Separation of Church and State? Not in Arkansas!

Seems the lawmakers down in Arkansas aren’t real fond of the idea of keeping church and state separate:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – The state House on Friday voted against affirming the separation of church and state in a resolution brought by a legislator who said he was fed up with a religious undertone at the Capitol.

The House voted 44-39 against the proposal. Only two Republicans voted for it, and one of them, Rep. Jim Medley, said he had intended to vote no but didn’t get to his machine in time to change his vote.

Democratic Rep. Buddy Blair said he offered the measure because he was tired of conservative colleagues “making every issue into a religious issue.”

“It’s unbelievable to me. They have just voted against the U.S. Constitution and the constitution of the state of Arkansas,” Blair said.

Legislators have offered bills this session to keep gay people from adopting or serving as foster parents; define marriage in school textbooks as a one-man, one-woman union; require minors to get a parent’s permission before an abortion; and offer “In God We Trust” license plates.

Republican Rep. Michael Lamoureux said Blair’s resolution wasn’t needed.

“It’s clear that our founding fathers, that they wanted Christian beliefs,” Lamoureux said. “The separation of church and state is not in our Constitution.”

There was a time when I laughed at the idea that we could see this country turn into a theocracy one day, but I’m finding it less laughable with each passing news item about lawmakers out to undermine the bedrock this country was built on. I used to think that the overwhelming number of moderates would keep the extremists on both sides at bay, but the Fundamentalists have learned how to manipulate their way into office all the way up to the President and they’re hell bent in making good use of their power to bring about the theocracy I used to laugh at. The reelection of Bush has emboldened them to the extent that many feel it’s no longer a threat to their political careers to vote against long-standing principles laid down by the Founding Fathers themselves.

Things are only going to get worse from here. Hang on, it’s going to be a rough ride.

57 thoughts on “Separation of Church and State? Not in Arkansas!

  1. Let’s see why a theocracy might be right around the corner:

    1. Established politicians would whore their mothers   if it meant getting a vote and in Arkansas the voters are probably…

    2. Fundamentalist or Evangelical Christians who seem to think they can build a heaven on Earth if only they could bend the heathen to their will, but how? Well, enter…

    3. The Bush administration, perhaps the most crazed bunch of anti-constitutionalists to have ever stolen office. Now they wouldn’t be able to manage such a radical Jihad except that…

    4. The nations press, ever fearful of losing their jobs if their Republican voting owners are displeased and ever obedient to the whims of the Whitehouse Press Office, will print the baldest lies in an effort to be “fair and balanced.” In the end it will be up to…

    5. Us, the citizens of this United States to fight against the tryanny struggling ever to enslave us. When they come for my neighbor to take her to the re-education camps I will bar their way even though my neighbor is an irritating shit. When they come for my co-worker to incarcerate him for reasons unknown for an indeterminate length of time in an American torture facility, I will stand up in solidarity with him and fight back as best I can. When they finally come for me to haul me off to a forced labor camp in central Idaho maybe there will be someone left to stand up for me.

    It is tired but true. Only YOU can prevent the rise of the American Taliban.

  2. I really do not believe that people actually understand what Bush and people like him are trying to go.  When people have to start living with restrictive civil liberties due to theocratic rule they will wonder how the hell can such a thing happen.

    I believe that most people are either very moderate in their religious beliefs or agnostic from what I have seen but feel the need to put moral values upfront because they believe it is a good thing. This good thing is about to bite them in the ass.

    Also look where all this religious bull crap is happening, in the dumb ass south, the place where superstition and ignorance runs rampant.

  3. While I’m displeased with any number of the agenda items pushed forward by the evangelical Right, calling the US a theocracy (or even positing one being right around the corner) strikes me as dangerous hyperbole.  To call even cretins like Dobson and Falwell “the American Taliban” is as grotesque as Sean Hannity conflating liberals with terrorists and despots.

    Lengthier nattering about this here.

  4. ***Dave,

    I’m on board with you regarding much of what you said in your post.  However, it does strike me that there’s already a quite notable blurring between state and religious lines in the US, especially in the south.  This is not to say that the US is a theocracy or likely to become a theocracy in the way that Iran or the Vatican is a theocracy.  However, there does seem to be the erosion of civil liberties as the result of misguided religious fervor that should be quite worrying for most American citizens, including those who are religious.  Just remember what happened to the Quakers and other non-Puritan Christian groups back in the colonial times.

  5. While I see the increase in the religious fervor of not only citizens, but also politicians.  I see it as just a part of a cycle.  The increase of religiosity is simply (IMHO) a backlash occurring because of scientific and technological advancements.  Just like any shake up in the social foundation (think feminism) there will be a backlash.  For as with anything, you mess with the core foundation of a people, they attempt to go back to a simpler time when they understood what was going on.  I really don’t know what it is about human beings, but they are sensitive little critters.  While many are beginning to embrace being free from religion, there are just as many running there, trying to fix the cracks that occurring in the foundation.  Will this cause a true theocracy?  I don’t think so.  Will politicians use this backlash of religious fervor to their advantage?  I do believe they already are.

  6. Banshee,

    If it really was a backlash thing you’d think it’d be more universal in the industrialized world.  However, the rest of the western nations are getting increasingly secular.  It’s only in the US that evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity has taken a really strong foot hold.  This is not to say that there aren’t fundamentalist Christians in developed countries outside of the US.  It’s just that outside of the US they’re minority extremist groups that tend to not have much influence in the political process rather than actually controlling the powers that be.

  7. I try to keep thing “Just 4 more years, Bo$$”, but being a pessimist by nature (I’ve tried, how I’ve tried to be an optomist) I think “they Repubs will probably just change the constitution back to 12 year terms”. Anyone else fearing this?

  8. I asked Buddy why he decided to put forward that resolution, considering how overly religious our state government is. He told me that he knew it was going to lose, but he did it to demonstrate a point- that we were headed towards a theocracy, and perhaps something like this, even if it was rejected (which resolutions rarely are- they’re usually feel-good things that everyone passes unanimously) it would still serve a point in generating attention and conversation.

    I can safely say that Rep. Blair has proven his point quite deftly. He’s amassing quite a collection of clips, blogs, and articles. I’ll have to point him to this blog.

  9. It is not a theocracy you fear but a religious tyranny.  The Vatican and Iran are not theocracies rather the Vatican is an arguably benevolent religious tyranny and Iran a malevolent religious tyranny.  God has not come to earth to rule yet, so there are no theocracies.  Theocracy is not something to fear unless you believe in an omnimalevolent god.  Calling the Vatican and Iran theocracies is like calling the former Soviet Union Communist.

  10. If it really was a backlash thing you’d think it’d be more universal in the industrialized world.  However, the rest of the western nations are getting increasingly secular.  It’s only in the US that evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity has taken a really strong foot hold.

    Ironically, that’s largely because religion was so entanged in the state and the status quo in much of Europe.  Where there were strong state churches, traditional Christianity has significantly dwindled.  It’s ironic, because that’s the danger of any religious movement tying itself to politics too strongly (as some evangelical Christians are tring to do).

    I try to keep thing “Just 4 more years, Bo$$

  11. ***Dave,

    It seems to me that there are plenty of specific, concrete, and out-on-the-table policy proposals by the Bush Administration that deserve opposition without worst-case-scenarioing ourselves into despair.

    That’s a good point, but what a heck of a “look on the bright side”. 

    Theo,

    That’s true, it’s religious tyranny that I’m concerned with.  I don’t think that freedom and religious tyranny (even benevolent) are contemporaneously possible in a heterogenous society (such as those of Canada and the US).

  12. Calling the Vatican and Iran theocracies is like calling the former Soviet Union Communist.

    It is indeed, theo, and I do.  It’s fun and it’s practical, too.

    Here we have the problem of definitions colored by belief:  for true believers, Christian or Marxist, there are, at the moment, no true theocracies or communisties, because there are none governed directly by Christ or Marx.

    Atheist flavored as I am, I am more inclined to extend the definitions a bit further away from their pristine ideals, and include a few existing regimes under the respective rubrics of “theocracy” and “communist”.

    Exactly where to draw the lines is moot.  Comparing the Bush administration to the Taliban is a bit much, but I go along with 3stardave and say there’s plenty to oppose, without having to invoke the “t” words.

  13. I’m not claiming that we’re living in a theocracy now and I know there’s still quite a ways to go before it could be said that we are. My point was only that there was a time I found the possibility laughable and these days I’m not laughing so much. As far away as that day may be, there does seem to be a lot of signs that we’re headed in that direction and it does bother me. I also realize that it’s true that the U.S. has gone through cycles such as this before, but I’m not real found of being stuck in one of the high points for this kind of thing.

    It’s the libertarian in me that just wants everyone to leave each other the hell alone as much as possible so we can be free to pursue our lives as we see fit.

  14. ***Dave,

    I completely agree with you points.  I was just being facetious with the “looking on the bright side” line.  I do think that there are numerous issues that are more distracting than anything.  For example I think abortion and same-sex marriage are those kind of issues.  Most people in the US (from the way it seems from the news media and various ‘blogs and other internet sites) are getting all worked up in trying to keep gays from marrying and stopping the “killing of babies” that they’ve largely ignored serious issues such as the erosion of the US economy (the Canadian dollar is getting pretty close to being worth more than the Greenback, something that hasn’t happened since I was a baby), the war in Iraq, general dumbness in the government’s foreign and domestic policy. 

    I guess it might be that people would rather focus on the insubstantial issues rather than addressing the real ones.  It’s less scary or something.

  15. Les:

    I also realize that it’s true that the U.S. has gone through cycles such as this before, but I’m not real found of being stuck in one of the high points for this kind of thing.

    For what it’s worth, I think you’ve been in one of the high points, so far as civil liberties and the like go.  It’s just painful to be on the new downhill curve.

    It’s the libertarian in me that just wants everyone to leave each other the hell alone as much as possible so we can be free to pursue our lives as we see fit.

    Amen, brother.

    Swine:

    I guess it might be that people would rather focus on the insubstantial issues rather than addressing the real ones.  It’s less scary or something.

    I suspect one man’s insubstantial issue is another man’s real one.  If you were utterly convinced that children were being wholesale and legally slaughtered by the thousands each year, wouldn’t you get a little crazy about it?  (I don’t hold that view, but I can see why people do.)  Wouldn’t that be, in fact, more important than who’s drilling for oil where?

    On the other hand, slaughter-by-the-thousands in Darfur seems to be on very few people’s radar, so maybe that answers the question.

    I do agree that our priorities are probably more than a little messed up, but I suspect that once you get beyond the obvious (why are we devoting *any* news time to the Jackson or Blake trials?), what those priorities of attention, time, money, and effort should be become more difficult to get a consensus on.

    Which, in a scary time, probably means that “safe” but “inflammatory” issues, like (gasp!) gay marriage get more attention from the pols and pundits than dealing with very real, concrete, and bloddy issues at home and abroad.

  16. ***Dave,

    I suspect one man’s insubstantial issue is another man’s real one.

    That’s true, I did unfairly trivialize the views of those that I disagree with.  I do admit, I can understand why some people get as worked up about abortion as they do.  That was rather poor form for me to say what I did.

  17. While I’m displeased with any number of the agenda items pushed forward by the evangelical Right, calling the US a theocracy (or even positing one being right around the corner) strikes me as dangerous hyperbole.

    On the othe hand it is pretty obvious that the rightwing or neo-con agenda is to reduce civil liberties. This is a very dangerous direction that must be avoided, it wasn’t too long ago that slavery was legal and look what was needed to overcome that.

    Even something that resembles slavery isn’t too far off, with corporations paying meager sums of money for people to do dangerous industrial work.  people need to stand up for their rights, unfornuately a fear mongered populous is so willing to listen to what the government tells it, it needs to be safe, they are willing to believe anything.

    Meh, but what do i know.

  18. TeRRoRan,

    I’m actually more concerned that there might arise a sort of neo-McCarthyism than a sort of slavery.  I doubt there will be that great a degradation of civil liberties.  However, with the PATRIOT act and various other draconian measures taken in the name of “national security” things like the HUAC and the black-lists aren’t that far over the horizon.

  19. Just let some American taliban try and pass a law saying I have to go to church or have to believe a certain way! I’ll fuckin’ cram that law right up his tight ass. Don’t fuckin forget that lots of Americans own guns and a most Americans don’t take kindly towards being told how or what to believe—-historically this is how civil wars get started. A backlash is coming just wait and see. This liberal sure as hell would’nt take such measures lying down.

  20. Just let some American taliban try and pass a law saying I have to go to church or have to believe a certain way! I’ll fuckin’ cram that law right up his tight ass. Don’t fuckin forget that lots of Americans own guns and a most Americans don’t take kindly towards being told how or what to believe—-historically this is how civil wars get started. A backlash is coming just wait and see. This liberal sure as hell would’nt take such measures lying down.

    For what it’s worth, there are a number of “conservatives” who would feel the same way.

  21. Abortion and gay marriage are easier(more black and white) to form opinions about, versus the more complex economic and foreign policies.

  22. Dubya is a “Dominionist” which is what most of the Religious Reich are pushing for.
    Robertson & Falwell have been pushing this agenda for well over 25 years now, they are getting closer to it than you may think.
    We are one hail Mary and 2 Fundy Supreme Court justices away from a Theocracy right now.

    http://www.apostoliccongress.com/about.html

    As we very clearly saw with this last “Selection” religious fanaticism has a hold on this country, they have placed themselves into positions of power in local, state, & federal levels, from dog catcher, to school board, to Governor, Senator, Congress, to President.
    They do NOT view this world as it really is, they view the world through supernatural eyes, a world of magic, demons, talking snakes, omnipotent deities that created and control all.
    They are still in the PRE-dark ages with the mind set of Savages.
    Factual Reality holds no answers to these deluded humans. Science is the enemy.

    http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/TheDespoilingOfAmerica.htm

    http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/TheSwiftAdvanceOfaPlannedCoup.htm

    http://www.theocracywatch.org/index.html

    http://www.emagazine.com/view/?757

    A COLLECTIVE PSYCHOSIS

    It is a very dangerous situation we are in—because of the position of power Bush and the religious right find themselves in, they can literally dream up and create the very apocalypse that they are imagining is prophesized, like a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a perversely self-reinforcing feedback-loop, the more death and destruction happens, the more this confirms to them the truth that their deluded end-time scenario is actually happening as prophesized. In a diabolical self-validating vicious cycle, Bush and the religious right are ignoring the role they are playing in creating exactly what they are using as evidence to prove the rightness of their viewpoint. ME disease is a world where up is down, as its flawless illogic is convoluted and inverted at its core.

    Malignant egophrenia is crazy-making. It induces a very hard-to-recognize form of insanity. When we fall prey to egophrenia, we are unable to recognize that we are taken over, as we become bewitched by our own projections, accusing other people of doing what we ourselves are doing. For example, Bush is talking about himself when he accuses Saddam Hussein of being “a man who has defied the world,

  23. Originally posted by Nunyabiz:
    We are one hail Mary and 2 Fundy Supreme Court justices away from a Theocracy right now.

    one hail mary and two fundy supreme court justices would get us a religious tyranny, not a theocracy.

    Originally posted by Nunyabiz:
    Factual Reality holds no answers to these deluded humans. Science is the enemy.

    Science is not the enemy.  Science is simply what we use to reaffirm our perceptions.  Science has no mix with religion.  Religion is to explore the possibilities of the unknown and the divine, the imperceptible.  Like I’ve said many times before our religions are built on different things.  Mine is built on faith, yours on logic.

  24. Science is simply what we use to reaffirm our perceptions.

    No, theo- science is, among other things, what we use to explain our perceptions.  There’s a difference.

    one hail mary and two fundy supreme court justices would get us a religious tyranny, not a theocracy.

    For anyone but a fundamentalist of the flavor concerned, theocracy = religious tyranny.

    Like I’ve said many times before our religions are built on different things.  Mine is built on faith, yours on logic.

    Characterizing science as a kind of religion is stretching the definition of “religion” taut to the snapping point.  Not many scientists would agree with you there.

  25. Originally posted by zilch:
    No, theo- science is, among other things, what we use to explain our perceptions.

    Either way its about perceptions which is more important than what we are doing with them.

    Originally posted by zilch:
    For anyone but a fundamentalist of the flavor concerned, theocracy = religious tyranny.

    I would personally strongly prefer to be regarded as a theocrat, not a religious tyrant.  For the sake of intelligent conversation it would be proper or if nothing else respectful to refer to ideas by their proper terms.  Otherwise I will prefer to call Socialist Swine Pinko Commie from here on out.  There is a reason we have terms to differentiate, so let’s not be so lazy to call apples oranges.

    Originally posted by zilch:
    Characterizing science as a kind of religion is stretching the definition of “religion

  26. Neither Science nor Atheism are religions by any stretch of the imagination, actually the antithesis of, is more like it.

    And going by your definition then there is actually no such thing as a Theocracy since no such thing as Sun Gods or whatever flavor of god you believe in exist.
    Call it religious tyranny or whatever you like, that’s what we are headed for.
    I’ll stick with Theocracy, close enough.

  27. Originally posted by Nunyabiz:
    Neither Science nor Atheism are religions by any stretch of the imagination, actually the antithesis of, is more like it.

    If I define a religion to be a system of belief about the supernatural and paranormal then atheism is certainly not excluded from the title of religion.

    Originally posted by Nunyabiz:
    And going by your definition then there is actually no such thing as a Theocracy since no such thing as Sun Gods or whatever flavor of god you believe in exist.

    You perception that there is no God does not make it absolutely true.  If there is a God then theocracy can exist.  Religious tyranny can exist with or without the existence of God.

  28. I know it’s trite to bust out the definitions, but since there is a semantic argument underway…

    re·li·gion  
      1.
          1. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
          2. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
      2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
      3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
      4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

    In short, at least according to standard usage, unless you have positive belief in a supernatural power, you cannot have religion. Theocrat, you are trying to redefine the terms is such a way that it is logically impossible to be without religious belief. If belief in a supernatural deity constitutes a religion, but disbelief in one also constitutes a religion, then what, in your mind, DOESN’T constitute a religion?

  29. Well, then, by Theocrat’s definition, we already HAVE religious education in the schools when we teach evolution!  W00t!

    … Oh.  We’re teaching the Wrong One?  That’s completely different.  Never mind.

  30. You perception that there is no God does not make it absolutely true.

    Makes it absolutely true to ME.

    Your belief in some mythical critter you call god, without a single shred of proof to support this cognition does not make it absolutely true either, what it makes technically would be called a Delusional Psychosis.
    As Iv stated before I am firmly convinced that Religious individuals suffer from Delusional Psychosis, you need psychiatric care and medication.

    “Psychosis” is a very serious condition. This term covers a group of illnesses which affect the brain so severely that the person is no longer able to tell what is real or not. Having a “delusional psychosis”, like your father, means that he develops very strange, irrational beliefs — at odds with reality and which he can’t accept any arguments against.

    http://health.ninemsn.com.au/asktheexperts/paulmorgan.aspx?id=1914

    Another malady Christians most certainly suffer from is “Stockholm Syndrome”This page explains this perfectly.
    http://www.devilzown.com/psychosisreligion.html

    The name comes from a bank robbery in Sweden in 1973. Four people were held hostage for six days, and became attached to their captors. The same thing is a factor for prisoners of war, and abused wives.

    In order for the Stockholm Syndrome to take effect the following conditions are necessary: One person threatens to kill another and is perceived to be capable of doing so. The victim cannot escape, and life depends on the captor. The victim is isolated from support, or in the case of hostages, the knowledge that other people are trying to help them. The captor shows kindness as well as violence increasing with the victim’s sense of being totally dependent on the captor. 

    In my opinion, Christianity is the world’s largest case of Stockholm Syndrome. All the pieces are there.

    Christians tell people that God will kill them, or rather, send them to hell, which is even worse. If the person believes in God, then he is certainly perceived as capable of doing this. After all, he’s God.

    They are also told that they cannot escape God’s judgment, and that everything in life depends on God. The success of this tactic is illustrated by the number of Christians who claim that without God, life has no meaning and is not worth living.

    There is no one to support them except for God. The only other being who might have the power to do so, the Devil, is presented as being powerless, and even worse than God.

    At the same time, Christians are quick to point out how good God really is. He only threatens us because we deserve it.

    The parallels become especially sick and twisted when we consider the analogy of the Church as God’s bride. If that’s the case, God has all the earmarks of an abusive husband, and it’s no wonder that the cries of his followers sound so much like the cries of a battered wife.

    I can only pity those infected with this Mind Plague.

  31. Here is the definition of religion according to Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary(1913):

    Religion \Re*li”gion\ r[-e]*l[i^]j”[u^]n), n. [F., from L.religio; cf. religens pious, revering the gods, Gr. ‘ale`gein to heed, have a care. Cf. Neglect.]
    1. The outward act or form by which men indicate their recognition of the existence of a god or of gods having power over their destiny, to whom obedience, service, and honor are due; the feeling or expression of human love, fear, or awe of some superhuman and overruling power, whether by profession of belief, by observance of rites and ceremonies, or by the conduct of life; a system of faith and worship; a manifestation of piety; as, ethical religions; monotheistic religions; natural religion; revealed religion; the religion of the Jews; the religion of idol worshipers.

    An orderly life so far as others are able to observe us is now and then produced by prudential motives or by dint of habit; but without seriousness there can be no religious principle at the bottom, no course of conduct from religious motives; in a word, there can be no religion.—Paley.

    Religion [was] not, as too often now, used as equivalent for godliness; but . . . it expressed the outer form and embodiment which the inward spirit of a true or a false devotion assumed.—Trench.

    Religions, by which are meant the modes of divine worship proper to different tribes, nations, or communities, and based on the belief held in common by the members of them severally. . . . There is no living religion without something like a doctrine. On the other hand, a doctrine, however elaborate, does not constitute a religion.—C. P. Tiele(Encyc. Brit.).

    Religion . . . means the conscious relation between man and God, and the expression of that relation in human conduct.—J. K[“o]stlin(Schaff-Herzog Encyc.)

    After the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.—Acts xxvi. 5.

    The image of a brute, adorned With gay religions full of pomp and gold.—Milton.

    The definition of religion changes as society changes.  These definitions are poor.  That is why I define relgion as a belief system relating to the supernatural and paranormal.  That definiton is absolute and will not change in meaning despite a changing society.

    Originally posted by Ulfrekr:
    Theocrat, you are trying to redefine the terms is such a way that it is logically impossible to be without religious belief. If belief in a supernatural deity constitutes a religion, but disbelief in one also constitutes a religion, then what, in your mind, DOESN’T constitute a religion?

    Nothing can’t constitute a religion.  Everyone has a religion just like everyone has a political ideology.  I define political ideology as a belief system about how people ought to be governed.  Just because someone believes in tyranny and another in anarchy does not make belief or disbelief in ruling party a nonpolitical ideology.  It is impossible not to have a political ideology and it is impossible not to have a religion.

    Originally posted by Geekmom:
    Well, then, by Theocrat’s definition, we already HAVE religious education in the schools when we teach evolution!

    No, science is not religion.  Science is “explaining our perceptions.”  If teachers gave credit to what caused evolution to happen by saying God did or did not cause these things to happen, then it would be teaching religion in schools.

    Originally posted by Nunyabiz:
    Makes it absolutely true to ME.

    No one cares what is absolutely true to you.  No one cares that the existence of a god(s) is absolutely true to a very large portion of humanity.  What we care about is that which is absolutely true in all cases.  That which is absolutely true, as all intelligent philosophers will tell you, can not be known to humanity.

    Nunyabiz the problem with your definition with psychosis is that it does not define what reality is.  For all anyone knows in the absolute reality of things you could be psychotic along with the rest of us.  We assume that the reality it is talking about is perceptible reality.  Unfortunately discussing the existence of the supernatural in terms of perceptible reality gets us no closer to an answer.  You can’t claim the imperceivable to not exist just because it is imperceivable by any human standards.  Leave the metaphysics up to the metaphysicists and they will leave the science to the scientists.

  32. Theocrat is playing the “let ME define the definitions” game I see. First with “theocracy” now with “religion.”

    The definition of religion changes as society changes.  These definitions are poor.  That is why I define relgion as a belief system relating to the supernatural and paranormal.  That definiton is absolute and will not change in meaning despite a changing society.

    Why you define religion as you do is irrelevant to the fact that your definition is, by definition, wrong. There are plenty of people in this world who are not in the least religious and yet still hold a belief in other supernatural or paranormal phenomena.

    Nothing can’t constitute a religion.  Everyone has a religion just like everyone has a political ideology.  I define political ideology as a belief system about how people ought to be governed.  Just because someone believes in tyranny and another in anarchy does not make belief or disbelief in ruling party a nonpolitical ideology.  It is impossible not to have a political ideology and it is impossible not to have a religion.

    Only by your own, personal, definitions of the words. I could just as easily say that, by my personal definition of the word, you can’t be anything other than a Satanist and yet I’m willing to bet you would refuse to agree to that particular definition of the word or to consider yourself as such simply because I’d decided to alter the definition to fit my needs. Please explain why we should be any more likely to accept your definitions over those in most dictionaries.

    No, science is not religion.  Science is “explaining our perceptions.

  33. Invisible Pink Unicorns With A Fondness For Cotton Candy? Why there’s probably two or three standing right next to you right now and you just don’t know it! They’re “imperceptible

  34. Zilch, of course there are five or six I.P.U.w.a.F.f.C.C. following you around at country fairs. The I.P.U.w.a.F.f.C.C. are with you always. How can any rational person deny the existence of I.P.U.w.a.F.f.C.C.? Deep down, anyone who has ever seen a sunrise, or heard a baby’s laughter, knows that I.P.U.w.a.F.f.C.C. exist, even if he or she denies it. But yea, those who profess doubt shall surely be cast down, and trampled and impaled and blinded by rainbow-beams for all eternity. So you might as well believe in I.P.U.w.a.F.f.C.C., just to be on the safe side, right? And above all else, remember that the Great Unicorn sent his only progeny down to earth to suffer, die, and be resurrected for your sins, so you best RESPECT!:

    My Little Pony, My Little Pony,
    Now comes the time to say good-bye!
    My Little Pony, My Little Pony,
    Could that be a teardrop in your eye?

    No need for sorrow; think of tomorrow!
    We’ll be together again!
    My Little Pony, My Little Pony,
    Hope you keep smiling till then!
    I hope you keep smiling till then!

    Gloria Patri et Filly,  Amen.

  35. Originally posted by Les:
    There are plenty of people in this world who are not in the least religious and yet still hold a belief in other supernatural or paranormal phenomena.

    There are also plenty of people in the world who have no interest in the world of politics and yet everyone has a political ideology.

    Originally posted by Les:
    I could just as easily say that, by my personal definition of the word, you can’t be anything other than a Satanist and yet I’m willing to bet you would refuse to agree to that particular definition of the word or to consider yourself as such simply because I’d decided to alter the definition to fit my needs.

    I would disagree with you because you altered it to fit your needs and not the specific need of having an absolute defintion for itelligent universla communication.  If you find fault with my definition then please offer a more concrete one.

    Originally posted by Les:
    Science is about explaining reality as best as it can be explained. Perceptions can be, and often are, wrong so science goes beyond trying to explain our perception of reality to explaining reality itself.

    So now referring to Philosophy 101, what is reality?  If you know the answer to that I’m sure you could make a fortune and win all kinds of awards.  Where is the reference point, the one absolutely true and undeniable fact on which we can build absolute knowledge?  We must know that in order to understand reality.  However, I am certain you don’t know where that reference point is because no one has discovered it yet.  So you are not really referring to reality, but the perceptible reality we are trying to find a logical base for through science.

    Originally posted by Les:
    And intelligent philosophers have the last say on the matter… why?

    If you have a quandry about designing a building you ask an architect.  If a mathematical proposition, a mathematician.  If a animal, a zoologist.  Each to their expertise.  If you desire to know about the imperceivable, only those who are devoted to that quest of knowledge will be most fitting to give a credible answer, hence the philosopher.

    Originally posted by Les:
    I suppose we should first ask you just what, exactly, your definition of an absolute truth happens to be?

    Something that may be perfectly known.  A fact that has all aspects to it perceivably known to be consistent and true.

    Originally posted by Les:
    By the logic used above you can claim that anything exists and is just “imperceivable

  36. I would disagree with you because you altered it to fit your needs and not the specific need of having an absolute defintion for itelligent universla communication.

    Pot, there’s someone I’d like you to meet…I think you’ll find you have a lot in common.

    If you find fault with my definition then please offer a more concrete one.

    Hmm, maybe that’s why we all referred to the dictionary definition, maybe? And in any case, it doesn’t matter how concrete a definition is if it’s not the right definition.

    So you are not really referring to reality, but the perceptible reality we are trying to find a logical base for through science.

    Again with the definitions. Humans use words to communicate concepts. If we cannot come up with a general consensus on what words mean, then there’s little point in trying to communicate. We could certainly decide that the word “reality” does not refer to that thing which is perceptible and can be known through science, but then we would just have to come up with a different word for that thing. What would be the point? 

    If you desire to know about the imperceivable, only those who are devoted to that quest of knowledge will be most fitting to give a credible answer, hence the philosopher.

    The most basic definition of a philosopher is someone who investigates nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods. So there are at least two problems with your assertion that we should turn to them for all of our questions about reality. The first of these is that there is little reason to assume that the philosophical method is inherently superior to empirical methods in determining what is real. The second problem is that, unlike in the field of science, there is very little consensus among philosophers, precisely because they are not necessarily bound to check their assertions against objective evidence. So if, as you suggest, we defer to philosophers regarding supernatural questions, we run into the problem that the answers we get will be highly dependent on which philosophers we ask. A great many of them will probably say something along the lines of “Well, some people think this, and some people think that, but no one can really say for sure.” Such an answer might be terribly interesting, but it probably won’t be particularly useful, and is highly unlikely to resolve any arguments to the satisfaction of all parties. To make a broad generalization, philosophy is probably most useful in how it informs other disciplines, rather than as an end unto itself.

    The very idea that we can ask the question “Is there a god(s)?

  37. I just skimmed this thread, but this caught my attention:

    I know it’s trite to bust out the definitions, but since there is a semantic argument underway…

    re·li·gion

    What follows is three definitions involving a belief in a higher power.  Then we are given number 4 which is:

    4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

    No mention of a higher power.  Yet we are told:

    In short, at least according to standard usage, unless you have positive belief in a supernatural power, you cannot have religion.

    Did I miss the footnote that was not reprinted for us that indicated that definition number 4 was not standard usage, or was that just a slip of fingertips that was passed over?  Because if I read the dictionary right “a principle pursued with zeal” is a religion, at least if we use the dictionary that is.

  38. Correction:

    We are only given two definitions that mandate a belief in a supernatural power.  Definition number three likely incorporates such a belief by the leader, but such a belief is not a prerequisite for all uses of the term “spiritual leader.”  In fact, Les qualifies as a “spiritual leader” depending on how “spirit” is defined. smile

  39. Les, you’re my spiritual leader. I just wanted you to know.

    Oh, and so are you Consi.

    Hugs!

  40. Consi:
    You are absolutely right. Belief in a higher power is not necessary to having religion, even under the definition I used to insist that it is. For example, you might say “I watch the Simpsons religiously”, or “Eating that piece of cake was a religious experience”, or “Playing rugby is my religion”, and all of these usages would be perfectly valid. So you’ve got me there.
        That said, when someone says “Atheism is a religion”, it is my understanding that they generally mean something different from “It is a cause, activity, or principle pursued with zeal or devotion.” Atheism is a principle, but it does not require any particular zeal or devotion. Moreover, while an atheist might follow the teachings of a particular leader in regards to spiritual issues, again, it’s not necessary, nor even likely. Somehow I doubt that we would be having all of these debates about the religiosity of atheism if people were asserting it in the “Collecting stamps/ Saving the rainforest/Opposing gun control is my religion” sense.
        When people say “atheism is a religion”, what they generally seem to be saying is that atheism and theism are both belief systems on equal footing. In a very, very, very narrow sense, I am willing to concede this point. Regarding questions of the supernatural, that which, by definition, is inexplicable under natural laws, I agree: ultimately, the atheists know as much as the theists. What I take issue with, however, is what always seem to be the extension of that argument, namely, that since atheists cannot disprove the existence god(s) any more than theists can prove it, we must place equal value on everything else these two factions say, particularly in regards to certain scientific matters. This is a huge leap of logic. The side that doesn’t accept “God did it” as sufficent explanation for phenomenon X has repeatedly shown that their own explanation is more useful, and is thus the better explanation. If religious people could ever give an explanation for anything that proved useful, then I am certain most atheists would adopt it, but so far that hasn’t happened. You may believe that lightning is caused by Zeus, but if I can reproduce electricity and you can’t, then my explanation is better. I would probably start to question whether this Zeus guy was an adequate explanation for any of the other things for which you gave him credit, even those things which I couldn’t test myself. Moreover, the Zeus worshipper would probably stop making that particular claim, since ultimately it would only make him look pointlessly obstinate. I think religious people today forget just how many times this sort of thing has happened throughout history. As recently as a century or two ago, the bar minimum for religious devotion entailed believing things that today most religious people (or at least most Western Christians) hold to be incorrect. So, you can call atheism a religion all you want, but recognize that it is intrinsically different from any known religion; to date, none of its claims whatsoever have been proved incorrect, or even necessary to amend.

  41. Originally posted by Ulfrekr:
    We could certainly decide that the word “reality

  42. Originally quoted by me:
    Moreover, the Zeus worshipper would probably stop making that particular claim, since ultimately it would only make him look pointlessly obstinate.

    I’m going to take a second here to totally contradict myself. I realized upon futher reflection that if the majority of people today acted like the Zeus worshipper in my hypothetical scenario, there really wouldn’t be much of a reason to take issue with religion. The problem is that so many religious people DON’T react to better explanations for phenomena than their own by adopting the more useful explanation. If they did, we’d have a lot more deists than we seem to now.

  43. This answer is apart of the knowledge of the universe that humanity should be trying to attain.  Because it has an answer there is no reason to attack those who seek such answers.

    I don’t think we’re attacking those who seek such answers, we’re attacking those who say they already have them.

    Specifically will someone please show me how (E=mc^2)=(Time travel IS possible).  How we got time travel is possible from a math equation makes me think someone needs to check their logic pattern.

    It’s called time dilation.  You can find the formula in any modern physics text.

    For example mathematics deals with an infinite range of numbers and can easily be manipulated so that a wide range of things can be made to be equal therefore just because an answer can be given should not be automatically assumed to be absolutely correct.

    That’s why scientists do experiments.  Lots of them.  Technically, the math isn’t assumed to be absolutely correct, but rather having a high probability of being very close to what would happen. 

    Those manipulations have rules.  That’s why the speed of light is thought by some to be the fastest that anything can travel, b/c the equations (experimentally tested and still working out) would end up with division by zero if an object reached lightspeed.  After consuming an infinite amount of energy, of course.

  44. Theo,

    One problem with your support of the philosophical method as a means to knowledge is that the vast majority of contemporary philosophers reject the claims made by most religions.  Moreover, numerous philosophers, Immanuel Kant being one who comes immediately to mind, argue that religious claims are the sort that should be examined empirically versus through pure syllogism alone.

  45. On an interesting note, I remember reading about a plan to put a super accurate laser clock into orbit on a satellite and keep one just the same on Earth to test time dilation. Of course, I’ve forgotten where I read it, or even if I read it all. To be honest, I could have just made it up.

  46. Originally posted by Ragman:
    I don’t think we’re attacking those who seek such answers, we’re attacking those who say they already have them.

    Yet you claim to have answers of your own.  If you assert that the pursuit of the supernatural is folly then you are claiming to have an answer.  Both sides are at fault and need to watch how they assert themselves.

    Originally posted by Ragman:
    It’s called time dilation.  You can find the formula in any modern physics text.

    This is the problem though.  You are still using math to explain math.  Tell me how, in a theoretical or philosophical sense, you can go from a math equation asserting something to a theory asserting something illogical.  The ideas must connect logically before we get excited about the answers doing the same.

    Originally posted by Socialist Swine:
    One problem with your support of the philosophical method as a means to knowledge is that the vast majority of contemporary philosophers reject the claims made by most religions.

    I know I haven’t read the vast majority of contemporary philosophers, but through discussions with my professors I’m coming to the conclusion that the vast majority of contemporary philosophers are the morons who are just raising their hands.  Remember to that the philosophical method gave us the scientific method.  Once it did that we seem to have stopped evolving the philosophical method and concentrate almost exclusively on discovering the perceptible universe through the scientific method.  As great as that is I can’t believe that the philosophical method is anywhere near a final form.  What more could it give us if we picked back up where Kant left off?

    Today my professor said that Kant ended the debate between rationalists and empiricists.  That’s nice, but that doesn’t mean we are done.  I will take courses on the philosophy of history, the philosophy of law, the philosophy of religion and many other things.  Kant said that the mind has neither innate nor experiential knowledge, but that the mind has a structure it perceives everything through.  My prof gave an example that if we had glasses permanently attached to our heads we would see everything through them and through the glasses is the only way we can perceive anything.  We can’t wonder how things would look if the glasses were taken off because we can’t take them off.  There is a structure to how we perceive things.

    I think there is a philosophy of philosophy and when we discover what that is we will clearly see how the structure of our minds perceive things.

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