Dave Thomas posted Entry 1556 on October 6, 2005 08:02 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1551

Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers has

given 10 percent to 12 percent of her earnings – “if not more” – to the evangelical Valley View Christian Church in Dallas, where she has been a congregant for about 25 years

according to Judge Nathan Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court, who has dated Miers. This Newsday article has the details.

What has this to do with Panda’s Thumb? A lot!

It so happens that the “Useful Links” page for Miers’s Valley View Christian Church links prominently to the Creation Evidence Museum, run by Dr. Carl Baugh, a creationist who is so far out as to have been strongly criticized by Answers in Genesis and the Creation Science Foundation. Baugh is perhaps most famous for his fakey “Paluxy Mantrack” footprints, specifically the “Burdick Print,” and his fossilized human finger.

A YEC on the Supreme Court? Connect the dots, people … connect the dots.

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Comment #51357

Posted by Geral Corasjo on October 6, 2005 8:14 PM (e)

Ugh. I hope the republicans stand up against her, I doubt it but I can hope. A YEC? On the highest court? I don’t see how thats possible.

But yet I’m not so surprised.

I don’t know why bush has to pick the most half-assed people to do stuff. But then again, she is one of his best friends. I hate politics.

I hope this ID issue is settled in PA, and its not settled in the supreme court with a YEC…

That could be bad.

Comment #51361

Posted by Norman Doering on October 6, 2005 8:39 PM (e)

Dave Thomas wrote: “A YEC on the Supreme Court? Connect the dots, people … connect the dots.”

Dot 1: Polls show that a lot of Americans reject the Darwinian theory of evolution.

Dot 2: Part of George W. Bush’s base of support base is evangelical Christians who tend towards creationism in some variety. Bush himself shows signs of being a YEC.

Dot 3: It’s not surprising a YEC president would nominate a YEC judge whose electorial base is primarily YEC voters who think throwing YEC views out of science class is not what YEC founding fathers and constitution writers had in mind.

Comment #51362

Posted by maurile on October 6, 2005 8:49 PM (e)

Any chance that’s a paid advertisement? (What gives me hope is that it’s not in the main box with most of the other links; it’s a banner down at the bottom right where you might expect to find an ad. Probably wishful thinking.)

Comment #51363

Posted by poolboy on October 6, 2005 9:08 PM (e)

Maurile… It’s wishful thinking. N. Doering has it correct in the post just above.

These people are ideolog’s who don’t care about knowledge and truth. They care about religion and faith and power to wield both.

Comment #51364

Posted by Michael Buratovich on October 6, 2005 9:24 PM (e)

Guys,

I suppose that this is might be horribly optimistic, but maybe Judge Miers attends this church but does not endorse everything they endorse. I certainly do not endorse everything my church endorses. Has anyone actually asked Judge Miers what she thinks about the age of the earth or common descent? What do we know about what Judge Miers actually thinks on this issue? Anyone know anything about her actual views on the matter?

MB

Comment #51366

Posted by Norman Doering on October 6, 2005 9:48 PM (e)

Michael Buratovich asked: “What do we know about what Judge Miers actually thinks on this issue? Anyone know anything about her actual views on the matter?”

Not yet. You do have a point - we don’t know for sure… At least I don’t. However, we know Bush himself as endorsed ID and said “the jury was still out on evolution.” We know she does attend a church that indicates by its links an endorsement of YEC views.

It is reason enough to ask. I’m waiting for that question and I don’t have the power to ask it myself and get an answer.

Comment #51369

Posted by stefan on October 6, 2005 10:25 PM (e)

Suspecting a hidden YEC agenda is prefectly reasonable. Remember the preacher (forgot his name - Dobson?? I read it on AMERICABlog I think but the post has dropped off my horizon) who recently said he had a private conversation with Bush, and says that Bush gave him some “confidential information”, and is now convinced that Miers is the right choice after all.

What sort of secret information would make a fundy preacher suddenly enthusiastic about a formerly suspicious choice? Add to that her “finding God” and her choice of churches. The dots sort of connect themselves.

If this is true, having her on the SC would be one of the biggest political disasters of the century.

I do hope the Senate pursues this - her personal affiliations and the causes they endorse are relevant material.

Comment #51373

Posted by Ed Darrell on October 6, 2005 10:40 PM (e)

It would be good if Orrin Hatch would ask Ms. Miers if she endorses junk science in the courtroom. It is highly likely that issues of science experts will come before the Supreme Court. It is incredibly important to patent law that Supreme Court justices be open and educable about science, or at least defer to experts where the judge are neophytes.

It would be good if Hatch, a former bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a very successful trial lawyer, and a graduate of Brigham Young University (where evolution is taught, in accordance with church doctrine), were to pursue this issue with Ms. Miers. Of course, other trial attorneys, like Joe Biden and Arlen Specter, should feel free to push for answers, too.

America’s economic future depends on science and technology. We really cannot afford to have a junk science advocate on the Supreme Court bench.

Not another one, anyway.

Comment #51379

Posted by Dave Cerutti on October 6, 2005 11:24 PM (e)

There’s already at least one YEC on the court–Scalia, correct?

The article I read seems very focused–perhaps a little too focused–on just how much money Miers was making here and there. She’s clearly not vying for the Supreme Court to make more money, at least in terms of salary (now, if someone wants to allege kickbacks, that’s going to take some effort).

As for the YEC views, if they’re resting on Carl Baugh so much the better–watching a justice of the Supreme Court give the nod to YECism based on the work of a charlatan would be a nightmare, but the silver lining would be that it gives us a bloody shirt to wave.

Comment #51385

Posted by maurile on October 7, 2005 12:06 AM (e)

Dave Cerutti wrote:

There’s already at least one YEC on the court—Scalia, correct?

I think it’s very unlikely that Scalia is a young earth creationist. He is a well-educated Catholic, not a fundy redneck. In his dissent in Aguillard, he wrote “I wish to make clear that I by no means intend to endorse [the] accuracy [of the testimony favoring creation science]. But my views (and the views of this Court) about creation science and evolution are (or should be) beside the point.” He also mentioned during oral argument in that case that it’d be a shame if a legislature full of ignoramuses required geography teachers to teach that the earth is flat, but it wouldn’t be unconstitutional. I wouldn’t infer anything about Scalia’s scientific views from his interpretation of the Establishment Clause.

Comment #51397

Posted by Fernmonkey on October 7, 2005 4:11 AM (e)

Maurile: I don’t think it’s a paid ad, although it looks like one. I think the YEC institutions just give you banners to use if you want.

However, I think Michael Buratovich may well have a point. I know an awful lot of contraception-using Catholics and therefore I wouldn’t assume that she’s a YEC merely because she goes to a YEC church.

I think she should definitely be questioned on it though.

Comment #51404

Posted by Hiya'll on October 7, 2005 7:36 AM (e)

Oh god, you mean some of the opinions of actual everyday citzens might be represented in the highest court in the land! Batten the hatches, defend the orthdoxy, democratic represenation in the supreme court is a violation of our fundamental civil liberties!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As an Australian, mind you, I don’t really give a… over here we don’t really have political appointee’s, right wing governments seem to appoint left wing justices at much the same rate left wing governments appoint left wing justices, and vice versa, our high court is fairly powerless, certainly it’s never done anything as big as say, Roe v Wade or Bakker v some university, it’s stopped a few things mind you, i.e it declared the banning of the communist party to be unconstitutional, but it’s never itself really done anything to change things ( not that I can think of, and I must stress I am no expert), it’s probably because our constiutions so powerless that we rarely get around to changing it.

If the IDist’s get their wicked way with the court, so what? It doesn’t matter whether or not ID is taught in school, it’s not going to change anyone’s opinions on the issue ( students will either believe it or they won’t) and it’s certainly not going to change the opinions of scientfic academics, heck, if it were done correctly it could even be an exercise in independent thinking.

Comment #51406

Posted by Fernmonkey on October 7, 2005 7:45 AM (e)

The thing is, the Supreme Court shouldn’t be a place of democratic representation. That’s what the two other branches of government do, and the Supreme Court shouldn’t be subject to popular opinion in the same way. Otherwise there’s no point having an appointed ‘independent’ branch.

Comment #51409

Posted by Norman Doering on October 7, 2005 7:58 AM (e)

Hiya’ll wrote: “If the IDist’s get their wicked way with the court, so what? It doesn’t matter whether or not ID is taught in school, it’s not going to change anyone’s opinions on the issue…”

It’s not just the opinions, it’s the education that’s lost. Those high school kids grow up and use what they learn. That starts having an effect on everything.

You should read a little more about it on this site.

Comment #51410

Posted by Flint on October 7, 2005 8:03 AM (e)

Oh god, you mean some of the opinions of actual everyday citzens might be represented in the highest court in the land! Batten the hatches, defend the orthdoxy, democratic represenation in the supreme court is a violation of our fundamental civil liberties!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is a misrepresentation. The Supreme Court is not regarded as an ordinary jury of normal citizens pulled off the street, but as a branch of government containing the most powerful legal minds the US has produced. Sure, those are still people and still have preferences and beliefs. But nonetheless, selecting someone incompetent and/or ignorant has ramifications almost surely negative.

Nothing we can do about the people electing morons, and this was recognized from the outset. That’s why these Justices are appointed – the idea is that a whole group of morons will cancel one another out, and a few of them will be truly capable leaders. Usually, this works. My take is that Bush is aware that he lacks the political captital to fund a bitter and divisive debate by nominating a known bible-pounder, so he’s trying to slip an unknown bible-pounder under the radar, hoping she’ll be approved before anyone can really figure out her position on religious issues.

Meanwhile, I notice that John Roberts seems opposed to Oregon’s right-to-die assisted death policy. States’ rights are good and fine, says Roberts, just so long as all states are alike. But where they differ, he finds this too messy and too hard to enforce, so it’s the Supreme Court’s job to bring them into line. In other words, he grounds his position on administrative convenience. His religious faith’s position had absolutely nothing to do with this, oh no…

Comment #51412

Posted by HPLC_Sean on October 7, 2005 8:19 AM (e)

Oh god, you mean some of the opinions of actual everyday citzens might be represented in the highest court in the land! Batten the hatches, defend the orthdoxy, democratic represenation in the supreme court is a violation of our fundamental civil liberties!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Flint latched onto this just a little faster than I but I think his explanation lacks an essential element:
Just like it is for science, the opinions of actual everyday citizens is IRRELEVANT in the justice system. In theory, the law is applied as written and as evaluated on a case-by-case basis by judges that interpret the law and evaluate the evidence.
If citizens want their opinions represented in the justice system, they must elect lawmakers (politicians) that will try to pass laws that are in line with their constituents’ views.

Comment #51415

Posted by Fernmonkey on October 7, 2005 8:51 AM (e)

Anyway, I have to be honest, but I think for a well-informed and educated person, being a YEC shows an obstinate blindness in the face of evidence which I personally don’t think is the sort of character trait one wants in a judge.

Comment #51420

Posted by Ved Rocke on October 7, 2005 9:20 AM (e)

Michael Buratovich wrote:

… Judge Miers …

Keep in mind, though, that she’s not even any kind of judge yet.

Comment #51421

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on October 7, 2005 9:32 AM (e)

I hope John Paul Stevens’ health is good.

Comment #51422

Posted by rdog29 on October 7, 2005 9:38 AM (e)

I agree with Fernmonkey.

Willfull ignorance or rejection of evidence because of pre-conceived notions is NOT a desirable trait in a Supreme Court justice.

I know nothing about Harriet Miers, but I hope Bush isn’t savvy enough to try sneak a closet Creationist onto the court but rather picked her for convenience.

Comment #51423

Posted by Norman Doering on October 7, 2005 9:44 AM (e)

Fernmonkey wrote: “… I think for a well-informed and educated person, being a YEC shows an obstinate blindness in the face of evidence which I personally don’t think is the sort of character trait one wants in a judge.”

Except for your qualifier “well-informed and educated” I’d say it’s not always an obstinate blindness but it sometimes is a sincere lack of information and trust in the wrong people who misinform them.

The first time I read about “irreducible complexity” I thought maybe there was something to it besides incredulity and lack of imagination. It took me awhile, probably a couple weeks of part time reading, to figure who really had the goods.

In the end there is simply no way for us at this time to know for sure that there are no gradual steps that can produce any example system Behe might toss out. We can only know that there are gradual pathways by finding them. Once found, the whole concept is shot down.

Once presented with that evidence, the rest of ID should fall too in an honest and open mind, except for the question: Is there even the possibility of a truly irreducibly complex system? How would you know it if you saw one?

But I don’t think the evidence is common. I don’t think everyone cares to look for it. I think people who want such information are rare and they will always come to evolution.

That’s where I am now and after doing some work on Dembski’s evolved technology challenge (looking at how steam engines evolved) and I’m thinking there really is no such thing as an irreducibly complex system except maybe measured against historical situations. There are just too many possible ways to make a simple steam engine. The fitness landscape of human and biological invention is too rich in possibility for irreducible complexity.

Comment #51424

Posted by Brian Spitzer on October 7, 2005 9:51 AM (e)

Given the potential importance of the Supreme Court in all sorts of science-related issues, not just cases involving creationism, it seems as though we need a member of Congress to ask about it point-blank during confirmation hearings. I personally want to hear her answer the question: “How old do you believe the Earth is?”

It seems as though it’s time to start writing letters to our reps in Congress. Better yet, can anyone suggest a member of Congress who could probably be persuaded to make this an issue during confirmation hearings? That member of Congress should get letters from every scientist in the country, urging him/her to grill Miers about science in general and creationism in particular.

–Brian

Comment #51427

Posted by Russell on October 7, 2005 9:56 AM (e)

for a well-informed and educated person, being a YEC shows an obstinate blindness in the face of evidence which I personally don’t think is the sort of character trait one wants in a judge.

While I certainly agree, I would be astonished if this issue were brought up by any senator during the upcoming hearings.

Comment #51429

Posted by Ed Darrell on October 7, 2005 10:03 AM (e)

Oh god, you mean some of the opinions of actual everyday citzens might be represented in the highest court in the land!

The Supreme Court is not a representative body. Opinions don’t count, especially when they are contrary to the Constitution and laws of the United States.

The Court is supposed to protect us from mob rule, not be a part of mob rule.

In the Nixon administration, one of Nixon’s nominees was found to be not highly qualified – mediocre, in fact. Nebraska Sen. Roman Hruska found that not to be a problem, saying “Mediocre Americans have a right to be represented, too.”

The nominee was rejected. I would note that, as Sen. Hruska so amply demonstrated, America already has its quota of mediocrity in representative places. We don’t need any more mediocrity.

Comment #51431

Posted by Flint on October 7, 2005 10:05 AM (e)

HPLC_Sean:

Just like it is for science, the opinions of actual everyday citizens is IRRELEVANT in the justice system. In theory, the law is applied as written and as evaluated on a case-by-case basis by judges that interpret the law and evaluate the evidence.

A little reflection should show that even this theory is unreachable. At the trial court level, it’s quite true; whether a law is broken is generally clear, what the law was intended to prevent or require is equally clear.

But the job of the Supreme Court is somewhat different. The fact situation is no longer in doubt, there’s typically a strong legal argument for both sides, and legitimate differences of opinion lie at the core of what’s being contested. It’s not possible to write law capable of covering every possible unforseen fact situation, law is typically not written after an extensive study of existing law to ferret out any potential conflicts, and precedent decisions are almost invariably ambiguous, because *some* of the facts will overlap and some won’t, from many different existing cases. Which overlapping facts are most salient?

The Constitution itself was written by people who didn’t all agree, and who compromised with lots of weasel words. Just how DOES a “well regulated militia” relate to the right to bear arms? When those powers not appropriate at the Federal level are left to the states or to the people, which powers are those? Should the right to die be entirely a personal decision, or should it vary state by state, or should there be a national legal policy? In cases where all direct parties to a transaction are satisfied and the interests of indirectly influenced parties are tenuous at best, does the state have the legal authority to step in and regulate?

At the highest level, interpreting the law is far from obvious or trivial. Presuming the high court DOES consist of powerful legal minds (even if political considerations meant that the very best minds were ipso facto disqualified), all of these 5-4 decisions show that opinions matter, and MUST matter. Politicians are well aware that even the best legal minds are actually applied in the interests of supporting individual preference with solid research to find the best rationalizations, and with clear writing in deploying precedents, etc.

No question Scalia is a brilliant man, the intellectual guiding light of the Rehnquist/Thomas/Scalia voting bloc. He supports his decisions with consistently high quality written opinions. But I seriously doubt that I personally find his decision pattern abhorrent simply because I lack legal training. I also doubt that if I spent the rest of my life acquiring that legal training, my decisions would be any different from what they are today. They’d just be expressed in better legal writing.

Comment #51442

Posted by Frank J on October 7, 2005 11:19 AM (e)

Norman Doering wrote:

Dot 2: Part of George W. Bush’s base of support base is evangelical Christians who tend towards creationism in some variety. Bush himself shows signs of being a YEC.

I doubt that GWB knows YEC from OEC from ID. OTOH, the smarter politicians, and that may or may not include Scalia, know that YEC is nonsense, and privately think that it’s “something like evolution,” but hide behind the “don’t ask, don’t tell” strategy for political reasons. Heck, even liberal politicians often waffle on this issue.

Comment #51452

Posted by Norman Doering on October 7, 2005 12:08 PM (e)

Frank J wrote: “I doubt that GWB knows YEC from OEC from ID.”

He may not know the acronyms for Old Earth and Young Earth. He probably doesn’t care if it’s old or young. But he sure seems to think God designed it all and he knows enough not to get too specific about his beliefs in public and just drop hints in all directions.

Frank J wrote: “… smarter politicians, and that may or may not include Scalia, know that YEC is nonsense,…”

I’m not so sure. I’m usually amazed at the level of ignorance of non-scientists about scientific knowledge. I’ve met people who can’t quite remember if it’s the sun that revolves around the Earth or Earth ‘round the sun. And they’re not stupid, they run businesses and have college degrees. They just don’t care.

Frank J wrote: “… even liberal politicians often waffle on this issue.”

Because they read the polls. The polls are not good.

Comment #51453

Posted by Christopher Letzelter on October 7, 2005 12:17 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #51454

Posted by Christopher Letzelter on October 7, 2005 12:20 PM (e)

Stefan wrote:
“Suspecting a hidden YEC agenda is prefectly reasonable. Remember the preacher (forgot his name - Dobson?? I read it on AMERICABlog I think but the post has dropped off my horizon) who recently said he had a private conversation with Bush, and says that Bush gave him some “confidential information”, and is now convinced that Miers is the right choice after all.”

I heard that broadcast of FOTF and from what Dobson said (he really said he wouldn’t say what he was privy to) I got the impression it was related to the Roe v Wade/abortion issue. Nothing he said on that program had to do with ID/Creationism.

Comment #51457

Posted by dre on October 7, 2005 12:31 PM (e)

i think what’s really getting to me about this comment string is how that hiya’ll guy back there doesn’t know how to spell “y’all”.

more to the point, i’m in the early childhood education program at a major southern university, and what i’ve seen in the elementary classrooms i’ve been in do not bode well for the future of popular opinion (or better, awareness) on science issues. children across the board don’t seem to give a durn about their own educations, and that’s largely because their parents don’t care and their TEACHERS don’t care.

the 5th grade teacher i’m placed with now (i’m sort of an intern at this point in the program) just got her specialist degree in science education, yet she generates a continuous stream of factual inaccuracies and fantastical speculation for her students. other teachers i’ve observed do the same.

this is all likely tied to the poor professional and cultural status of teachers in the united states, and the correlative low pay. low pay and no respect beget poor job commitment, as we all know. that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.

what i’m getting at is that we probably should not expect a major improvement in popular appreciation or understanding of science anytime soon. the nomination of harriet miers indicates rather an active and ongoing degradation of that understanding.

Comment #51458

Posted by Joel on October 7, 2005 12:32 PM (e)

The CHAIRMAN. I think Ms. Miers had something in mind. But
first let me ask you this. It has been suggested that certain questions be asked each witness who appears here, those who work in
government. May I say that I know nothing whatsoever about you,
so this question is no reflection on you at all. It is just a usual custom.
I did not even know your name before yesterday, and all I
know about you is just from examining you today, so therefore do
not misunderstand these questions as reflecting upon you.
Question Number one is: Are you now or have you ever been a
member of the Creationist party?

Ms. MIERS. No, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. Number two, have you ever belonged to any organization
that has been named by the attorney general as subversive?

Ms. MIERS. No, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. Could you give us the names of the organizations
to which you have belonged? First, the ones to which you belong
at this time. That you should have no trouble in remembering.

Ms. MIERS. I don’t belong to any at this time, as far as I
know. And the organizations that I have belonged to were-there
was a psychology club at Harvard University. There was an honorary
psychology club called, I think, Psi Chi, at the University of
Chicago.

The CHAIRMAN. How old do you believe the Earth is?

Ms. MIERS. I must refuse to answer that question, claiming my
rights and protection under the First and Fifth Amendments to the
Constitution of the United States.

Comment #51464

Posted by vampire killer on October 7, 2005 1:11 PM (e)

Go Carl Baugh!!! One of many to come to stand up to you phony cowards!!!

Comment #51465

Posted by mark allen h. on October 7, 2005 1:20 PM (e)

There are too many anti-christian bigots on Capitol Hill. If you’re a Bible believing pro-life Christian then you are somehow not qualified to serve your country? I find that ironic since this country was founded by Christians on the very principles of the Bible.
The Ten Commandments on the very wall of the Supreme Court. Funny what decades of liberal activism can do to a nation.

Comment #51470

Posted by CJ O'Brien on October 7, 2005 1:35 PM (e)

If you’re a Bible believing pro-life Christian then you are somehow not qualified to serve your country?

Nobody here said that.
If you are an (x) believing (anything), and you can’t separate the logical analysis of evidence from that belief, then it’s my position that you should not hold a life term on the highest judicial body in the nation.
Now, we don’t know that about the nominee in question, so I’m witholding judgement myself. But I think an interest in the question is called for.

Comment #51471

Posted by Flint on October 7, 2005 1:44 PM (e)

If you’re a Bible believing pro-life Christian then you are somehow not qualified to serve your country?

The problem is, most people answering to this description have been totally unable to distinguish between serving their country and serving their faith. They think this is the same thing. Can you imagine a pro-life Christian even *thinking* that a non-Christian has rights too? Can you imagine a person ruling that while they think abortion is murder, they recognize that most people don’t agree and that those other people’s rights should be protected? And that while they are personally appalled at the notion of gay marriage, they can recognize that gays would also appreciate the 10,000+ advantages marriage confers, which would otherwise cost more than $10,000 in legal fees for special powers of attorney and STILL not cover all the bases straight people get for $25? And that the ONLY reason for legislating these people into second class citizenship is religious bigotry, which it’s their duty to eliminate?

I have no problem with those devout Christians who believe they have found their answer. I have no tolerance for those who think they have also found MY answer. Which so far describes nearly every one I’ve ever met or even heard of. And that is NOT the way to serve a very pluralistic country.

Comment #51475

Posted by James Taylor on October 7, 2005 1:57 PM (e)

mark allen h. wrote:

I find that ironic since this country was founded by Christians on the very principles of the Bible.
The Ten Commandments on the very wall of the Supreme Court. Funny what decades of liberal activism can do to a nation.

Please show where Christianity and the Ten Comandments are mentioned in the Constitution of the United States of America.

Comment #51478

Posted by mark allen h. on October 7, 2005 2:43 PM (e)

Is the Ten Commandments not on the supreme Court wall? If you can read then you know this country was founded on Judeo-Christian ethic.

Comment #51479

Posted by mark allen h. on October 7, 2005 2:49 PM (e)

Hey Flint, “They recognize that most people don’t agree” that abortion is murder. Last time I checked it was 50/50 by even the most liberal polls. I would say most do agree.

Comment #51482

Posted by KeithB on October 7, 2005 2:55 PM (e)

The ten commandments are *not* on the Supreme Court. Only the numerals I through X, and *they* represent the Bill of Rights:
http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/capital.…

Comment #51483

Posted by CJ O'Brien on October 7, 2005 2:59 PM (e)

“Founded on Judeo-Christian ethic”
Simply doesn’t equate to “bible believing pro-life Christian.”

I mean, Mormonism was “founded on Judeo-Christian ethic,” right? How about the KKK?

It’s just not very meaningful is what I’m getting at. It doesn’t support a given position on church-state issues to say the nation was so founded.

Comment #51486

Posted by James Taylor on October 7, 2005 3:21 PM (e)

mark allen h. wrote:

Is the Ten Commandments not on the supreme Court wall? If you can read then you know this country was founded on Judeo-Christian ethic.

Since the Constitution of the United States of America defines and legitimizes the government of this country, the proof would have to be in the Constitution and NO where else. What is displayed in the Supreme Court has no bearing on the framing of the nation.

Since the national architecture is Classical Greek and the country is defined on the foundations of the Roman Republic, I don’t see Christianity anywhere in the equation. Please show where in the Constitution Christianity is explicitly mentioned and I will concede the argument; otherwise, you might want to read the Constitution yourself to comprehend the foundations and rights of the nation. They are clearly and unambiguously defined. Oh, and I can most definitely read.

Comment #51487

Posted by Flint on October 7, 2005 3:33 PM (e)

mark allen h.

Hey Flint, “They recognize that most people don’t agree” that abortion is murder. Last time I checked it was 50/50 by even the most liberal polls. I would say most do agree.

First, you and I obviously read very different sources. But second and more important, even if 99% of the citizens agreed with the pro-life Christian, the civil rights of the remaining 1% must still be protected. And rather than agreeing that protecting the civil rights of those of other faiths is important, I notice that you have attempted to justify imposing YOUR faith onto everyone else on statistical grounds (however bogus).

And this is EXACTLY what I was referring to. You simply CAN NOT tolerate civil disagreement where your religious reflexes are being knee-jerked. You’ll just have to trust me that other people find this inability worrisome.

Comment #51488

Posted by Flint on October 7, 2005 3:36 PM (e)

James Taylor:

Since the national architecture is Classical Greek and the country is defined on the foundations of the Roman Republic, I don’t see Christianity anywhere in the equation.

I vaguely remember reading somewhere that Confucious was ALSO depicted on that frieze. Not that anyone trying to make the case that the US is a secret Christian theocracy would ever bother to mention this.

Comment #51489

Posted by Ed Darrell on October 7, 2005 3:38 PM (e)

The Ten Commandments appear in the arms of Moses in one tableau in the Supreme Court, but then, so does the Qur’an in the arms of Mohammed.

The central bas relief over the bench shows the Bill of Rights, numbered 1 through 10.

Other art in the Supreme Court shows the tortoise and hare of Aesop’s story, and other characters of myth. On the east side of the Court, along First Street NE, Confucius makes an appearance. Perhaps we’re to conclude from that that we are a “nation of reason.”

The art of the Supreme Court Building dates from the early 20th century (the building was occupied in 1935). To suggest that it bears the stamp of the founders is simple error.

However, that bas relief in the courtroom WAS done with the aid of historians, and like the parade of bas reliefs in the chamber of the House of Representatives it portrays the heritage and majesty of U.S. law. Moses and the Ten Commandments play significant, but not starring roles. Mohammed’s contribution is recognized, as are the contributions of pagans like Solon. Atheists are included, and Jews and Hindus and others. Here’s a very good tour of the Supreme Court version, from the Oyez Project at Northwestern University: http://www.oyez.org/oyez/tour/frieze-east-from-l…

One can be quite certain that the founders went for the best law they could find, and not just the stuff from Christianity. As Jefferson once noted, the founders defeated an amendment to a religious freedom amendment that would have named Jesus as “the holy author of our religion,” noting that this made it clear the founders’ intent was to make religion free for “Hindoos, Mohamadans, and infidels of every faith.”

My long experience is that, whenever someone uses as an adjective the phrase “Judeo-Christian,” what they are describing is a ball of bias that is labeled out of ignorance of what Jewish ethics is and, most often, of what Christian ethics should be. And, as in the descriptions above, it’s almost always wildly inaccurate.

You’ll note in the art of the Supreme Court that there is nothing opposed to science. Across the street in the U.S. Capitol the art celebrates science and scientific discovery. If there is a bias with regard to evolution shown in the art, it’s a bias in favor of evolution, not against it.

Comment #51495

Posted by Dave Thomas on October 7, 2005 4:07 PM (e)

This Just In…

The Seattle Times reports that

Miers joined Valley View 25 years ago. She and about 150 other members split off to form a new church within the past few weeks, saying they wanted a more staid and traditional place of worship.

So, Miers is no longer a member of creationist-friendly Valley View Christian Church in Dallas.

Whether she left because (A) she thought the church was too wacky (=pro-Carl Baugh), or (B) she wanted to cover her butt from the obvious implications of membership in that church, for her confirmation hearings, remains to be seen.

Dave T

Comment #51497

Posted by Brian Spitzer on October 7, 2005 4:39 PM (e)

The CHAIRMAN. How old do you believe the Earth is?

Ms. MIERS. I must refuse to answer that question, claiming my
rights and protection under the First and Fifth Amendments to the
Constitution of the United States.”

Joel makes an interesting point here, which I think is partly right.

Playing “Persecute the Fundy” is wrong. If I gave the impression that the question about the age of the Earth should be a litmus test for confirming someone as a member of the Supreme Court, I beg your pardon. It shouldn’t.

However, I think this is an important question, and one that the Congress and people of the US have every right to know about and consider. If Ms. Miers does believe that the Earth is only ten thousand years old, then I would definitely want some questions answered before I’d confirm. I would want to know a lot about her opinions on the legal status of science, on the separation of church and state, and on the legal status of creationism and ID. It is not unfair to say that many fundamentalists hold views on these issues that aren’t compatible with a seat on the Supreme Court. Frankly, I’d also be deeply suspicious about the reasoning of someone who’s willing to throw out half of modern science, and it would take a lot of reassurance to convince me that a YEC is sufficiently committed to reason to be on the Supreme Court.

All that aside, there are two deeper reasons I’d really like to hear that question asked. One is because it’s about time America sorted out its schizophrenic attitudes toward science. Science is revered for what it accomplishes, but at the same time people certainly don’t seem to understand why it works, and an awful lot of Americans just don’t like it.

The second reason is that I’m sick of government, and especially this administration, trying to sneak things past the people. As brilliant as Roberts is said to be, I was deeply unhappy about the fact that he slid through the confirmation hearings without anyone getting to really see who he was. Transparency is as vital to democracy as air is to you or me. If Harriet Miers is to be a judge on the Supreme Court, I want to know who she is.

Apologies for wandering off-topic.

–Brian

Comment #51500

Posted by Randy on October 7, 2005 5:35 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'url'

Comment #51501

Posted by The Commissar on October 7, 2005 5:59 PM (e)

Dave Thomas,

I did some checking of my own. The minister of the church attended some Christian college and that college library, you can find all these Creationist works.

This kind of “guilt by association,” or “Six degrees of Kevin Bacon,” is unhelpful. If you read my blog, you’ll see that I think Miers is a bad choice for SCOTUS, and that I am a staunch defender of science.

Comment #51504

Posted by Randy on October 7, 2005 6:36 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'url'

Comment #51508

Posted by Arne Langsetmo on October 7, 2005 7:10 PM (e)

Norman Doering wrote:

He [Dubya] may not know the acronyms for Old Earth and Young Earth. He probably doesn’t care if it’s old or young. But he sure seems to think God designed it all and he knows enough not to get too specific about his beliefs in public and just drop hints in all directions.

Ummm, Gawd talks to Dubya personally. Maybe Gawd has (or will, at the appropriate time) explain[ed] it to Dubya. And a more distant “maybe”: Maybe Dubya will understand it. He certainly mangled that “Thou shalt not kill…” bit….

Cheers,

Comment #51516

Posted by Hiya'll on October 7, 2005 7:49 PM (e)

I’ve just got a coupla comments to make

“The thing is, the Supreme Court shouldn’t be a place of democratic representation. That’s what the two other branches of government do, and the Supreme Court shouldn’t be subject to popular opinion in the same way. Otherwise there’s no point having an appointed ‘independent’ branch.”

I disagree, it’s independent to stop the other branches getting to much power, not to stop it being democratic. If the supreme court is not to represent the values of the people, what is to represent? It has to represent some set of values surely, the values of academics? The values of politicians? The values of judges? For the law to be effective, and to prevent sedition, it must largely represent the values of the people, this holds true even in most dictatorships (where murder, theft etc are still banned), hence courts must represent the values of the people for the law to have any potency.

One could say that the court should be valueless, that it should come to each case tabula rasa (the values could be inputed by the government, in the laws themselves, and then the court could merely passively apply these values as is), but when one actually examines the precedents courts make, they actually have little relevance to the laws their spoused to be based on. Interpretation of the law must be a dynamic process, it must respond to new situations and to do this it must be ah… somewhat imaginative in it’s interpretations of the law. This of course implies a set of values, for the court to set up new laws (which essentially it does) it must act from a value base, and the only apposite base, the only one which would be just, and the only one which would result in laws that would be followed, is the value set of the people.

“Can you imagine a person ruling that while they think abortion is murder, they recognize that most people don’t agree and that those other people’s rights should be protected?”

Of course not, if abortion is indeed murder then it should be banned, I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone claim that abortion is flat out murder and still maintain that it should be legal. The whole question in the abortion debate is whether or not abortion is full on murder. The wonderful thing about a democracy is that people aren’t expected to put aside their personal beliefs in it what the believe in it, they are chosen for what they believe. For judges to represent a fair cross section of possible stances on issues, some must believe abortion is murder, while others must think it is admissible.

“Miers joined Valley View 25 years ago. She and about 150 other members split off to form a new church within the past few weeks, saying they wanted a more staid and traditional place of worship.

So, Miers is no longer a member of creationist-friendly Valley View Christian Church in Dallas.
1. Whether she left because (A) she thought the church was too wacky (=pro-Carl Baugh), or (B) she wanted to cover her butt from the obvious implications of membership in that church, for her confirmation hearings, remains to be seen.
Dave T”

Your two interpretations leave out the obvious one, she left for exactly the reason she stated, she wanted a more traditional style of worship. In fact if she left for a more traditional style that indicates she might have joined an even more conservative/ “wacky” church.

Comment #51517

Posted by Hiya'll on October 7, 2005 7:49 PM (e)

I’ve just got a coupla comments to make

“The thing is, the Supreme Court shouldn’t be a place of democratic representation. That’s what the two other branches of government do, and the Supreme Court shouldn’t be subject to popular opinion in the same way. Otherwise there’s no point having an appointed ‘independent’ branch.”

I disagree, it’s independent to stop the other branches getting to much power, not to stop it being democratic. If the supreme court is not to represent the values of the people, what is to represent? It has to represent some set of values surely, the values of academics? The values of politicians? The values of judges? For the law to be effective, and to prevent sedition, it must largely represent the values of the people, this holds true even in most dictatorships (where murder, theft etc are still banned), hence courts must represent the values of the people for the law to have any potency.

One could say that the court should be valueless, that it should come to each case tabula rasa (the values could be inputed by the government, in the laws themselves, and then the court could merely passively apply these values as is), but when one actually examines the precedents courts make, they actually have little relevance to the laws their spoused to be based on. Interpretation of the law must be a dynamic process, it must respond to new situations and to do this it must be ah… somewhat imaginative in it’s interpretations of the law. This of course implies a set of values, for the court to set up new laws (which essentially it does) it must act from a value base, and the only apposite base, the only one which would be just, and the only one which would result in laws that would be followed, is the value set of the people.

“Can you imagine a person ruling that while they think abortion is murder, they recognize that most people don’t agree and that those other people’s rights should be protected?”

Of course not, if abortion is indeed murder then it should be banned, I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone claim that abortion is flat out murder and still maintain that it should be legal. The whole question in the abortion debate is whether or not abortion is full on murder. The wonderful thing about a democracy is that people aren’t expected to put aside their personal beliefs in it what the believe in it, they are chosen for what they believe. For judges to represent a fair cross section of possible stances on issues, some must believe abortion is murder, while others must think it is admissible.

“Miers joined Valley View 25 years ago. She and about 150 other members split off to form a new church within the past few weeks, saying they wanted a more staid and traditional place of worship.

So, Miers is no longer a member of creationist-friendly Valley View Christian Church in Dallas.
1. Whether she left because (A) she thought the church was too wacky (=pro-Carl Baugh), or (B) she wanted to cover her butt from the obvious implications of membership in that church, for her confirmation hearings, remains to be seen.
Dave T”

Your two interpretations leave out the obvious one, she left for exactly the reason she stated, she wanted a more traditional style of worship. In fact if she left for a more traditional style that indicates she might have joined an even more conservative/ “wacky” church.

Comment #51521

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on October 7, 2005 8:25 PM (e)

Ever heard of a document called “the Constitution of the United Stes of America”, Mr. Hiya’ll?

That‘s what the Supreme Court is supposed to defend. It’s a document that states several values that the Founders of the Republic thought significant enough to include in the most important law of the land.

If “We the People” want to change that document, we can; the document itself, and its addenda, states how. But as long as the USofA keep that document as its founding charter, the Supreme Court is tasked with protecting it, in order to avoid the “dictatorship of the majority”.

I think that if you check other Supreme Courts in other democratic countries, you’ll find that they have the same role: protecting their country’s Constitution.

Comment #51522

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on October 7, 2005 8:27 PM (e)

..of course, it’s United States of America, but I hope everybody understood that.

Sorry for the typo.

Comment #51523

Posted by Flint on October 7, 2005 8:42 PM (e)

Aureola Nominee:

I think you have put your finger on the core issue. The goal is to appoint judges able to seriously ask themselves whether Joe is guaranteed the right to engage in a practice that the judge personally dislikes. And here is where the concern really lies. To paraphrase an old joke, “I may disagree with what you do, but I’ll defend to the death your right to do it.” And fundamentalist Christians are notorious for opposing this quintessentially American philosophy. Their attitude tends to be “God disapproves of what you do, and I am acting as God’s agent, for the good of your immortal soul.”

A judge like Scalia, of course, can bury this primal motivation beneath a mountain of well-researched precedent and close logical argument. But after enough years have passed and enough decisions are on record, one can’t help but notice that Scalia has NEVER “found” any rights that violate his religious faith belonging to anyone.

Comment #51525

Posted by Steven Laskoske on October 7, 2005 8:54 PM (e)

There are too many anti-christian bigots on Capitol Hill.

There is a huge difference between being an “anti-christian bigot” and having legitimate concerns over the quality of a candidate for the highest court in the land. To be honest, Mier’s actual religious beliefs (or personal beliefs of any type) are of no concern to me UNLESS they color her professional duties. Considering that Miers has had no experience as a judge of any type, there is little in her professional background to decide whether she should be elevated to that position. Instead, we must look at whatever details can be found that would suggest how she should be as a judge. Considering that her background as a creationist might show her view on First Amendment issues, it is certainly valid to consider it.

If you’re a Bible believing pro-life Christian then you are somehow not qualified to serve your country?

You’re qualified if you don’t have that color your performance at your job. After all, the job of a Supreme Court Justice is (in part) to make sure the law reflects fairly to those of all religious beliefs, showing favortism to none.

I find that ironic since this country was founded by Christians on the very principles of the Bible.

I love hearing how the country was founded by “Christians on the very principles of the Bible”. In fact, I love how the “Christian Nation” crew loves to lump all sects of Christianity together as if they all hold the same beliefs. Two of the several Christian sects were, of course, the Puritans and the Quakers. Their views of the world and their faith were entirely different. Yet the federal law had to apply to both. Because of this, there is a separation of church is state. By keeping law as fair to all groups and keeping faith as a matter of conscience, the law treats all fairly. Giving an unfair bias to one faith or belief breaks that.

This is especially ironic when you consider that many of these Christians came to the New World, not to force their religious views on others, but to escape the religious intolerance of their former home.

The Ten Commandments on the very wall of the Supreme Court. Funny what decades of liberal activism can do to a nation.

I love how the Ten Commandments on the friezes is often brought into it. Of course, the actual Ten Commandments aren’t written out. Moses is shown as one of the great lawbringers of history and those tablets are shown as a symbol of law.

While the Ten Commandments are displayed in several courts, many more of them display statues or symbols of blind Justicia with her scales. Does this mean that we are a “Roman Myth Nation”?

Comment #51528

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on October 7, 2005 10:03 PM (e)

As far as this country being somehow founded on Christianity or the Ten Commandment, I’d like to point out that murder, theft, and perjury are unlawful in all civilized societies and have been since before the Ten Commandments were written. As for the other seven commandments, apart from a dwindling number of state and local sodomy statutes and blue laws, none of them are unlawful anywhere in this country.

Comment #51529

Posted by Ed Darrell on October 7, 2005 10:25 PM (e)

Probably enough of this digression, but Randy, the treaty that replaced the 1796 treaty had a similar clause in it – as did the treaty prior, and at least five other treaties with nations ruled by Moslems. The Senate approved all of them, and it was a consistent and overt part of our foreign policy for at least 30 years, until it was no longer necessary to point out explicitly that the U.S. had no religious basis for making war with Moslems.

As for Madison, he studied for the clergy, but his mentor, the Rev. John Witherspoon, prevailed on him to answer a higher calling. Madison was the guy who talked the indomitable George Mason into opening up the Virginia Bill of Rights for one addition – a religious freedom clause. Madison was, by some calculations, the most devout Christian among the major contributors to the founding, and also the most ardent and devout advocate of complete separation of church and state.

Franklin, Jefferson and Washington were all quite active scientists. Jefferson collected fossils, including all those he could find of mastodons. It’s difficult to imagine any of the founders taking a position against science.

Comment #51533

Posted by Norman Doering on October 8, 2005 12:39 AM (e)

stefan wrote: “Suspecting a hidden YEC agenda is prefectly reasonable.”

Of course it’s a fundy agenda with perhaps some YEC overtones. It’s bigger than YEC, it includes faith based funding, prayer in the schools and the Ten Commandments in courthouses, abortion, stem cell research, gay rights and even stuff like this:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0929/p12s03-legn.h…
BIBLE LITERACY PROJECT: Teaching the Bible in English class.

Comment #51539

Posted by jeffw on October 8, 2005 2:56 AM (e)

As for the other seven commandments, apart from a dwindling number of state and local sodomy statutes and blue laws, none of them are unlawful anywhere in this country.

But don’t we need all the ten commandments, to remind us not to covet our neighbor’s asses?

Comment #51546

Posted by the pro from dover on October 8, 2005 8:37 AM (e)

I am interested in a remark made by Brian Spitzer (#51497) where he mentioned that believing in YEC would “throw out half of modern science.” What I’d like to know is what significant portion of modern (as opposed to classical) science is compatible with YEC? YEC would seem to me to invalidate not only evolution and plate techtonics but Quantum mechanics, general and special relativity as well. This leaves hardly any “modern science” left. The only way modern science is compatible with YEC is if “the creator” made the universe and all it contains in such a way as to create the illusion of great antiquity. Now God has been vindictive and generous and kind and loving and forgiving but I’ve never read where God has been tricky.

Comment #51549

Posted by Norman Doering on October 8, 2005 9:40 AM (e)

the pro asked “… what significant portion of modern (as opposed to classical) science is compatible with YEC?”

Ummm… how about sociology? It’s not classic. Maybe psychology, though it would be affected by other religious views that would ride on YEC coat-tails.

Modern meterology, weather and climate might not be affected much but sociology/psychology and meterology are the closest thing to major branches of science. Everything else – only partial survival.

Comment #51552

Posted by MAJeff on October 8, 2005 10:56 AM (e)

As a sociologist, I’d say we’re not terribly compatible with YEC, particularly because we take religion as a human construction instead of some transcendant truth. YEC would have no standing other than as an object of study.

Comment #51555

Posted by Norman Doering on October 8, 2005 11:23 AM (e)

MAJeff wrote: “As a sociologist, … we take religion as a human construction instead of some transcendant truth…”

Are you saying all sociologists are atheists, agnostics and unitarians?

Comment #51560

Posted by MAJeff on October 8, 2005 12:36 PM (e)

Are you saying all sociologists are atheists, agnostics and unitarians?

No i’m not, but as a field of study, we do treat religion as a human construction. This goes back to the foundational work of Emile Durkheim, who basically concluded that religion is society’s worship of itself (OK, that’s really, really shorthand and oversimplified, but it’s also the gist of the argument). There are definitely religious sociologists, but the field as a whole treats religion as human activity, and the ideas contained within any religion as social products.

Comment #51566

Posted by Frank J on October 8, 2005 1:51 PM (e)

mark allen h wrote:

If you’re a Bible believing pro-life Christian then you are somehow not qualified to serve your country? I find that ironic since this country was founded by Christians on the very principles of the Bible.

In the opinion of this “evolutionist,” Bible believing pro-life Christians are very qualified to serve our country. As long as they understand and accept that most mainstream religions do not take Genesis - any of the mutually contradictory “literal” interpretations - literally. Trouble is that few career politicians these days would admit that even if they believed it. Most of them, left or right, cater to the lowest common denominator. And in this anti-science, pro-sensationalism age, that means pandering to all sorts of pseudoscientists.

The US may have been founded on principles of the Bible, but the key players were Deists. Had they known of the next 230 years of scientific advances, they would certainly have objected to how present-day pseudoscientific anti-evolutionists misrepresent science and disrespect God.

Comment #51569

Posted by Edin Najetovic on October 8, 2005 2:45 PM (e)

I must honestly say that I have often wondered about the powerful position of the US supreme court. It is them that seem to have the role that the 1st chamber seems to full in normal bicameral systems, with a lot less democratic control to boot. I find it a little scary, in fact. A quick wiki shows that Scalia seems to be the only truly objective one of the lot, and that does not bode too well.

With these new appointments, who knows what can happen? Let me just say I’m glad I live in the Netherlands :)

Comment #51571

Posted by Steviepinhead on October 8, 2005 3:24 PM (e)

Scalia has his own agenda–calling it “original intent” jurisprudence (as if it would be useful to always interpret our founding document from the perspective of the late 1700s, as we go into the 21st century, facing many technological and social problems that are much more complex than most of our forebears could easily have imagined) or “objective” jurisprudence is just a label that shouldn’t prevent you from looking behind it to see what the agenda might be, any more than you would let any other verbal spin preclude you from examining reality in any other situation.

Various presidents have input into the composition of the court at any one time. There are nine of them, and their philosophies and agendas vary and compete and clash. At least five of them have to agree on a given point for it to become “law,” so there is plenty of give and take and negotiation and compromise. The Senate gets to advise and consent. If push really comes to shove, there is an impeachment process, though the “bar” is set very high, as it should be.

It’s not really all that hard to sit down, in most areas of the law, and study the court’s jurisprudence in that area (as much a crazy quilt as that jurisprudence can sometimes become), and figure out how to safely stay well withing the bounds of what’s constitutional.

The court doesn’t typically get called on to review a law for constitutionality unless some legislator, agency, or school board (heh heh) somewhere didn’t deliberately decide to push the envelope of what’s “constitutional,” rather than to take the safe approach of coloring well withing the lines. Quite frequently, legislators pass a bold and constituent-friendly law, in the full knowledge that they won’t REALLY have to live with the consequences, because they have every reason to know in advance that the law will be stricken down. They get the credit, the court gets the blame, people single the supreme court out as the “undemocratic, unelected” institution and, again, forget to look beneath the spin and the labels.

Learn to look…

Comment #51609

Posted by mark allen h. on October 8, 2005 8:27 PM (e)

Just some quotes from our founding fathers.

William Penn,in a letter to a friend declaring he would: Make and establish laws as shall best preserve true Christian and civil libery, in all opposition to all unchristian…practices.

Patrick Henry: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but by the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”

Thomas Jefferson, in letter to Henry Fry writes: I consider the doctrines of Jesus as delivered by himself to contain the outlines of the sublimest system of morality that has ever been taught.

Alexander Hamilton’s dying words were: I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I look to Him for mercy. Pray for me.

Someone in an early post said that you can’t lump all Christian sects together as if they believe the same things. Well, Of course there are many slight differences in doctrine from one denom to another but the one common foundation to all Christian sects is Jesus Christ and his dying for the sin of the world.

Comment #51610

Posted by Norman Doering on October 8, 2005 8:38 PM (e)

mark allen h. gave us quotes from our founding fathers.

Here are some more quotes:

James Madison
“What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not.” - James Madison, “A Memorial and Remonstrance”, 1785

“Experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.” - James Madison, “A Memorial and Remonstrance”, 1785

John Adams
“As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?” - John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816

“I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved–the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!” - John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson

“What havoc has been made of books through every century of the Christian era? Where are fifty gospels, condemned as spurious by the bull of Pope Gelasius? Where are the forty wagon-loads of Hebrew manuscripts burned in France, by order of another pope, because suspected of heresy? Remember the ‘index expurgatorius’, the inquisition, the stake, the axe, the halter and the guillotine.” - John Adams, letter to John Taylor

“The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning. And ever since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality, is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your eyes and hand, and fly into your face and eyes.” - John Adams, letter to John Taylor

Thomas Jefferson
“In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot … they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purpose.” - Thomas Jefferson, to Horatio Spafford, March 17, 1814

“Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced an inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.” - Thomas Jefferson, from “Notes on Virginia”

“Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.” - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787

“It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet that the one is not three, and the three are not one. But this constitutes the craft, the power and the profit of the priests.” - Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1803

“But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State.” - Thomas Jefferson to S. Kercheval, 1810

“History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose.” - Thomas Jefferson to Baron von Humboldt, 1813

“On the dogmas of religion, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind.” - Thomas Jefferson to Carey, 1816

“But the greatest of all reformers of the depraved religion of his own country, was Jesus of Nazareth. Abstracting what is really his from the rubbish in which it is buried, easily distinguished by its lustre from the dross of his biographers, and as separable from that as the diamond from the dunghill, we have the outlines of a system of the most sublime morality which has ever fallen from the lips of man. The establishment of the innocent and genuine character of this benevolent morality, and the rescuing it from the imputation of imposture, which has resulted fro artificial systems, invented by ultra-Christian sects (The immaculate conception of Jesus, his deification, the creation of the world by him, his miraculous powers, his resurrection and visible ascension, his corporeal presence in the Eucharist, the Trinity; original sin, atonement, regeneration, election, orders of the Hierarchy, etc.) is a most desirable object.” - Thomas Jefferson to W. Short, Oct. 31, 1819

“It is not to be understood that I am with him (Jesus Christ) in all his doctrines. I am a Materialist; he takes the side of Spiritualism; he preaches the efficacy of repentence toward forgiveness of sin; I require a counterpoise of good works to redeem it.
Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others, again, of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being. I separate, therefore, the gold from the dross; restore him to the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some, the roguery of others of his disciples. Of this band of dupes and imposters, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and the first corruptor of the doctrines of Jesus.” - Thomas Jefferson to W. Short, 1820

“The office of reformer of the superstitions of a nation, is ever more dangerous. Jesus had to work on the perilous confines of reason and religion; and a step to the right or left might place him within the grasp of the priests of the superstition, a bloodthirsty race, as cruel and remorseless as the being whom they represented as the family God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, and the local God of Israel. That Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God, physically speaking, I have been convinced by the writings of men more learned than myself in that lore.” - Thomas Jefferson to Story, Aug. 4, 1820

“The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man. But compare with these the demoralizing dogmas of Calvin.
1. That there are three Gods.
2. That good works, or the love of our neighbor, is nothing.
3. That faith is every thing, and the more incomprehensible the proposition, the more merit the faith.
4. That reason in religion is of unlawful use.
5. That God, from the beginning, elected certain individuals to be saved, and certain others to be damned; and that no crimes of the former can damn them; no virtues of the latter save.” - Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Waterhouse, Jun. 26, 1822

“Creeds have been the bane of the Christian church … made of Christendom a slaughter-house.” - Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Waterhouse, Jun. 26, 1822

“The truth is, that the greatest enemies of the doctrine of Jesus are those, calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them to the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come, when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.” - Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, Apr. 11, 1823

“The metaphysical insanities of Athanasius, of Loyola, and of Calvin, are, to my understanding, mere lapses into polytheism, differing from paganism only by being more unintelligible.” - Thomas Jefferson to Jared Sparks, 1820

Benjamin Franklin
“I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue. The scriptures assure me that at the last day we shall not be examined on what we thought but what we did.” - Benjamin Franklin letter to his father, 1738

“I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it.” - Benjamin Franklin from “Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion”, Nov. 20, 1728

“I wish it (Christianity) were more productive of good works … I mean real good works … not holy-day keeping, sermon-hearing … or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments despised by wise men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity.” - Benjamin Franklin Works, Vol. VII, p. 75

“If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish Church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. They found it wrong in Bishops, but fell into the practice themselves both here (England) and in New England.” - Benjamin Franklin

Comment #51612

Posted by Steve S on October 8, 2005 9:03 PM (e)

During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.” - James Madison, “A Memorial and Remonstrance”, 1785

and he didn’t even know about the molesting.

Comment #51614

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 8, 2005 9:11 PM (e)

Just some quotes from our founding fathers.

There’s only one “quote from our founding fathers” that matters. It reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Any other “quote from our founding fathers” is utterly, completely, absolutely, totally irrelevant.

Comment #51616

Posted by Jon H on October 8, 2005 9:50 PM (e)

“Any other “quote from our founding fathers” is utterly, completely, absolutely, totally irrelevant.”

As is any knowledge of the history of religious strife in the world, especially that in the centuries prior to the founding of the United States, which the Founders would have been quite well aware of.

That way, you can pretend that they considered all of Christianity to be one big happy family, and that they founded a Christian nation.

After all, everyone knows we’re a Quaker nation, right?

Comment #51620

Posted by mark allen h. on October 8, 2005 10:33 PM (e)

You guys just don’t get it do you? “Or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” You can’t take away our Christian heritage…sorry. You can name all the wrong things that men have done in the name of Christianity or God or religion, but that doesn’t change the pure teachings of Christ. That’s what I’m talking about, and I know that offends you guys to no end, but so be it. Not religion, not evil men posing as christians, but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. That’s what our founders believed in.

Truth is the truth, I’m sorry that threatens you so much. And Rev, that IS utterly, completley, absolutley, totally relevant.

Comment #51623

Posted by mark allen h. on October 8, 2005 10:53 PM (e)

You can rant and rave all you want. You can write article after article, and spend your lives on this web site. (some of you live here, you know who you are) You can pretend that you are actually winning the war of words and thought, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ will continue to spread to the ends of the earth.

There is absolutley nothing you can do to stop it. Jesus Christ will have the final word, and you and I will be judged by what we did with the choice to accept his gift or to reject Him. I’m out…I pray that you guys will accept the love and forgiveness of Christ.

God bless

Comment #51625

Posted by Norman Doering on October 8, 2005 11:14 PM (e)

mark allen h. wrote: “…Not religion, not evil men posing as christians, but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. That’s what our founders believed in.”

Not Thomas Paine, and he’s only one example of a non-Christian.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/087975273…

Paine is the guy who wrote “Common Sense” and practically invented our system of government, he also wrote a little book called “The Age of Reason” and explicitly declared himself not a Christian and then ripped the Bible to shreds with his arguments.

Read his book on several online sites:

http://www.ushistory.org/paine/reason/
http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/thoma…
http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/3743
http://www.2think.org/hii/aor.shtml

Comment #51627

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 8, 2005 11:23 PM (e)

You guys just don’t get it do you? “Or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” You can’t take away our Christian heritage…sorry.

Uh, I’m not aware of anyone prohibiting anyone from exercising any religion they please.

Are you?

You can wave your arms all you want. The Constitution not only does NOT make the US a “Christian nation” — it specifically prevents the US from BECOMING one. Or any other religion.

Sorry if you dobn’t like that. (shrug)

Comment #51628

Posted by Norman Doering on October 8, 2005 11:24 PM (e)

mark allen h. wrote: “…You can pretend that you are actually winning the war of words and thought, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ will continue to spread to the ends of the earth.”

It’s not spreading as fast as Islam or Wicca.

Comment #51634

Posted by "The people" aka Hi'yall on October 9, 2005 12:51 AM (e)

Aureola Nominee

“Ever heard of a document called “the Constitution of the United Stes of America”, Mr. Hiya’ll?

That‘s what the Supreme Court is supposed to defend. It’s a document that states several values that the Founders of the Republic thought significant enough to include in the most important law of the land.

If “We the People” want to change that document, we can; the document itself, and its addenda, states how. But as long as the USofA keep that document as its founding charter, the Supreme Court is tasked with protecting it, in order to avoid the “dictatorship of the majority”.

I think that if you check other Supreme Courts in other democratic countries, you’ll find that they have the same role: protecting their country’s Constitution.”

Oh come on, you don’t really think the supreme courts decisions really have anything to do with the constitution do you? Okay, okay, the last sentence was exagerating things a bit but you are making a basic confusion between theory and practice. In THEORY the supreme court is meant to uphold the constitution. In PRACTICE it is a law making body, which basically “creatively” interprets the constitution to suit current situations, a lot of supreme court decisions have little to do with the actual words of the law and the constitution, some I would say have nothing to do with them.

The supreme court has to do this because constitutions are usually fairly dull things, they don’t really ask for or demand a lot, their meaning has to be changed to suit current situations, either by extending their spirt, or by making things up. Because of this creative process of “interpretation” i.e eisgeis ( reading things into a document), supreme courts need to have values; if their going to law-make, they need to law-make with values, otherwise their actions would be random, and there’s only one set of values apporiate in a democracy, that of the people, what other set of values could we use?

Comment #51635

Posted by "The people" aka Hi'yall on October 9, 2005 12:51 AM (e)

Aureola Nominee

“Ever heard of a document called “the Constitution of the United Stes of America”, Mr. Hiya’ll?

That‘s what the Supreme Court is supposed to defend. It’s a document that states several values that the Founders of the Republic thought significant enough to include in the most important law of the land.

If “We the People” want to change that document, we can; the document itself, and its addenda, states how. But as long as the USofA keep that document as its founding charter, the Supreme Court is tasked with protecting it, in order to avoid the “dictatorship of the majority”.

I think that if you check other Supreme Courts in other democratic countries, you’ll find that they have the same role: protecting their country’s Constitution.”

Oh come on, you don’t really think the supreme courts decisions really have anything to do with the constitution do you? Okay, okay, the last sentence was exagerating things a bit but you are making a basic confusion between theory and practice. In THEORY the supreme court is meant to uphold the constitution. In PRACTICE it is a law making body, which basically “creatively” interprets the constitution to suit current situations, a lot of supreme court decisions have little to do with the actual words of the law and the constitution, some I would say have nothing to do with them.

The supreme court has to do this because constitutions are usually fairly dull things, they don’t really ask for or demand a lot, their meaning has to be changed to suit current situations, either by extending their spirt, or by making things up. Because of this creative process of “interpretation” i.e eisgeis ( reading things into a document), supreme courts need to have values; if their going to law-make, they need to law-make with values, otherwise their actions would be random, and there’s only one set of values apporiate in a democracy, that of the people, what other set of values could we use?

Comment #51642

Posted by trent on October 9, 2005 7:10 AM (e)

If YEC win this time, they could win again. If this happens, I think I am going to seriously think about moving out of this country. lol… Bush as president, YEC is accepted… blahhhh! I just don’t know how much rational people can take.

Comment #51644

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on October 9, 2005 8:08 AM (e)

Hiya’ll

Your interpretation of the role of the Supreme Court is very creative. Why don’t you take it up with a professor of Constitutional Law and see how long it takes to shoot it full of holes?

The three traditional powers are called the executive (because it “executes” things, i.e. has things done), the legislative (because it legislates, i.e. makes laws) and the judiciary (because it “judges”, i.e. it verifies that things are done according to law).

That’s all. The only (the only) power that makes law is the legislative, which in the U.S. is fully elective. The lawmaking role of the judiciary is, well, non-existent. The latitude in judgment that the Supremes (or any other judge, by the way) have is nothing like the power to pass laws. As such, the basic qualifications for the two jobs are very, very different: a lawmaker is supposed to represent the will of the people (let’s not go into a discussion on the kind of fraction of “the people” that actually gets a congressman elected in the U.S., but that’s not a very healthy sign for the state of democracy in the Republic), while a Supreme Court judge is a specialist, chosen because of his or her technical prowess in upholding the Constitution, without necessarily bending to the wind of an obviously fickle public opinion.

Keep in mind that this implies that the Supreme Court as a whole must necessarily be very conservative in the proper sense of this word (not the parody of conservatism that currently runs under this name), regardless of the individual inclinations of its components.

As someone else said, being able to disconnect from evidence enough to believe in YEC (not in Christianity per se, which is a very different thing!) is a bad, bad sign for someone who should evaluate evidence as a matter of course.

Comment #51646

Posted by Zarquon on October 9, 2005 8:49 AM (e)

That’s all. The only (the only) power that makes law is the legislative, which in the U.S. is fully elective.

Ummm, you seem to never have heard of Common Law, which the US explicitly included in its legal system.
The common law originally developed under the auspices of the adversarial system in historical England from judicial decisions that were based in tradition, custom, and precedent.

Comment #51648

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on October 9, 2005 9:51 AM (e)

Zarquon:

I have heard of Common Law. What’s it got to do with the subject at hand? Common Law is the codification of preexisting legal tradition, neither more nor less, and it was included in the U.S. legal system… by an act of the legislative power, not by the will of the judiciary.

Comment #51658

Posted by Donald McLaughlin on October 9, 2005 3:29 PM (e)

Not only has Dave Thomas committed the genetic fallacy with this thread, he doesn’t even get the guilt by association correct. First of all, that Newsday article doesn’t say one word about Ms. Miers opinions on evolution, ID or YEC or anything of the sort. As to the “link” mentioned, at the very top of the page where these links are found it says, in bold letters: “This is not a endorsement just some links we enjoy”

Also, nowhere does the website claim that money given to the church passes to any of the organizations mentioned in the links.

Exactly what “dots” are we suppoed to connect here? Ms. Miers belongs to a church…wow, there’s a news flash. She gives money to her church…wow, scary that is. Her church has a website…what church doesn’t? There are links on the church website to other sites that whoever maintains the website enjoys.
Wow, if ever there was reason to beleive that every member of that church was YEC, especially Ms. Meirs, this is it. Excuse me while I spend the next 20 minutes rolling on the floor in laughter! You guys are simply amazing. The logic, the reasoning power. I’m in awe of you. Wow!!

I can see why you’re all losing sleep over this one.

Comment #51690

Posted by Hi'yall on October 9, 2005 9:26 PM (e)

“I have heard of Common Law. What’s it got to do with the subject at hand? Common Law is the codification of preexisting legal tradition, neither more nor less, and it was included in the U.S. legal system… by an act of the legislative power, not by the will of the judiciary.”

The power to make common law means that in practice the supreme court is a legalslative body, just like every other court. That’s what common law’s got to do with the issue. Common law is “judge made law”, created by various precedents ( decisions of judges) those sections of the judges decisions which are “Ratio decidendi” go towards making common law.

Comment #51693

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on October 9, 2005 10:15 PM (e)

Oh, so now I get it: you want a YEC on the Supreme Court because the Supreme Court makes law insofar as the ratio decidendi (or, for those who really know their Latin, the motivation of the decision) becomes precedent, and you want that precedent to reflect the uneducated opinion of the public, which is already amply represented by the Legislative, instead of having the Supreme Court act (as it should) as a check on the excesses of the majority.

No thanks. I think I’ll keep the existing system, with the Supreme Court doing its job - judging - instead of making laws. Because of this, I think the best “judges” should be chosen, not mere mouthpieces of the Executive.

Comment #51696

Posted by Hiya'll on October 10, 2005 1:16 AM (e)

Who said I wanted a YEC on the supreme court? I don’t want a YEC on the supreme court, much in the same way I didn’t want president Bush to be elected. Nevertheless I wouldn’t stop a fundamentalist christian chosen, because she represents a large section of the community.

As you your self just admitted, precedents are made by courts ( that’s all I’ve been trying to get you to concede) and these precedents become binding. Does this not imply that these precedents have to reflect some set of values, because the judicary must respond to new situations, which means in effect changing and creating laws? I am sure you’d admit that to change the law one must change it with a set of values.

As for your statements on the uneducated masses ( which sound pretty snobby by the way), majority rule isn’t always pretty, people in general are a mass of superstitions, predjudices and irrationalities ( I you and I have as many as anyone else, I would guess, there’s an intresting section in “the blank slate” on the irrationalties and superstitions even the educated believe), nevertheless, for some odd reason, rule by the people as a whole seems to work ( Their irrationalities balance each other out I guess).

Comment #51702

Posted by darwinfinch on October 10, 2005 3:43 AM (e)

What a dull “wit” you slash about, Hi. You have all the cleverness of a sockfull of horse manure.

I now fully believe there isn’t a decent Creationist apologist on the face of the Earth. I used to converse with some of what I called “udder faith” types, but I frankly miss their bland, “I-believe-what-I-believe” friendly, if very, very childish, arguments.

Comment #51708

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on October 10, 2005 6:00 AM (e)

Hi

“binding precedents” are an entirely different kettle of fish from “law”. Everybody has “values”; the job of the Legislative is to reflect those of the voters, the job of the Supreme Court is not. You want to turn the Supreme Court into a miniature Congress? That would be the final straw to a balance of power that’s been mightily upset already.

Every scientist has “values”, but when they are doing science, those values are irrelevant. And believe me… scientific discoveries have changed our world more radically than any precedent set by the Supreme Court.

Comment #51711

Posted by Norman Doering on October 10, 2005 6:17 AM (e)

Hiya’ll wrote: “I am sure you’d admit that to change the law one must change it with a set of values.”

There’s a grain of truth to that, but I’m mostly saying it because everyone is beating you up. The problem is the ambiguity in the word “values” and other arguments you’ve made.

Hiya’ll wrote: “As for your statements on the uneducated masses ( which sound pretty snobby by the way), majority rule isn’t always pretty, people in general are a mass of superstitions, predjudices and irrationalities … nevertheless, for some odd reason, rule by the people as a whole seems to work ( Their irrationalities balance each other out I guess).”

Right now it’s working okay, as far as I can tell, though I do think Bush has done a lot of damage to our country financially. That doesn’t mean there’s some magic to rule by irrational democracy. Dictators have risen to power in democracies before.

But this whole thing about why the courts and judges matter is going to take a bit more background.

Are you familiar with Chris Mooney and “The Republican War on Science”?

Comment #51761

Posted by Rich on October 10, 2005 4:12 PM (e)

There’s a whole lot of reading in going on here. First of all the links are marked as not being official. Second of all on the doctrinal statement the following disclaimer is given:

We try not to be dogmatic about matters on which believers hold divergent views. Our core beliefs are centered in Christ and His message as supported by Scripture. More obscure doctrine, as well as controversial issues about which the Bible is silent, are left to believers to sort out on their own. On these issues we take no official/dogmatic position. What follows is a summary of what we believe.

After that no mention of creation/evolution is made. I belong to a church whose credal statement is very similar to VVCC. Churches such as mine do not enforce a belief in YEC on their members. One of the reasons why the Religious Right feels queasy about Harriet Miers is that VVCC is more broadly evangelical. They look at us as sell-outs. So, yes, it is possible that she would be a YEC on the bench but not likely. If such views are not enforced within the church then a forteriori it would be the case that a Supreme Court decision would not enforce them on a plural society. Again, churches like Ms. Miers’ and mine value diversity more than more Fundamentalistic ones. The intellectual freedom that we reserve for ourselves we believe should be preserved for others.

Comment #51763

Posted by Flint on October 10, 2005 4:24 PM (e)

The intellectual freedom that we reserve for ourselves we believe should be preserved for others.

Maybe someone can explain how this statement is consistent with evangelism? My understanding is that the evangelical is “called by god” (however this works mentally) to convert anyone and everyone to their faith. I get evangelicals showing up on my doorstep regularly, and they haven’t the slightest interest in “preserving my freedom to believe otherwise.” In fact, they wouldn’t be out there every week if they HAD any such interest.

Maybe Rich is talking about the “non-evangelical” evangelicals? Anyone got a link to what those people believe?

Comment #51772

Posted by Russell on October 10, 2005 4:54 PM (e)

I agree that links on a website of a church hardly constitute a “smoking gun”.

What I find more disturbing is that a christian right wing-nut like Dobson is telling his followers that - though he’s not at liberty to disclose the details - Bush has privately supplied reasons for him to be assured that Miers is the kind of justice he would want.

Comment #51788

Posted by Rich on October 10, 2005 6:38 PM (e)

flint wrote:

Maybe someone can explain how this statement is consistent with evangelism? My understanding is that the evangelical is “called by god” (however this works mentally) to convert anyone and everyone to their faith. I get evangelicals showing up on my doorstep regularly, and they haven’t the slightest interest in “preserving my freedom to believe otherwise.” In fact, they wouldn’t be out there every week if they HAD any such interest.

Maybe Rich is talking about the “non-evangelical” evangelicals? Anyone got a link to what those people believe?

There is a difference between the term evangelical and evangelist. Both deal with the evangel or good news. Now if the Gospel is truly good news would it be necessary to force people to believe it? Flint ran into what I call polemic evangelicals. Irenic evangelicals like myself also believe the Gospel is good news. Because the Gospel is good news it should sell itself and thus no coersion is necessary. Religious freedom is important to us. We want the freedom to make our case but this is the same freedom that would allow Flint to say, “No thanks.” My particular denomination is the Evangelical Free Church of America. The “evangelical” part is generic and consists of the non-controversial parts of the evangelical faith (compare to Valley View’s statement of faith). The “free” part is not an established national church. It was this disestablishmentarian tradition that gave us the First Amendment in the first place. As to an all evangelicals being “called by God” to convert anyone and everyone to their faith, this is directly contradicted by Ephesians 4:11 that says SOME are called to be evangelists.

Examples of evangelicals who are working scientists and also believe in evolution include Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, and Dr. Keith Miller, KSU geology professor who was among those who opposed the Kansas School Board.

Comment #51791

Posted by Flint on October 10, 2005 6:45 PM (e)

Rich:

Thanks for the clarification. I know bupkis about evangelicals, evangelists, and evangelism, except for those proselytizers who think it’s OK to interrupt others, if they are earnest and polite enough about it. I have my own set of beliefs, just like anyone else. I would never dream of intruding on my neighbors to try to convert them to my opinions and delusions. What arrogance!

Comment #51805

Posted by Rich on October 10, 2005 7:30 PM (e)

Flint, we all try to convert people all the time (just to different things). Why try to convert the Dover school board? Because what they propose is silly. It’s perfectly OK to attempt to correct what you perceive as other people’s errors. What makes it arrogant is the assumption that we have nothing to be corrected in return.

The strength of the scientific method is that it assumes that there needs to be correction and builds a correcting mechanism into the system itself. Theology, philosophy, and politics do not have that built-in. They need dialog in order to be purged from error. If everybody never interacted but just held on to their own opinions and delusions then there would be no corrective. Even if we could have people talking to each other, the problem we have in our contemporary society is that we don’t have dialog. Rather, we have shouting matches and talking points. We all need to do more listening and less talking. Unfortunately, I don’t see that coming any time soon.

Comment #51816

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 10, 2005 8:51 PM (e)

The strength of the scientific method is that it assumes that there needs to be correction and builds a correcting mechanism into the system itself. Theology, philosophy, and politics do not have that built-in. They need dialog in order to be purged from error. If everybody never interacted but just held on to their own opinions and delusions then there would be no corrective.

No one alive knows any more about god than anyone else alive does. No one.

So what’s the point of having a whole bunch of people talking to each other when none of them, literally, has any idea what they are talking about?

Comment #51822

Posted by Norman Doering on October 10, 2005 9:07 PM (e)

Rich wrote: “Irenic evangelicals like myself also believe the Gospel is good news. Because the Gospel is good news it should sell itself and thus no coersion is necessary. Religious freedom is important to us.”

That sounds like it could become an argument for spam – we’re just spreading good news about making millions in multilevel marketing and pills to enlarge your penis or breasts.

Comment #51827

Posted by Hi'yall on October 10, 2005 9:44 PM (e)

Darwin finch, your not exactly bright either, if comparing me to horse manure is the best you can come up with. Personally though I’d rather avoid disscusing each others personal qualities and stick to the facts, that okay with you? I really don’t see what your undoubtedly long and noble career of arguging with YEC’s with scientfic knowledge that could be summarised on four pages has got to do with me.

Norman, I really don’t see that we have any points of disagreement. I’d certainly agree with you that democracy is not always a universal pancea, but democracies generate new dictatorships at a far slower rate then dictatorships. That’s why one of the purposes of supreme courts is to hold up the words of the constitution. What auorela is arguging is that this is the main duty of the supreme court, it’s not the main duty of the supreme court is to intepret the constituion to make it relevant to new cases that’s what most major constituional law cases are about. All I am saying is that this process of extending the constituion to new cases in effect generates new laws ( precedents) and that creating new laws requires a set of moral beliefs ( i.e Affirmative action is/isn’t wrong, Euthanasia Is/isn’t wrong), and that the only set of values apporiate to a democracy is the values of the people . As for the republican war on science, take heart, the republicans haven’t got a hope in hell of putting a real dent in the evolutionary paridgim.

By the way, I haven’t got a spell checker on this computer, so bare with me.

Comment #51828

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on October 10, 2005 10:02 PM (e)

Hi’yall,

you keep equivocating between “values” and “political opinions”. The Supreme Court has a set of values to defend, i.e. those enshrined in the Constitution. What you mistakenly call “values of the people” are mere political opinions, and those should play as little a part as possible in the judicial process. Otherwise, why bother with judges at all?

You seem to ignore that the main value of entrusting the administration of justice to a specific class of technicians is precisely in order to shield this administration from “mob justice”. Any moron can become a congressman, but not any moron can become a Supreme Court justice. The Legislative power represents the present will of the people; the Judiciary power tempers it by representing the foundational will of the people, whence all powers originate.

You are trying to argue that democracy requires that everybody is (de facto, if not de jure) subject to the whimsical trends of public opinion: executive, legislative and judiciary. This is not democracy but demagoguery; it is tyranny of the majority, and it spawns dictatorships faster than anything else. A powerful leadership, capable of inflaming people, would not be hampered by “checks and balances”, as their supporters could influence every power in the land. A healthy democracy, on the other hand, prevents this from happening by having at least one of the powers not influenced by the “will of the people”.

Really, this is pretty basic stuff.

Comment #51835

Posted by Donald M on October 10, 2005 10:40 PM (e)

The “Rev Dr” Flank writes:

No one alive knows any more about god than anyone else alive does. No one.

So what’s the point of having a whole bunch of people talking to each other when none of them, literally, has any idea what they are talking about?

This is a self-refuting claim, and therefore meaningless. Lenny (er, excuse me, the “Rev Dr”), clearly knows something about God which I do not: namely, that whatever other characteristics he/she/it might posses, God is careful to mete out knowledge of him/her/itself in exactly equal portions making absolutely sure that each and every person has the exact same level of knowledge about him/her/it. But, since Lenny has this knowledge of God and I do not (and probably most other people don’t either), clearly Lenny knows at least one more thing about God than I do, thus violating the principle that “no one alive knows any more about god than anyone else alive does. No one.” It would be interesting to know how Lenny (er, I mean the “Rev Dr”) comes by this knowledge. Has he personally interviewed every living breathing human being on the face of the planet to determine the exact levels of knowledge each has of God and determined them to be exactly equal? What was the method of this “scientific” survey? In what peer reviewed scientific journal can we read the results of this study?

Or, is this something Lenny (drat, I mean the “Rev Dr”) discovered in some scientific way? If so, what scientific discovery was it? Where can the rest of us observe this phenomenon so we can learn the truth of this discovery?

Or, is this just another example of the learned “Rev Dr” spouting off about subjects about which he has no knowledge whatsoever?

Knowing Lenny (oops, there I go again, I meant the “Rev Dr.), I suspect it is the latter.

But please, “Rev Dr”, prove me wrong. By all means share with all of us how you come by this knowledge that “no one alive knows any more about god than anyone else alive does. No one.” I’m sure your explanation would be most entertaining, er, I mean enlightening.

Comment #51840

Posted by CJ O'Brien on October 10, 2005 11:03 PM (e)

Donald M,
An easy response I can think of, not that I presume to speak for Lenny, is that your premise is based solely on your potentially mistaken self-report that you do not, in fact, possess the knowledge that what Lenny is saying is quite correct: Nobody really “knows” anything about God, as long as you define “knowledge” to exclude “belief.”

Epistemologically troubling as this definition might be, your line of reasoning is not quite as devastating, as presented, as you seem to believe, based on your tone.

In fairness, Lenny’s tone is also often in advance of his rhetoric. (shrug)

Comment #51847

Posted by Norman Doering on October 11, 2005 12:28 AM (e)

Hi’yall wrote: “Norman, I really don’t see that we have any points of disagreement.”

Actually, we do. I tend to agree more with Aureola Nominee than you. I’m just not up to spending more time on it.

Hi’yall wrote: “…it’s not the main duty of the supreme court is to intepret the constituion to make it relevant to new cases that’s what most major constituional law cases are about…. this process of extending the constituion to new cases in effect generates new laws (precedents)”

Up to that point we sort-of agree. Technology has created new potentials that threaten our privacy in ways the founding fathers never dreamed possible. New laws have to deal with new situations – but the supreme court is not really a “law making body” in the strictest sense. They just judge and interpret with the rules, they don’t write them.

Hi’yall wrote: “… and that creating new laws requires a set of moral beliefs…”

First thing we have to do here is separate “moral” and ethical beliefs from religious beliefs. The Christian right-wing tries dearly to muddy those waters.

Hi’yall wrote: “… that the only set of values apporiate to a democracy is the values of the people. As for the republican war on science, take heart, the republicans haven’t got a hope in hell of putting a real dent in the evolutionary paridgim.”

As a paradigm, I suppose you’re right, but this is about educational policy and separation of church and state. There are some principles that go beyond the democratic will of the people. The people don’t get to decide they want a theocracy.

We do need judges that have enough knowledge of science to know that ID is not science, that it is religion, and not appropriate for a science class. We have a slight reason to doubt Harriet Miers has that knowledge. She needs to be questioned on it and if she can’t tell, she should not be allowed on the court.

Do you agree with that?

If you do, then I have misunderstood your argument.

Comment #51859

Posted by Hiya'll on October 11, 2005 5:36 AM (e)

Aureola

The problem I have with your argument is that there simply are not enough values enshrined in the constitution for it to meet every new challenge, the values of the judges must fill these gaps. If the supreme court stuck strictly to the values of the constitution it couldn’t respond to many issues which aren’t really raised in the constitution ( i.e issues of computer law and biotechnology). The reason my model isn’t demagoguery is because I do concede that one of the functions of the court is to uphold the values of the constitution ( I raised this in one of my earlier posts). I just don’t believe this is the only role of the court, it also has to meet new challenges, evolving attitudes and new technologies. To do this it needs a set of values, and because the values of the constitution don’t cover these area’s ( The founders didn’t have a section about privacy in an internet age. ) these values must come from the judges

Norman

I’d probably concede that while judges must represent the moral views of the community ( otherwise the laws/precedents they made wouldn’t be followed in any case) it’s not really necessary that they represent the religious beliefs of the people.

Comment #51861

Posted by Hiya'll on October 11, 2005 5:45 AM (e)

“as if it would be useful to always interpret our founding document from the perspective of the late 1700s, as we go into the 21st century, facing many technological and social problems that are much more complex than most of our forebears could easily have imagined”

I think that basically somes up one of my main points, it is neither possible nor desirable to have a supreme court that fully sticks to the values of the constitution, it is not possible because the constitution does not contain all the values needed to meet present circumstances, it is not desirable because we’re not living in the 1700’s. That’s not to say the broad outlines shouldn’t be kept to, just that some gaps at the edges ( where most cases occur) must be woven, and some of the existing knitting reversed.

Comment #51868

Posted by Norman Doering on October 11, 2005 6:32 AM (e)

Hiya’ll wrote: “I’d probably concede that while judges must represent the moral views of the community ( otherwise the laws/precedents they made wouldn’t be followed in any case) it’s not really necessary that they represent the religious beliefs of the people.”

The question I asked was: “We do need judges that have enough knowledge of science to know that ID is not science, that it is religion, and not appropriate for a science class. We have a slight reason to doubt Harriet Miers has that knowledge. She needs to be questioned on it and if she can’t tell, she should not be allowed on the court.

Do you agree with that?”

Let me ask it this way: If Harriet Miers thinks creationism and ID are science, should she be allowed on to the court? Can she be stopped for that reason?

Comment #51871

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on October 11, 2005 7:11 AM (e)

Hiya’ll,

sorry, you continue to argue based on a misconception: the difference between “values” and “political opinion”.

What is a “value”? Is “privacy” a value? Is “freedom of choice” a value? Is “do unto others…” a value? Is “family” a value?

Take “family” for instance. What exactly does it mean to hold “family” as a value? Does it mean being against divorce? Does it mean being against the forced continuation of dysfunctional families? I hope you see what I mean.

Now, if what you are advocating is that a Supreme Court judge should be appointed based on his concurrence with popular opinion (which is easily influenced, constantly shifts, and can reach pretty extreme positions) because this popular opinion has “values”, I disagree.

As I see it, Supreme Court judges are the last line of defence of the values enshrined in the Constitution. Do you want the Supreme Court to uphold different values? Easy! Amend or abrogate the Constitution.

Comment #51874

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 11, 2005 7:35 AM (e)

“no one alive knows any more about god than anyone else alive does. No one.” It would be interesting to know how Lenny (er, I mean the “Rev Dr”) comes by this knowledge.

It’s quite simple, really. No one has ever given me any example of how they managed to acquire knowlegde of God that is inaccessible to everyone else.

How about you?

You pray; I pray. You read the Bible; I read the Bible. You go to church and listen to the pastor; I go to church and listen to the pastor. So what is it, exactly, that makes your knowledge of God any better or more valid than anyone else’s. Are you more holy than anyone else? Do you walk more closely with God than anyone else? Does God love you best? Are you the best Biblical scholar in human history? What exactly makes your opinions better than anyone else’s? Other than your say-so?

Comment #51875

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 11, 2005 7:38 AM (e)

Or, is this just another example of the learned “Rev Dr” spouting off about subjects about which he has no knowledge whatsoever?

NONE of us has any knowledge of God, Donald. NONE of us. Including you. That, uh, being my whole point.

If you disagree, please by all means feel entirely free to show us the unique source of knowledge which gives you better knowledge of God than anyone else alive has. What makes you holier than everyone else? What gives you more religious authority than anyone else? What makes your religious opinions more valid than anyoen else’s? Other than your say-so?

Comment #51884

Posted by Norman Doering on October 11, 2005 9:36 AM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote: “No one has ever given me any example of how they managed to acquire knowlegde of God that is inaccessible to everyone else…How about you?”

Well, I’m an atheist, I don’t pray or go to church or listen to the pastor. However, I do know why some people claim more knowledge of God than others… you see, they actually talk to the big guy upstairs and they think they hear him talking back. I do believe Pat Robertson has made this claim. There is also some chubby shmuck who wrote a book about getting in touch with God and one of his readers gave her methamphetamine to a killer and wrote a book and became a hero when she claimed God talked to her.

Don’t believe me, check this out:
http://www.nbc6.net/news/5026737/detail.html?sub…

What is it, exactly, that makes your knowledge of God any better or more valid than anyone else’s?

For me it’s realizing it’s utter insanity. Some people just don’t know how crazy they are.

Comment #51889

Posted by Russell on October 11, 2005 10:19 AM (e)

…you see, they actually talk to the big guy upstairs and they think they hear him talking back. I do believe Pat Robertson has made this claim.

Hey, it’s not just fringie wing-nuts like Robertson. This guy is alleged to have won the votes of a majority of American voters:

President George W Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian State, a new BBC series reveals.

Comment #51916

Posted by shenda on October 11, 2005 1:31 PM (e)

“No one alive knows any more about god than anyone else alive does. No one.”

I agree.

“So what’s the point of having a whole bunch of people talking to each other when none of them, literally, has any idea what they are talking about?”

Because many people *believe* they know more about god than anybody else does, and that anyone who disagrees with them is, at best, misguided.

Comment #51942

Posted by Rich on October 11, 2005 3:26 PM (e)

What we have here is exactly the example of the dialog I was talking about. He made a theological assertion because he believed that I was in error. Let’s assume that he is right and I am wrong, viz. that theological knowledge is not possible. Our dialog gives opportunity for my error to be corrected. Getting back on point, the reason why some evangelicals are YEC is because of a theological inference. Because of that there is a need to dialog if for nothing else correcting the faulty inference. So, even if the Rev. Dr. is right theological dialog still has value.

As noted previously the Rev. Dr’s statement is self-contradictory. Furthermore his argument contained a straw man. At least within evangelical and protestant theology knowledge is not innaccessible. This is what is behind the doctrine popularly know as the right (or responsibilty) of private interpretation.

I am going to morph the Rev. Dr’s statement into the realm of science and show how it makes no sense:

You study; I study. You read Nature and Science; I read Nature and Science. You go to the university and listen to the professor; I go to university and listen to the professor. So what is it, exactly, that makes your knowledge of nature any better or more valid than anyone else’s? Are you more intelligent than anyone else? Do you walk more closely with the pantheon of great scientists than anyone else? Do the peer reviewers love you best? Are you the best scientific scholar in human history? What exactly makes your opinions better than anyone else’s? Other than your say-so?

In the scientific realm, what makes my opinion better is that my hypotheses stand up to falsification better than my peers and not my say-so. The dialog I was discussing was an attempt to provide an analogous mechanism in non-scientific realms. What I am doing is not novel. The 19th-Century Princeton theologian, Charles Hodge, put it this way:

IN every science there are two factors: facts and ideas; or, facts and the mind. Science is more than knowledge. Knowledge is the persuasion of what is true on adequate evidence. But the facts of astronomy, chemistry, or history do not constitute the science of those departments of knowledge. Nor does the mere orderly arrangement of facts amount to science. Historical facts arranged in chronological order, are mere annals. The philosophy of history supposes those facts to be understood in their causal relations. In every department the man of science is assumed to understand the laws by which the facts of experience are determined; so that he not only knows the past, but can predict the future. The astronomer can foretell the relative position of the heavenly bodies for centuries to come. The chemist can tell with certainty what will be the effect of certain chemical combinations. If, therefore, theology be a science, it must include something more than a mere knowledge of facts. It must embrace an exhibition of the internal relation of those facts, one to another, and each to all. It must be able to show that if one be admitted, others cannot be denied.

The Bible is no more a system of theology, than nature is a system of chemistry or of mechanics. We find in nature the facts which the chemist or the mechanical philosopher has to examine, and from them to ascertain the laws by which they are determined. So the Bible contains the truths which the theologian has to collect, authenticate, arrange, and exhibit in their internal relation to each other. This constitutes the difference between biblical and systematic theology. The office of the former is to ascertain and state the facts of Scripture. The office of the latter is to take those facts, determine their relation to each other and to other cognate truths, as well as to vindicate them and show their harmony and consistency. This is not an easy task, or one of slight importance.

I disagree with Hodge that theology is science per se but it can get help from attempting to import some scientific rigor, particularly the concept of falsifiability, into the discipline.

Comment #51976

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 11, 2005 7:04 PM (e)

However, I do know why some people claim more knowledge of God than others… you see, they actually talk to the big guy upstairs and they think they hear him talking back.

Indeed. Charlie Manson said God talked to him. So did Mother Theresa.

How can we tell? (shrug)

Comment #51979

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 11, 2005 7:10 PM (e)

This is what is behind the doctrine popularly know as the right (or responsibilty) of private interpretation.

But my dear, if everyone has the right to private interpretation, and there is simply no way to know whose private interpretation is right and whose isn’t, then what’s the point in discussing it? Endless rounds of “God told me THIS”; “Oh yeah? Well God told me THAT!” would seem to be nothing more than a huge waste of time, akin to debating the number of pin-dancing angels (which is also nothing but a matter of “private interpretation”).

As I said before, none of the participants knows what they are talking about anyway, since none of them know any more about God than any of the others. So what’s the point of listening to a bunch of people who quite literally have no idea what they are talking about?

To anyone (coughcoughcoughDonaldcoughcough) who thinks otherwise, please feel entirely free to tell me (1) who you think knows more about god than anyone else does, (2) what it is, exactly, that this person knows that nobody else does, and (3) how this person knows it.

Comment #51980

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 11, 2005 7:14 PM (e)

I disagree with Hodge that theology is science per se but it can get help from attempting to import some scientific rigor, particularly the concept of falsifiability, into the discipline.

Huh? How the hell does one falsify (or even POTENTIALLY falsify) a theological statement?

George Bush says God told him to invade Iraq. How the hell do you go about falsifying (or not) that? Charlie Manson says God told him to kill people. How the hell do you go about falsifying (or not) that? There are literalyl thousands of different Christian denominations, sects, groupuscules and cults – ALL of which claim that they have The One Correct And True God-Approved Interpretations©™. How the hell do you go about falsifying or confirming ANY of them?

You are on a fool’s errand, my friend.

Comment #51981

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 11, 2005 7:17 PM (e)

So the Bible contains the truths which the theologian has to collect, authenticate, arrange, and exhibit in their internal relation to each other.

Umm, the Muslims and Buddhists and Quetzalcoatl worshippers disagree with this.

Please explain to me how you intend to confirm or refute the conclusion “The Bible contains the truths”. Please explain to me how you would falsify or confirm the different conclusion “The Egyptian Book of the Dead contains the truths”.

Or do you just want everyone to take someone’s word for it?

Comment #51987

Posted by Donald M on October 11, 2005 8:38 PM (e)

Lenny writes:

It’s quite simple, really. No one has ever given me any example of how they managed to acquire knowlegde of God that is inaccessible to everyone else.

And reasserts:

NONE of us has any knowledge of God, Donald. NONE of us. Including you. That, uh, being my whole point.

Here Lenny just repeats with more vigor and hand-waving the same fallacy as before. Clearly Lenny knows that: whatever else may be the case, one thing that can be known about God is that he/she/it is the sort of being who would only reveal knoweledge of him/her/itself in exactly equal portion to each and every human being.

That is a piece of knowledge about God that I know that I do not know. So assuming that all else is equal, as Lenny suggests, he clearly knows ONE more thing about God than I do, and thus refutes his own argument. It is also clear from some of his other comments, that Lenny doesn’t think that faith or personal revelation can produce real knowledge. That being the case, I have to wonder how he knows his claim here is true. It obviously can’t be derived from faith. It clearly isn’t derived from science. What then? Philosophy? Which one, and what make that one true? Private interpretation is out, too.

Lenny’s epistomology here seems quite confused. He makes a claim that he holds as absolutely true, but can’t tell us what justifies its truth.

I also note Lenny’s vain attempt to try and turn the tables on those who question his logic and epistomology. Sorry, that won’t fly either. Lenny made the claim, HE can produce the evidence to support it. So far, all we’ve seen is loud assertion with vigorous hand having, and not one reason to accept it as being true.

Comment #51990

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 11, 2005 8:52 PM (e)

Clearly Lenny knows that: whatever else may be the case, one thing that can be known about God is that he/she/it is the sort of being who would only reveal knoweledge of him/her/itself in exactly equal portion to each and every human being.

Right. Zero. Zero is the same for everyone. Everyone knows zero about God.

If you disagree, please, by all means, go ahead and (1) tell me who you think knows any more about God than anyone else, (2) tell me what it is that this person knows about God that nobody else does, and (3) tell me how this person knows.

Wave your arms all you want, Donald. Just answer my question. (shrug)

Comment #51994

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 11, 2005 8:58 PM (e)

By the way, Donald – did you ever manage to come up with a scientific theory of intelligent design, and how to test it using the scientific method?

Why not?

Are IDers (like you) just lying to us when they claim their crap is science, and not just religious apologetics?

Comment #51995

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 11, 2005 9:01 PM (e)

Because many people *believe* they know more about god than anybody else does

And yet they seem to get all upset, for some reason, when I simply ask them HOW THEY KNOW.

Comment #52004

Posted by Norman Doering on October 11, 2005 10:42 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote: “Everyone knows zero about God.”

That’s probably because there is no God and because people are crazy.

Comment #52020

Posted by Hiya'll on October 12, 2005 4:32 AM (e)

Rev Lenny,

1-Genesis is a set of theological beliefs
2-Genesis has been falsfied
3-Therefore some theological beliefs are falsifable

One could verify statements about the book of the dead in many ways, I’ve only read parts of it, and that was a while ago now, but from memory it strongly suggests that the god’s will provide fertility if one gives certain forms of sacrafice, try this with a double-blind experiment and check for statistical signficance.

Attempts at verification of religious truths date back to that Greek king who tested the delphi orcale by sending a messenger to ask the oracle what the king was doing at the time, we could verify or falsify a lot of greek theology by repeating this experiment several times, cutting off all possibilities for cheating.

Comment #52028

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 12, 2005 7:18 AM (e)

1-Genesis is a set of theological beliefs
2-Genesis has been falsfied
3-Therefore some theological beliefs are falsifable

Only for those who take Genesis as literal descriptive history. Most don’t. For them, Genesis is no more falsifiable than the story of the fox and grapes.

Comment #52047

Posted by Rich on October 12, 2005 10:31 AM (e)

Rich wrote:

I disagree with Hodge that theology is science per se but it can get help from attempting to import some scientific rigor, particularly the concept of falsifiability, into the discipline.

Lenny wrote:

Huh? How the hell does one falsify (or even POTENTIALLY falsify) a theological statement?

George Bush says God told him to invade Iraq. How the hell do you go about falsifying (or not) that? Charlie Manson says God told him to kill people. How the hell do you go about falsifying (or not) that? There are literalyl thousands of different Christian denominations, sects, groupuscules and cults — ALL of which claim that they have The One Correct And True God-Approved Interpretations©™. How the hell do you go about falsifying or confirming ANY of them?

You are on a fool’s errand, my friend.

There is a key characteristic about theology that allows one to do this. Theology claim to be coherant systems. (Even Karl Barth the unsystematic theologian in the end proposed a system.) So, if I claim to the “One Correct and True Interpretation” I need to show how it is both internally and externally consistent. In this sense it is in common with science. The one thing that theology cannot do that science can is experimentation. Nevertheless, theological claims can be put in the crucible and tested.

Within evangelical theology there are also some boundaries that make the task of evaluating claims easier than other theologies. Within the context of evangelical theology claims have to consistent with all of the Bible and because evangelical theology claims to comport with objective reality it also needs to be consistent with nature. In the case of the latter, the falsifiability is less strong because of the limited sense of our knowledge of nature. Nevertheless, at some point even this limited knowledge achieves critical mass. Examples of this include the age of the universe and common descent with modification commonly known as evolution. Thus, interpretation of the Bible that conclude that the earth is flat or young, there was a global flood, or that life didn’t evolve can be falsified. Because there still exists interpretations of the Bible that do not require these conclusions the Bible itself remains to be falsified.

In conclusion, conflicting theological claims are resolved via attempts to systemize them together. The best way to test these are by actually interacting with people who hold the contrary view because straw men are so easily constructed. Again, this dialog is necessary because theology does not have the avenue of direct experimentation that science does.

Let’s use the alleged Bush statement (which appears to be dubious that it is true) as an example. According to Deut. 13 the qualification for a true prophet include:

1. Always right
2. Consistent with previous revealed truth

Since much of the Iraq invasion was in error, then God did not tell George Bush to invade Iraq. At least God should have given the President the courtesy of letting him know there was not any WMD there.:-)

Comment #52049

Posted by Jim Wynne on October 12, 2005 10:51 AM (e)

Rich wrote:

So, if I claim to the “One Correct and True Interpretation” I need to show how it is both internally and externally consistent.

So consistent lies = truth? The thing that amuses me most about all of this is how the Rich’s and Heddles of the world are so desperate to intellectually justify faith that they construct these absurdly destructible arguments in order to imbue intellectual bankruptcy with a thin veneer of verisimilitude. They don’t understand that if you feel the need to justify religious faith intellectually, you don’t have any faith at all.

Comment #52053

Posted by Donald M on October 12, 2005 11:00 AM (e)

Lenny pontificates:

Right. Zero. Zero is the same for everyone. Everyone knows zero about God.

If you disagree, please, by all means, go ahead and (1) tell me who you think knows any more about God than anyone else, (2) tell me what it is that this person knows about God that nobody else does, and (3) tell me how this person knows.

Wave your arms all you want, Donald. Just answer my question. (shrug)

Now Lenny has changed his argument from “no one alive knows any more about God than anyone else” to “no one alive can know ANYTHING at all about God”, which is the plain meaning of “everyone knows zero about God.” In so re-stating (and clarifying) his claim, Lenny has dug himself into a deeper hole. So, I will happily answer all three of Lenny’s questions.

#1) The answer is Lenny, because….
#2) …in stating that ““everyone knows zero about God”, Lenny has demonstrated that he knows several things about God, namely:
a)That whatever God may be, he/she/it is suffiently remote such that knowledge of him/her/it is inaccessible to human beings
b)That whatever other characteristics God may posses, he/she/it is either powerless to make him/her/itself known to human beings, unwilling to make him/her/itself known, or perhaps unconcerned with whether he/she/it is known by humans.
c)That because of (b), God has not provided the means for humans to know anything about him/her/it.
d)That whatever other characteristics might be true about God, he/she/it is not at all like the God portrayed in the Juedo-Christian scripture, who is anything but remote or inaccessible, and has indeed provided the means for humans to know him.
e)That whatever else may be true about God, he/she/it desires to remain unknown to humans and no avenue to knowledge of him/her/it will ever be forthcoming.

As can be easily seen, Lenny has quite a catalog of knowledge about God. Thus…

#3)…I challenge Lenny again to tell us exactly how he comes by all this knowledge of God.

The one doing the arm-waving here, Lenny, is YOU, not me. You haven’t told anyone how you know your claim that “everyone knows zero about God” is reliably true knowledge. So, I will ask you for the third time: did you arrive at this knowledge through some sort of scientific experimentation? If so, how did you conduct the experiment? Where did you report you findings? Did you arrive at this knowledge through meditation…oops, guess not since ‘personal experience’ can not produce true knowledge about God, acording to you. Perhaps through revelation…oops again, because of #2-b above. Hmmmm….there just don’t seem to be too many options by which Lenny could have come to “know” that “everyone knows zero about God.” But, perhaps I’ve overlooked something. I’ll leave it to Lenny to explain to all of us how he arrived at this factual truth.

Comment #52054

Posted by Russell on October 12, 2005 11:10 AM (e)

Let’s use the alleged Bush statement (which appears to be dubious that it is true) as an example.

I assume you mean it appears dubious that Bush made such a statement. What strikes you as dubious about that? Has Bush denied it? Does it seem out of character?

Comment #52084

Posted by Rich on October 12, 2005 2:34 PM (e)

So consistent lies = truth?

No, but inconsistent “truth” = lies

This is simply applying the law of non-contradiction. A self-consistent statement may be untrue, but an inconsistent statement cannot be true.

The thing that amuses me most about all of this is how the Rich’s and Heddles of the world are so desperate to intellectually justify faith that they construct these absurdly destructible arguments in order to imbue intellectual bankruptcy with a thin veneer of verisimilitude. They don’t understand that if you feel the need to justify religious faith intellectually, you don’t have any faith at all.

True I don’t have that kind of faith and this shows a misunderstanding of what constitutes faith within evangelical theology. This misunderstanding is analogous to the widespread misunderstanding within the evangelical community of what constitutes theory in science. Just as theory is more muscular than the false characterization of it from the outside, faith also is more muscular. Both have far more evidence behind them than the critics allow. Theory without evidence is hypothesis. Faith without evidence is credulity.

You overestimate my “desperation”. I am willing to put my beliefs at risk rather than the safe cocoon where I just keep my beliefs to myself where they cannot be contradicted. If my arguments are “absurdly destructible” then I am much better off discussing them where my errors are corrected.

That being said you will note that I haven’t presented an argument for people to become evangelical Christians because that’s not the point here. Rather, I have sought to explain evangelicals to the scientists here just as I have sought to explain scientists to evangelicals elsewhere. It’s precisely the kind of mischaracterization above that turns off evangelicals to science and allows the lies of the Discovery Institute to flourish. You know what it feels like when evangelicals mischaracterize science and scientists. People are people. It feels the same when then mischaracterization goes the other way.

Comment #52085

Posted by Rich on October 12, 2005 2:46 PM (e)

I assume you mean it appears dubious that Bush made such a statement. What strikes you as dubious about that? Has Bush denied it? Does it seem out of character?

What strikes me as dubious is the God told me language. This is more in keeping with charismatic rather than evangelical theology. Thus, if Pat Robertson said it I wouldn’t doubt it. My guess is that it was a misinterpretation by the Palestinian representative where Bush believed he did (is doing) the right thing and he sought divine guidance through prayer. Such guidance is fallible. The infallibility suggested by the God told me language was most likely inferred rather than implied.

Comment #52086

Posted by Flint on October 12, 2005 3:26 PM (e)

My guess is that it was a misinterpretation by the Palestinian representative where Bush believed he did (is doing) the right thing and he sought divine guidance through prayer. Such guidance is fallible.

This may depend on what fallible means in this context. I’ve known lots and lots of people to pray for guidance. I’ve never known them to “hear” their god(s) tell them they’re wrong!

Comment #52096

Posted by Rich on October 12, 2005 6:26 PM (e)

This may depend on what fallible means in this context. I’ve known lots and lots of people to pray for guidance. I’ve never known them to “hear” their god(s) tell them they’re wrong!

I guess we can both agree that they weren’t really praying for guidance then.

Comment #52097

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 12, 2005 6:29 PM (e)

Donald, whenever you are ready to tell us all (1) who you think knows any more about god than anyone else, (2) what they know about god that no one else does, and (3) how they know it, you jsut let us all know, OK?

Comment #52099

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 12, 2005 6:33 PM (e)

#2) …in stating that ““everyone knows zero about God”, Lenny has demonstrated that he knows several things about God

No, Donald – I am demosntrating that I know things about people who CLAIM TO KNOW ABOUT GOD.

They can’t point to any source of knowledge about God that is different from anyone else’s. Hence, they can’t point to any reason – other than their own say-so — why any of their putatuve “knowledge of god” is any better than anyone else’s.

Just like you, Donald. (shrug)

Whether god is or isn’t knowable is utterly irrelevant. The point is NO ONE CAN DEMONSTRATE THAT THEY HAVE ANY SUCH KNOWLEDGE. Other than their say-so. Hence, everyone’s demonstrated knowledge of God is exactly equal to everyone else’s —- zero.

That includes you, Donald.

Comment #52100

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 12, 2005 6:35 PM (e)

1. Always right

As decided by whom?

2. Consistent with previous revealed truth

As interpreted by whom?

Oh, and how do you decide which “revealed truth” is really “revealed truth”, and which is “b.s.”?

Please be as specific as possible.

Comment #52101

Posted by Donald M on October 12, 2005 6:44 PM (e)

C.J. O’Brien writes:

If you are an (x) believing (anything), and you can’t separate the logical analysis of evidence from that belief, then it’s my position that you should not hold a life term on the highest judicial body in the nation.

How one conducts the logical analysis of evidence is often highly influenced by one’s worldview. When it comes to interpretation of law, which is clearly what is at issue on the Supreme Court, it is virtually impossible to have a worldview free judiciary. Some worldview will influence how each justice views each case and determines the appropriate judicial resonse. If your comment here were carried to its logical conclusion, then we ought only appoint justices to the supreme court who themselves were free of the influence of any worldview. Where could such candidates be found among the entire human race?

Comment #52103

Posted by Steviepinhead on October 12, 2005 7:09 PM (e)

Gosh, Donald, thanks for sharing. Yep, big surprise, everybody has a worldview. That’s probably a good thing–unless they did, they’d probably have very little motivation to care about anything or decide anything. Or, worse, they would decide things from an entirely unmotional, unempathetic, and thus sociopathic perspective.

But that wasn’t C.J.’s point. His point was that there are those whose worldview is compatible with making decisions based on the best evidence reality and the limits of our social-judicial processes afford. And there are those whose worldview is simply not compatible with reality, law, and precedent.

It would be nice if we had enough information to tell the difference. I can’t figure out if you agree.

And, next time you’re in the neighborhood, it would be interesting to know your answers to Lenny’s questions above. Of course, nothing says you have to answer them, but your disinclination to do so will also be telling.

Comment #52104

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 12, 2005 7:14 PM (e)

When it comes to interpretation of law, which is clearly what is at issue on the Supreme Court, it is virtually impossible to have a worldview free judiciary.

Which, of course, is exactly why the Bush-ites are trying to pack the Court with people who share their “worldview”.

I do note in passing, though, that Presidents who appoint Supreme Court Justices are often quite surprised at how they turn out later. Warren, for instance, was presumed to be quite conservative when appointed —- and his was one of the most “activist” courts in recent history.

Predicting the future behavior of Justices is rather akin to Kremlinology —- nobody really knows what they are doing, and everyone is usually wrong.

Comment #52106

Posted by Steven Laskoske on October 12, 2005 7:37 PM (e)

…in stating that ““everyone knows zero about God”, Lenny has demonstrated that he knows several things about God, namely:

Actually, all of the points listed here are all based on the assumption that the Reverend Doc actually knows that God actually exists. If the very existance of God is not able to be established, then nothing else is knowable.

Note: This is not to say that God does not exist, just that there are no facts to validate His existance. Because of this, God’s existance is something that must be taken on faith.

Comment #52108

Posted by H. Humbert on October 12, 2005 8:09 PM (e)

Rich wrote:

Within evangelical theology there are also some boundaries that make the task of evaluating claims easier than other theologies. Within the context of evangelical theology claims have to consistent with all of the Bible and because evangelical theology claims to comport with objective reality it also needs to be consistent with nature.

I wasn’t aware that virgin births, water spontaneously changing into wine, or men rising from their graves were facts “consistent with nature.”

You say it disturbs you when people confuse faith with credulity, that in fact proper faith “has evidence behind it.” That simply is not true. You can do your best to make sure your religious beliefs are consistent with scientific opinion, but the leap of faith is always a blind leap. There is no evidence involved with faith. Faith is belief without evidence.

It disturbs me when I hear religious folks say their faith is grounded in evidence. It isn’t. Not in any objective sense of the word, anyway. This seems to be a common misconception among the faithful. It’s as if someone told them somewhere down the line that there is good evidence for the faith they share and they accepted it without ever bothering to verify that claim.

If you choose to believe because you are so inclined, fine. Like you, I’m not out to convert anyone. But please be honest about what you believe. It is based on a blind hope, not evidence. It might be internally consistent, but that’s it. To say it’s consistent with what we know about nature and reality is simply false. Miracles are not consistent with nature.

Comment #52110

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 12, 2005 8:22 PM (e)

Actually, all of the points listed here are all based on the assumption that the Reverend Doc actually knows that God actually exists. If the very existance of God is not able to be established, then nothing else is knowable.

Not really. The existence of god or not is irrelevant. Whether there is a god or not, nobody has been able to demonstrate any more knowledge of it than anyone else. Other than their say-so. And there is no way to determine whether this, that, or *any* such knowledge is any more valid or authoritative than anyone else’s. Other than their say-so.

Which is why I said that arguing over the matter is pointless.

Rich, of course, thinks he has some objective method to determine whose religious opinions are correct and whose aren’t. Well, all I can say is, “Good luck to you with that.” Theologians have been trying to do that for thousands of years now. Somehow, I don’t think you’re in any danger of succeeding where they have all failed. (shrug)

Comment #52161

Posted by Donald M on October 13, 2005 10:46 AM (e)

Lenny writes:

No, Donald — I am demosntrating that I know things about people who CLAIM TO KNOW ABOUT GOD.

They can’t point to any source of knowledge about God that is different from anyone else’s. Hence, they can’t point to any reason — other than their own say-so —- why any of their putatuve “knowledge of god” is any better than anyone else’s.

You’ve changed the subject yet again. We started with your claim that “no alive knows any more about God than anyone else”, then to “everyone knows zero about god”, and now we have “no one can demonstrate their knowledge of god is better than anyone else’s”. I do wish you’d make up your mind what your argument is. This new claim clearly assumes that humans can have knowledge of god, in direct contradiction to your claim yesterday that no one can know anything about god. So which is it: “zero” or “some”?

Further, you still haven’t told us how you come by this knowledge. For that matter, you haven’t told us what constitutes “knowledge”…you know, your basic epistomological question. How do you know with 100% certainty that someone’s personal experience can’t produce true knowledge about god? That
is, after all, the claim you’re making today. It’s still a mystery how you know all these things to be true, since you continually avoid telling us how you know. Telling us that you’re “demontrating that I know things about people who claim to know about god” doesn’t help your case either. If anything it makes it worse. Perhaps you might share how we can go about falsifying all these claims of knowledge about god that people claim to have, because clearly you know they are all false claims. How? Personal experience? But you claim that is untrustworthy, for reasons which you’ve yet to give. Scientific method? How did you conduct the test? Where? Under what conditions? Or are we all just supposed to take your word for it?
Do provide some reasons that might justify your claims. So far, all I see is vigorous hand-waving on your part.

Lenny continues:

Whether god is or isn’t knowable is utterly irrelevant. The point is NO ONE CAN DEMONSTRATE THAT THEY HAVE ANY SUCH KNOWLEDGE. Other than their say-so. Hence, everyone’s demonstrated knowledge of God is exactly equal to everyone else’s —— zero.

Whether god is or isn’t knowable is precisely the point at issue. You want to boldly (with much hand-waving) claim that “everyone knows zero about god.” It is not possible for you to make that claim unless you know in advance all the things about god I listed in my prior post. And you still haven’t told us how you came by this “knowedge”. What justifies the claim, Lenny? It’s a simple question.

Now you’re trying to shift the goal post from having to answer how you know all these chracteristics about god to “no one can demonstrate”…etc etc. Well, let’s take that as a working premise. That would mean that you can’t demonstrate a thing about what someone else may or may not know about god, which means you can’t make any justifiable claim at all regarding whether it is true knowledgge or not, thus making your claim here self-refuting, and we can all justifiably reject it on that basis. (your say so ain’t good enough!)

Then there’s the small problem of what you mean by “demonstrate”. Demonstrate how? What demonstration is required to justify one’s claim about knowledge of god? To whom does it need to be deomnstrated? What compels this requirement of demonstration? Is this a cardinal rule that all humans must follow? If so, where does this rule come from? How do you know it is true? It is a simple question, Lenny: what criteria of demonstration must some claim of knowledge about god meet in order to be justified as being “knowledge”? You must have something specific in mind, else your claim is meaningless. Do enlighten us all as to what it is.

Comment #52162

Posted by Donald M on October 13, 2005 11:01 AM (e)

Lenny writes:

Which, of course, is exactly why the Bush-ites are trying to pack the Court with people who share their “worldview”.

I do note in passing, though, that Presidents who appoint Supreme Court Justices are often quite surprised at how they turn out later. Warren, for instance, was presumed to be quite conservative when appointed —— and his was one of the most “activist” courts in recent history.

Predicting the future behavior of Justices is rather akin to Kremlinology —— nobody really knows what they are doing, and everyone is usually wrong.

I would agree with you on this, Lenny. History has certainly shown this to be the case…at least some of the time. (David Souter would be another example) I would also note, in passing, that every president tries to select justices that they believe will shae their worldview. It isn’t a strike against any president that they do so. And this is where the advise and consent of the Senate plays an important role.

With respect to Miers, none of us really knows much about her. What would her judicial philosophy be? No one really knows. I guess you could say that Bush chose her because he thinks she’s compatible with a conservative judicial philosophy, and there’s nothing wrong with that per se. But, as you point out, guessing how she’d rule on any specific case down the road is nearly impossible.

One thing I do like about her is that she doesn’t come from the judicial ranks. It might be a plus to have someone on the court who comes from a different part of the legal world, and might, perhaps, bring a different and perhaps even broader perspective to the court.

IMO, the jury is definitely out on this nomination.

Comment #52166

Posted by Flint on October 13, 2005 11:25 AM (e)

IMO, the jury is definitely out on this nomination.

I hope the jury will someday come in, but I’m not holding my breath. The religious right has polarized the process to the point where considered decisions aren’t very easy anymore. Granted, it would be nice to know *either* WHAT Miers thinks, or WHETHER she thinks, one or the other. So far, we don’t know either one. Roberts was able to get in because his ability to think was solidly on record and beyond any reasonable question. Therefore, he didn’t have to pin himself down to any particular litmus test. Miers is different – we are reading legal tea leaves trying to guess the worldview of a legal flyweight so inconsequential as to be nearly nonexistent.

The conservatives worry she’ll be another Souter, drifting off toward support of civil rights (gasp). The liberals fear she’ll be a clone of Clarence Thomas, told how to think by Scalia and unable and/or unwilling to ever go further. And I’m afraid she’s being trained to sit before the nomination hearings and recite “I can’t decide hypothetical cases, and I can’t comment on cases I might hear later.” The idea being, having NO opinions (bad as it is) beats having ANY opinions, which will be lightning rods in the polarized atmosphere the fundies have created.

We elected Bush. We’ll be living with his Court for at least a generation to come. Enjoy…

Comment #52226

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 13, 2005 6:31 PM (e)

You’ve changed the subject yet again.

No I haven’t. (shrug)

Now quit stalling and answer my questions. Who do you think knows any more about god than anyone else, what is it that this person knows about god that everyone else doesn’t, and how does this person know it.

Any time you’re ready, Donald, you just let me know. OK?

Comment #52227

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 13, 2005 6:35 PM (e)

We elected Bush.

I wouldn’t be so sure of that.

Comment #52229

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 13, 2005 6:39 PM (e)

I am willing to put my beliefs at risk rather than the safe cocoon where I just keep my beliefs to myself where they cannot be contradicted.

Odd, isn’t it, that everyone who claims to have an “objective method” for determing “religious truth”, always ends up having HIS OWN OPINIONS vindicated.

I don’t recall EVER hearing of any Christian who figured out how to test the validity of religious opinions, used it, and then discovered to his shock that the Buddhists, say, or the Zoroastrians or Odin-worshippers, were the ones who really got it right.

Funny, that.

Comment #52231

Posted by Donald M on October 13, 2005 7:36 PM (e)

Lenny writes:

No I haven’t. (shrug)

Now quit stalling and answer my questions. Who do you think knows any more about god than anyone else, what is it that this person knows about god that everyone else doesn’t, and how does this person know it.

Any time you’re ready, Donald, you just let me know. OK?

Not able to answer the simple questions I put to him, Lenny know wants to magically make it appear that it is I who am not answering is question, which is demonstrably false, since I answered all three of these questions in my earlier post. So, once again Lenny.

The answer to #1 is apparently YOU
The answer to #2 is: the catalog of attributes about god that I already listed in my earlier post, which you clearly seem to know
The answer to #3 is: I’m still waiting for YOU to tell US how you come by all this knoweldge. Now, YOU quit stalling and answer those questions.
Is there a problem?

You’ve changed the subject, the claim and the goalposts. Now you want to shift the responsibility for answering the question to me in a transparent, but failed attempt to cover the fact that YOU haven’t told us anything. I’ve made no claim I need to defend. YOU are the one making all the claims and have yet to provide one single reason why anyone should accept of any it as true. Not one.

How do you “know” that ANY of your claims are true knowledge? Do try to provide at least some sort of answer, else I’ll be forced to believe you havne’t a clue, and we’re all just supposed to take your word for it.

I predict that Lenny will continue to dodge the questions because he knows he can’t provide an answer, but wants desparately to make it appear that I’m the one who is avoiding answering the questions. I made my answers clear and succinct. Lenny wants to dodge all of it with vigorous hand-waving and bold assertion. Sorry Lenny, but your say so ain’t good enough. Give us some justification for ANY of these claims:

“No one alive knows any more about god than anyone else”
“Everyone knows zero about god.”
“No one can point to any source of knowledge about god that is different than anyone else’s”
“No one can demonstrate that they have any knowledge of god”

For someone who claims no can know anything about god, you seem to know quite a bit. Do tell us how you know ANY of these claims (ALL OF WHICH ARE YOUR CLAIMS AND NOT MINE!) are true knowledge. Did you discover this knowlege through the scientific method? If so, how did you conduct the experiments? Given that you apparently reject faith, personal experience, and/or personal revelation as valid sources of true knowledge, then there doesn’t seem to be many options left as to how you come to posses such knowledge. But I’m all ears to learn how.

This is now the fourth time I’ve you these simple questions. Is there a problem? Sure seems like it.

Comment #52233

Posted by Russell on October 13, 2005 8:06 PM (e)

I guess you could say that Bush chose her because he thinks she’s compatible with a conservative judicial philosophy

Or because she’s nothing if not loyal to Dubya, and that might come in very handy if, come 2007, a young congress’s fancy turns to thoughts of impeachment.

Comment #52240

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 13, 2005 8:41 PM (e)

Just answer my simple questions, Donald.

Just answer them.

Quit waving your arms and just answer them.

Comment #52250

Posted by Donald M on October 13, 2005 10:04 PM (e)

Lenny:

Just answer my simple questions, Donald.

Just answer them.

Quit waving your arms and just answer them.

Well, there you go again. As anyone who’s followed this thread can plainly see, I have answered your questions. But for some reason, you just seem total unable to grasp that simple fact. I’ve given you answers to all three of your questions in clear, precise english. But because you are incapable of answering the simple challenge I laid before you, you now are desparately trying to make it appear as if I haven’t in a very transparent and pitiful attempt to avoid having to fess up that YOU have no answer to the very direct questions I put to you. This is, of course, your usual modus operandi when the logical fallacies of your own claims have been exposed as I have done here. You simply have no argument to make and you know it. But instead of being honest enough to admit it, you continue to try and use rhetorical sleight of hand to make it appear as if I’m the one dodging the questions, which is, of course, demonstrably false by just scrolling up the thread.

The only one making claims here that need to be justified is YOU. The ball is in your court to supply the answers we’re all waiting for. But I know you won’t, because I know that you’re smart enough to know that you have NO argument. You just want to pontificate and expect everyone to just take your word for it…the very thing you accuse “creationists” of doing all the time.

But, once more for clarity. Your three questions were:

“(1) tell me who you think knows any more about God than anyone else, (2) tell me what it is that this person knows about God that nobody else does, and (3) tell me how this person knows.” (see comment # 51990)

To which I replied:

#1) The answer is Lenny, because….
#2) …in stating that ““everyone knows zero about God”, Lenny has demonstrated that he knows several things about God, namely:
a)That whatever God may be, he/she/it is suffiently remote such that knowledge of him/her/it is inaccessible to human beings
b)That whatever other characteristics God may posses, he/she/it is either powerless to make him/her/itself known to human beings, unwilling to make him/her/itself known, or perhaps unconcerned with whether he/she/it is known by humans.
c)That because of (b), God has not provided the means for humans to know anything about him/her/it.
d)That whatever other characteristics might be true about God, he/she/it is not at all like the God portrayed in the Juedo-Christian scripture, who is anything but remote or inaccessible, and has indeed provided the means for humans to know him.
e)That whatever else may be true about God, he/she/it desires to remain unknown to humans and no avenue to knowledge of him/her/it will ever be forthcoming.

#3)…I challenge Lenny again to tell us exactly how he comes by all this knowledge of God. (see comment #52053)

You’ve managed to reiterate your questions at least twice since and tried vainly to pretend that I hand’t answered them, even though this post is plainly there with my answers. But it is clear that YOU are the one not answering. The answer to your third question is YOU NEED TO TELL US HOW YOU COME BY ALL THIS WONDERFUL KNOWLEDGE. For some reason you seem total unable to do that. Is there a problem? This will be the 5th time I’ve challenged you to tell how you KNOW any of the following claims, MADE BY YOU AND ONLY BY YOU, are true:

1.“No one alive knows any more about god than anyone else”
2.“Everyone knows zero about god.”
3.“No one can point to any source of knowledge about god that is different than anyone else’s”
4.“No one can demonstrate that they have any knowledge of god”

You see, Lenny, these are all claims that YOU have made and for which you haven’t provided us with ONE SINGLE REASON to accept any of them as true knowledge. Why is that, Lenny? What’s the problem?

I predict that once again you will desparately pretend that your questions haven’t yet been answered, which is plainly false. I also predict that you will not tell us how you know that any of the claims listed above, made by you, are true knowledge. And I also predict, that even though you have dodged and weaved to avoid answering these questions, you will still claim “victory” in this discussion. But you can prove me wrong right here in front of everyone, Lenny, by just answering the simple question put to you: how do you know any of these claims are true knowledge?

Comment #52267

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 14, 2005 7:14 AM (e)

Your word games and sophistry are fun, Donald.

Now just answer my questions. Who knows more about god than anyone else, what do they know that no one else does, and how do they know it.

Any time you are ready, Donald, just let me know.

Comment #52276

Posted by Donald M on October 14, 2005 10:39 AM (e)

Lenny:

Your word games and sophistry are fun, Donald.

Now just answer my questions. Who knows more about god than anyone else, what do they know that no one else does, and how do they know it.

Any time you are ready, Donald, just let me know.

Right on cue and exactly as I predicted.