It’s Time For War

Enough shit from the bible belt. Time to do something about it.

If a circuit court judge started saying that he was abducted by aliens, there would be calls to remove him from the bench. Why? Because if he believed something that ridiculous his ability to think rationally and do his job would be in question.

If a state senator declared that Santa Claus was real, would we leave him in place or would we push to drive him out of office? Would you feel comfortable having decisions that effect your life being made by someone who believes a fat, jolly man slides down his chimney every year?

Maybe the belief in a higher power doesn’t fall into that exact category. I have heard plenty of rational arguments for believing in some greater force then us in the universe. I personally don’t buy it, but I can respect it. However, the specific belief in the literal God of The Bible, invisible sky daddy who can make entire eco-systems in six days and doesn’t like it when we don’t pray to him, that DOES fall into the Santa-Aliens category and anyone who believes such stuff is incapable of making completely rational decisions because their belief system influences all that they do.

So we need to make a list of all the people in power who fall into this category. All the politicians, judges, etc. Then we need to hire some lawyers and bring them each into court for competency hearings. A unified movement across the country.

Think that would send a message?

134 thoughts on “It’s Time For War

  1. It needs to happen, of course. Everyone has the right to their opinion (fundamentalists and the sane alike), no one’s arguing that. But when we have people in positions of power (in what is, unfortuately, the most powerful nation on Earth, no less) who not only employ these fundamentalist christian beliefs in their work but force them onto the nation as a whole (thus violating the Constitution), then we’ve got a problem. The only thing that’s stopped this movement from arising, predictably, are the nutcase fundies themselves, who immediately cry “persecution” whenever anyone points out the painfully obvious (that the only people doing the persecuting are the right-wing fundies themselves).

  2. Wouldn’t an atheists view of what it means to be competent give you a prejudiced opinion as to whether a theist is competent?  How could you fairly judge their competency?  This seems like what was mentioned in another thread about Scott Adams not taking the opinions of the scientists or the creationists because they both have agendas.  Somebody’s status as a scientist or believer does not automatically make them incompetent of telling truth.  It is whether the mind is open or closed as to whether they are competent to govern.

  3. Not quite what I meant, Theo.

    If somebody is making a decision about something, I don’t care if it is a serious topic such as abortion or something frivolous, like declaring a holiday, that decision needs to be a rational, fair decision. If you believe something as far-fetched as the stories in the bible (Adam & EVe, The Great Flood, etc) then you are likely to believe anything and can not be trusted to make those decisions competently.

    Would you want someone who believes that the best way to cure cancer is faith healing, making the decision on whether to increase the funding for cancer research?

  4. Who or what determines what is far fetched?  I don’t care if the governing body incharge of legislating welfare belives that Santa Clause is real as long as they are accountable to provide rational reasons why they took the course of action they did.  If they are being irrational then by all means fire them.

    Being a Christian or follower of any religion shouldn’t automatically dismiss you from the ability to perform the duties of a politician.  Granted I honestly don’t think Christians should participate in politics but that is for reasons entirely unrelated to yours.  To suggest they can’t rule effectively or fairly because of their religion is unfair itself.  Let their reasoning be judged and their fate decided accordingly.

  5. How about a test? We can come up with 50 questions, scenarios that would require a decision. The correct answer would be based on reason, the other choices guided by faith instead.

    (Yes, I know that sounds like a set up, all answers arrived through faith are wrong, etc. Not what I am suggesting. I mean deliberately choosing scenarios where faith may lead you astray from what needs to be done. eg: the 10 commandments being posted in a courthouse. Clearly a violation and inappropriate and yet some would let their faith into calling it okay.)

    We can let religous leaders and scholars help craft the test, so long as they are able to look at a problem through the lens of reason and not faith.

    We’ll spend several years hammering out the test and when everybody is satisfied that it is fair, we force every politician in the country to take out. If they can’t pass, so long…..

  6. To suggest they [fundamentalist Christians] can’t rule effectively or fairly because of their religion is unfair itself.

    It would be unfair *if* we didn’t (a): have previous experience on which to base our notions (i.e. the past actions of other such fundamentalist politicians), or (b): have any reason to believe/expect a certain individual legislator/judge, etc. to behave in such a manner.

    Unfortunately, rarely do scenario (a) or (b) take hold. I can’t think of a single well-known fundamentalist Christian politician who doesn’t push his/her own views onto the public at large. I know that simply being a fundamentalist may be all the justification that such a person may feel for pushing his/her views onto the public, but I personally feel it’s wrong.
    I have nothing against fundamentalist Christians believing/expressing what they feel (although I’ll admit, they do annoy the living hell out of me), as we are all guaranteed both politically and morally (I feel) to such rights.

    Where people of all faiths, but especially fundy Christians it seems, cross the line is when they try to force their beliefs onto others, either in the form of harassment, persecution and/or legislation.

  7. LMFAO Zilch! – My old mans German so I grew up with copies of Stern mag lying around – talk about your gratuatious nudity! – and he borrowed them from the library! – Yeah the more I think about it,the european “Tell it like it is” attitude really appeals to me…Its really just “Little America” down here in Australia these last 9 years.

  8. Sam Harris would, I think, agree with you (KPatrick) on the competency thing. He wrote a book last year (or so) called “The End of Faith”, in which he argues against the insanity of tolerating even moderate religious influence in our socio-political existence. It is ever so cold and logical…yet easy to read. Highly recommended.

  9. KPatrickGlover: ..we need to hire some lawyers and bring them each into court for competency hearings.  Think that would send a message?

    Yes, I imagine it would.  The message would be something like: “Dear Christians of the United States.  We are no longer satisfied with the live-and-let-live policies which have worked so well in this country for the past 230 years.  We have decided that outright persecution is the way to go.  Thank you.”

    Sexy Sadie: But when we have people in positions of power who not only employ these fundamentalist christian beliefs in their work but force them onto the nation as a whole (thus violating the Constitution), then we’ve got a problem.

    Yes, the government is forcing their Christian beliefs onto the nation as a whole.

    Can anyone name a single example of this government “forcing” Christian beliefs onto anyone?

    KPatrickGlover: Would you want someone who believes that the best way to cure cancer is faith healing, making the decision on whether to increase the funding for cancer research?

    No, I think I’d like something known as “the free market” to make that decision.  I know that’s anathema to the Socialists of the world..

    KPatrickGlover: How about a test? We can come up with 50 questions, scenarios that would require a decision. The correct answer would be based on reason, the other choices guided by faith instead.

    For all that people on the left view themselves as guardians of the Constitution, they generally know very little about the document.

    “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”—US Constitution, Article 6

  10. For all that people on the left view themselves as guardians of the Constitution, they generally know very little about the document.

    “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”—US Constitution, Article 6

    Point 1: I’m not on the left. I am a conservative. I just happen to be a rational conservative and don’t believe in the invisible sky daddy.

    Point 2: The phrase you quoted means that no one shall be required to be any particular religion to hold office. I happen to know the Constitution very well, thank you. The test wouldn’t be a religous test, it would be a logic test to make sure your religous views don’t prevent you from making rational decisions.

    Can anyone name a single example of this government “forcing

  11. That sure sounds like a religious test.  Maybe we should let the people vote for their leaders.  Oh, wait.  There’s a vast religious majority, so voting won’t work.  We’re going to need a dictatorship of some sort.  Anyone got any weapons?

  12. KPatrickGlover: I’m not on the left. I am a conservative. I just happen to be a rational conservative and don’t believe in the invisible sky daddy.

    A conservative is someone who believes in small, limited government and individual rights (particularly property rights).  In what sense would you be considered a conservative?

    The libertarian sense?  Definitely not: you’re perfectly willing to dictate what are the “correct” and “incorrect” ways for other people to think.

    Perhaps you’re an economic conservative?  Seems unlikely, given your tacit assumption that the government should be deciding how much money to invest in medical research.

    Maybe you’re a social conservative..?  Despite what the left says, there are a lot of agnostic/atheist social conservatives who oppose things like abortion, no-fault divorce, and the welfare state for non-religious reasons.

    Speak up, KPatrickGlover, what makes you think of yourself as “conservative”?

    KPatrickGlover: The test wouldn’t be a religous test, it would be a logic test…

    Regardless of your Orwellian attempts at doublespeak, “testing” people to make sure they don’t hold any religious views is a religious test and a rather frightening idea.

    In any case, I don’t think you can argue that George W Bush or his buddies made any secret of their God-centered worldview before, during, or after the election.  The electorate still voted for them; it would appear the voters don’t agree with your definition of “fit to serve”.

    KPatrickGlover: How about the various state constitutions that prevent anyone who doesn’t believe in god from holding office? Wouldn’t that qualify?

    I suppose it might, if any of them had ever been enforced, or stood any chance of being enforced at any point in the future.

    This argument is a non sequitur.  It’s like arguing that that someone is racist because the deed for his house still contains a covenant left over from the 1800’s prohibiting its sale to a Negro.

    Can anyone here name even one example of the government “forcing fundamentalist christian beliefs onto the nation as a whole,” as Sadie claimed?

  13. A conservative is someone who believes in small, limited government and individual rights (particularly property rights).  In what sense would you be considered a conservative?

    The libertarian sense?  Definitely not: you’re perfectly willing to dictate what are the “correct

  14. You can look at the commandments on a courthouse as religious influence or as a symbol of the laws the court upholds.  The 10 commandments are a very understandable icon of the idea it is trying to convey.

    Do you stop saying “sunrise and sunset” because they are meaningless terms?  The sun does not rise?  The earth rotates until we can see the sun.

    I am all for the seperation of chuch and state.  I am also very concerned about the influence of religious power groups.

    However, even us athiests should understand the power and contextual nature of symbols.

    Now some other religious symbol of authority like a cross suspended over the judge and I am right with you.

  15. 8. (continuing from mine and Michael’s lists) Attempting to bar individuals who live alternative lifestyles from serving in the military forces (the motto “the land of the free” is so tragically ironic in this case).

    9. Adult entertainment franchises being persecuted and investigated in states such as good ol’ Kansas (which of late seems to be rivaling Alabama for its willingness to make an idiot of itself).

    10. “Amendment #2”‘s being proposed in various states in the early/mid-‘90s that were essentially overtly and unconstitutionally discriminatory against gays/lesbians.

    11. Anti-sodomy laws in many states (that were finally struck down only two years ago).

    12. “Faith-based” initiatives being thrown around in Congress.

    13. Calls for removing sex education in public schools and replacing it with “abstinence-only” indoctrination, er, education.

    14. The defeat of the E.R.A. (Equal Rights Amendment) in 1982, which came about largely from money donated by various churches.

    15. The notorious “Global Gag Rule,” in which aid is cut off to third-world nations who dare to think for themselves regarding reproductive rights. Instead, the people in these countries (that are so poor precisely because of overpopulation) are encouraged by the fundies in our government to try—you guessed it—abstinence! *gag*

  16. When the President calls for amending the constitution to deny rights to 5% of the population to marry.  Is that the state forcing Christian views?

    Homophobia seems to eminate from religeous views, ingrained over the centuries so even non religeous are indoctrinated. The biblical condemnation of gay sex comes from the fleeing Jews showing they are different from their former Masters, the Egyptians.

  17. Michael Stiber:
    6. Laws restricting a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion based solely on her own judgment and the judgment of her doctor (is there any other medical procedure that has similar restrictions)?

    7. Prevention of the sale of the “morning after

  18. Michael Stiber: Laws restricting a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion based solely on her own judgment and the judgment of her doctor (is there any other medical procedure that has similar restrictions)?

    Is there any other medical procedure which has a similar goal—namely, killing a human being?

    As I said before, it’s a pretense of many people on the left that “opposes abortion”

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    “Christian”.  In reality, plenty of people who oppose abortion are agnostic/atheist.  Just off the top of my head, my father-in-law and his wife fit in this category.

    Plenty of agnostics, atheists, and pagans think that theft, murder and rape should be illegal.  If you consider a fetus to be a living human being and you think murder should be illegal, it stands to reason you will oppose abortion—whether you’re religious or not.

    Sexy Sadie: And what about politicians who try to restrict/rescind the rights of women to control their own bodies? Again, if you seriously think that’s not related to these politicians own religious agendae, you’re deluding no one but yourself.

    Say, Sadie.. I’m a pilot.  I have a property right to control my own airplane.  I can say who gets to ride in my airplane and who doesn’t.

    But you know what?  If I invite someone to take an airplane ride, but then decide in mid-air that I no longer want them in my airplane and push them out, that’s murder.  I’ve willfully placed them in a situation where their continued survival depends on occupying my airplane.  That trumps my property right.

    A woman who gets pregnant has placed another human being (the child) into a situation where it depends on her for its continued survival.  She cannot then turn around and say “This is my body, I’ve grown tired of you, get out!”

    Another example would be a couple with a one-month-old infant.  They have property rights over their own house, yet they cannot simply “evict” the infant into the wilderness if they no longer want it.  Having willfully placed another human being in a situation where it is totally dependant on them for survival, they are now obligated to care for that human being.

    A more extensive exploration of these issues can be found at Libertarians for Life.

  19. Such absoluteist arguments only hold water only if you consider a foetus to be a human being from the moment of conception. I do not.  There becomes a point when it is a human being, and so abortion should not be allowed, but to compare this to a morning-after pill which aborts a few thousand cells (which at that point have not yet developed specified functions) is foolish. Debate the point at which abortion should be not allowed, but dont assume day 1 is the same as day 280.

  20. Let’s try to pry apart the distinct issues.

    It’s not necessarily a bad idea to license candidates running for public office and make sure that they pass a competency test in the process. The catch is that those capable of passing the test are probably too smart to run for public office in the first place. Not that there’d ever be a consensus about what such a test would entail.

    When comparing religious fundamentalists and Santa Claus literalists, the situation compares to alcoholics and abusers of controlled substances. They’re both addicted, but alcoholism is largely accepted by society, whereas junkies have an image problem. It gets tricky when you start to mix and match, though. Like a substancer abuser that happens to be a fundamentalist…

    As CitizenX helpfully pointed out, it’s not really politicians that cause unrest. It’s the voters that put them in a position where they could cause harm. So, perhaps we should do away with the right to vote and replace it with a privilege to be earned. This might remove mental midgets, anti-intellectuals, narrow-minded bigots and the apathetic from the voter registers, but good riddance, eh?

    Moving on to Christians in government. The U.S. has done well with close to a perfect score in the past, but it’s not going so well recently with fringe groups receiving undue consideration.

    I’m not a political scientist, but the way I see it is that a nation like the U.S. or the European states perform a tightrope walk. They strike a fragile balance to prevent minorities and majorities to dominate or oppress each other, as applicable. Moonbats like most of the SEB regulars and the wingbat KPG are concerned because we perceive the system of checks and balances that makes the U.S. a decent place to live in for everybody (or so the theory goes) as in danger of being irreparably tilted to one side. It’s not like fundamentalists of any creed are particular tolerant to the heretics and infidels, are they?

  21. Sexy Sadie: Calls for removing sex education in public schools and replacing it with “abstinence-only

  22. Last_hussar: Such absoluteist (sic) arguments only hold water only if you consider a foetus to be a human being from the moment of conception. I do not.

    However, many people do consider a fetus to be a human being.  That’s true of both religious and non-religious people.

    Last_hussar: There becomes a point when it is a human being, and so abortion should not be allowed, but to compare this to a morning-after pill which aborts a few thousand cells (which at that point have not yet developed specified functions) is foolish.  Debate the point at which abortion should be not allowed, but dont assume day 1 is the same as day 280.

    First of all if you’re going to debate the issue medically, you should at least educate yourself about the basic facts of fetal development.  A human egg will generally divide for the first time (ie, into two cells) between 24 and 48 hours after fertilization.  An embryo (more properly, a gastrula) does not contain “several thousand cells” until several weeks after fertilization.

    Secondly, many people both religious and atheist consider a fertilized egg to become a human being at the moment of conception.  That being the case, they see no difference between abortion at day 1 and abortion at day 280.

    And finally, many on the pro-abortion side feel the same way: they think abortion should be legal from day 1 to day 280.  In fact, they will argue against any restriction of abortion, right up until the moment a child is born.  To which I can only ask: what’s the difference between aborting a baby who is one week from its due date, and killing an infant born one week prematurely?

  23. Another example of anti-Christian dogma.  It is an article of faith amongst the pro-condom crowd that anyone advocating abstinence as a response to teen pregnancy and AIDS must be a bible-thumping fundie.

    It’s called a generalization, Daryl. Not everyone advocating abstinence only programs is a fundie. But, the VAST majority are.

    Ridiculous.  Plenty of agnostics and atheists favor abstinence-only programs because they work.

    Plenty? Because you happen to know a couple? Again, in general, most agnostics and atheists do not fabor abstinence only programs. If you think you’ve seen stats to the contrary, please site them.

    In the 1800’s, out-of-wedlock births were practically non-existant.

    What world do you come from? By the mid 1800’s the American west was just full of out-of-wedlock births, not to mention STD’s. Try reading a few history books.

    What has happened since condoms, the pill, and moral laxity arrived on the scene?

    You say this like you think sex was invented by the liberals in the sixties or something. Free an open sexuality have been around for thousands of years. If you think we’re bad, read up on ancient Rome.

    Condoms do not work to lower the incidence of HIV, plain and simple.

    Uh, bullshit. Just plain bullshit. Of course they don’t work as well as complete abstinence. That’s not the point. Getting rid of all the cars would sure put a dent in traffic fatalities, doesn’t make it a good idea.

  24. This is just a small beef. I could be wrong, but last I read on, I think it was Scarleteen, conception doesn’t happen until a few days after you have sex (although the process of reproduction is running, conception is only one stage of that), so technically the morning-after pill isn’t abortion in any form. It is, as titled, “emergency contraception” and it won’t do anything for you once there’s a fetus or any other developmental flesh-ball kicking around in there.

    If it WERE abortion people would be taking the morning-after in the second trimester instead of visiting a doctor, not?

  25. Jumping in here for the first time. Daryl writes…

    Ridiculous.  Plenty of agnostics and atheists favor abstinence-only programs because they work.

    Do they really work? I seem to recall most of the recent studies I’ve read about these programs saying that they don’t work all that well and, in fact, may actually lead to greater sexual activity with some kids. The “Forbidden Fruit” effect. Of course, I’m happy to read any reports you have to the contrary.

    But, yes, there are some atheists and agnostics who do favor abstinence only programs. Not as many as there are far right Christians, but there’s a few out there to be found if you look around.

    Abstinence worked for many centuries throughout western civilization.  In the 1800’s, out-of-wedlock births were practically non-existant.

    Really? Where was this? My interest was piqued by this claim so I decided to read up on it. I came across a fascinating report titled Looking Back : Marriage, Divorce, and Out-of-Wedlock Births (PDF file) by Aiyagari, S. Rao, Jeremy Greenwood, and Nezih Guner of the University of Rochester Center for Economic Research in Rochester, NY. The paper is described as A very brief historical discussion of marriage, divorce, and out-of-wedlock births in England and France. It makes for some interesting reading starting right with the introductory paragraph:

      The problem of fatherless children began with Adam and Eve. Fatherless children tended to live in poverty, just as they do today. Throughout the ages there have been institutional mechanisms in place designed to alleviate this plight. In English and French past the authorities banned divorce. This did not eliminate the problem of fatherless children. They also gave aid to single mothers and their children. Many felt that this fostered welfare dependency, promoted female headship, encouraged illegitimacy and the like – similar to views held today. Images of today can be seen in the reflections from the past.

    Some of the more interesting points of the report include the following:

    • In England an official system of legalized divorce was not adopted until the Divorce Act of 1857 so prior to that date many marriages were ended by simple abandonment, most often by the father.
    • [A]bout 4% of births were illegitimate in the 1700s.
    • At the beginning of the nineteenth century about 40% of all births in Paris were illegitimate and about half of these children were abandoned.
    • In fact, an amazing 20% of all babies born were abandoned. Abandonments decreased steadily throughout this period, perhaps as the result of public policies (both of the carrot and stick form) that were instituted to encourage mothers to retain their children. The decision to abandon a child was most likely dictated by the economic circumstance.
    • Most children were abandoned just a few weeks after birth. The mortality rate for foundlings was high. In these days before pasteurization and refrigeration, artificial feeding was not a good solution. Finding lactating women to serve as wet nurses for thousands of foundlings, though, was not easy to say the least. At the beginning of the century perhaps as much as 3/4 of the foundlings in Paris died; by the end of the century this had fallen to 1/3.

    I also came across a small essay titled “Her Daily Concern:” Women’s Health Issues in Early 19th-Century Indiana by Timothy Crumrin. It has a couple of very interesting points on the issues of Birth Control and Abortion in Indiana in the 1800s. For example:

      Birth control was not an openly discussed or viable option for most women of the early nineteenth century. Some women, however, were well aware of the dangers to their health by pregnancy and childbirth and the health difficulties in constantly having to care for a large brood of children. Others simply wished to limit the number of their children for personal reasons. The options open to these groups were limited. Birth control on a systematic basis hardly existed during the period. Contraceptive information was difficult to obtain and most of it, by modern standards, was specious. Additionally, societal norms and pressures encouraged the sacred state of motherhood and dissuaded any attempts at family planning. Still, some women did indeed seek ways of reducing their risks of pregnancy—usually only with sporadic success.

      Some turned to their doctors, but members of the medical fraternity were not always helpful. Many physicians were uncomfortable with dealing with such matters, while others were merely repositories of misinformation. Doctors often could not even help with the most readily available birth control “method.” abstinence. A few “so misunderstood” a woman’s bodily cycles that they erroneously advised women to abstain from sexual activity during the safe period of the last half of the menstrual cycle and encouraged it “immediately after ovulation,” which put the woman at great risk of pregnancy. Abstinence and other “natural” means, such as coitus interruptus and that “long traditional” preindustrial contraceptive method, prolongation of nursing, were the most oft-used methods during the time, but were seldom considered a topic suitable for a proper lady’s diary, letter, or conversation.

    So much for the claim that abstinence worked just fine in the 1800s. Also interesting was the passage on abortion during that era:

      When contraception failed, as it was often wont to do, there was abortion. Abortion in the early nineteenth century simply did not elicit the controversy or comment as today (though it was rarely discussed as openly). Though not openly encouraged, it was not necessarily condemned out of hand if carried out early in the pregnancy. Many believed it permissible if done before “quickening,” or movement by the fetus, which usually occurred in the second trimester. The first anti-abortion law was enacted in Connecticut in 1821, but it was basically an anti-poisoning law that stipulated it a crime if the woman was “quick with child.” In essence, the law was aimed at doctors or potion-sellers whose medicines might cause an unwanted abortion. Quickening was the decisive issue every time abortion was raised in court prior to 1840. If the abortion took place before quickening it was not adjudged a crime. Indiana made abortions illegal in 1835, and did make the distinction regarding quickening. The Hoosier law was a rarity. Most “laws enacted between 1820 and 1840 retained the quickening doctrine and attempted to protect women from unwanted abortion, rather than prosecute them.”

      Abortion, however, was not considered a significant “means of family limitation” during the first third of the century. It was mainly viewed as a way of avoiding the scandal attached to an illicit affair or birth out of wedlock. However, by the late 1830s a change in the type of person seeking abortions, and the reasons behind it, became evident. The rising abortion rate of the period probably reflected a desire on the part of married women to limit family size. It is estimated that the abortion rate jumped from one abortion in every 25-35 live births during 1800-1830 to one in every 5-6 live births by 1850. These figures may be a bit high (evidence is still sketchy), but are indicative of a trend.

    Emphasis mine. I suppose this means that if out-of-wedlock births were virtually non-existent in the 1800s it’s only because most such pregnancies were eliminated via abortion.

    There’s plenty more stuff out there to read if you’re so inclined, this was just a sample of some of the material I came across. Clearly the claim that abstinence made out-of-wedlock births “practically nonexistent” in the 1800s is false.

    What has happened since condoms, the pill, and moral laxity arrived on the scene?  STD’s and unwed pregnancies—that’s what happened.  The bizarre response of liberals: We need more condoms, pills, and moral laxity to fix the problem!!

    Give me a break, Daryl, you’re far too smart to say something that stupid. STDs and promiscuous sex have been around a lot longer than birth control and laying the blame for such things solely on the development of birth control is to ignore history. Sexual mores have fluctuated back and forth from prudish to permissive throughout history varying not only through time, but by geography and there’s never been a period of time when monogamy was absolute or the lack of birth control combined with societal pressures managed to eliminate STDs, abortions, or out-of-wedlock births.

    Which isn’t to say that there wasn’t a sexual revolution that was brought about by the development of the birth control pill, just that it’s not like the problems didn’t exist prior to its development. The opening to the Wikipedia entry on the topic is a good summary:

    Some historians argue that the sexual revolution was not a complete break from earlier Western sexual attitudes but rather a liberalization after a conservative period that only existed between the 1930s and 1950s. They note that the Cold War sparked a socially conformist identity which tended to be self-conscious of its appearance to the outside world. Within the United States, this conformism took on puritanical overtones which contradicted natural or even, ironically, culture-established human sexual behaviors. It was this period of Cold War puritanism some say, which logically led to a cultural rebellion in the form of the “sexual revolution.”

    The extent to which the sexual revolution involved major changes in sexual behavior, however, is questionable. Many observers have suggested that the main change was not that people had more sex or different types of sex, it was simply that they talked about it more openly than previous generations had done. Historian David Allyn argues it was a time of coming-out: about premarital sex, masturbation, erotic fantasies, pornography use, and homosexuality.

    People were knocking boots “illegitimately” with enthusiasm since the first few folks decided on what was and wasn’t legitimate sex and they spread disease and unwanted children while doing so. Some people are just going to do it regardless of the risks so it makes sense to try and minimize those risks if we can. Certainly an encouragement of abstinence should be part of any good sexual education program, but it shouldn’t be the only part because there will always be some percentage of folks who will not follow that advice. Additionally there is some evidence that good sex education programs do reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

    NPR had a news item about the State of Maine turning down Federal sex-ed funds because it required them to abandon their current comprehensive sex education plan—which emphasizes abstinence, but also includes explicit information for kids who don’t heed the advice—and adhere to an abstinence-only program. Since Maine enacted its program their teenage pregnancy rate went from being one of the highest in the nation to one of the lowest and they feel, rightly so I’d say, that that means it’s working pretty well. As such they feel the Federal program would do more harm than good. They join California and Pennsylvania in turning down the Federal funds. Maine and other states are showing that a comprehensive plan works very well while studies continue to come in indicating that the abstinence-only programs aren’t living up to expectations:

      Eleven of 13 federally funded abstinence programs commonly used by schools and community groups were found to have several errors, according to a survey by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles.

      “We were surprised by the different types of misinformation and errors, said Karen Lightfoot, spokeswoman for Waxman.

      Waxman’s survey, concluded in December, showed the 11 programs underestimated the effectiveness of condoms in preventing pregnancy and the spread of disease, exaggerated the prevalence of emotional and physical distress following abortion, blurred science and religion or got fundamental scientific facts wrong.

      The survey found that some of the other 11 curricula erroneously:

      Exaggerate condom failure rates in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. One text relies on a 1993 study and states that condoms fail 31 percent of the time, though its editor has said she no longer uses data that old.

      Assert that each human being has 24 chromosomes from the father and 24 from the mother. The number is 23; the text’s authors blamed an editing error.

      Contend that sweat and tears can spread HIV.

      Present as fact widely contested claims, including that life begins when a sperm unites with an egg.

      Teach that 5 percent to 10 percent of women who have legal abortions will become sterile, without noting that this figure includes women who remain childless by choice.

      Insist that poverty, substance abuse, depression and suicide “can be eliminated by being abstinent until marriage.” [Editor’s Note: WTF?!]

      Moreover, the Waxman survey found that the curricula present girls as weaker and less ambitious than boys. One states that “men tend to be more tuned in to what is happening today and what needs to be done for a secure future.”

      Another advises that a man needs to feel a woman’s admiration, then instructs girls that “to admire a man is to regard him with wonder, delight and approval” and to show that “his talents happily amaze her.” And yet another tells the story of a princess who gave her knight suggestions about dragon slaying, with the moral that unsolicited advice can “lessen a man’s confidence or even turn him away from his princess.”

    Yep, that sounds like an excellent use of our tax dollars. Yes, I am being sarcastic.

    Dr. Edward Green of the Harvard School of Public Health became a pariah to his academic peers when he studied AIDS programs in sub-Saharan Africa.  He found that the abstinence- and monogamy-based programs of Uganda were far more effective than the condom approach used in places like Botswana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.  He wrote a book about it, and was promptly attacked by left-wing condom peddlers the world over.  That’s what happens when you challenge the left-wing orthodoxy.

    You mean left-wingers like John Kerry who actually endorsed Dr. Green’s ABC model? Which, as I understand it, stands for: Abstain, Be faithful, and use Condoms if A and B are impossible. Hey! That sounds like a smaller version of a comprehensive sex education program! Oh my!

    Or how about that bastion of left-wing editorializing known as The New York Times? Wait, they were pretty positive about the book as well saying: Long before the AIDS crisis, international health agencies were largely dedicated to distributing health-related commodities, including vaccines, antibiotics and contraceptives, in poor countries all over the world. This approach was rapidly embraced to deal with AIDS. But condoms were not commonly used in Africa, and people have been slow to adopt them. If only these experts properly understood African culture and indigenous concepts of sexuality, disease, danger and death, Green argues, the power of the Ugandan Zero Grazing campaign might have been recognized years ago.

    In fact I have to look pretty hard to find examples of serious criticisms of his book, especially considering that you didn’t bother to provide any, by “left-wing condom peddlers” as you call them. So far your claim seems overblown.

    These are the same people KPatrickGlover would love to have in political office.  They use logic, reason, and rational thought to arrive at a conclusion which is demonstrably false.

    Except you’ve not done a very good job of demonstrating how false they are. You’ve made a lot of claims such as abstinence-only programs work, that the out-of-wedlock births were “practically non-existent” in the 1800s, that condoms and pills are to blame for people being naughty, and the one example of someone proposing an abstinence-only program that works and being savaged for it not only isn’t an abstinence-only program, but I can’t find a whole lot of savagery directed at the book for its conclusions.

    As a staunch conservative, I favor an immediate end to all tax-funded foreign aid.  However if we’re going to spend money, I’d rather spend it on something which works.

    Except that abstinence-only doesn’t work no matter how many times you claim it does.

    Condoms do not work to lower the incidence of HIV, plain and simple.  That’s true whether you’re religious or not.

    Except that condom use does work when they’re actually used properly. Even Dr. Green recommends them for people who can’t abstain or be faithful.

    It’s certainly true that you can’t just throw condoms at the problem and expect it to clear up on it’s own as education on the hows and whys of condom use is also necessary. In the case of the Uganda Report PDF file the early success in reducing the HIV problem wasn’t due to condoms mainly because they weren’t being used despite being available. It took education including promotion of abstinence and monogamy in addition to condom use to get things started.

    I’ve already dragged this out quite longer than I had intended to so I’m stopping here for now.

  26. THEOCRAT wrote: The answer to what legislation is rational changes answers depending upon the ethical theory you subscribe to.

    That may be true. But, generally speaking, it takes a certain kind of religious certitude in one own’s infallibility to exercise power over how how other adults, who disagree with you, seek medical care for their own selves.

    Daryl Cantrell wrote: Is there any other medical procedure which has a similar goal—namely, killing a human being?

    You are perfectly free to believe this. Again, we return to the idea of religiously-derived certitude, and, in fact, Christian certitude. The plain fact is that not everyone agrees with you. There are many other religious beliefs that are at variance with your assertion. Anti-abortion laws have been passed that essentially render adherence to Jewish law—that a mother’s life has more value than a fetus’—illegal. Most Americans disagree with you. Who are you to say that your belief that a fetus has rights independent of it’s mother should supersede other’s beliefs that a fetus is a part of a woman’s body and has no special rights? Go ahead, follow your own beliefs. But allow others to follow theirs. Can you do that?

  27. Daryl Cantrell wrote:many people both religious and atheist consider a fertilized egg to become a human being at the moment of conception.  That being the case, they see no difference between abortion at day 1 and abortion at day 280.

    And they are perfectly free to refrain from having abortions on that basis.

    And finally, many on the pro-abortion side feel the same way: they think abortion should be legal from day 1 to day 280.  In fact, they will argue against any restriction of abortion, right up until the moment a child is born.  To which I can only ask: what’s the difference between aborting a baby who is one week from its due date, and killing an infant born one week prematurely?

    A “baby” one week from its due date is not a baby; it’s a fetus. The difference: a fetus is part of a woman’s body. A premature infant isn’t. It’s a pretty obvious difference, isn’t it?

    What’s the difference between a zygote and a scraping of cells from the lining of someone’s mouth, given cloning technology? Both sets of cells could potentially become human beings.

    What about all the times you’ve abstained from having sex with some woman? In each case, you may have prevented the existence of a potential human being.

  28. Your post was a good read, Les.

    This is from an editorial here: http://www.newscientist.com/channel/sex/mg18725133.400.html

    At the root of this unease is the uncertain status of embryos. While some religious groups see an embryo as a human life, looked at in a cold, rational light they are no more than tiny balls of cells. They can, of course, become a human under the right circumstances, but so can eggs and sperm, and with the advent of cloning so too can skin cells. These cells cannot all merit human status.

    The lack of clarity over how embryos should be regarded is reflected in how they are dealt with. In most countries surplus embryos created during IVF are simply discarded. In other words, by accepting IVF society has implicitly decided that embryos are disposable.

    Accept this and the decision whether or not to screen embryos for inherited breast cancers becomes a lot easier. If unwanted embryos can be discarded, the test becomes no different from any other preventive measure. Ask prospective parents if they would rather have a child with a predisposition to breast cancer or one without and they would all choose the latter. PGD has the potential to allow couples to make this choice – and indeed is already doing so in some countries.

    And from here: http://www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/mg18625032.100

    Consider the questions of when to confer moral status to an embryo, and of when life begins. These are separate. The distinction between them is important.

    Biological life begins at the moment of conception. But when does human life begin? The answer has important implications for debates on abortion, in-vitro fertilisation and cloning for stem cell research. Many neuroscientists and some bioethicists believe that human life begins when the brain starts functioning. Consciousness is the critical function needed to determine humanness, because it is a quality that, in its fullness and with all its implications for self-identity, personal narrative and other mental constructs, is uniquely human. An embryo cannot have consciousness until the point in development when it has a brain able to support consciousness. But, as with many ethical issues involving the brain, the answer is not so black and white. Our grey matter creates many grey areas.

    The context of the question is everything. One relevant context is biomedical cloning for stem cell research. Neuroscience clearly shows that the fertilised egg does not begin the processes that eventually generate a nervous system until day 14. For this reason, among others, stem cell researchers use fertilised embryos only up until day 14.

    But we have to jump all the way to the 23rd week of development before the fetus can survive outside the womb – and then only with advanced medical technology to help it. One could argue that the embryo is not a human being, or deserving of the moral status of a human being, until then. And indeed this is when the US Supreme Court has ruled that the fetus has the rights of a human being.

    In making this ruling, the court had to navigate several arguments. One is the “continuity argument” that claims life begins at conception. Its adherents view a fertilised egg as the point at which life begins, and hold that it should be granted the same rights as a human being. They take no consideration of developmental stages. And there is no rational arguing with those who see it this way.

    Similarly, the “potentiality argument” views the potential to develop into a human being as conferring the status of a human being. This is akin to saying that a home improvement warehouse is the same thing as 100 houses, since it holds that potential. Neither of these makes any sense to neuroscience. How can a biological entity that has no nervous system be a moral agent?

    A further argument, which most often comes into play around stem cell research, holds that the intention of those who create an embryo is significant. Such research may use embryos left unused from IVF processes, where the intention of creating several embryos is to create one or two that are viable for implantation. In natural sexual fertilisation up to 80 per cent of embryos spontaneously abort: thus IVF is simply a high-tech version of what happens naturally. Alternatively, researchers may use embryos created specifically for stem cell harvesting, and here there is never any intention to create a human being.

    I don’t have time to find it at the moment, but I’ve read about brain scans suggesting a point of critical mass where fetus brain waves appear to reach consciousness.  If this can be nailed down, and I suspect it can be eventually, I would personally consider this point to be the start of being human, in the womb or out of it.

  29. Just to nitpick and if one believes Steven Pinker and his sources, the moment of conception is a misnomer. When looked at in sufficient biological detail, that moment is more like a day…

  30. but I’ve read about brain scans suggesting a point of critical mass where fetus brain waves appear to reach consciousness.  If this can be nailed down, and I suspect it can be eventually, I would personally consider this point to be the start of being human, in the womb or out of it.

    CitizenX, it would be nice if there were an obvious line we could draw between “not yet human” and “human”. This would make hard decisions, if not easier, then at least somehow qualifiable and thus justifiable.

    Trouble is, there are no such obvious points in the development of the fetus, and I seriously doubt any will be found.  Why should we expect any?  Sure, some aspects of development happen quickly enough so that the “points” are pretty sharp- conception, for instance: sperm contacts egg, penetrates zona, egg closes off to other sperm, sperm loses tail, zygote is formed- all this happens pretty quickly, I believe.  It is not, however, a “point”.

    Far more difficult is to “pinpoint” when “consciousness” begins in a fetus.  I would argue that there is usually no sharp line one can draw between conscious and not, whether you are graphing the development of a fetus from conception (or “twinkle in the eyes of the parents”) to birth to voting age, or the evolution of conscious humans from (presumably) unconscious prokaryotes, or Terry Schiavo to Bush to the Dalai Lama.  What, exactly, is consciousness anyway?

    No, there is no easy way out.  We have continua from nonhuman to human, life not worth living to life worth living, and unconscious to conscious.  We are sometimes forced to make decisions, which draw lines where there are none.  Laws are such lines.  Abortion and euthanasia are such lines.  There is no logical, clean, or right place to draw these lines that can be ultimately justified.  It’s just hard, and part of the burden that comes with being human.

  31. A woman who gets pregnant has placed another human being (the child) into a situation where it depends on her for its continued survival.  She cannot then turn around and say “This is my body, I’ve grown tired

    Actually, yes she can, because (a): it’s her body in the first place. A plane is not your own—someone else made it, and it’s designed for you to use, but it is not your own. Your body, on the other hand, is your own. I do not consider a fetus a person; it is an incontestable fact that a woman is a person, and therefore, she has dominion over her body. Also, (b): you (Darrell, or whatever your name is, I don’t really care)chose of your own volition to fly airplanes. Not every woman choses to become pregnant (and who in their right mind would?).

  32. And, while it may be true that a minority (and I really mean a minority) of anti-choicers are not particularly religious, it has been well-documented (as well as making sense) that the vast majority of people who are misguided enough to consider a fetus having the same rights as a real woman believe this way precisely because they are religious fundamentalists.

    Oh, and Les is right—not only is abstinence a stupid idea, it flat-out does not work.

  33. Tried to post this last night but it didn’t work for some reason…

    Yes, abortion is a sticky debate. Canada and Britain generally poll
    60 to 80% support for legal access to abortion. Coincidence that both of these countries have a lower percentage of the population compared to the US who identify as TrueBelievers?

    KPatrickGlover is correct to call for statistics to back up Daryl’s statements. We have to be careful when we reference statistics … (ie)taking care to consider the source of the stat and the methodology used…Like Daryl, I certainly consider the abortion question to be as complicated as the number of reasons why a woman would decide to have an abortion (something I will never experience, as I am a man. I assume Daryl is, too, so note as tenderly as possibly that Daryl, like myself, will never carry a fetus.)

    Care should be taken on all issues remotely attached to issues of “morality” when policy is concerned – taking us back to the original post. Like it or not, governments have to develop policies related to these issues because crazy f*ckers bring guns to abortion clinics and women (usually young, statistically) who want abortions will go get sometimes unsafe abortions anyway. These are not good things to be happening to citizens. No one wants a growth in black market abortion.

    The majority of the Western, developed world supports the concept and practise of legal access to abortion. Why? It is a health issue. It is a medical procedure. An earlier post questioned this statement and supposed that abortion is murder…and so it is not correct to consider abortion a medical procedure. Don’t try to simplify the issue or disregard the original reason for allowing access to abortion…namely the welfare and freedom of women. I would also respond by adding another to our growing list of “social issues that religious idealists force” … namely, the right to die, or rather, being forced to live out every painful last moment of your cancer/alzheimers/lou gehrig’s ridden life. This is another issue TrueBelievers have made much of. Anyone else catch the God show on CNN when the Schaivo case was happening? Another complicated issue which moralists try to simplify into plain old unworkable right and wrong. These are issues of health and freedom which are not easily solved one way or the other. Consensus may be impossible.

    I would also like to point out, generally, the rampant straight-male domination in many popular religions (Christianity most certainly included.) Yes Daryl, that’s something that’s ‘on the books’ since the 1800’s and well before – that book being the bible. Let’s look elsewhere for complete answers to our moral questions. Thou shalt is not an adequate answer to these kinds of questions.

    It was largely the work of freethinkers who brought women the right to vote and curbed blasphemy laws in the United States (laws which imprisoned those who wished to speak their minds about matters of accepted doctrine.) These were very public battles fought against pious men in positions of power. “Moral laxity” is a meaningless term which is not only unquantifiable, but ought to be unwelcome in most discussions of public policy. It is also a tag that belongs more appropriately with the Church leaders who overlooked, lied about and hid homosexual abuse by priests who are not allowed to have sex and also churches and governments who stole and abused children from Native North American communities well into the middle of this century. That’s moral laxity.

    Going back to the inital suggestion that a logic test be applied to those seeking lawmaker status:

    I think it is generally accepted that it is almost impossible for a non Christian to attain the rank of President in the US. (I’m open to discussion on that point.) Are we not losing, potentially, some very appealing candidates who could be logical, intelligent Presidents because American society rules out everyone who does not identify as a follower of a 2000 year old mythology?

  34. I spot a strawman…

    absoluteist (sic)

    Please remember I am in the UK, and 5 hours ahead of the time shown on my posts. At 2 in the morning I couldn’t be arsed to proof read/spell check fully.

    First of all if you’re going to debate the issue medically, you should at least educate yourself about the basic facts of fetal development.  A human egg will generally divide for the first time (ie, into two cells) between 24 and 48 hours after fertilization.  An embryo (more properly, a gastrula) does not contain “several thousand cells

  35. We’ve probably already had non-believing presidents in the U.S., but they’ve been politically wise enough to do lip service, if so.  There must have been advantages to religion for it to dominate culture the way it has through history and likely a good chunk of the most recent prehistory.  It seems a majority of people are going to worship something, be it worldly or other worldly.  We might do well to consider what the majority in the U.S. would worship if God were taken away.  We also probably need to more carefully consider how stable, functional, and moral people inclined to religion will be without a Hell stick to guide them.

    Also, though I am all for protecting the rights of minorities, any nation is going to have a culture.  I don’t find it unreasonable for the majority population to expect the laws and underlying morality of the nation to fit comfortably with their worldviews.

    If we were to have no God-gifted morality for the common populace, we would need a much more robust consensus from the godless about what system of morality to use.  It seems we in this forum can’t agree, though we are all obviously drawn here for reasons that might let one consider us a niche group.  I’m not sure the state or legal system dictating morality is an improvement.  It could easily be a step back.

  36. Let’s look elsewhere for complete answers to our moral questions. Thou shalt is not an adequate answer to these kinds of questions.

    Exactly. I could not have said it better myself. The bible has no more of a place in serious public policy debate than one of “The Berenstein Bears” books does.

    I, for one, believe that the kind of “morality” that the right believes so strongly in is highly immoral. To me, being let alone is the highest moral value of all. Therefore, I am so happy to be alive in what rightists call an age of “moral laxity.” At least I’m free!

  37. Thanks Sexy Sadie.
    Citizen X: OK, I’ll take the bait.

    We’ve probably already had non-believing presidents in the U.S., but they’ve been politically wise enough to do lip service, if so.

    That may be true. Or not. For the moment assuming that the position of the President actually matters in terms of lawmaking (something I am also open to debate on) and that this is even worth thinking about – I would posit that the reason it is politically wise for politicians with, shall we say, ‘athiestic tendencies’ to do lip service is for the following reason: it is a natural thing to do to adopt the mainstream way of thinking. Now, I don’t mean natural in the sense that it is “natural” to breastfeed. I mean natural in the way that viruses spread. Same for ideas. And when faced with a decision that goes something like: “Should I aspire to public office, knowing that this a position from which I can exert influence on the world and generally make my environment more like I want it to be, yet also knowing that my pollsters are telling me that a majority of my constituents NEED me to be not only a person of faith, but a person of a specific kind of faith, with a specific set of values that I must publicly express admiration for at every opportunity…?” This is a real question faced, I have no doubt, by the politically interested since…well…the dawn of democracy.

    Is that a tough choice for a TrueBeliever to make? No. As an atheist who has worked in several Canadian election campaigns and spent many hours speaking to people on their doorsteps (IMO not necessarily an effective way of guaging or growing interest in your cause…unless several other factors are in place, but I digress) I can tell you that the hallmark of a person of faith in the supernatural is his propensity for heading in one direction and one direction only. That direction being skyward, often focused on one thing…currying the Lord’s favour with an opinion on, say, abortion, which is the only issue which will sway that person towards voting a certain way. These are true beliefs. Other important issues cease to be important. It is an exercise in looking both inward and outward simultaneously, which is a difficult and, dare I say, morally complex phenomenon.

    Does anyone know the latin for “morals” or “morality”?

    There must have been advantages to religion for it to dominate culture the way it has through history and likely a good chunk of the most recent prehistory.  It seems a majority of people are going to worship something, be it worldly or other worldly. 

    Worship takes many forms, my friend. It can be bloody and it can soft handed. As to the relative advantages to having or not having a religion, I would argue that not all things which happen “naturally” (ie) the rise of religious orthodoxy and the public’s embrace (or coersion, as the case may be…) of these systems are good or beneficial things to the development of the species. The world is ripe with examples of earth, plant and animal evolutionary traits which just plain don’t make sense. OK…maybe at one time they did…in a certain part of the world (monkey tribes IMO) in a certain early political reality…(anyone know what the Roman literacy rate was? 0.1% I’m guessing)…

    If we were to have no God-gifted morality for the common populace, we would need a much more robust consensus from the godless about what system of morality to use.

    CitizenX, please mark me down as someone who does not have the answer to a perfect morality. Hell, I don’t even know the latin roots of that word (morality). I will respond to this:

    [CITIZENX]…any nation is going to have a culture.  I don’t find it unreasonable for the majority population to expect the laws and underlying morality of the nation to fit comfortably with their worldviews.

    Ay, there’s the rub, fellow SEB’er. Where opinion on public policy (using Marijuana legalization as an example) and existing law/morality (in this case related to drug use) ceases to match up…those within the majority opinion on the issue find themselves at odds with those within a relatively smaller set of people who claim to own the real power which can change an irrational – to the majority opinion holder’s – policy. These people (*in the real world, represented by a sizeable majority of people who feel marijuana legalization is something that should happen soon) are left to debate why irrational laws and policies exist…sometimes banging heads with a differing opinion, though with an example like marijuana, not very often anymore IMO…but often left unable to make a change, largely due to the moral preconceptions of lawmakers who not only are drawn from a population which boasts 50%+ beliefership, but also may be answerable to the more fanatical/charismatic sects … thus leaving a few policy makers holding the balance of power, based on their hold over the devoted population.

    So while it is not unreasonable to expect a cultural bias within a legislative body…it should also be the active duty of the citizenry to decide…in a most rational way…how much culture informs the decision making process within the President’s Office/Senate/Congress/Parliament/State/Municipality/School Board, etc etc.

    Okay, so this word rational gets used alot. A TrueBeliever no doubt considers it a rational act to do everything they can to achieve the taste of that sweet honey nectar up in Zeus-land…or revel in the fiery eternal afterlife below…you know, whichever you choose…

    I feel that there is not rationality in a system which puts so much power of belief into an individual that they believe that they are destined for a beautiful afterlife if they will only follow the meandering and often mistranslated teachings of a god no currently living politican would even admit publicly to having seen in person.

    So Caesar (and by extension Octavion Augusts)proclaimed themselves Gods…or at the very last close relatives of the Holy Daddies in the Sky…was this an action which has led Romans to a great and lasting future.

    Show me a religious nation in history which has lasted forever, unchanging in its perfection. There isn’t one…at least not existing like it once was. These religions all change…as sects break from one another…cultures war…history marches on.

    My point – if there is one – is this:

    While it may be true that there have been good things (at least good in the sense that most people would agree with their logic in enhancing the race) (ie)the rise of concepts like brotherly love, men and women having babies and raising them to think the same way as they were raised to think, etc etc…it has to be conceded that many of the more powerful Christian creeds (particularly Evangelicals) are relatively new in terms of their rise to popular adherance to the specific missions of these faiths…and that they have only come into existence after bitter debates within a previously existing splinter sect of the Christian church over the role of church in people’s lives. Now, I’m not hear to go on about Protestantism, because frankly, you all know what side I’m on here (I do not believe there is a “God” and I never will, unless he comes down and talks to me directly, in which case I will consider my current state of mental health very carefully. It’s not that I don’t believe you, it’s just that I don’t believe you. Get it?) That having been said, my point is that you will be hard pressed to find a Christian who openly acknowledges the dubious historical value of the Bible, let alone its moral authority (The Bible being The Word and all that) which has been called into question many times, quite rightly and IMO without any need of further dispute.

    The question is one for the species, the preamble is my own:

    Whereas systemic and historic belief in…and action on behalf of … the written word in the Bible (most printed book in the history of the world, if I’m not mistaken) has contributed to the current state of affairs, do the benefits of organized religion have limits and should the, shall we say, liberties bestowed upon holders of religious influence on our legistlative branches be curbed?

    I know the rebuttal already. What about the influence of non-believers? God haters. You f*cking morons. Pray your AIDS away and then tell the whole world about it. Please bring proof.

    There are any number of intellectual crutches for these people to fall back on. We’ve all heard them. Hell, I’ve had multiple ex-Christians admit to me that the whole thing is bullshit and they only ever swallowed the pill because Mommy made them at a very young age. So, how does that benefit our society in the long and short term?

    Is progress possible in a society which willingly gives power and influence to those who agree to – at least tacitly – take a firm grip of that Pablum-spoon and keep on stuffing it in the face of Baby America?

    Again, I’m not necessarily out to tell people what progress is. The rebuttal here is that lax morality is not progress. That anal sex causes AIDS (punishment from wrathful Zeus, you see).

    Here I think it is important to reiterate the argument that history must be considered carefully. Sure, The Bible holds Wisdom – all answers contained within – as charismatic preachers recruit disaffected Jews to a new kind of Judaism, or as a lack of refridgeration precludes the eating of day old pork, or as lack of good plumbing contributes to an outbreak of Ass-Plague in the city later to be known as Sodom. But, come on…the f*cking nonsensical garbage in the bible, the dubious historical value, the fact that it was written by a whole bunch of people and then translated from ancient languages to our own modern English…I mean, this is too much to swallow.

    Don’t get me wrong. I really like America. I find it’s a fascinating country and I know many really good people in the USA. In fact, I don’t know many bad people except the ones I see on TV.

    The question is really one of satisfaction. How satisfied are you with the current state of things in America? If you’re Pat Roberston, you are never happy and this drives your mission forward. If you are me, then you are one smug bastard living in Canada, aren’t you.

  38. Quick follow up because I submitted that beast before I previewed by accident and don’t know how to get back and change a couple things:

    CitizenX’s indirect question was “So, what do we replace it (God-driven morality) with that will guarantee stability and at least the modicum of progress that we enjoy now?”

    My answer is that I do not know how to answer that yet because the accepted definition of morality is, in my view, in need of further discussion. I would propose that morality is a highly relative term which often carries loaded meanings.

    However I am of the mind that on the question of more or less “God” in the heads of public policy makers, the answer should be “none, if possible”. My apologies to those who believe differently, but personal experience and logic tell me that I am correct. If you (and by “you” I mean any TrueBelievers, have a near-God experience you would like share with me (proof would be nice, please) then I am more than willing to accept your petition for me to ammend my viewpoint that you are all crazy on the grounds that little old Ryan’s views represent a danger to the all powerful’s fragile and carefully cultivated order here on planet earth. With zeal I will interpret the bible (with God’s help, natch) and then work to enact laws which contribute, in however small and humble a way, to His everlasting glory. I. Just. Want. Some. Proof.

  39. CitizenX quoting another source said: But we have to jump all the way to the 23rd week of development before the fetus can survive outside the womb – and then only with advanced medical technology to help it. One could argue that the embryo is not a human being, or deserving of the moral status of a human being, until then. And indeed this is when the US Supreme Court has ruled that the fetus has the rights of a human being.

    Not the last time I checked.  The only thing conferred at Week 23 is that the state that the woman lives in may limit or prohibit abortion subject to protecting the health of the mother.  A doctor signing off saying that psych issues will effect the health is sufficient to terminate the pregnancy. 

    That is hardly ruling that a fetus has the rights that you and I possess.  Neither of us could be killed because our mom might feel blue if we continued to live.

    zilch said: No, there is no easy way out

    I whole-heartedly agree.  I just wish we would err on the side of caution.  I make the same argument regarding the death penalty, err on the side of caution.  Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, depending on your level of cynicism, I end up with different bedfellows for each.

  40. Such absoluteist arguments only hold water only if you consider a foetus to be a human being from the moment of conception. I do not.

    For a bunch of people that mock Christians for not believing in evolution, the atheists have a lot of cognitive dissonance with biology. It is biological fact that an embryo is a human being. You may make philosophical distinctions such as personhood, but the species of the embryo is never under debate. Humans become human at conception. Dogs become dogs at conception. They do not become dogs by developing “doghood” later in life.

    Pro-choicers consistently conflate personhood and species. It is easier to kill someone if you don’t think of them as a human being. But their is no running away from Biology.

    The most famous advocate of personhood is ethicist Peter Singer. He does not run away from the truth; he frankly admits that abortion is killing humans. He just doesn’t think it is morally wrongs – they have not attained personhood.

    Here is a fairly typical definition of life for the skeptical: a living thing is anything that has an internal blueprint of itself (DNA), and the intrinsic capacity to build itself based upon that blueprint. Abortion supporters tend to overlook the “intrinsic building capacity

  41. rgjp, I enjoyed reading your responses, and the link to the discussion of secularism is interesting.

    Justin, I am curious to see how your unsourced table holds up to the scrutiny of the local information brokers.  It would be interesting to see more comparative data also taking into account reporting methods and social taboos from before the 60s.  Aslo, couldn’t the day after pill, if more widely promoted, take care of a lot of those condom accidents?  There are new birth control methods coming to market and in the pipes that should make accidental childbirth by informed people far less likley.

    In regards to the discussion in the thread about the spread of HIV, I think it is interesting that less discussion is given to circumcism.  http://www.newscientist.com/channel/sex/mg18725113.700.html

    To rule out behavioural effects, researchers led by Bertran Auvert of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in St Maurice, France, recruited 3273 heterosexual South African men aged between 18 and 24 who wanted to be circumcised. They split them into two groups at random, circumcising one group immediately and asking the others to wait two years. After 21 months, 51 of the uncircumcised men were HIV positive, compared with just 15 in the circumcised group.

    If circumcism really does have this drastic effect on the spread of HIV in the male population, it seems that mass clippings could have the most immediate and sweeping effect of any single policy change.

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