian nation whether you like it or not, 80% profess to a belief in God. There's always been

a minority of Loony atheists (like yourself) who see a vast Christian conspiracy to take over the world.

My advice is to calm down, we Christians don't want you. We like you just where you are, out on the fringe.

Are you really so stupid that you don't realize you just confirmed his point? The urgency for opposing Christian theology is because of people like you.

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I’m saying there’s a middle ground between legal compulsion and the complete absence of responsibility. We’ve been trained to think that an act is either legal or illegal. It’s more complicated than that. For example:

No law requires you to vote, but if you don’t, you’re not taking part in our democratic system. If enough people don’t take part, it won’t work.

When you go into the voting booth, you can vote for a candidate because you think he or she is “hot,” or because you’d sooner have a beer with that candidate than the other one. Those are frivolous reasons, or more accurately, non-reasons. Many people vote for candidates based on shared ethnic or religious background; those are also anti-democratic reasons, based on prejudice and usually bigotry. No one can force you not to vote that way, but if you do, you’re putting one more tiny rip in the fabric of democracy. If the people, collectively, rip it to enough shreds, it will fall apart.

One of the reasons I’m pressing this issue is that it’s happening. The sense of civic duty has all but vanished during my lifetime, with the gradual but steady erosion of citizenship. “Ask what you can do for your country” gave way to “lookin’ out for number one” a long time ago, and it has only gotten worse since then.

And yet legally, no one can force you to vote for reasons that make sense and are consistent with our democratic values of universal inclusion. It must remain that way. Legally, you must remain free to vote as you choose, and yet democracy is based on the people voluntarily shouldering and carrying their civic duty. The Framers adopted our form of government based on a Faith that the people could be trusted to exercise the franchise responsibly. They made that explicit in what they said and wrote at the time. They were relying on a middle ground between legal compulsion and complete personal freedom with no responsibility of any kind.

Patriotism occupies that middle ground. There’s nothing patriotic about doing what the law requires us to do. Patriotism is doing what we don’t have to do, just because it’s right for our country. A country can make all the laws it can conceive; they won’t mean a thing if people don’t care enough to cover the vast ground that remains in the middle. That middle ground is what led the Framers to fashion a democracy in the first place, and it is the ground on which any nation ultimately rises or falls.

Some people think patriotism is a collection of outward displays, like saluting the flag, saying a pledge or wearing a flag pin. If the guards see anyone sitting during the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, they will say “It is requested that you stand during the changing of the guard.” That statement, coming from a soldier carrying a gun, is usually enough to get everyone to stand, but if someone chooses not to stand, there’s no punishment for not standing. The community knows that we often don’t stand for the pledge of allegiance. When people criticize us for that, they’re invoking that middle ground. When we don’t stand, we’re not arguing that there’s no middle ground; we’re saying that’s not where it is. We’re saying that patriotism is meaningful civic action, not ritual display.

So let’s discuss how this applies to religion. The right wing, which is the group that is making this issue so urgent, cries the most fervently about anyone like me who does not participate in pseudo-patriotic rituals. Both presidents Bush argued, with complete political immunity, that an atheist is not a good American, a statement that alone should have disqualified them from the presidency, and would have if Americans took religious freedom seriously. The American political right invokes the middle ground of patriotism all the time, but they do it as they do pretty much everything: selectively.

If you can figure out a way to make religion irrelevant to public life, then I’ll back off this subject. I’ll still argue the case for Humanism, but I won’t be so persistent about bringing it up, if you can do that. I don’t think you, or anyone, can do it.

So until someone can do it, I’m going to argue this case, because it’s important. These theologies have done considerable damage. When I say that the religions, historically, have contributed to more wars and more suffering than perhaps any other institution in history, Christians, Jews and Muslims nod their heads in agreement as readily as Humanists do. We all know it’s true, but when it comes to preserving that little area of personal space where we want to have license to comfort ourselves with the stories of our own religion of choice, we choose to forget that it matters. You say you get it, but you don’t really get it, because every time you’re challenged by person or circumstance to do something about it, you don’t. That’s why no one did anything about David Paszkiewicz for fourteen years, even though plenty of people must have known. You say you’re for personal responsibility, but you want to carve out exceptions for yourself whenever you want them. That’s what I’m arguing against. That’s what I’m inviting a dialogue on.

People get upset with me for making this argument. I’m just upsetting everyone, they say. People don’t like to be told how to think, they say, especially when you’re telling them they’re not being responsible.

Yeah, so tell me something I don’t know. Nothing draws public outrage faster than challenging people’s comforting assumptions. Ironically, David Paszkiewicz calls it “taking you out of your comfort zone.” He’s right, but like most of us he doesn’t apply it to himself. We’re all guilty of it sometimes, he’s just more obvious and more extreme than most of us. This trait isn’t confined to the human species. In any social species, nothing will get a member ostracized faster than challenging common ways of doing things. In the human species, nothing will draw rebuke faster than challenging the commonly held myth.

So why do it? I do it because someone has to, and no one else is. What distinguishes us humans from other animals is the ability to think in a way that elevates us above our evolutionary background. Christians may see it in a different way, but your own scriptures bring you to the same point if you really follow them. They tell you that we are morally responsible, which “the beasts of the field” are not, and they command you to do unto others as you would have others do unto you. “From him who has much, much will be expected.” Well, I have much, and so do you. Whether we are products of evolution or divine creation, or both, we have the capacity to think, reason and act responsibly in uniquely human ways.

Having that capacity, we also have that obligation. I learned that ethic as a Catholic boy, and I’ve kept it because it is good and just and right. I can be consistent keeping that ethic, but you can’t be consistent denying it or running away from it when it’s not convenient. If you truly believe the moral and ethical lessons of your chosen scripture, then you have the obligation to think carefully, rationally and to the best of your ability, without giving yourself excuses just because you want to.

People respond to that as though I’m forcing them just by making and pressing the point. I don’t have that kind of power. When you respond that way, I believe you’re just reflecting your own sense of guilt. I know that’s not how to win friends and influence people. I know you see me as a noodge and a pain in the ass. I also know that you’re at least partly right. I don’t care. Your moral responsibility has nothing to do with me. You tell me to get over it, I say no, you get over it. You tell me this is just about what happened at KHS, I tell you no it’s not, but that’s part of it. So I admit, I’m being selective about where I choose to focus my energies, and part of it is personal. So sue me.

This is a free forum, and I’m pressing this point as long as I choose and the moderators will allow me to do it. You can tell me on the one hand that there's no such thing as personal responsibility apart from legal command, and then tell me to shut up even though I'm free to speak and write and try to persuade; but if you do, you're being a hypocrite, and I'm going to call you on it, and try to appeal to your sense or reason. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it, and you don’t have to respond. But I wish you would. This is in that middle ground, where you don’t have to, but you should. Take it or leave it. The choice is yours, but don’t expect me to tell you that you don’t have a moral responsibility for what you believe. You can wrap yourself in an illusion if you want to, but don’t expect me to help you do it.

Most people won't want to hear it, but it's the truth. About time somebody said it.

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We're a Christian nation whether you like it or not, 80% profess to a belief in God. There's always been

a minority of Loony atheists (like yourself) who see a vast Christian conspiracy to take over the world.

My advice is to calm down, we Christians don't want you. We like you just where you are, out on the

fringe.

You just proved his point.

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We're a Christian nation whether you like it or not, 80% profess to a belief in God. There's always been

a minority of Loony atheists (like yourself) who see a vast Christian conspiracy to take over the world.

My advice is to calm down, we Christians don't want you. We like you just where you are, out on the

fringe.

There was a time when people like you ran this country, but that day is over. You might want to take a head count, Bubba. All the groups you don't like - blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims and secularists - are rising in numbers faster than rednecks. One of "them" just might become president, and if not him, a woman.

Bigotry isn't easy to defeat, but we're on the way. Just be thankful we don't put you to work scrubbing toilets.

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Take a look at the reponses here..THIS is WHY there can't be an "Honest" discussion on Religion. And you Paul are one of the worst offenders. You're one of the quickest, although by no means the most vicious to personally attack the intelligence and/or integrity of someone because the DO believe differently than you. Personally I DONT CARE what you or yours Believe, or Dont believe. I may disagree with you, and think you are wrong..however that is your right. I dont think you are unintelligent or ignorant because of it. What i Demand, is the same consideration. The First Ammendment is pretty Simple. There cannot be a "Church of the United States". Period. Yes Mr Paskewicz was wrong, but the hype over it was JUST as wrong.

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Amazing how quickly you get twisted out of shape when a non-Christian is persistent. You're the one yelling.

Also, do you really think that right and wrong is a function of what affects you directly and personally, and nothing else? A "direct, negative impact" on you, and that's all that matters? That's all you care about? There's no such thing as civic responsibility? That's what you're saying. Every man for himself, screw everyone else. If everyone thought like that, where would we get soldiers, police, firefighters, etc? How do you justify remarks like that?

Why is it wrong for someone to say that we are responsible for what we believe? That's what he believes, and you're not being shy about criticizing it. So you're not even being consistent.

Think.

I justify my remarks by stating, often, what I believe in, if I don't preach to you (which I haven't), has no bearing on your life. The only part I criticized is where he asks others to abandon their beliefs if they can't defend them to his satisfaction.

I'm all about right and wrong, not every man for himself. But, I think we spend too much time worrying about others. I don't agree with Paul's beliefs, but I haven't asked him to abandon them. It works for him, and THAT works for me.

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Take a look at the reponses here..THIS is WHY there can't be an "Honest" discussion on Religion. And you Paul are one of the worst offenders. You're one of the quickest, although by no means the most vicious to personally attack the intelligence and/or integrity of someone because the DO believe differently than you. Personally I DONT CARE what you or yours Believe, or Dont believe. I may disagree with you, and think you are wrong..however that is your right. I dont think you are unintelligent or ignorant because of it. What i Demand, is the same consideration. The First Ammendment is pretty Simple. There cannot be a "Church of the United States". Period. Yes Mr Paskewicz was wrong, but the hype over it was JUST as wrong.

That's your view. Paul is saying one is wrong and the other right. He's just as entitled to that as you are to cut the baby down the middle. You're not more reasonable, or less insistent, just because you take a position that seems to give something to both sides. Moderation doesn't mean both sides get something when one is wrong and the other is right.

He's also just as entitled to say that it does matter what we believe as you are to say that it doesn't, and again one side may be completely right and the other completely wrong. You call him an offender in attacking others, but that in itself is an attack. Where are the personal attacks in what he has written? You seem to be confusing form with substance.

Just reading this topic so far, the reason there can't be an honest discussion is that no one is willing to have it. Your dogma is that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and that MUST be the end of the discussion. That's more rigid that what Paul is doing because he's willing, by all appearances, to discuss it on the merits and you're not.

Look at yourself: "Personally I DONT CARE what you or yours Believe, or Dont believe." If you don't care, then why are you shouting? I think what's happening is that he's asking you to look at yourself and you don't want to do it. And as he said, that story is as old as the hills.

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There was a time when people like you ran this country, but that day is over. You might want to take a head count, Bubba. All the groups you don't like - blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims and secularists - are rising in numbers faster than rednecks. One of "them" just might become president, and if not him, a woman.

Bigotry isn't easy to defeat, but we're on the way. Just be thankful we don't put you to work scrubbing toilets.

Just feel the love--along with the complete absence of bigotry, of course.

How we got from "Christian Nation" to disliking blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims and secularists could do with some explanation, though.

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Just feel the love--along with the complete absence of bigotry, of course.

How we got from "Christian Nation" to disliking blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims and secularists could do with some explanation, though.

If you read PatRat's posts honestly, it will be clear.

Correction: If you could read PatRat's posts honestly, it would be clear to you.

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