Morsi, Democracy and Problem with Fundamentalist Politics

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

Muslim_Brotherhood_LogoWhile I‘ve been trying to take a break from all politics and news as I bask in the glow of my family staying with me this week, I’ve nonetheless been fascinated by the fall of Egyptian President Morsi, in what must be described as a military coup. I’ve never been a fan of coups as I expect is true of most of us, yet the fall of Morsi has raises issues that I think are far more nuanced than appear on the surface. The salient facts are that after too many years the corruption of the government of Hosni Mubarak (who had been installed by the Egyptian military) led to severe economic issues and dissatisfaction with totalitarian rule. This then led to such massive protest that the military felt compelled, or justified to remove him. Mubarak’s removal was cheered, but then the clamor for free elections arose and after 18 months of martial law elections were held, as the first step towards transitioning to democracy and formulating a constitution.

The Society of Muslim Brothers, or Muslim Brotherhood was:“Founded in Egypt in 1928as a Pan-Islamic, religious, political, and social movement by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna,” It’s stated purposes was to: “to instill the Qur’an and Sunnah as the “sole reference point for …ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community … and state. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_Brotherhood In a country such as Egypt, with its’ long history of totalitarian rule, the concept of political parties was not strong. Through its 85 years history the Brotherhood became the most stable opposition faction in the Egyptian political scene and was the main focus for opposition to whoever ruled Egypt by dint of the Egyptian Military’s backing. Such has been the success of the Muslim Brotherhood that it has branched out to have a significant presence in 20 nations around the world, many without a Muslim majority, such as the Russian Federation, the Indian Subcontinent, Great Britain and the United States. Therefore when the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 took place, the now legal “Brotherhood” was in an excellent position to vie for political power and formed the “Freedom and Justice Party” as its electoral arm. It won more than 40% of the parliamentary seats and its candidate Mohamed Morsi won election as President with 51.73% of the vote. His chief opponent had been a man who served as Mubarak’s Prime Minister. The Egyptian voters were faced, I think, with a “Hobson’s Choice” of Presidential candidates and chose what they perceived to be the lesser of two evils. Sound familiar?  What I will attempt to examine here is a question which is framed as: “Are Religious Fundamentalists capable participating in a pluralistic democratic society?”The stated objectives of the Muslim Brotherhood through its’ “Freedom and Justice Party” politically were certainly ones that few of us could complain about and perhaps soothed the secular voters of Egypt and its non-Muslim Egyptians.

“We believe that the political reform is the true and natural gateway for all other kinds of reform. We have announced our acceptance of democracy that acknowledges political pluralism, the peaceful rotation of power and the fact that the nation is the source of all powers. As we see it, political reform includes the termination of the state of emergency, restoring public freedoms, including the right to establish political parties, whatever their tendencies may be, and the freedom of the press, freedom of criticism and thought, freedom of peaceful demonstrations, freedom of assembly, etc. It also includes the dismantling of all exceptional courts and the annulment of all exceptional laws, establishing the independence of the judiciary, enabling the judiciary to fully and truly supervise general elections so as to ensure that they authentically express people’s will, removing all obstacles restricting the functioning of civil society organizations,etc”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_Brotherhood

However, that statement is belied by the following objectives openly acknowledged by the Brotherhood:

“In the group’s belief, the Quran and Sunnah constitute a perfect way of life and social and political organization that God has set out for man. Islamic governments must be based on this system and eventually unified in a Caliphate. The Muslim Brotherhood’s goal, as stated by Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna was to reclaim Islam’s manifest destiny, an empire, stretching from Spain to Indonesia.[21] It preaches that Islam enjoins man to strive for social justice, the eradication of poverty and corruption, and political freedom to the extent allowed by the laws of Islam. The Brotherhood strongly opposes Western colonialism, and helped overthrow the pro-western monarchies in Egypt and other Muslim countries during the early 20th century.

On the issue of women and gender the Muslim Brotherhood interprets Islam conservatively. Its founder called for “a campaign against ostentation in dress and loose behavior”, “segregation of male and female students”, a separate curriculum for girls, and “the prohibition of dancing and other such pastimes … “

“The Brotherhood’s stated goal is to instill the Qur’an and Sunnah as the “sole reference point for …ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community … and state.”

“The Brotherhood’s credo was and is, “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

This is then the dichotomy of beliefs that the Brotherhood’s political party presented to the Egyptian voter. On the one hand it had denounced violence and agreed to work within the framework of a democratic political process. Yet its’ core beliefs are that (at least within predominantly Islamic countries) they should be ruled by the beliefs of Islamic law and justice in accordance with their interpretation of the “Qur’an” which they believe is perfect. Part of the task of the Morsi government was to create and implement a Constitution for Egypt. It was also promised that his government would include all factions of Egyptian society including the large group of Egyptian Coptic Christians. What occurred though was that Morsi only brought in Brotherhood political allies into the various Ministries of government and created a Constitution that was decidedly Islamic in content. Egypt, which was one of the most enlightened countries in the Mid East in the treatment of women, was being pushed into a far more fundamentalist outlook. This decidedly religious obsession of the Morsi government failed to pay attention to improving Egypt’s collapsing economy, growing poverty and the social unrest that goes with those conditions. Rapes of women increased in alarming increments and crime soared as people sought the wherewithal to feed their families. Cairo, that great and venerable city, increased to a population to more than twenty teeming millions the majority living in horrendous slums. City services in Egypt’s capitol collapsed under the weight of those numbers. The elation of the 2011 Revolution led inexorably to the despair of 2013 as millions of Egyptians, many with nothing to lose took to the streets and gave the Egyptian Military the tacit permission to remove Morsi and arrest the top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is not my intent to paint the Muslim Brotherhood as evil, nor is it to give a litany of their history of violence and terrorism. Such a view is in my opinion one sided and ignores the reality that led to the Brotherhood’s creation and to its success in surviving for 85 years in a hostile Egyptian climate. Historically, since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Mid East has been an area controlled by wealth and Western imperial power. While wealthy rulers lived in luxury, the middle classes were relatively small and the masses lived in abject poverty. No doubt from the perspective of the Brotherhood’s founders they were mandated by their beliefs to aid their brother Muslims and to return them to the “perfection” of Islamic Law. Intermingled with those beliefs was the memory of Islamic empire and the determination to return to its’ glory. However, noble their motives may have been and are, within their beliefs is this inherent problem. If you see that everything you believe is “perfect” and mandated by God, then the idea of compromising those beliefs is blasphemy and sacrilege. How indeed can you live in a pluralistic society, when those who reject your beliefs, are by your definition “evil” and “sinful”?

There are two thoughts that arose in my mind and caused me to write this piece. The first is that the entire concept of “Democracy” has been deconstructed through the years by ours and other governments to mean the ability to vote and little else. How often throughout the world have we seen dictatorships legitimized simply because elections were held? A democratic government needs to be supported by democratic institutions and the agreement of its citizens to abide by the results of the electoral processes. Beyond that it needs an overall conceptual structure that provides the framework for the existence of a government that will protect the rights of all the people, not just the ever changing majority. It requires a legal system and a judiciary that protects its conceptual framework (constitution) and with it the rights of the individual. It’s of course more complicated than that, but if you’re a regular visitor here I’m sure you get my meaning and could on your own flesh it out beyond my brief offering.  The point is that when the world saw the welcomed upheaval of the “Arab Spring” it had been conditioned by years of propaganda that made simply holding a vote appear to be the acme of a democratic process. There is much more to developing a democratic society than simply voting for a “leader” and the election of Morsi, given his subsequent actions, did not a democratic Egypt make. This leads me to my second thought on this subject.

I seriously wonder whether it is possible for Fundamentalist religionists to actually be able to take power in a democratic society and wield it in a way that allows people of differing beliefs their freedom to have those differing beliefs?  When you have a belief system that you not only see as “perfect”, but as the road-map for a perfect society, how can you make the compromises that are necessary to maintain a pluralistic, democratic society? From the perspective of the Muslim Brotherhood, indeed it is their stated goal; you can only build a “perfect” society based on Islamic law and justice. In this respect they are not really very different from other Fundamentalist true believers that see “their way” as the only way towards true righteousness.

When we apply this to America the abortion debate comes to mind. There is no doubt that the majority of Americans do not believe that women should be denied the right to choose what they do with their own bodies, yet in the years since Roe v. Wade this has been one of the flashpoints of the American political scene. The only conceivable, immutable ending for those anti-abortionists to this national controversy, is the complete end of abortions. Compromise of positions can only be temporary and must include small gains for their side. If and when those opposed to abortion finally gain power they will not hesitate to end it completely, regardless of the equity of the situation and a sizable opposition to their actions. I use abortion though as merely an illustration of this problem. There are many other areas, prayer in schools for instance, where the same dynamic would apply. The problems is that when someone sees their views not only as perfect, but also as the only way to live, compromise becomes ugly and unacceptable.

My contention is that without the ability of people to compromise, maintaining democratic institutions becomes impossible. This is true whether in Cairo, or Washington. The nature of much of today’s religious fundamentalism, be it Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Judaic, is that compromise is impossible, because one cannot compromise “God’s Word”. If you are a true believer than that is an obvious fact of existence and you would cease to be a “true believer” without that philosophy. This brings me back to Morsi and Egypt. I hate the idea of military coups anywhere, but what was to be done in Egypt. There is strong evidence, that contrary to their platform, once in power those of the Muslim Brotherhood returned to their stated principles and were moving quickly to establish the version of Muslim Law upon Egypt, while at the same time denying equality of treatment to others. This fanaticism in the application of their beliefs distracted them with dealing with the economic and social problems that plagued most Egyptians and led inevitably to the Egyptian Military’s coup. I think this is a quandary that is at the heart of the difficulty of maintaining a democratic, pluralistic system in many countries, including ours. While is certainly is not the only difficulty, it ranks high on a list of contributors to political dysfunction. The question is what to do about it and the answer is quite difficult. The problem is that if you exclude religious fundamentalists from the political process due to their authoritarian views, then you no longer have a pluralistic society because of that exclusion. In a pluralistic society religious fundamentalists should also have a voice, or when do you stop excluding. Please help me out here because while I can frame the problem I admit that I don’t have the “perfect” answers.

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

286 thoughts on “Morsi, Democracy and Problem with Fundamentalist Politics

  1. Short answer: NO, religious fundamentalists, no matter what religion they claim to represent, are not capable of participating in a democratic pluralist society. When god is telling you how to government and which segments of society to hate, suppress or oppress who has the “right” to contradict you? No one!

  2. Great post, Mike (as usual). The answer to your quandary is the Bill of Rights. Our first amendment has allowed pluralism to exist in our republic. Without it, religious fundamentalists in America could subvert the rights of non-believers, just as happened under the Morsi regime. As an aside, I wish that all media, mainstream and alternative, would spend some time documenting the slaughter of Christians in Syria by jihadists, and the paranoia Egypt’s large Christian population felt under the Morsi regime. Over and out.

  3. Another terrific post Mike and a wake up call for what desperately needs to be done in our country.

  4. Reblogged this on dreams on the hill and commented:
    Regardless of the presence or absence of religious governance in Egypt or Washington, Egypt certainly is a demonstration of the power of the people to eradicate ineffective governance. This was the case and cause of the birth of America and there is nothing to preclude ANY governing body from being removed by its people or standing army for its inability to carry out its role, regardless of whether a religious element is present.

  5. Mike,
    Great observations and questions, as usual. I think you nailed the core of the problem when you observe that fundamentalists are functionally incapable of compromising. For example, it is next to impossible to convince someone who firmly believes that any kind of abortion is outright murder, that abortion is a private matter. No more than it is OK to walk up to someone and shoot them. There is no choice because to the true believer, everything is black and white, with no shades of grey.

    The part that leaves me scratching my head in disbelief is the fact they feel it is OK to lie, cheat, steal and even murder in order to further the aims of their religious belief system. All actions that are immoral, in order to force a more “moral” society on us.

    It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics. [Robert A. Heinlein, Postscript to Revolt in 2100]

  6. This continuation of the ‘Arab Spring’ (in Egypt) has nothing to do with any religion – the masses feel they have been betrayed by the elected president who failed to fulfill promises scattered before the election. The Egyptian saw and witness how a new Constitution is being enacted, which hands over the reign to an extreme religious Party.

    Some 20 Million signatures demanding Mursi to step down have been collected. Remember – only 12 Million voted for him in the last (and only) election, so that there is a legitimacy for demanding new election.

    President who violates his pre-election promises, President who violates basic rules of Human Rights and Freedom must be helped to step down!

    Sounds, eerily familiar…
    (Sadna d’ar’ah khad who – Aramaic for “It’s the same Anvil everywhere,” in the Talmud’s language.)

  7. Fact #1: There is NO question that the Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood are vile, evil Leftist Islamonazis bent on instituting Brutalitarianism throughout the World.

    Fact #2: Because Mubarak was opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood and kept them in check, Obama lent the financial backing and support of the USA to remove Mubarak from office and to support the Muslim Brotherhood. Obama supports the Muslim Brotherhood because he too supports a Leftist, Islamonazi Brutalitarian agenda.

    Fact #3: The Egyptian people don’t really want a Leftist Islamonazi Brutalitarian regime controlling their lives. They want a secular free market economy because they know that that is the recipe for economic recovery. The Brutalitarian approach is a recipe for the destruction of liberty and the economy.

    Fact #4: The Leftists are very upset with this turn of events in Egypt, and hence the USA is sending even more money (in the billions of dollars) to the Leftist Islamonazi Muslim Brotherhood to help prop up the failing Brutalitarian agenda.

    Fact #5: The big money always wins. Thus, if the USA is able to provide sufficient financing to the Muslim Brotherhoods scumbags, they will be returned to power to pursue their Brutalitarian agenda.

    Will the USA continue to send billions and billions of dollars to the Muslim Brotherhood? That is the question. The outcome will determine the fate of Egypt.

  8. People are free to believe or not believe as each sees fit. That’s how we must style our society. And this is inherently American, by the way.

    Want to go to church? Go. Don’t agree with gay marriage? Join a church that doesn’t perform them. Want to pray in school? Send your kids to private school or promote their right to pray *while recognizing that the role of public schools is to abstain from institutionalizing any calls for prayer.* And on and on.

    Each citizen can live his or her life as he or she wants, but the freedom to do so must be granted to all other citizens as well. Fundamentalists can’t do this. They must spread their version of morality and, if they feel it necessary (O, the humility), to impose it.

    I, conversely, defend the right of all people to believe and practice any myth they wish, so long as they defend my right to call their myths myths.

  9. Mike,

    Interesting questions, but I think 1) the Founder’s had the right answer and 2) the social problems created by Fundamentalism are essentially a social and traditional psychological problem at the core.

    The way to deal with the threat of theocracy is by making sure the Separation of Church and State is absolute in forming and maintaining a secular government. Ours is not even perfectly secular. We have room for improvement. From not performing state functions with invocations or prayers to removing “In God We Trust” from the currency to making sworn testimony in official proceeding be done to a secular oath based on truthfulness. They can give the wrong impression (that some would be theocrats often run with) that we are a “Christian nation”. We have the right tool in the 1st Amendment (which applies to the States via the 14th) and the Art. VI prohibition on religious tests for office, but we’ve allowed the appearance of Christianity to creep into our government just like – but to an admittedly lesser degree – some other countries allow varying degrees of religious intrusion into matters of state. However, despite the fact the 1st has served to protect this country from sliding headlong into theocracy, there is no guarantee as the 1st is under attack every day from would be theocrats. The idea of installing a secular government in a region with a history of theocracy and authoritarianism in one form or another? Is a daunting task. Sadaam’s Iraq was a secular state, but it was so only by force. Egypt? Recently they’ve had a long chain of authoritarians and despots in charge, but no one can deny that the region itself has a long long history of theocratic rule that goes back to the times of the Pharaohs. Secularism just isn’t a local tradition.

    “I seriously wonder whether it is possible for Fundamentalist religionists to actually be able to take power in a democratic society and wield it in a way that allows people of differing beliefs their freedom to have those differing beliefs?”

    The answer is no. They are four-square against the idea of a secular state. The reasons why though are related in both their individual psychology and the social psychology of “exclusionary” religious practices. On the one hand, you’re dealing with people who tend to think in absolutes and a binary fashion. Authoritarianism is naturally attractive to the “you’re either with us or against us” mindset. Many religious cater to this further by relying heavily upon the “demonization of the Other”. You’re saved or not. You’re a believer or an infidel. You’re Coke or Pepsi. There is no grey, no middle ground. As discussed on this blog previously, this kind of thinking may be directly related to brain physiology. You may be seeking compromise with people literally incapable of compromise because they’re simply “not wired that way”. While the insula/amygdala brain function model doesn’t indicate someone’s political beliefs are set in stone, it does indicate strong predispositions. When you combine those biologically based psychological predispositions with an ideology that bolsters it like exclusionary religious dogma or political ideology? It’s a difficult knot to untie.

    Pluralism is no easy sell when a certain segment of society isn’t opposed to spreading their religion to you whether you want it or not and by any means they deem necessary. Some think the battle for souls trumps the battle for human rights. Some don’t. You’ll never stop that battle even in a nation with a perfectly secular government. It’ll just change venues.

    Look at our own domestic “culture warriors” and you see that.

    The only hope for compromise is that organized religion continue to loose its relevance to modern life. It is in the Western world as more and more people self-identify as atheist, agnostic or unaffiliated. While we must be watchful against encroaching efforts to force theocracy still in the West (like blasphemy laws), in the long term, the writing is on the wall for Western religiousity as a viable long term social construct. Will the Middle East and East follow suit?

    Not so long as the Shia, Sunni and Wahabists leaders struggle to keep their people under their thumbs and our idiots in Washington keep backing one clan or strong man or another in an effort to control their natural resources.

  10. ““Democracy” has been deconstructed through the years by ours and other governments to mean the ability to vote and little else.”

    A key point that has confounded our intuition and foreign policy with tragic results. How many times have we seen show case votes that lead to nothing in a few short years?

  11. The problem with fundamentalists, is that most of them are wrong. This can be simply determined by noting that other fundamentalists believe different things, and that those differing beliefs cannot both be correct. Thus, either one or both parties are mistaken.

    In this case, it seems that the Muslim Brotherhoods beliefs were such that did not lead to them being a good government.

    It may be possible to determine principals of justice, fairness, mercy, and devise an economy that implements them, but it is a hard problem.
    I suspect that it may involve fundamentalists, but the problem is finding the right fundamentals.

  12. WWRSD What would Rick Santorum do?

    Rick Santorum with a Repub House, Senate, Conservative court,backed by 32 Repub governors, the current gerrymandered districts, and the support of Right wing press, would IMO be able to stifle at best, or regress, our hard won progressive policies of the last 60 years. Heck, look at what is happening now.
    A Religious Zealot in office, with the scenario I described is frightening to me.
    Now I imagine Rick catering to Wall st and the Corporate Oligarchy.
    The Greed filled and Profit at any cost people, could be easily swayed to support Mr Santorum,.. if Santorum allowed to the 1% unregulated open ended wealth accumulation. The 1%ers get fatter and happier, Hooray for them.
    The third leg of this stool is the growth of the MIC. Increase the assets of the military, increase its ability to dominate Foreign policy and therefore World politics, and have it loyal and obediant to the structured government of United Santorum.
    This frightening scenario does not frighten everyone in the US. My disbelief of the Wacky Repub candidates for President in 2012 makes a little more sense and believability when I consider my theory is actually a hard goal of some Religious, Capitalistic, Right wingers. ….
    The Saudi theocracy comes to my mind. Give the commons their Religion, give the Military their might, Give the leaders Authoritative control.
    Wahoo 15th century here we come!!!!.

    Mike Spindell, this statement of yours grabbed me.

    “The first is that the entire concept of “Democracy” has been deconstructed through the years by ours and other governments to mean the ability to vote and little else”.

    I remember Bush Cheney Rumsfeld, Fox news and all Right wingers beaming proudly at the purple dye on the fingers of the Iraqi citizens.
    ….. Spot on!! voting does not a Democracy make. Voting IS necessary But having two choices of a Duopoly is the “Hobsons Choice you speak of.

  13. Representative republics aren’t democracies. Once someone is elected to office they can do what they want against the will of the vast majority. Look at the Democrats and the bank bail-outs.

  14. Mike: To some extent I think you have confounded two problems, and since one can be solved and the other probably cannot, the result appears to be hopeless when it is not.

    The problem is not all fundamentalism of belief, the problem is a specific fundamental belief in authoritarianism.

    In the USA, around 90% of people do have a fundamental belief in the supernatural, be it God, Karma, Reincarnation, witchcraft or pagan nature worship, they truly believe in it. But polls suggest (because I do not think the question has been put directly) that a super-majority rejects authoritarian imposition of any belief system, including theirs.

    But everybody’s belief system, even if purportedly grounded in logic, ultimately rests upon fundamental beliefs, sub-rational convictions upon which our logic and reasoning rest. Including our American belief that the “best” system has to weigh the effect on all citizens, and has to be fair to its citizens. Including our American belief that belief itself cannot be a crime. The Declaration of Independence recognizes this, with truths we hold “self-evident:” The founder’s did not feel a need to explain why all men were born with the rights to life and liberty.

    The problem is not fundamentalist religion per se; the problem is with authoritarian beliefs in the eradication by force of any disagreement with or deviation from their set of rules that subjugates others to their will. It is the belief that dictatorial powers over the daily lives of others will make the world a better place.

    Hopefully it is clear that the authoritarian mindset is a different set than fundamentalist religion; many Christians and Muslims are devout “fundamentalists” that can still reject Moses’ dictatorial commands to kill anybody caught working on the Sabbath, or to kill one’s disobedient children.

    Authoritarianism can infect any belief system, and certainly is found within many religions, including Christianity. But it includes non-religious belief systems, too, including for example free market capitalism (a philosophy of an absolutist prohibition on regulating commerce, no matter how large the super-majority of people may be that wishes to do so).

    One can at their core believe in something being right and true without automatically believing it is right to force others into compliance; authoritarianism is distinct from fundamentalism. It is authoritarianism that is incompatible with a pluralistic society; not fundamental religiosity.

  15. Mike, I think your focus on religious fundamentalism is misplaced. The term “religious fundamentalist” is derogatory, like using the n word to describe someone. The term serves to polarize people into those who are intelligent and get it and those who have a broken brain and cannot understand rational thought. It is not proper to categorize these people in such a monolithic way. Secular progressives appear just as rigid from the perspective of these so-called “religious fundamentalists.” Furthermore, many involved in securing principles of freedom for this country, the signers of our Constitution and those fighting to abolish slavery, would be called religious fundamentalists by today’s standards.

    The real problem in Egypt is failed socialism. I have visited Egypt several times, and the people there simply have no work ethic and they have too much time on their hands. I first visited Egypt back in the late 1990’s, and even at that time under Mubarak, I could project a failed government simply by the fact that people did not work very much. As a tourist, every person has their hand out for a tip, from the guy opening your taxi door at your hotel, to the guy opening the hotel door for you to walk into the lobby, to… well, virtually everyone, even those offering you directions to where you want to go or giving you ideas of what to do in the city. Rush hour in Cairo was around 10:00 am in the morning and again at 2:00 pm in the afternoon. That’s right… a four hour work day… the dream of every socialist. If you notice the lack of traffic lights and the police directing traffic at every intersection, what is the reason for this? First time I saw this, I asked my taxi driver, and his response was: “to give people a job… you know, to give people something to do. This is good.” The whole mentality in Egypt is socialism, that the government employs, and the entire economy becomes heavily based upon tourism as people try to find ways to get better pay. When you see those masses of people rallying, one of the primary reasons is that they have nothing to do. Few have any kind of work ethic other than looking to government to provide them work and living accommodations.

    If you think about it, authoritarianism actually leads to strong governments if there are enough people to agree with the vision and leadership of the authority. Look at examples in history like Greece under Alexander the Great or Germany under Adolf Hitler. People might scoff at the Hitler example, but it was a strong and efficient government, not overthrown from within. Democracy always weakens government because people rarely have close agreement. This is not to say that democracy is bad, but in terms of governmental unrest, authoritarian rule is not the problem as much as just plain failed governing. Whether it is a good democracy or authoritarian rule, whenever the people have no jobs and no vision of the future, whenever they have idle time and wish for something better but do not know what it is, then there will be civil unrest. I blame authoritative socialism not religious fundamentalism for the problems in Egypt.

  16. No mention of just how poorly the Obama administration has, and is handling this situation. Now, there was/is not a lot they can do. The one ace they have is Money. But they were flat ass wrong on the Muslim Brotherhood 2 years ago and continued to show support until this coup.

  17. Diogenes, I like your hope. Here is mine. Perhaps the long history of civilization in Egypt, including the many lessons learned from mistakes, are circling back. With the aide of the internet, the lessons may be promulgated to those that might not otherwise have the realization of the lessons on a conscious level, but have some feel for it on a level that is outside the world of my explanation but not outside my world of appreciation, and there nonetheless. There is a lot in that sentence that I get, but the explanation I leave for others, as the argument is secondary to the application that may (or seemingly might) occur.
    Just a thought: what is this proliferation of Daves?
    Having fun musing on a Saturday.

  18. You don’t know much about the Egyptian economy or government, do you David? They aren’t even remotely a socialist country. One of the largest factors impeding their economy is a plutocracy that actively acts to keep income disparity at maximum levels and thus preventing the lower and middle classes from improving their standards of living by keeping the cost of basic goods high while keeping incomes stagnant. Another factor is widespread government corruption hindering both foreign and domestic investment. Their public support systems though are practically non-existent and their infrastructure is a mess – not the hallmarks of socialism at work. They are a capitalist economy and their primary businesses are the export of food and petroleum/natural gas exports with tourism a strong (12%) but not dominate part of their economy.

    And “fundamentalist religion” is a pejorative. Any philosophy which is literal-minded, accepts no deviation from their orthodoxy or believe they are the sole source of objective truth is fundamentalist. These practices are, as Mike has pointed out, against the very idea of pluralism and democracy and, as Tony and I have pointed out, by nature authoritarian. If you think secular government and a pluralistic society where religious freedom is protected and promoted are good things – as our Founders did? Then the use of “fundamentalist” as a pejorative is apt and appropriate. When Jefferson said, “[I]t does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg”, he wasn’t considering that some are indeed willing to break your legs (or pick your pocket) if you – the holder of the individual freedom of free exercise – chose to think differently than they do. Oh, wait. He did preface that by saying “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.” There is harm in seeking to deprive others of their right to free exercise. Fundamentalism is an inherently authoritarian, intolerant and oppressive top down mindset that comports itself that way both socially and politically.

    “Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.
    We have solved, by fair experiment, the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.”

    That Jefferson was a sharp fellow.

  19. Great article Mike S…..

    The issue you have nailed…. Now the question becomes…. Will the US withhold its financial contribution as its required to do….. 1.3 bill ……a year…. The state department lawyers are looking into how they can get around this requirement….

  20. AY,

    Actually that presents no problem for State. By the terms of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, once the magic word “coup” is spoken, all financial obligations effectively disappear.

  21. Mike S covers well some time-worn problems that human civilization struggles with, still, after all these centuries:

    “The problem is that if you exclude religious fundamentalists from the political process due to their authoritarian views, then you no longer have a pluralistic society because of that exclusion. In a pluralistic society religious fundamentalists should also have a voice, or when do you stop excluding.” -Mike

    Here in the U.S.eh? we allow religious fundamentalists to partake of government offices via elections.

    But they have to leave that fundamentalism at home.

    They can’t bring it to work an put it into official action because government is not allowed to establish a religion or prevent any religion which they may not like.

    That seems to be what Egyptian voters had in mind when they elected Muslim Brotherhood candidates (ok you can govern but leave the religion at home).

    As Mike alluded to, once they got into office, power tended to corrupt them and they then seemed to begin to want more power instead of working for a better nation.

    The Middle Eastern mind, in this context, is sick and tired of Western Epigovernments who rule them from afar, as Mike also alludes to:

    “Historically, since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Mid East has been an area controlled by wealth and Western imperial power.” – Mike

    (emphasis added). And we all have to admit, as Mike did, that these underlying complications make it orders of magnitude more difficult to remedy:

    “Please help me out here because while I can frame the problem I admit that I don’t have the “perfect” answers.” – Mike

    That is probably the gist of it –there may not only not be a perfect answer, there may not even be any viable answer that is workable now:

    Long before politicians mewled helplessly about the power of “Big Oil”, carbon-based fuels were shaping our very political, legal, intellectual, and physical structures.

    For instance, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a pivotal moment in America’s strategic outlook. America, a global hegemon whose empire was weakening, seized the second largest oil deposits in the world as a way of preventing its economic and political decline.

    The last declining global hegemon, Great Britain, also engaged in a brutal and highly controversial British occupation of Iraq, in the 1920s, pressed aggressively by the well-known British conservative, Winston Churchill.

    From the moment he arrived at the Admiralty, a young man of destiny, Churchill started to prepare the fleet for the Battle of Armageddon he believed was inevitable.

    Then, in 1911, the German Kaiser provoked the Agadir crisis … Churchill went to the Admiralty and his outlook transformed. He was immediately confronted with the decisive question: to convert the navy from coal to oil … the “fateful plunge” was made … in April 1912 … five oil-burning battleships were approved.

    It was the Royal Navy which was the impetus for the development of the oil industry in Britain. The problem was supply and the security of that supply. Initially, the British government purchased shares in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, subsequently, British Petroleum [BP].

    Then, to prevent further disruptions, Britain enmeshed itself ever more deeply in the Middle East, working to install new shahs in Iran and carve Iraq out of the collapsing Ottoman Empire.

    Churchill fired the starting gun, but all of the Western powers joined the race to control Middle Eastern oil.

    (Viva Egypt – 2). Our civilization went whole hog into the fossil fuel addiction which added the spectre of what psychologists know well –addicts do not like to acknowledge any problem, so they naturally resist the notion of a need for a solution.

    The problems in the Middle East are based on an addiction of western civilization to western civilization’s petroleum which somehow mysteriously flowed under the lands of Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and others.

    The addiction has to go if the problems are to go.

    Neither seems likely.

  22. Juliet,

    Ralph does fairly regular stand up around here. Just wait until he tells you there is no difference between the political left and the political right and then goes on to blame everything on “Leftists”. Or better yet, you should catch his routine about the Nazis being “Leftists”. It’s hysterical.

  23. I laughed when the yahoo news reported that Egyptian Muslim Brothers were fed up with their experiment in Democracy. They should not forget that Hitler, like Morsi (or is it Mursi) was also elected. So, they can try again and be more subtle than Morsi or Mursi. I said on this blog back when he was elected that Curley on the Three Stooges had it right when he said: Hotsie, totsie, I smell a Nazi.

  24. I “friended: Mike Huckabee on FB to see what he and his followers have to say and how the fundamentalist republicans work at the level of their followers. It is scary to me how many times people comment that this country is doomed because we do not believe in Jesus and are not the “Christian country” that we started out to be.
    They are starting to have their way, the abortion ending states to me the tip of the iceberg. They abhor theocracy, when it is Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, et al but here it would be fine with them.

  25. Gene,

    If you listened to the NPR program about this money…. The state department needs to be able to skirt this requirement…..

  26. Gene H.

    I think one has to be careful about conflating “fundamentalism” with religious authoritarianism.

    Religious authoritarianism predates what we now call fundamentalism by a significant margin. “Fundamentalism” as a Christian movement did not even come into existence until the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Yet, religious authoritarianism was one of the defining issues of the Protestant Reformation and was established with respect to Lutheranism and Catholicism in the Holy Roman Empire in the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 — but excluding Calvinism, which together with Baptist theology formed the core of what became the Fundamentalist movement. After the Peace of Augsburg, most of the princes, etc. in the HRE could choose Lutheranism or Catholicism as the religion for their respective principality and force their subjects to follow that religion. Moreover, Catholic persecution of heretical movements goes back even further.

    Transferring the term “fundamentalism” from Christianity to other religions is problematic because 3 of the 5 principles of Christian fundamentalism relate specifically to aspects of Jesus Christ. The other two relate to the inerrancy and the literal truth of the Bible. If only those two characteristics are considered to be the defining characteristics of “fundamentalism” broadly defined, it still does not necessarily lead to religious authoritarianism — I know only a few Muslims, for example, but none have displayed to me what I would think of as religiously authoritarian views, although I am quite certain that they believe in the inerrancy and the literal truth of the Koran.

    “[A] philosophy which is literal-minded, accepts no deviation from their orthodoxy or believe they are the sole source of objective truth” is something more than merely “fundamentalist”. Indeed, it is not even necessarily religious — you could be describing Naziism, Marxism-Leninism, Stalinism, or Maoism.

    I think that Eric Hoffer’s analysis of mass movements in “The True Believer” and other works is probably as instructive in understanding “Islamic fundamentalism” as in understanding the mass movements he actually addressed. The idea at the core of the movement is not as important as the satisfaction of being part of the movement and having an idea to accept and force on others.

  27. AY,

    I understand that. I’m saying they have an out already in place in the form of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. In relevant part:

    22 USC § 8422 – Authorization of assistance

    3) Additional authority
    Except as provided in sections 2753 and 2799aa–1 of this title, the second section 620J [1] of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (as added by Public Law 110–161) [22 U.S.C. 2378d], and any provision of an Act making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs that restricts assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree, and except as otherwise provided in this subchapter, amounts authorized to be made available to carry out paragraph (2) for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 are authorized to be made available notwithstanding any other provision of law. [emphasis added]

  28. Porkchop,

    Thanks for the clarification, but I did say “ Any philosophy which is literal-minded, accepts no deviation from their orthodoxy or believe they are the sole source of objective truth is fundamentalist” with the implication being any belief system (including political ideologies) can be fundamentalist in operation given those parameters. Hoffer is well known in these parts and his observations widely appreciated.

  29. http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/rule-of-the-people.premium-1.533956

    ====================================

    Rule of the people

    The lesson of Egypt’s new revolution is that even in democracies, leaders cannot cling to election results as though they were a promissory note that authorizes them to impose their ideology, while ignoring the wishes of the people.
    Haaretz Editorial | Jul.05, 2013 | 7:14 AM | 3

    Overthrowing Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi required the army to step in, but the army did not initiate his ouster. Rather it was millions of Egyptians, represented by the many demonstrators who took to the streets, who sketched the portrait of the state they want to live in.

    The innovation that occurred here the importance of which cannot be overestimated is that unlike the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak, this week’s revolution wasn’t only against a failing president, but against an ideology that runs contrary to the wishes of most of the public. Egypt, the demonstrators made clear, will not settle for a procedural democracy based on election results. Egypt demands a true democracy, whose government is committed to serving all its citizens and safeguarding the civil rights that are an integral part of a true democracy.

    Egypt’s citizens, who first saw in the Muslim Brotherhood a partner in the hope for a civil state, soon realized they had chosen for themselves a failed leadership which couldn’t produce a worthy outline for improving their lives. Even worse, the first free election after more than 60 years brought to power a sectarian, religious regime, which failed to understand its public mission.

    The harsh dilemma between respecting the democratic process and dealing with the repression that it brought about was resolved the day before Thursday.
    One may of course question the essence of a democracy that needs an army to achieve its goals, but it is wrong to judge the protest movements for their impatience with the product of their demonstrations.

    The Egyptian spectacle, which deserves praise and admiration, is not without risks and still has no answers to the hard questions facing Egypt. The country is immersed in a deep economic crisis and the state of public security is far from satisfactory. The Muslim Brotherhood has not accepted Morsi’s ousting and may act, even violently, against it. The way to political stability is paved with mines.

    But the lesson to be learned by this new revolution has already been clearly outlined. Even in democracies, leaders are not permitted to cling to election results as though they were a promissory note that authorizes them to impose their ideology, while ignoring the wishes of the people.

  30. It has already been said, but when you mix politics and governance with religion, bad things happen. No matter what label you put on it, as Gene suggested, the separation of church and state is crucially important here and across the world.
    Good topic Mike!

  31. There are similarities to Iraq. You have two presidents, the latter being allegedly an intellect and prepared to make us and Muslims brothers, who have made the same blunder, one using military, the latter just blundering. When the Mideast was “given” their “freedom,” the colonial powers, primarily the UK and France, set up minority leaders in order for that “free country” to be dependent upon them. What happened in Egypt has happened elsewhere, and may happen w/ the Assad regime. Although, his ruthlessness and our impotence seems to have kept him in power, emboldening the most dangerous man in the world, Putin. Assad is part of a quite small minority but his savagery is Hussein like, right down to chemical weapons. When a minority leader, who has been in power for generations, is overthrown, there is massive pent up resentment. “We must understand history or we are doomed to repeat it” seems quite appropriate here.

  32. I wonder whether a tad more context from “Stories Never Written: Postscript” in Robert A. Heinlein’s Revolt in 2100 would be of any value…

    On the chance that more context might be worthwhile:

    Could any one sect obtain a working majority at the polls and take over the country? Perhaps not— but a combination of a dynamic evangelist, television, enough money, and modern techniques of advertising and propaganda might make Billy Sunday’s efforts look like a corner store compared to Sears Roebuck. Throw in a depression for good measure, promise a material heaven here on hearth, add a dash of anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Negroism, and a good large dose of “anti-Furriners” in general and anti-intellectuals here at home and the result might be something quite frightening— particularly when one recalls that our voting system is such that a minority distributed as pluralities in enough states can constitute a working majority in Washington.

    Heinlein, Robert A. (2012-02-29). Revolt in 2100 (Kindle Locations 4861-4867). . Kindle Edition.

    Impossible? Remember the Klan in the ‘Twenties— and how far it got without even a dynamic leader. Remember Karl Marx and note how close that unscientific piece of nonsense called Das Kapital has come to smothering out all freedom of thought on half a planet, without— mind you— the emotional advantage of calling it a religion. The capacity of the human mind for swallowing nonsense and spewing it forth in violent and repressive action has never yet been plumbed.

    Heinlein, Robert A. (2012-02-29). Revolt in 2100 (Kindle Locations 4874-4877). . Kindle Edition.

    I find that the late newspaper columnist, Sidney J. Harris, in his book, A Majority of One wrote about some aspects the predicament of democracy in the presence of groupthink. Because pure democracies tend to self-destruct, the inventors of our Constitution brought forth a form of federal republic, and not a democracy, so I understand.

    In my bioengineering research, I have been studying for decades the apparent capacity of some human minds to imbibe biological nonsense and ensconce it in The Rule of Law in ways profoundly, and tragically, violent, repressive, and often horridly destructive.

    At least since 2008, the Congress has vividly demonstrated that an aggregation of minorities, collectively also a minority, can sometimes function through hatred as though an operational majority regarding any and all legislative acts.

    I wonder to what extent I am actually in substantial agreement with Gene H.:
    ” Any philosophy which is literal-minded, accepts no deviation from their orthodoxy or believe they are the sole source of objective truth is fundamentalist.

    I wonder because, using a sociological methodology to understand religion, as, for instance, in the work of Emile Durkheim, I am unable to find any hint of trace of tangible evidence that the American Bar Association is other than a religious cartel, with whose most significant established doctrines (such as the doctrine of “the reasonable person” who can do absolutely impossible things with impunity) I find it to be trivially simple to scientifically falsify.

    The responses I have received from some Turley Blog participants, as from talking directly with attorneys-at-law, resolutely inform me that I would be dishonest and deceptive were I to regard the Adversarial System in the United States as other than a fundamentalist religion.

    I have never met a religious fundamentalist who did not resolutely demand that I believe that the person’s fundamentalism was anything other than the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

    Because I ask people to falsify my expressed beliefs, I surmise that I may actually not be a fundamentalist. However, who does not make mistakes?

  33. “The responses I have received from some Turley Blog participants, as from talking directly with attorneys-at-law, resolutely inform me that I would be dishonest and deceptive were I to regard the Adversarial System in the United States as other than a fundamentalist religion.”

    Not dishonest and deceptive. Simply wrong. We all know that there are alternatives to the adversarial dispute resolution model. Many have been tried (now that’s a pun!), but the results are that they are all uncivilized and inherently inequitable systems. Having adverse parties present their dispute to a third party for impartial dispute resolution may not always please all the parties with the outcome, but it is better than the alternatives of imperial fiat or self-help in seeking equitable outcomes. We don’t expect you to accept that it is the best tool for the job by edict. It’s the best tool for the job based on the goals of equity and justice because history tells us so by the negative social consequences the alternatives present. Much like what Churchill said about democracy – “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” – the adversarial dispute resolution model the worst form of dispute resolution form of dispute resolution except for all the rest.

    No better alternative is likely to be had either so long as people disagree.

    You don’t have to believe in it though.

    Beliefs are neither required to be rational nor evidence based.

  34. J. Brian: Because I ask people to falsify my expressed beliefs, I surmise that I may actually not be a fundamentalist.

    Sort of depends on what you will accept as falsification. If it is your belief that 1+1=123, then how do I falsify that? Tell you that you are wrong and 1+1=2? If I hold a red marble and a blue marble in my hand, and say that is two marbles, and you say No, that is 123 marbles, then we have different fundamental beliefs, and you disagree because I failed to prove you wrong within your fundamental belief system.

    That might sound like a ridiculous example, but the same principle is at play if person A says, “Taxation is a coerced taking of money, and therefore theft,” and person B says “Taxation is a partnership share of profit coming due, and coercion is sometimes a necessary act to collect an outstanding debt.”

    Person A and Person B can have different fundamental beliefs; person A does not believe society has made any contribution to their success, person B does believe society has made a contribution (safety, protection and infrastructure) to their success.

    Unless person B can convince person A to change their fundamental belief, person B cannot falsify the belief of person A.

    Falsification ultimately depends on the fundamentals of one’s belief system.

  35. Gene H – Given your aversion to fundamentalist or principled ideologies, I doubt I could pin you down on a definition of socialism to make dialogue meaningful. Let me just say that people in Egypt look to government to control their future much more than most Americans do. They look to government for jobs, housing, to direct them on the streets… pretty much everything. I have read that 35 to 40% of Egyptians earn less than the equivalent of $2 per day. About two million of them are extremely rich, and in between is its middle class.

    Have you ever been to Egypt? Do you base your opinion on experience or on what you read through the lens of reporters and authors presenting their own ideology? If you have been there and talked with many Egyptians, I would think you would be struck with the cultural difference between them and us in how they look to government like a parent to provide and guide them. That, from my perspective, is socialism. If you see socialism differently, feel free to define the correct term to be used in this situation.

    Gene H wrote: “Any philosophy which is literal-minded, accepts no deviation from their orthodoxy or believe they are the sole source of objective truth is fundamentalist.”

    That is a pretty broad definition. Many non-religious ideologies fit this definition. For example, a secularist might swear allegiance to the Constitution when taking office, and thereby accept no deviation from the orthodoxy of the Constitution. Do you therefore make a distinction between religious fundamentalism and secular fundamentalism? Is your real aversion directed toward religion or perhaps the idea of absolute truths? Is it possible that you combine the two terms to obfuscate the issue and thereby continue to further a bigotry against a certain ideological group in our society?

    My concern about the term “religious fundamentalist” is that it creates a stereotype of others into which people categorize others. It is very much like the racial bigotry of anti-Semitism or using the n word in regards to the black race. The primary difference is that it is based upon someone holding to an uncompromising ideology rather than race. Once a person is placed into that stereotype, the person putting them there or labeling them as such uses bigotry, a prejudgment system, by which to evaluate whatever else that person says. It is every bit as wrong as the fundamentalist himself being uncompromising in his position. Ultimately, history has shown us that such a system leads to all manner of evil, especially when practiced by governmental authority.

    I much prefer the term “ideologue” to “fundamentalist.” The real issue at stake is someone who is uncompromising in their support of a particular dogma or ideology. It is difficult to reason with someone who has already defined some particular tenet or dogma in the back of their minds which works to guide their every response and pattern of thought.

    The term “fundamentalist” as normally defined is someone who believes literally in some sacred text, such as the Holy Bible or the Holy Quran. To make the case that anyone who believes in the Bible, or the Quran, or some other sacred text is thereby incompatible with pluralism and democracy seems like a rather foolish concept to me. Exceptions arise everywhere, especially when we trace the history of champions of liberty, tolerance and democracy to theists like John Locke or William Blackstone who believed in the Bible.

    I agree with Jefferson’s comments on separation of church and state, but I wonder why you single him out and avoid someone like John Witherspoon, clearly a founding father who was a fundamentalist, who had signed the Declaration of Independence and who also fought for the separation of church and state, pluralism and democracy. Is it because Jefferson was among those less likely to be called a fundamentalist? While Jefferson rejected the Bible in total, he learned Greek and Hebrew and studied the Bible in the original languages, creating his own version of the Bible based upon the words of Jesus, a Bible which he personally believed was inerrant. In that sense, Jefferson too was a fundamentalist in regards to his own version of the Bible.

    Even more interesting to me is how far away from Jefferson the modern atheist movement has gone in its peculiar dogma of Separation of Church and State. Jefferson not only allowed church to be held every Sunday in the Nation’s Capital, he regularly attended church there in the House of Representatives. Even the nation’s Marine band played for the church at times, something the modern atheist today would object to on so-called Constitutional grounds, supposedly violating their interpretation of the principles of separation of church and state.

    Getting back to Egypt, the situation is complex and any explanation would need to include a multiplicity of factors. I certainly think religious ideology plays a role, authoritarianism plays a role, fundamentalism plays a role, but the biggest culprit in my mind is the way the people have been raised to look to government as the controller of the means of production. It has created a society where people work less and look to government to define and assign jobs to them.

    A principle that I think is much greater than the idea of democracy is one sometimes called the American Dream. It is the idea that any person has the inherent freedom to work hard and better his situation on his own with a minimal amount of government interference and regulation. This principle also is called capitalism. It is an economic system based upon the private individual rather than government reliance, and it connects with the idea that the individual has a right to profit from his labor and ingenuity. It would be difficult to convey such a view intellectually to the Egyptian people, but it is a more likely solution than trying to convince them or anybody else that the problem in Egypt is their religious fundamentalism.

  36. Gene H wrote: “Beliefs are neither required to be rational nor evidence based.”

    Humans are rational creatures which govern their lives based upon evidence, rational thought, instinct, and emotion. All articulated beliefs are required in a civilized society to be rational and evidence based. To grant any human being an exception so that he could order his life around the irrational, suggesting that he is free to ignore evidence, would be irrational and uncivilized. I certainly do not think government should be allowed to punish people for irrational beliefs, because the mind must be free to decide for itself, but government and society as a whole should always remind people to base their beliefs and convictions upon evidence and logic.

  37. Gene H.:

    I find that you appear to me to be neither qualified or competent to truthfully inform me that my work as a bioengineer is not dishonest and deceptive, but simply wrong.

    Within your life experience frame of reference, I am entirely content to accept that you find my work to be simply wrong. My life experience frame of reference appears to me to have some aspects which differ profoundly from your life experience frame of reference.

    One such may be my being, methinks, correctly labeled as a form of autistic savant, and, as best I can discern, one of the sort of autistic savants that Fond du Lac, Wisconsin psychiatrist, Darrold Treffert, who has made an intensive study of savant syndrome, deems to be a prodigious autistic savant, in that I have, and use long term working memory, as demonstrated rather vividly with a Quantitative Electroencephalogram (QEEG) done circa 1990.

    I work in accord with the requirement of the State of Wisconsin, as a Registered Professional Engineer, in accord with the Code of Ethics of the National Society of Professional Engineers.

    http://www.nspe.org/Ethics/CodeofEthics/index.html

    From that Code:

    I. Fundamental Canons
    Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall:

    Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.
    Perform services only in areas of their competence.
    Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
    Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.
    Avoid deceptive acts.
    Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession.

    My work in holding paramount the public safety, health, and welfare is unriddling the human enigma of deception. In doing that work in accord with the NSPE Code of Ethics, I am required to avoid deceptive acts.

    For my work to be within the realm of ethical professional engineering, I have needed to understand deception with essentially perfect accuracy, as any actual deception in my bioengineering research would inescapably comprise a deceptive act in and of itself.

    In part in response to shattering abuse during my time in second grade at Marshall School, in Eureka, California, in the fall of 1947, at the beginning of third grade, my family having fled from Eureka because of said shattering abuse, I began the unriddling of deception using college, graduate school, and higher level books and other resources my family had.

    Early during third grade, reading William S.Sadler, Theory and Practice of Psychiatry, I found only one condition therein that explained my second grade shattering abuse experience; I was, and am, autistic. For me, my primary care physician regards my being autistic to be “a proven diagnosis.”

    When I state that I find the American Bar Association to be a religious cartel, and the Anglo-American Adversarial System of Law and Jurisprudence to be an unconstitutional religious establishment, I make that public statement, as a professional engineer, only in an objective and truthful manner, doing so honorably, “responsibly,” ethically and lawfully (though not necessarily legitimately under color of law) so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession of engineering.

    I am making that public statement in unconditional and unqualified terms because, if it can truthfully be demonstrated that I have thereby violated the Code of Ethics of the National Society of Professional Engineers, someone need to get my professional engineering license revoked.

    How confident am I in the scientific accuracy and validity of my bioengineering-based modeling of deception and trauma as being of moral injury in the form of neurological injury in the form of brain-scan-observable physical brain damage? Exactly 100.000… (where “…” signifies infinitely repeating decimal) percent.

    While I accept that, within your frame of reference, you find me to be simply wrong, I find that you are as truthful as your frame of reference permits you to be.

    As for your belief, “No better alternative is likely to be had either so long as people disagree,” In a world where disagreement is viciously rampant, I have lived a (or “the”?) alternative for the whole of my life, without a moment of exception, testing it’s scientific validity with ever increasing scientific expertise.

    The better alternative to adversarial procedure in the presence of disagreement is named “dialogue”.

    Exempli gratia:

    http://www.david-bohm.net/dialogue/dialogue_proposal.html

    I understand that, in principle, though not in practice for me, for a non-professional engineer to publicly state that a professional engineer, in the engineer’s area of professional expertise, “is simply wrong,” is actionable when false. Ever hear of libel?

    I make no threat. I cannot, on engineering ethics grounds, sue people for their scientific and engineering ignorance.

  38. Religion may be the least of the problems.

    As I pointed out in my comment up-thread, Winston Churchill’s fundamentalist belief in “The Battle of Armageddon” led him to successfully urge the British Empire to switch its Navy from coal to oil as a source of power.

    That necessitated imperialistic control of petroleum resources in the Middle East, which became the main dynamic –even though the expected battle of Armageddon did not materialize as expected.

    Resources are not going to be taken out of the equation, even if religion is:

    Wells are drying up and underwater tables falling so fast in the Middle East and parts of India, China and the US that food supplies are seriously threatened, one of the world’s leading resource analysts has warned.

    In a major new essay Lester Brown, head of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, claims that 18 countries, together containing half the world’s people, are now overpumping their underground water tables to the point – known as “peak water” – where they are not replenishing and where harvests are getting smaller each year.

    The situation is most serious in the Middle East. According to Brown: “Among the countries whose water supply has peaked and begun to decline are Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. By 2016 Saudi Arabia projects it will be importing some 15m tonnes of wheat, rice, corn and barley to feed its population of 30 million people. It is the first country to publicly project how aquifer depletion will shrink its grain harvest.

    “The world is seeing the collision between population growth and water supply at the regional level. For the first time in history, grain production is dropping in a geographic region with nothing in sight to arrest the decline. Because of the failure of governments in the region to mesh population and water policies, each day now brings 10,000 more people to feed and less irrigation water with which to feed them.”

    (Peak Water).

  39. These resource problems of Western Civilization, which I mentioned in my comment just up-thread, could lead to military coups in several other nations.

    Especially the U.S. where the military NSA already spies on every citizen, has trained police forces in military tactics, and has a plan for widespread military deployment in the U.S., coordinated with local police forces.

    Mike alluded to this dynamic as well:

    “I’ve nonetheless been fascinated by the fall of Egyptian President Morsi, in what must be described as a military coup. I’ve never been a fan of coups as I expect is true of most of us, yet the fall of Morsi has raises issues that I think are far more nuanced than appear on the surface.” – Mike

    The citizens of the U.S. seem to think that the most competent institution of all American institutions is the military:

    In the first post of this series, we pointed out that most Americans polled in an annual Gallup Poll think that the military is the most competent institution in America.

    In that post we perused Gallup Poll figures from 2009, as shown on the graphic to the left (red lines added).

    Today in 2011, the military is still seen as the most competent American institution, according to this year’s Gallup Poll, even though the wars they are prosecuting are not at all popular.

    Let’s take a look for reasons and realities as to how it is that the military, once considered the lackey for the tyranny of the tyrants, has come full circle to invade and occupy the hearts of a once freedom loving people.

    (Stockholm Syndrome on Steroids? – 2). Americans seem to think much like the Egyptians seem to think.

    When the Egyptians have a problem with civil government, they see the military solving their problem.

    Is this next for the U.S.eh?

  40. Tony C.:

    What I ask people to falsify by actually tangible demonstration is the happening of one or more actually avoidable accidents or actually avoidable mistakes.

    All people have ever done so far is to concoct intangible hypotheticals and cite the scientific errors of the past as though those errors were not errors.

    Demonstrate the actual happening of an accident or mistake, and then demonstrate that the accident or mistake that actually happened was actually avoidable because it was actually avoided and did not happen when and as it did happen.

    Do that, and my bioengineering research work and findings will be falsified.

  41. One small nit, Mike: A Hobson’s Choice is a “take it or leave” option. The term is believed to have described the practice of a livery stable owner who offered customers the choice of either taking the horse in the stall nearest the door or none at all.

    The Egyptians had real choices in the presidential election, really bad choices. In this respect my sympathies for the Egyptian voters is the same which I have for American voters.

  42. Many people use the term “Hobson’s Choice” when they really mean either a “Morton’s Fork,” or a dilemma.

    As Oro Lee points out, Hobson’s Choice is a binary choice. Take it or leave it. Morton’s Fork is a forced choice between two equivalent options. A dilemma is a forced choice between two undesirable options.

    The movie Sophie’s Choice was based on a dilemma.

  43. Johnathan Hughes: “The Muslim religion is more oppressive and evil than the religious people Jesus faced.”

    That may or may not be true (and it probably isn’t), but it isn’t any more oppressive than that which the Native Americans faced (and still do).

  44. I profess my ignorance of this question, but what great acts of genocide, i.e, the violent dispossession and deaths of millions, do Muslims have to their credit? I know of at least two for the Christians.

  45. Davidm####,
    Gene is absolutely correct. A belief system does not have to be rational, and many belief systems are faith based. Faith and rationality are incompatible if they try to occupy the same space. What I know to be true though empirical testing of the evidence is quite different from what I believe or suspect. If you cannot show baseline data and that it can be replicated, then you have no way to prove it is a fact.

    If a Muslim is absolutely convinced Islam is the only correct belief, and a Christian is convinced Christianity is the only correct belief, then somebody has to be wrong. The elephant in the room is that BOTH may be wrong.

  46. David,

    I don’t have an aversion to principled ideologies. Just ignorant ones whose adherents think they can force their beliefs on others.

    I can also pin down precise definitions of socialism as well. Numerous forms of it. Would you like to go down that path?

    “Let me just say that people in Egypt look to government to control their future much more than most Americans do. They look to government for jobs, housing, to direct them on the streets…”

    Really? And you know this how? Exactly?

    “pretty much everything. I have read that 35 to 40% of Egyptians earn less than the equivalent of $2 per day. About two million of them are extremely rich, and in between is its middle class.”

    None of which invalidates what was said.

    “Have you ever been to Egypt?”

    Have you?

    “Do you base your opinion on experience or on what you read through the lens of reporters and authors presenting their own ideology?”

    No. I can read basic information and draw my own conclusions without someone else providing analysis.

    “If you have been there and talked with many Egyptians, I would think you would be struck with the cultural difference between them and us in how they look to government like a parent to provide and guide them. That, from my perspective, is socialism.”

    Then you don’t know socialism from authoritarianism.

    “If you see socialism differently, feel free to define the correct term to be used in this situation.”

    Socialism is not one thing, but many different forms in practice. There is no single encapsulating definition but the common traits are social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy where systems of production and distribution organized to directly satisfy economic demands and human needs. This is done as a public trust so that goods and services are produced directly for use instead of for private profit driven by the accumulation of capital (free market capitalism). It does not mean that the economy is necessarily planned (as it was in the extremist form Communism). Most forms of socialism in fact are a blend of market capitalism and market socialism and can be either self-managed (as in the democratic socialism of Norway or Sweden) or state managed (as in the nationalized socialism of the U.K.).

    Gene H wrote: “Any philosophy which is literal-minded, accepts no deviation from their orthodoxy or believe they are the sole source of objective truth is fundamentalist.”

    That is a pretty broad definition.

    Doesn’t mean it’s not accurate.

    “Many non-religious ideologies fit this definition. For example, a secularist might swear allegiance to the Constitution when taking office, and thereby accept no deviation from the orthodoxy of the Constitution. Do you therefore make a distinction between religious fundamentalism and secular fundamentalism?”

    Already answered.

    “Is your real aversion directed toward religion or perhaps the idea of absolute truths?”

    No. My real aversion is to charlatans who claim to know absolute truths without scientifically valid evidence and based on ancient fairy tales.

    “Is it possible that you combine the two terms to obfuscate the issue and thereby continue to further a bigotry against a certain ideological group in our society?”

    I make no secret that I’m bigoted against willful ignorance.

    “My concern about the term “religious fundamentalist” is that it creates a stereotype of others into which people categorize others. It is very much like the racial bigotry of anti-Semitism or using the n word in regards to the black race. The primary difference is that it is based upon someone holding to an uncompromising ideology rather than race.”

    Awwwwww. That’s just sad. You’re really going with that argument?

    “Once a person is placed into that stereotype, the person putting them there or labeling them as such uses bigotry, a prejudgment system, by which to evaluate whatever else that person says. It is every bit as wrong as the fundamentalist himself being uncompromising in his position.”

    Really. Have I described anything about fundamentalism that isn’t correct? Is it not is literal-minded? Does it accept deviation from their orthodoxy? Don’t religious fundamentalists believe they are the sole source of objective truth and that is in some way their “duty” to make everyone think the same way? Sound more like accurate instead of the oversimplification of a stereotype.

    “Ultimately, history has shown us that such a system leads to all manner of evil, especially when practiced by governmental authority.”

    Really. You don’t say. Then that just makes a really strong argument for a secular government doesn’t it?

    “I much prefer the term “ideologue” to “fundamentalist.” The real issue at stake is someone who is uncompromising in their support of a particular dogma or ideology.”

    I don’t care what you prefer. A rose by any other name . . .

    “It is difficult to reason with someone who has already defined some particular tenet or dogma in the back of their minds which works to guide their every response and pattern of thought.”

    Like fundamentalist?

    “The term “fundamentalist” as normally defined is someone who believes literally in some sacred text, such as the Holy Bible or the Holy Quran.”

    I did mention literal mindedness, didn’t I?

    “To make the case that anyone who believes in the Bible, or the Quran, or some other sacred text is thereby incompatible with pluralism and democracy seems like a rather foolish concept to me.”

    But it is. That belief that you are the sole provider of absolute truths brooks no deviation from your orthodox dogma? Is precisely the antithesis of pluralism. Fundamentalism is a form of monism. Because such beliefs are inherently top down, they are inherently authoritarian, which is an antithetical concept to democracy where power rests in the people, not the titular head of an organization or a specific ideology.

    “Exceptions arise everywhere, especially when we trace the history of champions of liberty, tolerance and democracy to theists like John Locke or William Blackstone who believed in the Bible.”

    So what? Our Constitution wasn’t written by Locke or Blackstone. The Founders could have specifically made this a theist state, but instead they went with a secular form of government as evidenced by the 1st Amendment.

    “I agree with Jefferson’s comments on separation of church and state, but I wonder why you single him out and avoid someone like John Witherspoon, clearly a founding father who was a fundamentalist, who had signed the Declaration of Independence and who also fought for the separation of church and state, pluralism and democracy.”

    Wonder all you like. However, if you actually knew anything about Witherspoon, you’d know he wasn’t a fundamentalist. He was a Presbyterian with a rather evolved view of private and public morality who though public morality should be pursued as a science free from sectarian ideology. Fascinating guy. You should read about him some time.

    “Is it because Jefferson was among those less likely to be called a fundamentalist?”

    One cannot be what one is not.

    “While Jefferson rejected the Bible in total, he learned Greek and Hebrew and studied the Bible in the original languages, creating his own version of the Bible based upon the words of Jesus, a Bible which he personally believed was inerrant. In that sense, Jefferson too was a fundamentalist in regards to his own version of the Bible.”

    Not at all and that’s a ridiculously self-contradictory statement. One cannot be a Biblical literalist if one does as Jefferson did and rewrite to take out all the spooky language and contradictions. Jefferson, as evidenced above, did not care about the religious beliefs of others nor to force his beliefs upon them. And might I add . . . “I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.” -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Hopkinson, March 13, 1789. Which leads to . . .

    “Even more interesting to me is how far away from Jefferson the modern atheist movement has gone in its peculiar dogma of Separation of Church and State. Jefferson not only allowed church to be held every Sunday in the Nation’s Capital, he regularly attended church there in the House of Representatives. Even the nation’s Marine band played for the church at times, something the modern atheist today would object to on so-called Constitutional grounds, supposedly violating their interpretation of the principles of separation of church and state.”

    Attending a social function does not make one a congreationalist. And apparently you don’t understand the Separation of Church and State very well. Also you seem to miss that atheists are just as capable of fundamentalism is you Christians are. A fundamentalist atheist would want all religion banned as ridiculous children’s stories. Not all atheists are fundamentalists though just like not all Christians are. That’s why there is a reason to distinguish the fundamentalists of every stripe from the rest of their nominal brethren.

    “Getting back to Egypt, the situation is complex and any explanation would need to include a multiplicity of factors. I certainly think religious ideology plays a role, authoritarianism plays a role, fundamentalism plays a role, but the biggest culprit in my mind is the way the people have been raised to look to government as the controller of the means of production. It has created a society where people work less and look to government to define and assign jobs to them.”

    And you’d be wrong as your understanding of the Egyptian economy is based on wrong definitions and a lack of understanding about the basic products of their economy and how their government essentially has acted to further a plutocracy rather than redistribute wealth in a more equitable means.

    “A principle that I think is much greater than the idea of democracy is one sometimes called the American Dream. It is the idea that any person has the inherent freedom to work hard and better his situation on his own with a minimal amount of government interference and regulation.”

    Nowhere in the Constitution are you promised a minimum of governmental regulation. In fact, you are promised that Congress may enact any regulation necessary and proper to fulfill its otherwise Constitutional and legal mandates.

    “This principle also is called capitalism. It is an economic system based upon the private individual rather than government reliance, and it connects with the idea that the individual has a right to profit from his labor and ingenuity.”

    Too bad capitalism isn’t mentioned once in the Constitution. No particular economic system is endorsed at all – although there is a strong argument for an implicit endorsement of democratic socialism to be found in the General Welfare Clause.

    I like watching that vein throb in your forehead.

    “It would be difficult to convey such a view intellectually to the Egyptian people, but it is a more likely solution than trying to convince them or anybody else that the problem in Egypt is their religious fundamentalism.”

    Really. Because they seem to have a problem with fundamentalists being in power so I’m pretty sure they’ve got a problem with religious fundamentalism.

  47. When beliefs are based on justified killing for God’s sake (death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations), there cannot be another way. You have two choices; my way or the highway to hell/heaven.

    The current crop of Southern GOP religious fanatics is less physically violent, but their views have many similarities to the Muslim Brotherhood. Damn the tenets of democracy in pursuit of bastardized Biblical beliefs. I think you could probably write a column that asks, ‘GOP Christian extremist or Taliban/Muslim Brotherhood’ and find that they cross many a belief path.

    You can add the destruction of voter protection laws to that list as well, since many in the GOP want voters to better fit their majority, which is very white and very Christian.

  48. Brian,

    I find that you appear to me to be neither qualified or competent to decide what is or isn’t a just and equitable legal system for dispute resolution.

  49. DavidM: The real issue at stake is someone who is uncompromising in their support of a particular dogma or ideology.

    That is NOT the real issue at stake at all. That is simply freedom of speech and belief. The real issue at stake is one person willing to coerce another person because of the other person’s exercising of freedom of speech in support of religion, ideology, or whatever. The real issue at stake is authoritarianism; the inability to tolerate (and use dictatorial force to suppress and oppress) any belief system but your own. Religious or not.

    DavidM: It is difficult to reason with someone who has already defined some particular tenet or dogma in the back of their minds which works to guide their every response and pattern of thought.

    I am an uncompromising rationalist, and that works to guide my every response and pattern of thought. I am an atheist, I am a scientist, I will never, ever be “reasoned” into believing in the supernatural. But it is not necessary for you to reason with me or change my mind, because I present no threat to you or your existence: I am not an authoritarian in the political sense of that word, I am a civil libertarian that thinks you have the right to squander your time and energy as you see fit, as long as you do no harm to others. Whether you while away your hours worshiping a non-existent deity or reading Stephen King stories about non-existent monsters is all the same to me, I would prohibit neither.

    The problem isn’t with the belief system, the problem is with acting on other people’s belief systems. A person is welcome to their opinion on women dancing, but to claim that women dancing causes any harm to other persons is so far beyond ridiculous that them using force to prevent women from dancing or punishing women for dancing amounts to an effective slavery of women.

    The same dictum applies to the Christian’s belief on same sex marriage. People are welcome to believe as they will, even to hate as they will; but when their beliefs combine with authoritarianism to deny others the right to marry, it amounts to an effective slavery of homosexuals. The Christian belief does not trump the homosexual’s belief that homosexual love is real and natural, and to claim that their marriage and commitment causes any harm to others is, like the example of women dancing, so far beyond ridiculous that prohibiting it (or punishing homosexuality) amounts to harm, oppression, and a denial of human rights.

    Fundamentalism and a refusal to listen to reason is not the problem. Authoritarianism is the problem; which is using force to prohibit others their own fundamentalism and a refusal to accept the authoritarian’s “reasoning.”

  50. “Whether you while away your hours worshiping a non-existent deity or reading Stephen King stories about non-existent monsters is all the same to me, I would prohibit neither.”

    What? Randall Flagg isn’t real? I guess you’re going to tell me there is no Easter Bunny next.

  51. Gene,

    Now take that back….. If there’s no Easter bunny….. Then next you’ll say that there’s no tooth fairy…. And if there’s no tooth fairy…. Then…. Christmas Day Jesus wasn’t born….. You nonbelievers…..

  52. J Brian: What I ask people to falsify by actually tangible demonstration…

    I know your ridiculous premise, which is why I wrote what I did. We have different fundamental beliefs, which we have discussed at length, and we cannot reconcile them. So what I see as clear and compelling falsification of your ridiculous premise, you do not, because you argue in circles using what you think are self-evident axioms and I reject as completely false.

    See what I mean? You do not ask others to falsify your beliefs, or when you do, you include the implicit caveat that they must falsify your beliefs within your belief system, which you have constructed (either intentionally or inadvertently) to be unfalsifiable.

    Your claim is no different from a religion, which is always constructed in the same way; to be unfalsifiable; and just as full of obfuscation and logical hand-waving and willful blindness to alternative interpretations of events in order to hide the fact that it is all just one long circular argument.

    If we do not agree on the fundamentals of what is self-evident (and you and I do not) then I will never be convinced by you, and you will never be convinced by me. But neither of us threatens force to compel the other to recant, so that is not a problem for us or society. We can agree to disagree, authoritarians cannot.

  53. Excellent thread.

    Juliet, your comment is a gem with a price above rubies. As I read down the comments I wondered how willing I was to listen to some ‘ad hominum’ yada yada (if you frame it properly you can call someone really awful names and not technically run afoul of that rule) but then there you were, a beacon of wit and wisdom. LOL. Thanks.

    Dredd: re water wars, yea, Kashmir is the perfect place for WWIII to start. The protagonists are both nuclear powers, hate each other, have gone to war several times and both want the same patch of land which just happens to be the headwaters of the Indus river system- without which Pakistan just dries up and blows away. Water wars world-wide are going to be a serious future problem.

  54. Gene H wrote: “Fundamentalism is a form of monism. Because such beliefs are inherently top down, they are inherently authoritarian, which is an antithetical concept to democracy where power rests in the people, not the titular head of an organization or a specific ideology.”

    Let me outline for you a form of fundamentalism that is not antithetical to democracy. From the sacred writings of the Bible, we determine the following axioms to be true:

    1) In Jesus Christ is found salvation and all knowledge, wisdom, and truth.
    2) Christ touches and influences every individual who has ever been born.
    3) No single individual on earth is perfect in knowledge and has a complete understanding of Christ and God.
    4) No single individual on earth has such direct contact with God that he can learn all he needs to learn by that direct contact.
    5) In order to comprehend the fullness of God, each individual must receive and learn that through relationship with other individuals in society.
    6) Close communion with each individual in the community is the only way in which God can be fully seen and understood by every member in society. It is necessary to both speak and hear each other, to both give and receive from each other, for every person to submit unto others in the community in order for society to fully comprehend God and to have harmony and true peace.

    Such axioms would be deemed to be religious fundamentalism through both your definition and the more commonly accepted definition of belief in a sacred text. However, if you apply logic to these axioms, surely you see that they lead away from authoritative rule and toward democracy.

    Here are some exact texts from the Bible, that if believed upon as many religious fundamentalists do, lead us away from authoritative rule rather than toward it.

    But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
    (Matthew 20:25-28)

    But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
    (Mark 10:42-45)

    And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.
    (Luke 22:24-27)

    But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
    (Matthew 23:8-12)

    The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
    (1 Peter 5:1-6)

    I might point out in regards to this last passage that “the elders” are the church leadership. The early church did not have single pastors like most churches today have. Instead they had a council of elders, much like many cities have a city council in an effort to represent the will of all the people. In this passage, we see the exhortation by Peter for them not to function as lords but to be examples. Clearly, this is advancing non-authoritative fundamentalism.

    If you still fail to see how this fundamentalism contradicts your thesis that fundamentalism is inherently authoritarian and antithetical to democracy, you might consider the irony that you are the one who operates from a fundamentalist perspective, that you prefer your own monologue instead of true dialogue, that you speak from the perspective that only your view is the correct one, that everyone else must bow to your perspective of the world, and that your position of authority is the only one that has value and deserves respect.

  55. Tony C – Bringing up homosexual marriage is probably a good example of how your mindset is not neutral in regards to religious fundamentalism. From your perspective, the Christians “deny others the right to marry.” I do not perceive this to be the perspective of the Christians.

    From the perspective of the Christians, they want to preserve a definition of marriage that includes opposite sex unions and reproduction. They want the law to define the same sex union in a way that is distinct from opposite sex unions because the two types of unions have inherent differences. Furthermore, virtually all the laws passed using the term “marriage” were passed using reasoning with the concept of opposite sex marriage and reproduction in mind. To change the definition of marriage to include same sex unions is simply a way to hijack laws passed when marriage had a different meaning. This is not a responsible path of progress.

    You further add on by saying that the Christian belief does not trump the homosexual’s belief that homosexual love is real and natural. What Christian has ever said such a thing? The love of the homosexual is just as real and natural as anybody else’s love. Some might have argued that the unions are not natural in that sex is designed for reproduction and meant to be used toward that purpose, but I don’t think I have heard anyone say that their love is not real or natural. They are encouraged to love each other, just without the sex. I have heard some express the idea that homosexuals confuse the role of sex in love and thereby confuse lust with love.

    You also add that Christians claim that their marriage and commitment causes harm to others and that such is ridiculous. It causes harm in the sense of mixing same sex union under the banner traditionally used for opposite sex unions, creating a way to hijack laws under which reasoning was used with opposite sex unions in mind. Harm also is caused by blurring the distinction that exists between same sex unions and opposite sex unions. It is only your own bias that blinds you from recognizing the logic of this. Your pretension that your atheism is neutral in matters of governing over those with fundamental beliefs is falsified by bringing up this example of society’s desire to change the definition of marriage. Your atheism affects your judgment and interpretations of facts in the same way that theism affects my judgments and interpretations of facts.

  56. Mike S: I am not so sure it is fair to characterize this as a Military Coup, anyway.

    I think it is a defensible hypothesis to claim the coup happened when the Egyptian military stopped supporting Mubarak; but even that wasn’t an overthrow, more of a revolt against a dictator (as our own revolution might be characterized).

    I think the motivation for that was economic; the protests were severely disrupting the Egyptian economy, and the military sided with the corporate wealthy that were losing money (or in fear of losing money). I do not think the Egyptian Military was principled, they let Mubarak stay a lifetime. The sociopaths are just like lions and sharks, in that blood is blood: An injured brother get ripped apart and eaten alive.

    With the military in charge, they tried to install a puppet Democratic government to mollify the people, but the people were not mollified, the moneyed classes are pounding the table demanding the financial bleeding be stopped, so the military that has been in charge all along is taking steps to bake something the people will eat and get back to work, dammit.

    I really don’t think the moneyed class puts religion or ideology above profits; they probably do not like a secular, free society, but in the end they are pragmatic sociopaths that don’t care one way or another about other people, as long as they can still exploit them. So let the people think they are a “free democracy,” if that’s what it takes to get them to work, as long as the President and Military do as they are told.

  57. This tells you almost everything you need to know IMO.

    http://egyptianchronicles.blogspot.com/2013/04/unicef-s-numbers-unemployement-in-egypt.html

    I got there by way of Diogene’s link which I had to have Google translate (badly) though the central theme was still there: money, it’s all about the money. And the future it can buy if you can get your hands on some.

    That problem, 50% unemployment among people under 30, many or mos holding degrees, is playing out all over Europe and increasingly here. Young people are looking at the future and all they see is ashes. Their governments instead of pursuing stimulus are pursuing austerity and plan to put the burden of a world-wide failed economic system on the backs of young people and others least able to afford it.

    Spain, same numbers and they have turned to anarchy, literally. The anarchist ‘party’ or groups, which are pretty small calls for a strike to shut down a city and thousands appear, a general strike attracts millions. They’re not screwing around, their public plan is to vandalize the country until the government pays attention to them and the needs of the country. They will not be the anonymous front-line casualties for a recovery that the government plans will last 10 or 15 years. HELL no!

    Greece, similar numbers, sliding into open, public fascism led by a political group (Shining Dawn) that operates with police participation as roaming bands of thugs beating people that look like immigrants and targeting/vandalizing their shops and neighborhoods. They attack, physically any other political groups in public and have seized 10% of the seats in the Greek Parliament. Their cry is Greece for Greeks, want all immigrants rounded up and deported (or gotten rid of, in what manner is not to much cared) and have as public symbols German Nazi knock-offs. They acknowledge that when times are tough people look to a strong-man to do what needs to be done and set things right. David, may I suggest a long visit to Greece to see how that whole Authoritarian/Nazi works.

    The riots, marches, protests and unrest we have seen in Europe is all economically based and they all have the same problems. A world wide economic failure and transfer of wealth that has left entire nations forcing even more austerity on its citizens and promising a lost generation of people whose economic lives can never fully recover, not even close.

    It’s easy to divorce a theocracy from that template because they have to deal with deluded authoritarians and their petty, dehumanizing laws overlaid on all that economic grief. I’m thinking that just might make them more pi**ed off though.

    There’s another link that is instructive:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228354.500-revealed–the-capitalist-network-that-runs-the-world.html#.UdiRkjs3tns

    “The work, to be published in PLoS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What’s more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

    When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.”

    If you can believe the number that 80% of the world’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of the 1% this shows that 60% of that revenue is directly controlled by a handful of corporations and bank/investment houses.

    A handful of entities broke the West and probably the world’s economy and I am convinced that the political unrest we see everywhere, including Egypt is in major part a direct result of this systematic looting of the world’s wealth and by extension the generational future of the world’s citizens. We can not afford to forget the magnitude of the events of 2008 and their predictable ramifications.

  58. ” By the terms of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, once the magic word “coup” is spoken, all financial obligations effectively disappear.”

    Help me now, when was the last time law was an obstacle to our foreign policy? Give me a minute, I am going to have to google that one.

  59. RE: Gene H. 1, July 6, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Brian,

    I find that you appear to me to be neither qualified or competent to decide what is or isn’t a just and equitable legal system for dispute resolution.

    Gene,

    I completely, totally, and absolutely agree that I am definitely neither qualified or competent to decide what is or isn;t a just and equitable legal system for dispute resolution.

    I have never claimed any such qualification or competence, and further stipulate that the reason that I am not so qualified or competent is a simple, direct, ineluctable, inescapable consequence of the way in which I am autistic. I have never been able to learn to think in words or to think in pictures; the way I am profoundly language-delayed autistic allows me only to think in thoughts, and only allows me to transliterate thoughts into transmissible words or pictures after a thought has been fully formed. I am absolutely and totally incapable of doing abstract thinking if abstract thinking is thinking in words or in pictures.

    So, when there is a system of laws presented to me only in words, I am incapable of understanding any such system of laws merely through words. Words and pictures are, for me, merely communication symbols, and no symbol, as I understand from communication theory, can ever be what it symbolizes.

    The legal fiction hypothetical “reasonable person” can achieve the existential impossibility to actually experience the future in perfect detail within the past which actually necessarily precedes the future. A hypothetical time machine can readily, but only hypothetically, accomplish that task.

    In the work of Erik Homberger Erikson, the belief that the future was inerrantly available in the past is labeled mistrust, and is correlated with time confusion. Erikson’s epigenetic chart of psychosocial developmental crises is readily found on the Internet and in every graduate school level educational psychology text I have read.

    In the work of neurologist Robert Scaer, the belief that the future was inerrantly available in the past is called time-corrupted learning, and time-corrupted learning is trauma, and trauma is imprisonment of the mind.

    The ability to think only in words, as in the so-called Saper-Whorf strong form hypothesis (words form thought) is, to me, an unambiguous indicator of the presence of profound amnesia for very early experiences of infancy. Such amnesia for infancy is, in my work and the work of neurologists such as Dr. Scaer, an unambiguous sign of severe neurological trauma.

    If the Anglo-American Adversarial System of Law and Jurisprudence did not attempt to impose its religion onto me and to other people who understand, with profound biological accuracy, that no avoidable mistake or avoidable accident can ever actually occur, and stopped imposing its belief system on me and on other people about whom I care deeply, I would contentedly ignore the brain damage associated with the belief that decency is adversarial in nature.

    Alas, those who relentlessly believe in the dogma of avoidable accidents and mistakes actually happening tend to threaten me severely for not being capable of internalizing their dogmas and doctrines.

    It is because the “Adversarial System” insists on its Divine Right to torture me without relent that I raise this protest, not only for myself, but for every other person of the autism spectrum, each one individually neither more nor less than for me.

    I have no difficulty concocting hypothetical stories, I use that form of imagination to devise scenarios for use in solving complex problems using the methodology of system dynamics, sometimes with computer software such as Vensim PLE or Stella. I simply never confuse hypothetical stores with actual reality.

    The late French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, not only figured out that the psychoanalytic dyad has a necessary third, and so is not a dyad at all, he sorted out that experience has three rather directly observable aspects, the imaginary, the symbolic, and the Real. Whatever Lacan’s Real is, it is absolutely not any sort of social construction of reality of any form whatsoever.

    Shortly after my wife and I adopted an eleven year old boy, in 1979, who had been severely neglected and abused before we met him, to help him in his struggle to overcome his stunningly tragic early childhood, I made a computer-printed poster. It had red lines as though the outline of bricks in a conventional brick wall, and had printed on it also the words, “Running into a Brick Wall does not Hurt any less if you Pretend that the Wall Is Not There.”

    The tragic or bizarre events so that so often begin a thread on the Turley Blog illustrate how difficult it is to actually live in a purely hypothetical world that only exists consciously in the form of words and word-based thought.

    Collecting and analyzing the ways people reject my work and its scientific worth is one way that I have for mapping the high-dimension-space boundary of the trauma spectrum.

    The essential difference between your view and mine may be merely that I managed to elude the infant-child transition and its associated “terrible twos” perfectly.

    There is a curious feature of my work. Within the frequentist statistical camp (chi-square, two-tailed T test, standard deviation, and such) in which the boundary of statistical significance is 0.05, the data with which I work is well below the 0.02 significance level, where the mathematics of frequentist statistics turns to mush, because all my useful data polnts are outliers that need to be discarded.

    Bayes Theorem statistics have no outliers and work all the way to the frequentist statistical significance level of essentially 0.000…

    At university, I clobbered my classes in which frequentist statistics were required. I can do that sort of statistical analysis with total ease and comfort. However, I also recognize that the frequentist methodology is stunningly biased against accumulated learning in ways Bayesian methods are not. Yeah, Bayesians require concocting priors, but at least priors are allowed to enter into statistical models of reality and, for Lacanians, into models of the Real, also.

  60. DavidM: Bringing up homosexual marriage is probably a good example of how your mindset is not neutral in regards to religious fundamentalism.

    Of course it isn’t, I think the religious are severely deluded, if that isn’t clear; anybody that believes the Bible is literally true is just blind to the logical contradictions on every page, or perhaps is too lazy to have ever read it.

    DavidM: From your perspective, the Christians “deny others the right to marry.” I do not perceive this to be the perspective of the Christians.

    Then you are wrong, because that is the effective result of their belief, they want to deny two homosexuals the right to marry. Call it “preserving” something or anything you want, the effect is to deny marriage to homosexuals. Appeal to tradition, appeal to the dictionary, I don’t care, the net effect is denial.

    Homosexuals do not accept those definitions, reject those traditions, and subscribe to an alternative and valid definition of marriage that is between two human beings and is not gender based. Their fundamental belief differs from the Bible-inspired fundamental belief, and the Christians think the law should enforce their belief preferentially.

    DavidM: To change the definition of marriage to include same sex unions is simply a way to hijack laws passed when marriage had a different meaning. This is not a responsible path of progress.

    On the contrary, discarding arbitrary definitions based on prejudice is precisely the path to progress, as when we discarded the definition of “men” that literally meant “male humans with property” for the broader definition meaning “any human” in regard to the right to vote. We discarded the definition of “person” that demanded a person be “white” in order to end slavery.

    DavidM: You further add on by saying that the Christian belief does not trump the homosexual’s belief that homosexual love is real and natural. What Christian has ever said such a thing?

    Any that has ever called homosexuality an abomination, a sin, or quotes Leviticus in saying homosexuals should be put to death. Shall you deny that happens? As for sex, sex is a part of romantic love; the physiological responses are identical. Homosexuals AGAIN reject your premise that sex is ONLY for procreation, if that were true a sterile married couple would be prohibited from it as well (which includes any post-menopausal woman).

    Scientifically speaking, sex has multiple roles, not just one role, and one of those roles is emotional bonding and reinforcement of commitment. Sex releases brain chemicals that solidify and reinforce neural pathways that are involved in treating one’s romantic partner with altruism, caring, trust, and respect — Love. That is true for both homosexuals and heterosexuals, but I am not here to argue for homosexual marriage: I am here to argue that denying homosexuals the right to marry is trying to use force to impose your beliefs on somebody that does not share your beliefs, it is coercion. Their marriage and commitment to each other and sexual acts do not harm you in any way; yet you would deny them anyway.

    DavidM: Harm also is caused by blurring the distinction that exists between same sex unions and opposite sex unions.

    They can claim that you create harm by making that distinction in the first place; that marriage is marriage and gender does not matter, and what happens in their marriage is none of your business.

    DavidM: Your pretension that your atheism is neutral …

    I don’t pretend my atheism is neutral, it is not neutral at all. Your theism is not neutral, either. What I claim is that I am not an authoritarian, I do not try to impose my beliefs on theists with force, I do not demand the law make theism illegal, I do not rabble-rouse for the government to outlaw religion.

    Theists do all of those things with regard to homosexuals that do not believe as they do. They assault and beat them, they made sodomy and homosexuality illegal, they take political action to prevent same sex marriages and dictatorially reserve the right of marriage to their personal religious belief system, no matter what others believe.

    Unlike me, Christian fundamentalists like you are authoritarian wannabe dictators that would enforce your religious views by law, with force, and with punishments for deviation.

    I would not do that. I do not believe in forcing you to believe as I do or act out your life in accordance with my beliefs. If you want to pray and sing five times a day, feel free. If you want to donate 10% of your income to your church, write the check whenever you feel the urge.

    But that is clearly an asymmetric allowance: I am willing to allow you the freedom to live your life according to your beliefs which I think are wrong and foolish, but you are not willing to allow others the freedom to live their lives according to their beliefs which you think are wrong and foolish. You are a controlling autocrat that wants everybody to live according to your beliefs no matter what they think of them.

  61. David,

    Let’s assume you’ve pointed out an exception.
    It is evidence by anecdote and as such is invalid being a sample space of one.
    Plus, let’s look at your axioms.

    1) In Jesus Christ is found salvation and all knowledge, wisdom, and truth.

    Opinion not substantiated by fact but based in belief.

    2) Christ touches and influences every individual who has ever been born.

    Opinion not substantiated by fact but based in belief.

    3) No single individual on earth is perfect in knowledge and has a complete understanding of Christ and God.

    Yet so many fundamentalists claim precisely that: an absolute perfect knowledge “The term ‘fundamentalist’ as normally defined is someone who believes literally in some sacred text, such as the Holy Bible or the Holy Quran.” Sounds like pimping absolute truth to me.

    4) No single individual on earth has such direct contact with God that he can learn all he needs to learn by that direct contact.

    So God is imperfect in His relationships with man and needs other men to help out, eh? I guess that explains why he needs money.

    5) In order to comprehend the fullness of God, each individual must receive and learn that through relationship with other individuals in society.

    Receive from whom? Other imperfect beings rather than the allegedly perfect omnipresent omnipotent being? Seems rather sloppy.

    6) Close communion with each individual in the community is the only way in which God can be fully seen and understood by every member in society. It is necessary to both speak and hear each other, to both give and receive from each other, for every person to submit unto others in the community in order for society to fully comprehend God and to have harmony and true peace.

    So long as that submission unto others in the community doesn’t insist on others in the community accepting axioms #1 and #2 as true. They are beliefs and as such rely on faith or at best a choice of conscience, but they are not backed by any sort of rational proof.

    Also, quoting scripture as proof of how organizations at in the real world is simply ridiculous, especially given the contradictory nature of the literal words of the Bible.

    This fundamentalist gal seems to think she knows exactly what God wants and has no issue with indoctrinating her children into specific political ideologies to promote her vision of what God wants – which includes forcing their ideology upon others through the force of law. This is despite the fact that as recently as 2011, 78% of Americans thought abortion should be legal. Why . . . to want to outlaw abortion based on a fundamentalist religious belief that all life begins as conception when the majority think the procedure should be legal sounds pretty undemocratic to me.

    No one is forcing fundamentalists to have abortions. Yet fundamentalists shown here would gladly try to use the rule of law to force their beliefs upon others who do not share them. That’s anti-democratic. It’s theocratic. It’s wrong. It’s against both the ideas of democracy and pluralism.

    You believe what you want. If you think abortion is a sin? Don’t have one. And realize that what others choose to do in re their “relationship with God” is none of your business . . . unless they ask you.

    Keep your religion out of the government and we’ll have no problems.

    And if any of this offends you?

    Forgive me.

    It’s what Jesus would do.

  62. Brian,

    “I completely, totally, and absolutely agree that I am definitely neither qualified or competent to decide what is or isn;t a just and equitable legal system for dispute resolution.”

    Then what makes you qualified to make pronouncements about the adversarial model of dispute resolution? Nothing, by your own admission. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, Brian, but you aren’t entitled to your own facts. The fact is as stated: the adversarial dispute resolution model is the worst form of dispute resolution form of dispute resolution except for all the rest. As long as people disagree – i.e. have adverse positions – there will always be a need for adversarial dispute resolution. Since disagreement is a basic state of the human condition, we are not going to get rid of disagreements any time soon. Given that parties remain adverse and disputes need to be settled in a just and equitable manner, an impartial hearing by a third party applying the law to the facts to reach judgements is still the better option than imperial fiat or fending for yourself.

  63. Gene H:

    now what if they vote it out? That’s democracy isnt it? Just like the kind you and Tony C like so much.

  64. RE: Gene H. 1, July 6, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Brian,

    I find that you appear to me to be neither qualified or competent to decide what is or isn’t a just and equitable legal system for dispute resolution.

    Gene,

    I left out something that I had intended to include, so here it is:

    I am neither qualified nor competent to live safely in any society in which the Rule of Law is adversarial and has as its foundational premise the belief that I learned tomorrow’s lessons yesterday, and so am accountable for them today.

    It is by having learned tomorrow’s lessons yesterday that the hypothetical legal fiction reasonable person can employ tomorrow’s lessons today, thereby being able to flawlessly foresee that which, until tomorrow, will not happen.

    A fair use quotation from posthumously-published Robert Rosen, Anticipatory Systens: Philosophical, Mathematical, and Philosophical Foundations: Second Edition Springer, 2012, from pages 220 and 221:

    “Traditionally, there are two main kinds of suggestion available for resolving the paradox of time reversibility in a perceptibly irreversible world. These are:
    (a) The dynamics of conservative systems is indeed fundamental, in some ultimate microscopic sense. Hence the irreversibilities we perceive in ordinary experience arise at another (macroscopic) level. Just as the quality of temperature appears to emerge when we pass from microscopic mechanics to macroscopic thermodynamics, so too does the apparent irreversibility of macroscopic experience. Like temperature, irreversibility depends on the fact that macroscopic experience involves statistical averages over large number of microscopic events. That is, irreversibility at the macroscopic level is connected with ensembles on which we can only deal with probabilities.
    (b) The reversibility of time inherent in the mathematics of conservative system shows that this formalism is not sufficiently general to encode all natural phenomena. That is, even at the most microscopic level, we must generalize the formalism of conservative Newtonian dynamics to include a broader class of systems for which time reversibility does not hold. The apparent time reversibility of Newtonian dynamics is thus essentially an artifact arising from the adoption of too narrow a formal framework for physical encodings. in a properly general framework, irreversibility will be manifested at the most fundamental microscopic levels, independent of considerations of probabilistic averaging at a macroscopic level.
    It should be noted that these two alternatives are not mutually exclusive.

    The narrow formal framework of frequentist statistics, combined with the narrow framework of traumatic imprisonment of the mind that is the cause and the result of the commonplace infant-child transition are vastly too narrow to allow any form of verifiable physically Real encoding of any sort of Real physical phenomenon of such complexity as is necessary for any living organism to actually exist.

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

    Also, from Robert Rosen, Fundamentals of Measurement and Representation of Natural Systems, North-Holland, New York, 1978, in accord with fair use (this book has long been out of print), page 28:

    … Thus every meter defines an observable; conversely, for every observable we suppose there exists a meter in terms of which it could be defined. By the basis of Proposition !, every real physical event involves the evaluation of observables on states. If there were an “observable” which took part in no physical event, it would be devoid of physical significance.

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

    The hypothetical legal fiction person is only hypothetically “observable,” because it takes part in no physical event, and is thereupon devoid of physical significance.

    I wonder how many attorneys-at-law have the theoretical biology background needed for Rosen’s work to require no greater effort than is necessary for reading a typical heartthrob romance novel.

    How, on Earth, or elsewhere, can anyone who does not accurately understand essential aspects of theoretical biology and their practical applications truthfully claim competence in my field of professional activity?

    What is my purpose here? it is to understand the relationship of biology to the myriad of predicaments that are the essence of many, if not most, of the Turley Blog threads, and to help resolve such predicaments in the public safety interest.

  65. Bron: Who is “they”? They is us, man. The chances of a majority of Americans voting out the entire court system is zero. Whatever the consequences may be, it isn’t worth worrying about things that will never happen.

  66. Bron,

    I think that is the paradox of democracy. Once it is voted out, it can only be reestablished by force.

    Gene H,

    In one of my early trials (a termination of parental rights case), the last witness for the other side was the mother, a woman who was described by the family case worker as “borderline psychotic” and “borderline retarded.” I was simply unable to figure out how to cross-examine her. Fortunately, we broke for lunch at the end of direct, and I was able to discuss this with a more experienced lawyer. He asked a simple question: “Why do you want to talk to a crazy person?” I didn’t cross-examine. We won.

    I just thought I’d pass that along, for what it’s worth.

  67. Bron,

    Then it would still have to pass Constitutional muster because it would be challenged. Unlikely without completely undoing parts of the Bill of Rights.

  68. Porkchop,

    Oh, I understand for sure. lol Some things just need to be said as a statement even if they look like a cross. :D

  69. Yes, technically the phrase “Hobson’s choice” refers to a “take it or leave it” choice, as in Henry Ford’s famous saying that “a customer can have any color Ford vehicle he wants, as long as it is black.” So, in the Ford example, the customer, back then, really had not choice of color at all–IF the customer wanted to buy a Ford. But the customer could choose to walk away. And yes, the term “dilemma” would be appropriate where a choice must be made between the lesser of two evils, or in situations where one must choose between the Devil and the deep blue sea,” as the saying goes.

    But from a practical viewpoint, the phrase “Hobson’s choice” is often still correct when applied to “choices” between political candidates or political parties. To argue that “dilemma” or “Morton’s Fork” must be used between political candidates is often tantamount to hair splitting.

    For example, let’s say that in an election between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. You’ve carefully examined the records of both candidates and, although they sound a little different, their policies and actions are substantially the same and don’t like either candidate. You conclude the “choice” between the two is largely an illusion. So you decide to sit the election out. In effect, you could still be said to be confronting a “Hobson’s choice” because you can “take it (i.e., vote for Tweedledum/Tweedledee) or leave it (i.e., abstain from voting).

    Those that argue that “dilemma” must be used in such Tweededum/Tweedledee situations do so on the assumption that even by not voting you are making a choice. Let’s say Tweedledum is ahead by 10%. The members of the Tweedledee team are urging you to vote for Tweedledee and tell you that “if you don’t vote for Tweedledee, you’re still voting for Tweedledum.” And, in fact, the Tweedledee team members are correct in that you will be stuck with Tweedledum, unless enough people, including you, are persuaded to vote of Tweedledee. But if you go along with that line of reasoning then YOU are turning a “Hobson’s choice” into a “dilemma.” It doesn’t have to be a “dilemma.” You can choose to do nothing, or you could write-in your own candidate, if that option’s available.

    Even in the original derivation of the term, in which Hobson required his customers to choose the horse in the stall closest to the door (to prevent the best horses from always being chosen, which would have caused those horses to become overused), the fact was that customers were still going to “choose” the horse closest to the door because they came to go riding, and they would take what they could get. But it’s only a “Hobson’s choice” because they had to take the horse that was offered them or they could choose to walk away.

    However, if you really want to start splitting hairs, you could argue that the original “Hobson’s choice” was really a “dilemma” for most of Hobson’s customers. The people who came to Hobson’s stall went there to ride horses. If they happened to face the choice between riding a horse that was less desirable or going home miserable because they wouldn’t be able to go riding with their friends, then they faced a “dilemma” in their minds.

  70. Gene H.,

    You’re kind of wasting your time on the dissection of those axioms.

    They meet at least two of the accepted definitions of “axiom”. They are propositions the truth of which is self-evident (at least to David), and for his purposes, they are propositions that are assumed without proof.

  71. Porkchop,

    Is illustrating that a “truth” asserted as such without proof is an assumption and poor evidence time wasted? Reasonable minds may differ.

  72. Tony C – Nobody has ever denied any homosexual the right to marry. The fight has been regarding whether it is proper to change the legal definition of marriage. Anybody can create their own personal definitions of words and force it upon others to accept. You choose to do this with the word marriage. You define it in your own peculiar way and then claim those who doesn’t accept your definition are bigots and hateful, which leads to defining them as criminals. You don’t care that history and thousands of philosophers, lawyers, judges, and justices of the past have worked out the definition of marriage that we have today.

    My position, as well as that of many others, including many Christians, is that the law should accommodate same sex unions as domestic partnerships or civil unions, much like what California has done. As the California Supreme Court has clarified, domestic partnerships in California are afforded virtually all the same rights as marriage. Therefore, the only thing being fought for by homosexual advocates is the status symbol of marriage, that this designation will somehow ease their feeling of condemnation and make them feel accepted. The idea of changing our entire history of law making regarding this word “marriage” in order to create a status symbol for people intent on using sex exclusively for non-reproductive purposes is not responsible from a legal perspective.

    The law has always had respect for long standing traditional understandings, until this year in the case of homosexuality. You ignore the court arguments for why marriage was considered a right. It was because of its role in reproduction. As I pointed out to you before, the Skinner v. Oklahoma case referenced in Loving v. Virginia is about whether the State had the right to sterilize prisoners. Your bias blinds you to basic facts and court procedures that in common law relies upon traditional understandings. There is not history concerning what you argue for except in failed civilizations. Therefore, your perspective is basically an experiment and there should be some caution and much discussion before going down this path. Instead, you want to force your definition on everyone else, even to the point of prosecuting those who disagree with you.

    When you claim that your perspective is not authoritarian, you seem to forget the purpose of the law. Consider for a moment people who believe the traditional legal definition of marriage, that it defines a biological basis of mankind existing as male and female and that a person becomes complete by the male and female coming together in the bonds of marriage. If the law declares such individuals as being motivated by animus against a minority in society who believe that their same sex unions are completely identical to opposite sex unions, then the law must move to punish those bigots and haters in society. This has indeed already happened in States that have been deceived by the homosexual agenda rhetoric, as evidenced by the recent blog posting about the florist. Thus, your position is authoritarian in that it sets us on a path of prosecuting those whose perspective differs from yours.

    My perspective to grant legal rights through domestic partnership laws is less authoritarian because it does not set us on that path. It allows room for both same sex unions and opposite sex unions in a way that does not prosecute someone who holds to one belief or the other.

  73. lottakatz 1, July 6, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Excellent thread.

    Juliet, your comment is a gem with a price above rubies. As I read down the comments I wondered how willing I was to listen to some ‘ad hominum’ yada yada (if you frame it properly you can call someone really awful names and not technically run afoul of that rule) but then there you were, a beacon of wit and wisdom. LOL. Thanks.

    Dredd: re water wars, yea, Kashmir is the perfect place for WWIII to start. The protagonists are both nuclear powers, hate each other, have gone to war several times and both want the same patch of land which just happens to be the headwaters of the Indus river system- without which Pakistan just dries up and blows away. Water wars world-wide are going to be a serious future problem.
    =================================
    Yep.

    Meanwhile the “news media” puppets of the epigovernment will continue to lull the citizenry into a stupor or trance like state as they have with the oil wars of the past century –which most Americans are utterly unaware of or in denial of.

    A. Huxley predicted it more correctly than K. Marx did.

    Karl Marx missed it, having a very positive attitude towards Americans, saying Americans would rise up and take their power back from Big Brother.

    But Americans will not rise up like the Egyptians, as Marx predicted Americans would, but will learn to love their internment:

    Marx argued that capitalism would succeed in its initial stages quite well in promoting growth by means of capital investment in new technology and improved means of production. Everyone would prosper. As capitalism developed, however, he argued that capitalists would appropriate to themselves more and more of the profits or income from the economy and that laborers would come to have increasingly less.

    Over time, in time and such circumstances, Marx claimed that, first, capitalistic economies would undergo ever more vicious cyclical swings from boom to bust. These cycles and the on-going process of capitalism would, second, result in ever richer capitalists and ever poorer working classes, until, finally, at some point, laborers would revolt and take over the means of production, causing Socialism to ensue as a result. Socialism, in turn, was merely a transitional step to Communism.

    (The Impact of Toxins of Power On Evolution). No, Huxley is the one who got it right:

    “There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”

    (Wee The People – 3, emphasis added). Like Mike alluded to as I quoted in a comment up-thread, Americans will accept a military intervention in their civil government like the Egyptians do.

  74. J Brian: and then demonstrate that the accident or mistake that actually happened was actually avoidable because it was actually avoided

    As I pointed out to you long ago, those are not equivalent states. You are engaged in word play because you equate ‘actually avoidable’ with ‘actually avoided,’ which is a false equivalence, and based on a redefinition of the words “avoidable” and “avoided” to be identical. Like the Aynish, you just redefine what words mean to suit your word play goals.

    Paper is actually flammable. I do not have to actually burn a piece of paper to prove that piece of paper is in fact flammable; we have burned many other pieces of paper to show that material was flammable.

    I am a mortal human being. I do not have to actually die to prove that I am mortal. I believe any two given integers can be added, I do not have to add every possible combination to prove that.

    Avoidable does not automatically mean an accident WILL be avoided; it means in the dictionary sense that IF we had acted differently the mistake would not have happened; and furthermore that the difference in action required was plausibly possible to anticipate and execute prior to the mistake being made.

    Your entire argument boils down to an overblown, unproven, purposely obfuscated hypothesis that man has no free will; that accidents and mistakes were fated to happen, and all future accidents and mistakes are fated to happen.

    Anybody that believes we have free will would disagree with you, and that is the vast majority of humanity. That is why we punish choices that lead to harm, and reward choices that lead to good. There is no question, empirically and statistically speaking, that such punishment and reward does in fact reduce the frequency of harm and increase the incidence of good; we see that any time we house train a dog or teach him to stay out of the street.

  75. Gene H wrote: “Let’s assume you’ve pointed out an exception.
    It is evidence by anecdote and as such is invalid being a sample space of one.”

    You seem to be confused about the scientific method and hypothesis testing using methods like Strong Inference. When conducting a disproof of a theory or hypothesis, it only takes one example to disprove it. Only when a person is trying to prove a hypothesis rather than disprove one would your criticism be valid.

    Your thesis was that the inherent nature of fundamentalism makes it authoritarian and incompatible with democracy and pluralism. I pointed out axioms derived by fundamentalists who believe every word of the Bible is literally true and to be followed to illustrate how some fundamentalists (e.g., Christian fundamentalists who believe in Christ’s teachings) clearly are directed toward non-authoritarian positions by their fundamentalism.

    Let me be clear that I am not defending fundamentalism. I am just pointing out how fundamentalism, by its nature, is not necessarily authoritarian. Many fundamentalists are very authoritarian, but I would say that such is not necessitated by their belief in the literal truth of the Bible, Quran, etc.

    As you go through the axioms, you seem to want to discount them as opinion. One thing that must be understood is that fundamentalists approach religious texts much in the same way as you approach empirical evidence. They view the text as a foundation to be trusted, and then interpret the texts in a way to understand everything else. They often devise rules by which to interpret the texts. I did not take time to argue the hermeneutical proofs because they are not important to my point. I am asking you to accept the notion that these are axioms arrived at by some fundamentalists, axioms derived from their literal reliance on the teachings of the New Testament.

    Gene H wrote: “So God is imperfect in His relationships with man and needs other men to help out, eh? … Receive from whom? Other imperfect beings rather than the allegedly perfect omnipresent omnipotent being? Seems rather sloppy.”

    If you are interested, you can read 1 Corinthians chapters 12, 13, and 14 for the primary texts upon which the concept is based. The basic concept is that by God’s design, man was created incomplete on various levels. It starts with the understanding that man was created male and female on purpose, to illustrate to man his need for another. The man cannot exist without the woman, neither can the woman exist without the man. This leads to further revelation that different individuals in the community need each other and should join together. Much like the each person has body parts and organs working together to form one complete unified person, so members in the community can be joined together into a one more perfect community. The idea is that by design, God chose to reveal himself fully in only one human being: Jesus the Christ. We should acknowledge this, and acknowledge that none of us are better than another, but simply serve different functions and reveal a portion of Christ in our daily lives. If God spoke in someway to one person, he also speaks to or works through another person, but perhaps in a different way. We should not despise the way God works through another because it is different from us, neither should we exalt the way God works through us and claim that we have no need for others in the community. By the design of God, it is by our loving association with others in the community, by receiving the part which they have received from God, that we become complete. We become better than we were before. A kind of synergism develops when in this kind of communion with other members of our society.

    All of this is based upon rational proof, but it is rational thinking based upon religious texts believed to be inspired by God rather than logic based upon solely empirical data.

    As for my direct quoting of the Biblical texts, I was not quoting them as proof but simply giving them as some of the source material upon which these fundamentalists are led by logic to be non-authoritarian in their leadership style. The premise of fundamentalism is a literal belief upon inspired texts. My point was that if someone literally believed these texts that I quoted, they would be led toward being non-authoritarian in their leadership style.

    You personally may find the Bible to have a contradictory nature, but millions of people find truth through the process of reconciling what appear to be paradoxical texts. There have been millions to declare after going through the process that there is not a single contradiction in the Bible. I’m not defending them, just pointing out that millions of other people who examined the same texts that you have came to a very different perspective about the reliability of these texts. Some of these people were very intelligent people, like Isaac Newton.

    As for the abortion issue you raise, you need to read that link you provided more carefully. It says that 78% want it to remain legal “at least under some circumstances.” Most pro-life people want to exempt cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at stake. The poll said that only 25% want abortion completely legal regardless of circumstances.

    I consider myself pro-life, but I do not believe that the legal definition of a person exists at the moment of conception. Kind of like the homosexual marriage issue in which I think the law needs to make distinctions between same sex unions and opposite sex unions, I think the law should make distinctions between life that is not yet born and life that is born. The law should also distinguish between a child and an adult. Legal rights and responsibilities toward others should be defined accordingly.

    Nevertheless, being pro-life myself, I understand the perspective of a person who is against killing unborn children and why they want the law to protect the unborn. You see their position as religious fundamentalist authoritarianism, but I see it as a product of how they define and understand the issue. Surely we all agree that the law should prohibit murder. If the unborn is considered a person with the same rights as a baby just born from the womb, then killing that unborn person is murder. Ergo, it would be murder to kill the unborn. So the difference rests upon definitions of a person who should be afforded the protections of law. The rights of the mother, the father, and the unborn all come into play. It really is not about authoritarianism but about properly defining laws to protect the interests of every living being involved.

    Gene H wrote: “No one is forcing fundamentalists to have abortions. Yet fundamentalists shown here would gladly try to use the rule of law to force their beliefs upon others who do not share them. That’s anti-democratic. It’s theocratic. It’s wrong. It’s against both the ideas of democracy and pluralism.”

    I see the video you provided very differently from you. Everything they did concerning their belief is very democratic. They believe abortion is murder and the law should protect the unborn from murder. Do they take up guns to shoot those who disagree with them? No. Do they take up bombs and blow up the courts that ruled against their belief? No. Instead, they share their belief with others; they raise up children to believe like they do; they establish pregnancy clinics to counsel pregnant women about alternatives like adoption; they pray for the laws to be changed to recognize the rights of the unborn. Virtually everything they did is expected in a democracy. Never did they use force to compel their position upon others. It is only your own authoritarian position against their belief that causes you not to understand their belief and to denigrate and condemn them for it. Apparently you do not want the law to recognize the rights of the unborn in any way shape or form. But rather than embrace the debate and enter into dialogue, which would be the response in accord with principles of democracy and pluralism, you want them to go away and be gone and not bother you with questions about how the law should protect the rights of the unborn. Can you not see how you are the one who is being authoritarian on this issue?

  76. DavidM: Nobody has ever denied any homosexual the right to marry.

    That is a lie, when homosexuals applied for marriage licenses they were denied; and would still be denied if they applied today in many states, which is why they don’t bother, they aren’t stupid.

    DavidM: You don’t care that history and thousands of philosophers, lawyers, judges, and justices of the past have worked out the definition of marriage that we have today.

    You are correct. The same people worked out their justifications for thousands of years of enslaving others and defining what it meant to be a “person” or who was allowed to be free, or sold, or tried for a murder.

    The Bible specifically endorses slavery and the sale of humans; particularly women. Moses orders captured women and male children that committed no crime but being victims of his war of aggression to be put to death, he makes live sacrifices of virgins to God, and distributes 30,000 of them as prizes to his warriors. God orders his followers to put to death their disobedient children. Moses has a complete stranger to his religion stoned to death for collecting firewood on the Sabbath; for violating a religious rule he knew nothing about.

    If you believe “tradition” is inerrant, you are insane and not fit for society.

    It is wrong to force others to comply with your religious beliefs if their religious beliefs do you no harm.

    And before you whine that it hurts your feelings or whatever, “Harm” is not defined as your emotional distress at their actions, any more so than their emotional distress at YOUR actions: You cause them severe emotional distress to preserve your own religious emotional tranquility; it is an unfair outcome.

    DavidM: that it defines a biological basis of mankind existing as male and female and that a person becomes complete by the male and female coming together in the bonds of marriage.

    No, it doesn’t. The Bible had no problem with men having many wives, it had no problem with men having mistresses and knocking them up, it had no problem with men literally selling their daughters to strangers, or letting strangers bang their daughters as a matter of hospitality; it did not punish Lot for sleeping with his daughters. (the excuse being he was drunk, an excuse I imagine the many jailed fathers that have raped their daughters, one of whom was a neighbor of mine forty years ago, believe should apply equally to them).

    The traditional definition of marriage was a legalized economic transaction involving sex slavery; which still applies to many marriages today in traditional societies. Women are sold to men by their owners (fathers or brothers or slave masters), then used for sex and reproduction regardless of their choice.

    Romantic marriage as the most common form of marriage is a relatively recent invention; for most of “traditional” history, most women were a commodity to be bought and sold by men. Even the Bible demands obedience in its vows, and the one-sided fidelity of a slave to her master: The woman shall cleave only unto the man; but the Bible makes it clear a man can cleave as many women as he wants (and marry as many as he wants) without committing any sin.

    Your argument falls apart in the true light of “tradition;” we have rejected slavery, and rejected the traditional definition of marriage long ago.

  77. Leading up to the not-a-coup coup in Egypt, the U.S. government tried unsuccessfully to intervene.

    It was revealed that Egyptians have an interesting name for the U.S. government:

    “Mother just told us that we will stop playing in one hour,” an aide texted an associate, playing on a sarcastic Egyptian expression for the country’s Western patron, “Mother America.”

    (NY Times). Why is it that foreigners see that nature more readily than Americans do (MOMCOM: The Private Parts – 3)? Mother America indeed (a.k.a. the nanny empire).

  78. David,

    I’m not confused in the slightest.

    You seem to be confused that you aren’t asserting a hypothesis though: namely that fundamentalism isn’t contrary to democracy. Again, a sample space of one is not sufficient to prove a hypothesis as being generally true. That is the primary flaw in anecdotal evidence. One data point is not a trend. Your hypothesis is fails to disprove or prove anything based on one data point. However, there is more than one data point to suggest that fundamentalism is contrary by nature with democracy. One’s that don’t rely upon scripture as “evidence”. You seem to have a general problem understanding what constitutes evidence.

    Aside from the abortion issue, I could provide several such other instances where common fundamentalist beliefs are contrary to democracy, but Tony has a good line on the homosexual marriage issue so I’ll leave it at that since I like watching Tony dissect arguments almost as much as I like dissecting them myself. There is also the real world examples of the many real world attempts at theocratic government which almost to a one end in tyranny and oppression of those failing to conform with the ideological dogma of those in charge. Saudi Arabia. Myanmar. Egypt. India. Iran. Thailand. The list goes on and on.

    As for your statements on the abortion video, you apparently fail to distinguish beliefs from scientific fact. For the majority of human history, whether or not a developing unborn human is a person or not has been determined by its ability to survive outside the womb. That’s a fact. Not a belief. Just because science has created technologies that allow a greater chance of survival for premature babies does not change that fact.

    It’s not a person until it can survive on its own.

    “Never did they use force to compel their position upon others.”

    Except when they seek to overturn a law clearly favored by the majority in favor of asserting their beliefs as law. The saving grace of democracy is that it can serve to limit efforts like this to force religious beliefs upon others in contravention of the 1st Amendment.

  79. Tony C – your last response is so wild, I really am scratching my head whether or not you want to engage in serious dialogue or just rant from an atheist playbook of twisted logic and misinformation.

    To be clear about homosexuals not being denied marriage, please understand that I mean within the context of the way that the law recognizes marriage. If I apply for a marriage license to marry another woman or to marry a poodle, I might be denied that license as well. Why should the State grant permission for such a marriage when it defines marriage as between one man and one woman?

    Many homosexual men do marry women, under State law, because they want to have children and a family. Some of them, while married, also engage in sex with other men and sometimes even other women. No State ever said to a homosexual man, you cannot marry this woman because you are a homosexual.

    Part of the problem in communicating here is the illusory creation of a hypothetical homosexual man or woman, who is supposedly someone who wants to have sex only with someone of the same gender and who earnestly desires to be married to a lifelong companion of the same sex. Very few if any homosexual ever fits into this nice imaginary box. Sexuality is better understood as being a gradation, with some individuals on one end of the spectrum being those who see the proper role of sex as being for reproduction between a man and woman with birth control, oral sex, anal sex, etc. being taboo, and on the other end of the spectrum having individuals being open to expanding sexual relations to include oral sex, anal sex, sexual interaction with someone of the same gender, sex with sex toys or other objects, etc. Snatching from this spectrum the classification two distinct categories of homosexual and heterosexual and claiming discrimination is nothing more than a ruse to destroy the concept of a man and a woman being completed through engaging in marriage.

    Now because you have been indoctrinated to think that marriage is about romantic love between two people (you probably abhor the practice of arranged marriages by parents), and because you have been indoctrinated to accept the false idea that there is no difference between men and women, and because you erroneously think typical marriage has nothing to do with reproduction, you are led to the erroneous logical conclusion that marriage is an equal rights issue. Until you go back and reexamine the falsity of the premises your logic is built upon, you will never be able to understand why you and I disagree on this issue.

    As for all your Biblical examples, it is clear that you have no understanding whatsoever about basic principles of Biblical hermeneutics. You are like a man trying to perform the functions of a Judge without ever having studied law. You seem to think that because something is mentioned in the Bible that it thereby gives its approval. Such would be like reading how Judas went and hung himself and from that you argue that the Bible supports suicide; therefore, you argue, the Bible is unworthy of our attention in any form.

    The slavery practiced by the Southern Democrats was very different than the slavery practiced in the Bible which required the release of slaves every 7 years; nevertheless, the fact that slavery, polygamy, and divorce are practices mentioned in the Bible does not mean that such are practices sanctioned by God. You ignore all the passages that regulate or condemn such things in order to mock and ridicule the belief system of others. It would be more profitable for you to engage in serious dialogue, to understand how these issues are dealt with by intelligent persons rather than think mockery and ridicule is sufficient. Unfortunately, I have found time and time again that atheists hate the proper application of logic and reason to issues. Pretending to be champions of free thought and logic, atheists enslave the mind to empiricism and favor mockery and ridicule over logical dialogue.

  80. ” If I apply for a marriage license to marry another woman or to marry a poodle, I might be denied that license as well. ”

    The fallacy of false equivalence. Homosexuality is not bestiality. Homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality in a small but statistically significant portion of our species as it is in other species. Between adults, it is a sexual relationship that requires consent to be valid. Animals cannot grant valid consent. Laws banning consensual homosexual sex and marriage are wrong under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Laws banning bestiality are valid do to the consent issue alone. Laws banning polygamy are a valid restriction on religious practice, not free exercise, and as such are permissible per Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. (8 Otto.) 145 (1878). Seeking to prevent other religious sects from carrying out marriages of homosexual couples who are willing to do so would be an impermissible limitation of religious practice as it prohibits others right to free exercise. Legal recognition of homosexual marriages in no way forces any congregation to perform said ceremonies if they choose not to.

    Try again.

  81. Gene H – sorry, but you are confused. I encourage you to take some science classes, or study for yourself the writings of Karl Popper on how disproof is a way science advances more rapidly in knowledge than other practices like yours that involve confirmation bias. You ignore any facts that might contradict your theory because you feel that for the most part, your theory is the best explanation regardless of all the facts. A short paper written by John Platt in the 1960’s outlines a method of Strong Inference that can give you a better idea of how science works better by disproving hypotheses rather than proving a hypothesis. Unfortunately, most of the public have a misconception about this, and even our public school systems fail to grasp it. When I taught at the University, the public school teachers came during the summer and I tried my best to help them understand the concept. Nevertheless, today I continually have to deal with public school teachers who erroneously try to teach my children to conduct science by proving a hypothesis. The concept of a null hypothesis in statistical analysis seems completely foreign to them. I am not surprised that you do not understand the concept either.

    Following is a public link to the classic paper by Platt:
    http://256.com/gray/docs/strong_inference.html

    The problem is that your theory lacks full explanatory power and is at this time unprovable. My single documentation of its failure, you called it an exception, is sufficient to have us look elsewhere to explain where authoritarianism in humans comes from. I think Brian brought up the example of Das Kapital and its adherents as another example. Clearly it is time to look elsewhere than to religious fundamentalism to understand why some act in authoritarian ways.

    Gene H wrote: “As for your statements on the abortion video, you apparently fail to distinguish beliefs from scientific fact. For the majority of human history, whether or not a developing unborn human is a person or not has been determined by its ability to survive outside the womb. That’s a fact. Not a belief. Just because science has created technologies that allow a greater chance of survival for premature babies does not change that fact.”

    I am not sure what your point is here. Are you saying that only scientific facts are allowed in a democracy and that beliefs should be excluded? Are you saying that laws must be based solely upon scientific facts? Perhaps you can clarify your point.

    Roe v. Wade established viability as what distinguishes personhood, but the case law is not quite as clear as you seem to imply. People have been tried for double murder and sometimes convicted of double murder when a mother and her fetus were involved. In fact, I think Scott Peterson in California was convicted of double murder when he killed Laci Peterson. And California has something called an Unborn Victims of Violence Act protecting the rights of unborn children from injury or death.

    Gene H wrote: “Except when they seek to overturn a law clearly favored by the majority in favor of asserting their beliefs as law. The saving grace of democracy is that it can serve to limit efforts like this to force religious beliefs upon others in contravention of the 1st Amendment.”

    Seeking to overturn a law is not contrary to democracy. Are you seriously trying to assert that citizens in a democracy are expected to be passive and not argue their case for what they believe to be good laws for society? These people are not forcing their beliefs upon you. They are using the art of persuasion and asking that laws protect the innocent and helpless, those who cannot speak for themselves. I truly cannot understand what kind of democracy you envision except one where all the people automatically without discussion already agree with your particular views.

    Contrary to your assertion, the majority do not want abortion completely legal with no restrictions. The poll you linked to established that the majority of Americans want some kind of legal regulations concerning abortion. Only 25% of Americans want it completely legal. That means that 75% want some kind of restrictions on abortion. Why do you ignore plain facts and argue your case with falsehoods?

    It seems like you try to pretend that there is little disagreement about abortion except from religious fundamentalists and that they are causing all the problems for society. Surely you don’t think that 75% of Americans are religious fundamentalists, do you?

  82. Gene H wrote: “The fallacy of false equivalence.”…

    You missed my point completely. I was not arguing that homosexuality was equivalent to beastiality. My point was that when someone is granted permission to do something, it is within the definition under which they apply. I might just as well said that you don’t apply for a marriage license in order to drive a car, or that if I apply for a license to drive a car but if I am blind or hindered in some other way, I might not be given a license. It has nothing to do with me being a homosexual or not, or whether I am black or white, or whatever discriminatory classification you want to invent in order to oppress others in society. Nobody was ever denied a marriage license because they were a homosexual. You can probably find marriage licenses applied for and received by homosexuals in all 50 states.

  83. DavidM: Part of the problem in communicating here is the illusory creation of a hypothetical homosexual man or woman,

    No, it isn’t. A hypothetical homosexual is a mental simulation that illustrates the problem without any of the “noise” of particularity or circumstance; just as you use the hypothetical heterosexual “man” or “woman.”

    Part of the problem is your foolish insistence that men and women marry for the purpose of procreation; which is ludicrous, because in modern America fully 95% of Americans (a pubmed paper from 2003) have had voluntary pre-marital sex. If that is for procreation, then marriage is unnecessary; if it is not, then obviously sex has another purpose.

    In 2009, 41% of births were to unmarried women; proof enough that marriage is not necessary to engage in procreation.

    I have already pointed out that people get married despite being sterile; woman with hysterectomies get married; post-menopausal women get married, women that have children but have had their tubes tied get married, men that have had vasectomies (or various diseases that make them sterile) still marry.

    The purpose of marriage is NOT procreation at all; there is no longer any significant stigma attached to being the child of an unwed mother (in America), and most people would never know. That was a religiously inspired bigotry designed to keep women subordinate and control their sexuality, but it is a fading bigotry rightfully consigned to the dust heap of history.

    I know you have to hang on to that myth, it is the only thing you can point at that distinguishes a homosexual from a heterosexual. But look at the hypocrisy you engage in by doing so, because you permit so many sexual heterosexual marriages that cannot possibly be having sex for the purpose of procreation, because it is physically impossible.

    Science will allow, today, two homosexual men to have a baby of their own; a proper mix of their DNA no different than a baby created by a man and a woman, and no less viable. Also male or female. (Because women have two X chromosomes; and men have an X and a Y. Because we know how to revert a cell to a stem cell, we can create an environment where a male stem cell, using instructions on the X chromosome normally used by females, can transform itself into an egg. That egg can be in vitro fertilized with a sperm cell from the other man; sorted (by mass) into sperm containing either a Y chromosome or an X chromosome; depending on whether the two parents want a baby boy or baby girl. After in-vitro fertilization; the fertilized egg can be implanted in surrogate mother that brings the baby to term.)

    Your argument about procreation is false, but the fact that two homosexual man can plausibly marry for the purpose of pooling their resources and DNA for procreation should obliterate it completely.

    Of course, for lesbians, procreation is easier (if they agree to a sperm donor) or harder (if we need to create a sperm cell containing an x-chromosome of one female parent; but that is more of a technical challenge, not exactly science fiction).

    Marriage is not about procreation; procreation takes care of itself in the woods by the lake or wherever teens can find a little privacy and drop a blanket.

    Marriage is about an emotionally committed partnership in life.

    As far as your entire “definitional” argument is concerned, it doesn’t matter. I disagree with your definition, but in the end I do not think tradition matters because the tradition was oppression and bigotry for no valid reason. I presume the invalid reason is patriarchy, because without modern science homosexual offspring would typically not (by choice) reproduce and carry on the blood line of the patriarch. But that is just another form of slavery, demanding one’s children serve your desires and do what makes you happy instead of making their own choices for their own happiness.

    You wish to deny people happiness in their life over a technicality that you apply selectively to them because of their sexual orientation. You do indeed deny homosexuals marriage because they are homosexuals, not because they cannot produce and raise their own children (they can, and others you permit marriage cannot). Does even that make a difference? Homosexuals of either gender can adopt, there are no shortage of kids that would be happy to exit the system, and they would be doing society a service by assuming that burden of support.

    Your position is simply vile, petty, hateful, controlling autocracy; you want to use the law to force others to live their life by your beliefs, but of course would scream about religious oppression if the law required you to live your life by their beliefs.

  84. David,

    As usual, when the plain logical flaw of what you state is pointed out, you respond with a bunch of long winded gibberish that almost makes it sound like you know what you’re talking about.

    Almost.

    I’m confident that my grasp on science and the scientific method is on much sounder footing than yours. I’ve tutored science classes at the collegiate level. I talk to actual scientists all the time about science. Almost daily in fact. Both for business and pleasure. Here even. Tony, the other guy tearing apart your nonsense, is a research scientist by day. Otteray Scribe is a forensic psychologist. They think my grasp of the method is considerably more than functional. If they didn’t, rest assured they are the kind of guys who would tell me so and not mince words about it. So I think I’ll defer to their opinion over yours, Mr. Can’t Differentiate Between A Species And A Sub-Species And Notorious Cherry Picker Of Data.

    So now that we’ve addressed that distraction . . .

    Let’s cut to the chase: “Nobody was ever denied a marriage license because they were a homosexual.”

    Really.

    http://www.arlnow.com/2012/02/14/gay-couple-denied-marriage-license-at-arlington-courthouse/

    http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Seattle-gays-go-to-court-after-wedding-licenses-1138971.php

    So your assertion of fact is simply wrong.

    Now, let’s look at your false equivalence again.

    A false equivalence is a logical fallacy which describes a situation where there is a logical and apparent equivalence, but when in fact there is none – such as between homosexuality and bestiality. The form used is often: If A is the set of c and d, and B is the set of d and e, then since they both contain d, A and B are equal. It should be noted though that d existing in both sets is not required, only a passing similarity is required to cause this fallacy to be able to be used. In this case d is the commonality that you don’t approve of either homosexual marriage or bestiality in your fundamentalist ideology.

    Carry on.

  85. leejcaroll wrote: “The “homosexual agenda”? David your fundamentalism is showing.”

    Please don’t tell me that you are one of these secular radicals who denies that there is any homosexual agenda to define. One thing you have proved by your comment is that a term like “fundamentalism” is used as a derogatory epithet by at least one person here.

    In case you missed it, I have already clarified to others that I am not a religious man. I do not attend church or affirm some creed of faith. I do not declare that the Bible is the infallible Word of God or that one has to believe it. It is interesting, however, that my objectivity and analysis often causes others to characterize me as a fundamentalist by the non-religious and as a heretic by the religious. Maybe that is why I am so sensitive to how that word fundamentalist is used in a bigoted fashion by most of society. Of course, unlike the n* word, it is culturally accepted to brandish the term fundamentalist, and once successfully applied to a person, it is easy to persuade others emotionally that such people are filled with hate and religiously motivated to force their wicked views upon everyone else. In effect, they counter ideas unfamiliar to them using emotional bigotry instead of logical objective dialogue.

  86. I know that many of you have heard Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell and others speak of the “Homosexual Agenda,” but no one has ever seen a copy of it.

    Well, I have finally obtained a copy directly from the Head Homosexual.

    It follows below:

    6:00 am Gym
    8:00 am Breakfast (oatmeal and egg whites)
    9:00 am Hair appointment
    10:00 am Shopping
    12:00 PM Brunch

    2:00 PM 1) Assume complete control of the U.S. Federal, State and Local Governments as well as all other national governments, 2) Recruit all straight youngsters to our debauched lifestyle, 3) Destroy all healthy heterosexual marriages, 4) Replace all school counselors in grades K-12 with agents of Colombian and Jamaican drug cartels, 5) Establish planetary chain of “homo breeding gulags” where over-medicated imprisoned straight women are turned into artificially impregnated baby factories to produce prepubescent love slaves for our devotedly pederastic gay leadership, 6) bulldoze all houses of worship, and 7) Secure total control of the INTERNET and all mass media for the exclusive use of child pornographers.

    2:30 PM Get forty winks of beauty rest to prevent facial wrinkles from stress of world conquest 4:00 PM Cocktails 6:00 PM Light Dinner (soup, salad, with Chardonnay) 8:00 PM Theater 11:00 PM Bed (du jour)?

    http://www.netfunny.com/rhf/jokes/99/Sep/agenda.html

    When your point of argument has become a common meme for jokes, it’s time to give it up.

    There is no “homosexual agenda”.

    There’s a human rights agenda seeking equal treatment and equal protection under the law though.

    It’s a good one.

  87. Gene H – You still miss the point on the homosexual marriage issue. They were not denied because they were homosexual. If they applied to marry someone of the opposite sex, it would have been granted. The fact that they are homosexual has NOTHING to do with it. The problem is who they want to marry.

    What if a group of people began applying for marriage licenses to marry multiple women, and upon being denied, they rallied people to their cause that polygamists were a minority being unfairly oppressed because they were not allowed to marry all the women or men that they loved? Would you jump on that bandwagon? If a group of people started applying for marriage licenses to marry their pet, and being denied then claimed discrimination, should we be understanding and jump on their bandwagon? In none of these cases are they being denied because of they are a polygamist, or zoosexual, homosexual or heterosexual. The denial is based on what the law defines as marriage. The legal definition comes from the legislature, and the courts are foolish not to recognize a legitimate need the State has to treat same sex unions in a different way from opposite sex unions. The courts have become a political body, and just this year I have seemingly lost all respect for the judiciary and legal profession. I think my reading here has added to it. It is so discouraging to see how our lawyers think and act today, and how easily deceived they are by sexual activists.

  88. I don’t miss the point.

    You’re bigoted against homosexuals and think they deserve less legal rights and protections than heterosexuals because they don’t follow the religious edits you think they should.

    I think your writing here has made that abundantly clear.

  89. Tony C – Whether you like to admit it or not, case law based their reasoning heavily upon marriage being a responsible path for reproduction. I referenced these cases for you in another thread. Pointing out the failing society and breakdown of the family does not justify acceleration of that breakdown by destroying marriage through making its definition more broad and inclusive. The institution of marriage has been under attack by much more than just the homosexual agenda, so implying that I think only homosexual marriage hurts it would be inaccurate.

    Tony C wrote: “Marriage is not about procreation; procreation takes care of itself in the woods by the lake or wherever teens can find a little privacy and drop a blanket.”

    This is not responsible procreation. Can you not see the enormous amount of societal problems created when you view procreation as being nothing more than the sperm and egg meeting up? The creation of children requires not just two opposite sex people engaging in sex in the woods or back seat of a car. Rather, children require the couple to cooperate for some 18 years for each child produced, to jointly provide and care for them, and to teach them values and responsible citizenship. Responsible procreation like this has traditionally been done through marriage because that is what has been successful through the ages in creating a strong civilized society.

    Tony C wrote: “Marriage is about an emotionally committed partnership in life.”

    Your new definition of marriage is demeaning and oppressive to women on many fronts. First, it tells men that it is just as proper to look at men sexually as it is to look at women. Forget about procreation, because science has fixed all this for you. Men do not need women any longer. They can reproduce without them, they don’t have to put up with all those differences they complain about. If you find women a little different, don’t worry about it, you can just associate with other men and have sex with them. No problem. You can be really happy this way.

    In contrast, traditional marriage highly values women. It tells men that without the woman, the man is incomplete. It tells the woman that she has one of the most valuable assets a man wants… her ability to give him children. Traditional marriage empowers women. The man is taught that while marriage requires sacrifice and giving, it is an invaluable institution that binds the man and woman together into one complete whole. It teaches the man how to lay down his life sacrificially for the woman as long as they both shall live. Marriage is presented as a virtue to which a noble man will aspire toward, to successfully make a woman happy.

    If the states decide to go down this path of degrading marriage to being just about two emotionally committed people going steady together or whatever, so be it. I would expect, however, that new societies and governments will arise to replace those that go down this path. Ultimately, society will not survive it. In demolishing our values of the past, we are moving closer and closer to looking like Egypt looks today.

  90. Gene H wrote: “You’re bigoted against homosexuals and think they deserve less legal rights and protections than heterosexuals because they don’t follow the religious edits you think they should.”

    What religious edicts have I brought up? None! I’m not even religious. Whenever logic fails, turn to emotion. Accuse the other person of hatred and bigotry. I get it.

    I do think the legal rights and protections afforded by civil government for same sex unions should be different than for opposite sex unions, but that is because the unions are not equivalent. My reason for not seeing them as equivalent is based upon biology. As for how the law applies to those who identify themselves as homosexuals or heterosexuals, my view is that the law should apply to both the same. Your assertion to the contrary is simply false and illustrates how you do not read me very well.

  91. You know Dredd…..

    I wonder how the US will be viewed by the military government once….. We withhold the 1.5 bil a year that we give them…..

  92. “I do think the legal rights and protections afforded by civil government for same sex unions should be different than for opposite sex unions, but that is because the unions are not equivalent.”

    Displaying your staggering hypocrisy by using a religious definition of marriage instead of a civil contractual definition.

    Try to hide behind biology all you like. You’ve demonstrated more than once your understanding of biology is superficial at best. The scientific biological fact is that homosexuality is a normal biological behavior in a small but statistically significant portion of the population. The psychology of it that they can (and do) pair off just like heterosexual couples. You say you want the law to apply equally and yet think homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to marry? That’s contradictory nonsense and contrary to the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment that relies upon a religious definition of marriage, not a civil one.

    I read you just fine.

    I’m just not buying any of your bullshit, David.

    You try really hard to perfume it up, I’ll give you that, but it still reeks of the barnyard.

  93. Gene H – Just to be crystal clear. I have not argued against same sex unions, nor against benefits to same sex couples. I have only argued against lumping same sex unions in with laws created under the concept of traditional marriage. I see evil in hijacking laws created under different definitions, and you see evil in my objection to that legal sleight of hand maneuvering.

  94. Gene, using David’s logic, the couple in the Loving case could have gotten married. One to a black person and the other to a white person, but not to each other. Got it. Makes perfect sense. Not!

    It is always surprising to me how bigots cannot see their own bigotry. Selective blindness.

  95. Gene H – One other point. Contrary to your assertion, I never used any religious definition of marriage. I used the traditional definition defined in civil law. If you read the cases on marriage, you would find that more than just contract law is involved with marriage. I referenced those cases in another thread. If marriage were only about contract law, then I would agree with you, that anybody should be able to marry any other person of legal age.

  96. No Mr. Scribe. My logic is based upon the functional biology of the sexes and not upon racial purity. I agree with the decision of the Loving case, which based their decision upon the reproductive rights afforded in marriage as defined in the Skinner case.

  97. David, if you want to fall back on civil law, that’s fine. Civil laws are changed all the time. Some by lawmaking bodies repealing or amending them, some by courts striking them down. Some civil laws on the books are simply not enforced. But you are being disingenuous. You are engaging in all kinds of logical gymnastics to avoid admitting you just don’t like the idea of gay people getting the same legal rights as everyone else, that your idea of fairness is to create a class of second class citizens.

    And speaking of civil laws, did you know that in California, women may not drive a car while wearing a house coat. In Tennessee, you can’t shoot any game other than whales from a moving automobile. Oh yeah, interracial marriage is still illegal in Tennessee, because the law was never repealed.

    Iowa is concerned about kissing. Kisses may last for no more than five minutes. Also, a man with a mustache may never kiss a woman in public.

    See how all those civil laws work?

  98. David,
    Reproductive? Really? Well, that takes everyone who has had a vasectomy or hysterectomy out of the marriage eligibility picture. And old folks too, that are well past the age of reproduction.

    Your reasoning is such that only people who plan to have kids should be able to get married. I don’t know anything about the Loving couple, so I have no idea if they had children or not.

  99. Actually, David, the reasoning the Court used in Loving relied upon finding that the Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute violated both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. When they cited Skinner, it was in relevant part to say “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U. S. 535, 316 U. S. 541 (1942).” However, Skinner was in the context of finding an Oklahoma law allowing the forced sterilization of “habitual criminals”, not the context of marriage as civil contract. They were dealing the removal of the ability, and therefor the right, to procreate. Procreation is a right every bit its own and every bit the equal of marriage, but the state has no valid interest in requiring that procreation be the goal of marriages. Tony already dealt with that aspect of your assertion here: http://jonathanturley.org/2013/07/05/morsi-democracy-and-problem-with-fundamentalist-politics/#comment-605128

    The idea of marriage being about procreation is a religious definition of marriage, not a civil one.

  100. David wrote: ” Rather, children require the couple to cooperate for some 18 years for each child produced, to jointly provide and care for them, and to teach them values and responsible citizenship. Responsible procreation like this has traditionally been done through marriage because that is what has been successful through the ages in creating a strong civilized society.”
    How does that square with the number of single parents in this country who raise responsible children? How does it square with the divorce rate?
    You also wrote you are not religious. Seems incongruous based on your quoting of scripture earlier and a number of your other statements.
    I would rather see 2 loving homosexuals married and raising a child then 2 heterosexuals who hate each other and screw up their kids because of their hate but their marriage was okay because they were a man and a woman.
    Society should be celebrating love and committed relationships. (and thankfully we are on the path to having more and more states agree with that philosophy.
    Maybe the reason many homosexuals did not have monogamous relationships was because the state did not permit them to legally marry. Why bother with trying to have a committed relationship when the state said the heck with you?

  101. “The White House has had no comment since what’s being called the largest protest in human history demanded the end of Mohamed Morsi’s regime.”

    I saw a picture of a young Egytian man holding a sign which said “Obama’s b*tch is our dictator.”

    Good for Egypt. Obama should never have supported Morsi. Democracy doesnt mean you get to vote to do away with the freedoms of 49% of the people.

    http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2013/07/01/crickets-from-white-house-on-largest-protest-in-human-history/

  102. DavidM: Oh, let’s add an adjective, now it has to be “responsible” procreation.

    Being an unwed mother does not make one automatically irresponsible. It often just means the mother is responsible enough to NOT marry the father of her child, which may result in more difficult custody battles or a relationship she doesn’t want for her child. Women can be sexually attracted to men that would make very poor husbands; and genetic studies do show that sexual responsiveness in females predicts both good genes in men and a dissimilarity in the histocompatibility complex (which is a good thing in a mate, it produces healthier children). Having a healthy child is important, putting up with a jerk for life is not.

    Marriage is not about procreation, you never bother to answer why you are willing to allow marriage between some persons that will never reproduce, while insisting other persons cannot get married because they cannot reproduce.

    Expanding the scope of marriage to homosexuals does not have to change one damn thing about heterosexual marriage, it is exactly the same institution. There is no benefit to be gained by heterosexuals knowing homosexuals cannot get married, and even if there were some benefit, that emotional gain by a few heterosexuals does not warrant the emotional harm done by denying marriage to homosexuals.

    There is no harm done to the state or society by having MORE marriages, either. Marriages imply commitment, commitment is good for society, when people are not alone, they are less likely to go bankrupt or default on loans, and more likely to develop stable relationships and routines with employers, neighbors, and local businesses; they are more likely to buy houses and pay property taxes that support the community and schools.

    Marriage is a good thing for society whether it produces children or not; and most homosexuals are unlikely to have children whether they get married or not, so preventing them from marriage does not increase their chance of having children. In fact, marriage is likely to increase their chance of adopting children, which is another benefit to society.

    Your definition of marriage and why people get married is contrary to reality. The real reasons that people get married apply to homosexuals as readily as to heterosexuals, and denying them marriage does not do heterosexuals any good at all, it is just spiteful bigotry because some people were brought up by bigots that infected the minds of their children.

    Sounds like irresponsible procreation to me.

  103. davidm2575,

    “From the sacred writings of the Bible, we determine the following axioms to be true:
    1) In Jesus Christ is found salvation and all knowledge, wisdom, and truth.”

    ————————————————-

    The above is not an axiom, davidm2575, for the following reasons:

    Axioms are self-evident propositions that do not rely on prior writings nor culturally complex defined notions such as: “Jesus Christ . . . salvation . . . knowledge, wisdom, and truth.”

    Your perambulatory reference to, “the sacred writings of the Bible,” makes your first axiom suspect.

    Let’s take your first predicate (meaning something that is affirmed or denied of a subject in a proposition in logic — not the grammatical meaning which is a part of a sentence or clause that expresses what is said of the subject) of your first proposed axiom.

    The first predicate to your first axiom is: “In Jesus Christ . . .”

    What does that mean? It’s just three words, yet I don’t know what you mean.

    Should I take the predicate literally, as in physically being in jesus christ (whatever that is) or should I understand that there is metaphor involved?

    I have no idea — as it is your proposed axiom — which falls apart in the first three words of its opening predicate due to your cultural assumptions.

    Your next five “axioms” are not worth commenting on as they build upon the failure of your first.

  104. Anonymously Yours 1, July 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    You know Dredd…..

    I wonder how the US will be viewed by the military government once….. We withhold the 1.5 bil a year that we give them…..
    ===================================
    MOMCOM will be viewed as a dried up tit.

    Egypt will then suckle from another breast.

    Breasts further to the east are more likely than not.

  105. Smom:

    they are pretty much one and the same.

    “The Muslim Brotherhood

    The Muslim Brotherhood has stated on its own website that it is a Salafi movement. Although this self-description would not be accepted by others, like the Salafis themselves, the Brotherhood is also a reform movement, which shares the agenda of strict adherence to the example and teaching of Muhammad.

    This agenda is reflected in a speech given by President Morsi of Egypt where he emphasizes that

    “the Koran is our constitution, the Prophet Muhammad is our leader, jihad is our path, and death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration…sharia, sharia, and then finally sharia. This nation will enjoy blessing and revival only through the Islamic sharia.””

    This is a distinction between the fascism of Mussolini and the National Socialism of Hitler. There really isnt much difference.

  106. My original point was although they both may be “bad actors” as you say, they are different and are not unified.

  107. Gene H wrote: “The idea of marriage being about procreation is a religious definition of marriage, not a civil one.”

    I am not aware of any substantial religious argument that defines marriage on the basis of reproduction. Virtually every argument I have read that uses the reproductive aspect of marriage as the basis for defining it as a fundamental right of mankind has come from court documents.

    Religion is more concerned about lining up with God’s will than defining the fundamental rights of men. It is more concerned about fulfilling personal responsibility and one’s destiny than about identifying the things that government should never be allowed to prohibit or regulate. Most religious arguments on based upon Scriptures that define God as having a purpose in creating mankind as male and female, as Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. The religious arguments are based upon a purpose in bonding and unity between male and female that is unique. They are about a divine message conveyed through the actual experience of marriage about the Godhead, about the unity of Christ and God, about relationships between Christ and members of his church.

    The closest the religious arguments come to discussing the role of reproduction in marriage have more to do with homosexual behavior in general rather than marriage per se. For example, some argue from religious texts that the motivation of homosexual behavior is sexual lust and that turning the sex drive toward a person of the same gender is a perversion of the design intended by God in creating the sex drive. For example, it is argued that if God created the male reproductive organ to be put into the woman’s reproductive organ, then society should not encourage others to put that organ into other orifices simply for the sake of pleasure. Coupled with this is a more basic line of religious thought that happiness comes through the spirit rather than the physical flesh, that discipline is more virtuous than carnal pleasure, that a person would be happier if he keeps his physical pleasures under control through fasting and self discipline in contrast to the more Epicurean line of thought that happiness comes through indulging in pleasure. I have purposely stayed away from the many religious arguments against homosexual marriage because this is a legal blog based on secular reasoning. For you to label the reproductive aspect of marriage as being a religious argument not based in court law appears very disingenuous to me.

    My point about Loving was not about the reasoning basis for outlawing miscegenation laws in general, but about the reasoning used to argue that marriage is a fundamental right of all persons. When the courts identified marriage as a human right, they did so on the basis of reproduction. I can find no other legal argument by the courts for defining marriage as a fundamental right. Can you?

    Following the trail of court citations leads ultimately to Skinner v. Oklahoma, and they connect marriage to it based upon its role in responsible reproduction. Whether right or wrong, that is the arguments of the courts. Some later courts might cite only Loving and focus only on the 14th Amendment argument, ignoring how they came to establish marriage as a fundamental right in the first place. Nevertheless, their reasoning concerning the right to marry was based upon the right of a person to reproduce. You want to depart from that reasoning and claim that the right to marry and the right to procreate are two different things, but the courts have connected the right to marry to the right to procreate in a responsible manner, and virtually no other reason has been identified. Now the common public basically interprets a right to be whatever someone wants to do as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else, but this has not been the traditional way courts have defined rights, and IMO such an approach is not very useful in establishing laws.

  108. Smom:

    they are unified in their fundamental philosophy. The rest is just window dressing.

    It is like the republican and democratic parties, the differences are just window dressing, they are fundamentally the same.

  109. DavidM: I am not a lawyer, but reading the decision on Skinner, Douglas does not mention marriage, and his argument with sterility is only that reproduction is a basic right, so any law imposing sterility on a class of people must be carefully scrutinized lest “invidious discriminations are made against groups or types of individuals in violation of the constitutional guaranty of just and equal laws.”

    Which ironically enough is precisely what you want to do, make invidious discriminations against a type of individual: Homosexuals. In violation of the constitutional guaranty of just and equal laws; namely, the right to marry the person with whom they are romantically committed.

    I am not aware of any laws that specifically rest the right to marry entirely upon the right to reproduce; but if there are such laws they are incoherent and an unequal or discriminatory application of the law, since both State and Federal laws clearly allow people incapable of reproduction to marry and be recognized as having privileges and responsibilities unique to marriage.

    Whether a civil union can reproduce those privileges or not is immaterial; different names for the same union provide future opportunity for prejudice and bigotry to impose differentials and therefore be once again treated differently under the law and by society and business; for example a business might extend employee benefits to the spouses of “married” couples but not to “civil union” spouses. If you allow a legal distinction, even in name only, the door is opened to discriminate based upon the different names. The only way to permanently ensure equal treatment and protection under the law is to call it exactly the same thing without quibble or distinction: Marriage.

  110. DavidM: Again, I am not a lawyer, so the following is not a legal argument but an argument about what we logically expect from the law.

    We expect the law to not engage in blatant self-contradiction.

    Unless you can show that the State’s interest in legal marriage is exclusively about “responsible procreation,” then logically legal marriage has desirable properties for the State that are not about “responsible procreation.”

    The fact that the law allows persons to be married that are incapable of procreation and will openly acknowledge that with their partners and the public before marriage, proves that marriage is not only about responsible procreation; there are reasons for the State to allow marriage when that is impossible. And it can be impossible by both intent and misfortune. Vasectomies and fallopian tube tying are voluntary and not necessarily reversible, even hysterectomies can be voluntary. Involuntary states include diseases (such as cancer or other degenerative diseases), accidents (including burnings and accidental irreversible crushing or amputation), genetic abnormality, or just age (such as menopause).

    The law has to apply equally, and if there are reasons to allow marriages for couples that cannot engage in “responsible procreation,” then no matter what those reasons may be, homosexuals should be allowed marriage for those reasons. Further, those reasons do not have to be enumerated, articulated or argued in particular; both their existence and validity are implied by the State allowing childless couples to marry that know full well they are medically not fertile.

    Therefore it does not make any difference if case law has referenced procreation in the past, procreation cannot be the sole reason for marriage without making the law self-contradictory, since marriage is entirely legal and common without procreation being possible.

    Denying a homosexual couple marriage on the basis of their mutual infertility is wrong because it is unfair when marriage is not denied to childless heterosexual couples that are mutually infertile. It means the real reason for denial is not about “responsible procreation” at all, the only reason for denial is the (entirely legal) homosexuality itself.

  111. davidm2575:

    “Religion is more concerned about lining up with God’s will than defining the fundamental rights of men.”

    No, religion is more concerned with lining up God’s will (as reported by men) with the goals of the men who reported it.

  112. DavidM: I wanted to comment on this, too: “For example, it is argued that if God created the male reproductive organ to be put into the woman’s reproductive organ, then society should not encourage others to put that organ into other orifices simply for the sake of pleasure.”

    Even if I argue within the system that believes in God as a creator of Man (but not in the literalness of the Bible), I believe that is cherry-picking the evidence of God’s intent. Who says God created the male reproductive organ for only one purpose? It is already obviously multi-purpose, since it is also used for liquid waste elimination.

    If one tries to infer God’s intent based on His works, then why would God make it possible for the reproductive organ to be inserted into “other orifices,” with pleasure, if that was not his intent?

    God created many animals, particularly within (but not limited to) the insect world, that have sexual organs that are exclusively reproductive fits, other animals apparently never have the inclination to put or receive the male reproductive organ anywhere else. Yet God makes it possible, pleasurable, harmless and desired in humans. In this mythology God is the sole designer of humans, and like other animals could have designed us to make alternative orifices either impossible or sexually undesirable, painful, or not pleasurable.

    Why should we believe any writer that claims to know God’s intent in regard to alternative orifices? Their claims are contradicted by the evidence of God’s work. The same goes for homosexuality, which has been observed in over 1500 distinct species. Are dolphins and ducks tempted by Satan?

    To believe one knows God’s intent with regard to alternative sexual acts relies upon a literal reading of the Old Testament as the infallible word of God. But, to be consistent, that also demands believing in slavery, polygamy, a brutal subjugation of women and the death penalty for anybody (in or out of the religion) for working on the Sabbath, and the death penalty for disobedience in children. Anybody that rejects part of the package implicitly rejects a literal reading of the Bible.

    That means if there are parts they abide by, they do so by choice: Not because it is God’s word, but because they agree with God’s word, which burdens them with personal responsibility for making obedience a matter of personal choice. And that reduces their argument to their personal opinion, which logically has no weight against the personal opinions of consenting adults seeking pleasure with each other.

  113. Tony C wrote: “Marriage is not about procreation, you never bother to answer why you are willing to allow marriage between some persons that will never reproduce, while insisting other persons cannot get married because they cannot reproduce.”

    Lacking time right now, I have not been able to address every objection, and this particular objection I discussed in more detail with you previously in another thread. In a nutshell, gender diversity and reproduction are the two primary reasons for marriage, with gender diversity being even more important than reproduction. Therefore, lacking reproductive ability, gender diversity still exists as a reason. It is the idea that mankind comes into the world as two disparate types of individuals: male and female. The joining of a man and woman together results in the completion of being.

    In that past thread, I also pointed readers to a manuscript published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy which makes additional arguments in answer to your specific question. I encourage you to read it for a more full understanding. Following is a link to that article:
    http://www.harvard-jlpp.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/GeorgeFinal.pdf

    More importantly, I must point out that my focus presently has not been about marriage in general, as you seem to imply, but rather about how the courts have come to the conclusion that marriage is a fundamental right. I hope you can appreciate the importance of this distinction. The arguments of the courts in this regard have been based largely upon responsible reproduction. If you are going to change the question now to be about the State’s involvement in regulating marriage in general, then of course there is more involved with marriage than just reproduction.

    Going back to the previous point, if the courts used reproduction to define marriage as a fundamental civil right, then those arguments do not apply to same sex unions because such unions from a biological perspective differ in that the sex involved does not result in reproduction. So on what basis are you going to argue that same sex unions are a fundamental civil right? That is the question being skipped over. If you are going to argue on the basis of the freedom of contract, there will be difficulties because since West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, the Supreme Court has used rational basis review instead of strict scrutiny for contract law.

    Tony C wrote: “Expanding the scope of marriage to homosexuals does not have to change one damn thing about heterosexual marriage, it is exactly the same institution.”

    It is impossible to follow you here because if the most basic definition of marriage is changed. The primary and secondary reasons for marriage are rendered moot, so one can hardly call it exactly the same institution. From a legal standpoint, you are broadening the understanding of marriage to be basically a civil contract between two human beings who love each other and want to have a life-long committed relationship with each other. That is not at all how the courts have traditionally dealt with marriage.

  114. iDavid It’s beating a dead horse
    ” if the courts used reproduction to define marriage as a fundamental civil right, then those arguments do not apply to same sex unions because such unions from a biological perspective differ in that the sex involved does not result in reproduction” As been repeatedly stated your presentation would disallow for anyone who cannot reproduce from being married.
    I am 60, I cannot have children (i.e. reproduce). By your interpretation I might as well not even bother to try and find a honey since any marriage would not be allowed as we cannot reproduce.
    You added “you are broadening the understanding of marriage to be basically a civil contract between two human beings who love each other and want to have a life-long committed relationship with each other.”
    The courts have done that, including SCOTUS. Time to catch up with the times, David.

  115. gbk wrote: “The above is not an axiom…”

    I was not trying to make the argument myself. I was giving an illustration of how some religious fundamentalists think in a way that does not lead them to be authoritarian and therefore it is improper to embrace a theory that religious fundamentalism is inherently incompatible with democracy and pluralism. Although I am using the term axiom a little loosely, these statements are regarded as self-evident to many fundamentalist scholars of the New Testament.

    If I present some mathematical formulas like y = mx + b or c^2 = a^2 + b^2, such stated alone would be self evident to someone studied in Euclidean Geometry as defining a line or Pythagorean’s theorem. However, someone who is ignorant of that field of study might complain that they are not self-evident. In the same way, many fundamentalists who spend countless hours studying the New Testament would find the statements that I listed as self-evident. I provided a list of specific texts so those who can read and reason might see for themselves how someone who believed in the texts as literally God inspired Truth might be led to be non-authoritarian in their leadership style.

  116. leejcaroll wrote: “As been repeatedly stated your presentation would disallow for anyone who cannot reproduce from being married.”

    Like Tony C, you conflate the concept of defining marriage as a fundamental right with the concept of defining marriage in general. Your conclusion is invalid, as it is basically addressing a straw man rather than the actual subject that I was addressing. It seems to me that you didn’t even bother reading my response to him on this question, or the Harvard Journal article that I linked to which gives more detailed answers to your objection regarding the importance of the reproductive role in marriage.

    To take this further, if as you claim, SCOTUS has changed marriage to be simply a civil contract between two human beings, then many liberties will be lost. State government will be able to regulate marriage much more than it has in the past. Furthermore, the latest decision is put at risk for SCOTUS because strict scrutiny no longer applies. As I have complained before, the homosexual agenda has led us into legal chaos. It reminds me of the Dred Scott decision in this regard.

  117. leejcaroll wrote: “I was using your own words. Maybe you meant something different then what you wrote?”

    No, you are not comprehending my words. My words as you quoted them were: “if the courts used reproduction to define marriage AS A FUNDAMENTAL CIVIL RIGHT, then those arguments do not apply to same sex unions because such unions from a biological perspective differ in that the sex involved does not result in reproduction.” [emphasis added]

    The reasoning is that the right to reproduce is self-evident to be allowed to every human being. Marriage being a long standing institution of civilized societies as a vehicle whereby progeny are created and raised, it would be unconscionable to prohibit it. From Skinner v. Oklahoma: “We are dealing here with legislation which involves one of the basic civil rights of man. Marriage and procreation are fundamental to the very existence and survival of the race. The power to sterilize, if exercised, may have subtle, far-reaching and devastating effects. In evil or reckless hands it can cause races or types which are inimical to the dominant group to wither and disappear. There is no redemption for the individual whom the law touches. Any experiment which the State conducts is to his irreparable injury. He is forever deprived of a basic liberty.”

    So my point is that the logic for marriage being a fundamental right is based upon the logic of reproduction and survival of one’s progeny. Upon what basis would we argue for same sex unions being a fundamental right? Freedom of Contract? That seems to be the only thing, but since the late 1930’s, the right to contract has not been considered to be a fundamental civil right. SCOTUS uses rational basis review for contracts.

  118. The right to procreate and the right to marriage aren’t the same right, your attempts at conflation notwithstanding, David.

    The logic for the right to marry is based upon the right of free association and has nothing to do with reproduction.

    The notion that marriages are about reproduction relies upon a religious definition of marriage, not a civil definition.

    We are a nation of civil laws, not ecclesiastical laws.

  119. Tony C.,

    There are research scientists who do what, according to my understanding of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions may be called “normal science” in the form of simple extensions to settled work. There are other research scientists, seemingly very few in number by contrast, who do the work of “scientific revolutions,” work that involves new paradigms that contrast with stark intensity with one or more widely accepted and long established paradigms.

    My scientific research is directed almost wholly toward finding ways to correct or improve or replace prior established paradigms.

    I have known people who murdered other people and were never charged with a crime, people who were convicted and sentenced for committing crimes that they had not committed (such as The Innocence Project sometimes helps), and, after some family friends were murdered long ago, set out to learn what actually and verifiably causes such murders and what can actually be done to prevent them.

    Perhaps you are unaware of the pertinent literature and research field wherein I work, as a Wisconsin Registered Professional Engineer, holding paramount the public safety, working in, and only in, areas of my professional competence, and doing all of the above without deception.

    Perhaps you do not attempt to keep up with cutting edge research in semiotics and biosemiotics, as I do.

    Have you come to recognize that I do the work of a biosemiotician as a licensed Wisconsin Registered Professional Engineer having undergraduate and doctoral degrees in bioengineering?

    Have you read, studied, and understood John P. Muller, Beyond the Psychoanalytic Dyad: Developmental Semiotics in Freud, Peirce, and Lacan, Routledgew, 1996?

    Have you read, studied, and understood basic concepts of biosemiotics, such as introduced in the following excerpt as I found it recently on the Internet?

    http://semiorganized.com/articles/other/An%20Evolutionary%20Histroy%20of%20Biosemiotics%20(D.%20Favareau).pdf

    Perhaps you are not yet sufficiently acquainted with “cutting edge” biosemiotics; if so, the Favareau article section, supra, may provide an initiation into relevant aspects of the field of my research.

    It appears to me as though you, as I find characteristic of most of the people who mostly think abstractly using words, have difficulty with accurately distinguishing a-priori Bayesian probabilities and frequentist probabilities from a-posteriori Bayesian probabilities.

    Consider the following quote from your post, which is a quote from my prior post, “and then demonstrate that the accident or mistake that actually happened was actually avoidable because it was actually avoided.” All of the probabilities in what I originally wrote are, with respect to the time of the accident or mistake, both Bayesian and a-posteriori.

    If you misinterpret, “was actually avoidable” as a form of a-priori, frequentist, analytical-reductionist probability, it hardly surprises me that you may experience my work as some sort of verbal legerdemain absurdity. My work is Bayesian and relational-holistic.

    Whereas I have, more than once, given the URL for my doctoral dissertation on the University of Illinois at Chicago Indigo web site, where it resides with a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license, I find no clear evidence that anyone who is a Turley Blog participant, other than myself, has bothered to read it with enough due diligence to fathom its content and structure.

    Perhaps a comparatively short neurobiology lesson would have a tad of merit. But first, please allow that this lesson will employ some of what I regard as baseball jargon, and I am profoundly clueless regarding baseball; I may misuse some baseball jargon words in dreadful ways, for lack of sufficient familiarity with baseball to avoid doing that.

    Imagine that you are a superstar outfielder, your team is two runs ahead, it is the bottom of the ninth, the bases are loaded, and the other team is at bat. One home run, and the other team goes to the World Series, no home runs for the other team, and your team goes to the World Series.

    The other team’s best batter (who, for the purposes of this lesson, has the impossibly high batting average of .998) is at bat, the crack of the bat against the ball deafens everyone in the stands, and the ball is on a trajectory that will make it just touch the top of the outfield fence and bounce out of the ballpark.

    If you can catch the ball, and hold it, the game is over, and you are the baseball hero of the season.

    Using only your frontal lobes, and base ten arithmetic, you calculate exactly (to Planck time accuracy) when to fire each motor neuron as needed to catch the ball, so that the position of every atom in your body always within one Planck length of the optimal path for catching the ball. You do the mental arithmetic in the way an ordinary person might do mental arithmetic to sort out which of two different size cans of different brands of split-pea soup has the lower cost per fluid ounce.

    One Turley Blog participant, a while ago, put forth the view that babies are not born with consciousness, and that consciousness develops slowly over the months that follow birth. Surely, that is true for babies for whom consciousness of their babyhood is only found in word-based memories that formed as the baby learned to learn words and then learned words. Without words, there can be no word-based memories.

    In left hemisphere frontal lobe verbal dominant people, the right hemisphere frontal lobe tends to be picture dominant, a very oversimplified model may have it. The frontal lobes work best for declarative purposes, pictures and words are of declarative brain function activity. The back of the brain is the part that a successful baseball player uses to do stuff that is totally outside the realm of competence of frontal lobes.

    For those of the mythic “everyone” who uses the back of the brain for procedural thinking and the front of the brain for declarative thinking, back of the brain procedural thinking may arise to word-thinking people’s conscious awareness when such a person “has a word on the tip of the tongue.” At such times, so I gather, the person with a word on the tip of the tongue has a strong sense of the meaning to be conveyed and no way to convey it. At such moments, consciousness resides in the back (procedural and not declarative) back portion of the person’s brain.

    In people whose consciousness is ordinarily restricted to the frontal lobes, the back of the brain which is procedural and not declarative, is busy doing things and guiding the person’s actions, and will be free of conscious control; it is that of a person’s brain which is not within the person’s conscious locus of control that drives what may be usefully named “free will,” because such will is free from consciously willful control.

    For anyone who troubled themselves enough, or otherwise read my dissertation, there is a profound reason why I based much of my work on that of neuropsychiatrist Dr. Abraham A. Low, and his book, Mental Health Through Will-Training, Willett Publishing Co., Glencoe, IL, 1950, Second Edition, 1952, 1978. The Third Edition, 1997, is now in print.

    A trained will is a disciplined will, and therefore is not a free will. In the work of Dr. Low, as I understand it, a free will is required for a person to actually be so-called “mentally ill.”

    Donald Favareau’s Chapter 1 Introduction: An Evolutionary History of Biosemiotics ends with the following two paragraphs:

    And thus we end this brief overview of the ongoing history of biosemiotics as we started it – in media res. For while Thomas Sebeok (2001a) referred to the 1970s as the “prehistory” of biosemiotics, and Marcello Barbieri (2002), writing of the 1990s, opined that biosemiotics was as yet still coming into its “adolescence” – it is difficult not to feel as we end this as-yet preliminary “history” that both the reader and I have arrived here at the present moment in 2010 just as the real history of biosemiotics is about to get underway.
    That said, all that is now left for me to do as a historian of the project is to welcome all our readers to this exciting young interdiscipline, and on behalf of my colleagues in biosemiotics everywhere, to invite you to actively contribute to its ongoing history.

    In 1948, while in third grade and reading biology, psychology, history, and a variety of other academic discipline works that were at college and graduate school level or higher, it became clear to me that no field of human inquiry then in existence had the tools needed for solving the enigma of the predicament of human destructive reciprocal retaliation. During fourth grade, the only field of human inquiry I found that had any potential for solving that reciprocal retaliation predicament was engineering. The better to learn engineering, I borrowed a college text on radio engineering from the local public library, devoured it, and began successfully designing and building electronic apparatus before the start of fifth grade at the end of that summer.

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

    I am quite unlike such brilliant people as Albert Einstein, as he told of his live in Chapter 2, Self-Portrait, in Out of My Later Years , Philosophical Library, 1950:

    Of what is significant in one’s own existence one is hardly aware, and it certainly should not bother the other fellow. What does a fish know about the water in which he swims all his life?
    The bitter and the sweet come from the outside, the hard from within, from one’s own efforts. For the most part I do the thing which my own nature drives me to do. It is embarrassing to earn so much respect, and I love it. Arrows of hate have been shot at me too; but they never hit me, because they belong to another world, with which I have no connection whatsoever.
    I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.

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

    I suppose it might be somewhat fair to say that arrows of hate have been shot at me. They often hit me, but never penetrate me. They belong to a world to which I am very connected, yet in which it is impossible for me to live. I have never known real solitude, and my actual youth was only rarely painful, and then only when someone was dead-set on teaching me a lesson similar to the one I am guessing that you, Tony.C. would willingly teach me, if you could.

    Of what is significant of my own existence, I have always vividly known and understood; I am not a fish and I only sometimes swim in water.

    The more I learn about people whose world view differs from mine and their views, the more I learn about the biology of human evolution.

  120. DavidM: It is the idea that mankind comes into the world as two disparate types of individuals: male and female. The joining of a man and woman together results in the completion of being.

    That is just mystical religious claptrap, unprovable and untestable. Whether that is your argument or not, it is not a valid argument. It is simply a belief, religious or not, it is simply a matter of “faith,” belief without evidence.

    The State and society have no valid interest in “gender diversity.” Even in your blind argument, it is none of the State’s business if people feel “complete,” and even if it WAS any of their business, who are they to call consenting homosexuals liars for claiming that only a person of the same gender can “complete” them?

    All the science (fMRI and oxygen consumption brain scanning, evidence of fetal androsterone surge, stroke evidence) suggests that homosexual attraction is an inherent component of brain organization determined in the first trimester of fetal development, not a learned response. (Like many inherent traits, such as a rage to kill, we can override and suppress it, but that repression should only be required of us by society if the trait leads us to inflict harm upon others, and consensual homosexuality does not).

    Just because 85% of us are more likely to find our happiness with an opposite gender lifelong partner is no reason to deny 15% of us happiness with a same gender lifelong partner.

    The government’s obligation is preserve our “self-evident” and “unalienable Rights” that include liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If anything, the government violates an axiomatic right by denying homosexual couples the benefits of law that come with their legal recognition of a marriage, and calling it something else does not correct the fact that they make an unwarranted distinction in favor of heterosexuality.

    Self-evident, unalienable Rights should only be abrogated if their pursuit violates somebody else’s self-evident, unalienable Right.

    Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are impaired when the Law engages in disparate treatment of individuals without good reason; and by “Good Reason” I mean that reason must be sufficient to show the disparate treatment will preserve liberty or decrease the incidents of coercion, oppression, crime or other actions that act as brakes on liberty. Liberty includes the right to make choices in life that do not harm others.

    I see nothing in allowing homosexuals to marry that harms anybody outside their marriage, it coerces nobody else into any action, it denies nobody else any rightful action they could otherwise have taken.

    Admittedly it may make some people feel “less special” by making homosexual marriage equivalent to their own heterosexual marriage, but that is not a harm, it is a benefit by helping to nullify an unwarranted stigma of societal disapproval of homosexuality, a harmless inborn trait of humanity (and 1500 other species of animal).

  121. J Brian: Perhaps you have an overblown opinion of yourself. Perhaps you fail to understand that those with better credentials than you are not all that impressed by your credentials (or any credentials, since we know enough to put more emphasis on works actually done than credentials that we all know can be sloppily awarded to the undeserving).

    I am quite familiar with Bayesian statistics; I have multiple PhD level courses in statistical analysis, and I have worked with Bayesian expectations in my own field. I am quite qualified to judge both dissertations and to peer review publications; on your work I call BS, an attempt to obfuscate an underlying lack of meaning: As I said, your whole argument boils down to denying free will and endorsing the idea of deterministic fate, which the vast majority rejects as a philosophy, because they feel their choices DO affect future outcomes.

    Also, you apparently choose to misunderstand Kuhn as well, and apply a self-serving definition of his work. You say, “who do the work of “scientific revolutions,” work that involves new paradigms that contrast with stark intensity with one or more widely accepted and long established paradigms.”

    That is not what Kuhn said at all, and a paradigm shift is not what you think. For readers unfamiliar with Kuhn, his idea is quite accessible: A given paradigm (a framework or way of thinking about and solving scientific problems) solves some problems but not others. The problems it cannot solve accumulate as experience progresses; the paradigm can sometimes be modified to solve some of these conundrums (without losing its power to address all the problems it previously solved), but if the paradigm does not perfectly capture reality, then there will remain a subset of problems that are intractable with the paradigm.

    Eventually, enough of these intractable problems accumulate, and somebody recognizes a new way of thinking about ALL the problems, a new paradigm that solves ALL the problems the original paradigm solved plus a chunk (or all) of the formerly intractable problems. That is a “paradigm shift.”

    Examples include the shift from Newtonian gravity, which could not explain the orbit of Mercury (one of the intractable problems) to Einsteinian gravity, which explained everything Newton explained AND the orbit of Mercury, as well as other more esoteric intractabilities.

    Another paradigm shift was Darwin’s theory of evolution, which explained with rationality all sorts of biological phenomena previously attributed to God’s whims (i.e. intractable). Another was the theory of plate tectonics, which answered previously intractable questions about the shapes of continents and the highly unusual but identical chemical composition of rocks separated by vast oceans.

    Paradigm shifts may be radical, but they still have to solve all the problems the previous paradigm solved, and they cannot “revert” to non-explanation or circular explanation or the whims of fate or God. A Paradigm Shift must be MORE powerful in explanation and prediction, not LESS.

    Your ideas provide nothing new of use or merit in either explanation or prediction; you are not working toward a paradigm shift but an excuse for bad behavior by trying to justify mistakes and accidents as being inevitable, unavoidable twists of fate. It is nothing, and until you show your work can prevent error or mistakes, it is nothing but a useless entertainment for yourself. Nothing wrong with that, scribble away and fantasize all you want.

  122. David wrote: “So my point is that the logic for marriage being a fundamental right is based upon the logic of reproduction and survival of one’s progeny.”
    No I think I ‘comprehended’ you just fine.
    All those who cannot procreate should therefore be barred from marriage.
    My feeling is you have a tendency to talk across rather then to the discussion. It is impossible to have a meeting of the minds when that happens.

  123. David M wrote: “It is the idea that mankind comes into the world as two disparate types of individuals: male and female. The joining of a man and woman together results in the completion of being.”

    Tony C wrote: “That is just mystical religious claptrap, unprovable and untestable. Whether that is your argument or not, it is not a valid argument. It is simply a belief, religious or not, it is simply a matter of “faith,” belief without evidence.”

    It is not “belief without evidence.” It is a theory of understanding based upon the empirical fact that most people are born either male or female, and that there are distinct differences between male and female that goes beyond the obvious reproductive organs. There are clear sexual differences in the brain, the way men and women think, and cultural stereotypes of the differences between men and women have been talked about and joked about for ages. Sure, a theistic based theory exists about God’s intention and purpose of design in creating man as male and female instead of asexual, but only the atheist would use the existence of a successful religious theory to scoff at and dismiss all the empirical evidence which fits that theory. In the end, your entire argument is simply bigotry, an expression of a prejudice against religion and theism that causes you to ignore the evidence that exists right in front of your nose.

    Tony C wrote: “who are they to call consenting homosexuals liars for claiming that only a person of the same gender can “complete” them?”

    Nobody is claiming they are liars. They want to create a civil partnership and call it a marriage so they can feel accepted in society. They also want the same kind of rights spouses have in medical situations for visitation, and some of the same tax benefits, etc. The question is not whether or not they should be allowed to create these partnerships, but whether these partnerships are identical to opposite sex partnerships. My position is that they are not identical and so they should be treated differently.

    In regards to abortion, I see much of the problem there as resting upon definitions as well. People who are adamantly opposed to abortion for any reason usually define the unborn as a person. They object to treating the unborn differently from any other person. If someone comes along and claims the unborn is not a person but rather a fetus, and that the mother has a right to her own body to destroy that fetus, that person becomes unhinged because they believe this is discrimination against the innocent unborn person who cannot speak for himself. They think that unborn person has every bit a right to life as any other person, so if a mother decides to terminate her pregnancy, they see it no differently than a mother deciding to drown her child in the bathtub. The legal solution is to focus upon definitions which defines the unborn person differently from the born person. What would be used to define them differently? Many have focused upon the joining of genetic material in fertilization. They feel that is a fair scientific way to designate when a person comes into existence. They argue that all the genetic material is present and that if provided the proper nourishment, that embryo will grow into what we fully recognize as a person. Some have attempted to use a beating heart. Others a brain pattern. Some ancients used 40 days after fertilization for reasons unknown to me. Some have used taking that first breath as the point. Some have used viability, but that is not very discrete. My point is that if we do not define the unborn differently from the born in some clear way, the abortion issue will always be a problem. Only by defining them differently and defining the rights based upon them being different can the dilemma be resolved.

    I see the homosexual marriage issue in the same way. There are distinct differences between same sex unions and opposite sex unions that you refuse to acknowledge as important. It is like the anti-abortionist who refuses to acknowledge any distinction between the unborn and born, so they feel it is their duty as a good citizen to get a gun and kill the abortionists to protect the innocent.

    As a scientist, you should be able to understand the value of a reductionist approach to this issue. However, your atheism and perhaps some other reasons not yet revealed, cloud your judgment and make you unable to even consider the plain evidence that same sex unions and opposite sex unions are not identical and should be evaluated independently concerning how the law deals with them.

  124. David you wrote in an earlier post “In case you missed it, I have already clarified to others that I am not a religious man. I do not attend church or affirm some creed of faith. ”
    I think your argument(s) belie that statement. You seem to castigate the “atheists” and bring religious doctrine and thought into the debate as though they are facts.

  125. DavidM: My position is that they are not identical and so they should be treated differently.

    Your position that they are not identical is based on your unfounded subscription to “completeness of being” only occurring in heterosexual relationships. That belief is unscientific and unsubstantiated (and probably impossible to substantiate) claptrap, thus your reasoning is circular: Your position on homosexual marriage is based solely upon your position. Namely, your entirely bigoted position that your mystical state of “completeness of being” is based on physical gender instead of mutual emotional attachment.

  126. DavidM: However, your atheism and perhaps some other reasons not yet revealed,

    No other reasons exist to be revealed, I have no inherent biases to reveal I have not revealed already: I am an egalitarian that believes homosexuality is an entirely naturally occurring phenomenon that harms nobody.

    As for my atheism, I believe it allows me to see the world as it is without the BS of mysticism or belief in falsehoods or magic or magical entities or states (souls, gods, Karma, witchcraft, ghosts or spirits or afterlife). That is not a handicap for discerning truth from BS bigotry, prejudice, or anything else.

    The same Nature that creates heterosexuals creates homosexuals, the same Nature that creates heterosexual emotional bonding creates homosexual emotional bonding. The same Nature that creates heterosexual sexual attraction creates homosexual sexual attraction (and as I have said before, observed in over 1500 species). You do not get to argue about what is “Natural” while ignoring half of what is “Natural,” that is called cherry picking.

  127. leejcaroll wrote: “I think your argument(s) belie that statement. You seem to castigate the “atheists” and bring religious doctrine and thought into the debate as though they are facts.”

    I am a theist but I am not religious. I am not joined to any religious sect, nor do I affirm some standard creed of any particular religion. I view religion for the most part to be inventions of men. I believe in law too, in the sense that I think society thrives when men use rational thinking to define rules of order by which nature dictates society ought to function. I don’t hesitate to quote Scripture for the sake of analysis anymore than I would hesitate to quote case law, but quoting Scripture does not make me religious anymore than quoting case law makes me a lawyer or a judge.

    As for atheism, I think it is among the worst philosophical premises a person can adopt. Atheism causes people to interpret life through a selfish lens which leads to all manner of atrocities in society. It also restricts a person’s vision to be purely empirical and causes them to avoid making logical connections that would otherwise be possible to them. It is like a person refusing to use the power of sight when he considers evidence. You can never tell such a person, look here, see the evidence?

    Nevertheless, my aversion for atheism is not as great as the aversion most people here have toward theists like myself. You will not find me expressing outright hatred and bigotry toward them as you have seen expressed here toward me. I am tolerant and respectful, but that does not mean I shy away from expressing my viewpoint and attempting to show them their errors.

  128. Tony C wrote: “Your position that they are not identical is based on your unfounded subscription to “completeness of being” only occurring in heterosexual relationships.”

    No, my position that they are not identical is based upon biology and science and much empirical evidence. The “completeness of being” concept certainly is tainted by the theistic concept of a Creator purposefully designing humans in this manner and for this purpose. I grant you that. But there is much other evidence not yet shared here that also shapes the overall theory, evidence based upon scientific sociological studies.

    You should consider that while my theistic beliefs might bias my thoughts toward perceiving same sex unions as being different from opposite sex unions, your atheistic beliefs bias your thoughts to reject anything supportive of a theistic theory.

    Tony C wrote: “That belief is unscientific and unsubstantiated (and probably impossible to substantiate) claptrap, thus your reasoning is circular: Your position on homosexual marriage is based solely upon your position. Namely, your entirely bigoted position that your mystical state of “completeness of being” is based on physical gender instead of mutual emotional attachment.”

    You seem to forget how much I labored on the biological issue of reproduction without even mentioning gender diversity or the “completeness of being” concept. My perspective is not based solely upon some predetermined position, but rather it is a theoretical framework for interpreting all the available evidence. You cannot allow yourself open to the idea because once fully explored, it is so supportive of the idea of a Creator making mankind in halves that are meant to be joined together after birth that you cannot possibly even entertain the notion. No way would you ever be convinced of such a thing. That is your predetermined position which you have previously stated, and according to which all your rational thought aligns itself. I am open to being proven that the concept of a Creator is impossible, and I always will be, for the sake of honest inquiry. But you will never be open to that consideration, so you must arrange facts around your predetermined paradigm. It truly would take a revolution to change your perspective, regardless of what the truth is, or perhaps instead of an errant paradigm, you suffer from what Kuhn called a worldview that can never be changed.

  129. David wrote: “So my point is that the logic for marriage being a fundamental right is based upon the logic of reproduction and survival of one’s progeny.”

    leejcaroll wrote: “No I think I ‘comprehended’ you just fine. All those who cannot procreate should therefore be barred from marriage.”

    No. Let me break this down a bit more because your conclusion is a non-sequitur, meaning that it does not follow logically from my statement.

    A civil union (whether called marriage or not) that does not have the purpose of reproduction is questionable in regards to whether or not it is a fundamental right. The courts have only argued marriage to be a fundamental right based upon the role of reproduction served by it, and the interest of the State in it revolves around how the family units created by it are better for society as a whole when reproduction is done through marriage. Someone might discover and expound upon some other basis for non-reproductive unions being a fundamental right, but thus far, that has not been done.

    Back to your assertion, my statement does not mean such non-reproductive unions ought to be prohibited, only that the right to such a union might not rightly be considered a fundamental or inalienable right, and therefore it would be classified as a right with different standards of regulation.

    It just occurred to me that perhaps you did not understand the distinction of fundamental rights and how they differ from other rights? I don’t mean to sound like I am insulting your intelligence. I’m just not sure where it is that we are talking past each other. Evidently we have a different understanding of the terms being used.

  130. DavidM: Like most atheists, I was misled as a child into accepting the idea of a Creator because it was a prevalent myth presented as fact, and I had to learn separately the ideas that allowed me to escape from a delusion which still holds you hostage.

    My rational thought does not align itself with my atheism, my rational thought is the source of my atheism. As an infant I had no rational thought, as a child my rationality was weak, around the age of 12 I rejected the literalness of the Bible in favor of less easily disproved mysticism, and by the age of 17 I had learned enough about logic and thinking (thanks to a fine public school and an extremely rational father) to be an outright atheist and reject all supernaturalism. Not as early as some, but some never achieve it at all.

    My atheism is entirely a result of rationalism and self-determination, it was not taught to me anybody (my father could never bring himself to claim anything other than agnosticism), and I am not a follower of any philosopher or bright light, my atheism is entirely a result of my own brand and my own reasoning from fundamental truths.

    One of which regards assertions for what they are; a human statement that could be infected by the very emotionalism that gives rise to religion in the first place. Somebody’s claim to be inspired by God is not provable. The existence of God (or the supernatural in general) is such a claim, there is no more reason to believe in God or a creator than there is to believe in the claim that invisible unicorns that think in Latin exist, somewhere in the Universe. Can you prove they don’t exist? Of course not. There is just no reason to believe that impossible-to-disprove things exist, and because the list of such things is potentially infinite and their use to influence behavior is equally infinite, every reason to reject them and the efforts of any person to try and exert influence by citing them.

    DavidM: You seem to forget how much I labored on the biological issue of reproduction without even mentioning gender diversity or the “completeness of being” concept.

    I seem to remember destroying that argument, which forced you to try another idiotic tactic.

    DavidM: but rather it is a theoretical framework for interpreting all the available evidence.

    No, it is a theoretical framework designed for the sole purpose of promoting your own made up evidence.

    DavidM: You cannot allow yourself open to the idea because once fully explored, it is so supportive of the idea of a Creator

    No, I am not open to the idea because it is circular reasoning and I reject that; I have explored the idea far enough to see your claim of a Creator rests upon your insistence that there is a Creator. First you assume without any evidence that humans are created as two halves of a “whole being” based on physical gender, then you say, “See? That proves there is a Creator!”

    You are correct, no way will I fall for that simpleton’s ruse. And you are right, my predetermined position is responsible, just not the one you think: My predetermined position is that only self-evident positions support themselves, and I do not find it self-evident even a little bit that man or the universe or life are the work of any Creator.

    In my view the evidence against that is beyond overwhelming; and it is that evidence that led me to reject all supernaturalism, and made me an irrevocable atheist, and a better person for it.

  131. tony c:

    how do you know there isnt a creator? what evidence do you have?

    It is all just a bunch of supposition.

  132. Tony C wrote: ” First you assume without any evidence that humans are created as two halves of a “whole being” based on physical gender, then you say, “See? That proves there is a Creator!””

    ROTFLOL! Surely you did not see me doing any such thing. Amazing. None of my comments have even remotely been about proving a Creator. Your words do reveal where your mind goes in all of this. Deny the Creator at all costs.

  133. “A civil union (whether called marriage or not) that does not have the purpose of reproduction is questionable in regards to whether or not it is a fundamental right.”

    David,

    Why is that? Historically, marriage has always been an economic issue, having little to do with religion save for the blessings given it by various religious authorities. However, it was always an economic issue until perhaps the last 80 years, or so. While procreation was assumed to be the byproduct of marriage, more important were the dowry aspects of it. The Father of Our
    Country didn’t produce an offspring from his marriage to Martha, but did receive much property. No one has called that a failed marriage.

    “Back to your assertion, my statement does not mean such non-reproductive unions ought to be prohibited, only that the right to such a union might not rightly be considered a fundamental or inalienable right, and therefore it would be classified as a right with different standards of regulation.”

    What does “might not rightly mean?”. David, frankly you could do better, but you don’t because you realize the frailty of your position, so you use equivocation. There is no reason not to consider homosexual marriage an inalienable right except for religious posturing. Not only is it an inalienable right, but it is in the interest of the State to deem it as such, thereby bestowing the benefits to people of the same sex, held by heterosexual couples. That is unless the State treats gay people unfairly by not allowing them the same rights as heterosexual people. If the State acts in that manner, then the State itself is illegitimate, or at the least oppressive.

  134. Canon Law and Statutory Law are disconnected in the United States. The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. If the SCOTUS declares the constitution provides that gay or straight marriage is to be allowed then Canon Law to the contrary is irrelevant as far as government treament of marriage is concerned.

    I don’t know how better to make this any more succinct.

  135. Bron: My atheism is just a subset of a broader principle, that I do not accept “explanations” that are clearly designed to be impossible to test, or that present paradoxes that cannot be resolved.

    Religion happens to offers both features; but it is not the only kind of argument that does so: Many mathematical proofs, for example, end with paradoxes. For example, the proof that there is no largest prime integer first assumes there IS a largest prime integer, and then produces a paradox, a larger number that by definition is a product of primes but is not divisible by any primes.

    When we can produce a paradox, the answer is not to accept the premises on faith, that there exists numbers that are both composite and not divisible by any prime, but to reject the entire premise: There is no largest prime integer.

    The same thing goes for religion: Infinities create logical paradoxes, and religion is packed full of them: All powerful, all knowing of the past present and future, existing forever, all loving, with an unknowable plan that cannot fail, and on and on. The answer to paradoxes is not to accept them on faith because they comfort you emotionally, the answer to paradoxes is to root out where the infinities are, and reject them.

    The evidence against a Creator is that any demand for a Creator creates a paradox. If a Creator is necessary to accomplish X (say Creating the Universe) then why isn’t a Creator of the Creator necessary? If one exempts the Creator from the necessity of being Created, then what prevents us from exempting the Universe from the necessity of being created? If one posits the Creator has simply existed forever, then why not posit the Universe has simply existed forever? Infinities create paradoxes and unanswerable questions; it makes no sense to simply believe in a Creator because somebody else says so (and then threatens you with supernatural consequences if you don’t obey what he claims are the demands and desires of the Creator).

    In fact there is no proof the Universe has NOT existed forever (Big Bang hypothesis notwithstanding, and not even subscribed to by many well published physicists). Stephen Hawking has proposed a Big Bounce theory that allows an infinitely existing Universe; supported by string theorist calculations (and incidentally doing away some of the ridiculous premises need to support the phony Inflation hypothesis).

    Evolution provides a perfectly plausible route to the creation of life, intelligence and man.

    All accounts of a Creator are simply not necessary, or just push an infinity (and paradox) somewhere even more implausible than where it was originally: We may have trouble imagining an infinite existence for an inanimate proton, but isn’t it even harder to imagine an infinite existence for an intelligent, thinking, active being?

    When we reach a paradox, we reject the premise as nonsense.

  136. DavidM: No, you did precisely that. I just excised all the BS in-between so others could SEE that is what you did.

  137. Tony C,

    David believes in a god because its printed on money…. I don’t know if there is or is not a god….. But I’ll take huxleys definition…

    ag·nosti·cal·ly adv.
    Word History: An agnostic does not deny the existence of God and heaven but holds that one cannot know for certain whether or not they exist. The term agnostic was fittingly coined by the 19th-century British scientist Thomas H. Huxley, who believed that only material phenomena were objects of exact knowledge. He made up the word from the prefix a-, meaning “without, not,” as in amoral, and the noun Gnostic. Gnostic is related to the Greek word gnsis, “knowledge,” which was used by early Christian writers to mean “higher, esoteric knowledge of spiritual things”; hence, Gnostic referred to those with such knowledge. In coining the term agnostic, Huxley was considering as “Gnostics” a group of his fellow intellectuals”ists,” as he called themwho had eagerly embraced various doctrines or theories that explained the world to their satisfaction. Because he was a “man without a rag of a label to cover himself with,” Huxley coined the term agnostic for himself, its first published use being in 1870.

  138. Darren,

    From my undemanding that is precisely why folks were afraid of a catholic being elected president…… That the pope would rule the US…..

  139. AY: I am not an agnostic. The Bible is full of contradictions, starting with Genesis 1:26, in which it refers to multiple Gods. (one of the passages the literal believers will cherry pick to be interpreted non-literally, of course.)

    I do not believe self-contradicting statements, the Bible is so obviously badly written fiction I do not claim to know nothing, I would more readily believe that Chewbacca is real and has taken up residence at Hogwart’s.

  140. Darren Smith wrote: “Canon Law and Statutory Law are disconnected in the United States. The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. If the SCOTUS declares the constitution provides that gay or straight marriage is to be allowed then Canon Law to the contrary is irrelevant as far as government treatment of marriage is concerned.”

    Nobody has even mentioned Canon Law, so why are you mentioning it? I have been citing case law from the SCOTUS and other courts, and what is amazing is that not one single person here acknowledges the case law arguments. They simply deny that the arguments in these cases have any merit. They treat the arguments of the courts as if they were my own personal arguments motivated by religion. Tony C (or whatever his real name is) even put forward that the Skinner decision never mentioned marriage, yet it did and this is why Loving v. Virginia referenced this case. Such indicates huge blind spots in Tony’s mind, created by bias and prejudice.

    When you say that if SCOTUS declares that the Constitution provides that gay and straight marriage is to be allowed, I assume you mean that if they say that gay unions be classified the same as straight unions under the label marriage. Saying “is to be allowed” erroneously implies that someone is arguing to prohibit same sex unions. Nevertheless, if you are saying that if SCOTUS rules that the Constitution prohibits States from defining same sex unions differently in their laws than opposite sex unions then Canon Law is irrelevant, that is a very dangerous place to be. It is exactly the kind of chaos that I have been warning about that results from poorly applying logic and reason to our laws, to rightly define them in accord with Natural Law Theory. SCOTUS sometimes gets it wrong, as in the Dred Scott decision, and sometimes their decisions are incomplete, such as in Roe v. Wade. If SCOTUS thinks the Constitution says anything about marriage, they diminish their authority because people like me will reject their decision completely regardless of what Canon Law or any other standard says. As a rational human being, I can read the Constitution for myself and see that it does not address marriage in any way. I am surprised that you think the highest court in the land made up of nine unelected elitists make the thinking abilities of millions of other people irrelevant for government. When we go there and fail to have a system of checks and balances in government, we truly have ceased to have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We have, in effect, accepted a tyrannical form of government. Some people in our society will not quietly allow that to happen.

  141. Tony C wrote: “The Bible is full of contradictions, starting with Genesis 1:26, in which it refers to multiple Gods. (one of the passages the literal believers will cherry pick to be interpreted non-literally, of course.)”

    I often respect your intellect, but when you plod into fields where you have barely plowed, I feel a little embarrassed for you. The “literal believers” as you call them (not the best term IMO) have spent a great deal of time over thousands of years debating the name Elohim (the plural Hebrew name of God) and what it means. Entire theologies have been built up around it resulting even in the execution of some of those who would disagree with the established theology about God or the Godhead. It also has formed a major split of Islam from Christianity. To claim that they just cherry pick such passages to be interpreted “non-literally” is ridiculous, coming either from ignorance or dishonesty. I think in your case, you just cite from the atheist playbook the same way a barely knowledgeable religious believer quotes from the Bible to communicate what he has been told by others is true.

  142. Tony C wrote: “Infinities create logical paradoxes, and religion is packed full of them: All powerful, all knowing of the past present and future, existing forever, all loving, with an unknowable plan that cannot fail, and on and on. The answer to paradoxes is not to accept them on faith because they comfort you emotionally, the answer to paradoxes is to root out where the infinities are, and reject them.”

    An interesting observation, but you seem to overlook the fact that not all theists believe in these infinities about God. You asked me about these when we first started corresponding and I clearly indicated to you that I did not accept the concept. Yet, here you are touting them as if all theists have the same idea about God.

    Tony C wrote: “If a Creator is necessary to accomplish X…”

    Unfortunately, the philosophy of science has created this perspective of “if a Creator is necessary …” From my perspective, this is the wrong starting point for the question of whether or not there was a Creator. It presumes no Creator until proven otherwise. While such a premise certainly accelerates empirical discovery by narrowing research questions, it does not adequately address the real question about origins. What is the probability of there having been a Creator involved with our origins versus the idea that processes based upon currently observable natural laws are adequate to explain our origins. Science time and time again begs for more time to make the discoveries that will provide the basis for a theory that finally will provide that adequate understanding and proof. Until then, the supposition is that there is no Creator. The more knowledgeable one becomes of the empirical facts of nature, the less likely the probability is that the complexity and order is explained by any of the present scientific theories.

    Tony C wrote: “When we reach a paradox, we reject the premise as nonsense.”

    This approach sometimes represents the same kind of cop-out leveled against religious people, who instead of adequately investigating a complex problem resort to the idea that “God did it.” Sometimes issues that appear to be a paradox actually have a solution. It just takes more work to figure it out.

  143. DavidM says: As for atheism, I think it is among the worst philosophical premises a person can adopt. Atheism causes people to interpret life through a selfish lens which leads to all manner of atrocities in society.

    On the contrary; I know many atheists (through the student’s atheist union at my university) and we interpret life through the lens of reality, which leads to the betterment of society, and seldom does it lead to selfishness.

    Selfishness in atheists is a product of mental disease or abnormal brain development that creates a lack of empathy, sympathy, or self-control. That is rare; most atheists are possessed of typical emotions (including empathy, sympathy, and a reasonable amount of self-control) and what distinguishes them from theists, in my considerable experience, is just the refusal to let Religious contradictions and paradoxes slide and believe anyway. Atheists are the students that cannot let go of their internal demand for coherence, they are nitpickers. Practically all of them were religious when young.

    In fact, a very common response when I ask them how they came to be an atheist is that they were religious, and out of a sense of duty as a good Christian or a desire to be a more knowledgeable expert they decided to read the Bible, not just passages but the whole thing: And as one young formerly devout Christian told me, “When I finished it and I closed the back cover, I was an atheist.”

    DavidM says: It also restricts a person’s vision to be purely empirical and causes them to avoid making logical connections that would otherwise be possible to them.

    No it doesn’t. It restricts a person’s vision to things that are real, but logic and rationality remain intact. No logical connections are prohibited, we just eschew basing decisions on made up fictions.

    For the most part I keep my mouth shut (or do not attend) the student atheist meetings; although their meetings are open to all they do not need an aging professor lecturing them in their social setting.

    But I know for the most part they have figured out what I figured out: Emotions are real. Lives are real, and we only get this one. Violence and hatred and selfishness are all real.

    Atheists regard life as more precious than theists, because atheists know life is finite (not infinite) and we get only a short time on Earth. There is no afterlife to look forward to; what we have is life now that should not be wasted begging for more.

    Atheists regard community and crime differently from theists and Karmists: We do not believe in magical punishment and retribution, we believe it is possible for brutality to go unpunished forever, for the serial killers to die peacefully in their beds of old age, for thieves to enjoy the spoils of their predations without consequence either physical or psychological, because most habitual predators are psychologically broken and do not feel empathy or regret.

    So we are more adamant that society band together and prosecute and punish crime; we are LESS selfish with our money and LESS opposed to taxation, because we do not trust in any “higher power” to protect us or keep us safe from human predators, we know the ONLY power that can stand up to the baddest psychopaths on the planet is a collective power, it is the power of the community banded together to protect rights and fight predation of the few percent that ARE selfish, without empathy, sympathy or regrets.

    Theists that think atheists are selfish, are selfish themselves: If an atheist helps somebody, they are not doing it for supernatural reward, brownie points or because their Master ordered them to be kind. Help from an atheist is pure and for no reward other than knowing they helped a fellow human being. Help from a theist will always carry the scent of selfishness, in their expected payoff from God for “honoring him” or obeying His commands. Help from a theist can always have an ulterior motive, help or charity from an atheist is the kindness it appears to be on its face.

    The Theistic idea that atheists cannot be moral or charitable without the threats of supernatural punishment and promises of supernatural reward betrays a mindset of personal selfishness in the Theist, that they themselves see little reason to be anything but selfish absent those rewards and punishments; that they see life as a transactional zero-sum game, that every kindness bestowed or received must be compensated (supernaturally or otherwise).

    An atheist has a clearer vision of morality and charity; because the world is composed of just us imperfect humans. Theists believe that God punishes bad behavior with bad fortune; but atheists know better. If one thinks that bad fortune may be the result of sinful behavior, it skews their judgment of what is moral and what charity should be bestowed upon the unfortunate. Muslims are theists, Jews are theists, Christians are theists, Protestants and Catholics are theists, and discrimination in charity and moral treatment and judgment of human worth by one group is often predicated upon their belief that another of these groups is “sinful,” or infidels or otherwise deserving of punishment (by God in the form of bad fortune and poverty, or by humans inflicting those upon the group in the name of God).

    Atheists do not have that issue, we believe all those groups are deluded, but delusion or beliefs do not warrant punishment, supernatural or otherwise. As an atheist I provide charity to an abused women’s shelter, the vast majority of such abused women are religious (despite their proof in hand that God did not protect them). I do not see that delusion as diminishing their need for help in escaping their misfortune. Their beatings are not punishments from God, but from brutal men that should be punished. If anything, their delusion of faith increases their need for help because it increases the likelihood of them thinking they deserve their pain and anguish, or God would not have let it happen.

    In my view as an atheist it is both rational and emotionally satisfying to help other people, because I believe we are all they have, and they are all I have, and frequently small interventions or contributions by me, that I will not really miss much, can have large effects for others, even life-changing (or life-saving) effects.

    As a rational atheist, what I believe matters in the world is other humans and human happiness. My own is included there, but a part of my own happiness and satisfaction in life is being a net contributor to the happiness of others. Unlike theists, I do not believe that life is a zero-sum transaction, I do not need a supernatural being to balance the books with blessings or punishments, I believe that a group of people can be far happier than the same people individually isolated would ever be. That is not a zero-sum game, the whole is greater than its parts, and happiness does not need to come at somebody else’s expense.

    I do not need a blessing of God to compensate me for my good deeds or charitable work. If I am given one, or my acts are attributed to God instead of me, I choose to hear those statements in translation as an atheist: “Thank you for making my life better.” Which is what they would say if they were not deluded into thinking I was the slave of some deity.

  144. DavidM:

    “Atheism causes people to interpret life through a selfish lens which leads to all manner of atrocities in society.”

    Arent human atrocities just the result of being human? Religion, no religion, Deist, atheist, no group can claim immunity to bad actors and actions.

  145. David, first issue is that Bible has been translated many, many times. Who knows what the original wording or intent(s) was.
    And your aimus towards “atheists’, reminds me of those who harbor severe animosity towards homosexuals.

  146. Bron wrote: “Aren’t human atrocities just the result of being human? Religion, no religion, Deist, atheist, no group can claim immunity to bad actors and actions.”

    Yes, experience teaches us that evil crosses all these boundaries. There are many religious people who are complete charltons who do not believe but claim to others that they believe, so that they can manipulate them and make money. They know that they are fake and are doing it on purpose. Other religious people are simply deceived, and attempt to follow a faith, but fail to be able to do it. Yet other religious people have an ideology that teaches them everybody is evil and the only difference is forgiveness for those who profess belief in some creed or who belong to some church. I certainly do not mean to imply that theism alone creates some kind of immunity from behaving badly.

    With regards to atheism, there are many atheists who appear somewhat moral and conduct themselves in a responsible fashion, but often I think this is done in spite of their professed atheism. Especially among intelligent people, they construct moral boundaries based upon their own rules of conduct which they judge make them best able to function well in society. They also often abide by the dictates of their conscience but without acknowledging that they are doing so or without understanding of where that guidance of conscience comes from (deeming it to be strictly cultural, whether that is true or not).

    If we judge the atheistic philosophy directly, however, there are some principles that can be deduced using logic about how the atheist principle directs a person.

    For example, if atheism is true, there are certain ascetic practices that would be discouraged.

    1) What purpose would prayer serve for an atheist? He might replace prayer with meditation, and that might be somewhat helpful because he might actually unwittingly enter into prayer by doing so, but there also is the rationale that prayer is useless and worthless because there is no God.

    2) What purpose would a practice like fasting serve an atheist? If there is no God, then the discipline of fasting is basically nonsense. Why put oneself through any kind of sacrificial practices that appear on the surface to help nobody, but seem only to be detrimental needlessly to one’s own body?

    3) What about oaths, promises, and covenants? The foundation of civilized society is being bound by our word and entering into such relationships where the creation of such establishes relational expectations and conditions that enable greater societal cooperation. When one holds to the atheist principle, there is no God who sees what you do in secret, and so it may be wise to cheat if you are sure you will not get caught. Oaths are basically done in a manipulative way to get someone else to do something. It would be wise to squirm around agreements through loopholes and the like. This is not to say that theists are immune from doing the same thing, but at least we have a foundation by which to rebuke such action. For the atheist, there is no foundation because ultimately what is best is what leads him to have a better life for himself and those associated with him.

    John Locke wrote some of the best arguments for religious toleration that our founding fathers based much of their thinking on for establishing a separation of church and state, but the one group that Locke said society should never tolerate was the atheists. He said that atheists have no foundation for abiding by promises, covenants, and oaths, something central to any civilized society.

    4) What about being persecuted for righteous causes? Whereas theism leads a person to be principled and believe that God will judge matters even after death, an atheist has no reason to lay down his life sacrificially for a good cause. If death is the end, unless the atheist feels his life is over anyway, or unless he is depressed and desires to cease from existing, the idea of leading a sacrificial life based upon a righteous reason would be foolish. He should instead seek to mitigate between what is good for himself and his family with what is good for society in general, and his own life should take precedence over the lives of others. From an atheist’s perspective, the way Jesus led his life, marching headlong into being executed at the age of 33, would just be absolutely foolish and stupid. It makes no sense. Who cares if his message drastically changed the way most of society thought for thousands of years. In regards to his own existence, it would have been much wiser to avoid execution.

    5) Atheism assumes that knowledge cannot come through the spirit because the spirit does not exist. If their assumption is true, no problem, but if their assumption is not true (and spiritual people have discovered that it is not a true premise), then atheism discourages any person from becoming spiritual in how they relate to others and to society in general. There is no openness to being led by the spirit in ways that would cause great discomfort to the physical part of their being.

    6) Atheism discourages the virtue of pure love and replaces it with hedonism as a valid consideration for achieving happiness. Evolutionary theory rightly predicts selfish behavior to come through the carnal, physical impulses of our bodies. If evolutionary theory is true, as well as certain theological arguments by the apostle Paul in the New Testament, any kind of philosophy that causes a person to enhance his own physical being through pleasure rather than keeping his carnal impulses under the direction of his own mind, will, and spirit, would lead to more selfish behavior. This is the prediction based upon applying logic to the atheistic principle. Whereas the theist is led to distinguish Godly love from erotic love, the atheist conflates them all together, believing that carnal love is all there is. There just is no basis for considering spirituality and emotions tied to spirit rather than flesh.

    7) Atheism destroys the value of faith in guiding a person’s life. If there is no God and no spirit, faith is rendered useless. Faith becomes ineffective then as a guide to knowledge. Faith also becomes ineffective as a cultivated virtue that allows a person to persevere calmly and peacefully through trials and hardships.

    I could go on and on about how pervasive the atheist principle affects people in a negative way, but it would probably only cause them to holler, “how can you say this… prove this or prove that, or I reject what you say without some proof.” This is another problem with the atheist, resting his standards on empirical proofs and having a skeptical outlook toward virtually everything in life. No longer does another person’s experience or honest testimony mean much of anything. Only empirical proof matters to them.

    And when we look in actual practice, where are the examples of atheists who would live very holy lives of sacrificial giving, such as Teresa of Calcutta? While some atheists will trumpet their good works and deeds to proclaim how filled with charity they are without believing in God, you just do not find shining examples of the sort you find with theists. It is not surprising when we consider what the tenet of atheism versus the tenet of theism would prescribe or proscribe to a person’s mind. Many atheists proudly and loudly compare themselves with all the religious fakes in the world, pointing to bad behavior of those with a theistic worldview to justify their own atheistic mindset, but rarely if ever do they point to atheistic saints so-to-speak. Virtually all their activity is antagonistic toward religion in society, from seeking to get “In God We Trust” off our money and public buildings to removing Ten Commandment monuments from public courthouses and public squares. I see little gain to the individual or to society in general by embracing an atheistic philosophy, and there are many reasons to avoid atheism like the plague.

  147. Maybe you don’t find examples like Mother Theresa among atheists because it does no one good to proclaim they are an atheist, your comments are a perfect example of why one does not trumpet it.
    Atheists do not have to have a G-d to honor their oaths. Inherent sense of decency and that their word is their bond is all that is necessary.
    You want to see hate and betrayal of one;s oath and word, we can look to George Bush lying us into war and declaring “mission accomplished”. You can read/hear commentary by people like Mike Huckabee, a minister, who regularly distorts, lies, exaggerates, takes out of context to paint the democrats, progressives, liberals, President Obama with a black brush.
    I am a person of Faith but I do not say to myself I had better do good/act good because a Higher Power sees me and will judge me. My word is my bond because it is my word. My behavior I hope is moral and decent because I am a moral and decent person who believes we need to treat one another with respect and dignity.
    It seems that atheism/atheist is scary to you. If your Faith is string enough you do not need to fear someone else’s lack of Belief, or excoriate it, or denounce it. That should not be the Christian way, You know Judge not lest ye be judged.?

  148. Any God whose afraid of disbelief from mere mortals isn’t much of a God, is it?

    I find it very interesting to contrast comments on this site by people of faith. There is a distinct difference between those statements made by people of the fanatical fundamentalist bent be they from the traditions of Judaism, Christianity (including the Opus Dei lot) or Islam and those like leejcaroll and OroLee who practice their faith without the need to force it upon others. The main difference being that the later is respecting that religious choice is a right of self-determination and not the right to make determinations for others. That difference resting almost squarely on the idea of authoritarianism versus individual choice in matter of conscience.

    That reflects more accurately in many ways the teachings of Jesus who was against the dogmatic orthodoxy of the contemporaneous Rabbinical power structure and all about accepting that your relationship with God is personal and yours alone. That’s precisely what got Jesus in trouble with the locals and subsequently the Romans who had little or no interest in the religious practices or local power structures of their provinces unless it presented a threat of instability which would in turn threaten both tax revenues and the ability to recruit into the Legions. Which is what happened once the locals realized the real threat to their authoritarian structures that Jesus’ “heretical” teachings represented.

    Jesus wasn’t just a liberal. He was anti-authoritarian. He taught that there is no Heavenly Power or Kingdom on Earth and the only true judge of one’s life was in the Eyes of His Father.

    And that combination is what spelled his eventual doom at Golgotha.

    He was all “love each other” and “think for yourselves” in a world that didn’t operate that way.

    Sounds all vaguely familiar and like a pattern that repeats.

  149. David,

    If your religions so good then why do you find it necessary to condem others? It seems you take more time to actually practice what you write here…. But then again, some have no knowledge of what they talk about…. Kinda like the brains in neutral and the mouths on high….. Vrooooooommm

  150. leejcaroll wrote: “David, first issue is that Bible has been translated many, many times. Who knows what the original wording or intent(s) was.”

    I do not think that possible translation errors are the “first issue” in considering theism. The Bible is not the only evidence that asserts a theistic worldview, nor is it the most powerful evidence. A person can completely reject the Bible and still be convinced of theism.

    I ask this question. Of all the people who ever lived throughout all of history, who is the one person that has most affected the society and the societal roots in which I live? I conclude that Jesus is that person. Like him or hate him or whatever, all of our history seems to be so completely affected by this man. Thomas Jefferson considered Jesus to be the greatest moral philosopher ever. We continue to use a calendar dated by his birth, despite various efforts to change that, and virtually everybody has heard of him and is somewhat familiar with some of his history. Debates and arguments have constantly been raised about this man’s teachings and his existence. Therefore, I think it prudent to set out to understand this man and his teachings by reading not only what others have said about him, but also by reading the closest thing we have to original source material about him and his teachings.

    In regards to translations, I just read them all and compare them. With only a few exceptions, they are not really that much different from each other. I take time to learn Greek to see how the translation from Greek to English might be affected. Because Jesus had respect for the Torah and other Hebrew writings, I also read them and learn some Hebrew to consider how those translations might be affected. I read arguments about which translation is best and why. In the end, I have found the issue of “who knows what the original wording or intent was” would be a poor excuse for not taking time to read it and study it. I really don’t care who professes a belief in the Bible as the literal Word of God or not, but I am somewhat suspicious of those who do not take any time at all to even read the book and seriously consider what it has to offer. No other book in our history has been so read and scrutinized and argued about, so if any student takes time to read a textbook to enlighten his mind, he ought also take the time to read the Bible. I’m not claiming that the Bible is a holy book. I am just saying that it is worth the time to read and study, and bias against religion should be discarded in favor of a proper education.

  151. Anonymously Yours wrote: “If your religions so good then why do you find it necessary to condem others?”

    Excuse me? Ignoring for the moment that I do not profess any religion, where and how have I condemned anyone? I am not aware of doing that. I apologize if I have come across that way.

  152. Davidm,
    We have been watching your verbal gymnastics and contradictory logical leaps for weeks now. No professed religion? Who exactly do you think you are fooling? All your homophobic arguments have been based on religion, not law. It has been pointed out to you repeatedly that any law can be changed for any reason lawmakers deem necessary. You refer to a “homosexual agenda” as though it is some communist plot. Having known a number of homosexuals, I can tell you their main agenda is to be treated like everyone else. No better and no worse. I think most of them would also prefer not to be murdered:

  153. DavidM: Especially among intelligent people, they construct moral boundaries based upon their own rules of conduct which they judge make them best able to function well in society.

    Bullcrap. As an intelligent person and an atheist, I know full well I could be wealthy if I were selfish, ruthless, and ripped off gullible people while staying within the boundaries of US law, which I think clearly does not protect people from predations of such people.

    But I do not, my moral code is based upon fair treatment of others. I do not need imaginary threats to keep me in line, and I do not take advantage of others because they are gullible or uninformed or misinformed or desperate, which are all employed in quite legal ways to take people’s money without delivering them any benefit in return, or only imaginary benefits.

    My moral code is not devised for my convenience. It has cost me many a day helping somebody that needed it, and over six figures preventing injustices from being done. But that is because I do NOT believe in supernatural intervention or justice, I believe that if something is to be done it must be done by us. YOUR moral code is mighty convenient, because it lets you leave the problem to God, or assume whatever happens to somebody else must be part of God’s plan, it lets you address real problems with “prayer” and feel like you have done something when in fact you might as well be saying, “Good luck, sucker.”

    1) What purpose would prayer serve for an atheist?

    None whatsoever, and what makes you think prayer is good in itself? It is a waste of time and energy that could have been contributed to solving a problem, instead it is you talking in your head to make yourself feel better about having “done something” when in fact you did nothing. Prayer is a lie to yourself.

    2) What purpose would a practice like fasting serve an atheist?

    There are reasons to fast for health; fasting is NOT detrimental to the body, the vast majority of Americans would do well to fast two days a week.

    Or do as I do, and eat half as many calories, four days a week (for me, Monday through Thursday).

    Fasting accomplishes several important functions. Primary among them is weight control, particularly needed for a sedentary lifestyle; excess fat causes disease and shortens life, period.

    Guess what? Atheists believe we have only one life, and it is enjoyable, and we want to prolong it as long as we can. Fasting can help us do that.

    Regular fasting and reduced calorie diets have also been shown to reduce the prevalence of cancers, diabetes, atherosclerosis, liver and kidney disease and other diseases.

    3) What about oaths, promises, and covenants?

    What about signed contracts? I need no supernatural threat to keep oaths and promises I make, and con men routinely prey upon those that believe verbal oaths and promises accompanied by “I swear to God.”

    You seem to think atheists have NO conscience or sense of right and wrong and the only thing that makes you moral is supernatural threats of punishment.

    [An atheist] may be wise to cheat if you are sure you will not get caught, it would be wise to squirm around agreements through loopholes and the like.

    You have an appalling sense of what is wise. I don’t cheat because it is unfair, and I do not want to think of myself as a cheat and a fraud. If I make an agreement I do my best to keep it because my purpose in life is to contribute to the happiness and well-being of other people, not phuck them over.

    Theists, on the other hand, can commit any sin and then ask their imaginary friend for forgiveness which is automatically granted. That sounds like the biggest loophole of all, they do not have to care about the lies, frauds, and crimes they have committed against others, because they have constrained their God to forgive them no matter what.

    I do not forgive myself my transgressions, they are mine to carry with me for life as lessons in what not to be, they are mine to correct as I can.

    …but at least we have a foundation by which to rebuke such action. For the atheist, there is no foundation because ultimately what is best is what leads him to have a better life for himself and those associated with him.

    More bullcrap. You mistakenly believe atheism equates with selfishness, perhaps because you yourself are so pervasively selfish you cannot imagine anybody else caring about other people without the command and threats of a God to do so.

    4) What about being persecuted for righteous causes? … an atheist has no reason to lay down his life sacrificially for a good cause.

    On the contrary, an atheist believes his life is finite anyway, he will die and cease to exist and in all likelihood be completely forgotten in time.

    For certain causes, the atheist may well decide that the finite life left to him is worth sacrificing, if he believes his death can be leveraged to create or preserve human happiness. He does not need the false promise of watching the outcome from on high to believe he is doing the right thing.

    That doesn’t have to be an end of life decision; risking death to save others or as part of a team to make something come to pass is a fine way to spend one’s allowance.

    Atheists understand life and death.

    If the cause is right and her death would make a difference, then biology may make the atheist feel the fear death, but rationality can balance that fear with bravery and drive her to prevent catastrophe and make the world a better place. Life is finite and death is inevitable, it will come sooner or later, but some changes have wide reaching effects that are worth letting it come early.

    And in some cases, death now is better than living with the alternative (and eventually dying anyway). I would die in place of my wife or child, if given the choice, because I could not stand the self-hatred that would ensue if I were a coward and chose my life over theirs.

    From an atheist’s perspective, the way Jesus led his life, marching headlong into being executed at the age of 33, would just be absolutely foolish and stupid.

    Putting aside that Jesus is a fictional character cribbed from 25 other “saviour” stories (all born on December 25th, all crucified) already extant for hundreds of years before his ‘birth’ (or invention), Dying to create something worth more than one’s finite life is well within the atheist’s wheelhouse. Second, Jesus did not die: He suffered some torture, but lived again. The same goes for any Theist that believes in an afterlife, if you don’t believe that death is the end, you have no reason to withhold your death. Only an Atheist can truly know he sacrifices EVERYTHING by dying for a cause.

    5) Atheism discourages any person from becoming spiritual in how they relate to others and to society in general.

    Again, you assume “spiritual” is an automatic good, and it isn’t. You engage in circular reasoning again; you claim “spiritual” is automatically a good, and since atheists aren’t “spiritual,” atheism is automatically bad.

    There is nothing good about being “spiritual.” It is embracing a falsehood and a false view of reality that leads you to do harm to others. Just ask the homosexuals to whom you deny marriage because you are “spiritual.”

    6) Atheism discourages the virtue of pure love and replaces it with hedonism as a valid consideration for achieving happiness.

    No it doesn’t. Atheists feel the same love, caring, and joy in another that Theists feel, without attributing those feelings to any third party. It seems to me attributing my love for others to a third party diminishes me.

    Further, hedonism is not always a negative and asceticism is not always a positive; there is nothing sinful about creature comforts and pleasures that do not harm others, demean others, or break promises to others. Nobody is here but other people, if they are not harmed then they have no right to complain.

    Evolutionary theory rightly predicts selfish behavior to come through the carnal, physical impulses of our bodies.

    That is a lie, I know a great deal about evolutionary theory and that is just patently untrue.

    Whereas the theist is led to distinguish Godly love from erotic love, the atheist conflates them all together, believing that carnal love is all there is.

    False again. Atheists believe in many forms of love. I feel parental love, romantic love with my spouse, brotherly love with my friends, love for my parents and siblings, and a general love for humanity. All of those are different ways of treasuring others; I would even say I love my work, I love a few of my co-workers and colleagues; I would be saddened to tears by their loss. The only one of those that is carnal is romantic love, and IMO that is a thin slice of romantic love and not critical to the equation. If my wife became incapable, I would still be in love with her.

    Atheists love exactly as theists do, we just do not mistakenly attribute our feelings to a supernatural entity.

    7) Atheism destroys the value of faith in guiding a person’s life. If there is no God and no spirit, faith is rendered useless. Faith becomes ineffective then as a guide to knowledge. Faith also becomes ineffective as a cultivated virtue that allows a person to persevere calmly and peacefully through trials and hardships.

    Ha! Well, hopefully that is true, since faith is belief without reason, and that is often a formula for disaster. Belief without reason is not a guide to knowledge, it is a route to delusion. Faith is not a virtue, any more than stupidity is a virtue.

    As for persevering, an atheist is in the best position to assess whether that is worth doing or not worth doing, because an atheist, knowing that the world is NOT explained by the claptrap offered by theists, strives to understand the world as it really is, which gives them the best perspective on reality and whether perseverance is worth the effort and sacrifice it will take, or whether it is smarter to surrender or find an alternative route. The atheist is not saddled with mythology that doesn’t work and doesn’t waste their time praying for relief to nonexistent deities when they could be working to solve a problem.

    No longer does another person’s experience or honest testimony mean much of anything. Only empirical proof matters to them.

    I do not need empirical proof, but I do need empirical evidence and a plausible explanation of claims.

    Why should I trust your experience over my own?
    Why should I believe somebody else’s testimony when it is full of contradictions, logical error and physical impossibilities?

    Faith is a fool’s tool, it is belief because somebody else says so, it is an abdication of the responsibility to think for one’s self and do the work of understanding the world and people on your own.

    …but rarely if ever do they point to atheistic saints so-to-speak.

    Perhaps because atheistic saints do less to promote themselves and trumpet their work to the world as God’s work.

    Perhaps because the atheists that ARE doing good works aren’t doing it in the name of atheism, but doing it in the name of humanity.

    Perhaps because charitable atheists are smart and know that with 95% (or more) of the world in the grip of various supernatural delusions, proudly proclaiming their atheism would do more harm to their cause than good, and being smart they know their charitable mission is more important than their personal ego and thus they refrain from such public proclamations that would gain them fame at the expense of the good works they are trying to accomplish.

    If you want a few, Brad Pitt (atheist) has spent $16 million dollars of his own money (as a charity he personally oversees) rebuilding housing for the poor in New Orleans. With Angelina Jolie (another atheist) they have spent another several million dollars of their own money on Doctors Without Borders, world hunger programs, and sanctuaries for refugees in war torn countries. Not to mention adopting three children.

    Morgan Freeman (atheist) has donated major financial support to more than 15 charities.

    Warren Buffett, the richest man in the world in 2008, told a reporter that asked, “I do not believe in any unseen divinity,” and has donated $41 billion dollars to charity, via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (also atheists), that have donated over $28 billion dollars to charity.

    George Soros (atheist) has donated $7 billion dollars to promote “open and democratic societies.”

    Andrew Carnegie (atheist) was one of America’s leading philanthropists.

    On Kiva.org, a micro-financing organization, one can join a “lending team” to pool donations as a group effort. The lending team that has done the most on Kiva.org (and nearly twice as much as the second place team) is “Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists, and the Non-Religious.” Their motto is: “We loan because we care about the suffering of human beings.”

    Perhaps you do not understand atheists at all.

  154. David proclaimed:
    I do not profess any religion
    ~+~
    I would disagree. You have professed with consistency fundamentalist Christian idealology as practiced by many groups in the United States. I don’t understand how this could be not interpreted as being professing any religion. Just because you feel you haven’t named a particular sect in your advocacy doesn’t mean you are refraining from professing of a particular religion.

    You also make use of words and phrases that are consistent with what is used by fundamentalist, western Christians such as “abortionist” et al. That is terminology that is so frequently used by some rather extremists in that subculture I find it rather unbelievable that someone trying to maintain a distance from those groups would even risk using such words.

  155. Mr. Scribe – Surely you are not one of those people who think Matthew Shepard was murdered because he was gay? No wonder you can’t even read the plain language of case law and prefer to live in denial. The motive in Shepard’s case was robbery. Clearly facts do not matter to you.

  156. Darren Smith wrote: “You have professed with consistency fundamentalist Christian idealology as practiced by many groups in the United States. I don’t understand how this could be not interpreted as being professing any religion.”

    I agree that my ideology is aligned with general Christian theology, but I do not embrace any particular Christian sect. You might even consider me anti-religious. For someone to be religious, they would have to join themselves to a religious sect, attend meetings with members of that sect, and perhaps profess a belief in some Creed or Statement of Faith. None of those things apply to me. I’m sorry that I don’t fit into the nice stereotypes others like to cast other people into.

    As for the abortionist term, most medical doctors refuse to do abortions because they believe it is contrary to the oath they take in their medical profession. I think the term abortionist is most accurate. What other term would you suggest?

  157. Tony:

    I pulled your post out of the spam filter, it got put there for some reason. You should see it above.

  158. “What other term would you suggest?”

    Oh how about “Doctor”? Maybe it might be a little more humanizing than what those who advocate the murder of certain health care professionals choose to use.

    As for the anti-religious claim you just said that your ideology was in alignment with general christian religion. I would supose that would include a blief in God and some of the teachings in the Bible, but how is that being anti-religious? It isn’t necessary to be a card carrying member of the westboro baptist church to subscribe and adhere to the same teachings they espouse. Aldrich Ames did not have to be a card carrying communist to be convicted of espionage.

    ANd about Matthew Shepard, he wasn’t murdered because he was gay? Well then, why did Aaron McKinney, one of his murderers, at first claim “gay panic defense” as one of the reasons for his actions? The only reason those two were not charged with a state level hate crime was because the Wyoming Criminal Code at the time did not codify it.

  159. No David. Matthew was selected and murdered because he was gay. How many $30 robberies have you heard of where the victim was beaten so badly blood spatters were found fifty feet away? Tortured, tied up with barbed wire, hung from a fence and left to die? The first claimed defense was they did it because of “gay panic.” They were not charged with a hate crime because at the time, neither Wyoming or the Feds had a hate crime statute. Wyoming still doesn’t.

    Albany County, Wyo., Sheriff David O’Malley was a Laramie detective when he was assigned to investigate the murder. O’Malley said that before the Shepard case he was very homophobic. During the time he spent working on Matthew Shepard’s murder, he worked and got to know people in the gay community. Those experiences were life-changing for O’Malley. His attitude not only changed, he is now an outspoken advocate for civil rights for the LGBT community.

    Davidm, you are full of it. If you truly believe all that stuff you are spewing, I have a great bridge in Brooklyn to sell you, cheap.

  160. Wow, I leave here for a couple of days . . .

    davidm2575:

    “As for the abortionist term, most medical doctors refuse to do abortions because they believe it is contrary to the oath they take in their medical profession.”

    I know I’m going to regret getting involved in this conversation again, but if you have access to some kind of poll results to support your assertion, it would be interesting to hear about that.

    I would suggest that the reason that the vast majority of medical doctors don’t (or “refuse to”) perform abortions might be related to the fact that they are not obstetricians/gynecologists. I don’t think there are very many rheumatologists or neurosurgeons who would be interested in a side practice at an abortion clinic, regardless of their views on the subject of abortion. Of course, I have no data, so this is simply speculation on my part. I do know, though, that I would not want to send my daughter to my orthopedic surgeon to terminate a pregnancy.

    Among OB/GYN’s, some oppose abortion, some don’t. Some who don’t oppose abortion don’t do them anyway. Perhaps for some them it has to do with a fear of assassination by radical “pro-lifers”; perhaps for some of them, it has to do with state legislatures substituting uneducated religious fanaticism for medical judgment and making it impractical or nearly impossible to perform abortions.

    But I don’t know that, so, again, if you have some data, let’s see it

  161. Porkchop you got there before me ((*_*))

    David Thou shalt not bear false witness even when you want it to bolster a false position such as about Matthew Shepard’s murder.

    As for doctors not willing to provide abortions: http://www.aclupa.org/education/clarabellduvallreproductiv/duvallprojectresourcespubl/shortageofphysicians.htm

    “In recent years, anti-choice activity has focused on targeting individual physicians and clinic staff in intense campaigns of intimidation. A “Wanted” poster with a photograph and clinic schedule of Dr. David Gunn was circulated in the months prior to his murder by an anti-choice protestor in March, 1993. Four months later, an anti-choice organization in Chester County, Pennsylvania, distributed posters and postcards, captioned “Not Wanted” and “Abortion, Inc,” bearing the names, photographs, addresses and phone numbers of two physicians who work at a local women’s clinic.

    The intimidation of physicians begins before they are even practicing medicine. In the spring of 1993, 33,000 medical students received a comic book in the mail from an anti-choice organization called Life Dynamics. Titled “Bottom Feeder,” it contained dozens of “jokes” about abortion providers, many violent in nature:

    Q: What would you do if you found yourself in a room with Hitler, Mussolini and an abortionist, and you had a gun with only two bullets?

    A: Shoot the abortionist twice.

    Medical students who have advocated for increased abortion training at their institutions have also been picketed at their homes, and student organizers must be concerned with protecting the identities of fellow activists, further adding to the atmosphere of danger and intimidation.

    since that is from an ACLU paper you probably won’t accept it so here is another source:

    …”In 1973, hospitals made up 80 percent of the country’s abortion facilities. By 1981, however, clinics outnumbered hospitals, and 15 years later, 90 percent of the abortions in the U.S. were performed at clinics. The American Medical Association did not maintain standards of care for the procedure. Hospitals didn’t shelter them in their wings. Being a pro-choice doctor came to mean referring your patients to a clinic rather than doing abortions in your own office. ” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/magazine/18abortion-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  162. (I submitted this but it did not show so not sure if it went through or not, apologize if it posts 2x)
    Porkchop you got there before me
    David, Your twisting of facts to make it fit your personal theory and bias is evident in your representation of what you call the reality behind the Matthew Shepard killing. I wonder if despite being repeatedly shown you are wring you will back off of your allegation.
    As for most medical doctors refusing to perform abortions, y ou are wring there too. Don’t know if you just made that up or found some specious site that told you this “fact” but here is the reality:
    In recent years, anti-choice activity has focused on targeting individual physicians and clinic staff in intense campaigns of intimidation. A “Wanted” poster with a photograph and clinic schedule of Dr. David Gunn was circulated in the months prior to his murder by an anti-choice protestor in March, 1993. Four months later, an anti-choice organization in Chester County, Pennsylvania, distributed posters and postcards, captioned “Not Wanted” and “Abortion, Inc,” bearing the names, photographs, addresses and phone numbers of two physicians who work at a local women’s clinic.

    The intimidation of physicians begins before they are even practicing medicine. In the spring of 1993, 33,000 medical students received a comic book in the mail from an anti-choice organization called Life Dynamics. Titled “Bottom Feeder,” it contained dozens of “jokes” about abortion providers, many violent in nature:

    Q: What would you do if you found yourself in a room with Hitler, Mussolini and an abortionist, and you had a gun with only two bullets?

    A: Shoot the abortionist twice.

    Medical students who have advocated for increased abortion training at their institutions have also been picketed at their homes, and student organizers must be concerned with protecting the identities of fellow activists, further adding to the atmosphere of danger and intimidation.
    http://www.aclupa.org/education/clarabellduvallreproductiv/duvallprojectresourcespubl/shortageofphysicians.htm

    That is from the ACLU so may not be an acceptable source for you so here is another:

    …”In 1973, hospitals made up 80 percent of the country’s abortion facilities. By 1981, however, clinics outnumbered hospitals, and 15 years later, 90 percent of the abortions in the U.S. were performed at clinics. The American Medical Association did not maintain standards of care for the procedure. Hospitals didn’t shelter them in their wings. Being a pro-choice doctor came to mean referring your patients to a clinic rather than doing abortions in your own office. ” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/magazine/18abortion-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  163. I see my role as a guest blogger as writing something of general interest to this community, that will spur a lively discussion and disclose further items of knowledge and interest to us all. It is hard to separate any bloggers personal beliefs from the objectivity with which they treat their subject, or else why would they choose to write about it? This is the blog of a distinguished advocate of the rule of law. In the long shadow that our proprietor casts, in my small way I also advocate for what i believe is true, though few much less myself would ever confuse me with being distinguish.

    With that in mind I used Morsi’s removal as the backdrop for what I considered was a more important topic, which was the compatibilty, or lack of same, of democracy with fundamentalist religion. My view is that fundamentalist religion is incompatible with democracy, yet one can’t have a democracy that excludes segments of the people for their beliefs. This sets up a difficult dichotomy, which I think our Founders understood and responded with a republican form of government, rather than a democracy. I’m uncertain that they achieved a viable solution, given the state of the nation today. I apologize though for not broadening my meaning of fundamentalism to include more than religion alone. Indeed I’ve known communists that shared the compatible traits of religious zealotry, without God in their equation. The religious fundamentalist and the communist and the fascist share quite similar attitudes. Their belief system MUST ultimately triumph and be imposed on all, or they will never accept their society as legitimate. You can’t “defeat” them since they will not accept your legitimacy if, like in overturning DOMA, you do.

    This thread has been a long and well fought one, with civilty reining on all sides. One might think that in discussing the right of Homosexuals to marry, the thread has strayed far from its roots in Egyptian politics, but as the author I would put to rest this idea. Gay marriage is a perfect metaphor for what I was alluding to. The Fundamentalist religious right will never give up on discriminating against Gay people, since to them homosexuality is an abomination. What may happen though, as illustrated by Orson Scott Card is that a diminished economic possibilty will put many into a strategic retreat. For those of us committed to an open, pluralistic society, we must never smugly rest on the conviction of our victories. I’ve lived long enough to see how the victories of an earlier era have become retreats in ours. I’m speaking specifically of a woman’s riight to make decisions about her own body.

    DavidM, in particular has advocated his beliefs with civility and in an articulate manner. I must commend you David, even though I assert that your arguments typified the problem I was trying to address. This was shown in your dismissing the Wyoming murder as a mere robbery, when the evidence overwhelmingly belies this viewpoint. Your calling Physicians “abortionists” and claiming that most Doctors are anti-choice again shows a rigid viewpoint informed solely from your religious belief, with its main bolstering basis being a narrow interpretation of the life of Jesus of Nazerath, seen through the eyes of a Roman citizen who never met him and The Council of Nicea, controlled by a pagan Emperor.

    The common assertion of those here rejecting your argument is not about what you personally believe, but in your willingness to impose your beliefs on those who reject some aspects of them. In your frame the argument is between Christians and atheists, but since I am neither and disagree with you as well that frame doesn’t work. In any event David I welcome your advocacy because it has made my point, but nevertheless your civility and erudition have made for enjoyable reading.

  164. Tony,

    You’re welcome. I’ve even purged my collection of his works. I try to judge artists by their art alone, but sometimes, you’ve just got to make an exception.

  165. For readers: On the topic of “Perseverance,” here is an excellent article by Adam Grant, professor at Wharton, How to escape from bad decisions.

    Perseverance in the face of failure can become what is technically called an “escalation of commitment,” which most people understand as “throwing good money after bad” or “doubling down.” Not all perseverance is escalation, some of it is good: Such as staying the course through college despite the temptations to leave it. That said, this article is a very good tutorial on how to avoid time traps, money pits, and lost opportunity by pursuing dead ends. It is a combination of personal decision making management and, in business, its physical and psychological counterpart in sticking to decision making protocol.

    An excerpt starting in the middle of the article: “New evidence reveals that the biggest culprit behind escalation is ego threat. We don’t want to be seen — or see ourselves — as failures. If you just invest a bit more in that underperforming employee, you can save face and protect your ego, convincing your colleagues (and yourself) that you were right all along. Staw and colleagues found that in NBA basketball, after controlling for players’ performance on the court, those who were picked earlier in the draft were given more playing time and were less likely to be traded. Regardless of players’ offensive and defensive success on the court, when executives made bigger bets on players, they had a harder time giving up on them, as that would mean conceding a blunder. So what we can do about it?

    Rigorous studies support four antidotes to escalation:”

    ******** END EXCERPT ********

    Then the article has four useful prescriptions to make our lives better.

  166. Porkchop wrote: “I would suggest that the reason that the vast majority of medical doctors don’t (or “refuse to”) perform abortions might be related to the fact that they are not obstetricians/gynecologists.”

    I spoke based upon common knowledge that I have had for years. I don’t have a lot of time right now to research it, but a quick google of some search terms brought up a survey from 2011 that only 14% of ob/gyn’s perform abortions.
    http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/womens-health/articles/2011/08/24/only-1-in-7-obgyns-now-perform-abortions-survey-finds

    The original hippocratic oath forbid doctors from performing abortions, and so in more modern times, that oath has been modified to allow for abortion. I think I read somewhere that only 3 medical schools still use the original oath. Still, many medical doctors have conscientious objections, especially performing them after the first trimester. It is a serious ethics question. Following is a link to an interesting article that addresses this problem in California:
    http://jme.bmj.com/content/22/2/115.full.pdf

    As for fear of assassination that you mentioned, certainly that reason also must be considered as a factor that affects some medical doctors. I’ve read some polls in the past taken at medical conventions where doctors mention conscience as the primary reason for their decision not to do them, but I don’t have time to research that right now so I can’t offer you the data at this time.

  167. Gene,

    I’ll second what Tony said….. I was very moved by the investigator in the case….. That shows where there is knowledge there can be change…. So are just so narrowly focused they can’t see light for day…..

  168. Gene:

    interesting post. It seems reasonable too, although I am surprised only 14% perform them. I thought it would have been higher.

  169. Bron,

    In some ways, I think the clinic business model is probably just more cost effective than having an Ob/Gyn do it as outpatient services. That might explain a lot of that.

  170. DavidM: From your JME article: “Also, the number of physicians willing to perform abortion services has declined, in part, because it has become increasingly risky to do so. As the cases of David Gunn and John Britton’° reveal, there is a genuine, if unlikely, threat to personal safety. And
    there is an even greater threat of harassment and intimidation, including anonymous calls and mailings and picketers at both work and home.”

    From your article: A sample of reasons given by physicians for not wanting to perform abortions:

    1) one physician viewed participation as creating a potential economic conflict for his private practice in fertility; he worried that his private patients would question his commitment to their goal of producing
    a child if he was at the same time willing to end the life of another.

    2) A second physician saw himself, and wished to be perceived, as a specialist in gynaecology rather than obstetrics.

    3) A third candidly admitted that he did not wish to be considered an abortion provider since such services are typically not lucrative.

    4) A fourth commented that, second trimester abortions are “complex and frankly ugly. They are most unpleasant for everyone involved”.

    These are not conscientious objections over a fetal right to life, David, they are about money, marketing, and “unpleasantness,” which hardly rises to the level of thinking abortion is murder. Watch reruns of “Dirty Jobs,” there are many unpleasant jobs most of us would avoid, and we do not assume that the people that refuse those jobs are automatically conscientious objectors to dealing with filth, garbage, and biological waste. We assume they have found a way to earn a living without dealing with what they find unpleasant.

    The same goes for doctors. As for your “Family Health” article, the article itself claims it is probably inaccurate, because

    a) 1/3 of the surveyed respondents refused to answer,
    b) the survey included more older doctors than the previous (22%) survey, and it is evident from many surveys that there is a disparity in the age of abortion providers tending toward the younger doctor,
    c) The survey excluded private practitioners that perform a significant share of abortions.

    It is plausible to presume that the danger and vitriol invited by becoming publicly known as an abortion provider preferentially make doctors willing to provide abortion to some patients to refuse any request (including a survey) to identify themselves as an abortion provider, by refusing to participate in such a survey, as 1/3 of them did. Likewise, conscientious objectors might preferentially choose to make the time.

    The survey differential, from 22% in 2008 to 14% in 2011, may not reflect anything but a decline in the willingness to participate in such a survey, or the willingness to publicly admit a willingness to perform abortions when they are requested in private, due entirely to the raging protests and insane acts of a minority of religious fanatics that pose a real physical and even lethal danger to such physicians.

  171. Gene H:

    You might be right but I would not do them if I was an Obgyn. My opinion of abortion [not that I am in favor of making it against the law] changed 180 degree after I had my first child. I used to argue with a law student who was Catholic about it when in college and we used to go round and round. I was all in favor.

    My first child was an eye opener, I would look at him for the first 2 years and wonder where the hell did he come from, obviously I knew, but it was the wierdest thought/feeling. After that I was opposed to it for myself.

  172. AY: What article did I post? I do not recall an article about an investigator. I posted an article on Grant’s discussion of escalation of commitment.

  173. Mike, I appreciate you taking time to make your post. I feel like the odd man out here and get frustrated sometimes with people not understanding me, especially when they respond in ways that misrepresent my viewpoint. While you also seem to misunderstand me, at least you peppered your comment with some kind words that showed you recognized some value in my taking time to post my contrarian viewpoint.

    Mike Spindell wrote: “The Fundamentalist religious right will never give up on discriminating against Gay people, since to them homosexuality is an abomination.”

    And this really goes to the heart of the matter, that it is not the general principle of religious fundamentalism that creates the problem. The problem is when a person adopts an intractable paradigm of thought from which he has decided he will never budge no matter what evidence or reasons are given. This ideological mode of thinking, often based upon a dogma or creed, creates a difficulty for that person to harmonize in a society where some individuals do not adopt that paradigm.

    Mike Spindell wrote: ” I apologize though for not broadening my meaning of fundamentalism to include more than religion alone.”

    Exactly. As another example, Tony has readily claimed that there is nothing that could ever convince him to relinquish his atheistic paradigm. This intractable position also creates difficulties for democracy and pluralism in that there are a lot of theists in society. His recent over-the-top tirade in response to one of my posts is illustrative of the problem. We could easily find a theist who would might likewise adopt an intractable position from a theistic mindset. So clearly the problem is not religious fundamentalism. We have to look at the situation of a person adopting a paradigm or worldview from which that person will never bend, whether that position is created from reading a religious text, a political book, from his own logical analysis, or even just a position based upon the apparent lack of empirical evidence to prove otherwise.

    Mike Spindell wrote: “… I assert that your arguments typified the problem. I was trying to address. This was shown in your dismissing the Wyoming murder as a mere robbery, when the evidence overwhelmingly belies this viewpoint.”

    People interpret evidence different ways. Maybe it is your intractable position about Shepard that is the problem? My position is not rigid, open to change and open to discussion, but you dismiss my current conclusion without any interest in discussing my reasons. Apparently you assume that I have none. Why? Why assume that I do not have any evidence upon which I base my perspective? Why not instead have the humble attitude of, “why do you think the murder of Shepard was more motivated by drugs and robbery than hatred for gays?”

    I think there is sufficient evidence, much of it never presented in court, that suggests this was another media driven event like the recent Zimmerman case. Numerous people, including the prosecutor, McKinney himself, McKinney’s girlfriend, the police detective investigating the case, and many others identify methamphetamine drug use and money as more important factors involved. Another witness says he never heard McKinney make any anti-gay remarks before, and he claims the murderer McKinney was bisexual himself, having engaged in a three way with him. The fact is that Aaron and McKinney, after beating Shepard, went out to rob Shepard’s home and also to rob other people. They got into another bloody fight with two other people who were not gay. This happened that very same night they beat up Matthew Shepard, and it was the reason they got caught in the first place. One of the men they attacked had a fractured skull, and it took hitting McKinney with a bat to prevent their own murder. The evidence creates sufficient doubt that I think anyone continuing to use Shepard as a poster boy of gay hatred is all about the propaganda machine of indoctrinating others toward their viewpoint. This is not to say that I don’t think there is gay hatred out there. I readily acknowledge that there are people who attack gays simply for being gay. I deplore those individuals. I just don’t think Matthew Shepard was such a case, and I think the number of cases is a bit overblown by the liberal agenda.

    Interestingly, I attempted to provide the LGBT Affairs department at the University of Florida with some of this information in published form in an effort to balance information and present a more objective education about LGBT affairs. As I handed it to the director, she refused to take it. I asked her to just read it and consider whether it is worthy to put in their reading room. She refused because its content was not supportive of their agenda. Do you think this is a proper way of providing education? With this kind of non-liberal approach to education by the liberals who are now in power and authority, I think proper education is deficient.

    You can read more specifics about the Shepard murder here:
    http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=277685&page=1#.Ud660Tvvii1

    Mike Spindell wrote: “Your calling Physicians “abortionists” and claiming that most Doctors are anti-choice again shows a rigid viewpoint informed solely from your religious belief…”

    I am really amazed of the objections that you and Darren express about the word “abortionist.” A medical doctor who terminates pregnancies is called an abortionist. From my perspective, this is no different than calling a heart surgeon a cardiologist or an eye doctor an ophthalmologist. I certainly did not use the term in any kind of malicious way. Please suggest another concise term that properly identifies his specialty if that term abortionist offends you. I think the term abortionist is a useful term in dialogue, but perhaps I need a little sensitivity education about this.

    It is difficult for me to understand how you would stereotype me as being rigid in some religious belief just because I use the term abortionist and because I mentioned what I thought was a readily known fact, that most doctors do not perform abortions. It is difficult for me to see the rigid religious conviction on my part for these two simple “offenses” on my part.

    Mike Spindell wrote: “… with its main bolstering basis being a narrow interpretation of the life of Jesus of Nazerath, seen through the eyes of a Roman citizen who never met him and The Council of Nicea, controlled by a pagan Emperor.”

    Excuse me, but I do not limit myself to the information you apparently assume that I do. In my eyes, Jesus and his followers were Jews. The tension between Jews who followed Jesus and those who did not resulted later in Christianity breaking away from Judaism as a separate religious system of thought, but in regards to studying that man Jesus of Nazareth, he is in my eyes Jewish. Do not assume that I am fooled by all the propaganda that went on afterward just because I identified Jesus as an important figure in history whose philosophy on life I have come to accept and embrace.

    Mike Spindell wrote: “The common assertion of those here rejecting your argument is not about what you personally believe, but in your willingness to impose your beliefs on those who reject some aspects of them.”

    I see my position as somewhat compromising between the two positions, and based upon legal precedent. The only aspect lost to those wanting their same sex union to be called marriage is the apparent “status symbol” of calling it marriage. If it were not for the long standing history of opposite sex unions being called marriage, I would suggest using the term “marriage” for same sex unions and inventing another term for opposite sex unions. Tradition and history makes that kind of solution untenable. In any case, while your perspective is that I am imposing my viewpoint upon others, my perspective is that gay marriage supporters are imposing their viewpoint upon others. Their refusal to treat same sex unions differently from opposite sex unions is seemingly just as intractable as an anti-abortionist refusing to treat the unborn differently from people already born.

    Mike Spindell wrote: “In your frame the argument is between Christians and atheists, but since I am neither and disagree with you as well that frame doesn’t work.”

    I have never framed the argument as being between Christians and atheists. I have been quoting legal texts like Loving, Skinner, Maynard, etc. and the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. The bigotry in this forum is so entrenched in the idea that only the religious disagree with them that it does not matter what form of argument I make, it is forever a religious argument in their eyes.

    I acknowledged my theistic paradigm and I acknowledged that it provides a bias for the way I arrange and interpret data in my mind. Someone asked why I considered myself not religious when I profess theism and an ideology that is aligned with many Christian views. I explained, which then led to someone wondering about my disdain for the philosophy of atheism. It was only then that I expounded upon my perspective of atheism, much to my regret.

    From my purview, religious theology does not have a place in civil law making, which is why I have based all my arguments upon arguments made by Supreme Court Justices and other legal professionals. The fact that nobody engages these arguments directly but prefers to stereotype me as religious and bigoted and full of hatred for gays, etc. speaks to the prejudice of those who disagree with me. It is a well known fact, that when logic fails, ad hominem attacks usually prevail.

  174. Actually Tony,

    It was addressed to gene….. But, since he defected it to you…. I was speaking of the card post….. But, I guess when you’re a proficient blogger like gene… It seems that he would forget what he’d posted…..

    Gene H.
    1, July 10, 2013 at 4:02 pm
    ‘Tolerate’ Your Homophobia, Orson Scott Card? Um, No

    But, hey… It is what it is….. I was just agreeing with what you said….

  175. Darren, the term “Doctor” is not specific enough, and it seems biased to me in that most people usually think of a doctor as providing health and life, not terminating a life. The term abortionist seems more specific and neutral to me.

    In regards to my being anti-religious, it is because I have very little respect for most of what I see as passing for organized religion. It just seems to me very fake and more about persuading people to give money toward someone building their own personal empire in the name of God rather than actually being motivated by spirituality. Some are good social clubs, but they operate under the pretense of being “under God.” They tell everyone to read the Bible, but those that actually do read it and follow some of its instruction in their personal life soon find that the ones telling them to read it don’t actually live by it. So I have concluded that religious sects are more man-made than God-made and are somewhat phony because of the pretenses under which they operate. My aversion to dishonesty makes me anti-religious.

    In regards to Aaron McKinney, it is my understanding that his lawyers wanted to argue that McKinney was sexually abused by a gay man at the age of 7, and then later at age 15 he had another homosexual experience, so when Shepard made sexual advances, he was put into a panic that he was gay and wanting to deny his own homosexual feelings he went into a rage. It basically was a legal maneuvering to claim temporary insanity. The Judge did not allow it. After conviction, McKinney said it never had anything to do with Shepard being gay. The evidence points to Meth Rage and robbery to support his drug habit as the overriding motivations.

  176. DavidM says: The problem is when a person adopts an intractable paradigm of thought from which he has decided he will never budge no matter what evidence or reasons are given.

    1) I see, so you are willing to abandon theism? Can you honestly say that?

    2) My intractable paradigm of thought is that theism is not just illogical, contradictory, paradoxical and untestable, but there are logical alternative and natural explanations for every major feature claimed that better fit the evidence.

    It is true I will not abandon logic for emotionalism and circular reasoning. I do not subscribe to the notion that reality is determined by popular vote. I do not accept as valid any “proof by antiquity,” or proof by assertion, and I do not subscribe to the theory that something must be true because the alternative is distressing and would make some people think that their life has no meaning. I do not subscribe to the notion that denying an uncomfortable truth will somehow change the truth from what it is.

    I am proud to say I am intractable on those points.

  177. AY,

    Given that Tony read your comment as I did, perhaps some effort for clarity on your part would be convenient since Tony and I had both linked to articles.

  178. David:

    I checked the spam filter but did not see it there. Maybe someone approved it for you already. I don’t know.

  179. A meaningless criticism since Tony made the same mistake and we’d both read the article I had posted.

    Your lack of clarity is nobody’s fault but your own, AY.

    You should be used to that by now.

  180. David,
    More then one person posted clicks to studies about why there are less doctors performing abortion services.
    You make the 1 -1 connection: “A medical doctor who terminates pregnancies is called an abortionist. From my perspective, this is no different than calling a heart surgeon a cardiologist or an eye doctor an ophthalmologist.
    A heart surgeon is not a cardiologist, he is a cardiac surgeon, a surgeon who specializes in cardiac cases.
    An ophthalmologist specializes in all sorts of eye diseases, for instance if a doc specializes in cornea he will be called a cornea specialist but he is an ophthalmologist who specializes. (And is not called a corneaologist)
    No doctor specializes in abortion services, which would then, by your definition, make him an abortionist. They are usually doctors specializing in women’s health, i.e. a gynecologist.
    There is no specialty. It is not a matter of sensitivity.

  181. Oh a toxic shower instead of a golden one …. Nice switch…. Oh wait, you do both…. Bath Salt fool…

  182. AY: Thanks for agreeing with me.

    leejcarol: On top of that, David knows perfectly well “abortionist” is a loaded word that carries connotations beyond its definitional meaning for both sides.

  183. Tony C wrote: “so you are willing to abandon theism? Can you honestly say that?”

    Yes, of course, I am very willing to abandon theism. In fact, I would welcome proof that there was no Creator. Believe me, I have searched very hard for such proof, dedicating more than 9 years at the university specializing in the study of ecology and evolution, looking for the proof. There is nothing inherent about theism that binds me to it, nothing that would make me unwilling to abandon it for a better explanation of our origins.

  184. and so embedded in his ideology that he has been unwilling to consider another position might be legitimate/he is wrong. As he stated: “The problem is when a person adopts an intractable paradigm of thought from which he has decided he will never budge no matter what evidence or reasons are given. “

  185. DavidM: The evidence points to Meth Rage and robbery to support his drug habit as the overriding motivations.

    Only if you presume he was lying first and telling the truth second, instead of vice versa. The opposite is more likely, if McKinney’s lawyer was concerned he made a tactical error by admitting the truth, but when that failed became concerned the death penalty would be more likely if the murder was regarded as a hate crime.

    Meth Rage is not exclusive of Gay rage, one could have begotten the other. The attack began when Matt made a homosexual pass at the perpetrator (put his hand on his leg), by his own admission. Which makes his original “gay panic” story fit better with the rest of his testimony; except it wasn’t panic, it was uncontrolled rage because he was on Meth. Being tied to the fence with barbwire is more consistent with an intent to demean and torture, not rob, and stopping a beating in order to position Matt thusly is not very consistent with an “uncontrolled” rage: He stopped beating him, tied him up, and then picked up his gun and started beating him again. That suggests a plan of several minutes and an intent to demean and humiliate, not a “loss of control” at all. That is more in line with a hate crime.

  186. DavidM: I don’t believe you, you hold too much hatred for atheists to become one under any circumstances. As for “proof” there is plenty of it which you refuse to see; and far better explanations for our origins than claiming an unseen Creator exists but you cannot explain where it came from, how it works, by what physics it operates or anything else. You have just put all mysteries into one jar and labeled it Creator, as if that “explains” something.

    It actually explains nothing to say, “X is the way it is because that is what the Creator decided/wanted/did.” It is a false explanation of why X is the way it is because the Creator is impenetrable. A real explanation provides an understandable mechanism that can be generalized so that knowledge is not just a collection of specific states, but a framework for understanding new things.

    And that is what makes other explanations better than your phony “explanation,” real explanations let us model reality and predict outcomes and predict states with better-than-chance accuracy.

  187. Tony C wrote: “David knows perfectly well “abortionist” is a loaded word that carries connotations beyond its definitional meaning for both sides.”

    Forgive me for my ignorance, but I really do not understand these nuances that are so clear to you.

    All of this reminds me of when I participated in a forum with anti-abortionists who believe in killing doctors who perform abortions (ugh… really? I can’t just say abortionist instead of “doctors who perform abortions”?). When I referred to them as “pro-life,” the posts began coming in about how insensitive I was to their position, and how I was purposely calling them pro-life to insult them and win the argument using emotion instead of logic. At least they readily gave me a term when I asked what the proper term to use would be. They said they were anti-abortionists and not pro-life. Okay, so I used that term from then on in any dialogue with them or about them.

    Seriously, if a medical doctor can give me a distinct word that they prefer as one that identifies them as a doctor who terminates pregnancies, I would gladly use that term instead. I have nothing invested in using the term abortionist except the effective way in which it communicates a concept tersely in my sentences. As you have probably noticed, I have a tendency to be too wordy and make my sentences too long, and forbidding me the use of the word abortionist will make my sentences even longer.

  188. DavidM: Forgive me for my ignorance,

    I don’t think I should, because I don’t think you are that ignorant; I think you know full well that word is loaded and find it convenient to pretend ignorance so you can continue using it.

    Terseness at the expense of unintended connotation (if you are to be believed) is not a good thing.

    I think it funny that you first adopt the word of a group you claim to know full well is extremist to the point of disgusting you, and fail to realize that whatever word they use for those they oppose is highly likely to be objected to by those they oppose. That should be common sense, David.

    I think the pro-choice group calls itself pro-choice.

    I think it is fair to say that doctors willing to perform abortions are pro-choice doctors, but trying to get more specific than that is offensive because such doctors do not, usually, exclusively perform abortions, their practice is obstetrics and/or gynecology or even more broadly, women’s health. Labeling them an “abortionist” focuses on a single aspect of their practice that may represent a tiny percentage of the work they do; it is like labeling a policeman a “government hit man” because in the course of doing their duty for years protecting citizens, on one day they shot and killed a violent criminal.

  189. davidm2575:

    “When I referred to them as “pro-life,” the posts began coming in about how insensitive I was to their position, and how I was purposely calling them pro-life to insult them and win the argument using emotion instead of logic.”

    This is among the more ridiculous things I have seen from you, and certainly, there have been plenty. Those opposed to abortion embrace the term “pro-life”. “Pro-life” was adopted by anti-abortion groups precisely because it appears to give them the moral high ground. (Much better than, say, “anti-choice”.) The opposite side is by necessity, then, “anti-life’ — and, therefore, evil.

  190. Tony C wrote: “you hold too much hatred for atheists to become one under any circumstances.”

    Please, try to understand that I do not hate atheists. It is the philosophy of atheism that I find very detestable. People come to embrace philosophies for a variety of reasons, and I make the decision not to judge people for what philosophies they embrace. Furthermore, people are complex, and their minds and emotions are complex. One single philosophy like atheism or theism for that matter does not entirely define that person. And people sometimes do change their working paradigms. So I can have disdain for atheism without hating atheists.

    You obviously hate the philosophy of theism. Would that mean that you also hate me because I am a theist? I hope not. Please tell me if it is not as I assume.

    Atheists come in a variety of forms. I was once invited to debate at the atheist student group at the University of South Florida. There were about 40 students in attendance and the debate went great from both my perspective and that of the atheist organization. They had a huge stack of books on the table in front of the room. However, I did not make a single argument that they expected, so they never used one of them. The president of the group expressed amazement at how the debate went. They found my reasoning interesting and thought provoking. That doesn’t mean that I won them over, but they were civil and looked forward to doing it again sometime. This was a good experience for everyone.

    In contrast, a socialist group at that same school invited me to give a presentation about my work with the homeless and poor in downtown Tampa. A communist (also an atheist) who was part of the group had worked closely with me on a variety of social justice issues, and being an officer in the socialist group, he invited me there to explain to everyone my work and what we were doing. We had created a “Homeless Network” and he wanted to involve some people from his group. As I gave my presentation, an atheist man who I knew by name, who I had debated several times in one-on-one encounters on campus, a man who was active in building the atheist group on campus but who was not one of its officers, became enraged, and getting up from his desk at the back of the classroom, he stormed up to the front where I was speaking. He was screaming, “it’s God, God, God…” and he physically attacked me. Two people there had to restrain him. I remember being embarrassed about my shirt being completely torn to shreds such that it was unwearable and I was now bare skinned in front of the big group. I also was shocked that this man held such bitterness. The group became split after that. Half of them believed the atheist was justified to attack me. The other half of the group believed he was wrong. Needless to say, this was not a good experience.

    Now concerning this atheist who desired to harm me, I do not hate him. I have hoped that one day he would reconsider the factors that led him to detest me and what I was saying. It has happened with other people, so I have hope it may with him as well. So while I find that atheism has done much harm to people in society in how it shapes the way they think, I do not hate atheists.

  191. Yeah, well loving the sinner and hating the sin sure isn’t stopping you from trying to force people to not have the option to sin legally and with proper medical care vis a vis abortions, David.

    If you hate the sin so much?

    Don’t get an abortion.

    Because forcing women to seek unqualified and potentially unsafe underground abortions and thus risking their lives for your religious sensitivities sure as Hell sounds like hating the sinner.

  192. “An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).

    Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?”

    “Never mind the vicious nonsense of claiming that an embryo has a “right to life.” A piece of protoplasm has no rights—and no life in the human sense of the term. One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months. To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable. . . . Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives. The task of raising a child is a tremendous, lifelong responsibility, which no one should undertake unwittingly or unwillingly. Procreation is not a duty: human beings are not stock-farm animals. For conscientious persons, an unwanted pregnancy is a disaster; to oppose its termination is to advocate sacrifice, not for the sake of anyone’s benefit, but for the sake of misery qua misery, for the sake of forbidding happiness and fulfillment to living human beings.”

    “I cannot project the degree of hatred required to make those women run around in crusades against abortion. Hatred is what they certainly project, not love for the embryos, which is a piece of nonsense no one could experience, but hatred, a virulent hatred for an unnamed object. Judging by the degree of those women’s intensity, I would say that it is an issue of self-esteem and that their fear is metaphysical. Their hatred is directed against human beings as such, against the mind, against reason, against ambition, against success, against love, against any value that brings happiness to human life. In compliance with the dishonesty that dominates today’s intellectual field, they call themselves “pro-life.”

    By what right does anyone claim the power to dispose of the lives of others and to dictate their personal choices?”

    That is Ayn Rand writing but she was a sociopath and mean evil bitch so abortion probably is wrong. She is wrong about everything else.

    Does that mean that people who are pro-choice are sociopaths too?

  193. Porkchop, I understand your incredulity. However, please understand that I am not making this up. Those who are aggrieved over the high rate of abortion in our country are not monolithic. Most believe in using the democratic process to change it. Such generally describe themselves as pro-life. Often they believe in exceptions for abortion, like in cases of rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is at risk. George Bush is a pro-lifer of this stripe.

    Some individuals, however, believe in using force to stop the abortions being performed. They strategize about methods that range from putting super glue in the locks of the clinics where abortions are performed, to killing the doctors who are authorized to perform the abortions. Killing doctors who perform abortions is considered the most noble and magnanimous effort. These individuals do not want to be associated with the pro-life movement in any way. They describe the pro-life group as cowards and ineffective. It is like the way Osama Bin Laden described the Muslims who did not wage Jihad. Have you ever heard of the group, Army of God? These are the kind of people that I am talking about. They are offended if called pro-life. They insist on being called anti-abortionists. They want to be viewed as taking a militant stand against abortion. They view themselves to be at war with the doctors who perform abortions. Their perspective of the doctor is like one might view the Nazi doctors who did human experiments on people. They see them as an aggressor who for money will kill defenseless human beings, and they think it is their duty to protect the unborn from them. Those who have not yet killed often admit under debate that it is because they are cowards and afraid of being caught, but they consider the ones who have killed to be heroes and martyrs of their cause, who will receive great reward from God as ones who have sacrificed their lives for another.

  194. Or to be more straight to the point, attempting to foist religious mores of a small but vocal minority group upon others who don’t share their particular religious views is an attempt to usurp process in which 78% of Americans have indicated they are pro-choice. 78% is a number that is statistically significant and a wide margin over a simple majority.

    Reminds me of that old saying about urination and wind direction.

  195. Gene wrote: “sure isn’t stopping you from trying to force people to not have the option to sin legally and with proper medical care vis a vis abortions, David. … forcing women to seek unqualified and potentially unsafe underground abortions and thus risking their lives for your religious sensitivities sure as Hell sounds like hating the sinner.”

    This is getting crazy. I really tire of having people misrepresent what I think about issues. Do you really think you are an authority of my position on abortion?

    I have already said that I do not agree with the standard mantra of the pro-life movement that a human person exists at the moment of conception. I have both biological and religious theological arguments for this philosophy that I am not going to get into right now. However, such should give you pause not to stereotype me into that nice little box of yours which makes me an evil religious man trying to outlaw abortion. Such is far from reality.

  196. DavidM: Please, try to understand that I do not hate atheists. It is the philosophy of atheism that I find very detestable.

    Sure. You find atheism very detestable, but claim you would convert to it in a heartbeat if only you had some “proof” of the impossibility of God. Of course all the science in the world would not convince you, because you will just deny it, because you know there is a deity because you believe in it!

    I’m not sure if you are lying to yourself first or just to me, but I certainly know you are not being truthful; you are not open to being an atheist, ever.

  197. You know…. I was listening to a radio station yesterday…that was talking about the evils of polyamory relationships…. And how eventually they will target children living in the homes….. And these relationships must be destroyed….. And they went on to talk about how evil homosexual are and the deviancy of those relationships…… David, can people really be that stupid…… Or do we all build towers to reach heaven….. What do you think…. Can that be done?

  198. davidm2575:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your close encounter with the enraged atheist. Clearly, without the soporific effect of the opium of the people to restrain his baser instincts, he was simply out of control. As we all know, atheists pretend to be rational, logical beings, but at their core, they are ravening beasts, ready to pounce on the faithful at any opportunity.

    This was clearly not justified under the facts as you describe them. On the other hand, I’ve always felt that if half the people in a room agree that someone who has assaulted me was justified in doing so, I might want to brush up on my public relations skills. Did you ever consider that there might be something about you that just pisses people off?

  199. DavidM: However, I did not make a single argument that they expected, so they never used one of them. The president of the group expressed amazement at how the debate went. They found my reasoning interesting and thought provoking.

    Hard to believe, I thought UF was better than that; certainly my atheist group is better than that. Your “reasoning” is banal and trivially exposed as riddled with fatal flaws. I suspect the “amazement” was at the extent of your delusion, and I suspect the reason they never used any of their books is because you never made a decent argument that required them to leave long familiar territory, and you mistook polite civility for in inability to respond.

    Of course it doesn’t surprise me in the least you saw things as you wanted them to be instead of how they actually were; that is what theism is all about.

  200. “I have both biological and religious theological arguments for this philosophy that I am not going to get into right now.”

    Why not? Think they’ll be demolished like your other arguments?

    “However, such should give you pause not to stereotype me into that nice little box of yours which makes me an evil religious man trying to outlaw abortion. Such is far from reality.”

    Did I call you evil? No. That’s a word reserved for special people. Dick Cheney is evil. You’re just annoying.

    So are you saying now that you are pro-choice? There really are only two sides to the legal question: either you think a woman should be able to have an abortion legally as her choice in determining her healthcare as a basic right of self-determination and privacy or you don’t. It’s not a false dilemma. Those really are the only two choices although there are gradients within the reasoning between those two answers. So which is it?

    Pro-choice or “anti-choice”?

    So far you’ve been demonstrably anti-choice even though I do applaud your condemnation of the violent fringe elements of the “anti-abortion” crowd. An evil person would embrace the idea of killing doctors.

  201. Gene H wrote: “78% of Americans have indicated they are pro-choice. 78% is a number that is statistically significant and a wide margin over a simple majority.”

    Please try to stay in reality. I’ve already addressed the link to this statistic for which you try and make this false statement. The 78% includes a lot of pro-choice people like George Bush. The fact that you continue to lie and falsely claim that 78% of Americans are pro-choice makes dialogue with you impossible.

  202. DavidM:

    dont you have to look by gestation time? Most people probably are pro-choice in the first trimester but then I would guess it falls off and by the time you are talking partial birth abortion it probably falls of to a very small percentage.

  203. And you failed miserably, David.

    You didn’t address jacksquat about the statistics provided. You just rambled on about biology some more and then proceeded to ignore the information. But calling me a liar for relaying valid accurate information you willfully choose to disbelieve is a nice touch. That’s not how you disprove a statistical assertion at all, but it is a way to annoy people. Thanks for being consistent.

    Here’s a direct link to the poll itself. The relevant questions and data are on page 4. The methodology is standard for a survey of this type and the MOE is +/- 3% (which in turn shows 78% to be statistically significant if you know how to properly interpret statistics – which apparently you have a problem with).

    You’re going to have to do better than calling me (and CNN) liars.

  204. Oh, and where are those other arguments you don’t want to present?

    While you’re at it, answer the question. What is your position:

    Pro-choice or “anti-choice”?

  205. “… if only you had some “proof” of the impossibility of God.” you have said.
    What is your “proof” of G-d? That is equally impossible since Belief is based on Faith and is not quantifiable.

  206. Tony C. Thank you.
    Second, Jesus did not die: He suffered some torture, but lived again. The same goes for any Theist that believes in an afterlife, if you don’t believe that death is the end, you have no reason to withhold your death. Only an Atheist can truly know he sacrifices EVERYTHING by dying for a cause.

    Martyrdom for Allah and Martyrdom for Christ seem to have very similar rewards. …. being eternally united with family and justice, streets paved with gold, two cars in every garage, (it would be a sinful waste of gold streets if one didn’t drive on them), cherubs serenading , bacon trees (already perfectly cooked ) every ego infinitely and eternally correct, willing virgins, (I assume this holds true for women too) As an aside, Where do these virgins come from? ……and possibly FREE cable.

    Sheesh, Heaven is like a dream, you have to be unconscious to believe in it.

  207. Gene H wrote: “You didn’t address jacksquat about the statistics provided. You just rambled on about biology some more and then proceeded to ignore the information.”

    Here is the quote from the CNN poll, which was obviously worded in a way to deceive people who are uninformed and do not practice critical thinking:

    Cnn wrote: “A full 78 percent of Americans want abortion to remain legal, at least under some circumstances, according to a new poll released by CNN/ORC; 25 percent want abortion completely legal, regardless of circumstances.”

    Direct quote follows of what I said:
    “As for the abortion issue you raise, you need to read that link you provided more carefully. It says that 78% want it to remain legal “at least under some circumstances.” Most pro-life people want to exempt cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at stake. The poll said that only 25% want abortion completely legal regardless of circumstances.”

    You need to practice critical thinking with the media and read between the lines at times. This only works when they report honestly. Sometimes they actually do lie, as when NBC edited the Zimmerman call to police to present him as someone who was racist. They took out the dispatcher’s question of race and made it appear that Zimmerman was bothered by his suspect being black and was targeting him because of that. In this CNN case, they did not lie, but they presented the information in a deceptive way.

    Most people agree that there needs to be some kind of government regulation of abortion. According to this poll you quote from, there are only 25% who think abortion should be legal in all circumstances, and only 21% think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. Expressed another way, this poll shows that 74% of Americans want abortion illegal in certain circumstances (1% had no opinion).

    In regards to whether people identify as pro-life or pro-choice, the country is pretty much split down the middle with the scales slightly tipped toward more people identifying themselves as pro-life rather than pro-choice.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/154838/pro-choice-americans-record-low.aspx

  208. DavidM: the country is pretty much split down the middle with the scales slightly tipped …

    And slightly tipped in reverse some years ago; which supports the idea of (what your link says) is +/- 4% error.

    In statistical polling, this kind of coin-flip result is often a result of a poorly phrased question in which the choices do not accurately capture the spectrum of opinion. If you ask me to choose between Democrats and Libertarian candidates, I cannot truthfully answer, but will check off Democrats. But the truth is for all judges, DAs, and other elective law enforcement offices I routinely vote Libertarian if that is an option and I believe the candidate is not corrupted.

    I believe this pro-life, pro-choice falls into the same category. I am pro-choice for the first 4-5 months of pregnancy, because I do not think the fetus has developed the brain structures that would make it a person. It may appear human, but so does a mannequin, or a monkey fetus of equivalent development, or indeed the body of a brain dead patient being kept alive by machinery. To me person-hood is a brain-centered phenomenon and in early pregnancy aborting a fetus is not killing a person, it is killing a potential person — But so does a woman’s sexual abstinence that results in menstruation. She has the choice to abstain from sex, and she has the choice to abstain from continuing a pregnancy.

    However, the brain structures I believe DO signal person-hood are maturing and coming online by the fifth month, a fetus is in transition to an unborn person, so if development is normal I become exponentially more opposed to arbitrary abortion, because now a mixture of rights is at stake; I do not believe a mother should be required to take an abnormal risk of continuing pregnancy, but I also do not believe the person in the womb has no rights at all.

    So am I pro-life or pro-choice? In reality both, so I fall on the side of pro-choice because of the loading of the word, not because of the definition of it.

    Consider this Poll on Plan B, aka “the morning after pill.”

    Only 13% of people would actually BAN Plan B altogether, another 20% would make it a prescription drug (which leaves the decision up to the discretion of a doctor).

    That indicates 87% of those polled believe this is a woman’s choice, or a private choice between the woman and a doctor (for whom she can shop, which in most circumstances will effectively make it the women’s choice).

    For 87% “some circumstances” go beyond rape, incest, or mother’s health, they include the circumstance that the intervention occurs very early in the pregnancy.

    In this poll 68% of Americans believed that first trimester abortions should be the woman’s choice (and medical studies show that while pregnancy is not exactly high-risk anymore, first-trimester abortion are 14 times safer for a woman than continuing a pregnancy).

    I quote those polls to show that the 50/50 split between pro-life and pro-choice to which you refer effectively disappears when questions become more specific, using words with greater accuracy and less loading (political party correlations or connotations).

    When we get more specific, most Americans believe as I do. Probably not for the same rational reasons; since in my experience their articulated reasons differ from mine. But in this case I think the statistically significant majority gets it right; whether they heads or tails on the coin flip, their underlying belief on abortion is that very early in the pregnancy abortion is the woman’s choice, and as the pregnancy progresses into the second and third trimester that choice diminishes, requiring medical concurrence or severe deformity or a life-or-death for the mother or something highly unusual to warrant abortion, because the fetus has matured into an unborn person with rights.

  209. Tony C wrote: “When we get more specific, most Americans believe as I do.”

    I do not see any significant difference between the number who identify as pro-life versus pro-choice. This means the country is pretty much split based upon these types of polls. Is there a problem with these polls and have you identified some of them? Yes. I could have easily made the exact same arguments you did.

    Be honest with me on this one point. Do you agree with Gene H’s statement that “78% of Americans have indicated they are pro-choice”?

    My perspective is that he has misinterpreted statistics to draw an erroneous conclusion. Why have you not brought him to task on this? Why do you continue to try and paint my statements in a negative light but ignore this glaring mistake by Gene H? And furthermore, when it has been established clearly that Gene H was wrong and he continues to parrot this foolishness, why have you not either questioned whether he is knowingly lying or somehow too stupid to understand the arguments put before him? I do not find Gene H to be stupid, so he must be lying. You are intelligent enough to judge this single issue between Gene H and me. Why have you decided to ignore the lie and create a smokescreen that might make Gene H comfortable maintaining his conviction about the CNN poll indicating that 78% of Americans are pro-choice?

    As I have stated previously, I think it is your atheistic paradigm coupled with your own bias and prejudice that causes you to behave in this questionably dishonest way. I could be wrong and I am open to hearing your rational explanation concerning Gene’s representation of the 78% statistic. To ignore the issue only causes me to further question your ability to judge matters objectively and impartially. It impinges upon my consideration of other statements you make in matters more open to interpretation and speculation.

  210. DavidM: I do not argue that Gene has made a mistake, because my interpretation is that he is responding to your loaded meanings of “pro-life” and “pro-choice” which is wrong; your statements are written to suggest “pro-life” means the only exceptions are incest, rape, and the mother’s life being in danger.

    I wrote to correct that false impression, whether in your mind or in the mind of readers that believe your interpretation of the poll.

    In fact, for 87% of people (not just 78%), choice rules for the first few weeks of pregnancy. 68% of people, when polled, would not overturn Roe-v-Wade; they believe in choice, and about 70% of people are pro-choice in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.

    Gene is roughly correct, most people do not believe the only exceptions are rape, incest, or the health of the mother; most people are not “pro-life” in the narrow sense that you suggest. A super-majority of people are “pro-choice” in the first three to four months, and after that, a super-majority remain pro-choice for reasons beyond the one’s you list: Such as severe physical deformity, genetic abnormalities, conditions that signal mild to severe retardation, conjoined twins, malformed placenta, and complications that produce increased (not necessarily severe) risk to the mother.

    The reason I take you to task, and not Gene, is that your claims are misleading and reflect or produce a false picture of reality; while for Gene the difference between 68%, 70%, 78%, and 87% is not material, and Gene’s quote is in the middle. In scientific studies about polling such differences can be down to the choice of language used, or unintentional “priming” by previous questions (which the mind cannot help but use as context), or even the pollster’s voice, inflections, pauses and word stressing while reading the question (and when recorded those effects are no longer random but consistent).

    Gene’s poll and writing reflect reality; your’s does not. I am not that pedantic; I am not going to waste time pointing out misspellings and nit-picking statements that are mostly right.

    Instead, I choose to write to correct views that present a false picture of reality, whether that was done intentionally or not.

  211. David you want this to be the way it is so you are unable to read it in any other way (more’s the shame). A debate requires at least some level of an open mind.
    There is no question. The statement is unequivocable: It says that 78% want it to remain legal “at least under some circumstances.” Most pro-life people want to exempt cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at stake. The poll said that only 25% want abortion completely legal regardless of circumstances.”
    Therefore 78% are prochoice.
    Some want limitations but that above statement is more true then your misrepresentation of: “Expressed another way, this poll shows that 74% of Americans want abortion illegal in certain circumstances” presenting it as anti-choice and what an anti-choice person states it so it represents their viewpoint.

    You need to practice critical thinking. Those are your own words to GeneH. Is it that you are a Believer that you are not so doing? I doubt it, but for some reason if someone is an atheist then they cannot think critically by your own statements. (And I know you will then respond I misunderstood you and can’t comprehend your level of thought. But I am of Faith, so I must be able to follow your reasoning.
    (I don’t mean to be snarky but your repeated devil’s fork thrown because of atheism is really beginning to gnaw on me.

  212. leejcarol: DavidM has the “bias bias” of most fundamentalists; if people do not agree with him, he preferentially presumes they have some bias that prevents them from seeing things his way.

    Reading his words, he hints I must have some unrevealed agenda or secret that would explain (for him) my adamant defense of same-sex marriage; that my insistence upon rejecting God is emotional rather than rational, and that others are biased in their opinion too: In essence that in any argument HE is the only rational actor and all others are infected with secret agendas that prevent them from admitting he is right.

    It is pathetic ego-protection. He can’t win the argument because logic, science and evidence are not on his side, so he instead resorts to ad hominem attacks that accuse his opponents of being biased, or blind to his phony “logic,” or arguing from a concealed self-serving opinion.

  213. Tony C wrote: ” I do not argue that Gene has made a mistake, because my interpretation is that he is responding to your loaded meanings of “pro-life” and “pro-choice” which is wrong; your statements are written to suggest “pro-life” means the only exceptions are incest, rape, and the mother’s life being in danger.”

    None of my statements suggest that “pro-life” means that the ONLY exceptions are incest, rape, and the mother’s life being in danger. These are just the most common exceptions identified by the pro-life agenda and I use them to convey that most people with the pro-life agenda, people who picket abortion clinics, are part of that 78% statistic. These are people who Gene H would clearly NOT consider to be pro-choice. I myself identify as pro-life, but I would accept additional exceptions beyond these mentioned in terms of legal prohibitions (but not for my own personal life). I would respond in an almost identical way to the way you would respond to these polls, except for the poll on whether I identify as pro-life or pro-choice.

    Your manipulation of other data than being discussed to defend Gene H in an effort to create a smokescreen and avoid answering my question causes me to be more incredulous regarding your honesty in statistical analysis and our dialogue here.

    Please answer this question for me with either Yes or No. Do YOU interpret the CNN statement (A full 78 percent of Americans want abortion to remain legal, at least under some circumstances, according to a new poll released by CNN/ORC; 25 percent want abortion completely legal, regardless of circumstances) to indicate that 78% of Americans are pro-choice? Yes or No?

  214. He answered that already.

    Thus illustrating that reading comprehension is a weak spot for you as are what constitutes evidence (don’t forget, you’re the one who has previously argued there is such a thing as “subjective evidence” when there is no such thing), logic and science (both in accumulated knowledge and the application of the scientific method by which it was derived).

    You can dress it up all you like, but arguments from ignorance fail because they lack a substantive foundation.

  215. leejcaroll wrote: ” It says that 78% want it to remain legal “at least under some circumstances.” Most pro-life people want to exempt cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at stake. The poll said that only 25% want abortion completely legal regardless of circumstances.”
    Therefore 78% are prochoice.”

    Your conclusion is completely illogical. A pro-life person who wants abortion prohibited in all cases with exceptions for rape, incest, and when a mother’s life is in danger are part of that 78%. The Nov. 2005 data in the link Gene provided breaks down as follows:

    26% – legal under any circumstances
    16% – legal under most circumstances
    39% – legal only in a few circumstances
    ===
    81%

    Illegal in all circumstances was 16% with 3% having no opinion.

    Are you really going to argue that those 39% who want abortion legal only in a few circumstances are pro-choice?

    The only thing this dialogue has demonstrated thus far is how effective liberal propaganda is in brainwashing the uneducated masses. Apparently the number of people who can think independently and look at the data for themselves is far less than I had previously expected.

  216. Apparently you are an illustration of how conservative propaganda leads to blindly ignoring the obvious.

    “Are you really going to argue that those 39% who want abortion legal only in a few circumstances are pro-choice?”

    Some may think the choice should be narrowly constrained but that the choice should exist and therefor are pro-choice as opposed to anti-choice. As previously stated, there really are only two sides to the legal question: either you think a woman should be able to have an abortion legally as her choice in determining her healthcare as a basic right of self-determination and privacy or you don’t.

    Duh.

  217. But please, flail about some more and resort to partisanship and ad hominem when your arguments are totally dismantled based upon sound logic and objective relevant evidence. It was funny the first time you did it here. It’s funny now. It’ll be funny when you do it again.

  218. Apparently the number of people who can think independently and look at the data for themselves is far less than I had previously expected.
    Yes, David, you speak well for yourself in that sentence. (Unfortunately snark invites snark.)

  219. Gene H wrote: “He answered that already.”

    No he did not.

    Tony C’s answer concerned what he thought was reality (something I would disagree with him about based upon hard empirical data). My question now is more direct and concerns how he personally interprets the CNN data.

    Tony C’s answer was an intellectual dodge and I think he knows it. It is entirely likely that Tony knows the CNN data doesn’t say what you claim it says, and that his position is that even though you are wrong about your interpretation of the CNN data, you are essentially right for other reasons because most people are pro-choice for the first trimester of pregnancy.

    If Tony’s answer is anything other than No, then that tells me a lot about Tony C’s honesty. I will not waste time investigating for myself claims that he makes in regard to other matters that are less straightforward from a mathematical and statistical analysis.

    Any objective statistician has to answer No, that you went beyond the data to draw your conclusion that 78% of Americans are pro-choice.

  220. Gene H – While we wait to see if Tony C will answer or dodge, please tell me whether you think Tony C’s answer to my Yes / No question will be Yes or No. It might be helpful in future dialogue.

    You claim he already answered it, so go ahead and tell me how he answered it. The CNN data says 78% of Americans are pro-choice. Yes or No? How do you interpret Tony C’s answer to this question?

  221. When someone says a person who disagrees with your position is dishonest I think it is a matter of projecting by the speaker. You have your position David, Why must everyone else agree with you or they are dishonest in their position. I can say you are dishonest in your statements, but I don’t believe that, I believe you truly believe your position. It is a standoff but you just don’t seem to get that you are on a losing streak. It’s not my place to say it but if I were you I would just take my ball and go home. You are not going to make any converts here.

  222. Yeah, he did.

    You just didn’t like the answer.

    But please continue to react in precisely the kneejerk manner you’ve previously displayed when proven wrong and was predicted you’d react in again.

    And I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t know an objective statistician if he bit you on the ass, Cherry Picker. Tony is a research scientist. His life revolves around being able to accurately interpret statistical data. And while not a science professional by day, I do work (and socialize) with many of them which requires that I have a more than functional grasp on statistics and the scientific method in addition to a minimum amount of raw science based knowledge. I’m very comfortable asserting that when it comes to statistics and how to interpret them, we both know what we are talking about.

    You, on the other hand, think that cherry picking data and conflating taxonomic classifications into something they are not, cherry picking out dated data, applying fallacious logic and that “subjective evidence” is a real thing when it isn’t are all perfectly acceptable practices. This demonstrates that you have a very superficial when not outright wrong understanding of science and statistics. Do you even know how to start to argue against statistical evidence? Apparently not based on your poor showing here.

    To quote Slim Pickens in “Blazing Saddles”, “You use your tongue prettier than a twenty dollar whore” but no amount of sophistry will hide the fundamental flaws you present here in your logic failure to grasp proper evidentiary standards both legal and scientific. As I’ve said before, you’re well spoken. You almost pull off the trick of making it sound like you know what you are talking about. Almost.

    You’re a salesman with no substantive product.

    We don’t buy snake oil around these parts.

  223. leejcaroll wrote: “When someone says a person who disagrees with your position is dishonest I think it is a matter of projecting by the speaker. You have your position David, Why must everyone else agree with you or they are dishonest in their position.”

    I am not leveling that charge against everyone. Presently it is a question now for two people: Gene H and Tony. I don’t really know Gene H’s background well enough, but I raised the issue with him to make him answer. He claims to understand logic and statistical analysis better than me. If that is true, then he is dishonest with the CNN data. However, based upon his answers to my questions, I no longer think he is dishonest. I think he just trusts people like Tony C and others to properly have a grasp of those areas of knowledge for which he is deficient. He simply enjoys intellectual banter but is deceived by liberal propaganda because he trusts the authority who gives it out.

    Now in regards to Tony C, the issue still stands. My scientific training and background is more similar to Tony C’s background. I sincerely think he understands the principles of mathematics, statistics, scientific design, rules of data interpretation, etc. well enough that his bloviating is purposeful and deliberate to cloud the issue, which means it would be dishonest for various speculative reasons that I feel no reason to give you right now.

    I suggest for the time being you sit back a little and see how he responds rather than just pile on with your ad hominem attacks against me. I am still a little hopeful that he has a streak of honesty left to answer me appropriately. I think he knows what is on my mind about this.

  224. Gene H – I noticed that you chose not to tell me whether his answer will be Yes or No. Why is that? Are you afraid to be straightforward with your answer?

  225. David,

    If you can’t get that answer yourself from Tony’s response, I’m not going to do the thinking for you. Lessons can only be taught, they cannot be learned for the student. The answer is perfectly ascertainable from the what Tony said. Figure it out. If you’re blatantly wrong (as you likely will be based on past performance), I’m sure Tony will correct you.

  226. DavidM: Sorry, I am in the midst of becoming a substitute PI on a rather large contract and I was gone to discuss logistics.

    Your question is the equivalent of, “Please answer YES or NO: Have you stopped raping your students?”

    Are 78% of Americans pro-choice? I think the answer is that more than 78% of Americans are pro-choice, given the right circumstances, one of which includes first-week “precautionary” abortions (say a pill that prevents pregnancy, if one is in progress, if taken within a week of coitus.)

    Are 78% of Americans pro-choice when it comes to partial birth abortion of an otherwise healthy ninth-month fetus? Hell no, and I am part of the group that is adamantly NOT pro-choice in that particular circumstance; because I think in that choice the “fetus” is an “infant” and a “person” and in my philosophy, a decision that will result in the death of person should only be resolved by professionals, and if the matter is not too urgent a medical decision, perhaps a judge or legal panel; I do not think lay people have enough training (or objectivity) to balance the issues.

    In general (and when I said Gene was roughly correct, I include myself as identically “roughly correct”) I think a super-majority of people ARE in favor of letting a woman choose for herself whether to abort or not in the “early” stages of pregnancy.

    I do not think it is possible to say exactly X%, but when the question is put properly I think 78% is a reasonable guess.

    Do 78% identify as pro-choice? No, but I think that is because 50% vote Republican and interpret “pro-choice” as a liberal Democrat position so they say no, and of course there are Democrats that are explicitly against that platform of their party (for example those opposed for religious reasons) so they do not identify as “pro-choice” either.

    But when the words aren’t loaded with political overtones, and we poll people’s attitudes about very-early-pregnancy abortions, 78% or more do not object to the woman making the choice on her own; for example by taking a pill, even if both mother and fetus are otherwise completely healthy.

    In Gene’s book and mine, that makes them technically pro-choice: They do not believe every healthy pregnancy must be carried to term, therefore they believe in a potential mother’s right to choose; at least if they do not dawdle too long.

    These other polls were not straw men or diversions, they were chosen to illustrate why the poll YOU quote is meaningless, and does not represent the information you implied it did. Namely, 51% of people identifying as “pro-life” is more about claiming a political label than it is describing how they actually feel about whether a woman should be allowed to choose an abortion when she finds out she is pregnant, or choose an abortion when she finds out her child will be mentally disabled, or if she should be allowed to take pill that may cause an abortion of a few-day-old pregnancy.

    I think the evidence of the polls (including the 70% that do not think RvW should be overturned) is that a over 78% of people agree the mother’s choice of abortion should be preserved for MORE than just the few exceptions you originally detailed, and in my mind that makes them technically “pro-choice” whether they self-identify as such or not.

  227. DavidM, responding to leejcarol: A pro-life person who wants abortion prohibited in all cases with exceptions for rape, incest, and when a mother’s life is in danger are part of that 78%.

    Yes they are! They are not saying rape victims should receive mandatory abortions; they are not saying if the mother’s life is in danger she must have an abortion. They think under those circumstances, even if the fetus is healthy, the mother has the right to choose.

    And btw, that can be the case: A woman with an undetected cancer can get pregnant, and while she is pregnant the cancer can spread. The fetus may be entirely healthy, but it may be impossible to perform surgery, or chemotherapy, or radiation therapy on the mother without aborting the pregnancy first. And then the mother has to choose: Should she risk waiting until the baby can be born (early by C-section perhaps), or should she abort a healthy fetus so she can save herself from cancer?

    Unless the baby can be delivered by C-section immediately, I truly think that should be her choice.

  228. Tony C wrote: “Your question is the equivalent of, “Please answer YES or NO: Have you stopped raping your students?””

    No it is not. What a ridiculous way to avoid the question. The question is not about you, what you are doing or not doing. The question involves the basics of data sampling from a population and the inferences applicable to that data. The question is not even about what actually exists in the general population. The question is about basic experimental design and the proper use of statistical analysis to make inferences from the data. A first year graduate student in statistics should be able to answer this question with ease. He would know that it is impossible to conclude that 78% of Americans are pro-choice from this particular data set.

    I am asking you based upon the CNN data, did Gene H go beyond what is warranted by the data? The answer is yes, but you want to spin this into there being something wrong with my question. I know you are more intelligent that this, so clearly you are doing this on purpose. Maybe you are getting some kind of kick out of this, like Gene does, just arguing because arguing is fun.

    The kind of question I have asked is asked hundreds of times during the years a graduate student works toward a graduate level degree in a scientific field. It is an important concept, to train them in how to conduct research and make inferences. I don’t expect the average person necessarily to understand this, but as you have been proclaimed to be the research scientist here, I expect more from you. The way you deal with this data creates a lot of doubt about you.

    Even if you do not go to the poll data itself, you could just parse the conclusion of the CNN statement, “A full 78 percent of Americans want abortion to remain legal, at least under some circumstances, according to a new poll released by CNN/ORC; 25 percent want abortion completely legal, regardless of circumstances.” Knowing that some pro-life people want abortion to be legal under some circumstances, and agreeing that the 78% include pro-life people, and knowing that other polls show the number of people identifying as pro-life is around 50%, the question is easy to answer in the affirmative, but you choose to dodge and avoid answering it. I’m not going to beat a dead horse, so if you don’t change your mind about my question and clarify your position, I will just assume you are a dishonest person. You are either not a scientist as you claim, or you choose to use your credentials for credibility, and you purposefully pervert the proper practice of the scientific method to achieve your own personal agenda. Your responses lately are just unexpected bizarre dodges.

  229. DavidM says: I think [Gene] just trusts people like Tony C and others to properly have a grasp of those areas of knowledge for which he is deficient.

    This is another example of DavidM’s last resort of ad hominem attack, this time on Gene. Essentially his claim is that Gene is too ignorant to have his own grasp on statistics, he is deficient in areas of knowledge, and therefore Gene has no choice but to trust figures of authority, and therefore Gene’s opinions do not matter, they are just reflections of the opinions of more authoritative people.

    Of course DavidM himself would never consider the alternative which is the reality: that two intelligent people (Gene and I) that disagree frequently both independently arrived at the same belief through valid logic because the task was to understand reality. While DavidM, due to being blinkered by the baggage of his theism which prohibits hypotheses that contradict it, has been wandering in circles within his fantasy forest, and declares everybody else wrong or ignorant if they cannot meet him there.

  230. One more thing…

    Tony C wrote: “I think the evidence of the polls (including the 70% that do not think RvW should be overturned) is that a over 78% of people agree the mother’s choice of abortion should be preserved for MORE than just the few exceptions you originally detailed, and in my mind that makes them technically “pro-choice” whether they self-identify as such or not.”

    Oh, I see, well, you just classified me as pro-choice so I guess that just solves everything. I can see how that will just create so much harmony here, how everyone here will accept me as being pro-choice. Do you think making me part of the pro-choice agenda will give me more credibility with Gene H? Hmmm? Are they now going to hear what I have to say about abortion? Does it get me out of the accusations that Gene H previously leveled against me? I doubt it. LOL.

  231. I’m not exactly known for appeals to authority. I prefer to think for myself. I do so considerably well.

    Your lack of credibility rests solely upon your history of incredible, often illogical claims made upon specious evidence (or simply not understanding the nature of evidence at all as your claims of “subjective evidence” illustrates) and is entirely your own doing, David.

    And the question remains: either you think a woman should be able to have an abortion legally as her choice in determining her healthcare as a basic right of self-determination and privacy or you don’t. Which is it?

  232. DavidM: The question is not about you, what you are doing or not doing.

    Man do you have trouble generalizing, but okay: The question is equivalent to: “Answer YES or NO: Are females capable of having children?”

    Okay? Not about me. But the answer is yes and no; my wife was capable of having children but is no longer; before puberty my daughter was not capable of having children, then she was, now she is not.

    The question you ask cannot be answered because your group is too vague;

    NO, Gene was not incorrect, because in the context of what he said he was 100% correct: Anybody that does not completely exclude choice in abortion is in favor of some choice, and therefore pro-choice.

    Here is the context: At 1:30 PM:
    DavidM says: Are you really going to argue that those 39% who want abortion legal only in a few circumstances are pro-choice?

    Gene H says: Some may think the choice should be narrowly constrained but that the choice should exist and therefore are pro-choice as opposed to anti-choice. [emphasis mine.]

    END OF CONTEXT.

    You do not get to, by your personal decree, exclude those people that make exceptions for extreme circumstances, even if they claim to be pro-life (and you do not know if that 39% make that claim): They are still in favor of choice playing a role, even for a healthy embryo, fetus, or unborn infant.

    That is what Gene was saying, and that is a matter of correct logic and correct set theory (weapons he deployed without any help from me).

    It is a valid technical point, that the set of those that believe choice should play a role in abortion decisions has gradations, from those that believe choice is absolute to those that believe choice should be available only in special circumstances; what makes it a set is nobody in it thinks choice should be abolished altogether.

    Your question to me incorrectly conflates how people self-identify with what people actually do.

    Which I tried to explain to you are two different things, and therefore your question is equivalent to asking me to attribute a single state to an ambiguous set: Do we define the set of “pro-choice” by the label people apply to themselves, or do we define the set of “pro-choice” by what people actually believe, or do we define the set of “pro-choice” as only that tinier set that believe in absolute choice across the board? Are people that believe in absolute choice within six weeks and then a doctor’s medical concurrence after that “pro-choice”? Are people that believe in absolute choice with a ban on partial birth abortion “pro-choice”?

    Gene’s claim is based upon the technicality of what the word “choice” MEANS, and relying upon the poll he cites it is correct. Your claim is NOT based upon what the word “choice” means, but whether people identify with the label “pro-choice,” and relying upon the poll you cite YOU are correct.

    Except I do not think the question is about how people self-identify, because clearly from multiple polls, including the ones I cited, many people that identify as “pro-life” believe in some choice, and not only the choices presented by rape, incest, or health problems.

    Since my belief is that the question is about whether the majority of people believe that abortion of a healthy fetus by a healthy mother should be universally banned from the moment of conception, I’ll stand by Gene, for my own scientific reasons.

    I make a distinction between “living human tissue” and “person,” because a tumor is living human tissue; we expel and kill our living human tissue constantly (heck we swallow and digest it constantly). We exfoliate it, we slice it off as skin tags and warts, we cut ourselves and wash blood down the drain.

    A “person” is more than living human tissue, a person is a functioning developed human brain, and in my opinion, born or not. I do not think a fetus has a functioning, developed human brain for at least four months, possibly five, but to be conservative I do not consider an abortion in the first four months to be immoral, no more so than excising a tumor, cyst, or other growth. Emotionally speaking it will mean more than that to many due to the lost potential for a human life, but morally I do not think it my right to impose that responsibility on somebody else, by law, at that point in time. The responsibility I would impose is to make that decision before that four month deadline has expired (or since we can’t always know the date of conception, before certain developmental markers have developed).

    Your answer is YES, in the context of what Gene said and relying on that poll, he was absolutely correct; the poll indicates 78% of people believe choice plays a role in abortion decisions.

Comments are closed.