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Introduction - a discussion 
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Post Introduction - a discussion
This thread is for discussing the Introduction. You can post within this framework or create your own threads.


Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 6/28/05 12:20 am



Mon Jun 27, 2005 11:18 pm
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Post Re: Introduction - a discussion
Well the preface already has me pumped! Jacoby has a writing style that brings out emotion in me. Makes me want to go on a Secular Crusade! lol

A few items that got my attention and drew my interest and brought my emotions to the surface:

1. Her description of how she felt on 9/11 hit home. I felt "an immediate surge of anger and grief so powerful that it left no room for alienation", as Jacoby so eloquently sums up what most Americans must have felt. There was a sense of togetherness and hope that our petty differences would pale compared to what just happened. We had never been hit with such a devastating attack on our collective selves.

It is a irony that the very same event that brought us together was used by the Bush administration to divide the country as it has. It became only the religious that were able to benefit from the feeling of unity, those who did not believe in the fairy tale of faith and swear fealty to a make-believe god were left out, as Ms. Jacoby points out in the passage on the ecumenical prayer meeting Bush held. Of all the religions that were represented, those who did not believe were left out. This contempt for those who do not fall for faith and religion is appauling in return. But I guess only real sheep belong in a flock, huh?

2. The fact that Thomas Paine has been slighted by figures of such prominence and especially by religionists in this country makes me ill. The man was a master with words and ideas and was a big part in inspiring the spirit of those who fought to gain independence for this country. Please do not take this as flag waiving; it is simply my respect for Paine. The words of Roosevelt ANNOYED me..."filthy little atheist"? Again, I cannot understand the hatred and animosity people of such a 'peaceful' faith tend to exhibit.

Anyway...some initial thoughts and emotions I wanted to share. I also borrowed 3 books from the library as reference to the framing of the constitution, civil liberties and the 'church/state' issues. I thought it would make this discussion better to have such reference handy.

Please let's make this discussion great you all!

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Tue Jun 28, 2005 9:32 am
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Post Re: Introduction - a discussion
Maybe we should read some Thomas Paine as part of our classics reading, as a tie in to reading "Freethinkers".




Tue Jun 28, 2005 1:27 pm
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Post Re: Introduction - a discussion
A point that Jacoby attempts to point out in the Intro is that 'secular' does not conflate with non-religious, although I feel many people today think of the word in this way. Just as the words 'liberal', 'conservative', 'intellectual' and 'elitist' have become dirty words, there is an attempt to relegate 'secular' to the trash can. This is silly. Secularists encompass "many types of freethinkers" that "shared...a rationalist approach to fundamental questions of earthly existence".

Why is it such a complicated idea to understand that we should solve our earthly concerns by using our brains and our natural resources, rather than cowering in prayer and hoping for some supernatural salvation? Even if you buy the whole deity thing, and this deity is of the sort that has created us from nothing and wants us to love her, why would that deity want us to not think and become the best we can be? Any parents out there? I ask you: Would you rather have to lead your children by the nose throughout their whole lives, or teach them to be self-sufficient? Would you not want them to excell and grow into responsible adults, without having to consult you for every little problem? Do you want your children living in fear of you all their lives, worrying that you will punish them for any action that does not conform to your ideas and wishes? Would a dependent child, to the extent I present, have any viable fundtion to our society? Would they be able to survive upon your death?

This is what religion is to me, a lifelong dependency on help and assistance from a parental figure, which prohibits real growth on any real level.

But I do respect others and live and let live. If only the same could be said for those in this world who are now attempting to insinuate their own PERSONAL beliefs into our laws and society at large. I do not want your crap in my life, keep it to yourself. Contrary to the quote that Jacoby includes from Stephen L. Carter's book, "The Culture of Disbelief", I do not see any reality in that the secular position is trying to do away with religion or faith. We just simply feel that religions and faith should remain private and that it has no place in the laws of our land. There is too much diversity among those of faith, and since the proselytization of the world into one fold is impossible, there is no faith that can be a good guide for the population at large.

But this does NOT mean that a secular society is intrisically immoral, as those of faith would have many believe. There are those that love to paint secularists as 'value-free', this is simply not the case. We are just as, if not MORE, moral and value-full, than any person of faith, taken on the whole. This means simply that it is within our species to BE moral. Religion is just an early, imperfect form of developing our morality. Again, taken on the whole, have religious institutions really set themselves apart from those who do not follow a religion?

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Tue Jun 28, 2005 1:31 pm
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Post Re: Introduction - a discussion
Mad:

Great idea. Any selections you have in mind? Can you post that in the Other Discussions and get it started?

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Tue Jun 28, 2005 1:32 pm
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Post Re: Introduction - a discussion
How about The Age of Reason? It is available for free online at numerous sources.

Chris





Tue Jun 28, 2005 2:33 pm
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Post Re: Introduction - a discussion
That would be fine with me. I had read portions of it and have made some notes previously.

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Tue Jun 28, 2005 2:42 pm
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Post Re: Introduction - a discussion
Someone create that thread over in the Additional Book Discussions forum and we can start right away. As I mentioned in the moderator forum, I will be away for a few days as I move. I know this will make most of you really sad, but get over it. ::09

Chris





Tue Jun 28, 2005 2:47 pm
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Post Re: Introduction - a discussion
I just created it. :)

Chris





Tue Jun 28, 2005 2:49 pm
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Post Re: Introduction - a discussion
Some stats as presented by Jacoby:

% of population:

Religious Jews - 1.3%
Muslim - .5%
Non-Religious/Secular outlook - 16%

Less than 1% of those ascribing to a non-religious life consider themselves Atheists (is this due to the stigmatizing of dis-belief by the religious establishment? hmm....)

So, her point is: Why, at ecumenical gatherings, are the interests of those, who out-number other religious groups, not accounted for? Again, I am baffled regarding the animosity shown to those who simply do not proscribe to a certain myth. As an atheist, I strive to NOT exclude those of faith, based on that criteria alone, from participating in any discussion. I strive to be the better person. Why is there no reciprocation of this courtesy? Fear of irrelevance? Perhaps.

One good point Jacoby makes, regarding the ignorance of fundamentalists toward secularists is so true:

"Most secularists will vote for a religious believer who respects separation of church and state, but few fundamentalists will vote for a secularist who denounces religious influence on government"

One reason I appreciated Kerry, even though he was pandering to the church, was that he stated that he had his belief and faith, but that he would not impose that on the whole population, because he is the representative of ALL the people of the US. Bush is just not this type of person, and I cannot fathom any freethinker voting for this man.

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Tue Jun 28, 2005 2:59 pm
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Post Re: Introduction - a discussion
Please do not take this as flag waiving

Hey! ::66 What's wrong with a little flag waving? ::102 ::102 ::102

Is it no longer PC to flag wave? ::94 ::94

Marti in Mexico




Tue Jun 28, 2005 3:03 pm
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Post Re: Secularism and secular values
Actually all religion. Yes for me, but, IMO, for everyone too. You reasons for the need of most people does not encourage me. That may not change the fact that what you say is still true, but I just reject it.

Just because a majority want or need something, does not mean it is necessary. But this falls under the 'if I had my way and the ability to change things' section of discussion.

The fact that a majority of my fellow species NEEDS such a blatant myth to make it all better makes me feel empty inside. Poor little humans!

:(

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Thu Jun 30, 2005 8:02 pm
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Post Re: Secularism and secular values
P: Religion, and thus morality based on religion or faith, may very well be an evolutionary construct. So in the end, morals come from the nature of things, and not some supreme being!

I take it you mean here that the process of generating moral judgements is, at least partially, hardwired into our brains. I'm sure that must be true (though how much is open to further investigation), but I'm not sure how much that tells us about the core issues of moral judgements.

The real questions, to me, are:

What sort of an activity is it to make a moral judgement?

How is it like and how unlike making a factual judgement?

In what ways do established facts necessarily impact moral judgements (I'm thinking here - in fact in all of these questions - of Hume's dictum that it is impossible to derive an ought from an is. i.e that no set of raw facts is ever enough to establish the validity of a moral judgement)

What is enough to establish the validity of a moral judgement? Or is that impossible in principle? (Example: Is it really the case that we cannot "really" say that someone who delights in the sexual torture and humiliation of young children - and takes special pleasure in seeing how his actions destroy their lives - is doing anything wrong.

i.e. is Chris right when he says that such judgements are only valid within a society and we can have nothing to say to someone from a society in which such behaviour is applauded?)

And following up on the Hume dictum, could any facts about what God is or what he thinks logically imply the validity of a moral judgement? (I rather think not).




Fri Jul 01, 2005 11:36 am
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Post Re: Secularism and secular values
I am reading an article in "Free Inquiry" regarding the evolutionary basis for religious morality. I will impart my thoughts upon thee whenst I findeth the time.

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Fri Jul 01, 2005 12:20 pm
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Post Re: Secularism and secular values
Ken Hemingway: Is it good because God wills it, or does God will it because it is good.
...
If they choose the second, it seems clear that morality has a source which is independent of God.


Only because the transcendent value of religion is implicit in the question itself. So long as a religion posits morality as a system of values and standards for conduct that arise out of the ontological relationship of humanity to itself and to God, the apparant conflict begins to fall away.

misterpessimistic: Religion, and thus morality based on religion or faith, may very well be an evolutionary construct. So in the end, morals come from the nature of things, and not some supreme being!

I don't see how that's a twister, particularly if the religious tradition to which you present this question presupposes that the supreme being is responsible for determining the nature of things in the first place. In such a case, the evolutionary development of both religion and morality remain a result of divine will.

misterpessimistic: The fact that a majority of my fellow species NEEDS such a blatant myth to make it all better makes me feel empty inside. Poor little humans!

Careful now, or we're likely to get back into that argument about whether or not myths support all belief structures, religious or atheist. As I recall, the last time we had that discussion (circa: "The Battle for God"), no one could refute the claim.




Fri Jul 01, 2005 2:02 pm
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