Pharyngula

It’s how we can all get along

What an excellent demonstration of the importance of the principle of the separation of church and state: here’s a conservative Christian minister whose views on society and politics I find thoroughly odious; here’s a liberal Christian with whom I’d be 99% in agreement, but whose moderate religious views I can still find a bit batty; and then there’s me, the flaming atheist. We can all coexist and work together (or against each other, in a productive and civil way) as long as our government doesn’t arbitrarily privilege one religious view over another. As long as we can find common ground in our support for civil liberties and personal freedom to believe as we want, it really doesn’t matter what goofy ideas about gods we might have.


By the way, while you’re over at Making Light, don’t miss Jim Macdonald’s article on heat stress. We’re supposed to get up close to 100°F here in western Minnesota today, with high humidity and threats of thunderstorms—so it’s certainly timely information.

Comments

  1. #1 Carlie
    July 31, 2006

    The first guy says that Christians should stay out of politics; am I missing something causing your wrath?

  2. #2 quork
    July 31, 2006

    Oh happy day! Let’s all form a circle, hold hands and sing “Kumbaya”.

  3. #3 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    He’s saying here’s 3 very different people with different views of religion and they all believe in the separation of chruch and state. Because they understand that as long as
    that separation exist we can all get along just fine.

  4. #4 quork
    July 31, 2006

    The first guy says that Christians should stay out of politics; am I missing something causing your wrath?

    Wrath? PZ is happy because those folks support separation of church and state and oppose theocracy.

  5. #5 PZ Myers
    July 31, 2006

    Yep. Boyd is a conservative Christian — I disagree completely with him on political and ethical issues. I’m not wrathful at all towards him, though, because he has a right to his opinion and he has made a principled stand that he will not use his pulpit or his potential political clout to force his beliefs on me. That’s a good thing.

  6. #6 Carlie
    July 31, 2006

    Ah, I misunderstood a bit, I think. You said that his views on politics were odious – I got the main message of the article to be that his views on politics were that Christians should stay out of it, hence the confusion. I didn’t think about the fact that you were referring to the odious nature of his personal political views rather than his attitude as to how he should express them (as a person or in the pulpit).

  7. #7 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    So how long til Jason stomps in and says something stupid?

  8. #8 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    As soon as he gets back from clubbing baby seals. :0

  9. #9 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    So how long til Jason stomps in and says something stupid?

  10. #10 Steve Watson
    July 31, 2006

    I like what Boyd says about the danger of where American Evangelicalism has been heading, tying itself to American exceptionalism, a particular wing of the political spectrum, and the myth of Christian America of The Good Old Days. My only question is: he only became alarmed four years ago? I’ve been saying this sort of thing about American Evangelicals for 30 years! (ie: since back in the depths of my own fundamentalist period).

  11. #11 Kristine
    July 31, 2006

    “If the church were awake when abortion was passed in the 70’s, it wouldn’t have happened.” What wishful thinking! I don’t agree with Boyd’s stances and values, but I certainly think he’s pushing the right buttons by calling the identification of Christianity with right-wing Republican causes (as evidenced by the statement above) idolatry.

    If only they could see their worship of Jesus as idolatry, too, instead of seeing how this literary, allegorical tale relates to the ongoing crucifixion of truth and justice (perpetuated so often in the name of Jesus).

  12. #12 Squeaky
    July 31, 2006

    Steve Watson:
    “My only question is: he only became alarmed four years ago? I’ve been saying this sort of thing about American Evangelicals for 30 years!”

    It just takes some people longer than others. There is a lot of rhetoric one has to sort through when one is in the midst of fundamentalism, as I’m sure you know from your own history. The important thing is THAT he’s figured it out, not when.

    Kristen:

    “If only they could see their worship of Jesus as idolatry”

    Worship of Jesus would be the basis of Christianity. And since Christians, myself included, don’t regard that part of our faith as a “literary, allegorical tale”, there is little chance we’ll ever see it as idolatry.

    However, I think where you may be coming from is how the message of Jesus has been kidnapped and completely distorted by the Right Wing. I think much of Christianity, unbeknownst to many fundamentalists, is based more on the message of the Pharisites than it is on the message of Jesus, which is more about unconditional love and self-sacrifice, rather than being judgemental.

  13. #13 Steve Watson
    July 31, 2006

    Squeaky writes in response to me: It just takes some people longer than others. There is a lot of rhetoric one has to sort through when one is in the midst of fundamentalism, as I’m sure you know from your own history.
    I had an unfair advantage in that I was raised:
    1) by liberal (soft-socialist, in fact)
    2) agnostics
    3) in Canada.
    The first two meant that neither Christianity nor right-wing politics were ever defaults for me (the latter never being in the cards at all). The third meant that assertions of God’s special favour for the USA went over with me like a lead balloon.

  14. #14 Kristine
    July 31, 2006

    I disagree, Squeaky.

    For the first four centuries, Christians did not call themselves worshippers of Jesus, but followers of Jesus. There’s a difference. Yes, they took the story literally (at least after St. Paul was converted after a long lull, during which everyone seemed to forget about the whole story), but Christians were largely persecuted martyrs during this time, and did not wear crosses or even represent the crucifixion of Jesus–it was too horrifying to them. Only after they achieved power in Rome did “worship” of Jesus supplant following his teachings–and yes, I would call it idolatry to believe that invoking Jesus saves one from having to live as he (or the several persons upon which his story may be based) did.

    It’s like Buddhism–Buddha didn’t want to be worshipped, but he is.

  15. #15 Squeaky
    July 31, 2006

    Hmm…well, Jesus didn’t stop people from worshipping him when he was alive. Several instances where people worshipped him in the Gospels.

    “I would call it idolatry to believe that invoking Jesus saves one from having to live as he (or the several persons upon which his story may be based) did.”

    Jesus would agree. He never called anyone to a trouble free life, but actually a trouble-full life (I think there is a new book about this, but I can’t think of the title).

    No one was ever promised a rose garden.

  16. #16 Jonathan Badger
    July 31, 2006

    PZ,

    I really don’t get your position on religion. Sometimes, like in this post, you are a “let’s get along together” atheist, much like Eugenie Scott and myself, someone only concerned about the separation of church and state and the attacks on science education by creationists, but has no problem otherwise with religion so long as nobody forces you to pretend to believe. On other posts you are a militant Dawkins-style atheist who sees even moderate religion as an evil force to be combated with and is not interested in “getting along” with people holding religious beliefs unless they give up those beliefs. Those are two incompatible world views.

  17. #17 Scott Hatfield
    July 31, 2006

    Let us resist the dangerous temptation to hold that two different expressions of non-belief are fundamentally incompatible. I’m a theist myself, but I can tell when a man is changing hats, Jonathan, and I suspect you can, too. At the risk of conceit (I can’t really speak for the good professor), I look at things this way:

    When PZ finds common ground with those who hold different views on God, he is wearing a tactical hat. When PZ offers his personal views on God’s non-existence (and the folly of religion in general), he is wearing some other hat. In the former case, he is endorsing the tactic of finding common ground in order to make common cause as a member of a group. In the latter, he is speaking merely for himself.

    Speaking for myself, I welcome the opportunity to make common cause with all sorts of folk when it comes to defending quality science education.

    Scott

  18. #18 PZ Myers
    July 31, 2006

    Not quite. I think religion is utter crap and a dangerous pile of misleading nonsense, but I will defend anyone’s right to believe it…and my right to declare it foolish. I will especially defend your right to believe it if you also admit that it isn’t an appropriate guiding principle for a secular government.

  19. #19 gmm
    July 31, 2006

    So….

    Let us say that there is a family that disagrees on religion. Should a parent disallow a kid to go to church because of the parent’s belief system?

    I always think of the Dean Koontz short story about the athiest that lost his wife and tried to protect his kid from religion.

    Next question- knowing this blog is about science and all-
    How does one learn about history without knowing about religion? So much of classical literature and history are married with religion.

    Third- what would be the consequence of having no religion? WHat would people fight over then?

    All this from an irreligious wonderer of what would happen if religion just one day disappeared. I am of the mind that it never really could disappear without us losing touch with history, literature and art.

  20. #20 Squeaky
    July 31, 2006

    Jonathan Badger,
    It is confusing, isn’t it? I’ll do my best to try to clarify. PZ will jump in if he sees this, I’m sure.

    I think most of the wrath is directed towards any religious believers that are treading into scientific grounds (or, as you say, who are trying to meld church and state). He’s said on several occasions that he is not after those who don’t tread across those boundaries, and has said he also knows many believers who he thinks are very nice, rational people (except for this “strange” belief in God (or gods)) who he gets along very well with. He has no argument with these people, although he finds their belief to be completely irrational.

    He also directs a lot of wrath towards fundamentalists of any stripe who use God as an excuse for atrocities and war. Again, he makes a distinction between them and his nice grandmother and mother, and whoever else is not fundamentalist warmongers.

    Several, myself included, have made the point that they actually agree with him on such points, and not all people of faith are fundamentalists or anti-science. He has directed some wrath towards those people because he perceives they aren’t standing up to the fundamentalists. This is somewhat justified, although I think the articles he links in this post show that there is a movement of Christians who ARE standing up to fundamentalism. I’m glad he’s starting to notice (I could suggest several Christian authors, including Jimmy Carter, who are making this very stand).

    I think perhaps the confusion comes because his words are often extremely harsh, and if you are new to the site, or aren’t paying reeeeally close attention, you miss the times when he makes the distinctions. Many have said this is a place where people vent, and so the distinctions are not always carefully made, and it’s easy to think the vitriol is directed towards all who believe.

    I suppose it is also confusing when he says all who believe are irrational. I think PZ would argue that he has the greatest respect for his grandmother and mother who have faith. However, PZ’s grandmother and mother notwithstanding, I don’t think it is possible to say you respect someone and in the same breath say that person is irrational. The thing is, if someone regards their belief in God as a major aspect of their lives, when someone calls that irrational, it is extremely insulting and disrespectful. What you are really saying is that the very core of that person is irrational.

    Many Christians would be surprised that many atheists could make that same argument. I think the vitriol and venting is directed towards Christians who parrot every stereotype about atheists they have ever heard. Misunderstanding runs rampant on all sides.

    I think this may be the contradiction you are sensing. He makes a distinction between the extremist fundamentalists, but although he says he can make nice with more rational believers, he considers all believers to be irrational. Because most people consider it offensive to be labeled irrational, it is difficult to understand when PZ claims to hold kindness towards any believer.

  21. #21 Squeaky
    July 31, 2006

    gmm–
    “Third- what would be the consequence of having no religion? WHat would people fight over then?”

    Oh, we’d find some other incredibly stupid reason, that’s for sure. Probably having to do with resources or some other ideology.

    “All this from an irreligious wonderer of what would happen if religion just one day disappeared. I am of the mind that it never really could disappear without us losing touch with history, literature and art.”

    This reminds me of the Twilight Zone (the new Twilight Zone, not the good ones) episode where Jason Alexander plays death. He’s sick of killing people and all the pain it causes. So he quits. The day he quits, there are no deaths reported in the obituaries. However, hospital emergency rooms are overrun with people in tremendous pain who would have otherwise died and are suffering tremendously. I guess the answer I am proposing is religion is a “necessary evil”.

    However, others would make the same argument I made above about war. If people didn’t fight about religion, it would be something else. In the same way, without religion, we’d still have history, literature, art, and music, it’s just the inspiration would be different.

  22. #22 JimC
    July 31, 2006

    The thing is, if someone regards their belief in God as a major aspect of their lives, when someone calls that irrational, it is extremely insulting and disrespectful. What you are really saying is that the very core of that person is irrational.

    Well you know what, then they need to get over themselves. I am a Christian and my belief is admittedly irrational. It doesn’t mean I think this way in every aspect of my life, it just means that I have some thoughts that give me comfort. I have no problem with those who say my belief is irrational because it is. Anyone who thinks religion or apologetics is remotely rational is a person who needs to think it is to maintain a flimsy belief. Myself I see it for what it is, a cultural thought that I was raised with that often brings me peace.

    If people are insulted and disrespected by someone stating the obvious then frankly they need assistance in other areas as well.

  23. #23 Jason
    July 31, 2006

    We can all coexist and work together (or against each other, in a productive and civil way) as long as our government doesn’t arbitrarily privilege one religious view over another.

    I agree, but what your ideas of what “seperation of church and state” and the government not privileging one religious (or irreligious, too) view over another are and what other peoples’ are will not likely bring coexistence and working together around any time soon. It’s a sad age we live in where a public official saying “God bless America,” a cross war memorial, and a man’s daughter being allowed to say the Pledge of Allegiance bring cries of outrage from people like you.

    As long as we can find common ground in our support for civil liberties and personal freedom to believe as we want, it really doesn’t matter what goofy ideas about gods we might have.

    But it does matter what bigoted ideas many atheists and others have about the vast majority of religious people in this country. Start moving beyond that, PZ, and maybe that common ground won’t seem so far away. I’m willing to let you have your beliefs without resorting to calling you vulgar, childish names. When will you be willing to do that for others?

  24. #24 GH
    July 31, 2006

    Oh my gosh Jason actually made a real, kinda, post.

    But it does matter what bigoted ideas many atheists and others have about the vast majority of religious people in this country.

    And what bigoted ideas would these be? You say this alot without ever backing it up. You mean bigotry like preventing people who wish to marry to do so? Where have atheists banded together and forced their will on another group?

    And PZ calls a spade a spade. It’s not bigotry.

    but what your ideas of what “seperation of church and state” and the government not privileging one religious (or irreligious, too) view over another are and what other peoples’ are will not likely bring coexistence and working together around any time soon.

    So your saying there should be a priveleged view? How un American can you get.

    It’s a sad age we live in where a public official saying “God bless America,” a cross war memorial, and a man’s daughter being allowed to say the Pledge of Allegiance bring cries of outrage from people like you.

    It really is that simple to you isn’t it? No more substance to the issue for you than that huh?

  25. #25 386sx
    July 31, 2006

    Hmm…well, Jesus didn’t stop people from worshipping him when he was alive. Several instances where people worshipped him in the Gospels.

    Hey didn’t some of those people worship golden cows or something like that? Lol, people sure do worship some funny things.

  26. #26 386sx
    July 31, 2006

    But it does matter what bigoted ideas many atheists and others have about the vast majority of religious people in this country.

    And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    I guess stuff like that wouldn’t be considered to be bigoted ideas about the vast majority of religious people in that author’s country. No sirree. Of course not.

  27. #27 Scott Hatfield
    August 1, 2006

    PZ wrote: “Not quite. I think religion is utter crap and a dangerous pile of misleading nonsense, but I will defend anyone’s right to believe it…and my right to declare it foolish. I will especially defend your right to believe it if you also admit that it isn’t an appropriate guiding principle for a secular government.”

    Freedom of speech? Freedom of (or from) religion? Separation of church and state? I’m down with all that, as are my zombiefied squirrel-creationist half-breeds. Remember, they ARE half-squirrel, so they do have a lick of sense.

    “Getting along” just fine,

    Scott

  28. #28 gmm
    August 1, 2006

    In the same way, without religion, we’d still have history, literature, art, and music, it’s just the inspiration would be different.

    *************

    Yes- but I am looking backwards- as in history- if there is no religion how could one frame why wars were fought without explaining religion. Or explain Michelangelos painting with god reaching out…. or interpret or even read Pilgrim’s Progress.

    I am interested in knowing how atheism if embraced as an ideology that more and more adopted over time would deal with the religious artifacts of the past. Would literature and art and even philosophy be expendable?

    Would religion still retain its power if traces were “kept”? I do think that the USSR struggled with this during the time of communism. That was kind of a failed atheist experiment. There is now a growth of fundamentalist evangelical christian churches in places like the Ukraine, if I am remembering correctly. Many babas were the keepers of the families religious heritage during communism, and kept mementos and treasures that were contraband and passed them along to their children and grandchildren if what I hear from my russian/ukrainian/polish friends is accurate.

    I guess what i am saying is I do not want any religious or anti-religious ideology to be my government.

    My next question- how does ANYONE actually manage to believe in a government of the people by the people in this day and age???

    Is that no akin to believing in the toothfairy?

  29. #29 G. Tingey
    August 1, 2006

    Some readers seem to have missed the point.

    I’m with PZ on this.

    If you are stupid, and misguided, and idiotic enough to believe in your version of the “god” thing, BUT are prepared to keep it ot “consenting adults in private” (A UK legal phrase that has a particular recent-historical meaning) then that is their business and no-one else’s …..

    BUT, if you and your followers are detrmined to bring it out onto the street and “frighten the horses” then it becomes a public matter – and will you please take it elsewhere.

    This is the root of the problem that we in the UK are having with (some- a minority – DO NOT BELIEVE the “Londonistan” reports) part of our muslim minority.
    They are confusing “toleration” – get on with your private religion – that is your business
    AND
    “respect” – you must be polite to our religion, and not be rude about it, even though we have brought it into the public arena – which is complete crap.

    In the USA, I get the impression, the rightwingnutchristians are behaving in the same way – they don’t want toleration, they want “respect”.

    Ophelia has been discussing this, re. an incident in the USA …
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/29/us/29delaware.html?ex=1311825600&en=deca2060f0d3c3fc&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

  30. #30 Teresa Nielsen Hayden
    August 1, 2006

    PZ, what’s this Minnesota Nice about finding our religious views “a bit batty”? You’re a rock-ribbed scientific atheist. I know you’ve got to think they’re a whole lot batty. Mind, I do appreciate how polite you are about it.

    I’ve never understood nutbar fundies. Supposedly the basis for their faith is a radically disintermediated unschooled personal relationship with the in-print Divine Word (i.e., bibliolatry and bad heuristics). But if they’re going to believe that, you’d think they’d pay more attention to the actual book. There’s not a word in it about harassing kids who don’t want to say the Pledge of Allegiance. (In fact, it’s distinctly dubious about the swearing of oaths in general.) It’s got no problem with tolerating a secular government. And it contains a walloping number of passages about not oppressing strangers (i.e., persons not of your own tribe and faith).

    Even more ironic: the constituency most served by “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” has been exactly the sort of small schismatic congregations where fundamentalism grew up. They were deprecated and oppressed by the state-supported established denominations of the Colonial period. And while I think it would be an effective teaching device, I’m not willing to go back to having established religions just to remind them why we got rid of the things in the first place.

  31. #31 PZ Myers
    August 1, 2006

    Well, you know that Minnesota Nice is really just a mask for a lot of passive-aggressive viciousness, right?

    As long as people aren’t sacrificing babies to Moloch, forcing my kids to go through religious rituals in school, sending my neighbors off to die in holy wars, or trying to get superstition legislated as science, I’m willing to think of religion as a harmless personal eccentricity.

  32. #32 Teresa Nielsen Hayden
    August 1, 2006

    I’ve got no problem with that.

  33. #33 False Prophet
    August 1, 2006

    Next question- knowing this blog is about science and all-
    How does one learn about history without knowing about religion? So much of classical literature and history are married with religion.

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say, so I apologize if my response misrepresents your question:

    Clearly, no one is suggesting that we ignore the facts of history. (Unlike, say, certain fundies who are ignorant of all history between St. Paul and Martin Luther.) Yes, religion has been (and continues to be) an important part of society, culture, art and politics. We can study it as a social phenomenon without having to believe in its precepts. We can study how ancient Greeks and Norsemen believed in Zeus and Thor, and what effects those beliefs had on their history and culture, but almost nobody today believes in Zeus and Thor (and those few neo-Pagans who do probably don’t believe the same way the ancient Greeks and Norse did).

    Likewise, we can study Christianity as an historical and cultural phenomenon without having to accept its precepts. (On a related note, I wrote an undergraduate history paper on Nazi ideology a few years back, and I can assure you that exercise made me even more opposed to National Socialism and fascism than I was before I wrote it.) In fact, as an atheist I still continue to read about religion, because I want to understand where religious people are coming from, and so I can refute their arguments if necessary. (Like the good Dr. Myers, I can tolerate religion as a personal belief system but oppose it when it tried to dominate law, politics, education and my civil liberties.)

    Third- what would be the consequence of having no religion? WHat would people fight over then?

    Land, resources, pride, or secular ideologies. But in the latter case the most violent ones–like Stalinism, fascism, extreme nationalism–tend to be quasi-religious: they are frequently irrational, are founded on mythology, often revolve around the deification of a leader-figure, and tend to embrace unscientific beliefs (Lysenko, racial purity, astrology, twisted neo-Paganism, etc.).

    All this from an irreligious wonderer of what would happen if religion just one day disappeared. I am of the mind that it never really could disappear without us losing touch with history, literature and art.

    If secularism were to finally triumph, there would be other inspirations for art and culture. We would continue to study and learn about religion as an historical curiosity of a less-advanced people, and to understand where people in the past were coming from, just like we look back on other “quaint” beliefs of our ancestors–the flat earth, the geocentric universe, Aquinas’s Five Arguments, Aristotelian physics, the caloric theory of heat transfer, etc.

  34. #34 Jason
    August 1, 2006

    And what bigoted ideas would these be? You say this alot without ever backing it up.

    Example: calling people who believe in the eventual return of Jesus “demented fuckwits.”

    You mean bigotry like preventing people who wish to marry to do so?

    So you think first cousins or even brothers and sisters should be able to marry if they want to? How about people who want to have multiple underaged wives?

    Where have atheists banded together and forced their will on another group?

    Oh, let’s see… Atheists have banned together to force their will on the rest of the country regarding the Pledge of Allegiance, the Mount Soledad war memorial, etc.

    And PZ calls a spade a spade. It’s not bigotry.

    Putting a pig in a dress doesn’t mean it’s not a pig anymore. You can use whatever euphemisms you want, but PZ is a practicing bigot, plain and simple.

    So your saying there should be a priveleged view? How un American can you get.

    No, I’m not saying that. If you had bothered to develop your reading comprehension skills, you’d have understood that I said that how PZ and others like him view as privileging one religious view over another and how other people view it are quite different.

    It really is that simple to you isn’t it? No more substance to the issue for you than that huh?

    Yes, it is that simple because if you people can’t move beyond such ridiculous and petty attempts to force your irreligious views on the vast majority of religious people in this country, then we can’t move on to any other issues or concerns.

  35. #35 j
    August 1, 2006

    “So you think first cousins or even brothers and sisters should be able to marry if they want to? How about people who want to have multiple underaged wives?”

    How about rapists who want to marry their rape victims?

    Deuteronomy 22:28-29
    “If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;

    Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.”

    Yes, I agree with Jason. We should stick to marriage as condoned in the Bible.

  36. #36 AC
    August 1, 2006

    It’s a sad age we live in where a public official saying “God bless America,” a cross war memorial, and a man’s daughter being allowed to say the Pledge of Allegiance bring cries of outrage from people like you.

    Considering that, when public officials say “God bless America”, they are merely pandering to voters who need hear only those magic words to pull the lever, and the superfluous words “under God” were added to the the Pledge of Allegiance solely as a reaction to “godless communism”, I’d say it is sad indeed – just not for the reasons you think.

  37. #37 AC
    August 1, 2006

    Oh, let’s see… Atheists have banned together to force their will on the rest of the country regarding the Pledge of Allegiance, the Mount Soledad war memorial, etc.

    Ah yes, the Evil Atheist Conspiracy™. Nice slip on “banded together”.

    By the way, Jason, both the Mt. Soledad “war memorial” and the words “under God” in the Pledge are the result of people violating the Constitution in the ’50s. Are you suggesting that 50 years is long enough to excuse them henceforth? Other than Christian favoritism, that’s the only other reason I can think you might have.

  38. #38 Steve_C
    August 1, 2006

    Last time I checked both polygamy and marrying someone underage were illegal.
    For good reason.

    Marrying TWO consenting ADULTS is legal in all states.
    What’s the reasoning for making it illegal for TWO consenting ADULTS of the same sex to get married?

  39. #39 Keith Douglas
    August 1, 2006

    squeaky: The way I put it is that I wish to work for a day where religion is no longer needed – and recognize that this is an asymptotic process.

    JimC: A happy Kierkegaardian, are we? 🙂

    gmm: I believe in a government (of sorts) for and by the people, but I recognize that many of my ideals will take much work to put forth. Once in a while you will see them expressed here and elsewhere. Like the religious case above (see my comment to squeaky) I realize that this stuff realistically speaking is what Kant might have recognized as a regulative ideal.

  40. #40 Carlie
    August 1, 2006

    Marrying TWO consenting ADULTS is legal in all states.

    I can marry two consenting adults? Sweet.

  41. #41 George Cauldron
    August 1, 2006

    hey, Jinxy/jason! Do you believe, word for word, in the literal accuracy of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments?

  42. #42 Steve_C
    August 1, 2006

    Two getting married not YOU to two.

    Sheeesh.

  43. #43 Scott Hatfield
    August 2, 2006

    Memo to j:

    Don’t take this as an endorsement of Jason’s views (far from it), but a point of information on the passage from Deuteronomy.

    The Hebrew society was, to put it mildly, patriarchal in the extreme. Women were essentially property; unmarried offspring or female slaves who were deprived of their virginity were considered damaged goods. The man’s rape did not obligate the damsel to marry him; rather, by damaging another’s property he was required to compensate the damsel’s father by providing a dowry, and from that moment on he was also obligated to provide for that damsel as his wife, for as long as he should live. The last part closes a potential loophole, which is to say divorce. Men who acquired a bride in this manner could never ‘put her away’ (as the Law provided) but he would have to support her ‘all his days.’

    When viewed in context, this passage does not legitimize rape but proscribes a consequence for the rapist, and thus a certain amount of deterrence, which at the time it was developed probably was considered (gasp) progressive in that it did not automatically lead to the stoning of the sullied female.

    This does not excuse the general subjugation of the fair sex, nor legitimize imposing this or that understanding of marriage as found in the Bible upon contemporary persons, but it does put things in perspective. One suspects that back in the day there were folk like Jason who regarded the Mosaic Law as suspiciously “liberal”, for example.

    Scott

  44. #44 GH
    August 2, 2006

    Scott,

    While some of what you say is correct ultimately it fails as an excuse for the passage:

    The man’s rape did not obligate the damsel to marry him; rather, by damaging another’s property he was required to compensate the damsel’s father by providing a dowry, and from that moment on he was also obligated to provide for that damsel as his wife, for as long as he should live.

    It certainly obligated the damsel to marry him in order to survive. Your just doing a two step here. She was damaged yes but had to marry the fellow anyway. She was obligated as property.

    The last part closes a potential loophole, which is to say divorce. Men who acquired a bride in this manner could never ‘put her away’ (as the Law provided) but he would have to support her ‘all his days.’

    Divorce and ‘putting away’ where distinct activities at the time. A man could ‘put away’ a wife for adultery without a divorce decree, namely because she could be stoned. The divorce decree allowed the woman her release as property and the right to be another mans wife and hence survive.

  45. #45 Uber
    August 2, 2006

    Example: calling people who believe in the eventual return of Jesus “demented fuckwits.”

    It’s a rough name to be sure, but it’s not bigotry. Would you call people who expect people to fly in from the sky rational?

    So you think first cousins or even brothers and sisters should be able to marry if they want to? How about people who want to have multiple underaged wives?

    What does this have to do with anything? Do your cousins wish to marry? Do you wish to marry a cousin or a sister?Are there throngs of people wishing to marry their siblings? is this common in your area? Are your parents a product of such a marriage and is that the root of your bigotry? Are underaged people the same as adults? idiot.

    No, I’m not saying that. If you had bothered to develop your reading comprehension skills, you’d have understood that I said that how PZ and others like him view as privileging one religious view over another and how other people view it are quite different.

    exactly how do they view it? I mean your paragraph is hardly understandable.

    Yes, it is that simple because if you people can’t move beyond such ridiculous and petty attempts to force your irreligious views on the vast majority of religious people in this country, then we can’t move on to any other issues or concerns.

    What irreligious views are being forced on you? Can you still attend the church of your choice? Can you support whatever nutty thing you choose to do? Then why can’t you simply understnad the seperation of church and state. It is not atheists who impose their views on anyone. AND I’m a Christian.

  46. #46 Carlie
    August 2, 2006

    “Two getting married not YOU to two.

    Sheeesh.”

    I know, I just couldn’t resist the ambiguity of the sentence construction.

  47. #47 Scott Hatfield
    August 2, 2006

    GH:

    I wasn’t trying to excuse the passage, merely provide some context. You are correct in that there is a distinction between ‘putting away’ and divorce. The damsel certainly was “obligated” to marry her ravisher in order to survive, but providing for herself and living freely and independently was almost certainly not an option in this society. As you mentioned, the divorced woman had the ‘right’ to remarry, and thus survive. Which is to say, some male has to take her in. She never had the clear ‘right’ to live otherwise, which sounds like two steps above slavery to me. I never suggested otherwise.

    One can place an evolutionary spin on this. As with dietary laws, providing some limited protection for widows and damsels may have given the Hebrew culture a selective advantage over other groups in the region that would eat anything at any time and allow any amount of barbarity toward their chattel females.

    Any population that tended to live by some rule, even one seemingly arbitrary, that happend to increase their fitness is more likely to propagate their ‘memes’ to the next generation. In that sense only, the Mosaic Law could be thought of as progressive, as an innovation, and in some fashion or another likely to spread to other populations.

    Cheers…SH

  48. #48 Steve_C
    August 2, 2006

    Yeah well, that’s why I’m an art director and not a copywriter or proof reader. 🙂

  49. #49 Kaethe
    August 2, 2006

    providing some limited protection for widows and damsels may have given the Hebrew culture a selective advantage over other groups in the region that would eat anything at any time and allow any amount of barbarity toward their chattel females

    Scott, this seems to presuppose that the only options for females were “limited protection” as property or “any amount of barbarity.” If you want to try to defend this with evolution, you’re going to have to demonstrate that in fact no other cultures (in the area, at the time)treated females as humans.

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