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I just finished reading  Pentagon Pushes Apocalyptic Christianity. and took a careful look at the comments.   It is always so much more rewarding on this site to slam Republicans and support the belief that once we regain power everything will be different, that rationality, good government and reason will return to the halls of government.  

While I would love to believe this, the evidence is not promising for reversing the encroachment of Religion in government.  And it never will be until Secularists, that means atheists, agnostics or those in progressive branches of the major religions, demand more from the Democratic party.

The referenced diary describes one aspect of the infiltration of evangelicals into the military, focusing on the pentagon building.  I am familiar with this and have had the privilege of meeting Mikey Weinstein who is leading the battle against the Christianizing of the American Military.   I have written many diaries on this same subject from a different perspectives.

Even PBS felt compelled to air a blatant propaganda piece entitled "Wall of Separation" a term the producers argue is fraudulent. After several viewings I was able to find a specific misleading aspect in this film, that was featured on the web site of the PBS ombudsman.

A more detailed description of our Democratic party deferring to the Religious right was in this diary  Feds now control Mt. Soledad Cross Site  This tells of legislation that illustrates the thesis of this diary.  The Democratic Senators refused to stop the takeover of land for the sole purpose of maintaining a 42 foot high Christian Cross over San Diego.  

When I spoke to Representative Bob Filner about his Senate colleagues lack  of courage, having voted against the bill in the house, he responded with a sad shake of his head, "Sometimes you have to do what is right, no matter the political cost."

What is rarely said on this site, and needs saying, is that the candidates for the nomination of our party, are more concerned in capturing the Religious vote then they are in taking a stand against the Christianizing of our country-which includes the military.   Do I hear a communal, "Duh, they have to get elected, dude."  

Yes, and they can get elected if they differentiate themselves more clearly from those who would erase the separation of church and state that has served our country so well for so many decades.  

The nine candidates for the Presidential nomination were asked during the Iowa debates a few weeks ago their feelings about a personal God who responds to prayer, specifically to thwart disasters such as Katrina:

This was Dennis Kucinich's response

So when we think of the scriptures, Isaiah making justice the measuring line; Matthew 25, "whatever you do for the least of our brethren"; where the biblical injunction, "make peace with your brother" -- all of these things relate to my philosophy.
Now, the founders meant to have separation of church and state, but they never meant America to be separate from spiritual values. As president, I'll bring strong spiritual values into the White House, and I'll bring values that value peace, social and economic justice, values that remember where I came from.

His words, that the founders never meant America to be separate from spiritual values is the prime talking point of those who would return prayer to public schools and the ten commandments to the walls of our courts.  

Other candidates took the occasion to proclaim their personal relationship with God, even though they explained they prayed for more abstract comfort than changing the course of hurricanes.  But not a single viable candidate refuted the idea that praying to God was an essential component of being a national leader, along with the implication that this belief is integral to what it means to be an American.

Only one candidate, Mike Gravel, the one with support that wavers between zero and one percent, felt free enough to utter these words.

And so you can pray -- I was always persuaded or struck by the fact that many people who pray are the ones who want to go to war, who want to kill fellow human beings. That disturbs me.

The mass delusion of Apocalyptic Christianity may, in fact, lead this nation, and perhaps the world, into the catastrophe that they predict.  I'm sure that there are those in the Military who are outraged by this, but where are they to draw their strength.  When they look at the Republicans they see this belief reflected in the highest places.  Yet, when they look at the Democrats they see a quiet acceptance, a refusal to explicitly reject this pernicious distorted sect of Christianity,out of fear of losing votes.

Just as we demand that Gays, Blacks and the impoverished not be marginalized by our candidates, we have a right to demand that they demonstrate their acceptance and respect for those who do not believe in God.  We are part of the fabric of America.   While this should go without saying, this is under attack, from the leaders of the Republican party, to the burgeoning Evangelical movement, to the new majority of the Supreme Court.

It is about time we insist that our party- the secular party, the "reality based" party- stand up for these principles.   Silence, and just being a bit better than the Republicans will not reverse the blind ideology that is taking over our hitherto Secular Democracy.
****

Addendum:

Some comments indicate a lack of awareness of the current aggressive antipathy towards non believers. Nothing better illustrates the current view of those who would reject the concept of "Separation of Church and State" as these:

One cannot say the word "God," or "the Almighty," one cannot offer public supplication or thanksgiving, without contradicting the beliefs of some people that there are many gods, or that God or the gods pay no attention to human affairs. With respect to public acknowledgment of religious belief, it is entirely clear from our Nation's historical practices that the Establishment Clause permits this disregard of polytheists and believers in unconcerned deities, just as it permits the disregard of devout atheists.

This was not from a Fox pundit or a right wing blogger.   This was written by  Justice Anton Scalia in his dissent in this 2005 Supreme Court Case on allowing a copy of the ten commandments in a court house.  He has since been joined by two justices who share his world view on many issues, so there is reason to believe this would now be the decision of the court, that our constitution permits the "disregard of devout atheists."

If this were to be adopted, atheists would legally become non-persons.  And Monotheism would have become our national religion.

Originally posted to ARODB on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 03:05 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Comments Welcomed, as always...n/t (206+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, clyde, Sharon, Alumbrados, section29, pb, lightiris, hester, SarahLee, GOTV, neonplaq, cubswin39, Detlef, Raybin, karlpk, LynChi, jakbeau, bellatrys, Troutfishing, moira977, freelunch, ZAPatty, theran, Matilda, object16, mataliandy, exNYinTX, HighSticking, Paulie200, rasbobbo, TheMomCat, Shadan7, whenwego, Morague, moiv, roses, taonow, slatsg, itsmitch, jigsaw68, exconservative, nupstateny, Cedwyn, sidnora, Cardinal96, TexDem, Dallasdoc, Eddie in ME, BmoreMD, brainwave, pilotweed, exiledfromTN, Guinho, astronautagogo, churchylafemme, snakelass, DMiller, deep6, pdxRita, YetiMonk, Sopiane, OrangeClouds115, DrReason, poemworld, bablhous, Dawgbro, valadon, kd texan, eve, antonysh, revenant, iliketodrum, greeseyparrot, rapala, Anglico, soros, davidincleveland, Desert Rose, becca00, bellevie, liberal atheist, David R, Bodean, Philoguy, elkhunter, tgray, dogemperor, ChemBob, jimreyn, lotlizard, Joy Busey, rb608, el zilcho, The Raven, tony the American Mutt, bookwoman, JackTheIntelligentDesigner, Ekaterin, ohcanada, SocioSam, Indiana Bob, simplicio, howth of murph, third Party please, keefer55, The Sinistral, PatsBard, Kingsmeg, vigilant meerkat, edwardssl, virgomusic, BlueInARedState, Capn Guts, Yellow Canary, mango, dennisl, kck, Alexandra Lynch, Farradin, Silent Lurker, tecampbell, nilocjin, condoleaser, FireCrow, Caoimhin Laochdha, bleeding heart, Jjc2006, AndyS In Colorado, kpeddicord, rage, vox humana, CA Nana, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Dianna, fiddlingnero, RantNRaven, scoff0165, blueness, Oxy Moron, xylon, leighkidd, Temmoku, a a, ThomasB, sdgeek, Pandoras Box, BentLiberal, lams712, bigchin, darrkespur, john07801, Loudoun County Dem, ninkasi23, godislove, maxalb, 0wn, TtexwiTyler, DWG, Uncle Cosmo, Rex Manning, mudslide, millwood, Moderation, electric meatball, LWelsch, Andy Lewis, trueblueliberal, oxon, FolsomBlues, fayeforcure, egan, ratador, Minnesota Mike, gfv6800, LightningMan, ShadowSD, Atheinostic, wayoutinthestix, zerone, spencerh, Judge Moonbox, bythesea, Wes Opinion, Kwaidan, superhero fan, Mother of Zeus, minerva1157, Mind That, Haplogroup V, TH Seed, Wek, TDE, Tam in CA, Horsefeathers, kyril, StageStop, LaFajita, jimmyboyo, luckylizard, Fallon, Executive Odor, Dude1701, TimCbrowne, chadmichael, Simply Agrestic, KingCranky
  •  I rec'd your diary. A much needed discussion (26+ / 0-)

    as a secularist (so to were the founding fathers)
    I applaud you

    Kudos

  •  Pandering to the spiritually needy. (17+ / 0-)

    The Democrats want the votes of believers. That's understandable, considering how many there are, and that's why we're seeing something of a backlash against the "militant atheists" (e.g. Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens), if recent review articles in liberal magazines are any indication. It seems that secularists are meanies who won't let people believe whatever they want or whatever makes them feel good or whatever might motivate them to work for social justice. There's a trace of postmodernism in the backlash, as if the secularists were trying to impose a tyranny of reason upon all the nice folks who have other ways of knowing. It just shows how this country has been slipping along with much of the rest of the world from the days of H.L. Mencken to the craven present. But that said, any movement for real reform in this country will have to welcome believers even as we insist on a ceasefire in the culture wars.

    Smash the two-party system!

    by Samuel Wilson on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 03:55:29 PM PDT

    •  Welcoming believers is fine... (54+ / 0-)

      the real question that I tried to illustrate is that non-believers are unwelcome.  Or they would be if diaries such as this became more prevalent.

      Or else, those who do not pray, or believe will be explicitly welcome because we will insist on it.  Blacks, Gays and even Women were marginalized, excluded, until they said, "no more."

      And the meme that Dawkins is a militant atheist is simply not true.  There is a video of him spending a delightful hour talking to the archbishop of Oxford about theology and morals, without a hint of animosity from either of them.

      He is firm in his position, which is taken as militancy by those who refuse to accept other then the ultimate truth of their very own theology.

      I'm an atheist, yet I fully understand and accept the need for a belief in God.  I just don't want it as a part of government.

    •  the meme "militant atheists" (44+ / 0-)

      really needs to go away.  What is "militant" about people who are outspoken about their views?  Are there threats of violence?  Nope.  The vigor under which these debates take place is on par with a forthright exchange of political views.  I don't see anyone labeled as a militant liberal or conservative.  To my mind, the term militant adjective is used to try to shut people up.  It was used on feminists too.  

      Notice how we are having more and more discussion about religious beliefs these days.  That wasn't the case when atheists kept their mouths shut.  I have bought every single book written by Harris, Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens to support the increased volume.

      •  Good point (27+ / 0-)

        "Militant" is another one of those right-wing code words. Thus a "miltant" gay is anyone not cringing in the closet, deeply ashamed of his or her sexual orientation.

        The important thing is that words DO matter. Start using the language of the religious right and you've lost the argument. It's very easy to get lost that way since the debate isn't really about religion or spirituality (two distinct concepts anyway) but whether we stand for a government that is essentially and unashamedly secular.

        •  back in the 70's, we used the term "militant" (8+ / 0-)

          frequently as an adjective to denote someone who was committed and bold in their beliefs and advocacy, whether it was about politics, drugs, sex or anything else...

          it is a great word used in this context and i'm reminded of how commonly we used it in everyday life...it was adapted from right wing propaganda of the era and adopted as a badge of honor in the face of the nixon administration's assault on our rights and freedoms

          yeah, i'm a little nostalgic

          born during eisenhower's first term, never a joiner, fiercely independent politically, fighting crypto-fascists and stalinists wherever he finds them

          by memofromturner on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:50:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  My problem with Dawkins and crew (13+ / 0-)

        for me, at least, is not their beliefs. They are welcome to their atheism. My problem with them is that they think everyone that does not share their beliefs is deluded, a fool, an idiot, being manipulated, whatever.

        I do agree that the term "militant" is bogus.

        There are certainly atheists out there who argue their point of view reasonably, but people like, say, Christopher Hitchens are not among them. To me, Hitchens is no different from the far right evangelicals- both believe they are right and everyone else is wrong.

        I think everyone should be allowed to believe what they wish. And I believe that society benefits when everyone discusses their beliefs with each other reasonably and respectfully. But I draw the line at people who use their beliefs- religious, athiestic, whatever- as a means to proclaim their intellectual or moral superiority over those who do not share their beliefs.

        "'The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.'" -from To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

        by BlueTape on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:58:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  no (18+ / 2-)

          anyone who has beliefs is a deluded fool.

          facts dude.  that's what matters.

          Beliefs and opinions are intellectually lazy.

          If you believe somthing, stand behind it with the conviction that it's an absolute truth and prove it.

          Otherwise you're contributing to the noise and those of us who are dedicating our lives to vivisecting reality and taking it apart to figure out what makes it tick don't have time for that.

          •  TRed for (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            snout, Jagger, dirkster42, dewley notid

            calling a substantial number of people deluded fools. I'm willing to bet I'm not the only person around here who has "beliefs."

            Just to give an example of one of my "beliefs:" One shouldn't murder people. Just about everybody in our society 'believes' this. Yet show me the 'facts' which indicate, in any scientific sense, that murder is 'wrong.' You can't. Our societal beliefs such as murder being wrong are based on ethics and principles, and the fact that murder disrupts a peaceful and just society, not things that can really be concretely 'proven' quantitatively. Does that make it a 'deluded' belief that murder is wrong?

            "'The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.'" -from To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

            by BlueTape on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:12:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You can make a reasonable case for morality (31+ / 0-)

              you cannot make one for the existence of a supernatural being.

              You may not like the message, but Dawkins is quite explicit that religion and religious believers have been treated as a special class for too long. Cricitism and ridicule are frowned upon.

              He calls bullshit on this practice of kid-gloves and says to treat religious beliefs as unfounded, without inherent merit, and conterproductive - no different than water-dousing, homeopathy, and tarrot card reading.

              •  Great letter in WaPo, Kudos (8+ / 0-)

                and your description of Dawkins perspective is right on.  We seem to have a zone of non criticism around any ideology that is not based on rationality.

                Even Scientology is protected under this umbrella.

              •  Can you prove there isn't one? (0+ / 0-)

                I hate it when people make the argument that I can't prove that there is a Being that is superior to me, so therefore there can not be one. Tell me can you prove there isn't one? The truth is there are alot of things out there that at one time or another were ridiculed as fantasy (such as the idea the world was round or that we weren't the center of the universe)that later on proved correct. I'll admit straight I don't know everything and I don't have all the answers but you ought to do the same. There are people out there that physically died that say there is more, I don't think you can sufficiently prove to me that they are liars.

                •  it doesn't work that way (9+ / 0-)

                  The burden of proof always rests on the positive assertion because it's impossiable to prove a negative.  That's why atheism is the only rational default position given the lack of proof.  It's testable.  

                  Ah hell.  It's late.  I'll just paste the rest of the argument prefab.
                  http://www.infidels.org/...

                  There are many counter-examples to such a statement. For example, it is quite simple to prove that there does not exist a prime number larger than all other prime numbers. Of course, this deals with well-defined objects obeying well-defined rules. Whether Gods or universes are similarly well-defined is a matter for debate.

                  However, assuming for the moment that the existence of a God is not provably impossible, there are still subtle reasons for assuming the nonexistence of God. If we assume that something does not exist, it is always possible to show that this assumption is invalid by finding a single counter-example.

                  If on the other hand we assume that something does exist, and if the thing in question is not provably impossible, showing that the assumption is invalid may require an exhaustive search of all possible places where such a thing might be found, to show that it isn't there. Such an exhaustive search is often impractical or impossible. There is no such problem with largest primes, because we can prove that they don't exist.

                  Therefore it is generally accepted that we must assume things do not exist unless we have evidence that they do. Even theists follow this rule most of the time; they don't believe in unicorns, even though they can't conclusively prove that no unicorns exist anywhere.

                  To assume that God exists is to make an assumption which probably cannot be tested. We cannot make an exhaustive search of everywhere God might be to prove that he doesn't exist anywhere. So the skeptical atheist assumes by default that God does not exist, since that is an assumption we can test.

                  •  Why doesn't it? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    cdreid

                    Someone brought up NDE's downthread. You might want to take a look at the studies. What scientists are having a hard time understanding is why if the cause of NDEs is oxygen starvation or a chemical process why does it not occur with every patient? Why after being considered dead have people been able to recount what was going around them in detail? Right now, Dr Greyson and Janice Holden are doing research that they hope will prove that their may be consiousness beyond our physical bodies. You have to remember that even though NDes have been around for centuries studying the actual process has only been going on for the past few decades. We are mere babes when it comes to studying what occurs after death.

                    When atheists say that there is no concrete proof at this time therefore I should not believe they make the same mistakes that Creationists make when they say that debunking evolution theory should be enough to prove there is a God, neither one is has fully proved anything with me beyond theory. The only thing I can conclude with certainty is that there is an awful lot we don't know or understand completely and life is still a puzzle.

                    •  We don't know what the deal is with them (8+ / 0-)

                      that doesn't mean that it's beyond our knowledge.  People used to think that thunder was the gods fighting.  

                      Why does it make more sense to jump to a supernatural conclusion that it does to say we don't know?

                      Greyson and Holden are quacks btw.  I'm staying out of that one.

                      Here's a decent writeup of the current state of knowledge on the issue:

                      http://www.neurotransmitter.net/...

                      You know that they are relative to culture, right, that people generally see what their cultural programming brings them to expect?

                    •  Scientists recently (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      theran, mataliandy

                      have induced out of bosy experiences in the lab.

                      http://www.nytimes.com/...

                      I am an atheist. Please don't hate me for my freedom.

                      by kd texan on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:49:29 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Read articles linked in the two comments above (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      davidincleveland

                      A combination of neurotransmitters and messed up senory abilities can not only explain near death experiences, but also out of body experiences.  

                      Why these experiences would happen to some people and not others is pretty simple - it's literally just like why some people get seasick and others don't: the sensory and chemical reactions are triggered in some people but not others.

                      Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

                      by mataliandy on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 08:52:27 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  NDE is the acronym of NEAR Death Experience (0+ / 0-)

                      It is not AFTER Death Experience. I've been there. I've done that, twice. I've experienced the hallucination that dead friends were greeting me.
                      I was also present when one of my close friends, who had been revived three times on an emergency room gurney hours before, was told by the ER doctor that he had died three times. On that occasion, I asked the doctor if he would swear to his statement in a court of law. He promptly recanted his statement.

                      You might want to take a look at the site FAQ about the proper use of your ratings buttons. You seeem to have evolved an Ewokian notion that the troll button is legitimately used to silence opinion antithetical to your personal belief bias.

                  •  Something called consciousness "provably" exists (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    dirkster42

                    ... in the sense that each of us respectively obviously experiences it. And this subjective experience of things, each from within our apparently separate selves, has not been accounted for by any scientifically validated explanation so far.

                    So while there may be no proof of the existence of any particular faith's idea of G-d, there is clearly a realm or phenomenon—consciousness—that although constituting the very ground of our individual existence, is nonetheless inaccessible to our methods of dissection, analysis, and verification.

                    As "I" can never know for certain what "You" are experiencing, "I" more or less have to take "Your" word for it, and vice versa.

                    The Dutch children's choir Kinderen voor Kinderen (= “children for children”) is a world cultural treasure.

                    by lotlizard on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 03:43:27 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  right, right right, (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      davidincleveland, Philoguy, lotlizard

                      and you could be a zombie and I'd never know the difference.

                      That leads us to the whole issue of Qualia and I really don't want to go there at 6AM when I should be in bed. I totally side with Dennett though.  

                      Philosophy of mind and cog-sci are where I'd like to do graduate work if I ever get around to it.  I take take issue with the statement that consciousness is a black box since that would make the whole endevor a waste of time. Quite a few psychologists would as well.

                •  The claim is slightly different than you portray (5+ / 0-)

                  it.

                  I hate it when people make the argument that I can't prove that there is a Being that is superior to me, so therefore there can not be one. Tell me can you prove there isn't one?

                  It would, of course, be an invalid argument to jump from the conclusion that because there is no proof, something must not exist.  But this isn't the issue.  Rather, the issue is that if something is not susceptible to demonstration through reason or observation (capacities all humans more or less possess), that thing should stay out of the public sphere and should not serve as a ground of public policy or deliberation.  

                  It is immoral for a person to force things on others and on the citizenry at large that they cannot demonstrate or prove through some sort of evidence.  We can agree that for the equation 2x + 4 = 12, x = 4, because we can both use our reason to find the value of x.  We can both agree that eggs turned hard when boiled because we can both repeat this circumstance and observe the result.  We can both probably agree that it's bad to murder others as those others tend to have family and friends that then seek revenge causing a chain reaction that leads society to fall apart.  We cannot agree on the supernatural or how scripture should be interpreted as we have no way of resolving these disputes.  Yet this is exactly what Christianists are doing:  they are imposing a set of beliefs on the rest of the population through policy changes, despite their inability to demonstrate these things.  Morally they should keep these beliefs to themselves and not seek policy changes based on them.

                •  Russell's teapot (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  davidincleveland, Atheinostic
                •  Both of your "examples" (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  greeseyparrot

                  The truth is there are alot of things out there that at one time or another were ridiculed as fantasy (such as the idea the world was round or that we weren't the center of the universe)that later on proved correct.

                  were/are RELIGIOUS beliefs. Furthermore, anyone who "believes" that there has been communication with

                  ..people out there that physically died..

                  is expressing a religious belief, NOT a proven fact, because physical death is braindeath. That is both the legal and the medical definition. There is no medical evidence whatsoever for persons communicating with other persons after they have manifested no brainwaves for more than a minute.
                  Heart stoppage is not physical death, although that is a popular misconception among non-biologists. It is also a popular misconception among persons who have experienced heart stoppage; they assume they were dead because they experienced a hallucination during the episode.
                  I have been a caregiver to persons (some strangers, some good friends) who have experienced, and been "convinced" by the hallucination into believing in an afterlife. They aren't liars; they genuinely believe their delusion. I'm not surprised that their belief is sincere, because the hallucination is very persuasive: I have also personally experienced the hallucination on two separate occasions.

              •  Favor non-rational beliefs with a tax exemption (4+ / 0-)

                ... denied to rational ones, and of course you'll get more non-rationality...? It only stands to reason.

                The Dutch children's choir Kinderen voor Kinderen (= “children for children”) is a world cultural treasure.

                by lotlizard on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 03:24:07 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Arrogance (0+ / 0-)
                most often the sign of an inferior mind.

                People much, much, much smarter than you have and do believe in gods of many forms. Or in "divine entities" that couldnt be called gods exactly because of the "old man in the clouds" stereotype. But of course, you, the all powerful intellect, have deigned them inferior. Have concluded without evidence that they did not consider any evidence or theory. That they are physicists, astronomers, mathematicians, great minds. Doesnt matter. You've decided. And like the right wingers who've concluded that Non-christians are evil fools. Or Non baptists. Or non catholics et al. You display your intellectual inferiority (again).

                The entire point of freedom of religion, and our entire bill of rights was the realisation that all of us are often wrong. And must thus support the right of others to speak and believe as they wish. That perhaps we might one day learn from those "wrong foolish ignorant people" after we are proven by time horribly disastrously wrong.

                Hubris... ate.

                "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

                by cdreid on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 04:20:16 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It doesn't take a powerful intellect (9+ / 0-)

                  to reach my position. It just takes an honest one.

                  •  It obviously (0+ / 0-)

                    takes neither.

                    You dont seem to comprehend that freedom of thought is specifically a bar to those whos certitude demands all other ideas be barred.

                    "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

                    by cdreid on Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 06:20:53 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Calling atheists arrogant (9+ / 0-)
                  is a lot like calling Mexicans lazy, or Black people criminals, or Asians sneaky. It's a poor substitute for thinking, and I for one am going to start pointing out this particular slur every time I see it.

                  You cannot assume that atheists see the world in black and white, that if you believe in a god you're stupid. For the most part, atheists are the exact OPPOSITE of what you accuse us to be. There are precious few groups in this world which are nearly as uniform and militant as atheists in their support for EVERYBODY to believe ANY religion they desire to believe.

                  We'll try to convince you not to, if you want to engage in that particular discussion. We'll leave you alone if you don't. But when the bullets start flying, you can be damned sure where atheists are going to stand - for freedom of religion for everybody.

                  Now just stop making that silly argument that atheists are arrogant, or that arrogance is a sign of an inferior mind. More commonly, arrogance is just name calling and stereotyping.

                  •  Funny (0+ / 0-)

                    "s a lot like calling Mexicans lazy, or Black people criminals, or Asians sneaky. "

                    Thats all you've got? Poor thing.

                    Try reading what i wrote. Atheists who attack christians or muslims or buddhists or anyone else for being "ignorant" or less intelligent clearly delineate their own intellect. Or rather lack there of.

                    The statements i was referring too by the way bubba were statements bordering on the line of legislating NO religion. And thusly legislating, thought, belief and religion.

                    "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

                    by cdreid on Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 06:17:34 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  the majority of the human race are deluded fools. (8+ / 0-)

              That doesn't mean they can't change.  Education rocks.

              I'm mostly a Kantian when it comes to ethics though I've got to go with some utilitarian standards when it comes to larger scale decision making.  

              http://en.wikipedia.org/...

              There have been people studying ethics for 3000 years.  They have all engaged in fact based ethics, even the Christians.  If you want to reduce the amount of mental heavy lifting, read them instead.

              Placing ethics in the hands of societal norms is a blatant embrace of relativism, which is really just another way of saying there is no such thing as right and wrong.  

            •  You're not actually trying to equate (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rebecca, davidincleveland, simplicio, TDE

              belief, as it's understood to represent ethical or moral principles, with belief in the existence of a physical being that created the known universe, right?

              Cause that would be whacked.  

              That would be like saying belief that it's wrong to beat your wife is the same as belief that Elvis is alive and living in Rhode Island.

              Off topic, there is an argument that morality is a product of evolution - that it was beneficial to the development and growth of the species to become a more social creature.  

              Chris Dodd for President, 2008.

              by deep6 on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:38:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Ah, but you are using the wrong definition.. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              davidincleveland

              ..of 'belief' as applied to this discussion.  'Belief' has a double connotation. It can be defined in more than one way.

              'Belief' in a moral agenda is not the same  as 'belief' that some "being" that loves, punishes, forgives, hears prayers, etc., exists.  The latter definition implies not  behavioral commitment based on social or cultural preferences, but rather, the acceptance as "True", what is essentially mythological, asserted as truth in some book or teaching without any scientific evidence to back it up. You shouldn't use the 'moral agenda' definition of the term as an argument against those who think 'belief' in the latter context is stupid and ignorant.

            •  deluded fools? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              davidincleveland

              quite a few people ARE deluded fools, and we all suffer from their efforts to impose their delusions on society.

              One has the right to believe as one wishes, but that does  not convey with it the right to be taken seriously.

              don't always believe what you think...

              by claude on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 08:33:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Belief or Proof? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              valadon, davidincleveland

              There isn't any component of "belief" to understand that murder is wrong.

              In a non-religious sense, the Golden Rule ("do unto others ...") finds expression in Socratic dialogues on justice and how we find it, and finds embodiment in the English Common Law and the Code of Hammurabi (though certainly in a more barbaric fashion than what exists today). The Golden Rule also shows up as the basis from which loosely connected social organizations come together for the formation of the social contract, particularly social contract theory as it has developed into the American system of government. The Bible does not have a monopoly on establishing systems of justice or rules for social behavior.

              The primary function of the English Common Law (aside from finding guilt or innocence) is to ascertain the equitable position between disputing parties. If a person takes a loaf of bread, the compensation required must be in accordance with the value of a loaf of bread. If someone publicly maligns your character, the compensation required must be in accordance with the damage done to your character. The punishment or compensation must be in accord with the actual crime or damages inflicted. It is worth noting that in the Middle Ages execution was a typical punishment for a wide variety of crimes, including some that are today considered petty crimes (or not crimes at all). However, the evolution and restatement of appropriate punishments meted out by a civilized society further evidences the principle of equity amongst disputing parties.

              It is undeniable that John Locke's Second Treatise on Civil Government provides the primary founding ideas from which the Founding Fathers broke from English rule, established the colonies as an independent nation, and constructed our system of government via the U.S. Constitution. The central premise at the bottom of the American system of government is that each of us only surrenders to the state that degree of liberty that all others surrender—a contractual version of the Golden Rule. The liberty that permits me to murder anyone I wish is surrendered to the same extent that all others have surrendered that liberty. My right to be secure in my person is placed on the same footing as all others' right to be secure in their person. My right to hold property is on the same equitable footing as the right of all others to hold property.

              Just as Locke reasoned God out of the equation of the social contract and the laws thereof, so do atheists. The only difference between Locke and atheists is that Locke professed a belief in God. However, Locke also concluded that because no earthly being could establish a right to rule in God's name (either by relation/blood or by divine revelation), human beings were left to their own devices of logic and reason in setting up their social order and rules. Atheists, on the other hand, simply cut out the middle-man.

              The statement that atheists, lacking belief in a "higher power," cannot lead an ethical or moral life is demonstrably false. It is equally false to state that atheistic ethics or morals are nothing more than situational or relativistic. In fact, lacking a unifying, consistent implementation of the Golden Rule, religiously-based laws are nothing more than situational and relativistic as they are based on whatever interpretation an individual can derive (or concoct) from his/her religious texts.

              You many now return to your regularly scheduled chaos.
              http://godsdead.blogspot.com

              by becca00 on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 09:50:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Your delusions are manifest: (0+ / 0-)

              You state that

              Yet show me the 'facts' which indicate, in any scientific sense, that murder is 'wrong.' You can't.

              You then disprove your point by stating the factual reality that

              murder disrupts a peaceful and just society,

              followed by the false statement that this can't be concretely proven. If you "believe" that the premise "murder disrupts a peaceful and just society" can't be factually demonstrated, you are either (1) entirely uninformed about the subject matter of the fields of Sociology and Cultural Anthropology, or (2) blinded by your belief that ethics and morality originate from a nonhuman source into discounting facts which you have studied.
              If (1), you are deluded in thinking that you have anything useful to say about sociological matters. If (2), you are deluded in thinking that your "belief bias" justifies dismissing facts known to you.
              You are also deluded in thinking that your troll button entitles you to trollrate an opinion about a group (as contrasted with an individual). Perhaps your "belief bias" enables your clear abrogation of the rules laid out in the very specific site FAQ about ratings.
              I conclude this comment by stating that if this comment disappears, I will bring it back as a diary. If I diarize this unpleasant bit of meta it will be because the unrestricted and improper misuse of mob-rule-by-trollrating has sharply reduced the number of intelligent commenters who bother to post, and is ruining the entire site.

          •  Prove it? (6+ / 0-)

            You presume that something can be proven, that the very logical assumptions we take for granted in order to "prove" something aren't themselves articles of faith.  

            Eventually the whole house of cards of positivism collapses in on itself, because it must question its own assumptions; like Wile E. Coyote running over the edge of the cliff, eventually you realize that the only thing holding up the positivist system is your faith that it works.  Subject its assumptions - particularly the question of the self - to its own rubric of "prove it," and you begin your journey down the rabbit hole...

            •  yup (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Asak, davidincleveland, Kingsmeg

              and I like it down here.

              The failures of positivism don't have major implications for ethics anyway.

              I've always seen positivism dieing of a failure of imagination rather than a failure of method.  

            •  Athesists do not seek proof (14+ / 0-)

              regarding God because there has never been any evidence that such a being may exists - no investigation is warranted. More importantly, investigating something that has never been observed is a waste of humanity - and intellectually dishonest for any rational person.

              Society should seek to build upon our what we have seen to be truth, our understanding of the physical world and proven social constructs. Just because a religion may have packaged some very useful lessons within its dogmas does not mean that further "enlightenment" will follow that way.

              •  And there lies the crux of the matter... (7+ / 0-)

                ..."what has been observed."  We have no scientific explanation for the perceiving mind, for how the mind works, for consciousness; I'd argue it's because it's something that goes beyond conventional reason, but you could very well argue that there's a rational explanation that we don't have yet.

                Regardless, to say that God has never been observed and therefore is not worthy of examination is to discount the testimonies of many people throughout human history who have maintained that they did observe and experience the supernatural.  You're free to say that you have never observed God; however, unless you have some kind of special insight miles beyond the current scientific understanding of how the mind and the consciousness work, you cannot with any kind of "scientific" certainty say that nobody else has.

                Thus, the claim that "God has not been observed" is based on some kind of faith, not scientific fact.  Does that therefore make your claim untrue?  That's one of the paradoxes of the positivist approach when discussing supernatural things; eventually, because it cannot scientifically understand the observations of others, it falls in on itself.

                •  we know a lot more than most people think (12+ / 0-)

                  about how the brain works.

                  People lack curiosity and just assume that there are no explanations for things they can't figure out on their own.  

                  Scientific American Mind has had some awesome stuff over the past few years.  They are doing a really good job of taking what's going on in contemporary discourse in related fields and explaining it on a level that can be understood by the educated layperson.

                  http://www.sciammind.com/

                •  Testimonies make for good conversation (13+ / 0-)

                  to say that God has never been observed and therefore is not worthy of examination is to discount the testimonies of many people throughout human history who have maintained that they did observe and experience the supernatural.  You're free to say that you have never observed God; however, unless you have some kind of special insight miles beyond the current scientific understanding of how the mind and the consciousness work, you cannot with any kind of "scientific" certainty say that nobody else has.

                  I have no doubt that people have experiences that transcend what we all perceive as natural and normal. It is true that I have no special insight into the nature of the mind, but neither to the people that claim they have experienced the supernatural.

                  It is the mere fact that we don't understand consciousness very well, that we MUST resist any temptation to label these perceptions and experiences as anything but inherent to our own physiology or it's interaction with the natrual world.

                  Supernatural explanations have no reasonable basis to explain the mysterious precisely because we  have demonstrated throughout time that whenever we discover the true nature of previous mysteries, the answer has always (100% of the time) been revealed to be quite natural in origin.

                •  Supernatural "explanations" don't explain anythin (9+ / 0-)

                  In fact, they are used as an excuse not to search for the true reasons behind something.  It is an exercise of the most extreme intellectual laziness.  If you start by simply assuming answers based on faith then you never have any incentive to move beyond those beliefs, whether they happen to be true or not.    

                  Don't like XOM and OPEC? What have YOU done to reduce your oil consumption? Hot air does NOT constitute a renewable resource!

                  by Asak on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 08:01:34 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Near Death Experience (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  niemann, cwaltz

                  Large numbers of people today have experienced Near Death Experience's and believe they have visited an afterlife.  It is very likely you know someone with the experience yet don't realize it.

                  Currently there isn't any scientific explanation for the NDE.  Yet there it is combined with clinical death.

                  No one aware of the NDE can declare with absolute confidence there isn't an afterlife or a God.

                  Funny how so many fundementalists and militant aetheists reflexively dismiss the near death explanation without a logical basis.  Beliefs are often too strong and valuable to allow doubts regardless of the evidence.

                  •  Thanks for bringing this up. (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Jagger, Joy Busey, cwaltz, dirkster42

                    Such experiences are a special interest of mine, and I know a number of people who have had them.  So many atheists in these threads do not take into account the fact that some people believe in a god of some sort, or an afterlife, not because they are credulous morons, but because they have had experiences they can't deny.

                    I always think of what one friend of mine said once:  "When reductionistic rationalists tell me, 'You didn't really die and talk to a loving being of light.  It was just a hallucination caused by brain chemistry," it is like telling someone who has just come back from vacation, "You didn't really go to the Grand Canyon.  Trust me.  I know more about it than you do.'"

                    •  Same here (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Joy Busey, cwaltz, dirkster42
                      Same with me.  

                      My father had one and I have spent the last 7 years studying NDE's.  The questions raised led me into philosophy, consciousness, phyics...a wide variety of subjects.  I still don't know the answer but I believe NDEs are exactly what they appear to be...a visit into an afterlife.

                      After a lifetime of aetheism, I found the NDE opened up some amazing possibilities.

                      And my last trip to the Grand Canyon was great regardless of what anyone thinks.

                      •  Possibilities (0+ / 0-)

                        That is the part that I find so amazing. Why in the world should we close our mind to possibilites simply because at this time there is no "scientific proof"? Why in the world should people who aren't close minded to the idea that there is something larger at play and there is the existence of something larger than themselves be labeled deluded fools.

                        I find the idea that someone should call someone who is open to the possibilty of God as delusional as revulsive as someone telling someone that if they don't believe they are doomed to hell. We should each be allowed to set up our own set of belief systems and challenge those systems ourselves as we see fit. Telling someone they must believe as you believe is wrong when you do not have conclusive proof that your belief system is in fact corrrect.

                        •  who said anything about closing our minds? (6+ / 0-)

                          I'm open to the possibility of the existence of God.  It just makes no sense to maintain that god exists without supporting proof.

                          How come you don't believe in elves?  Can you prove that there are no elves? If you can't prove that there are no elves, why on earth would you claim that there are none?  

                          See the problem?

                          •  Why Would Anyone (0+ / 0-)

                            Believe in Elves?

                            Are You Voting Dem In 2008?

                            by Edgar08 on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 01:56:43 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Russell's Teapot (5+ / 0-)

                            http://www.cfpf.org.uk/...

                            Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of skeptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time. It is customary to suppose that, if a belief is widespread, there must be something reasonable about it. I do not think this view can be held by anyone who has studied history. Practically all the beliefs of savages are absurd. In early civilizations there may be as much as one percent for which there is something to be said. In our own day.... But at this point I must be careful. We all know that there are absurd beliefs in Soviet Russia. If we are Protestants, we know that there are absurd beliefs among Catholics. If we are Catholics, we know that there are absurd beliefs among Protestants. If we are Conservatives, we are amazed by the superstitions to be found in the Labour Party. If we are Socialists, we are aghast at the credulity of Conservatives. I do not know, dear reader, what your beliefs may be, but whatever they may be, you must concede that nine-tenths of the beliefs of nine-tenths of mankind are totally irrational. The beliefs in question are, of course, those which you do not hold. I cannot, therefore, think it presumptuous to doubt something which has long been held to be true, especially when this opinion has only prevailed in certain geographical regions, as is the case with all theological opinions.

                          •  I Think If People Did Believe in Elves (0+ / 0-)

                            That doesn't explain why they would.

                            Are You Voting Dem In 2008?

                            by Edgar08 on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 02:31:15 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  that's a very good questoin (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            davidincleveland

                            For the same reason they might believe in God and the Tooth Fairy I guess.

                            And read it again.  It addresses that exactly.

                          •  No I Don't Think (0+ / 0-)

                            People would believe in Elves and God for the same reason.

                            Is that really what you think?

                            Are You Voting Dem In 2008?

                            by Edgar08 on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 02:49:35 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  of course (3+ / 0-)

                            If you were raised being told there were invisible elves and "in elves we trust" was on our currency and people went to church of elf every Sunday, there's a good chance that you would believe in elves.

                            Now, why don't you believe in elves?

                            If it makes it easier, why don't you believe in Thor?

                          •  I'd Admire the Rhetorical Skill (0+ / 0-)

                            But the issue is being avoided.

                            Is the act of believing in God the same as believing in Elves?  Is there, at the very least, no psychological (a science) component of the two sets of beliefs that differ?

                            Are You Voting Dem In 2008?

                            by Edgar08 on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 03:11:30 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  just the social one (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            mataliandy, davidincleveland

                            and that's my point

                            There are psychological aspects of the christian faith that might be different, depending on what powers you attribute to elves and what exactly is required by elf-worship.  

                            There's the whole aspect of being able to say "things will turn out OK for me if I just do x," but that's the nature of faith.  You could easily attribute that power to faith in elves as well.

                          •  You Could (0+ / 0-)

                            But who does?

                            Are You Voting Dem In 2008?

                            by Edgar08 on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 04:54:24 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Many people in Iceland "believe" in Elves (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            mataliandy, davidincleveland

                            ... (or their culture's traditional version thereof) in the same way many people "believe" in G-d.
                            http://www.ismennt.is/...

                            The "elves" example is far from being purely rhetorical or academic.

                            The Dutch children's choir Kinderen voor Kinderen (= “children for children”) is a world cultural treasure.

                            by lotlizard on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 04:34:34 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Again I ask why? (0+ / 0-)

                            Why can't atheists and fundamentalists both admit that they are each floating theory rather than be insistent that what they believe is absolutely and positively right? Both sides seem to have folks that stridently insist that they KNOW beyond any doubt that their belief system is right. In both cases I have seen neither group prove conclusively that they are.

                            As for elves, there are folks out there that just might believe in them and who would I be to call them delusional when I have no proof they don't exist? By the way, if anyone knows of any elves,I could use some help with my housework? ;)

                          •  i try to avoid beliefs (9+ / 0-)

                            they are like opinions and assholes, everybody has them.  

                            I try to make regular inventories as to what I know I know what I know I don't know.  

                            The thing about beliefs is that they are always trumped by facts.  We have a name for people whose beliefs do not correspond with the facts.  We call them wrong.  If they carry on long enough, insisting that their beliefs are true in spite of evidence to the contrary we call them delusional, perhaps even psychotic.  The only exception is when a lot of people believe and then we call it religion. The only difference between religion and mental illness is the number of people affected.

                            Is there room for compromise on 1+1=2?  Should there be?

                            The problem with religion is that all mystical truths are by definition subjective.  People who think that their personal religious truths should apply to anyone other than themselves and to any place outside of their own head don't understand what religion is.

                            Scientific truths, like mathematical theorems, are universal.  If persons A and B disagree, one of the following must be true:

                            1. A is right and B is wrong.
                            1. A is wrong and B is right.
                            1. A is wrong and B is wrong.

                            A and B can never both be right.  

                            I try to make a conscious effort to reduce the totality of existence to terms such that they can be known with certainty.  What good are beliefs, opinions and subjective truths?  How do they help me understand the world?  How do they help people get along?  What problem do they solve?  Why would anyone want to walk around with a head full of beliefs that can be shattered by a single fact?  Doesn't make a lot more sense to just say that you don't know something rather than have a half-formed belief about it?

                          •  1+1 = 2 (0+ / 0-)

                            I would agree that religion is subjective and I believe that is in part and parcel because each of us is unique in nature from the time we are born. That said, if relationships with other people aren't one dimensional, wouldn't it stand to reason that relationships with a higher power would also not be one dimensional?

                            As I said downthread, I am the most nonthreatening of believers. I don't judge others, I don't believe that is my responsibility. I don't ask others to believe what I do. I know that I can offer up no scientific reasons for why I believe what I do. I don't pretend to have the higher ground when it comes to my belief system. I'm still searching for answers and muddling through the puzzle. If today someone were to offer up proof that there wasn't or definitely was a higher power I still would live   as I do.

                          •  When you use your troll button you ARE judging. (0+ / 0-)

                            To pretend otherwise is either cynically dishonest or (if sincere) delusional. You did a kamikaze on the validity of your argumments and the purity of your faith when you trollrated the commenter.

                            Twice in this thread you've claimed not to judge others. Your protestations of nonexistent virtue are damned by your own act.

                          •  every atheist I know (5+ / 0-)

                            is open to changing their mind if any evidence at all is offered for the existence of gods.  Every religious believer I know is not open to the possibility that their belief system could simply be man-made with no basis in reality.  It's anecdotal evidence and small numbers but my sense is that, for many people, religious faith provides comfort only when doubt is not allowed in.  

                          •  Open to changing their mind (0+ / 0-)

                            Have you talked to every believer(and non believer) or are you just generalizing? I don't agree with you that religious faith only provides comfort when doubt is not allowed in. There are many people who have faith that wavers only to have it return later on. It's normal to have doubts when you can't prove what you feel conclusively.

                          •  I addressed your question in my previous post (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            valadon, davidincleveland, cwaltz

                            It's anecdotal evidence and small numbers

                            I was simply sharing my personal experience with the people I know.  Thanks for sharing your perspective.  

                            I'd like to live in a society where saying you're a person of doubt is more prevalent than hearing over and over how someone is a person of faith.  Why do we give so much credit to people who lay the foundation of their lives in things we have no evidence for?

                          •  No problem (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            simplicio

                            I've enjoyed having the discussion. Our different belief systems need not make us "enemies"(a fact which I wish more organized religions would adopt)and it is possible to have respect for opinions that are different from your own.

                          •  Does this mean (0+ / 0-)

                            Our different belief systems need not make us "enemies"(a fact which I wish more organized religions would adopt)and it is possible to have respect for opinions that are different from your own.

                            that you've withdrawn your trollrating of the commenter who drew your ire and judgement with the phrase "delusional fools"? Or are you simply denying your own action for (at least) the third time.
                            For you, the bad news is that the cock has already crowed. The good news is that you can still recover a shred of integrity and be an upstanding exemplar of Christian virtues by withdrawing your trollrating. Nothing you write has any objective meaning for rational persons until you do that.

                          •  Atheism is less a "belief" (5+ / 0-)

                            than a way of approaching the world and explanation.  For the atheist, all claims must be supported either through reason or observation in some form.  For instance, the atheist won't accept the claim that the universe is expanding at face value, but will require evidence to support this claim (the red shift, known properties of light, etc).  This is entirely different from the fundamentalist who accepts claims without any evidence whatsoever and expects others to accept those claims as well.  The two approaches to the world are entirely different.  Atheism respects other people (insofar as it recognizes the obligation to provide reasons when asking others to endorse a view), the fundamentalist does not respect others (insofar as everything is about his own personal convictions that he is willing to foist on others without any support or demonstration).  Apples and oranges.

                          •  We have at least one (0+ / 0-)

                            atheist in this thread say that believing is delusional. That doesn't sound very respectful to me. It's one thing to say that my belief system does not make sense from a scientific standpoint(which I would completely understand) and quite another to call me delusional. I linked to some studies on NDEs and I have yet to see anyone explain them. I think there is alot that we still don't know about our existence.

                          •  Why are (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            davidincleveland

                            your beliefs entitled to any respect?  No belief is entitled to respect.  Rather, beliefs are to be tolerated so that we can argue about them to determine which are sounds and which are unsound.  The principle of tolerance that emerged during the Enlightenment had nothing to do with endorsing or respecting beliefs (simply read Voltaire's withering scorn for certain beliefs), but merely meant that we don't torture, imprison, or kill people for their beliefs.  The whole idea was that the truth couldn't be found so long as our bodies, property, and life were threatened by speaking about our beliefs.  It was never about respect or endorsing "everyone's right to have their own personal truth".  

                            I see you slide into the whole canard that there are many things that aren't proven or understood.  However, this is to fall prey to the fallacy of the argument ad ignorantiam, where it is held that because something is unknown something else must be true (e.g., because scientists haven't disproven alien abductions and visits, it is true that aliens must be visiting the earth and abducting people).  However, the lack of complete knowledge in no way implies that we won't someday have naturalistic explanations for these things.
                             
                            This is the whole issue.  It would be one thing if you kept your beliefs entirely to yourself.  It is quite another thing when you ask others to acknowledge those beliefs and grant them legitimacy.  This is the issue of respect I was alluding to in the previous post.  You wish for your beliefs to be acknowledged and respected, despite the fact that you have no evidence supporting the truth of those beliefs.  That's where believers cross the line.  They wish for others to embrace their particular moral views and policy proposals on religious grounds, yet they can't give any supporting reasons as to why those religious grounds should be supported.  This is tremendously immoral and disrespectful of others, as it is premised on the idea that simply because you have some nutty idea others should endorse it in matters that effect their lives, despite your lack of evidence.  Presumably you can see why this is disrespectful in the case of those suffering from paranoid delusions.  

                            How does it differ in the case of religion where people wish to foist their beliefs on others based on what a book says or on some revelatory experience they've had?  Should we have respected the beliefs of the Texas mother who cut her children's arms off because she said God had told her to?  What of the other mother that drowned her five children based on a visitation from God?  Hopefully you'll agree that these women should have had some interpersonally verifiable evidence to support the rightness of their actions.  Why is it any different in the case of someone who wishes to prevent gay marriage or enact abstinence only education on the basis of what they believe God wants?  I have no person with this person teaching their kids to practice abstinence, or this person not getting married to someone of the same sex.  It's quite another matter when they're pursuing legislation and policy that effects me.  In these cases I think they're obligated to give a legitimate argument for their position.

                            Try thinking outside your religious beliefs for just a moment and trying on a different set of religious beliefs.  Suppose that an Aztec came to you and said that we need to implement a state law requiring human sacrifice because this is the only way to sustain the universe.  Would you "respect" this argument and belief, or would you require some sort of verifiable evidence in support of such a policy?  How is this any different from the Christian fundamentalist attempting to shape the state and enact policy on the basis of the so-called revealed word of God?

                            I don't know that any atheist, including the one who called you delusional, is opposing your right to have whatever beliefs you might like.  However, it is unreasonable for you to suggest that anyone must respect your beliefs.  Personally I feel that holding convictions and beliefs without some sort of rational or empirical evidence is an indicator of sloppy thinking.  The other person seems to see it as an indicator of delusion insofar as a common psychological marker lies in having deep and firm convictions for things lacking in any evidence.  What do you expect?  You seem to suggest that holding beliefs without one shred of evidence is somehow on par with a person who has skepticism and who strives to refrain from believing anything in the absence of evidence.  Do you see the utter rudeness implied in your demand to be respected when you can't provide any sound supporting reasons?  Do you see how corrosive this is to democracy and life in a multicultural country where we have hundreds of variants of Christianity and a wide variety of religious beliefs, all of which claim different moral duties and tell different stories?

                            The problem with your links was two-fold:  1)  They do not come from credible sources.  2) The fact that something is not explained scientifically does not entail that it can't eventually be given such an explanation.  Given that science has yet to come across a phenomena that doesn't admit of naturalistic explanation, I'm not holding my breath.

                            One way or another I don't think anyone much cares what you believe.  What people do care about is the rude and immoral behavior of foisting beliefs on others through legislation and policy, when these beliefs aren't based on some sort of evidence that any other rational person regardless of cultural background or upbringing could arrive at through the use of reason or observation.

                          •  And you should definitely know what rude (0+ / 0-)

                            is.......This is exactly why the atheists get what they do. Do you really expect believers to give what they don't get from folks that accuse them of sloppy thinking? If you want to get respect for your belief or non belief system then you need to give it. I have yet to see proof from either side. Furthermore saying neurosurgeons, psychiatrists and other number of SCIENTISTS who diligently have worked to make the brain mapable not credible seems to me well, for lack of a better word, incredible. I'm done. It's fairly obvious you aren't nearly as open minded as you say you are when you think it is appropriate to call others delusional or accuse them of sloppy thinking simply because they do not think as you do.

                          •  I'm merely asking for the (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            davidincleveland

                            sorts of reasons that can be known through reason and observation when it comes to policy decisions and legislations.  To make the point once again, it is tremendously rude to foist policy upon another person based on a story or some sort of spiritual insight.

                            I was not rejecting the credibility of neurosurgeons and psychiatrists, but of the particular "scientists" that you evoked in support of near death experiences.  Others posted links for research discrediting the theory that there's something supernatural about these experiences, yet oddly you seemed to reject this evidence out of hand.  This is telling as to your honesty.

                          •  I haven't proposed (0+ / 0-)

                            nor have many believers proposed foisting policy on you(or my beliefs for that matter). One of the scientists I cited was a psychiatrist and he has worked in tandem with neurosurgeons and various other medical professionals to try and explain the phenomena of NDE . As of yet, they haven't and he readily admits that as well as discusses his findings. Furthermore, the Welsh study was done purposefully with the intent of seeing if oxygen starvation or chemicals could be the cause of the NDEs(which was what one of the posters said was the cause of NDE). There was no attempt to game the system. They were quite clear their study was inconclusive but good enough to warrant further study on whether or not conciousness can exist outside the physical body(which by the way I am aware that if it could would not necessarily prove there is a God). So now your questioning my honesty? Now I'm not only delusional, a sloppy thinker but I'm dishonest.  Nice.(The individuals I saw  who TRIED to explain were debunked by the study(hypoxia, chemical induction, the closest they have come to an explanation is there is a particular portion of the brain that can misfire and produce an out of body sensation, but does not account for why everyone does not have an NDE or explain why when the brain is considered clinically dead people would be able to see and account events accurately that occurred outside their dead body) which you insist is invalid because it didn't conclude what you wanted it to. If anyone is being guilty of intellectual dishonesty it ain't me.

                          •  Many believers aren't trying to do this? (0+ / 0-)

                            Where have you been for the last twenty years?  What do you think all these policies about sex education, gay marriage, abortion, prayer in school, the posting of the ten commandments, the teaching of evolution, faith based government programs, etc., are about?

                            If you make your decisions as to how to vote based on arguments from experience and reason, then I commend you.  Nonetheless, it is dishonest to suggest that somehow people are not trying to push faith as a ground for the political in the United States.

                          •  Go ahead and lump all (0+ / 0-)

                            people of faith together, I mean its working out so well for you so far isn't it?

                          •  Who said (0+ / 0-)

                            all people of faith?  A significant number is sufficient.  The membership of the NEA numbers in the millions.

                          •  I don't see any qualifiers in this (0+ / 0-)

                            statement.

                            "Nonetheless, it is dishonest to suggest that somehow people are not trying to push faith as a ground for the political in the United States."

                            Not all people(in particular people of faith) are trying to push faith as ground for politics. Heck, there is a whole bunch of us out there that believe religion and politics shouldn't be mixed or you risk the corruption of one or both. Many of us realize that you don't need religion to have a set of standards or a code of conduct.

                          •  Presumably you know (0+ / 0-)

                            which people of faith are the target of these critiques.  You really believe that atheists and relgious folk concerned with those trying to change the government based on faith are targeting all people of faith when they make their comments?  Throughout my remarks to you I've been pretty consistent in referring to Christian fundamentalists.  I say this directly in the first comment you responded to.  So long as the person advances their political positions on the basis of what all can arrive at through reason and observation, I don't much care what metaphysical views a person has.  My gripe is simply with those that would try to found the state and various institutions on sacred texts whether they be the Koran, the Torah, the Bible, Homer, or whatever.

                          •  Well I know (0+ / 0-)

                            that I got accused of being delusional, got called a sloppy thinker and my personal favorite is where you accused me of intellectual dishonesty and I'm as far from a Christian fundamentalist as you can get.

                            All I've gotten from this conversation is that you have no need to respect my position. Fine. That said, don't expect my respect as a given either. Where I come from respect is a two way street. You can feel free to consider yourself intellectually superior to me. I'm okay with that.

                          •  What is it you're asking for (0+ / 0-)

                            when you ask for respect?  Your conclusions based on the good Dr. Greyson's research do strike me as sloppy thinking, as you're concluding that a supernatural explanation must be the case based on the incompleteness of neurological science to date.  That is a very common informal fallacy in logic.  Ergo...

                            Anyway, please briefly outline what you consider respect.

                          •  You are a wikipedia fan (0+ / 0-)

                            Here's their definition.

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                            I'm pretty sure calling someone delusional wouldn't fit their criteria not would accusing them of sloppy thinking.

                            My belief in a higher power has little to nothing to do with Greyson's work(I've stated quite often that my belief is not based on science although I don't think that science has precluded the belief in a higher power). I do find his work interesting though and I consider it proof that there may very well be an existence both before an after the body we have today has come and gone.(Again, this wouldn't prove the existence of a higher power per se) As I've stated I'm not selling myself as anyone who has the answers. I'm clearly still asking questions, keeping an open mind and allowing that possibilities exist that may now seem implausible. I don't think faith and science need to be mutually exclusive. I wish I could explain it to you better but I can't. I'm married to an atheist(my mom calls him an agnositc because it makes her feel better)so I understand there is probably some frustration and I understand that some(not all because my mom and I differ in details, for instance I do not believe in hell, I believe in reincarnation) of why I believe what I do may indeed be rooted in tradition. That said, ignoring what I feel almost like an instinct wouldn't be being true to who I am. There's a reason they call it faith, I guess. Anyways ,I'm not out to convert anyone. I'm just trying to be the best me I can be and I strongly believe that you need not be religious or spiritual to do that.

                          •  You write: (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            cwaltz

                            I'm married to an atheist(my mom calls him an agnositc because it makes her feel better)so I understand there is probably some frustration and I understand that some(not all because my mom and I differ in details, for instance I do not believe in hell, I believe in reincarnation) of why I believe what I do may indeed be rooted in tradition. That said, ignoring what I feel almost like an instinct wouldn't be being true to who I am. There's a reason they call it faith, I guess. Anyways ,I'm not out to convert anyone. I'm just trying to be the best me I can be and I strongly believe that you need not be religious or spiritual to do that.

                            Given that you hold that anyone can be engaged in the enterprise of improving themselves regardless of whether or not they have religious beliefs, it sounds like you think values are based on something other than supernatural revelation.  I would say that is a position worthy of respect.  

                            For me the issue is the practical consequences that follow from belief in the supernatural among some people.  I've already mentioned some of these practical consequences with regard to religious wars and that particular large sect of Christianists trying to change the state on the basis of scripture.  I cannot extend my respect to these people because they simply do not merit it.  Your entry says:

                            Respect forms for a person whose actions tend to create results that are generally considered good, beneficial to the appraiser or superior in some form. Integrity of principle is necessary for general consistency of action. Moral values of each party that complement each other lead to communal progress. This can happen consensually, such as with respect between disparate craftsmen working to build a house, or through conflict and elimination, such as respect for an enemy. Trust that some common goal is the actual intention of the other is necessary for respect, even if that goal is to leave the best competitor standing. Belief in the ability to reach the goal must also be assumed, even where the means is not known.

                            I find the reference to craftsmen especially interesting in this passage.  If I trust and respect another craftsman, then this is either because she has demonstrated her skill in the past, or because I trust the institution from which she was credentialed, or because I trust the word of another person I respect.  That is, I respect her skill or capacity to do the job, based on some sort of evidence (some of that evidence being weaker than other evidence).  The extension of trust isn't just extended out of the blue.

                            It is tremendously difficult to respect Christianists and other fundamentalists because their belief system often demonstrates such a low degree of sound judgment.  This can be seen in their literalistic interpretation of the Bible, in the belief that morality can only be arrived at through revelation, in their eschatological conception of history that posits that all history is moving towards a momentous battle between good and evil, and in their tendency to personify evil in the form of Satan (a manichean heresy if ever one there were) that acts in the world, tempting people.  

                            My thesis would be that this kind of thinking bleeds into other aspects of life and destroys good judgment in those other areas, making people who hold beliefs such as these unfit to hold leadership positions.  I think this can be readily seen with Bush's handling of the war and its aftermath, as well as in the case of a number of his policies.  Moreover, this form of belief often also leads to a hatred of facts that leads people to fudge sound scientific findings so as to preserve their beliefs (as can be seen in the case of how global warming, evolution and how studies pertaining to abstinence only education have been handled by the administration).

                            You are not making these sorts of claims.  You've also made a good case for demonstrating that neurology hasn't answered all the questions surrounding OBEs and NDEs.  I disagree with the conclusions you draw and continue to hold out for naturalistic explanations for these phenomena, but cannot deny that these things are not yet completely explained.

                            Anyway, thinks for the elaboration on what you mean by respect and how it functions in your life.

                          •  Oh absolutely (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Philoguy

                            Religion can be corrupted and I am always wary of anyone who says they speak for God. I don't take the Bible literally. Even if I were to believe it were the word of God, I'd see it as the word of God as interpreted by man and we all know that man is fallible(ever play telephone, try doing it over centuries and getting it exactly the same). My beliefs are kinda unique. I really don't fit into a traditional religious role.

                            My husband has laughed that if there was a God and he sent his Son down, the party of God (as the GOP likes to sell itself) would probably call his mom a welfare mom and he'd probably end up at the funny farm in the US and Lord help Him if he was born out of the country the GOP is not exactly friendly to brown people. I see alot of hypocrisy in themselves calling themselves Christians and then ignoring aspects like tolerance and forgiveness which are central tenants to Christianity.

                            No problem, I can definitely understand where you are coming from and am the first to admit that I can't conclusively say that my beliefs are factual rather than the result of culture and personality.

                          •  I'm not questioning your honesty, (0+ / 0-)

                            I'm questioning whether you are able to discern the difference between a credible source and a non-credible source.  Certain advocates of intelligent design have done serious work in biochemistry, but little to no work in evolutionary theory (Behe, for instance).  Certain credulous people tend to endorse his word because they believe that if he is a scientist he must be a credible source.  Yet he hasn't done any genuine, evidence based, research in the field of evolution.  A number of people provided you with links showing how states identical to those described as near death experiences could be produced with certain chemicals and drugs (thereby suggesting a naturalistic explanation), yet you still insist on evoking near death experience as support for your belief in the supernatural.  This says something.  Now it could be that the scientists you referenced either are unaware of this research, or lack credibility.  Either way, there's something fishy with your reasoning.  

                            This is just plain silly:

                            Nice.(The individuals I saw  who TRIED to explain were debunked by the study(hypoxia, chemical induction, the closest they have come to an explanation is there is a particular portion of the brain that can misfire and produce an out of body sensation, but does not account for why everyone does not have an NDE or explain why when the brain is considered clinically dead people would be able to see and account events accurately that occurred outside their dead body) which you insist is invalid because it didn't conclude what you wanted it to.

                            Your argument here is equivalent to those the creationist or intelligent designed proponent pull when they evoke the failure to find a missing link or this or that as yet unexplained thing to support creation science, i.e., it's grasping at straws.  This was why I evoked the logical fallacy of the argument ad ignorantiam.  You are suggesting that because this or that hasn't been explained, naturalistic explanation must be false and NDE can only be explained supernaturally.  That's intellectual dishonesty and sloppy reasoning.  You're the one rejecting conclusions based on what you'd like the conclusion to be, not me my friend.

                          •  My source is very credible (0+ / 0-)

                            Here's a blurb from his biography

                            One of the first researchers to gather empirical data on near-death experiences, using accepted scientific methods(emphasis mine)
                            , Dr. Greyson has documented clear patterns in the long-term health of patients who have reported near-death phenomena. He has also written widely on therapeutic strategies for helping patients readjust to life after such occurrences, on paranormal features of NDEs and their after-effects, and on the implications of near-death experiences for the question of survival.

                            Which part of gathering empirical evidence and using accepted scientific methods is the most bothersome to you that damages his credibility? Or is it that he has not come to the same conclusion or for that matter at this point ANY absolute conclusion on NDEs.

                            No actually my arguments are grounded in studies which say that if an NDE were indeed caused by hypoxia then ALL of the patients would have experienced it, not just a small percent. They also ruled out drugs. So far I have seen two studies that have talked about possibilities (Imagine that sloppy thinking me actually taking the time to read the studies that are contrary to my beliefs.) One discusses REM sleep. They have said that there MAY be some link between the sleep wake cycle and NDE or it may be the other way around. I also saw an article where they operated on a woman who had seizures while she was conscious and they see to have found an area of the brain that when triggered creates the sensation of an OBE, what it doesn't explain is why a person who was legally dead would be able to recount details outside of their body such as knowing where a nurse placed his false teeth or a woman brought in for dead knowing there was a shoe on the ledge and recounting in detail what it looked like.

                            I'm not the one claiming that a person the scientific community finds credible and that is using accepted scientific methods is NOT a credible source, my friend, that'd be YOU.

                          •  What in the blurb (0+ / 0-)

                            establishes Greyson's credibility?  You would get an almost identical blurb for someone like Behe, who would claim to "gather empirical data using accepted scientific methods".  This doesn't entail that this is actually what's going on.

                            I think you're misunderstanding the nature of my claim.  My claim is not that near death experiences don't exist or occur.  Rather, my claim is the far more modest claim that there is no reason to jump the gun and give a supernatural explanation for these experiences.  The fact that we do not yet have a naturalistic explanation for what triggers these experiences does not entail that neurology won't later discover an answer to those questions.  You seem to be jumping the gun and concluding that because we don't have such a naturalistic explanation the supernatural explanation must be true.  Given the vast number of things neurology has so far been able to explain in naturalistic terms, and the general success of naturalism in science so far, it is not unreasonable to hold out for the naturalistic explanation.  This article from the journal Nature suggests just such an explanation.  I suspect there be more to come as neurology continues to advance.

                            I do confess that I'm am extremely skeptical of the sort of OBE you describe here.  These stories strike me as anecdotal at best.

                          •  BTW, I don't ask for respect (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            davidincleveland

                            for my "beliefs" or "belief system".  That's a major difference between the believer and the non-believer.  Rather, I offer evidence that you can verify for yourself in much the same way that you could go boil an egg to verify that it turns hard.  What you seem to lack is any respect for the activity of gathering evidence in support of your claims or conclusions.  That's really the whole problem.  Given legitimate evidence I suspect you'd find me very open minded.  You seem to call for respect while bypassing all the steps ordinarily involved in legitimate persuasion.

                          •  It's also notable (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            VelvetElvis

                            that you didn't respond to any of the arguments throughout my post (especially the question about Aztecs).  You wish to be respected on the basis of your assertions alone, without having to engage in the democratic activity of providing reasons in support of your assertions.  You would like to have others unquestioningly endorse your views based on grounds that can't themselves be verified in any way.  Historically the outcome of this form of thought hasn't been pretty.  We've seen it in recent history with Bush's "faith based foreign policy" that thought it could simply ignore the advice of all military experts and advisers in foreign affairs.  We've seen the war this "convictionalism" led to among the Lutherans, Catholics, and Christians during the 16th and 17th centuries.  Your response reveals a good deal about your intellectual honesty.

                          •  I didn't ask you to endorse my views (0+ / 0-)

                            "You would like to have others unquestioningly endorse your views based on grounds that can't themselves be verified in any way."

                            There is a difference between endorse and respect.(and for the record I state the contrary to what you say in this statement throughout this thread. I'm not out for ANYONE to endorse or adopt my views or beliefs. )If you can't tell the difference then I really don't see any point in continuing the conversation. You might want to take a look in the mirror when you talk about intellectual dishonesty. You called a noted professor and scholar respected in the scientific community not credible, not me. I've not hurled stones at any of the scientific minds regardless with whether their studies coincided with my belief system.

                          •  The professor sounds like (0+ / 0-)

                            a flake to me...  What can I say?  Behe is a respected scientist with a legitimate scientific post, but this doesn't prevent him from being a flake.

                            What is it that you mean by respect and why should I have any respect for your views?  Sure, you're entitled to have them and certainly I won't try to take them away from you in any way besides spirited intellectual debate.  However, I certainly don't have "respect" for metaphysical beliefs that have no foundation in observation or reason.  You seem shocked that a duck should behave like a duck.  As an atheist I'm committed to the thesis that everything has a worldly explanation.  I see as little reason to seriously entertain your beliefs as I see to entertain the beliefs of the Aztecs or the Greeks regarding Zeus.

                          •  Again, whatever. (0+ / 0-)

                            This conversation is going nowhere. When people demean the work of others that don't necessarily believe as they do I find that close minded(Although you are certainly entitled to your opinion). I'm sure that everything does have an explanation but thinking that the explanation need be of this world strikes me as similar to the folks who once insisted that the Earth was the center of the universe and today, we now know, how wrong that theory was.

                            I'm off to see if I can find the article on quantum physics and consciousness.

                    •  A decided benefit of the psychedelic experiences (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      kd texan, davidincleveland, Philoguy

                      ... through substances such as LSD that were widespread in the 1960's and 70's was this: here was a way for ordinary people, given the proper safe "set and setting", to experience extraordinary states of consciousness akin to NDEs, without actual physical exposure to anything remotely resembling life-threatening conditions.

                      What many took away from this sort of demonstration is an awareness that all our experiences are mediated by our nervous systems and brain chemistry. In this view, "normal" consciousness of the reductionistic rational variety is therefore every bit as much of a "trip" as the quasi-religious experience facilitated by a psychedelic drug.

                      In the type of exchange described by niemann above, such psychedelic "initiates" thought to themselves, "Well, who are you to tell me what I did or didn't experience? Who gave you the power to define my reality? Especially if you have never been to the Grand Canyon [= taken a "trip" using psychedelic substances = (Galileo) looked through the telescope at Jupiter's moons, etc.] yourself."

                      Of course all this quickly came to be regarded as very subversive and dangerous, which is presumably why psychedelic substances had to be outlawed and suppressed by the most draconian measures governments could muster.

                      The Dutch children's choir Kinderen voor Kinderen (= “children for children”) is a world cultural treasure.

                      by lotlizard on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 04:10:44 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  funny you should mention ... (5+ / 0-)

                    Scientists Induce Out-of-Body Sensation
                    or did you have in mind the "tunnel of light" brought on by oxygen starvation?

                    No one aware of the NDE can declare with absolute confidence there isn't an afterlife or a God.

                    The same can be said of people aware of the Eating Strong Cheese Shortly Before Bedtime Experience.

                    Profundity can be a chemically induced; it's not necessarily  based on a greater understanding of the universe.

                    Quick! Man the Blogs!

                    by HiBob on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 10:47:33 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Medically tested (0+ / 0-)
                      Medical studies have ruled out oxygen starvation as a cause for the "tunnel of light".

                      Induced "out of body" experiences are to be expected within a dualist theory of a body/mind connection.

                      Of course, I suspect you already knew that.

                      So are you aware of any tested and confirmed theories explaining the near death experience?  If you know of any, I would certainly like to see the study.

                  •  scientists have recently (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    davidincleveland

                    induced out of body eperiences in the lab.

                    http://www.nytimes.com/...

                    I am an atheist. Please don't hate me for my freedom.

                    by kd texan on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:58:07 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Lots of research (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    davidincleveland, simplicio

                    See this for example:  http://www.neurotransmitter.net/...

                    Neurotransmitters can be funny things when the brain is starved of oxygen.

                    My Mom had an NDE - she died and was resucitated during childbirth.  She said it was a very comforting feeling, right up until the moment she realized that it meant she was dying (she didn't know she'd actually died), then she felt frantic terror because she wanted to get back for the baby she didn't know had also died.

                    The fact that they happen does not mean they are (a) uniform, or (b) supernatural experiences.

                    Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

                    by mataliandy on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 09:12:48 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  I hear that drugs can induce an experience... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    davidincleveland

                    similar/identical to NDEs.  Ketamine for example.  I haven't tried it, so I can't speak from personal experience, but pointing to NDEs as an indication for the existance of the supernatural is, in my view, on par with believing that thunder and lightning are acts of gods.

                    From Europe? Join the fun at the European Tribune!

                    by hesk on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 09:36:43 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  That's a very dangerous, slippery slope you tread (6+ / 0-)

                  So gods exist or may exist in the occurrences and feelings we don't yet understand or can't explain scientifically?

                  Bad place to go.  People used to believe gods caused lightning.  Now we know they don't, that it's an electro-chemical process.  So did we just kill a little bit of the gods there?  When you start defining god, or accepting the truth of deities in any area so long as there is not yet a scientific explanation for why something happens (or doesn't happen) you start to shrink the possible places or ways in which people can experience or find gods.  And as that happens and people are resistant to losing gods, they tend to not want to know the truth of things like why lightning occurs, because they don't want to lose any part of their gods.  That kind of attitude discourages skepticism, progress and rational thinking and instead encourages isolation and the kind of anti-intellecutalism we see rampant among fundamentalists.

                  A hundred people may claim to see or feel something supernatural but that hardly gives credibility to its existence; unless, of course, you're also giving equal credibility to the thousands of people who swear to have experienced vampirism in their lives and would also assert it's possible that Dracula is still biting virgins' necks....  

                  Chris Dodd for President, 2008.

                  by deep6 on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:49:59 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Hitchens can be very effective and calm when (8+ / 0-)

          he isn't paired with an intellectual midget on some talk show.

        •  Atheism isn't a belief. (18+ / 0-)

          It's a lack thereof.

          Chris Dodd for President, 2008.

          by deep6 on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:04:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  respectfully, (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            snout, Jagger, ecclesioleft

            you might make that claim for agnosticism.  But in my travels here on DKos, the atheists are as much "believers" as the religionists.

            Loyalty comes from love of good government, not fear of a bad one. Justice Hugo Black.

            by Pondite on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 08:21:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Agnosticism isn't a lack of belief (11+ / 0-)

              It's a lack of knowledge some people find they require for belief.

              Atheists accept there is no evidence proving the existence or co-existence of deities or divine revelation.  That's all.  Any arguments to the contrary confuse what's understood as positive atheism.

              Chris Dodd for President, 2008.

              by deep6 on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:17:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, but (0+ / 0-)

                what about the claims (which I among others make), that atheists (i) "accept" no evidence that others consider probative, such as the evidence of design in the universe or the testimony of individuals and (ii) have a mindset about the absence of evidence, viz., that it is evidence of absence, that I would characterize as a "belief"?

                Seriously, why is it that atheists get to make the ground rule that no deity exists unless proven to be there?  It seems to me that this claim, stacked against the ground rule that faith is per se outside the realm of empirical knowledge, is an unstoppable cannonball meets immovable lamppost kind of situation...

                Loyalty comes from love of good government, not fear of a bad one. Justice Hugo Black.

                by Pondite on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 05:07:16 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  This "ground rule" (4+ / 0-)

                  is used in every other ground of human practice and inquiry, why would it be any different with regard to religion?  Clearly you wouldn't want a doctor, engineer, stock broker, etc., that didn't follow this rule.  Why should religion be exempt.  The soundness of this "ground rule" is attested to by its tremendous success in all other human endeavors and the disaster that tends to result when it is not obeyed...  For instance, when Bush and his cronies ignored the warnings of military experts about the aftermath of the war (i.e., warnings coming from people who have spent their entire life studying a particular form of evidence).

                  •  but, your use of this "ground rule" is (0+ / 0-)

                    rigged in your favor.

                    Look, here's how I would put the problem:
                    (i) Question: Does anything exist beyond the realm of  empirically (scientifically, objectively, etc.) phenomena?  (More colloquially - are there supernatural phenomena?)
                    (ii) Observation: The Question cannot be answered by empirical (scientific, objective, etc.) methods.

                    You can say it's a silly question to ask, but you sure as heck can't answer it.  The assumption that's doing all the work in your case is that we determine (or rule out) metaphysical questions the same way a "doctor, engineer, stock broker, etc." advances knowledge in his field.

                    Put another way:

                    why would it be any different with regard to religion?

                    There's the axiom you take on faith.

                    Loyalty comes from love of good government, not fear of a bad one. Justice Hugo Black.

                    by Pondite on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 08:36:59 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  absence of evidence IS evidence of absence. (0+ / 0-)

                  The above statement is just the scientific method, reworded.

                  You might label the scientific method as a belief, and I'd agree with you, because I have very broad definition of belief, but given its track record in explaining the world around us, it is a much more useful "ground rule" than the belief in the existance of the supernatural.

                  From Europe? Join the fun at the European Tribune!

                  by hesk on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 09:57:22 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Philoguy makes good points. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  davidincleveland

                  And your questions are all good.  Any number of books on atheism would answer them, far better than I could in a couple paragraphs.  Try "Natural Atheism" by David Eller if you want something a bit dry but thoroughly comprehensive of atheism re your question and intellectualism, science and politics.  Or try "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins.  Or you could go full throttle and read Sam Harris or just start with a fun, simple book by Judith Hayes called "The Happy Heretic".  

                  There is no evidence of design in the universe, which any peer-reviewed text on evolution will explain.  Just google some of the speeches that Richard Dawkins has given.

                  Chris Dodd for President, 2008.

                  by deep6 on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 10:05:09 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  But as the sphere said to the (0+ / 0-)

                    circle:  "Your arguments against a third dimension fall a little flat...."

                    I know that

                    There is no evidence of design in the universe,

                    except its very existence, if you look at it kind of sideways.  Like that whole love thing, which is of course nothing more than an adaptation promoting inclusive fitness.

                    Evolution is a good example: it eliminates the need for any agent of creation, and therefore undermines a supposed pillar of religion, and yet many evolutionary biologists see it as exceptionally strong "evidence of design in the universe" (not that I can give you a source for that assertion).

                    Loyalty comes from love of good government, not fear of a bad one. Justice Hugo Black.

                    by Pondite on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 08:44:59 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Stop it. (0+ / 0-)

                      That's absurd.  I'm trying very hard not to knock your sources, but that's just absurd.  

                      You continue to disavow any sense of reasonableness construed in my previously listed reading suggestions.

                      Please, stop with the absurdity until you read some of their books.  As a former Methodist who never quite believed in religion, the more I read, the less I believed - and it has done me a world of good.

                      Chris Dodd for President, 2008.

                      by deep6 on Wed Sep 05, 2007 at 12:31:09 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  agnosticism (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kd texan, davidincleveland, lotlizard

              As first defined by T.H. Huxley in 1871 is specifically the absence of [i]gnosis[/i].  You really have to know a bit about Greek philosophy and early Christianity to grok what this means.  For practical purposes it means enlightenment gained via experience.  In this case it refers specifically to mystical experience.  

              There are at least two different varieties of agnostic stance.  The first holds that absolute knowledge is unobtainable, a la David Hume.  The second holds that there is not presently enough information for something to be knowable with absolute certainty.  The difference between the two is a matter of specifically.  The first regards knowledge of all things while the second is focused on one specific thing.

      •  I'm a millitant atheist (8+ / 0-)

        The problem is that we try to not have "views" and "beliefs."

        We try to speak only in terms of universal truths.  

        It boils down to the fact that religious truths are by definition subjective.  See William James' writings on the nature of mysticism for how that all shakes out.  Scientific truths are by definition objective, true for everyone.  

        So what happens when a religious truth and a scientific truth contradict each other?  This is a problem for people who don't get that religious truths only exist in their head.  This makes them of limited utility since they become invalid the moment they are communicated.  It makes them useless, actually.

        I get real pissy when people who don't understand their own religion try to use it to tell me what I can and can't do.  I generally tell them to shut the fuck up or to go read Anselm and Aquinas and get back to me.

      •  I have encountered more militant hedonistic (9+ / 0-)

        Christians in my lifetime than militant atheists, and I am a Christian.

      •  "militant" in the eye of the beholder (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy, kyril

        Since I brought up the "militant atheist" meme, I should re-emphasize that I used scare quotes deliberately. Sadly, the term does seem to be in circulation on the Left as well as on the Right, because no sensible politician wants to alienate the believers. For some, "militant" seems justified because some of the writers mentioned, Harris especially, seem interested in eradicating religion, or at least theism. But almost implicitly, the reverse is true: theists want to eradicate atheism, so any proselytizer or missionary is "militant" as well. I have noticed the increased discussion about religion, and the "militant atheist" authors deserve part of the credit for that. Unfortunately, it took 11 Sept 2001 rather than the follies of the U.S. Religious Right to get these writers going the way they are now, and it took that same event to get more people to read them.

        Smash the two-party system!

        by Samuel Wilson on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:40:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Atheists (11+ / 0-)

      What about the atheists who keep their lack of belief to themselves? While I have no beliefs about a god, you are free to worship your god or your pantheon, just do not bother me about it.

    •  A trace? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davidincleveland, lotlizard, kyril

      Let's not forget that postmodernism cam about in response to the perceived failure of Marxism. Considering that according to Marx religion keeps people from fighting for social justice, it's natural that both those seeking to protect religion from reason and those seeking to forestall revolutionary goals would embrace pomo rhetoric.

    •  The fact you believe (9+ / 0-)

      Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens to be "militant atheists"
      Says a lot about where you are coming from.

      That is just rubbish, and a very childish defense against serious men, and woman, Susan Jacoby, who write and engage our society in a very serious and intellectual manner.

      Our country has actually slipped backwards from the days of the founding fathers. The age of Enlightenment. We are closer to some of the fundamentalist thinking of the 14th century. The only difference is we have cars, and fancy gadgets. But we have become culturally bankrupt, and your statement proves it.

  •  In the Iowa debate (16+ / 0-)

    I thought that HRC, Dodd and Kucinich's answers were downright horrible. I think Gravel gave the best answer, Richardson gave a decent answer (I'm Catholic but I don't like to wear it on my sleave or push it in everyone's face) and Edwards too (that you can pray, but you actually have to do shit to get things done). Biden/Obama's answers were so-so.

    •  At first I thought it was a trivial question (16+ / 0-)

      and I was going to write on Stephenopoulous being divisive and as Edwards said, "wanting to get them in to a fight."

      But then as I studied their answers, all of them anticipated and carefully scripted, I realized how telling this was of their political courage.

      Remember during the 2000 debate when Bush said his favorite political philosopher was Jesus Christ, Gore did not take him to task.  Rather he tried to point out how he also prays and believes in Jesus.

      He never made the point that this is a secular society and Jesus' value is not in how to govern.

      •  or maybe (15+ / 0-)

        morality is derived from the desire to reduce human suffering

        Not every one needs to read a book (bible) to understand this.

        We have no future because our present is too volatile. We only have risk management. The spinning of the given moments scenario. Pattern Recognition. ~W. Gibson

        by Silent Lurker on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:34:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Trivial? (4+ / 0-)

        What's trivial about demanding that religion be an issue in a political campaign debate?

        I can understand that candidates would like the support of religious fanatics, but please don't let them buy the Democratic party too.


        The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

        by nupstateny on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:34:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  If any of these modern (18+ / 0-)

        disciples of Jesus actually practiced what they claim to believe, I could maybe take them seriously.

        This is an especially big problem with the wingnuts, but Democrats aren't immune.

        I've never understood the kind of cerebral contortions necessary to simultaneously believe "thou shalt not kill", and "love thy neighbor as thy self", while advocating the bombing of civilians.

        Over the years, I've been forced to call bullshit on pretty much all religious rhetoric. I don't want to stifle anybody's religious freedom, but neither do I want to be governed by anybody's religious dogma.

        Okay, I'm here. Now, where's that free government cheese?

        by Executive Odor on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:52:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They do practice what they claim to believe (6+ / 0-)

          The bible is problematic just because it is so open to varying ideas like this.

          I've never understood the kind of cerebral contortions necessary to simultaneously believe "thou shalt not kill", and "love thy neighbor as thy self", while advocating the bombing of civilians.

          When you focus as these people do on the judgmental aspects of god in the bible it's easy to see where bombing isn't a stretch.  When you focus as these people do on leaders like Bush being placed by god into his position it's easy to see why following him into war is easy.  Just as they pick out the very few parts of the bible that are judgmental against gays and slide by the ones that are about the sins that they themselves do it's easy for anyone to be cafeteria christians.

          The Christians on our side of the political spectrum tend to focus on the actual words of Jesus while the Christianists look to the worst parts of the old testament and Paul.  It's not a matter of following what they believe.  They do.  It's more a matter of what they believe that's so destructive.  

          I totally agree with your last statement.  

          ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

          by Rebecca on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:32:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Excellent points. (7+ / 0-)

            They emulate the fearsome, vain, and vengeful God of the Old Testament, but are pretty choosy about which of his edicts they follow. The same list of laws in Leviticus that forbids homosexuality also forbids, among other things, eating pork and shrimp, and commands that "unclean" women on their periods exile themselves until they are "clean" again.

            But, then, Jesus "changed everything", although it takes a whole new batch of mental acrobatics to believe Jesus changed God's old laws (well, some of them), while still believing God is infallible, omniscient, and never-changing.

            I apologize to the sincerely, humbly faithful, but I can't make my brain hold this many contradictory beliefs at the same time.

            Okay, I'm here. Now, where's that free government cheese?

            by Executive Odor on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 08:01:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  All of us have to struggle (6+ / 0-)

          with some contradictions in our worldviews. As a personal example, I don't think either imprisonment or state-sponsored murder is justifiable, as punishment or as deterrent, but I have yet to figure out a good answer to the question "What are we supposed to do with murderers and rapists?"

          No absolutist worldview can answer every question. We all compromise and we all engage in some form of doublethink at times. The key is being aware of the inconcistencies, acknowledging them and explaining the reasoning behind them - and that's where I think our leaders fall short.

          During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

          by kyril on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:49:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agreed. (4+ / 0-)

            Doublethink is particularly dangerous when you're unaware of it.

            His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink. George Orwell, 1984

            "The assumption that what currently exists must necessarily exist is the acid that corrodes all visionary thinking." -- Murray Bookchin

            by Autarkh on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:21:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with your comments regarding the (6+ / 0-)

          contradictary and hypocritical actions of hedonistic Christians who believe they are inspired or chosen by God to perpetuate genocide and all manner of evil. I'm a Christian but more important, I try to be a moral person.  I believe in tolerance and believe that you don't have to be Christian to be moral.  Similarly, being a self-proclaimed Christian doesn't necessarily mean that you are moral.

          •  In my mind (7+ / 0-)

            religion is a personal matter. I have no gripes or problems with the sincerely, quietly religious, because I think they generally represent what religion is supposed to be about -- the personal, spiritual relationship one has with one's deity, or the earth, or the universe, or whatever one feels a kinship with.

            It's the belligerent, hellfire, activist, theocrats who scare the hell out of me. In this respect, I see very little difference between Islamic extremists and fundamentalist Christian extremists. One group chops off heads; the other chopped off heads a few hundred years ago. Both believe their religion is the only true religion, and both would force everyone to live by their religious tenets.

            You are the kind of Christian I can identify with, though I've pretty much lost all faith in religion as being a force for "good" in the world. Again, sincere, humble, personal religious faith may be a force for "good", but when it becomes a militant political ideology, it leads only to fraud, strife, chaos, division, death, and destruction.

            Okay, I'm here. Now, where's that free government cheese?

            by Executive Odor on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:45:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Throughout history, religion has been a catalyst (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              arodb, Executive Odor

              to war generating more genocide than any other single cause or belief.  What really disturbs me the most, however, is when someone like George Bush hypocritically attempts to justify perpetrating genocide upon the Iraqi citizenry because God spoke to him. In my faith, people who do and say things in the name of God that God hath not commanded are false prophets and in this case a murderer.  

              The hypocrisy of religion in this Country is enough to shaken even the most ardent of followers.  The prayers offered by Congress while they continue to fund the genocide is hypocrisy.  And is it just me or does virtually every evangelist or religious leader in this Country make your skin crawl too.  Jim and Tammy Baker were not an aberration but the norm.  All hypocrisy!

              I am not a church goer and I look to my conscience, and sometimes criticism, for my personal guidance.  I am not in conflict with others who believe differently than I do because that would create an inner conflict with my own personal faith.  If it looks wrong, feels wrong, seems wrong, then it probably is wrong.  

              My faith is not largely based upon the Bible as it was written by men long ago and it has been continually edited, translated, and I believe distorted in the process.  That said, I personally believe that Jesus was my messiah but that is based upon faith and my conscience not con-science.  I believe that all people are equal and deserving of better lives. (Forgive my signature below as it reflects my faith.)

              "All of you can read the signs of the earth and sky.  How is it you can't read the signs of the times?"

    •  Like it or not the decisions made by (15+ / 0-)

      people who have a belief system active in their lives are colored by those teachings. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Jimmy Carter comes to mind, a man I think we will all agree is decent and accepting, not a wing nut. He is also a born again evangelical and yet, he was so concerned about the rigid positions of the Southern Baptist Convention he left. It's not religion that is the problem, it is elected officials who put their beliefs ahead of their oath of office.

      We aren't going to destroy the Republic by enforcing the Constitution, we destroy it by inaction, by being fearful of the consequences.

      by ghengismom on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:51:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Things were different 47 years ago. (4+ / 0-)

        people who have a belief system active in their lives are colored by those teachings. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

        I think we should see John F. Kennedy's session before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association as an example. Here we have a man whose religious beliefs were quite different from all of his predecessors; and a largely Baptist group claimed to be concerned about that.

        In the decades of ecumenical feelgoodism that have passed since then, we have forgotten the distrust between believers in different religions, so many no longer appreciate the reasons we set up the Separation of Church and State.

        To Gore: If you want to find the cure for cancer, go ahead! But don't ever think that this would change the things that get said about you. -Bob Somerby

        by Judge Moonbox on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:36:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  For Christians (6+ / 0-)

        who believe that the fate of their eternal soul is at stake, how could one possibly ask them to put that aside and run the country according to secular values acceptable to people who don't believe in gods and those who do?

        This is the heart of the matter.  The certainty with which many people regard their religious beliefs is not in proportion with how much evidence is at hand.  How many people of religious faith are really open to the possibility that there is no god, that their religious views are incorrect?

        Not very many of my religious friends and family are open to that possibility because then after all, religious belief would lose its comforting value.    

        •  Don't confuse Christians who are tolerant of (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cdreid, ghengismom, LynneK, kyril

          secularists and non-believers with false hedonistic Christians who perpetrate evil, inequity, and even genocide behind their false shields.  Christians are as varied as they are many.

          •  agreed (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            davidincleveland, kyril, Fallon

            There are indeed many different types of Christians out there.  What I am curious about and admittedly only have anecdotal evidence on is what fraction of people who consider themselves Christians are open to the idea that there is no god and their beliefs are just that, beliefs with no essence in reality?  

            My sense from the Christians I know is that if they admitted to themselves that it might not be true, then it wouldn't give them a sense of purpose or comfort about what their life means.  This then leads one to do anything at all, all sorts of mental gymnastics to push doubt away.  

            What is your perspective on the matter of religious faith and pushing doubt away going hand in hand?

            •  There are shallow Christians who are insecure in (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cdreid, simplicio, LynneK, dewley notid

              their faith and unwilling to contemplate other beliefs such as secularism and atheism because they are afraid to do so.  Even one of the most notable Christians of modern times, Sister Theresa, doubted her faith.  There are Christians who have been indoctrinated (brainwashed) since they were children and I think these individuals comprise the largest group. They never learned to challenge and consider all things as they just blindly accept what they have been taught since childhood.  I can't believe that Catholics, for example, believe that the Pope is holy or anything other than just a man. So I guess my answer would be fear and ignorance.

              I consider myself to be a Christian because I believe in the kind of moral person that Jesus was portrayed to be.  My belief is not based upon the Bible as it was written by many different men and changed throughout history, even distorted, through misinterpretations and translations.  I believe in being a moral and tolerant person and I would like to believe that there is some reward for all of the sh..t we've been put through but do not ascribe to this unwaveringly...Maybe, we'll see.

              Being a somewhat moral person, I hope, I'm continually angered by the hypocritical brand of Christianity perpetuating and proliferating in our society and politics today.  Accumulating great wealth or perpetrating genocide because God spoke to you or because he wanted you to is hedonistic and immoral in my opinion.  

              In short, when I want guidance I listen to my conscience and criticism.  I believe that you don't have to be a Christian to be a moral person.  Similarly, being a Christian obviously doesn't guarantee that you are a moral person.  I have encountered more militant Christians than militant atheists in my lifetime.  

              •  To your point... (5+ / 0-)

                I think the resultant question is, Who gets to decide who is and is not a Christian?  What are Christian values, and what is the most appropriate way to practice those values in a country whose federal government, and the first American state governments of several of the original colonies, were meant to be secular and pluralistic?

                I know very liberal, tolerant people who would say, after reading only your characterization of your beliefs, that you are not a Christian, however much you self-identify as one.  I know people who would say the liberal, tolerant people I know are not Christians because they don't politically practice the more intolerant, rigid and ritualistic aspects of life as practiced by Jesus or the disciples.  And I know people who would say that group is not really Christian, and so on, and so on...

                We can forever jockey for what it means to be a "real" Christian, and we will never have agreement - religious leaders, politicians and lay persons argued and warred over this concept for centuries; but in the end I think it's irrelevant to the much larger problems we face today on a local and international level.  Whether a person is Xtian, Muslim, pagan or agnostic, she has to deal with homelessness in her city.  Whether a person is Jewish, Zoroastrian, Hindu or Methodist she has to deal with our country at war.  Whether a person is a secular humanist or Libertarian objectivist, she has to deal with intrusions into reproductive rights and access to birth control.  The problems we face are only hindered by our adherence to dated religious views and identities, because these are ubiquitous problems which affect every American to some degree or another.  

                What we need is less discussion of what it means to be a Christian, and more discussion of what it means to be an American citizen.  I think we need to reorganize our sense of public activism to include - like Sam Harris says - some sort of dialogue that stretches across religious divisions and truly expresses concepts of morality without religious reference.  

                All this notwithstanding it's only through the actions of centuries of heretics and "atheists" - however they were defined at the time, as Christians were once called atheists by the Romans - that we're able to have this discussion.  It's the militants of their day who have pushed the limits of public acceptability for heterodoxy or any sort of unpopular belief.  We owe atheists a lot, and I would hate to see them maligned among the very liberal groups whose freethought protections are dependent on their sacrifices.

                Chris Dodd for President, 2008.

                by deep6 on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 10:28:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  There is no ultimate way to decide because it's (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  davidincleveland, Fallon

                  all based on interpretations of scripture and there's no way to ultimately decide varying interpretations of a text.  This is what led to the horrible religious wars between the Calvinists, Lutherans, and Catholics in Europe and is ultimately what led to Founding Fathers to separate church from state.  At a certain point, these differences can only lead to violence as there's no ultimate way to decide among these differences.  There are three options:  1) keep religious beliefs to oneself and don't seek to found a state on them, 2) convert others (which doesn't work very well as others tend to be attached to their stories), or 3) kill the infidels!  The third has been a very popular alternative among the proselytizing religions throughout history.

                •  My definition of a Christian is very simple. (0+ / 0-)

                  It is someone who believes that Jesus was the Messiah. That is not to say that Mohammed wasn't the Messiah for the Muslim world, etc.

                  As far as religion and politics go, I believe John F. Kennedy said it well when he dealt with this problem during his Presidential campaign.  "I am not the Catholic Church's candidate for President of the United States.  I'm the Democratic Party's candidate for President of the United States who just happens to be Catholic."  

                  Rather than debating Christianity in all of it's varied forms, I think that we should debate what is moral.  I believe that this is a personal decision that should not be dictated to others by any individual or group regardless of their stature. Therein lays the problem with the right-wing religious zealots who would attempt to assert their agenda and beliefs into the political arena. Historically, that has laid the foundation for many genocidal wars.

                  In politics, the last two Presidential elections notwithstanding, each vote and the resultant election outcome define for that term what the majority of citizens believes is important and moral.  Slightly less than half of our citizens apparently felt that war was moral in '04 and many of these voters were undoubtably Christians.  

                  I would take exception with your comment "the more intolerant, rigid and ritualistic aspects of life as practiced by Jesus or the disciples."  The life and death of Jesus reflected tremendous tolerance as he taught. "Thou should not judge." "He among you who is without sin, cast the first stone."  "Anyone who would follow me must lay down their sword."  "God wants the law to be written on your hearts, not carved in stone.  Open your hearts, not your mind."  Profound and selfless teachings even if one believes he was just a prophet.

                  •  He also (0+ / 0-)

                    supported slavery.  He also said anyone who curses his father or mother should be killed. And here's Matthew 5:18-19:

                    You can cherry pick all you want.  There is extraordinary intolerance in the Bible

                    Chris Dodd for President, 2008.

                    by deep6 on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:34:25 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Can you quote the scriptures in the Bible (0+ / 0-)

                      whereby Jesus advocates slavery or the killing of a son/daughter for cursing their parents?  Think not.

                      •  Sure. (0+ / 0-)

                        Ephesians 6:5.  Matthew 10:24.  Matthew 24:45-46.  Why does Jesus not expressly decry slavery?  The KJT often replaces "slave" with "servant" which can be misleading.  And almost all of Exodus 21 is bad.

                        The NT doesn't erase the barbarism of the OT; people often say it's much more tolerant but the Jews never believed in hell.  At least not that I'm aware of.  The idea of suffering after death and eternal pain or punishment is part of Jesus' teachings.  That's not very loving or tolerant.

                        Chris Dodd for President, 2008.

                        by deep6 on Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 12:12:30 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Jesus came into a World that included (0+ / 0-)

                          slavery, torture, adultery, murder and Roman occupation.  The Jewish people were guided by the San Hedrin who were fanatical religious zealots who interpreted the Torah and applied it harshly against their people. The Romans, however, usurped the San Hedrin's authority to impose death but worked with the zealots to control their Country.

                          Jesus attempted to show the San Hedrin the error of their interpretation of the Torah and that God was a God of salvation, not revenge. The San Hedrin disputed the teachings of Jesus because these also usurped the San Hedrin's authority and power to judge.

                          Jesus healed and attempted to teach by example as his was a selfless life of love and compassion.  He took upon himself the sins of the World and gave hope.  

                          I feel that any more that I say would be interpreted as an attempt to convert you here and that is not my goal.  My comments in this diary were solicited by others as they wanted to hear my opinions on Christianity and my faith and that is what I have attempted to do.  Everyone has to come to their own beliefs in their own way and I respect your right to do the same.

                          •  50/50 (0+ / 0-)

                            I spent enough time in sunday school to know that it has less to do with faith and more to do with ways to legitimize deist beliefs....

                            Here's the thing: whatever the beliefs of Christians, shouldn't we give the utmost tolerance and room to atheists that we could possibly comprehend?  I think of my brother and boyfriend and friends who all claim atheism or some form of agnosticism and I think, however much a sense of church and community may comfort me, it has little to do with reality, and they are right to reinforce my skeptical belief system, if only for the benefits that naturally come from challenging orthodoxy.  From this I've learned about Jewish traditions of the time, and come to realize there is nothing religious in origin to celebrate in women's rights or cultural traditions - just reference the paragraphs of NT or OT text specific to how-to-treat-women-when-they're-menstruating.  In fact, discrimination is the norm.  I say to all women that your primary goal should be the incorporation of religious values into secular life and the progression of secular life into humanistic traits wherever possible, and that the fear of death and pain that so fervently accompanies religion be cast aside to accommodate the strength of reason, community and science.

                            I do not wish to be converted, as you know, but I think it's important to realize I wish to engage people on the subject of Christianity as I would any other subject.  They are all barbaric, and only humanist insofar as their main practitioners are humnanists, otherwise they'd slaughter everyone with just as much fervor and determination.

                            Chris Dodd for President, 2008.

                            by deep6 on Wed Sep 05, 2007 at 12:14:31 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  And again, (0+ / 0-)

                            why not expressly condemn it???  If you're the prince of peace and you see people enslaving others, why wouldn't you overwhelmingly oppose the practice?  My thoughts are that you wouldn't be, if you weren't overwhelmingly opposed to someone using the amenities of your room.

                            Related, I disagree with restrictions on abortion or access to birth control.  I live in a time when such restrictions (meaning, minors informing parents of a pregnancy) are common or publicly supported, despite scientific data saying such restrictions, meaning those occurring among the non-aristocratic lead to highly increased rates of untreated STDs and higher rates of second trimester abortions, almost as if instead of living at the dawn of the 21st century women would now live in the pain of the early 20th century.

                            Why do my disagreements not get word in common print?  Could it be that positions of equality are censored in popular press, like those in the Manchester Union Leader?????  Why trust them for a sentence, when you know a word is so contrived?

                            Those of us who cared enough about individual liberties and social ethics to oppose anything but the most progressive interpretations of scripture have a lot of explaining to do.  Eventually we learned that Jesus' teachings are irrelevant, and only his behavior on earth could control what his promises and orders are.

                            Chris Dodd for President, 2008.

                            by deep6 on Wed Sep 05, 2007 at 12:27:53 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  There's also (0+ / 0-)

                        1Tim 6:1-5 and Titus 2:9-10.  And I think there's something also about slavery in 1Pet. 2.  

                        Early Christians easily defended slavery using the Bible, so if they were able to do that for over a thousand years, I would think it hard to believe the message is NOT in there.

                        Chris Dodd for President, 2008.

                        by deep6 on Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 12:15:24 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  HERE's Matthew 5:18-19 (0+ / 0-)

                    For truly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.  Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

                    Here he expressly states that what is prophesied and dictated in the Old Testament must be followed; thus, he condones all the disgusting stonings and killing of people who would try to convert Christians to other faiths.

                    Sure, you can find many positive messages, but you can also find many violent, intolerant messages espousing archaic values no one in civilized 21st century would consider "moral" behavior.  The whole "good book" is nothing of the sort.  

                    As for your definition of what it means to be Christian, my mother would disagree with you.  She would say that to be Christian you must believe in Jesus' resurrection.  So, again, to be Christian really means very little, as the term is self-applied and entirely subjective.

                    Chris Dodd for President, 2008.

                    by deep6 on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:39:18 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Jesus is advocating adherence to the Ten (0+ / 0-)

                      Commandments here peacefully.  The Scribes and Pharisees of Jerusalem, during Jesus day, sentenced many to death prior to Roman occupation.  Afterwards, only the Roman procurator could sentence someone to death.  Jesus opposed the San Hedrin for their hypocrisy and wrongful interpretation of the scriptures.  

                      "Fools are you scribes and pharises, hypocrites all for you shut out the Kingdom of Heaven against man.  You do not go in yourselves nor do you let others enter.  Blind guides.  You strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.  You bow before the letter of the law and violate the heart of the law, justice, mercy, good faith.  You are like whited sepulchers all clean and fair without, but within filled with dead men's bones and all corruption.  You see these stones do you not?  I tell you there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be torn down.  Yours is a house of desecration, the home of the lizard and the spider.  Serpents, brood of vipors.  How can any of you escape damnation."

                      There is no story that Jesus ever made anyone blind or that he ever made anyone a cripple or that he ever raised his hands except to heal.

                      "If you were blind, you would be without sin.  But since you say we see, your sin remains."

                      •  Peacefully????? (0+ / 0-)

                        If you threaten someone with Hell, that's not exactly peaceful.  It's all over the NT - to believe in Christ is to believe in suffering after death.  It's a pretty sick punishment and belief system.

                        Chris Dodd for President, 2008.

                        by deep6 on Wed Sep 05, 2007 at 12:40:03 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                •  Webster's definition of "Christian" (0+ / 0-)

                  n. a believer in Jesus as the prophesied Messiah, or in the religion based upon the teachings of Jesus--adj. 1 of Jesus Christ  2 of or professing the religion based upon his teachings   3 having the qualities taught by Jesus Christ as love, kindness, humility, etc.  4 of Christians or Christianity.

                  Webster's definition of "Messiah"
                  [Heb mashiah, annointed] 1 Judaism the expected deliverer of the Jews  2 Christianity Jesus  3 [m-] any expected savior or liberator.

                  "All of you can read the signs of the earth and sky.  How is it you can't read the signs of the times?"

        •  "Open" to the possibility that there is no god? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          davidincleveland, simplicio

          Christians are taught that Lucifer lies in wait with honeyed words and that false prophets are everywhere. For the fundamentalists, anything other than received dogma is wickedness.  So, why would they be 'open' to such ideas when, as you say, their immortal soul is at stake?

          There will be no accomodation between religious fundamentalists and secular society.  The sooner we learn this, the fewer the casualities.

          •  what I see (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jakbeau, davidincleveland

            is that people like to lowball the actual number of religious fundamentalists.  Ya know, "oh well the type of Christian you're describing is not very common."  Really?  They sure are a strong, organized, political voice these days.  

            The other thing is that there is this sort of liberal tendency to not want to judge anything.  I mean it's just not nice to say that one group or another is more likely to be open-minded to the notion that their ideas or wrong.  It's postmodernism and political correctness run amok.  

            I agree with you that there are more sure of their beliefs people of religious faith than there are among non-believers.  But hey, maybe I'm full of crap and everyone is exactly the same in all respects.  Could be.

    •  I like Edwards's answer (4+ / 0-)

      He actually gave a straight up "no". Clinton and Obama just dodged answering so directly.

  •  As an atheist AND a gay person, I say, (33+ / 0-)

    right on.

    I'm not quibbling with your diary -- and you in no sense say this anywhere .. but merely having religious faith and being in government are not at odds, and I want to emphasize that no one is saying that.

    What IS different, and somewhat new and troubling as a general phenomenon, is the lengths politicians of all stripes will go, to present religious beliefs as a form of policy argument.  That is in the best case, or religious posturing in a worse sense.

    There can be valid reasons for a person to consult their faith in terms of matters of grave importance, where all choices seem equally bad.  

    But what ought to trouble even religious people, is the lengths to which this is taken these days.  This is not the way most politicians have behaved since time immemorial.  It is new.  Yes, people of religious faith have always been in government and they always will.  But, the wearing-one's-religion-on-one's sleeve has gotten rather extreme and creepy, and there are few signs this is getting better.

    What color is the sky in your world (in mine, it's red) (-6.25, -6.92)

    by AndyS In Colorado on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:07:44 PM PDT

  •  Happy to see this on the rec list. (18+ / 0-)

    I think the discussion is one that will be very informative to follow.  I have been impressed with a lot of the diaries I have read about the military and religion and I fear that too many of the people that should be upset have not realized how far it has gone.  It has been going on so long that those of us with alternative beliefs are not being heard from enough.  Too many moderate folks just say oh it has been going on since the 80's and such.  I don't doubt it has been going on a lot longer than that but what is happening now is really frightening to me.  The combination of so many factors all coming together under Bushco and the Dominionists.  It's a recipe for disaster.  

    "In a democracy, dissent is an act of faith." -- J. William Fulbright

    by ninkasi23 on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:08:21 PM PDT

  •  At least they like the athiests (12+ / 0-)

    better than the Pagans...

    Not that that's saying much.

    I support John Edwards for President.
    -8.13, -4.15

    by Eddie in ME on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:10:13 PM PDT

  •  You have some good points, but (26+ / 0-)

    What is rarely said on this site, and needs saying, is that the candidates for the nomination of our party, are more concerned in capturing the Religious vote then they are in taking a stand against the Christianizing of our country-which includes the military.   Do I hear a communal, "Duh, they have to get elected, dude."  

    I wouldn't say that it is "rarely said." There have certainly been enough diaries around about religion and the 2008 race, at least that I've seen.

    I take issue with this idea that everyone who talks about religion while running for office is just trying to score political points. Certainly they are out there- Bush claiming God speaks to him, for example. But believe it or not, most candidates who talk about religion, were religious long before they ran for office.

    I also believe you are misreading Kucinich's statement:

    His words, that the founders never meant America to be separate from spiritual values is the prime talking point of those who would return prayer to public schools and the ten commandments to the walls of our courts.  

    Not correct, in my opinion. The right wing, Ten Commandments, school-prayer crowd use the talking point that this is a "Christian nation." The right would say that 'the founders never meant the country to be seperated from Christian values.' Kucinich is saying something different. Religion and 'spirituality' are not the same thing, just as someone can believe in God without subscribing to any established religious doctrine. Kucinich is not talking about how he will bring a religious doctrine into the White House; he is talking about how he will take to the presidency, if elected, the values he holds as a result of his religion: as he says, "peace, social and economic justice," in his words. I take it those are values all of us, religious or otherwise, would like our next president to have? And he isn't saying, and nor are any of our Democratic candidates when they talk about their faith, that you must be a religious person to possess those values.

    Concerns about religion playing an overly strong role in government policy are well-founded and accurate. But to assume that everyone in politics who talks about religion is simply trying to score points is the ultimate height of cynicism. If a politican espouses religion and then doesn't follow the basic tenets of that religion- such as the Republicans neglecting the numerous Biblical verses calling on persons of faith to care for the poor and the oppressed- then they ought to be called out for it, and held up as the hypocrites they are. But when a candidate like Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards talks about their faith as a force behind their positive ideals of justice, peace, and equality, then they ought to be commended, not condemnded, for using faith positively and taking back religion from the right.

    "'The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.'" -from To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

    by BlueTape on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:12:08 PM PDT

    •  Well said , BlueTape.... (13+ / 0-)

      And if the context of our political culture were different, let's say before W was in office, my reading of Kuchinich and my slant would have been excessive.

      However, most people are not aware of how tenuously secularism is hanging on in the United States. Read these words please.

      One cannot say the word "God," or "the Almighty," one cannot offer public supplication or thanksgiving, without contradicting the beliefs of some people that there are many gods, or that God or the gods pay no attention to human affairs. With respect to public acknowledgment of religious belief, it is entirely clear from our Nation's historical practices that the Establishment Clause permits this disregard of polytheists and believers in unconcerned deities, just as it permits the disregard of devout atheists.

      This is not the words of a fringe Christian group, but that of Anton Scalia, in this decision.  He will soon be the of the new majority in the Supreme Court.

      So, yes, I do give a "negative reading" to the words of our candidates.  But I see a danger to secularism, or to atheism that has never existed as much as now.

      •  Scalia is a moron. (19+ / 0-)

        I'm not a lawyer, but I believe I know enough about the First Amendment to know that the state of Kentucky proclaiming the Ten Commandments as their "preeminent legal code" or whatever constitutes a violation of the establishment clause, because it entails the state recognizing that its government, or a part of the government at any rate, is dependent on a certain religion.

        It's a classic right-wing talking point to rant and rave as Scalia does in the statement you quote about how we can't talk about religion without "offending" anyone. And they've done a good job of deluding people into thinking it's true. In one class at my high school, a majority of people thought that the First Amendment says that you "can't pray in school." Which is incorrect. You can pray in school. You just can't ask the school to organize prayer for you, or demand that other people join you in prayer.

        Well, the point of the First Amendment is, when it all boils down to it, to allow everyone the right to offend everyone else with their beliefs. Athiests get to offend evangelicals, and evangelicals get to offend athiests. They just can't pass laws for it on one side or the other.

        The thing about the right wing's 'interpretation' of what the First Amendment says about religion is that they focus on the prohibition clause, and argue that, for example, the Ten Commandments can be posted in a courthouse because the government can't 'prohibit' public displays of religion. But the other part of the 1st, which they conveniently ignore, is the establishment clause, which prohibits the government from actively promoting one religion over others. So no matter what the far right argues, there IS such thing as seperation of church and state in the Constitution, because to keep from either supporting or prohibiting religion through its laws, the government must stay out of religious matters altogether.

        Scalia is unfortunately an appointed official, and able to promote his far-right beliefs from the bench for life. And there is, even more unfortunately, no way to reverse decisions of the Supreme Court without another court decision.

        (End rant by amateur enthusiast of constitutional law. Apologies to any actual lawyers if I am totally illogical or stupid.)

        "'The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.'" -from To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

        by BlueTape on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:50:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The law is ours not lawyers. (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rebecca, Alumbrados, lotlizard, kyril, Fallon

          Check out my recent diary on the subject just last week.  Hit my name and you get the list.

        •  Scalia's on the court... (7+ / 0-)

          only because Sen. Orrin Hatch, then-chair of the Judiciary Committee had so little regard for his duty to uphold the Constitution that he did not challenge Scalia's utterly ahistorical notions of why we have the Separation of Church and State. That's a point that should have been brought up during the debate over judicial filibusters.

          To Gore: If you want to find the cure for cancer, go ahead! But don't ever think that this would change the things that get said about you. -Bob Somerby

          by Judge Moonbox on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:06:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Justice Thomas has made the point that... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Desert Rose, arodb, LynneK

          The First Amendment forbade Congress from instituting a national religion, it said nothing about States.  Prior to the Civil War, several states had official religions.  

          The 14th Amendment was used by the Court to impose the Bill of Rights on the states via the incorporation doctrine.  However the Court hasn't put all of the Bill of Right protections on the states--- by "selective incorporation", the Court has chosen the rights that apply to the States as well as the Feds.

          So if you disagree with selective incorporation, one could go with late Justice Hugo Black and his "total incorporation" view, that the Bill of Rights in their entirety apply to the states; or one could argue (as I suspect Thomas believes) none of them should apply to the state without a specific constitutional amendment requiring it.

          Personally, I'm with Hugo Black, it hurts the credibility of the Court that 9 judges get to cherry pick the Bill of Rights and decide that state's are required to provide the 6th Amendment right to a jury trial but are not required to provide the 5th Amendment right to a grand jury indictment.

      •  This is why the Dems should have 'bustered Alito (11+ / 0-)

        The Supreme Court has been stacked with militant right-wing Roman Catholics. The Court has become utterly unrepresentative in its religious make up to the point of threatening Democracy as we knew it.

        "It's the planet, stupid."

        by FishOutofWater on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:06:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It is entirely clear from historical practices... (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slatsg, lotlizard, vox humana, marykk, kyril

        With respect to public acknowledgment of religious belief, it is entirely clear from our Nation's historical practices that the Establishment Clause permits this disregard of polytheists and believers in unconcerned deities, just as it permits the disregard of devout atheists.

        Welcome to the next Roger Taney. It is entirely clear from the nation's historical practices that "All men are created equal" means "All White men..." Therefore the Black man has no rights that Whites are bound to respect.

        What Scalia is saying is, "We have failed to live up to the Founding Fathers' aspirations in the past, therefore we're justified in ignoring them today."

        A recent diary by Troutfishing said that Stephen Mansfield's book on the Establishment clause couldn't even get the dates right:

         

        "It was the steamy summer of 1787, as America's founding fathers fashioned their Constitution, they told the most powerful institution in their new nation what it must not do:

        'CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION.'"

        What??? This seems to be saying that the First Amendment was written in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention.

        I had suggested that they lied that the First Amendment was part of the original submission because they want to ignore Thomas Jefferson's contributions to our freedom of religion heritage. They could argue that TJ, being ambassador to France, couldn't have taken part in the deliberations over the original submission but they couldn't say the mail was SO slow back then that he had no input on the Bill of Rights; therefore they had to place the Establishment clause in the original submission.

        To Gore: If you want to find the cure for cancer, go ahead! But don't ever think that this would change the things that get said about you. -Bob Somerby

        by Judge Moonbox on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:01:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Religion, not morality, should be separated from (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slatsg, elkhunter, simplicio, kyril

      State.

      •  Of course, this depends on what (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fallon

        means by "morality", no?  The Christianists seem to have a pretty narrow conception.

        •  I think that the majority of voters decide (0+ / 0-)

          what is moral in elections.  In the '04 election for example, slightly less than half of all voters apparently believed that war was moral and many of these individuals were undoubtably Christians.

          Problems arise when right-wing religious zealots attempt to force their beliefs on the population through political muscle.  That has laid the foundation for many genocidal wars throughout history.

  •  it's a fact of life (12+ / 0-)

    that most of the American electorate is religious. That's unfortunate, because both parties are going to pander to religion based on demographics alone.

    As an atheist, I look at it this way: I have more in common with the Democrats than the GOP. If the Democrats need to pander with God-talk, so be it -- the Democratic religious are "useful idiots" who help bring in sane USSC judges and stop more pre-emptive wars.

    "No conceivable threat to this country is worth compromising a single civil liberty for. Not one."

    by DavidHW on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:14:15 PM PDT

    •  Before the Gay rights movement... (15+ / 0-)

      no one would have believed that advocating civil unions would be other than political suicide.

      I am convinced that the degree of aceeding to the general religious consensus can be changed.  I'm not asking that these candidates do much different than acknowledge the value and acceptance of atheists.

      It is not an simple error that they didn't.  I believe we can be a force that will promote acceptance of atheists, without harming our acceptance to those who are religious.

      •  Well, the advocating civil unions and the (7+ / 0-)

        candidates agreeing to face the music in front of gay people, I'm pretty much convinced, is a nod to power which is deliberately projected -- and the degree to which that makes a difference is real, but limited.  

        Oh, yes, there is some principle too on the part of the Democrats-- I'm not that cynical.  But I don't think mainstream Democrats would necessarily give gay people the time of day unless they knew it was in their interest to do so.

        But atheists don't tend to project power as a group.  I think it almost tends to be antithetical for atheists to band together or utilize identity politics as a crowbar in a manner similar to gay people.  Instead, they seem to do things like going to the courts.

        I too believe as you do it would be WISE for Democrats, particularly candidates for public office, to acknowledge atheists and secularists whose votes they seek.  But I think the lesser-of-two-evils choices they present would prevent them from doing so unless they had to.

        But is this ALL that is wanted?  I don't think so.  I think the idea is to hopefully move the window back to an earlier time, when blatent religious pandering was not so pronounced.  Merely acknowledging secularists and atheists doesn't accomplish that.

        I must confess, I am at a loss as to how to effect that change.

        What color is the sky in your world (in mine, it's red) (-6.25, -6.92)

        by AndyS In Colorado on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:40:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And before the anti-slavery movement... (7+ / 0-)

        ...no one would have believed advocating freedom for all would be other than political suicide. Who was at the forefront of that movement?

        Baby, bathwater.

        Satan himself had a 33% approval rating even as he was booted out of heaven.

        by Joy Busey on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:34:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  yes and no (7+ / 0-)

      while a large proportion are religious, there are many people who are agnostic or atheist who are "closeted", feel it necessary to hide their beliefs because of the relentless pressure. And many more are at least uneasy or partly skeptical of the impossible doctrinal doctrine they are fed.

      "No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it."- Franz Kafka, "Before the Law"

      by normal family on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:36:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca, sberel, normal family, Philoguy

        There exists a group of people who identify as Christian because they were raised by parents who identified as Christian, but who do not attend church, identify with a denomination or consider religion an important part of their daily lives. There exists another set who choose not to identify with any religion, many of whom when questioned about their specific beliefs appear to fall into the general category of "agnostic." There are also those who identify as agnostic but who are more accurately described as weak atheists. The overall degree of American nonbelief is probably underestimated; when "Christian" is presented as "normal" or as the majority, many people will publicly claim something closer to that than is genuinely the case as an effort to present themselves as normal.

        During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

        by kyril on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 08:20:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  yes and also (0+ / 0-)

          for many, religion is just another consumer commodity - believing may be as fungible as believing in Coca Cola (as opposed to pepsi or no cola at all).
          (remember, Kyril: "the faster we go, the rounder we get" )

          "No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it."- Franz Kafka, "Before the Law"

          by normal family on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 01:56:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Hear hear! Eminently practical attitude to take. (0+ / 0-)

      I am not an atheist, but I feel the same way as you do re: "pandering to religion" on the Dem side:  it's all about bringing in more votes to Dems and getting more Dem politicians elected to reform and improve policy and governing.  Whatever it takes!

    •  The largest community that lives in the closet... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, Cardinal96, simplicio, LaFajita

      are atheists and agnostics. We  are a large minority and as a group remain unorganized and politically punch well below our weight.

      Freedom from and freedom of religion is fine by me, but we of no religion need to organize and lobby much more effectively.

      The Pendulum "All movements go too far" - Bertrand Russell

      by TDE on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 08:19:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why? (0+ / 0-)

        If atheism is "not a belief but an absence of one" as we are so often told, than why would you feel 'closeted' at all?

        When I look at Barack Obama, I think about John F. Kennedy, who leaped over Hubert Humphrey's generation to bring in fresh voices and fresh ideas.-Bill Moyers

        by snout on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 11:07:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  because we can't publicly be ourselves (6+ / 0-)

          without risking our jobs.

          Because we're forced to chose between our identity if we ever want to hold public office?

          Because as children we're not allowed to be boy scouts and girl scouts?

          Because we're required to disavouw our personal idenity every day in school growing up?

          Because your president says this:

          "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."

          •  But again... (0+ / 0-)

            If it is not something you are, but rather something you are not - than why all of the identity issues?

            When I look at Barack Obama, I think about John F. Kennedy, who leaped over Hubert Humphrey's generation to bring in fresh voices and fresh ideas.-Bill Moyers

            by snout on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 11:32:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Believers are NOT Welcome Who Insist Government (30+ / 0-)

    must underwrite and act upon their beliefs.

    Freedom to worship we got. Pulpit welfare has to end, in fact all welfare to private institutions especially business has to end.

    We need to find a way to become a nation of human beings.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:15:39 PM PDT

  •  It's distressing (11+ / 0-)

    that as Europe and India and China have progressively turned away from religion in recent decades, America has become less secular.

    Fucked up, that.

    For the sake of our Constitution--IMPEACH!

    by LightningMan on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:20:25 PM PDT

  •  The problem is the two party system. (14+ / 0-)

    It pretty much guarantees that no change can come. There is great diversity of opinion in the United States, but it is not reflected in the parties, which are wholly owned subsidiaries of the corporations.

    "I am my brother's keeper. I am a Democrat." -- That's your slogan, Democrats.

    by Bensdad on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:24:50 PM PDT

  •  I liked Edwards' response at the Iowa debate (23+ / 0-)

    best.  He said:

    EDWARDS: I have prayed most of my life; pray daily now. He's enormously important to me.

    But the answer to the question is: No, I don't -- I prayed before my 16-year-old son died; I prayed before Elizabeth was diagnosed with cancer. I think there are some things that are beyond our control.

    And I think it is enormously important to look to God -- and, in my case, Christ -- for guidance and for wisdom. But I don't think you can prevent bad things from happening through prayer.

    Ok, so Edwards believes in a god and I don't.  But at least he  recognizes that prayer doesn't work as a kind of genie in the bottle type phenomenon.  Maybe it is a comforting exercise for people to go through.  Fine.  

    Most of all, I'm happy that Rep. Pete Stark, a non-theist, is in the U.S. Congress.  We need more and more and more out in the open non-believers in public office.

    •  Yes. (9+ / 0-)

      To me, he is the only one who demonstrated a mature form of spirituality (even though in a Christian context which I don't share).

      One thing so few people seem to get is that mature prayer is much more about listening and accepting than about being a control freak and asking for things to go the way you want.  

      To me that's real faith -- the humble belief that "I don't know what's going on, or what's for the best, or why amputees aren't healed, or whatever -- but I'll trust there is an order behind things, even if I can't see it or understand it;  and despite that, I'll bumble along doing the best I can and taking responsibility for it."

    •  It might help if you said what you DO (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      simplicio

      believe in. The fact you characterize yourself as a nonbeliever isn't really true, you just don't believe in God, I am sure you believe or trust in other things, perhaps some of the same things believers hold dear. I believe in the innate goodness of people.

      We aren't going to destroy the Republic by enforcing the Constitution, we destroy it by inaction, by being fearful of the consequences.

      by ghengismom on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:28:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am a humanist and an atheist (6+ / 0-)

        I agree that it is important to label one's self in positive terms however, I also think it is important for my friends, family, and acquaintances to see me as an example of someone living a fulfilled, moral, compassionate life without resorting to belief in things with no evidence.  Once it becomes no big deal to not believe in any gods, I'll happily stop identifying myself by what I don't believe in.  

        •  I'm a humanist too (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          simplicio

          and oddly enough it was my Catholic upbringing and a belief in something greater than myself that brought me here. I may believe in "god" but I also believe we have to solve our problems by ourselves and each of us has inside the ability to do that. I also don't believe in prayer, don't need the comfort some get from it. I was gifted with a wonderful life, so far it has been an incredible adventure. Personally I would rather deal with someone who takes the high road because it is the right thing to do than someone who does it because they want to go to heaven or are afraid of hell.

          We aren't going to destroy the Republic by enforcing the Constitution, we destroy it by inaction, by being fearful of the consequences.

          by ghengismom on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:21:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Edwards' response (5+ / 0-)
      I was rather suprised at Edwards' statement in the debates that prayer will not stop bad things from happening, given the upward trend of religion in American politics.  That took courage on his part.
  •  There's more to secularists than just (33+ / 0-)

    atheists and agnostics.

    Secularism is an ideology, whereas secular is just an adjective describing a person.

    It's possible to embrace and endorse secularism as an ideology that should be the standard of government practice while at the same time being a faithful and observant member of a religious community. Secularism is, basically, the idea that you keep your gods to yourselves and out of your government.

    Socialism: Aspirin for your social-welfare headaches. (Use in moderation.)

    by Shaviv on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:28:04 PM PDT

    •  Correct & It Goes Way Back (5+ / 0-)

      The ancient Greeks dealt with this issue thousands of years ago.

      "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:49:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Religious Freedom vs. State Religion (11+ / 0-)

      Exactly. Framing this as Christianity vs. atheism gets us nowhere. It's about separation of church and state to enable religious freedom. Freedom to be an atheist is, of course, a special case of freedom of religion.

      . . . solutions emerge from [our] judicious study of discernible reality.

      by realitybased on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:54:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually the consensus among both parties... (8+ / 0-)

        is that religious freedom is fine among believers.  Therefore devout Muslims gain a respect that Atheists are denied.

        •  That might be news (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          deep6, homogenius, LynneK, kyril, LaFajita

          to Keith Ellison.

          If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

          by marykk on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:41:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Question: What about expecting respect (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marykk, Judge Moonbox
          without giving the same? That seems to me what you are doing.

          Believe me the parts of the Christian Faith that is pushing for more Church control of our government is not the whole of Christians. Yet most of the time the rant is against Christians, and not just that segment of faith.

          In case you missed it here is another commenter that seems to understand exactly why dissing Christians because they believe is wrong.


          There's more to secularists than just

          Secularism is an ideology, whereas secular is just an adjective describing a person.

          It's possible to embrace and endorse secularism as an ideology that should be the standard of government practice while at the same time being a faithful and observant member of a religious community. Secularism is, basically, the idea that you keep your gods to yourselves and out of your government.

          Socialism: Aspirin for your social-welfare headaches. (Use in moderation.)

          by Shaviv on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:28:04 PM CDT


          Where did all the good Democratic officials go when their country needs them, or are there any left?

          by eaglecries on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:55:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's difficult to remain rational (4+ / 0-)

            when one's group is discriminated against, devalued and demonized by members of another group. Feminists have been known to say bad thing about men in general; civil rights advocates have been known to decry "the white man." It's very difficult as a member of a minority group to avoid buying into the "us against them" mentality of those who attack you. I have enormous respect for the graciousness of the GLBT community in fighting for their rights without denouncing everybody else, but even some of them have occasionally used a derogatory term or two amongst themselves.

            I'm not really trying to make excuses, just trying to explain. Atheists feel like we're under attack, and a certain amount of combativeness is born of that feeling. When the very name for our belief system is hurled as an insult against anyone who dares align with us on any issue (even including Christians in the scientific community who support evolution), we get a little defensive. Forgive us.

            During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

            by kyril on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 08:34:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  As a witch... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lesser Dane, LynneK, dewley notid, kyril

              ...as in, practicing adherent to one of the nature-based religions under the Wiccan/Pagan umbrella - yeah, I hear you there!  lol

              Hell, I hear "Oh my god, that teacher is such a witch!" and "Dude, that skateboard looks so gay" from my siblings all too often - even though they live with my mother, who's also a witch.  It's what they hear at school, all around them, reinforced daily from things that she can't get them away from (small town in the middle of Nebraska).  

              My mother is doing her damnedest to fight that when she hears it, bless her heart, and I help her when I can but it is so hard to fight a rising tide of ignorance.

              "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

              by The Peanut Gallery on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 06:19:27 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Our president made this statement: (0+ / 0-)

            "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." [1]

            From the atheist point of view, we're at war and anyone who doesn't take a side is suspect.

            [1] http://www.infidels.org/...

            •  It is rather strange that you would use (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              LynneK, dewley notid

              something the number one idiot in the world said to re enforce your case.

              Everyone with even a pea sized brain knows that nothing that man says should count for anything. He is absolutely stupid.

              So that does not make it any more right for those who bash Christians or those who bash Atheists to do so. Each are still lumping fractions into whole groups.

              There are a whole lot more non Atheists people who accept that you have the right to believe or not to believe than you seem to think there is.

              Where did all the good Democratic officials go when their country needs them, or are there any left?

              by eaglecries on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 06:44:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Granted, the shrub made that statement, but (0+ / 0-)

              Do you believe that every utterance the shrub makes is representative of all (or even a majority)of Americans?

              "Truth never damages a cause that is just."~~~Mohandas K. Gandhi

              by LynneK on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:52:21 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I would frame it: (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca, sberel, realitybased, LynneK, kyril

        Framing this as Christianity vs. atheism gets us nowhere. It's about separation of church and state to enable religious freedom.

        "We have forgotten what motivated the Founding Fathers to call for the Separation between Church and State. They had to deal with an established church, and they thought the practice bred hypocrisy and corruption."

        Alexis de Tocqueville talked to people who told him that it is because the churches can expect no favors from government that they could live in peace with each other. In the centuries since, we have enjoyed the freedom they gave us so much that we don't even see why it was necessary.

        To Gore: If you want to find the cure for cancer, go ahead! But don't ever think that this would change the things that get said about you. -Bob Somerby

        by Judge Moonbox on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:16:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  /stands up cheering. n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sberel, kyril, Shaviv

      "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, volume three, issue 18 (-8.50, -7.23)

      by Noor B on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:13:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  yes (6+ / 0-)

    In the US once it was only white property owning males, that could gain elected office.  HOwever, now a person with out property can attain elected office, as can a woman, an African American, a Jew, a Muslim, a Native American, a gay, a lesbian, etc.

    But an open avowed atheist is almost unheard of.  That's a regression from the 1770s - the "founding fathers" were largely deists and atheists.

    (of course there, are many, many "closeted" atheists, just as their were/are closeted gays in various legislatures - but you can't discuss it in public discourse).  In much of Europe, atheists are probably better represented than christiams within legislatures.

    "No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it."- Franz Kafka, "Before the Law"

    by normal family on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:30:47 PM PDT

    •  Do you really think a religious person (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marykk

      is incapable of representing or protecting your best interests?

      We aren't going to destroy the Republic by enforcing the Constitution, we destroy it by inaction, by being fearful of the consequences.

      by ghengismom on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:34:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  maybe written in haste, but (0+ / 0-)

        I hadn't meant to use "represent" in the sense of political representation, but in the same sense as one might say "blue eyed people" are well represented here.
        Of course many religious people are so capable of representing my interests, although I would be suspicious of those (admittedly a small minority, but with currency among BUShCO) who believe we need more war in the Middle East to expedite armageddon and the Second Coming....

        "No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it."- Franz Kafka, "Before the Law"

        by normal family on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:45:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Women used to not be able to hold office (8+ / 0-)

        Would you have asked them if they felt a man was incapable of representing or protecting women's best interests?

        Having women in the congress changed our laws because they brought a different perspective to our law making.  Having gay people in our legislatures brings a new perspective to our legislatures.  As well meaning as people try to be they cannot speak for the experience or needs of people different from them.  I listen to the religious people here as they get so angry about Dawkins, Hitchins, Harris and PZ Myers.  I wonder sometimes if they can even begin to understand how it feels to have people standing up and speaking out.  

        Living in a religious culture there is just so much that religious people take for granted and never see.  They never get the reactions to a simple statement of I'm an athiest.  How would you feel to get a shocked look and then have someone you respect say "But you're so nice."?  As if you can't be nice and be an atheist.  There are so many little everyday insults that an atheist has to put up with as religious people take as normal fare.   Having at least a few people in office to speak against the ideas that religious people consider just normal and inoffensive.  

        One of the things I really loved that Governor Jesse Ventura did was to not have a day of prayer.  

        In explaining his actions, Ventura said, "I believe in the separation of church and state. We all have our own religious beliefs. There are people out there who are atheists, who don't believe at all....They are citizens of Minnesota, and I have to respect that."

        That was so wonderful to have an elected official acknowledge that not everyone is religious.  It's a little thing and drew quite a bit of anger but it was a wonderful moment for me.  

        ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

        by Rebecca on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:23:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hearing Catholics aren't Christians but a cult (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LynneK

          is pretty shocking too. What can I say, here are the ignorant and misguided out there.

          We aren't going to destroy the Republic by enforcing the Constitution, we destroy it by inaction, by being fearful of the consequences.

          by ghengismom on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 08:08:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Stylistic point... (3+ / 0-)

      "Gay" is an adjective, not a noun. Most gay people I know say "I am gay", not "I am 'a' gay".

      Larry Craig called Bill Clinton a "nasty, bad, naughty boy." Which came first--the pot or the kettle?

      by homogenius on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:52:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  you are absolutely right (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Peanut Gallery, kyril

        should have said "gay person".  And its more than stylistic, as "gay" as a noun can carry some pejorative overtones (and worse than "Democrat Party")

        "No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it."- Franz Kafka, "Before the Law"

        by normal family on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:49:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Why the fear of atheism and agnosticism (5+ / 0-)

    and who pushes the fear in this year of 2007? Who are they and what are the benefits to them of that fear mongering?

    People generally lower themselves by kneeling, prostrating themselves or bowing to those supposed superiors in various religions, but I can't figure out who appointed the "superiors" as interpreters for anyone or anything, none or neither of any of it proven.

    The old have faith mantra, I can't believe it actually works, much like buying snake oil from a travelling salesman who says trust me.

    I am at the point of thinking that it has to be genetic, the ability to be an atheist.

    The Hague is a great retirement place.

    by ohcanada on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:33:51 PM PDT

    •  More Than Fear (12+ / 0-)

      Humans long to have explanations for what they don't understand.  There is still plenty in life that can not be explained by science, plenty that can be explained by reason and science, and plenty still that reason and science (rightly) have no business trying to explain.

      Those who are religionists can not live comfortably in a state of ambiguity, or ignorance, or unresolved awe.  Yet, when reason or science adequately explains something on which they have taken a position of faith in opposition to the rational explanation.  Their minds are closed.

      Those who are secularists, live comfortably with ambiguity, ignorance, and unresolved awe.  When there are perfectly rational explanations, they tend to believe them based on the strength of evidence or argument and can easily (relative to religionists) abandon previous beliefs they might have held.  There minds are open.

      The test of our age as we see in the conservative Christianist America and the conservative Islamist Middle East is that the religionists have turned belligerent.

      There are two major differences between the secular and the religious world views:

      1.  Religionists, on the basis of belief alone, will kill non-believers for theirs.  Secularists, on the basis of reason, realize it is useless to kill believers and likewise useless to try to reason them out of their beliefs, which were not arrived at by reason.
      1. Religionists demand that others believe in what they believe and punish those among them or "outside" them who question or deny that faith basis; in other words, they will not allow anyone to prove them wrong.  Secularists demand no "obedience," only service to reason, and they invite anyone to prove them wrong.

      It seems, from a reasonable not emotional pov, useless for secularists to court religionsits for the reasons outlined above.  We may want something to happen, but the price of becoming more close-minded than open-minded will have to be paid for our emotional yearning to be fulfilled.

      They burn our children in their wars and grow rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

      by Limelite on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:02:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I really wish... (12+ / 0-)

    there was a popular atheist candidate.

  •  I'm not an atheist ... (16+ / 0-)

    ... but I agree 100% with your sentiments.

    In fact, I very much appreciate your inclusiveness in saying "it never will be until Secularists, that means atheists, agnostics or those in progressive branches of the major religions, demand more from the Democratic party".  

    I consider myself spiritual (not RELIGIOUS), but also pretty humanist and secularist in the sense that I don't think any kind of religiousness or spirituality should enter into government (let alone be some kind of litmus test for leadership).  

    In fact, my sense is that the ultimate message of the Big Mysterious Something out there is, "Grow up!"  In other words, take responsibility.  You can believe in a "god" -- or whatever -- or not;  but either way, you can still be mature and take responsibility for yourself and your actions, not expecting a big parent to come save you.  I think that's a sentiment all the groups you mentioned above can agree on and rally around.

    •  A rec for humanism... (3+ / 0-)

      a solid philosophy and life stance:

      Humanism is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appeal to universal human qualities—particularly rationality. It is a component of a variety of more specific philosophical systems and is incorporated into several religious schools of thought. Humanism entails a commitment to the search for truth and morality through human means in support of human interests. In focusing on the capacity for self-determination, Humanism rejects the validity of transcendental justifications, such as a dependence on faith, the supernatural, or allegedly divinely revealed texts. Humanists endorse universal morality based on the commonality of the human condition, suggesting that solutions to human social and cultural problems cannot be parochial.

      The Pendulum "All movements go too far" - Bertrand Russell

      by TDE on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 08:23:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You cannot bring religion into government without (13+ / 0-)

    causing discrimination. Even the concept of monotheism excludes many religions and nonbelievers. The founding fathers were brilliant in the separation of church and state and I believe that in the current context of our understanding of exclusion and discrimination that there is absolutely no room whatsoever for religion in government. For example, "in God we trust" is exclusionary to polytheists and atheists. Not only that, but our tax dollars are wasted to print a phrase that indicates that our government is run by total idiots if they trust a non-entity, "We trust the future of our country to the Tooth Fairy". If that sounds harsh to your ears, that's how "in God we trust" sounds to our ears. Can a religious person ever understand that?

    The question then for the Democratic mainstream is: do you understand this or are you going to pander to those who are religious, at our expense?

    •  That was added along with under God to the (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      simplicio, arodb, craiger, kyril

      the Pledge in the 1950's at the urging of the Knights of Columbus, to show those commie bastards.

      We aren't going to destroy the Republic by enforcing the Constitution, we destroy it by inaction, by being fearful of the consequences.

      by ghengismom on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:48:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pledge was done by a minister (7+ / 0-)

        but deliberately made all inclusive to incorporate all Americans, even those millions of immigrants and Knights of Labor and socialists and all who could unite on a common and worthy purpose.

         That is precisely why the word "God" was NOT included in 1899, but on three occasions afterwards the Congress got involved  to modify it. The most notorious was the effort of 1952 Knights of Columbus, the Catholic group demanding  "Under God" be put in to split the supposed non religious anti Americans living among us from the rest. It was done to destroy the effect of the Pledge, not to enhance it. For 53 years, even thru WW2 it stood as originally and was shared by all.  Then sectarians triumphed and made a big fuss in order to change it.

        America has been stolen, your citizenship is a hollow fraud, and you have no power. What will YOU do to reverse these hurts, crimes, outrages?

        by Pete Rock on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:32:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, a socialist leaning Baptist (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          simplicio, arodb, kyril

          minister if I recall correctly. I learned the original Pledge I taught my kids the original Pledge, it is the only one we say.

          We aren't going to destroy the Republic by enforcing the Constitution, we destroy it by inaction, by being fearful of the consequences.

          by ghengismom on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:15:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'll bite: Who are the Dems who say this? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    homogenius, Jagger, marykk, FishOutofWater

    I call straw man.

    As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

    by ticket punch on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:41:47 PM PDT

  •  I've (22+ / 0-)

    actually not encountered any overt hostility from democrats regarding my religious skepticism --and believe me I've been open about it, and at other secretive enough, that if it were present, I would know. Although I've seen polls suggesting that we are less popular than terrorists, I just haven't sensed it personally.

    But one thing that does puzzle me, the democrats are dreaming if they think that by voicing religious platitudes they will gain one iota of support from the religious right. I can't imagine why they would even bother or what deluded advisor  might be telling them otherwise. They'll only be mocked and ridiculed.

    A far better approach would be to underscore that progressive values, helping the poor, the disabled, etc, are far more consistent with the words of Christ than tax cuts for Paris Hilton or endless war. Bear in mind: the underlying deities may not exist, but the belief is very real indeed.

    Read UTI, your free thought forum

    by DarkSyde on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:45:15 PM PDT

    •  To be honest (6+ / 0-)

      I don't think so many Americans actually hate atheists or even dislike them.  The reason so many say they would never vote for an atheist is because they honestly feel atheists have a glaring blind-spot in their humanity and the way they experience life, and that disturbs them in a leader.  I don't agree with that view, but it seems pretty common.

      Your political compass Economic Left/Right: -4.88 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.15

      by bythesea on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:11:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  53% of Americans say no atheist president (9+ / 0-)

      Check out this Gallup pollfrom February 2007:

      Between now and the 2008 political conventions, there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates -- their education, age, religion, race, and so on. If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be ..., would you vote for that person?

                         Yes, would vote for         No, would not vote for
                                   %                                         %

      Catholic                95                                          4

      Black                    94                                          5

      Jewish                  92                                          7

      A woman              88                                          11

      Hispanic                87                                          12

      Mormon                72                                           24

      Married for
      the third time        67                                           30

      72 years of age     57                                           42

      A homosexual       55                                           43

      An atheist             45                                           53

      It doesn't give me the warm fuzzies.  And quite frankly, we'd be a lot safer without dominionist millenial nutjobs in the White House and the military.

      Impeachment is not a constitutional crisis. We are in a constitutional crisis already. Impeachment is the cure.

      by ZAPatty on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:48:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Take a look at Kucinich again... (8+ / 0-)

    He talked about "philosophy" and "spritual values" not religion.  I'm a hardcore, even militant atheist in the sense that I am unwavering in my asserting that democracy demands separation of church and state.  we can have a nation under god, or a nation with liberty and justice for all, but not both.

    However, if I were running for president, I'd give an answer very much like Kucinich's.  I too follow a philosophy and values which demand working for justice and peace and forgiveness for our fellow humans. I'd say even this is a spiritual commitment (albeit not one based in divinity).

    Perhaps a crafty fudging which will be misread by the religious as meanning more than it does.

    maybe I'm being too optimistic here.

    •  His words were too close to the right's points... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, 0wn, Judge Moonbox, kyril, LaFajita

      as I described in the diary.  They are arguing that we are attempting to remove religion/spiritualism from the public square, and that this was not meant by the founding fathers.

      Each candidate walked a fine line, but in my opinion, Kucinich walked a bit closer to the mantra of the right.

      I think he was being creative, in trying to distinguish spirituality from religion.  I personally don't find any of this appealing.

      But as I said in my diary, "Hey, they have to get elected."  I would love to hear a clear support for Athiests from one of them.

    •  If I were running for President.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, arodb, kyril

      This is how I would have responded:

      This all boils down to the question of "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

      When people do bad things to others, it is because they have free will.  It is a test of their character on how they exercise that freedom.

      Similarly, when disasters strike, whether it is a hurricane that kills thousands, or a cancer that kills one, the true test is how we as a nation respond using our free will.

  •  Liberals who believe in secular goverment (12+ / 0-)

    are the base of the party.

    The party is inclusive and open. But we cannot allow the party to embrace Religion at the expense of the mainstream of the party, who may or may not embrace religion but in either case want it to remain a separate entity from the party.

    "History will judge the GOP abdication to NeoCons as the single worst tactical blunder since the Taliban gave safe harbor to Osama bin Laden"

    by BentLiberal on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:53:17 PM PDT

  •  Atheism and Philosophers (16+ / 0-)

    There is one group of people who have looked very carefully and as objectively as possible at the claim that there is a personal God who listens to and sometimes answers prayers.  It's not scientists, as their expertise lies elsewhere, and it's not religious scholars or clergy, as they don't look at the claim with much objectivity.  It's philosophy professors.  Like me.

    The vast majority of this group of people think there is virtually no evidence that there is a personal God who listens to and sometimes answers prayers.  There may be a God, and the God might even be a person of some kind, but VERY few philosophy professors think there is a prayer-granting personal God.

    I hope that someday, when my grandchildren are old, it's not insane to be a politician who proclaims that he or she doesn't think there is a prayer-granting personal God (even if he or she is a theist).

  •  Perhaps atheists have a long road to tread when (8+ / 0-)

    it comes to being trusted

    From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in "sharing their vision of American society." Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

    BTW, 3%? I would bet it's much higher than that, but as with everything, it's middle-America that is behind the times and attitudes on the coasts will eventually prevail

    The researchers also found acceptance or rejection of atheists is related not only to personal religiosity, but also to one’s exposure to diversity, education and political orientation—with more educated, East and West Coast Americans more accepting of atheists than their Midwestern counterparts.

    once it's made clear enough that atheists and their spiritually disinclined kindred are very much embodiments of the American vision and are just like everyone else, I think America will begin to realize that very vision.

    This reminds me of a very appropriate quote from science blogger Bora Zivkovic:

    When technological or social changes start altering the business landscape in a particular industry, people involved in that business tend to respond in three general ways.

    The visionaries immediately see where their world is going, jump to the front edge of it and make sure that the change is as swift and painless as possible, resulting in as good new business environment as possible. They immediately sell their horses and invest in the development of the internal combustion engine, gear-boxes, brakes and start building car factories.

    The followers are much more timid, but they are astute enough to know that they can choose to either adapt of die. So they watch for a while and, once they are ready, they sell their livery horses, turn their stables into garages and start driving schools, taxi-cab services, limo rentals, rent-a-car chains, road-paving companies, etc.

    The fools feel threatened and, in a knee-jerk response, start buying more livery horses, expanding their stables and, to show off their foolishness, they get on their high horses and start yelling how cars are the tools of the Devil and, like, totally un-American.

    when a conservative needs an opinion on a subject he gets it by calling himself from another line and when needs multiple opinions shouts the question in a cave

    by agentcooper on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:56:50 PM PDT

    •  Flawed Study (0+ / 0-)

      From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in "sharing their vision of American society."

      The wording here gives a clue as to the bias under which this study may have been conducted.

      "Americans" think that?  The fact therefore that 2000 people in a study don't trust people who don't believe in a god means it's what "Americans" believe?

      And furthermore, "Americans" believe that ... as opposed to those athiest, muslims and gays.

      Don't think that stuff doesn't get noticed by people who are paying attention.

      •  uhhh what? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca, kd texan, kyril

        It was a survey of Americans on American attitudes on atheists, not on Canadian or European attitudes (which are decidedly different) but American. What's wrong with that?

        I didn't read the study so I can't speak to any flaws (did you read it?)

        As for the report I linked to (from a college newspaper, in probably the bluest of all blue states) I don't understandd where you see bias.

        2000 people is a LOT in a phone survey. So yes, if that's what a well controlled survey shows then that is what Americans think. Do you not understand how sampling works?

        Also, I pointed out that the negative attitudes correlate with the surveyed person's own religiosity and access to diversity thus indicating this isn't an "every American hates atheists" survey. It's quite the opposite and points an unflattering light on those in middle-America who's idea of diversity is three kinds of chalupas on the Taco Bell menu.

        But most importantly, don't the conclusions make sense to you? The same America that voted twice for Bush? The same America where 70%+ at one point thought Saddam was behind 9/11? The same America that overewhelmingly believe Jesus will return? You think THAT America would have a high opinion of atheists?

        when a conservative needs an opinion on a subject he gets it by calling himself from another line and when needs multiple opinions shouts the question in a cave

        by agentcooper on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:15:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's how polling works (0+ / 0-)

        Once you randomly call around 1,000 people, you get an accurate enough sample to see what the opinions of the public are. Even if you add more people, at that point, surveys do not attain a much greater level of certainty.

        If your name was George Walker instead of George Walker Bush, your candidacy would be a joke.

        by dole4pineapple on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 12:03:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  some things said by the Founding fathers (13+ / 0-)

    "A just government founded on liberty has NO need of the cleregy"  Madison

    "Lighthouses are more helpful than churches" Ben Franklin  (old practical ben  LOL)

    •  also, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, jimmyboyo

      "fetch me some more Hemp buds," -George Washington

      "is it time for my enema, yet, Abigail?" - John Adams

      "i search for, but do not find, yet another Ass I can kiss..." - Alexander Hamilton

      I came in peace, seeking only gold and slaves

      by revenant on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:14:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Tommy Jeff said: (7+ / 0-)

      But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say that there are 20 gods or no god.
      (snip)
      Millions of men, women, and children since the introduction of Christianity; have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned...What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

      Source: Notes on Virginia.

      To Gore: If you want to find the cure for cancer, go ahead! But don't ever think that this would change the things that get said about you. -Bob Somerby

      by Judge Moonbox on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:37:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Separation of Church and State was a historical . (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cowalker, arodb, TDE, LaFajita

    accident.

    It so happened that the founders grew up when deism was popular.

    Ofcourse in EU a very large % of population is atheist - unlike here (some 6%) - which has helped lift their politics mostly above religioun.

    Impeach Cheney to prevent a war with Iran.
    Now Reading : The Dead Sea scrolls : a new translation / Michael Wise et. al.

    by nataraj on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:59:02 PM PDT

    •  I wouldn't take those single digit numbers... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, jockyoung, Judge Moonbox, kyril

      for atheists as accurate.  Atheists are unloved, and actually hated by some.  So you get a call from a stranger taking a survey.

      Just why would you tell this person you don't believe in God.  The mode of surveys does not get at this.

      There are many such artifacts like this.  Men claim to have had X numbers of heterosexual sex partners while women claim (admit) to half the number.  Obvious one group is simply not telling the truth.

      Same with those who don't believe in God, I would suspect.

      And one probing survey came up with the results that about half of Jews, are non believing.  This would include a number of Rabbis that I know personally.  

      •  This was ... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca, Philoguy, simplicio, arodb

        in some survey of all nations I read a few days back (linked from some dairy, IIRC).

        It is interesting to note that most of the industrialized democracies have high % of atheists.

        Infact, atheists/agnostics apparently make up the 3rd largest "beleaf system" in the world.

        http://www.adherents.com/...

        Christianity: 2.1 billion

        Islam: 1.5 billion

        Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion

        Hinduism: 900 million

        Chinese traditional religion: 394 million

        Impeach Cheney to prevent a war with Iran.
        Now Reading : The faiths of the founding fathers / David L. Holmes.

        by nataraj on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:44:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Actually it happened becasue the religious wars (11+ / 0-)

      weren't very distant--they knew very well that the internecine fighting between various Protestant sects and between Catholics and Protestants could easily tear this country apart.  The Enlightment, not Deism alone,  was reponsible--because quite a few FF were practicing Christians of one sort of anther, but not fanatical ones.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:31:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You snoozed through history class. (10+ / 0-)

      Religious conflict pushed many people to America as colonists, and Europe was still rife with it when the Constitution was written. The Founders were quite serious about not having the State in the business of religion. That's why they wrote it down.

      And Europe being agnostic/atheist is a completely modern phenomenon.

      •  or got history under NCLB n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Judge Moonbox, kyril

        If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

        by marykk on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:43:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Churches,religion failed in WW1 (long post) (9+ / 0-)

        The rise of labor, of socialist movements, the outbreak of a war of unprecedented lethality and savagery, the complete failure of churches to do little else except take sides and stand by while millions were slaughtered... and to repeat that process all over again a scant 21 years later meant the imploding and debunking of the moral force and center of importance of churches in general and Christianity in particular.

         There had a to be a good reason for christianity in general, Catholicism especially, but all the other christian sects to have fallen on such hard times in Europe.

        In Norway, some 85% of the population is atheistic, agnostic or never attends church.  Norway is a a prosperous country, contributes to humanitarian and charitable causes domestically and internationally. the lack of christianity or church  attendance hasn't seriously trimmed the giving or sharing impulse. In the rest of Europe, it is similar,
        although not as small.   Many churches such as the catholic one have % adherence in the teens or even single digits. This  from a dominant group that had 90% of more of the population involved once upon a time.

         Even Ireland has been losing the fight to keep its priests Irish. Many are recruited from third world countries and brought to Ireland because their native land can't afford to pay and keep them. That is the case for many American parishes as well.

         I am dubious of all those numbers about American's religious and church going habits. The one I heard that seems more realistic to me is it is about 48% in the last years close to its historic average. More than that admit to or claim religous ideas or
        congregating, but actual regular attendance in America as a whole is about half.

         That means many admit to religious beliefs or association, but do not feel obligated to attend. Perhaps it is protective, telling a pollster or interviewer  one is religious may be a way of not getting on someone's "heretic" or dangerous person list.

         I see the rise of the religious right and the hard core proselytizing and in your face religiosity as a sign of the times. We have them, the Muslim world has its zealots and salaafists extremists, too. In Europe and even in Turkey the secular is demanded as away to be for social stability, to get away from hysteria and sectarian strife and warfare.

         A country like China has about 150 million Muslims,about 45 million Christians and the other 1.1 billion people are really not interested much in religion. They are not experiencing a crisis because of it. Quite the contrary. China has strict anti proselytizing laws. One religion cannot grow by outreach or trying to convert others. They have to remain with the families they already have gathered to their church.

         The lesson from the world of 2007 is  to respect diversity is a must, not an "option" for Democrats. It keeps them what they are, or will contribute to their success in the future.

        America has been stolen, your citizenship is a hollow fraud, and you have no power. What will YOU do to reverse these hurts, crimes, outrages?

        by Pete Rock on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:20:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Read the book I'm reading ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril

        and since I'm an immigrant, I didn't study the same history you studied in school. And I defintely didn't snooze thr' history classes - got the highest score in my state :)

        Impeach Cheney to prevent a war with Iran.
        Now Reading : The faiths of the founding fathers / David L. Holmes.

        by nataraj on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:27:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Actually a lot of them had already felt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Judge Moonbox, kyril

      the sting of religious persecution. They were trying to get away from it here and away from a state religion.

      We aren't going to destroy the Republic by enforcing the Constitution, we destroy it by inaction, by being fearful of the consequences.

      by ghengismom on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:02:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Religious "belief" is irrational... (12+ / 0-)

    ...by definition. While individuals should be free to act irrationally in their personal lives, we invite disaster by allowing irrationality to direct our public policies. To watch our Democratic leaders trying to outdo each other in extolling the benefits of superstition is frightening.  

    •  Irrational (11+ / 0-)

      perhaps. But the propensity to suspect and investigate hidden, unseen cause and effect is a big part of what would one day become science. To learn about atoms, or galaxies, or photons, one must be able to first imagine items which are not readily apparent and for which there  are no glaring visible signs of existence. This isn't terribly far removed from the impetus for spiritual belief.

      The belief in magical invisible sky wizards may be irrational, but it is a highly culturally adaptive behavior. Cultures that fight like they're not afraid to die, individuals who will charge a machine gun nest believing in an afterlife, have a decided adaptive advantage over those that do not. Prior to the invention of writing and  widespread literacy, the mneumonic value encoded in religious narratives was probably likewise adaptive.

      It should not be surprising, given this cultural selection, that after many generations, the descendants of such cultures might possess an inherent, hard-wired predisposition to hold such beliefs -- It's a scary thought that after millinia, we might be a species conmposed in large part of highly credulous 'tards.

      Read UTI, your free thought forum

      by DarkSyde on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:19:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Impolitic to *say*, though. (5+ / 0-)

        Just as when right wing Christianoids assert openly that all people who do not share their religion are all going to "hell" raises wholly understandable ire, saying religious belief is irrational tends to be taken badly by those with it.

        What color is the sky in your world (in mine, it's red) (-6.25, -6.92)

        by AndyS In Colorado on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:26:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Then they should be able... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          simplicio, 0wn, Judge Moonbox

          ...to assert some rational reason for their "belief".

          •  BULLSHIT. (10+ / 0-)

            I am a WIccan. My reasons for belif in SOMETHING--and I don't put much in the way of lables on it--are strictly personal and subjective. SO long as I am not forcing my persoinal, subjective beleifs upon you--it ain't your damned business, any more than your lack of beleif is my business. WHen youa start calling me irrational--well, that's the point where your fist colludes with my nose.

            Frankly you are just as obnoxious as thsoe ont he religious right. They look odwn on everyone else becasue they are morally superior and Saved--you look down on everyoen else becasue they are nto as "rational" as you. Behaviopr and attitude of arrogant superuiiority is exactl;y the same.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:35:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hey -- deeply sorry if I offended personally. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tryptamine, kyril

              Perhaps a different way of saying something is that one can not find rationality in a way of thinking, while other people can.

              I will clarify that I don't find religious people less rational than I.  If I can't find meaning in a set of religious beliefs, that is on me -- not the person holding the beliefs.

              Once again, I'm sorry if I said anything in an offensive way.

              What color is the sky in your world (in mine, it's red) (-6.25, -6.92)

              by AndyS In Colorado on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:40:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It was the way it was said. (7+ / 0-)

                Religious beliefs are by their nature personal and subjective. I personally hate it when someone says they can prove God exists. You can't.  Not in a meaningful, objective, scientific way that meets basic scientific criteria. Which, actually, is how it should be--finite minds trying to measure the  Infinite. If someone tells you they can, they're wrong--and they irritate the hell out of me and the poor liberal Christians here.

                And these days I am tired of arrogant atheists who sling around words like "irrational. You really aren't one of them, but just that term sets my teeth on edge. I get so tired of peopel who feel superior to the rest of us--whether vbecasue of their beelifs or their lack thereof.

                I merely want religion out of politics. And I want beleif and lack thereof treated with equal respect--ebcasue it's what the first amendment demands, and they kne that damned well back in the 1780s when they raf=tified the constiutitona nd alter the bill of RIghts.

                IU have deliberately chosent o keep my concept of Soemthign wide open.  SOme dyas, when I am depressed, I am very Manichean--good and evil locked in eternal struggle. Other days I see a Creator,w ith gods as merley aspects or avatars. Other times I think Sagan was right--we may merely be aprt of the Universe, star stuff.  ANy way--that we exist at all, that the Unvierse exists, is equally miraculour, wheter  created by a Creator or merely te result of random chance.

                The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                by irishwitch on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:53:27 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You have a great point. (3+ / 0-)

                  And to a certain extent, saying you find a religious belief irrational while finding the person herself rational is a bit like the Christian "love the sin, hate the sinner" which I find pretty awful.  So I will say, your beliefs are rational to you and I accept them on that basis.

                  Just speaking only for myself, nothing in the whole religious flamewar thing is about "superiority" from my perspective.  I hope not to be arrogant or to look down on people with earnest beliefs.

                  Some people (like me) who are atheist had religion shoved down their throat, repeatedly and relatively mercilessly, from a very young age.  There's a tendancy to upchuck it with prejudice.  That's not "superior", it's distaste from very unpleasant past experience.

                  I don't want to fight with the religious on Daily Kos and I don't want to feel "superior", just "included" and acknowledged.  And on Daily Kos, at least, the non religious are.  Out in the big world it's a bit of a different matter.  That's all ;)

                  What color is the sky in your world (in mine, it's red) (-6.25, -6.92)

                  by AndyS In Colorado on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:01:02 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Andy, I am WIccan. (7+ / 0-)

                    I get it from both sides.  The atheists call me irrational despite my extremely nuanced beliefs--and the Christians call me either a Satanist or an atheist, depending on what they know about WIcca. Most Wiccans have had Other People's Religion stuffed down their throats as much as atheists have.

                    ANd,as you pointed out,t here's room on DKos for all of us.

                    But I think name-callign and insults religious or non-religious is jsut as appalling. I also expect better behavior from atheists, I guess, because atheist ethics are born out of logic and a common humanity.  I guess I expect  peopel lielk that to recognize when soemthignb is hurtful and unhelpful and refrain from it. The Christian RIght cannot do so, becasue they are not only irrational in the boradest sense but claim theri Holy Book is inerrant.,  Ther est of us whgoa ren't gfundies of any sort, don't make that claim and easily acknowledge errors.

                    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                    by irishwitch on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:24:13 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I understand ;) (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      tryptamine, kyril

                      As you out, I will listen.  A religious fundamentalist often will not.

                      What we accept for ourselves though may be a wholly different pantheon than what we accept for people around us.

                      I knew of you, Irishwitch, and your Wiccan beliefs (if not the intricate details of what they entail) long before we encountered each other on this board.  I like you, I respect you ;).  You prosetylize no one, and I like that too.  I have a really bad reaction to being prosetylized.  And I have no interest in prosetylizing others about MY beliefs.

                      By itself, I think knowledge is good.  Even knowledge about religions one does not accept.  If one does not know about the world and all manner of beliefs, one is inherently less capable than otherwise.

                      Not to offend or attack, but this is a diary where atheism was certain to be discussed in a big way.  I do think that some people (not you personally) go out with an intention of encountering something they know will offend them.  You, I think you are an intrepid Kos explorer, and stumbled across something that offended you, that wasn't meant to.

                      That is why I will not go into the occasional Christian oriented diary looking to start an argument -- well I think I did once, and regretted it.  Like I said, I don't think you're doing that.  But, when talking among themselves, atheists will talk about what they consider the irrationality of religion.  It's not a dig, or being superior .. it's core atheism.

                      We should be mindful that others are watching, and exercize "selective verbalization of our own thoughts" from a diplomatic perspective, but there should be just as much space on Daily Kos for atheists to talk about atheism as there is for Christians to talk about Christianity.

                      Once again, I apologize if I said anything to upset you.  It would be entirely non-arrogant, and unintentional.

                      What color is the sky in your world (in mine, it's red) (-6.25, -6.92)

                      by AndyS In Colorado on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:40:23 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You aren't the porblem-- (5+ / 0-)

                        Kudos above IS.

                        I came to this diary because, like the diarist, I am tired of religion in politics, of the idea that to be a good person one must profess belief--in anything.  That  publicly professing one's faith makes one somehow better. I am on HIS side,and yours. But not Kudos. We can discuss the need for atheists to be accepted for what they do  and how they behave (which 99% of the time is far more ethically and comapssionately than the vast majority of fundy Christians I run into) withotu insulting thsoe who don't shre that lack of beleif. Judge US by what we do and what we say, not what we beelive.

                        The problem is, people like Kudos help neither the Democrats nor atheism. They sound PRECISELY like the fundy Christians they're denouncing as irrational: smug, arrogant, rigid, superior. Frankly, they come across as just like those I consider my enemies. Change a word here or there, and their comments are pretty damned similar. These attitudes are what turns themoderate beelivers here off so much whenb we have Religion Wars.

                        I look at someone like Kudos and I see someoen who is  icnredibly wounded  by an abusive religiosu upbringing, incredibly young (ALL newbies are wildly overbaord) in hsi unbeleif--or simp[ly an arrogant flaming asshole. The first two categories I can deal with. The l;ast? I don't  care for falming asshoels whether they're fundies, athesits, agnsotics or fellow WIccans.

                        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                        by irishwitch on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:55:44 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  Holding nuanced irrational beliefs (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Dave in RI

                      requires tons more self-delusion than for simple ones.

                    •  You're not alone, Irishwitch (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      tryptamine

                      I get the same thing all the time. Oddly enough, the only people other than my fellow Pagans who don't seem to denigrate my beliefs are my Catholic and agnostic friends.

                      "Truth never damages a cause that is just."~~~Mohandas K. Gandhi

                      by LynneK on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:44:44 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  What I Don't Understand (3+ / 0-)

                  Is how it's "arrogant" for atheists to point out that FAITH is inherently "irrational".  I mean FAITH, by defintion, is believing in something that cannot be proven.  That seems to be the definition of "irrational".

                  You also seem to denigrate being superior.  What's wrong with that?

                •  I kind of disagree a bit (5+ / 0-)

                  As an Atheist, I think belief in something lacking evidence falls under the term "irrationality". Saying that there's Unicorns in the sky, green people on Jupiter, or Orcs on our Earth would fall under the category of "irrational" as they are all claims that cannot be backed up with sound reasoning or evidence; in the same vein, neither can people believing in a supernatural being without evidence (as anything supernatural can't actually be backed up with sound reasoning or evidence).

                  As an Atheist, I don't try to hide my beliefs, but when I get into conversations with others about their beliefs, I don't try to pose a cloud of superiority over them, but tell them that they can believe whatever they want, but that their belief lacks reasoning and is inherently irrational. Now, many religious and spiritual people actually do acknowledge this, and that's where faith comes into play. I personally believe that reasoning and reality is more important than faith, but many others either disagree or don't understand that their beliefs are based soley on faith.

                  •  Here's the problem. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    LynneK

                    they are all claims that cannot be backed up with sound reasoning or evidence

                    I would add the caveat "at this time".  We don't know everything there is to know (I doubt we ever will).  So there may be a god or gods and we just don't know how to realize that from the evidence we now have, or we don't even have evidence to "prove" it yet but someday we will.  Believing in a god or gods now is no more irrational than an early human believing in, say, gravity, without having any clue how gravity manifests itself, or works, or why.

                    Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

                    by tryptamine on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:23:11 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Uh, no. (0+ / 0-)

                      Believing in a god or gods now is no more irrational than an early human believing in, say, gravity

                      Even when humans didn't understand the why, gravity as a force in the world was apparent. Experiments could be done, the results viewable to all.

                      There are no experiments for god, no results available for all to see and verify.

                      And, no human ever needs to 'believe' in gravity. It IS, no matter what you or I or anyone says. It is an objective 'truth' of our universe.

                      Impeach President Cheney and his little monkey too!

                      by HighSticking on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 08:19:53 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Maybe gravity wasn't the best example. (0+ / 0-)

                        But there are plenty of other things that were (and still, in many ways, are) complete mysteries to humans.  Electricity, for instance, was a huge mystery for a long time, especially since we didn't always have the tools necessary to study it.

                        But you missed my point.  My point is that knowledge and science are limited.  Even science often takes leaps of belief which seem peculiar at first, which are then confirmed as best they can be through experimentation and replication.  Even science has boundaries, beyond which there are still questions and the best way to answer them is through speculation and faith.  If you don't understand (or choose to ignore) these limitations, and the often highly-rational ways that people find to fill the extra space, you are frankly no better than those who refuse to examine any beliefs outside of their rigid religious ones.

                        Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

                        by tryptamine on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 08:54:10 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Still a bad example (0+ / 0-)

                          Science looks at the universe and tries to figure it out, looking at the data and finding the answer. Theism (and a lot of right-wingers in general) works backwards; It looks at a the bible or whatever religious doctrine and looks for evidence for it, ignoring anything contradicting it.

                          In the case of electricity, throughout history, we may not have fully understood it; in the 19th century we were able to harness it without fully understanding it, but during that period, we used the scientific method to try our best to understand it, revising our understanding on it based on empirical evidence and new tools for measuring. Same thing with fire; did humans ever fully understand fire until the discovery of oxygen?

                          Atheists fully acknowledge that knowledge is currently limited, and that science is working its best to uncover and help understand things we currently do not. But science IS the boundary of rationalism and reason. Speculation is based on observable evidence, not mysticism.

                          If there is no evidence for Green People on Jupiter, we don't write in the textbooks "there are also MAY be green people on Jupiter, however this claim has never had real evidence". You begin to doubt your current knowledge when new evidence arises; but there has never been any evidence for supernatural beings, so that point is null.

                          Perhaps it is due to the fact for most Americans, the postulate of a God without evidence is considered to be a rational postulate, probably leads to weighing of the "well, i dont know" and the "you can never know" answer provided by Agnostics. Atheists simply say that unless real evidence arises toward the existence of a god, that there is no god, just like any rational person would say that unless real evidence arises towards green people on jupiter, there is no green people on jupiter.

                          •  I think you're debating something else entirely. (0+ / 0-)

                            I wasn't talking about right wing Christians or fundamentalists in general.  Obviously, they are irrational in their beliefs.  But I know many religious people who would not agree with you that they have no evidence of their beliefs, and when you hear their evidence, their evaluation of it as evidence of a god or gods is completely rational, in the sense that they have used the evidence of their own (and often others') experiences to build a rational belief in the supernatural.

                            There are phenomenons in people's lives - evidence in the form of experiences, that some people would call a sixth sense but others might call merely the brain playing tricks on us - and who gets to decide which one it is?  Who decided that we only had five senses in the first place, and why should we listen to them, when the general human experience varies?  Perhaps atheists are lacking in that "supernatural" sense (which, I would argue, is even less of a problem than lacking in any of the five recognized senses).  

                            Wouldn't it be better to be open to either possibility than to condemn people for supposedly being "irrational"?  Wouldn't it be more progressive to recognize that the human experience is too varied to be confined like that?

                            No, science does not have to mention every possibility, but neither should it be required to speak against possibilities, or the mind is closed and true exploration cannot continue.

                            Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

                            by tryptamine on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 11:31:58 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I think the idea of science is misused when (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            tryptamine

                            it ventures into areas like this at all.

                            The scientific method is a mental TOOL and established methodology for increasing objective knowledge.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  And it can be used by anybody who understands the correct use of the tool -- including atheists or people of religion; it doesn't matter.

                            I would object to changing the definition of "science" and what it imputes to increase comfort for anybody (not saying you're saying that).  What fruits the use of the scientific method brings, positive or negative, are, of course, open for debates -- but let us not disagree that science is a great tool for increasing objective knowledge about the natural world.

                            No offense to you or anybody but a lot of this argument on all sides is hoo-hah IMO over NOTHING.

                            Unless we are insane or otherwise objectively incapable -- born with half a brain or whatever, we are all capable of subjective and objective mental processes to one degree or another.

                            In my own mind, I would confine religious or spiritual belief to the realm of "subjective experience".  Perhaps even "shared subjective experience".  That doesn't make it bad or wrong.  It's human.  And "subjective" doesn't necessarily mean irrational in the negative connotation sense (i.e. "crazy").  The subjective can be subject to logic if one wants to go that far.  But if something cannot be subjected to any rational thought processes, including such things as the internal logic of the proposal, then it is inherently irrational (that is, "not of reason") in the non-connotative sense.

                            I have subjective experience, too, and I don't always use "reason" in the strictest sense in my world.

                            And, yes, I do think people get distressed over the varied connotations of the word irrational.  Whereas most atheists I believe use it denotationally, people get offended because they perceive the use of the word connotationally (they hear atheists saying "you're crazy").  But for me, it's not condemnatory.  It just IS.

                            And once someone tries to take something from the realm of the subjective and put it in the realm of the objective, then standards of science and other logical reality-testing means apply.  Not before.

                            What color is the sky in your world (in mine, it's red) (-6.25, -6.92)

                            by AndyS In Colorado on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 12:01:02 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  To respond to both of you: (0+ / 0-)

                            "their evaluation of it as evidence of a god or gods is completely rational, in the sense that they have used the evidence of their own (and often others') experiences to build a rational belief in the supernatural."

                            Evidence that is untestable and unprovable is no evidence at all. I can be on lsd and say that i've seen a unicorn in a sky, but does this count as evidence? no. I can be with a group of people surrounding a bonfire and say that we felt the presence of satan, but is this count as evidence? no.

                            The "supernatural" IS inherently an irrational concept, considering that it is both untestable and unprovable. I honestly don't know how you can try to spin it otherwise.

                            Subjectivism, on the other hand, refers to people's opinion and an individual subject's point of view. Aesthetics is a big area here; while it is not irrational to think something is beautiful and another thing is ugly, it doesn't exactly lie on the axis of human reasoning. Objective reality does: "are there unicorns in the sky?" "no, there's no evidence for it".

                          •  Well, I would go a little farther on two points: (0+ / 0-)

                            The supernatural does not exist at all.  It is merely a concept, and to me an illogical one at that.

                            "Supernaturality" denies itself.  As a concept, it will itself out of existence.

                            That which is "natural", to me, is all that exists.  If it exists in the real world, it is natural.  That is, of nature.

                            So, if there were a "god", in the objective world, it would be a natural "god" and not a supernatural one.  And anything such a "god" did would be "natural" as well, and implicitly subject to natural forces.  We might not immediately understand all those forces.

                            Aesthetics is a big area here; while it is not irrational to think something is beautiful and another thing is ugly, it doesn't exactly lie on the axis of human reasoning.

                            OK, sorry, that doesn't make any sense to me.  If something does not lie in the realm of reasoning (of which there is only one kind we are concerned with: "human" until there is evidence that there is another, or one wants to get into an "animal reasoning debate"), it is irrational, or "not rational", or "not a process of reasoning", period.

                            Human emotions by themselves are not rational.  That does not mean we cannot attempt to apply rationality to emotions.  That is, we can predict that if I walk up to a random person on the street who is minding his own business and slap him across the face, he will get angry.  That will be true nearly 100% of the time, and that is a process of reasoning, in that it makes a testable prediction.  The mere anger of the guy I slapped itself is not reasoning, it is simply the reaction of an organic being with built in self-preservation instincts.

                            However, he may choose to rationally respond to his anger.  By hitting me back, he will prevent me from slapping him across the face again.  That too, would be a reasoning process.  LOL.

                            But I think this is probably just a word definitions/logic game at this point anyway.

                            What color is the sky in your world (in mine, it's red) (-6.25, -6.92)

                            by AndyS In Colorado on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 01:36:14 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Another good point (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AndyS In Colorado

                            about the "supernatural" and how the concept of it is irrational altogether.

                            But on the subject of Aesthetics, it is a subjective field, but you can also apply rationality through the study of the human mind. Is there any objectivity in Aesthetics? no. But in the same vein, to humans, certain things usually appeal to others, such as 'correct' proportions and color coordination. Red and Yellow actually attracts the young eye, which is why McDonalds uses those colors. Does it entirely make sense? Not really. Does it apply to everyone? No. It lies outside of the realm of reasoning, yet we can sometimes apply reasoning to it. And yeah, you're pretty much correct about emotions as well.

                            er but wait, what are we disagreeing about exactly?

                          •  LOL. Not sure anymore. (0+ / 0-)

                            er but wait, what are we disagreeing about exactly?

                            I don't know.  My brain is too small to answer that question.

                            Perhaps a little further evolution is required.

                            What color is the sky in your world (in mine, it's red) (-6.25, -6.92)

                            by AndyS In Colorado on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 03:56:36 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  science is a way of knowing (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            arodb

                            There are two ways you can know something: science and faith.  All knowledge gleaned via science is objective and all knowledge gleaned via faith is subjective.  If you say that something is a misuse of science you're stating that the subject is something which should only be a matter of faith.  

                            Science isn't men in white coats in labs puttering of bubbling vials.  It's the application of epistemology.

                            Part of the problem in this discussions is jargon.  In philosophical discourse words have meanings which often differ from the common the usage.  As philosophy is part of a 3000 year tradition words are seldom used in a way that is far from their etymology.  How Aristotle used a term is often more relevant than how it's used in Newsweek.  

                            It's testament to the failure of the public education system to teach critical thinking that so few people know how to think about thinking.

            •  Right... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              simplicio, Judge Moonbox

              ...as long as you don't force your beliefs on others, I couldn't care less what they are (irrational or not by my reasoning). The problem is, having our Democratic leaders loudly profess their beliefs (and, implicitly, making promises to others of "faith" to govern according to those beliefs) is, unfortunately, forcing those beliefs on me.

              •  The term itself is still (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tryptamine, Jagger, LynneK, Judge Moonbox

                isnulting--every bit as insukting as right wing Christian's snotty attitude towards atheist--and if yoiu cannot see that.......

                I would prefer to see a lot less profession of faith and a lot more pormsies of actual changes. But then, when they talk abotupeopel of faith in politics, it only involves christians (and, marginally, Jws.).

                The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                by irishwitch on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:54:54 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  do you see the irony (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Judge Moonbox, kyril

              of your response to AndyS's post?

              saying religious belief is irrational tends to be taken badly by those with it.

              It reminds me of the violent protests by Muslims in response to the (Pope's?) statement that Islam is a violent religion.

              That said religion is illogical and probably irrational too but that doesn't mean it's "wrong." It fits for you, that's all that matters to me. I would only pass judgment as such on how religion is used. And from my experience, Wiccans have been far more open minded and pleasant to be around that your typical Born Again.

              I'm an agnostic. I don't know and neither do you is my attitude. To me it's much more gratifying to think about what could be "the truth" rather than fixating on one set of beliefs.

              when a conservative needs an opinion on a subject he gets it by calling himself from another line and when needs multiple opinions shouts the question in a cave

              by agentcooper on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:31:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The difference between Atheism and Agnosticism (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Rebecca, kyril

                is on the question "Do you believe in a God or a deity?", an Agnostic says "iono" and an Atheist says "no". Many, infact almost all Atheists actually agree with Agnostics that you can't know everything about the world. You can also be a Theist and an Agnostic (someone who believes in a God but has no idea beyond that), but those are very rare. If you look at the term Agnostic, its a statement about our ability to know or our lack of our ability to know everything, rather than whether or not God exists.

                If someone claims that there are green people on jupiter or unicorns in the sky (obviously lacking evidence), what would you say? No? or I don't know, there might be, there might not be?

                That concept I think is one of the fundamental differences between an Atheist and an Agnostic.

            •  Irishwitch (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tryptamine

              Irishwitch, you are exactly right.

              There is a sense of obnoxious, assaultive superiority amonst the words of some militant aetheists that is amonst the worst traits of humanity.

              What is interesting to me in reading of feelings of persecution of some aetheists is that I was an aetheist most of my life.   I never felt prosecuted.  I was a live and let live person.  I didn't care what others believed and never had a problem.  I just lived my life.

              It wasn't till exposure to my fathers near death experience that I truly studied the concept of an afterlife and a God.

              I don't know the answer but after 7 years of study of the NDE, consciousness, physics and philosophy, I reached the conclusion that a God is very distinct possible.  And the NDE pushes me to believe that there more than likely is an afterlife and purpose to this life.

              So when someone cavalierly dismisses my intellect and sanity because I believe there is an afterlife and a purpose after 7 years of serious consideration, I suspect shallow and angry.  A person who really hasn't spent the time and effort to openly look at the possibilities.  A closed mind whose beliefs are too much of a crutch to openly consider all possibilities.

            •  IW (0+ / 0-)

              Well said indeed!  BB

              "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

              by The Peanut Gallery on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 05:54:12 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Well, usually, when I ask people of religion this (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lotlizard, kyril

            I usually get an answer -- it's just usually something I would call "mumbo jumbo" -- but they don't.

            Like I said, I don't necessarily disagree with the inherent rationality of religious belief or otherwise I wouldn't be an atheist.  

            I simply note, human nature wise, I observe they tend to get mad if you say you find religious belief irrational.  

            So, if I don't want to make them mad, I don't say that, even if I think it.

            What color is the sky in your world (in mine, it's red) (-6.25, -6.92)

            by AndyS In Colorado on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:35:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I differentiate "irrational" from "nonrational" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tryptamine

            ... because while "irrational" simply means "not rational," the word has been completely tainted with negative judgment, implying "crazy," "deluded," "out of touch with reality," etc.  

            When was it decided that "not rational" is in and of itself, by definition, bad?  

            In my mind there can be a stupid, unsophisticated form of not-rationality, and a sophisticated form characterized by as much critical thinking and detachment as in science (which is what I call non-rational).  This is what I see characterized by the mature, sophisticated religions, like Buddhism (and especially Zen, in my mind).  Rationalist Fundamentalists -- as I think of them -- fail to see this difference, lumping them all together.

            I agree that there are dumb superstitions and lack of logic and critical thinking in the world.  But I also have to wonder:  We have whole chunks of our brains set up for "irrational" -- that is, not rational -- experiencel; that is, non-logical, non-linear, non-verbal, non-categorical, "subjective" experience.  (Again, when was it decided that "subjective" was necessarily negative?)  

            To use that sort of simplistic, but valid, differentiation, science is basically a left-brain activity.  That's great.  But why the heck should humans also have developed basically one whole half of a brain devoted to illusory, deceptive,  experience?  Where's the survival value in that?

            Rather than saying we're wired to be tards, might not another interpretation be that we are wired for non-rational experience because non-rationality might also have some reality-perceiving survival value too -- being able to pick up on aspects of the fuller reality that science might miss?

            I understand and respect the scientific method.  I have training in science.  But I also see it for what it is -- a human-invented METHOD.  And like all methods, it has limitations, blind spots and weak points.  If science can't find something, one possibility is indeed that that something doesn't exist.  Another possibility, though, is that science simply isn't the right tool for detecting that something.  Does not rationality also suggest that the failure to find might simply be a reflection of the inadequacy of the search method in a certain context?

            This is where I go back to experience.  If people all over the world have had similar non-rational, subjective experiences for milennia, might not they be picking up on some aspects of reality that science simply isn't sophisticated enough to find yet?  (Did cosmic rays not exist before the scientific method had the ability to detect them?)  Or further, might not they be picking up on aspects of reality that science will NEVER be able to detect, simply because it's not the right tool for the job?

        •  When the right-wing "Christianoids" (3+ / 0-)

          tell me I'm going to hell because I don't believe as they do, I ask them if they will be in Heaven, to which they invariably reply in the affirmative. I then say, "Well, in that case, sign me up for Hell, because anywhere you are not will be Heaven to me."

          "Truth never damages a cause that is just."~~~Mohandas K. Gandhi

          by LynneK on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:39:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  DS, I'm swear. You have an evolutionist lookout (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril

        about everything. It's amazing that we meet on the plateau of science from radically different directions.

        I came in peace, seeking only gold and slaves

        by revenant on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:36:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sure it's easy to see... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HighSticking, revenant, kyril

        ...where religion came from. It's equally easy to see where it's gotten us. That's why progressive civilizations (as embodied by our progressive leaders)have worked toward ameliorating the negative effects of religion -- that is, by separating religion from civil society. The scary part is watching how willing Democratic leaders are to trash that progress for their own immediate gain.

      •  humans HAVE to know (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Judge Moonbox, kyril

        we have to know everything whether we realize it or not. The mind constantly is assigning reasons for everything. It was a driving force for our big-brained evolution. It's also the impetus behind religion. Where did the universe come from? Where do we come from? What happens after death? What are the stars in the sky? And on and on. Religion concretely answered questions like these for thousand of years. Purveyors of such knowledge back then were the scientists of today. Of course once mathematics and the scientific method became the standard for knowledge acquisition and not "let's see what the [insert religious text] says about [crop failure, or blisters, etc.]" it's been a battle for supremecy which empiricism is well on its way to winning.

        But even though I acknowledge that religion has played a valuable role in our cultural evolution I hang on to in no more than I do diapers just because they helped me and my parents so much when I was an infant.

        A great book on this line of inquiry is Michael Shermer's book How We Believe. (Not you DarkSyde, I know you know who Shermer is)

        when a conservative needs an opinion on a subject he gets it by calling himself from another line and when needs multiple opinions shouts the question in a cave

        by agentcooper on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:11:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Funny isn't it, it was the fundies who wanted a (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, arodb, LynneK, Judge Moonbox, kyril

    separation of church and state, fearing that tax funds would go to the Catholic Church, that is why they fought the plan for school books for children.  Then there was the fear that JFK would take orders from the Vatican, and he played that conspiracy theory down. Here is what I would say to the fundies!

    Faith should always kept close to your heart, but please keep it out of my backyard!

    Let em eat jellybeans, Let em eat cake, Let em eat shit, cause they can't make it here anymore-James McMurtry

    by Mr Stagger Lee on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:11:28 PM PDT

  •  "...felt free enough..." (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb, Judge Moonbox, kyril

    Only one candidate, Mike Gravel, the one with support that wavers between zero and one percent, felt free enough to utter these words.

    And so you can pray -- I was always persuaded or struck by the fact that many people who pray are the ones who want to go to war, who want to kill fellow human beings. That disturbs me.

    The reason I used to vote for Kucinich for President.

  •  If representation was broken down by the belief (5+ / 0-)

    in a god, atheists are defintiely under-represented!

    Surveys vary in the percentage of atheists, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheists in the U.S, with about 10% (30 million people) a fair middle point. "If the number of nontheists in Congress reflected the percentage of nontheists in the population," Lori Lipman Brown, director of the Secular Coalition, observes, "there would be 53-54 nontheistic Congress members instead of one."

    link

    A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his govenment ~Edward Abbey

    by Bodean on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:20:30 PM PDT

    •  There probably are at least that (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      taonow, Bodean, arodb, Judge Moonbox, kyril

      many already there that just don't admit it.

      Your political compass Economic Left/Right: -4.88 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.15

      by bythesea on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:37:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca, Bodean, AndyS In Colorado

        but does the GLBT community feel fairly and adequately represented by the likes of Craig and his ilk?

        During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

        by kyril on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:51:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's the problem with the closet (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bodean, kyril

          people feel the need to prove they aren't what they are hiding and so can be worse than someone not in the closet.  

          ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

          by Rebecca on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:59:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Of course not (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tryptamine, Bodean

          but I don't think my representative or candidate has to be gay to stand up for gay equality and issues.  Do you feel someone must be an atheist to represent secularist principles or interests?  Besides, I was really just making the point that they are there but have to give nominal lip service to some sort of church membership.  It is not a given that such a person shills for a theocon viewpoint at all.  The mention of Craig seems like an apples and oranges comparison to me.

          Your political compass Economic Left/Right: -4.88 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.15

          by bythesea on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 03:15:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's not apples and oranges (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bythesea

            The thing about being in the closet is you're always afraid of being outed. Perhaps the closet atheists aren't quite shilling for a theocracy, but they certainly aren't comfortable enough with their philosophy to stand up and defend it.

            Of course a representative doesn't have to be gay to stand up for gay rights, or female to stand up for women's rights, or black to stand up for black people's rights, or a child to stand up for children. Obviously that's not the case. We're not trying to swap out all our Congressmen for atheists. But it's not at all unfair to want a presence in the discussion. When a group becomes electable in local races, that's a huge step toward tolerance for that group; when it becomes electable nationwide, that's even bigger.

            That's why Sens. Clinton and Obama are such huge news this election season - we don't need a female President to stand up for women's rights, but the knowledge that a woman could be elected is a big deal. Same goes for a black person. An atheist could not be elected President, according to surveys posted elsewhere in this thread (one said 53% would not vote for one). What does that say about us?

            During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

            by kyril on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 12:06:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't disagree with anything in your (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril

              comment, but I still disagree with your subject line.  A "closeted" atheist politician who nominally maintains some sort Mainline Protestant or Jewish affiliation is most likely not so consumed by guilt, fear and self-loathing that he or she votes and acts to destroy others like him/herself.  Yes it may hamper their ability to proudly represent their own views (you definitely have a point there), but is not equivalent to someone like Craig who turns his own self-hatred outward.  I agree with almost all of your statements, but yes the Craig comparison is apples and oranges.

              Your political compass Economic Left/Right: -4.88 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.15

              by bythesea on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:52:20 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Hell Yeah. Make fun of Dennis at your peril. (3+ / 0-)

    I'm so sick of religion I could puke. It is so sick.

    I wonder if people in 1000 A.D. felt this way?

    I came in peace, seeking only gold and slaves

    by revenant on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:26:56 PM PDT

  •  OK so perhaps while acknowledging that (6+ / 0-)

    you have a good reason to feel that Christians are infringing upon you, lets see if there isn't another view.

    I am a Christian and I also happen to be totally against mixing church and state. I also happen to be only one of a huge amount of Christians that are against mixing the two.

    What many of you seem to be forgetting is that the main push for a government that imposes Christian beliefs is from mainly the fundamentalist groups or churches. I did not say completely from them, but I said mainly. I also know that lately there have been at least one if not another or two fundamentalist that have been pushing to maintain the separation.  

    But one other thing I can tell you from my viewpoint.

    First I have no problems whatever of anyone being an  Atheist. I do not belittle or question the intelligence of anyone for that. By the same token I expect them to not belittle or call me stupid or dumb for being a Christian and believing in God. That happens far more here on this site than it should. I can not remember a diary on this site since I have been here that trashed Atheist.

    If you want or expect respect, I believe you must give it.

    It really is upsetting when we here in our party are suppose to more or less fighting for the main things, to see comments after comments berating Christians. Lumping us all together as one is absolutely incorrect. About the only thing that many Christians and the Fundamentalist Christian Right have in common is that believe in God.

    So before trashing Christians, I think one should first determine just what brand of Christians you have a problem with.

    Where did all the good Democratic officials go when their country needs them, or are there any left?

    by eaglecries on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:27:14 PM PDT

    •  If you read the second paragraph... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Judge Moonbox, kyril

      of my diary I include as secularist "progressive branches of the major religions."

      So I aggree with you on that point.

      Check out my addendum on the diary that I just wrote.  It shows just how embattled Atheists have a right to feel.

      And I will look for your response after you read it.

      •  My comment was directed to many of you and (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tryptamine, arodb, dewley notid
        I stand by it. If you doubt that I am correct look at few examples right here in this diary and most diaries on the  subject of Atheists have had far more bashing of Christians than this one so far.

        That is what I was trying to express.

        Here are a couple examples from this diary.

        Posted by DavidHW


        As an atheist, I look at it this way: I have more in common with the Democrats than the GOP. If the Democrats need to pander with God-talk, so be it -- the Democratic religious are "useful idiots" who help bring in sane USSC judges and stop more pre-emptive wars.

        The bold tag was added by me.

        So according to this one we Christians are only useful idiots.

        Here is another.


        Actually the consensus among both parties...
        is that religious freedom is fine among believers.  Therefore devout Muslims gain a respect that Atheists are denied.

        I added the bold tag.
         Not true as it only refers to a certain segment of Christian religion.

        Posted by Limelite


        There are two major differences between the secular and the religious world views:

           1. Religionists, on the basis of belief alone, will kill non-believers for theirs. Secularists, on the basis of reason, realize it is useless to kill believers and likewise useless to try to reason them out of their beliefs, which were not arrived at by reason.

           2. Religionists demand that others believe in what they believe and punish those among them or "outside" them who question or deny that faith basis; in other words, they will not allow anyone to prove them wrong.  Secularists demand no "obedience," only service to reason, and they invite anyone to prove them wrong.

        I added the bold tags.

        Both point 1 and 2 a blatantly untrue.

        For his or her points to be true they would have to believe that their is no difference in the different christian religous fractions.

        I do not personally know the first Christian that believes that if a nonbeliever does not come to believe they need or should be killed. I an most Christians I associate with and have most of my life would love it if you did come to believe as we do, however that is your choice and many of us respect your choice.

        Now I admit that I found more comments that were not dissing Christians in general but referred to the Right wingnuts or something along that line. Well I happen to diss them also because I believe that Christianity has been high jacked more and more by bloodthirsty power hungry people who interpret the Bible in a way that furthers their particular greed or goals.

        Where did all the good Democratic officials go when their country needs them, or are there any left?

        by eaglecries on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:36:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Selective Memory? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      I can not remember a diary on this site since I have been here that trashed Atheist.

      I  can't account for what you do or don't remember.  But I can dispute your charge that it never happens.

      That's just nonsense.  It happens probably on an equal frequency to christian bashing.

  •  Secularists can be intolerant too! (7+ / 0-)

    I appreciate this diary. I have a progressive political outlook with values of social justice because of my religious education and the teachings of the Gospel. Surveys indicate that a large majority of progressives in the blogosphere are secularist in outlook, which means they really don't represent the larger Democratic constituency. There is a great inclination to denigrate and exclude persons with a religious commitment in these circles and that is something that must change if the progressive blogosphere is going to be a force for change and healing in our country and the world. An examination of this diary alone reveals some of that hateful intolerance. There's no place for it, in my view, on either side of the question of religious commitment.

  •  Sorry, arodb... (10+ / 0-)

    It is about time we insist that our party- the secular party, the "reality based" party- stand up for these principles.   Silence, and just being a bit better than the Republicans will not reverse the blind ideology that is taking over our hitherto Secular Democracy.

    If you want an anti-religion party you'll probably have to start one. With the demographics as they are, you won't get Dems or Republicans to abandon the 'base'. That's the ~85% plus of Americans who have religiously-inspired and motivated senses of right and wrong. Pointing out where those disagree is fine. Telling them all they're full of shit is a sure way to be powerless forever.

    Dems are not the "secular party." They are the party that stands for the beautitudes way more than the money-changers. That's simply a fact. You can't change it by simple insistence that everyone leave their belief systems behind when they decide what to believe about socio-politics. They'll just laugh at you. As well they should.

    Jesus Christ was a notorious radical liberal. He loved everybody, even lepers and criminals. He shared his humanity with the least of us - and berated power and hypocrisy soundly enough to be executed for it. And he warned us well before things got divvied into gourds and sandals what would happen in the future. Told us to be careful, not to get fooled.

    Some are fooled these days, things have become so confusing. The answer for most people isn't atheism - y'all don't stand a chance in hell on that level. The answers have always been there, in the theology as well as outside of it. Making it happen is hard. Making enemies of your soul-brothers is ill-advised. Always.

    Satan himself had a 33% approval rating even as he was booted out of heaven.

    by Joy Busey on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:36:09 PM PDT

    •  Preach it, Sister Joy! n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy Busey

      If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

      by marykk on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:45:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We are all primed for a fight... (6+ / 0-)

      it is our national culture these days.

      Did you miss my inclusion in my second paragraph of the people you describe.

      And it never will be until Secularists, that means atheists, agnostics or those in progressive branches of the major religions, demand more from the Democratic party.

      I have no problem with many branches of Christianity.  It is not a we against them.  

      I suggest you read the addendum I just put on the diary and see if you agree that atheist have reason to be defensive.

    •  Just my personal opinion (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy Busey, simplicio, Judge Moonbox, kyril

      but I suspect America is on the verge of an explosion of atheism. The indicators are the recent books on atheism which have sold so well, the performances of Julia Sweeney of a show recounting her loss of faith and the studies that demonstrated that Americans are widely ignorant of the religion (Christianity) which they profess to believe. Is it all atheists buying the books and going to Sweeney's performances? I think people are taking the idea, which used to be beyond the pale, for a spin.

      I think Americans have been going through the motions for at least a generation. Few seem to believe there is any reason to make an effort to attend a church service regularly or to learn what is in the Bible. Few ask themselves what God's plan for their lives is before they take an action. It looks as though they just want to hang onto the hope of eternal life without having to earn it by limiting their options in this life. I think one day soon they're going to wake up and realize that every decision they make in their lives would be exactly the same decision if they were atheists.

      Then we'll look more like Europe looks now, and this issue will tend to fade away. Of course by then Europeans may be tussling with the descendants of Muslim immigrants over the same issue.

      Fox News--We distort; you watch, self-satisfied. We misreport; you witness liberticide. We sport with truth; liberals apply vermicide.

      by Cowalker on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:09:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cowalker said... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cowalker, tryptamine, dewley notid, kyril

        Then we'll look more like Europe looks now, and this issue will tend to fade away. Of course by then Europeans may be tussling with the descendants of Muslim immigrants over the same issue.

        Europe is chock full of religious states (those with state religions), including the most secular. Ours doesn't have one, on purpose. So why are they better off than we are? I don't get it. Should we go ahead and designate a state religion so a majority can dissent officially from it?

        We have secular, governmental means to general tolerance in this country. It hasn't hurt us greatly. There's a certain small percentage of citizens at any given time in a "free" country who are going to be exercising that freedom against the mainstream. So far so good. The Bushies aren't religious. They're just championing an agenda written by wannabe mind-tyrants dressed in religious clothing.

        In my experience, even the sheep can wake up eventually. They're waking up now. Thus now is not the time to insult them further. It's a good time to reaffirm their savior's real belief system.

        I don't know what the answer is, though I do know if you spend your life insulting everyone who doesn't think just like you do, you don't gain much power from it. Real sociopolitical change takes time - generations. When I think of dramtically foreshortened results from the influence of particularly inspirational people, I think of MLKing. There is still prejudice and bigotry in America. But it's nothing like when I was growing up, and a whole lot less socially acceptable.

        Things don't change overnight, no matter how much one would wish them to. Understanding that will save a lot of angst on the way toward turning things around.

        Satan himself had a 33% approval rating even as he was booted out of heaven.

        by Joy Busey on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:37:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't recommend insulting anyone either (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joy Busey, simplicio, kyril

          I just think we're at at a tipping point with regard to religious belief in America. We're not going to replicate the European experience of having a state religion that gradually fades into obscurity as everybody's emotional investment in religion decreases. We'll gradually find it easier to keep up the separation between church and state because fewer and fewer people will care about religion. The end result will be similar.

          I respect those who have thought through their beliefs and who honor its implications. Frankly, I find it hard to respect wooly-minded "Christians" who think Joan of Arc was Noah's wife, who have no idea who said "The meek shall inherit the earth" and who believe we should nuke Iran.

          Fox News--We distort; you watch, self-satisfied. We misreport; you witness liberticide. We sport with truth; liberals apply vermicide.

          by Cowalker on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:01:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's not so much... (4+ / 0-)

            ...that they'll stop caring about religion. It's that they'll stop trying to make their religious precepts binding on everyone. Hopefully.

            Frankly, I find it hard to respect wooly-minded "Christians" who think Joan of Arc was Noah's wife, who have no idea who said "The meek shall inherit the earth" and who believe we should nuke Iran.

            For a good many people, the tradition is enough. If they don't know enough about it (or history) to know Jean d'arc wasn't Noah's wife, then I'm not convinced you can ever expect much knowledge from them about much of anything pertinent to our current life in time. They vote, reliably. Enough of the rest of us don't to make that more powerful than it ought to be.

            I used to be a complainer who never bothered to vote. What was there ever, really, to vote FOR? Then someone I respect a lot finally called me on it. If I don't vote, I've nothing to complain about no matter what happens. That is true. So I've voted every chance I got, ever since.

            Voting doesn't mean my guy/gal wins. It just gives me bitchin' rights. As someone I love once said,

            "So long as Frank Zappa remains free to do what he does, we are all free."

            Substitute iconoclast of choice for Frank. It's true.

            Satan himself had a 33% approval rating even as he was booted out of heaven.

            by Joy Busey on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:12:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  the one major difference between us and Europe (9+ / 0-)

        is the social safety net.  In "you're on your own" America, the vicissitudes of life can strike at any moment and you can be hosed.  This, I think drives the need for religious community as some sort of imagined solid base when things get rough.  There is more of a sense of larger community in Europe through their social programs.  I think this smooths the way towards atheism there.

        •  Europe vs. U.S. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          valadon, Joy Busey, simplicio

          It is the systemic lack of public and social health that "smooths the way toward religiosity" in the U.S. in the same way healthier/safer social structures smooths the escape from religiosity in other countries.

          Europe, generally speaking, with its policies protecting families and communities from the vicissitudes of life does not spawn the level of religiosity that alienated communities, the politics and economics of fear and entrenched poverty does in the U.S.

          sláinte,

          cl

          Religion is like sodomy: both can be harmless when practiced between consenting adults but neither should imposed upon on children.

          by Caoimhin Laochdha on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 06:04:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting thought. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joy Busey, simplicio
    •  Dems are not the "secular party." (9+ / 0-)

      We better be.  Secular does not equal atheist.  Secular means neutral to religion.  It means establishing the wall between church and state.  The idea that the Democratic party is a religious party that stands for the beatitudes is beyond offensive to me.  Having a liberal religious state is just as bad as having a conservative religious state.  

      The answer for most people isn't atheism - y'all don't stand a chance in hell on that level.

      There is a huge misunderstanding going on here.  Atheists are coming out and speaking out as is their right as citizens.  The fact that it's offensive to most religious people that atheists are now coming out of the closet and speaking up doesn't have anything to do with the Democratic party.  The question is is the Democratic party only for the religious and should the atheists and other non-acceptable religious sit quiet because their views are offensive to some?  Can we work together to rebuild the Democratic party that believes everyone has a right to their own beliefs even if you're offended by them or do we have to go back to the closet and STFU because you're upset at what some people are saying.  

      Secular means we can all speak out and live our lives.  Religious means we need to follow the rules set by certain religious groups who happen to hold the majority.  I'll take secular any day even over the nice religious folks here.  I don't want to have to follow your rules anymore than I want to follow the more hurtful ones of the religious right.  Theocracy is bad no matter if it's a benevolent one.

      Making enemies of your soul-brothers is ill-advised. Always.

      We may not agree on religion but can we agree to work to make this a secular country that respects everyones rights to express themselves even when you don't like what they are saying?  If it's only the religious who get to express their views you're going to have a much smaller party.    

      ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

      by Rebecca on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:28:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But I did not suggest Dems be... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dewley notid

        ...a "religious party." I responded to the diarist's assertion that it's up to 'Secularists' (capital s) - atheists, agnostics and liberal believers - to demand the Democratic party be the party of secularism. That our candidates not speak in public about their beliefs, etc.

        I mentioned that ~85% of the public self-identifies as having religious beliefs, and that they have a right to vote their conscience whether or not 'secularists' like the idea. That they take that civil right seriously enough to exercise it reliably, and no one can disenfranchise them just because they don't like the results. Democrats can't exorcise religion from the public sphere, though we can insist that policy and law not be religious in sponsorship or spirit, for the purpose of inflicting religious dogmas on the public.

        No one's restricting the right of atheists to speak, practice, assemble and publish about their lack of belief or their disdain for religion. Why should Democrats seek to restrict those rights for the religious, or identify themselves with those who do?

        It won't help Democrats win elections. I think it's important that we do just that if we really want a change in direction for our country.

        Satan himself had a 33% approval rating even as he was booted out of heaven.

        by Joy Busey on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:32:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You said (0+ / 0-)

          Dems are not the "secular party." They are the party that stands for the beautitudes way more than the money-changers. That's simply a fact.

          The beatitudes are a specific religious reference.  Our party is not the party of the beatitudes.  While I have no problem with religious people saying that the Democratic party follows that religious stance more than the R's do I am really offended when someone says we are the party that stands for them.  We aren't and can't be if we are a secular party and if we are a secular nation.  

          You seem to have the understanding that only atheists and other non-religious can be secular and that being secular is wrong somehow and it's anti-religion.  You couldn't be more wrong.  This country was the first one in history founded as a secular nation.  Our constitution infuriated the religious right of the day because it didn't reference god.  They spent a century condemning the godless constitution.  They tried for decades to get an amendment passed that would put god into our constitution.  They lost that battle.  Now they have a new tactic.  Claim that our country wasn't secular and claim that it always was a Christian nation, history be damned.  It's sad to see here on this blog how many of our religious people have taken in the idea that a secular nation and party are anti-religion and wrong.

          I mentioned that ~85% of the public self-identifies as having religious beliefs, and that they have a right to vote their conscience whether or not 'secularists' like the idea.

          No one's restricting the right of atheists to speak, practice, assemble and publish about their lack of belief or their disdain for religion. Why should Democrats seek to restrict those rights for the religious, or identify themselves with those who do?

          OK let's get off the strawman that anyone here is trying to restrict anyones rights.  No one on either side here is trying to enact laws that will restrict the right to speak, practice, assemble or publish.  That is just not being done.  No non-religious person here is seeking to stop religious people from doing any of those things.  So please don't say we are.  However, outside here it's a different story.  Look at the diary that influenced the writing of this one.  

          You say being the party of secularism as if that's a bad thing.  What exactly do you mean by secularism?  Because in terms of a party or a nation we are and should be a secular party and a secular nation.  This entwining of religion and state is dangerous.  Our constitution is a secular document.  It only mentions religion to say there should be no religious test for office.   Right now we have a defacto religious test for elected office.  If you're atheist you're not acceptable.  

          A 2005 Pew Trust-University of Akron survey disproved Duncan’s surmise. Not only did it register 16 percent of Americans with no religious affiliation—the highest number yet—it reported that two thirds of them were atheists, agnostics, or hard seculars.

          Even if those numbers are high we should have at least 10% of our representation as non-religious.  Why don't we?  Because not being religious makes you unelectable for much of the country still.  Don't tell me that some of them are closeted I'm sure they are.  But look at the closeted gays in office and tell me how much good they are doing for their rejected community.  

          There seems to be a severe misunderstanding of just what secular means.  In terms of a nation or a party it doesn't mean anti-religion.  It means taking a neutral stance towards religion.  It means politicians not using their own personal religious beliefs as a basis for their legislation.  

          Here is John F Kennedy speaking to the Southern Baptists while running for the presidency.  Oh how times have changed.

          I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute -- where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be a Catholic) how to act and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote -- where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference -- and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

          I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish -- where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source -- where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials -- and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

          For, while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew -- or a Quaker -- or a Unitarian -- or a Baptist. It was Virginia's harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that led to Jefferson's statute of religious freedom. Today, I may be the victim -- but tomorrow it may be you -- until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped apart at a time of great national peril.

          Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end -- where all men and all churches are treated as equal -- where every man has the same right to attend or not to attend the church of his choice -- where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind -- and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, both the lay and the pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.

          That is the secular party I want back.  Not this how can we show that we are ultra religious too so don't worry about us while throwing the non-religious under the bus.    

          ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

          by Rebecca on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 11:29:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Rebecca... (0+ / 0-)
            ...If I think of this issue in religious terms, which the diary is specifically about, then these are the distinctions I make. I speak for me, not for you or for Democrats in general. If you have a problem identifying with the Beautitudes - as opposed to the money-changers (context, context...) - then choose your own terms. Framing is a considerable issue, and should be aimed to those you're aiming to convince.

            I've never had a problem with secularists. I am one. But sociology deals with real-world situations, and it informs us of the relativities involved in shaping the collective history of civilization. Significant changes occur. They generally take some time to accomplish.

            You [figurative] can't prevent me from thinking on religious terms about an issue aimed to challenge religious believers' rights in the public sphere. Nor can you make me express myself in any other terms. Why not recognize and accept that? The demographics alone should inform you. Expect respect and you'll get it. Earn it, confirm it, and keep it. If you simply demand that others' respect be transferred from them TO you and you'll get nowhere fast.

            The whole idea of getting power by taking it from someone else you don't like is misguided IMO. Earn your own. I know a good many agnostics and atheists, my own family runs the gambit from Scots Presbyterian to Southern Baptist to Quaker to Sikh. And some in between or nowhere at all.

            Secularism isn't best advocated at the point of a religiously constructed sword. Advocating for equal rights and consideration to all doesn't mean anyone else's rights have to suffer. That's just not a good approach to marketing the ideas. IMO.

            Satan himself had a 33% approval rating even as he was booted out of heaven.

            by Joy Busey on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 01:51:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You keep on with these straw man arguments (0+ / 0-)

              You [figurative] can't prevent me from thinking on religious terms about an issue aimed to challenge religious believers' rights in the public sphere.

              The whole idea of getting power by taking it from someone else you don't like is misguided IMO. Earn your own.

              Secularism isn't best advocated at the point of a religiously constructed sword. Advocating for equal rights and consideration to all doesn't mean anyone else's rights have to suffer.

              You keep portraying the religious as the persecuted minority who are in danger of having their rights taken from them.  When in reality they have set up a system whereby they have rights the non-religious and many religious who are not of the favored religion are having their rights taken from them.  

              As I said above I am not and no one here is advocating taking your rights from you.  Please read that sentence.  No one is trying to take your rights from you.  Why do you keep saying this?  

              Your comment about gaining power.  How do you think people gain power?  Do they do it by sitting quietly in the background politely asking for some power?  Never has that method worked,  ever in the whole history of the world no one has ever given up power by people nicely and politely asking for their share of the political power.

              What you're seeing is some in the atheist community refusing to be the polite good atheist anymore.  They are watching as the religious push their agenda aggressively and our government and our political parties vying for their attention.  Your attempts to say that we need to "frame" our arguments to not offend or threaten the religious is just a way of saying to be quiet and accept the religious in power and accept the crumbs they let fall to us.  Framing for many is not about changing and advocating for a position it's a way of keeping the status quo and not rocking the boat.  

              Let's go back to where this started

              Dems are not the "secular party." They are the party that stands for the beautitudes way more than the money-changers. That's simply a fact.

              I don't think you really understand what secular means.  

              I've never had a problem with secularists. I am one.

              If you understood what secular meant and were secular you would never have gotten so upset over the statement

              It is about time we insist that our party- the secular party, the "reality based" party- stand up for these principles.   Silence, and just being a bit better than the Republicans will not reverse the blind ideology that is taking over our hitherto Secular Democracy.

              That statement is not radical.  It is mainstream American or it used to be.  

              I'll leave you with JFK's warning.

              Today, I may be the victim -- but tomorrow it may be you -- until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped apart at a time of great national peril.

              This is exactly where we are now.  

              ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

              by Rebecca on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 05:41:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  What I'm seeing, in your words... (0+ / 0-)

                ...some in the atheist community refusing to be the polite good atheist anymore.

                Be as rude as you like, I don't mind. See how much respect it earns among those from whom these rude atheists demand power.

                Good luck with that.

                Satan himself had a 33% approval rating even as he was booted out of heaven.

                by Joy Busey on Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 07:41:36 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Interesting how you perceive rudeness (0+ / 0-)

                  Everything I said was perfectly polite.
                  I offended you because I disagreed with your position and stated that.  You kept going back and forth on secularism.  First you were against it then you were secular.  Pointing out your misconceptions and contradictions is not rude.  

                  Your advice is quite strange considering the history of how people gain political power from lack of that power.  Your advice is completely opposite of how historically people have gained power.  If the glbt movement had listened to you they would still be mostly in the closet and begging to not be treated as criminals and/or in need of psychiatric care.   "We're here. We're queer. Get used to it." Not exactly a polite request.  In fact, it's a demand.  Demanding respect and political power is the only way you get it.  It's only when the status quo is challenged that it changes.  

                  Your method would leave us with slavery still legal, no civil rights, no labor rights and no reproductive rights.  None of these movements followed your advice luckily.  

                  There is no right to not be offended in the constitution.  Which is what makes our constitution so great.  

                  ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

                  by Rebecca on Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 04:06:06 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I'd also like to say that you seem (0+ / 0-)

                  to have no compunction in stating your views in forthright abrasive comments.  How is it that I am rude and you are what polite?  An interesting double standard you have.

                  ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

                  by Rebecca on Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 05:21:37 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  are atheists really so rare? (6+ / 0-)

    I'm always a little surprised to hear that atheists are considered rare and oppressed. Most of the people I know are either atheist, agnostic, or some kind of liberal, wishy-washy Christian. I don't know what answer they would give in a telephone poll because the issue of religion rarely even comes up in routine conversation.  

    I think that the simple "religious category" polls we usually see mask a great deal of ambivalence when it comes to belief in the literal truth of much Christian doctrine.  I would not be surprised if at least 10-20% of Americans are more or less in this category even though they would not say so in a poll.

    "I beseech you,... think it possible you may be mistaken." -- Cromwell/Bronowski

    by jockyoung on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:36:36 PM PDT

    •  One interesting statistic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LynneK, Judge Moonbox

      that Bill Maher quoted on Real Time, was that 20% of the people aged 18-29 considered themselves "Non-Christian".

      I believe that number is exponentially growing, and also the the number of people intolerant of Atheists are also winding down too. On the latter note, this is why the only group I shroud my Atheism to is the Elderly (people aged higher than lets say, 75), for they will never give up their past prejudices and they just cannot understand others beliefs.

  •  interesting diary (5+ / 0-)

    always fun being part of one of the least popular (or electable) demographics in the country.

  •  Let's just nominate a unicorn for president (10+ / 0-)

    and be done with it.

    Seriously, religion is an embarrassment to the human race.

    Christianity, Judaism, and Islam deserve each other.  Fuck 'em all.  They no longer serve any purpose other than to keep the rabble in line.  

    Buddhism is nonsense, but it's benign nonsense.  

    I daydream of aliens landing, colonizing the earth and whipping all the believers in fairy tales into shape.  Nobody here is going to do it.

    What the fuck are "spiritual values?" As best I can figure it out, "spirituality" is religion for people who like to make up the rules as they go along.  I honestly have more respect for fundamentalists than I do for people who yammer on about spirituality.  At least fundamentalists know what they believe in.  I understand the need to find your own path, but know what you believe in for fuck's sake.  

    Here's the problem:

    We, hold that everyone has the right to their opinion.  We hold that that everyone has the right to their beliefs.  

    I call foul.

    There are words for a people who have opinions and beliefs that run contrary to the facts.  We call them "wrong," "just plain wrong." and "full of shit."

    Do people have the right to be wrong?  Do they have the right to be full of shit?  Maybe.  The problem comes when their beliefs are translated into action.  Unless a person is on a desert island, it's hard to act without your actions impacting others.  Since our beliefs lay the groundwork for our actions, wrong beliefs lead to wrong actions.  

    I'm a big fan of Throughgood Marshall's line "your right to swing your fist ends where my face begins."  Any belief that manifests itself in fists swinging into faces is clearly not one that people have the right to.  

    The idea that the facts of the universe are an unknowable, that the nature of universal Truth is a mystery is bullshit.  It's intellectual laziness.  This kind of thinking is what allows religion to spread.  It's what makes people think they can chose what they believe, that they can try on different religions and chose the one that fits the best and call it truth.  

    Truth is not what you believe.  It's what you know.  There is such a thing as truth and its nature is knowable.   There is such a thing as rational ethics that are rooted in fact.  It is only when we accept and embrace these things that we'll ever be able to stop religions from killing each other.  Any acceptance of faith as a valid basis for objective truth is a slippery slope (and just plain wrong).  

    •  VelvetElvis, your velvet came off..... (3+ / 0-)

      nice to hear some plain talk for a change.  I take it you are not running for office this year.

    •  Thank You for Ranting. (3+ / 0-)

      that was excellent. I'm especially grateful that it would be you and not me whom they would have set on fire.

      I came in peace, seeking only gold and slaves

      by revenant on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:08:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There's No Reason to Elect An Athiest (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chidmf, Caoimhin Laochdha, arodb

      There's a reason to elect a fundamentalist christian:  Because you want to have a christian president when the rapture comes.

      There's a reason to elect a catholic:  Because you're against abortion and gay marriage.

      There's no reason per se to elect an athiest because people who don't spend their time mixing imaginations with facts worry about things like economy, efficiency, and corruption.  They only engage in the above discussions because some with a reason to make it an issue brought it up.

      There's no reason to say "I'm an athiest" because it would be the same thing to them as saying, "I don't like mincemeat pie."

      •  Well, there IS a reason to elect an atheist (5+ / 0-)

        And that is, just as a hypothetical if you had three candidates -- one was a right wing Christian religious fundie who wanted to institute (Christian) prayer in schools, a right wing Muslim who wanted to do the same thing, but muslim prayer, and an atheist.

        If you don't want a., or b., then choosing none of the above, or c., is a "reason".

        You can do it with two candidates also.  An atheist is not going to try to do unconstitutional things to attack your religion, nor promote a religion you don't want used to oppress you.

        I would vote for an atheist over a right wing Christian fundie in a heartbeat, because I don't want the right wing Christian fundie.

        Negative reasoning it may be, but still, a "reason".

        What color is the sky in your world (in mine, it's red) (-6.25, -6.92)

        by AndyS In Colorado on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:21:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well I wouldn't want to vote for (3+ / 0-)

          an Ayn Rand atheist.  It depends on the atheist.  Atheism only says the person doesn't believe in god.  It doesn't say they respect the constitution.  I'd want to make sure they respected the constitution.  Just as I'd love to have a woman for president but I find myself not supporting the first woman to have a real chance to get the office.  I'll vote for her in the general if she's the nominee but I won't in the primary.  

          ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

          by Rebecca on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:40:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Very interesting (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jagger, arodb, VelvetElvis, Judge Moonbox

      When you say this:

      The idea that the facts of the universe are an unknowable, that the nature of universal Truth is a mystery is bullshit.  It's intellectual laziness.

      You're quite right, imho. I observe two kinds of people of faith - folks with reason and folks without reason. Entering the former group later in life, I can say that the latter are really not of faith (since they will attest to a belief they possess with a certainty of the truth) but, for the case of this conversation, they are faithful.

      I maintain that we're all at risk from these folks who lack reason, but the ones with "faith" are the most dangerous. Lacking reason is not the same as being unreasonable, it's more pernicious, more comprehensive. Yet it gets potentially fierce when matched with the  otherwise pure submission cultivated in faith and practice of the Gospels and is how we get to really cockamamie notions of dominionism and fascism and the kind of sheep that graze through atrocities.

      Pastors, who are educated and licensed (?) and usually have reason, should feel accountable for the insufficiencies of their flocks wrt faith and reason and theology. They wouldn't be such fruitful fodder for corrupt politicians and the world would be a safer place.  

      Still uncommitted, undecided...enjoying the dates; not ready for the ring or uhaul.

      by kck on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:28:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The dangers of ungrounded secularism (4+ / 0-)

      and empiricism are just as real and far-reaching as those of ungrounded religion. There are a number of things in this post that are far from 'established fact':

      I honestly have more respect for fundamentalists than I do for people who yammer on about spirituality.  At least fundamentalists know what they believe in.

      There is such a thing as truth and its nature is knowable.   There is such a thing as rational ethics that are rooted in fact.

      The idea that the facts of the universe are an unknowable, that the nature of universal Truth is a mystery is bullshit.  It's intellectual laziness.

      A genuine, nondogmatic skepticism doesn't end with materialist empiricism, nor does it necessarily exclude religion. This post would have us believe that the ultimate anti-dogmatic skeptics: Locke, Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Jaspers, Derrida, etc., are 'intellectually lazy.' In reality, while science is a wondrous explanatory and practical tool, it too is ultimately founded on certain 'unexplainable' assumptions, and it too is constrained by the limits of human cognition. I think there is a place for 'spirituality' and 'religion' in modern society, a vital place that those who put the highest faith in generalized explanatory models tend to ignore in their (understandable) eagerness to distinguish themselves from the crass superstition and zealotry of right-wing Christians.

      There is, frankly, a need for a concrete ethics that can not be found among physicists reducing everything to subatomic strata, biologists peering through the reductionist lens of evolution, and psychologists quixotically attempting to 'crack' the ultimate law of behavior by graphing neural activity. Yet, there is also a tendency among many secular westerners to assert that Science is not, fundamentally, just a human art. The result is an impoverished rationalism, a new faith, that leaves us open to horrors just as great as those imposed by the old religious zealots.

      Genuine 'science' does not lead to 'ultimate truth', it leads to more wonder, more mysteries, and a lucid realization of how little we do and can know. Consequently, it also leads to awareness that the necessary ties that bind an ethical society aren't going to be found at the end of an experiment or in the pages of an issue of 'Science'. Science is, no doubt, a vital pillar of modern society, but it alone is not enough to support the edifice of human life. There is a further need, one that your desire for 'ultimate truth' makes plainly clear.

      •  Well said, Storszek... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        trashablanca

        and I have attempted to articulate the same sentiments in other essays.

        Science is a limited endeavor, since it is constrained by only looking at phenomenon subject to empirical verification.  If a theory is not subject to being disproved, it does not belong in the scientific idiom.

        I did not try to say that religion is not of great value on many levels.  I was talking about a perversion into areas of explanation, and justification, for political agressiveness that is something to be vitally concerned about.

        Your comment is important, and we must maintain such  fine nuance in this conversation and not let it devolve into belief v. atheism.    

  •  America's First Elected Athiest (Non-Deist) Pres? (3+ / 0-)

    First woman, first African American?  Why not?

    It will take a little marketing since that's all our small minded population understands.  It must be told what to think and eventually it will think it.

    Perhaps if we start now, in one or two terms we can finally elect someone who doesn't play make believe.  If for no other reason but to take the mystery out of it and to prove Soddom and Gomorrah are not going to burn alive in a rain of fire.

  •  Why I celebrate atheists (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, GOTV, leighkidd, arodb, Judge Moonbox

    I am a person of faith, but I take extremely seriously the dictum that what you do matters much more than what  you say you believe.  All the atheists that I know (which admittedly is not necessarily a representative sample) are some of the most compassionate and ethical people I have ever met.  Jesus said we will be judged by our compassion, so I heartedly cheer the compassionate whether or not they profess any faith.  

    As for public figures, the second they start talking about religion, they better walk the walk, not talk the talk.  Politicians who claim to be Christians that cheer war, take from the poor to enlarge the rich, promote greed, and concern themselves with the sins of others are liars and hypocrites.  And when they talk about a Christian nation, I always point out that the Constitution prohibits establishment of any religion (hence Christian nation is utter bullshit).  If your faith is so shallow as to demand that everyone practice and believe the same thing, you have no faith in my book.  Of course, not everyone of faith is one of these frightening apocolype loving imbeciles who want to see anyone with a different belief dead or suffering.  

    Faith should never be a litmus test to determine human worth and rights.  I think the Dems are falling all over themselves to prove that you do not have to be a Republican to have faith because the Republicans that been so good at implying that they are the true representatives of faith.  The reality is that the social contract should be based on loving others as we would wish to be loved rather than loving God.

    Thank you for raising the issue, arodb.  Peace.

    A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. - Aristotle

    by DWG on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:59:23 PM PDT

    •  I do believe the road back to a sane (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      simplicio, arodb, DWG, Judge Moonbox

      secular nation will be a long one, ironically the fundies are destroying themselves every time, a preacher trashes other religions, a crackpot GOP office holder opens his mouth about a issue like abortion(remember the crazed AG of Kansas), nutty types who tried to push creationism or intelligent design at school boards, the trashing of the Justice Department by Christian School grads, or James Dobson  ranting over SpongeBob SquarePants.  The one thing I would counsel the atheists is push a libertarian view of faith, you believe what you want to believe, I will  not believe what I choose not to believe, and nobody's  dogma goes into the middle.

      Let em eat jellybeans, Let em eat cake, Let em eat shit, cause they can't make it here anymore-James McMurtry

      by Mr Stagger Lee on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:22:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry (6+ / 0-)

    It's not worth losing an election over the Soledad Cross. That cross isn't telling you to become Christian. I think that many atheists are just way too sensitive over that issue. No one is shoving religion down your throat by having that memorial up.

    Frankly I disagree with the atheists' argument that any mention of religion by government is wrong. I agree that mandatory forced prayer is wrong, but I have no problem with students leading their own prayers. The key word for me is "voluntary". That is, as long as those choose not to participate do not suffer ridicule or ostracization, I have no problem with voluntary prayer or religious clubs at schools. I don't even have a problem with religious groups renting space at government buildings as long as every religion and group has equal access.

    But I don't see the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" on the money as big deals. No one is forcing you atheists to believe in God.

    •  That's because (10+ / 0-)

      That's because you are not an atheist.

      If it is no big deal, let's leave god out of the Pledge and out of "in god we trust" and for that matter take the Bible out of the courtroom. No big deal, right?

      I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong- Feynman

      by taonow on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:47:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why is it so offensive to you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tryptamine

        Again, no one's telling you to believe in God.

        •  So (13+ / 0-)

          You would have no problem with the money saying "There is no god"? Just trying to get you to think of it from the other side.

          Basically it is offensive because I do not trust in God - even though my government is explicitly saying I should.

          I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong- Feynman

          by taonow on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:10:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  What's offensive (12+ / 0-)

          is you blithely talk about student-led "voluntary" prayer which in practice in most cases is anything but.  There is a reason why the ADL has to get involved in the school systems, there is always something going on, kids trying to proselytize other kids they know are non-Christian, coaches organizing prayer groups and telling the Jewish kids to just stand in the corner, etc. That's just the reality and for you to brush it off like it's no big deal is essentially embracing the position that majority religions should enjoy a privileged position in society.

          The separation of church and state says no religion or ethical path should enjoy a privileged position.  It's not so much that the government have "no mention of religion".  I know next to no one who holds this view, and in fact I find your hyperbole to be a bit offensive. It's asking that government not promote any particular religion.

          Support the troops (for real)! write to any soldier

          by sberel on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:11:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Coerced voluntarily (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sberel, Philoguy, arodb, craiger, TIKI AL

            This comment needs to be repeated. For the normal person who has not much courage it is difficult to remain seated while the other students say the pledge and afterwards to sit through the criticism or abuse meted out by the teacher and certain of the students. The notion of voluntary public group prayers in the classroom is in operational terms a joke in contexts in which, for example, the (self-declared) evangelicals form a substantial minority.

            •  significant minority (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              arodb

              very important point.  It doesn't take a majority to create the atmosphere of coercion.  Thanks for that.  

              As a practical matter, what I observe is that a "significant minority" as you put it are adherents of rather aggressive churches.  The majority tend to be nominal Christians leading largely secular lives and devout Christians who are adherents of faiths less intent on proselytizing... either way, they have no issues with cultural expressions of Christianity and don't really understand the perspective or intent of the agressive proselytizers so they stand by and say nothing as the atmosphere of the school becomes more and more Christianized.

              I had my daughter in public school last year, and she's in Episcopal Montessori School now... The Episcopal school is more intent on creating an atmosphere of religious tolerance and pluralism than the public schools -- in fact we just got a survey and one of the questions is about religious practice in the home... It's very good.  They say they are proud of the school's religious diversity and would like to know what practices exist in their families, check all that apply.  They include atheism, agnosticism, Wicca, etc.

              Support the troops (for real)! write to any soldier

              by sberel on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 09:42:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  asking me to swear an oath (12+ / 0-)

          on a bible is like asking you to swear an oath on a work of shakespeare.  Continuing these practices ostracizes the minority and is unecessary.  One can swear to tell the truth without putting one's hand on a work of literature.  

          And the pledge of allegiance.  This is clearly NOT one nation under god since millions of us do not believe in god.  The original pledge of allegiance written by Francis Bellamy was much more inclusive and beautiful.  Congress only changed it during the 50's to differentiate our country from the communists.  

          Uttering under god right after one nation immediately undermines the notion of a common destiny since atheists and for that matter polytheists are left out.  

          •  Oath or affirmation (6+ / 0-)

            I kid you not, a member of my congregation was forced to do an affirmation that ended with "So help me God" in a courtroom.  He asked for the affirmation, they gave him the affirmation (I hereby affirm...) but they added the oath part to the end.  

            It's ignorant, there is a prescribed form of an affirmation.  And this, on the part of a judge.

            We still have a provision in the Texas constitution that prohibits non-theists from holding public office.

            Support the troops (for real)! write to any soldier

            by sberel on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:19:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  asdf (5+ / 0-)

            Congress only changed it during the 50's to differentiate our country from the communists.  

            Which is HILARIOUS if you think about it.  Communism/Capitalism are along entirely different planes than Religion/Non-Religion.

            There are many concepts in basic Christianity that are not only compatible with communism, but almost a kind of proto-Communism.

            I think this is where I really get contemptuous of far right conservatives and extreme fundamentalists of any type.  They break down the world into these neat packages and nearly ALWAYS shoot themselves in the foot because things in the world just don't fit into those neat packages the way they think.

            Truly intelligent fundamentalists would be quite dangerous and scary to me.  Fortunately, it's almost an oxymoron -- if not totally an oxymoron.  The compartmentalization needed should be too much for a single human mind to encompass.

            What color is the sky in your world (in mine, it's red) (-6.25, -6.92)

            by AndyS In Colorado on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:26:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  :-) (5+ / 0-)

              I notice that the only people who have ever made Communism actually work were monks in their monasteries.  So much for teh "godless" Communist: it backs up the fact that religious ideology does not equate to governmental theory.

              "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

              by The Peanut Gallery on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 05:25:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, that's not really true. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                arodb

                There are communities in the United States that are for all intents and purposes, "communist".  I know.  I've been to one and lived there for a short while as a guest.

                They do work.  You can try to say they aren't "truly" communist, but I don't think that is true either.  They're every bit as communist as your monks-in-their-monastaries example, anyway.

                Communism does seem to work when it's small scale, and people have a choice.  

                The problem arises at a level where one finds the values of the community one lives in oppressive.  If there are many communities, each with different community values, then one can choose one's community.  

                On a large scale, I don't think communism works because it is a community level ideology, not a national level one.

                What color is the sky in your world (in mine, it's red) (-6.25, -6.92)

                by AndyS In Colorado on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 10:55:11 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  My gradfather was an atheist (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rebecca, kd texan, simplicio, arodb, craiger

          He fought in the second world war in the European theater as part of the liberation of France.  We were given a US flag on his death in commemoration of his service.  It's the same flag that would have been given to a Baptist, Hindu or Jew.  

        •  No One Is Telling You Not To. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rebecca, sberel, simplicio

          I think it is instructive that you apparently believe the onus is on us to deal with it.

          Maybe if everyone would just remember that it really has zero to do with the political scene, we'd be better off.  

          Just deal with it.  Being black.  Being gay.  Being atheist.  Being poor.  

          You have no skin in the game since you are apparently a member of the anointed majority.  

          Support the Netroots Candidates! A VETO-PROOF majority in 2008!!!

          by InquisitiveRaven on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 08:20:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  But some of us... (5+ / 0-)

          ...don't like being forced to affirm a belief in a deity that we don't believe in.  It's like lying.

          My elementary school lined up students in the playground before school, no matter how cold or hot it was on any given morning unless it was raining, and every morning we said the Pledge of Allegiance.  I stopped saying it at around 5th grade, because I was growing more and more disillusioned with the idea of God.  A few times, I've been known to turn my back on the flag as it's being said - not because I don't honor the symbolism of the flag, but because specific religious ideologies are no part of that symbolism.

          The fact that it says "under God" is exclusionary to people who don't believe in God.  Doesn't matter which of the monotheistic gods is meant - it leaves someone out on all counts.

          "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

          by The Peanut Gallery on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 05:33:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Some things are more important than elections (5+ / 0-)

      Like respect for one's own identity.

      Is it worth losing an election over racial intolerance?

      Is it worth losing an election over homophobia?

      Violating the fundamental rights of a minority is violating the fundamental rights of a minority. There are some lines that should never be crossed in the name of winning an election and that is one of them.  If the majority of people disagree with you, you have to educate them and convince them that you're right, not change your beliefs to be in line with theirs.

      A government which supports the positing of the existence of anything supernatural violates the rights of atheists.

    •  communists (5+ / 0-)

      "But I don't see the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" on the money as big deals. No one is forcing you atheists to believe in God."

      These are symbolic issues into which perhaps too much energy is poured, a bit like flag burning - this happens for an understandbable reason - there is almost no other vehicle for getting (in an effective way) on the table discussion of the separation of church and state issue. The word `god' got into the Pledge and in a specific context - the anti-communism of the 1950's - and much of the hostility to atheists in the US is tied up with anti-communism, as atheism was often called the state religion of the communists, or something similar, in the teachings of the Cold War (which most folks in the US over 35 received). It seems it got on the money during the Civil War, to affirm the Christianity of the nation - http://www.treas.gov/...
      It is a mistake to ignore the motivations behind the appearance of `god' in the Pledge or on the money - the motivations were clearly to assert that the US walked with a particular god. This is not what a secular state should do, and it is for this reason people who feel the state should be secular (not necessarily atheists) object to the legal status given the Christian god in the Pledge and on the money.

  •  The separation of morality and state and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tony the American Mutt, arodb

    the separation of morality and hedonistic forms of Christianity which perpetrate genocide are two additional and significant problems in our society.

    "All of you can read the signs of the earth and sky.  How is it you can't read the signs of the times."

  •  Its a way of thinking (5+ / 0-)

    Now maybe there are religious folks that think like this, and atheists that don't but here goes:

    In most walks of life, its the Ultimate truth that's cherished. You are expected to stick by your Truth and the questioning stage that got you there is dark and difficult. It is an endurance test that you shudder to enter and are glad to leave. Uncertainty is work. Certainty is payoff.

    Science is different. In science uncertainty is the payoff....Not knowing isn't a problem. It is the goal.

    "Us and Them" David Berreby

    It is the "certainty" that people of faith talk from that SCARES me.

    Give me an atheist, rationalist, secularist, whatever. BUT please, please, please, not another one of those "I know for sure, just have faith" folks.

    I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong- Feynman

    by taonow on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:30:51 PM PDT

  •  I have one question... (5+ / 0-)

    Where do we Pagans fall in this little scenario? Most of us believe in a pantheon of gods/goddesses, but I know very few who feel that their religion is the "One True Way". Let's be honest here for a moment...it would be 100 times easier for an atheist or agnostic to be elected to a government office than it would be for a Wiccan or anyone of any of the other Pagan belief systems.

    "Truth never damages a cause that is just."~~~Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by LynneK on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:52:06 PM PDT

    •  Once it becomes acceptable to elect an agnostic.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      simplicio, arodb

      You will just have to lie and claim you are one :)

      Seems like a reasonable compromise to me ... or should we be forced to listen to campaign speeches about worshipping at the altar of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and other assorted fairy tales?

      •  Why? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        arodb

        Why should a Pagan have to lie about his/her beliefs? Most Pagans don't go around discussing their religious beliefs unless they are asked. As for "worshipping at the altar of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and other assorted fairy tales", that's really insulting and uncalled for.

        "Truth never damages a cause that is just."~~~Mohandas K. Gandhi

        by LynneK on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 06:54:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Same place as we atheists fall, IMO. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arodb

      The Constitution expressly forbids the government preferring or placing one religion over another.

      IMO it begins with rigorous education in not only basic civics, but advanced government theory.

      The people who vote for the people who currently get into office are the products of a failing educational system.

      Change the level of understanding and education, and you change the votes -- at least, much of the time.

      If people understood not only the Constitution (not memorized, but understood) and the reasons why government is structured the way it is.. then lots of people (even pagans/wiccans) would have more of a chance to get elected than the narrow societal subset we have today.

      So you educate.  If you can't get them in school, it has to be done in a different way.  One has to teach the public that people of your group aren't scary, bad and wrong, first and foremost.  Along with the government theory.

      Failing that, the only other chance one has to shake up the status-quo is for the people who are currently in power to fail spectacularly (like they seem to be doing now) .. and for people who vote for them to be associate that class of people with "failure".  And that can get ugly.

      More than that, one has to be able over time to associate one's own people with "success" in terms of governing.  And that has to start at a local level and gradually build up.

      Among many of us -- wiccans, pagans, atheists, secularists, GLBT -- an alliance against the religious Dominionists and their demogoguery and bigotry is a great thing to do, in my opinion.

      What color is the sky in your world (in mine, it's red) (-6.25, -6.92)

      by AndyS In Colorado on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 11:37:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  atheists amongst the dems (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    taonow, simplicio, arodb

    The real, true big tent of the Democratic Party has a corner for us atheists.  At this point in time when we are still a sizable minority, we agree on so many other things with belivers that we can agree to disagree on god.  We were trained (brainwashed) from childhood to believe, and that's very difficult to change in adults, even though religion is irrational and allows intellectual laziness of epic proportion.  If there is a "god", it's not the god that is the main character in popular monotheistic religions, which is really mythology.  It's something else altogether that we don't understand.  However, until there's some kind of proof or evidence, the prudent, safe way to think is that there is no god.  If you would prefer not to think and believe instead, it's still a relatively free country.

    •  I'm not so sure we're in the minority... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arodb

      Then again, I've only lived in cosmopolitan coastal cities.

      But I would venture a guess, and see the latest news on Mother Theresa for support for my argument, that there are a lot of atheists and agnostics among the "theistic" rank and file, who will never admit it because the social implications would be too grave.

  •  Dems and religion (3+ / 0-)

    I've personally never approved of the Democrats pandering to the evangelical right.

    I don't understand why they are supposed to be the party of change when some of them are afraid of deviating from the norm exhibited by the evangelical right.

    It has to be votes. Candidates that bend their wills to suit many voters are candidates that just cannot be counted on to uphold the "values" they speak of.

    As an atheist, I demand that Democrats recognize that not everyone believes in the Christian god or any god for that matter. I am personally sick and tired of what one described on here as "Apocalyptic Christianity" dominating our country's values and institutions.

  •  Hillary has used the word "agnostic" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tony the American Mutt, arodb

    She referred to herself as "agnostic on nuclear power". Might this have been a little bit of a signal to the secularist wing of the Democratic party?

    (-7.38,-2.51) 76% of dKos readers think I'm a secret wing-nut operative!

    by Gustavo on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 08:33:55 PM PDT

  •  I'm an atheist. (5+ / 0-)
    I don't believe in any invisible superheros that live in outer space.

    Geez.  Who in their right mind could?

  •  ffrf.org (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, simplicio

    go there

    www.cindyforcongress.org "I'm not planning on nuking anybody right now." Barack Obama, 4-26-07

    by formernadervoter on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:11:24 PM PDT

  •  The Left Coaster (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box, arodb

    has a great diary entry up re: The Fellowship. (and we're not talking of the Ring varietal)

    I'm not going anywhere. I'm standing up, which is how one speaks in opposition in a civilized world. - Ainsley Hayes

    by jillian on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:38:33 PM PDT

  •  As in everything else in politics these days (5+ / 0-)

    people need courage to stand up to the mob.

    And Tom DeLay and Karl Rove and the rest of the Texas mafia used religion like a mallet to keep people in line while at the same time violating the major tenets of all religions.

    Those of us who are secular humanists understand that one can go through life and be a decent human being without holding any religious beliefs.

    And we have seen from our commander in chief that  wearing one's religion on one's sleeve is no guaranty that one will do the right thing.

    Wes Clark, an enlightened choice for 2008

    by eve on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:46:23 PM PDT

  •  Americans revile atheists (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MA Liberal, simplicio, arodb

    more than any other religious minority including Muslims, according to a poll taken a couple years ago.

    Although I believe humans will eventually psychologically outgrow or evolve from the need for dogmatic, sectarian religion, until then I'll be the dreaded atheist with no morals destined for hell who hates religion and is un-American and unpatriotic -- or so I'm told by the Religious Wrong.

    "What is the most important thing in life? People, people, people." -- Maori proverb

    by mkfox on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:52:11 PM PDT

    •  Why do you believe humans will outgrow this? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arodb

      Seriously, have we, a species, ever indicated
      much ability in this direction?

      Oh, we're pretty clever with the tools and whatnot.  But mental growth seems beyond a good many of us.  Which is not to say that we shouldn't hope for it and work toward it.  But the best we'll do, I suspect, is expand the circle of sanity, to borrow a metaphor from Orwell.

    •  Yeah, it's sad. Believe whhat you will (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arodb, LynneK, dewley notid

      no skin off my nose. After all, we don't know what is beyond here, if anything, until we die - the rest is purely faith.
      for me, I practice no established religion. I believe you can talk to "god" whatever and whoever he/she/it just as easily (and maybe more so)is in a wooded glen, in your own backyard, as you can in some jewel-encrusted cathedral.
      I also believe that there is something after this. Reading about reincarnation, that our bodies and souls are separate, that it is the soul that goes on, about past life experiences, etc. I believe there is far more to the spiritual force that surrounds us than we will, perhaps, ever know. but it doesn't involve some guy in a robe and slippers, with a beard, sitting on a cloud somewhere.
      I believe Jesus was a man, a good man, but not God. I also believe that he never presented himself as anything but a man, but his preachings as "the son of God" was meant to tell us that we are ALL God's children - we are all one.
      So I don't fit into any "established" religion necessarily. But I believe in what I want. And it doesn't affect anyone's life but mine.
      but I won't have the likes of the Christian Right tell me what is and isn't. Like one of the Republican nominees putting down evolution - "Well if you want to believe that you came from a monkey, I don't."
      Yeah buddy? Well I don't believe I came from a man's rib! 'Kay?

      "Keep raisin' hell!" - Molly Ivins---------- "The truth shall set you free, but first it will piss you off!" - Gloria Steinem

      by MA Liberal on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:23:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One thing I can't understand is (0+ / 0-)

    why would anyone claim to be an atheist, knowing you cannot prove a negative. You may not have found reason to believe, but you cannot know there is no God.

    We are all agnostic. Absolutely no one knows, and anyone who does not know is technically agnostic. The fact that we all fight and struggle over religion is because we are egotists who feel our opinions are the best and that we must try to push them on others. Now before reading furhter, go back and read this again until it sinks in. ;)

    No one is a true believer. The Apostles saw Jesus heal the sick, raise the dead, and even rise from the dead himself, and yet Thomas had doubts, and Peter's faith was so weak that he would deny Christ rather than rely on his own faith. Human beings, as a species, have serious cognitive issues. The only choice people actually have is whether or not they WANT to believe. Most Americans have been taught to want to believe. Not believing feels anti-social, so against everything your mother and father taught you.

    The so-called atheist is one who has decided they don't WANT to believe. Like a juror who has failed to see enough evidence to convict, he votes no, but he could be wrong and he should know it. In the 'existence of god trial' the "atheistic" juror makes himself the issue like Judge Ito added too much of himself into the OJ trial. They seem to fail to understand that the issue is NOT whether or not THEY believe, but whether or not god exists. The "atheist" tries to make it all about himself by not simply admitting he doesn't know and instead trying to carve out his opinion in stone. The term atheist shouldn't even exist.

    •  Poppycock. One: your definition of "agnostic" is (5+ / 0-)

      useless. By your logic, we're all agnostics about Thor, fairies, and teapots orbiting the Sun.  Technically true? Maybe. But it's not a useful distinction, and it doesn't reflect the popular use of the term.

      Two: even though we might not have perfect knowledge of the universe, that has nothing to do with the truth value of claims made by religion. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. In the absence of such evidence, there is no reason to believe the claim. You're propagating a false dilemma: "If the atheist doesn't have the answer, then the religion must be right!" (Wrong.)

      Three: certain claims made by religion not only are unsubstantiated by evidence, but are demonstrably false. For instance: the Earth is not 6000 years old, and intercessory prayer has been demonstrated not to work.

      Four: the idea that atheists just "don't WANT to believe," or that their opinions are set in stone, is patently false. We just don't have REASON to believe. If you give us evidence for God, then we'll change our tune. But though we're generally open to evidence you might have, experience tells us not to expect any. (And since atheists are atheists because of evidence, not general petulance, your "anti-social" crack is also wrong.)

      Atheists DO vote "no" on God... and they are aware they could be wrong, but given the evidence, they have no reason to believe they are. Agnostics are those who refuse to cast a vote one way or the other. And that won't fly on a jury. ;-)

      "We can no longer live as rats. We know too much."

      by Aesahaettr on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 12:08:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Who's (0+ / 0-)

        On Trial?

        Are You Voting Dem In 2008?

        by Edgar08 on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 01:54:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Addendum (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        subtropolis

        According to the story, no one saw Jesus rise from the dead, they only saw an empty tomb.  Thomas totally believed once he saw some evidence.  And Peter didn't deny Jesus' divinity based on faith issues, he simply denied knowing Jesus because he was scared people would beat him up.

        "We can no longer live as rats. We know too much."

        by Aesahaettr on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 08:30:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If Peter had faith (0+ / 0-)

          he would have gone as far as dying for Christ, for God, but he actually denied Christ to keep from being hurt? He had very little faith at the time he denied.

          And Thomas had already seen much more than most other humans have when he doubted. That was my point. He more more to go on than any of us will, and he still doubted. How can any of us not doubt?

          •  Fear != Doubt (0+ / 0-)

            I'm fairly certain the sun rises in the east, but if someone puts a gun in my face telling me to believe the sun rises in the west, I'm probably going to lie.

            But regardless... how is any of this relevant?!  You're trying to make the case that two storybook characters didn't really believe, therefore no one really believes, and it's ridiculous.  I'm telling you, there are people in the world who would take the fall for Christ... who HAVE taken the fall for Christ.

            "We can no longer live as rats. We know too much."

            by Aesahaettr on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 09:53:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  but his faith should have (0+ / 0-)

              guaranteed him a place in heaven, so being killed wouldn't have mattered to him. If we KNEW we were going to a better place when we die we wouldn't be afraid of a gun. If I KNOW going to mom's house will be better than going to MY house I have no problem going to mom's. It WILL be better, NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. But if I have never been there and are not sure if it even exists I'll take the sure thing. Heaven SHOULD HAVE BEEN a sure thing to Christ's APOSTLES! But it wasn't. And if it wasn't a sure thing for THEM how can it be for US. We don't know what comes next. We have no idea based on evidence. We are agnostics who are too proud to admit so. We simply do not know.

              •  Again, you're not dealing with reality (0+ / 0-)

                Forget the Bible, it's entirely irrelevant.  There are people IN REAL LIFE who have NO DOUBTS about their faith.

                Now, if you're saying those people have no REASON to be so confident, then I agree.  But don't make the mistake of thinking that they AREN'T confident just because YOU don't think they SHOULD be.

                Regarding the reasons for MY confidence in my worldview: the evidence suggests that there is nothing after death.  There is NO EVIDENCE in support of the supernatural or an afterlife.

                Could it be that evidence for a god exists, and we just haven't found it?  Yes, it's possible.  But that does not mean it's PROBABLE. It's possible that I could win the lottery, but it isn't probable; that's why I don't buy lottery tickets.  The odds against god are so huge, there isn't any point to calling myself an agnostic.

                If you think you have some evidence that swings the evidence in god's favor, by all means share.  But until then, don't tell me I "have no idea."

                "We can no longer live as rats. We know too much."

                by Aesahaettr on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:20:25 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  If any of us had to bet our lives on... (0+ / 0-)

                  Bet one: God is real

                  Bet two: God is NOT real

                  Bet three: Nobody knows

                  Anyone who enjoys living would bet choice three, and choice three represents AGNOSTICISM. When faced with death we would all drop the pretensive bs and speak as we honestly feel. WE ALL DO NOT KNOW. And THAT is what makes us agnostic. Denying God exists a is matter of wasteful pride. The LOGICAL choice is obvious. We don't know, therefore we are AGNOSTIC. All of us.

                  •  *sigh* (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    arodb

                    I'm really getting sick of your word games, so this might be the last I have to say on the subject.

                    You say I can't prove a negative, and you're right, and that's fine because I DON'T HAVE TO.  I don't give a damn about proof, I care about evidence.

                    Atheism is not "wasteful pride."  Agnosticism is wasteful indulgence.  Why should I bother myself with claims for which you're not even going to try to give me evidence?

                    I call myself an atheist because I do not believe in a god or gods.  I do not believe in a god or gods because I have not seen any evidence in their favor.  If in the future I see sufficient evidence for a god or gods, then I will believe, and will no longer be an atheist.

                    (And for the third and final time, there are people in the world who would bet their lives that God is real.  Stop speaking as if everyone in the world has the same belief system as you do.)

                    "We can no longer live as rats. We know too much."

                    by Aesahaettr on Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 12:30:28 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  well put (nt) (0+ / 0-)

        "Here they come, marching into American sunlight." – Don Delillo, Mao II

        by subtropolis on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 09:04:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ (0+ / 0-)

        The AGNOSTIC
        a.  One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.
        b. One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

        The ATHEIST

        1. atheist - someone who denies the existence of god  disbeliever, nonbeliever, unbeliever - someone who refuses to believe (as in a divinity)

        Key word "REFUSES". It is in fact a matter of will.

        •  Sorry, but that's a crap definition of "atheist" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          arodb

          An atheist is simply "one who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods." (American Heritage Dictionary, from dictionary.reference.com) It's as simple as that; the definition doesn't require motivation.

          A "matter of will" would be choosing to disbelieve in spite of positive evidence for a deity.  But there is no positive evidence, so there's no choice to be made.

          As for agnosticism, I think it IS possible to know whether there is a god or not.  An analogy: It is possible to know whether or not there is a dragon in my garage.  You can make observations to distinguish a dragon-containing garage from an empty garage. Let's say you look in my garage, and don't see any evidence of a dragon.

          Now, suppose I say the dragon is invisible, silent, and incorporeal, so there's no possible way to observe it as it never interacts with the world.  And I say, therefore, you have to be agnostic about my dragon.

          But if my dragon is invisible, silent, and incorporeal, then it isn't really a dragon.

          The god that you say is impossible to know about is not a god at all, and is definitely not the god that most people in the world believe in.

          "We can no longer live as rats. We know too much."

          by Aesahaettr on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 09:46:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Should I take your definition (0+ / 0-)

            over a dictionary?
            I didn't make them up, I looked the up.

            I don't believe in the God of Christianity either. I don't believe God is male because God wouldn't need a sex organ when he can produce man at will. He wouldn't have a bladder to empty either. And she would need a uterus. So God would be an It, if there is one, but none of that has anything to do with the question I was addressing. Forget all the different beliefs about what and who God might be and all the history and bible stories. What I wrote has nothing to do with any of that. I didn't say people choose to believe the bible. I wrote that people decide they want to believe in ANY God. That's the first step. The second step is deciding what to believe about God. What God, where is he, what does he think, ect...
            But the first thing we all do is decide if we even WANT to believe, or want to TRY to believe. THEN we start our personal journey into the theories and tales. (Of course we all get a little head start on that from our parents and elders who want us to choose to believe because they chose the believer's path themselves)

            •  I looked my definition up, too (0+ / 0-)

              And desire has nothing to do with it. There are people who don't believe in God, but wish they did. And there are people who believe in God, but wish they didn't.

              People base their beliefs on the information they have available to them. The only way desire plays in is confirmation bias, wherein we seek out more information that supports (and block out information that contradicts) what we already believe.

              "We can no longer live as rats. We know too much."

              by Aesahaettr on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:33:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

                There is not enough evidence to support a belief in God. What we are taught is not evidence because none of us know what of it is true and what is not. I doubted the bible and found problems with it as a child in the 5th grade. I believe in a supreme being of some sort, but not because of anything I've been taught. I first chose to want to believe, then I looked for a God. I then found the reasons for my beliefs. If I had not first chosen to look, and then began to search, I would have never recognized my evidence as such. What I consider reasons for belief  would normally be considered coincidental by those who have chosen NOT to believe. They aren't looking for it and aren't as likely to see it if it were to do some work in their lives. The desire has to be there. People don't do what they don't want to do. What some CHOOSE to call a miracle others CHOOSE to call bullshit.

  •  Thank You for this diary (4+ / 0-)

    As an Atheist, I find it very troubling to see the encroachment of religion, especially one specific religion, upon our body politic. There has been a purposeful attempt on the part of certain religious entities, political legislators and even among the judicial branch of government to convince a good number of Americans quite falsely of the original intent of the founders. Moreso, they promote the often quoted maxim that this is a "Christian nation" based upon "Christian values....it is very disheartening to see the fabric of our laws, our Constitution and our inheritance torn asunder by the narrow agenda of those who wield (too much) political power in our country.

    what is perhaps more worrisome is the lack of integrity evidenced by those in our own party who being more interested in their "appearance" to the public at large foster the pretense of religiosity. Hypocrites all!

    As a people we have a long way to go to maturity...I sometimes liken our mental age to that of a teenager...someone still struggling with his personal identity. Surely we can see that with respect to racism, gaybashing, ethnic intolerance, and women's rights, etc ad infinitum...

    Our individual value at base and something we all share in common is our humanity...the inherent commonality which sustains us is our creativity whether that creativity is expressed as belief in a celestial being or whether it is in the form of art, poetry or mathematics...If man is hard-wired to express himself in this manner then it would be a hard thing to eradicate some well-entrenched belief systems, but what we can hope for (if hope is the right word) is an acknowledgement of both our individuality and what we hold in common.

    •  I think we are hard wired to fit in.... (0+ / 0-)

      with our group, which means going along with what the people around us think.  Recent research shows that even things that we think of as internal, such as overeating are based on group dynamics of imitating others eating habits.

      The Democratic candidates fear being different from all of their party peers and the Republican candidates.  Only Gravel, who had nothing to lose, could speak frankly.

      Once the taboo of showing respect for atheists is broken by one, others will follow.  But right now, showing such respect would be spun as disrespect for the religious.

      Such is the peril of breaking ranks.

      •  Certainly (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        arodb

        We are social beings arodb....I can't argue with that. People have a need to belong and to interact...it may have been for this purpose that in an evolutionary sense our specie as well as many others may have developed a functional trait for. morality. And if that is the case as science suggests then morality may not only be a socially cohesive force but a very individualistic trait. Meaning that morality is interpreted by each individual even if we are able to find moral consensus on many issues (also the reason why Atheists can be moral despite claims to the opposite). That would also make it highly subjective... which to me is why it seems so absurd to suggest that anyone has any real claim to an ultimate truth (which as we know is argued by some religionists ie they know what god thinks or wants etc, but then that is my opinion on the matter of course.

        I understand the rationale for our fellow Democrats acting in the manner that they are acting...I believe someone above mentioned pandering and that describes it succinctly, but I might be a little more harsh in my estimation of them when I say that I think it is also cowardly.

        I do want to make a comment on respect...where is it written that one must have respect for a religion or someone of religious faith simply because it is expected? To my mind it may be better to rid ourselves of that notion.

    •  Compared with older nations... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MA Liberal, valadon, arodb

      ...we are teenagers, and not very bright ones at that.  And I'm specifically thinking comparisons against nations like England, France and Japan: nations that have been around for a few centuries longer than America and have a pretty good sense of who they are.  

      "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

      by The Peanut Gallery on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 05:18:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A Secular America (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MA Liberal, simplicio, Pandoras Box, arodb

    will be a liberal America.  

    "Unrestricted immigration is a dangerous thing -- look at what happened to the Iroquois." Garrison Keillor

    by SpiderStumbled22 on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 11:53:20 PM PDT

  •  Kucinich says that certain biblical (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, dewley notid

    passages "relate to his philosophy", and you twist this to bolster your arguments against the apocalyptic and dominionist loonies.

    You lost me there, dude.

    Insert Meaningful Signature Less Than 160 Characters Here.

    by lightfoot on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 12:03:31 AM PDT

    •  The implication is, spirituality = morality... (5+ / 0-)

      which is what the Religious Right and the "moral majority" would have you believe. If, like Kucinich, we perpetuate that kind of language, we validate their argument.

      We need to emphasize that morality does not come from religion or spirituality. It comes from our moral Zeitgeist.

      "We can no longer live as rats. We know too much."

      by Aesahaettr on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 12:16:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The religious right make that case far better (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lightfoot, arodb

        than you or any other secular American through the actions of upright citizens like Larry Craig, David Vitter, Mark Foley, Tom DeLay, Ted Haggard, etc.

        The religious right will not get as friendly a president as George W. Bush for a long time (just look at the Republican field) and most Americans do not support their radical agenda. How else do we explain why Bush abandoned his push against gay marriage less than a day after he won re-election?

        If your name was George Walker instead of George Walker Bush, your candidacy would be a joke.

        by dole4pineapple on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 12:51:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  True, but the people need an alternative... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          davidincleveland, john07801, arodb

          If the only thing balancing the occasional "spiritual and corrupt" is more "spiritual and moral," then there's still no incentive to divorce religion from morality.  Those you named will simply be dismissed as Bad Apples or No True Scotsman.

          We need to give people a clear, visible alternative -- "nonspiritual and moral" -- so they'll have somewhere to turn next time there's a scandal.  That's the danger of pandering to religion... if it's all just more of the same, then there's nowhere for people to turn and they'll forget their outrage.

          "We can no longer live as rats. We know too much."

          by Aesahaettr on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:37:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Unfortunately, everything religious (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            arodb

            has an air of sacrosanctity and those who use it best are the first to claim victimhood when their beliefs are questioned.  

            Perhaps some bright candidate(s) can enhance his/her platform to expose false religiosity by openly juxtaposing it to morality.  

            The difference is that we’ve suffered greatly from the  immorality and duplicity of those who’ve hidden behind their labels of faith and ubiquitous "god bless you’s."  

            Morality is demonstrable.

            (-7.75, -7.69) No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up - Lily Tomlin

            by john07801 on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 08:06:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  It doesn't have to be an either or (5+ / 0-)

        scenario. You can have moral beliefs based on your religious or spiritual beliefs. However, people who are not spiritual or religious need not be devoid of morality. Convictions do not need to be religious for them to be convictions.

        •  Convictions can be philosophical... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tryptamine, cwaltz, dewley notid

          i.e. based on personal "philosophy", which is the word that Kucinich said specifically and purposefully. Philosophy is a study of human reasoning, and is the basis of mathematics as well as a rational method for answering questions of human ethics and morality.

          The author of this diary would rather grind his axe than read between the lines. Surely he could have found a better example to illustrate his point.

          Insert Meaningful Signature Less Than 160 Characters Here.

          by lightfoot on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 03:27:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Magic words "spiritual values," not "philosophy" (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            davidincleveland, arodb

            Kucinich directly said (taken from above):

            Now, the founders meant to have separation of church and state, but they never meant America to be separate from spiritual values. As president, I'll bring strong spiritual values into the White House...

            We wouldn't have a problem if he simply said, "I'll bring my philosophy of peace and social justice to the Wite House."  Our problem is that, according to his statement, the only way to get those values is via spirituality.

            "We can no longer live as rats. We know too much."

            by Aesahaettr on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:48:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The term"spiritual values" is code... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              arodb

              for religious tolerance, especially for agnostics, atheists and non-Christians. Besides, people can be atheist and still have "spiritual values". Say we have an atheist that believes in a "Collective Human Consciousness". That belief is beyond the realm of science, and can accurately be described as a spiritual value...one of the consequences of such a belief is that we as humans are all "one" at some level, and should take care of each another for our mutual benefit as well as for the survival of our communities. That is where I believe Kucinich is coming from with his statements.

              Personally I extrapolate from Chomsky's idea of a "Language Organ" and postulate the existence of a "Justice Organ" as well. I search the field of evolutionary psychology for evidence and causes of the development of this "organ" as a natural consequence of the social nature of human beings, forced to survive collectivity by relying on each other, especially during the long dominant evolutionary prehistorical pre-agricultural period. Too bad our historical and current economic and political systems have mostly encouraged and elevated the sociopaths among us.

              Bu I digress from my main point...the author of this diary artificially pits Kucinich against Gravel, ignoring the fact that Kucinich is actually reaching out to the atheists and non-Christians among us (arguably Kucinich directly addresses the issue, while Gravel diverts with anecdotes). Ultimately, the author of his diary chose to create unnecessary divisiveness between close allies, instead of employing a frontal attack on the real enemy. A poor strategy that only helps defeat the very causes he supports.

              Insert Meaningful Signature Less Than 160 Characters Here.

              by lightfoot on Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 06:45:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  This is all quite silly (4+ / 0-)

    Democrats do not gain any votes from talking about their religion. People who care very much about a candidate's personal beliefs are not likely to vote for Democrats. The notion that conservative evangelicals will start voting for Democrats if only they talk about their personal beliefs is purely fanciful. It's not like they will say, "Oh, you know, I was all set to vote against Democratic Candidate X because I disagree with all of his political positions but now that I found out he's a committed Christian, I'm going to vote for him." If you don't believe that, just look at the 1980 presidential election.

    Why would the religious right back Ronald Reagan, a man who never attended church over a pious and extremely religious born again Christian president? It's the agenda, not the personal beliefs! The agenda of the religious right is very political, so the particular beliefs of candidates is not that important. Regardless of Reagan's lax religious practices, he supported prayer in schools, banning abortion, etc. while Jimmy Carter did not. If the evangelicals would not even back one of their own, our current Democratic field doesn't stand a chance. Or for a modern example: despite the dominance of the religious right in Alabama politics, ousted Chief Justice Roy Moore (of Ten Commandments fame) still failed to unseat the incumbent Republican governor in the primary because voters there cared about more issues than just personal religious practices.

    Democratic candidates will never sign on with any of the religious right's political agenda and regardless of how much they talk about how pious they are, they will not win any additional votes. Most Americans are religious, but other issues are far more important to them in deciding their vote because to most, religion is a personal practice. Someone who is on the fence as to who to vote for in 2008 is going to be brought over by a candidate's position on an issue like health care or the Iraq War, not by their personal beliefs. The current Democratic efforts on religion will have as much success as John Kerry's last minute hunting trip. Most Democrats will be turned off by public mentions of religion, Republicans will be unswayed, and independents will yawn and see political pandering at work.

    The way religion is best dealt with in politics is by showing respect for all religious beliefs. Even George W. Bush says he believes in the right of people not to believe anything at all. Most of the public's antipathy toward atheists comes from the idea that atheists don't show religious tolerance, which is largely mistaken (except in the case of Dawkins, and Co.). On the same note, Evangelicals who do not respect other religions draw harsh criticisms and again, Bush had to back off earlier statements he had made about not believing non-Christians go to Heaven. According to a poll cited up the thread, 53 percent would not want an atheist president. When you consider things, that number is surprisingly low. If our hypothetical atheist candidate made it clear that they respected all religious beliefs and was an otherwise well qualified candidate, I see no reason why some of that opposition could not be peeled away.

    If your name was George Walker instead of George Walker Bush, your candidacy would be a joke.

    by dole4pineapple on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 12:36:32 AM PDT

    •  Yes, exactly. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MA Liberal, dole4pineapple, LynneK

      Why would the religious right back Ronald Reagan, a man who never attended church over a pious and extremely religious born again Christian president? It's the agenda, not the personal beliefs!

      You hit the nail on the head there. I recently saw "God's Warriors" on CNN, a good series of reports on fundamentalism in different religions. It struck me how the Christian Right basically seemed to be mostly Republicans cynically using religion to further a conservative agenda. Everytime I saw an evangelist on stage saying "it is your Christian duty to vote", it was obvious that they were saying "vote Republican", but couldn't say so for tax reasons.

      It seems to me that people who talk about 'values' and how they want to vote for a Christian just mean 'conservative' instead. It makes no sense to pander to them more than to other conservatives.

      Help! Mitt Romney's hair is hypnotizing me!

      by Frank on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 02:10:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Right on! (0+ / 0-)

      "Keep raisin' hell!" - Molly Ivins---------- "The truth shall set you free, but first it will piss you off!" - Gloria Steinem

      by MA Liberal on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:15:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Having a despised group provided internal... (0+ / 0-)

      cohesion. This is a function of nationalism, patriotism and religious intolerance.

      Bush 41, the nice one, once said he doubted that Atheists could really be good citizens of America, or words to this effect.

      Some people in comments here said that Texas has restrictions for holding public office for atheists.  Not sure whether it is enforceable, but probably none have been elected so it could well be on the books.

      And my addendum shows the legal standing of Atheist under the new SCOTUS majority, the tenuousness thereof.

      And the diary that I first referenced shows how those who have their finger on the nuclear button believe that the chain of command ends not at the CIC but at their Lord.

      This is far from silly. It couldn't be more serious.

      •  The U.S. Constitution clearly states in Article (0+ / 0-)

        VI that:

        no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

        That takes precedent over whatever Texas might want to say about the matter. Even though Bush 41 is Episcopal, he was never liked by the religious right very much, though they still backed him even over a much more openly religious Arkansas governor. But atheists are not the biggest enemy of the religious right: those would be moderate mainline Protestant churches that do not preach overtly political messages. Much of the anger of people like Robertson and Dobson is focused on Christians whom they claim pick and choose what to believe in and so are not really "true Christians." The religious right does like to say that the U.S. is a "Christian nation" but they would hardly consider even most Christians to be true Christians by their standards, which is why they so often act like they are a besieged minority.

        Most of the nation is very tolerant, but one thing people won't put up with is someone saying, "You're stupid and your religious beliefs are false." When the religious right says it, people get angry, just as they get angry when an atheist like Richard Dawkins says it. Pat Robertson could never win the presidency because he does not respect other religious beliefs and says it quite openly. Now compare that to George W. Bush, who while he is loved by the religious right, does not dare say that he does not dare to slam atheists (big change from when his dad was president) or say he considers other religions false.

        If your name was George Walker instead of George Walker Bush, your candidacy would be a joke.

        by dole4pineapple on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 05:14:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A Time Poll of the Candidates (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb

    In spite of all that, according to the new TIME poll, only 15% of registered voters believe that Hillary Clinton is "strongly religious," compared to 22% for John Edwards and 24% for Barack Obama. Perhaps more problematic for Clinton is the fact that nearly one-quarter of respondents (24%) say they know she is "not religious" — that's almost twice the nearest candidate, Rudy Giuliani (13%).

    http://www.time.com/...

    Are You Voting Dem In 2008?

    by Edgar08 on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 01:22:27 AM PDT

  •  I have no desire to push my belief system (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    john07801, arodb, LynneK

    on anyone. I'm the first to admit I don't know why I believe there is a higher power despite lack of scientific evidence, I guess that's why they call it faith. That said, I don't believe that even if I wanted to, which I don't, I could provide you with the reasons you have to adopt my belief system.

    •  I think that defines the dilemma for me (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      simplicio, cwaltz

      I have no concerns about religion as it applies to and is followed by others.  In fact, I was unaware of the spiritual commitment of some of my most religious friends until I knew them well.  They rarely speak of their beliefs and certainly don’t try to convince, proselytize, convert, etc.  And they all happen to live moral lives for whatever reason.

      My problem, of course, is when people of faith feel the need to change others to their way of thinking, even to the point of codifying their religious tenets into our government at the expense of our constitutional rights.  They would even attempt to rewrite history by claiming our founders believed as they do.  

      As a gay man and atheist, I find it threatening and arrogant but also see the unlikely position of labeling aggressive religion a threat to our freedom.

      (-7.75, -7.69) No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by john07801 on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 08:28:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can completely understand this (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        john07801, arodb

        As a gay individual I would be very put off by some of the positions structured religious establishments have foisted on their flock. It is, in my opinion, very arrogant to claim that you and your belief system represent the will of God and to demonize the existence of people created by that very God. I don't attend organized mass any longer for that reason.

  •  Glad this diary gets the ball rolling, ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb

    ...speaking of which:

    There is much (much) in this diary that I wholly agree with.  Bedrock principle:  Religion has absolutely no business dicking around in politics, for many reasons, ranging from the expressed wishes of our Founders, on up through my own philosophical agreement with them, and perceptions that their concerns were manifestly well-grounded, in their time, with even heightened resonance in our own.

    All that said, I'm reminded of something my son told me.  He belongs to a, I guess you'd say, "liberal" church, and he related to me a stunner that the pastor dropped from the pulpit:

    "You know the 'god' that the atheists don't believe in?  I don't believe in him either."

    Let that soak in for a second.

    With a proviso, I think this opens the door for a discussion on how claims to "spiritual values" may, in fact, not be code language for something against which astute atheists should rightly be vigilant.

    The only concern I retain on this matter is that such language may muddy the waters of what should be clear, unequivocal communication between those who aspire to our consent to their governance and we, the governed.

    In other words, I personally feel that Dennis Kucinich can be excused in this regard.  However, if anything, he can be accused of a hope to plug in to a range of responses to the idea of "spiritual values" can that range from benign faith in truly positive values of cooperation and mutual benefit, on through to purely Pavlovian, affective responses to shibboleths, with little thought or consideration of the purposes of governance, statecraft, and public service.

    Isn't it a good feeling when you see the paper in the morning, it says 'Axe Slayer Kills 19' and you say, "They can't pin that one on me!" - Jean Shepherd

    by razajac on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 01:57:44 AM PDT

  •  The title of this diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caldonia

    It's hyperbolic. I understand what you are saying, and I agree, but we must not forget that the ones who are actively working to break down the barrier between church and state are Republicans. Sure, you certainly can blame Democrats to not stand firm enough against this, but "screw you" makes it sound like it's all the Democrats' fault.

    Help! Mitt Romney's hair is hypnotizing me!

    by Frank on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 02:13:08 AM PDT

    •  Read title again..... (0+ / 0-)

      but "screw you" makes it sound like it's all the Democrats' fault.

      "Get Lost" which I wrote, is softer than "screw you."   But the title was certainly overstated to make a point, and to get it read.

      Diary should be judged on the content, which has its own defects.

  •  Best diary in a really, really long time. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb

    Most elected Dems need to get their collective heads out of their asses regarding religon & who they think the base/potential Dem voters are now, and what they will be.
    How come nobody's talking about the fact that in 2007, polls are more irrelevant than ever before!? Hello? Hardly anybody under 40 even has a landline anymore!

    "And it never will be until Secularists, that means atheists, agnostics or those in progressive branches of the major religions, demand more from the Democratic party."

    To be clear, we atheists simply want equality. Enough of the constant obligatory religous pandering, while the simple acknowledgment of non-religous voters remains pretty much non-existent...

    Hats off to the diarist for calling out Kucinich on his constantly annoying, slightly disturbing new age/christian mumbo jumbo hybrid crap.

    "I don't wanna listen to the fundamentalist preachers anymore!" -Howard Dean

    by astronautagogo on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 02:37:14 AM PDT

    •  How Would Non-Religious Voters (0+ / 0-)

      Prefer to be acknowledged?

      Are You Voting Dem In 2008?

      by Edgar08 on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 03:08:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not really about acknowledgement (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tryptamine, davidincleveland, arodb

        As much as it  is about the seperation of church and state.
        I thought Edwards answered great at the Yearly Kos breakout. Political issues, are moral ones. Striving for higher morality is what we all have in common, religous or not.  What's so unreasonable about just leaving it at that?!

        "I don't wanna listen to the fundamentalist preachers anymore!" -Howard Dean

        by astronautagogo on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 03:36:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  A condemnation of hate speech would be nice (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        virgomusic

        particularly when it's coming from the president of the united states

        RS:
        "What will you do to win the votes of Americans who are atheists?"
        GB:
        "I guess I'm pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in God is important to me."
        RS:
        "Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?"
        GB:
        "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."
        RS:
        "Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?"
        GB:
        "Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists."

        http://www.infidels.org/...

        A congressional resolution denying that the US is a christian nation would be nice.   They could use some of the same languge used in the Treaty of Tripoli which they voted to enact in 1796:

        Article 11
        As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, -- as it has in itself no character or enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, -- and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

      •  As a citizen and patriot. (3+ / 0-)

        It's like abortion: a woman's reproductive choices are between her and her doctor and her god if she has them - if the father doesn't like it he can always walk.

        On the same line, my religious values are between me and my gods, and the same for everyone else.  If you don't have a god, then that's your business and not mine to praise, condemn or even care.  Why the HELL did politics have to get involved with that?

        "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

        by The Peanut Gallery on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 05:12:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Theres plenty to worry about (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, dewley notid

    with the religiofication of america. Especially the right wing religious takeover of the military and government.

    However that you would attack Kucinish for a statement where he made it CLEAR he believed that the state and religion should not intermingle outs this diary as just another interest group whine perhaps. Everyones picking on me. Why doesnt everyone think like i do. Everyone has to love me!

    It gets old. And makes all those who are of like mind look whiney as well. The way to win your battle is to fight it, not to demand hugs.

    "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

    by cdreid on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 04:23:09 AM PDT

  •  I'd love to have a devout Christian President (4+ / 0-)

    Unfortunately, the last and perhaps one of the only ones we've had was Jimmy Carter.

    •  A real Christian... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      virgomusic, LynneK

      ...as in, one who walks the walk and talks the talk, would be nice.  One who actually believes and follows the words "Do unto others as you would have done unto you" would be very nice indeed.

      I don't think that kind of crop can be grown in this soil, though - climate change and all, you know.  In fact, I think global warming might have made that species of Christian extinct.

      "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

      by The Peanut Gallery on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 05:42:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  yes..as opposed to a scammer Christian. n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  We need an atheist media machine (3+ / 0-)

    So, we forge a coalition of wealthy atheists who are willing to sink some money into the venture.  We start with a publishing company, one that hires atheists preferentially and publishes atheist tracts.  Kinda like Regnery, but minus the God.  This expands over time, getting atheist commentors on political talk shows, getting atheist writers into editorial columns, slowly getting the word out.

    On the flip side, we start a line of fashionable, pirate-inspired clothing.  Perhaps get some big Hollywood stars to start sporting pirate fish tattoos.  Let the fun of Pastafarianism seep into the collective unconscious.

    It may take 30 years, but who knows?  Perhaps we'll get to take over the Pentagon too!

    Oh yes, my tongue is lodged about half-way into my cheek as I type this, but it's kind of fun to contemplate, no?

    "Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." H. L. Mencken

    by David R on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 06:20:57 AM PDT

    •  I like your brand image better the the one... (0+ / 0-)

      that now exists.  It's brash angry intellectuals with English accents, or else Madaline O'hare Murry who was know as the most hated man in America when she ended prayer in public schools.

      I became friends with Phil K. Paulson, who fought to take down the cross in San Diego.  He actually was an amazing guy.  He was too beaten down to be a public figure, with hate mail and threats to his life.

      But he had a spark and an energy that was amazing. Look him up in Wikipedia if you like.

  •  It seems to me that this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sberel, john07801, arodb, Happy Days

    diary mischaracterizes the issues surrounding secularism and the separation of church and state.  To my thinking, the secularism endorsed by the Founding Fathers was not a matter of being tolerant towards atheists or religious groups, but about the ruinous impact of religious based governments and those that sought to base government on religion.  

    Recall that the Founding Fathers emerged out of a European history that was wracked with Christian on Christian violence between the Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists.  What was the problem here?  Each of these groups based their understanding of religion on an interpretation of Scripture.  Yet there is no way that differences in interpretation can ever ultimately be resolved.  This entails that eventually religious based views of the world must lead to violence with other religious groups.  The point of secularism is to set aside these religious differences so that consensus might be reached surrounding those things that we can agree on through reason and observation.  We might not, for instance, be able to agree that God commands us to practice only abstinence, but we can recognize that studies demonstrate that when children are only taught abstinence teen pregnancies and STD's increase.  If our desire is to have a flourishing State with healthy citizens, we will then try to enact policies that will prevent these things.

    This is what disturbs me about candidates that have a strong religious element to their positions.  I worry that they will not engage in critical thought based on reason and observation, but that they will instead ignore evidence and base their decisions on ungrounded religious beliefs.  I want leader that listen to our natural scientists, social scientists, foreign affairs experts, military experts, etc.  We have not had such a leader for the last seven years and the results are glaringly evident.

  •  "1984" actually ocurred in 1956 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb

    when Ike was talked into letting God on the money and into the pledge for votes.

  •  I don't care who parys to what (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    simplicio, arodb, LynneK, TIKI AL

    as long as no one prevents anyone from their chosen religion, or the choice to have no religion. THAT'S what the FF intended.
    I too am disappointed at the Dems for trying to appeal to the Christian Right. What they should be doing is defending the constitution, the separation of church and state, not pandering to one religious ideology.
    There needs to be a dialog where we on the left remind ALL Americans that we have those great documents - The Declaration of Independence, The constitution and the Bill of Rights. and that we should learn what they mean and embrace every word. I'm tired of the Right Wing meme that they are "old" documents. Well, times may change, technology may change, but people don't. They still want liberty and freedom, and those who would take that away are as greedy now as they were in the 1770's

    "Keep raisin' hell!" - Molly Ivins---------- "The truth shall set you free, but first it will piss you off!" - Gloria Steinem

    by MA Liberal on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:14:53 AM PDT

  •  The most important "ist" (0+ / 0-)

    for progressives is, in my opinion, is "REALIST."

    For whatever reason, insanity, guilt, fear, indoctrination, Americans by the numbers are overwhelmingly saying they are theists of some sort.

    And until we get the government back, and I fear to do that progressive candidates must pander to the "believers", that is the only game.

    I am not saying that Hillary, John, Obama, or any of them, are NOT really as religious as they say, but let's be honest here. The right wing owned press are going to use this game against the dems.  And they will say or do what is needed to be said or done to NOT alienate those who call themselves "Christians."  Let's not fool ourselves.  Whether we like it or not, people in power, mostly the bad ones, have used religion to manipulate, justify and retain power.  

    But in the end, we must have faith (pun intended) that those we seek to put in office to take government back from the hypocrites currently in power, are more realist than they are deist.  Whatever they feel deep down, as in the case of Mother Theresa, we may never know. I HOPE WE NEVER KNOW.  Eventually we have to get government to where the discussions of one's religious convictions are never a part of any "debate."  In the meantime, let's not kid ourselves.  We cannot put the cart before the horse.

  •  The sad fact (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    simplicio, 14justice

    The Dems don't worry about loosing the Left-wing.  They worry about loosing the Right-wing.  We need to send them a very loud message by challenging them in the primaries on the Left.  

    "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values" - Bill Clinton.

    by RAST on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:51:53 AM PDT

  •  Excellent Diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    simplicio, arodb

    I am an atheist. Religious symbols do not offend me. Indeed many UU congregations, where I tend to worship use many religious symbols.

    Crosses are symbols of torture and the somewhat specious theory that humans can find salvation through torture. Often humans must endure unjust pain whether inflicted by nature (weather, illness) or other humans. Sometimes this pain makes us better people. More often, and in particular the pain inflicted by other humans breaks us and leaves broken people.

    That many major religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam celebrate as opposed to denigrate pain bothers me as one who would rather celebrate relieving people of pain.

    The San Diego Cross is unfortunately a celebration of reaching salvation through a celebration of pain and as such represents the worst of sado masochism in the Christian religion. I am greatly saddened by that symbolism and the people who would worship such a weird symbol. At the same time, I would rather educate them than fight them.

    Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

    by LWelsch on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 08:29:58 AM PDT

    •  As a symbol, the cross does not stand for pain. (0+ / 0-)

      Taken literally, yes, the cross was an instrument of pain.  But as a symbol , it does not represent the literal function of the object.

      The cross is the symbol of Christianity.

      Yes, Christianity has been distorted by many, but for those who take Christianity primarily as the teachings of Christ, the symbol of our religion stands for Peace, for Love, for Humility, for Good Works and more.

      When I see the San Diego Cross, it's an uplifting reminder of my highest values.

      "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember the professionals use water."

      by Happy Days on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 09:09:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Naive me always thought the cross symbolized (0+ / 0-)

        Christ's torture and death, a some sadomasochistic snuff story told in the bible. Many Christians (I did not say majority) still flagellate themselves and otherwise torture themselves on Christian holy days. Not too long ago Mel Gibson made a graphic pornographic movie called The Passion of the Christ. The movie managed to be artistic and horrific at the same time. Watch it and tell me what the Cross symbolizes.

        Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

        by LWelsch on Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 10:05:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Rep. Filner (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb

    is terrific on issues.

  •  An interesting diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    john07801, arodb

    and interesting comments.  
    I'm old enough to remember, growing up in NJ, when we didn't talk outside of our homes about religion.
    I detest the Christianization of America.

    If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. --Mark Twain

    by Desert Rose on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 09:21:05 AM PDT

  •  I consider myself (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb

    secular/agnostic at least, but using Kucinich's words as proof that Democrats would like to persecute atheists is just so much hooey! Kucinich is Catholic, he was (you say) asked about his feelings on God and prayer--are you saying he can't speak what he really feels without adding a caveat? And how is that different from what you're complaining about? You're advocating that he be treated as badly as you say you are treated. Can we not strive for balance instead?

    tragically un-hip

    -5.88, -6.82

    by Debby on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 10:11:30 AM PDT

  •  When religion is used to deny science (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    valadon, simplicio

    and to justify killing and conflict it is no longer just a personal matter of faith but a threat to all.  

    Perhaps that seems melodramatic, but those who are eager for the apocalypse have their oars already in the water, pulling for that shore.

    Those who continue to pursue profit in industries that science sees as harmful to the world's living creatures, hide behind creationist myths to deny scientific research.  

    In both cases their expressed religiousity and the support for it in this country,  is a tangible threat to my wellbeing because they make decisions based on personal agendas and magical thinking rather than reality.  

    As an atheist, i recognize that life is sacred; all life.  as an atheist I see that this life is the only one i will have, and the only one those around me will have,  That informs my decisions and my behaviour.  

    I don't look at someone with a wasting disease; or a person who is blind; or a child born to abusive parents and imagine he "chose that life" or is "paying off bad karma in a past life".  I am lucky to work as a social worker and am able to offer   respect, intervention, comfort, access to medical care, and to honor their struggle and  bear witness to their pain, believing that this is their only life, and it looks difficult and sad to me.  

    http://dmiessler.com/...

    Daniel Miessler reports on  a recent study on countries with high percentages of people who profess to be atheists and agnotics.  The study concluded that countries with  

    "High levels of organic atheism are strongly correlated with high levels of societal health, such as low homicide rates, low poverty rates, low infant mortality rates, and low illiteracy rates, as well as high levels of educational attainment, per capita income, and gender equality. Most nations characterized by high degrees of individual and societal security have the highest rates of organic atheism, and conversely, nations characterized by low degrees of individual and societal security have the lowest rates of organic atheism. In some societies, particularly Europe, atheism is growing. However, throughout much of the world – particularly nations with high birth rates – atheism is barely discernible."

    bad decisions made in the name of faith don't just  affect atheists, they affect all life.  continued warmaking will lead to serious interference with the ability of the earth to sustain life, as will our multinational corporate agenda to wring the last dollar from the last fossil fuel in the earth.  

    •  ainwa, interesting comment... (0+ / 0-)

      consider building on it for a diary or other essay somewhere.  

      There is a complexity here that needs further exploration.  You would have to look on some sites such as Pew Research foundation, but you find that Republicans report being happier than Democrats.  

      I'm sure there are other studies that are more specific, but I would bet that in the U.S. happiness is correlated with religiosity, however defined.

      We have several dynamics.  A major one is belonging.  I would guess that during the Stalinist era, members of the communist party were the happiest.  There is something about being part of the dominant group that either reflects those who join, or is a result of such membership.

      This is a large and interesting subject that can, and I hope will be, explored on all levels.

  •  C-span interview (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb

    Christopher Hitchen's

    http://youtube.com/...

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