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Fri Apr 20, 2012, 08:15 AM

How can religious moderates be said to enable hateful fundamentalists?

Nate Phelps, the estranged and non-believing son of the anti-gay bigot Rev. Fred Phelps, spoke at the recent Reason Rally in Washington, D.C., where he brought up a very interesting point:

If you invoke faith as justification for your belief, you must accept the same from others. And every person who retreats to faith bears a measure of responsibility for every act of hate and violence justified by it.


I am curious to see, for those who disagree with this statement, why you think it's wrong?

94 replies, 9248 views

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Reply How can religious moderates be said to enable hateful fundamentalists? (Original post)
trotsky Apr 2012 OP
longship Apr 2012 #1
trotsky Apr 2012 #3
longship Apr 2012 #6
Goblinmonger Apr 2012 #7
longship Apr 2012 #10
trotsky Apr 2012 #8
longship Apr 2012 #11
trotsky Apr 2012 #19
longship Apr 2012 #26
trotsky Apr 2012 #27
Act_of_Reparation Apr 2012 #83
rhett o rick Apr 2012 #2
trotsky Apr 2012 #4
Goblinmonger Apr 2012 #5
trotsky Apr 2012 #9
rhett o rick Apr 2012 #14
trotsky Apr 2012 #17
dmallind Apr 2012 #18
rhett o rick Apr 2012 #66
dmallind Apr 2012 #12
bananas Apr 2012 #13
trotsky Apr 2012 #15
bananas Apr 2012 #29
trotsky Apr 2012 #35
bananas Apr 2012 #37
trotsky Apr 2012 #39
dmallind Apr 2012 #16
bananas Apr 2012 #30
bananas Apr 2012 #32
dmallind Apr 2012 #34
bananas Apr 2012 #41
eqfan592 Apr 2012 #45
dmallind Apr 2012 #53
bananas Apr 2012 #59
eqfan592 Apr 2012 #79
E_Pluribus_Unitarian Apr 2012 #20
trotsky Apr 2012 #23
LTX Apr 2012 #21
trotsky Apr 2012 #22
LTX Apr 2012 #24
trotsky Apr 2012 #25
LTX Apr 2012 #31
kwassa Apr 2012 #33
dmallind Apr 2012 #36
LTX Apr 2012 #42
trotsky Apr 2012 #43
LTX Apr 2012 #49
dmallind Apr 2012 #55
trotsky Apr 2012 #46
trotsky Apr 2012 #38
LTX Apr 2012 #44
trotsky Apr 2012 #47
LTX Apr 2012 #52
trotsky Apr 2012 #56
dmallind Apr 2012 #57
LTX Apr 2012 #68
kwassa Apr 2012 #73
rrneck Apr 2012 #28
humblebum Apr 2012 #40
rrneck Apr 2012 #48
humblebum Apr 2012 #50
eqfan592 Apr 2012 #51
rrneck Apr 2012 #54
humblebum Apr 2012 #58
Goblinmonger Apr 2012 #60
humblebum Apr 2012 #61
Goblinmonger Apr 2012 #63
humblebum Apr 2012 #64
Goblinmonger Apr 2012 #67
humblebum Apr 2012 #70
LTX Apr 2012 #84
Goblinmonger Apr 2012 #87
LTX Apr 2012 #88
Goblinmonger Apr 2012 #89
LTX Apr 2012 #91
Goblinmonger Apr 2012 #92
LTX Apr 2012 #93
tama Apr 2012 #71
Goblinmonger Apr 2012 #72
tama Apr 2012 #75
rrneck Apr 2012 #62
humblebum Apr 2012 #65
rrneck Apr 2012 #69
Leontius Apr 2012 #74
2ndAmForComputers Apr 2012 #77
humblebum Apr 2012 #80
2ndAmForComputers Apr 2012 #76
onager Apr 2012 #78
LeftishBrit Apr 2012 #82
LeftishBrit Apr 2012 #81
eqfan592 Apr 2012 #85
mr blur Apr 2012 #94
Act_of_Reparation Apr 2012 #86
kwassa Apr 2012 #90

Response to trotsky (Original post)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 08:47 AM

1. I think "enabling" is not the best choice of words

I don't want to start a rhetorical argument here. However, "enabling" may be too strong. As an atheist who is often more fervent in my lack of beliefs than is beneficial to what we all want to accomplish, believers or not, I confess that I may not be the best spokesperson. In fact, I would say that atheists in general (whether they use the label or not) are not the best choice to lead the movement for religious toleration.

But we seem to be the only ones speaking out loudly. Yes, there are a few religious who do, but they are being drowned out by the screeching of the lunatics on the right.

Biologist Kenneth Miller, a devout Catholic, is one who is. There are organizations who are also fighting the fight, like Americans United for Separation of Church and State which is headed by a Congregational pastor. Unfortunately, we non-believers cannot do this without the assistance of the religious moderates.

In my opinion, and many others as well, they are not stepping up to the plate. Surely they must see the dangers in an expressly theocratic political party gaining power. Where are the Moslems? Surely they hear the anti-Moslem rhetoric of the Republicans.

As I see it, the moderates are missing in action. We all need a prominent church leader to say that this mix of religion and politics is not only wrong, but risks every freedom this country holds dear.

OP is a good one. Thanks.

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Response to longship (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 09:00 AM

3. I think "enable" is a word that puts a special focus on the problem.

Enable has several shades of meaning, but "to make feasible or possible" is definitely on target for the phenomenon described. If I am asked to defend a statement, and will only respond that it is part of my religious faith, and expect that to be accepted as a reasonable defense, then how can I say that someone else using the same explanation to defend some other statement is wrong? (Without retreating into the infinite loop of, "My faith says they are wrong!")

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Response to trotsky (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 09:25 AM

6. You have a point, but...

Moderates aren't really actively supporting the religious right, as far as I can see. "Enabling" implies, IMHO, tacit approval, which is not what is happening here (again, IMHO).

I think that IRS rules may play a role here. They don't seem to stop the religious right, but moderates might be a bit afraid to cross the River Styx of political speech. Most prominent moderate religious leaders are probably most sensitive to this. Even if it isn't enforced against the religious right, the rules have not been changed. Losing tax free status is a biggie.

There may be cultural issues, too. I am no expert here, so I am just tossing out ideas for comment. Does anybody have any study that looks into this?

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Response to longship (Reply #6)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 09:29 AM

7. I don't see it as meaning "tacit approval."

I see it as creating a situation in which you make is possible for the other to continue their behavior. Just like addictions. Those that enable may not approve of the behavior and might actually like it if the person stopped, but they create an atmosphere where the behavior is sure to continue. THAT is what the moderates do with their standard of saying that "faith" is a reasonable answer to proof and that once faith is invoked it demands respect. Once those are your standards, you can't shoot down the conservatives without then giving up your own standards.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 09:45 AM

10. Faith is an important issue here

That is part of the cultural issues which I think underlie the core of the issue. As I said, IRS rules may contribute as well.

But AFAIK, nobody has studied this. It would really be helpful to know what is driving the utter lunacy we are seeing. It certainly might give us opponents some leverage to at least convince some prominent moderates to join the effort.

A good source on the research is the Reasonable Doubts podcast, which features one (of the four) host who is a research psychologist who talks about research into some of these areas. It is a regular segment on the program entitled God Thinks Like You. He goes into quite a bit of detail and it is highly informative. BTW, it is a great podcast.

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Response to longship (Reply #6)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 09:35 AM

8. No, they definitely are not actively supporting them.

And I don't believe I made that claim - nor do I think that "enabling" requires approval of any kind, tacit or outright. That's why I think enable is an accurate word.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #8)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 09:52 AM

11. My bad!

I said I didn't want a rhetorical discussion, then chose unwisely for my post's title. Sorry, I am bandwidth limited here and often do not edit my post before sending it in. Plus, all I have is an iPhone. I apologize.

I would appreciate your comments on the rest of my argument. Thx.

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Response to longship (Reply #11)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 10:22 AM

19. About IRS concerns? Or...? n/t

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Response to trotsky (Reply #19)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 11:02 AM

26. About why moderates might not be standing up against religion in politics

I posted a couple reasons. What are other reasons?

More importantly, what can we do about it? If anything.

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Response to longship (Reply #26)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 11:27 AM

27. Oh, on that I really can't be sure.

I think first and foremost, part of the reason they are a liberal/moderate believer is that they aren't a fan of the authoritarian, in-your-face style. Kind of a self-fulfilling thing. They don't speak out because they aren't comfortable with speaking out.

Another factor is that their numbers are small. Way too small. Smaller than most of them even feel comfortable acknowledging.

I don't know that non-believers can do anything much to help that.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #8)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 03:57 AM

83. Perhaps not, but they *are* actively funding them...

A moderate religious person goes to church and puts a dollar in the collection plate. That dollar is in turn used to promulgate homophobic and sexist rhetoric.

The fundies have their fun on the moderates' dime. Whether or not they actively "support" the ideas the fundies espouse, they are actively funding the wingnuts, which makes them a huge part of the problem.

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Response to trotsky (Original post)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 08:56 AM

2. I believe that religious moderates can enable hateful fundamentalists, but

I dont agree with the statement. Having faith is very general. One might use faith to support their non-hateful and non-violence, while another might do the opposite. They are not related. For context, I dont believe in "faith".

I do believe that if your church condones or doesnt condemn hate and violence, you enable those behaviors if you remain in the church. Seems to me that the "church" is more important than God.

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #2)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 09:17 AM

4. You say:

"One might use faith to support their non-hateful and non-violence, while another might do the opposite. They are not related."

How are they not related? It's religious faith - you can't prove it one way or the other. It's used to defend a position when rational inquiry and analysis fails (or is declared to be inapplicable). To say that using it to defend a good act is different than using it to defend a bad one confuses me.

On edit: We definitely agree that staying in a church, and especially providing it with your time and money, enables the worst aspects of it.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #4)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 09:21 AM

5. Plus add to that the sister claim

that once I invoke faith, my statements have to immediately have respect because they are faith. I can't prove it, but I demand respect for it. Moderates here do that all the time. Then they mock the conservative religious for their beliefs not realizing they have set the standard of faith=respect.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #5)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 09:36 AM

9. Very important point.

Double standards abound.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #4)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 10:10 AM

14. How does having faith enable bad behavior? nm

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #14)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 10:15 AM

17. It's not the act of having faith that enables bad behavior.

It's the act of using faith as a justification for behavior or beliefs - whether good or bad. What's the difference?

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #14)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 10:19 AM

18. Ermmm.. what?

How many kids have been beaten to death or otherwise tortured in the name of belief that God wants kids to be brutally punished?

How many secular arguments against equal rights for gays do you hear? Or reproductive choice?

Do you think you could find 19 hijackers to fly into a couple of buildings if all you had to promise them was the one way ticket to the explosion?

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Response to dmallind (Reply #18)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 02:08 PM

66. Faith can be used to justify bad behavior, I agree. But having faith

doesnt lead to bad behavior. The question is, do people having faith enable others into bad behavior? Faith is the excuse not the cause.

Again, I am not defending faith. I dont believe in it, but I also dont believe that all those with faith in God are responsible for the acts of all the rest. Faith in God doesnt equate to hate and violence.

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Response to trotsky (Original post)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 09:53 AM

12. I think we have a tail and dog issue here

A few decades ago when fundamentalism started peeking its nose out of the tar-paper shack roadside churches that spawned it and began snuffling toward the town hall and the schoolhouse, enabling would have been a good description. By pearl-clutching furiously at any criticism of religion and insisting that God had a special place in his heart for Power Cable, Nebraska, the politer sane congregations indeed enabled the raving loons to cuckoo into their own veneer of sense and decency.

But that was long ago. Cuckoos kick the original bird out of the nest, and that's what the fundies did too. For at least 40 years and maybe more the slavering right wing has spoken for God in America, has pushed its own twisted evil hate under the divine trademark so consistently and so unchallenged that that's what God and Christianity stands for now in the country. If I were a believer I would have howled about this nonstop my entire life, as loudly and widely as possible, because to any sane even vaguely reflective believer, it simply must be an outrage and blasphemy to end all such crimes - to co-opt God himself as a bigoted, spiteful, exclusionary monster. I doubt I would have done much good. I'm not charismatic or photogenic so I would have been almost as ignored as a believer as I am an atheist. But for fuck's sake there are supposedly nine figures of liberal Christians. There isn't one, hasn't been one for a half century and more, that felt that outrage and had the media savvy to broadcast it to the nation? How so when Robertson and Falwell and Graham and McPherson and Dobson and Warren and Coughlin and Haggard and Fuller and Van Impe and Bakker and Swaggart and Jones and Roberts and Osteen managed to ensnare millions, raise billions, and speak for God essentially unopposed?

So now where are we? The enabling proper is long gone, no more needed than Mike Tyson still needs his mother to protect him. What we have now is more like a civilian cover for terrorists - but a cover that, mostly, willingly surrounds the jihadists, that indignantly shrieks "Bigot! Militant atheist! Hater!" when you point out that the bombers and the killers are snugly enveloped within them, indistinguishable and safe.

We're not talking about enablers any more. The dog wags the tail after all. What we have now is useful, mostly voluntary, human shields.

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Response to trotsky (Original post)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 10:06 AM

13. It's not just wrong, it's hate speech, and it's stupid.

It's like saying that everyone who voted for Obama is responsible for every innocent person killed by a drone.
That's the kind of fallacious reasoning used by terrorists to justify their actions.

Another example: replace the word "faith" with the word "science" or "democracy" or just about anything else in the quote.

If you invoke science as justification for your belief, you must accept the same from others. And every person who retreats to science bears a measure of responsibility for every act of hate and violence justified by it.


Well, the eugenecists invoked science for their beliefs, does that mean everyone who retreats to science bears a measure of responsbility for every act of hate and violence justified by it? Of course not.

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Response to bananas (Reply #13)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 10:13 AM

15. Now, now, you're not supposed to call beliefs stupid.

That is disrespectful and bigoted, from what I've heard.

However there is a very important distinction that you clearly aren't seeing. Science doesn't make claims to be the be-all, end-all source of complete knowledge. It's just a tool. I may defend a position by saying "the science supports me on this," but that will always be subject to change. Religious faith is not the same here, and trying to swap the terms as you are only serves to attack and belittle. It's almost a form of hate speech.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #15)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 11:40 AM

29. As I pointed out, you can replace "faith" with just about anything

His statement is a logical fallacy, and one that's easily seen through.
As I pointed out, you can replace "faith" with just about anything, such as "past experience":
If you invoke past experience as justification for your belief, you must accept the same from others. And every person who retreats to past experience bears a measure of responsibility for every act of hate and violence justified by it.

Have you ever invoked past experience as justification for your beliefs? Then you bear a measure of responsibility for every act of hate and violence justified by it.

How about "justice":
If you invoke justice as justification for your belief, you must accept the same from others. And every person who retreats to justice bears a measure of responsibility for every act of hate and violence justified by it.

Vigilantes invoke "justice" for their beliefs - so if you invoke "justice" for your beliefs, you're responsible for every act of hate and violence by vigilantes.

etc etc.

I'm glad we agree that science is just a tool - unfortunately some do believe it's the be-all end-all source of complete knowledge.

You say "Science doesn't make claims ..." but the statement isn't about claims made by science, it's about claiims made by people:

If you invoke x as justification for your belief, you must accept the same from others. And every person who retreats to x bears a measure of responsibility for every act of hate and violence justified by it.


You wrote,
I may defend a position by saying "the science supports me on this,"

If you take a postion, if you believe it's the right position, and you defend that position by saying "the science supports me on this", then you are using science as justification for your belief.

If you take a postion, if you believe it's the right position, and you defend that position by saying "past experience supports me on this", then you are using past experience as justification for your belief.



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Response to bananas (Reply #29)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:01 PM

35. You sure can. Just as you can substitute a pear for an apple in an apple pie.

But you won't end up with an apple pie.

By invoking faith, a line has been drawn. It is intended to end disagreement once and for all.

By saying "past experience supports me on this," I leave open the possibility that future experience could change my mind.

Religious faith closes that off.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #35)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:03 PM

37. No, religious faith doesn't close that off. nt

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Response to bananas (Reply #37)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:07 PM

39. OK, go convince Fred Phelps he's wrong.

I'll wait.

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Response to bananas (Reply #13)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 10:14 AM

16. What piffle

Science is not used, even by idiots, as a justification for belief. Your own silly example is ass-backward. Eugenecists' beliefs were concerned with the desirability of an artificially guided humanity. Science is a tool for that belief, not a focus of it. Do you think eugenecists would have eschewed creating this race by other means were they somehow available? Told a wizard "No! You can't make us all Aryan archetypes by waving a wand - we insist on painstaking genetic decoding and splicing!"

Science is to such beliefs as basalt blocks are to practitioners of human sacrifice upon ziggurats. A tiresome and difficult necessity to do what you really believe in, but bugger all to do with the object of belief or justification for it.

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Response to dmallind (Reply #16)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 11:45 AM

30. Wrong.

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

Eugenics is the "applied science or the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population", usually referring to the manipulation of human populations. The origins of the concept of eugenics began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance, and the theories of August Weismann. Historically, many of the practitioners of eugenics viewed eugenics as a science, not necessarily restricted to human populations; this embraced the views of Darwinism and Social Darwinism.

Eugenics was widely popular in the early decades of the 20th century. The First International Congress of Eugenics in 1912 was supported by many prominent persons, including: its president Leonard Darwin, the son of Charles Darwin; honorary vice-president Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty and future Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Auguste Forel, famous Swiss pathologist; Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone; among other prominent people. The National Socialists' (NSDAP) approach to genetics and eugenics became focused on Eugen Fischer's concept of phenogenetics and the Nazi twin study methods of Fischer and Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer.

Eugenics was a controversial concept even shortly after its creation. The first major challenge to eugenics was made in 1915 by Thomas Hunt Morgan, who demonstrated the event of genetic mutation occurring outside of inheritance involving the discovery of the birth of a fruit fly with white eyes from a family and ancestry of the red-eyed Drosophila melanogaster species of fruit fly. Morgan claimed that this demonstrated that major genetic changes occurred outside of inheritance and that the concept of eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was severely flawed.

By the mid-20th century eugenics had fallen into disfavor, having become associated with Nazi Germany. Both the public and some elements of the scientific community have associated eugenics with Nazi abuses, such as enforced "racial hygiene", human experimentation, and the extermination of "undesired" population groups. However, developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century have raised many new questions and concerns about the meaning of eugenics and its ethical and moral status in the modern era, effectively creating a resurgence of interest in eugenics.

<snip>

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Response to dmallind (Reply #16)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 11:49 AM

32. Modern eugenics, genetic engineering, and ethical re-evaluation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics#Modern_eugenics.2C_genetic_engineering.2C_and_ethical_re-evaluation

<snip>

Modern eugenics, genetic engineering, and ethical re-evaluation

Beginning in the 1980s, the history and concept of eugenics were widely discussed as knowledge about genetics advanced significantly, making practical genetic engineering, which has been widely used to produce genetically modified organisms, with genetically modified foods being most visible to the general public. Endeavors such as the Human Genome Project made the effective modification of the human species seem possible again (as did Darwin's initial theory of evolution in the 1860s, along with the rediscovery of Mendel's laws in the early 20th century). The difference at the beginning of the 21st century was the guarded attitude towards eugenics, which had become a watchword to be feared rather than embraced. Article 23 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities prohibits compulsory sterilization of disabled individuals and guarantees their right to adopt children.

A few scientific researchers such as psychologist Richard Lynn, psychologist Raymond Cattell, and scientist Gregory Stock have openly called for eugenic policies using modern technology, but they represent a minority opinion in current scientific and cultural circles. One attempted implementation of a form of eugenics was a "genius sperm bank" (198099) created by Robert Klark Graham, from which nearly 230 children were conceived (the best-known donors were Nobel Prize winners William Shockley and J.D.Watson). After Graham passed away in 1997 funding ran out, and within two years his sperm bank had closed. In the U.S. and Europe, though, these attempts have frequently been criticized as in the same spirit of classist and racist forms of eugenics of the 1930s. Because of its association with compulsory sterilization and the racial ideals of the Nazi Party, the word eugenics is rarely used by the advocates of such programs.

The Bell Curve argued that immigration from countries with low national IQ is undesirable. According to Raymond Cattell, "when a country is opening its doors to immigration from diverse countries, it is like a farmer who buys his seeds from different sources by the sack, with sacks of different average quality of contents".

<snip>

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Response to bananas (Reply #32)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:00 PM

34. You either didn't read or didn't understand your own "rebuttal". It makes my point perfectly!

Let me make it especially clear for the hard of thinking....

Eugenics is the "**applied** science or the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices **aimed at **improving the genetic composition of a population"

Now which of the highlighted words indicates the focus of the belief, it's aim?

And which indicates a tool used or applied to the furtherance of that aim?

Come on now this is a 50-50 question. Flip a coin if it helps...

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Response to dmallind (Reply #34)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:10 PM

41. Why do they believe genetic composition of a population can be improved?

First they have to believe there are "genes" - a scientific concept.
Right from the start they are justifying their beliefs on science.

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Response to bananas (Reply #41)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:17 PM

45. ........

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Response to bananas (Reply #41)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:51 PM

53. Your coin came down on the wrong side I see. Bad luck.

By this "thinking" Christianity is based on and justified by geography, since how could they have posied a creator of the Earth without understanding the concept of the Earth first?

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Response to dmallind (Reply #53)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 01:26 PM

59. rofl - the concept of earth was around long before geography as a science. nt



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Response to bananas (Reply #59)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 10:28 PM

79. Wow, really???

Science is still science even if it's not called science.

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Response to trotsky (Original post)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 10:25 AM

20. Thoroughgoing religious liberalism in no way enables fundamentalism.

I guess it depends on what we mean by "moderate." People who take really seriously the "liber" part of the word liberal, and then seriously apply it to religion, will know that the liberative process is actually a repudiation of fundamentalist dogma of all stripes. Anyone who has followed my "Faith of the Free" Facebook page, for example, would understand that whether we use the term faith or not, or any other traditionally religious language, our very presence and what we stand for undermines and challenges rather than enables religious fundamentalism. This bothers the dogma-driven churches tremendously...far more than our small numbers would otherwise warrant. They rightfully see the tectonic plates of their unsubstantiated fundamentalism being moved and eroded. In this we are all working together, and again rightfully so. We have no ill will toward those true believers, and stand ready to work with them for constructive, ethically humanistic purposes, but our mission as Unitarian Universalists is to move beyond and render largely irrelevant the superstition, the supernatural woo-woo and organized authoritarianism and patriarchy and would-be theocracy that get in the way of building a better, more sustainable world.

Unfortunately, far too often, we are instead lumped together and stereotyped (by folks like Nate Phelps) with the very dogma-driven religiosity that we oppose. I really would like to see that change.

Ron

(Summerville, SC... admin of the rapidly growing "Faith of the Free" FB page...to which all here are invited.)


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Response to E_Pluribus_Unitarian (Reply #20)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 10:37 AM

23. Again, no one is equating the beliefs.

This is about using "faith" as a justification for beliefs.

Of course liberal religion challenges conservative religion. I'm glad for that. But at the core, liberal religion is liberal because it has FAITH that Jesus supports liberal things. Now take that sentence and substitute "conservative" for "liberal."

That's the problem.

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Response to trotsky (Original post)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 10:27 AM

21. This is a variation on the assertion in a recent thread that:

"Contrary to what most may believe, moderate theists are the most destructive. This is because they provide the cover (as well as the breeding ground) for the fundamentalists. They are the major force that will not allow open and honest debate on theism to exist in the public mainstream media."

I think both the above statement, and the statement in the o/p, are based on overbroad generalizations of the nature of faith and the makeup of moderate theists as a group. It is quite handy to first characterize all religious beliefs as identical (usually some sort of derogatory generalization of commonality derived from fundamentalist christianity), and to then burn this strawman to the ground and declare the argument over. But this dismissal of any and all subtlety in religious understanding is, in my view, just another example of the contemporary propensity for polarized discussion through the lens of (perhaps unwitting) confirmation bias.

The first question to be answered, it seems to me, is what is meant in the o/p by the use of the word "faith." We all employ faith as a catalyst for action. Without it, we would simply freeze in place from uncertainty. And in the specific religious context, is the o/p talking about the nature of faith in Judaic thought (of particular relevance to me)? In Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist thought? Or in the strains of non-deity specific tropisms that underlie the increasingly common, if uneasy, belief in "god" as an impersonal force of nature?

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Response to LTX (Reply #21)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 10:31 AM

22. No one is saying that religious beliefs are identical.

We're talking about the justification of religious beliefs, whatever they are.

If "faith" is a valid justification for beliefs that are positive and progressive, why is it not a valid justification for beliefs that are hateful and destructive?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #22)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 10:42 AM

24. But faith is a valid justification for all beliefs, whether religious or not.

An indictment of "faith" as a motivator is, in my view, as meaningless as an indictment of "sex," or "food."

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Response to LTX (Reply #24)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 10:50 AM

25. I don't think religious faith is a valid justification for any belief.

You're conflating different definitions of "faith."

Is the faith that when you open your garage door you will find your car, and not a dragon or unicorn, the same as faith that Jesus wants us to love each other?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #25)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 11:47 AM

31. Actually, yes.

I think you are overlooking the flexibility of empirical confirmation in human nature. By routinized observation, there is faith that the car will be in the garage (although in the event of, say, its theft, or its replacement with a 1967 Volkswagen Van by an unpredictable teenager, this faith could be shaken). By equally routinized observation, there is faith that loving your neighbor (or parent, or child, or spouse, etc.) will yield positive emotional and often practical outcomes. The source of the faith in the latter instance may have the overlay of instruction by a supernatural father-figure, but the action itself receives empirical feedback, and this in turn confirms the legitimacy of the perceived sourcing of the action.

Faith is both a motivator and a check on motivated action. In other words, faith that a given result will be forthcoming motivates the action to bring about that result, but a failed result can cause a questioning of the underlying faith, and either its abandonment or its redirection.

As you rightly noted in a post above, science (to paraphrase) tries, fails, and tries again. In its ideal state, there is inherent in the scientific method an equal measure of expectation for success and failure, although scientists are not immune from persistent faith in the inevitability of success and a concomitant refusal to recognize or concede failure. This has been an exceedingly effective methodology to balance faith as a motivator and a check, and it permits science to evolve, in both result-orientation and process.

But in the same post of yours above, there is an underlying assumption that religion is not, and indeed cannot, evolve in much the same manner. While I think this assumption overlooks the very real evolution of religion that has occurred throughout its history (and that is occurring with, I think, greater rapidity today), I think this is also a very excusable assumption given the doctrinaire intransigence of certain, unfortunately too familiar, religious sects. But doctrinaire intransigence as a brake on evolving thought is not unique to religion. It exists in science, and business, and politics, and art, and just about every human endeavor.

It may well be that, as religion continues to evolve, the notion of a particularized supernatural father-figure will fade away entirely. I have noticed this increasingly in my own religious traditions, and it certainly seems to be the case in the modern propensity to believe in "god," but not to associate with any given denomination or even any particular theological tradition. "Faith" as motivator and check in this kind of religious evolution is not dissimilar at all to "faith" as motivator and check in scientific evolution.

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Response to LTX (Reply #31)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 11:52 AM

33. Great post! Religion does indeed evolve, and believers evolve, too.

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Response to kwassa (Reply #33)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:03 PM

36. and also use imaginary father figures as a symbol yes

All that this post supports, quite well too, is the entirely human mechanism for the origin and development of mores in the name of made up sources.

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Response to dmallind (Reply #36)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:11 PM

42. And I'll add that those made-up sources

include not just religion, but law (whether in the form of specific codifications, common law principles, or guiding constitutions), and philosophical constructs. In each instance, there is an appeal to immaterial abstractions. But of course, in religion there is the traditional propensity to materialize the abstraction in the form of a supernatural law-giver or supernatural philosopher.

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Response to LTX (Reply #42)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:14 PM

43. That's a gigantic caveat you just tried to tack on innocuously at the end there!

So significant, in fact, that it confirms the quote in the OP.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #43)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:31 PM

49. Not really.

The need to particularize (or materialize) a source for an abstraction isn't entirely unique to religion (even though my post admittedly left the impression that it is). Humans have a very definite need to "source" what we view as wisdom (not just in gods, but in kings, emperors, philosophers, "founding fathers," etc.). Indeed, I would say that this very need animates the ongoing debates about whether, for example, mathematics, or the laws of physics, are "discovered" or "invented." It is quite disturbing to drill down on these immaterial, abstract machines, and to find beneath them no ready explanation for their existence.

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Response to LTX (Reply #42)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:59 PM

55. Absolutely

ethics and laws sprung up entirely based on experience. What worked for the group, even the silly patterns that people foolishly believed worked for the group, became rules and laws.

There is in rational jurisprudence not much of an immaterial abstraction, but it's there. More subtle and more reasonable than "kill the princess and Ogg will make the crops grow - it worked last time!" but still of the same essence. The abrtract idea of "justice" itself is one. What possibly creates justice for a dead person? Stopping the killer doing it again is the best outcome, but that pertains not at all to the victim.

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Response to kwassa (Reply #33)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:18 PM

46. Of course, I never said they couldn't. So bully for the brilliant dispatch of that straw man.

Nate Phelps himself changed, escaped from a horrible religious environment and evolved into a supporter of freethought and LGBT rights.

But this is a total departure from the point of the thread. When "faith" is given as the justification for a statement or belief, there can be no more discussion. And if you think "faith" is allowed as a justification for believing and supporting good things, why doesn't that apply to bad things?

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Response to LTX (Reply #31)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:05 PM

38. Actually, no.

You can only get to the point you are at by deliberately conflating definitions, pushing each one to its limits until they almost overlap, and them jumping between them as necessary.

The faith that my car will not suddenly be a dragon tomorrow is not the same as the faith that some guy 2000 years ago died for my sins, or that he wants me to hate gays.

Oh I do not doubt that religion evolves - but I would argue that it evolves IN SPITE OF faith, most definitely not because of it. Otherwise religious change would come from within the dominant institutions - and when has that happened?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #38)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:17 PM

44. So give me your definition of faith.

What is faith, and how does it operate?

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Response to LTX (Reply #44)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:22 PM

47. Religious faith.

I have none, so I don't know how it operates. But it is routinely invoked right in this group to try and grant credibility (and respectability) to a position. I want to know why, if it's a valid reason to hold progressive and tolerant beliefs, it isn't when it comes to intolerant ones?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #47)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:44 PM

52. It can be a justification for both.

It is also a justification for getting up in the morning and going to work, or for getting up in the morning and robbing a bank. Faith that our chosen course of action is an efficacious one, that our underlying reasons for that course of action are justified, and that the course of action will yield desired results is neither unique to religion, nor, within religion, the exclusive province of what you, or I, view as "good."

You seem to be indicting the very (unpredictable) essence of the human race here, not just religion.

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Response to LTX (Reply #52)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 01:19 PM

56. There you go muddling the definitions again.

Maybe you should be the one to define faith.

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Response to LTX (Reply #52)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 01:20 PM

57. Valid point, but taken too far I think

Not an atheist on earth would deny that religion is a product of human nature, or that laws etc are too. After all absent Matrix-like absurdities, the only alternative violates the basic idea of atheism and entails us being imbued with these things by an intelligent creator.

But human nature and its products are treated very differently by society. Claiming religious motivation and devotion can get you out of prison or keep you out. It can get you a job and losing it can definitely lose you a job. Claiming it's human nature to want to steal or lie in on Sunday can do neither. It's rude and bigoted and nasty to question (majority-sanctioned) religious motivation for lifestyle choices like soccer teams of kids or demeaning women. If people claim, accurately, that it's human nature for men to be promiscuous and unfaithful, then it's rude and bigoted and nasty to NOT question their motivation.

Because of human nature and its offspring mores in current US society, religion has a protected, elevated status as a motivating factor in behavior, and is given a latitude far beyond any other influence. Because liberal believers dare not or cannot challenge this, they indeed have some responsibility for the nefarious actions it permits in their less liberal co-believers. Human nature per se has no such status and no such willing defenders among the liberals who understand it.

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Response to dmallind (Reply #57)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 02:31 PM

68. I agree for the most part with your statement that:

"Because of human nature and its offspring mores in current US society, religion has a protected, elevated status as a motivating factor in behavior, and is given a latitude far beyond any other influence."

I can't agree with the "far beyond" part, but I do agree that there is an elevated status granted to religious belief. I do not, however, agree with your statement that:

"Because liberal believers dare not or cannot challenge this, they indeed have some responsibility for the nefarious actions it permits in their less liberal co-believers."

This is just weird. You're suggesting here that because liberals hold religious beliefs, they "dare not or cannot" challenge nefarious uses of religious beliefs. Why not? And if that is true, then what on earth are all those liberal believers actually doing when they in fact (and in large numbers) challenge nefarious uses of religious beliefs? Why are you pretending that what we are doing is not, in fact, being done?

Liberal believers have a long tradition of opposing religious intrusion on secular prerogatives. There is a very vocal (and rather old) tradition of religious organizations supporting separation of church and state, and the fairly recent phenomenon of the "Christian right" in the US, with its radical intrusions on the secular province, is both decidedly minority in status and not at all reflective of the positions and beliefs of liberal believers or moderate theists. See, e.g.,

http://www.au.org/ (a consortium of religious and secular activists for separation of church and state)

http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/surprising-support-for-separating-church-from-state

The suggestion here that liberal believers or moderate theists "enable" nefarious actions by other religious organizations is not at all dissimilar to a suggestion that liberal scientists "enable" nefarious actions by corporate scientists. After all, those liberal scientists share the same conceptual core (scientific methodology) as the corporate scientists, so without those pesky liberal scientists and their enabling practices, we wouldn't have the development and active corporate defense of (add in favorite target, e.g., fracking, oil refining, pesticides, herbicides, genetically altered crops, weapons, etc.). The obvious rebuttal to this is that liberal scientists object, often actively, to perceived misuses of science. But you suggest that that very same rebuttal is unavailable to liberal religious believers. Why?

Furthermore, your statement that "Human nature per se has no such status and no such willing defenders among the liberals who understand it" is also rather odd. It assumes (1) that liberal religious believers are in fact somehow defending nefarious actions by religious conservatives, and (2) that (I guess) psychology, sociology, social and human services, and rehabilitative studies and work just don't exist in the secular community, or if they do, they are so insignificant that there aren't even any defenders of these secular studies and services among liberals. Huh?


Frankly, the premise of this entire thread has taken a turn for the flat-out fanciful.

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Response to dmallind (Reply #57)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 04:15 PM

73. I disagree with this also

Because of human nature and its offspring mores in current US society, religion has a protected, elevated status as a motivating factor in behavior, and is given a latitude far beyond any other influence. Because liberal believers dare not or cannot challenge this, they indeed have some responsibility for the nefarious actions it permits in their less liberal co-believers. Human nature per se has no such status and no such willing defenders among the liberals who understand it.


First, in terms of elevated status in motivating factors, religion is not the only game in the US. Capitalism is equally, if not more exalted. Individual freedom is the paramount value, often to absurd, anti-social, and destructive excesses in it's name, looking at libertarians, survivalists, tea-partyers, and any of the extreme small-government crowd. The right to bear arms as percieved by many Americans as absolute, and excuses all kinds of bad behavior. Look at the "Stand Your Ground" laws.

Secondly, a liberal believer has a different belief than a conservative believer, and that conservative is no more likely to listen to a liberal believer than a liberal atheist. A conservative Christian would not even probably consider the liberals Christian at all, because they define membership in the group differently.

Third, liberal Christian protests are often not covered by the press, or if they are, they are not prominately featured, as they are simply not controversial enough to be interesting news. We have put links in this forum to actions taken and groups protesting, but that has done nothing to prevent this meme from circulating over and over again in this forum that liberal believers are not doing anything. It is utterly false, but it persists.

We are each individual actors; we have no responsibility for the behavior of others, nor could we control them even if we wanted to. Liberal Christians have no greater responsiblity for the behavior of conservative Christians than atheists do. Liberal Christians have no greater control over conservative Christians than atheists do. That is just the way it is. It is neither our responsibility or within our power.

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Response to trotsky (Original post)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 11:40 AM

28. I think thete is a difference

between invoking faith as a justification for belief and using one's beliefs as a justification for action. Believe in human sacrifice all you want, but don't hurt anybody.

I don't think religious moderates can do much in the way of reforming say, the way the Christian faith is currently practiced. They would have to use either business practices or governmental interference to achieve that goal and thus become what they are trying to reform. It could be that the "enabling" is only a question of degree. Moderate Christian denominations certainly enjoy the benefits of existence in a "Christian nation" that also happens to be the wealthiest and most powerful empire in history.

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Response to trotsky (Original post)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:08 PM

40. How you ask? Probably

 

in the same manner the radical new atheist movement could conceivably enable more anti-religious atrocities as happened on such a large scale in the 20th century.

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Response to humblebum (Reply #40)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:27 PM

48. "Oh, do elaborate", he said as he put on his wading boots. nt

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Response to rrneck (Reply #48)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:37 PM

50. What is there to elaborate on? I merely responded with

 

an opinion to a question posed.

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Response to humblebum (Reply #50)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:40 PM

51. Well, you could elaborate on your opinion.

I mean, that's what I would have assumed was being requested were I in your position.

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Response to humblebum (Reply #50)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 12:51 PM

54. Ah, good. Knee boots are more comfortable. nt

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Response to rrneck (Reply #54)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 01:26 PM

58. So given the fact that groups of freethinkers/skeptics/atheists and individuals gave their open

 

approval to the attempted eradication of religion by atheist organizations and governments in the last century, it certainly is no stretch to suggest that it could happen again. As a matter of fact we have had atheists here on DU pay lip service to the work of the Chinese in Tibet in their effort to destroy religion. Enablers, all of them, if the same criteria is applied as that toward moderate Christians.

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Response to humblebum (Reply #58)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 01:33 PM

60. Except we have this thing called the Constitution.

And in case you haven't been paying attention, the FFRF, AA, and other atheist groups have been the ones leading the charge to protect the constitution and it has been theists (notice I did not say all theists) that have been complaining about the atheists doing so. Even here on progressive DU.

So, no, I don't think atheists in the US are going to enable your horrible nightmare of what you think atheism leads to.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #60)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 01:42 PM

61. I was not aware that the Constitution had any teeth outside of the Unites States, and

 

to say that the FFRA and AA "have been the ones leading the charge to protect the constitution" is quite a matter of opinion.

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Response to humblebum (Reply #61)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 01:51 PM

63. I am talking about what we are doing here.

I made no claims world wide.

Go ahead and show me the religious groups leading the charge to protect the 1st Amendment in terms of separation of church and state. I'd enjoy the read. I'll give you the ACLU up front, so don't bother with those but that isn't a religious group.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #63)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 02:02 PM

64. You are just kinda throwing out all sorts of straw men

 

aren't you? When atheist groups espouse the idea of "absolute" separation - there has at no time in American history been an absolute separation, nor does the Constitution establish one.

I certainly do not support religious groups that seek to unite government and religion. Very dangerous. Nonetheless, it is a limited separation that exists and always has.

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Response to humblebum (Reply #64)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 02:18 PM

67. "limited separation"

That's one way to look at it. Not really one supported by the SCOTUS, but a way, anyway.

You have read what Jefferson and Madison had to say about the issue, right? You know, the guys that wrote the Declaration and the Constitution.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #67)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 03:04 PM

70. I would certainly question your grasp of American history and in particular

 

your definition of 'absolute' as applied to separation. So then, do you think that the Constitution was the work of a single mind?

If those who signed the Constitution and the Bill of Rights had an absolute separation in mind, why did they also install chaplains in the Congress and the military, etc.?

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #63)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 09:08 AM

84. In short, because you've never heard of organizations like

Americans United, they simply don't exist. This particlar ignorance "enables" you to declare authoritatively that liberal believers (or moderate theists, take your pick) are themselves "enablers" of evil, and that only atheists (liberal atheists, of course) stand between secular goverment and theocracy. After all, no true liberal atheist ... blah, blah, blah. But all believers and theists ... blah, blah, blah.


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Response to LTX (Reply #84)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 01:47 PM

87. I've heard about Americans United.

I thought Americans United included people of faith and not faith, much like the ACLU. Are you telling me that they are solely for people of faith?

Never said that only atheists stand. My claim is that of the two (solely atheist and solely theist groups), the ones that are solely atheist are the ones further out front in this fight and that even liberal theists here on DU bitch about the atheist groups like FFRF and AA.

And build the rest of your strawmen somewhere else. They have no resemblance to the arguments I am making.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #87)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 02:26 PM

88. I see. You don't know the history of

Americans United, do you. Look it up. Hint, there used to be a "P" in the acronym. But those intolerant christians had the audacity to allow secular voices to be heard in their movement. Which just goes to show you ... um ... something bad, I guess.

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Response to LTX (Reply #88)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 02:44 PM

89. pssst. There used to be and "O" in the acronym, too.

But I'm the one that doesn't know anything about the group, so you may want to look it up on your own.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #89)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 03:17 PM

91. Right. Which just proves

the shocking intolerance. Those awful "P's" I tell ya'. They just want to enable evil.

So tell me, how many religious voices are there in your favored groups, the ones that you believe are at the (sort of) forefront of the fight for a secular state - a state where, preferably, those stupid believers are silenced. You know, the tolerant utopia, where even science is forbidden from contemplating the sheer weirdness of the immaterial.

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Response to LTX (Reply #91)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 03:30 PM

92. You are misunderstanding a lot of arguments in this thread

The point isn't that liberal theists are intolerant. It is that once the argument becomes that saying it is a matter of faith is enough proof, then that opens the door for the right wing to make the same claim. And once the liberal theists demand respect for religious beliefs just because they are religious beliefs, then you can't really deny them to the right, now can you?

I have never argued that believers are stupid. I never argued that they should be silenced. I made NO claims about what science should and should not do. Again, build your strawmen elsewhere.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #92)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 03:56 PM

93. Oh, I haven't missed the point of thread.

You may want to read my posts on the nonsensical claim about "opening the door." They can be found at posts 21, 24, 31, 43, 44, 49, 52, and 68. The alleged point is drivel. Here, however, I am addressing your assertion: "Go ahead and show me the religious groups leading the charge to protect the 1st Amendment in terms of separation of church and state. I'd enjoy the read."

That statement rather implicates tolerance and cooperation, doesn't it. After all, if those nefarious religious groups are actually cooperating, and indeed organizing, with secularists in "leading the charge to protect the 1st Amendment," then your statement certainly appears to fall within the same drivel category as the alleged "point" of this thread. So, about my question ...

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #60)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 03:59 PM

71. Faith in Constitution... nt

 

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Response to tama (Reply #71)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 04:09 PM

72. Whatever.

It's Friday and I'm not in the mood for pomo word games.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #72)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 04:30 PM

75. Faith in word games

 

And that all this thread is and Constitution as well.

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Response to humblebum (Reply #58)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 01:46 PM

62. Id didnt work

even if your hyperbole were anything but. Atheists have no more chance of eradicating religion than liberal Christians have of reforming the faith.

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Response to rrneck (Reply #62)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 02:05 PM

65. Never said it did work. I said "attempted" eradication. nt

 

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Response to humblebum (Reply #65)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 02:39 PM

69. Then don't worry about it. nt

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Response to rrneck (Reply #62)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 04:20 PM

74. Christianity has been reforming for two thousand years and continues to reform

today and will in the future. Sometimes forward looking reforms sometimes backward looking reforms. Conservative leaders are predominate today but their continued dominance is far from a sure thing.

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Response to humblebum (Reply #58)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 08:51 PM

77. The 1950s called.

They want their Wisconsin Senator back.

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Response to 2ndAmForComputers (Reply #77)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 12:27 AM

80. And 20s 30s 40s 60s 70s 80s and today. nt

 

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Response to humblebum (Reply #40)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 08:47 PM

76. Making heavy use of helicopters painted in the color black, I'm sure.

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Response to 2ndAmForComputers (Reply #76)

Fri Apr 20, 2012, 09:31 PM

78. You called?



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Response to humblebum (Reply #40)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 03:53 AM

82. And that is a vile and bigoted suggestion

And I just objected to that sentence in the OP by pointing out its logical similarity to such a view.

Both types of view are WRONG, and fundamentally similar in logic.

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Response to trotsky (Original post)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 03:51 AM

81. OK, I think it is wrong and here's why.

'every person who retreats to faith bears a measure of responsibility for every act of hate and violence justified by it.'

This is an example of the dangerous fallacy of guilt-by-association.

Could not this be used to give EVERYONE who uses any argument, or has any belief, responsibility for every act of hate and violence justified by it?

For example: Communist dictators used leftist beliefs to justify actions of hate and violence. Does this mean that all leftists are responsible for the Gulags (as McCarthyites would indeed believe)?

Is everyone who disliked Saddam responsible for the Iraq war? Is everyone who disliked Reagan complicit with John Hinckley?

This is getting a little too close to the sort of ugly guilt-by-association arguments that are used by anti-atheist bigots to equate open atheists with Stalinism and Maoism.

I have huge admiration for Nate Phelps and his courage in repudiating his vile father; but I have to disagree with him on this.


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Response to LeftishBrit (Reply #81)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 12:01 PM

85. I don't believe you understood what the point of the quote was.

This really has nothing to do with guilt by association. It's about opening a door. The key phrase is "retreats to faith." It's about creating an environment where "faith" is an acceptable justification for ones words and actions. Every time a moderate or progressive uses faith as a reason for believing in or doing something it is enabling a fundamentalist to do the exact same thing.

And this is where I think progressive christians will have the most difficulty in fighting back the fundamentalists, because faith is something of a dead end intellectually. "My faith tells me this!" "Oh yeah? Well MY faith tells me THIS!" "You're wrong!" "No, YOU'RE wrong!!" and etc. Now they can try and use scripture, but the problem with that is the bible isn't exactly consistent when it comes to a lot of things, so there's plenty of ammo for both sides (tho more for the fundamentalists I think, sadly).

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Response to eqfan592 (Reply #85)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 04:03 PM

94. +1 nt

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Response to LeftishBrit (Reply #81)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 12:52 PM

86. But is isn't that simple when there's money involved

Where religion is concerned, moderate believers don't stand idly by while the fundies crash our collective party. Moderate believers are by and large responsible for funding fundamentalist whackjobs in the form of collections or other religious "taxes" (tithe, zakhat, whatever).

98% of American Catholics use birth control. Let's assume half of them go to church and put money in the collection plate. The church in turn takes their money to lobby congress into denying women adequate healthcare. The fact the State of Arizona is now seriously considering allowing employers to fire female employees for using birth control in a manner they find religiously offensive (that is, for controlling birth), is directly related to moderate Catholics (and other Christians) who show up to church every Sunday to drop a fiver in the collection basket.

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Response to Act_of_Reparation (Reply #86)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 03:16 PM

90. Not exactly.

Most denominations don't have fundies. Denominations tend to be more liberal or more conservative within a particular church, or the overall denomination, but pledges and collections and tithes are use mostly in that local church. A portion of the money might head up to the local governing body of the church, but not a big portion, generally.

Fundamentalists are usually in fundamentalist denominations, not in, say, mainline Protestant denominations. I am distinguishing between true fundamentalists and conservatives.

Politicians used to pay a great deal of attention to religious leaders, because those religious leaders used to be able to influence large blocks of voters. This is no longer true in many denominations, and the church leaders get less play.

The Catholic church is losing members faster than any other denomination in America. Average Sunday attendance is on the order of 25% of the members that still belong.

The Catholic bishops with this political initiative are about to make incredible fools of themselves when they find themselves ignored by their membership. You are right that money from moderate Catholics supports the bishops through collections, but I expect a big backlash in all this. The bishops will also discover how limited their power truly is.

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