A good point, although I say this as a liberal atheist supporter of gay rights. It's kind of easy for someone like me to say they're doing it wrong.

Still, this seems like the kind of change that has to be enacted from within, I don't know how else it would work. All you 'Oh, not all Christians are like that' types, I'm looking your way. (In a supportive rather than accusatory fashion, I assure you.)
There may only be one or two places in the Bible that condemn homosexuality, but there's a ton of stuff in there about how women are not as good as men, starting with blaming Eve for original sin. As long as Christianity is inherently misogynistic, it's hard for me to imagine it won't be used as a pretext for picking on effeminate males, as well as of course all females.

I have met many people of faith who are good people who don't think that way, but it's tough to make the case that the scripture doesn't support it. Liberal Christians just choose different bits of scripture to ignore than conservatives.
@2 But they are full of shit.
@2 Change our beliefs about what? I don't see the connection.
That siren... just like the plane you see at the end of Charlie Wilson's War. Absolutely bone-chilling. Thanks for posting this, Dan.
I'm glad you posted this, Dan.

I wonder if the intended audience will get the message? There are some, even on this forum, who tenaciously hold to the belief that they are not hostile, bullying, etc., who deny things even when presented with their own statements as evidence. I fear those are hopeless. And I fear for any hurting young person who finds there way here via SL or IGBP.

Thank you again for posting John's work.
@2 & @7 - Then we need to continue illustrating that society suffers no empirically demonstrable damage as a result of either homosexuality or the tolerance thereof.
I'm of a mixed-mind on this. Any change will help, and that kids are killing themselves is just horrible.

But being anti-gay is not the only despicable thing found in religions. If they fix the 'gay problem' they'll just find another group to demonize, as can been seen in any history book.

I cannot forgive people of faith and especially their leaders for their hatred and stupidity.

Make all religion illegal.

I guess that should mention that I am NOT an atheist.
John Shore is a gift to the Christian community. Hilarious, smart --and making a difference. You should see his blog. He's giving hope to gay teenagers and consistantly challenging others.

The truth is there are people who don't want to have to choose between their faith and their sexuality. Remember them and be grateful that John is doing his thing.
Even without religion, some people would still be hateful and bigoted. Religion just gives them an excuse for acting that way... they're only doing it because "god" wants them to. They absolve themselves of their own awful behavior.
christians believe that adultery is a morally reprehensible offense against god.
when an adulterer commits suicide is it the fault of christians?

christians believe that fornication is a morally reprehensible offense against god.
when a fornicator commits suicide is it the fault of christians?

christians believe that murder is a morally reprehensible offense against god.
when a murderer commits suicide is it the fault of christians?

christians believe that child abuse is a morally reprehensible offense against god.
when a pedophile commits suicide is it the fault of christians?

christians believe that stealing is a morally reprehensible offense against god.
when a thief commits suicide is it the fault of christians?

homosexuals commit suicide because they have become ensnared in a destructive soul sucking lifestyle.

it is certainly easier to blame christians than face this inconvenient truth but lying to yourselves won't stop homosexual suicide.


good luck.

work on getting that AIDS rate below 20% and then get back to us.
I dunno... Don't get me wrong, I despise religion and think the world would be better off if it disappeared. However, even without religion, I still think roughly the same amount of evil and violence would exist. People would just find some other excuse. The current religious leaders inciting the violence would just incite it through some other means.
@13 I'm a BIIIIIIIIIG fornicator. So I suppose by your argument, I'm engaged in a destructive soul sucking lifestyle. I'll save, for now, the point that my soul doesn't feel particularly sucked, my life isn't particularly destroyed, and that I do more good for others than most of the "Christians" who presume to judge me. And I'll make the point that no "Christians" bully me because of what is actually a lifestyle choice for me, and yet they'll do it constantly to gay children.

Why not share the "love" a little, and pick on people who can not only take it, but will shove it right back up your uptight bigoted assholes? I guess preying on the helpless is more of the Christian style.
I don't know if abolishing religion would change things, society has been steeped in faith and what I would describe as superstition, when some kind of emergency comes along, it likely that society will seek to replace it. Perhaps it would look like North Korea where Kim Il Sung remains the head of state, despite his death, first through his son and now his grandson. I've never been to North Korea, but I've been to China and stood in line to see an embalmed Mao, I've also visited the embalmed Lenin, to me they were examples of how an individual can be deemed infallible and become elevated to a level that resembles religious worship. Perhaps human nature wants to know that something or someone is infallible, bountiful, and looking out for their interests. Just a thought, though.
I believe that it is 100% possible to think, feel and believe terrible, cruel things about another human being without acting on them. It's pretty darn rare, but it's possible.

If those other kids had acted properly around poor young Mr. Rodemeyer, then we wouldn't be telling half the adherents of a whole religion that they have to change the way they think. The other half of "hate the sin" is "love the sinner," and caritas/agape is a love that takes action.
I'm reading these comments, and it seems like people here don't believe in moral progress. This makes me a little bit sad. Sure, there has been vicious behavior everywhere, forever, but why does it seem outlandish to think that, if we change people's legitimization for cruelty, we will change the behavior? Truely vicious (as opposed to virtuous) people don't need to point at a few lines in a book to legitimize their behavior--they just do it. Appealing to some authority means that people want or need a rational explanation for the things they do or think. Changing their perception of their rationalization to something more...reasonable... seems like it would help individuals be more virtuous or kind.

Don't mind me though. This master's in philosophy isn't actually doing me much good day to day, as far as this society goes.
I think the problem with the comments here is that this thread may simply become a discussion on whether or not religion is a good idea. As much as I think such a discussion is interesting -- there are good arguments to be made on both sides (kim in portland has just made one; it's the same argument made in that old South Park episode about Richard Dawkins and our atheist future) -- I wonder if we shouldn't look at how things can change from within instead.

Religion, and Christianity, have been around for quite a while, and I don't see any signs that they're going to disappear soon. Atheists should be pragmatic about that.

Religion can change from the inside; Christianity has, in many ways. It doesn't matter if non-Christian deem such changes 'hypocritical' (which is part of what the 'they're just choosing which bits and pieces to ignore' is all about) or 'interpretational' (looking at the Bible as a work to be interpreted rather than the literal truth is not really equivalent to 'picking and choosing what bits to ignore', if you really think about it). What matters is that change is possible. Christianity isn't today what it was in the Middle Ages; it even isn't what it was in the 18th century.

To my mind, the 'real' fight in today's world is between moderates and extremists, interpretationists and fundamentalists -- and not only within Christianity: also in politics, in gender and racial relations, in foreign affairs, and so on. Moderates -- Christian/atheists, feminist/MRA's, patriots/internationalistis -- have more in common with each other (most important of all, a willingness to discuss their viewpoint and to see their beliefs challenged) than they have with the extremists who happen to share the same group name with them.

I don't know if Christians like John Shore will succeed in their attempt at talking to the more extremist factions within Christianity. Perhaps they will, perhaps they won't. It all depends on how strong anger, and fear of the different, are to these extremists. But since this is an example of the kind of dialogue that our society needs more of -- dialogue between extremists and moderates within, rather than between, groups --, I, for one, am very happy for it. I wish it luck.
As a means of comparison: fundamentalist Christians probably think and feel about gays the way progressives and liberals feel about, say, bigots. Leaving aside for the moment the fact that bigots are clearly wrong: isn't the hatred against bigots (which sometimes even takes the form of imaginary lynch parties against them) the same kind of hatred that fundamentalist Christians have against gays, and isn't it also rooted in the same deep source -- the feeling that, somehow, they are destroying things we stand for, they are doing violence to that which is dear to us? Never mind whether or not ther reasons are obejctively true: isn't the intensity, the need to say something, to do something, the same kind of intensity that anti-bigot activists can also have? Isn't the mindset often remarkably similar?

I sometimes fear such passion, no matter what cause it defends. Because its laser-sharp focus on what's wrong with the other side tends to blind its bearer to the problems in his/her side.
Or, if you allow me a thought experiment: if nothing happens in the moderate-extremist debate in all groups; if things stand pretty much as they are now between moderates and extremists in all groups;

can't you then imagine a possible future in which atheists are the mainstream majority, and Christian kids are bullied (perhaps to suicide) because they're Christian? Do you think that would really be totally surprising, beyond human comprehension?

So... where does the urge to bully come from? From being Christian, from being straight, from being conservative... or from this 'passion' plus 'fear' thing?
Religion has it's place in society, and is needed. Hate to break it to you atheists, but many of you have a religious belief. Anytime you assume that your views on what is beyond comprehension are correct, you are stating a religious belief. I make no assumptions, what is beyond our comprehension (what happens after death) is not something anyone knows for certain because the dead don't really tell us much, any living being that says they know for sure is flat out lying. No one should be prosecuted for their beliefs in any way shape or form, and I have seen evidence (even on this slog) that people who pretend to be good are in fact just as capable of being brutal and hateful toward anyone who even mentions an opposing view. No one is innocent on that. So it is also very possible (and even probable) that if the majorities switch here, the same effect will happen to the opposite group. I have seen people here even go so far as to lie about those they oppose just to "make a point" ... and that's pretty much the same thing the christians are doing here.
@KittenKoder, even though I'm neither an atheist nor a religious person (there are other options), I think I have to comment on your post.

First, you are also expressing beliefs (which you'd probably call religious) when you imply that 'making no assumptions' is better (there's a philosophical/religious name for your opinion too); the very idea that 'religion (not, say, philosophy or mythology) is necessary' is ultimately such a belief. Unfortunately, nobody (you included) can say anything without departing from some belief system (which includes also, implicitly or explicitly, first-cause, or 'religious' as you say, belifs), so to point out to others that they have beliefs of this kind is either belaboring the obvious, or then an attempt at differentating yourself when in fact you're doing the same as everybody else.

Second, those who claim to 'know for sure' are atheists only in name -- just like those 'Christians' who do things that would horrify Christ. Just as you'd probably tell critics of Christianity to remember that when they criticize Christianity, do also remember that when you criticize atheists. (Cf. my 'moderate-extremist' post above).

Third, even though I sympathize with the idea that there are bad people (capable of prosecuting or being brutal and hateful) everywhere, I note that you (a) implicitly overgeneralize (not all people who 'pretend' to be good, as you say, are capable of being brutal and hateful towards anyone who has a different opinion), in a way that you'd be the first to criticize others for if they did it to you; and (b) do one of the same thing you accuse others here of doing (namely, stereotyping a group, in this case sloggers) instead of taking each of them individually; and if doing this is bad when a slogger does it, it doesn't get any better when you do it yourself.

Having said that... where do you think the problem is, and what would you do about it? The reality is that the world is much more full of extremist or 'extremist-light' people -- Christians who hate gays, atheists/other theists who hate Christians -- than of tolerant people like yourself. Why is that, will it always be like that, can we do something, in your opinion? Just curious.
So 26, not believing in something equates to a religion? I don't believe in leprechauns, but I can't be absolutely certain that they don't exist. I can't prove they don't exist, and yet I say with complete confidence that there are no such things as leprechauns. If a leprechaun believer comes to me, and tells me that if I don't believe in leprechauns, I'm going to burn for eternity, I have to take that person seriously? I have to respect that person's beliefs?
@28, I think (at least I hope) what @26 is referring to is something deeper than the mere reasonable belief that leprechauns don't exist; but the fact that there is an underlying web of beliefs about reality, implicit in what you're saying, and that you accept also without proof.

For instance, you clearly wouldn't take a leprechaun believer seriously; because you believe in reason, logics, and evidence. However, there is no reason to believe (as Hume had already shown, which further led to Kant's Critique of Pure Reason) that evidence, reason, and logics have to apply to reality.

Consider this: Demanding evidence before you believe in something is based upon the belief that evidence is the stuff on which beliefs should be based -- and since this belief has to be accepted without evidence (it cannot be used to justify itself, or else it would be an example of circular reasoning), its basis for acceptability has to be something other than evidence -- say, the deep feeling that 'it's obvious', 'how could it even be otherwise', or then its status as a 'necessary postulate' for reasoning. All of which are other ways of saying 'faith'.
29, what belief do you consider "deeper"? The problem with not basing beliefs on reason and fact is then you open the door to believing anything the human mind can dream up, and we can imagine some crazy shit, not to mention how many different baseless beliefs people hold. To say you have to respect everyone's baseless beliefs is just silly. To say we have to consider those unfounded beliefs when legislating the laws of the land is frightening.
@27 Don't bother, it's just another attempt at rabble rousing by someone desperate for attention. She shows up, starts laying down vague blanket insults and then disappears when she's backed into a corner/bored with posting; same modus operandi as SeattleBlues but less with the anti-gay rhetoric and more with the contrarianism.
@ ankylosaur,

Perhaps one could distille bullying like a fine Scotch one could find that it is part "passion" and part "fear". Perhaps there is a little "low self-esteem" mixed in for added flavor in the mash.

And now I have awakened my longing to sip some Caol Ila. Indeed that will make a fine ending for my day, when it comes. I'm chuffed that I made a South Park reference, I've never seen an episode, perhaps I'm a dinosaur too.

Thank you for the thoughts to ponder. Take care,
"Christ died so that you could love more."

::exhale:: Wow. Powerful words.
Jesus ate pie for your sins.
Kitten Koder has a point. Not about atheism being a religion--I've argued that in the past, and got my ass handed to me.

But about how many people who put on a 'nice person' front can act like jerks. I'm guilty of this. In the last couple of weeks here, I've been more . . . outspoken in some of my criticisms of other folks' posts. That's not the person I want to be.

I think the greater point is that 'evil' is not something over there, it's not that other person who is completely evil. Evil--or at least, the capacity to do wrong acts--is in all of us. We all struggle to show compassion, courage, generosity, and love as often as we would like to. We all have our weaknesses, our vanities, and our failures of spirit. It is much easier to demonize others than to try to improve our own behaviors.

And Kitten Koder is also right in that most dominant groups are pretty hard on the subgroups in their midst. A society of 90% atheists would see a lot of bullying of the 10% of religious folks.
A Christian to John Shore-

Turn, friend. Leading others into spiritual error is a dangerous road to travel. A shepherd leading his flock to a convention of wolves to discuss inter-species compromise isn't just making an error, he's violating a sacred trust. For your sake, turn friend.

BTW, you might do some studies into the role of individual choice and responsibilities. As sad, disheartening and wasteful as suicide is, it is the person who surrenders to despair who is to blame for his death, not what he thinks the source of his despair.

Helping such young people to take the reins of their own lives, helping them to see that hopelessness is something they can overcome, would seem more helpful than blaming others, but that's just my opinion.

So, Mr. Shore, turn friend.
Metaphysical belief /= religious belief! No, no, no! I have a metaphysical belief in the mind as comprised of a priori judgements blended with empirical stuff and phenomenological experience (a non empirical "thing"). However, i am not religious, by any extension of the word. Let's try to use language as if it means something.
Pray tell what Mr. Shore is supposed to turn from, Seattleblues?

And what spiritual error? You admit you aren't well educated in your faith or the contents of your own Bible, Seattleblues. How then can you be fit to judge what an error is?

Would not it be more honest to say that Mr. Shore needs to turn to your chosen interpretation. Just because you choose to embrace those interpretations does not make them correct. There is volumes of evidence from actual educated Biblical scholars to suggest that you don't have the most accurate translation. Of course you are free to choose which translations you cling to, but wouldn't it be in your own best interest to actually read and investigate them, engage in some critical thinking on your own? Instead of your MO of proclaiming yourself correct without evidence to support your point. Just a thought.

Anyway if you are allowed the freedom to choose the translation you embrace, then Mr. Shore has the same right. Unless you can offer some evidence, linguistic, historical, archeological, etc., from ancient Jewish society or even the Hellenistic period (~323 BCE to 410 CE) that supports your translations correctness you should refrain from proclaiming your choices as the correct one. You have an opinion, Seattleblues, nothing more.
@ 36, hiding out from this thread? You have some questions to answer.
One of the problems with believing in a make believe god is that anyone can say that they speak for him. Both sides in a war can declare that they are fighting on the same god's side, and there is no way to prove either side's claim. People have burned innocent folks, believing that torturing and killing witches was God's work. The only limits on claiming to know what God wants are the limits on human imagination, because the speaker knows that no god is going to appear to dispute their claims.
@30, speaking for myself, I don't think that any belief is OK, and clearly some beliefs (e.g., the flying spaghetti monster) look much worse than others. So I'm not advocating a naive relativism, your-thing-is-as-good-as-my-thing approach.

No--what I'm saying amounts to more or less "nothing is perfect". Many atheists attack religion based on the idea that science is obviously better than religion because it is "not based on faith". This is an incorrect statement: science is as much based on faith as religion is, because any logical system, no matter what rules it has, must start somewhere -- say, with beliefs such as that reality exists, that causality works, and that evidence is necessary to justify beliefs; or, conversely, that there is a god with a master plan for the universe. And since these fundamental statements cannot justify themselves without circularity, then there is faith at the root of all those systems.

Now note again: I'm not saying that, since all worldviews and belief systems are ultimately based on postulates accepted by faith, they are all equivalent. As I said above, I refuse naive relativism. No -- the flying spaghetti monster is way more ridiculous than the scientific method. All I'm saying is: yes, science needs faith in its own fundamental principles, or else it can't work. Just like religion. Again I say: this is not the same as saying that science is 'just like religion' or 'equivalent to religion': it clearly is not. But the reason why science is not the same as religion is not that it is totally independent of faith -- it isn't; no, the reason is that science provides a method for getting asymptotically closer to the truth instead of simply delivering "the truth" as a revealed (and therefore unquestionable) system. Religion basically tells you "what is", and there isn't much about it. Science tells you "what we've been able to come up with thus far", by following this method. As a result, everything can be questioned (and changed) in science within the parameters of science itself; whereas, in religion, there is a (rather big) central core of beliefs that can never be challenged. Science can, and does, change when new evidence is added a lot faster and more efficiently than religion does. That is, to me, the basic difference.
While I may agree with Mr. Shore, I'm not sure the cheap video he created really does much justice to his rhetoric. There's something about those creatures' flat, emotionless faces and monotone voices that honestly creeps me out more than anything. Maybe it's just me.
@SB, of course you contradict yourself by performing the very anti-Christian thing your post claims you don't want to do: attacking others, bullying them (since your post is only intended to cause pain, not to bring people together, which is after all what bullying is about). Your Christ would tsk-tsk your for that.

Worse -- I think you know it. You feel it -- which explains at least part of your clearly negative emotions.

What you're doing doesn't come from Christ. It comes from the very opposite of everything Christ meant; it comes from the saddest of all sins: arrogance.
@32 (kim in portland), that is also my impression: one measure of 'passion', one measure of 'fear' (which is part of the cause for the passion), and at least half a measure of 'low self-esteem' (or 'herd insecurity', i.e. 'I don't feel safe unless everybody agrees with my beliefs').

I wonder how bigots of all kinds -- anti-gay, anti-Christian, anti-Darwinism -- would feel if they could look deep inside themselves.

I'm reminded of a movie I saw long ago, when I was a child; I don't remember the title or the actors, and it was old (I think it was black-and-white). It was about racism. There was this poor white racist character. At some point, in trying to jusify his racism, he says (I'm probably paraphrasing, since my memory isn't all that clear) 'But we're better than them niggers. We are. Cause we're white'. Then, as if he had suddenly fallen prey to doubts, he adds: 'Right? Right...?' He looks away, the camera catches his face -- his eyes have a more deeply sad expression than anything else I've ever seen in any other movie -- and he adds, almost whispering: 'if we aren't better than those niggers, then... then what are we then?'

As if he were saying...

If what we're really afraid of -- i.e., that we are nothing, that we are meaningless and lost, that we're unworthy, that we're dirt, scum, low, disgusting, pathetic -- is true, then... then there's nothing worth living for. Surely this can't be true? After all, at least we're better than... them niggers... Please tell me we are! Or else I fall into that abyss I cannot face...
@40 (Rob in Baltimore), I sympathize with your viewpoint, but I do have to say I think there are several confusions in the argument you try to make.

It's not the simple belief in a god that makes it possible for anyone to say they're speaking for him; after all, the belief system of a certain religion might explicitly exclude this possibility. One can imagine a religion that says nobody can speak for god. But the mainstream religions we have are not of this kind: they all claim that certain people (prophets, saints, messiahs) do speak for (or even are) god, which does open the loophole that you mention. But I insist: it is not inherent to religion that "anyone can claim to speak for god"; it's only a contingent feature of most mainstream extant religions.

Also, mentioning the crimes committed in god's name, while of course relevant, only goes as far as it goes. It would be similarly possible to mention crimes committed by scientists, using the scientific method, and the enlightenment scientific-industrial mentality (Auschwitz comes to mind). Terrible weapons like the atom bomb or neurological agents or geneticallly engineerd viruses also come to mind.

What you said about religion -- that anybody can say anything and then claim it's "the word of god" -- is also true for science if you consider the moral aspect of it. Any scientist can claim what s/he is doing is morally OK because 'it's science' and 'we want knowledge to progress' -- no matter how many lives this costs, or whether peolpe, animals, etc. are being tortured for it. Whether others will or won't accept it (depending on their own moral systems), whether mainstream people and/or scientists will agree (again depending on their own moral systems) is of course a different question; but that scientists can, and actually did in practice, justify acts that today would be considered barbaric by saying "it's all for the progress of science" (the scientific counterpart of the crusader's "it's the will of god") -- that, I think, nobody can deny.

Again, I'm not saying "science is as bad as religion". I'm saying "nothing is perfect" (and worse yet, nothing will ever be perfect).
Within my limited theological background I can see at least two straightforward and one more subtle error, none of which have to do with whether homosexuality as such is sinful or not.

Christ didn't die so that we could love more, though that can and should be one of the effects. He died from his boundless love of creation, as the final reconciliation of fallen man with God. Each individual has the choice to accept the offered reconciliation or reject it. A person absolutely can reject this whole notion, but they can't do so and call themselves a Christian with any accuracy.

And while a Christian taking a moral stand may imply some level of responsibility in how we communicate it to others, if some see it as an excuse for barbarism or cruelty that hardly lies on our shoulders. Hitler used Wagner in the gas chambers. This doesn't mean everyone should hate the music of Wagner, that an evil man used it for his purposes. In other words, if some gay men or lesbians are so convicted by someone elses view of them that suicide seems the only option, I have to wonder at their mental stability in general.

Attitudes toward homosexuality may trigger the emotional package that ends in suicide. But a person disposed toward suicide would have found that trigger somewhere, absent psychological intervention, anyway.

The more subtle error, the watered down Christianity that people like this gentleman advocate seems to me somewhat pointless. If Christ isn't divine, if he didn't die on the cross and was resurrected, if all that isn't true then there simply isn't an actually Christian view to take. Ghandi had some good things to say. MLK did also. But I don't propose to base one of the worlds major religions on either man. If Christ was just a man with some good things to say, then why bother? More, if Christ was in fact divine and this gentleman peddles this half Christianity, he actually is responsible for those he misleads.

Again, a shepherd who willfully guides his flock into danger places himself in greater moral danger than any one of them.

Finally, the very real question of why homosexual identifying individuals disproportionately are represented in suicide figures should be properly asked. Muslims were arguably 'bullied' post 9-11. And so far as I know there hasn't been a wave of Muslim suicides. Being picked on and taking ones life may be related or not, but absent proof correlation doesn't equal causation.
I suppose the shorter version is this-

Two men see a third walking blindly into quicksand. One attempts to show him a narrow and difficult path out, maybe somewhat tactlessly. The other encourages his walk into his own danger and even offers to guide him farther in.

Which is more morally culpable?

SB, you're the one peddling half Christianity. You would demonstrate some love of your fellow man if that weren't true.

Also, Wagner's music isn't a religion, so the comparison there is not valid.
@48 So if you don't tell gay people they deserve to be tortured in hell for all eternity for the way they were born you're leading them into danger? God you're an arsehole.
@47, I will leave it to others more learned than myself to discuss theology with you, and what exactly Christ died for. However, I will take you to task for your mistakes regarding suicide.

People who attempt or commit suicide aren't on rails, fully intent on destroying themselves. Most are in crisis, sometimes very brief moments of crisis. If they can get through those times, they can get help of whatever kind necessary. (This is also an argument for keeping firearms secured when in the home.) If someone is bullied on a daily basis, it can put them in that crisis state. Without the harassment, the person wouldn't ever get there; they might have ups and downs as we all do, but extreme actions--such as harassment and bullying--have extreme consequences.

This is not to say that I believe bullies and harassers whose victims commit suicide should be punished for murder. Not at all. But to excuse their illegal and immoral actions because 'Well, that kid was unstable and would have killed himself anyway' makes no sense. Have you ever been harassed, Seattle Blues? Not the insults you get here--I mean repeated phone calls to your house, called names in the hallways or streets on a daily basis, socially shunned by your peers? If you have not, can you try to imagine it? The isolation, the confusion, the fear, the impotent anger. Please try to have some empathy for folks who find themselves there, for whatever reason.
Do tell where Mr. Shore stares that he doubts the divinity of Christ, Seattleblues? Is it anywhere in this post?

Try and stay on topic. Mr. Shore does not agree that your choice of interpretation permits you to bully LGBT people. You have chosen to believe an interpretation that proclaims LGBT people as unacceptable to God, as abominations. He has chosen translations, that a large number of educated scholars with advanced degrees in languages, history, archeology, etc., agree with. He disagrees with your refering to Senator Frank as "Bawney Fwank" and all your charming "pet names" for Mr. Savage. You refuse to acknowledge your own meanness. Jesus gives you one way to show the world you are his disciple, one way, to love one another or love your neighbor as yourself. The apostle Paul takes the theme even further, without love your words are noise (1 Cor. 13), proof that the Holy Spirit lives within you as a proof of your discipleship is a spirit that reflects: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentlness, and self-control (Gal. 6:22-23). From James you learn that you cannot use your mouth to both praise God and then use it to belittle men who are made in God's image (James 3:9-12). From John it tells you that everyone who loves as been born of God and whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. It says no one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete. It says that if anyone claims to love God but abuses his brother is a liar. Anyone who abuses his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:7-21).

Mr. Shore and a whole host of slog readers, even some of the atheist and agnostics, agree that disciples of Christ are known for their love. A true disciple of Christ would know to treat their LGBT brothers and sisters with love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. True disciples know that God is love, and bullying someone, proclaiming them deviants, or making fun of them is morally wrong and it is acting like a bigot. True disciples take seriously the burden of reflecting, John 3:16 to the world, and cruel and barbaric behavior is unacceptable. As is blameing the victim, which you did.

I will end by saying that I think it unlikely that Mr. Shore cares that you think that he is leading people astray, or that you think his faith is watered down Christianity, because Seattleblues can't love his fellow sloggers, which indicates
that Seattleblues is a Christian name not in action, he can't walk the Christian life, and is not someone to be taken seriously.

I hope this clear, the divinity of Jesus, was never part of the discussion. You may choose to believe that you treat people kindly on this forum, but Google holds large volumes of evidence to the contrary.
@47: I thought he died from Romans with carpentry equipment.
I will add this too, Seattleblues. I hope that you find the love within yourself to love even those you disagree with with grace. You won't find a passage in your Bible that tells you that someone must be a Christian. The word didn't exist until much later. Jesus said believe in me. The Old Testament tells you that you must learn to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly (Micah 6:8).

I wish you a good weekend. I hope you and your's are healthy.
@ 45 (ankylosaur),

I suppose a deep level of sadness. The need to elevate by means of belittling others is an indication of hatred within. Something deep within them is considered unacceptable, so they punish those who share their "unacceptableness" or those that challenge what it means to be "acceptable". The need to say that we are superior is strong. We humans are a rather fragile lot. Compassion seems in short supply. Especially when it requires that we apply it those who "seem" different.

I don't think I've seen that movie. I imagine it was very haunting though. What we loath in ourself must seem like an abyss.

Here's hoping our children's generation become a generation known for its compassion. We can hope.

Take care.

you looked pained.
have you tried lube like we suggested?

homosexuality is its own hell.
mental illness.
substance abuse.
but you try to help a fellow traveler avoid the quicksand and get called a bigot....
Ah- Kim in Portland. Thank you so much for putting into words what I could never do. I don't have such grace and love for religiousity.
Lived with folks like SB for 13 years, trying to walk the "love your neighbor, but warn him of hell", "Love the sinner, etc". By condemning others, they were 'shining god's light', so they couldn't possibly be harming others with their words.
The truly interesting thing about these xtians is that they love their flavor of god over their own children. IE: If their child were to be gay, they would share with him [lovingly of course] that he was doomed to hell in the next world and shame/condemnation by xtians in this. Then they would [sadly] disown that child and put him [with love] onto the street, so god could 'speak to his heart' [again with love]and encourage him to repent from something utterly beyond his control. If he dies on the street, that must have been part of god's plan; we had nothing to do with it. Just doing what god commands us re: homosexuality.
All the while seeing no flaw whatsoever in their logic. At the root of all their hatred is the thinking that god is in charge of it all, so if an innocent man is executed [god's ultimate plan for that man], or a gay kid offs himself [again, god is in charge], so it's all ultimately no problem.
The utter numbing of something as strong as parental love eventually drove me out of their church, because it simply made no rational sense to put faith so far above love of one's children.
Ankylosaur, thank you, my explanation was a but random, as I have said, explaining things to humans is not a skill I well versed in.
Here's an example of someone claiming, not only to speak for God, but claiming that she'll be able to get God to raise the dead people of her choosing on her command.…

You can argue that she doesn't, but what would be your proof? That she can't possibly be speaking for God because you know God's intentions better? I'm sure she'd dissagree with you. Imaginary God isn't going to suddenly show up to settle it.
To add to my post at 60: Do we really have to respect this woman's beliefs any more than someone who claims that leprechauns exist?
@57 You do know I'm not David Tennant, right? I mean, god knows I'd like to be. He got the nickname 'Ten-inch' for a reason ;)

You have expressed this idea before eloquently.

It is what fascinates the troll about Slog.
How the enlightened ones are guilty of EXACTLY the same hatred and bigotry they decry in skinheads and rednecks and Westboroians.

Savage has an Old Testament prophet's certainty that those who disagree with him are Bigoted Haters and, in his mind, that justifies anything he may choose to say or do to them.
The only difference between Danny and the fundamentalists is that Danny is his own God, telling him who and what is right and blasphemous. It makes it handy to cut out the middle-man....

Danny thinks being "right" justifies being an arrogant asshole.
But then, every arrogant asshole who ever lived was sure he was "right".....

oh no.
the tedious translation fairy strikes again.
The word "christian" doesn't appear in the Bible?
Well obviously then no one needs to be a "christian".
just like homosexuality is peachy keen because the word 'homosexual' isn't in the original greek or aramaic.
does your jesus condemn adultery?
does your jesus declare that except one be born of water and of the spirit they can not enter the kingdom of god?
what does that even mean?
please don't hurt the feeling of adulterers.
don't tell them their behavior is 'wrong'....
that would be hateful.
surely your big hearted generosity and acceptance is all they need to go to heaven.
@58 (OutInBF), who wrote: "By condemning others, they were 'shining god's light', so they couldn't possibly be harming others with their words.
The truly interesting thing about these xtians is that they love their flavor of god over their own children. IE: If their child were to be gay, they would share with him [lovingly of course] that he was doomed to hell in the next world and shame/condemnation by xtians in this.

Indeed. I've seen such people too, and I've been just as much saddened by their behavior as you have.

I wished these people would re-read in their favorite Bibles the words Christ said to the Pharisees and Sadducees. Because that is what they are: people who are so sure that they -- others maybe not, but they, yes -- know what god means, what god wants, what the right interpretation of the Bible is... so that they can condemn others.

I am sadly sure that, were Christ (in case he is the son of god) ever to come back and tell those people that they were wrong, they (most of them, at least) would rather reject Christ, maybe even conspire against him, than accept Christ's judgment and acknowledge their error. Which is why they are like the Pharisees and the Sadducees: because they love god in themselves, they love their thoughts about god, and Christ, and the Bible; they love that, not their neighbors, unlike their Christ.

That they -- including people who are actually quite educated, like Seattleblues -- don't see how obviously rooted in arrogance their feelings and judgmental words are, shoud in principle boggle the mind; but, after all, it doesn't, because human beings are so good at believing they are being good, acting on good intentions and good feelings, despite any evidence to the contrary. It's not, alas, only modern-day Pharisees and Saduccees like Seattleblues.
@KittenKoder, in the same slightly ironical, not entirely sincere way you've used in your first (and second) post, you're welcome. I hope you'll think about what I wrote and realize there's as much wrong with your style of argumentation as there is with the sloggers you criticize.

Atheists can be so difficult, I know. I couldn't get past the "God created gays in his image" part, because it makes no sense to me. It's like Spam poetry to me. If God looks like a man, then he is definite, not infinite, and therefore not omnipresent, or omni-anything. If the statement proves anything, it's that man created God in his image, and the argument is nil.

How about just relying on reality and facts, because there's nothing factually true that can point to homosexuality being "wrong." Christianity just slops mud on your brain and points to false premises that have to be rationalized away. Skip the bible, stick with actual fact and we'd be better off. The bible is not our friend, and neither is Jesus.
@56 (Kim in Portland),

I always imagined such things as love and hate to self with the yin-yang symbol as a metaphor. The relationship between these things is so intricate and entagled, it's almost as if one didn't make sense without the other.

People hate in others what they hate in themselves, namely the possibility that they are low, meaningless nothings. One feels safe claiming that this can't be true because we're better than at least that other person, so we can't be nothing, right? We can't be the very lowest, because we're better than that guy, right?

It would be funny if it weren't tragic.

I've always striven for understanding, because it's been my experience that really understanding others leads to (I sometimes think: is the same as) loving them.

Let's indeed hope for the next generation. Or the one after that. Who knows? We've changed a lot since the time we were hairy apes, we may change more in the future.
@68: In Judaism, we usually consider the "in His image" to be metaphorical and refer to the fact that we're thinking beings.
@RobinBoston, who wrote: " Do we really have to respect this woman's beliefs any more than someone who claims that leprechauns exist?"

No, I don't think we have to respect her beliefs, if by respect you mean agreeing, or at least pretending not to disagree, Rob.

But we shouldn't pretend that the scientific worldview doesn't have a basis on some kind of faith either. We're not the same as that woman, but we're also not as different as some people like to believe.

Remember: knowing where you stand -- i.e., having no illusions about what science really is -- doesn't mean despairing, giving up, or accepting flying spaghetti monsters and invisible pink unicorns. It only means what it means: knowing where you stand. Avoinding the arrogance of thinking you stand somewhere else, in some sort of Celeastial Scientific Heaven.

Rob, you don't have to disagree with every single possible form of religion, spirituality, or belief in order to see that that woman is speaking nonsense. Things are not equivalent to their lowest common denominators. Just as not all doctors are quacks, not all spiritualists and not all religious people are naive, starry-eyed, simpleton believers. Some of them can actually think, you know, not worse than you and I.

That's all I'm claiming: saying that science also needs faith is not the same as saying this woman is just as good as Einstein. Saying that there are more complex forms of spirituality and religion is not the same as saying this woman's must be accepted as equal to all others. Saying that there are shades of gray is not the same as saying this woman is shining white.

Life is more complicated than that.
@68, as @70 above pointed out, there are other interpretations for the texts you're sort of citing than the ones you gave. And there's deeper thinking about these issues than mere dismissals -- in fact, there even are much deeper arguments about why one shouldn't believe in a god than these simple interpretation-dependent false paradoxes.

It's a deeper question than most atheists give it credit for, this god question. Dawkins book is as full of good arguments and ideas as it is of bad arguments and misconceptions; you really have to sift through it.

If you're interested in a more higher-level discussion of problems with the concept of god, and with an interesting criticism of the attempts by atheists to disprove the concept of god, have a look Trenchant Atheist at YouTube. Warning: it's a good idea to stop his videos about every couple of minutes and think about what he said. It's not easy stuff.
@ 58
Thank you for your kind words, OutInBF.

I do not comprehend people who reject their children nor those that proclaim they know what God does or does not want. I have compassion for those who need or wish to live their lives in a religious framework that tells them what they can do and not do. I can acknowledge their freedom to submit their very persons to such a framework, but I cannot condone their using it to reject, abuse, and bully others. Our home is open to children who find themselves on the outs with their parents because of their sexual orientations and gender identity. Only one has spent time with us. Happily she was able to return as her father didn't want to loose his child and that is helping her mother.

Take care.
@67 I am not claiming to be perfect, only posing another side in most instances. Others I must attest to following a less alarmist view than any of the sides, but I would rather not spend too much time fearing the boogyman in the closet. ;) I'm just odd in many ways, and I am happy being different.
@73 (Kim in Portland), very wise words.

You make me feel curious about one thing, Kim -- I hope you don't mind me asking. Since you are a very tolerant and loving person, how do you feel when you interact with people who profoundly disagree with your beliefs -- say, atheists, or Pharisaic Christians like Seattleblues? Or maybe bigots? Does it depend on their personality -- i.e., whether or not they keep trying to convince/convert you to their beliefs, and with how much energy and (overt or covert) aggressiveness, or do the specific beliefs they have and how different they are from yours also play a role?

It's a complicated question, I understand. But I'm sincerely curious.

All the best,
@ 69, ankylosaur,

I've always thought understanding someone is a high form of love. It is a difficult task, but it is the way that one learns to love one's neighbor, one's enemy, and ourselves. For me it is the path of escaping the self loathing that my childhood taught me to believe, and to realize that I am special to a few others on this planet, but I am not special to the world and there is no need to insist or demand that I get special preferences or protections. This journey to understand myself and others has made it possible for me to come to the conclusion that justice and equality are the physical representation of compassion and grace, and no belief is worth having if you can't live it.

I'm encouraged by your desire to understand others. Thank you for sharing.

Take care.
@74, that is perfectly OK. I've not exactly been the most mainstream guy you could ever imagine myself... I try to be civil and present ideas and arguments in a way that doesn't imply more than "I think you're wrong, and here's why" (being also ready to think about whatever counterarguments are presented). Not everybody does that, but when I manage to control myself and go on doing it despite the vehemence of others, I end up feeling better.


I try to understand where they are coming from. Sometimes I walk away, I was asked to leave a church over the issue of divorce, so there wasn't much point in attempting to dialog. I do not wish to be abused and if the "conversation" degrades into name calling as it has on Slog on occassion I strive to turn the cheek. Many times it is we agree to disagree. I don't do well with fundamentalism, or anyone who insists that they have all the answers. Reality tells me that I am responsible for myself, I have to live with myself and look at my own image in the mirror, it also tells me that I can't control how others think of me or if they will choose to interact with me. So I strive, sometimes stumble, to treat others as I wish to be treated. Hopefully we can find some common ground to dialog from, but most often we must agree to disagree.

I hope I have answered your question.
@77 (Mr Mehlman), you do an raise interesting point, namely, that parents may come to the conclusion they should throw their children out (if the reason is sufficiently important) -- and that this doesn't mean they, the parents, don't suffer or take the decision lightly.

But then again, let me turn the question to you. Do you think there are any valid reasons to throw your children on the streets (in case you have any)? Can you think of something that would lead you to decide this was the best course of action?

Also, assuming there are situations (let's say they're extreme) in which this would be a good course of action, there are also situations (many more, I think) in which it would not -- and yet we see people throwing their children out in these situations. Say, because they're gay.

You realize that the 'they're doing what they think is best' defense is fraught with the danger of naive relativism: it suggests we can't criticize them because they aren't "being evil", just following (with much personal suffering) what they see as the most appropriate course of action.

But the reason to criticize such parents is not that they're "being evil," but that they're doing something that isn't really good to them, their children, or society. In other words, we can criticize the premises on which they base their decision, and come to the conclusion that they are wrong.

The whole can of worms of relativism is opened if you want to seriously look into the problems that this entails, but I do think there are reasonable solutions. In short: parents don't have to "be evil" to be criticizable, they only have to "be wrong" -- in the sense that what they're doing is not going to lead to the result they desire.
Mr Mehlman,

We have opened our home to homeless gay children that are our children's classmates. We are always happy to dialog with their parents, as the hope is that after the shock wears off that the child moves home. You don't know me, and certainly don't have to believe me, but we know these children and their families for years and we are more interested in keeping these children off the street than judging their parents. We realize that coming out is hard for everyone and would like to be friends with everyone and help keep the lines of communication open between the parent and child.
@79, yes, it does. In my best moments, I try to behave as you describe, but I must admit (I'm a little bit argumentative myself, as you might deduce from the length of my comments) I often fail to. I am especially unhappy with the situations in which "we have to agree to disagree", or in which people go away thinking I'm evil. For personal reasons, it is really very difficult for me to let go in these situations; I keep wanting to come back with new arguments or ideas or possibilities. It really feels bad to walk away with things unresolved and the wrong ideas about who or what I am in other people's heads. Sometimes it helps to think that videmus nunc per speculum et in aenigmate, which precludes full agreement...


Dear ankylosaur,

I understand the need to be understood. It is a very common one for humans, I think. Especially for those who, like me, have struggled with self-loathing. I find that I feel rejected at some level, because I have not been "seen". I don't know if you sometimes feel that way. Unfortunately we, at least I, haven't found a way to to cross some bridges with individuals, in those times I must remind myself that I'm responsible for myself and that agreeing to disagree doesn't always mean that the dialog won't be revisited sometime in the future. I take hope that ideas can be like water and they can erode stumbling block and that changes the topography of the discussion. Talking and talking takes time.

Take care.
@ 82 & 84,

Thank you. And thank you for question.
Mr Mehlman (@82 et al.),

if I may -- since the blogs / comment threads in which only well-meaning, civil, knowledgeable, nuance-aware, tolerant, open-minded and well-educated people participate are few and far between, one often does have to put with more extremist or exaggerated claims are made matter-of-factly (to say nothing of passive-aggressive, or even truly aggressive, comments). Speaking personally, I've learned a lot from SLOG posts and from comments in the threads -- I have heard ideas, facts, and arguments I hadn't heard before. It has been a good experience.

I would like to address the point you raise. Paraphrasing you, indeed we would not change our minds about Nazism if a Nazi/Aryan Nation young teen were driven to suicide by constant anti-Nazi bullying. It's the action of bullying that is wrong, not the viewpoints the bully adopts.

But if I read Mr Shore correctly, the main criticism of Christians here is not simply that they are wrong about homosexuality, but that they claim they have nothing to do with a climate that leads to bullying and to teenage suicide. This, I think, is clearly wrong: Christian beliefs about homosexuality are clearly part of the motivation for anti-gay bullies. To claim the opposite is, in my opinion, to deny reality.

Since Christianity considers suicide a mortal sin, one can even argue that Christians should seriously consider the contradiction -- from a Christian perspective -- that what they believe (in their interpretation) to be a Christian tenet increases the likelihood of non-Christian behavior (suicide, a mortal sin). There is a problem here, one that sincere Christians should take seriously, not run away from or try to deny. Unfortunately, the latter is much more common than the former.

Of course, Mr Shore's ideas go beyond this connection. He also thinks that anti-gay Christians are also wrong, in that they have chosen an interpretation of the Bible that is not really in agreement with who Christ was and what he stood for. But this, of course, is an independently arguable point, that does not logically depend on the connection between Christian beliefs about homosexuality and teenage gay suicide.
Dear Kim,

the more I read what you write, the more I think our world desperately needs more people like you. It is as if you were one of the Tzadikim Nistarim.

71, who gets to decide what unfounded beliefs are worthy of respect, and which we should reject as silliness? Why is believing in leprechauns sillier than say the dead rising up out of their graves?

Isaiah 26:19
But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.

Is not believing that the dead will rise up in reanimated bodies a default religious belief because I can't prove that they won't?
@89, when you use the word 'silly' you're adding a value judgment. I'd rather say that believing in leprechauns is as unsupported by evidence as believing that the dead will rise -- as far as scientific evidence goes, that does seem to be the case.

There is emotion in your words -- these beliefs are not simply 'unsupported by evidence' or 'unlikely to be true', they're also 'silly'. That is not a scientific thing, and is in itself comparable with any such judgment -- a value judgment after all. Some people think it's 'silly' to believe in truth, happiness, democracy, human kindness, honest politicians... Others don't.

I think it's important to try to understand people more than to judge them. I'd like to understand someone who believes in leprechauns, or someone who believes that the dead will rise someday; what importance these beliefs have for them, what role they play in their worldview, etc. Because I think I could like and befriend such people also.

It doesn't follow from that that I would believe in leprechauns, or in the future rising of the dead.
So would considering someone silly who believes the Harry Potter books to be true stories be wrong and unscientific?

The difference between science and religion is science asks a question and looks for the answers. Religion claims that it is the answer and demands that you don't ask questions.
Thank you, ankylosaur.

Do not forget that the world needs more people like you too. It needs people who wish to understand, who are willing to approach others from different directions.
@92, do you think these options are mutually exclusive? :-) (I note, by the way, that smoking something is an important part of many religions, in which it plays an important role.)
@91, not "wrong" and "unscientific"; simply "emotional".

That's all I'm saying -- if you say "silly" about something someone else takes seriously, you're passing a value judgment on this person, not simply a truth judgment on his/her beliefs. You're in "ought" land, not simply in "is" land.

Both science and religion make claims that have no evidence and yet must be assumed as true (cf. my previous posts). The difference between science and religion is that, except with respect to the foundational postulates based on faith, science is willing to change all other aspects of its description of reality, whereas religion is not.

I note this is not a necessary difference, but a contingent -- it's perfectly possible to imagine a religion that changes its model of reality as new evidence comes along, except for its most basic tenets, just like science. (If you think about it, you'll see this entails no logical contradiction.) It just so happens that the historically attested examples of religion aren't like that.
95, no science starts with a hypothesis, a question, then examines and follows the evidence to form a theory, or conclusion if the evidence allows. Science allows for adjustments as new evidence becomes available.

Religion claims it's the absolute, be all end all truth. It's fixed in unchanging ancient text, and requires the faithful to follow blindly, ignoring any evidence to the contrary.
A few quotes from the Bible about the good of unquestioning blind faith, and the evils of skepticism and critical thinking.

2 John 1
7 I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. 11 Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.

Titus 1
Rebuking Those Who Fail to Do Good

10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.

James 1
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

You're just supposed to take someone's word for it that the Bible is the unerring absolute truth, and never question it. One must avoid anyone teaching anything other that what is in the Bible.

Shouldn't God have confidence that his shining beacon of truth would hold up to questioning, and doubt, and even encourage it?
If Christ isn't divine, if he didn't die on the cross and was resurrected, if all that isn't true then there simply isn't an actually Christian view to take. Ghandi had some good things to say. MLK did also. But I don't propose to base one of the worlds major religions on either man. If Christ was just a man with some good things to say, then why bother?

I don't see how that follows. Buddhists, by and large, do not believe that Siddhartha Gautama, aka Shakyamuni, aka the Buddha was possessed of any special supernatural attributes--that he was different, in any intrinsic way, from those who now study and follow (or attempt to follow) the essence of his teachings. That is, he was just a man with some good things to say. And yet one of the world's major religions is based on him.

Indeed, many Buddhists hold that Christ himself was a bodhisattva. Not divine, perhaps, but possessed of undeniable wisdom.
My solution is to reject the Bible as a holy text without rejecting genuine Christian theology. Pretty simple, really.
@95, the discussion in the US about the worth of religion is tainted by our Xtian cultural saturation. The Abrahamic religions are an aberration.

A little over two-thousand years ago in central asia [e.g. present Afghanistan], Buddhist thought from the east mingled with the secular humanism of Hellenic Greece. The result was not finger-pointing and argument and killing. Instead there was a cross-pollination resulting in Greco-Buddhist thought and beautiful works of art such as the Buddhas of Bamiyan. No problem with rationalism and religious practice.

A decade ago the Muslim fundamentalists in Afghanistan decided to blow up the Buddhas of Bamiyan, because...y'know GOD.

Unfortunately the two major branches of faith today--Xtian and Muslim--are founded on a silly, proprietary claim to revealed Truth. This is a useful meme for spreading your doctrine. It is also bad religion. It is also socially destructive. It is also silly.

[And by "silly" I mean something not deserving of respect or consideration. There is nothing wrong with making reasoned and constructive value judgements.]

The issue is not Religion v. Reason. It is Chauvinism v. Compassion. An atheist who is convinced that he alone holds the truth is every bit as dangerous as some fundy Xtian nut. The rest of us can respect and appreciate a multiplicity of paths, while rejecting those who wrap their egotism in the trappings of spirituality.
@96, I'm sorry, but your opinion is not correct. Both science and religion are perfectly capable of starting with a question, a hypothesis, then letting evidence weigh to modify it and applying logics to it (just consider Saint Thomas Aquinas' work). Likewise, both have core beliefs that they do not subject to the questioning-hypothesizing-empirical-testing.

The difference between them is the number of beliefs in the untouchable category. For science, it's stuff like causality, directionality of the arrow of time, consistency ('laws won't change wildly from one day to the next'), and the need of evidence to test (support and/or falsify) beliefs (hypotheses, theories, etc). For religion, it's the cannon, i.e. that which is believed to be revealed truth and thus cannot be doubted.

In both cases, anything which is not part of the inner core -- the fundamental postulates for science, revelation (the cannon) for religion -- is analyzed with the same question-hypothesis-evidence method. (I note religion will admit quotations of the cannon as part of the evidence, whereas science will not.)

Consider your claim:

You're just supposed to take someone's word for it that the Bible is the unerring absolute truth, and never question it.
Just as you're also supposed to do with the claims that causality, consistency in the laws of nature, the arrow of time, and the value of evidence. You also have to accept them as the unerring absolute truth, since abandoning any of these postulates simply takes you out of the realm of science.

Having said that, you misrepresent the overwhelming majority of religious people, who do not share the fundamentalist belief that the text of the bible is the unerring truth. What you say is only true for fundies, not for religious people in general.

Ophian, there are many interesting things in your comment that I feel like reacting to. Thanks for posting it, by the way! :-)

[...] are founded on a silly, proprietary claim to revealed Truth.[And by "silly" I mean something not deserving of respect or consideration. There is nothing wrong with making reasoned and constructive value judgements.]

In principle you're right, but I am a bit more nuanced here. Every belief system (including science) makes some claim to "truths that cannot be doubted", simply because you cannot get something from nothing: any explanation for anything has to start somewhere, with some sort of postulates, and how commonsensical they seem to be to you, to me, or to others is ultimately a subjective matter.

The universe of The Matrix is in some ways as silly and improbable as any fairy tale (or as you imagine religious wolrdviews to be). Yet we do feel like taking it more seriously: it feels like a real 'possibility', whereas the idea that the universe might actually have a creator with a plan for it doesn't. And yet, I'd contend, both are ideas with the same a priori 'believability' level. They are, if you will, both equally 'silly'. The difference in our reactions to them is a cultural one: we're in a culture that is now coming to terms with the (quite serious) contradictions and inconsistencies in the belief systems of the Abrahamic religions, with total or partial rejection being a common and understandable reaction.

In short, it's OK to use the word 'silly', as long as you don't forget how often those who use it are also silly, e.g., about other topics. As long as it doesn't make you arrogant.

The issue is not Religion v. Reason. It is Chauvinism v. Compassion. An atheist who is convinced that he alone holds the truth is every bit as dangerous as some fundy Xtian nut. The rest of us can respect and appreciate a multiplicity of paths, while rejecting those who wrap their egotism in the trappings of spirituality.

Indeed; I couldn't agree more. I stand firmly on the party of Compassion, because my own personal postulate is that everybody, every belief system is wrong about at least something, and that we'd do better to understand what is wrong or questionable in ours (the beam in your eye...) than by attacking what is wrong or questionable in other people's. (Not that this can't be done; it's OK to criticize others. But so often said criticism is used to imply that the criticizer's beliefs are 'better' or 'more evolved' or 'truer'... i.e. the criticizer so often believes s/he can cast the first stone...)

I also see an important difference between religion (which is usually a historically based entity) and spirituality (which, in my view, is more of a personal dialogue between the individual and certain important ideas like the noumena and transcendence and the limits of rationality). The former, as a historical entity, has a number of contigent features (the result of history having happened one way rather than another) that tend to accumulate and create a lot of junk that even the best-intentioned practitioners end up having a lot of trouble to get rid of. The latter, as I see it, is more interesting as a category for thought and experimentation. (The best religious people I've met are those who incorporate spirituality in their religion.)

101, We're just going to have to agree to disagree. Neither of us is going to convince the other.

I think you could argue your point better if you had a less simplistic presentation of Christianity. You are right there is a portion of Christians who submit to the doctrine of inerrancy (origins mid 19th century), they are often called Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Born-Again, Pentecostals among some other names. Literalism with regard to the Bible took hold around the '20s in the US. But to claim all Christians are literalists is a large misstatement of fact. I did a quick search for data for you and came up with this.

In the broadest sense, according to Gallup polls, the number of persons in the United States who described themselves as either Evangelical or Born-Again between 1976 and 2001 fluctuated between 33 percent and 47 percent with a reasonable estimate being 35 percent of the population or just over 102 million people in 2003.[6] There seems to be a small long-term increase in the number of people reporting themselves in this category with 34 percent in election year 1976 and 45 percent in election year 2000. Using a different methodology and set of definitions, Barna Research has found that 41 percent of the population identifies as Born-Again using a broad definition, but only 8 percent accept all the tenets in a list of strict conservative doctrinal beliefs.[7]…

It is more complicated than you present in your argument. You are correct that for some the Bible is a fixed unchanging text, perhaps they are devoted to the King James, but for others it simply is not. Mr. Shore is not one of those Christians, he does not choose to follow a translations that is considered fixed and unchanging. From what I can tell, he is honest about what he "cherry picks" or discards. If I am not mistaken, Dan's mother was another such Christian, in the sense that she relied on her own ethical conscience and not either the Roman Catholic Church or the Pope on subjects such as birth control, divorce, LGBT equality. There are others here on Slog as well, I can think of a number of them but don't wish to put words into their mouths. There are also individual denominations which do not take a literalist approach to the Bible. It would appear, friend, that the word Christian has been redefined and no longer require inerrant believe in the infallibility of scripture. Although fundamentalists will still insist that only their interpretation, doctrine, denomination is correct. I imagine that this is the case within other religions as well.

Take care.
@103, that is quite possible. Agreed?

Anyway, rest assured that I'm not anti-science. I'm a researcher myself; the practice (though not the philosophy) of science is my daily business.
Each individual has the choice to accept the offered reconciliation or reject it.

Not really. In order to accept the reconciliation, one must believe it occurred. But one cannot really have choice in what one believes, though one can certainly choose what one does in light of belief.
ankylosaur @ 102

I am sure that you and I have no significant disagreement on these subjects. Nevertheless I chafe at the treatment of all beliefs as ultimately equal on the grounds that they are all built on axiomata. You are discussing philosophy, and I pragmatism.

To reduce all views to subjectivism, may very well be true [and I have spun those wheels myself], but in application this can shade into mere solipsism. At some point philosophy is best when it allows for practical application.

I have no particular interest in Truth when it comes to public discourse [I have my own framework of belief, you and everyone else are welcome to theirs]. However, when we must determine how to live, get along and progress together, there are ideas and approaches that are useful, and those that aren't. Those that move us to a greater collective good, and those that do not.

Specifically what I am saying is that any belief system that claims a monopoly on The Truth is deficient--for that very fact--and ultimately dangerous. They are prone to the worst, most virulent and inhumane results of exceptionalism and dogmatism [I’m looking at you Christianity, Islam, and Secular Modernism]. Such systems invite individuals to be fact-proof and convinced of there superiority. This is not just philosophically unpalatable, it is a danger to humanity.

On the other hand, science and good religion look at things as they are, and are built to change when data warrants it, even if this means chucking their foundational tenets. This is a superior approach to the issues we face individually and collectively.

I want to be clear that I am not arguing the Ultimate Virtue of the above. It in no way addresses the form or content of one belief system or another. I have no proof that The Flying Spaghetti Monster is not our lord, and that is irrelevant. I am strictly speaking about a clear bright line that separates approach A from approach B on pragmatic grounds.

Anyone who thinks they have The Way is missing the boat, and the rest of us must figure out how to work around them and the damage that they do. On this I see no room for equivocation.

@107 (Ophian),

judging by what you wrote, I also do think we don't have any deep disagreements on these issues either, but I think you misunderstand me if you think I claim that "all beliefs [are] ultimately equal on the grounds that they are all built on axiomata." I think I made it quite clear in a post to Rob that it is possible to disagree with and criticize any a belief system, and that some of them deserve tons of criticism -- the fact that they are all based on some set of axioms does not mean they are all equivalent, just as not all houses are the same even though they all have foundations.

My problem here is with certain groups (especially, alas! some atheists) who think they are completely out of the game -- that their houses have no foundations but are instead floating free in the air, like Dennett's famous skyhooks. I'm sure you've already met this kind of holier-than-thou atheist who thinks anyone who doesn't agree with her/him just doesn't undertand anything.

Hoping now I've made myself clear...

There is of course one crucial (I think unsolvable) problem with pragmatism (à la Dewey, James, etc. -- the 'big American philosophy' as some call it; pragmatism is a form of philosophy, not something opposed to it). The problem I mean is the fact one must decide which goals one should pursue before we can decide 'what works'. 'What works' only works with respect to some target, some goal, some plan, some pursued ideal. When you say: "[...]when we must determine how to live, get along and progress together, there are ideas and approaches that are useful, and those that aren't.", you say something I can agree with (some groups do more harm than good with their ideas), but still you don't say: useful for what? According to whose criteria? And that's an important, crucial, vital question.

If we all agreed that "what we should do" is exterminate Jews (because they're a health problem, they soil our blood, etc.), we'd all pragmatically agree that the Nazis were doing a good job. They were doing 'what works': it's difficult to see something more pragmatic -- more efficient, well done, well organized -- than Auschwitz in terms of how it pursues its goals.

If, of course, we agreed that 'what we should do' is exterminate Jews. Which we don't. And since we don't -- since in fact we believe the opposite of that -- then Auschwitz is not 'what works', the epitome of pragmatism, but instead a horrible monument to human stupidity and hatred.

Because, you see, Auschwitz can -- from the viewpoint of pragmatism alone -- be either. Because ultimately pragmatism cannot answer the most important question, which is how should we live together, what is the goal we should strive for? Is it diversity, or unity? Is it converting everybody to Christianity, to Islam, or de-coverting them via atheism? Is it letting them believe whatever they want, no matter what the consequences (what you called 'subjectivism', maybe better called 'extreme relativism')? Or is it forcing them to abide by some sort of criteria -- and in this case, which criteria? Maximal happiness? Maximal freedom? Maximal rationality? Maximize balance and equilibrium? These four goals do not coincide.

The problem with pragmatism is that it is inherently incapable of answering the above question. It can be used to find the best way to apply the answer to reality after we have the answer; but as itself it has nothing to say about which answer we should prefer. To pragmatism, the answer to the above question is immaterial: it simply does not matter. Which is why good and bad people, Nazis and saints, can (if they want) be equally pragmatic.

In fact, the answer to that question -- by what set of criteria should we decide where humanity should be going? What should we be doing? What should we be striving for? -- there is ultimately nothing that science can say either (since science is indeed, by design, thoroughly pragmatic -- as it should be). Maybe there is a true answer to this question -- here's that word "truth" again! When you least expect it, again it raises its ugly head... -- but it's not going to leave any traces in any particle accelerator anywhere.

And since the true answer (or at least not one about which you can be sure it's true) is not going to be found in any Book of Revelation for any religion either...

We are left with...


Have a nice day! :-)
Members of the KKK who think that perhaps the organization is a little wrong are just the same as xians who insist they are not all like that.
@109 (Kylere), this is like saying that atheists are all just like their worst examples, like Pol Pot or Stalin.

If you can't see that a Christian like Mr Shore is much closer to you than he is to the extremists who also call themselves Christian, then it's really a pity.

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