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John Simkin

Legislation and the Bible

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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.

Well spotted Mr Gratz.

Don't worry in a few generations such muddle headedness should be Darwined out of your line - that's how it works you see :lol:

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I think your statement "If you are actually right there is no reason to be tolerant of those who are wrong" is very telling.

You have misunderstood what I was trying to say Tim.

This statement in its original context was used as a description of a religious mindset as opposed to a liberal one. Yet you are suggesting that the quoted statement is something I subscribe to.

Doug for instance being wedded so literally to the "truth" of Biblical scripture has left the debate with the parting shot that he hopes I will undercover the same truths as he has one day.

I defend his right to hold such views and to lobby for them through that absurd pressure group he identified but I would not trust him or it to legislate sensibly or rationally in any area of social policy.

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I must return to the point that the question is a non-starter as the state already does these things (and others).

The only way to protect your religious/moral sensibility is to use the apparatus of the state to keep the encroachments in check. Government is also affected by groups and pressures from inside and outside the state.

As for the idea of Enlightenment allowing us to blossom from our self incurred immaturity, there are two things I would add here. Kant, was coming from a christian perspective. Second, this is a process that has still to be realised.

Finally, I turn to the questions of religion and liberalism that have cropped up. Many of the religions openly preach ideas of tolerance (and I use that word VERY carefully). Liberalism does so too, but its adherents (as much as the other religions) frequently regress into 'fundamentalist' ideas when it suits them. Pot and Kettle here?

Andy is also forgetting here the western tradition's debt to Christianity - many of the concepts you want to invoke stem directly from that tradition.

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I realise that the question posed by the student was related to religion of theism. I suppose the assumption that this is Christianity is understandable. In a strict sense there is a definition of religion that seems to me to apply given the form of the debate at the moment.

"One definition, sometimes called the "function-based approach," defines religion as any set of beliefs and practices that have the function of addressing the fundamental questions of human identity, ethics, death and the existence of the Divine (if any). This broad definition encompasses all systems of belief, including those that affirm the existence of one God, and those that affirm the existence of many gods."

...and including those that don't such as a-theism.

Influence from zealots of all kinds need to be moderated by education. Education, of course, not necessarily confined to the classroom, but also in the public arena.

One thing about christianity is that it is a personal thing. What I mean by that is that it is available to anyone, whatever the political, cultural, ethnic, race, social, economic, criminal status, age, sex, mindset, mental state, intelligence, etc one happens to find oneself in. Once through choosing to believe in this 'unbelievable' thing, proof that it is a good choice comes. This does tend to often turn the person into a more accommodating , forgiving, tolerant than previously. Society, when this happens, benefits. There is a great deal of natural wisdom in this to be heeded.

(As I've argued previously, high levels of wisdom may in instances be attained by a-theists as well. And the opposite is also true. Pre Judice is also a state of mind all may be infected with.)

________________________________

the following is a response to John's post below. I put it here cause I don't want to clutter the topic with my ideas.

There is another position to be had on the issue of abortion. (it may be applied to any acts.)

I'm not going to go into it in detail, those who have studied under Janov or others in that field will know what I mean, for others it's just an 'unverifiable' statement. I know from personal experience that life begins prior to conception. The ovum that formed part of me was fully formed but not activated, before my mother was born. The ovum that contained the information that became her was in her mother before she was born, etc. the sperm that formed part of me existed in my father before I was concieved. The activation of the ovum and its ejection into the fallopian tube of my mother, the ejection of my fathers sperm and the union of the ova and sperm in my mother brought together two consciousnessses and formed me. This consciousness exists in a timeless universe. Being is its focus. This awareness of being is uninterrupted by thought. It has no attachment to past or future. To be or not to be is all the same. It cannot be murdered in the sense that it will pause to consider this or mount any sort of court case to protect itself. It is and ..then; it is not.... Thats all.

This consciousness exists within a grown human that has lost its senses and formed near unbreakable attachment to self. The society this being exists in is constructed by like minded individuals. The will and necessity here is life. If life is threatened by the existence of this little conscious, it is considered right to weigh priorities, cause and effect.

The Doctor: A doctor plunges a knife into a persons stomach and as a result two things happen, he gets lots of money , the person dies. The doctor grows to old age and is loved.

The thief: A thief plunges a knife into a persons stomach and as a result two things happen, he gets lots of money , the person dies. The thief is executed and forgotten.

Motivation's the key. The surgeon was attempting to save a life, to do good. the thief stole and wurdered.

Just because a law says someone (an abortionist for example) is a murderer, that doesn't make that person a murderer. I think it is up to each individual to check their own consciousness and see that they feel good about what they do within the parameters of their understanding. A baby that hits a cat on the head with a plate cannot be condemned. An older person doing the same should be held accountable.

______________________________________________

Edited by John Dolva

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I also have a problem with your dismissal of any opposition to abortion as being prompted by religious principles. I only became a catholic in my early 30s. I arrived at my views regarding abortion long before this. As you can imagine, my anti-abortion opinions within the Liberal Party and especially the Young Liberals during the 70s were less than popular! There are many non-believers who also oppose abortion. In fact, I seem to remember a post some time ago when John S also expressed some doubts in this area -- please don't jump down my throat on this; it's only a vague memory and I could easily be wrong.

What I actually said was "I think abortion is highly undesirable. I would much prefer people to use birth control. However, it is clear that a significant percentage of women do get pregnant. We know from what went on before abortion was legalized, a percentage will seek termination whatever the law says. This criminalizes the person carrying out the abortion and poses a risk to the life of the pregnant woman. It made sense for countries to make abortion legal when it was restricted to the early stages of pregnancy."

The difference between Roman Catholics like Mike Tribe and Christian Fundamentalists like Tim Gratz and myself concerns the issue of when life begins. It you believe that it is at conception then it is true that abortionists are murderers.

However, most of the population, including myself, believe that in the early stages of the pregnancy the foetus is part of another individual who has the right to have it removed. This was indeed the policy of all the mainstream churches, including the Catholic Church, until the middle of the 19th century.

I have no problem with the Roman Catholic Church and Christian Fundamentalists applying pressure on governments to make abortion illegal. Although I do believe that the methods used by the Christian Right in America are to be condemned. The problem is that those who believe abortion should be made illegal are in a small minority and in a democracy stand little chance of winning the argument. That is why Tim’s friends in America have to resort to violence.

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John wrote:

The difference between Roman Catholics like Mike Tribe and Christian Fundamentalists like Tim Gratz and myself concerns the issue of when life begins. It you believe that it is at conception then it is true that abortionists are murderers.

A significant admission, John. It can hardly be disputed that, from a scientific basis, a separate biological life exists either at conception or shortly thereafter at implantation. I think one can in many respects analogize the abortion debate to the debate over slavery. The slave-owners rationalized slavery on the ground that black people were not truly human. Clearly if they were slavery was a terrible evil. It ought to have been abolished merely because it might be a great evil. Ought not abortion be banned because there is at least a significant chance that it is murder? How about analogizing abortion to capital punishment. I think most would agree that capital punishment ought to be abolished if there exists a significant probability that innocent people are being put to death. If abortion were prohibited, no mother would be required to keep an unwanted baby but she would be required to carry it to term and deliver it. This does not seem unreasonable given that the pregnancy was the result (in almost all cases) of a voluntary decision. It seems to me if I was undecided on the issue I would want to err on the side of caution lest I sanction a murder.

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I'm sorry if I misrepresented your views, John. I did say that I couldn't remember the context in which you made the comment or the exact words you used.

As I said, I have no time for people who attempt to use violence within a democratic society to overturn decisions democratically arrived at. I condemn the extremist attacks on abortion clinics as strongly as you do.

What worries me is that, unlike you, Andy seems to be challenging the right of people with any sort of religious belief to participate in the democratic process. Again, as I said above, I came to oppose abortion before I became a catholic. I even ran for Parliament and made my views on the subject know to whoever asked me about them. Would Andy suggest that because I held views which he found unacceptable, I should not have been allowed to run?

John, I started contributing to these threads because you asked me to do so. I was under the impression that views which dissented from the "libertarian socialist" norm would be welcomed. Since then, I have had my views belittled and constantly misrepresented here. I think I'll follow Doug's lead and withdraw from the debate.

Un abrazo

Mike

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John wrote:

That is why Tim’s friends in America have to resort to violence.

John, are you implying that I am personal friends with persons who have committed violent acts against abortion mills or abortionists? Or are you refering to the anti-abortion movement in general? If so, there are only a few members of it who condone violent protest.

On the other hand, as you yourself noted when you acknowledged that abortion is murder "if life begins at conception" the abortion movement commits thousands of murders a day.

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Andy wrote:

You have misunderstood what I was trying to say Tim. This statement in its original context was used as a description of a religious mindset as opposed to a liberal one. Yet you are suggesting that the quoted statement is something I subscribe to.

But Mike Tribe wrote (in a post addressed to John):

What worries me is that, unlike you, Andy seems to be challenging the right of people with any sort of religious belief to participate in the democratic process. Again, as I said above, I came to oppose abortion before I became a catholic. I even ran for Parliament and made my views on the subject know to whoever asked me about them. Would Andy suggest that because I held views which he found unacceptable, I should not have been allowed to run?

John, I started contributing to these threads because you asked me to do so. I was under the impression that views which dissented from the "libertarian socialist" norm would be welcomed. Since then, I have had my views belittled and constantly misrepresented here. I think I'll follow Doug's lead and withdraw from the debate.

Andy, I would note that I am not the only one who sees intolerance for divergent, and particularly Christian, views in your writings.

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

Andy wrote (in response to my post on his slur re the intellectual abilities of those who ascribe to the "intelligent design" theory of life on earth:

Don't worry in a few generations such muddle headedness should be Darwined out of your line - that's how it works you see

One of the objections that intelligent design proponents have with evolution is that unlike most scientific theories it is not subject to the "verification" process.

But Andy has come up with the answer! It is his claim that the Darwinian evolution process will "weed out" proponents of intelligent design. Perhaps their ideas will be so repulsive no one will want to mate with them? He does not go into the details of how this will happen.

So, if in a few generations (one hundred years?) there are still intelligent design proponents running around making trouble, we will then have conclusive proof that Darwin was wrong!

(I do, however, like the concept of the "Darwin awards", people who perish in accidents due to their own phenomenally stupid decisions ought not procreate. The problem is they may very well have already produced offspring before the stupid accident that removes them from the gene pool.)

Edited by Tim Gratz

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I suppose what it comes down to is that we all want our governments to reflect our own personal beliefs. I come from an atheist, communist background tempered into socialist agnosticism. I therefore would want a government which allows freedom of religion, freedom of choice over birth control, abortion etc, but does these things in as humanitarian a way as possibe eg - preferably early abortion, preferably educating the young about responsible sex and having a welfare system that cares about the disadvantaged and disabled.

I'd probably be reasonably happy with a government that based its actions on the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

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>I suppose what it comes down to is that we all want our governments to reflect our own personal beliefs.<

Indeed, and not only the beliefs we hold at a particular stage of our lives but also the natural changes in our mindsets resulting from our experiences and from the fact that as we grow older, our priorities inevitably shift. My brother, who works in medical informatics in the American Upper Midwest and has amassed through his business a lot of expertise in actuarial matters, often says of older people at risk: "The forty-year-old didn't care enough about the eighty-year-old he would become", firmly attributing responsibility to the individual to plan for old age when mental or physical health might deteriorate to the point of incapacity. He is always trying to persuade me to move from the semi-detached dwelling where I have lived for thirty years to an appartment where others might "keep an eye on me" in case I suddenly collapse and my skeleton is only discovered years later because nobody has noticed I'm not around! I must admit I can't think that way - I take each day at a time - and I kind of trust in my national government to continue funding the National Health Service and local government social services to oversee my decline as I grow old, whether gracefully or disgracefully, after my savings run out! As a lifelong bachelor, I won't have children (or even nephews or nieces) to look after me when I can no longer do this for myself.

A government that looks after the vulnerable very young or very old, yes, one could argue that these basic decencies are Christian values, but I like to think that they represent the kind of Christianity that Voltaire admired in the England of his time: a country with numerous Christian denominations rather than one dominant church such as Catholicism or Anglicanism. The latter may be the English "established" religion, but it's a broad umbrella covering many shades of spirituality, which makes tolerance a central platform of belief. When I look around the world, dominant, or quasi-dominant religious organisations seem to favour intolerance, e.g. the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, which was the architect of apartheid, or what some people call "islamofascism" in certain Middle East states.

Of course, one could argue that the basic social security decencies that still exist in Britain are equally the historical contribution of the British labour movement which espoused the lot of common people who could not afford to buy their own education when they were young, to feed themselves when they were unemployed, to receive medical attention when they were ill or to save enough to finance a comfortable old age. But let's not forget that many of the members of that movement were inspired by Quakerism and Methodism as much as they were by Marx and Lenin.

David Wilson

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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.

Do you really believe god made the earth 5,000 years ago?

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Andy, no I do not necessarily subscribe to what has been called the "young earth" scenario.

One can believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible and not necessarily agree that God created the earth only 5,000 years ago.

But the Big Bang theory certainly proves there was a beginning to the Universe. And God is the only reasonable explanation for the beginning.

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Andy, no I do not necessarily subscribe to what has been called the "young earth" scenario.

One can believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible and not necessarily agree that God created the earth only 5,000 years ago.

But the Big Bang theory certainly proves there was a beginning to the Universe. And God is the only reasonable explanation for the beginning.

Then who 'began' god?

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Ed:

God exists outside of time. God had no begiining and of course has no end either.

If you are seriously interested in these topics, please check the writings of William Lane Craig (available on-line).

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