Oh my God!

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Gary Wassner, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. Andols

    Andols I like stories

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    Some parts read like a how-to manual. others are fairly insightful and would shed some points in to a thread such as this.
     
  2. Evil Agent

    Evil Agent Saturn Comes Back Around

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    Of course I believe in God.

    I also believe that Santa Clause visits every home in the world, all in one night.
     
  3. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    You mean he doesn't?

    The fact is, we all believe in lots of things that have no objective reality outside of our belief. Some just happen to matter more than others. Some are really big things. Ummmm, like God.
     
  4. RAD

    RAD Registered User

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    Of course, I meant 'do battle' in the proverbial sense. I mean challenge them on every level and whenever anyone tries to use faith to compel obedience or direct policy. Confront them. Make them say exactly what they mean. No euphamisms aloud: make them admit that they value death over life.

    And I never once mentioned disenfranchising anyone. I call on the faithful to follow their own teachings. To voluntarily give away their possessions. To admit that they're subjects of a fantasy kingdom, not citizens of a democracy (how often do they proclam they're not 'of this world'?) and renounce their citizenship since they can't serve two masters.

    If they refuse, call them hypocrites. In both cases, they're claim to earthly power is nullified.
     
  5. Seak

    Seak and I like to party.

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    No one is a hypocrite for having religion and belonging to a country. In the Bible, Jesus said give to Caesar that which is Caesar's. Both can be served. I agree with Funk Koo.
     
  6. Evil Agent

    Evil Agent Saturn Comes Back Around

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    Has anyone seen "Religulous", the Bill Maher film/documentary that came out a couple months ago? Such a good film, and he raises very good points.

    Plus, it's hilarious.
     
  7. RAD

    RAD Registered User

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    Then insist that religious life is separate from political life, make it retreat to the realm of the personal, and stop using faith as a tool to gain power and respect.

    And sorry, but they didn't show Religulous in my part of the country. I'll have to rent it.
     
  8. Fung Koo

    Fung Koo >:|Angry Beaver|: <

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    It's a pretty huge generalization that all religious folks are vying for dominion over your country. Sure, a small group of particularly crazy folks are, but the vast majority of the religious folk in most western democracies are pretty centrist in their thinking.

    I think more to the point, the government in questions needs to declare, for the record and once and for all, that the government is not now and will never be resonposible for determining and legislating right and wrong. That morality is under the purview of cultural institutions, of which religion is one.

    That, I think, would address most of what you might be concerned about.
     
  9. RAD

    RAD Registered User

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    You hit the nail on the head.
     
  10. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    The bigger issue, and one that keeps religion in business, is that as philosophers, none of us have ever been able to provide an incontrovertible foundation for morality outside of it. Utilitarianism, Nazism, Democracy! All efforts, but all presuppose so much. And though I'm convinced we don't need God to define right and wrong within specific contexts, we can't make truth claims or preach to the masses without some quasi-god to back us up.

    So though I totally agree with your sentiments, RAD, we're stuck with God as long as people want to live in civilized societies. It's ironic that civilization seems to need the ethical structure that God bestows upon it, yet it suffers so much from the abuse of the concept at the same time. We don't need to call this thing that grounds our actions 'God', do we? But what's in a name really?

    Tell me why murder is wrong? Tell me why incest and pedophilia is wrong? Tell me why lying is wrong? Tell me why rape is wrong? Then lets dissect each of your answers out of our very small societal context, and see where we end up.
     
  11. RAD

    RAD Registered User

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    Societies need God

    I'm going to fall back on HL Mencken and reply that when folks say society needs God, what they really mean is that society needs police. I'd agree with that. There have to be folks that enforce the laws, but too many people want to believe the enforcer is an idealized, perfect being since law enforcement officers make mistakes.

    Why is...wrong?

    Because it's a violation of individual rights and if this democracy was built to stand for anything, it's individual rights.

    If humans are going to live in societies (and we will, our personal limitations and social herd instincts won't allow anything else) we've only invented two options: a free society based on safeguarding individual liberties or a totalitarian society based on submission to a romanticised tyrant with the goal of the individual is to perpetuate the collective memes.

    Why is slavery and inequality wrong? I'll have to go with the slippery slope argument: take away the rights of one person or group of people and it's easier to take away the rights of others.
     
  12. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    What makes individual rights the be all and end all? Why not society's rights? The greater good?

    I hear you RAD, and my instincts are in agreement. But instincts aren't much more than ingrained habits after all.

    The Police can enforce any laws. Society needs laws for its police to enforce, and those laws have to be based upon presuppositions regarding right and wrong.
     
  13. zorobnice

    zorobnice Where's Tonto

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    Whose rights, the murdered persons right to life, or the murderer's right to take it??
     
  14. kged

    kged Gloriam Imperator

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    I admit it freely – when it comes to philosophy and morality, I make it up as I go along. I guess that’s the lot of the atheist. I have no sacred scrolls to rely upon to guide and determine my thoughts and actions, so I just try to act in the light of that old classic, the golden rule of doing unto others as I would have them do unto me (which was not invented by Jesus, Michael, before you start! :p). The Humanist notion of acknowledging the self reflected in the other is also a useful habit of thought and practice. Ultimately, if there is one guiding philosophy I do try to follow, it is the superficially simple and undemanding teaching which I got second- or thirdhand, many years ago; I once read a newspaper column by some intellectual grandee (so long ago I can’t even recall who it was) who mentioned that one of the teachers at his extremely expensive and prestigious private school had told him, in a quiet moment, to disregard all the Christian teaching he was receiving from the school. Quoting some ancient philosopher whom I have never been able to track down, the master told him that there are only two sins – cruelty and cowardice. As the columnist said, that sounds simplistic, but it is actually a demanding and elevating philosophy. Abide by the practice of avoiding cruelty and cowardice, and you will avoid harm to others and to yourself. The latter is an element that Christianity rather lacks, for me. The cringing self-abasement and self-denial of Christianity has never appealed to me.

    Gary, after a little thought, my response would be that I can't think of a society which would be organised for The Greater Good which wouldn't end up as a dystopian nightmare. Surely in no time at all, it would become all too easy for those in power to find ways to ensure that The Greater Good and their own ends overlapped more often than not. God knows we have that now, even with our commitment to individual liberties. (Posting from the UK, perhaps I should say former commitment...:rolleyes:) I rather think that for a society to work beneficially at all for the majority, it has to paradoxically focus on the rights of the individual.

    Rad - sterling posts, sir. Hats off.
     
  15. Andols

    Andols I like stories

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    Not exactly. More and more legislation in balanced countries seems to be funneled towards validating and protecting individual rights. While the right\wrong scenario played large parts in the initial definition of those rights, I think the adjustments being made today are more reflective or personal choice.

    I agree that most of the original documents concerning the founding of western government have had heavy religious and social influences. I think we have started to move away from that in a lot of cases.

    If an act doesn't harm another living creature without consent, it's legal in my mind (with a few exceptions such as a 6 year old willfully dating a 50 year old).
     
  16. RAD

    RAD Registered User

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    The greater good

    Meaningless euphemisms. Whose greater good? Defined by whom? Using what criteria?

    Society's rights

    This is my own opinion here, but societies do not have rights. Governments do not have rights. Cultures do not have rights. Religions do not have rights. Corporations do not have rights. Families do not have rights.

    These are all abstractions. The only beings that have rights are individuals. It is the will and committment of individuals that give these things any weight.

    Why? Because a bunch of Enlightenment era folks recovered some Greek humanist thought and decided that was the way to go.

    Presumptions of right and wrong

    And those presumptions have always reflected the times folks lived in.
     
  17. RAD

    RAD Registered User

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    But of course, for the most part we've only been talking about life within free societys. Another valid question is the danger of free societies losing their sense of identity and ability to protect themselves and their goal of safeguarding liberty in the face of determined enemies.

    Here's a view of what we're up against and what can happen when we deny people the structure and sense of identity they crave and that they misguidedly look to others to provide:

    http://khalas.wordpress.com/

    If anything trumps the rights of individuals in my view, it's the preservation of the society that safeguards individual rights. It's an old problem. Athens faced it with the rise of the sophists and never found a satisfying solution (killing Socrates was definitely the wrong way to go).
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2008
  18. zorobnice

    zorobnice Where's Tonto

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    We have seen in our country, that rights are given to minority groups before they are given to the majority, even though the majority rule principle is one of the corner stones of the ruling parties constitution.

    If I as an individual have rights, then how do I apply them without infringing on another individuals rights?? The problem is that a group of people get together to determine an individuals rights, legislate it and then punish people who do not abide by said legislation. So in trying to ensure an individuals rights they effectively remove them. Therefore, I suppose one can say we do not really have rights.

    I agree with Kged though, the Do unto others thing is a good way to teach our kids to respect others and try to live in harmony with them. The problem again is the next kid who does not get taught that viewpoint. A never ending circle if you ask me.

    Z
     
  19. RAD

    RAD Registered User

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    We have seen in our country,

    Not sure which country you mean, but let me specify again that I was referring to the West. This system is a human construct, it's not perfect and needs modification along the way, and plenty of people have had to fight for their right to be included - in the US anyway (Meanwhile in Europe they're bending over backwards to accommodate people who do not want to be included in a Western democracy, but to supplant it with totalitarianism, but that's another issue). Yes, our rights were given to us by other people, they always have been.

    If I as an individual have rights, then how do I apply them without infringing on another individuals rights?

    By acting within the law, so long as that law is based on the principle of protecting the individual. If anyone has any problem with your actions, there are channels to go through. If these aren't effective, then they can protest, join a political movement, voice their concerns through the free press, or even run for office.

    If a society does not have those things, then I do not consider that society valid.

    So in trying to ensure an individuals rights they effectively remove them.

    Freedom of speech, religion, assembly, etc. is removing your rights?

    Therefore, I suppose one can say we do not really have rights.

    By that logic the USA is no different than Iran, Saudi Arabia or John Calvin's Geneva.
     
  20. Fung Koo

    Fung Koo >:|Angry Beaver|: <

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    Total and utter crap.

    Zorob is from South Africa. Was apartheid ended based on these precious principles of democracy you prescribe? Does democracy exist in the first place because people acted within the law?

    The entire point of democracy is to allow people to define their own law through regional consensus. What you're describing is not democracy at all. It's centralism.

    What's the primary quality of both totalitarianism and fascism? Both are systems of governance based exclusively of the maintenance of power by central authority through legalism. You'll note that of the few obviously fascist nations from history, democracy played a staggeringly important role...

    Look closely at what you've just said -- you've just argued for a centralized state. You've essentially claimed that all non-US political systems are not true democracies, while arguing for a system which is not in itself particularly democratic. And you've also said that the only allowable opposition is the prescribed opposition. Which, you'll note, is completely contradictory to the underlying value you're trying to support in your argument.

    You're proposing a democratic system with unchanging laws and programmed opposition. That is fundamentally counter-democratic. You're not creating "rights" in what you describe at all, but privileges -- the right of individual freedom includes the right to do wrong. Punishment aside, you're describing wrong actions a priori based on the system itself.

    In fact, the purpose for the existence of the 2nd Amendment in the US Constitution is to allow the people to wrest power from just such a corrupted democracy. A "democracy" that values maintaining itself over the right of the people to choose is not a democracy at all.

    From the perspective of some modern Iranians, Saudis, or Calvinists, (or many Canadians) the USA is precisely what you're implying those nations are. If you actually examine the political system of Iran, their political system is shockingly similar to the US system. That is, both are right leaning pseudo-democracies under fundamentalist, centralist, and socialist governance.