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John Simkin

Legislation and the Bible

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Now try imagining persuading a Muslim fundamentalist and Doug to debate in a tolerant way about who is the true prophet. (Andy Walker)

I don't quite understand this constant attribution of total intolerance to Doug. When has he ever shown himself unwilling to debate anything with anyone, despite some pretty discourteous statements about his deeply held personal beliefs?

Speaking from personal experience, I have held long and sometimes productive debates with Muslim fundamentalists about all sorts of things. I was in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution and such discussions were almost unavoidable. I remember an occasion when two revolutionaries -- they were from the subsequently banned Fadayeen-e-Khalq and were probably later "eliminated" by the Khomeinists -- came round to our apartment to buy a music center I was trying to sell. We spent two hours passing the English/Persian dictionary backwards and forwards as we discussed their hopes and fears for the future of their country. I don't see why you should find such interatcion between people who hold differing but deeply-held religious beliefs difficult to accept.

Again, both Doug and I have said repeatedly that we DON'T WANT (sorry to shout!) our governments to regulate citizens' moral (or immoral) behaviour with regard to their personal lives. Why do you keep insisting that we do?

I do wish you would try to be a little less aggressive when you write about what we believe. You constantly belittle anyone who holds beliefs different from your own in a way which I can hardly associate with what I understand by the term "liberal".

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The following quote from Doug Belshaw earlier in this thread is an interesting one:
I've been saved through my trust and faith in, and relationship with, Jesus Christ.

Now try imagining persuading a Muslim fundamentalist and Doug to debate in a tolerant way about who is the true prophet. Worse still try imagining either of them having the final say over the social legislation of a multi cultural nation state.

Fundamentalists do believe and are sure. If you are actually right, then it is absurd to be tolerant of those who are wrong.

You are putting words in my mouth, Andy. It is not absurd to be tolerant of those who are wrong - but it would be absurd not to try and demonstrate to them why you think you are right.

As you keep insisting I am a fundamentalist, could you define your terms please? As far as I can see your rather blunt definition sees those who are 'sure of their faith' as fundamentalists, and presumably those who 'are a bit unsure' as liberals. If these are accurate descriptions of the terms you are using, please could you use more accurate ones?

:surfing Doug

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Again, both Doug and I have said repeatedly that we DON'T WANT (sorry to shout!) our governments to regulate citizens' moral (or immoral) behaviour with regard to their personal lives. Why do you keep insisting that we do?

Am I to take it that you have now answered the question and that you think that religious teaching should play no part in the promotion and adoption of legislation (including abortion law)?

I am not belittling your views. I am trying to see some coherence in them.

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Andy, of course you must have realized I did not seriously think that you would deny religious persons the right to participate in civic affairs. However, my point remains that there is a great deal of leftist intolerance.

I think your statement "If you are actually right there is no reason to be tolerant of those who are wrong" is very telling. That is, I submit, is the precise sentiment that breeds leftist intolerance. Witness even the JFK debate. There are those who are so certain they are right re who killed Kennedy that they are very intolerant of my divergent views. The same thing can be said for certain leftists on more political issues. In fact, it is that sentiment upon which totalitarianships are formed.

Mike Tribe also recognizes the intolerance implicit in your arguments. As he stated above: "I do wish you would try to be a little less aggressive when you write about what we believe. You constantly belittle anyone who holds beliefs different from your own in a way which I can hardly associate with what I understand by the term 'liberal'."

Tolerance, and more generally, religious freedom, ought to be seen as a virtue in itself. If you believe that tolerance and religious freedom are virtues, then by golly you can still be certain you are right and practice tolerance of other people's views because one of the things you are right about is the importance of tolerance and religious liberty.

Where does tolerance come from? Well, if you believe God exists, or if you will assume for purposes of this argument that God does exist, it is clear that he is the Author of tolerance since when he created mankind he endowed them with free will, including the right to reject him.

The Founding Fathers of America recognized that in the document in which they asserted the colonies' independence from your country. The Declaration of Independence famously recites the revolutionaries' view that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, including the right of religious liberty. And as every American schoolchild knows (or should know) the Pilgrims emigrated to this country from Great Britain precisely so they could enjoy religious freedom. It was the desire for religious freedom even more than the desire for political freedom that led to the founding of America.

Many of the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment were, of course, deeply religious men.

And that, dear sir, is the reason why I would rather live in a society governed by George Bush or Tony Blair than in a society governed by Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler or Fidel Castro.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Am I to take it that you have now answered the question and that you think that religious teaching should play no part in the promotion and adoption of legislation (including abortion law)?

I am not belittling your views. I am trying to see some coherence in them.

Here's a summary of what I've said so far Andy:

As I believe that the state should be secular, opposing the passing of laws that might encourage behaviour that is contrary to religious teaching would be a fruitless path to pursue.
Government action is a very pertinent question for Christians, hence organizations which aim to have a Christian influence on legislation, etc. All I was saying was that governments, being secular, have no final say over morality. I believe others (non-Christians) have said this within this thread.
John, you keep talking about 'what I'm going to do about people having sex outside of marriage'! I'm going to do nothing about it, apart from evangelize to them. It's not my role to judge as I'm a sinner as much as them. The difference is I've been saved through my trust and faith in, and relationship with, Jesus Christ. People often comment that Christians are 'hung up' on the issue of sex. I think you'll find that it's the secular world that blows this out of all proportion...
As Mike notes, issues regarding abortion are completely different: the termination of life is of a different order to issues regarding sexual morality. Ultimately we are all accountable to God, not the state.

Nowhere have I said that Christianity should have no influence on legislation, and in fact I applaud the work the Christian Institute does in the UK. I'm not going to get involved in right-to-life debates as I'm not an expert in these matters. I'm sure you'd agree, Andy, that in a multicultural and cosmopolitan society all views should be considered - although in the end any legislation is going to offend someone.

:lol: Doug

PS I'm still waiting for you to define your terms - do you still equate a 'liberal' with an 'agnostic'?

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Having come to this thread late...

The question: Should governments pass legislation that might encourage behaviour that is contrary to religious teaching. For example, abortion, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, etc.

Governments do so already. The real issue is how to deal with such legislation on a personal level and use the other facets of the state to pursue/protect your rights/beliefs.

As to questions about Enlightenment, I'll come back to that in detail, but I would say that the belief in Reason is as much a universal as the belief in God (whatever faith you have) is.

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Even religious right-wing tyrants like GW Bush, Tony Blair, Adolf Hitler and so on don't follow the words in their holy book to the letter. Doesn't the Judeo-Xian bible say things like 'homosexuals are to be murdered', 'slaves are to be whipped' and 'adulterers will burn' &c?

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Even religious right-wing tyrants like GW Bush, Tony Blair, Adolf Hitler and so on don't follow the words in their holy book to the letter. Doesn't the Judeo-Xian bible say things like 'homosexuals are to be murdered', 'slaves are to be whipped' and 'adulterers will burn' &c?

Why don't you have a look rather than just assume?! I'll leave it to neutral observers of this thread as to whether the 'religious' or 'non-religious' are being the more tolerant and rational here...

:lol: Doug

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Even religious right-wing tyrants like GW Bush, Tony Blair, Adolf Hitler and so on don't follow the words in their holy book to the letter. Doesn't the Judeo-Xian bible say things like 'homosexuals are to be murdered', 'slaves are to be whipped' and 'adulterers will burn' &c?

Why don't you have a look rather than just assume?! I'll leave it to neutral observers of this thread as to whether the 'religious' or 'non-religious' are being the more tolerant and rational here...

:lol: Doug

I for one have had a look at the fundamentalist website Doug has just advertised as a force for good in the world.

It hasn't changed my views. These people actually do try and follow the holy book to the letter

The Christian Institute holds to historic Biblical Christianity. We have a mainstream evangelical basis of faith

The following bit amused me the most however

8 How do you decide what issues to tackle?

We focus on moral and ethical issues where we believe the Bible's teaching is plain.

Whilst the Bible's basic moral teaching is clear, on other matters, for example transport or taxation policy, we recognise that Christians seeking to apply Biblical principles can legitimately come to different conclusions.

Carte blanche to cherry pick which bit fulfills one's own unique psychological needs - assert control over women and their bodies, project one's latent sexual deviancy, hide one's own dim lights by spreading ignorance in schools.... wonderful stuff... thank you Doug :lol:

Finally, food for thought - is the bicycle a more godly means of transport than the bus? I think we ought to be told how the Bible can help us here.

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I am not belittling your views. I am trying to see some coherence in them.
Finally, food for thought - is the bicycle a more godly means of transport that the bus? I think we ought to be told how the Bible can help us here.

Given the two statements above, when are we going to see some coherence in your posts, Andy? It's easy to espouse contemporary beliefs and assumptions, however wrong they may be. Can you explain your system of beliefs in a coherent way as I believe I can?

:lol: Doug

PS I'm still waiting for your definition of 'fundamentalist'!

Edited by Doug Belshaw

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Andy wrote:

. . .hide one's own dim lights by spreading ignorance in schools....

Refering, I assume, to the intelligent design debate. Andy, by characterizing those who believe in intelligent design "dim lights" (in the States I think the expression is usually "dim bulbs") you only demonstrate your own ignorance. The intelligent design debate is led by brilliant scientists and mathematicians. I suspect the intelligence of the "founder" of the intelligent design debate, Phillip Johnson, is greater than yours and mine combined. He clerked for Earl Warren when Warren was Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; spent years as a law professor at one of the United States' more prestigious universities, and authored a widely respected casebook on criminal law.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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I am not belittling your views. I am trying to see some coherence in them.
Finally, food for thought - is the bicycle a more godly means of transport that the bus? I think we ought to be told how the Bible can help us here.

Given the two statements above, when are we going to see some coherence in your posts, Andy? It's easy to espouse contemporary beliefs and assumptions, however wrong they may be. Can you explain your system of beliefs in a coherent way as I believe I can?

:lol: Doug

You are quite right Doug I am belittling that ridiculous web site and and the associated pressure group and yes, if your views correspond to that nonsense then you can draw your own conclusions.

I have put forward a very coherent and consistent view throughout this thread that religious belief should not influence the formation of social policy which I believe is some way closer to answering the question than some of my fellow contributers. Religious ideology (especially scriptual literalism) threatens the freedoms we hold dear in tolerant democratic societies.

The fact that your own head is so gummed up with your born again experience appears to make it impossible for you to see it which is a shame - though not something I am willing to spend much time trying to unclog.

Interestingly one of those freedoms rational people hold dear is indeed the right of you and your friends to move in rather mysterious ways that you do. I hope the irony is not lost on you.

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You are quite right Doug I am belittling that ridiculous web site and and the associated pressure group and yes, if your views correspond to that nonsense then you can draw your own conclusions.

This shall be my last post, Andy - I don't want this to get personal.

I have put forward a very coherent and consistent view...

...but still haven't defined what you mean by certain terms you have used (e.g. 'fundamentalist'), despite my repeated asking!

The fact that your own head is so gummed up with your born again experience appears to make it impossible for you to see it which is a shame - though not something I am willing to spend much time trying to unclog.

Interestingly one of those freedoms rational people hold dear is indeed the right of you and your friends to move in rather mysterious ways that you do. I hope the irony is not lost on you.

I have been willing to debate these issues and care enough to 'unclog' your head. Before I became a Christian I used to think much like you, Andy. So without patronizing you (as you have done to me) I, in turn, hope you come to realize the truths I have discovered.

Signing off,

:lol: Doug

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Andy wrote:

. . .hide one's own dim lights by spreading ignorance in schools....

Refering, I assume, to the intelligent design debate. Andy, by characterizing those who believe in intelligent design "dim lights" (in the States I think the expression is usually "dim bulbs") you only demonstrate your own ignorance. The intelligent design debate is led by brilliant scientists and mathematicians. I suspect the intelligence of the "founder" of the intelligent design debate, Phillip Johnson, is greater than yours and mine combined. He clerked for Earl Warren when Warren was Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; spent years as a law professor at one of the United States' more prestigious universities, and authored a widely respected casebook on criminal law.

John, I will as soon as I can but I am under time constraints.

I see you have time to post again. Could you please add your “political biography” to the relevant thread. If you do not follow the rules I will start deleting your posts.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=5051

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I want to try looking at this topic differently. People with a religious faith ( and I count myself as an Anglican Christian amongst them) must and do accept that governments need to legistlate from time to time on matters which relate to moral beliefs and values. They will also, largely accept that any discussion or debate will expose the ethical philosophies of the participants; differences of moral position which people are rightly at liberty to hold.

The main difficulty is that religious believers are freqently mis-represented in debate as trying to impose their beliefs on others who do not hold them. Now while not denying that there are plenty of examples of that tendency to be found in history and in some counties in the present day, this is not an approach which we find in our own domestic political world.

What religious believers will do in such debates is point out the basic moral values upon which our society has been built. Moral principles are never self-evident and depend upon philosophies of human life. In other words what we should do depends upon who we think we are. Thus a Christian view of the sacredness of the human person is very different from rank individualism and from collectivist Marxism. Thus the believing debate participant will try to find common ground with the non-believer who is also heir to the same commonality of values. For his/her part the believer must recognise that religious ideals may not be held by others, that some who hold them may fail, and that legistlation is needed to address less than ideal situations. For e.g. holding a high doctrine of marriage does not mean having no legal divorce.

We then have to recognise that some people in public life hold philosophies which are a direct threat to traditional values. Here believers will debate with vigour. Perhaps the most worrying of these philosophies is the one which exalts individual autonomy as an absolute principle. For example this stance is taken by the pro-euthanasia camp (often combined with a utilitarian view on financial resources in the NHS) Christians will oppose measures thus based because this philosophy is opposed to the traditional view that what defines the human person is not his/absolute freedom but his/her relationships with others and wider society.

My conclusion is that believers and non-believers alike have a right to free debate in political life and governement office. The airing of their differences is important because the philosophical basis of ethical and political decisions must be examined. Otherwise there is real danger to our heritage of civilised values in national life.

John Palin

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