A Question for S.T.Ranger
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15-10-2011, 08:09 PM
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
(15-10-2011 07:04 PM)S.T. Ranger Wrote:  Hello Cufflink, sorry but while working on a reply I had to stop to help my neice with her math (which can be challenging for someone so long out of school), and I would rather present it at one time so I will have to get back to it.

S.T.

No rush. Take your time.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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17-10-2011, 08:41 AM
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  S.T.,

Thank you for sharing your history with us to the extent you have. I don’t doubt your sincerity, and I think you mean well

by your presence here.

The fact you had a moving and meaningful experience at that altar call is not in question, because internal experiences

are not open to question. If someone says, “I’m cold,” it’s not valid to respond, “Are you crazy? It’s hot enough to fry

eggs on the sidewalk!” If the person feels cold, he feels cold, period. What’s open to question is the source or

interpretation of the experience. You attribute your altar experience to God; atheists look for non-religious explanations

grounded in psychology, sociology, neurobiology, etc. But that’s not to deny the reality of the experience or to minimize

its impact on you.

First, let me just say thanks for the questions and statements, this is the kind of post that is far more enjoyable to answer,
rather than simply responding to things that are more agressive in nature.



(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  Of course religious experiences tend to be culturally specific.

Again, you equate Christianity to religion, and sorry for beating this drum over and over, but there is a difference. Using

the concept presented above, it is as different as a real fire and one on a video (never really understood the fascination):

they look similar, but only one produces the heat, aroma, pops and hisses, and comfort we might receive from a fire in a

fireplace.

As far as being culturally specific, you will find Christianity in probably every culture on the earth. But more on this in a

bit, hopefully.


(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  People in Christian environments tend to have Christian

experiences; people in Islamic countries have Muslim experiences. If a Muslim, without influence from Christians, had a

religious experience that resulted in her proclaiming that Jesus is Lord, or if your own experience led you to believe that

there’s no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet, then I’d really sit up and take notice. But that doesn’t make

your experience any less real.

You can find testimony for both of these events. But what will be different is this: those who "convert from Christianity to

Islam" seldom do so at the risk of loss of life, whereas, across our world those who convert from Islam to Christianity

do so in full knowledge that they will be ostracized and possibly put to death.

I don't know if the significance of that has meaning for you, but that is an indication of the "faith" that some have in Jesus

Christ. To the point that they risk their lives. You mention at the end of this post the statement of Christ, "By their fruit ye

shall know them" (and I will have more to say on that at the end), but I ask you: if someone believes something so

strongly that they will put their lives at risk and beyond that be willing to give up their lives for it...isn't that an indication

that there is something more than meets the eye going on?

If conversions like this would really make you "sit up and notice," can I ask how much time you have spent in looking at

such conversions? At a guess, I would say that a google search of Christian Persecution would be a good place to start.

I can direct you to links that will have pictures of what religion does to Christians on a daily basis.


(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  I also don’t doubt that your conversion has had a positive effect on your personal life. As lucradis pointed out, such

stories of being “turned around” are not uncommon. The validity of belief and the utility of belief are two separate things.

I hope you won’t find the analogy demeaning if I say that parents lie to their kids about Santa Claus and the tooth fairy

because they think those patently absurd stories are beneficial—they contribute to the “magic of childhood” or

something like that. My point is that we can admit the positive consequences of beliefs without accepting the beliefs

themselves.



Concerning Santa Claus, this may sound horrible, and I am sure it will just really help the view that some have of me, but

I in no uncertain terms explained to my neices and nephew that Santa and the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy...were

not real. While it may seem to deprive kids of "fun," it is better not to teach kids something is real, and then tell them

when they are older that they are not. They will figure it out anyway. And they can still enjoy Christmas (and the gifts)

and Easter (and the candy) understanding the true meaning of the traditional celebrations. Why would Christian parents

teach their kids about Santa...and not about the birth of Christ? Why would they merge fiction and truth?

I am not an advocate of "contributing to the magic of childhood" (and I realize it sounds like neither are you) by lies, or

worse...half-truths.

So the analogy is apt, I think, and I understand your point, but happily, I can say, I am not one that has tried to teach in this manner to the children within my sphere of instruction, and it is wrong to think that all Christians allow their children to believe fairy tales.

So, to answer this part...it is wrong to use lies to reach a desired outcome, no matter how "harmless" one wishes the

means to appear.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  All of that said, it’s important to keep the nature of these conversations between believers and non-believers clear. No

minds are ever changed.
It’s apparent that nothing we could possibly say about Christianity or the Bible would lead

you to alter your beliefs;

You are omniscient? You know for certain that "no minds are ever changed?" That is a little broad, don't you think?

Testimony after testimony would challenge this statement.

You may be right that no change of mind is ever admitted.

That goes both ways: I would never advise a new believer to step into a conversation such as the ones that take place

here. Faith can be measured, I believe. The "refutations" and "inconsistencies" offered here would be enough to cause

one weak in faith to stumble, and to doubt his faith, however, this is what is going to separate those of not just mature

faith, but also firm faith as found in a new believer...from those who have an association with Christian doctrine and

practice.

The claims that one was "once a believer" does not make the claim true. Paul, for example, was a stout Judaizer, do you

remember his description of his former life after he was converted?

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  by the same token, nothing you’ve said in all your posts has

caused me to question my non-belief one iota, and I assume other atheists here feel the same.

Well, two things to consider: I have stated that I cannot change minds so it is not surprising, and two...why is it you feel

the need to ask the questions you pose here? I thought that you were basically done with conversing with me?

You are probably right about the others, but I am still curious that you would ask these questions. I can appreciate that you feel my faith has led me to the position I take in political matters, I just hope that you will consider the answers I give.



(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  These aren’t “come, let’s reason together” discussions; one never

hears comments like, “Hmm. That’s interesting. You’re right. I never thought of that.”

Actually, there have been at least a few comments to that effect, though this is not an indication that concerns

conversion, but rather being honest about the conversation.

Where the real work of conversion is going to take place is not on a monitor, but within the hearts of those that give

consideration to something other than the desires of their own hearts, fed by a careful diet of accomodating data.

And that work will be done by God...not me. How one responds to the Spirit of God is up to them.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  These are debates—i.e. a kind of sport. You take sides, you

score or lose points, someone is declared a winner or it’s a draw. Participating in such games can be fun and stimulating,

and it’s also a chance to let off steam. But no change takes place.

Change does not always come overnight. While I agree that debate is something that I enjoy, there are those on both

sides that see the gravity of the situation. For the believer, eternal destiny hangs in the balance; for the secular humanist, it

is a temporal salvation that is sought for an individual, meaning, "Don't waste your life believing in God and eternal

consequences...enjoy the here and now."

But just like with Christians, where not all are motivated to seek to share the gospel, even among atheists there are those

more motivated than others.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  When Christians say they come to atheist forums to “learn,” I think what they’re really saying is that they want to find out

how atheists think so they can counter their arguments more effectively.

Well, for that most part that is true, but it is also true that just because we differ in belief, does not mean we cannot

interact. I interact with more atheists than I do with Christians. Why? Because there are more of you guys than there are

of us...despite polls and statistics.

True believers have always been a minority throughout history, and the declaration of Roman Emperors did not change

this, but led to a far quicker route to corruption than did the persecution of thier predecessors.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  “Learning” is not an end but a means to an end;

Not altogether true. But, I also know that for the most part, what I say has little importance. However, how I interact with people has great significance, particularly to me. If I were to spend time among Native Indians, for example, I would learn of their beliefs and customs and in this way better be able to interact with them.

The diversity of belief among atheists is no different from the diversity of belief among those who name the name of

Christ. I have endeavored to understand those of different doctrines also, such as Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals,

and even groups such as Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and a variety of groups that call themselves Christians.

So learning is actually an end, though you cast my motivations and efforts in doubt. It better helps in my desire to do that

which God has commanded me, which is to, as much as is within me (great escape clause, eh?), live peacably among

men.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  the end is to “witness,” to instruct, and hopefully to convert.

The first two are correct, but a proper view of conversion both leaves conversion to the authority and power of God, as

well as does not make the mistake of assuming or judging the spiritual condition of another, especially by preconceived

notions. For example, I am not willing, though I view Joseph Smith as a false prophet and distributor of demon doctrine,

to judge all Mormons as not having a relationship with God, or, in other words, to say that "No Mormon is saved."

Men are not saved through doctrine, but by grace through faith.


(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  The mission is to spread the Gospel.

I would also not fit the typical pattern of belief concerning "the Great Commission." While in general it is true that all

Christians should be able to give an account and "be ready to give an answer to any man the reason of the hope that is

within them" (though most forget "with fear and trembling"), I am of the opinion (and yes this can be viewed as opinion

only, though I am ready to give the biblical basis for this conviction) that not all are called to preach the gospel, nor to be

evangelists.

These are gifts given by God, and they are not given to every member of the body. And among those who have received

gifts such as preaching, teaching, and evangelism, their abilities vary due to the measure granted them as well as their

diligence in performing these gifts. Meaning, one who has been gifted to preach will not be very adept at preaching if he

never preaches...right?


(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  I believe you’ve acknowledged this yourself, S.T., although not in

so many words—but if I’ve mischaracterized your motivations, please let me know.

Actually, I think I have been pretty clear about this. However, that I would come here for the reasons I have often stated

may not be believed, that I can understand.

Believe it or not, Cufflink, I am perfectly happy to converse with you about mundane things which have absolutely

nothing to do with our personal beliefs. If you don't believe me, try me. In a sense, you do that here, though you may not know it. Much of the questions or positions, really you ask about here are matters that are not necessarily Christian matters, though the position of a Christian is usually going to be fairly common. I recall that after President Obama was elected, for instance, Catholics expressed a "what in the world?" position, meaning, they acted as though they were not aware that he was pro-choice. You could not have watched the debates and come to any other conclusion, so what are we to assume, seeing that a large percentage of Catholics voted for him?

To answer this, I think for the most part you understand me, though I think you both are suspicious of my motives as

well as would like to cast them into doubt among your peers. Thats okay with me, if that is true.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  Perhaps the best thing to be said about such conversations is that if they don’t accomplish anything one way or the other,

at least they can be conducted civilly and relatively calmly.

Thats funny, because really there have been few discussion that I think anyone would categorize as civil. If that is how

you classify some of the conversations that have taken place, I would have to question your judgment as to what civil is.

However, the conversations with you have been civil enough, though I think I detect a little bit of disdain and

condescension. Am I wrong about this, or do you have a really high opinion of me...lol.


(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  That seems to be a fairly recent development in human history.

You man where discussion between beliefs is concerned? I hate to say it, but there is going to be an explosion of

violence in the world, I believe, centered on this very thing. If you are interested, just look at Christian Persecution

around the world. I know that the atrocities of the Roman Catholic Church, and types like Koresh and Jones may come

to mind, but I can assure you, there are atrocities commited every day that do not make the headlines. Why is that?

Why is it that those who clamor about "Humanitarian Rights" seldom mention instances of aggression towards

Christians?

Why is it that of all the religions and faiths in the world...Christianity holds a "special place" when it comes to being

targeted. Its gotta be those missionaries, I guess. Always causing trouble and stirring things up. Of course, I am being

facetious, but really, would you admit that Christianity is targeted more than any other faith?

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  And now here’s an invitation:

If you’re willing, I’d invite you to let us know more about yourself by telling us where you stand on some of the major

issues of the day. I ask that because I’m not nearly as interested in your actual beliefs about God and the Bible as I am

in where those beliefs lead you—what their consequences are in your life.

I accept. And I appreciate the inquiry, though I do admit, I am a bit of a cynic, and can't help but think that rather than a

genuine desire to know my feelings about "hot" issues, I have to wonder if there is not also at least a little bit of you that

expects me to answer a certain way concerning these issues, and that these will in turn cast me in a worse light than I am

already held. I hope I am just being paranoid...lol, and if you say I am off base about this, I will take you at your word.

Sometimes I am just like that, it is nothing personal.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  What kind of person has born-again, Bible-believing Christianity

led you to become?

First, out of curiosity, I would like to know your understanding of what the New Birth is.

The person I am now is constantly changing, for the better, I hope. If you talked to me a year after my conversion, you

would have talked to someone that was really different than who I am today, in many ways, however, there is always

going to be the core person that I have always been, which consists of both good and bad qualities.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  That to me is the best measure of a religious system: what sorts of

attitudes does it lead to?

Because you view salvation as taught by scripture to be religion, I am afraid that despite your belief that you

"understand" what Christianity is, you really do not. I do not say this to offend, Cufflink, it is just that to view the doctrine

of salvation as just "a religious system" shows that scripture has not truly been understood.

First, I would ask if you understand that scripture teaches that salvation is threefold.

I would ask at what point a person can be classified as "saved."

Many religions can produce "good attitudes." In fact, believe it or not...atheists can have good attitudes. (being facetious

again Cufflink...sorry).

All religions teach a works-based salvation, and that includes forms of Chritianity that are works-based, such as

Catholicism, for instance.

But scripture teaches that man is incapable of being saved due to human effort. That is what separates true biblical

doctrine from religion. The New Birth is an act of God in the life of a person which results in a "new man," not the following of rules and regulations that result in one making himself acceptable to God, which is what religion is.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  What kind of people does it produce? I admit to having some

stereotypes in my head about fundamentalist Christians, so I’m interested in your opinions about the following “hot”

issues, off the top of my head and in no particular order.

Again, "Christianity" does not produce Christians...Christianity is a result of the New Birth. Meaning, Christians produce Christianity.

Having known many fundamentalists, I can tell you they are as diverse as any other "group" that is given a title.

To think that a title indicates the doctrine held is foolish. Take the term "Full Gospel Church." It is primarily a Pentecostal

indicator, but to assume that everyone in this fellowship speaks in tongues or dances in the aisles would be

presumptuous. You will find an assortment even in a fellowship like this.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  (Perhaps others may want to add to the list.) I’d be most

interested in whether or not your faith has influenced your attitudes about these questions.

I think I can say to begin with that my faith as well as my study has certainly influenced my attitudes both in general as

well as pertaining to specific topics. I will answer these with pleasure.


(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  (Since I believe we’re both Americans, I’ve put this all in a U.S.

context.)

Scotch-Irish American to be precise...lol. But yes, I am a red-blooded American mongrel like most who have families

that go back far enough. I am proud to be an American, and believe that she holds some of the best people in the world,

and this partly due to the fact that America offers freedom in areas that other countries do not. One Canadian remarked

in his column that when there is a disaster, America is the first one to respond with aid to those in need; when America

herself is faced with similar disaster...who is there that comes to her aid? This remark was made after 9/11.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  1. Abortion. Should the U.S. government continue to allow women the right to choose to terminate unwanted

pregnancies, or should abortion be outlawed?

You might guess my answer to this, I think you expected it: I do not approve of abortion.

But, neither do I approve of allowing promiscuity and failing to teach our children to view relations as something

confined to marriage, not something that people can engage in because it is "a natural thing."

If parents taught their children abstinence rather than safe sex, abortion would not be as rampant as it is today. If you do

not see a connection between the legalization of abortion, and worse, that it has been turned into big business, then

clearly you are not willing (and this is general, Cufflink, not trying to assume the position you hold and this is not directed

at you) to look at basic facts.

It is sad to me that the government has to regulate this, it should be something that families should be capable to handle

without the government's involvement.

As far as abortion being outlawed, I would ask you directly, Cufflink, do you believe partial birth abortion is justified?

Do me a favor, refrain from hypothetical scenarios where "the mother's life is at risk," and just answer the question

concerning partial birth abortion...in general.

Going back to your question, I would now direct attention to how you state the question: "Should the U.S. government

continue to allow women the right to choose to terminate unwanted pregnancies?"

Unwanted pregnancies? Look, if you don't want to get pregnant, therir is a very simple way to avoid this: don't have

relations. "But what about married couples that don't want to have kids right now, how about them?"

That is easy enough for me to answer: I believe that God alone has the power and the right to decide who lives and dies.

If you don't want to have kids, again, either refrain from relations or refrain from marriage. If you have relations, no

matter the situation, married or single, and you are expecting contraception to be foolproof...who told you it was

foolproof?

Sex education? High school? How is it that year after year people are amazed that they end up pregnant despite

contraception? Folks...its a no-brainer...it isn't foolproof. And it is not a good excuse to justify the death of perhaps the

most innocent and defenseless of all life...the unborn child.

Now, to answer whether my faith has led me to this view, the answer is no...I have always been opposed to abortion. I actually wrote a song called "Still Life" (though we never got a chance to put it together), and my fellings were pretty strong against it. When I heard about "Partial Birth Abortion," I was, and still am, horrified. Those that advocate "Pro-Choice" do not see that while they may feel that a woman should have a choice to do what she wants, which includes promiscuity which leads to death for unborn babies through abortion, do not look at how many-faceted this problem is. Not only does abortion kill unborn babies, but the lifestyles of those who end up getting abortion include many other things, such as the continuity of STDs, progression to more dangerous living, and the emotional horrors that many who have abortions have to live with.

The excuse that young people can let their emotions get carried away which results in pregnancy is true, but that doesn't mean that abortion has to be the answer. The first step should be to raise our children to have self-control, and thank goodness girls are usually better than boys when it comes to dealing with raging hormones.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  2. Homosexuality. A) Should there be laws against homosexual acts between consenting adults in private? B)Should gay people be allowed to serve openly in the military? C)(Was ending DADT a good thing?) D) Should openly gay people be allowed to teach children? E)Should marriage be extended to same-sex couples?

I will number the questions:

A) Again, it should not be the responsibility of the government, nor in their power, to regulate things that pertain to

morality, despite which side of the fence (or door...lol) one might stand on. Most view this as unnatural, though the

agenda to make it acceptable has seen great accomplishment through media such as Hollywood and public television.

Scripture condemns homosexuality, and that is the bottom line for those who believe scripture to be the word of God,

expressing His will in the matter. What is harder to balance is how we approach homosexuals, but more on that in a bit.

B) I would probably say yes, because we do live in a "free country," where individuals have a right, within the law, to live as they choose. However, just as with those who are not gay, one's peronal life should not interfere with their work, nor should it be forced on others. When I work, I do not force my beliefs on others. I do not mask the fact that I am a Christian, but I do not go around condemning those who are not, nor do I make this an issue that interferes with the work. God brings about opportunities to speak to people, and I try to get to know someone and establish the working relationship, rather than preaching at them at every opportunity.

I will add that while in the political and legal sense I think that DADT is a joke, I also do not view this as a Christian matter, but one that is primarily political.

I will also add to the fire this: I do not approve of women in combat situations. When men go to war, the last thing they need is to be distracted by women.



C) I would just add that personally, I do not approve of homosexuality in general, so to know that our military regulates this concern is disturbing. It use to be grounds for dismissal if someone committed adultery, at least I have heard this. I wonder if that has changed as well.

D) My first question is why would a gay person feel they need to be "openly gay"...around children? Think about that.

Are you "openly sexual" around children? Do you make it a point to let children become aware of your sexual preferences? It is a ridiculous question, in my view.

I think it is wrong for those who are placed in positions that most hold as places of authority to mingle their personal

views with what they are teaching. In other words, While I would not deny a gay person to teach, I would have a

problem with them abusing their position for the sake of instruction of beliefs and lifestyles. Just as I would have a problem with a heterosexual being "openly" anything other than what they are there to do...which is to teach. I view the role of teacher as one of the highest privileges a person can have. To abuse this very powerful position, whether it is teaching the word of God, or teaching third grade math, these people should be as accountable as a polive officer, who has the power to decide between life and death in certain circumstances.


E) This is a tough one. I would of course say no, because gay marriage is not something I view as true marriage. I view the relationships as nothing more than those of people who live together.

But considering the state of our Nation and the mindset of most in it, I do not see that this is going to go but one way, and that is, it will be legalized. How should Christians respond to it? Same way that Christians have always responded to actions and lifestyles that are against the word and will of God...on an individual basis, person to person.


Now, to answer if my faith has changed my views on this? Yes, because you see...from a very young age I have always hated homosexuals.

Through my faith and study, I no longer hate them.


(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  3. Science Education. Should creationism and/or “intelligent design” be taught alongside standard evolutionary

theory in biology classrooms?

Actually, what I feel is that if one (parents) does not feel they can adequately educate their children concerning God at home, there is always the option of private schools which are Christian. There is expense, of course, and personally I feel that the government should allow those that wish to send their children to private schools should have something in place to offset the cost. I pay into public schools, and I do not have any children in them. So those who can swing the cost of private education are paying for both, and I do not see that as fair.

But most have the habit of allowing whatever school they send their kids to...to educate them, rather than doing so themselves. This education will not just be their teachers, but will include their fellow classmates, and this applies to all schools, not just public.

I actually do not think public school is the place for creationism to be taught, one reason being...the teachers would have to be believers to do so.

Another reason would be that I do not believe anyone should have any teaching thrust upon them. I have always tried to teach my neices and nephew about God, but I have also always made it clear that the decision they make concerning their belief must be one they make, not one I make for them.

Likewise, with the theory of evolution, to teach this as fact is also wrong. Teach the science, but allow kids to make their own decisions.

Would you say that how evolution is taught today in school does that, Cufflink?

And as far as my faith affecting my position, as I have said, I have always had a nominal belief in God, and subsequently I have, and never will, doubt that God created the world.

But at the same time, know that I have always hated public education, so I am a bit biased here on this subject.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  4. Gun Laws. Should laws restricting the sale, ownership, public display, and use of firearms be tightened or

loosened? Do you support the positions of the NRA?

First, I am unfamiliar with the NRA. Have no opinion on it.

As far as restricting gun laws, you know that ownership is the only thing that keeps us from dictatorship, right?

I do think that the restriction of handguns in DC is a good idea, for instance, because of the many political "targets" that are there.

I also think this is just a common sense issue. We know who the wrong people to own guns are, and there use of firearms usually bring that to light. I think for the most part (though I will admit ignorance on this subject), the last thing we really want to do, from the position of being a citizen, is to limit our abilities to own guns, because there may come a day when they might be needed.

The bad guys are going to have guns despite the laws, and this is just something we need to remember.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  5. Capital Punishment. Should the government ever execute criminals?

I am an advocate of Capital Punishment: if a person intentionally takes the life of another, their life is forfeit.

I have always felt this way, and learning that scripture takes this stand strengthens my position.

But this is a many sided issue. I am also glad that we do not immediately execute, because forensic science at times will bring to light an unjust verdict. Though the amount of money that is spent to house those that are without a shadow of a doubt guilty is ridiculous. But because I am not a member of the judicial system, it is not really something that I would be dogmatic about. Every case should be examined in light of the evidence, and from there it is for the legal system to contend with, as to what course of action they take.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  6. Capitalism. Do you favor tighter federal regulation and oversight of business and finance, or do you favor a

laissez-faire, hands-off policy (“government is the problem, not the solution”)?

I view this whole issue as nothing more than something to cloud the waters. As a business owner (small), I can tell you that this issue does not keep America from going to work every day (though that is where I should be, and here I am answering this post...lol).

I heard that Wall Street had I think 13 Trillion in buying and spending power in their heyday, 11 Trillion when they crashed; small businesses of America? 270 Trillion.

Whether that is true or not, I can say that small businesses of America contribute greatly to our economy in many ways. Wall street did not affect my business, but I will tell you what did: the political campaigns of the last election. For 18 months America was told, "The sky is falling the sky is falling." Economic disaster was predicted, and what happened? People stopped spending money...and everything crashed.

That is just the opinion of a small business owner, by the way. Not great words of wisdom, just what I think that happened, and it looks like this is going to happen again. The upcoming election is going to center around...Wall Street? Personal gain?

As far as "government is the problem..." No, government is not the problem, people's reliance on the government is the problem. I pay my taxes, I live my life, and the government has little to do with it. It does not make me decide to buy, or save, that is something I work out all on my own.

And if there is someone that thinks "Capitalism" is a bad word...my guess is that is a person that has never worked a real day in their life. It is shameful that people come here from all over the world and show a better work ethic than most of the homebred, pampered whiners I see every day. They appreciate what they...earn. They are not looking for handouts. They do more with what they have, buy smarter (for instance many hispanic people I know buy much of what they have...at yard sales. Our castoffs), and live simpler. What is ironic is that many of them have to live separate from government involvement, because they are illegal.


(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  7. Environment. Do you believe in man-made global warming and climate change? Should laws aimed at

protecting the environment (relating to endangered species, oil-drilling, pesticide use, industrial pollution, etc.) be

tightened or loosened?

I believe global warming is real, but I do not view it as something that man has caused. Most do not know that from 1940 to 1970, despite CO2 emission increase, global temperatures fell. What caused that? My guess is that global climate fluctuates, and data does not go back far enough to really have a scientific grasp on all of the ramifications.

What man has done is profit from the fears of people, a call to a "higher morality," but hey, that is what capitalism is all about...isn't it? Are you aware that how we categorize hurricanes and tropical storms changed not too long ago? some of the "hurricanes" of today would have been tropical storms 20 years ago, but it is good "evidence" to show the validity of global warming, isn't it? But it is a good political piece, if you ask me.

In my trade, this belief has made it impossible for those who live in the poorer neighborhoods to afford certain things.

Want to tell me how the global warming scare is helping people? I can tell you it has not. It has hurt...the poor. It has elevated costs beyond the reach of those...already in a desperate struggle to survive. You probably don;t want to hear my opinion on this topic.

As far as endangered species...how about the poor? They are the biggest target. Does it matter if the poor have heat in the winter? Does it matter if they have food? Should they have to choose between the two?

As far as "industrial pollution," we have regulations in place that have changed the extent of environmental intrusions. The primary river that I live by is far cleaner today than it was fifty, even seventy five years ago. Shall we take a shot at science and progress here? I don't think so. It is just a matter of accountability.

I am guessing you are old enough to remember the commercials of the Native American looking at the litter...and crying?

Anyway, as far as my faith affecting my position on this, perhaps. You see, the elements will not just gradually "heat up," but I believe scripture to be true that they will...one day melt. This world will be here 'til God decides the time has come for it to pass out of existence.

No, I do not believe in "manmade global warming." That does not change my belief that we have a responsibility to take care of the earth, and even before I was saved, I taught "my kids" (neices and nephew) to, when we went fishing, for instance, to bring back more litter than they went out with. To this day, they remind me of this.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  8. Immigration. Should undocumented immigrants/illegal aliens (choose your term) be offered a path to

citizenship? Should their children be allowed the same opportunities for education that citizens enjoy?

My thought, having had to deal with the government, is that entrance to our country should be made a little easier, so that they will not have to enter illegally. It is hard enough for natural born citizens to deal with the government, much less someone that struggles with the language. It is kind of like prohibition, and the results can be viewed as a parallel.

And if a child is born in this country, there is no question, they are Americans. Yes they should have rights. But, at the same time, if their parents are deported, the children should go with them, because family takes precedence over citizenship. I do not think that those who enter illegally should be given "special rights," though. I don't think that if parents act illegally that means the children should be given rights that would not be afforded to other situations. If parents robbed a bank and walked away with a million dollars, when they are caught, should the children be allowed to keep the money?

I see little difference there. But lets say that one enters illegally, I think that if the child has family that are legal, perhaps the child could be allowed to stay with them, though I do think that a child's place is with his/her parents. Though sometimes, it is right that a child be taken away from parents that behave in an illegal manner.

My faith really does not come into this, other than to say that the law is the law, and those that are willing to break the law should be dealt with. I am aware that there is a "pipeline" for illegal entry that runs up and down the east coast. Illegals are sponsored to come here, and they in turn sponsor someone to come here, and so on. Those who think that laws can be embraced or negated depending upon personal choice are not, I think, going to be good candidates for citizenship.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  9. Taxation. Should tax breaks be ended for the wealthiest Americans?

First, this is entirely political. Everyone would like to see tax breaks. It is just a no-brainer that due to the amount of small business in this country, looking in that direction would make a lot of sense. There is more money to made if businesses are prosperous. I limit my employment because of taxes that I have to pay on employees. There was a tax break offered for hiring those unemployed for two months, but they would not allow family members, and many small businesses, such as mine, wish to hire first family members, to help provide for my family.

But, this again is political. It seems to me that what this is talking about is not less taxation...but more. I can understand that those who have a lot of money are the ones that do a lot of hiring, paying taxes, et cetera.

Go ahead, end "tax cuts," see what happens. It will motivate businesses to go elsewhere. I would put on more people if there were "tax cuts" in place for small business. They all promise this...but it never comes about? Why is that?

The "tax credit" that was offered for two years was smart, and it did stimulate people to spend...guess thats why they cut it back, right? There is still a minimal tax credit, but it is not enough to make people take advantage of it, because the government limited...the advantage.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  10. Religious Displays. Should religious symbols (the 10 Commandments, manger scenes, Hanukkah menorahs,

etc.) be allowed on public property?

Just like the issue of teaching creation (or evolution) in school, I think that we need to deal with these from a different perspective. It is one thing to display a fish, or a walking fish on your car, but another to try to comingle your faith with the world in such a way, especially when it comes to people in places of power, such as a judge or a teacher.

While as a Christian I like the idea of the Ten Commandments hanging in display over a judge, but at the same time, if a Christian Judge can display them, then a Wiccan Judge should have the right to post "Satanic verses" over his desk, which is not something I personally would want to see.

So when it comes to your personal property, every man has the right to his belief and display what he chooses, within reason, so long as it is not offensive in an obvious way. To think that display of religious symbols in the "world" is a right is just a little bit silly to me. First, you have to view America as a Christian Nation, and sadly, America is not. There are Christians in her, but she is a nation, just like any other. I think we have morally declined in many ways, and our "entertainment" is proof of that, but sin has always been around. When it is not just overlooked, but condoned, is when the heart of a nation betrays herself.

I have said that the fall of every great empire began with the decline of the family unit in that empire. Whether that is true or not, I don't know, but I do know that God established the family before He established Judaism and the Church, and that the family is very important. Many of the "hot issues" could be settled if we took family a little more seriously in this country. Education, sexual preferences, abortion...these are issues that begin in the home. Teach your children, and you will not have to worry about how they are influenced by others.

The thought that it takes the whole village to raise a child may sound good, but it is usually true there will always be a village idiot, and I personally do not want him teaching my child, other than by observation.

(13-10-2011 06:45 PM)cufflink Wrote:  As I said, S.T., my interest is in whether or not your faith has influenced your attitudes on any of these questions—and if

so, in which direction. I’m taking as my text, “You shall know them by their fruits.”

Thanks.

Are you aware that this has a context dealing with false teachers? The statement is made, "If the blind lead the blind...both shall fall in the ditch."

Doctrine of all kinds has importance. The basis of that doctrine can be found...somewhere. What we believe will ultimately affect how we live, how we interact with our neighbor, and who we are, in our hearts. I myself choose scripture as the basis of my belief, and the answers I have given you, Cufflink, come from my heart. You may not agree with them, but my heart will guide how I interact in the real world, and the heart is something that man cannot disguise.

Sorry this is so long, and I will be back when I can.

S.T.
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17-10-2011, 09:34 AM
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
I think for the most part you're wrong in you assumption of why an atheist or free thinker sees the gravity of the religious situation. I think for the most part don't give a shit what anyone believes so long as it isn't hurting anyone or infringing on our rights. Believe what you want. I think most free thinkers/atheists see the actual problem being that religion does hurt. It does infringe on so many rights. And it is dangerous. Extremely dangerous. I for one wouldn't care what stupid beliefs people had so long as thy kept them to themselves. Didn't force them on children, didn't try and force them into politics, didn't try to force them into schools, didn't try to tell people how they are allowed to live or who to love. That's the gravity of the situation.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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18-10-2011, 03:09 AM
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
(15-10-2011 06:58 PM)Mr Woof Wrote:  
(11-10-2011 10:04 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I'm going to throw my 2c worth in here....sorry if I appear to be "butting in"....but this is a public forum and I've been following it. I sense defacto's frustration and curiosity as he or she tries to connect with ST, but defacto, in my opinion your wonderfully real correspondence with him is way over his head.

I've given up a long time ago trying to get him engaged in any meaningful conversation. He is polite, and prolific, but he never really says anything inspiring or novel. He continually hints that he has a superior understanding of scripture to everyone else, including other Christians, yet when he does get around to talking about his favorite topic he has nothing new or inspiring to say. By his own admission he is a simple man. By his own admission he has absolutely no interest in discussing history or what any of the great philosophers, past or present, have to say. His whole world revolves around his interpretation of his silly book...and that's fine....for him. Yet he is wasting everyone else's time. You will be lucky to get a direct answer about anything from him. You will read pages and pages and get almost jack shit out of it.

As I've said before, he just doesn't know how much he doesn't know.

The early church fathers often used verbal bombardment of the masses as a tool to suppress questioning minds. SJ has the same mindset...he will read what you've written only on a superficial level, not get it, reinterpret it to suit and justify himself and then reply with an obtuse and lengthy answer. He probably doesn't even know he's doing this. He will not pay you the respect of addressing your arguments, will hint that he knows better, and then pretend to be the mr nice guy.

I just don't think he's bright enough to really address issues honestly, and not bright enough to get it when told he's behaving like a jerk.

By all means keep talking to him....I like reading what you post....but maybe you could save yourself the angst?
And I take it you are not sure enough to be unsure?

Socrates constantly questioned his own thinking and that of others. He didn't see himself as a "smart". Quite the contrary.

Philosophers, of all persuasions, in their ivory towers, think that their opponents are nuts and use all sorts of 'logical proofs 'and esoteric piffle to prove their points.

I am not so egocentric to completely believe that even Christian fundamentalists have absolutely nothing to teach me.

Mr Woof, I have read what you have written 4 or 5 times. It seems (tell me if I'm wrong) you are implying I am bloody minded and not willing to listen to others. WRONG. I am hear to learn from others and to practice my discussion skills. You may also be suggesting my arguments are "esoteric piffle." If that be the case, rather than just making a sweeping statement like that, would you care to discuss something specific? You are also implying I have dismissed ST because he is a Christian fundamentalist. WRONG! I dismissed him because he was waffling and avoiding answering questions, and he showed no evidence of genuinely wanting to stick to the topic. For example he more or less refused to consider reading any historical literature about the Jews, Romans or the compilation of the Bible, preferring instead to read only the Bible. After one of defacto's posts, he actually answered some of the questions, and I immediately invited him to continue discussions with me if he wants, because I am genuinely interested in what he has to say.

So I'm looking forward to hearing something from you...all I know about you at this point is that you appear to be very critical of others.
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18-10-2011, 08:12 PM (This post was last modified: 18-10-2011 08:16 PM by Mr Woof.)
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
(18-10-2011 03:09 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  
(15-10-2011 06:58 PM)Mr Woof Wrote:  
(11-10-2011 10:04 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I'm going to throw my 2c worth in here....sorry if I appear to be "butting in"....but this is a public forum and I've been following it. I sense defacto's frustration and curiosity as he or she tries to connect with ST, but defacto, in my opinion your wonderfully real correspondence with him is way over his head.

I've given up a long time ago trying to get him engaged in any meaningful conversation. He is polite, and prolific, but he never really says anything inspiring or novel. He continually hints that he has a superior understanding of scripture to everyone else, including other Christians, yet when he does get around to talking about his favorite topic he has nothing new or inspiring to say. By his own admission he is a simple man. By his own admission he has absolutely no interest in discussing history or what any of the great philosophers, past or present, have to say. His whole world revolves around his interpretation of his silly book...and that's fine....for him. Yet he is wasting everyone else's time. You will be lucky to get a direct answer about anything from him. You will read pages and pages and get almost jack shit out of it.

As I've said before, he just doesn't know how much he doesn't know.

The early church fathers often used verbal bombardment of the masses as a tool to suppress questioning minds. SJ has the same mindset...he will read what you've written only on a superficial level, not get it, reinterpret it to suit and justify himself and then reply with an obtuse and lengthy answer. He probably doesn't even know he's doing this. He will not pay you the respect of addressing your arguments, will hint that he knows better, and then pretend to be the mr nice guy.

I just don't think he's bright enough to really address issues honestly, and not bright enough to get it when told he's behaving like a jerk.

By all means keep talking to him....I like reading what you post....but maybe you could save yourself the angst?
And I take it you are not sure enough to be unsure?

Socrates constantly questioned his own thinking and that of others. He didn't see himself as a "smart". Quite the contrary.

Philosophers, of all persuasions, in their ivory towers, think that their opponents are nuts and use all sorts of 'logical proofs 'and esoteric piffle to prove their points.

I am not so egocentric to completely believe that even Christian fundamentalists have absolutely nothing to teach me.

Mr Woof, I have read what you have written 4 or 5 times. It seems (tell me if I'm wrong) you are implying I am bloody minded and not willing to listen to others. WRONG. I am hear to learn from others and to practice my discussion skills. You may also be suggesting my arguments are "esoteric piffle." If that be the case, rather than just making a sweeping statement like that, would you care to discuss something specific? You are also implying I have dismissed ST because he is a Christian fundamentalist. WRONG! I dismissed him because he was waffling and avoiding answering questions, and he showed no evidence of genuinely wanting to stick to the topic. For example he more or less refused to consider reading any historical literature about the Jews, Romans or the compilation of the Bible, preferring instead to read only the Bible. After one of defacto's posts, he actually answered some of the questions, and I immediately invited him to continue discussions with me if he wants, because I am genuinely interested in what he has to say.

So I'm looking forward to hearing something from you...all I know about you at this point is that you appear to be very critical of others.
My statement was more of a generalization than a direct attack on you.
No offence intended.

I am not an apologist for Bible wafflers, feel that S.T. does write too much and not often to the point; that said, he is pretty inoffensive and people don't have to to get involved with him if they don't want to. ........You did question S.T s brightness!

Again my reference to "esoteric piffle" was directed towards philosophers in general and was probably an over generalization.

My personal position is that a higher cosmic moral force/forces could exist within infinity and that those studying scripture may learn both bad, good and indifferent things. This learning, in my view, would be of minimal benefit to secular morality
and in the worst instances certainly dangerous at the secular level.Wink
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19-10-2011, 02:16 AM (This post was last modified: 19-10-2011 02:25 AM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
(18-10-2011 08:12 PM)Mr Woof Wrote:  
(18-10-2011 03:09 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  
(15-10-2011 06:58 PM)Mr Woof Wrote:  
(11-10-2011 10:04 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I'm going to throw my 2c worth in here....sorry if I appear to be "butting in"....but this is a public forum and I've been following it. I sense defacto's frustration and curiosity as he or she tries to connect with ST, but defacto, in my opinion your wonderfully real correspondence with him is way over his head.

I've given up a long time ago trying to get him engaged in any meaningful conversation. He is polite, and prolific, but he never really says anything inspiring or novel. He continually hints that he has a superior understanding of scripture to everyone else, including other Christians, yet when he does get around to talking about his favorite topic he has nothing new or inspiring to say. By his own admission he is a simple man. By his own admission he has absolutely no interest in discussing history or what any of the great philosophers, past or present, have to say. His whole world revolves around his interpretation of his silly book...and that's fine....for him. Yet he is wasting everyone else's time. You will be lucky to get a direct answer about anything from him. You will read pages and pages and get almost jack shit out of it.

As I've said before, he just doesn't know how much he doesn't know.

The early church fathers often used verbal bombardment of the masses as a tool to suppress questioning minds. SJ has the same mindset...he will read what you've written only on a superficial level, not get it, reinterpret it to suit and justify himself and then reply with an obtuse and lengthy answer. He probably doesn't even know he's doing this. He will not pay you the respect of addressing your arguments, will hint that he knows better, and then pretend to be the mr nice guy.

I just don't think he's bright enough to really address issues honestly, and not bright enough to get it when told he's behaving like a jerk.

By all means keep talking to him....I like reading what you post....but maybe you could save yourself the angst?
And I take it you are not sure enough to be unsure?

Socrates constantly questioned his own thinking and that of others. He didn't see himself as a "smart". Quite the contrary.

Philosophers, of all persuasions, in their ivory towers, think that their opponents are nuts and use all sorts of 'logical proofs 'and esoteric piffle to prove their points.

I am not so egocentric to completely believe that even Christian fundamentalists have absolutely nothing to teach me.

Mr Woof, I have read what you have written 4 or 5 times. It seems (tell me if I'm wrong) you are implying I am bloody minded and not willing to listen to others. WRONG. I am hear to learn from others and to practice my discussion skills. You may also be suggesting my arguments are "esoteric piffle." If that be the case, rather than just making a sweeping statement like that, would you care to discuss something specific? You are also implying I have dismissed ST because he is a Christian fundamentalist. WRONG! I dismissed him because he was waffling and avoiding answering questions, and he showed no evidence of genuinely wanting to stick to the topic. For example he more or less refused to consider reading any historical literature about the Jews, Romans or the compilation of the Bible, preferring instead to read only the Bible. After one of defacto's posts, he actually answered some of the questions, and I immediately invited him to continue discussions with me if he wants, because I am genuinely interested in what he has to say.

So I'm looking forward to hearing something from you...all I know about you at this point is that you appear to be very critical of others.
My statement was more of a generalization than a direct attack on you.
No offence intended.

I am not an apologist for Bible wafflers, feel that S.T. does write too much and not often to the point; that said, he is pretty inoffensive and people don't have to to get involved with him if they don't want to. ........You did question S.T s brightness!

Again my reference to "esoteric piffle" was directed towards philosophers in general and was probably an over generalization.

My personal position is that a higher cosmic moral force/forces could exist within infinity and that those studying scripture may learn both bad, good and indifferent things. This learning, in my view, would be of minimal benefit to secular morality
and in the worst instances certainly dangerous at the secular level.Wink

Oh...ok.

I agree with what you say about ST.


Hi ST

Well done answering cufflink's questions.

But......in my opinion you have made seriously immoral statements which are examples of why people like myself are so fervently opposed to your ethics. As cufflink asked you the questions I will leave it till he replies to you but get yourself ready for some serious discussion.
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19-10-2011, 06:34 PM
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
S.T.,

Thanks for your answers. I’m afraid I don’t have the time or patience to respond to everything you’ve said, but I’ll address the parts I see as the most significant and relevant.

Quote:First, let me just say thanks for the questions and statements, this is the kind of post that is far more enjoyable to answer, rather than simply responding to things that are more agressive in nature.

You're welcome. My default is civility. There are times, however, when it’s appropriate, and perhaps necessary, to be aggressive. I’m sure you would agree.

Quote:Again, you equate Christianity to religion, and sorry for beating this drum over and over, but there is a difference.

You seem to want to define religion in a special way, so that Christianity is not a religion. You’re free to use words as you like, but you can’t expect others to go along with your usage. I’m using “religion” in the standard way: as my dictionary says, “1. belief in, reverence for, or worship of a deity or deities, often thought of as having created or as governing the universe. 2. system, esp. an institutionalized one, of such belief and worship, often involving the observance of particular doctrines and practices.” Under those definitions, Christianity is a religion. So are Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, and many more. That’s not to say that any of these systems is monolithic. (Well, I can’t speak about Hinduism or Jainism, but I can about the other three.) Ultra-orthodox Hassidic Judaism and Reform Judaism are far apart, as are Christian Evangelicalism and the kind of Christianity represented by Bishop Spong. But in each case there’s a central core of belief that makes talking about Judaism and Christianity possible. So I’m going to keep referring to Christianity as a religion—or if you prefer, a group of related religions that share a common core.

Quote:[T]hose who "convert from Christianity to Islam" seldom do so at the risk of loss of life, whereas, across our world those who convert from Islam to Christianity do so in full knowledge that they will be ostracized and possibly put to death.

I don't know if the significance of that has meaning for you, but that is an indication of the "faith" that some have in Jesus Christ. To the point that they risk their lives. . . . [I]f someone believes something so strongly that they will put their lives at risk and beyond that be willing to give up their lives for it...isn't that an indication that there is something more than meets the eye going on?

So you’re saying that if people feel so strongly about their faith that they will actually put their lives at risk for it or even willingly give up their lives for it, that indicates the validity of their faith? That argument is not going to get you very far, S.T. The response to it is simply two numbers—nine and eleven.

Quote: [A] google search of Christian Persecution would be a good place to start. I can direct you to links that will have pictures of what religion does to Christians on a daily basis.

You’re right. There are places in the world where Christians have recently been persecuted. Two such that come to mind are Egypt and Indonesia, although I’m not sure the incidents represent government policy rather than the actions of small groups of zealots. Such persecution is reprehensible. But I need to tell you that Christians playing the victim card is hard to take. You guys are the dominant religion in the world! You’re not exactly victims. And I know I don’t have to point out the horrible history of Christian persecution of others—most notably Jews. (If you’re not aware of what the founder of Protestantism, Martin Luther, said about Jews, I’ll be happy to provide some links. As for Catholic anti-Semitism, you might take a look at Constantine’s Sword.)


Quote:Concerning Santa Claus, this may sound horrible, and I am sure it will just really help the view that some have of me, but I in no uncertain terms explained to my neices and nephew that Santa and the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy...were not real.

I respect that. I have no kids of my own, but if I did, I don’t think I’d want to lie to them about anything, including Santa. I’m all for reality.

Quote:You are omniscient? You know for certain that "no minds are ever changed?" That is a little broad, don't you think? Testimony after testimony would challenge this statement.

Nope, not omniscient. But perhaps I wasn’t clear. What I meant was that no conversions—or, for that matter, deconversions—take place in this context, namely in forums for people who share certain beliefs about religion. The TTA forum is a place where people come together to share ideas and be part of a like-minded community of non-believers. Some forum members, although not all, have been seriously abused by religion. This is about the least fertile ground on earth for conversions! In the same way, if I as an atheist were to join a Christian Evangelical community and preach atheism, how many deconversions do you think I’d chalk up? Despite my lack of omniscience, I feel comfortable maintaining that in these environments, minds are not changed about belief in god.

Quote:[W]hy is it you feel the need to ask the questions you pose here? I thought that you were basically done with conversing with me?

Fair question.

The answer has to do with my feelings about religion and religious people in general, which are complex. Given that I’ll never find common ground with the religious about belief, what should be my attitude to them? Although I respect Hitchens, I think his “Religion poisons everything” slogan is facile and unfair, since as I’ve said, religions are not monolithic. Some types of religion poison everything, some don’t.

Lucradis hit the nail on the head in his previous post in this thread (#33): “I think for the most part [people] don't give a shit what anyone believes so long as it isn't hurting anyone or infringing on our rights. Believe what you want. I think most free thinkers/atheists see the actual problem being that religion does hurt. It does infringe on so many rights. And it is dangerous. Extremely dangerous. . . .”

The only modification I would personally make to that is to change “religion does hurt” to “some kinds of religion do hurt.” But the point is that what matters to most atheists is the consequence of religion. How do your beliefs affect my life and the lives of others? Or to put it another way, it’s like a reductio ad absurdum argument in mathematics: if you take a hypothesis, work out its consequences, and come up with a contradiction, then you know the hypothesis was wrong. In a similar way, if certain religious beliefs lead to the infringing of people’s rights and other noxious consequences, you know those beliefs are bad.

So my reason for asking you the questions I did was to see what attitudes your beliefs lead you to, attitudes that have social consequences. Do they affect people’s lives positively or negatively—or are they neutral? The answers to such questions help me decide whether beliefs like yours are essentially innocuous or whether they do harm and should be actively fought against.


Quote:I interact with more atheists than I do with Christians. Why? Because there are more of you guys than there are of us...despite polls and statistics.

If only! Smile No, in the U.S., we atheists are way outnumbered by Christians. They may not be the kind of Christians you approve of, but I have no reason to doubt their self-described identity. (If you say “But they’re not true Christians,” you’re committing the “No True Scotsman” fallacy—which I first learned of here on this forum!)

OK, let me get to your answers to my questions. To repeat, I thank you for taking me up on these, and I appreciate your effort and candor in responding. Right now, in the interest of time, I’m just going to react to one of your responses, the one that’s the most personally relevant to me. If I have time later, I may return to the others.

Homosexuality.
A) Should there be laws against homosexual acts between consenting adults in private?


Before anything else, let’s get this on the table: I’m commenting as an out gay man, 67 years old. This month my partner/husband and I celebrate 42 years together, the last 3 of which have been as a married couple.

Quote:A) Again, it should not be the responsibility of the government, nor in their power, to regulate things that pertain to morality, despite which side of the fence (or door...lol) one might stand on.

Good. That’s something we agree on.

Quote:Most view this as unnatural, though the agenda to make it acceptable has seen great accomplishment through media such as Hollywood and public television.

First of all, homosexuality is found in nature all over the place (corroboration upon request), so it’s not unnatural at all. More to the point, “natural” or “unnatural” is not the measure of what we as human beings should do. Cooking food is not found in nature; neither is wearing clothing; neither is posting on Internet forums. In that sense, all of those activities are “unnatural.” Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do them.

As for homosexuality gaining acceptance, you’re right. There’s a long way to go, but progress in the U.S. has been phenomenal. Our secret agenda committees have been working overtime.

(Seriously though, I see you’ve gotten the memo on “agenda.” Realize, however, that anyone can play that game. I can just as easily talk about the Evangelical agenda or the Creationist agenda.)

Quote:Scripture condemns homosexuality, and that is the bottom line for those who believe scripture to be the word of God, expressing His will in the matter. What is harder to balance is how we approach homosexuals, but more on that in a bit.

This may surprise you, but I’m in line with your assessment that the Bible condemns homosexuality. Scholars much more knowledgeable than I have argued the contrary, but I agree with Jack Miles, someone I admire greatly, who said, “[I]t is only by a forced political correctness that the Bible as a whole can be read as neutral on the subject of homosexuality . . .”

But you see, this is a paradigm example of why we cannot and must not try to get our morality from the Bible—because it often teaches crap! The Bible represents a stage in the early moral development of the human race. Some of its writers rose above their time, but many if not most did not. The Bible accepts slavery as a normal part of life, devalues women, tells parents to kill their disobedient children, instructs the Israelites to commit genocide, demonizes non-standard sexuality . . . I could go on and on.

When the preachers wave Leviticus and Romans in the faces of mature adults like myself who have a certain amount of education and have been around the block a few times, we can counter with some punches of our own, or laugh it off, or just ignore them. But many vulnerable young gay people can’t. When they’re told they’re going to burn in hell for the “sin” of being themselves and acting on their natural, harmless impulses, they believe it. Couple that with being called names or ostracized or bullied by schoolmates, and their sense of self-worth is gone. The recent suicides of kids who’ve had shame heaped on them by the religion-fueled hatred of their society makes me want to cry and fills me with rage. The Bible has blood on its pages—the blood of “witches” burned at the stake, of heretics drawn and quartered, of Jews massacred in pogroms, of gay kids who hung themselves because they thought god condemned their sexuality.

B) Should gay people be allowed to serve openly in the military?

Quote:B) I would probably say yes, because we do live in a "free country," where individuals have a right, within the law, to live as they choose. However, just as with those who are not gay, one's peronal life should not interfere with their work, nor should it be forced on others. When I work, I do not force my beliefs on others. I do not mask the fact that I am a Christian, but I do not go around condemning those who are not, nor do I make this an issue that interferes with the work.

I’m glad you agree gay people should be allowed to serve openly. And I’m with you that one’s personal life shouldn’t interfere with one’s work. This “forcing it on others,” though, is a straw man. Do you really think gay soldiers will now try to force homosexuality on the non-gay troops? What are you thinking of—gay rapes in the showers? Or maybe “gay recruitment” parties, with PowerPoint presentations of the joys of gay sex supplemented by live demonstrations? Or perhaps you think “serving openly” means gay men will show up for roll call in tutus? C’mon, S.T. Serving openly doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you’re allowed to “act gay,” whatever the hell that’s supposed to be, or “force” your sexuality on anyone. It does means that if someone asks you who you went to the movies with over the weekend, you don’t need to change “Carl” to “Carla.” That’s all.

Quote:I will also add to the fire this: I do not approve of women in combat situations. When men go to war, the last thing they need is to be distracted by women.

An excellent argument for more gay troops. No distraction by women there!

C) (Was ending DADT a good thing?)

Quote:I will add that while in the political and legal sense I think that DADT is a joke, I also do not view this as a Christian matter, but one that is primarily political. . . .

C) I would just add that personally, I do not approve of homosexuality in general, so to know that our military regulates this concern is disturbing. It use to be grounds for dismissal if someone committed adultery, at least I have heard this. I wonder if that has changed as well.

I don’t know whether adultery is grounds for dismissal. It seems to me the military has no business putting its nose into the private, legal sexual activities of its members off-base. I do know that inappropriate sexual activity while on duty, whether hetero- or homo-, is grounds for dismissal. I have no problem with that.

D) Should openly gay people be allowed to teach children?

Quote:D) My first question is why would a gay person feel they need to be "openly gay"...around children? Think about that.

Are you "openly sexual" around children? Do you make it a point to let children become aware of your sexual preferences? It is a ridiculous question, in my view.

I think it is wrong for those who are placed in positions that most hold as places of authority to mingle their personal views with what they are teaching. In other words, While I would not deny a gay person to teach, I would have a problem with them abusing their position for the sake of instruction of beliefs and lifestyles. Just as I would have a problem with a heterosexual being "openly" anything other than what they are there to do...which is to teach.

Again, this is a straw man. You seem to think that an openly gay teacher walks into class the first day and says, “Hello, children. My name is Mr. Smith—and guess what, I’M GAY! Now, never mind math today. Let’s spend the rest of the period talking about what I like to do in bed!” C’mon, S.T. You’re smarter than that.

Being an openly gay teacher means that if a student asks you about your personal life, as students sometimes do, you can answer honestly and appropriately. For example, if Mr. Smith is asked if he’s married, he’ll say “Yes.” And if the next question is, “What’s your wife’s name?” he can answer, “Actually, I don’t have a wife. I have a husband. His name is Bill.” That’s all. Very much like the military situation. No one is foisting anything on anybody. People are just being honest. And kids can handle it.

E) Should marriage be extended to same-sex couples?

Quote:E) This is a tough one.

I would of course say no, because gay marriage is not something I view as true marriage. I view the relationships as nothing more than those of people who live together.

It’s not a tough one for me, but I’m sure that’s no surprise.

First of all, you and your church have the right to view religious marriage any way you like. If you don’t want to perform or recognize same-sex marriage, that’s fine. No one is forcing you to. Gay people who want to hold on to their religion while having their relationships affirmed and respected can find welcoming churches and synagogues (I don’t know about mosques), although not necessarily close to where they live.

Perhaps I didn’t make it clear. The question was about civil marriage. Should the government extend marriage rights to same-sex couples?

I’m not going to rehash the arguments about what marriage is or isn’t or why same-sex marriage should be allowed—the online debates are endless, and I’m frankly weary of them. If you want to see what some of the legal implications of marriage are and why it’s important to distinguish civil from religious marriage, you can find some information here.

As for my marriage not being “true” or being nothing more than two people living together, I will tell you that I’ll hold my marriage up against yours or anyone else’s. On any measure except the fundamentalist one, we come out pretty damn well.

Quote:But considering the state of our Nation and the mindset of most in it, I do not see that this is going to go but one way, and that is, it will be legalized.

Correct. It’s just a matter of time.

Quote:How should Christians respond to it? Same way that Christians have always responded to actions and lifestyles that are against the word and will of God...on an individual basis, person to person.

More and more people are looking at the “against the word and will of God” thing and saying to themselves, “That is so wrong. I know there’s nothing the matter with my sexuality. I may be different, but different isn’t necessarily bad. If the Bible is so wrong on this, I wonder what else it’s wrong about . . .”

Quote:Now, to answer if my faith has changed my views on this? Yes, because you see...from a very young age I have always hated homosexuals.

Through my faith and study, I no longer hate them.

Well, I guess we should chalk this up to an improvement, huh? You used to hate people like me. Now it’s just “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Well, there’s a saying that begins, “With friends like that . . .”

No offense, but I don’t give a flying fuck whether you hate me or love me. What I do care about is the fact that you vote, and that the beliefs of people like you can have the power to affect my life. That’s why we need to do all we can to counter the influence of fundamentalist religion in this country.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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19-10-2011, 07:11 PM
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
(19-10-2011 06:34 PM)cufflink Wrote:  I was going to quote Cufflink's response, but then it occurred to me that this would result in my post being so long that not even God could read it all.

Cufflink: a mammoth effort there and I agree with pretty much every word you wrote Smile

Intolerance is the vanguard of religion.

"Sin, young man, is when you treat people as things" - Granny Weatherwax in Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett.
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20-10-2011, 01:21 AM (This post was last modified: 21-10-2011 01:29 AM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
Excellent post cufflink, you are spot on! I commend you for your integrity and your eloquence.
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20-10-2011, 06:49 PM
RE: A Question for S.T.Ranger
Hello ST, a few quick points.

You obviously were, in your earlier life, blatantly homophobic, and it is pretty obvious that you now barely tolerate gay people. Please be honest and don't deny this...it is obvious from your comments.

Have you ever wondered what the source of your prejudice was and is? It's the bible ST. In countries that don't have God or Allah polluting their culture homosexuality is totally accepted. Your precious book has poisoned your attitude to your fellow man.

America is the most Christian so called "developed" country in the world ( that's not my opinion, it is a fact). Guess which country has the highest rates of
-abortion
-teenage pregnancy
-sexually transmitted diseases
-childhood mortality
in the developed world? Yes, it is God's own country, the "shining light on the hill," the self proclaimed moral watchdog to the world, the good ole USA. The most secular developed countries, namely France, Scandinavia and Japan have the best statistics in these parameters.

Reason? Immoral Christian parents and teachers refuse to educate their children about contraception and sexual hygiene, but fill their heads with superstitious nonsense about gods, heaven, hell, angels, devils and the immoral ethics associated with them.
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