March 4, 2007

Sunday 070304

Rest Day

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CrossFit Ohio


Overhead squat - video [wmv] [mov]


"The Gall to Speak Her Mind" by Anne Applebaum - Washington Post

Post thoughts to comments.

Posted by lauren at March 4, 2007 12:47 PM
Comments

Isn't it a tad disrectful to have your feet on a flag pole?

Comment #1 - Posted by: Julie at March 3, 2007 6:43 PM

I WISH!

Comment #2 - Posted by: JackM at March 3, 2007 6:51 PM

Ayaan Hirsi Ali represents – at the risk of her own life - everything that used to make me proud to be a progressive fascist-hating liberal. Where are her supporters today? They do not seem to be on the new left. Judging from several recent reviews of Ali’s books, the left seems content to criticize her as an “enlightenment fundamentalist” (the absurdity of that construction is worth meditating on), and dismiss her views as “too simple” and “offensive.” The left’s criticism of Ali reminds me of a quote by Martin Amis: “Being inoffensive, and being offended, are now the twin addictions of the culture.” Christopher Hitchens, whose work is often linked on CrossFit rest days, has written two essays on Ali for Slate.com. Here they are if anyone is interested in reading more about Ms. Ali:

http://www.slate.com/id/2141276/

http://www.slate.com/id/2142147/

Comment #3 - Posted by: Orie S at March 3, 2007 7:27 PM

I love the WaPo. Anne just glosses over the details of Van Gough's murder with this graph - "he pinned a letter threatening Hirsi Ali onto his victim's chest." The murderer was a radical jihadist who stuck a dagger through the death threat for Hirsi Ali into the young man's heart. details, people, details.
Anyway, the courage of Ali is profound and her articulate defense of women's rights in the islamic world is, unfortunately, much needed.

Comment #4 - Posted by: Schmidty at March 3, 2007 7:33 PM

thank you so much for the follow-up video on OVH squatting....took notice for sure!!!

(8 days down, about 35 more to go on my recovering shoulder dislocation

(my inner monologue speaking: remember jake, knees soft coming down, knees soft coming down,....knees soft!) sometimes you gotta laugh or you'll cry

Comment #5 - Posted by: jake squires at March 3, 2007 8:02 PM

Just want to thank you guys for all the effort you put into this website and these videos. I wouldn't want to train any other way.

Comment #6 - Posted by: chris at March 3, 2007 8:22 PM

Spot on Orie #2.

Nowadays it's the left that wants to make religion illegal and encourages the millatary to disobey it elected leader. To paraphrase an angry Walter Sobchak, "Whose the f*cking Fascists here!?".

Schmidty, I think the politically correct term for "Radical Jihadist" is "Angry Youth". Show some sensitivity.

Comment #7 - Posted by: WhiskeySean at March 3, 2007 8:22 PM

A brave woman. I am not sure why many leftists seem repulsed by her. I guess she is ready to fight back. Perhaps, do they not have the stomach yet?

Either way, she is a stud.

Comment #8 - Posted by: CCTJOEY at March 3, 2007 8:30 PM

CCT Joey from which STS do you hail? 320th here...

Comment #9 - Posted by: jamienoki at March 3, 2007 8:44 PM

Comment #6: "Nowadays it's the left that wants to make religion illegal"

How do you figure they want to make religion illegal? Are you talking about enforcing the establishment clause in the Constitution?

Comment #10 - Posted by: Chuck at March 3, 2007 8:52 PM

Jamienoki... 123rd

email me

Comment #11 - Posted by: CCTJOEY at March 3, 2007 8:58 PM

I was born & raised in Ohio...that picture is exactly why I'm never going back! Sorry mom.

Comment #12 - Posted by: josh everett at March 3, 2007 9:01 PM

Salaam (peace)

Wow, here we go again, While reading the last rest day's discussion I LITERALLY broke out in a cold sweat, lets see how this one goes.

First let me thank Coach and Mrs. Glassman for Crossfit (free workouts, free articles free videos) and most importantly the opportunity to discuss issues with people whom I would not normally get the chance to.

On: Hirsi Ali- First: let me just make it clear that we all have the right to choose our own destiny, she is not the first muslim sister to do what she has done, there are literally thousands of Hirsi Ali-s out there, I know quite a few. I was even engaged to one. I’m looking forward to read her book.

I will quote the article:

“ from tribal Somalia, through fundamentalism, and into Western liberalism” Key word there TRIBAL for those who don’t know. Alot of what is passed of as Islam is not Islam, Tribal customs,( arranged marriages, honor killings, female circumcision you name it). Who knows what Hirsi went through as a young girl growing up. There is Islam and then there’s Muslims- and unfortunately some muslims come from Planet PSYCHO. And yes we are guilty of not taking out the trash. like cctjoey said "we have made our problem his"

Secondly
“After Sept. 11, 2001, horrified by some of the things Osama bin Laden was saying, she reached for the Koran to confirm a hunch: "I hated to do it," she wrote, "because I knew that I would find bin Laden's quotations in there."

The Quran was revealed/ compiled over a period of 23 years; a lot of the commandments in the Quran have to do with specific events that took place during the time of the Prophet. Also some of the verses have been abrogated (nullified) by other verses that were revealed at a later date. And yes the Quran does talk about cutting peoples head off. But you have to ask first when was the verse revealed? Under what circumstances was it revealed?, who is it referring to,? Who is doing the cutting? Whose head is being cut? Has it been abrogated by any other verse revealed at a later date?

Ooops there I go talking about cutting peoples’ heads off, I guess I am a blood thirsty savage that wants to enslave the whole world and have all the contestants of the Miss America beauty pageant as my CONCUBINES. Conquer a new state every night right?

Coach, Thanks again.

Abdullah.

Comment #13 - Posted by: Abdullah at March 3, 2007 9:05 PM

Intersting article on Radical Youth who think it is the Government of Denmark's role to keep an empty building for them to squat in or build them another.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070303/ap_on_re_eu/denmark_clashes_11

"The eviction angered youths who have viewed the building as free public housing for years. It has also been a popular cultural center for anarchists, punk rockers and left-wing groups, where performers have included Australian musician Nick Cave and Icelandic singer Bjork."

Real winners. Europe has so much to offer on a cultural basis (roll eyes). That continent has just about done itself in with leftist policies. All that has to happen now is the Islamists to mop up.

Comment #14 - Posted by: CCTJOEY at March 3, 2007 9:06 PM

Abdullah...

Good to hear from you. I was afraid we lost you. Be patient with us as we make sense out of all this stuff. I am always interested in your take.

Comment #15 - Posted by: CCTJOEY at March 3, 2007 9:16 PM

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and #12 Abdullah are two of the voices the West so badly wants and needs to hear from. Denouncing what is wrong with the way a portion of the world's population is practicing Islam will help us all to take the fight to the Islamofasists, where it belongs, instead of trying to wage war on an entire religion. Now, if we could just hear some stabilizing, authoritative,respected voices in Irag, Afghanistan, Iran and parts of Africa, I'd sleep much better at night.

Comment #16 - Posted by: Denver Sheepdog at March 3, 2007 9:17 PM

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is definitely a strong woman. She had a choice to be the victim or to be the victor. I am glad that she chose victor. Thanks Coach for posting an insightful view.

In post #12, Abdullah brings up good questions for anyone to stop and ask themselves when getting ready to pass judgement.

Kate

Comment #17 - Posted by: jknl at March 3, 2007 10:29 PM

Not much of a rest day article that could inspire acidic debate. Still, you get comments like #6 that spouts lies about liberals and religions, so all is as it should be.

Anyway, this weekend spent some days is Kuala Lumpur. Got a bit bored seeing so many women in head scarfs thought I'd take a shot at my usual bit of debate. Did the usual fun bit: "What's with the headscarf? Does it keep your head cooler? Is it functional?" When they brought up the bit about women needing to be covered due to religious tenets, I bring out the funny stuff. "So in Islam, men are treated like children? Men have no self control, so women must take away temptation from them? Islam is a female dominated religion controlling the actions of men?" By this time, most of the ladies seem to be at a lack of an explanation in English. Sadly, my Mandarin is non-existant. The men just get irritated, but not angry as I'm playing it like a dumb tourist looking for meaningful information.

Still, I disagree with the practice of Islam like I disagree with the practice of Christianity on many points. One does not become a stronger character by removing temptation. At a certain point, wouldn't you like to say "I've been tempted with the chance to go down the wrong path and not get caught, and I chose the right path" instead of seeing a bolted door with DO NOT ENTER written across forcing onto the predetermined "correct" path of thought? Similar to the difference between fired and raw clay bowls, which can hold to to true pressure?

As for liberals being against religion, no, we're against those in power using the strength of the Federal and Local governments to enforce their own views of religion. Here's a big secret they keep forgetting to tell you: children have ALWAYS been able to pray in public US schools. It's that the teachers and principals cannot COORDINATE prayer. It's private schools that can stop your child from praying as she sees fit (in a non-disruptive manner). Liberals have protected religion from government, conservatives have sought to destroy religion by introducing Caesar into the pulpit. Hmm, keep up the good work and maybe someday you'll render only unto Caesar.

Comment #18 - Posted by: Nuke-Marine at March 3, 2007 10:33 PM

"That continent has just about done itself in with leftist policies."

For your information: Scandinavia -- pretty much the most leftist place you'll find anywhere -- is doing better than anyone else in the world, no matter how you try to cut it.

Comment #19 - Posted by: Vasemmistoperkele at March 3, 2007 10:33 PM

Abdullah #12 makes an important point about Ms. Ali mixing up Muslim tribal violence with the Islam religion.

She has a number of articles available on the AEI (w/f/s) website at: http://www.aei.org/scholars/filter.all,scholarID.117,type.1/pub_list.asp

Ms. Ali speaking at an AEI event two weeks ago (w/f/s link to MP3 audio file): http://static2.capitalreach.com/aei/media/5190.mp3

Her (w/f/s) wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayaan_Hirsi_Ali

I can only hope that she influences the AEI more than the AEI influences her. She already supports preventive strikes against Iran. AEI is supporting her followup to her first movie, called Submission II, which will be about Islam and homosexuality. Good on them.

Comment #20 - Posted by: Josh K at March 3, 2007 11:20 PM

I never, ever get drawn into the rest day debates. Today is an exception.

Nuke-Marine - I have tremendous respect for you. And I am not by any (ANY) means an apologist for any sort of aberrent behavior. But I do think that when you're visiting a foreign country or culture you have to respect the locals' choices/norms and just live with it. I think might be fair to challenge their assumptions if they were living in Cleveland, but not in Kuala Lumpur.

Tariq

Comment #21 - Posted by: TK at March 3, 2007 11:27 PM

Tarig, why respect them? Why play along with the charade?

Comment #22 - Posted by: Chuck at March 4, 2007 1:16 AM

Chuck that elitists attitude is why the entire world views the U.S. as being arrogant...Tariq is dead on with this one ..while we may not understand the reason for why other cultures have the traditions they do ...respecting that culture while you are a guest is the higher moral ground ...there is no danger in respecting and trying to understand why a culture does what it does.... alot of danger can come from showing no respect forothers because you feel you culture and way of life is superior ....I may not be an authority on this subject but i have been to over 40 countries and done 6 OEF/OIF rotations so I am @ least not talking out my @$$... cheers

Comment #23 - Posted by: jamienoki at March 4, 2007 2:26 AM

Great video ! Was looking for something which would teach safety and how to dump weights when squatting. Can I request another video for backsquats ?

Comment #24 - Posted by: Tamas at March 4, 2007 3:50 AM

Hold up, at no time did I state I was being disrespectful. I asked questions and put a child like interpretation on the answers they gave. I do the same thing with Christians when I'm talking to them.

The problem with most cultures and their beliefs is that they never learned about them as adults. They were born into it. When a time comes when they have to explain it to someone completely outside a context they're used to, they must then look deeper into their beliefs for an explanation that represents verbally what they truly feel.

Consider it akin to going to a gym, over to a person moving from the bench press to the tricep extension. Ask him what he's doing, when he gives the two word answer, ask him "why?" then push again with a tone that holds general interest. Next ask wasn't the bench press training the tricep? Keep exploring deeper as to why duplicate efforts without getting preachy. The point is not to learn about the person beliefs, it's to see if the person understands his own beliefs. Most get flustered having to go too deep into why things are the way they are.

As for respecting local customs, I respect by the point of learning customs. At no time shall I become tolerant of intolerance. Sure, the women of the culture may find burkas and scarves as not intollerant, in fact may be comforted by wearing them because that's all they've been exposed to. Similar cultural taboos in the US exist in relation to clothing, food, actions, sex, etc. All I have done though was take a local custom, and the explanation for that custom, then take a different look at it.

PS: What then was wrong with my interpretation that Muslims treat their men like children? I've seen how women act at a male strip club, so I know women can lose self control. Yet you don't see men wearing full body clothing to stop tempting the women, do you?

Comment #25 - Posted by: Nuke-Marine at March 4, 2007 4:18 AM

Great video !

Regards from Argentina

Comment #26 - Posted by: Javier at March 4, 2007 4:53 AM

Interesting article. I would like to point out that Tariq Ramadan is a very controversial figure himself. In fact, the political establishment in Europe is having a hard time finding the "right" Muslims to talk to. Since Muslims are not a homogenous, stereotypical group, we cannot expect to find a single representative that will speak for them all. Every path to integration is a personal one, in the end.

Also, the global political context has not made the integration of Muslim immigrants any easier. Much of the progress made over the last 50 years has been smashed to pieces by the recent rise of radical islamism and terrorism and the West's backlash. Rebuilding trust will not be easy.

#13 CCTJOEY

We already saw your irrelevant article on Denmark last rest day. Were you under the impression that your insightful (ahem) commentary was somehow more on-topic today?

Comment #27 - Posted by: Ewen at March 4, 2007 5:42 AM

Nukem, concur on the school prayer - love the joke "I prayed before every exam." The difference in govt v private schools, however, is you can avoid paying a private school if they wrongly restrict your behavior - by going somewhere that better suits your needs.

Abdullah, thanks for a thoughtful post. I appreciate in particular hearing that HA is not a lone voice among Muslim females.

Crossfit, thanks for giving this brave woman's voice another vehicle.

I think Joey has pointed out a great issue - much of Western Europe is done. They made a deal with the devil, and the U.S. refuses to learn from it. Much of what I’m about to write applies equally to our much loved neighbors to the north, but not all.

I continue to be amazed that folks talk about immigration and additions to socialization programs (such as Bush's medicine benefit and the renewed press for 'universal' health care) without discussing the fact that these policy issues are joined at the hip.

Socialized programs depend upon a growing worker base for financial solvency. Since we westerners have a choice, and choose not to breed all that much (the US is barely sustaining replacement rate, thanks to minority populations which exceed the anglo rate of 1.67 by enough to bring our rate to 2.1 or so), our social programs will be as unsustainable as Europe's are proving to be, and we will be forced to do what Europe does – throw in the towel on defense spending, and open the borders for anyone.

I am not anti-immigration and would in fact prefer a “controlled” open border policy, with incentives for legal immigration and an appearance of deterrence for immigration of criminals (appearance, regrettably, is all that can be reliably done). I would remove any restrictions on educated, English speaking immigrants immediately to brain drain the rest of the world to here, but not being master of time and space as yet, I will have to wait on that one. The fact that politicians and others continue to discuss the two issues - govt programs and immigration policy - as if they were separate issues makes me wonder if they think we are stupid or they are disingenuous (of course, both may be true).

If sustainability is an issue – for example, water availability in the west – one has to be concerned about population growth. Also, if you are one who believes the four assertions about global warming (it is happening, caused by humans, will cause injury to humans, and is reversible by human behavior without causing greater harm than good), you should be concerned about population growth. If the US would like to have the choice not to have a growing population, we cannot continue to have socialized programs which function by taking a little of the life energy from a lot of workers to pay for the ‘benefits’ of all (while I admire the originally stated intent of social programs, I think there’s ample evidence that outputs of socialized programs are a thing done TO people not FOR people, but that’s another discussion). “Socialized math” only works with a growing population base, because government transfers are zero sum transactions. Health care and social security in particular are largely consumed by the elderly – 25% or so of all health care costs are consumed in the last year of life, “end of life care.” ‘Wealth transfer programs’ (‘life energy’ transfer programs) only work when the young outnumber the old by a wide margin, otherwise, there’s no hiding the fact that these programs are in fact politicians bribing the public by taking money from those who are productive, and passing that money/wealth/life energy to the unproductive, so the unproductive can sustain life without being productive (in some cases, maybe most cases, despite not having taken the effort to store up wealth for later years, and/or without having to depend upon the productive members of their own families, which was the only similar option in pre-industrial days). Socialized programs amount to a politician saying you can have something for nothing, and we had no reason not to believe them in 40s, but we would know better now if we were paying attention.

Three considerations, totally apart from the immigration/socialization discussion – if you pay more to people to be unproductive, you get more unproductive people. Two, the implication of a smaller and smaller population of the productive, most of whom are young, being forced by the government to pay more and more of their life energy for the unproductive, most of whom are old (as is seen now in Europe), is that the whole process will begin to appear to be a fight between the young and the old for resources (it will seem that way because it is that way). One might think that would cause more than a little generational friction. If you look, you can see the impact of that struggle in European (particularly continental) culture today, and it is starting to get ugly. Third, I don’t assert, nor could I prove, that proposals for sustaining or increasing socialistic programs are a means by which some would like to wreck the US’s uncontestable military dominance, but socialization programs are a proven strategy to economically handcuff a nation such that it cannot afford to defend itself. Examples abound.

Please note that I do not intentionally disparage all of the unproductive as blameful for their condition, or lesser humans for their lack of productivity – clearly, the world is not fair and produces many humans who can not be productive due to accidents of birth or life. The term unproductive is intended as descriptive and factual but not pejorative term.

It appears there is a fundamental gap of understanding which drives the willingness of some to put their trust in a government solutions to economic problems. The best I can tell, that gap is the mis-understanding of where wealth comes from. Governments do not create wealth, but at their best, they are essential for creation/defense of conditions under which men/woman may create wealth through busy-ness (business?). Men/women create wealth by investment in capital goods, which may be combined with innovation (or result from innovation) to produce an output of greater value than the sum of the inputs of the process. Value creation can be as simple as making/selling pencils, or as complex as the post 9/11 US economy growing by an amount larger than the entire value of the (2006) economy of China.

One example – social security is supposed to take money from many, hold the money in a trust, and then redistribute the money to the original “contributor” (slave?). In the time that the money is not available for use by the one who produced it, the money does not ‘work,’ it is not invested. By contrast, the same person who might invest only half of what social security requires (15%, ask a small business owner), would have the option of using the money to invest in the purchase of capital, such that the money is utilized by others to create wealth/value where none exists. 7% of the free man’s income would nearly always produce more wealth for the retiree than the govts 15%, and in the mean time would contribute to overall economic growth. The investor gains the money, plus a ‘return on investment,’ AND whomever utilized the money in the investment process also created a product of greater use to a customer than the sum of the inputs to create the product, and jobs, etc. Even when the ‘insurance’ idea is referenced (“social security is just an insurance policy”), the government approach is demonstrably poor. The insurance premium you pay for auto insurance is immediately ‘invested’ by the insurance company – providing a means to increase wealth for the insurance company owners/investors, as investments do – and thus when the premium is paid back out as a claim, it has in the mean time created wealth, contributing to the growth of the overall economy. If the government were to provide the same insurance product, they would have to charge much higher premiums for the same amount of coverage because government cannot invest, cannot put capital work to create value/wealth. Government ‘insurance’ programs are zero sum, at best. Real insurance programs are an incredible economic boon.

Failing to understand what creates wealth, many won’t understand why government wealth transfer programs do not contribute to wealth and in many ways stifle additional wealth creation.

Failing to understand the source of our wealth, like the fabled farmer, we will kill the golden goose thinking to get what is inside.

I fear it is not an accident that public schools and universities don’t require fundamental economic literacy.

How does this tie into today’s article? By the fact that Europe has no choice but to continue to import labor, much of which must come from Muslim nations such as Somalia, because these are the nations which produce unskilled labor (for example, Somali birthrate exceeds 6/female). Even if they decided they’d like to reduce immigration to a rate such that immigrants would be more likely to assimilate into European culture, these nations don’t have that choice. Mark Steyn’s articles and books are pointing this out, and what the implications are, but I can’t tell whether anyone’s listening. No one on the main political stage is.

Should the US continue to ride economic illiteracy, the fallacy of which has been demonstrated by existing experiments in socialism for our edification, we will follow Europe into financial helplessness and the helplessly fertile will inherit the earth.

Comment #28 - Posted by: apolloswabbie at March 4, 2007 6:10 AM

#13, Abdullah,

"The Quran was revealed/ compiled over a period of 23 years; a lot of the commandments in the Quran have to do with specific events that took place during the time of the Prophet. Also some of the verses have been abrogated (nullified) by other verses that were revealed at a later date. And yes the Quran does talk about cutting peoples head off. But you have to ask first when was the verse revealed? Under what circumstances was it revealed?, who is it referring to,? Who is doing the cutting? Whose head is being cut? Has it been abrogated by any other verse revealed at a later date?"

I think your point is an excellent one, but many non Muslims (and many Muslims) do not have access to reasoned interpretations of these selected quotes. When we hear that something is written in the Quran and quoted by extremists, we simply accept that the way it is.

I wonder why someone doesn't maintain a website listing these quotes, following them with a way to put them in context, and thereby rebut the notion that these quotes are commandments to be lived by to this day.

We often ask why moderate Muslims do not speak out. I think maintaining a website of scholarly interpretations of these selected quotes would be a great start. Perhaps this information is already out there in an easily accessable format. If so, do you know where?


Comment #29 - Posted by: Hari at March 4, 2007 6:22 AM

NukeMarine #18 says: "Not much of a rest day article that could inspire acidic debate. Still, you get comments like #6 that spouts lies about liberals and religions, so all is as it should be."

Yet 4 days ago Chef wrote: "My call is that religion as practiced needs to be outlawed en mass. Its the most dangerous and foolhardy weapon every contrived by man. We prevent people driving drunk? Good call. "

So in two rest days Liberals have suggested I am a liar citing them, and a criminal for going to church.

Sweet.

Chuck #10 Asks: "How do you figure they want to make religion illegal? Are you talking about enforcing the establishment clause in the Constitution"

That establishment Clause was designed to protect Religion from the state, not the state from religion. So, if your question made sense, it would read

"How do you figure they want to make religion illegal? Are you talking about misappropriating the establishment clause in the Constitution"

To which I would enthusiasticaly reply, YES!

Comment #30 - Posted by: WhiskeySean at March 4, 2007 6:26 AM

As far as I'm concerned, all religion is lunacy.

It pains me to imagine the incredible scientific and medical advances that we could have made as a species by now, if we only didn't waist so much time and money obsessing over imaginary beings that may or may not control the workings of the world... I'm pretty convinced that religion is the chief architect of our eventual demise as a species.

If I had my way, there would be no religion, just reason and science. However, since most people seem to be incapable of reasoning for themselves, tolerance of religions is a necessity in a Democratic society.

So, Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote a book or two exposing the barbaric insanity of Islam... Kudos to her. Honestly, I'm all for it. The problem with her particular path, though, is that she has sought political influence over a religion... Good luck.

1. It's just not going to go anywhere... ultimately, she will just be used by hack organizations like AEI to further their agenda of the month... AEI doesn't truly give a crap about the advancement of reason over religion.

2. If you're going to seek political influence over 1 religion and not all, you're just looking to pick a massive fight. Nothing productive will come of it. The same goes for religion picking fights against governments... It's either all or nothing in my opinion.

Zach


Comment #31 - Posted by: Zach Davis at March 4, 2007 6:29 AM

#16/Denver - one moderate who's voice has been influential in Iraq is Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. During the chaos following the Askari Mosque he directed that no Shia would take revenge on a Sunni, "even if they kill half of the Shia." I light of the way that the Shia in general have been brutalized by the Sunni since ~656, this is a noteworthy statement. He was also the force behind the group of unarmed Shia that marched to defuse what looked to be a disastrous confrontation between the US and Moqtada al Sadr (disastrous in that it would have required that the US destroy a significant mosque - we'd have killed Sadr, but the victory would have caused an incredible amount of bad will); the unarmed group simply broke up the miscreants and sent them home, saving the mosque and combatant lives.

In short, he's a living example of moderate Shia Muslim leadership. For all I know, he still believes in some of the repressive aspects of Shia Islam, I can't speak to his entire theology, of course, but he strikes me as a moderate Muslim who walks his talk.

Unfortunately, many shia did what I would have done - fought back against the aggressors. And as per the usual, many non-combatant non-aggressors were ruthlessly murdered by both sides, because the US failed to establish security. Perhaps we can rectify that now.

Finally worked a catch up CFT into the rhythm today, and came out +40 since my Jan benchmark. Partner was +65. I did the best squat (not the heaviest) I've ever done, based on what I learned from Xfit vids and starting strength; it was a sublime moment. Camp Cupcake's winter weather continues to be a delight.

Comment #32 - Posted by: apolloswabbie at March 4, 2007 7:05 AM

CCTJoey-
Remember a couple of weeks ago the protest in Washington DC that was very disturbing? I was reading an article today in a magazine that discussed the counter attack. There was a website listed and I went to it and thought you would like to see the efforts being made against the protestors.

http://www.gatheringofeagles.org

Scroll down until you see "Answering the call of our fallen."

Kate

Comment #33 - Posted by: jknl at March 4, 2007 7:06 AM

Zach,

Always a potent post.

Understanding that your opinion of religion is somewhat negative (!), do I also understand you to say that you would not use the power of govt to restrict another citizen's practice of religion, so long as the govt also defended your right not to practice?

A thought - I'm trying to think of any culture that brought itself to anything like a standard for 'virtuous behavior' without a religious driver for cultural norms - anyone have an example?

Aswab

Comment #34 - Posted by: apolloswabbie at March 4, 2007 7:23 AM

#30, Zach,

"If I had my way, there would be no religion, just reason and science. However, since most people seem to be incapable of reasoning for themselves, tolerance of religions is a necessity in a Democratic society."


How do you feel about non democratic societies that are unwilling to tolerate the non orthodox beliefs of either their own people or those of other nations? Any thoughts on how we should reason with those people?

Comment #35 - Posted by: Hari at March 4, 2007 7:30 AM

OK - interesting debate, but I will ask the weekly question: what is the name of the song in the OHS video?

Comment #36 - Posted by: Sam_M at March 4, 2007 7:32 AM

Kate, thanks for the site.

Ewen, glad to hear you are a fan of my posts. Since I posted that on the tail end of the rest day last time I thought it was relevant this time even more so based on WhiskeySean's #7 post. the connection is the "Radical Youth" in Europe and the mindset that refuses to label it what it actually is.

In France the Radical youth that burned the streets were Muslim Immigrants and 2ng genereation Immigrants.

In Denmark the "Radical Youth" are leftists and anarchists.

Either way they are slacker/thugs who are unproductive at best and destructive at worst.

So I feel it is relevent to post the article so the similarities can be noted.

What similarities...only a mindset...an accidental one I hope.

Here is a political cartoon that I think is relevant.

http://www.townhall.com/funnies/cartoonist/EricAllie/2007/02/31d219ac-09ff-41a0-83f8-b21de5aee095

Keep checking in Ewen:)

Comment #37 - Posted by: CCTJOEY at March 4, 2007 7:40 AM

#28 Aswab-

Thank you for all your well thought-out posts, even if I don't always agree with them. You mention healthcare for the elderly and end-of-life care, and I think its interesting that you cite Europe as a system that doesn't work, because I think that they are more realistic in terms of health care than America is. In countries such as Sweden that have single-payer healthcare, there are algorhythms that prevent resources from being wasted on those who do not truly need it. For example, you cannot have a brain-dead family member kept on a ventilator for months and at the expense of $100K. If there is no chance of recovery, they simply pull the plug and move on. In America, however, you see this kind of futile action all the time, 'heroic action' to prolong the life of the terminally ill as long as possible. This is why 'end of life' care ends up being so expensive. The cost then is either covered by the government, a private ensurer, or the hospital eats the bill. In any case, the cost of this is passed on to the rest of health care consumers.. One of the reason why all health care in the U.S. is so ridiculously expensive. Single-payer healthcare certainly has its share of problems, but in this area the efficiency of it is far superior to our own system.

-Tavis

Comment #38 - Posted by: Tavis at March 4, 2007 7:57 AM

Comment #30, Whiskey Sean,

I did not call you a liar, I said you posted lies (yes, it amounts to the same thing). Your (deleted?) post said the left wants to outlaw religion. That's a lie, there are those on the left AND right that want to outlaw some religions if not all but their own. I consider it lying to label the group based on the actions of the few (unless we're talking a representative few). You want me to base the conservative's viewpoints off what I hear from Ann Coulter?

As far as the establishment clause, it applies to federal and local (thanks to the 15th amendment). You can bumper sticker quote it all you want ("freedom of religion, not freedom from religion" or "protect religion from government, not the other way around"), it still says what it says. Any law that gets passed stating we must pray toward Mecca 5 times a day will be struck down, no matter how many times you cry about the Constitution not saying "a Wall of Seperation". If you bother to read, it doesn't say "Freedom of Religion" either, but you can darn well imply it.

As far as religion being negative, completely disagree. It's been the exploitation of any type of power that's been negative. That can be said of governments, corporations and religions. I've been of the opinion anyway that everyone has their own beliefs. Religion is merely a conformity of beliefs. Church is where that conformity takes place. Granted, this loose definition allows for more "secular" type religions. Not sure where I went with this, but I hope it made a bit of sense.

Comment #39 - Posted by: Nuke-Marine at March 4, 2007 8:06 AM

Aswab,

Nope, I don't think that governement can effectively regulate religion out of existence.... Well, actually it probably could, but the price would be pretty high.

As I type this, I realize what an interesting question it actually is... There are plenty of instances, historically, of governments altering the thought patterns of their citizens through essentially attrition... After all, we are talking about a thought pattern.

Nuke-Marine,

Religion goes waaaaaayyy beyond an exploitable power. In my opinion, it is a flaw in the human psyche; an inability to face reality. It not only provides some people with power over others. It essentially makes us dysfunctional as a species... incapable of productively interacting with the world we live in, because we can't see it for what it is.

Yikes... I'm rambling... had a sick baby all night, so I haven't had much sleep.

Zach

Comment #40 - Posted by: zach davis at March 4, 2007 8:22 AM

comment #30: "That establishment Clause was designed to protect Religion from the state, not the state from religion. So, if your question made sense, it would read "

It has nothing to do with protecting religion. It protects a citizens right to chose whether or not to participate in religion. The Establishment Clause was designed to prevent the Federal Government from passing any law regarding the establisment of religion. A law regarding the establishement would be any law discouraging or encouraging participation in a religion.

Until the 14th Amendment was passed, States could and did pass laws regulating religion. Several states had state relgions. Several had laws prohibiting catholics from holding political office.

After the 14th Amendment was passed following the Civil War, the States were required by the Constitution to provide their citizens with due process of law.

During the 20th Century, the Supreme Court held that due process required the States to follow the limitations placed on the Federal Government by the establishement clause, ie: the Establishment Clause was incorporated into the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

Freedom of religion is considered a fundmanental right. That means that any law which impacts a person's right to chose whether or not to participate in a religion has to pass strict scrutiny. That requires the law to pursue a compelling state interest by the least restrictive means. When laws impact religion fail that test, they are overturned by the Suprememe Court.


Comment #41 - Posted by: Chuck at March 4, 2007 8:24 AM

The European experience suggests that radicalism in all its forms is dangerous. Being a radical myself, I happen to disagree with that. But when the Enlightment has been at the root of 2 catastrophic wars and several catastrophic genocides, you can see how an Enlightment enthusiast would make them nervous.

- Josh

Comment #42 - Posted by: Wild Pegasus at March 4, 2007 8:27 AM

"In my opinion, it is a flaw in the human psyche; an inability to face reality."

Zach,

It's my understanding that the best and most learned physicists in the world cannot agree on what "reality" is. Do you know something that Von Neumann and Einstein didn't?

I dealt with this in other respects on the last Rest Day. I haven't gone back to see how that one ended, but I'm betting you had no response to what I thought was a concise, clear, logically tight, and factual argument.

I do now know why as a presumed Lakoff acolyte you refuse to answer questions clearly. Self evidently, I don't expect a clear answer to the question above. You don't have one. You can't without being dishonest or stupid.

Apolloswabbie,

I thought that an excellent summary of the issue. I would hazard a guess 99% of the voting population couldn't put that with near that clarity. The only people who really understand this stuff are business owners and stockbrokers/business analysts. People with skin in the game, short term.

Comment #43 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 4, 2007 9:06 AM

39/190

3.5 mns jump rope (dang weather!)
20 dumb snatches-25lbs (My first time doing these. Definitely awkward form)
20 dumb squat cleans (10-25, 5-45, 5-40)
100 sit-ups (50-30-20)
20 DS-25lb
20 DSC (40lbs, sets of 10 and 10)
5mns jump rope
30 80% Body weight Bench Press (missed two days. Trying to make-up the missed workouts a little at a time.

40mns

Comment #44 - Posted by: Fred at March 4, 2007 9:24 AM

Tavis - you bring in an important element. Do you want government algorhythms to efficiently allocate the health care that you get? I think that's important to consider, because that's the only significant control govt has over costs. An example, mid 90s, the UK had as many MRI machines as the state of Rhode Island. Very efficient rationing of care, but quality? Effectiveness? Reflective of the freedom you and I want? Remember the guy that had to sue the Canadian govt for the right to pay for his own knee replacement surgery, because he didn't want to wait two years for the govt to pay for it for him? He won - it took two years to win, but he 'won.'

I would also point out that I do not want govt algorhythms directing the end of life of citizens. I'm not huge on forcing all of us to pay for it either - but that's a degree of power we should never willingly cede to govt. The situation you describe also points out the conflict inherent in wealth transfer programs - govt picks the winners and losers, and in the process becomes the means of combat over resources, which I mentioned earlier, is becoming a generational conflict in Europe.

Also, while I would like to, I did not compare the European system to our present system; that's another discussion (hopefully, one we can have here). I don't like our present system either. But obviously I am in vehement opposition to a government imposed solution to the current govt imposed problem on health care - to wit, lack of market forces in health care leading to excessive costs.

Not to get too far afield from my main point for today - choosing socialized programs means you have to grow the population by birth rate or immigration - "The Crisis of Abundance" is a first rate, and short book, for understanding how market forces would allow us to self-ration vice submitting to 'shortages for all' as is done it the single payer system.

In appreciation for a thoughtful response, Paul

PS - there's a little more on health care and liberty here:
http://apolloswabbie.blogspot.com/

Comment #45 - Posted by: apolloswabbie at March 4, 2007 9:26 AM

Just for fun:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence [sic], promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

and

"Congress shall make no respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of people PEACEABLY [my emphasis] to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances."

For extra fun, please derive the right to abortion from that Amendment, and the following:

3rd: "No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."

4th: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

5th: "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life and limb, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."

9th: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

14th: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. . .The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. [I skipped Sections 2-4 as not relevant]"

In my view, intellectual contortions that would baffle the most accomplished yogi are necessary for this task. Yes, I know the history.

Regardless of our views on this--and I'm Pro-choice, more for pragmatic than theoretical reasons--we all have to view all efforts to enact law outside of the legislative process as inherently inimical to the specific intent of our Founding Fathers, and the spirit with which they approached the creation of our Republic.

Thus, in my view, atheists should be fully as outraged about this case as Christians and other people of faith.

I'm fully prepared to posit that Jefferson, for example, may as well have been an atheist, but I'm also prepared to argue he would have opposed tooth and nail the TACTICS of the Secular-Progressive movement, if not in all cases the underlying intent.

Comment #46 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 4, 2007 9:53 AM

Barry,

What the hell is it exactly that bugs you so much about atheism?

Comment #47 - Posted by: Scott at March 4, 2007 10:08 AM

Age 34
BW 147#

3x
Row 500 meters
Bench Press 150# x30

25:57

Comment #48 - Posted by: Shawn B. at March 4, 2007 10:26 AM

#45, Barry,

". . . [W]e all have to view all efforts to enact law outside of the legislative process as inherently inimical to the specific intent of our Founding Fathers, and the spirit with which they approached the creation of our Republic."

Do you believe that Marbury versus Madison (allowing the Court to strike down laws it deems unconstitutional, despite their having been created through the legislative process) was wrongly decided?

Do you believe that Miranda versus Arizona (creating the Miranda "rights" and the "remedy" of excluding evidence gathered in violation of these rights) was wrongly decide?

If your answer to either of these is no, what evidence do you find in the Constitution to support either of these decisions?

Comment #49 - Posted by: Hari at March 4, 2007 10:37 AM

I have a question unrelated to the subject of this rest day...
I'm trying to get my father into shape. The only form of exercise he's had in the past 20 years is doubles tennis a couple days a week at the most and a little walking. The tennis is more of a social thing than exercise since they drink beer b/t sets. He has a ruptured disk in his upper back/lower neck and a "torn" rotator cuff in his shoulder. I don't think it's a full tear since he didn't need surgery. Also, he has terrible flexibility and his legs get really tight when he jogs (I talked him into jogging 100 meters for every 500 he walks). I've had him doing some of the basic crossfit moves but he says he'd be more comfortable doing the machines.
Do y'all have any ideas for an easy starting program for him. And also, as much as I hate the machines, should I get him to do the machines (since some exercise is better than none)?

By the way, I have looked at the CF Beginners Program and had him doing some of that.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Comment #50 - Posted by: Tstone at March 4, 2007 10:44 AM

Tstone, That's a sacred mission, I wish you well.

Anything is better than nothing and strength training is a critical part of older persons' health which is frequently over looked. Interestingly, strength will also affect his mobility - weak muscles tend to react more rapidly to extension towards their habitual limits, limiting normal range of motion in some cases.

I wish I had advice other than: reinforce what ever he's willing to do; and build off of that. Show him the video of the seasoned citizen doing crossfit - perhaps he'll be willing to compete with her!

Paul

Comment #51 - Posted by: apolloswabbie at March 4, 2007 11:06 AM

Tstone-
My dad is in his 80's, and I try and get him to do some proprioceptive work on a balance board (while holding on to him, of course). It's not a major part of the regimen, but studies have shown that this type of work has beneficial side-effects...just a thought...

Comment #52 - Posted by: IanTelAviv at March 4, 2007 11:25 AM

Barry,

For my part, I think R v W is bad law. I don't think you can find what they said is a constitutionally protected right in what's written. On the other hand, I cannot accept that the state gets to regulate that sort of values based choice.

On the face of it, the legal issue is simple - if the not-born baby is legally defined as a life, then it should receive all the constitutional protections you or I do. Obviously, that will never be a simple issue to decide.

My only hope for resolution is that sometime in the future, it will be made so easy to prevent unwanted pregnancy, that it will cease to be an issue for but the mentally/emotionally impaired and/or physically victimized.

However, back to demographics again, red staters are reproducing fastest in the US - to what political persuation will they adhere?

I have to dig into the Federalist Papers, soon.

Paul

Comment #53 - Posted by: apolloswabbie at March 4, 2007 11:42 AM

Added thought - I think there's some possibility that the next generation of women may get to a point of saying "holy smokes, look what we did" and demand that their 'right' be removed. Whether this would be for good or ill, I don't know, but it seems possible.

Always interesting to see what hits the board between PM (for me) and AM, out here.

Aswab

Comment #54 - Posted by: apolloswabbie at March 4, 2007 11:50 AM

#53, Apolloswabbie,

"However, back to demographics again, red staters are reproducing fastest in the US - to what political persuation will they adhere?"


FOr an argument that "The right to abortion has diminished the number of Democratic voters." See:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110006913

Comment #55 - Posted by: Hari at March 4, 2007 11:58 AM

Hari,

I haven't studied either of those decisions, so I can't comment. I HAVE studied Roe v. Wade, and that's why I'm commenting.

Rough opinion, though. The Supreme Court, within the context of the checks and balances system, was intended primarily to curb excesses on the part of the Legislative Branch. It was not intended to create "good" laws, but to strike down bad ones. It has a negative, and not a positive function, by design. In order to perform this function, logically it must have the power to overturn laws.

Miranda, given the timeframe and who was sitting on the bench when that decision came down, I have a strong feeling it was judicial activism, but I would have to research it.

Scott,

I don't have any issues at all with atheists, per se. I think they have the right to believe what they believe, and I have the right to believe what I believe. As long as they leave me alone, we're all happy citizens of our great Republic.

The issue I see is that a very vocal subset of them feels it necessary to use religion to attack the very foundations of our Republic, and to attack traditional values, like patriotism, honor, and dignity, with the ostensible purpose of increasing morality generally, through increasing the virtue of Tolerance that is apparently only absent due to improper schooling, such as going to church.

Yet the arguments they advance in the moral sphere are sophomoric in the extreme, and the arguments they want to use to support their position in the public sphere are generally stupid. We are not at war with Islam because George Bush is a Christian. We are neither at war with "Islam", nor does Bush need to be a Christian to make the obvious point that there are people out there who want to kill Americans.

This argument can only be understood as either a red herring, or prima facie evidence of an inability to process information and draw reasonable conclusions, which is ironic, since Reason is invariably the faculty with which they want to associate themselves.

What does one do with someone who cites Reason in support of an irrational position, and does so dogmatically? If you're me, you start pointing this out.

Comment #56 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 4, 2007 12:28 PM

On a fitness note, does anyone have any tips for improving pull-ups? I can get one set at 20+, then it drops to 15 or so and it's just down hill from there. Any advice? Thanks!

Comment #57 - Posted by: S. Baer at March 4, 2007 12:45 PM

#56, Barry,

"The Supreme Court, within the context of the checks and balances system, was intended primarily to curb excesses on the part of the Legislative Branch. It was not intended to create "good" laws, but to strike down bad ones."

I'd be surprised if you can find anything in the Constitution to suggest that the Supreme Court was created to curb excesses on the part of the Legislative branch. All three branches are sworn to uphold the Constitution. The Supreme Court in Marbury declared that it should have the final say, and the other two branches have accepted that position ever since.

Comment #58 - Posted by: Hari at March 4, 2007 12:52 PM

I asked this a couple days ago and didnt get much of a response - does anyone use creatine supplements while crossfitting? whats CF's position on creatine?

Comment #59 - Posted by: mikey at March 4, 2007 1:55 PM

To call Islam violent or inherently demeaning toward women is a gross simplification of the religion. Obviously, there are some quotes in any religious text that can be manipulated to make the religion sound violent and repulsive. To any Christians out there, look at these:

"... Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death." -- Exodus 31:15

"Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him." --Leviticus 24:16

How about sexism in Christianity? I think I could conjure up a passage about that.

"Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is digraceful for a woman to speak in the church." 1 Cor. 14

Islam encourages its followers to kill? If I read things out of context, so does Christianity.

"Anyone who is captured, will be run through with a sword. Their children will be dashed to death right before their eyes." -- Isaiah 13

And oh, wait, did I pull that out of the old testament? Well how about straight from the mouth of Jesus?

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it." (Matthew 10:34-39 NASB)

Obviously, I find such mis-quoting absurd and intellectually, lazy. If anyone thinks that Islam is so violent, please look at Christianity and how easy it would be to misquote it. Open the book of Leviticus to see how many things a good Jew or Christian should kill their neighbor for.

I personally know plenty of Muslims and Christians, and I don't think either Muslims or Christians are especially violent or hateful.

Think of all those Muslims who teach at the Defense Language Institute. Do they all teach our Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines how to speak Arabic and Farsi because they want to destroy America.

There are fringe groups in any society. For proof of that, look at the Movie Jesus Camp

Comment #60 - Posted by: LucienNicholson at March 4, 2007 1:55 PM

"The judicial Power of the United State, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. . .The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority. . ." Constitution.

"The complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited constitution. By a limited constitution, I understand one which contains certain specified exceptions to the legislative authority; such, for instance, as that it shall pass no bills of attainder, no ex post facto laws, and the like. Limitations of this kind can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of the courts of justice; whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing." Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Paper #6.

Cited here: http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?issueID=33&articleID=417

Comment #61 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 4, 2007 2:05 PM

Mikey,

The best bet for that sort of question is the Message Boards. My guess is some people use it, some don't. I don't think it makes a huge difference either way, especially if you follow the Zone diet.

Comment #62 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 4, 2007 2:06 PM

Barry #56 "What does one do with someone who cites Reason in support of an irrational position, and does so dogmatically? If you're me, you start pointing this out."


As an atheist I find this last statement of yours extremely hypocritical. That is exactly what your doing by trying to argue for christianity.
You use some fancy words to enhance your arguments but they are still very "sophomoric"

Comment #63 - Posted by: NickC at March 4, 2007 2:06 PM

The three branches of government were not created equal. If anything the courts were not meant to hold so much power since the judges are appointed for life. I don't think that a bunch of Lawyers should hold so much power...especially when they are not elected.

Comment #64 - Posted by: CCTJOEY at March 4, 2007 2:07 PM

Nuke says :I" did not call you a liar, I said you posted lies (yes, it amounts to the same thing). "

I struggle to find your point.

Nuke Says: "Your (deleted?) post said the left wants to outlaw religion. That's a lie, there are those on the left AND right that want to outlaw some religions if not all but their own."

Do the second half of your sentences always contradict the first? If both sides want to outlaw religion, as you say, then my statement was one sided, but not a lie. Which you called it not one breath beforehand. I quibble, but then again, I am not the one calling others liars, criminals, and lunatics.


Nuke Says: "I consider it lying to label the group based on the actions of the few (unless we're talking a representative few)."

Then you should buy a dictionary.

Nuke Says : "You want me to base the conservative's viewpoints off what I hear from Ann Coulter?"

Yes. Not one of my first choices, but I don't shriek in horror at the thought.

The rest of you argument was similarily cast by Chuck (#41) who said: "It protects a citizens right to chose whether or not to participate in religion. The Establishment Clause was designed to prevent the Federal Government from passing any law regarding the establisment of religion. A law regarding the establishement would be any law discouraging or encouraging participation in a religion."

Which is so splendidly tautological I have no choice is point out that the constitution itself is unconstitutional, when assessed with such enlightened and precise logic.

Bumper stickers indeed.

Comment #65 - Posted by: WhiskeySean at March 4, 2007 2:21 PM

NickC,

I'm not a Christian, nor am I arguing for it. Find a post anywhere in the last year where I've argued for Christianity.

I assume that takes care of your objection?

I will ask, though, in what respect is atheism more rational than belief in Divinity? You do realize, don't you, that Aristotelian systems of argumentation and logic were resurrected by Catholics to develop unassailable arguments for use against heretics, and that that intellectual tradition represented the framework from which the Enlightenment grew?

Reason is a tool for getting from point A to point B. However, it tells you little or nothing about point A. If one starts from the premise that only what is visible is real, developing atheism is quite simple. Any moron can do it.

However, what if I choose to start from the premise that the thought of God itself, being perfect, cannot possibly have originated in a human mind without an external referent?

You don't agree with that? Fine, but it's perfectly rational, for people that so view it.

Your basic problem--and this is common problem among dogmatic atheists--is that you consider your position as so obviously right, that any other position, BY DEFINITION is wrong, and irrational.

Yet Christians, Muslims, and Jews think the same way. How are you any different? Oh yes, because YOU are right. How silly of me not to understand the profound and obvious difference between your position and that of Jerry Falwell, who--fool that he is--thinks he's right with as much energy as you do.

He's intolerant because he's wrong, and you're tolerant--and different--by merit of the fact that you are right.

If you don't see a problem here, I'm going to have to ask that your membership card in the Rationalist Club be revoked.

Comment #66 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 4, 2007 2:30 PM

Barry, I am very tolerant. I merely feel that assuming that because a few people got together and wrote a book 2000 years ago does not necessarily mean that the world is as they said it was. Remember at that time people still believed the world was flat, people were being burned at the stake for having a third nipple, c'mon are we really going to take their word seriously nowadays. There is a possibility of a GOD, but you have to prove it for me to believe it. Until then, I am not going to trust whole-heartedly some book that was written hundreds of years ago, which by the way has been revised multiple times. Perhaps I'm just stubborn.

"Yet Christians, Muslims, and Jews think the same way. How are you any different? Oh yes, because YOU are right. How silly of me not to understand the profound and obvious difference between your position and that of Jerry Falwell, who--fool that he is--thinks he's right with as much energy as you do."

My position is that I am different than them because I don't believe in a deity created by witch doctors and cultists that was written years ago, I find that an extremely lazy way of thinking.
"Well I can't explain it, so I guess god created it." Is this the kind of modern day advancements we should expect in cures for cancer and aids too.

Comment #67 - Posted by: Nickc at March 4, 2007 2:55 PM

#60, Barry,

I do not see how these citations support your proposition (#56) that:

"The Supreme Court, within the context of the checks and balances system, was intended primarily to curb excesses on the part of the Legislative Branch."

I find nothing in the Constitution to support the proposition that the Supreme Court has the authority to render an act of Congress null and void, yet it does, and the other branches accept this.

My point is that while I agree with your position (#46) that nothing in the Constitution guarantees a right to abortion, much of what we accept as legitimate (e.g., the Supreme Court striking down laws it finds to be unconstitutional, creating Miranda Warnings, ordering Nixon to turn over the tapes) is also not in the Constitution.

So where does that leave us?

Comment #68 - Posted by: Hari at March 4, 2007 3:29 PM

NickC why waste so much energy debating the existence of God? You're not according to what you stated before an atheist so why jump onto that at every opportunity? I submit that thou doth protest to much. If the knowing means you would have to change your behavior then not believing is easier right? I would agree though, that you shouldn't believe in something created by witch doctors and cultists, unless of course you're a witch doctor and a cultist. And yes I'm serving as an agent provocoteur.

Comment #69 - Posted by: Bob Taylor at March 4, 2007 3:47 PM

S. Baer, do a search for "grease the groove." There's also quite a bit on this if you look in the message board. Good luck!

Comment #70 - Posted by: treelizard at March 4, 2007 4:09 PM

Nickc, Umm, it's not quite that "a few people got together and wrote a book 2000 years ago". You know that right? There is a bit more to the story.


Re: Roe v. Wade - It should be hard for most people to stomach the sad fact that some 45 MILLION pregnancies have been terminated since the 70's. Disclosure - I am pro Life (from the moment of conception, et al). fortunately for folks that think like me, more people seem to be waking up to the problems with "choice". Perhaps another Wilberforce will come along.

Population control thinking as one of the primary drivers of the abortion biz. It is a big (and global) biz btw. Methinks mankind has the knowledge to deal with water use, food production, resource efficiency, etc. to handle a few more folks than we have now but that is another big and lengthy topic.

Comment #71 - Posted by: Schmidty at March 4, 2007 4:14 PM

NickC,

"My position is that I am different than them because I don't believe in a deity created by witch doctors and cultists that was written years ago, I find that an extremely lazy way of thinking."

'Nuff said. Card revoked.

Hari,

The ruling you are referencing was in 1803, when--I guess it must have been Jefferson was President, if my math is right--so the Chief Justice would have been Marshall or John Jay. Either way, that ruling happened only about 10 years into the existence of our nation, when precedents and procedures of all sorts were still being sorted out, by the very people who put the whole thing together.

If you read the quote from Hamilton, and the link more generally, the goal was to avoid a strictly Parliamentarian system of the British variety, which provided for redress of constitutionally offensive legislation solely through electing new people. As he commented, that was good, but more was needed, given Madison and Hamilton's view of the documented history of what might be termed "vulgar populism". They wanted a firmer hand at the reins, at the end of the day, than groups of people elected with agendas.

Ultimately, much of our national history revolves around compromises of various sorts, often reached after what used to be very searching and principled deliberation. In this particular case, the Court basically said that their construction of their job was to understand the Constitution, the intentions of the Founders, and rule in some cases that some laws failed, in effect, to pass the smell test, based on what the law said. To serve as a Court of last resort, where the laws just weren't thought through properly.

However, although prudence admits the desirability of this function in moderation, the question logically arises as to what the extent of that power should be. Non-activist judges simply compare a law to what the Constitution says, and if it fails to clearly violate any provisions of the constitution, then it's OK. And far better to do nothing than the wrong thing.

Activist judges, on the other hand, view it as their duty to use their power to generate desirable social change. This is an explicit agenda. Thus, in ruling a law banning abortion unconstitutional, the explicit goal was to generate social change that had not occurred--would not have occurred--through the ballot box, thus making this "law" something which would not have passed actual democratic legislative muster in most states. And it did so only with a very, very contorted understanding of the actual language of the Constitution.

The whole thing was a setup, just like the Scopes Trial, both sides of which were funded by the ACLU as a public relations stunt. If you study what actually happened, versus what most people BELIEVE happened, it's quite stunning.

Comment #72 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 4, 2007 4:19 PM

# 72, Barry,

"However, although prudence admits the desirability of this function in moderation, the question logically arises as to what the extent of that power should be. Non-activist judges simply compare a law to what the Constitution says, and if it fails to clearly violate any provisions of the constitution, then it's OK. And far better to do nothing than the wrong thing."

Agreed, in principle. But what does it mean to "clearly violate any of the provisions of the Constitution?" Does a law banning flag burning clearly violate the First Amendment?

Comment #73 - Posted by: Hari at March 4, 2007 4:32 PM

Hari,

There are a lot of attorneys out there, and I would hazard a guess almost every one has a slightly different take.

My view would be that the right to PEACEABLE assembly is guaranteed, and that if flag burning generates violence, then it would constitute a form of incitement, and thus fall short of both protected free speech, and being an aspect of peaceful assembly.

If people want to burn flags in their homes or non-public spaces, I think that should be protected. The flag burning, per se, is not in my opinion the main issue. The main issue is that there are products of our all-too-often mediocre educational system out there who are stupid enough to think that's a sensible thing to do. The flag burning is a symptom. It is not the illness. And if we ban flag burning, we do not thereby eradicate the underlying malady.

Such is my opinion. It's not legal, since I'm not qualified, but it is my personal opinion. I think efforts in the form of teaching American history and civic duty would be better spent than trying to get through an Amendment.

Comment #74 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 4, 2007 5:10 PM

Good for her, I hadn't heard her name, but anyone nowadays with the balls (well, figuratively) to stand up to the Islamic Fundamentalists, I've got to give them a big 'ol thumbs up. Keep up the good work.

Comment #75 - Posted by: Matt at March 4, 2007 5:39 PM

Hey guys, found an interesting article about crossfit. Pretty decent article I think alot of people here would like. Here's the website:
www.trainerlee.com (Click on the articles link on the homepage)

Comment #76 - Posted by: Jim at March 4, 2007 5:43 PM

The women/headscarves point is interesting, because the same thing happens in the US -- at most beaches here the men won't be wearing shirts, but the women *have* to wear tops. Same rules, same motivation, different items of clothing...

Comment #77 - Posted by: LB at March 4, 2007 6:10 PM

#74, Barry,

"There are a lot of attorneys out there, and I would hazard a guess almost every one has a slightly different take."

Agreed. The answer is not found in a simple reading of the First Amendment (the sort of exercise you posed in #46). A symbolic gesture is not literaly "speech" so would what should the Court do? Is upholding a law banning flag burning judicial activism?

Comment #78 - Posted by: Hari at March 4, 2007 7:36 PM

@ Barry Cooper

For the fellow revoking Rationalist Club cards, you've got some sloppy work to account for. Your last rest day post on Science (a fraction of your daily output!) was a tangled mess that you were far too pleased with. You should know better than to hand in a first draft. Consider yourself on probation.*

Points of dissent:

1. "It's my understanding that the best and most learned physicists in the world cannot agree on what "reality" is. Do you know something that Von Neumann and Einstein didn't?"

I think you would agree that one of the traits of a philosopher (and don't we all want to be philosophers?) is that he attempts to combat the strongest interpretation of an opponent's position, not the weakest (straw man). You're not being very generous with Zach here.

"Accepting reality" should be interpreted, IMHO, as believing in things on the merit of the evidence that supports them. It has nothing to do with trying to decide whether the universe is made of particles, waves, strings, string-cheese, etc. Given the ubiquity of superstition, I see ample evidence in support of Zach's claim that the human psyche is flawed and craves divine explanations for that it cannot itself explain. People can't even resist betting on "heads" after "tails" comes up three times in a row.

2. "I will ask, though, in what respect is atheism more rational than belief in Divinity?"

Atheism, or agnosticism (I'm pretty sure the "athiests" around here don't go so far as to completely rule out the supernatural), is more rational that belief in divinity because the evidence in support of divinity is sketchy, all across the board.** This isn't anything personal against divinity. I feel the same way about Bigfoot. If you want to join the science club, you're supposed to leave your faith at the laboratory door.

"Your basic problem--and this is common problem among dogmatic atheists--is that you consider your position as so obviously right, that any other position, BY DEFINITION is wrong, and irrational."

You did specify dogmatic atheists here, but for my part, I'm just sitting here waiting for someone to drop some evidence in support of any particular religion that actually has some "oomphf" to it. I'll admit that the fact that most believers are content with "Jesus said it, I believe it, that settles it!" sets my teeth on edge, but other than that I have no agenda.

Jay


* You started it.

** You can say that's just because I don't BELIEVE in your arguments. That would sound pretty lame to a judge and jury. Seriously, if you have links to strong arguments, I'd love to see them.

Comment #79 - Posted by: Jay at March 4, 2007 10:27 PM

#60/Lucien, fantastic post, thanks.

Comment #80 - Posted by: apolloswabbie at March 5, 2007 12:55 AM

My leftist/Democrat/liberal/socialist/statist friends berate religion with a passion. I listen to their litany of religion's ills and the list is a match, item for item, with what I find objectionable with their political views which for me constitute a religion - a very dangerous one.

I fear socialism more than Islam and the other religions combined.

Comment #81 - Posted by: Coach at March 5, 2007 4:02 AM

Funny that the US military works on a socialist model. Would it be reasonable to say that you fear the US military more than Islam and other religions combined?

Comment #82 - Posted by: Nuke-Marine at March 5, 2007 4:17 AM

Jay,

Don't religion and science both present, in their own ways, views of what is true? And, logically, in order for anyone to claim--both for themselves and for anyone possessed of "Reason"--a unique and accurate version of the truth, wouldn't all the i's need to be dotted, and "t's" crossed? If Scientists can't agree on what reality IS, then how can some form of Divinity be denied a priori? This is hardly a red herring, or straw man. What Zack was actually saying was "Reality as I conceive it." This is his perspective, and not generalizable except via shared scientific views, and since there ARE no shared scientific views on what is "Really Real", my point stands.

I will readily concede that ultimately, if some form of transcendant reality exists--which, self evidently, there are in almost all physical models aspects of reality we cannot directly apprehend--then to matter it must be accessible to experience, in this world or the next. For example, when we die, we float above our bodies, then see a tunnel of light, etc. etc. In the form of Near Death Experiences, this phenomena has been attested to repeatedly. Logically, although alternative explanations are possible, those explanations in no way constitute a definitive refutation of those who want to claim them as evidence of actual reality. They present evidence sufficient for those already convinced that survival of death is impossible, and inadequate to those convinced otherwise. This is called Jame's Paradox.

However, I categorically cannot accept Reason as NECESSARILY leading to atheism. Reason, historically, has been used considerably more often in support of various forms of theism, particularly in the Jewish, Greek, Indian, Chinese, Islamic and Catholic traditions.

One issue in this debate that is ubiquitous is a failure to define what one means by God. Does the efficacy of prayer necessarily depend on an external sentient being? Given that all matter is at least theoretically connected non-locally, as proven mathematically and experimentally by Bell's Theorem and accompanying experimental work, is there perhaps a ripple effect to intention? This possibility cannot be ruled out a priori. Science deals with things that can be tested, and in many cases ideas can be posited that cannot currently be tested, but that are in theory at least not inimical to falsification.

The larger, more important, issue I raised, is that if Science itself is used as a vehicle for the development of a subjective sense of certainty and Truth--which is self evidently the case for anyone claiming such a sweeping and uniquely accurate apperception of the Truth that anyone disagreeing with them is, in their own lights, by definition irrational--then it leads necessarily to dogmatism, which is what that is. Now, anyone who understands even grade school versions of the philosophy of science knows that science never proves anything. It merely disproves competing explanations. It never knows if there is not a yet better idea out there, that will enable the current idea to be falsified in some as yet unknown way. It is by design provisional, and hence in theory infinitely progressive in the amount of knowledge it can accumulate. Proper practitioners also understand that a model that can be replicated is in no way a formal representation of Truth, merely a useful tool for manipulations of matter in various ways to create things.

There need be no rivalry whatever between religion and science. Religion is NOT scientific, but that need lead in no way to the necessary conclusion that it is thereby falsified. That notion is itself unscientific--the test can't be done--as it presumes to a complete knowledge of what COULD be real, which no one possesses.

As Coach indicated, there are close parallels between dogmatic atheists, and socialists who are convinced that not only are their theories complete, but that there are no competing explanations that could even potentially be of use, and that failing to adhere to their version of things is thereby irrational.

Given the materialistic bias implicit in the notion that religion is in some for a disease of the brain (note, I raised a very serious issue with this interpretation last Rest Day, which no one has addressed), then the notion that the only way to deal with dissidents is by killing or expelling them makes perfect sense. They have Religion the same way some people have the mumps or cancer, and talking to them makes no sense, as they are definitionally insane. We see that basic attitude clearly here, and saw it in full bloom in various Communist regimes, in a social Darwinist form in the Holocaust, and in the French Revolution, which was perhaps most clear in its preferred means of ridding the world of nobility--understood in my view literally and figuratively--through literally creating a mind/body distinction.

I see the same impulse in Leftists today, and it pisses me off.

Comment #83 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 5, 2007 5:49 AM

HAri/#55 - great link, enjoyed that one, thanks.

Comment #84 - Posted by: apolloswabbie at March 5, 2007 6:32 AM

It occurred to me as well, that these discussions have a pattern. Someone posts something on the "War with Islam", which doesn't exist, then someone comes along and says something like "Let's just get rid of all religion, it's stupid", then someone points out that they are religious, and don't consider themselves stupid. Then the atheistic propagandist backs up and asks someone to prove to them that religion makes sense, presumably with a standard of proof that would require them to become Bible pounding Christians themselves, from the very force and unassailable nature of the argument.

Quite obviously, these things have been discussed from time immemorial. I was reading a text this morning from the atheist sect--one of them, anyway--from classical India, the Carvakas. He was saying if I can't see it, it doesn't exist, therefore I should eat as much ghee as I can, even if I can't pay for it, have as many large breasted consorts as I can, and when it's all up, it's up for good. This position is obvious. However, it is a manifest fact that in the history of philosophy and religion, it has been considered and rejected many times. Thus, the people asking for proof don't want "proof". They could do the research themselves. They are saying "unless you can convince me of something I am opposed to believing with ounce of my body and mind, then you have to be quiet." Why do they do this? Because religious people are intolerant, and need to be killed or at least quieted. Anyone who doesn't understand their brotherly love should be hung upside down by their toes and beaten with a wooden dowel.

What such atheist need to show, on their side, is the necessary correlation between religion, per se, and violence. A great many Jews are atheists. How do we separate the religious "Zionists" from the secular "Zionists"? Is one uniquely the cause of violence? Is the Arab-Israeli conflict ultimately REALLY about religion, or about the use of totalitarian regimes of an external enemy which happens to coincide with SOME aspects of the Quran, as a convenient focus for all discontent, and presumably violent and reformist tendencies?

Atheists: prove to me that religion, uniquely, is the cause of violence. I believe it is a fractionating character in human thinking which precedes the label of religion or even cultural identity, which you display in apparently sincere innocence (which is to say innocence of actual self knowledge) in your very condemnation of religion, in toto, without making allowance for the many good things it has accomplished.

Comment #85 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 5, 2007 6:49 AM

response to Coach and Nuke Marine..

I know I would fear the US military more than Islam or other religions, except for 2 things.

1. The Republic that controls the Military

and

2. The Oath Service Members take to the Constitution, not to any particular elected leader.

These 2 things, generally, make the the US military the most feared organization on the planet and the most trusted.

As far as the Military being socialist...that is a hard sell. The hierarchial nature of the Military makes it somewhat different. I can see your point with wages and "benefits" (healthcare, housing etc.). However, the nature of the military is more totalitarian with grievence mechanisms.

If anyone plans to use the US Military as an example of a self-sufficient Socialist organization, that would be a mistake. We use much more money than the private sector would to accomplish the same things. However, this is a necessity due to mission and security concerns.

To argue that Government could opperate as smooth as the Military would also be false. The military has someone to be accountable to (re-enlistments and Government), whereas the government does not. Though one could argue voters, however history shows that the more control government has over people's lives, the less it tends be responsive.

Comment #86 - Posted by: CCTJOEY at March 5, 2007 7:09 AM

Normally I don't post on the rest days after the rest day but I do continue to read the debate. I was quite busy yesterday but I did want to make a few points.

If we make abortion illegal then we will be back to having women perform abortions on themselves with coathangers. Abortions will happen regardless. Women being terrifed of the responsibility, or the implications of actions, have been "taking care of the problem" for millenia. Accountability or regulations on the clinics or doctors would help to weed out those women using abortion as a method of birth control. I am neither pro life and pro choice, I am a mix. Abortion isn't something that I will ever do, but I also understand the need for it to be done in certain instances in a sanitary environment. Except for late term abortions, which there is never a need for. If abortion becomes illegal then even the circumstances of rape or incest will leave a woman with all her choices and freedoms having been taken from her.

Nick C- Just curious, If proof was shown to you, then would you believe it truly, or would you then need proof of the proof?

I don't think that all scientist check their faith at the door of their labs. The truly great scientists, the ones willing to risk all, the ones that find cures for diseases or genetic links or decifer gentic code, the ones that keep searching for the answers to a question that they have had their whole life (which, have you ever wondered how did that question get started in the first place?) have to do something-

They must take a leap of faith.

Kate

Comment #87 - Posted by: jknl at March 5, 2007 7:16 AM

#55 Hari- Great link!
I have a post in the holding tank that discusses that issue a bit. I read the article that you linked, after I wrote my thoughts.

Joey- No problem! I was glad to see that there are others that were equally disturbed and willing to make sure that those sorts of protests don't happen again.

Kate

Comment #88 - Posted by: jknl at March 5, 2007 7:35 AM

Nuke, I would like to know exactly how you define "socialism" because it doesn't seem in accordance with any definition I've ever seen (I will caveat this with the difficulty of finding one socialist doctrine; like religion, everyone has their own spin on it). However, the military is not a socialist construct. Members of the military don't experience wealth redistribution or control over their private property.

I'm not going to discuss further because it seems that was just a throw-away comment to create a bit more stir.

Comment #89 - Posted by: guinevererobin at March 5, 2007 8:32 AM

Clarification to one of my points-
I said there is no need for late term, but I need to add to that the words partial birth,

So it should read- "There is no need for late term, partial birth..."

Kate

Comment #90 - Posted by: jknl at March 5, 2007 8:53 AM

Kate,

I agree. As I mentioned, I'm Pro-Choice personally, for the simple reason that abortions will happen whether they are illegal or not. It should be added, though, that murder is illegal, too, and IT still happens, so this is not a bulletproof argument.

The reason non-believers need to be concerned about "jurisprudence" like Roe v. Wade is that, regardless of their personal position on the topic, a precedent has been created for enacting law by the Supreme Court, whose members are not directly appointed by the People, who cannot be removed except for gross malfeasance, if then, and whose opinions might therefore be at gross variance both with the will of the People--which is not normally their problem--but also with the explicit intent of the Constitution, which by definition IS their problem.

As Hari has implicitly argued, the case can be made that in striking down ANY law as unConstitutional they may have overreached their proper limits. This may or may not be the case, but that happened long ago, and has been accepted as precedent since. What does seem abundantly clear and obvious to to me, though, is that by any rational standard deriving rights that are nowhere made clear, and then imposing them from a central position on ALL states as the Law of the Land is dishonest and unprofessional.

This is a principle reason for the rise of the Religious Right, whose supposed power is the source of all our contemporary worries, according to some, and the only solution for which is the adoption of an ill-considered and manifestly philosophically childish atheism.

Put simply, Christians were pissed that the right to rule of the Majority was flouted, and their will was ignored. In my view, this issue ought to be sorted out on a state by state basis, and the Supreme Court should have refused to review the case. It was outside their bailiwick. This would have created far less of a social divide, since Christianity, as inclined to charity and tolerance, ought logically to stand for many liberal causes--at least in one interpretation--as evidenced by, among others, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King.

This is why even thoughtful atheists should be concerned. Once the principle of judicial legislative power is in place, there is no end. In Judgement in Nuremburg, the German Judge, played I believe by Gregory Peck, asks Spencer Tracy, the Prosecuting Attorney (or judge, I forget): "How could I have known it would lead to this?". And Spencer Tracy says: "You knew the first time you convicted an innocent man."

There is far more in play here than just religious issues. To address today's topic, it appears to me that this woman is annoying people precisely because she's a secular conservative. If you're on board, you're supposed to be a secular progressive. That's the flavor of the kool-aid.

Comment #91 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 5, 2007 9:55 AM

Barry,

The reason that atheism is more rational than the belief in a supreme being is because the latter is taught to us at a young age, and some of us hang on to this narrow-minded belief without questioning it. In this regard religion can be likened to racism or any other ism that involves prejudice against a group of people...values that people teach to their kids while they are young and impressionable and ready to believe everything their parents tell them. The bible is nothing more than a story book written a long time ago. If we were never told that everything in the bible is the absolute truth, but just read it as children we would come away with some very good values on how to live a good life, ie. living by the 10 commandments. But living your life in fear of 'god' when there is absolutely zero proof of his existence is just bizarre. The human race needs IDEAS, not BELIEFS.

Comment #92 - Posted by: ______Jay_____ at March 5, 2007 2:42 PM

Guivererobin,

CCTJOEY described the socialist aspects of the military best. He correctly points out it's not a self-substaining model, as it dependes SOLELY on the wealth redistribution I hear people moaning about. Let's face it, I don't pay Federal tax (nor sales tax anymore since moving to Japan). All my money comes from others that "worked" for it.

The military system has its flaws: I make the same amount of money whether I work 5 hours a day or 14 hours a day. Pay raises are guarenteed once or twice a year. At least promotions have a merit based system, but even that has flaws depending on the branch of service. So long as a person does the minimum (not getting in trouble and getting busted), you get a pay check equal to the person doing the maximum if you're the same rank.

Still, you get an army that should have zero worries about the necessities in life (housing, medical, food, clothing, transportation, etc.) which therefore provides total focus on whatever job is at hand. Granted, I doubt in a pure socialist structure they would remove the necessities (fire you) should you not do the job at hand.

From my perspective, Pure Captitalism and Pure Socialism do not work. A system that combines both I think creates a more productive workforce.

Comment #93 - Posted by: Nuke-Marine at March 5, 2007 2:48 PM

Barry,

Without getting into a massive discussion of 1st amendment law, the answer to your question about flag-burning is that it is not "incitement" because the flagburner is not seeking to have those in agreement with him engage in violence. The only exception that might apply is so-called "fighting words," but the fact that something might evoke a violent reaction does not necessarily mean that it falls in the category of "fighting words." "Fighting words" involve a direct challenge to the hearer specifically threatening violence. That is not present in the context of flagburning.

About the only "burning" that is inherently unlawful is crossburning, but even that is allowed on private property with permission of the owner. Only where it can be construed as a threat, is it unlawful to burn a cross. Due to historical background, there is a presumption that burning a cross on someone else's property is a threat. In some states, burning a cross on public property is banned as well, but those are based on a presumptive threat due to historical uses of crossburning as well. It would be a real reach to find a similar threat in a flag-burning situation.

What we are dealing with in the proposal to ban flagburning is the "heckler's veto" not fighting words. That's why Nazis and KKK members are regularly allowed to march in provocative places and given police protection when they do it. The fact that their message is not well-received and even hurtful does not mean that it can be banned. The same goes for flagburning.

To take it out of the flagburning context, think about the Danish cartoon fiasco -- no one in the US has seriously suggested that publishing those cartoons was not protected by the 1st amendment (in the United States). To the contrary, they were published, and there were no riots. Had there been riots, they would have been dealt with as such.

Similarly, neither would a public burning of an effigy of Mohammed, the Buddha, Jesus Christ, the Pope, Jerry Falwell, the Dalai Lama,, George Bush, or Tony Blair, or my mother; or burning the Koran, the Bible, or any religious book; or any other country's flag, or, well, you name it, be unprotected. Bad taste or bad judgment? Probably. Legal? Absolutely.

The point of the 1st amendment is to prevent the government from banning or punishing unpopular speech. If everyone accepts and agrees with the speech, it doesn't need protection. The fact that some particular speech offends is not a basis for banning it under some exception to the 1st amendment.

Comment #94 - Posted by: Porkchop at March 5, 2007 3:01 PM

Barry,

I personally think that the reason why she is annoying people so much with her ideas is that she is making them face facts that they are not comfortable with. She pushes the envelope with her opinions and she doesn't back down. She is not willing to back down any more.

Just because I am a Christian doesn't mean that I don't see value in what all religions have to offer. For example- I'm very interested in the teachings of Buddha and there is so much to learn from the different sects of Buddhism. It is wrong to close the door on the different teachings that are available just because they might be from a different religious background? The intollerance of different beliefs and the close mindedness is what gets everyone riled up in the first place, when the religion/ no religion discussions come up.

When people start to close their minds down and say that everyone else but them and their beliefs are wrong they are no different than the Taliban and their blowing up the huge Statues of Buddhas in Afghanistan. The day that happened, my 96 year old grandmother, who has traveled all over the world and saw those statues in person, cried. I believe that it was for the resounding, collective, slamming shut of the minds that upset her (and me) the most, that and the senseless destruction of beautiful pieces of art.

More thoughts on proving God's existance-
If I personally have proof of the existance of God, would my proof be enough for a skeptic? I doubt it, because it would mean that they would have to believe me and take my word for what I say and that would beyond what they are comfortable with. Words mean nothing to someone that demands proof. Pictures mean nothing. If they truly, truly want to believe what they are seeing as proof of God then they already would have seen the proof without me showing them my proof.

Kate

Comment #95 - Posted by: jknl at March 5, 2007 3:20 PM

Jay,

Do you understand--were you taught as a child and as a product of our educational system--that a string of assertions does not constitute an argument?

If that idea, too, should be considered as a worthless remnant of childhood, let me simply say then you are wrong.

Porkchop,

I am not saying flag burning SHOULD be against the law, but let me ask you this, as a mental exercise: if I were to stand on a street corner in New York City and yell racial epithets, with a permit, would that be legally acceptable, in the same way and for the same reason that flag burning is? Provided I didn't threaten anyone?

As far as that goes, didn't I just read or hear about them banning one of the most common epithets? Is there any way that should pass legal muster, if flag burning is allowed? Surely flag burning should count as hate speech too. If you think about it, words are symbols as well.

Comment #96 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 5, 2007 4:25 PM

Kate,

That's likely true. I also think that we should keep in mind that our Republic was founded in the Age of Enlightenment, according to what amounted to religously inspired, but ultimately secular ideals, and that she is therefore likely in that tradition. I only read the article, and it wasn't entirely clear what all she had to say.

The Enlightenment took Greek ideals of universal truths and the possibility of human perfection as possible successors to religiously ordained, and politically enforced notions of theology. To the Catholic Church, specifically.

Ironically, the sorts of folks she is apparently most offending, are most offended at her taking on Islam from a secular perspective. There is a notion of universalized tolerance within the Enlightenment, an ideal of human rights that adhere to all persons of all races and creeds. Of universal tolerance.

Yet, when one studies the Leftist implementation of this notion, it attacks the very culture--Western, rationalistic culture--that gave rise to that ideal, and privileges instead all manner of barbarism, despotism, and human cruelty, provided it doesn't occur within the domain of Western control.

This is done in the name, I guess, of tolerance--one human person's freedom fighter is another human person's "terrorist", we hear--but as one can clearly see on this very Rest Day, tolerance is not something they practice everywhere.

With respect to alternative religious traditions, I might encourage you to read the Tao Te Ching. It is the most translated book in the world after the Bible. I personally like the Jane English/Gia Fu Feng translation. There is also a Chuang Tzu and Wen Tzu.

The historical Taoists apparently were quite different than one might imagine reading these books. I can't comment on that aspect of it, but the books themselves are worth reading repeatedly.

Comment #97 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 5, 2007 5:45 PM

That's right, Barry, the government cannot prosecute you for standing on a street corner and yelling racist epithets, sexist epithets, anti-gay epithets, anti-religious epithets, or anything else you can think of. You have a right, as a red-blooded American, to be a complete and utter jerk.

The social approbation that may result from such conduct is a different matter.

I don't know who "they" are in your comment about banning certain epithets.

You point out another matter in mentioning a "permit," however, which is that there can be "time, place, and manner" restrictions so long as they are neutrally applied. So, depending on the circumstances, there may be issues of disturbing the peace, blocking sidewalks, etc. In addition, there are other considerations special situations, for example, in the K-12 educational context, as schools are permitted to consider the effect of some speech on the educational process.

Comment #98 - Posted by: Porkchop at March 5, 2007 6:15 PM

Hmm, first let me point out that there are now two "Jays" posting. ______Jay______ is new. Welcome ______Jay_______. I'll switch my own moniker to BCJay to keep things clear.

Comment #99 - Posted by: BCJay at March 5, 2007 6:58 PM

Barry,
I read Tao Te Ching a long time ago and should probably pick it back up again and reread it, since I can't remember much of it. I'll look for the translations you suggested. I like the Dhammapada too.

Kate

Comment #100 - Posted by: jknl at March 5, 2007 7:14 PM

Barry,

I agree with you that denying the possibility of Divinity is absurd. As you say, the experiment cannot be performed, and no indisputable evidence has presented itself one way or the other. That's why I'm trying to swap terms in this discussion: agnosticism for atheism. Unfortunately "atheism" is more current and tends to do double duty. Regardless, the leap from allowing the possibility of divinity to affirming any particular religion is a mighty one.

Onto the rest:


"Don't religion and science both present, in their own ways, views of what is true?"

Yes. But they don't do it in similar ways. Religion constructs reality from allegedly divine informants. Science builds reality from the application of the "scientific method". This isn't to say that scientists are perfectly objective, or even mostly objective, but the ideal is there and all theories are open to challenge and revision. I think this is an important distinction, don't you?


"Logically, in order for anyone to claim--both for themselves and for anyone possessed of "Reason"--a unique and accurate version of the truth, wouldn't all the i's need to be dotted, and "t's" crossed?"

Yeah, maybe you're right there. Except I don't see any scientists trying to assert a complete, perfectly accurate picture of reality. Scientists *do* challenge anyone with a dissenting view on a particular theory to either "put up, or shut up" so to speak, but why shouldn't they? Science has made it possible to argue with perfect strangers halfway across the world from the comfort of my home office. It has street cred. What does religion have?

I think you're making this harder than it needs to be. I hold (sorry, "posit"!) that reasonable people should believe in concepts and ideas in proportion to the evidence that supports them. Any objections? Starting from this point, there is simply no compelling reason to take up Islam, Christianity, Shinto, or anything else - barring, perhaps, a personal metaphysical experience of some sort that might leave someone convinced beyond a doubt.


"My point stands"

Your oversimplified point stands. Like I said before, I don't see anyone trying to suggest that the very possibility of religion is ridiculous. I do see people frustrated with Religious Righteousness. Personally, I don't care what the heck people believe in. Most agnostics don't. But when believers start putting norms on public behaviour, or butting heads with other believers: Houston, we have a problem. I know that you perceive a kind of scientific Righteousness, but how could it ever be as blind or as stubborn as the religious flavour?


"For example, when we die, we float above our bodies, then see a tunnel of light, etc. etc. In the form of Near Death Experiences, this phenomena has been attested to repeatedly. Logically, although alternative explanations are possible, those explanations in no way constitute a definitive refutation of those who want to claim them as evidence of actual reality. They present evidence sufficient for those already convinced that survival of death is impossible, and inadequate to those convinced otherwise. This is called Jame's Paradox."

I guess we're going to eventually have to define what exactly it is we're arguing about. In the meantime:

I agree that these experiences cannot be "definitively refuted" as evidence of transcendence. But if we take this to be compelling evidence, we have to admit a whole lot of other stuff as well. E.g. normal dreams, drug-induced hallucinations, trance experiences, etc. That seems kind of silly to me.


"I categorically cannot accept Reason as NECESSARILY leading to atheism. Reason, historically, has been used considerably more often in support of various forms of theism, particularly in the Jewish, Greek, Indian, Chinese, Islamic and Catholic traditions."

Sure. Like you said, reason is a tool. But where is the rationale behind starting with *any* particular set of premises at all? You could argue that starting from "I should only concern myself with what I can experience and verify through science" is as arbitrary as starting from "This reality was created by God in seven days and He loves me." I tend to think there's something special about starting a car in neutral as opposed to first, second, third, or reverse.

"One issue in this debate that is ubiquitous is a failure to define what one means by God."

Depends on who you talk to, doesn't it? Thankfully, the people that seem to have the strongest feelings about what God wants also tend to have the clearest portraits of Him.

"Does the efficacy of prayer necessarily depend on an external sentient being? Given that all matter is at least theoretically connected non-locally, as proven mathematically and experimentally by Bell's Theorem and accompanying experimental work, is there perhaps a ripple effect to intention? This possibility cannot be ruled out a priori. Science deals with things that can be tested, and in many cases ideas can be posited that cannot currently be tested, but that are in theory at least not inimical to falsification."

Step right up Barry. As you probably know, there are plenty of cash prizes to be won if you can demonstrate the "power of prayer" under controlled circumstances. The James Randi $1,000,000 is the most famous. I'm not sure what exactly what you were trying to get at here, but you probably want to pick another example.

"The larger, more important, issue I raised, is that if Science itself is used as a vehicle for the development of a subjective sense of certainty and Truth--which is self evidently the case for anyone claiming such a sweeping and uniquely accurate apperception of the Truth that anyone disagreeing with them is, in their own lights, by definition irrational--then it leads necessarily to dogmatism, which is what that is."

A Crossfit Parable (inspired by P_Joe):

One day an agnostic crossfitter and a believer crossfitter were hiking in the woods. They rounded a bend and spotted Reality, the mightiest grizzly bear of them all, not 50 yards away. Upwind. Knowing that the bear was sure to spot them soon, the agnostic crossfitter immediately unlaced his heavy hiking boots and started putting on his lightweight camp shoes.

Believer Dan: What the hell are you doing? Even crossfitters can't hope to outrun Reality the grizzly bear!

Agnostic Pete: I know that Dan. Sorry bud, but I was only planning to outrun you.

The moral of the story is that Science *isn't* trying to present "such a sweeping and uniquely accurate" version of Reality such that "anyone disagreeing with them is by definition, irrational." It only has to do better than the competition. The gauntlet is there, lying in the dust. If you think you can explain reality "better" than science can, you're welcome to try.

"There need be no rivalry whatever between religion and science."

Agreed. Unfortunately, secularists and religious folks tend to scrap a lot, and it seems as though science becomes the battlefield...

"As Coach indicated, there are close parallels between dogmatic atheists, and socialists who are convinced that not only are their theories complete, but that there are no competing explanations that could even potentially be of use, and that failing to adhere to their version of things is thereby irrational."

I know you haven't had a chance to respond to my earlier bits - but people demanding that religion be left out of schooling etc. are not necessarily atheists. Which dogmatic atheists are we talking about? That's not a rhetorical question - you probably are familiar with issues I've never confronted.

"Given the materialistic bias implicit in the notion that religion is in some for a disease of the brain"

I don't think religion is a brain disease. The flaw is in our mind's scope. Like I said, people can't help but root for "red" once "black" has come up five times in a row on the roulette table. We can't ponder the number of grains of sand on the average beach without blowing our minds. If ten people cross a log bridge and then it snaps while we're on it, we wonder what we did "to deserve it" from our hospital bed. We feel terribly, terribly alone as we stand at the edge of a forest on a moonlit night, far from the tribal fire. That's the way we're built. Religion follows.

"I raised a very serious issue with this interpretation last Rest Day, which no one has addressed"

Care to repost and/or reformulate that argument? Like I said, and you yourself admitted at the time, those posts were pretty rough.


BCJay

Comment #101 - Posted by: BCJay at March 5, 2007 8:35 PM

Reply to Barry in limbo... no bad words in it!

Jay

Comment #102 - Posted by: BCJay at March 5, 2007 8:49 PM

Barry,

I don't understand what you mean when you say that a string of assertions doesn't constitute an argument. What else could possibly constitute an argument? All arguments I know of consist in strings of assertions.

Also, renewing a question from last rest day: What are your thoughts on the scientific status of maths and logic? Are they part of the body of knowledge we call "science"? Again, I ask only out of curiosity. It's cool that you have strong views on such matters.

Comment #103 - Posted by: Ross Naughton at March 5, 2007 11:27 PM

Russ,

Math and logic are both tools, like any other thought process. Science is a tool for developing testable ideas, and the technological accomplishments that follow from them. As such, they are a subset/included within what I am calling science, to the extent that they are used in the process of developing falsifiable ideas. Famously, Descartes and Spinoza both developed what they viewed as logically airtight ethical and metaphysical arguments, in the form of geometric proofs. I would not classify those as science. So the answer really depends on context.

BC Jay,

There were a lot of logical holes there which, given their number and extent, I don't have time at the moment to address. Let me ask this, though: if we posit that a viable argument against "religion" (whatever that may be) is that it asserts positive values that differ from your own, what is the countervailing ethical system which you propose as the better alternative? Clearly, in order to form a judgement of "Religion", you must have one. Right?

Comment #104 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 6, 2007 5:23 AM

Oh, Russ, the other question.

"I was raised a Southern Baptist and when I was a boy I had a dream of God and it became obvious to me that He existed and that His influence extends to all areas of life. Every child understands this, and it is only through the systematic elimination of Christ in the school system and the dogmatic teaching of the scientifically unsound secular religion of Darwinism that children cease believing."

That is a string of assertions (which in my case is actually partly accurate with respect to me, but not entirely.) There is no string of statements, each of which leads logically to the other, nor is there an effort to back up the assertions with evidence. I am stating an opinion, about which Frank Zappa had something percipient and characteristic to say. I won't repeat it here.

If you notice, a great deal of my effort is not even necessarily directed towards "proving" specific points, but rather creating the space where rational discussion is even possible. Where actual agnosticism can replace dogmaticism of various sorts. That is supposed to be the merit of our system, but we've forgotten how to do it. In order to move, you must first realize you are stuck.

From one perspective, one could look at Science and logic both as means of selling ideas. The generation of agreement requires selling. The opposite is force, which is not the means people are meant to use in a "Republic of Virtue" (Daniel Robinson).

I will add that I was watching a tape series last night, and Montesqui (?) was mentioned, and the point was made that he argued that people must be brought up to exisit harmoniously with their States. In regimes based on terror, fear must be cultivated; for monarchies, honor; for democracies, virtue. The Founding Fathers read M. very carefully in developing the Constitution. He had, in addition to making this point, made as good a study as was then possible of the dynamics of failed Republics, and in the course of that study derived the afore-mentioned conclusions. Bottom line: absent Virtue, we will fail. The conclusion I would draw from that is that any system making claim to our attention as an alternative to the current system needs necessarily to have a good question to the definition of and cultivation of virtue.

(On contemplation, this would apply to Iraq as well.)

I don't see that in any of the atheist propagandists, whose whole program seems to revolve around the elimination of vice--defined as religiosity--with the presumed simpleminded notion that that alone is both necessary and sufficient to foster virtue. But given that virtue is defined as "not religion", and given that Science by it's very nature is neither a "Truth" system, nor an ethical system, this is a serious failing in the enterprise. "Rationality" depends for it's utility entirely on the presuppositions, and their seeming rationality depends entirely on the presupposition of Science as a viable and sufficient Truth system. I believe I have shown that idea is wrong and internally contradicted.

The obvious system is personal hedonism, with that "virtue" generalized as a form of vulgar Utilitarianism. Avoid pain wherever possible. But show me a culture based on pleasure that endured? This is a quick route to the Fall of Rome.

Comment #105 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 6, 2007 5:46 AM

"good question to the definition of and cultivation of virtue. "

I meant answer, but of course if they were actually to be sufficiently intellectually serious to ASK the question to begin with, it would represent a start at any rate.

I read this stuff (Harris, Dennet, Dawkins) and can't escape the feeling that these books are written by frivolous yet strangely saturnine and fanatical buffoons.

Comment #106 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 6, 2007 5:52 AM

Einstein said on his 70th birthday:

"Now you think I am looking at my life's work with calm satisfaction. But there is not a single concept of which I am convinced that it will stand firm. I am not sure if I was on the right track after all."

Comment #107 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 6, 2007 7:01 AM

I guess I would have to ask...why are we talking about religion in this manner?

No rest day topic as of yet talks about Religion as a basic belief and it's effect or world events.

The topic is about why a Muslim woman felt the need to distance herself from her culture for personal events then from her religion for reasons based upon world events. The further discussion is why she is being slighted by many liberal columnists as some sort or traitor to her faith.

I have been sitting back watching as some extreme wingnut types come on here out of the blue to post derogitory comments about people of faith or military members. for several rest days now they are dodging the debate at hand to get their rocks off bashing people from out of left field.

The debate is about why "liberals" are not supporting a woman who has death threats from Islamo-fascists and why they are down playing her story.

The only reason why, I'd guess, is because she is not claiming victim status. Everyone else who should be standing by her, like the Danish government, is running scared of the people that would slaughter her.

The debate is where did the balls go. Why do "liberals" seem to only raise a stink against those they KNOW will not harm them and the true evil ALWAYS gets a pass.

This is why The President and VP get demonized but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the hords of Islamo-fascists get a pass. They know Bush and CO. will not hunt them down and slaughter them. This is the height of repugnance to me.

They examples are countless from Amnesty International, the ACLU, International Red-Cross, Green Peace..whatever movement is dominated by these people only finds the energy to protest and rally against those who do not threaten them. True cowards.

Comment #108 - Posted by: CCTJOEY at March 6, 2007 7:46 AM

This link is quite interesting: http://www.cfpf.org.uk/articles/rdp/s_rdp/summary-rdp.html

I will need to learn more, and study more deeply in physics to evaluate its' merit, but of the basic contention that most scientists are not scientific, I personally harbor no doubt. That is a matter of observational psychology, quite apart from technical expertise.

Syllogism:

All humans tend towards vanity.

Scientists are human

Therefore, scientists tend towards vanity.

Correllary:

Vanity causes irrational behavior.

Irrational behavior affects perception.

Therefore Vanity affects perception.

Note, I did not state that ALL scientists are vain. That is an unsupportable position.

Comment #109 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 6, 2007 7:50 AM

@Barry #104,

"There were a lot of logical holes there which, given their number and extent, I don't have time at the moment to address."

Sorry Barry, I looked it up in the Charter of the Rationalist Club. One of the conditions of your probation is that you start putting those annoying qualifiers on your statements like "it seems to me that..." and "in my analysis..." Just one of the inconveniences of (temporarily) losing your Supreme Arbiter position.

As you know, there is a difference between a "logical hole" and premises (and therefore arguments) that you don't agree with. I am interested in your analysis when you'll have the time (or inclination) to provide it.

"Let me ask this, though: if we posit that a viable argument against "religion" (whatever that may be) is that it asserts positive values that differ from your own..."

You can posit that if you want - I won't join you. That would be a pretty weak position from which to attack religion.

"What is the countervailing ethical system which you propose as the better alternative? Clearly, in order to form a judgement of "Religion", you must have one. Right?"

Wrong. Since when do I have to provide an alternative in order to be skeptical of claims that there is a teapot orbiting Jupiter? The only judgment I am passing on religion is that it has no authority, due to the fact that it has no support. Believe what you want, but don't come to me and try to persuade me that something is Right because Athena said so.

I feel, personally, that discussing what humanity can do to prosper (morally, economically, whatever) in the absence of religion is probably more fruitful than debating whether or not Science = Religion. However, let's finish one discussion before starting another, shall we?

To sum up:

You seem to argue that Science has no special claim to Truth, and therefore cannot exclude alternative conceptions of Reality. It would follow that there is no prima facie reason, for example, to prefer the teaching of evolutionary theory over creation stories of various kinds in schools - forgive me if I'm putting words in your mouth.

I argue that science does, in fact, have more authority than religion. For this reason, it should be preferred over all other conceptions of reality, above all in the public domain.

Feel free to reformulate as you see fit - just trying to rein in the scope of the discussion.

BCJay

Comment #110 - Posted by: BCJay at March 6, 2007 8:10 AM

Barry, et al,

Atheism: The assertion that there is no such thing as God, and afterlife, etc..

Agnosticism: The reservation of judgement in the matter, until such time as rational evidence is presented.

Atheism is no different than religion in that it shuts the door on the scientific method.

I still affirm my opinion that religion is a flaw of the human condition. It is ilogical, divisive and irrational. History is rife with examples of religion motivating war and other atrocities. I can think of no single example of science motivating violence... used as a tool for violence, yes; as motivation, no.

Science, as defined by the scientific method, is not an attempt to "sell" anything. It is a logical, rational methodology by which to prove, disprove and discover fact. Nor is science in competition with religion... they don't even operate in the same realm.

There is no "scientific" community that is "out to get" religion... Just as there is no community of fitness folks "out to get" fat people... we may shrug at their bad habits and irrationality, but we hold no malice towards them.

The same can't be said to be even close to true of religious communities. They trend towards aggressive opposition to all who oppose their beliefs. There are a few exceptional examples of religions which have not been aggressive - Tibetan Buddhism comes to mind - Ironically, they are "religions" that look more like "philosophies," and universaly they are not concerned with deism.


Zach

Comment #111 - Posted by: zach davis at March 6, 2007 8:21 AM

Jay,

What has religion done to you, and what are you trying to do to religion?

Comment #112 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 6, 2007 8:55 AM

As an American living in Europe, I think that Hirsi Ali had a right to speak her mind, but as a politician, she should also understand that her comments can cause resentment on both sides - both Muslim and Europeans. I believe that it is inappropriate to air negative viewpoints of just one religion and ignore the others.

When September 11th happened, I was going to university in London. Many French and Germans told me that it was my fault that the attacks happened because Americans are arrogant and don't consider others. A lot of students didn't want to talk to me. I kept my head down. The only people that comforted me and hung out with me were a group of Muslims from Pakistan. They never, ever tried to convert me, and to this day, I remain a firm, non-practising Catholic. As a woman, they still treated me with more respect than many others did. They were just as against what the Taliban was doing just as much as the rest of the world and were scared because while they didn't support 9/11 or jihad or any of that crap, people accused them of it anyway.

On the flip side, when my car broke down in Idaho with my family in 1994, I was just a teenager. I remember standing outside the auto repair shop and overhearing lots of different people say horrible things, such as "those Japs ain't even Christian" and a woman with a crucifix and a bible in her hand throw a bottle at my cousin's head saying "stupid Japs, get out of our town."

So you can't paint one religion completely terrible and one right. I don't believe the left want to make religion illegal, I think that in order for us to cater for all religions and beliefs, we have to abide by laws (not religion) and run our government through one, rational means.

Comment #113 - Posted by: Christina F at March 6, 2007 9:03 AM

barry,

What's your point?

Zach

Comment #114 - Posted by: zach davis at March 6, 2007 9:14 AM

Mods,

Please don't post the one that was held. It was coherent, but missed a larger point. And of course for other reasons you may hold it anyway. I take these things very seriously, and lose my temper from time to time.

I'm off track on this thread. I am not going to be able, nor should I in any sense commit myself to, convincing anyone of anything other than what they already believe. That's dumb on my part. It's dumb on the part of others for the same reason.

The larger issue is simply one of civil tolerance. People that want to call people of faith stupid, for that reason alone, are failing in their understanding of the point of Enlightenment precepts. What needs to be shown is that belief, of one stripe or another, is directly a cause of civilly undesirable behavior.

In the case of the Muslims in Europe, the issue is not one of religion per se, but one of failing to adopt to civilly sustainable forms of behavior. This is shown, for example, in failing to embrace Enlightenment notions of tolerance, and calling instead for Sharia, which would obviously violate the whole point of the society. Tolerance cannot be extended to ideologies that destroy that very tolerance. This is obviously not sustainable.

Comment #115 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 6, 2007 10:06 AM

@Barry:

If this was a UFC match, I think the referee would have stepped in at this point. TKO (Unanswered strikes). Or did you throw in the towel?

Despite my many invitations to actually get down to brass tacks, you continue to simply post new points that range farther and farther afield. You refer to your "strong" arguments, but I've been having trouble finding them.

"If you notice, a great deal of my effort is not even necessarily directed towards "proving" specific points, but rather creating the space where rational discussion is even possible."

I might go so far as to suggest that very little of your efforts are directed towards supporting your own points. As for creating a space for rational discussion - I'm all for that. On the other hand, I object to your proposal that we start from the position that Religion is as useful an adviser as Science, and should get equal consideration. You may as well offer to constructively debate gay-marriage as long we we all agree that homosexuals are mentally deranged.

Finally, let's get something clear:

I'm not a liberal. I don't hate religion, and I'm not out to destroy it. I also wouldn't really mind if tomorrow two quarks collided in a particle accelerator and produced the Book of Job. Would make everyone's lives much easier, wouldn't it?

Before our "match" you were the one insulting the agnostic position, calling it ignorant and infantile. Now that our match is apparently over, you're mumbling about how you didn't really want to fight anyways - and accusing me of being incapable of accepting defeat. You never even threw a punch - so I guess we'll never know.

You may resume hanging with your buddies now.

Jay

Comment #116 - Posted by: BCJay at March 6, 2007 10:54 AM

@Barry

Comment held - probably because of the terminology in one of my examples.

In the meantime:

1) Calling a belief irrational is not the same thing as calling someone stupid. Smart people can have dumb ideas. Note the popularity of astrology.

As you were.

Jay

Comment #117 - Posted by: BCJay at March 6, 2007 11:10 AM

Barry,

If you tried to convince me that the earth was flat, I would consider you ignorant... perhaps even stupid. If that's what you want to believe, fine, but that doesn't make it true.

Tolerance of different belief systems does not imply any agreement or qualitative judgement for that matter. Tolerance of different belief systems is simply the recognition of the rights of others to think and believe what they wish.

I can think whatever I want about the intelligence of religious folks, but I certainly wouldn't question their right to be religious.


Zach

Comment #118 - Posted by: zach davis at March 6, 2007 11:21 AM

Good grief.

http://www.cfpf.org.uk/articles/rdp/s_rdp/summary-rdp.html

Surprise! I don't interpret it the same way you do. Professional disagreement on an issue doesn't suddenly require that some scientists are being unscientific.

As for the work quoted in the link:

"Quantum theorists found that, on these small scales, what had been regarded as minute objects, the electrons, photons and other components associated with atoms, seemed to exist as sets of interfering waves until observed. Only then did these waves "collapse" to become real particles. The extraordinary situation, which has prevailed for nearly a century is that, despite the clear acceptance of the role of consciousness in creating reality, all mainstream scientists still insist that consciousness vanishes on brain death. The obvious paradox, which is never mentioned, is that matter could not exist prior to any brain!"

Um - why can't those interfering waves just do their thing? I don't see comet Hale-Bopp having any trouble existing now that we're not paying attention. Building an entire case for the survival of consciousness after death on THIS? Fill your boots.

Lastly: you may have noted I admitted that scientists aren't necessarily objective. Remember, they only need to outrun Ted Haggard.

Jay

Comment #119 - Posted by: BCJay at March 6, 2007 11:27 AM

Zach,

If you're fine with people being religious, and with our court system respecting the rights both of religious adherent AND atheists, and everyone in between, by avoiding inserting itself unconstitutionally into issues that ought best be resolved through vote, then I'm fine with that.

Jay,

DO you think religion is stupid? If so, why imply it and not say it?

DO scientists outrun Ted Haggard? Frankly, I consider him to be more reputable than some I see.

Do you not understand that you can't convince me, and that I have already won this argument, which consisted solely in the claim that religious belief is defensible both philosophically and empirically? Not right, but defensible. As in, you can believe what you believe, and have presented no strong case at all, in my view, for any reason for me to believe differently than I do now. It works for you, and it doesn't work for me. I understood your case, probably better than you do, when this discussion started. It is obvious.

I have learned a lot in this discussion. I'm curious, what have you learned that is new? In what way has your thinking been expanded?

Comment #120 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 6, 2007 11:40 AM

Barry,

You post your points, read my critique, and then simply post more points. I invited you to show me where I was misrepresenting you - where I was being illogical. If you like your arguments so much, why don't you put any effort into defending them?

"DO you think religion is stupid? If so, why imply it and not say it?"

Is looking at what I said too much work? I said religion is *arbitrary*. Science is less so. Are you done trying to make me into a bigot?

"Do you not understand that you can't convince me?"

Why is that Barry? If this isn't an admission that your position isn't assailable by reason, what is it?

"Religious belief is defensible both philosophically and empirically"

What do you mean by defensible, exactly? Would you mind summarizing your argument?

"I have already won this argument"

Yeah, you really worked me over. I'll go lick my wounds now.

"I understood your case, probably better than you do, when this discussion started."

Interesting assertion.

"I have learned a lot in this discussion. I'm curious, what have you learned that is new? In what way has your thinking been expanded?"

You go first.

Jay


Comment #121 - Posted by: BCJay at March 6, 2007 12:09 PM

I learned that an apparently internally consistent alternative to General Relativity exists, which coincides with observable facts and which reconciles quantum physics and General Relativity, as well as explains other observable phenomena that don't currently fit well within current observational scopes. As a partisan of science, I find your off-handed dismissal of that revealing. It's obvious to me your purpose here is to vent hatred of religion, and hopefully show what you are obviously please to consider your considerable ratiocinative skill. On my part, I am less impressed, and frankly view the idea as nearly unassailable that your confidence derives principally from your failure to understand, which could be either intentional, or constitutional, and is likely a bit of both.

I realized that we limit the solutions available to us by the questions we are willing to ask.

I realized that a successful Republic requires a balance of opposing viewpoints which maintains a standpoint of respect, certainly within the framework of law, and ideally as a matter of discursive habit.

I learned that it is stupid to talk to people not willing to listen. I knew this, but forgot. There has to be a probing, a searching, that offers new evidence the weight it warrants, rather than slamming it immediately and dismissively into an assigned category, in an unscientific and intolerant manner.

It occurred to me that all social forms, of which religion and science are both forms, evolve over time. What was valid for Christianity 1,000 years ago is completely unacceptable today, and that most apparent contradictions in the Bible and elsewhere can easily be attributed to this evolution, for those not convinced of Biblical literalism.

This also means that Islam, in whatever form it is currently found, can and--based on much history, likely will-change over time, likely in a positive direction.

It occurred to me that Christians and political moderates share a common cause with moderate Islam in opposing an ill-considered Scientism--generally coupled with Socialism-- which has no evolved ethical system, and no real reason to oppose the Extended Order, as it has come to us via millenia of cultural evolution, except as a matter of superficial hauteur.

And you?

Comment #122 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 6, 2007 12:46 PM

Related essay (Barry, I think you'll appreciate this):

http://slate.com/id/2161171/fr/rss

Comment #123 - Posted by: Hari at March 6, 2007 1:34 PM

Barry,

I've found a handful of additional sources that support my own position as well. That's always nice.

Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to discover much more that that because you didn't really say anything. Just for posterity, care to make an attempt to actually define your position and its support?

"I learned that it is stupid to talk to people not willing to listen."

Oh yeah, forgot about that one. Ditto.

"There has to be a probing, a searching, that offers new evidence the weight it warrants, rather than slamming it immediately and dismissively into an assigned category, in an unscientific and intolerant manner."

Really? Does every move of a chess game require 15 min. of deliberation? Not when you've seen it all before.

Your "new evidence" fairly well quivers with quackery. Barry - knock knock knock - your source gathered "data" from psychics in order to validate his theory. That flies in your world? Do you compose your posts using a Ouija board? Barry - for the last time - the onus is not on me to prove that there is no supernatural. The onus is on *you* to tell me why I should give any weight at all to the arbitrary, contradictory mass of assertions that is religion.

Hateful? No. Dismissive? Yes.

"your confidence derives principally from your failure to understand, which could be either intentional, or constitutional, and is likely a bit of both."

Nice to see you resorting to simple, insulting assertions again. I think they are your strong point. Like I said before - Understand *what* exactly? Maybe you should try actually arguing as opposed to rambling.

As for an alternative ethical education - how about Sesame Street. Getting along isn't rocket science, Barry.

In any event, I've seen enough at this point to judge the caliber of your mind. I'll sign off here and leave you the last word. Hopefully others have noted what happens when you are pressed to put your money where your mouth is.

Jay


Comment #124 - Posted by: BCJay at March 6, 2007 1:50 PM

Jay,

You have probably figured this one out, but just in case:

Barry doesn't actually need to respond to rational arguments, because he possesses an extraordinary ability to see the Stalinist agents hidden within all of us.

Zach

Comment #125 - Posted by: zach davis at March 6, 2007 2:01 PM

Jay,

It is in no way incumbent on me to prove anything. I am not telling you to believe anything. What I am doing is responding to your supercilious insistence that you occupy the intellectual high ground. You don't, and in point of fact appear to have misunderstood substantially everything I've said. This is not due to a lack of clarity on my part, in my opinion. It is due, in my opinion, to the fact that you are not here to learn, but to teach. And a jar that is full admits nothing more, as the Taoists and others rightly pointed out.

If you took a bit more care with that link--at least what I read--the physics part of it was worked out in detail, and internally consistent. That doesn't make it right, and I'm not claiming it is right. I don't know. I need to study it more carefully.

What I am claiming is that all too often "proof" consists in lacking the ability to imagine either an alternative explanation, or the possibility of even a slight defect in the current scheme. You claim that reference to psychics is prima facie evidence of a lack of a scientific mindset, yet in point of fact a great deal of interesting, and scientifically rigorous work has been done in this field, that you don't know about, because you aren't scientific. Scientists go where the data lead. Ideological dogmatists go where they've gone before, even if it isnt' working.

As any even casual student of physics should know, quantum theory and General Relativity have to this point not been united by mainstream physics. You've got a lot of string theories in play, this, that and the other. Einstein died looking for his Unified Field Theory, which I believe is now called GUT, Grand Unified Theory.

Given this, what real scientists SHOULD do, is look at this theory, and figure out if it makes sense. If it has internal contradictions, or variances from observable reality. How one would go about testing it. That should be simple enough if this idea is as dumb as you think it is. But my guess is you lack the ability to assess it on its' own merits, and mainstream physicists lack the desire, due either to fear or the same sort of dismissive arrogance you are exhibiting here.

The difference between us, apparently, is I am actually pretty literate in at least layperson physics, and am willing to expend the effort to get better. I take science seriously, but as a process, not a conclusion.

Comment #126 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 6, 2007 2:11 PM

"A little learning is a dangerous thing"

- Alexander Pope

Jay

Comment #127 - Posted by: BCJay at March 6, 2007 2:20 PM

And we're back to ad hominem, and done with the pretense of rationality. Thank goodness. You all confuse a lot of people, not least those trying to determine if they were somehow taught the wrong definition of Reason in school.

To reiterate, for me to win this argument it is necessary solely to establish religious belief as intellectually credible. It is not necessary to establish its' credibility relative to Science (understood as an HONEST use of the method, which--like a perfectly Christian life, has almost certainly never happened), as formally excluding religion evidentially or theoretically from possibly accurate descriptions of reality cannot be done within the framework of science, which has defined such questions as outside its' proper domain. Given that such beliefs of reality cannot be excluded as possibly correct, they cannot be attacked as irrational by definition, merely different from the viewpoint of some who take on other positions. Obviously, the rationally possible cannot be irrational. It takes defining the belief as irrational at the outset to make it irrational, which of course is a circular argument.

It is stupid and unscientific to believe that everything that is, we can see. That is the height of arrogance.

As Ronald Reagan said "it's not what people don't know that most hurts us. It's what people know that ain't so."

Comment #128 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 6, 2007 2:32 PM

Zack,

Your definition of Agnosticism doesn't take into consideration that most people discover their faith by what you would probably consider 'irrational evidence'. A family member gets sick and recovers, or they themselves near death, for instance.

As far is faith being a 'mental defect'. Such has been said about 'love' too, in much the same manner.
I find it to be categorically true that the human spirit glows brighter in those who have faith. They have a much higher 'Who would you like to have a beer with' factor. Moreover, they are smarter and better looking.

As far as wars go, I believe the track record of post-religious contries to speak for itself.

CCTJoey,

My initial squabble with Nuke was motivated by similar sentiments as yours: I resented that many liberals would simple say "We all agree that's terrible. Now lets move on to a subject that is less akward for us". Nuke chimed in right on cue. The list of heroes and Martyrs whose stories are never told because the clash with the liberal political correct orthodoxy is long and heartbreaking. They deserve bare knuckle brawls in their name, not platitudes.

Barry,

Not to pile one, but your argument has gone pear shaped. It's understandable that you want to retreat to a clear philisophical point, but you are making a mess of it. I seen better work from you.

Nuke,
Sorry about my tone. Don't know what about this message board makes me write like a smug englishman. (I'm still doing it, arn't I?).


Comment #129 - Posted by: WhiskeySean at March 6, 2007 3:26 PM

WhiskeySean,

Agreed. I'm forcing it. I'll leave it be for now, and grab a beer or two.

Comment #130 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 6, 2007 3:38 PM

WhiskeySean,

I'm not convinced that my definition leaves anything out... the person you describe in your example was agnostic, until they were convinced of religion... It doesn't necessarily matter how they are convinced. They are no longer agnostic.

As far as the need for religion being a mental defect. I stand by it.. I think it is evidence of the frailty of the human ego; the fact that we so fear death that we make up myths to comfort ourselves against it. I believe it will be the single-most important factor in our downfall as a species.

Just imagine where we would be if we diverted 1/2 the time and money that humans spend on religion into the pursuit of life-extending science and medicine.

I don't necessarily find religious people any more consistently compelling to be around than agnostics. I do, however, almost universally find it easier to talk to the non-religious folks I know.

On the matter of wars: no war was ever started with science as its' motivation.

Zach

Comment #131 - Posted by: zach davis at March 6, 2007 4:13 PM

I don't understand the arguement here.

Science is not a belief system. It is a way to deduct the world around you.

Religion is a belief system. Much like a philosophy except you get the added benefit of an essence or diety...sometimes more than one! Plus your Dogma, which if you are not careful will get ran over by your Karma.

Now if you want argue what is more destructive of the belief systems...I would argue that anytime a belief system structures itself around a human-centric organization (government), far more damage is done to the human race as a whole and to the individual human spirit.

Belief systems must become a conclusion of the individual and as such a person must be allowed to come and go as they see fit. Of course people are born into them, but at they should be (upon adulthood or before) allowed to dissent or leave without being concerned with personal harm.

To me this is why a Democratic Republic with a secular form of Government, coupled with capitalism is the best form of life as it fosters Liberty. All other belief systems can operate inside of this combination, however those qualities can not exist inside the others.

Example: You can practice Communism inside a Democratic Republic so much as you don't try to actively undermine the Democratic Republic...the opposite is not true.

When in question, I default to Liberty and let the peices fall where they may. However I do not equate Liberty as anarchy.

This is the struggle that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has. She has defaulted to Liberty which she is having to fight for. She is no different than those defectors hunted down by Communists.

Now for a further arguement...the outspoken aethiests tend to be leftists. They combine their to beliefs in a purposful "doctrine" to undermine America on a regular basis...thus earning the name Secular Progressives by some along with disdain. This is not without reason. The most amount of loss of life and Liberty can be attributed to these beliefs when formed into a government. social democracies are slowly deteriorating before our eyes because they (the people) have left or are leaving a sense of connection to a/the divine. This results in the STATE being looked to for compassion and forgiveness...eg. Socialism. As the members o that society reach more for government they let go of thier Liberty. (personal security, income, health, personal defense, etc.)

As a result, government will do all of the above sub-par.

If thier is one thing I have learned is that Military nor Lawyers should be trusted to run government accept brief periods of time (Sorry Dale);)


Comment #132 - Posted by: CCTJOEY at March 6, 2007 4:28 PM

Jay, Zach, and Nick,

Find me places in this or past Rest Days where postitions along the lines of "All Atheism is lunacy" got posted, without prior provocation. Note that asserting a faith in Christianity is different than asserting atheism is lunacy. Do you see the difference? One is rhetorically combative, the other is personally affirmative, and only offensive to the professionally offended. I see an exact analogue between the use of the court system to further atheism, and the use of the court system to further affirmative action.

Reading back through this thread, I remember now why I got pissed. None of you ARE tolerant, and your whole position consists solely the contention that Science=Rationality, and that failure to meet that criterion by deriving all beliefs about what is true from the scientific method is by definition irrational.

As I have shown repeatedly, scientists can NEVER make absolute truth claims, even with respect to what works today. The "laws" of gravity might change tomorrow, and assuming otherwise is a subtle form of Deism, not agnosticism. Given that we can never "know" anything, and that it is manifestly obvious we can't even create consistent models that scale from the very small to the very large today to describe what we CAN see, it is obvious that what IS, is a subset of what can currently be described within the framework of science. That ideas currently classed as metaphysical and beyond the realm of science will one day be brought within the framework of science, I have no doubt. What is delaying this process are strong metaphysical assumptions on the part of mainstream scientists, that are at odds with their own purported "agnosticism" ("not knowing").

CrossFit works, but we don't know why. That places it outside the framework of science. Given your presuppositions, why are you here? Surely it is obvious enough that religious adherents receive more than enough positive feedback to justify in their own minds continued belief?


Comment #133 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 7, 2007 3:52 AM

Zach,

In what respect did Communism not claim--does not STILL claim--scientific status? It's definitionally materialistic, and hence theoretically empirical and objective.

Comment #134 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 7, 2007 4:23 AM

for fun:
1250 m swim
4x400 / IM/Free/IM/Free @9min
cool down

afternoon
14 mile bike, temescal climb, chataqua climb

Comment #135 - Posted by: adam sm at March 7, 2007 6:28 AM

132/Joey, nice one.

Barry, a take away for me was your point about the secularist/progressive shot being fired by the US SC in R v W. Back then, I was growing up in a dry county, with blue laws, where you couldn't buy anything on a Sunday, and would be frowned upon for wanting to (McDonalds the lone exception). When folks talk about the 'power of the evangelicals' or 'Christians' now, I wonder if they are deliberately repressing their memory of the fact that you couldn't be a candidate in those days if you weren't a professed Christian - better yet a 'god fearing man.' Back then, if you weren't Christian, you could hardly let it be known and still be part of polite society. That might not have been true in the north/west as it was in the south - perhaps it was already shifting.

R v W seems to have been the big wake up call to the religious folks that they could no longer assume that all would hold their values. Since the government was already a proven means of forcing others do to what one thinks is right, they got into the game.

Still, whether it is 'progressives' working their agenda via supreme court, or the faithful upholding the 'Sabbath' with blue laws, both are violations of (my opinion of) the purpose of govt - to defend the rights of the individual, first by defending the constitution under which we have individual rights.

If we weren't abusing the power of the fed govt to advance our agendas against each other, no one would care about the religious belief, or lack thereof, of any other citizen. "It's the coercive power of govt, stupid" that has us all mad at each other.

Likewise, whether Communist/statist or religious/statist, the common theme was (is?) that the dominant govt uses the means at its disposal to kill whomever they can dominate (then someone had a crazy notion – “let’s have a constitutionally limited government”). I would assert/opine/propose/theorize/postulate that it has far more to do with the abuse of the coercive power of govt that's behind the majority of the murders in history - not religion, or communism/science. You can count how many people were killed by governments from countries with a Christian majority, or a Muslim majority, or a cat worshiping majority – but it is not the religion, it is power imbalance that results in the killing. Some wacko waving a book over a field full dead saying “Look at the glory of God at work in our government today!” doesn’t make it a religious killing, that’s just a wacko with a book looking for an ego stroke. The religious man in the midst of a group of murderous, robbing thugs is sitting there, looking at the dead thinking, ‘this cannot be right.’

Zach, I can think of many examples, concepts, and drivers for virtue that either derive from or have been idealized by human religions for so long, that it's difficult for me to conceive of their survival without religious shepherding. I can’t think of a single atheist institution that has carried forward a virtue – for example, the virtue of noble men doing noble science for the benefit of all; that virtue comes from the religious virtue of searching for the truth. The whole idea of ‘benefit of all’ as best I can tell, comes from the religious institutions in the world. It seems to me that even the Greek philosophies and admiration of virtue would have been lost but for their incorporation into and defense by religion.

"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" was a civilizing value for that place and time. Many of Mohammad's utterances on behalf of Allah were likewise 'progressive' for that place and time for both peace and women's rights. The 10 commandments - setting a moral standard that meets many if not most of our standards for civility thousands of years later - was a remarkable example of the cultivation of virtue through religion. Jesus’ almost universally ignored but no less remarkable utterance “turn the other cheek” is still far greater in virtue than most of us are willing to strive for. In short, out of hand condemning religion as the large threat to humanity seems, at best, to be uninformed. It's simply untenable to assert, regardless of one's faith or lack of same, that religion is 'the threat to humanity.' I assert that if humanity moves forward, it will be because of the virtue that we have taken collectively from our culture's embedded religious aspirations to either achieve virtue via the assistance of the divine, or to embrace virtue out of fear of the divine. Either way, I see no evidence that virtue would have survived until today, or civilization exist as it does today, without religious inspiration driving it.

Jay, I think I understand why you ponied up to the bar to flop it out there and say, "Barry, you ain't the only one with a big 'un." I don't know if your comments were of any particular help in illuminating anything but this line was as funny as anything I've seen in a while (timing being the key):

“Sorry Barry, I looked it up in the Charter of the Rationalist Club. One of the conditions of your probation is that you start putting those annoying qualifiers on your statements like "it seems to me that..." and "in my analysis..." Just one of the inconveniences of (temporarily) losing your Supreme Arbiter position."

For my money though, dialogue beats argument any day for satisfaction, if not stimulation. We’d all rather watch a fight than watch two folks learning from each other, regrettably.

In my humble as ever opinion (no one else can define humble but me), one can only deny religion via reason if you also deny the rationality of human experience as a means of knowing. Deciding that religion is a human weakness vice a strength would have to totally depend on your perception of whether religion makes people more effective or less so at survival - seems clear to me that religious influence in culture make a culture more likely to survive, thus the lack of atheistic cultures. Should Zach or anyone else want to believe differently, fine, so far as you don't want to follow Stalin's plan and use govt to enforce your view.

I got five cents on no one reading this … but if you do, kindly help me if I have made assumptions that are contestable, recorded information that is not factually correct, or fallen short in my progression of logic, that I may approach a more divine effort in the next iteration.

Comment #136 - Posted by: apolloswabbie at March 7, 2007 8:11 AM

Barry,

Tolerance: a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry

Tolerance does not imply respect or agreement.. You should know this, comsidering how dismissive you are to opposing opinions.

As for the connection you are trying to make between communisma nd science.... you're really reaching there.

Zach

Comment #137 - Posted by: zach davis at March 7, 2007 8:54 AM

Apolloswabbie,

Yeah - I read it. You lose a nickel :)

I'd like to participate in a dialogue on virtue & religion. I did mention somewhere in there that I would have considered something along those lines to be more fruitful than having a fight with Barry.

I did resent the way that Barry seemed to always be suggesting arguments (controversial arguments, no less) without defining them or seeing them through. That kind of thing bugs me, no matter what the topic is. I had some fun along the way, as you noted :)

I'd take you up, respectfully, on your invitation to critique your arguments, but I run my own business, and I've already blown enough billable hours on these threads for the time being! If I do manage to sneak some time to respond, I'll e-mail you as well as post here.

Cheers,

Jay

Comment #138 - Posted by: BCJay at March 7, 2007 9:14 AM

Barry Cooper wrote:

In what respect did Communism not claim--does not STILL claim--scientific status? It's definitionally materialistic, and hence theoretically empirical and objective.

Barry,

The fact that Communism may claim scientific status does not make it so. Al Quaeda claims religous status, but there are Muslims that disagree (perhaps too quietly for our satisfaction). I suggest that both claims are rationalizations rather than statements of fact.

Comment #139 - Posted by: Porkchop at March 7, 2007 9:29 AM

Jay, As a wanna be capitalist, and defender of capitalism, I salute your efforts in that regard. I've been armed for the last 17.5 years of Naval Aviation with the finest military equipment to be had by any extant military (which is really damning by faint praise, but the point stands) because of the value you and other capitalist Americans create daily. You have my thanks for making it happen. If you don't get around to showing me the error of my ways, no worries. Paul

Comment #140 - Posted by: apolloswabbie at March 7, 2007 10:33 AM

Zach,

You are a lunatic because you believe what you do.

Is that statement tolerant or not? I'm confused.

This question is reasonable within the context of this contention: "As far as I'm concerned, all religion is lunacy." Self evidently, you are claiming that all adherents to religion are lunatics, since "religion" per se is a human phenomena, God having no need for a Bible.

With respect to Communism: "The cornerstone of the Marxist State is the utilization of human knowledge, science and technique, directly for human welfare." Read the link, then tell me again how religion is going to be the ruin of us all.

http://www.academia.org/campus_reports/2000/March_2000_4.html

This raises the question, as well: Is there a uniform referent to Science? We can make the claim that Communism is to Science as Ted Haggard is to Christianity, with a "slight" delta in the body count. Communism is hypocritical. However, once we admit that notion, if we can "rebut" Christianity with a couple examples of sin among believers, then surely Science ought logically to suffer much more greatly under that same burden of perfection.

That would be dumb, just as bringing up Ted Haggard in examples of religion is dumb. Far better to point to Mother Teresa, or Rev. Martin Luther King, or Albert Schweizer, or Mahatma Gandhi, or Isaac Newton, etc, etc. etc.

There is no reason, in a strict sense, to discuss "religion" as good or bad in any event, as there is no such thing. We don't claim a uniform referent to Science, so why posit one to Religion, especially one (as in the case of ubiquitous and superficial quoting of Biblical scripture by those lacking all hermeneutic skills whatever) which restricts itself to considerably less than 1% of the known theodiversity. And why not assume that cultural evolution happens with respect to ideas too? You don't have a problem with the notion of evolution, do you? Given that change is possible, it would be necessary to show that an elimination of rather than a reformation of religion would be in the best interests of humanity (defined, for lack of an alternative on the atheist side, as the greatest good for the greatest number).

Paul, et al,

My ego, obviously, is not of the daffodil variety. I don't get blown around easily in the wind of debate. I can be pretty stubborn in most other areas of my life too. Given that, any of you all that want to tell me my eyes are turning brown, don't hesitate. It improves me. All that I ask of anyone is a sincere intention to foster a general increase in knowledge and thinking, and if I'm sucking it out of the room, tell me. I don't think I am here.

These issues, and our collective solution to them, will dictate what kind of world we live in 25 years from now, what kind of world our kids live in, and IF anybody is alive at all. Given those facts, I take it as my God given duty to wrestle with these things until it hurts, then go again. We're going in the wrong direction right now, and all anyone has to do to reach that determination is turn on the radio to almost any station, and ask themselves if the ethos being offered could be generalized in a sustainable way. In most cases, my belief is the answer is no.

The spirit of Hank Williams has been dead in most of this country for a long time. Me, I do my part to keep it alive. Not so much the drunk part--although I'm with him there, too--but the maintenance of a tragic but engaged sense of life. One that understands pain has a place in a well lived life.

With respect to the "it seems to me. . ." thing, I do that for a reason. I'm well read, have a good memory, and am reasonably intelligent. That doesn't mean I don't sometimes stick my head up my butt looking for the light switch, so I put a lot of qualifiers in there precisely to combat my own dogmatic tendencies, which I recognize as endemic to the human condition. I was pleased to learn Aristotle did the same thing, saying constantly "for the most part. . ."

What do I need to do to get my Supreme Arbiter position back? Are they still hiring?

Comment #141 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 7, 2007 11:19 AM

I wanted to add, when you trample on what some people consider sacred, you should expect anger. We have been trained to repress our anger at things like flag burning that in a previous era would have been dealt with, depending on the person and the occasion, by a flexible scale of response from indifference, if it was the town drunk, to a beating, if it was a known agitator.

Reason demands we control ourselves. That was the whole point of most Greek tragedy. But that does NOT demand the cessation of the emotion of outrage and anger, and I keep seeing people acting surprised when they make inflammatory comments about things that don't matter TO THEM, but which they have every reason to surmise matter TO OTHERS, and draw a response.

If I tell the father of a newborn child his kid is butt ugly and looks stupid, is that classy? Is that good form? Should I expect a proportionate response? Should I demand tolerance on his part? How about if I walk up to someone of some minority status or other, and use the appropriate expletive? Should I expect tolerance? Have I exhibited tolerance and good taste?

We have mistaken indifference for tolerance, and substituted respect for the STATUS of others for respect for the FEELINGS of others. Since the religious don't have "status" as victimized, it is perfectly acceptable, in some circles, to profane what is to them sacred. I will fight this tooth and nail every time, on principle. The principle of an ACTUALLY, and not superficially civil society. This point, to the attentive, should be clear as a subtext in everything I write.

Comment #142 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 7, 2007 12:05 PM

One final note, then I promise I'll stop, and will even discipline myself to skip the next Rest Day, as I've been WAY too active.

I know not everybody loves hearing my views on everything, and that I may be taking up more bandwidth than I can justify.

What these posts represent for me, though, is an ongoing struggle to learn, and push through the mental fog we live in. A sizable portion of what many of us are taught growing up today is not condusive, in my view, to the long term well being of our society, or even our personal well being. We are being handed maps that lead in the wrong direction. Each of us can personally choose our own direction, but for there to be a shared society, a shared culture, a shared framework of meaning, then we need to hammer all of that out in discussions like these, which I view as inherently patriotic, as--as we are so often told--the right to the Freedom of Speech is one of our most sacred rights.

We have had fistfights on Capital Hill. One Congressman attacked another with a cane at one point. The Constitutional Convention was apparently only held together by the shared admiration everyone had for George Washington, and there was a LOT of arguing. It was there at the beginning, and quite passionate, if also articulate.

There is no reason we cannot have parts of our selves that we share as Americans, and parts of ourselves that are private. It seems to me that ultimately, in attacking "America" in a general and decontextualized way, parts of our body politic are attempting to detach themselves from our communal sense of self, and it seems to me that is a very sad and unnecessary thing to do.

Finally, if I'm getting on anyone's nerves, please just email me insults. That's more useful. But please be creative. Things along the lines of Turnip-Headed curmudgeon. That sort of thing always makes me smile.

Comment #143 - Posted by: barry cooper at March 7, 2007 1:04 PM

The article Barry posted in #141 is a great read!!!

Comment #144 - Posted by: CCTJOEY at March 7, 2007 1:28 PM

Last, last note, unless it isn't.

Aggressive atheism is to the social order as socialism is to the economic order.

That's the short form of the proposition, which likely is incomplete for many, so I will extrapolate a bit.

Both constitute forms of what Hayek called Constructivism, which is essentially the politically expressed conceit that Science is sufficiently advanced to replace our received economic (and social) forms with ideas conceived in the minds of people who don't know what they don't know.

He contrasted Constructivism with what he called the Extended Order, which is essentially an infinitely complex number of localized decisions made congruently with certain generalized principles. Local power, general principle. Sound familiar?

His point was that this order has evolved, culturally, over a long time, and efforts to control it or replace it invariably fail due to a structural inability to understand it's complexity, which is the inevitable consequence of trying to centralize decisions based on inadequate information. The information is necessarily inadequate because it fails to represent the total amount of local information available to all participants, which it approximates, rather than synthesizes faithfully.

In the same sense that there are economic decisions, I would argue there are what we might term "meaning" decisions, and the same logic would apply. In this formulation, the Catholic (universal) Church would represent a form of what we might term "meaning collectivism".

This raises the interesting question: what would Radical Islam be? In terms of their attempted hijack of Islam away from moderates, it would represent, structurally and with respect to meaning, the same thing as Communist attempt wherever they attempt (or accomplish, if we can't stop them) what they do.

If this line of thinking is correct, then the solution is what we might term "meaning capitalism", which would take the form of tolerating a multiplicity of views. No capitalistic system is healthy in a condition of monopoly, and no meaning system can fully represent the needs of everyone if it is centralized.

There's something, possibly, in there that is profound. The overuse of symbols can lead to confusion, but it can also be very illuminating.

OK. That should do. I need to smoke on it. I do now have a Danish pipe.

It will gratify some to know I'm listening to Rush.

Comment #145 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 7, 2007 3:58 PM

Barry,

Seriously, you need to reign in your spinning logic a little...

You have a tendency to speculate waaaaaayyyyy too much into the motivations of people.

In response to your assertion that I am not civil enough. Try looking into the mirror. You are the most stubborn, brow-beater that I have run across in a long time. And, you have a tendency to make the same sweeping character judgements that you are accusing me of, whenever faced with an opposing poltical opinion.

Also, try to lighten up a little.

Zach

Comment #146 - Posted by: zach davis at March 7, 2007 5:07 PM

I'm kind of doing an assessment on these posts. This has been productive for me, and hopefully others. I realized I missed Porkchops post. "They" is New York City: http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Quirks/Juror_removed_from_Libby_trial/20070226-064542-2730r/

Perhaps they could implement a "symbolic" ban on flag burning.

With respect to my question, no, it is not legal as far as I can tell, at least in some states. Unless this law has been overturned: http://www.cwfa.org/articles/6458/CFI/family/index.htm

Are you an attorney? If so, shouldn't you know about this?

My point was simply that the same logic behind banning the "N" word--and for that matter the same sense of social decorum, decency, and respect for the feelings of others--would apply to burning flags. Is it somehow less offensive for veterans with missing limbs to see Old Glory going up in smoke than members of ethnic minorities to be called offensive epithets? I see NO difference whatever.

Comment #147 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 7, 2007 5:14 PM

I'll lighten up if you stop calling people of faith lunatics. I note you ignored the question. This is not a small matter. Have some manners and courtesy, and I am more than happy to be civil. You'll note I was for a long time in this thread. I just reread it, and there were any number of offensive comments before I jumped onto that aspect of it. If you wouldn't call an African American the N word, then don't call persons of faith lunatics. Have some class.

I just saw this: "If this was a UFC match, I think the referee would have stepped in at this point. TKO (Unanswered strikes). Or did you throw in the towel?"

That's funny, because the metaphor I was using was from the Seven Samurai. Two samurais are fighting with wooden swords, and the unskilled one keeps telling the master that he has won, and he keeps telling, no, you just got cut. Finally, he gets so mad he insists they use real swords, and the obvious happens.

This is obviously quite arrogant of me to compare myself in that way, but it matches your own spirit well. In my own view--which, being human, I will freely admit is prone to error--I am running circles around you, and you lack the capacity to see it. This is a common flaw in unself-diagnosed dogmatists.

I'm not trying to dominate this thread, nor demonstrate my own self importance. I could care less whether I receive accolades, indifference or condemnation, if I learn something. For me, learning something requires pushing hard, and frankly it ruins my fun when people misunderstand me. Jay, in my view, you are just trying to beat me, and I'm looking 20 miles past you. You're just in the way. If that sounds arrogant, then so be it. People that know me know how I am.

Comment #148 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 7, 2007 5:42 PM

Barry,

I said "All religion is lunacy." I did not call all people of faith lunatics... it is a distinction that you should be familiar with, considering how often you make the same type of sweeping character judgements.

BTW - did you just, seriously, tell me to have "some class"??? Man, that's rich. It wasn't long ago when you accused me of not having "testicular fortitude."

If you are not trying to demonstrate your own self importance, or dominate the thread, then perhaps you should back off a little. Or not.... it's kind of fun to watch you trip all over yourself.

Zach

Comment #149 - Posted by: zach davis at March 7, 2007 6:07 PM

Are you unable to grasp that Religion is not a thing? That sort of casuistry may slip by some, but I doubt it escaped any persons of faith, many of whom, I will freely admit, are likely more tolerant than me. That is an important aspect of Christianity in particular.

Comment #150 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 7, 2007 6:16 PM

Right,

Which is one of many reasons why I think it is lunacy... adherents find their egos so entertwined with their belief system that they can't disassociate the two, and it becomes impossible to have a rational discussion about their belief system without generating offense.

Zach


Comment #151 - Posted by: zach davis at March 7, 2007 6:30 PM

Zach,

Do you not see how dishonest you are being? How uncommitted to actual civil discourse, one aspect of which is sincerity?

You imply in one post you are tolerant, I point out you called religion lunacy, you say you didn't mean the people, just the people practicing religion, I point out this makes no sense, and you use that to reinforce your original point, which was clear enough, that you consider religious PEOPLE lunatics, presumably because they dont' know enough not to be offended by your arrogant, insensitive and offhanded dismissal.

If you want to insult people, at least do it honestly.

Comment #152 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at March 7, 2007 6:49 PM

Barry,

So-called "hate speech" laws are blatantly unconstitutional. End of discussion. That California bill will go nowhere. It will not pass, and if it does, it will be overturned.

You can't ban speech just because it offends someone. If you could, both you and Zach would be in deep trouble. :-) You offend each other quite a bit, I gather.

There are very strict limits on the kinds of laws that pass muster when they seek to limit speech. Examples, pornography (but only if it has utterly no redeeming social value); fighting words (i.e., intimidation, threats, etc); within limits, restrictions are allowed in the K-12 educational context.

And, yes, I am a lawyer.

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