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Sunday, March 19, 2006

The God Who Sees

El Roi = The God Who Sees

Psalm 139:1-10
For the director of music.
A psalm of David.

1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.


Sometimes when studying and/or meditating on scripture just one small phrase will capture your attention and you will perceive many meanings and implications from that one small phrase.

"O LORD, you have searched me"

I have come to understand that God knows me intimately. He made me and in His omniscience He is aware of not just my words and deeds, not just what comes out, but everything. He knows what I see and hear, in fact all of that which comes in. That is all well and good.

But He KNOWS me, my thoughts, dreams, every little corner of my heart and mind, my emotions, what I fear, what I love, what I hate, things about myself I do not understand. He is continually aware of everything about me.

Should this frighten me? I cannot hide anything from Him, not even my motivations that may be entirely secret from others. Every part of me that I do not particularly like, those thoughts I am glad others cannot read and those desires that I do not consider to be appropriate and those harsh judgements towards those I don't really even wish to judge: They are front and center to God.

But I am glad. I rejoice! This sets me utterly free! I cannot hide anything from God, therefore I do not even need to try. There is no deception and I realize how intimately He knows me and therefore that means He knows why I do what I do.....here is where He has mercy on my weaknesses and commends my strengths as I draw my strength from Him. I am glad that I am known completely for with God I am so free to be myself. It helps me to be myself with everyone.

I seek God's grace to show as much of myself to others as I dare. At the same time, I seek to be in agreement with God as much as I am able. I take His love freely and seek to pass it on to others. I learn wisdom at His feet and attempt to live by it. I understand His forgiveness as much as I may and be as forgiving as I can be.

"...and You know me."

Yes, God, You know me. You have always known me. The Psalm goes on to say that You knew me even before I began to be formed in my mother's womb. You planned for me to exist. You knew my birthdate even then, You knew my life, You knew when I would take my last breath and You even knew I would someday come to trust and believe in You. You loved me. As You know and love everyone, even those who don't know or trust or even like You. You love those who hate. You understand them. You continue to hold out Your hand to them like recalcitrant children, patiently waiting for the day that they reach out for it. You know those who will reach and also those who will always turn away. You know, but You continue to love no matter what.

I have read the Bible through many, many times. I have studied the languages, particularly the Koine Greek and have texts and study tools to help break down passages. I have memorized many, many verses and applied the truth therein to my life. I will not claim to be a scholar, but I am certainly a Bible student who knows the subject well. Yet there is so much more to know. No expert am I, just a student seeking to learn and apply what I learn.

But it doesn't matter, for God is able to inspire the reader just as He inspired the writer. The first time I read this Psalm I knew things from it, it spoke to me, it was more than words. God's presence! God understands me. God understands you.

Some of you read this and you know what I mean. Some of you read it and want to know what I mean. Some of you think it is all a bunch of claptrap. I do so wish you could all understand God, to have a relationship with Him, to know His love and to draw from His wisdom and strength. The wisdom and wonder of God overwhelms me, He is so incredible in all ways that my feeble words cannot begin to do Him justice. His own Word tells us that He is able to do far above anything that we can ask or even think. I do attempt to sketch out what someday actually being in His presence in Heaven could be like even as I know it is a futile exercise. God is Spirit. He spoke all existence and time into being. His ways and His thoughts are beyond what I can understand. But He has given to us the living, breathing God in the Flesh, Jesus Christ, to help us understand. He has left us with the Bible. He has given believers His Spirit and also the Spirit seeks to work in the hearts and minds of those who do not believe, seeking to draw them, to assure them.

Psalm 17:15
A prayer of David.

15 And I—in righteousness I will see your face;
when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.


The day will come when I pass away from this earth and stand before my God. I do not fear that day. I am in no hurry to get there, either. I love living. Nor do I have some hare-brained idea of a paradise where virgins feed me grapes and meet my sexual desires. Nor do I picture clouds and harps and angels languishing in golden light.

At the end of this life, God is there. For me, it will be much like waking from a dream and entering into reality. I want to meet Him face-to-face, not having to interface between the material world and the spiritual, as now, but being in the spiritual world with Him and being with Him. I don't want mansions and riches and all of that other stuff sometimes people dream of, I just want God in His fullness. That is my desire.

For the spiritual plane is the reality. Our material existence, it was created with a beginning and it will have an end. It is temporal and while it is all we can see now that does not mean that it is all. No, not all.

For at the end of life, there is God. This excites and moves me. This God has already forgiven me and called me to live with Him in eternity at the end of my short life on earth.

You can say that at the end of life, there will be another life, or, at the end of life, there is nothing. You can say what you want, and many of you will never admit it to me or anyone else but within you still know it. There is no Giant Spaghetti Monster and there is no karmic destiny and there is no end of you. The secret to life is this: We are eternal creatures living for the present in a temporal, material existence. Our earthly containers will die off, and the material world will end. We don't end, simply return to the One who has put us here.

Is it exciting to you, interesting to you, or is it even frightening to you? Do you know it, or do you argue against it? No matter, for here is truth.

At the end of life, God is. The God who knows you. The God Who Sees.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

"You can say what you want, and many of you will never admit it to me or anyone else but within you still know it. There is no Giant Spaghetti Monster and there is no karmic destiny and there is no end of you."

Umm... what makes you think we all already agree with you, and just have to get around to admitting it?

Perhaps we genuinely disagree, and get our spiritual jollies elsewhere?

And on what basis can you claim that there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster, no kharmic destiny, and no end of me, creeper?

cranky old fart said...

I feel pretty sure that when I die, it's over. I've never seen any evidence to the contrary. You?

creeper said...

Much as I would like to say that I have (ahh... wishful thinking)... no, I haven't.

Jake said...

I don't have the arrogance to claim that I'm in a position to know if there's such a thing as the divine, and if so what form it might take.

radar said...

Faith is not arrogance. In fact, it takes humility to admit that you don't know it all and are not capable of becoming your own salvation. Faith is an acknowledgement of someone greater than yourself. Faith being in the Creator God, of course, and not the FSM.

I was moved to share what I believe. There will be no KNOWING until I actually do die. Kind of hard to take an expedition to the other side.....

highboy said...

Yeah, I think I have to agree with Radar that belief in the divine is the exact opposite of arrogance. Claiming that there is no divine, and that we are all capable of creating our owm morality, and that we are the final authority on such things could actually be considered arrogance.

Jake said...

Who's claiming that there is no divine?

Radar, as long as you can see the difference between belief and knowledge, whatever you believe is fine with me.

cranky old fart said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
cranky old fart said...

"belief in the divine is the exact opposite of arrogance".

You guys crack me up. You believe you have the answer to life and death, and the EXCLUSIVE answer at that, but that's not arrogance. Everyone's wrong and you're right. Everyone else is going to hell, but you reap eternal rewards.

Yep, sounds real humble to me! Actually, sounds just like your basic Islamofacist....

radar said...

Cranky, you don't exactly understand Christianity. We aren't going to try to force our beliefs on you, but rather offer them to you and give you the choice of acceptance or denial. It was a group of primarily Christian men who crafted our constitution to prohibit a state-sponsored religion. There is no separation of church and state, that is a liberal myth. But there is a separation of church from state so that no religion can dominate the government and set up a theocracy such as we see in Iran.

Christians realize that the whole idea is to give people a choice. Free choice.

highboy said...

"You believe you have the answer to life and death, and the EXCLUSIVE answer at that, but that's not arrogance. Everyone's wrong and you're right. Everyone else is going to hell, but you reap eternal rewards."

Again and again you illustrate your staggering ignorance. If you think we are claiming EXCLUSIVE answers, than you have never read the Bible you continually question. Instead of putting YOUR spin on Christianity, lets define it as read in Scripture: The belief that ALL men (including us) are sinful, and desperately need a Savior. That is not arrogance. What is arrogance, is claiming that you ARE good enough without divine assistance, based on no one's authority but your own. What is also arrogance is the belief that you do NOT need a Savior, while we Christians are humble enough to acknowledge our own desperate needs.

You crack me up too.

creeper said...

Radar, Highboy,

"There is no separation of church and state, that is a liberal myth. But there is a separation of church from state so that no religion can dominate the government and set up a theocracy such as we see in Iran."

How would you define the difference?

"belief in the divine is the exact opposite of arrogance."

The perception of arrogance comes in when (some) believers say "I believe in this divine being and I believe that he has chosen US over others".

"Faith being in the Creator God, of course, and not the FSM."

?? How can you say your God is better than someone else's?

"If you think we are claiming EXCLUSIVE answers, than you have never read the Bible you continually question."

Not sure who claimed that the Bible claimed to have EXCLUSIVE answers, but some species of fundamentalist Christians sure give the impression that they think their religion is better than others, and that they have found the exclusive path to eternal rewards in the afterlife.

"What is arrogance, is claiming that you ARE good enough without divine assistance, based on no one's authority but your own."

Only if you presume a priori that God exists and that we are sinners before we're even born, two propositions which not everyone takes on board. Believing we are human and have a debt to our fellow man is valid and without arrogance.

cranky old fart said...

"ALL men (including us) are sinful, and desperately need a Savior".

"What is also arrogance is the belief that you do NOT need a Savior"

Now let me get this straight, telling others that they are sinful, need a savior, and are going to hell if they don't buy into your flavor of savior, is not arrogance?

Try standing outside your cult for a minute and take an objective look at it. Can you?

"If you think we are claiming EXCLUSIVE answers, than you have never read the Bible you continually question".

Confusing point you're trying to make here. You don't claim that acceptance of Jesus is the exclusive route to heaven for those who have heard The Word? Perhaps you can clear up my "staggering ignorance" on this point.

Anonymous said...

"Jesus said. 'If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.'"

+5 points to anyone who can tell, off the top of their head, where that's from.

So - what does separation of church and state mean? What's the point? Why do people sue over things like school prayer, the 10 commandments, the pledge, creche scenes, etc.?

-Dan S.

cranky old fart said...

Dan S.,

The Gospel of Thomas is heretical. Do you want to burn in hell? Watch what you post here, you heathen!

;)

highboy said...

"Now let me get this straight, telling others that they are sinful, need a savior, and are going to hell if they don't buy into your flavor of savior, is not arrogance?"

No, its not, when we lump ourselves into that same category. It is not OUR flavor of Savior, for one thing, I didn't write the Bible. Christianity is the belief that ALL (not just others, all) are sinful and need a Savior. No, that is not arrogance. Arrogance is deciding that you are good enough on no one's terms but your own.

"The perception of arrogance comes in when (some) believers say "I believe in this divine being and I believe that he has chosen US over others".'

God chooses those who believe in Him, yes. Can't see how that's arrogance. If you want to be with God, simply do it.

" ?? How can you say your God is better than someone else's?"

Um, very simply. If I didn't believe my God was better than the rest why would I worship Him?

"Not sure who claimed that the Bible claimed to have EXCLUSIVE answers, but some species of fundamentalist Christians sure give the impression that they think their religion is better than others, and that they have found the exclusive path to eternal rewards in the afterlife."

Again, if they didn't think their God was better, why would they be Christians?

"Believing we are human and have a debt to our fellow man is valid and without arrogance."

Who says I owe a debt to my fellow man, and what makes this opinion valid?

"Try standing outside your cult for a minute and take an objective look at it. Can you?"

Spoken like a true liberal. Air America would be proud.

"Confusing point you're trying to make here. You don't claim that acceptance of Jesus is the exclusive route to heaven for those who have heard The Word? Perhaps you can clear up my "staggering ignorance" on this point."

Sure that is what I claim. That is NOT what you implied. You implied that us Christians claim exclusive answers on the subject, and its not true, unless you're going to tell me you never heard the Gospel? If you have, than you need to retract your assertion about Christians, because you have the answer too. The difference is you rejected it. You have heard the Word, and have even misquoted it several times. So don't argue that we claim to have exclusive answers.

"The Gospel of Thomas is heretical. Do you want to burn in hell? Watch what you post here, you heathen!"

I'm sure you wish it wasn't. Everyone would like to think they can indulge themselves in any and all behavior, and still be accepted by a loving God. The Gospel of St. Thomas asserts this idea in the name of Jesus and is heretical.


"So - what does separation of church and state mean? What's the point? Why do people sue over things like school prayer, the 10 commandments, the pledge, creche scenes, etc.?"

It means the government cannot interfere with the Church. It means that the government cannot establish a religion, such as Christianity, as law of the land. It does not mean government cannot endorse Christianity, as the Framers themselves have proven time and again throughout the course of history. Liberals sue over the Ten Commandments, school prayer, and the like, because Christianity flies in the face of liberalsim ideology.

cranky old fart said...

Highboy,

Perhaps you misunderstand my use of the word "exclusive".

Just because others have access to your scheme for salvation, it is nonetheless "exclusive". It is held up as the SOLE scheme for said salvation, and EXCLUDES any other.

It is what it is. There is no need to be defensive.

By the way, my original comment was
"I feel pretty sure that when I die, it's over. I've never seen any evidence to the contrary".

Do you see dead people?

creeper said...

"Who says I owe a debt to my fellow man, and what makes this opinion valid?"

Now you substitute 'opinion' for 'belief'. Interesting. It's a belief, highboy, just like I said. Being accepting of and giving to your fellow man is, at least in my experience, a fulfilling way to live and experience life. Perhaps you think all atheists are really just making silly excuses so they can go off and indulge in heinous, reprehensible acts, but to tell you the truth most of us are really not that exciting.

Now, since you brought it up: Who says you owe a debt to God?

If you tell me "God", I'm going to find out where you live and tell you you owe me a couple of grand.

"If I didn't believe my God was better than the rest why would I worship Him? "

Because you think he's "the best God", if there is such a thing. There's a difference between that and crowing to everyone else about how God has chosen you above others (and I don't mean you specifically, highboy - though I won't necessarily exclude you either) - especially that you will go to heaven and everyone else will go to hell.

It's really quite simple: humility vs. arrogance. Again, not you specifically, but there are such specimens of fundamentalists.

"Everyone would like to think they can indulge themselves in any and all behavior, and still be accepted by a loving God."

Would Jesus shoot a car thief?

"It does not mean government cannot endorse Christianity"

That would fly in the face of the plain wording of the Establishment Clause and contradict the body of legal precedents re. the Establishment Clause to date.

radar said...

Wow, this sets off a few alarms!

This post was a representation of my personal faith and belief system.

"I see dead people" sounds like we could make a movie....

My bad, I should have said there is no FLYING Spaghetti Monster, rather than Giant. Actually, he is a ripoff of creature from a movie known by various titles including the Crawling Eye, Creature from Another World, The Creeping Eye and The Flying Eye - check it out!

highboy said...

"By the way, my original comment was
"I feel pretty sure that when I die, it's over. I've never seen any evidence to the contrary".

Do you see dead people? "

No, nor do I need to. That is why it is a religion based on faith. It cracks me up when atheists ask for proof of this when the very foundation of Christianity is belief WITHOUT seeing.

"Perhaps you think all atheists are really just making silly excuses so they can go off and indulge in heinous, reprehensible acts, but to tell you the truth most of us are really not that exciting."

I would be interested to hear what atheists base what is a heinous act and what is not on.

"If you tell me "God", I'm going to find out where you live and tell you you owe me a couple of grand."

That's more the Communist liberal's department. They are the ones demanding everyone share everything.

"Would Jesus shoot a car thief?"

I think its much worse than that. The Bible gives even more graphic ways unbelievers are going to die when Jesus gets here, whether they are car thieves or not.

Wrong. "Establishment" is a verb in our Constitution. The government will not respect the establishment of religion, meaning writing Christianity into law. This has been illustrated by our Framers time and again, even by the deist Framers such as Thomas Jefferson. Unless you are going to say that his use of government funds to convert Indians to Christianity is NOT the endorsement of religion?

cranky old fart said...

"Unless you are going to say that his use of government funds to convert Indians to Christianity is NOT the endorsement of religion"?

It certainly was, and it was certainly unconstitutional. Where was the ACLU when we needed 'em? ;)

highboy said...

"It certainly was, and it was certainly unconstitutional."

Or the establishment clause doesn't mean what you want it to, and "establishement" is clearly a verb in this sense. Thomas Jefferson knew what he intended when he helped frame it.

creeper said...

"No, nor do I need to. That is why it is a religion based on faith. It cracks me up when atheists ask for proof of this when the very foundation of Christianity is belief WITHOUT seeing."

I don't know about cranky, but I'm not asking for proof that when I die, it's not over, and I don't think he was either. He just observed, and I agree with him, that there was no evidence to the contrary. Mix in the powerful impulse of wishful thinking, though, and it's not surprising that a lot of people like to believe this. Naturally it is a huge comfort to believe that there is an afterlife or reincarnation or whatever.

"I would be interested to hear what atheists base what is a heinous act and what is not on."

For the most part human experience and needs, both individually and as a society. Not terribly different from what Christians base theirs on, when you get down to it.

me: "If you tell me "God", I'm going to find out where you live and tell you you owe me a couple of grand."

you: "That's more the Communist liberal's department. They are the ones demanding everyone share everything."


Since you bring it up: Wasn't Jesus in favor of the sharing thing too?

You're still avoiding the "Would Jesus shoot a car thief?", I see. Much as I am titillated by the hellfire and brimstone scenarios you like to allude to, they don't answer the question.

"Wrong. "Establishment" is a verb in our Constitution."

Now that I'd like to see. Last time I checked it was a noun, even in the Constitution.

"The government will not respect the establishment of religion, meaning writing Christianity into law."

Nor shall it make a law respecting an establishment of religion.

"Unless you are going to say that his use of government funds to convert Indians to Christianity is NOT the endorsement of religion?"

What cranky said.

"Or the establishment clause doesn't mean what you want it to"

The legal precedents relating to the Establishment Clause seem to indicate that the clause doesn't mean what you want it to, in any meaningful legal sense.

Anonymous said...

Dan S. says:

highboy: "Liberals sue over the Ten Commandments, school prayer, and the like, because Christianity flies in the face of liberalsim ideology."

Hm. Interesting. Somewhat of a non-answer - 'against their ideology' doesn't really explain anything. It especially doesn't explain the large numbers of Christians who are liberals, and are waiting patiently for your clarification.

"It means the government cannot interfere with the Church."
Essentially true, although I would replace Church with 'religious institutions' or something.

" It means that the government cannot establish a religion, such as Christianity, as law of the land. It does not mean government cannot endorse Christianity"

This 'establishment clause only means no theocracy' thing is an incredibly narrow reading, more so than the most conservative legal take on it. Even the strictest approach sees it as referring to a state-supported church/national religion (like many countries of the time), which is different, albeit subtly, from making religion the law of the land.

Good essay here - see also related essays. Among other things, it notes that original drafts of the first amendment included versions of the phrase: no " infring[ing] the rights of conscience," which is a less concise but excellent description of the general principle.

Also, this site - and liberals generally - recognizes and regrets that schools have on occasion misunderstood first amendment rulings and limited students' religious freedom. In many of these cases, the student has had legal representation or other assistance by the ACLU (for example, Christian valdictorian's yearbook entry, candy canes with religious messages, religious song in talent show, religious messages on student's clothing, etc.)

Thorough discussion of the issue at the First Amendment Center.

Let me come at this a different way. You're arguing that the government can (and should?) endorse religion. Can it endorse any number of religions, or only one? Who decides which/how many? Most importantly, why should the government be endorsing a religion? How does this affect our country's constitutional commitment to protecting 'the free exercise' of religion? What is freedom of conscience?

A little trouble in my town over bible readings in public schools* - more than 160 years ago . ..

On a slightly different tangent, those early Christian martyrs - whose courage and determination testifies to the depth of the faith, if not necessarily its truth value - what specific acts did they do or not do that led to them being thrown to the lions?

". The Bible gives even more graphic ways unbelievers are going to die when Jesus gets here,"

Good old John of Patmos - they told him to stop eating the special mushrooms . . .

Did you know the Book of Revelation almost didn't make it into the New Testement canon?

radar said: " he is a ripoff of creature from a movie known by various titles including . . ."
I have to say, for some reason 'The Crawling Eye' strikes me as really creepy. Eww.

"This post was a representation of my personal faith and belief system."
And as such I thought it was quite moving and sincere, right up to that bit about 'you really agree with me but you can't admit it, nyah-nyah!' While it's hard to tell what hides in one's deepest heart - or subconscious - I can say with certainty that on a number of occasions when it seemed reasonably certain that I might be about to kick the bucket (especially when younger, I wasn't always so good with the judgement/common sense/impulse control thing), I expected nothing more than the end of me. While inexorably sliding down a tilted slab of White Mountains granite towards the edge, desperately scrabbling for handholds, for example, numerous things ran through my mind, including 'ohshitohshitohshit not now I still have stuff to do!' and 'oh man, it looks just like a toy village from up here, it's gonna suck if I hit a house,' but 'Praise Jesus, I'm coming home!' was not one of them. Perhaps you're basing this claim on your own experience, but generalizing like this really detracts from the tone of the piece, and is just counterproductive.

Back to highboy (how's the wee one?):
"the very foundation of Christianity is belief WITHOUT seeing. "
Agreed! That's why the whole creationism-as-science thing seems so pointless- poor religion as well as poor science. You guys don't need it!

"I would be interested to hear what atheists base what is a heinous act and what is not on. "
I certainly can't speak for all atheists (and couldn't do too good a job even then - but thanks to the wonder of the internet, you can find various statements both by individuals and by major atheist/nontheist/etc. organizations). Personally? Two things:

* Tradition. We are the lucky recipients of thousands of years of human striving to identify and codify moral behavior. (I believe that some of this effort was incorrectly attributed to divine forces, or developed within specific theological frameworks I don't agree with, but so?) Certainly, realizing the human - limited imperfect - nature of these efforts allows one to critically evalulate received morality in light of the present day, but this is only a rationalistic version of what people do anyway. After all, whatever one thinks of the nature of good and evil, it's clear that many previous understandings were flawed (for example, the idea that the Bible/Christianity justifies slavery or anti-misegenation laws has been almost universally discarded; many previous teachings about marriage have been changed, some uncontroversially).

* Humans as social beings. Morality essentially requires other people; it's hard to imagine what sense morality has in reference to someone without any contact with other people (if such a person could develop normally, which they couldn't - an important point.) We are born into a world of other people, and we are born, and continue on, needing other people. I'm not making an argument about rational self-interest here: literally, we become people, in any meaningful sense, only through other people. We become moral beings only through interacting with other people.** It seems plausible that the seeds of morality lie in our genes; they are nurtured by the very nature of our social existence, and flower (or wither) under the influence of our big fat brains. It's worth noting that some of the most disturbing and incomprehensible crimes are committed by psychopaths or sociopaths - people who seem to have something deeply, deeply wrong in their ability to relate to other people.
Note also that your average socially sanctioned killing comes with the near-frantic insistence that the victims are not human at all, but some sort of evil, threatening other that endangers real people.

I see adherence to social mores as a combination of factors 1 and 2, rather than a separate thing.

If you're really interested in moral development/moral reasoning, there's some fascinating research. One starting point might be Kohlberg's work on the stages of moral development - although they've been criticized, refined, built on, etc.

One might argue that while morality sans God might work for an educated and intellectual elite, the masses need religion to keep them on the straight and narrow - the quasi-Straussian and at least partially the neoconservative position.*** I don't believe this - I think it's right up there with the belief that people can't govern themselves and need either a king or a bunch of aristocrats to do it for them - but even if it were true, it makes no claims re: truth value - just cynical pragmatism.

* other issues were also involved -mainly anti-Irish, anti-Catholic nativism.

** You ever wonder how kittens - those adorable little balls of fluff and needle-sharp teeth and claws - spend so much time playfighting without (generally) sustaining even minor injuries? They learn. Nip too hard, and one way or the other playtime's over.

*** This general pattern of thought has been held to explain why the Iraq War was sold as 'They're gonna nuke us!!!!!!!' rather than 1) the realpolitik reasonableness of : 'There's some very troubling intelligence regarding WMDs, though we can't say for sure, but regardless it seems likely that within a a few years the sanctions will be lifted, or weakened even further, and Saddam will become a regional threat and a danger to our geopolitical interests in the area, or 2) the utopian neoconservative interventionism of 'regime change in Iraq will create a democratic and peaceful Middle East' (aka: 'The road to Jerusalem runs through Baghdad') approach: both right and helpful to U.S. interests!

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

" Unless you are going to say that his use of government funds to convert Indians to Christianity is NOT the endorsement of religion?"

Do you have a reference for this? It seems quite plausible, but I can't seem to find it . . .

And, of course, I agree with cranky old fart.

Jefferson, impressive intellect aside, did have a few flaws, you know. Like I said, standards do change over time.

So: what's the point in having government endorse a religion? Can you think of any possible drawbacks?

-Dan S.

creeper said...

Well said, Dan, especially in response to the morality question. I had something like that in mind, but you articulated it so much better.

Don't know if your AOL is still misbehaving, but you can reach me on a gmail account too - creeperzoid AT gmail DOT com.

highboy said...

"Since you bring it up: Wasn't Jesus in favor of the sharing thing too?"

Yes. Was he in favor of forcing people against their will to do so? No.

"You're still avoiding the "Would Jesus shoot a car thief?", I see."

No, I answered it correctly. But let me elaborate further: I don't know if Jesus would use a gun, but it is quite possible He will kill a car thief, if that thief rejects Him in the end. Your question is also irrelevant to Jesus, because Jesus does not judge on whether or not someone does or doesn't steal a car, but whether or not the individual loves Him.

"Now that I'd like to see. Last time I checked it was a noun, even in the Constitution."

Because you choose to interpret it that way. History, on the other hand, gives us clear example as to what the Framers meant by this clause.

"The legal precedents relating to the Establishment Clause seem to indicate that the clause doesn't mean what you want it to, in any meaningful legal sense."

Than every President ever in our nation has violated this clause, by publicly swearing on the Holy Bible, and every Congressman is also guilty, by praying to the Judeo-Christian God before every session of Congress. All of the Framers too violated this clause, as Jefferson was not the only Framer to have pulled stuff like this.

"Did you know the Book of Revelation almost didn't make it into the New Testement canon?"

Yes. Your point?

"" Unless you are going to say that his use of government funds to convert Indians to Christianity is NOT the endorsement of religion?"

Do you have a reference for this? It seems quite plausible, but I can't seem to find it . . ."

Sure I do. Try here, and here. That should get you started. There's much more.

"And, of course, I agree with cranky old fart.

Jefferson, impressive intellect aside, did have a few flaws, you know. Like I said, standards do change over time."

And our country, and the world is doing so well because of it. Which leads me to the next point. You, as I said before, exercise great arrogance in thinking that humans decide what is moral and what is not. Especially when morality apparently, in your mind, and the minds of most liberals, can change over time. I'm not talking about enlightenment. Obviously, progress has been made in some areas. But has the crime rate gone up or down in America, or even the world? Do you catagorize more abortion, more teen pregnancy, more drug addiction, more divorce, as progress? What tradition are we following by allowing these things, and how did we learn they are moral?

You realize you are making a case for naturalism. Naturalism is great at defining good and evil, but sucks at defining where it gets its authority on the subject. You can't have morals, good or evil, without moral responsibility, and you can't have moral responibility without moral law, and you can't have moral law without a moral law giver. Who is the moral law giver? Man himself? Than morality is as consistent as silly puddy, and will change constantly. So how long then before murder is considered moral? Oh, that's right. It's already considered moral, especially by those with relative codes of ethics. "Walk a mile in my shoes..." everyone can say that. Its not valid in a moral discussion.

"** You ever wonder how kittens - those adorable little balls of fluff and needle-sharp teeth and claws - spend so much time playfighting without (generally) sustaining even minor injuries? They learn. Nip too hard, and one way or the other playtime's over."

That's not morality. That is positive/negative reinforcment at best. The kittens learned that nipping too hard will hurt. It did not learn why hurting another kitten is wrong.

"Most importantly, why should the government be endorsing a religion? How does this affect our country's constitutional commitment to protecting 'the free exercise' of religion? What is freedom of conscience?"

You would have to ask guys like Ben Franklin, who felt it "necassary to teach a public religion, and the excellance of Christianity above all others."

They endorse Christianity, or the teachings of Christ more specifically, because of the Golden Rule it endorses, and because of the principles within. This has no effect on someone's freedom to exercise religion, unless that practice endangers or inflicts harm on others. There are exceptions to freedom of religion obviously, just as there are limits on free speech. Example: Terroristic threats. No no.

"So: what's the point in having government endorse a religion? Can you think of any possible drawbacks?"

We have already talked about why they endorsed Christianity. Even if we go with the notion that the Framers, at least most of them, were deist, that is still a religion, that they have endorse repeatedly. This leaves us with two possible conclusion: Every single President, Congressman, and Framer that ever lived violated the Constitution they themselves had written, or the establishment clause never meant to be interpreted as preventing the government from endorsing Christianity.

Drawbacks: Crusades. Forcing the belief in the deity of Jesus on everyone, killing those that don't accept Him, much like the Koran teaches its Islamic followers.

"*** This general pattern of thought has been held to explain why the Iraq War was sold as 'They're gonna nuke us!!!!!!!'"

Well, once we found the enriched uranium, chemical weapons agents, and chemical warheads, that was enough to sell me. I elaborate on this further

highboy said...

Sorry, I meant to say I elaborate on this further

creeper said...

me: "Since you bring it up: Wasn't Jesus in favor of the sharing thing too?"

you: "Yes. Was he in favor of forcing people against their will to do so? No."


Why is it against your will to do so?

creeper said...

me: "You're still avoiding the "Would Jesus shoot a car thief?", I see."

you: "No, I answered it correctly."


It's a simple enough question. So would he or wouldn't he?

"But let me elaborate further: I don't know if Jesus would use a gun, but it is quite possible He will kill a car thief, if that thief rejects Him in the end."

So if Jesus ran into a car thief who loved him, he would let him go, but if he ran into someone who wasn't going to steal his car but lacked the appropriate love for him, he would slay him with a weapon of his choice.

"Your question is also irrelevant to Jesus, because Jesus does not judge on whether or not someone does or doesn't steal a car, but whether or not the individual loves Him."

I appreciate that you're enamored of the somewhat more violent aspects of your Savior; my hunch is that that will subside as you get older.

creeper said...

Highboy,

you: "Wrong. "Establishment" is a verb in our Constitution."

... and...

"Or the establishment clause doesn't mean what you want it to, and "establishement" is clearly a verb in this sense."

me: "Now that I'd like to see. Last time I checked it was a noun, even in the Constitution."

you: "Because you choose to interpret it that way. History, on the other hand, gives us clear example as to what the Framers meant by this clause."


Highboy, please explain what you think the words "verb" and "noun" mean.

creeper said...

"Than every President ever in our nation has violated this clause, by publicly swearing on the Holy Bible, and every Congressman is also guilty, by praying to the Judeo-Christian God before every session of Congress."

How does that amount to making a law respecting an establishment of religion?

radar said...

As a believer, I would find it abhorrent if we established a state religion, even if it were Christianity. Once there is an official religion then bureaucrats infiltrate the religious leadership, thus ruining the faith. Meanwhile, the religious leaders inject themselves into government where they don't belong. The result is chaotic. The situation in Iran should be instructive.

I submit that the ACLU is on the other side of this issue. They work hard to erase Christianity from society in order to establish Humanism as our state religion. That is my opinion but it is an observed one.

The best thing? Let the government govern and don't be concerned with any religious INFLUENCES within the government or the individual politicians. Just keep away from any attempt to establish a state religion and we will keep on keepin' on just fine.

creeper said...

Highboy,

"You, as I said before, exercise great arrogance in thinking that humans decide what is moral and what is not."

Morality comprises the codified rules of how humans interact with each other and with the world. It is not beyond the station of humans to develop these rules.

"Especially when morality apparently, in your mind, and the minds of most liberals, can change over time. I'm not talking about enlightenment. Obviously, progress has been made in some areas."

Would you care to rephrase that?

How can progress be made if morality never changes? If what you're saying is true, we should never have changed a single thing over the last several millennia.

The fact you're willing to allow that progress has been made (and even consider it obvious) already falsifies your position from the get go.

creeper said...

Highboy,

"Who is the moral law giver? Man himself? Than morality is as consistent as silly puddy, and will change constantly."

You've already conceded that, so why shouldn't man himself be the law giver (or law developer)?

creeper said...

[re. playing kittens] "That's not morality. That is positive/negative reinforcment at best. The kittens learned that nipping too hard will hurt. It did not learn why hurting another kitten is wrong."

Kitten A learned that hurting Kitten B was wrong because Kitten A was on occasion on the receiving end of Kitten B's claws, something Kitten A did not appreciate. It's a very crude example, but one that perfectly illustrates that morality is the highly codified version of exactly this, the establishing of rules and boundaries regarding how we as humans can best co-exist. It gets a lot more complicated than that, of course, but that is what morality comes down to, whether it is inspired by careful reflection, experience and discussion or the revealed commandments of the deity of your choice.

creeper said...

Highboy,

"Drawbacks: Crusades. Forcing the belief in the deity of Jesus on everyone, killing those that don't accept Him, much like the Koran teaches its Islamic followers."

You seem to think Jesus was gung-ho to kill car thieves who don't love him - not sure I see the difference between that and "killing those that don't accept Him".

So are you in favor of something like the Crusades?

creeper said...

Highboy,

Dan: "This general pattern of thought has been held to explain why the Iraq War was sold as 'They're gonna nuke us!!!!!!!'"

you: "Well, once we found the enriched uranium, chemical weapons agents, and chemical warheads, that was enough to sell me."


You seem to have missed Dan's point entirely. The links you posted are entirely in line with Dan's scenario 1:

"the realpolitik reasonableness of : 'There's some very troubling intelligence regarding WMDs, though we can't say for sure, but regardless it seems likely that within a a few years the sanctions will be lifted, or weakened even further, and Saddam will become a regional threat and a danger to our geopolitical interests in the area"

None of them support a scenario of "They're gonna nuke us!!".

highboy said...

"How can progress be made if morality never changes? If what you're saying is true, we should never have changed a single thing over the last several millennia"

I didn't say progress was made because morality changed. It was made because people's idea of morality changed. I believe in an absolute morality from the beginning remember?


"You've already conceded that, so why shouldn't man himself be the law giver (or law developer)?"

Because when man decides morality, things like abortion, drug abuse, and so take place.

"Kitten A learned that hurting Kitten B was wrong because Kitten A was on occasion on the receiving end of Kitten B's claws, something Kitten A did not appreciate."

No, the kitten did not learn that hurting kitten B was wrong. Kitten A learned that it was possible to hurt kitten B. That does not mean that the kitten now sees the morality of it all, just that it understands cause and effect.

"You seem to think Jesus was gung-ho to kill car thieves who don't love him - not sure I see the difference between that and "killing those that don't accept Him"."

What do you think happens to those that reject Jesus in the end? Have you read the Bible? You keep making it sound like the death of unbelievers is all my idea. It is very simple, and explicit in the Bible: Those that reject Jesus all the way through will die. Those that don't will not. Physically maybe, but not spiritually. Unbelievers die in every sense of the word, and Jesus is going to judge those that did not accept Him. Your assertion that my belief on this will change as I get older is ubsurd. It is part of fundamental Christian doctrine that Jesus has been give all authority to welcome or reject people into the Kingdom, and the Bible is very explicit as to Jesus' actions when He returns.


"So are you in favor of something like the Crusades?"

No, and neither was Jesus. From now until He returns, it is the job of the Christian to reach as many people for Christ as possible, to speak to whoever will listen. Jesus will judge those who reject Him when He gets here. If He wanted them judged now, He'd already be here. He will not return until the Gospel is preached to all nations.

"You seem to have missed Dan's point entirely."

I didn't miss his point. I wasn't arguing with him, merely making a statement since he brought up the war.

creeper said...

Highboy,

"It was made because people's idea of morality changed. I believe in an absolute morality from the beginning remember?"

I remember, that's why I pointed out the inconsistency. So is it your understanding that progress has been made in the way people understand this absolute morality? The absolute morality has been there from the beginning, but we're going through a learning process?

It's just a bit strange that you take a dig at liberals for allegedly believing that morality can change over time, when a perfectly reasonable reading - and one with which you apparently agree - would be that the idea of morality changes over time. Though I would ask you to explain where exactly you would draw the line between morality and the idea of morality.

"That does not mean that the kitten now sees the morality of it all, just that it understands cause and effect. "

A lot of morality is carefully balanced cause and effect, built on centuries and centuries of people living together and figuring out the best way to do so. In some cases the cause and effect is illustrated in a way that is easy to grasp for many, like this for example: "If you join our club and follow all these rules, you're going to have a very nice afterlife."

There's a very interesting blog entry about divine command theory that you might find interesting.

Anonymous said...

Dan S. says . .

"Well said, Dan,"
Hey, thanks!

highboy: "History, on the other hand, gives us clear example as to what the Framers meant by this clause."
It's amazing how little the founders agreed on, actually. Washington's cabinet, for example, was bitterly divided, with Jefferson leaking documents to the press criticizing Washington's and Hamilton's policies - and when you get to Pres. Adams and the conflict between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans - it makes our current political situation look downright friendly.

"Than every President ever in our nation has violated this clause,"

Well, certainly even the slightest familiarity with U.S. history will reveal countless examples of high government officials either violating major principles - ie, writing slavery into the constitution - or indeed their own government - as when that bastard Jackson ignored the Supreme Court in order to carry out ethnic cleansing against the Cherokees (based, as such things always are, in greed. Perhaps it is appropriate that he's on the $20 - but still, I want him off). More importantly, and we keep, and will keep, coming back to this, things change over time. It's a work in progress.

And the examples you picked, interestingly, are the ones that almost no-one has a problem with, that almost everyone agrees are actually acceptable instances of civil religion/ceremonial deism, etc..

As far as I can tell, your answers to 'why endorse a religion' are that the founders did it. (They also tended to own slaves and travel via horse). The list of drawbacks don't make sense, since none of those severe consequences in any way follows from mere gov't endorsement of religion! I don't even think that!

(Jefferson, gov't funds, conversion of Indians - so far I've found an account of a treaty where - supposedly - the Native treaty signers requested - and had granted - gov't funds supporting a priest and the eventual building of a church. If this is correct, it's almost akin to a faith-based initiative. Given legal recognition of Indian tribes' treaty status as quasi-independent nations . . . I dunno. It's a weird issue. I'm almost sure it's unconstitutional . . . but remember, this is within the second decade of U.S.' existence under the Constitution. Things still being worked out.)

Radar adds:"As a believer, I would find it abhorrent if we established a state religion,"
I agree! - and you give a clear, concise reason why it's such a bad idea. Exactly!

"I submit that the ACLU is on the other side of this issue. They work hard to erase Christianity from society in order to establish Humanism as our state religion. "

But then you have this. Of course, in this area they work hard to uphold the 1st amendment and the separation of church and state. I was leafing through a new book about the history of this issue, and it had a great term for what I'm getting at - legal secularism. It's not that the idea is to "erase Christianity from society in order to establish Humanism as our state religion" (that would be downright dull) - what we might call strict secularism. Instead, it's to make sure that the government - not society - acts in a secular fashion, establishing a level playing field for religious beliefs (or non-beliefs) thoughout the nation. It's a principled avoidance of favoritism - after all, in these cases anti-wall Christians are asking for, well, special rights. Why should government - the government that highboy resents telling him that he has to donate to charity - stick its nose in here?

After all, we are certainly a majority-Christian nation, and our history is enormously influenced by Christianity (any account that skips that bit is incomplete at best), but we are not a Christian nation. We're a nation for everyone, whatever they believe. For the goverment to endorse a specific religion - or even religion itself - unavoidably sends a message to some group or groups: you don't really belong here, not all the way. You're not fully a citizen - at least not a first class one. What kind of message is that to send?!

There's a reason so many of these cases involve public schools, where there's a significant power imbalance and whole classrooms of impressionable children. When I was teaching middle school, I was acting as a representative of the State (however hazily and harried); what right did I have, going through a list of historical pro-separation rulings, to lead prayers, read the Bible to students as a religious activity, provide religious instruction? Why should the gov't be doing that? Isn't that the parents' job? What message would that send to students whether or not they were of whatever faith?

Nowadays examples of forcible coercion in public school - such as the Catholic child in 19th Century New York who was beaten for refusing to say Protestant prayers - seem obviously wrong, and that's good. What's sometimes missed is that you can have soft coercion too - name it something else if you like. Think of the child who won't be punished for not reciting the pledge, but sits silently in class with the principal's voice thundering 'Under God' over the PA, with the teacher and most of the class following along. What message does this send? As a Jew and an atheist, I can tell you - for some, at least, it's that same message above: you're not, as you are, really part of us. There are worse lessons by far (one might even say it has some advantages) but is this what we want to be teaching?

Such a thing isn't always obvious to the folks in the majority. During the 19th Century religion-in-school wars, where public schools incorporated Protestant bible readings, prayers, etc., while nativism did play a role, most Protestants really didn't get what the fuss was about, why Catholics were complaining, or even being beaten, over this matter. After all, it's what the country's about, right? (and that's why we have Catholic schools, incidentally - is this sort of religious balkanization what we want?) That's why historically most - though not all - lawsuits of this nature were brought by members of minority faiths, such as Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.

That's how it goes. We started out with a document, a Constitution, full of amazing ideals, astonising promises - which at first only covered white males owning property, while the original inhabitants of the land were driven away, fellow humans were held in bondage, and so on and on and on. Much of the story of our country is the story of groups forcing the government to make good on those ideals, fulfill these promises, continue the work of establishing "a more perfect union."

]deep breath/coming up for air[

I said: "Like I said, standards do change over time."

highboy shot back: And our country, and the world is doing so well because of it."

Well, yes. Don't you think?

Y"ou exercise great arrogance in thinking that humans decide what is moral and what is not."
But we do, all the time! Constantly. We have to. We may be wrong, by our own standards (explicitly or implicitly), or by those of more enlightened others, but we have to decide!

I have to run, but a little bit more:
"Do you catagorize more abortion, more teen pregnancy, more drug addiction, more divorce, as progress?"
Well, nobody wants any of these as positive goods! (and drug addiction generally seen as entirely negative, with teen pregnancy not far behind.) Everybody wants less of these! I am glad to hear you will be voting Democratic in upcoming elections, though (comprehensive sex ed, easy access to birth control, policies that try to mitigate the effects of poverty and completely family-unfriendly labor policies that contribute to family breakdown)

"Because when man decides morality, things like abortion, drug abuse, and so take place. "

As they do when people decide that Someone Else decided morality. You must have quite a strange view of the past, my ahistorical friend . . .

"I didn't say progress was made because morality changed. It was made because people's idea of morality changed."
We differ here - I don't believe in a non-human God-given or quasi-Platonic morality - but what's the practical difference?

"and you can't have moral law without a moral law giver."
Why not?

Or, if so, only one? There've been a whole bunch - Hammurabi, for example. But they don't just come out of nowhere . . .

"That's not morality. That is positive/negative reinforcment at best"

And as creeper points out, that's sorta the core of most morality. If you look at Kohlberg's stages of moral develoment, that's the starting point, stage one of preconventional morality:something's bad because you get punished for it - the kind of moral reasoning you find among young children and disproportionately, I think, among the prison population. Most people grow out of it and through other stages, propelled, as Kohlberg saw it, by having to deal with the world (and obviously cognitve development plays a role)

But there's an even more important point here, about the difference between cats and one hand, and humans and dogs on the other. Now, I love our cat - we found him as a tiny lost baby, at most four weeks old, and that's in some ways is how I still kinda think of him, despite evidence to the contrary, such as the vet's office requesting that we either sedate him prior to visits, or please find another vet . . . but considered as a human, he - and other cats - probably would be very near to being downright sociopathic.

For starters, cats aren't obligate social animals. Domestic cats will live together if there's an abundant food source, even form colonies, but they're nothing like dog packs. There's one very amusing study of barn cats which found essentially that cats weren't going to go out of their way to be near each other (the chance of two cats crossing paths was, I think, essentially random). If they happened to end up near each other they might hang around, seemingly enjoying each other's company, but they weren't going to go out of their way for it.

For a long time, cats were considered essentially untrainable, and also rather slow. Instead, it turns out, again, they're not going to go out of their way. Most classic learning experiments won't work, because cats usually just won't bother - even if their food's withheld and used an incentive, they just sulk. As for training them, it is possible (think of big cats in the circus!) but trainers tend to have to figure out something the cat is quite likely to do.

Most important point? Think of dogs. What happens when you say No! - or if you come home and the dog has done something Bad? At the very least they tend to act in ways that certainly look ashamed, remorseful, etc. Their pack leaders (which happen to be humans) disapprove of them! They're Bad Dogs! Praise, on the other hand, is a wonderful thing. They're Good Dogs! Approval!

Cats? No way. Speak sharply to your dog and -unless it's decided that it's actually further up in the hierarchy than you - the poor thing'll look miserable. Try that with a cat, and it'll either ignore you, walk away, hiss, or posibly turn away and lick itself, or similar displacement activity. The kind of social rewards and punishments that are a big part of training or animal intelligence research just aren't that big a deal (with some individual variation). Dogs in a sense act like people at Kohlberg's stage 3 - the good boy/good girl! stage, responding to social approval (they're not at this stage, but there's a fundamental similarity there). Cats? Judged by human standards, they're at preconventional morality - I'll get nipped/what's in it for me? (again, they're not, but etc.)
Cats are acting thusly out of millenia of being solitarity hunters of often small or solitary prey* whose major social interactions tend to be 1) as a kitten being raised among siblings, 2) mating, and 3) if female, raising kittens. (Interestingly, as far as we can tell, research on cats' mental perceptions suggest that if at all possible they try to create mental maps of the surrounding world that are egocentric - that is, with them in the middle).
Dogs, on the other hand, are acting thusly out of millenia of being pack hunters with an elaborate social structure that allows them to work together to take down large prey.
Humans? We like to think we're like cats, but in reality, we're much more like dogs (or vice versa) in our social and even moral behavior -it's one of the reasons we can understand each other so well; we have a great deal of common ground built into our heads. The difference is that we have these big enormous brains, and a extremly weird ability to get inside other people's (and other animal's) heads, something that only one or two other apes can do a little, sorta (Indeed, people with Asberger's tend to be bewildered or frustrated at how people around them will seem to be reading each others' minds, or communicating in some hidden, incomprehensible way . . . ) and empathy. Without that . . .

Want a moral lawgiver (or, at least, the preconditions for one?) OK - evolution. Whether evolution was sufficient is a question that science perhaps can't answer, and whether it was evolution alone is one it definitely can't.

OK, I think this comment is long enough - blogger comment validation was not listening, so I just kept coming back and adding bits . .

" divine command theory"
Oh, the Euthyphro dilemma! You beat me! I was gonna bring that up, but I thought it was banned as a DTMD (debate topic of mass destruction) in the theist-atheist debating treaty of 2003 . . . along with 'can God make a rock so heavy he can't lift it,' 'where did Cain go? How were their other people around?' and 'who on earth (literally) did Adam and Eve's kid(s) marry?'

Hmm, divine command theory . .
There is a story in the Talmud about a dispute between several distinguished rabbinical sages. Rabbi Eliezer says, "if I'm right, let this carob tree prove it," at which point the carob tree uproots itself and travels 100 cubits. The other guys aren't impressed. In sucession, Rabbi Eliezer has, in support of his argument , a stream running backwards, the walls of the study house collapsing (although they stop when another of the rabbis yells at them), and finally a voice from heaven booming "Why are you arguing with Rabbi Eliezer? Legal decisions always follow his view!" - To which one of the other rabbis bluntly replies "It is not in heaven" - glossed as basically, this isn't heaven; people have to work out God's laws. At the end of the story the prophet Elijah arrives and one of the rabbis inquires as to God's reaction.

Elijah replies that God laughed, declaring "My sons have defeated me! My sons have defeated me!"


-Dan S.

highboy said...

Dan: To be honest, I only skimmed parts of your last comment. Little long. So if I draw the wrong conclusion we know why.

"what right did I have, going through a list of historical pro-separation rulings, to lead prayers, read the Bible to students as a religious activity, provide religious instruction?"

None. I agree. But that is not where it stops. For example: In Altoona High PA, you are not allowed to even bring your Bible to school. Other schools not only ban your Bible but prevent you from wearing any Jesus gear on your person. That is not separation of church and state. That is trampling of freedom of religious expression. If my Jesus t-shirt offends another student, too bad. There is no such thing as the "right to not be offended" clause in the Constitution. Otherwise, I should be able to complain about my fellow student's "Go Clinton!" t-shirt and have them never wear it in school again. There is also the Bible issue. Should the teacher, in a public school, teach from the Bible? No. Should the teacher prevent a student from reading his/her Bible during lunch hour? No. There are also schools, as you know, that have totally banned the Pledge of Allegiance. As long as no one was FORCED to say the Pledge, no one's civil liberties are being violated by it being said. However, those that do want to say it are now not allowed, again having their freedoms trampled on in the name if the minority.


"Want a moral lawgiver (or, at least, the preconditions for one?) OK - evolution. Whether evolution was sufficient is a question that science perhaps can't answer, and whether it was evolution alone is one it definitely can't."

Evolution was Hitler's moral law giver, that is for sure.

Anonymous said...

Dan S. says:

highboy: gives examples of schools violating students' first amednment rights, freedom of religion.

I agree totally. This is not right, it's not what the law says, and it's a violation of these students' rights. There's only one example actually identified, but I've heard of at least one religious clothing case. Never heard of bible-banning - that's just absurd, can't think of any reasonable justification. Do you have any details?

As I wrote a few comments above, liberals don't support this (it's generally schools who don't understand the law and are wildly over-reacting) and in fact, the ACLU has taken on a number of these cases, on the side of the students.

"Evolution was Hitler's moral law giver, that is for sure."

But no. This is a common misconception. Why don't you try to support it?

Sorry about the length - I do go on . . .

-Dan S.

radar said...

I am glad to hear that not all liberals support the ACLU, which is a wingnut organization as far out as the Ku Klux Klan or the ALF but unfortunately it has the cache of legitimacy (at least among the uninformed). It was formed by a communist and has a hard core anti-god, anti-conservative, anti-heterosexual and anti-capitalist agenda. I think I will post a few things concerning this tonight.

My personal experience with Asperger's concerns two teenagers, one in my household and one in my classes. Both of these boys work hard at learning the social mores among people and it is true that they are mystified by the nuances of relationships that most of us just "get." I wonder sometimes if Chloe ("24" series enthusiasts, you know who I mean!) might be an adult Asperger's kid......Anyway, both boys are getting plenty of hang-out time with older boys and young men and that is helping them. They don't naturally "get it" but they are learning safe ways to interact and safe things to say as if those things were theorems in Geometry class. It is cool to see them progress.

Dan, from my Christian point of view I would have said that God made dogs to be companions of man. He made them to be gregarious and to not have a natural fear of man so that we could have a symbiotic relationship of sorts.

Oddly, whereas puppies will always run out to play with you (if they aren't about to fall asleep), there is one breed that doesn't fit this mold - The Chow. Chow puppies will run away from strangers and only be friendly to the owner or owners of their mothers. Chows will adopt one person or perhaps one family to be "doglike" with and will be aloof, frightened or violent with strangers.

I have a relative who breeds Chows and Samoyeds. If you go out into the back yard, which is fenced and graveled, a herd of Sammies will come to greet you, lick you, jump on you and etc. The Chows all hang out by the back fence and assail you with intermittent barks of alarm.

We have one Chow and she has been taught to be reasonably friendly to guests. But if a couple of his friends start to wrestle around with my son, the Chow will run up quickly to bite them. Her first bite doesn't break the skin, just warns them to quit. They have all learned not to horse around with any of my kids while inside the house because the Chow will not tolerate it. She doesn't know what is play and what is fight.

Chows are like this from birth. I submit that this is evidence for creation. Darwin suggested that inherited instinct was inexplicable if it was proven to be true, inexplicable from an evolutionary framework. There are more dramatic examples than that of a Chow....The Malleefowl - Leipoa ocellata of Australia is a particularly inexplicable breed. It is born with the ability to build a huge birthing mound and by applying a few leaves here or removing sticks there keep the interior temperature at precisely the correct one for keeping and hatching eggs. The bird keeps the mound's interior temperature at precisely 33 degrees celcius with no training and no one understands how they are able to do it. No one but God, of course.

radar said...

cachet, not cache. Hey, I work in the computer industry, it happens....

creeper said...

"in fact, the ACLU has taken on a number of these cases, on the side of the students"

Careful there, Dan - don't want to upset their "Us vs. Them" mentality.

highboy: "Evolution was Hitler's moral law giver, that is for sure."

Dan: "But no. This is a common misconception. Why don't you try to support it?"


I second that, but Highboy's short a few answers as it is.

(Had a good verification word just now - one that's actually pronouncable and could fit into The Meaning Of Liff: Penifdie.)

creeper said...

Radar,

how would "creation science" explain inherited instinct evolving, and especially the case of the Chow's instinct evolving "within kind" since the proto-canine stepped off the Ark? Either pointers to actual research or something you just made up is fine, but please label accordingly.

"I am glad to hear that not all liberals support the ACLU"

Nor does the ACLU solely champion the values you claim it does. Google "ACLU defends bible" and you'll find an interesting mix.

radar said...

Hmmm, didn't say that instinct evolved and I don't believe that it did.

highboy said...

"I second that, but Highboy's short a few answers as it is."

No, my answers are fine, whether you like them or not. It is you that has yet to demonstrate claims such as this:

"It is not beyond the station of humans to develop these rules."

Says who?

"A lot of morality is carefully balanced cause and effect, built on centuries and centuries of people living together and figuring out the best way to do so. In some cases the cause and effect is illustrated in a way that is easy to grasp for many, like this for example: "If you join our club and follow all these rules, you're going to have a very nice afterlife."

And you some how feel this illustrates that the kittens involved were then enlightened to the actual morality of not swiping at each other too hard?

""in fact, the ACLU has taken on a number of these cases, on the side of the students"

Careful there, Dan - don't want to upset their "Us vs. Them" mentality."

That is exactly what it is. Why else would they attack the Boy Scouts for not allowing homosexual den leaders? They have even tried the whole "the goverment endorses them, they are a religious institution" argument and it went no where. Because this goverment endorses Christianity. Always has, whether or not the Framers themselves were Christian or not. That is why they swear on the Bible, and not the Book of the Non-Specific Deity.


"Google "ACLU defends bible" and you'll find an interesting mix."

So they are not against us, just horribly inconsistent? That's comforting what their supposedly protecting my civil liberties.

Hitler, as we all know, considered Jews to be less than human, and barely above the apes, as his book clearly illustrates. He believed in the perfectly evolved human, the white Aryan, destined to rule the world. That is rather common knowledge to anyone who has watched or listened to one of his speeches, or read his book.

Anonymous said...

Dan S. says:

creeper:Careful there, Dan - don't want to upset their "Us vs. Them" mentality."

And it's tempting, y'know? At times like this I sometimes catch myself thinking, gee, if I wanted to undermine America's fundamental freedoms and tip it down a path towards a joyless dystopia of second-class citizens, what would I do? I know! Convince people to go after an organization that defends Americans' civil liberties!

But of course, it's nowhere near that simple (which is what us vs. them is great for - simplicity). Why the ACLU is actually so hated, I have no idea. Is it just the ghosts of history {commie pinkos! outside agitators!} combined with single-issue flashpoints {they want to ban the Easter Bunny!! They hate Christians!!}? Is it the association with eeeevil liberalism? I don't get it . . .


radar: am glad to hear that not all liberals support the ACLU
Please don't twist my words like that. It's not nice.

" which is a wingnut organization as far out as the Ku Klux Klan or the ALF"
Interesting comparisons all around. Castrating, lynching, terrorizing people to maintain a system of racist oppression; raiding labs, fur operations, and factory farms to liberate animals, destroying property (and research - pretty stupid); going to court to defend Americans' civil rights.

Yep. All the same!

ALF . . . frankly, I never liked that stupid alien anyway . . . : )

has a hard core anti-god,
yep, that's why they're defending Christian kids who got in trouble for wearing religious-themed clothes or handing out candy canes with religious messages . . .
anti-conservative,
Don't know where you're getting this from.

anti-heterosexual
If I like pink that must mean I hate blue!

and anti-capitalist agenda.
Now you've totally lost me. Can you back this up with anything at all?

the rest of radar's comment - I want to give some time and consideration to a reply. Just one thing: the whole inherited instinct thing isn't a problem for evolution. In fact, it's almost too much not a problem; it can be a bit of a temptation. Now show me that the relevent traits are in fact under genetic control . . . which is increasingly being done . . .

highboy:Because this goverment endorses Christianity. Always has . . .
Government's done a lot of things. Why should it do this?

That is why they swear on the Bible, and not the Book of the Non-Specific Deity.

"In the spring of 1778, the Constitutional Convention was held in Philadelphia, PA. They resolved three main religious controversies. They: . . .
. . . Allowed Quakers and others to affirm (rather than swear) their oaths of office."

So [the ACLU is] not against us, just horribly inconsistent?

Now you're just being silly, highboy. I'm sure you know that the ACLU exists to defend civil liberties - all citizens' civil liberties, even - especially - if the cause or group may be unpopular. If anything, they're horribly consistant, standing up for the free speech rights of Christian highschoolers on one hand and neo-nazi/KKK idiots on the other. Who came up with this whole equal protection of the law even if I detest them nonsense anyway?!

Hitler etc.
And what does this have to do with evolution?
I mean, I could go on about how gravity demands that, say, mimes be dropped down wells for the good of the nation, but that doesn't really have anything to do with gravity.

Although frankly, it's not a bad idea. Mimes . . . ugh. Or maybe the quy who wrote ALF . . .

or read his book.
It's been argued that Mein Kampf actually shows Hitler's idiocy as springing from (or at least presents it as springing from) another source - but I'm no expert here, I dunno.

-Dan S., card carrying member.

highboy said...

"Convince people to go after an organization that defends Americans' civil liberties!"

Unfortunately we have no organization that does that, save for those that fit their obvious political agenda.

"Is it the association with eeeevil liberalism?"

Is there another kind?

"going to court to defend Americans' civil rights.

Yep. All the same!"

I'm sure you, being as intelligent as you are, meant to say "going to court to defend the civil liberties of some while trampling someone else's."

"has a hard core anti-god,
yep, that's why they're defending Christian kids who got in trouble for wearing religious-themed clothes or handing out candy canes with religious messages . . .
anti-conservative,
Don't know where you're getting this from."

And that is why they are attacking college campus R.A's for holding private Bible studies in their dorm rooms on their own time. That is why they attack military chaplains who pray in Jesus' name at assemblies. That is why they have men sued for singing "Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord" during gay pride parades. That is why they claim to be pro-choice, while attacking legislation that would require doctors to inform women of any pain a fetus may experience, and that is why they attack further legislation that would require them to be shown a sonogram of their child 24 hours before the operation. That is why they attack private organizations like the Boy Scouts for "discrimination" against homosexual den leaders. That is why they attack the Boy Scouts for "discrimination" against females. That is why they attack "Got Jesus?" gear in public school while defending another male student's right to wear a dress in public school. That is why they demanded the resignation of military officers for wearing their uniform to church. That is why they demanded the resignation of military officers for mocking the God of a now-deceased African warlord who is right up there with Saddam. Lets see, what else did they contribute? Oh, yeah, my favorite, the legalization of child porn! Apparently pedophilia is okay with them? Must be. Especially since they are also against known sex offenders having to get registered.

"Hitler etc.
And what does this have to do with evolution?"

Hey, I didn't say his idea had merit. Just that his belief in evolution played the biggest part. He believed natural selection, or the "survival of the fittest", demanded the strong survive, the weak die, which is basically what natural selection teaches when you get right down to it.

creeper said...

Highboy,

"No, my answers are fine, whether you like them or not."

I wasn't referring to the answers you gave, but to the ones you didn't. Those I am unable to like or dislike, owing to their non-existence.

me: "It is not beyond the station of humans to develop these rules."

you: "Says who?"


Why should we humans need to ask permission to figure out how best to live together? Morality does advance over time, proceeding by trial and error on occasion; how man lives together changes and is on occasion codified. See for example the Geneva Conventions.

Also, you seem to be under the impression that "God told us what is right and wrong and is the only authority" is somehow unproblematic. Please have a look at the post I linked to above re. divine command theory.

"And you some how feel this illustrates that the kittens involved were then enlightened to the actual morality of not swiping at each other too hard?"

No, I'm pretty sure cats are stuck on the 1st level of Kohlberg's stages of moral development - if that.

"Unfortunately we have no organization that does that, save for those that fit their obvious political agenda."

If this is a pro- or anti-Christian agenda you have in mind, they've been on both sides of that issue, defending students wearing religious symbols, as well as street preachers.

Your little rant about what the ACLU supposedly does made me suspicious, since I already know that you and Radar have a very strong tendency to fall for simplistic propaganda without checking the facts.

"And that is why they are attacking college campus R.A's for holding private Bible studies in their dorm rooms on their own time."

Are you referring to Lance Steiger? He violated school policy, which caused controversy on campus. I can't find a link to the ACLU's involvement in it, nor is there mention of him on the ACLU's site. Could you post a link to what the ACLU did in this case?

Who are the other R.A.'s the ACLU is attacking?

"That is why they attack military chaplains who pray in Jesus' name at assemblies."

Could you post a link to this case? The ACLU claims there is no ACLU litigation against military chaplains - you should prove them wrong.

"That is why they have men sued for singing "Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord" during gay pride parades."

Link?

"That is why they claim to be pro-choice, while attacking legislation that would require doctors to inform women of any pain a fetus may experience, and that is why they attack further legislation that would require them to be shown a sonogram of their child 24 hours before the operation."

Where does the ACLU claim to be pro-choice? Sounds like you're confusing the ACLU with a political party.

"That is why they attack "Got Jesus?" gear in public school while defending another male student's right to wear a dress in public school."

Could you post a link to that "Got Jesus" case? Because the ACLU did exactly the opposite in this case: The ACLU argues that federal constitutional issues are at stake. It filed the case in October representing high school junior Kim Jacobs. She was suspended at Liberty High School in Las Vegas in September for wearing shirts bearing religious symbols.

Not only that, but the only Got Jesus/ACLU I could find has the ACLU siding with the kid.


After finding whopping mistakes in the first few of these claims I was able to look up, I decided to stop wasting my time with this today - I'll follow up on looking into them at my leisure. I don't know what the story is re. the ACLU and child pornography, which sounds like a nonsensical stance.

Feel free to expand on your claims though - especially with links to the court cases involved.

Anonymous said...

-Dan S. says

highboy: Unfortunately we have no organization that does that, save for those that fit their obvious political agenda.

The ACLU is just one big No True Scotsman! (well, the claim isn't formally equivalent, but hey . . .)

I said: "Is it the association with eeeevil liberalism?"

Is there another kind?

Several! There's eviiiiiil liberalism, and plain-jane evil liberalism - and then there's the real thing, the one whose basic tenets most Americans support, even while denying the label . . .

I'm sure you, being as intelligent as you are, meant to say "going to court to defend the civil liberties of some while trampling someone else's."

Thanks, but I'm pretty dumb. I even have this idea that all defense of someone's liberties involves the trampling of someone else's, and the best we could do is make sure it's well justified and really necessary (a judgement on which well-meaning people could, of course, differ, especially in borderline cases). I mean, just think! my freedom to walk around outside nude is being trampled!!

I understand it's hard to see it from the outside, when the situation (even some of the real cases) involves one's cherished beliefs. Try to imagine that Christians were a minority and the various school prayer, etc. cases involved prayers to Jupiter, or perhaps sacrifices to the deified Emperors . . . (I know, crazy, right?!)


while defending another male student's right to wear a dress in public school.
Ach! People have been kilt for less!

..sorry..

That is why they attack private organizations like the Boy Scouts for "discrimination" against homosexual den leaders.
Why the scare quotes? It's discrimination. I don't see why they care. That bit about 'morally straight' isn't supposed to be read that literally . . . And don't forget discriminating against atheists.

Here's the Scouting For All website. They have an interesting article from the New Republic arguing that scouting was originally a broadly welcoming consensus organization representing a fairly progressive (by the standards of the time) response to immigration, social trends, etc. - and what changed.

Anyway, as far as I understand it, the ACLU has a perfectly reasonable position here - certainly a private organization can discriminate on the basis of religion or sexual orientation, but then they don't get to have gov't funding or support.

creeper: After finding whopping mistakes in the first few of these claims I was able to look up
Nice job, creeper!
I wonder if this counts as bearing false witness? Nah, probably not.

. I don't know what the story is re. the ACLU and child pornography
I think they were defending artistic representations of child porn, which sounds a little less worse when one realizes that this could include, say, Romeo and Juliet . . . but still. . . Can't say I'm remembering it right, but y'know, I'm not even going to look it up.

Also, you seem to be under the impression that "God told us what is right and wrong and is the only authority" is somehow unproblematic.
I'm going to comment on this in radar's ACLU post - the two seem connected to me . . .

-Dan S.