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View Diary: The Ongoing War on Christianity (172 comments)

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  •  What's wrong with sharing your views? (1+ / 0-)
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    One can claim that political imposition is a tenant of Christianity, but it's just a claim among many.

    As much as critics want to pigeon hole Christians in a particular one dimensional creed (the one the critic imagines) it's just not reality, and never has been.

    When one want's to pigeon hole them as preachers of hate, violence and domination. That's just completely off the rails and stupid.

    The meaning of Christianity and the texts is particular to each Christian religion and to each individual, Christian or not.

    •  I think that if we truly (2+ / 0-)
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      Yahzi, kdrivel

      respect the dignity of other persons-- i.e., if we genuinely treat our neighbors as we would like to be treated --then we give them reasons that they can share in trying to persuade them to adopt particular forms of governance and legislation.  These reasons must be reasons that anyone, regardless of religious belief or cultural background, could know for themselves.  Only two types of reasons fit that criteria:  reasons derived from reason (as in the case of mathematics) and reasons derived from observation.  

      Arguments from sacred texts or religious beliefs just don't fit this model because 1) we can't verify the truth of these stories, 2) we can't determine which interpretation of the text is the true interpretation, and 3) not everyone is exposed to the teachings of these sacred texts.  If I try to persuade someone else that they should pay taxes because someone named Jesus says that we should attend to the poor, I've done an injustice to that person by striving to hoist a set of beliefs on them without any supporting evidence for him.  Why Jesus?  Why not Buddha or Venu or some other god(s) beside?  How do I know these stories are true?  How do I know he wasn't a huckster, etc?  I can't distinguish these stories from Avatar.

      If, by contrast, I argue to someone that they should pay taxes because monies that go to education, infrastructure, healthcare, etc., increase opportunity for all, creating a more peaceful and productive society, I've made an argument that anyone can evaluate for themselves through their reason and observation, without having to believe any set of religious beliefs or tales.  In presenting this sort of argument, I've also recognized the dignity of other persons by giving them reasons that they can verify for themselves, rather than asking them to believe in authorities and stories that can't be verified.  This strikes me as a far more loving way to relate to others.

      •  So it's not the actual policy that matters (1+ / 0-)
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        but whether someone's support for it is based on their belief in God or their belief in something else that validates them?

        I don't think you've made any case for the value of increasing opportunity for all, peace, productivity or treating your neighbors as you'd like to be treated. What is your supporting evidence that any of that is worthwhile?

        •  The point is that these sorts (0+ / 0-)

          of reasons can be shared by people despite their religious beliefs or background, while arguments based on sacred texts cannot for the reasons I outline.  This is why historically religion has led to violent conflict as in the case of the Thirty Years War.  Because shared reasons aren't possible, and because people take themselves to be acting on behalf of God, their only recourse is to use violence as a means of compelling others because they lack the means of showing that they're right.

          •  Because no one ever started a war (0+ / 0-)

            based on atheistic  belief in their own personal ability to 'reason', what's best for society.

            This whole notion that religion causes war somehow independently of human nature is nonsense. If you don't believe in God then there's nothing but innate human nature that could possibly cause wars.

            That people use God as an excuse for belligerence to promote their persona interests, is just a reflection of human nature that has more than proved itself not dependent on religion.

            Sorry but "because I say so" is not any more a compelling reason than "because God says so", is to agree with anyone unless they have a means of coercive force.

            And then someone comes along and says God says we are all equal and a majority of people agree with that. And then someone else comes along and says their is no God and the individual must prostate himself to the state and we have the guns now so as you're told or die. eg.

            If you can't reason out whether you agree with someone else's principles or policies, that your problem, regardless of the factors that contribute to your reasoning, spiritual or otherwise.

            I don't see forced conversions going on in our part of the word of either the religious or statist kind.

            •  What war has ever been (0+ / 0-)

              started in the NAME of atheism?  That aside, do you feel that it's acceptable for people to argue that women should have fewer rights than men on SCRIPTURAL grounds?  Why or why not?  The issue here isn't atheism versus religion, but what counts as a legitimate PUBLIC reason.  You'll notice that the Supreme Court shares my standard.  You don't here people in the courts arguing from religion to support their positions.

              •  Not in the name of atheism (0+ / 0-)

                in the name of reason, that happens to be atheist.

                Wars aren't waged in the name of religion but in the name of particular belief. Not worth word games. It is what it is. Look at the twentieth century.

          •  If you go back to my original (0+ / 0-)

            post, you'll also note that I defended my position through an appeal to Christian principles.  I asked, "how must we behave towards others in such a way as to love our neighbors and do unto others as we would have done unto ourselves?"  My answer is that we would defend our positions where matters of governance are concerned through reason and observation rather than appeals to sacred texts because these are things that can be shared between people regardless of their religious background.

            My neighbor is Hindu.  If I say that they should endorse a particular form of legislation because the Bible supports this position, I have done an injustice to them by foisting an undemonstrable belief upon them from a religious tradition that they don't share.  If, by contrast, I can demonstrate that this piece of legislation would be a social good, empirically enhancing the life of the collective and our security, I have shown respect for my neighbor by presenting them with reasons that don't require them to share my religious belief.  I take it that this is part of doing unto others as you would have done unto yourself and loving your neighbor.  When the fundamentalist tells me I, a gay man, can't get married because homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God (Leviticus 18 & 20), he has behaved like an asshole (i.e., unloving) not only because he seeks to take my rights away, but also because he's claiming that I and others like me should be bound by the claims of a particular religious text that we might not share (we could be Buddhists, Hindus, Shinto, atheists, etc; why should we be governed by that text), and by a tendentious reading of that text.  If, by contrast, if he tries to argue that gay marriage does irreparable harm to both society and people such as me (secular arguments), we're now, at least, in the position to explore whether that's true (so far no evidence supports this) and to debate the issue on reasoned grounds.  We don't need any set of religious beliefs to explore this question.  The Hindu, Christian, and Atheist can all debate whether in fact gay marriage does some sort of social harm.  Above all, we have respected the dignity of the person who differs from us or who doesn't share our religious beliefs.

            If you don't like that example, take the example of sex education and contraceptives.  Why should the person who doesn't share a particular version of Christianity be bound by abstinence only education and the refusal to make contraceptives available to children?  Why should citing scripture be acceptable here?  It shouldn't.  Again, the issue that we can publicly share is whether or not abstinence only education and the refusal to make contraceptives available to teens harms or helps society.  The studies show that this is incredibly harmful, leading to increases in teen pregnancies and STDs.  Has the religious person been somehow oppressed by exploring this issue in secular terms and enacting policies that do something contrary to their beliefs?  No.  They're still free to teach their children this and to opt out of such education.  The point is, that if you really love your neighbor-- the person who has religious beliefs different from yours --you'll argue on secular, not scriptural grounds.

            I'm honestly surprised you don't see this point.  It suggests very unchristian values of myopia, entitlement (Christian/religious privilege), and self-centeredness.  The ethical issue isn't one of how you privilege your beliefs, but of how you relate to others.  Arguing from religious beliefs is a big middle finger to those that differ from you (the Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, etc).  

            You'll probably say that I've somehow contradicted myself by appealing to Christian principles in this argument.  Two things.  First, I think we can give secular arguments in support of the principle that we should do unto others as we would have done unto ourselves and love our neighbor.  We don't have to appeal to the revelation of a God or authority.  This is why we find variations of these principles throughout the history of philosophy (pre-dating Christianity) and the world religions (other than Christianity).  Second, I've articulated this position within a framework I hope you'll be able to understand given that you're a Christian.  I've tried to say that if you truly strive to love your neighbor as you love yourself, you will attend to them in ways that show respect by giving reasons that they can share rather than by foisting your scripture upon them (the latter being an act of violence).

        •  Put differently, the issue is (0+ / 0-)

          one of what sorts of reasons can produce consensus or be shared between people.  Arguments based on religion can't produce consensus because there's no way of verifying their truth.  One believes them or does not, endorses an interpretation or does not.  There's no independent validation.  The experience of European warfare that arose out of rival sects of Christianity was a big part of the motivation for calling for the separation of Church and State.  The idea that Church and State should be separated wasn't merely the idea that religion should be a personal affair, but that the sorts of arguments we give for various forms of legislation should be based on reason and the observable or what can be shared between people that otherwise have radically different beliefs.

          •  Consensus is achieved by people consenting, (0+ / 0-)

            not truth.

            ...that the sorts of arguments we give for various forms of legislation should be based on reason and the observable or what can be shared between people that otherwise have radically different beliefs.
            That is false.

            The separation of Church and state was primarily to preserve the choice to make one's political arguments on the religion of their choice, local religious consensus or non religious merits as each person sees fit. Although in most cases in the American states, even well after the Constitution was ratified, public officials where required to proclaim faith in God rather specifically and explicitly. Just read a state constitutions of the time.

            It is a total divergence from reality and a corruption of the principle to say the separation of church and state was designed to subdue individual religious expression, in politics or otherwise. It's outrageous really to even suggest that. It was in fact the opposite. To preserve and protect individual religious expression as opposed to the state forcing anyone to base their arguments and expression on any particular religious or non religious doctrine.

            Where did you get that idea?

            You can try to make a science of morality, it's been tried. And it ain't pretty.

            •  I never made the claim (1+ / 0-)
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              that the purpose of church and state is to subdue religion.  I made the claim that this separation arose out of the experience of internecine warfare in Europe that arose out of conflicts between different sects of Christianity (notice, there's no reference to atheism inn that remark).  The decision was made to treat religion as a private affair outside of governance to avoid this sort of warfare.

              •  I infered that separating reason from (0+ / 0-)

                religion implied atheistic perspective. Godless at least. That is what you mean isn't it?

                These reasons must be reasons that anyone, regardless of religious belief or cultural background, could know for themselves.  Only two types of reasons fit that criteria:  reasons derived from reason (as in the case of mathematics)...

                I think what is happening as we speak in the court and public opinion can be too easily conflated with historic realities.

                The moral baselines you established in your first response to me are assumed.

                John Locke wrote two treaties. Is it just a coincidence his attempts through both religious and criteria based observable reason met the same conclusions. Probably not. Because people work backward from their baseline morality. How could he have come to any other conclusions than the universe, God and observable reality, doesn't contradict itself?

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