Arguments with Theists to April 96


These are mostly from posts to alt.atheism.moderated


From randallg@telemark.net Sun 07 Jan 96 22:17:26 Newsgroups: alt.christnet.bible,alt.religion.christian,alt.atheism,talk.atheism,talk.origins Subject: Re: Engineers, From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <30F07F9E.49CC@compassnet.com> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <30F07F9E.49CC@compassnet.com>, rknowles@compassnet.com says... > >I don't really know who wrote: > >> > >> > : Can the American engineers that read this group give any estimates >> > : of the proportion of their collagues of each (non/anti)religious persuation? >> > > >I've been working with engineers in the U.S. for around 15 years now and have found that >the majority of them are theists. Engineering is a pretty conservative profession, not >much more daring than accounting in many cases, so don't expect to find too many social >iconoclasts who choose it as their lifes work. I work with primarily with chemical, >civil, and mechanical engineers in a somewhat "mature" industry, so that could bias >the sample, but I just don't see these guys bucking too many trends or making too many >waves anywhere in their lives. I've been a strong atheist and an engineer for many years now, and my observation is that most of my colleagues are either overtly atheist or live and behave as if they were. Believe me, religion comes up as a conversational topic frequently when I'm around. Since graduating I've probably worked at a personal level with 30 different engineers, and to my knowledge none of them were religious enough to attend church, or even admit it in conversation. When I was in engineering school (over 10 years ago :( UBC EE'84) I knew of only one religious classmate. The poor bugger would occasionally stand outside the lecture rooms handing out pamphlets. I remember feeling sorry for him and his hopeless task. Oh well, he was one of the top students, I wonder where he is now... My location may have something to do with it, I'm from Vancouver BC, and the Pacific Northwest is apparently one of the most secular areas on this continent. It certainly is the most secular part of Canada. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me - James (a band from England, not my name)
From randallg@telemark.net Tue 09 Jan 96 15:48:03 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: I WANT TO BE WITH MY WIFE IN HELL!!! From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <30ec5e50.1455128@sundog.tiac.net> <4cjsgu$94u@teal.csn.net> <4cm3ct$b6m@locutus.rchland.ibm.com> <4cs6g1$4cb@teal.csn.net> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4cs6g1$4cb@teal.csn.net>, mmoir@csn.net says... >lwloen@rchland.ibm.com (Larry Loen) writes: >>In article <4cjsgu$94u@teal.csn.net>, mmoir@csn.net (Michael Moir) writes: >>|> When a soul goes to heaven, >>|> it will be aware of God, angels, and other souls, but all relationships >>|> formed on earth will be irrelevant history. > >>If I cease to love my wife & kids & friends after I die because I become >>this "sprit thing", then I argue I am so different as to not be the >>same person any more. > >Okay, I'll try to explain it differently. Imagine you are in a terrible >automobile accident. Your arms and legs are burned off, your eyes are >burned out, your ears are burned off, and your nose is toast. You have >the same powers of intellect, but you cannot communicate with anyone. >You are the same person, but the rules are now different for you. > >Sorry, that's about the best I can do. If that's the best you can do, I suggest you don't apply for a job as missionary, you sure aren't making Xtianity very appealing with arguments like this. This latest vision of heaven of yours sounds more like hell to me. Also, it does nothing to answer the questions posed to you. In your horrible scenario I am left with a functioning mind (it presumabaly wasn't damaged), and the same personality I had before judgement day. I have not forgotten any of my human relationships, but I am trapped senseless and helpless in a coocoon, with only my memories of my previous life on earth to keep me company. Gross. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
From randallg@telemark.net Tue 23 Jan 96 21:39:33 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: Q: Civil Marriage Ceremonies (non-religious) From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <4e0vt8$hu8@newsbf02.news.aol.com> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4e0vt8$hu8@newsbf02.news.aol.com>, bbobley@aol.com says... > >Hello, > >Can anyone give me any advice or information? > >My fiancee and I are both atheists and we are planning to get married. I live >in the Washington, DC area. I recently contacted the DC, Maryland, and >Virginia marriage bureaus and inquired about civil marriages. I was informed >that we could get married in a judge's chambers. This seems OK, except that >you can only bring a few witnesses due to the size of the chambers. I asked >how I could have a civil ceremony at my wedding site in front of guests. I >was told that only ministers (reverends, priests, etc) were licensed to >perform weddings at remote sites! You're kidding. Here in British Columbia you can hire a Justice of the Peace who will travel almost anywhere and perform a marraige, for a fee. Some friends of mine hired one for their wedding, which took place at a remote island resort. The guy had to make a long drive and a ferry ride, but he did it. Not sure what it cost though. >This seems highly prejudicial against atheists. If I get married in a judge's >chambers, I won't even be able to invite my family! Is there no way a lay >person can get a license to marry people? Perhaps the people I spoke to >were misinformed? It would seem that unless you are personal friends >with a judge willing to travel, the atheist is stuck. > >Can anyone provide any comment or advice ? The easiest way for a lay person to perform weddings is to get ordained with a mail order ministry. I am an ordained minister in the Ministry of Salvation church, and can perform weddings in California. It cost me $10 which included a certificate suitable for framing. Look in the back of the National Enquirer for ads... >thanks a lot, > >Brett Bobley >bbobley@acushnet.comdt.uscg.mil >bbobley@aol.com The Most Holy Reverend (really), randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
mark.net Fri 26 Jan 96 21:47:08 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: "Thoroughly Confused" From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <4e2pt1$cpp@nntpd.lkg.dec.com> <4eartp$jok@locutus.rchland.ibm.com> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4eartp$jok@locutus.rchland.ibm.com>, lwloen@rchland.ibm.com says... > >A lot of Unitarian Universalist types like to quote Campbell, because it >gives them a way of dealing with the tradition that many wish to adapt, sans >all that literalist God stuff. > >That's fine, but my worry about such things (as I remind them when I post >over there) is that there is a serious danger that, over time, people will >return to a literal interpretation of what formerly was meant symbolically >or allegorically. But when was any of that traditional religious nonsense meant symbolically or allegorically? My understanding is that the Bible authors and the priest class in ancient Judea took it all completely literally, and they expected the rabble to do so as well, and it was this way for millenia. Whoever wrote it down for the first time had probably grown up with most of it in oral form, I wouldn't doubt that they were completely convinced of its literal truth. Obviously stuff like "blood of the lamb" or "turn the other cheek" are metaphorical to some degree, but Genesis and other spectacularly impossible events were taken as literal truth by pretty much everyone, until very recent times. As was the later and equally ridiculous stuff like the Ascension or Revelations. I think the UU's are doing an amazing thing, being able to chuck the obvious nonsense like that. Though it would still be way too much for me. >I personally am wary of being a conduit for my >grandchildren's new idolatry. Somehow, I don't think that anyone who listened to you for long would wind up very idolatrous :) randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me - James (a band from England, not my name)
From randallg@telemark.net Mon 05 Feb 96 22:49:00 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: The Earth is Flat From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <4ej9vd$cth@news.vcd.hp.com> <4f3luh$ikh@ktk2.smartt.com> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4f3luh$ikh@ktk2.smartt.com>, dmanley@smartt.com says... > >Dave Dudas wrote: > >>Along with many atheists, I presume, I believe that the concept of God >>was created as an explanation of the unknown, i.e. human origin. > >Even if this is correct, it says nothing of the truth or falsity of a >belief in God. The motives and origins of a truth-claim do not effect >in any way its validity (otherwise called, I believe, "the genetic >fallacy"). If a compulsive liar who is a clown by profession tells you >that your house is on fire, it is wise to look into the possibility >yourself. It is not false *because* he is a clown. It may not prove the existance or non-existance of gods, but it sure gives us a plausible explanation for widespread belief in them. We are trying to explain these observable facts: - religious belief of various sorts is widespread and has been for millenia - there isn't any evidence to support any of these religions You are speculating that despite the fact that religious belief has apparently evolved through naturalistic causes, it may happen to be correct anyway. What a stroke of luck. Oh, which one was it that's correct? No fair saying "all of them". >Besides, this is pure conjecture and begs the question, i.e. assuming >the non-existence of God and his subsequent inability to reach us >instead of us reaching for him. It doesn't assume it, it attempts to explain it, without leaping to conclusions that are totally unjustified by the evidence. >>Throughout history, many things have been seen as absolute truth: > >> The earth is flat. >This train of thinking could result in what P.Kreeft calls "telling >the truth by the clock." ie. any ancient system of thinking is >inferior to our sophisticated and "Scientific" methods and therefore >false. Well, anyone who has an appreciation for the thinking of those >Greeks who lived before the 3rd century B.C. may disagree. (We tell >*time* by the clock and *truth * with reason.) For explaining reality, current scientific methods are demonstrably far, far better than any ancient thinking. Though the ancients sometimes did get close to the truth (and sometimes closer than the later European church could handle). >> The universe revolves around the earth. > >Which is obvious, unless you are endowed with very sophisticated >measuring tools. Who knows what we now believe about the physical >world will be exposed when we move into another paradigm? Opinions >change, the truth remains the same, some people grasp it and some >don't. Our insufferable arrogance that rests on the tedious work of >thinkers and scientists of the past still lets us mock them. That is >something that I find amazing. Actually, if there's any mocking going on, it is usually directed specifically at well-known events such as the Church's forcible suppression of Galileo. But I wouldn't bring it up merely for mocking purposes, it is serious evidence that religion can and does have little bearing on truth, which casts all its absolute claims in doubt. It's obvious and understandable that early primitives would think that the universe revolves around a flat earth. I would probably have come to the same conclusion, if I hadn't been educated otherwise. But when Galileo showed up with evidence that the universe was actually very different than ancient theology said, he had to be forcibly shut up. The church had the power and desire to do it, too, and there's plenty of religious folks out there who would love to get that power back. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
At 10:44 AM 3/8/96 -0500, you wrote: >Randall, >I do not hate you. No really fearing God christian should ever hate you. I >shall >pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will show you his abundant love in this life >and the life to come. I pray that you come to love him. >in Christ we all shall be saved. Well if your Lord actually existed you may have a point. However many Christians like yourself have taken upon themselves the task of bringing me to Jesus, but the same silence continues to shout from the heavens. I wonder why that is? Seriously though, it should be a trivial task for your god to convince me of its existance. In fact, here's something you might ask it to do: Get it to stop the earth from rotating. Stay with me. Just stop the earth for a short time, like a few hours or perhaps a whole day. With no ill effects of course. This is something I can experience with my own eyes, and get corroboration on from others I trust. Make sure it clearly identifies itself as the Christian god, though - wouldn't want it to go to all that effort and have people think it was Allah's or Zeus' doing or something. Perhaps a mile-high Jesus, or a crucifix, could appear over every major city. For a god reputed to be omnipotent, this should be a trivial task. And it's done it before, if the bible is reliable. If your god does this, I promise I'll believe whatever it wants. And, this would have the added benefit of convincing pretty much every other non-Christian in the world, of the error of their ways! There's plenty of other, less drastic, things it could do, as well, which would convince me. I won't describe them all to you - an omniscient being should be able to think of something. PS How much effort is it not to hate me, anyway? Why did you find it necessary to point that out right off the bat? Sounds like you're motivated mostly by what you think your god wants. Must take a lot of mental effort to tread that crooked path. PSS I don't hate you either, but I do get amused when fanatics try to convert me into believing in nonsense. You must all think I'm a complete idiot. >Your brother in Christ >george Your fellow human in reason, randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
From randallg@telemark.net Wed 13 Mar 96 22:12:20 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: Does Prayer Heal? From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <01I21GZM23IQ95N1WG@delphi.com> <1996Mar12.191131.1@vaxr.sscl.uwo.ca> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <1996Mar12.191131.1@vaxr.sscl.uwo.ca>, carter3@vaxr.sscl.uwo.ca says... > >PAGAN@delphi.com writes: [ snip scholarly discussion of statistical factors in study of the effect of prayer on illness ] >Byrd's results raise some interesting questions. Any study will be >flawed in some way -- what other studies would be necessary to "prove" >his conclusions? For the atheists out there -- if these studies >existed and supported Byrd's conclusions, how would you explain them? If indeed there is a measurable beneficial medical result due to prayer, which I am not denying, isn't the explanation obvious? Positive mental energy can have beneficial results. Duh. The fact that we are quibbling over obscure statistical technique and theory indicates to me (a non-statistician) that the effect, if it exists, is small and very hard to measure, or even to determine for sure if it exists at all. I suppose (without any proof) that the "laughter" sessions I've heard about, which are group humour sessions that terminal patients participate in, also probably have a small beneficial effect. So does being surrounded by loving family as opposed to being alone. There's probably any number of such factors which can influence, to some small degree, medical outcomes. Sheer bloody-mindedness probably helps too. Some people "give up" in spirit. Has anyone measured the results of that? Now, if prayer had any kind of _significant_ and _obvious_ beneficial medical result, above and beyond that of anything else, there wouldn't be a non-Christian on earth. Aside: I've got a question for the Christians - why aren't all the established churches studying this like crazy - they believe prayer works, why not prove it to the world, and gain converts? Why don't they put some theological effort into proving the practical effectiveness of their religion? (as if I didn't know the answer :) randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
From randallg@telemark.net Wed 13 Mar 96 22:31:52 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: School kids massacared in Scotland From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <4i6lgu$10dr@watnews2.watson.ibm.com> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4i6lgu$10dr@watnews2.watson.ibm.com>, petesmith@uk.ibm.com says... >Its just come on the news here in UK that 16+ primary school kids have >been killed by gunman. This is in a small town near where I went to >school called Dunblane. >And some people say there is a GOD! if he is so damned good and great >how about stopping that! The standard Christian apologetic line goes like this: The gunman was exercising his FREE WILL. God gave us FREE WILL so any psychopath can murder scads of innocent children and He can't be held responsible, even though He has no logical limit on His power to prevent evil. This FREE WILL allows any human to act contrary to the will of God, who regrets it deeply, but is constrained to allow it anyway. In addition, it serves a greater good. We learn LESSONS, and the suffering of the few lasts no longer than their own lifetimes anyway. That is insignificant compared to the eternity of bliss that awaits them (should they be saved of course). In this case, the gunman exercised his FREE WILL one last time, and blew his own brains out. He is now standing in front of the Lord's Judgement Seat. Of course, if he repented in the seconds before his suicide, he'll spend eternity in Heaven, playing a harp and gazing adoringly at Jesus Christ. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
From randallg@telemark.net Sat 16 Mar 96 12:03:20 Newsgroups: talk.atheism Subject: Re: School kids massacred in Scotland From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4i6lgu$10dr@watnews2.watson.ibm.com>, petesmith@uk.ibm.com says... >Its just come on the news here in UK that 16+ primary school kids have >been killed by gunman. This is in a small town near where I went to >school called Dunblane. >And some people say there is a GOD! if he is so damned good and great >how about stopping that! The standard Christian apologetic line goes like this: The gunman was exercising his FREE WILL. God gave us FREE WILL so any psychopath can murder scads of innocent children and He can't be held responsible, even though He has no logical limit on His power to prevent evil. This FREE WILL allows any human to act contrary to the will of God, who regrets it deeply, but is constrained to allow it anyway. In addition, it serves a greater good. We learn LESSONS, and the suffering of the few lasts no longer than their own lifetimes anyway. That is insignificant compared to the eternity of bliss that awaits them (should they be saved of course). In this case, the gunman exercised his FREE WILL one last time, and blew his own brains out. He is now standing in front of the Lord's Judgement Seat. Of course, if he repented in the seconds before his suicide, he'll spend eternity in Heaven, playing a harp and gazing adoringly at Jesus Christ. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
From randallg@telemark.net Fri 22 Mar 96 16:33:51 Newsgroups: talk.atheism Subject: Re: Psychology of Atehism: Defective Father From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <4iq07v$3rf@stratus.skypoint.net> <3151BD65.7383@student.tdb.uu.se> <4iuhg1$34t@nonews.col.hp.com> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4iuhg1$34t@nonews.col.hp.com>, natalie@col.hp.com says... > >Bjoern Eriksson (t92ber@student.tdb.uu.se) wrote: >: > Jeff Lowder (jlowder@atheist.tamu.edu) wrote: >: > : In "The Pscyhology of Atheism" >: > : (http://www.iclnet.org/clm/truth/1truth12.html) Professor Paul C. Vitz >: > : suggests that, for many atheists, their atheism was conditioned by "a father >: > : who rejected, who denied, who hated, who manipulated, or who physically or >: > : sexually abused them, there must be understanding and compassion." I'd like >: > : to put his thesis to the test. If you are an atheist, please answer the >: > : following question with a simple "yes" or "no": >: > >: > : Did you father reject, deny, hate, manipulate or abuse you? > >: Who do you think would answer yes to a question like that ? > >Well, it's unlikely that such a response would appear in a newsgroup >where it can be read by Goddess-knows-how-many people. Via email >is an entirely different story. > >Blessings, >Natalie Well I'll be the first then. When my parents divorced (I was 16) my father mostly wanted to see me and my brother so he could bring us to church (and where his churchmates could see him with us). My mother was not attending. It wasn't very long before I refused to attend anymore. Our relationship has been strained ever since - he is a staunch Calvinist, and I'm a strong atheist. So my answer to the question "Did you father reject, deny, hate, manipulate or abuse you?" would be "just a little rejection" There was absolutely no abuse, hate or manipulation of any kind - just his emphasis on church affairs over anything else. Also, my relationship with my father when I was younger than 16 was actually very good, some (including Prof Vitz) might say ideal. I suppose Prof. Vitz would now say "See! I told you!" but he'd be wrong. I'd already stopped believing all the crap and was only attending church because I had no choice. My skepticism stemmed from an extremely inquiring mind, self-reliance, education, extensive reading and a firm grounding in the sciences (I'm now an engineer). I think I'm organically incapable of believing anything without acceptible evidence, and the good professor's theory has no room for that. Also, to point out how bogus this academic is, he says "neurotic psychological barriers to belief in God are of great importance" Excuse me? Does this person ever read the atheist groups on Usenet? How many atheists defend their position, or argue with the godists, and exhibit neurotic psychological barriers? (beyond a well developed sense of sarcasm) These are some of the least neurotic people in the world, as far as I can tell. He gets really bogus (not to mention assuming his premise) in his conclusions: "For any unbeliever whose atheism is grounded in such experience, the believer, blessed by God's love, should pray most especially that ultimately they will both meet in heaven." And he calls this an academic study. I am in favour of Jeffs attempts to rebuke these arguments (he seems to have the time) not because it is necessary in academic terms, but because they may sway those who have no idea of how academic studies, or indeed the scientific method, work. Also, if he were a real academic, he would have to deal with the possibility that his major premise (God exists) might not be correct in the first place, since it is legitimately in doubt. In which case, it would be neurotic to believe it. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me - James (a band from England, not my name)
From randallg@telemark.net Wed 27 Mar 96 22:10:47 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: Capital punishment and atheism From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <4jc5os$lv7@ixnews2.ix.netcom.com> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4jc5os$lv7@ixnews2.ix.netcom.com>, awillis@ix.netcom.com says... > >Atheists do believe in right and wrong. Do MOST atheists favor >capital punishment for murder? What does logic say should be done >with the murderer? Al Willis My guess is (with no evidence) that many atheists are NOT in favour of capital punishment, perhaps somewhat more in number than those who are. What does logic say about dealing with murderers? That depends on the premises. If the premise is to prevent the individual from ever harming another, then logic says he should either be locked up until it is proved that he is harmless, or simply killed. Either way the end is achieved logically. If there is a premise that every individual has a right to life regardless of his crimes, then capital punishment is illogical. If there is a premise that no innocent person shall be executed ever, then only those whose crime is proved beyond any doubt would be eligible for execution. Some might argue that there is ALWAYS an infinitesimal chance of executing an innocent, which would render capital punishment illogical. So in the end I think logic doesn't really help much here, too much depends on many premises which are more opinion than anything else. My personal opinion is that those who commit ghastly crimes might as well be killed, I'm not going to weep for them. They've forfeited any human rights they may have had, and I don't care to pay for their remaining life. Also, as an atheist, I think that death really is a severe punishment, and like the locally popular god, I'm not above a little vengeance. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
From randallg@telemark.net Wed 27 Mar 96 22:42:46 Newsgroups: alt.atheism,alt.bible.prophecy,alt.christnet,talk.atheism Subject: Re: Why God/religion? From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <4ic1i0$17c@b02b05.exu.ericsson.se> <4ik25d$1os@b02b05.exu.ericsson.se> <4im86f$ee1@nnews.Oldham.Gpsemi.Com> <4ir04p$aql@vixc.voyager.net> <4j2ofu$ff@stealth.romoidoy.com> <4j5kjl$5s4@vixc.voyager.net> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4j5kjl$5s4@vixc.voyager.net>, wizard@voyager.net says... >Whenever some three >quarters of the population claims to have had spiritual contact >with some form of deity, it actually becomes the default position, >and the burden of proof falls upon people who have faith in the >NON-existence of God to justify that faith with evidence or logic. Using this argument, all popular gods invented throughout history must exist, or at least they existed when lots of people believed in them. What happened to Baal, Zeus, Apollo and Thor when their followers died out? Are you praying to them now? >I managed to go almost twenty years without believing in God. >But, when one is presented with personal experiential evidence, one >really ought to use it as a basis for decisions. This is delusion, and in extreme cases, insanity. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
From randallg@telemark.net Sun 14 Apr 96 12:39:04 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State (FAQ Problem #4) From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <4kkfmj$si8@mule1.mindspring.com> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4kkfmj$si8@mule1.mindspring.com>, sjledet@ledet.com says... > >In reading the alt.atheism faq I have the following questions: > >>The principle of the separation of church and state is that the state >>shall not legislate concerning matters of religious belief. In >>particular, it means not only that the state cannot promote one >>religion at the expense of another, but also that it cannot promote >>any belief which is religious in nature. > >When does a certain belief become religious in nature? Some beliefs are called religious by some, when in fact it's just good social/moral behaviour. These behaviours have evolved along with our societies and cultures. Why to you think non-Jehovah-worshipping cultures prohibit murder, thievery etc. Some Christians think that since God wrote the ten commandments, all moral behaviour is religious in nature, which is absolute hogwash. >Is the belief >that it is wrong to abuse children religious in nature? No. This belief was around long before religion was invented. >Is the belief >that it is wrong to have sex with animals religious in nature? No. These and other "moral" rules can be derived and justified without invoking a god. Many of them are "obvious" and required in order to allow a society to function efficiently. As for bestiality, if the animals are unwilling participants, you shouldn't fuck them. The State has laws against various forms of cruelty to animals, that are not religiously motivated. Mind you, they probably don't want to be killed for food, either, but we have decided that this is acceptible. >Is the >belief that it is wrong to have sex with members of the same sex >religous in nature? I think so. Most who believe this use religion as their justification. It has no logical justification (assuming the participants are willing). That's why the State shouldn't be legislating it. >The 1st Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an >establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". >Is this taken by atheists to mean that the state must implicitly be >atheistic? Definately. "Atheistic" in this case would mean promoting no god at all, ever. The State should do nothing to promote religion, and should actively prevent others from forcing their religion on anyone else. >Are the God references in such documents as the Declaration >of Independence and the Consitution somehow in conflict with this >separation of Church and State idea? I'm not American, but I had a quick look at the Declaration of Independence, which mentions God, but grants It no specific powers. I couldn't find "God" in the Constitution, except for this: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" which I think is pretty obvious. God/religion has to be mentioned, if only to make the separation between church and state clear. No conflict. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms starts with this line: "Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:" Now there's a big fat conflict. This presumably makes God the final authority, at least equal to the law, in Canada. Which god, whose god, what does this god person want anyway? Good thing He doesn't exist. This line was thrown in at the last minute, and is offensive to me and many others. It can't possibly be applied in any practical sense and should be removed. In any event, in practice the Canadian courts do not usually base their decisions on what they think God wants. (For instance Canada's last law restricting abortion was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1988 and parlaiment has been unable/unwilling to replace it ever since - which is not what most Christians think God wants). >Is it reasonable to assume that >the 1st Amendment means that Congress shall not legislate the >operations of the church or prevent people from worshipping? That appears to be exactly what it says. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
From randallg@telemark.net Sun 14 Apr 96 22:48:18 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: What is Justice? (Was deathbed conversions) From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <31614ECA.7353482@orbital.fr> <4kpb9g$4cs@mule2.mindspring.com> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4kpb9g$4cs@mule2.mindspring.com>, sjledet@ledet.com says... >After breifly perusing the thread on deathbed conversion, I am left >with a sense of questioning what is meant by the term Justice. Can any >theists or atheists on this group venture some sort of explanation as >to what defines the concept called justice? Whatever it is, I certainly see no reason to involve religious belief. >Do >atheists feel the concept of justice is an imaginary projection by >theists picturing reality as they would like it to be, as opposed to >the way reality is? No, justice is real, but unfortunately it is sometimes difficult or impossible to determine absolutely. However I see religiously-motivated justice, an entirely different thing, as theists getting to apply their illogical and imaginary fears and bigotries on everyone else. >Does anybody, atheistic or theistic, claim that nature in some way or >form follows the demands of Justice? It would be asinine to claim this. Take a glance at natural disasters. >Since that seems unlikely, what >could be the possible source? The concept of absolute justice as usually posited (ie from God or supernatural), which appears to be what you're getting at, doesn't exist. Theists seem to think that there is some sort of universal Justice set forth by various deities which is perfect and therefore covers all situations. All attempts to find this thing break down into huge grey areas very quickly. The closest working equivalent we have is law, which most would agree is an imperfect attempt at Justice with a capital J. It's all we've got though. >Do atheists feel Justice is defined by >society, individual men (if so which men), or some other source? Law is defined by a large group of individuals whose job it is to take individuals' and society's needs into account and produce the fairest possible decisions. While anything but perfect, it is the best method we've found yet, and beats the hell out of any religiously-based justice I've ever heard of. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
From randallg@telemark.net Tue 16 Apr 96 21:00:59 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: What is Justice? (Was deathbed conversions) From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <31614ECA.7353482@orbital.fr> <4l0pcr$1lko@mule1.mindspring.com> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4l0pcr$1lko@mule1.mindspring.com>, sjledet@ledet.com says... > >In article <4ksnv3$pjp@wolfe.wimsey.com> >randallg@telemark.net (randall g) writes: > >> >Since that seems unlikely, what >> >could be the possible source? >> >> The concept of absolute justice as usually posited (ie from God or >> supernatural), which appears to be what you're getting at, doesn't exist. > >What other possible source exiss? You're not paying attention to what myself and the others are saying. You keep asking things like "what other possible sources exist" of absolute justice. THERE AREN'T ANY. Feel free to make up any you wish, and then prepare to defend it if you dare post it here. >> Theists seem to think that there is some sort of universal Justice set >> forth by various deities which is perfect and therefore covers all >> situations. > >What about theists who claim not that a perfect system of application >by Man exist, solely that an absolute standard of Justice exists >external to Man? Now you have changed what I said. Nobody has claimed that Man has discovered an absolute justice (or ever will). Postulating an external such standard that cannot be discovered or understood is baseless speculation. >Does the claim for an absolute standard of measurement >(not physical measurement, metaphysical measurement) external to man, >automatically imply that it is therefore possible for man to systemize >the standard scientifically? If there really was an absolute justice external to Man, then I think it could be codified and understood somehow. If not, it is of no use anyway (except perhaps to explain why omni-* gods might allow evil and suffering to exist). Since no such thing has turned up or is even slightly apparent, it is pure speculation to postulate its existence. Sorry to repeat myself, but this is an important point. >> All attempts to find this thing break down into huge grey >> areas very quickly. The closest working equivalent we have is law, which >> most would agree is an imperfect attempt at Justice with a capital J. >> It's all we've got though. > >Are you saying that law is an imperfect attempt at a system of applying >Justice? Or are you saying that Justice doesn't exist? If so what is >law? Are you saying that law is an an imperfect attempt at law? Justice with a capital J (ie absolute) doesn't exist, but it is an ideal we can understand and strive for, if imperfectly. This is like a runner striving to achieve a time of 0. Our best attempt is law. But don't get me wrong, the law fails to achieve even justice with a small j on a regular basis (oj). >> >Do atheists feel Justice is defined by >> >society, individual men (if so which men), or some other source? >> >> Law is defined by a large group of individuals whose job it is to take >> individuals' and society's needs into account and produce the fairest >> possible decisions. > >What do you mean by "fairest possible decision"? What is the criterion >by which one judges fairness? Good question. I can only say for sure that it is ultimately the opinion of humans, which as you know can vary a great deal. Sometimes fairness is extremely obvious, and sometimes it isn't. That's why it can be neither absolute nor perfect. I guess it tends to be some sort of majority consensus. Most people understand and implicitely agree to be governed by law. In a democracy the law tends to reflects what a lot of people think. Personally, I think fairness should be based on respect for all humans' rights to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Which, once again, beats the hell out of religious justice. >> While anything but perfect, it is the best method >> we've found yet, and beats the hell out of any religiously-based justice >> I've ever heard of. > >Are you saying the law is not based on universal standards external to >man? YES. Thank you for realizing it. You have asked a lot of questions, and received a lot of good answers from myself and others. Obviously you remain unconvinced. If you are taking the standard theist position you may want to state what it is. Better not get Biblical though, that could backfire pretty quickly. >What then do you believe it is based on? You keep asking the same sort of question over and over. I answered this one already. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
From randallg@telemark.net Wed 17 Apr 96 00:43:52 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State (FAQ Problem #4) From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <4kkfmj$si8@mule1.mindspring.com> <4ku5q3$b7i@mule1.mindspring.com> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4ku5q3$b7i@mule1.mindspring.com>, sjledet@ledet.com says... > >In article <4krk8p$pjp@wolfe.wimsey.com> >randallg@telemark.net (randall g) writes: > >> In article <4kkfmj$si8@mule1.mindspring.com>, sjledet@ledet.com says... >> > >> >In reading the alt.atheism faq I have the following questions: >> > >> >>The principle of the separation of church and state is that the state >> >>shall not legislate concerning matters of religious belief. In >> >>particular, it means not only that the state cannot promote one >> >>religion at the expense of another, but also that it cannot promote >> >>any belief which is religious in nature. >> > >> >When does a certain belief become religious in nature? >> >> Some beliefs are called religious by some, when in fact it's just good >> social/moral behaviour. > >When do beliefs cross the line from religious to "just good >social/moral behavior"? What prompts you to label some behavior good >and some bad in the absence of any sort of religious belief? You're misunderstanding me somewhat. I don't claim that a particular belief is always personally religious in nature, or never. As for personal beliefs there is no absolute line. I can attempt to identify common beliefs which are 1. not rational and 2. often justified by religion. This is what I call religious belief. I do not claim that all must hold it for personally religious reasons. It's a broad and imprecise label. I identify behaviours as "bad" or "good" based on my understanding of humans, implicit rights, and the empathy I feel for the participants. There are many behaviours which I can classify so distinctly, and many I cannot. >> These behaviours have evolved along with our >> societies and cultures. Why to you think non-Jehovah-worshipping cultures >> prohibit murder, thievery etc. > >Do you really wish to know my beliefs or are you just trying to make >some sort of point? Well of course I was making a point. I wasn't asking what your beliefs were, I was answering a question you had posed. As for your beliefs, I suppose we'll find out eventually. >>> Some Christians think that since God wrote >> the ten commandments, all moral behaviour is religious in nature, which >> is absolute hogwash. > >Why do you feel the beliefs of those Christians you mention, which I am >assuming do not represent all of them, to be absolute hogwash? Because it's based on fantasy and myth. Now, I'm only calling the stupid bits hogwash, and to be more specific, I think that some of the Commandments, taken as general rules, are not hogwash. Mostly I think it's hogwash to use the Bible (or whatever) as the only justification without looking at the broader picture (ie taking the society's or individual's needs into account). >Is there >any reasonable evidence for this assertion or are you offering it >solely as a personal opinion based on preference? What, that many if not most Christians think moral behaviour is religious in nature? That there are many Christians who think an atheist cannot be moral? That's an observation of mine, let me know if it's wrong, you likely know more Christians than I do. >> >Is the belief >> >that it is wrong to abuse children religious in nature? >> >> No. This belief was around long before religion was invented. > >Do you have any evidence to support this whatsoever? Are not the vast >majority of ancient history documents religous in nature> Evidence? I can't think of any animal species that engages in regular abuse of its young. If we can assume that chimps are not religious and do not have religious motivations, the fact that they do not abuse their young is evidence. In fact, to claim otherwise is so extroardinary, I think it would behoove you to show that child abuse ever was acceptible before religion was invented. >Do you think >that primitive man had no religion and it was developed by later more >advanced societies? Yes. Of course this may depend somewhat on where you draw the line between primitive and not primitive, and what exactly you would qualify as a religion. >> >Is the belief >> >that it is wrong to have sex with animals religious in nature? >> >> No. These and other "moral" rules can be derived and justified without >> invoking a god. Many of them are "obvious" and required in order to allow >> a society to function efficiently. As for bestiality, if the animals are >> unwilling participants, you shouldn't fuck them. The State has laws >> against various forms of cruelty to animals, that are not religiously >> motivated. Mind you, they probably don't want to be killed for food, >> either, but we have decided that this is acceptible. > >What differentiates between those things we should and shouldn't do as >a society, and those things which we decide are acceptible as a >society? Do you believe there is a difference between these two? In the first case, somebody must tell us what we should and shouldn't do. In the second case, we decide. This is a big difference. >As an >honest skeptic of atheism, I am asking what basis is there for morality >in the absence of belief in an external standard not defined by man? I think the best basis boils down to "what's best for the tribe and the individual". There are various ethical routes from there. Eric Pepke and Sktea expanded very well on this point. >OR >are you saying that some sort of divine law (let's say a Tao) exists >but no divine law-giver? I cannot believe that you would ask me this after having read anything I've written. I'm beginning to wonder if you're a perl script. >> >Is the >> >belief that it is wrong to have sex with members of the same sex >> >religous in nature? >> >> I think so. Most who believe this use religion as their justification. > >Is this not fallacious due to circular reasoning, sweeping >generalization as well as argumentum ad hominem? You should look those terms up in the FAQ. The statement is based on observation, necessarily general due to its short length. Allow me to change "most" to "many" if you prefer, my overall point remains. >Are you suggesting >that the most accurate definition of religious beliefs is "that for >which the largest quantity of supporters tend to use religion as the >justification for"? It may not be the most accurate - morals are only part of religiously-motivated belief, but it fits. I call it a religious belief because many religious people hold their God to be the moral lawgiver, in this example they think He has an opinion about gay sex. There may be those who think that gay sex is immoral for reasons that are not religious. Maybe it isn't your religious belief, whatever. However, I believe (without strict proof available) that most who do, do so with religious motivation. I cannot think of any other basis of argument commonly used to show homosexuals are immoral, offhand, besides the obvious fallacial ones like "they prey on children". However, if someone does not think gay sex is immoral, then that belief is probably not religiously motivated. Face it, this one is justifiably seen as religious. >Please don't take this as a personal attack on homosexuals as it is not >so intended. I am just trying to determine the suggested atheistic >strategy to be used to characterize certain belief structures as >secular versus religious. One good first-cut test is "do a lot of the vocal proponents of belief X wave a Bible in the air when making their point?". This works for some of the more obvious ones. After that, it's a matter of exploring the details... >> It >> has no logical justification (assuming the participants are willing). > >Are you saying that society as a whole has no reason to promote sexual >reproduction? No, society has very good reason to promote reproduction, but not necessarily by all of its members with no exceptions. Society occasionally thinks it's a good idea to send much of a generation of healthy young men to their deaths in war, mostly before reproducing. The fact is that most people will not be homosexual, no matter how much homosexual lifestyle is promoted (ie allowed), so it is not a problem for society, and there is no logical reason to label it immoral, or illegal. As a crime, it is victimless. Any such label must be applied for other reasons. >Or are you saying that if logical justification could be >proven for the belief that it is wrong to have sex with members of the >same sex, it should therefore be treated differently? I guess if there was such a logical justification, I would think about it differently. Doubt it'll happen though. >> >The 1st Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an >> >establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". >> >Is this taken by atheists to mean that the state must implicitly be >> >atheistic? >> >> Definately. "Atheistic" in this case would mean promoting no god at all, >> ever. The State should do nothing to promote religion, and should >> actively prevent others from forcing their religion on anyone else. > >Why do you use the term should? What relevance or meaning does it have? >Why does your should have any more force than the Christians' should? Because they want to shove it in my face, and I want to be left alone. There should be limits on the ability of religions to interfere with my life, just like there are limits on smokers designed to keep them from giving me cancer. >Are you saying the constitution should be amended so as to be clearer, >or that the original intent of the above words is not what it "should" >be? I think the original intent is not yet lost. >Is there any discrepency between the State "should actively prevent >others from forcing their religion on anyone else" and "Congress shall >make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion"? You could take the former as a stronger version of the latter, but so far the Constitution has worked well. I don't think it needs to get more specific than this at this time, because plenty of things the religious would like to force on me are prevented by other parts of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Forced prayer in school has been found to be unconstitutional. Access to abortion is constitutional. I agree with these decisions. >Sterling Ledet randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
From randallg@telemark.net Thu 18 Apr 96 20:39:20 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State (FAQ Problem #4) From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <4kkfmj$si8@mule1.mindspring.com> <4ku5q3$b7i@mule1.mindspring.com> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4ku5q3$b7i@mule1.mindspring.com>, sjledet@ledet.com says... >In article <4krk8p$pjp@wolfe.wimsey.com> >randallg@telemark.net (randall g) writes: >> Some beliefs are called religious by some, when in fact it's just good >> social/moral behaviour. >When do beliefs cross the line from religious to "just good >social/moral behavior"? What prompts you to label some behavior good >and some bad in the absence of any sort of religious belief? You're misunderstanding me somewhat. I don't claim that a particular belief is always personally religious in nature, or never. As for personal beliefs there is no absolute line. I can attempt to identify common beliefs which are 1. not rational and 2. often justified by religion. This is what I call religious belief. I do not claim that all must hold it for personally religious reasons. It's a broad and imprecise label. I identify behaviours as "bad" or "good" based on my understanding of humans, implicit rights, and the empathy I feel for the participants. There are many behaviours which I can classify so distinctly, and many I cannot. >> These behaviours have evolved along with our >> societies and cultures. Why to you think non-Jehovah-worshipping cultures >> prohibit murder, thievery etc. >Do you really wish to know my beliefs or are you just trying to make >some sort of point? Well of course I was making a point. I wasn't asking what your beliefs were, I was answering a question you had posed. As for your beliefs, I suppose we'll find out eventually. >>> Some Christians think that since God wrote >> the ten commandments, all moral behaviour is religious in nature, which >> is absolute hogwash. >Why do you feel the beliefs of those Christians you mention, which I am >assuming do not represent all of them, to be absolute hogwash? Because it's based on fantasy and myth. Now, I'm only calling the stupid bits hogwash, and to be more specific, I think that some of the Commandments, taken as general rules, are not hogwash. Mostly I think it's hogwash to use the Bible (or whatever) as the only justification without looking at the broader picture (ie taking the society's or individual's needs into account). >Is there >any reasonable evidence for this assertion or are you offering it >solely as a personal opinion based on preference? What, that many if not most Christians think moral behaviour is religious in nature? That there are many Christians who think an atheist cannot be moral? That's an observation of mine, let me know if it's wrong, you likely know more Christians than I do. >> >Is the belief >> >that it is wrong to abuse children religious in nature? >> No. This belief was around long before religion was invented. >Do you have any evidence to support this whatsoever? Are not the vast >majority of ancient history documents religous in nature> Evidence? I can't think of any animal species that engages in regular abuse of its young. If we can assume that chimps are not religious and do not have religious motivations, the fact that they do not abuse their young is evidence. In fact, to claim otherwise is so extroardinary, I think it would behoove you to show that child abuse ever was acceptible before religion was invented. >Do you think >that primitive man had no religion and it was developed by later more >advanced societies? Yes. Of course this may depend somewhat on where you draw the line between primitive and not primitive, and what exactly you would qualify as a religion. >What differentiates between those things we should and shouldn't do as >a society, and those things which we decide are acceptible as a >society? Do you believe there is a difference between these two? In the first case, somebody must tell us what we should and shouldn't do. In the second case, we decide. This is a big difference. >As an >honest skeptic of atheism, I am asking what basis is there for morality >in the absence of belief in an external standard not defined by man? I think the best basis boils down to "what's best for the tribe and the individual". There are various ethical routes from there. Eric Pepke and Sktea expanded very well on this point. >OR >are you saying that some sort of divine law (let's say a Tao) exists >but no divine law-giver? I cannot believe that you would ask me this after having read anything I've written. I'm beginning to wonder if you're a perl script. >> >Is the >> >belief that it is wrong to have sex with members of the same sex >> >religous in nature? >> I think so. Most who believe this use religion as their justification. >Is this not fallacious due to circular reasoning, sweeping >generalization as well as argumentum ad hominem? You should look those terms up in the FAQ. The statement is based on observation, necessarily general due to its short length. Allow me to change "most" to "many" if you prefer, my overall point remains. >Are you suggesting >that the most accurate definition of religious beliefs is "that for >which the largest quantity of supporters tend to use religion as the >justification for"? It may not be the most accurate - morals are only part of religiously-motivated belief, but it fits. I call it a religious belief because many religious people hold their God to be the moral lawgiver, in this example they think He has an opinion about gay sex. There may be those who think that gay sex is immoral for reasons that are not religious. Maybe it isn't your religious belief, whatever. However, I believe (without strict proof available) that most who do, do so with religious motivation. I cannot think of any other basis of argument commonly used to show homosexuals are immoral, offhand, besides the obvious fallacial ones like "they prey on children". However, if someone does not think gay sex is immoral, then that belief is probably not religiously motivated. Face it, this one is justifiably seen as religious. >Please don't take this as a personal attack on homosexuals as it is not >so intended. I am just trying to determine the suggested atheistic >strategy to be used to characterize certain belief structures as >secular versus religious. One good first-cut test is "do a lot of the vocal proponents of belief X wave a Bible in the air when making their point?". This works for some of the more obvious ones. After that, it's a matter of exploring the details... >> It >> has no logical justification (assuming the participants are willing). >Are you saying that society as a whole has no reason to promote sexual >reproduction? No, society has very good reason to promote reproduction, but not necessarily by all of its members with no exceptions. Society occasionally thinks it's a good idea to send much of a generation of healthy young men to their deaths in war, mostly before reproducing. The fact is that most people will not be homosexual, no matter how much homosexual lifestyle is promoted (ie allowed), so it is not a problem for society, and there is no logical reason to label it immoral, or illegal. As a crime, it is victimless. Any such label must be applied for other reasons. >Or are you saying that if logical justification could be >proven for the belief that it is wrong to have sex with members of the >same sex, it should therefore be treated differently? I guess if there was such a logical justification, I would think about it differently. Doubt it'll happen though. >> >The 1st Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an >> >establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". >> >Is this taken by atheists to mean that the state must implicitly be >> >atheistic? >> Definately. "Atheistic" in this case would mean promoting no god at all, >> ever. The State should do nothing to promote religion, and should >> actively prevent others from forcing their religion on anyone else. >Why do you use the term should? What relevance or meaning does it have? >Why does your should have any more force than the Christians' should? Because they want to shove it in my face, and I want to be left alone. There should be limits on the ability of religions to interfere with my life, just like there are limits on smokers designed to keep them from giving me cancer. >Are you saying the constitution should be amended so as to be clearer, >or that the original intent of the above words is not what it "should" >be? I think the original intent is not yet lost. >Is there any discrepency between the State "should actively prevent >others from forcing their religion on anyone else" and "Congress shall >make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion"? You could take the former as a stronger version of the latter, but so far the Constitution has worked well. I don't think it needs to get more specific than this at this time, because plenty of things the religious would like to force on me are prevented by other parts of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Forced prayer in school has been found to be unconstitutional. Access to abortion is constitutional. I agree with these decisions. >Sterling Ledet
From randallg@telemark.net Thu 18 Apr 96 23:43:07 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: What is Justice? (Was deathbed conversions) From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <31614ECA.7353482@orbital.fr> <4l0pcr$1lko@mule1.mindspring.com> <4l1qdt$br7@wolfe.wimsey.com> <4l5it3$qij@newsgate.dircon.co.uk> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4l5it3$qij@newsgate.dircon.co.uk>, eldan@dircon.co.uk says... > >randall g wrote: > >>prepare to defend it if you dare post it here. > >What exactly are you threatening? Will he perhaps be zapped if he has >the audacity to post _something you don't agree with_ here in _your_ >domain? >eldan Oh ya, right, a threat. Like I'm going to do something irrational or violent. Or perhaps I'll beseech my God to zap him for me. And this isn't my domain, but it is an atheistic forum. Any non-atheist who shows up should be aware of that. It doesn't take audacity to post something I don't agree with, but if he does, I'll do my best to rip it to pieces, figuratively speaking. However Mr Ledet has made virtually no statements, preferring instead to ask similar questions, over and over again, hence my subtle hint that he hasn't yet "dared" to do so. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
At 11:56 AM 4/23/96 -0700, you wrote: >randallg, >I enjoyed looking over your homepage. I happened upon it through >Canadian Stockwatch -- excellent job! Your openness regarding your >beliefs (or lack thereof) intrigued me so I felt compelled to respond. >We are in some ways very much alike. I also enjoy thinking, >contemplating, reasoning, studying and refining my thoughts. I am a 37 >y.o. physician who has spent years studying the sciences, interacting >with other scientists, and now daily treating and attending to the sick >and dying. Through all this I have come to opposite conclusions >regarding the existance of God and matters of faith. Fine. Everyone's mileage tends to vary, especially the amount of objective evidence required to convince us of something, and how much we rely on feelings and emotion to construct our view of reality. As an instinctive skeptic, my standards are quite strict. At least you haven't made the common theist mistake of confusing scientific inquiry with religious faith. However, doesn't that just leave you with a "God of the Gaps" sort of deity? One that only manifests itself in peoples' minds, or beyond the bounds of current scientific understanding? Did your god part the Red Sea, stop the sun, hand a prewritten stone tablet to Moses, and create the earth 6000 years ago complete with dinosaur bones? >Maybe, if you are >brave enough and can overcome your fear of death (I have NONE), we can >dialogue. I'm sure you're just as busy as me and would understand if you >decline. My bravery is not an issue, neither do I have a fear of death. Why would you assume either of these? I'm not surprised though, theists do that a lot. As for bravery, I post and argue regularly (usually with religious types) on the atheist newsgroups. Usually only the "best" Christian apologetics hang out there. I've archived much of that in my "net.wisdom" page (pointer from my homepage). Please check that out before you suspect my "bravery". As for fear of death, I don't have it either. How you say? Simple, there won't be any "me" after death, so nothing could possibly matter to my personality which will simply not exist. I do have a "fear" of premature death, because I love and enjoy life so much, and my death would hurt those who love me, so I'll do what it takes to avoid it. I also have a "fear" of dying slowly and painfully, though I suppose I may have to tough that out. However if a painful death is inevitable, I will take my own life, preferably with the help of a qualified physician such as yourself. My will will clearly state that no heroic measures are to be taken, or whatever the standard boilerplate is. How's that for fear? As for time, you've got that right. I usually decline private dialogues with Christians (I get plenty of invitations). I prefer to spend what "writing" time I have posting publicly, usually on alt.atheism.moderated or talk.atheism. However you are more civil and lucid than most of them, so I don't mind persuing this a little. >You recommended some atheistic sites and I might check them out. Have >you ever checked out the other side's sites? Well, I have, but I don't feel the need to put much more time into it. Perhaps I would more often if I thought they might have some startling new evidence to share. However, I am learned enough in matters of the Christian religions and history, probably more than most Christians. I was one for quite some time. I don't link to atheist sites in an attempt to convert the religious, they are pages that I personally find interesting, and perhaps other atheists may enjoy. >I would suggest The >Christian ThinkTank @ http://www.web.com/~ctt/ for your pleasure. URL doesn't work! >Thanks for Canadian Stockwatch! You are welcome! I hope it helps you prosper.
From randallg@telemark.net Wed 24 Apr 96 22:44:45 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State (FAQ Problem #4) From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <4kkfmj$si8@mule1.mindspring.com> <4lm258$b1q@mule1.mindspring.com> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4lm258$b1q@mule1.mindspring.com>, sjledet@ledet.com says... >In article <4l71te$ilq@wolfe.wimsey.com >randallg@telemark.net (randall g) writes: > >>I identify behaviours as "bad" or "good" based on my understanding of >>humans, implicit rights, and the empathy I feel for the participants. > >What does that have to do with a system of laws? Are you saying that it >is up to each of us to define laws for ourself based on our >understanding of humans, implicit rights, and the empathy we may or may >not feel for the participants? You've changed the subject on me. I looked up the earlier post and I was responding to your question "What prompts you to label some behavior good and some bad in the absence of any sort of religious belief?" I was not equating it with laws. However, to answer your new question, I think most people effectively operate this way. Some will go further and add what they think their god wants to the mix. As for systems of laws in real life, they are always made up of the opinions of humans. What else? >> Some Christians think that since God wrote >> the ten commandments, all moral behaviour is religious in nature, >> which is absolute hogwash. > >I'm sorry. I didn't mean to question your observation of Christians. I >meant to ask for evidence that the statement "all moral behaviour is >religious in nature" is a false one. I am not claiming that, I am >solely asking for evidence which can be used to draw a dividing line. As I've pointed out before, the "evidence" is that other animal species, and early humans, none of which adhere to religion, engage in behaviour that can be labelled "moral". Thus the behaviour is not religious, unless you can show that a god has "programmed" them to behave this way. If that is the case, these creatures, and us, are unaware of behavioural motives anyway, so we may as well simplify things and call ALL moral behaviour religious. We behave morally because God wills it. Or we behave immorally because of Satan's influence. End of explanation. I think this kind of explanation is unsatisfactory, and find that naturalism explains the existence of most moral behaviour very well. Unfortunately I cannot answer your question and draw a precise dividing line, but fortunately it isn't necessary. >Obviously someone who does not believe in God can follow a certain >dictate for non-religious reasons. I am just wondering where the >reasons become religion based. Is it one solely of intent? If so, how >do you propose we legislate same? I think it is mostly intent, and if forced to ponder it more I may come up with other criteria. Intent works for me though. I do not propose we legislate anyone's behaviour, unless it is shown to be harmful to or infringes on the rights of others. >> >Do you think >> >that primitive man had no religion and it was developed by later more >> >advanced societies? >> >> Yes. Of course this may depend somewhat on where you draw the line >> between primitive and not primitive, and what exactly you would qualify >> as a religion. > >It is not me making the claim that moral beliefs are exempt from the >category "religious" beliefs. How about we define religion as system of >moral rules? Is that a deficient definition? If so, in what way? It isn't a religion, as I understand it, if there is no deity involved and, usually, assumed to be controlling things explicitely. A system of moral rules can be chiseled onto a stone tablet without the help of a god. Religions tend to include plenty of self-defined "moral" rules, but that's certainly not all there is to religion. >>>What differentiates between those things we should and shouldn't do as >>>a society, and those things which we decide are acceptible as a >>>society? Do you believe there is a difference between these two? >> >>In the first case, somebody must tell us what we should and shouldn't do. >>In the second case, we decide. This is a big difference. > >Are you saying the only way we can know what we should and shouldn't do >is if someone tells us? I understood your bifurcation to imply that "things we *should* do or not" is an absolute standard independent of what anyone thinks, and "things we *decide* we should do or not" is relativist morality. In the first case, how can we know what that standard is, without taking someone's word for it? There is no absolute standard that can be demonstrated to everyone's satisfaction. Although you are not currently arguing from the Bible, those who do, have to rely on their believers simply accepting what they say. >Or are you saying there is no such thing as a >"should and shouldn't" do? If what you mean is an external and absolute standard of "should", then, for the umpteenth time, there's NO SUCH THING. >>However, if someone does not think gay sex is immoral, then that belief >>is probably not religiously motivated. Face it, this one is justifiably >>seen as religious. > >I do not know how to go about classifying some beliefs as religious and >others as simply moral. What, you have no idea at all? Is that why you ask so many questions? >Therefore I have no reason to suspect that any >particular moral belief is religious or not-religious in nature. Well why not dispense with the whole concept, and just use utilitarian guidelines when trying to define what is moral? Is it important to you to know whether a particular moral belief is religious? >If you >mean by religious simply those people on the other side of the argument >from you, then I do not see that as a reasonable basis upon which to >build a functioning society. That is why I am asking you to provide a >technical definition. I don't think that religion, or any other belief, is or can ever be absolute. Some who hold a particular moral belief may hold such for personal religious reasons (ie that's what God wants so I'll go along with it) or they may not. If most who hold a particular moral belief have only their belief in God to back it up, then I label it religious in nature. You may not. Whatever. It's just a definition, and not a big deal to me. I doubt we will ever agree on a "technical" definition. Why don't you propose one? Also, I never meant to imply it is "those people on the other side of the argument from me". Some people share my views on capital punishment, for instance, for religious reasons. Obviously my motivations are not religious. As for something like gay sex, which has no real ramifications for most heterosexuals at all, there may be those with a "gut-level" revulsion of it, who then get to persecute homosexuals because "God called it an abomination". Some things are obviously religious, like using Bible verses as justification for a belief that has no clear utility. But please, realize this is just the way I, and some but probably not all other atheists, look at it. >Sorry to offend with my questions. It is not my primary intent. Sterling, nothing you have written has offended me in the least. In fact, I can't think of anything you could write that would offend me. However, the way you repeat the same questions, even after they've been answered elsewhere, is mildly annoying. >Sterling Ledet randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
From randallg@telemark.net Sun 28 Apr 96 17:58:01 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: An athiest minister From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.93.14 References: <4m04g7$83@guava.epix.net> MIME-Version: 1.0 In article <4m04g7$83@guava.epix.net>, jlferri@epix.net says... > >I have been ordained by the Universal Life Church, Modesto, CA. [ snip ] >Anyway, I plan on performing a secular marraige ceremony for a friend >in PA. PA law requires a blood test and a marriage licence. Since the >ULC is a legal church, does anyone know of any restrictions in PA that >might prevent me from performing the ceremony? You should check that this church is registered outside of California. I was ordained in the Ministry of Salvation Church by mail some years ago (cost me 10 bucks but I got a certificate suitable for framing) which is in CA. When the time came that I wanted to perform a marraige for some good friends, I found that the church wasn't registered here in British Columbia, and I was not legally able to do it. It turns out there's some big hoops to getting a church registered here, including obtaining references from existing churches. I can however perform marraiges in CA, should it ever be necessary. Anyway, I don't know how it works in the US, but you should check with your state government. If your friends get their test and license from the bureaucrats, and the ULC is able to operate in PA, then probably all you need to do is some paperwork. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
From randallg@telemark.net Fri Nov 01 18:52:11 1996 Newsgroups: alt.fan.publius,talk.philosophy.misc,talk.origins,alt.atheism,alt.christnet,alt.activism,alt.politics.usa.congress,alt.politics.democrats.d,alt.politics.usa.republican,alt.politics.libertarian,alt.politics.clinton,alt.politics.usa.newt-gingrich,alt.president.clinton,alt.politics.correct,alt.fan.rush-limbaugh,alt.renewing.american.civilization Subject: Re: The meaning of "evolution." Fooling the Supreme Court. From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article , rednblu@netcom.com says... > >What kind of repeatable experiment is missing from the >justification for banning "Christianity"--whatever superstitious >fear THAT may inspire--from being presented in a science >classroom? Maybe the evolutionists could show that the >utterance of the sound G o D shatters glass--or inhibits >the hydrolysis of ATP. THEN they would have some >non-superstitious basis for the ban. Riley, you are an idiot. If God had a consistent observable effect like this, then it would rightly be part of science, and would have a place in science class. Although not the place you'd probably expect. Instead of the students debasing themselves on their knees in fear and loathing, they would be encouraged to utter "G o D" in various ways, and attempt to quantify and measure its effect on shattering glass or hydrolyzing ATP. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
From randallg@telemark.net Tue Nov 05 22:48:08 1996 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: Vatican endorses evolution From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <01bb98b1$d8272ce0$b885989e@motron.demon.co.uk>, Paris@Motron.Demon.Co.Uk says... > >Scott Oser wrote in article >... >> I was floored and delighted this morning to read that the Vatican has >> given official support to the theory of evolution. >> I'm convinced that this is the most modern and sensible thing the >> current Pope has done during his tenure. It's the first thing he's >> said that I agreed with in years. > >I agree. This is fantastic. >I take my hat off to the old man, he is showing himself to be worthy >or the position of power and responsibility that he holds. So what? Anyone with half a brain has understood and accepted evolution for over a hundred years now. The RC's just exonerated Galileo a couple of years ago, and you applaud them for their forward thinking? Unless and until the Pope removes all religious prohibitions on birth control and abortion that about a billion humans, most in abject poverty, take seriously, I will continue to consider him the most evil human alive. Despite how charming he may be personally, this sort of ignorant stupid and shortsighted policy, which has such a huge effect so many people and societies, may be the single biggest threat to the continued existance of the human species. He is the one man who could do something about it, but he won't. We'll have to wait for him to die and someone younger to take over, which can't happen too soon. Of course it's doubtful his successor will be any better but it's our only hope. >I like the Pope, he uses his head. He remains an ignorant deluded superstitious fool who unfortunately is in a position of immense power. (And don't get me started on priest celibacy or the role of women...) randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me