Letters to the Editor

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RELIGION: Candidate’s faith shouldn’t matter

Letter by Bambi Lin Litchman, Tacoma on April 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm with 137 Comments »
April 16, 2012 1:50 pm

Re: “A shameful notion neatly wrapped inside a ridiculous lie” (Leonard Pitts Jr. column, 4-11).

Pitts raised critical issues – the fact that some continue to falsely insist that Barack Obama is a Muslim, when in fact he is a Christian, and the fact that it shouldn’t be a problem if Obama actually were a Muslim.

Our founding fathers sought religious freedom in the United States, and freedom of religion has been one of the major strengths of our country since the very beginning. Our First Amendment rights are among the reasons people have sought refuge in this country from tyrannical governments across the globe.

Years ago I studied comparative religion at Lewis and Clark College, which had a tremendous overseas study program and a large foreign exchange student population. To expand my horizons, I requested roommates from another country. I was assigned roommates from Saudi Arabia, who were Muslim. They were two of the loveliest, kindest and most intelligent individuals I have ever met.

Islam, Judaism and Christianity are the three major religions of the Western world, and they share many core values and principles. It is a mistake to assume that fundamentalists from any of the three religions represent the rest of their respective faiths. It is a terrible shame that since 9/11, fear has caused many to ignore this distinction regarding the Muslim faith.

Leave a comment Comments → 137
  1. flamotte says:

    What a wise and lovely letter! As an interfaith chaplain, I am deeply grateful for your words.

  2. aislander says:

    There is a fourth major religion, one that has ruined Europe: secular statism, or statolatry, as Pope Pius XI AND the Fascist government of Italy both called it.

    The problem with Islam, but not necessarily individual Muslims, is that it also combines religion and governance and, as long as even some Muslims view it as a governing doctrine, it will be in conflict with our Constitution…

  3. There’s a distinction that you ignore, Bambi. No Christians or Jews have blown up any buildings lately with the express intent of killing as many innocnet people as possible.

  4. Pass the koolaid please!

  5. Aislander – Fundamentalist, evangelical chrisitans want the combine there version of Christianity with the Constitution to govern the United States.

    Velmac – So, the US has not killed a single non-combatant in Iraq or Afghanistan?

    Frosty – sorry but Aislander and velmac appear to have drank all the koolaid.

  6. aislander says:

    xring: First, you don’t excuse bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior. Second, you would need a microscope to find the behavior you’re pointing to, since there is only a tiny number engaged in what you describe.

    We don’t TARGET civilians to advance a political agenda, xring. Islamists do. There is an enormous moral difference.

    You should be ashamed of yourself for taking such cheap shots at your own nation and its people.

  7. Theefrinker says:

    I’m not concerned whatsoever as to which religion a candidate believes in, but rather that they believe in one at all. They all require a comparable degree of one’s naivety to be taken seriously, so we should not separate them out so much.

  8. Ah, and the notion that the universe and all therein just happened is a product of critical thought?

    I’m afraid that ignores a great deal of evidence that the universe is exquisitely tuned for life, i.e., it was designed by an intelligent being. No doubt you, “Theefrinker,” subscribe to the religion of secularism. Do you take yourself seriously?

  9. concernedtacoma7 says:

    See yesterday’s thread. The usual leftist fell all over himself defending the violence, citing WWII and some real left field garbage.

    Once again a person uses a tiny number (in this case 2) to demonstrate the peace, love and tolerance in Islam. Read a paper, Bambi.

  10. aislander says:

    If you are a “frinker,” you should read the writings of Cicero and John Locke. They have some interesting takes on what the ability to frink implies…

  11. Aislander.
    ‘pointing out other bad behavior’ Wrong I was pointing out where ‘bad behavior’ is found and that it is not always ‘those others’ that have it.
    All wars are political in nature, and the US accepts collateral damage as long as it is the other side that is collaterally damaged.
    In MY Country we have the right to disagree with the government and governmental actions.
    Telling the truth, or expression ones true opinions is not taking cheap shots.
    Threefrinker – in 2008 the GOP made Obama’s religion and issue. Now in 2012 they say their candidates’ religions should not be an issue.

    When you hear the flip-flop of many feet,
    It’s the zombie base in full retreat.
    Mittens has swithed tout sweet.

  12. aislander says:
  13. aislander says:

    I think “citylies” is available for use again…

  14. Pacman33 says:

    x-ring … extracts with a latex glove –
    “Now in 2012 they say their candidates’ religions should not be an issue.”

    Like who? Who has said this?

  15. Theefrinker says:

    No velmak, the “just happened” theory is the product of religion, not critical thought. Critical thinking and science explore for answers, perpetuated by questioning. Religions create answers and condemn questioning, lest one “figure it out”. Secularism, as it were, is not a religion; more like an absence of it. And no, I try not to take myself seriously.

  16. LornaDoone says:

    “No Christians or Jews have blown up any buildings lately with the express intent of killing as many innocnet people as possible.”

    Now, let’s see. Didn’t someone just blow up a Planned Parenthood clinic about a week ago? I’ll not blame a Jew for that.

  17. LornaDoone says:

    Wasn’t the KKK responsible for several building exploding – one in particular a church were little girls died? Granted that wasn’t yesterday, but the Christian faith has their own nasty little past and shouldn’t be throwing stones.

  18. We don’t TARGET civilians to advance a political agenda, xring. Islamists do. There is an enormous moral difference

    When drones have a 9 civilian casualty per righteous kill ratio that might be arguable. And…there is always Hiroshima and Nagasaki (as well as Dresden) to demonstrate a historical precedence.

    And, there are more than a few critics of Israel who would argue (with a fair share of evidence) about whether or not our major ally in the area targets civilians to advance a political agenda.

    But then – as harsh a critic of Israel as I am – I would never attempt to blame all of Judaism for the excesses of Zionism like you and others do with Islam and al Qaeda.

  19. BlaineCGarver says:

    Two thoughts popped into my head (no, it was not beginner’s luck) One, Obama claims to be Christian, so if he is not, then he lied. Two, although BoBo can possibly claim clean hands, the left has been ALL OVER Mitt for being a Morman.

  20. alindasue says:

    aislander said, “The noncombatants killed by the other side are NOT “collateral damage,” xring, they were the TARGETS. Get it?”

    I’m pretty sure “the other side” are fully convinced that the uncounted thousand noncombatants killed by our troops were “the targets” as well.

    Always it’s “unforgivable” acts by one side or another – and so the drums of war keep their ever steady beat with so many here who seem all too willing to dance along.

    Anyone running for president of the United States has to be an American citizen by birth. After that, it doesn’t matter what religion he or she may be. What matters is how he or she votes and acts on the issues that affect out nation and its people. Nothing more.

  21. menopaws says:

    I keep forgetting that Christians always assume the “high ground”. The same Christians who want prayer in school, vaginal ultrasounds for women WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF THE PATIENT. One of those believers walked into a church in Kansas one Sunday morning and murdered Dr. George Tiller, during services…….Then there were all those Christian believers who gave those infected blankets to the Indians, when they were stealing their land from them………..Just to shorten the process with some small pox to finish the job..
    Yep, we don’t blow up buildings, but we have done our share of truly disgusting deeds in the name of our Lord……..And, should we talk about all those LSD experiments on black soldiers, or the sterilization of those retarded people in the 1930’s???? And, yes, Lorna, some real Christians in the 1960’s blew up a Baptist church with 4 little black girls in it because of the civil rights movement……..I have the News Tribune editorial cartoon, dated May 3, 2001, when those fine Christians were brought to justice. It shows Lady Justice touching a tombstone marked “Four Little Girls”
    There isn’t one blogger here, myself included, who has any right to claim moral superiority over any different way of life………Our prejudice will be what brings this country down—not any other outside force………As long as we hang onto the hate and fear of 9/11, we are impotent to move forward. And CT&, surprise everyone by your silence for a change.

  22. concernedtacoma7 says:

    BB- where are you getting that number from?

  23. velmak – you are wrong.

    A letter arrived from an antiabortion activist who befriended Scott Roeder, the man convicted of killing Tiller, after he went to prison. That letter, now in federal hands, warned Means to check under her yellow Mini Cooper for explosives before turning the key.
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-kansas-abortion-20120305,0,2466363.story

    “Rogers admitted to intentionally setting fire to the clinic due to his strong disbelief in abortion,” the affidavit stated, and “he stated (he) was further fueled when he recently witnessed a young female entering the clinic while he was sitting amongst anti-abortion protesters.”

    The two-story clinic had been attacked before.

    It was bombed on Christmas Day in 1984, and in 1994 a doctor and a volunteer who escorted patients to and from the clinic were shot to death as they arrived. The gunman, Paul Hill, was executed in 2003. Pensacola was the site of other abortion-related violence in 1993 when Dr. David Gunn was shot and killed at another clinic by an abortion protester.
    http://atheism.about.com/b/2012/01/15/christian-terrorists-continue-to-attack-america.htm

    A Christian Norwegian terrorist kills 72
    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2011/0801/Norway-attacks-Was-Breivik-a-Christian-terrorist

    Hindu terrorists kill over 2,000
    http://www.jewishjournal.com/thegodblog/item/muslim_massacre_in_hindu_india/

    Jewish terrorist kills 29, wounds125
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_of_the_Patriarchs_massacre

  24. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Nope, not when you lie. Without their permission? What crap. Try again.

    The rest of your post is dated crap, from back when the dems ran the Klan.

  25. alindasue says:

    BlaineCGarver said, “…the left has been ALL OVER Mitt for being a Morman.”

    Then again, so has much of the right.

    By the way, its spelled “Mormon” or more properly, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  26. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Bb- you had to go back decades to find these incidents. You can find more civilian targeted deaths from Islamic terrorists in the past week.

  27. alindasue says:

    correction: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the prpoer name of the church. The proper nickname for us members, including Mitt Romney, is “LDS”.

  28. LornaDoone says:

    “from back when the dems ran the Klan.”

    Before the Southern Democrats left the Democratic Party because of the Civil Rights legislation?

    The Klan has killed since the 1960s.

    Back to school, fool.

  29. LornaDoone says:

    A history lesson for CT7:

    July 6, 1998

    JASPER, Texas (CNN) — Three white men were indicted Monday on capital murder charges in the death of a black man who was chained to a pickup truck and dragged to his death on a rural East Texas road in early June.

    One indictment issued by a Jasper County grand jury accuses John William King, 23, of Jasper and Lawrence Russell Brewer, 31, of Sulphur Springs of capital murder. A second indictment by the grand jury names Shawn Allen Berry, 23, of Jasper.

    King and Brewer are expected to be tried together, but officials said that Berry’s charge may be reduced in a plea agreement. Berry has been a key witness in the investigation.

    If convicted, the men could face the death penalty in the June 7 slaying of James Byrd Jr.

    The suspects are being held without bond in what authorities call a racially motivated crime. All three suspects have prison records, and authorities have said that at least two have the tattoos of white racist prison gangs. Racist literature also was seized from their homes.

  30. alindasue says:

    concernedtacoma7,

    We only have to go back a month or so to find a deliberate attack by presumably “Christian” soldier on a group of Afghan civilians, mostly children.

    Actually, I don’t know if the soldier who killed them is a Christian or not, but it doesn’t matter. Just as Afghanistan is considered an Islamic nation, the US is considered a “Christian” nation by those in Afghanistan. As far as they are concerned, it was a Christian deliberately targeting civilians.

    “Truth” is often affected by point of view, ours or theirs. Acknowledge someone else’s truth is not the same as lying, no matter how many times you may claim it as such.

  31. bobcat1a says:

    “the left has been ALL OVER Mitt for being a Morman [sic].” Blaine, that’s not the LEFT; one doesn’t find many lefties in the evangelical right.

  32. averageJoseph says:

    Worth repeating… “as long as even some Muslims view it as a governing doctrine, it will be in conflict with our Constitution…”

  33. tellnolies says:

    Will the REAL god please stand up? lol

  34. tellnolies says:

    How many more centuries y’all gonna keep this up?

  35. ct7 – wrong again. The stories involving Christian terrorists (the top 3 of my links) all are within the last year.

  36. Will the REAL god please stand up?

    Or…as Todd Rundgren sang – will the real god please sit down?

  37. Frankenchrist says:

    That dude who killed 77 children in Norway was a right-wing Christian fundamentalist.

    The world would be much better if everyone was an atheist.

  38. alindasue says:

    Frankenchrist said, “The world would be much better if everyone was an atheist.”

    Not necessarily. People would still find things to fight about.

    However, the world would be much better if more Christians actually followed the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    It was Mahatma Gandhi, a Hindu, who noted, “Of all the things I have read what remained with me forever was that Jesus came almost to give a new law – not an eye for an eye but to receive two blows when only one was given, and to go two miles when they were asked to go one. I came to see that the Sermon on the Mount was the whole of Christianity for him who wanted to live a Christian life. It is that sermon that has endeared Jesus to me.”

    We Christians consider Jesus to be our Savior and Redeemer. Jews and Muslims consider Him to be a prophet. (Yes, I was told that by both my Jewish father and a Muslim friend.) Yet it is a Hindu who listens to Him when too many of the professed Christians, Jews, and Muslims do not.

    Lack of belief is not the key. Remembering and living the core values of your beliefs, whether they be in God or just basic human laws of civility, are what would make the world better.

  39. A candidate’s faith doesn’t matter in a country where we have separation of church and state.

  40. tellnolies says:

    “Or…as Todd Rundgren sang – will the real god please sit down? ”

    LOL!!! Yeah, that would be better BB…. :)

  41. alindasue says:

    Frida said, “A candidate’s faith doesn’t matter in a country where we have separation of church and state.”

    Returning to the topic of the letter, you are correct. A person’s core values matter in that it effects how he or she might vote on issues of state – but as we’ve discussed, that is not necessarily tied to any religious designation.

  42. What matters to me is how a candidate or politician actually acts and the policies he or she supports. Any religion’s tenets can be ignored, used or misused by politicians.

    While I have more skepticism over beliefs that are based on a fantasy history of civilization that has been proved in error over and over again (and I am not talking about just one religion here), I have no antipathy for members of that religion unless they use it to oppress others or to deny rights and equal benefits under the law.

    For example, I am saddened how such a humanizing message as the New Testament words and examples of Jesus have been ignored while the words of some of his followers (the mysogynist and homophobe Paul, especially) are misused to perpetuate hatred and even evil in the world.

    The Bible has been misused to dehumanize and keep women enslaved, unequal and politically impotent; the Bible has been misused to dehumanize and keep Blacks enslaved, unequal and politically impotent; the Bible has been misused to dehumanize and keep gays unequal, etc.

    If any candidate misuses the teachings of Jesus or any other religion to justify lack of equality and freedom for anyone or to support policies that are not grounded in rational, fact-based arguments that stay true to the Constitution, then I will not vote for them.

  43. “The problem with Islam, but not necessarily individual Muslims, is that it also combines religion and governance”

    And yet you rightists want and desperately work for christianity to have a larger and larger role in our governance.

  44. Nothing like mentioning ‘muslum’ to bring out the racist right wing!

  45. Aislander,
    Islam allows for collateral damage (i.e. killing non-combatants) as long as they die as part of an attack on your enemies.

    What would you call strategic bombing, and shock and awe?

    I believe in the truth about America. I am just not blinded by adherence to a biased chauvinist mentality.

    Pac – what’s the matter Fox not covering the news again?

    LornaD – and was not a certain Oklahoma Federal Building bombed by a ‘christian’?

    B-G-C – wrong again – It is the fundamental, evangelical conservatives that oppose Mittens because he is a Mormon.

    FYI – terrorism = the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against PEOPLE or PROPERTY with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons. (American Heritage Dictionary).

  46. LornaDoone says:

    “LornaD – and was not a certain Oklahoma Federal Building bombed by a ‘christian’?”

    There are claims that McVeigh was without religion. In either case, he certainly wasn’t Muslim.

  47. I too had a good friend who was a Pakistani native and Muslim who was a great soldier (bronze star with V device), a doting husband and father and a great American. He and I had long discussions about the problems with Christianity (intolerance) and Islam (we both joked about becoming Buddhists). One of the things we discussed was in Christian cultures, we sharply police our radical clerics. When a group hiding behind Christianity gets too far outside the acceptable lines or norms of society, they are shunned or outcast (The Klan, Westboro Baptist Church, abortion clinic bombers etc.) them and generally protest their existence. In Islam, the radicals are considerably more dangerous and threatening not only to people practicing other religions but to their own. The amount of fear and intimidation coming from the clerics in Islam is astounding and it breeds violence against anyone they consider an enemy of Islam (anyone tolerant of anyone else). It breeds misinterpretation of the Quran and stunts the growth of that religion forcing an archaic code on the people and convincing them that they need to stay (both religiously and culturally) in the dark ages. But there is hope.

    The internet infects us all. Back in the day, we knew that western products, western television and western culture would erode the stunted tastes in the old Soviet Union. The Socialist government only had to open the flood gates an inch and the whole thing collapsed. Similarly, the internet is infecting many Sharia influenced governments and eroding the oppression brought on by thousands of years of stifling cultural suppression. It is only matter of time before freedom (religious and cultural) breaks out in the Middle East and the youth, so tired of being intellectually bullied will burst forward and lash out against the oppressive clerics who promote violence, poverty and anger in the name of corralling their own people. We have a joke in my business that says “you can only keep the lid on the trash can for so long”. I think it’s happening now. Let’s give it 5-10 years and maybe, Islam and Christianity (and Judaism) can all learn to live together. After all, we are worshiping the same God.

  48. aislander says:

    xring: Muslim terrorists have a different definition of what constitutes an enemy. We, going about our daily business, are the enemies of Islamists. I heard one radical cleric assert that babies in the womb are enemies of Islam.

    Given that, and YOUR assertion that Muslims are okay with “collateral damage” as long as it occurs during an attack on their “enemies,” well they can kill anyone, anywhere (including the “wrong” kind of Muslims) any time they want to…

  49. LornaDoone says:

    “Muslim terrorists have a different definition of what constitutes an enemy”

    As do Christian terrorists. They target medical clinics.

  50. “Muslim terrorists have a different definition of what constitutes an enemy”

    In your opinion, and we all know how far that goes.

  51. LornaDoone says:

    I wonder if “Shock & Awe” had bombs that would kill Muslim terrorists only? You know, only the bad guys.

    I think they call those “smart bombs”.

  52. Aislander – the main reason we are viewed as enemies is because WE are
    occupying and exploiting muslin lands and oppressing muslin peoples(by occupying their lands).

    Lorna – not all bombs are smart, and I’ve never heard of even a semi-smart artillery shell, but I have heard of dum-dum bullets.

  53. alindasue says:

    xring,

    “Muslin” is a type of cloth. I think you mean Muslim.
    Don’t worry. Even the best of us have our off days.

  54. Just to be the devil’s advocate here, it is not the norm for a Christian organization (i.e. church) to send its people out with the intent of killing non-believers or heretical same faith folk. I am a Christian and I despise the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) and consider them so far fringe as to not really be the same faith as me. And I don’t think Anders Breivik represents the average Norwegian Christian (there are fewer and fewer in a region that grows more and more agnostic) anymore than the WBC represent the average Christian. The problem with Islam is the lack of separation and the lack of severe cultural scrutiny by a bullied population. When you can get a person to strap on 40 pounds of explosives and go kill women and children, you have severely twisted anything written in the Quran. To say we have extremists in America killing for God is more a statement of our problems with mental illness than with religion.

    All religions exist for three basic reasons: Tell us where we came from, tell us where we’re going and tell us how to get along with each other between one and two. The human factor added to the stew is this warped sense of “in order for me to be right, you all have to be wrong”. I did a brief (2 years) stint working extremist groups and this one group called the Phineas Priesthood used Christian translations to justify their warped cause. This is years ago but you could find translations on their webpage that quoted Bible scriptures and getting them sooooo wrong as to almost be funny (if they hadn’t been so dangerous). My point is that while warped Christians exist, society seems to keep them in check by either ostracizing them or simply ignoring them. Not so in Islamic cultures where people are executed for doubting the ‘word”.

    And I take a certain offense at people calling the US terrorists because a family harboring a terrorist dies when a smart bomb falls on them. No country in the history of the world has invested so much money in the protection of civilians. War sucks. No doubt about it but our military laws and regulation are all about protecting the innocent. It is a soldier’s duty to disobey an order that would purposely kill non-combatants. No nation does more to preserve life and property of innocent civilians. But…a bomb is a bomb and once she goes off, bad things happen. So, do not mistake that with the wonton aggression against un-armed targets. You can hate the war but get your facts straight.

  55. Xring – You are kinda wrong when you say the “main reason we are viewed as enemies is because WE are occupying and exploiting muslin lands and oppressing muslin peoples”

    Fundamental Muslims certainly resent our forces in their region but it goes way beyond that. That is just the latest excuse and fuel used to generate hate. They hated us long before we ever stepped foot onto ME soil. They hate you because you are decadent, because you allow your women to work, allow your women to display their “bobbles”, don’t send your children to church, watch sinful things on television, etc. etc. They hate you because you are culturally contaminated. They hate you because you do not oppose Israel. They hate you because they are taught at a very early age to hate in general. Their religion often teaches hate and to resent “wealthy” nations and by blaming Western nations for their own poverty when in fact, their own culture keeps their people poor as a rule. Poor people are angry people. Angry people make good Radical Muslims. Why do you think so many radical Muslims despise the Saudi hierarchy? Because they are rich with Western money and because they are bad Muslims. Yet the Saudi princesses consider themselves devout. The only thing worse to a radical Muslim than an Infidel is a bad Muslim. Shite hate Sunni because they have it wrong…and they kill each other daily because of their differences. The last time a Catholic killed a Protestant was probably over a Yankees – Red Sox game, involved a case of beer and a feud going way beyond the actual homicide.

    Not completely un-similar to a “righteous Christian bad mouthing someone who doesn’t believe EXACTLY the same thing they do. Except, we Christians don’t generally kill because we differ in opinion. My father in law hates me because he considers my “eclectic” Christians views and Buddhist leanings to be heretical but I don’t think he’s ever threatened to kill me. Not to my face anyway…

  56. Slug – you are correct – The ultimate reason they hate us is we are not Muslim.

    Then there are several Muslim Sects that are constantly at war with each other.

  57. averageJoseph says:

    slugoxyz… did you know the leader of the Westboro Baptist church is a democrat and has run for several offices as such?
    Interesting trivia to say the least.

  58. bobcat1a says:

    Alindasue, Gandhi also said, ” I like your Christ but I do not like your christians; they are so unlike your Christ.”
    AJ, If you think that nutcase is a Democrat (note the capital D) then you are as big a nutcase as he.

  59. averageJoseph says:

    LMAO bob… you should google him before you lob personal insults…

    From wikipedia…

    Democratic Party
    Phelps has run in various Kansas Democratic Party primaries five times, but has never won. These included races for governor in 1990, 1994, and 1998, receiving about 15 percent of the vote in 1998.[33] In the 1992 Democratic Party primary for U.S. Senate, Phelps received 31 percent of the vote.[34] Phelps ran for mayor of Topeka in 1993[35][36] and 1997.[37]

    Phelps supported Al Gore in the 1988 Democratic Party presidential primary election.[38] In his 1984 Senate race, Gore opposed a “gay bill of rights” and stated that homosexuality was not something that “society should affirm”.[39] Phelps has stated that he supported Gore because of these earlier comments.[40] According to Phelps, members of the Westboro Baptist Church helped run Gore’s 1988 campaign in Kansas. Phelps’ son, Fred Phelps Jr., hosted a Gore fundraiser at his home in Topeka and was a Gore delegate to the 1988 Democratic National Convention.[4]

  60. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Xring- google Excalibur and copperhead rounds. Talk to a leader about ROE and CDE for arty. Look up the GMLRS.

    Should keep you busy for a while.

    Slugo- great story. Thanks.

    LD- can you say the scale, quantity, etc of the incidents you cite are anywhere close to the attacks by Muslims?

  61. rooster_02 says:

    I would be concerned if we had a POTUS that belonged to a church that doesn’t allow women or African Americans to be able to become clergy and all members are required to wear funny underwear.

  62. “The ultimate reason they hate us is we are not Muslim.”

    And the ultimate reason the so called christian right hates them is they are not ‘christian’.

  63. Alexander Pope said “a little learning is a dangerous thing.” Never have I seen a better illustration of the truth of his remark than on these threads. Armchair pundits who in fact know very little about any one thing but presume to be experts on everything. sigh

  64. commoncents says:

    Who is this “they” that you speak about when you refer to Muslims? I work with 3 Muslims myself. Have sat and dined and talked with all three multiple times over. None of them have an ounce of hatred for Christians or Americans. They, too, each consider the extremists a fringe group who should be shunned and outcast. When you live in the middle of a violent society – acting out against those who are extreme in their behavior will generally earn you a death sentence. Not hard to understand why such actions are not condemned by the masses…the desire for survival for them and their family tends to lead to such behavior. It’s easy to shout from the sidelines in our relative safe havens that THEY should do more.

  65. LornaDoone says:

    sozo says:
    April 18, 2012 at 7:35 am Alexander Pope said “a little learning is a dangerous thing.” Never have I seen a better illustration of the truth of his remark than on these threads. Armchair pundits who in fact know very little about any one thing but presume to be experts on everything. sigh

    self-prophesy?

  66. LornaDoone says:

    The problem with the Christian Right is that they are so wrong.

  67. LornaDoone says:

    “LD- can you say the scale, quantity, etc of the incidents you cite are anywhere close to the attacks by Muslims?”

    Three words – Shock and Awe

    I love to use Hiroshima as an example, but conservatives KNOW that the ONLY way to stop WWII was to kill 250,000 people in the blink of an eye and then do it again a couple days later.

  68. LornaDoone says:

    “Democratic Party
    Phelps has run in various Kansas Democratic Party primaries five times, but has never won.”

    Average Joseppi could run as a Democrat and never win, also.

    A little history lesson will show that Kansas Democrats are much like the Dixiecrats of yesteryear, but don’t let facts get in the way.

  69. slugoxyz says:

    Conservatives? Harry Truman was a Missouri Democrat. He dropped the bomb on Japan, then a couple days later, did it again. He was a great president who believed in the notion that you can never delegate responsibility. If a true statesman like HST ran today, he’d have my vote. He killed 250K to save a million but you can’t give credit where credit is due can you? Nope. You’ll take half of the story to flog your opponents praying they don’t know the whole story. Man, it is going to be a long 6+ months between now and Election Day.

    You all think your politician is better than any other politician. The sad truth is that they’re all the same. They’ll promise things to the people (that some of you like) but truth be told, they’ll spend their term paying back special interest but giving the most heart felt State of the Union addresses to appease you and give you ammo for blogs like this. Both candidates know they have the extreme right or left votes in the bag so they’ll come to center to get the middle/undecided vote. That makes them both tell moderate lies. In the middle where the real vote getting is done, what is the difference between them?

  70. alindasue says:

    rooster_02 said, “I would be concerned if we had a POTUS that belonged to a church that doesn’t allow women or African Americans to be able to become clergy and all members are required to wear funny underwear.”

    Most of this discussion thread has been about stereotyping Muslims and lumping all of Islam in with a few radical sects, but here is an example of how not actually talking to members of a faith can lead to misunderstanding and misinformation even within Christian sects.

    To begin with, LDS people who wear the temple garments (the “funny underwear”) do so because we choose to. It is not a requirement for membership in the Mormon church any more than attending mass every Sunday is a requirement for being Catholic. Of course, the more devout members do it, but we all have our free agency to choose.

    Secondly, we don’t have any paid clergy in the usual sense. Men and boys of all races from age twelve on up can (and usually do) have various levels of priesthood responsibilities, but that is not quite the same thing.

    The church does recognize that men and women, by their very biological make up, are different and so women are given different responsibilities. Women are the ones who have the children and so are given the more nurturing responsibilities without the added work of priesthood responsibilities on top of them.

    However, if you are looking at this as an “unequal treatment” situation, then you know very little about LDS life. In an LDS family, a husband and wife are to be equal partners raising the family together.

    At church, it works pretty much the same. It’s not like the priesthood meetings are some secret society that women cannot be privy to. The Priesthood lessons for men are pretty much the same as the Relief Society lessons for women, and “combined meetings” are not uncommon. Our Sunday School classes are divided by age (adult, youth, child) and course type, not by gender. Sacrament meeting is attended by entire families together. Church business is voted on by men and women equally.

    To give you an example of what I am talking about –
    Utah, from its very founding, allowed women to vote in everything except the presidential election. Once it was legal nationally for them to do so, women could start voting in the presidential elections as well.

    We’re talking about a whole way of life here and that is hard to sum up in just a few paragraphs. Everything is pretty much laid out in the open at the church’s web sites, mormon.org and lds.org, if you want to know more.

    Anyhow, the main point here is that we could debate back and forth about the different factions of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hindu, whatever – but until we actually talk to the people within these various religious groups, all we have are misinformation and false stereotypes about them.

  71. I havent read through all the comments but I’m going to guess this idea may have already made the obvious rounds.

    If the Liberals are so incensed at the notion that people wonder about Obamas religious inclination…. aren’t those same hypocritical Liberals the same people stirring the masses in a panic because Romney is a Mormon?

  72. Oh by the way Kluwer……I support Mitt Romney and I am not a Mormon! :D HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

  73. AveJo – Just because a primary candidate says they are a Democrat does not make them one.

    Look at Wisconsin where lifelong, registered Republicans ran as Democrats in the recent recall elections and will do so again in the upcoming recall election.

    Rick Perry was the head of Al Gore’s 2000 Presidential Election Committee.

    CT7 and how many of these wise band rounds are actually used in combat?
    Excalibur = roughly 200
    Copperhead = early version of Excalibur = no combat use listed).

    Dcr28 – sorry pal but it’s the evangelicals and conservatives that have the problem with Mittens being Mormon.

  74. alindasue says:

    Dcr628,

    I am Mormon, and I’m leaning towards reelecting President Obama this time.

    As xring pointed out, it is the evangelicals and conservative groups that seem to have a problem with Mormons – ironic, since a majority of LDS are conservatives themselves.

    However, not all are. Out of curiosity, I looked up how many members of Congress were LDS and not Republican. During my search I encountered this interesting article that brings up such questions as “Do Mormon Politicians Vote as a Bloc?” (The answer, of course, is “no”.) You guys might find it an interesting read:

    http://michael-rowland.suite101.com/mormons-in-congress-a50150

    The author of the article is also LDS. I skimmed through a few of his other articles and he would appear to be either a moderate or an independent voter like myself.

    Religion alone is a not a good reason to vote for, or not vote for, a candidate. One has to look at the candidates themselves and how they stand on issues that effect the country.

  75. Alindasue – it is also ironic that as conservative as Latino/Hispanic culture is the majority does not vote conservative.

  76. LornaDoone says:

    “If the Liberals are so incensed at the notion that people wonder about Obamas religious inclination…. aren’t those same hypocritical Liberals the same people stirring the masses in a panic because Romney is a Mormon?”

    They aren’t the ones worrying about Romney.

  77. alindasue, I sure hope they dont find out about you in Salt Lake City! HAAAAA! I remember when I lived down there many years ago, someone, (not sure but I think it was one of the Twelve, made the comment that, “You cant be a good Mormon and vote Democratic! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!

  78. Velmak – who created the creator/designer?

  79. old_benjamin says:

    xring, the creator/designer is uncreated, unlike the universe, which we know was created, i.e., came into begin at a specific time in the very remote past. What more can I help you with?

  80. alindasue says:

    Dcr628,

    You seem full of misinformation today. Please, read that article I provided the link to in my above comment.

  81. LornaDoone says:

    alindasue – Dcr decided a month or so back to become the local troll. I’m not sure why because, although I disagree with him for the most part, he used to mount a reasonable argument.

    My son, the Mormon, most of his Mormon friends, his Mormon wife, her Mormon friends, my Mormon sister in law (my brother is deceased) and other Mormons I know will not vote for Mitt Romney because, other than him being Mormon, they don’t find him to be in touch with their needs in life. I, the non-Mormon, non-religionist, feel exactly the same.

    Interesting how we are so different yet the same, huh?

  82. LornaDoone says:

    ben – there is no proof of a creator. As to the Universe, its origin was spontaneous, as are stars.

    A little science lesson for you.

  83. The best way to deal with Dale (dcr) is not seriously. For some reason I have a fair amount of affection for him but – when I first came to this site he really bugged me – now I take him with a very large grain of salt and enjoy him.

    alindasue – like me, Dale does have some personal reasons for his feelings about the Mormon community. He can share his story if he wants to.

  84. :D Once again BeerBoy gets it! Now BB, you know I dont share all my stories! Just the ones that stir the pot….and it stirs so well and is such fun! :D

    I dont mind being referred to as a “troll”. I have very strong Conservative beliefs, and some know they are NOT the typical Liberal target of whacked out rightwing nutcase. Such extremes to me are just as offensive as the LiberalLeftistLoon extreme. Be that as it may, I still will not waver on my Conservative convictions, and I believe with every thread in my being that MOST Liberal ideas are wrong and bad for the country on the long term.

    But if stirring ‘em up makes me a troll, I’m fine with that.

  85. TheCookieLady says, “there is no proof of a creator. As to the Universe, its origin was spontaneous, as are stars.”

    Two things LornaDoone….

    1. Sometimes “proof” just isn’t necessary is it. I believe there is a Creator. I don’t need proof, but when I look at the little details, the idea for instance that Earth was placed in a very particular place, a perfect distance from the Sun, not only that, it was designed to rotate in such a way to produce seasons. Think of it, if this planet were not able to adjust position in regards to the Sun, it would be in a permanent Summer or Winter….Neither being able to sustain food growth. Of all the millions upon millions of humans who have walked this earth through the eons, not a single one shares a fingerprint. There are many more thoughts but I just dont feel all that windy tonight. No one can tell me that occurred by some spontaneous chance occurrence. Whatever label you want to put on a creator is fine, but this universe WAS created.

    2. And then I have to ask you…Since there is no “proof” of a creator….What “proof” do you have that it was spontaneous?

    Or is there “proof” only when it suits YOUR philosophy?

  86. Lorna…..If you rest your cases on spontaneous chances, I bet you spend a lot of money on Lotto tickets ! :D

  87. aislander says:

    Westboro Baptist Church is a false-flag operation.

    I don’t know what religion Obama embraces (I suspect it’s the Church of Obama combined with Secular Statism), but I’m pretty sure he was looking for the main chance when chose Trinity United as the church that would serve him first politically, and second spiritually.

    If the latter mattered at all…

  88. (LornaDoone) “They arent the ones worrying about Romney

    (xring) “sorry pal but it’s the evangelicals and conservatives that have the problem with Mittens being Mormon.”

    Oh I dont know about that, over the last several years whenever Obamas religion has come up (like it really matters) there have been a lot of Liberals tossing hissy fits. And I’ve heard more than one bring up Romney’s affiliation.

    But I do think both of you are correct on ONE unmentioned but obvious idea….Liberals generally show a contempt for any sort of religion. No doubt if Romney confessed to worshiping green clovers, yellow moons and pink hearts while riding into town on a unicorn who gave free palm readings, Obama would already be impeached and Romney would be the conquering hero!

  89. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Xring- here is another one for your to look up, GMLRS.

    Lardnos- Shock and awe did not target civilians. And how is war supposed to be waged, exactly?

  90. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Back to the original topic, so now the parties are splitting into the one that believes or protects the right to believe vs the atheist and non-believer. One party believes in values and faith, one believes in selfishness and laziness.

    I like the future of the Republican party. Keep up your hate, leftists.

  91. Westboro Baptist Church is a false-flag operation.

    aislander – any evidence to support your Conspiracy Theory?

  92. ConcernedT7 says, “One party believes in values and faith, one believes in selfishness and laziness”.

    Uh Oh…I have competition in telling the unfiltered, unbiased TRUTH around here! However I will detract slightly. It’s not necessarily the “party”, but rather the differences in the Conservative and Liberal IDEOLOGY.

  93. When it gets right down to it, I could care less about any of this junk. Other than watching the LocalLibs cringe and squirm when an opinion might sway from their mantra…..

    But I’d get really nervous if I went into a place where a bunch of weirdos were spanking each other!!

  94. commoncents says:

    Dcr – Without any wavering …. nothing gets done. Each side now strives only to stonewall the other and make sure that nothing positive ever comes out of their congress or presidency. The art of negotiation has been lost.

  95. Loon, the proof of a creator is all around you. You simply refuse to see it or accept it.

    To say that the universe arose spontaneously is hardly a great scientific insight. It is rather an admission of ignorance. Keep up the good work.

  96. old_benjamin says:

    “Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly miniscule as to make it absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favorable properties of physics on which life depends are in every respect deliberate … . It is therefore almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect … higher intelligences … even to the limit of God … such a theory is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific.” –astronomer and mathematician Sir Fred Hoyle

    Yes, as in, Doone’s case, there is that motive to deny the fact of the Creator so that one is not constrained by any rules but one’s own. It’s like jumping off a tall building and expecting to survive, but we do have the freedom to self destruct.

  97. Old-ben says ‘the creator/designer is uncreated’

    And the magical-mystery bus rolls on.

    Ben, you always help me. Just not in the way you think you are.

    To all: I oppose Romney because of his political beliefs and his actions and NOT because of his Religion.

    Dcr – the Gold Mean teaches us that all extremism is bad.

    There is scientific evidence or a spontaneous, natural creation. It is called the Big Bang Theory.
    (not to be confused with a low brow TV sitcom of the same name).

    Mathematics (the handmaiden of science) teaches us about probability. As in, all things are possible, just not probable.

    What you are hearing is liberals having hissy fits over conservacons trying to paint Obama as a Kenyan born, Marxist Muslim.

    Conservacons show total contempt for any religion other than their own warped version of Christianity.

    “. . . riding on a unicorn’ If Romney claimed that his own family would have him in the loony bin in less time that it takes to say the Lord’s Prayer.

    Conservative ideology – onward to the past were the elite ruled and everyone else served.

    Progressive ideology – we are all in this together.

    CT7 – already looked it up.

    Shock and awe may not have targeted civilians, but many died because of it.

    For lessons on how war should be waged try The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

    The GOP pays lip service to faith and values and promotes selfishness and laziness.

  98. old_benjamin says:

    xring, since you have solved the mystery of creation, folks like Stephen Hawkings can retire. It just happened spontaneously. What more is there to say.

  99. Thankfully o_b has concluded that there is no more to say on this subject and thus we can enjoy some silence from him.

  100. Wrong again Old-Boy. It was folks like Stephen Hawks who solved the mystery. I just read their books and watch TV specials on the science and history channels.

  101. aislander says:

    So…the “spontaneous, natural creation” caused everything to come from nothing? THAT is a laughable cop-out!

    While “everything is possible,” it appears that systems will become LESS organized rather than the opposite unless certain laws of physics are in place. Where did those laws come from?

    DNA has been called a code. People who create codes for computers and for cryptography insist that only intelligence can create a code. A Microsoft code writer, an atheist, called upon to study the codes carried by DNA renounced his atheism because of this.

  102. Thank you for that heart-rending story about an unnamed Microsoft code writer who found religion. It, like other myths, only proves something to those who already believe.

  103. old_benjamin says:

    So, Stephen Hawks[sic] solved the mystery by concluding it just happened spontaneously. What, pray tell, is the difference in that and “it just happened.” You may have read Hawking, xring, but you didn’t learn a thing, not even his name.

  104. old_benjamin says:

    Here’s another one for you bBoy. Andrew Flew, the world’s most famous atheist renounced his atheism because of the intelligence in the DNA code and the exquisite fine tuning of the universe for life.

    Occasionally, people can be freed from the grip of mythology, even hard-core atheists.

  105. Never heard of Andrew Flew….but I have heard of a whole bunch of folks on this list:
    http://www.celebatheists.com/wiki/Category:Atheist

  106. old_benjamin says:

    Rodney Dangerfield too? Aw Gawd, the sky is falling.

    Flew is (was) a professional philospher who has thought long and hard about the God question. You should look him up if you don’t know anything about him. I mentioned him because of the scope of his work over some 50 years. The issue isn’t decided by ballot or by what some celebrity believes. It is decided by the best evidence. Flew found the DNA code and our fine tuned universe to be compelling evidence for a Creator–despite his life-long atheism. So would many on your list if they had the brains to consider the evidence.

  107. Old-ben – let he who is without typo’s cast the first colon.

    Aislander;

    Big Bang came about due to the gravitational attraction of inorganic stellar dust and gases.

    Currently our universe is still expanding but eventually it will start to collapse and create another Big Bang.

    Etc, etc, etc.

  108. One would think that “the world’s most famous atheist” would be….famous.

    btw – I read philosophy and books voraciously. Never heard of Andrew Flew in either field. Never saw his name reference by anyone – not even in the endnotes. But then, I don’t read atheist apologists and it appears that he is most known, not as a philosopher or a religious scholar, but as a very active atheist writer who became a Deist.

    Just looked him up – now I see where you got the moniker – he titled a book “There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind”. Like many minor league philosophers, he apparently thought he was far more important than he actually was.

  109. old_benjamin says:

    xring, utter nonsense. The Big Bang gave rise to your “dust and gases.” Before the Bang there was no thing–no matter no energy, no forces, no gravitation.

    As for your notion that the universe will collapse, you’ll find no agreement on that among scientists. Not only is the universe still expanding but the expansion is increasing in speed. Not a convincing sign of an eventual collapse, I’d say.

  110. old_benjamin says:

    Boy, your ignorance is showing again. Flew is a minor philospher like Newton was a minor physicist. Get a clue, dude.

  111. Some Major Philosophers:
    Derrida, Nietzche, Heidegger, Sartre, Marx, Adorno, Aristotle, Plato, Hume, Kant, Socrates, Locke, Spinoza, Descartes, Barthes,Bataille, Baudrillard, Camus, de Beauvoir, de Man, Dewey, Diogenes, Dostoevsky, Engels, Foucault, Fyodorov, Goethe, Gramsci, Habermas, Hegel, Hippocrates, Hobbes, Husserl, Augustus, Thomas Acquinas, Kafka, Kierkegaard, Levi-Strauss, Lukacs, Lyotard, Machiavelli, Malthus, Marcuse, Mendel, Merleau-Ponty, Mill, Paine, Pascal, Peirce, Pope, Pythagoras, Rabelais, Russell, Santayana, Saussure, Schopenhauer, Smith, Strauss, Thoreau, Tillich, de Tocqueville, Weber, Wittgenstein

    All of the above names are familiar to most everyone who has a good background in philosophy……..Flew….nope, not so much.

  112. The reason why the Big Bang is “utter nonsense” is that it is just religion disguised as science.
    http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/bang.php
    Indeed, the concept of the Big Bang did not originate with Edwin Hubble but was proposed by a Catholic Monk, Georges Lema�tre in 1927, two years before Hubble published his observations of the Red Shift. The “Big Bang” coincided nicely with religious doctrine and just as had been the case with epicycles (and despite the embarrassment thereof) religious institutions sought to encourage this new model of the universe over all others, including the then prevalent “steady state” theory.

  113. old_benjamin says:

    As I said, Flew is a professional philosopher, having taught philosophy at major universities. The pros know about him. The dilettantes like you not so much. His reputation is not the issue. What he wrote in dozens of publications is. You would be better occupied reading his books than your inane lists.

    It matters not who originated the concept of the Big Bang–only that it is supoported by the scientific evidence. The term itself was coined by Fred Hoyle, an avowed atheist. By your logic, that should put the idea beyond dispute.

  114. You are the one who claimed that he was the world’s most famous atheist.

    He isn’t.

    I provided an extensive list of atheists who are actually famous.

    Then you claimed that he is a well known “major” philosopher.

    He isn’t.

    I provided an extensive list of major, well known philosophers.

    Really o_b, how would you know what “pros” know? Are you a professional philosopher?

    Major, highly influential philosophers have books written analyzing what they have written by other, lesser philosophers (like the 2 books about Hume authored by Flew).

    I never said that Flew was not respected nor without influence as I don’t know his work or know of any writer in philosophy who references him. Just said that he hardly is world famous – if we were world famous wouldn’t a “dilettante” like me know him….especially since I know quite a few philosophers (every name on the list I provided are philosophers I have read and/or at least read about).

    Dude – just stop trying to win and own the fact that you botched Flew’s title and called him the world’s most famous atheist instead of Flew’s self-designation of the “world’s most notorious atheist”. Cuz you don’t have a winning argument on this one.

  115. I looked all over for Andrew Flew, since I had not heard of him either, and I am a big philosophy student. I finally found Antony Garrard Newton Flew and remembered the controversy surrounding his “conversion” to Deism.

    He was in his 80’s when he said the universe must have an intelligent designer, and wrote a book co-authored by a student of his. Most of Flew’s colleagues note that Flew was in serious mental decline, was having trouble remembering names, dates and even his own location, and could not have written the book.

    Flew stated he is not a theist, but a Deist, does not believe in the God of the Christians or in any supernatural powers of Jesus.

    He says the only “evidence” of intelligent design, is what Einstein said, the universe is just too complicated for man to comprehend, so there must have been a superintelligent designer at the beginning. Flew says there is no continued inflence of an almighty and powerful God who involves himself with his creation. He agrees with evolutionary change in species and impact of natural forces.

    I am open to such speculation. I just do not think there is sufficient evidence one way or another to say a cohesive theory that can be tested out has been developed or even outweighs many other speculations. It is a “belief” system that does not harm anyone who is open to looking at facts and evidence that might change their beliefs.

    It is the insistence that there is “proof” of God that I will disagree with, since we are still at a stage where it is only in the eye of the beholder, only one interpretation of the myriad ways we can organize what we know into a cohesive and understandable notion, and that means it is speculation awaiting more evidence to even bring it to the level of a scientific theory.

    bBoy, many scientists state a difference in “Intelligent Design” and “Big Bang”. There is evidence for “Big Bang” which does not theorize a creator, but might be a natural and recurring force in an infinite number of universes, but there is really no evidence except speculation for “Intelligent Design” or “Inteligent Creator”.

  116. old_benjamin says:

    If you can get past the silly argument about Flew’s reputation, you might realize what matters is his argument. In his view the DNA code and the exquisitely fine-tuned universe are the best evidence for a creator, an intelligent creator. I do not use the term “proof.” Rather I speak of the best explantion for the evidence. In my mind, the best explantion for intelligence, as in the DNA code, is an intelligent agent. The best explanation for exquistely fine-tuned physical laws and constants is an intelligent fine tuner. That non-intelligence gave rise to intelligence is laughably naive to say the least.

  117. o_b

    As even the most casual dilettante in philosophy should know, the maintaining and utilizing extremely precise definitions of words is an essential tool within philosophy. This is one reason why I found your rather cavalier attitude towards utilizing a 5th level definition for the word “religion” on the “environmentalism isn’t equal to religion” thread.

    And, perhaps unknowingly, you have misapplied the term “dilettante” to describe my background in philosophy. While I would never have the audacity to self-designate myself as a professional philosopher (even “the world’s least notorious philosopher”) my relationship with the discipline includes my professional work. I read, write about, and lecture on philosophy in fulfillment of my contractual obligations.

    I have written several papers and, through peer review, been accepted to present them at professional, international conferences. You might find it interesting that my best received paper was presented at a gathering of Religious and Philosophical scholars. I also have designed and implemented an upper-division course on Aesthetics.

    So – I am more than a dilettante. When dealing with philosophical issues you really should strive to be a bit more accurate in your usage of words.

  118. I will acknowledge that the majority of my research has been dealing with the field of Aesthetics and since their central thrust is Positivism, very few British philosophers are all that important to that branch of philosophy.

  119. Aside from the fact that I rather enjoy being an iconoclast or devil’s advocate, I really have no argument against my (admittedly superfluous) understanding of Flew’s point. I categorize myself as a Deist so the thought that “god” initiated all creation is not something that is foreign to my belief system.

    It is a stretch, however, to then try to place Flew as a supporter of Abrahamic traditions. The same is true with Einstein:

    The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.

    “No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this,” he wrote in the letter written on January 3, 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind.

    He continued,
    “For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions,” he said.

    “And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people.”

  120. “That non-intelligence gave rise to intelligence is laughably naive to say the least. ”

    All beliefs, when looked at scientifically, are naive. That is why they must mature into theories and then be subject to evidence and the rigors of scientific evaluation.

    Right now, any speculation that there is an intelligent creator behind our universe or any universe is also naive.

    I don’t think either of these ideas are “laughable”, however, because there just isn’t any evidence either way.

    Saying DNA is “evidence”, when we see DNA manipulated, changed, corrupted and otherwise influenced by natural forces with no evidence of anyone or anything “behind the curtain” is also naive.

  121. old_benjamin says:

    I never suggested that Flew embraced the Hebrew view of the supreme being–only that he renounced atheism in favor of an intelligent creator. Nor did I cite Einstein as a believer in the Hebrew God, or any God for that matter.

    It is curious that Flew, whom you dismiss, attracted a great deal of attention when he recanted his life-long atheism. A nobody as long as he pedaled atheism but a celebrity when he changed his mind. Curious indeed.

    As for using words with prcision, a noble sentiment but futile in any theater other than the most aridly academic. You and I have zero control over that. And what would Webster do if words never changed in meaning?

  122. old_benjamin says:

    I beg to differ, Tuddo. Taking manifestations of intelligence as evidence of an intelligent agent is entirely reasonable. We see it all the time in anthropology, criminology, and cryptology, to name a fews, places. A tool thousands of years old is regularly regarded as evidence of a tool maker, not a random act of nature. A coded message is taken without question as evidence of an intelligent sender. A ransom note is taken as evidence of a plan to extort money. That we should assume there is an intelligent actor behind the intelligence we find in nature is entirely consistent with our everyday experience. I see no reason other than perversity why we should behave differently with respect to manifestations of intelligence wuch as DNA. Yes, it can be modified by natural events, but there has to be something to modify to begin with. Protein requires a code and the code requires protein. Explain how that works and you’ll convince me that no designer/creator is required.

  123. old_b, I am not a molecular biologist, so I won’t begin to explain your query:

    “Protein requires a code and the code requires protein”. (My first masters was chemical engineering and petroleum enginering, not sufficiently related).

    However, I do not think your statement is accuate, at least not in the way you imply.

    Nucleotides are the basic building block of RNA and DNA and can be synthesized in the lab. It is very possible that random natural forces brought the chemicals together needed to make them. Proteins are not necessary to encode nucleotides.

    Amino acids are the basic building blocks of protein. There must be a very specific correspondence of the amino acids to groupings of nucleotides (called codons) to make protein.

    To me, the fact that almost all living organisms on earth have exactly the same groupings of nucleotides into “codons” points to successful random natural actions. If there were an intelligent designer, then life could have had other codons that successfully created other forms, since there are so many possibilities. Why would a superintelligent being stop with just one set?

  124. old_benjamin says:

    tuddo, I’ll let Sir Fred Hoyle address your notion of “random natural actions.”

    Life cannot have had a random beginning … The trouble is that there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 1040,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup. Fred Hoyle and N. Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1981)

    Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly miniscule as to make it absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favorable properties of physics on which life depends are in every respect deliberate … . It is therefore almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect … higher intelligences … even to the limit of God … such a theory is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific. Fred Hoyle and N. Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1981), pp. 141, 144, 130

    The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein. Fred Hoyle, Hoyle on evolution, Nature, Vol. 294, No. 5837 (November 12, 1981), p. 105

    The notion that not only the biopolymer but the operating program of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order. Fred Hoyle, The Big Bang in Astronomy, New Scientist, Vol. 92, No. 1280 (November 19, 1981), p. 527

    A junkyard contains all the bits and pieces of a Boeing 747, dismembered and in disarray. A whirlwind happens to blow through the yard. What is the chance that after its passage a fully assembled 747, ready to fly, will be found standing there? So small as to be negligible, even if a tornado were to blow through enough junkyards to fill the whole Universe.

  125. old_benjamin says:

    “…the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 1040,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the…

    That should read 10 raised to the 40,000 power.

  126. According to Ian Musgrave in Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations:

    “These people, including Fred, have committed one or more of the following errors. 1.They calculate the probability of the formation of a “modern” protein, or even a complete bacterium with all “modern” proteins, by random events. This is not the abiogenesis theory at all.
    2.They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.
    3.They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather than simultaneous trials.
    4.They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation.
    5.They underestimate the number of functional enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random sequences

    Mainstream biologists say that Hoyle is ignorant of biology and argues from absurd assumptions no biologist holds, to arrive at those numbers. For example, Hoyle’s argument depends on evolution being entirely random, entirely ignoring the non-random effect of natural selection. Thus, his calculations are based on evolution working in a manner that is contrary to how biologists believe it works, making his results meaningless.”

    Life does not occur via assembly from individual parts, but rather via selective gradual modifications to existing structures.

  127. old_benjamin says:

    I expect we could trade quotes ad nauseum.

    My bottom line is that all our experience shows that intelligence only comes from an intelligent source. If the Creator wanted to provide evidence of his existence, would it not be reasonable to expect that he would do it in a manner consistent with our everday experience? Would it not be reasonable for him to display his intelligence in his creation, as does an author in a literary work? Such an expectation is hardly naive. Rather it it is consistent with all our experience on this planet. In my view, the burden of proof for the notion that intelligence arises from non-intellgience lies entirely with its proponents. So far, the case is far from proven.

    BTW, the late SETI project is a perfect example of the idea that intelligence assumes an intelligent source. If an intelligent signal had ever been received, the assumption would have been that intelligent life must exist somewhere else in the universe. If that isn’t naive, neither is the notion of an intelligent author of the DNA code.

  128. old_b, I love how hyou dismiss real science for quakery as “trading quotes.” Then you go off into a fantasy world of dequating chemical processes with a message from God.

    You can believe anythiig you want, and if hyour religion tells hyou God created the world in six days, go ahead, but I’ll use the scientific method to explain scientific processes.

    I love telling my grandkids the story of Adam and Eve (cleaned up, of course) and legends about the creation by God, but they also know that those stories are allegory and fairy tales, and that we use science to learn how things really work.

  129. old_benjamin says:

    I love how you pull that strawman out of thin air. I said nothing about Adam and Eve or six days of creation. In fact I think some version of the Darwininian narrative is a real possibility. The discussion was about the DNA code, whether itcame about by chance or is the product of an intelligent agent. Whatever the probability of life arising from chance, the fact is no one has shown how that happened or replicated that event. Some have tried, but their efforts merely prove that a high level of intelligence is necessary to even approximate the conditions for life.

    Check out Francis Collins’ “The Language of God.” He’s the leader of the Human Genome Project among other things and a real scientist who thinks the DNA code is in fact a message from God.

  130. old_benjamin says:

    As I said above, DNA requires protein and protein requires DNA.
    See for example:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatin

  131. tuddo, I’m touched by that story about your grandkids. As Santa has his role to play, so does God.

    Tell me, when your grandkids ask why they are here and what their signifiance is, do you explain that scientifically also?

    I too am a fan of science–just not scientism. That particular malady is a product of the 18th century and has been a singular failure as a guide to life in the last century. I’m happy to see it shown up in the last several decades for the cheap imitation it is of as any sort of viable philosophy.

  132. velmak, science has a role as to how we got here, but I do believe in a higher pupose for humans than to procreate. That is one reason why I oppose the Catholic Church on the reasons for marriage, why I think contraceptives are perfectly OK, and why I think gay marriage is great – it speaks to a higher power than just biological issues.

    I should have said great-grandkids, because most of my grands are getting to be too old for fairy tales and simple stories.

    Age-appropriateness is my goal, but we do have some pretty deep philosophical discussions using great philosophers who have asked that question – why are we here?

    I have four children, all over 50 as of this year, 12 grands, and four great-grands and counting. These include a gay, married grandson with two elementary-age adopted kids, (he’s the one who got me into a support group that educated me and helped change my mind about gay marriage) a Buddhist daughter and grands, and several other religions, an atheist and a suspected agnotisc or two in my extended family, so we discuss a wide variety of beliefs, always with respect. The adults are all much more intellectual and more well-educated than I am.

    We have a camping and hiking tradition that allows some good campfire discussions.

    I think there is wisdom to be found in things we cannot yet measure or prove, but I do make a distinction between things we know as fact and things we believe, and I think science helps us make that distinction clear.

  133. old_benjamin, my point was that I think DNA is a message from God is on the equivalent of a belief that God made the world in 6 days – pure fantasy.

    God could have done it in 6 days and put certain elements and signs that made it look like it took billions of years, just like he could have sent a message to us in DNA code. Just keep those in the realm of religion and beliefs, not science, please. Both are pure speculation and I think will be until the end of time.

    Also, please specifically show me where it takes protein to make DNA. It does take DNA to encode proteins that will make life, that is for sure, but protein is not in the building blocks of DNA or RNA.

  134. tuddo – have you seen the R. Crumb illustrated Genesis? It is brilliant. Apparently he first thought of doing a parody but, as he got into it, he realized that the best thing would be to follow the text exactly without any editorialization. He has created a distinct individual for each character in the book – including the list of various generations who begat other generations. Stunning. I am pleased to have it in my collection.

  135. bBoy, since I am a fan of great comic art and illustration, I love this book. It includes parts of the story that I mentioned previously as needing cleaning up for young kids. I’ve got to find my copy and look at it again.

    The first time I saw it, like a lot of dirty old men with strong remnants of the reptile brain, I was struck by some of the more explicit drawings. However, I had a revelation when I saw the illustration of Judah and his daughter of why sex with prostitutes, male and female, in the temples of idolators is such a recurring theme in the Bible.

    I was more convinced than ever that most of the passages that deal with homosexuality are dealing primarily with the greatest sin of all -cult worship and placing other gods before the Almighty God (whose name must not be spoken).

    Also, since I am fast approaching that age, I hope to meet women as old as Sarah who are as beautiful as he illustrates her at 90.

  136. old_benjamin says:

    tuddo, I said DNA requires protein and vice versa. I did not say DNA is composed of protein. The fact is that DNA requires protein to express itself and protein requires DNA to compose itself. Neither can do its job without the other. The notion that both came about by chance strikes me as more unlikely than any creation narrative.

    On the subject of probability, I didn’t dismiss your quotes about Fred Hoyle. I simply don’t think their is sufficient agreement about anything to support an argument. I will say though, that even if Hoyle is off by a factor of 10 to the 20,000th power, the probability of life by his calculation is still utterly miniscule. Both Hoyle and Francis Crick entertained the idea that life on earth came from somewhere else in the universe–that because of their view of the improbability of some sort of spontaneuous process on earth being its origin.

    It wasn’t I who described DNA as a “message from God.” It was the eminent bichemist and geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, currently the head of NIH. I would just say DNA is the plan for life, rich in information and indicative of a designer of very high intelligence.

    BTW, I think the Creator may have used some process akin to Darwinian evolution, once life got started. As yet, no one has the remotest idea how it got started apart from the supernatural.

  137. old_b, thanks for the discussion.

    velmak was nice to me, too. We must all be enjoying Spring.

    I have a chicken coop to clean out this morning, and plant starters to transfer from my greenhouse to the garden, so long for now.

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