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July 22, 2006

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Kimball Corson

LF,
Dishonest? Indeed! How? I am all ears. Aggrevating? Yes. Exasperating? To be sure. But dishonest? How?

But again I ask, how can one be an "intelligent, thinking, rational person" and believe in (a) the virgin birth (especially if James was Jesus´actual brother), (b)that Jesus was divine, and (c) that Jesus died, descended into Hell and arose from the dead on the third day -- except by a wild leap of faith, and worse, a leap of faith that repudiates and rejects consistently observed phenomena and all reason?

I don´t have any such problem as this one.

The Law Fairy

Read carefully, Kimball. You would be dishonest if you accused me of doing the very thing you do, yet denied doing it yourself.

As for the rehash of your insulting insinuation that all Christians are unintelligent and irrational, it seems, in fact that you *are* precisely the one who has a problem with it. You're free to think that logic and reason are the only possible worthwhile ways of viewing the world, but why do you think this? Can you support this without having to refer to some basic "because it just makes sense to me" or some other such non-self-justifying proposition? What, "because it works"? Christianity does too, for more people than you're willing to admit.

I can't describe my religion to you because it is personal. Neither have I ever tried to force it on you, as you have tried in many instances to force your Nietszchean beliefs on others in this forum (by ridiculing and demeaning those who do not admit to its superiority). I don't call you "immoral" or "foolish" for not believing in Christ, or at least in the version of Christ you describe here. I don't think I believe things exactly the way you understand and transcribe them here, but that's besides the point. Why would I bother trying to persuade you that I am not an idiot when you've already basically decided I am? You want to think that, fine. But don't say that, because of my beliefs, I'm, say, not fit to be a person of any importance. Because *that's* where you cross the line into bigotry.

The Law Fairy

"I can't describe my religion to you because it is personal."

A better way to have said this would be to say that I can't justify it to you because it is personal.

Kimball Corson

LF writes, "Read carefully, Kimball. You would be dishonest if you accused me of doing the very thing you do, yet denied doing it yourself."

I respond: Again please. What is the "it."

LF again: "You're free to think that logic and reason are the only possible worthwhile ways of viewing the world, but why do you think this? Can you support this without having to refer to some basic "because it just makes sense to me" or some other such non-self-justifying proposition¨"

I respond: Let me try. Logic and reason applied to repeatable, verifiable and observable phenomena, where others can experience the same occurances and repeat the same process with reliability to get the same results is good because it is dependable, may be relied upon for that and other purposes and forms a common experiential bond among us all. It links us and it is our connection to the world and to our lives in it. It focuses us on life on earth now and on the processes of that life here. I think these things are good and reassuring. Immortality is too much to ask, in my view, at least for the mortal present. Our mortality in the framework I describe has our hands more than full and we must use these tools to get along, preserve our world and learn how to do these things. These sensibilities do not preclude my own belief in a Supreme Being but I believe a universal creator has better things to do than monitor our murderous and destructive folly and take notes of our multitudenous demands on Him. To egocentricaly require such a creator to hold our hands as we engage in such folly is too much to ask and a mark of our foolishmess. We were left by God with reason and logic to sort our way after eating from the tree of knowledge and loosing Him and the Garden of Eden as immediate comforts. And using those tools we need to try to learn and emulate the working of his mind as reflected in the structure of the universe and in the forms of life in it. Amid all the nonsense, this profound agenda is proceeding forward to my great delight.


LF again: "I don't call you "immoral" or "foolish" for not believing in Christ, or at least in the version of Christ you describe here. I don't think I believe things exactly the way you understand and transcribe them here, but that's besides the point. Why would I bother trying to persuade you that I am not an idiot when you've already basically decided I am? You want to think that, fine. But don't say that, because of my beliefs, I'm, say, not fit to be a person of any importance. Because *that's* where you cross the line into bigotry."

I respond: But I never said those thiings about you, that you are not a person of importance, that you are an idiot, that you are not worthy, etc. I don't believe those things. I would never throw the baby out with the bathwater, just as I do not with my friends. But I do believe you holds some beliefs now that I cannot agree with and that in time you might change those views. But maybe not. Either way my regard for you as a person is the same. I can parse well.

curtisstrong

Kimball,

You have the right to scoff at any person, any time, for just about anything. That said, of course you know that you're going to ruffle a few feathers in the process, but it seems like you get a bit of a kick out of that (and it's probably good for us all to hear every once in a while anyway), so I'm not going to take it personally. Others might, as we've seen.

Now, just to clear up a few things. Nowhere in the bible does it talk about Jesus kissing Mary Magdelene on the mouth. That's actually found in an apocryphal book entitled "The Gospel of Philip." Arguing from that standpoint, neither Catholics nor Protestants believe that book to be scripture (at least not officially), so it's not exactly a slam-dunk argument.

Next, on the fact of Jesus' "brothers," I believe the official Catholic stand on that is that the hebrew word could also mean "cousins," so they interpret the text that way (I personally disagree, but that's not at issue). So, again, arguing at Catholics with that point doesn't get you very far either.

Finally, you write, basically, that there is no empirical evidence to support a doctrine of ressurection, miracle virgin births...etc.

That's really the idea, as I'm sure you're aware. If in fact, one takes faith to be an important part of the earthly experience, then of course empirical evidence is not highly valued in those terms. Working from that sphere, the journalist was undoubtedly NOT targeting you (for example) as his primary audience.

Now, that you are not willing to take a "fantastical" leap of faith is certainly your business. I would personally encourage you to reconsider, as for me it helps give my life a bit more meaning, and more of a reason to try to do good things for others.

Kimball Corson

Curtisstrong writes: ". . .you know that you're going to ruffle a few feathers in the process, but it seems like you get a bit of a kick out of that"

I respond: Not a kick. More a general exasperation. After all, religionist in government are trying to cram their views and their implications down my throat. I feel a need to speak up.

curtisstrong again: "Now, just to clear up a few things. Nowhere in the bible does it talk about Jesus kissing Mary Magdelene on the mouth. That's actually found in an apocryphal book entitled "The Gospel of Philip."

I respond: This well could be. I do not accept the Church's decision about which books are aprocryphal. I think John is, for example, and The Gospel of Thomas is not. The Bible makes much better sense to me if those two are switched, as others have suggested before me. But without John, the Chruch has little standing so it is not surprising it was included.

curtisstrong: "Next, on the fact of Jesus' "brothers," I believe the official Catholic stand on that is that the hebrew word could also mean "cousins"

I respond: The Catholic defense to this is usually "brothers" in faith. I do not believe cousins is the currently accepted translation in this context. Biblical scholarship now generally accepts the idea James was Jesus' blood brother, that he was also the head of the Christian Church early on and had many disputes with Saul or St Paul regarding the latter's missionary activities to the Romans.

curtisstrong: "Now, that you are not willing to take a "fantastical" leap of faith is certainly your business. I would personally encourage you to reconsider, as for me it helps give my life a bit more meaning, and more of a reason to try to do good things for others."

I respond: Once faith in the fantastical is allowed in one can believe whatever he or she wants. That Jesus was purloined by aliens who returned him in three days, . . . briefly. I don´t see how the unbelieveable can help us in this life or any next. My beliefs are much more along the lines of Neitzsche, the Seth books (the original Seth materials are in Yale's library and the books are the most checked out of all from that library)and my own interpretations of much. I have faith the the plausible, which corresponds to my educated intuition, but not in the obviously contrived fantastical.

curtisstrong

Kimball,

You write, "Religionists in government are trying to cram their views and their implications down my throat. I feel a need to speak up."

Sure, no one is saying you can't speak up. What I was referring to was your laugh at others' faith. I'm not really arguing with you here so much as observing. I know you realize the reaction you'll get when you say things (especially to Law Fairy...) that seem in any way demeaning. Anyhow, "speak up" all you'd like.

On to the apocryphal books. As you know, I'm not a Catholic, and so am in no way bound to accept their Bible decisions as to which books are canonical, and which aren't. So I think we're in agreeance here, you and I. However, Catholics DO have that back door any time you argue from an apocryphal book. Most other organized religions too, really. Saw it many many times as a missionary. I honestly think the aprocryphal books quite interesting and full of important insight.

As to the issue of Jesus and James, again you and I agree, mostly. I think Jesus DID have brothers and sisters. But the Catholic view, or at least one, is given on the website:

http://www.catholic.com/library/Bad_Aramaic_Made_Easy.asp

(I say "mostly" because I do believe in the virgin birth, due to prophecies in the Old Testament, but not that she remained so. I have kind of assumed that this is not your view, or not your full view.)

I guess that introduces the "fantastical" argument. Anyway, the belief in God at all is a bit fantastical. So I really think that it's just a determination of how far someone is willing to take that, based on their faith.

I say that it helps me to be a better person because it helps me believe in a higher purpose to this life, and so that helps me to strive to be the best I can while I'm here. I'm not sure how familiar you are with Mormonism, but it's basically a doctrine of perpetual growth, with the help of God/Jesus Christ (both in this life and the next). That's not to say that I'll believe that aliens took Jesus to planet Krypton and turned him into superman. I get to determine for myself what I believe. If you feel comfortable with what you believe, that's great (I must admit that I'm incredibly ignorant when in comes to the Seth books, so I guess I'll have to do some research there). Anyway, just offering a different point of view to consider, as I think it important and beneficial for myself (I hope that doesn't count as "cramming it down your throat," as that was not the intention).

ctw

sorry to butt in again, but having suppressed annoyance twice, I don't feel like doing it again.

for at least the third time in this thread, a "person of faith" has suggested that those who aren't might be (in some sense) better off if they were. allow me to point out the obvious: one's posture on faith is a huge part of one's identity, so that is tantamount to suggesting that it would be "better" if they were someone else. surely I need not elaborate on how offensive that is, and even worse, ontologically incoherent. and, of course, this applies equally when the roles are reversed.

what seems to be difficult if not impossible for believers to understand is that one can lead a totally satisfactory life with neither meaning (in some cosmic sense) nor hope. and no need to take my word on this. look at albert camus who led a life without either that makes most of us look as dynamic as pond algae.

there are two related issues floating through this thread: to what extent faith-based positions should be injected into the political arena and what respect should be accorded one's position on faith. to repeat an earlier comment, it seems to me inevitable that one take positions that reflect their worldview-inspired moral posture and appropriate, assuming that's the real motivation rather than political pandering). what is not OK (because it's unconstitutional) is to employ government power to inject religious dogma into the public arena or to disrespect other perfectly acceptable worldviews. an egregious example of the latter is suggesting that morality can flow only from religious belief (which I hope contributed significantly to lieberman's defeat, even though well-deserved on other grounds).

I see abortion and ESCR as good examples of this distinction. there are legitimate (ie, not dogma-based) arguments on each side of the abortion debate, but so far I've heard none from the opponents of ESCR. hence, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, I must consider opposition to ESCR illegitimate (in the sense defined here).

- charles

LAK

"You're free to think that logic and reason are the only possible worthwhile ways of viewing the world, but why do you think this? Can you support this without having to refer to some basic "because it just makes sense to me" or some other such non-self-justifying proposition? What, "because it works"? Christianity does too, for more people than you're willing to admit."

Lawfairy,

you are some kind of hypocrite. Christianity doesn't "work" for people the way logic and science does. You are a hypocrite for not admitting all fo your day to day behavior depends on believing in empricism logic and the scientific method. You avoid touching boiling kettles, you drive a car, you eat food grown my modern methods, you watch TV. Your whole life is dependent on the fruits of logic and the scientific method, not just becasue they work, but becasue you couldn't live otherwise.

The way science and logic "work" is nothing like how you claim Christianity works. How doe sChristianity work? By making life meaningful? onvincing yourself your life has meaning by believing in ghost stories is not the same thing as having a fulfilling and meaningful life. No made up external source of unending love will ever substitute for actual self love. What works in christianity is nothing short of brainwashing people into making them believe they aren't miserable when they are. Thus the whole opiate of the masses thing, you know? Maybe the undercalss wouldn't suffer so much if they didn't think they had a chance at eternal bliss in an afetrlife.

So how does Christianity "work" for people like, say, indoor plumbing and electricity do?

David

Charles--
I posted two possible non-religious veto messages on Embryonic SCR. Both were pretty much ignored. Here they are:

"Well, LAK--I read back through the posts and here is an argument for President Bush's veto of an expansion of federal funding for fetal stem cell research that is ethical and I think not religious:

"There is a huge U.S. budget deficit, but The U.S. is awash in private venture capital. It also seems to me that the claims made for it, on close examination, seem to me to be greatly exagerated. Therefore,we'll give private venture capital a chance to fund it in the first instance. If private venture capital does not in fact do so, then that may induce a future administration to fund it, or it may prove that there is really little actual promise in the technology. I also would like to wait a while to see what actual results flow from the federal funding for research into the limited stem cell lines before throwing more taxpayer money into this.""

And, "How about this for an ethical argument to support President Bush's veto of federal SCR grants:

"All Americans want to protect and better human life. But there are a variety of views on when life begins. Some say it begins at conception; some say at birth, or even after; many say somewhere between. I have made inquiry, and found that there is no scientific, religious or moral consensus on this issue. Therefore, on the chance that life begins at conception, I opt to protect human life to the maximum and choose not to have the federal government subsidize experiments that might destroy human life.""

Remember that what this thread is all about is federal funding of the research, not a ban on it. I think one big argument against the research is that, until the impracticability of adult stem cell research has been proven, engaging in embryonic stem cell research is premature, and a step on thea road toward taking human life that I am not prepared to take, at least at this stage. Many of the researchers express themselves in ways that make me think they are more interested in experimenting on the embryos than on finding practical and cost-effective solutions to medical problems.

Frederick Hamilton

The latest on the Mt. Soledad Cross issue as approached by Prof Stone. It appears the cross issue will possibly reach the Supremes. Can the federal judiciary cancel the Congressional and Presidential move? 1st Amendment violation?


San Diego cross dispute takes new turn

UPDATE 8 p.m. President Bush signed into law on Monday the federal "taking" bill discussed below. The White House issued no statement on the signing.

Five weeks after Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy temporarily blocked the removal of a Christian cross from city property in San Diego, this much-litigated dispute has taken a new turn. It has become a federal constitutional controversy for the first time in the 17-year history of challenges to the 43-foot monument atop Mt. Soledad. The dispute, which has reached the Supreme Court three times, appears headed back again.

The dispute under the First Amendment's establishment of religion clause has just begun in U.S. District Court in San Diego (Trunk, et al., v. San Diego, et al., docket 06-1597), in an attempt by two military veterans who are atheists to stop the federal government from taking "immediate possession" of the cross and surrounding property as the "Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial." Congress completed passage of that taking-with-compensation measure on Aug. 1, and President Bush was scheduled to sign it into law on Monday.

The Trunk case, which also involves veteran Philip K. Paulson (who has been battling the cross in court since 1989, largely successfully), was filed eight days after the bill was passed. Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz refused to block the transfer to the federal government, but scheduled a hearing on the challenge for next month. (The transcript of the Friday proceeding, with the judge giving his reasons on the record, is not available, but San Diego news outlets have reported that the judge had said the cross would remain temporarily on Mt. Soledad because of earlier litigation continuing in the Ninth Circuit Court, so there was no need for immediate action.)

In asking the judge to forbid the transfer, the two veterans contended that "the city is trying to save the cross by transferring the cross and the land under it to another public entity, which makes little or no sense. A cross that is unconstitutional on public property is unconstitutional whether on municipal or federal property." The takeover by the federal government would clearly violate the Establishment Clause, both in the act of transfer and in the presence of the cross on federal land, the veterans contend.

Congress has made two moves to preserve the cross and the setting. Last year, it passed what is now Public Law 108-447, designating the site as the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial, and provided for the government to accept a donation of the site by the city. The existence of that law was one of the factors that led Justice Kennedy to delay a judge's order to remove the cross from city property, while legal proceedings unfold.

But, with the continuing court dispute, and the city under court order not to donate the site, the supporters of the cross persuaded Congress this summer to take the further step of seizing the land for federal public use, with the amount of compensation to be worked out in negotiations over the next year (H.R. 5683). The bill would take immediate effect with presidential approval.

The President's approval is a foregone conclusion. In July, the White House issued a statement saying "the Administration strongly supports passage of H.R. 5683," and complained about "activist" courts. It said: "Judicial activism should not stand in the way of the people...The people of San Diego have clearly expressed their desire to keep the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in its present form....The Administration supports the important goal of preserving the integrity of war memorials." (The text of the statement can be found here.)

The Supreme Court twice denied review -- in 1994 and 2003 -- of lower court rulings finding the presence of the cross on city property violated the California state constitution.

(Thanks to Howard Bashman of How Appealing blog for an alert to news stories on the new developments in the case.)

curtisstrong

Charles,

Don't be annoyed. There is no attack on your belief system in what I've said to Kimball, in any way. If you don't think that you'd be "better off" under an organized religion...as I've already said, "that's great." No need to get upset. I think I've said repeatedly that such a lifestyle is what works for me (if anyone else agrees, that's their business...and just as true if they disagree). No one need change their identity. But different points of view can be considered, can they not? I will be doing some research on the Seth papers, they having been mentioned by Kimball. I don't know much about them, and think that I'd be more informed if I did. Anyway, nothing here is meant to be offensive. I apologize if anything I've said has bothered you, but again, you can and should decide all of these things for yourself. If you feel comfortable with the choices you make, then there's no need to get angry.

ctw

david:

I'll buy your first reason as a legitimate justification for a veto (though not the second), so I stand corrected. unfortunately, that's not what was offered. according to prof stone:

"President Bush invoked what he termed a 'conflict between science and ethics'."

I interpret "ethics" to be religious dogma and thus an illegitimate justification. just my opinion, of course.

curtis:

I appreciate the spirit of your response, but here's your statement:

"that you are not willing to take a "fantastical" leap of faith is certainly your business. I would personally encourage you to reconsider"

so I think my comment stands, altho you should understand that "upset" and "angry" are way too strong. I'm pretty placid, which is why I said "annoyance" - and mild at that.

-c

Kimball Corson

cutisstrong and David,

Everyone's belief system is fine by me for them. I only take umbrage and saddle my horse when an element of one or another of those systems or a faith-grounded implication is proposed as public policy or to be made of affect law -- usually in a back-door fashion, repleat with concurrent denials of what is happening -- to goven or impact the lives of me and mine. One can believe nanotechnology is the science of small nanny's, just let's keep religious faith out of American public policy and law. As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, one man's faith is another's foolishness. For our governance, we should work with and stick to what we have have in common: the observable, the reasonable and the verifiable, as LAK and I have argued and explained.

Kimball Corson

ctw wrote to David, quoting him first:
"'President Bush invoked what he termed a 'conflict between science and ethics'.

"I interpret "ethics" to be religious dogma and thus an illegitimate justification. just my opinion, of course."

I reply: Me too. I think most people had the same view, except for the religionists seeking to deflect the issue with denial.

Kimball Corson

Frederick updates us well on the Mt. Soledad cross escapades.

My questions is this: now that Christians know that the cross offends some Americans who are not of their faith, why do they still want to shove into our faces? Does this abuse of the law vindicate their faith or do they just wish to offend non believers? What is their point, now? An articulate response, please.

Kimball Corson

". . .shove it into our faces . . . ," that should read. Sorry.

Lynn Cummings

This is a different topic and I am not a law student and am seeking an answer to a question. I am a devout follower of Christ and believe my faith is the right faith. I often hear the answer when I ask people if they have ever heard of Jesus over the phone they will tell me they are not allowed to answer the question. I am sure some of these people are cope outs and just do not answer the question but I am not so sure with everyone. My question is it legal for a company to fire someone if they are asked a direct question about religion or their religious beliefs can they be fired for answering the question.

Lynn Cummings

Kimball,
If you find the cross so offensive than why do you look at it? We live in a society today striping the rights away from the Christian community. This nation is largely made up of people who profess to be believers in Christ yet it is the people who do not believe who are being catered too. If these people lived under different governments they could very likely find themselves either dead or pretending to be something they are not.
Every time a person acts out against an idea they do not believe in they are offending someone else's belief system. Christians do not look at having a cross standing any where visible as "shoving it in your face" but as a monument to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a symbol of our faith and to have someone challenge the right of such monuments being shown publicly is making a challenge against our faith being shown publicly. The same public right you have to ask these questions about the cross and Christians because you believe differently.
Let me ask you this if a Buddhist wanted to place a statue of Buddha in front of a court house would you be upset about that in the same manner as with the cross or is it just because you do not agree w/the idea of the cross?

Lynn Cummings

oops I did not check the date so if you get this Kimball I will be surprised.

Fernandez

Catholics and Muslims must turn from worshipping idols. Catholics have lead the way in idol worship. 1st they worship a man—the pope. Peter never allowed people to worship him. Peter as a Jew, knew that faith in Christ alone was the only way to salvation—as did Mary. These Jews who received Christ properly would sit in condemnation of modern Catholics who resemble the power hungry, and material driven Pharisees of Christ’s day. I ask that lay people become familiar with the word, and not just what the Catholic Church teaches, but the whole bible without the Church as the mediator. Christ is our savior, mediator. We do not require a fallible man or church to bring us into relationship. God’s word, and sacrifice is all we need to establish faith, and repentance. Salvation can never come from works of a law. It is free gift from god, so that no man may boast.

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