Yeah, But My God Is Bigger Than Your God

Larison thinks Kathleen Parker has not thought through her assertion that social conservatives should “make their arguments without bringing God into it”:

The point is not that there are not secular arguments against abortion, to take the example Parker uses, as there clearly are. Secular people on the whole do not seem terribly interested in those arguments, nor do they show any more respect for them than they do to explicitly religious ones, because the issue is not the kind of argument being made but the moral and political conclusions that are being drawn. This may reflect the extent to which different political and philosophical traditions function as little more than tribes that use mutually unintelligible mythologies, in which the answers are all scripted and known before the inquiry begins. All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again….Debates cease to be an exercise in persuasion, and become instead an occasion for performance and expressing identity. Structuralists everywhere will be thrilled.

The point here is that social and religious conservatives should not have to truncate, abbreviate or deny their religious teachings when making public arguments, which is effectively what they would have to do if they are not to refer to God or religious teachings in public discourse.

Here is the deal,folks. No one is saying you can not or should not mention God, but you should be aware by now that I don’t care what your God (or anyone else’s, for that matter) thinks, so you can keep bringing him or her up, but I and others like me will not find it very persuasive. Sure, folks who agree with you and your God may love it, and mentioning God may be cathartic or make you feel good, and you can be satisfied that you are living within the belief system your God demands, but you aren’t being very persuasive (at least not to the folks you are ostensibly trying to persuade).
Which is why, of course, when we are dealing with issues that involve the religious right, we so often come into problems. If they would at least make an effort to couch their arguments in logic and reason, rather than quoting scripture or providing arguments from their God, we might be able to better find common ground. As it is, tell me a certain public policy should be so because your religious beliefs make anything else a sin, and I will respond with a shrug and work to elect people to do the opposite of what you want.

Basically, it boils down to this- if I wanted to live in accordance to rules as set by your faith, I would join your church. Until then, until you see me sitting two pews over on Sunday morning, just assume that I really don’t care what your God thinks. I don’t want the rules of your faith imposed upon me by the government, just as I do not desire the government telling me to live under the rules of Cardinal Ratzinger, the Church of Latter Day Saints, Sharia law, Wiccan rules, Buddhist tenets, and on and on and on. Nor do I think you should have to lives under laws that force you to adhere to the religious principles of someone else.

Until social conservatives can understand that that is why Kathleen Parker says they should use logic and reason, and that the best way all of us can get together is if our public policy is not dictated by one religious sect ramming their God down our collective throats, they are just going to be stuck on oogedy-boogedy. “Because it is a sin” ain’t cutting it.






216 replies
  1. 1
    Hugh says:

    Is the politicized religious right all that interested in persuasion? I suppose they must be, though the kind of persuasion I get from them usually feels more coercive in nature, as in, "this is the way things ought to be because any other way is evil and your support of any other way implicates you in that evil", or, "this is the way things ought to be because any other way will bring your eternal doom". I supposed that’s persuasion. One might call it enhanced persuasion.

  2. 2
    Common Sense says:

    I think your rebuttal is largely irrelevant to Larison’s argument. In essence, he appears to be saying that without appealing to God, SoCons have no argument. They have to be able to use values to make their case, because without it they have none. Similarly, without appealing to equality liberals have no argument (I am not endorsing Larison’s views, just truncating them). Whether their argument has any effect on those that don’t share their beliefs is not the subject he is discussing.

    I think that he does have a point, in a way. Conservatives truly don’t care about appeals to equality or past oppression. In order to convince them, you cannot use rhetoric that emphasizes such, because it is unlikely to persuade them. So you emphasize the moral basis for your beliefs — make it a point that what you do to the least of Jesus’ brethren, you do unto him. That God wanted us to be responsible stewards of the earth he gave us. By doing so you may convince a few to at least listen to you, and there is little chance of a backlash (hardore anti theists are unlikely to reverse their support for anti Poverty programs because a proponent of them does so for religious reasons).

    Of course, Parker is arguing that SoCons should do just that, so she has more of a point if one is truly trying to convert people to your side. But the left would be wise not to entirely ignore such appeals to faith as a persuasion tool.

  3. 3
    John Cole says:

    @Common Sense: I think to some extent you are correct. None of this will be solved with debate, anyway.

  4. 4
    Hugh says:

    I think Common Sense makes a good point. The line, "Conservatives truly don’t care about appeals to equality or past oppression" feels a bit broad however. Though who am I to make that case since my original comment was ridiculously broad in it’s snark?

  5. 5
    srv says:

    As I said over there earlier this week, "real" Conservatives have suddenly become uncomfortable with faith now that the social cons have become an anchor around their necks. I, for one, am enjoying the sound they make as they all drown.

    A guy like Larison will find a way to rationalize Palin in 2012, potentially the worst assault on reason in American history, simply because he sees it as a crowbar to force their buffet-style "Christian" values on the rest of us.

    That the Republican party would cease to be viable the day Roe-v-Wade is overturned, and thus will never happen, will not stop these people in their masturbury fantasies of a Christian Nation.

  6. 6
    Comrade Stuck says:

    Until social conservatives can understand that that is why Kathleen Parker says they should use logic and reason, and that the best way all of us can get together is if our public policy is not dictated by one religious sect ramming their God down our collective throats, they are just going to be stuck on oogedy-boogedy. “Because it is a sin” ain’t cutting it.

    To the wingnut faithful and compulsive Bible thumpers, asking them not to bring God into EVERYTHING is the biggest sin of all. They belong to not of this earth, and certainly not heathen humanistic lieburals. And apostates like Parker and former GOP faithful, in their minds, will have a special place reserved in Satan’s playpen. She can maybe pick off a few around the margins, but that is all. It’s just one of the elements comprising the current GOP intractable conundrum. It will be awhile until another George W Bush comes along. A long while.

  7. 7
    Warren Terra says:

    I started reading Larison a couple of months ago when Cole and Sullivan started linking to him, and on many topics he’s interesting and often persuasive. But whenever the topic relates to religion I find him repulsive. I’ve never seen him forthrightly try to explain his position in one coherent post, but I get the impression that for all his sanity and reasonableness on other issues Larison is about as extreme and unthinking a Christanist as you’ll find. His loathing for atheists and even for those willing to tolerate atheists comes through loud and clear.

  8. 8
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    My God has forbidden me to read Daniel Larison so I’m gonna have to sit this one out.

  9. 9
    Ecks says:

    Following your own logic, Cole, religious people should try to appeal to your atheist logic to persuade you, and you should appeal to their religious logic to persuade them. That makes me a little nervous, because you can’t pick up their religious logic just from reading the bible, you’d have to take an in depth study of their theology, and even then they’d just accuse you of getting it wrong.

    This generally isn’t a problem for non-fundamentalist religious people, as they are usually able to step back and find common ground with atheists, and work around loosely acknowledged zones of "agree to disagree" with other religions. But fundamentalists don’t work like this. For them truth is God’s word and ONLY God’s word – it’s not just that nothing else is persuasive, but that it’s actively heresy to believe anything else. You cannot find reasonable compromise between people who regard compromise as heresy.

    New psych data is showing that Conservatives DO value equality and fairness, like liberals do, they just ALSO value tradition and authority and conformity – for them it is a 5 way balancing act, whereas for liberals the latter 3 don’t matter, so it’s only a 2 way balancing act. Hence both sides are genuinely convinced the other are moral idiots. Excellent video of a New Yorker Conference talk on this.

  10. 10
    srv says:

    Larison is about as extreme and unthinking a Christanist as you’ll find.

    Specifically, dogmatic Catholic. Univ. Chicago, probably Opus Dei cultist. Probably has a poster of David Addington on the wall.

  11. 11
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    My God has forbidden me to read Daniel Larison so I’m gonna have to sit this one out.

    Mr. Cole reads him so we don’t have to. And may God Bless him for that. :)

  12. 12
    John Cole says:

    Following your own logic, Cole, religious people should try to appeal to your atheist logic to persuade you, and you should appeal to their religious logic to persuade them. That makes me a little nervous, because you can’t pick up their religious logic just from reading the bible, you’d have to take an in depth study of their theology, and even then they’d just accuse you of getting it wrong.

    When did I become an atheist? Did that happen just because I voted for a Democrat, I immediately became a godless communist?

  13. 13
    Keith says:

    Did that happen just because I voted for a Democrat, I immediately became a godless communist?

    As long as we’re living in a theocracy (6 weeks or so by my count), yes.

  14. 14
    Ecks says:

    Eh, sorry. for "atheist" read "not-denomination-of-speaker" and for "Ecks" read "Person who speaks carelessly".

    update: Atheist != communist. Why does everyone always make this connection? Grr!

  15. 15
    MattF says:

    Problem A) ‘Revealed truth’ cannot be a subject for argument. Problem B) If you say ‘No thanks’ or (God forbid) ‘I’ll think about it’ you go to Hell. Forever.

  16. 16
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    When did I become an atheist? Did that happen just because I voted for a Democrat, I immediately became a godless communist?

    My Catholic co-worker accused me of being an atheist because I don’t believe in an afterlife or a soul. Sigh. It’s so hard to be a Christian in these trying times. So many rules, so little love.

  17. 17
    Hugh says:

    What’s wrong with being an atheist anyway?

  18. 18

    SoCons should not have to truncate their religious arguments.

    Neither should the secular world be timid about challenging those religious arguments on any grounds, including challenges to the existence of god, or including an agnostic view on that question. Or simply on the basis of the right of people to believe whatever they want.

    SoCons and secularists alike, and everyone else, should remain damned careful about blurring the line between church and state. Blurring that line is kryptonite to a healthy church and a healthy state.

  19. 19
    Loneoak says:

    One of the great challenges of these discussions is parsing the philosophical/logical positions from the political motivations for using such positions. I for one am a thorough-going atheist who 1) thinks appeals to god in any case are non-sensical, 2) thinks appeals to god in most cases of public policy function (intentionally or not) to exclude both my participation and shut down good thinking about the public good.

    Now, when encountered with Larison-type claims about abortion rights and ‘values’ I will make an appeal to the complexity of the moral questions, our individual rights to make such determinations on our own, and women’s status as a political minority with a need for special protections from state interference. Now, do I do that because of 1) or 2) above? I dunno. Both?

    If I tell Larison that he needs to keep god out of our arguments about ‘values’ and public policy because we live in a secular democracy it will function to exclude his best, maybe only, reasons for advocating for restrictions on individual rights. Do I do that because I am an atheist or because I hold pretty classical liberal views about the public sphere? I dunno. Both?

    So, I actually think he is dead-on here:

    On the other hand, we would also have to say that our public arguments cannot invoke “values,” which are in any case derived from religious teaching and therefore unsuitable to public discourse. Even to the extent that “values” might be allowed, they would have to be “values” that do not conflict with pluralist, liberal “values.”

    We might say that insisting on excluding explicitly religious arguments about values and policy functions the same whether it is because of an atheist motivation or a liberal motivation. So, does it matter which motivation one has if the result is the same? Sincerely, I dunno.

  20. 20
    The Other Steve says:

    Religion isn’t the issue. I thought Parker had it right the first time when she spoke of those who wear their religion on their shirt sleeve, and that there are many Americans who find that repulsive.

    It’s not the religious arguments per se, it’s that they are unwilling to see other points of view.

  21. 21
    Shygetz says:

    @Common Sense: You said:

    In order to convince them, you cannot use rhetoric that emphasizes such, because it is unlikely to persuade them. So you emphasize the moral basis for your beliefs—make it a point that what you do to the least of Jesus’ brethren, you do unto him.

    You say emphasize "moral basis", but valuation of equality and fairness IS a moral basis. You only list theological bases, equating morality with religion (perhaps unintentionally). Secularists almost always use moral reasoning, it’s just not morality based on a god-belief.

    The key problem, as John was mentioning, is that Americans do not share theological bases for thought. We never have, and hopefully we never will. But we at least used to claim to share a basis for decision making based on facts and logic, and most people do share a basic humanism, be it secular or religion-driven. So, if Christianists want to persuade people outside of their religion, they either have to convert a lot of people (which stats say isn’t happening; on the contrary, most sects are slowly but steadily losing percentages) or they have to couch their arguments in non-theological reasoning. If I try to couch my arguments in the terms of someone else’s religion as you seem to be suggesting, they claim (with some justification) that as a non-believer I have no perspective on the requirements of their belief.

    I have never heard an atheist try to claim that the lack of a God is a sufficient reason by itself for a policy change. We merely insist that YOUR unsubstantiated view of God is not a sufficient basis for ME to endorse your policy.

  22. 22
    The Other Steve says:

    What’s wrong with being an atheist anyway?

    As long as you aren’t trying to shove it down people’s throats… nothing.

  23. 23
    Sirkowski says:

    The response of theo-cons to Cole’s arguement?

    Let’s use bunk science to prove our point. Intelligent Design FTW!

  24. 24
    Shygetz says:

    @The Other Steve:

    As long as you aren’t trying to shove it down people’s throats… nothing.

    And what exactly do you consider "shoving it down people’s throats"?

  25. 25
    LiberalTarian says:

    Um, John Cole, I was under the impression you were an atheist also, but I am pretty sure I thought that because you said doen’t believe in any of that crap. I would prefer to think you are somewhat gnostic, that is, there is a God but we cannot fathom him.

    The idea that the SoCons are spiritual or followers of any religion that espouses brotherly love is laughable. They are fervent, yes, but spiritual no. Their desire is to rule, and if they cannot beat or starve others into submission, they twist their brains around religious dogma. Since they are relatively cowed by the law (and see how quickly they chuck that in the sewer if they think they can get away with it), they distort the gospel and emotionally abuse and cripple others until those others think they are helpless.

    But, when they overreach, say, when their Rick Warrens and Pat Robertsons take off their phony Christian hats and put on their pundit hats and call for the assassination of other world leaders, the mask falls off. If they were genuinely men of faith, they would repent, but they don’t. They are liars and thieves. They epitomize false prophets. These are the folks the GOP embraces–and that is why their arguments invoking God and faith fall flat.

  26. 26
    Hugh says:

    Unhappily, I am at my office while workmen clean up downstairs after a flood there earlier in the week. What a way to spend the weekend. Well, I suppose it could be me doing the cleaning. That would be worse. I mention this because I’ve made about a zillion more comments today than I have any other time.

    Now, onto another comment. It always drives me crazy to accept as a given that morals or values that are religiously derived are, well, religiously derived. I don’t know if I can fully call myself an atheist (though, really, what’s the problem with that?), but I strongly suspect that religion is primarily an expression of cultural values that then feeds back into the culture in a self-reinforcing way. The more culturally savvy those values are the more likely the religion in question will endure. By savvy I do not necessarily mean healthy. Why do some religions catch on and others don’t? It’s a very interesting question to me.

  27. 27
    Joe Max says:

    BTW, the correct spelling is "Wicca", and the proper comparison of religious tenets would be the "Wiccan Rede":

    "Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill,
    An it harm none, do what ye will."

    Actually, it sounds pretty libertarian to me.

  28. 28
    amocz says:

    … what your God (or anyone else’s, for that matter) thinks …

    This assertion (because that is what it is) that "God thinks" this or that about one subject or another, is the oldest form of "begging the question" known to man.

    The most useful formulation that I have ever read on the subject comes from Weston LaBarre’s The Ghost Dance, in which he identifies God as a pronoun masquerading as a noun; the reference of the "God" pronoun is "the Unknown"–about which, by definition, one has absolutely no actual information.

    Substitution of "the Unknown" into any statement purporting to ascribe actions, characteristics or opinions to "God" is useful in revealing to utter vacuousness of such assertions:

    "The Unknown hates gay people."
    "The Unknown demands the sacrifice of the first-born sons."
    "The Unknown will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."

  29. 29
    MikeJ says:

    Basically, it boils down to this- if I wanted to live in accordance to rules as set by your faith, I would join your church.

    Forget about joining the church. If I wanted to live in accordance with the rules of a particular faith, I would live that way. The real question is why the 613 mitzvot should be the basis for public policy.

    It’s fine to preach to people. They can listen or not, be converted or not, live the way you like or not. None of this has anything to do with what the law ought to be.

  30. 30
    Comrade Stuck says:

    Did that happen just because I voted for a Democrat, I immediately became a godless communist?

    Yes, but the good news is that now your a multi-culturist godless commie. Welcome to the fold Comrade Rainbow!

  31. 31
    Joe Max says:

    Specifically, dogmatic Catholic.

    I thought Larison was Russian Orthodox. He has lots of links to Orthodox websites on his page.

  32. 32
    John S. says:

    It’s not the religious arguments per se, it’s that they are unwilling to see other points of view.

    Exactly. Just as many theists cannot understand a point of view that revolves around there not being God, so too can many atheists not understand a point of view that revolves around there being a God. The former deride the latter as being amoral heathens and the latter mock the former as witless naifs.

    People have a very difficult time holding the view of one while accepting the possibility of the other.

  33. 33
    Comrade Stuck says:

    OT

    Obama reveal his 21 Century New Deal

    I thought I heard a sound like wingnut heads sploding.

  34. 34
    JL says:

    Kathleen Parker’s opinion piece was that the Republicans had to be more than just a whacko organization. I personally found Larison’s statement offensive because it was so judgmental.

    The point is not that there are not secular arguments against abortion, to take the example Parker uses, as there clearly are. Secular people on the whole do not seem terribly interested in those arguments, nor do they show any more respect for them than they do to explicitly religious ones, because the issue is not the kind of argument being made but the moral and political conclusions that are being drawn.

    I believe in Choice when it comes to women’s rights, does that mean that I don’t respect Sen. Casey, not at all because that is his choice.

  35. 35
    Cassidy the Racist White Man says:

    In honor of TZ, I now declare this thread over. Thank you.

  36. 36

    if I wanted to live in accordance to rules as set by your faith, I would join your church.

    A lot of those numbnuts don’t follow the rules of their own faith. Ergo, we’re all religious.

  37. 37

    Amen! Uh, I mean … shoot, never mind.

  38. 38
    MAX HATS says:

    The right hasn’t had to win an argument in, literally, decades. Their path to victory in modern times has always been to cut up the electorate just right so that the real American ‘us’ outnumbers the America-hating ‘them.’ Now they need a new game plan, and they need to make it from scratch.

  39. 39
    srv says:

    I thought Larison was Russian Orthodox. He has lots of links to Orthodox websites on his page

    You are indeed correct, I misread one of his comments last month and made a bad assumption. But he distinguishes that he’s Orthodox, and attends Russian Orthodox services.

    Those are some long-ass masses, wooden pews and kneelers, and you better have a tolerance for incense.

    http://larison.org/2006/07/06/.....-religion/

  40. 40
    RSA says:

    Larison strikes me as being too pessimistic about the possibility of persuading people who might be very different from you. He writes,

    Once you have accepted fundamental assumptions of your opponents (and accepting that one can only use public reason in argument is to concede a fundamental liberal claim), you are merely negotiating the extent of your defeat.

    But to me this implies that religious arguments are doomed from the start, unless there’s an element of religious conversion in them. Of course it’s possible to argue against people without accepting their fundamental assumptions. In some cases we don’t even know what those fundamental assumptions are. We start with what we agree on, and that tends to be what Larison refers to as public reason.

  41. 41
    JL says:

    When did I become an atheist? Did that happen just because I voted for a Democrat, I immediately became a godless communist?

    Actually if you look at States that overwhelmingly voted for Obama, they have a larger percentage going to church weekly and lower divorce rates. You actually might be more religious but in ways that it counts.

  42. 42
    El Cid says:

    People who fail to understand that in a democratic society your arguments must be based on reason and not your supersecret knowledge of an invisible magic guy seem to me to be a problem, not a set of the population waiting to be reasoned with.

    Besides, it doesn’t matter whether or not we think democratic societies should be based on reason or unreason — after all, the people who want decisions based on religiously-justified reasoning have been told they were right by God, so, how could any mortal disagree with God?

  43. 43
    TenguPhule says:

    Until social conservatives can understand that that is why Kathleen Parker says they should use logic and reason, and that the best way all of us can get together is if our public policy is not dictated by one religious sect ramming their God down our collective throats, they are just going to be stuck on oogedy-boogedy. “Because it is a sin” ain’t cutting it.

    400 years ago, these eaxt same people were hanging young women for being young women.

  44. 44
    TenguPhule says:

    New psych data is showing that Conservatives DO value equality and fairness, like liberals do, they just ALSO value tradition and authority and conformity

    So basically, they’re for it unless they’re against it because a godless commie liberal might get it.

    Yeah, makes perfect sense.

  45. 45
    slightly_peeved says:

    People who fail to understand that in a democratic society your arguments must be based on reason and not your supersecret knowledge of an invisible magic guy seem to me to be a problem

    Except that if we are making any argument about what is "wrong" or "right" for society, we’re going to be arguing about axioms pretty soon, rather than anything that can be logically justified. Everyone holds some truths to be "self-evident".

    If people who believe stuff without logically justifying it are the problem, we’re all screwed. No-one is perfectly reasonable about everything.

    I believe the arguments proposed by the founders were not so much about the triumph of reason over unreason, but allowing each group with different unreasonable beliefs the freedom to be unreasonable in their own way, on their own time. In short, ask the Catholics whether they’d want the Protestant’s views on the Pope enshrined in law, and vice versa.

  46. 46
    Comrade grumpy realist says:

    Can someone hit Larison over the head with a book of European history, please? A good edition of Medieval and Renaissance philosophy wouldn’t be amiss, either.

    If Larison is Russian Orthodox, that probably explains it. Not very many great philosophers came out of that tradition….at least not ones that used logic.

  47. 47
    The Other Steve says:

    And what exactly do you consider "shoving it down people’s throats"?

    When you sound like an evangelical Christian ranting and raving about how stupid everybody else is because they can’t see your one truth.

  48. 48

    I now declare this thread over.

    If it depended on you to say something useful, it would be.

    But …….

    Give me your email address. I’ll let you know when the threads are over.

  49. 49
    Karmakin says:

    I think that a religious experience is just as valid (note. JUST as valid, not more so) as anything else in terms of determining values. Doesn’t mean that they’re right or best. (or wrong and worst, for that matter).

    However, the translation into secular terms is essential. Why? Because it’s that translation that actually results in anything resembling public policy or a political argument. Even if we accept the validity, and even the correctness of your value statement, this still needs to be done.

    The religious value framework can tell us WHAT our goals should be, but it rarely tells us HOW to achieve them. The problem with the GOP currently is that they’ve for a long time have seen nothing beyond scoring points. The attitude that you don’t need to think past the initial "values" is much the same.

  50. 50
    Emma Anne says:

    I am still trying to envision the government enforcing the rules of Buddhism. Everyone must meditate, show compassion, and comprehend the transience of material things.

  51. 51
    A Squirrel says:

    I enjoy Larison but often find him exasperating with regards to domestic issues.

    His foreign policy posts exude knowledge and nuance, as well as an obvious respect for different cultures and their right to self-determination. And after reading a post, I have a very good idea where he stands.

    But how his values relate to our society and culture always leave me saying WTF. What does he want? How would he propose getting there? Do godless shits like me have a place in his America? He’s so damn vague.

    I dunno, whatever. He’s still a mile better than Brooks or Kristol.

  52. 52
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Ever seen that bumper sticker that reads "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." Some of these folks are convinced that their beliefs are informed by the one true god. That their one true god’s instructions are conveyed to them through a book that is an English translation of a Latin translation of a Greek translation of works written in Aramaic troubles them not at all. It also fails to concern them that the people who who make their money interpreting this book for them can do so with absolutely no formal training. Want to be ordained? Go to the website of the Universal Life Church and you can be ordained on line. I have been an ordained minister since 1967 as a result of my profound theological knowledge and the fact that I "donated" five bucks for a ULC certificate of ordination when I was at Berkeley. ULC ordinations were all the rage at the time because people believed that they would be tax exempt thereby – I just thought it would be cool to be a stoned Reverend.

  53. 53

    New psych data is showing that Conservatives DO value equality and fairness, like liberals do, they just ALSO value tradition and authority and conformity

    I wonder if this psych data includes data on superstition?

    Since "traditional" beliefs are often just superstition cloaked in something else …. "faith" being belief even in the face of evidence to the contrary ……

    How do those pretzels of thought resolve with things like equality and fairness?

    Where’s a good crazy Republican when you need him? We need some answers.

  54. 54
    Garrigus Carraig says:

    I guess I’ve missed Larison’s posts on religion. That was alarmingly dumb. Even if this were a Christian state, Christianity is not a system of laws, & does not include one. It stands in contrast to Islam & Judaism in this manner. No state has ever used Christianity as the primary basis of its legal system, not even the Papal States or the Byzantine Empire.

    As it is, this is a secular state, where if your "policy argument" is rooted on "God, according to my preferred translation & interpretation thereof, said so", ur doin it wrong.

  55. 55
    Svensker says:

    OK, just to put a question out there.

    Many religious folks consider abortion murder, because they believe the fetus is an unborn human, and that killing an innocent human — unborn or otherwise — is murder.

    How does reason get around that argument?

    What is your reason for opposing the murder of born humans?

  56. 56
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    What is your reason for opposing the murder of born humans?

    The paperwork is monumental.

  57. 57
    Laura W says:

    I had a very chatty and precocious 8-yr-old girl visit my booth today at a craft show. She told me her mom was paralyzed from the waist down but a man laid hands on her and now she can walk with a cane.
    "And I believe in God and pray all the time. Are you a Christian?
    In a moment of uncharacteristic restraint in deference to her age, I simply said "Yes?"
    Then she says: "Hey! You know who you look like?"
    I’m thinking Meryl Streep cuz I used to get that all the time, esp. when my hair was long and permed, a la French Lieutenant’s Woman.
    "HILLARY CLINTON, cuz of your hair."
    (Answering the question: "should I keep trying to grow my hair out again?" for me.)

    So anyway, she loves her some Hillary and can’t believe Obama won and is moderately happy about that. I told her Hill was Sec of State and that there would be no shortage of Hill in her young life for the next four years, making peace in Israel and all, and she lit up.
    And then I told her to pray every night for the safety of Prez Obama and his family and she sneered in this begrudging, "I guess I have to" look. (See how I used her faith against her there? Pretty shrewd of me, huh?)
    They start ’em young, but yes, I am smarter than an 8-yr-old Christian.

    I recall a girl of about the same age (the daughter of my very Christian boss, so I had to be diplomatic here again) asking me why I was a (then) vegetarian ‘cuz the bible says man has dominion over the whole earth and all the critters therein.
    (Gosh, I hope this is sort of on topic. I’ve not read any of the comments.)

  58. 58

    How does reason get around that argument?

    The Constitution appears to recognize people (citizens) at birth.

    Good enough for me.

  59. 59
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    What is your reason for opposing the murder of born humans?

    Are you seriously arguing one has to have theological reasons for opposing murder?

  60. 60
    JL says:

    @Laura W: More on topic than some of the comments.

  61. 61
    Comrade Jake says:

    OT, but it looks like Obama will appoint Shinseki to be Secretary of the VA. I suppose that’s akin to extending a giant middle finger to Don Rumsfeld.

  62. 62

    […] December 6, 2008, 3:13 pm Filed under: morality, philosophy, politics, religion John Cole responds to Daniel Larison on the issue of religious reasons in public discourse: Until social conservatives […]

  63. 63
    Comrade Jake says:

    @Svensker:

    How does reason get around that argument?

    By attacking the premise.

  64. 64
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    OT, but it looks like Obama will appoint Shinseki to be Secretary of the VA.

    Shinseki can in turn hire some out of work Iraq/Afghanistan vets to kick Rumsfeld in the junk every time he leaves his house. Obama can authorize it through his Commander-in-Chief Super Powers as enumerated by his predecessor.

  65. 65
  66. 66
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @Dennis – SGMM:

    I have been an ordained minister since 1967

    The Reverend Dennis/ I want to be forgiven for all the cuss words I’ve said here. I didn’t really mean it. Well, actually I mostly did. But I’ll do better, promise. It’s just all the trolls, spoofs and purists and other crazy motherfuckers that… oops sorry.

  67. 67
    Warren Terra says:

    Svensker, that’s two questions, not one, and as several people have noted in different ways the second question does not obviously lend itself to being taken seriously, or to constructive discussion. If it really wasn’t meant as a slap in the face, you might want to expand a bit.

    Regarding the first question, about rational attempts to define the beginning of life, it should not surprise you that a lot of people have put in a lot of effort. I’m not an expert, not especially well informed even, but here are some points:

    Many people, quite probably most, would agree that once the fetus is viable outside the womb it should be protected – though’s it’s not completely trivial to define this boundary, because there is a broad borderline area where viability and especially health are uncertain. And, of course, this definition forces the mother to either undergo a caesarean or give birth, although I don’t know what a termination as such a stage would resemble.

    At the other end, there’s little rational basis for saying human life begins at conception; maybe half of fertilized oocytes never implant and form a fetus, after all, and although the fertilized oocyte is genetically unique that’s not terribly special. Certainly at the earliest stages there are no neurons, and no likelihood of consciousness as we attempt to understand it.

    In between, once you have a fetus inviable outside the womb but possessing a central nervous system, is where you have the interesting arguments, ones I’ll not even attempt to address seriously. People have written whole books on this, and if you’re really interested you might consider reading one.

  68. 68
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    @Comrade Stuck:
    You are absolved in perpetuity. Now go, and sin some more. I like that: "Reverend Dennis". Gonna’ change my handle. I haven’t used my reverend powers since I officiated at a friend’s marriage back in ’01.

  69. 69
    Svensker says:

    What is your reason for opposing the murder of born humans? Are you seriously arguing one has to have theological reasons for opposing murder?

    No, I just wonder what the basis of opposing murder is. And why that doesn’t apply to unborn humans.

  70. 70
    whiskey says:

    What Larison misses here is that most religions and most secular individuals disapprove of murder. Secular individuals disagree with religiously informed pro-lifers not because they don’t think murder is wrong, but because they don’t consider abortion murder. Ultimately what is and is not murder is decided by logic – the circumstances, the motivations, and the target, and whether these collectively define a class that we call murder – and these are areligious in their designation.

  71. 71

    It’s just all the trolls, spoofs and purists and other crazy motherfuckers that…

    Oh sure, blame us.

    Er, I mean, them.

  72. 72
    JL says:

    OT alert!! The Alabama/Florida game is really good.

  73. 73

    Pretty much, what Warren said.

  74. 74

    I haven’t used my reverend powers since I officiated at a friend’s marriage back in ‘01.

    I don’t like to use mine either. Except when I tell Cassidy to go to hell, then I do.

  75. 75
    Comrade grumpy realist says:

    Common Law used to have this thing about thinking the fetus wasn’t human until "quickening" (woman feels fetal movements). Most of what we have as modern law has oscillated between the "viability" line and the "born alive" line, depending on which decade and which jurisdiction you are in (also what statute.)

  76. 76
    Hyperion says:

    a couple of nice comments at Larison’s place. here’s one. it’s longish but describes MY problem with Christians.

    Daniel, the biggest problem with Christian values voters is not that they can’t make their arguments in secular fashion, as I’m sure they can. The biggest value is that compromise is impossible.

    If you are a Christian conservative and there is no doubt whatsoever what God wants, what is “right” – how are you ever going to stop short of that?

    If you believe God thinks abortion is wrong then it’s wrong period, and no half-measure will suffice. And so, sure, you might accept a “compromise” in terms of limiting access, partial-birth abortions, whatever. But that is a mere waystation on your way to your final destination, a complete ban in all cases, every time.

    In the end, in a civil, democratic society, the rationale behind governance cannot be, simply, “God says so.” I appreciate that Christian conservatives may think this all they ever need. But I don’t. And it’s my country too – or is it?

    and i agree with several commenters here about Larison. he’s smart and articulate but when the subject is his religion, i cringe. if you follow Cole’s link, make sure to read the comments.

  77. 77
    Svensker says:

    @Warren Terra:

    In between, once you have a fetus inviable outside the womb but possessing a central nervous system, is where you have the interesting arguments, ones I’ll not even attempt to address seriously. People have written whole books on this, and if you’re really interested you might consider reading one.

    I pretty much agree with everything you said. I’m "pro-choice" and even tho I don’t think abortion is a very good birth control method, I absolutely believe it should be legal. Perhaps frowned upon slightly (I remember the 70s and many of us young sluts — which we were — and our attitude toward abortion: something you fit in between doing some roller disco and getting your hair done).

    But many pro-choice folks act as though religious people who are opposed to abortion are insane. While there are nuts on that side, of course, there are also some very thoughtful people with serious moral qualms about aborting fetuses. Tho the qualm may be based on religion, what is the anti-qualm based on? And can those qualms simply be dismissed dismissively?

  78. 78
    El Cid says:

    When I was a deeply believing and practicing Christian, I never, ever attempted to use any of my beliefs about God or Jesus to justify or condemn a position in a rational argument about some secular policy.

    It seemed to me utter common sense that you can’t use arguments about magical invisible deities to justify or oppose public policies.

    I guess that’s why eventually the rest of it stopped making sense.

  79. 79
    Svensker says:

    I guess what I am asking is if you are using moral values to oppose policy, what are those moral values based on?

    AND, if you are using secular moral values, why are those superior to religious moral values? At least in terms of being acceptable in a multicultural society?

  80. 80
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Tho the qualm may be based on religion, what is the anti-qualm based on? And can those qualms simply be dismissed dismissively?

    The difference for me is that pro-choice people don’t force anyone to get an abortion. The other side wants to force women to carry their babies to term.

  81. 81

    if you are using secular moral values, why are those superior to religious moral values?

    Neither is superior, which is why the religious ones don’t trump the secular ones.

    Pro choice advocates are not picketing adoption agencies and hounding unwed mothers into getting abortions, or blowing up churches. They just want government to leave them alone.

  82. 82
    Cassidy the Racist White Man says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber: Yeah whatever. Anyone can buy a certificate online making them a priest of some sort. I’m sure the church of Hello Kitty values your services and your restraint at performing exorcisms on unwitting Pokemon collectors.

  83. 83
    El Cid says:

    There’s a bit of a difference between arguing that "I support / oppose public policy X because I believe religious thing Y" and "We must support / oppose public policy X because religious thing Y is true".

  84. 84

    I’m sure the church of Hello Kitty values your services

    Meow, bitch.

  85. 85
    srv says:

    And why that doesn’t apply to unborn humans.

    There are no reasoning beings that will not meet you more than halfway on personhood.

    But they aren’t interested in that. A zygote is an ensouled human, and that’s what God said. Well, maybe not, but it is the pop Christian theory of the day.

  86. 86

    A zygote is an ensouled human, and that’s what God said.

    Blastocoeles 1:2?

  87. 87
    Comrade Jake says:

    On abortion, many fundamentalist Christians refuse to even allow that it is a topic on which reasonable people can disagree.

    I can understand how some people can view abortion as murder. I don’t agree with it, but I understand how someone could hold such views. But it’s not a two way street with a lot of these people. That’s the problem many of us have with them.

  88. 88
    Garrigus Carraig says:

    I’ll point out also that not all Christian sects oppose abortion absolutely. The disagreement among Christians is, in part, because there is no mention of abortion made in the Bible. Christians have disagreed on many many issues, including the nature of their own faith, from the very beginning. Don’t make me bring up Marcion.

    The Founders left Christianity out of the conversation so that this country did not become the sectarian slugfest their forebears had abandoned.

    Come on. Really.

  89. 89
    Comrade Jake says:

    @srv:

    But they aren’t interested in that. A zygote is an ensouled human, and that’s what God said. Well, maybe not, but it is the pop Christian theory of the day.

    "Of the day" being the key phrase. For centuries, for example, the Catholic church did not view first-trimester abortion as a cardinal sin.

  90. 90
    TheDeadlyShoe says:

    And why that doesn’t apply to unborn humans.

    no brains. they are like tiny, tiny zombies.

  91. 91
    Blue Raven says:

    John, seriously, who spells Wiccan with two K’s? Please correct that; it’s just not kosher.

    And the very notion of a neopagan theocratic party makes my head explode. Oh, sure, the Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru are really pretty good stuff, but the odds are we’d end up with the most radical Dianic Wiccans being the loudest voices. Radical feminism with Goddess on their side. Talk about squick factor.

  92. 92
    JL says:

    @Comrade Jake: That is exactly why I believe in Choice. The Catholic church believes that if a woman’s life is in danger you save the baby first. How is that not murder of the mother? A woman is raped and then according to some required to carry a child to term, how is that not torture. Those are my beliefs and if someone disagrees they have that right.

  93. 93
    slightly_peeved says:

    Tho the qualm may be based on religion, what is the anti-qualm based on?

    I’m no expert in this area, but I believe the anti-qualm is the control of a woman over her own body.

    If we force a woman to carry a child to term, they are forced to sustain another human being (according to the fetus=human definition) with their own body and blood, at the risk of serious injury or death.

    There are no other circumstances in which one human has an obligation to another in this manner.

    (To repeat: there are probably plenty of people out there better at articulating this argument than I am. I read it first on an Obsidian Wings comment thread).

  94. 94
    John Cole says:

    John, seriously, who spells Wiccan with two K’s? Please correct that; it’s just not kosher.

    Your host, who is notorious for typos and spelling mistakes.

    Fixed.

  95. 95
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @Svensker:

    many of us young sluts—which we were—

    I prefer to call it the era of Free Love.

  96. 96
    JL says:

    So is anyone else watching the Alabama and Florida game?

  97. 97
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    So is anyone else watching the Alabama and Florida game?

    Family movie night: Journey to the Center of the Earth.

  98. 98
    Laura W says:

    @JL: No.
    Dogs 101, waiting for Cats 101.
    Wheaten Terriers now on. CUTEST puppies!
    I’m sort of partial to Westies, if I were ever going to get a terrier.
    Which is doubtful.
    Is this post on topic, do you think, JL?
    (it IS on topic. Omigod. We just had Toby, short for Tobila, Spitz… the devout Jewish Wheaten, who preforms mitzvahs. And now they are talking about dogs in the Bible. There is no place god is not.)(OK, now we’re covering a BarkMitzvah for a Wheaton. I’m glad cat people aren’t this needy and weird.)

  99. 99
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @TheDeadlyShoe:

    no brains. they are like tiny, tiny zombies.

    Talk like that will get you a never ending tour of Dante’s Inferno. Or a weekend pass to the Funhouse.

  100. 100
    Tom says:

    Yeah, But My God Is Bigger Than Your God

    I assume you’re talking about the Beatles.

  101. 101
    JL says:

    @Laura W: Yes cause anything you post is on topic. How many times have I mentioned that my mutt looks like a micro deerhound. Prettiest girl ever in my eyes.

  102. 102

    no brains. they are like tiny, tiny zombies Republicans.

  103. 103
    JL says:

    FYI, Florida won and will play in the National Championship game, whatever that is. IMO the game against bama and the gators was the championship game.

  104. 104
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @Tom:

    I assume you’re talking about the Beatles.

    No No No. He’s talking about this.

  105. 105
    [delurk]...[/delurk] says:

    If a woman is told she cannot have an abortion (or for that matter that she must have an abortion), what she’s being told is that her body does not belong to her.

    In English, we have a word for a person whose body does not belong to them: that person is a slave.

    The 13th Amendment prohibits slavery in the United States. QED.

    Anyone who regards this as strictly a women’s issue (I’m a man, by the way) is deluding themselves. Once it’s established as a point of law that women are slaves of the state there’s no way it can be limited to them alone.

  106. 106

    Each morning, after first waking but before getting out of bed, I thank God I’m an atheist. I then leap out of my bed, throw the curtains open and hope to see a unicorn. I refuse to worship any God who will not allow me to at least see a unicorn. I want my unicorn, damn it!

  107. 107
    John O says:

    Thanks as usual.

    Religious arguments are inherently stupid on any rational grounds. It’s tiring.

    And I support full-heartedly and full-throatedly anyone’s right to the Invisible Sky Wizard of their choice.

    Just keep it out of my face, and if you dare put your religious opinions in the public square, be ready for a hassle.

  108. 108
    aimai says:

    I’m late to the fair here and long past some of the major interesing arguments. I’d like to make two points. Larison, as I see it, is essentially capitulating to the argument that religious arguments are, in effect, weak. If religious people had to make their arguments on secular/policy grounds they’d end up losing. Not because secular people "don’t care" about abortion so you could never get into a good bar fight but because to the extent that secular people *oppose* abortion they don’t do it because they live to punish women for having sex but simply as a matter of public policy. So a secular argument against abortion would focus on *lowering the rate* rather than banning the practice, it would focus on free contraceptive availability and sex education, social policies supporting families with disabled children, etc…etc…etc… while various religious arguments would focus on simply destroying the woman to save the fetus and abandoning both mother and child post birth.

    Why do I say that? Its not just because I despise these god botherers and their fake pieties. Its because at the same time that the right wing went into convulsions about Terri Schiavo Texas hospitals, under laws that Bush signed into existence, were cheerfully pulling the plug on a baby and a woman who were conscious, aware, fully alive because they didn’t have the money to pay for their health care costs. The blanket language religious types use "abortion is murder" the "state has a duty to protect all life" is an absolute travesty when held up against the manifold forms of human life that religious types ignore as not worthy of state protection. Gay people? gay families? gay children? illegal immigrants? workers in sub-human working conditions? the ill when they are poor? These are all people that the far right, in this country, whatever their religious leanings refuse to extend *state protection* to because of their irreligious and irrelevant fears of state intervention in "the family" or "individual freedom." Interesting that these categories trump "life" when financial interests or male or heterosexual privilige are concerned. Let me unpack that a little by pointing out how hysterical christian families get when it looks like the state is going to step in to protect gay children or the children of gay families by "supporting" or "protecting" them in the context of public schooling. Or how such families would react if the state or doctors stepped in and ordered some christianist mommy to have her tubes tied so she could better take care of the six kids she’s already raising? Suddenly the all intrusive state becomes a problem. When they are all egging it on when it comes to a woman’s right to determine whether she goes through with a pregnancy.

    aimai

  109. 109
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Karmikan:

    I think that a religious experience is just as valid (note. JUST as valid, not more so) as anything else in terms of determining values.

    I disagree. There is such a thing as rational ethics, generally emanating from the idea that following something akin to The Golden Rule maximizes Liberty and minimizes conflict and suffering. Game theory research (e.g., optimal strategies for iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma) is beginning to empirically support this idea.

  110. 110

    @Stuck in the Funhouse: Comrade Stuck, go look up demimondian in teh Google. You’ll find that I have already been condemned by the "pro-life" Catholic blogs for pointing out that by all reasonable standards, a pre-twenty-four week fetus is a parasite.

    Somehow, that observation turned me into a raving monster.

  111. 111
    Comrade Jake says:

    @demimondian:

    You’ll find that I have already been condemned by the "pro-life" Catholic blogs for pointing out that by all reasonable standards, a pre-twenty-four week fetus is a parasite.

    How do such folks view IVF clinics, where the little dudes are "murdered" left and right?

  112. 112
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    The nexus of God, Abortion and Politics. The stuff of migraines, spittle, and American Pie. Sometimes death seems like a little, much needed rest.

  113. 113

    that observation turned me into a raving monster.

    Must you dangle a straight line like that in such a tantalizing fashion?

    If we were dogs, would you walk in here wearing a coat made out of standing rib roast?

  114. 114
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @demimondian:

    a pre-twenty-four week fetus is a parasite

    Yep, calling a fetus a parasite will bring out the Damien Daggers. Every time

  115. 115
    Shygetz says:

    @demimondian:

    You’ll find that I have already been condemned by the "pro-life" Catholic blogs for pointing out that by all reasonable standards, a pre-twenty-four week fetus is a parasite.

    Not a monster, just factually wrong. A pre-24-week fetus is not even remotely close to a parasite; it’s closer to obligate mutualism, since reproduction of genetic material is THE way in which biological success is measured.

  116. 116
    Laura W says:

    @demimondian: Lies! No raving monster would ever defend a woman’s right to the Residual Sugar, Morning After Defense.

  117. 117
    Shygetz says:

    @Svensker:

    AND, if you are using secular moral values, why are those superior to religious moral values? At least in terms of being acceptable in a multicultural society?

    Superior is a misleading term; they are more generalizable, because they do not rely upon secret communication with an ineffable and undetectable deity. Rather, they depend on shared human experiences, which someone can relate to regardless of their belief or non-belief in god(s). So, for a multicultural society that must bring together people of multiple beliefs, justifying morality based on what everyone can see makes it much more practical to convince others of your belief. On the other hand, religious morality requires that you first believe in the invisible, undetectable being(s) and the revealed knowledge that they have supposedly imparted.

  118. 118
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Garrigus:

    I’ll point out also that not all Christian sects oppose abortion absolutely. The disagreement among Christians is, in part, because there is no mention of abortion made in the Bible.

    Well, there is Ex. 21: 22: "If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine."

    This appears to describe the penalty for unintentionally causing an abortion. However, the penalty for causing the death of a "man" is described thusly in Ex. 21:12: "He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death." This appears to apply even if the intent was not to cause death.

    Thus, I’d argue that the Bible seems to treat abortion as a sin substantially less grave than murder, or even manslaughter. But the Bible really means little to Christianists other than as a bludgeon to pummel people who seem to be enjoying themselves too much. That this is, at base, a base (!) execution of the sin of envy does not appear to enter their heads.

  119. 119
    Glenn says:

    Xians like most fundamentalists have little use for reason. Trying to argue with them is like trying too argue with your pets.

  120. 120
    bago says:

    Technically a pregnancy is a viral infection. The contagion is injected into the host, modifies the host dna, and starts reproducing at such a rate that after 9 months the tumor is expelled. This is why the placenta literally has to act as a firewall between the tumor and the host, so that the immune system of the host does not completely devour the tumor.

    Life is weird.

  121. 121
    Laura W says:

    @bago:Kudos. You just blew my mind.

  122. 122
    Tonal Crow says:

    @bago:

    Technically a pregnancy is a viral infection. The contagion is injected into the host, modifies the host dna, and starts reproducing at such a rate that after 9 months the tumor is expelled. This is why the placenta literally has to act as a firewall between the tumor and the host, so that the immune system of the host does not completely devour the tumor.

    That’s not quite right, though you are onto something with the immunological issues. Actually it appears that an innate (germline) retrovirus prevents the immune system from devouring the placenta in humans. http://findarticles.com/p/arti.....i_17408431 . Something similar appears to happen in sheep, too. http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....233630.htm .

  123. 123
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @bago:

    LOL. That will get you an interview with the Inquisitor.

  124. 124
    Tonal Crow says:

    @funhouse:
    @bago: LOL. That will get you an interview with the Inquisitor.

    Ooo…can I have one, too?

    [Darn blockquote tag bugs!]

  125. 125
    slightly_peeved says:

    Game theory research (e.g., optimal strategies for iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma) is beginning to empirically support this idea.

    So – you have a particular strategy in IPD,
    and there’s some evidence that it’s an effective strategy,
    and you can define some concept of "Liberty" and "suffering" in the IPD,
    and you want to use that as the basis for all the ethical decisions you make in life.

    The rational question I’d have is why you’d feel so confident using IPD as an analog of the real world in all cases about which you have to make moral decisions. Has the applicability of the IPD over this range of situations been empirically verified? If not, this form of rational ethics is pretty unscientific.

  126. 126
    Tonal Crow says:

    @slightly_peeved:
    I said that research on IPD provides some empirical support for the Golden Rule and related cooperative/altruistic rules. I did not say that it is airtight support, and still less that IPD models "the real world in all cases about which you have to make moral decisions".

    Still, the IPD results provide more empirical support for the Golden Rule and related cooperative/altruistic rules than science has provided for any religiously-based moral practice.

    I expect to see much more interesting research into rational ethics come out of not only game theory, but also evolutionary theory.

  127. 127
    WereBear says:

    It would be possible to have a moral discussion with a religious person if they have moral positions that have underpinnings of logic and/or reason.

    However, some religious people have not given moral positions any thought at all. Like the way fundamentalists revere the fetus and are rabid for the death penalty. Like the way some extreme Buddhists are vegetarians and avoid inhaling insects, yet can give themselves pernicious anemia from lack of vitamin B. Aren’t their own lives worth preserving?

    If we try to have a moral discussion with such people, we can’t. They haven’t arrived at their positions with any thought.

  128. 128
    Ecks says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber:

    Heh, watch the video I linked. It’s short, it’s entertaining, it’s full of teh Gudness. Srsly.

  129. 129
    LiberalTarian says:

    Good grief. Please excuse me for pointing out the obvious, but the pro-lifers don’t actually have *any* faith.

    If they had faith, they would believe that that God would deal equitably and justly with a woman receiving an abortion or a person performing one. They would also have faith that if a woman later regretted her decision, that through repentance and asking Jesus for forgiveness they would be forgiven.

    A God who knows all and sees all and understands all does not have the vagaries of humanity confusion. A God with the infinite understanding of the universe does not need for us to be idiots reciting rote phrases for salvation. Real faith is simple: first, the 10 commandments; but for the frail and human among us, the 2 commandments that Christ is supposed to have given us to deliver us from impossible perfection … love one another and treat others as you would be treated. The religious right fails at these 2 simple commandments, and therefore, they have no faith. They have dogma, and it is no substitute. Their dogma proclaims that they can be "God warriors" and kill others in the name of their religion. What is worse, is that they never repent of it, therefore there is no salvation for them either.

    The religious wrong is a cult, like any other fundamentalist sect.

  130. 130

    Heh, watch the video I linked.

    Thank you. Listening to it now, it is quite fascinating.

    Too early to draw conclusions, but I have bookmarked a number of Haidt things and I am going to read more about his work.

    Great stuff, and thanks for pointing me to it.

  131. 131
    slightly_peeved says:

    I said that research on IPD provides some empirical support for the Golden Rule and related cooperative/altruistic rules. I did not say that it is airtight support, and still less that IPD models "the real world in all cases about which you have to make moral decisions".

    Plenty of theories found to be completely wrong had "some" empirical support.

    Still, the IPD results provide more empirical support for the Golden Rule and related cooperative/altruistic rules than science has provided for any religiously-based moral practice.

    Except that the Golden Rule is a religiously-based moral practice. The IPD results did not distinguish based on how the person learned how to apply the Golden Rule.

    And religious entities, by and large, don’t claim a scientific basis for their moral stance. Rational ethicists do, so it’s up to them to prove it. Empirically. If they can’t, they should stop calling themselves rational.

    I expect to see much more interesting research into rational ethics come out of not only game theory, but also evolutionary theory.

    What if evolutionary theory shows that tribal identities (of which religion is one) are valuable for the survival and prosperity of a tribe?

    What if studies into cognition show that human beings are incorrect in their assessments of their own mental processes; that when someone claims to made a rational decision, the decision was subconsciously made a second earlier? Studies have already shown this.

    What if the studies into "rational ethics" do not show any benefit to deciding ethics in a rational manner – or if they show that people do not rationally come by a set of ethics?

    Or, finally, what if the whole concept of ethics is so subject to cultural norms that any scientific finding on the subject is constrained to a particular culture? The definitions of "Liberty" and "conflict" used in the research would probably not agree with many people’s definitions, and there are a range of cultures that would dispute that, say, maximizing Liberty is the best basis for a moral system.

  132. 132
    Pauline says:

    John: I love the "oogedy-boogedy" part. Your writing and this space are also so nice to come to for clear and concise. Thanks.

  133. 133
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Except that the Golden Rule is a religiously-based moral practice.

    Yeah, cuz godless pagans coulda never figured out ya treat others like ya want to be treated, something kindergarteners catch on to pretty easily.

  134. 134
    Ecks says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber:

    You’re most welcome. Jon Haidt is one of the most interesting psychologists working today IMHO (and I have the degrees now to know a lot of them). Check out his article in Science if you can find it – it’s a pretty good summary of a lot of the things he’s worked on (some of which will be familiar from the vid)

  135. 135
    WereBear says:

    the whole concept of ethics is so subject to cultural norms

    Don’t think we’ll discover that.

    How many wives a man has can be subject to cultural norms. But it’s a rare society where the dude don’t get upset about someone else sleeping with them.

  136. 136
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Except that the Golden Rule is a religiously-based moral practice.

    Oo OOh. I know that one. We say it as grace before every Funhouse meal/

    Do it unto them before the shitasses do it to you

    It’s right out of Manny’s Street Guide To Success

  137. 137
    Ecks says:

    @slightly_peeved:

    Look, science is about facts, it’s descriptive, not normative. If you want to know HOW the world works, science is your biatch. If you want to know what SHOULD happen, science has nothing to say. It’ll maybe tell you that if you put a bullet through your head you’ll stop living, but whether that is a good or a bad thing is an entirely subjective thing which no experiment or mathematical formulation could ever decide for you. *Maybe* science could show that a society organized along certain principles tends to lead to greater happiness and less depression than others, but it’s up to us to decide whether that is worth whatever other tradeoffs these society’s present.

    Like it or not, if you want to start talking about ethics you have to start making unsupported assertions like "human life is good," and "human suffering is bad." Most of us are quite comfortable with that, and happily get on with making those assertions and living by them, but a lot of the time we feel the need to justify them, cloaking them in God or in Science. Which, funnily enough, is the core of what Larison argues in the original post above.

  138. 138
    Tonal Crow says:

    @slightly_peeved: You raise many interesting points. Who knows what science will show? And certainly notions like "Liberty", "autonomy", and so forth are culturally-relative; I have never claimed otherwise.

    On tribal identities having been survival-positive over most of our evolution, I expect that’s so. I also expect that religion has been survival-positive over most of our evolution, and that that’s a primary reason that it exists. (Did I just hear a whole congregation of religionists’ heads explode?)

    But as for your implicit claim about the Golden Rule: it can be (and has been, and is) used in non-religious contexts, for purely non-religious reasons. I don’t know when, or by whom, it was first formulated, but I do know that the origin is long before Jesus (e.g., various classical Greeks, ca. > 500 BC, wrote of it), much as prohibitions on murder long predate the 10 Commandments.

  139. 139
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    nice to come to for clear and concise.

    Like the instructions say, It’s "Consistently Wrong Since 2002" but clear and concise consistently wrong.

  140. 140

    Look, science is about facts, it’s descriptive, not normative. If you want to know HOW the world works, science is your biatch. If you want to know what SHOULD happen, science has nothing to say.

    Not according to my brother, the Born Again neo-Baptist Catholic convert right winger.

    He asserts that science will find no discretionary, voluntary abortions in nature, and that this fact alone proves that the practice is immoral.

    Don’t yell at me, I didn’t make it up.

  141. 141

    @Shygetz: Um…no. Obligate mutualism occurs only when both symbiotes obtain benefit from the relationship. In the case of gestation, the parasite goes through a short, transient stage in which it has an obligate host, who happens to always be a female conspecific. The host herself obtains no direct benefits from the relationship, only the species as a whole.

  142. 142
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    The host herself obtains no direct benefits from the relationship, only the species as a whole.

    Someone is forgetting about the host getting bigger tits.

  143. 143
    Tonal Crow says:

    @tztp:

    …[A]ccording to my brother, the Born Again neo-Baptist Catholic convert right winger….science will find no discretionary, voluntary abortions in nature, and that this fact alone proves that the practice is immoral.

    He sounds like the kind of guy who’ll tell a farmer that homosexuality is immoral because it doesn’t exist in non-human animals. BTW, did you tell him that science has found no religion in non-human animals?

  144. 144

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Not all female hosts appreciate or need mammary hypertrophy.

  145. 145
    slightly_peeved says:

    @Ecks:

    I completely agree, though I’m probably not doing the best job of explaining that :). I think attempting to wrap up a morality in science is futile (apart from in empirically measuring the effect of an action), for the reasons you provided.

    I also think going around claiming morality as "rational" is doing the same thing, with the added problem that while I’ve met plenty of scientists, I’ve never met anyone who was rational about everything, all the time. As the other replies to my comment pointed out, we’ve got the Golden Rule worked out in Kindergarden, and we don’t like anyone messing with our spouses, and we generally don’t need a priest or a scientist to tell us why. Best to accept that humans are irrational and argue on that basis.

  146. 146
    TenguPhule says:

    Except that the Golden Rule is a religiously-based moral practice.

    I’m sure that "Those that have the gold, make the rules" predates every religion except possibly spiritual tribalism.

  147. 147

    BTW, did you tell him that science has found no religion in non-human animals?

    Sadly, he and I don’t talk any more.

    For each of us, I’m afraid, the experience is ….. beastly.

  148. 148
    TenguPhule says:

    science will find no discretionary, voluntary abortions in nature, and that this fact alone proves that the practice is immoral.

    South American Llamas.

    They self-abort so often that the locals use the little fetuses for damn near everything.

  149. 149
    Tonal Crow says:

    @demimondian:

    The host herself obtains no direct benefits from the relationship, only the species as a whole.

    Na. The host’s genes get propagated, which benefits her (genes). "Benefit of the species" is pretty squishy, and I believe has no recognized place in evolutionary theory; natural selection acts on individuals, kin, and possibly groups in certain circumstances.

  150. 150
    TenguPhule says:

    For each of us, I’m afraid, the experience is ….. beastly.

    Someone is going to have a cow about that.

  151. 151

    Someone is going to have a cow about that.

    We seem to be on the horns of a dilemma. Absolute udder frustration.

  152. 152
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber: Sounds like yer brother is as big a jackass as you.

  153. 153
    TenguPhule says:

    We seem to be on the horns of a dilemma. Absolute udder frustration.

    You intend to milk this for all it’s worth, don’t you?

  154. 154
    Tonal Crow says:

    @slightly_peeved:

    I also think going around claiming morality as "rational" is doing the same [futile] thing, with the added problem that while I’ve met plenty of scientists, I’ve never met anyone who was rational about everything, all the time…. Best to accept that humans are irrational and argue on that basis.

    Bah! We operate under physical and natural laws and pressures, just like other animals. What we learn about them (e.g., the origins of flocking behavior) often apply quite directly to us (e.g., the origins of crowd conduct). Understanding the natural bases behind ethics helps us understand ourselves. Not understanding them leaves us right where we’ve been since we learned how to communicate: shouting at each other.

  155. 155

    They self-abort so often that the locals use the little fetuses for damn near everything.

    Their bodies just kick out the fetus, or the animals ponder their lot and just decide one day to abort?

    My brother will need to know. He’ll say that the animals have no control over the thing. Therefore, a natural miscarriage.

    Not something that bad liberal llamas would do.

  156. 156

    Sounds like yer brother is as big a jackass as you.

    Actually, I’m taller.

  157. 157
    slightly_peeved says:

    I’m sure that "Those that have the gold, make the rules" predates every religion except possibly spiritual tribalism.

    Well, that is a religion.

    The original comment was meant to say it is moral practice that many religions espouse – therefore, a moral practice which many people follow as a religious commandment. It wasn’t meant to be taken as saying that the concept was exclusive to or created by religion, but I probably should have been more clear and less of a smart-ass when I wrote it.

  158. 158

    You intend to milk this for all it’s worth, don’t you?

    That would be pretty cheesy of me.

  159. 159
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber: What about animals eating their young? Is yer brother cool with outlawing abortion as long as mom can eat any unwanted children?

  160. 160
    slightly_peeved says:

    Understanding the natural bases behind ethics helps us understand ourselves. Not understanding them leaves us right where we’ve been since we learned how to communicate: shouting at each other.

    I’m talking about understanding ourselves.

    Part of understanding ourselves is realising that when one of us says: "I rationally decided to do X", the science actually indicates that they may not have; that they are fulfilling an instinctive need which they are later rationalizing.

    Accepting that humans are irrational is not a rejection of investigation of human consciousness; it’s a result of investigation of human consciousness. And it doesn’t necessarily lead to shouting at one another; it leads to an understanding that the person who lays out the tightest logical case won’t necessarily win the argument.

    The assumption that people are irrational is key to science; that’s the reason for peer review and empirical testing. People are irrational, so if we get many people and we do many experiments, the result might be rational.

  161. 161

    What about animals eating their young? Is yer brother cool with outlawing abortion as long as mom can eat any unwanted children?

    It’s been quite a long time since we had that conversation. Something like ten years. But my recollection is that he waffled on that one, saying that the animals were effecting territorial remediations on individuals that happened to be juvenile, and may even be their own offspring, and that somehow this made it different from abortion. Besides, I can hear him saying, the unborn animal fetus is protected by its mother, which is the common thread in nature we can point to as proof that the human discretionary abortion is unnatural and therefore wrong.

    I never got him to address the dissonance in the idea that humans are not animals in the religious view, and therefore should not be held to animal standards.

  162. 162
    Tonal Crow says:

    JSF:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber: What about animals eating their young? Is yer brother cool with outlawing abortion as long as mom can eat any unwanted children?

    Hahahaha! But a true-blue religionist will just turn around and argue that you’re immoral for holding that we should act like (other) animals. Religionists truly are amazing creatures; they can push 10 self-contradictory lines of argument before I can get out of bed, and without batting an eye.

  163. 163
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber: Seems pretty weird for a Christianist to be putting forth scientific arguments. When I have these sorts of discussions with my fundamentalist folks, they just stare at me like I’ve got three heads and then start silently mouthing a prayer. Then they tell me I really ought to speak to their youth pastor cuz he is really filled with the spirit of the lord and just loves Jesus.

    After that we play a game of canasta or catch phrase and pretend nothing ever happened.

  164. 164
    Tonal Crow says:

    @slightly_peeved:

    I’m talking about understanding ourselves. The scientific evidence is that humans are irrational.

    That badly needs qualification. The evidence is that humans are sometimes irrational, but often rational. It all depends on context.

    On peer review and the scientific method: they exist to separate discernible truth from ignorance, speculation, wishful thinking, and fraud. BTW, a scientist who fabricates results — one of the things peer review is intended to catch — might be acting perfectly rationally. He might just want to inflate his bank account, which has clear survival advantages and is, thus, quite rational.

  165. 165
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    or the animals ponder their lot and just decide one day to abort?

    It’s the same principle of Lemmings throwing themselves over a cliff when the food supply won’t support their numbers. Animals don’t make these choices, they are driven by millions of years of experience and instinct encoded in their genes. It’s hard to draw any comparisons with humans who uniquely possess the ability to make choices that are not environmentally triggered in some way. Although their environment or how they perceive it may play into the decision making, it is still a decision.

  166. 166

    Seems pretty weird for a Christianist to be putting forth scientific arguments.

    You have to know my brother. He went to St. Johns College. You think I’m a pain in the ass? Heh.

  167. 167
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @demimondian:

    Not all female hosts appreciate or need mammary hypertrophy.

    Well, yeah, when ya put it that way it doesn’t even seem appealing to me.

  168. 168
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber: @ThymeZoneThePlumber:

    You think I’m a pain in the ass?

    Oh hell no. I find you supremely entertaining when yer not screaming at everyone to get off yer thread.

    The others, however..

  169. 169

    Well, yeah, when ya put it that way it doesn’t even seem appealing to me.

    Funniest line of the thread.

    Just don’t let it go to your head.

  170. 170
    Ecks says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber:

    Ah, naturalistic fallacy. Good to see it alive and still kicking. And I bet that if you warm heartedly agree with your brother and then tell him that as nature is simply brimming with same-gendered sex (it’s found in almost all species), then that proves that homosexuality IS natural, so we should stop being squeamish about it.

    Don’t get distracted as they shuffle the standards of truth, just keep your eye on which conclusion they want to come to, that’ll steer you straight every time :)

    UPDATE: I see someone beat me to the punchline. That’ll learn me to answer first, read the rest of the comments later :)

  171. 171

    just keep your eye on which conclusion they want to come to

    Well, if the subject is my brother, the goal is to get me to accept Jesus as my personal lord and savior.

    My position on that is, in simple terms, kiss my entire ass.

  172. 172
    slightly_peeved says:

    BTW, a scientist who fabricates results—one of the things peer review is intended to catch—might be acting perfectly rationally. He might just want to inflate his bank account, which has clear survival advantages and is, thus, quite rational.

    We’re getting into definitional arguments here. Your definition of rational is based on an external observer’s view, whereas mine is based on the internal process.

    By your definition, the guy TZ had that argument with could be argued as being rational, although espousing quite contradictory ideas, if there was a survival advantage to him expressing such a contradictory argument.

    By my definition, he is being irrational because his actions are governed by instinct – to defend against a threat – rather than any process of logical reasoning.

    But if there’s one good sign of when to end an internet argument, it’s when the argument gets down to definitions. Or I guess when someone makes a comparison to Nazi Germany. So I’ll end it here.

  173. 173

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Trust me, the hosts feel much the same way about it.

  174. 174
    Ecks says:

    I think this thread is turning lactose intolerant.

    That badly needs qualification. The evidence is that humans are sometimes irrational, but often rational. It all depends on context.

    Ah, you’d be looking for Kunda, 1990 which is THE cite for motivated reasoning. The argument is that people do indeed distort their perception of the world to make themselves look better, and otherwise line up how they want it, but they’re constrained by reality in doing so. I like to think I’m funnier than I am, but I have no illusions that HBO will be calling any time soon. oh look, someone even put it online (yay google scholar). Not that I recommend this one for light reading.

    O’ course, the religious right largely escape the above, managing to more or less blow all hinges off rational constraint. The thing to read about that (and this one I DO recommend very very strongly as one of the most enlightening things you can find on the whole web) is Bob Altemeyer’s free online book about the research on Right Wing Authoritarianism. And it’s entertaining too.

  175. 175
    TenguPhule says:

    That would be pretty cheesy of me.

    Then we’d better steer clear of it.

  176. 176

    @Tonal Crow:

    The evidence is that humans are sometimes irrational, but often rational. It all depends on context.

    No. Simply no. Humans are pervasively irrational when making decisions under risk. There’s a whole literature of controlled experiments on this topic, which culminate in a proof that there’s no such thing as a utility functional (that is, a local utility function), much less a true utility function.

    Duncan Luce is the name to start with.

  177. 177

    Then we’d better steer clear of it.

    Yes, It would be hoof us.

  178. 178
    TenguPhule says:

    Yes, It would be hoof us.

    Cud it out.

  179. 179

    Yes, It would be hoof us.

    Y’all seem to be Hell bent for leather to do it anyway.

  180. 180
    TenguPhule says:

    Y’all seem to be Hell bent for leather to do it anyway.

    That’s a load of manure.

  181. 181
    slightly_peeved says:

    Yeah, I know I said I left, but I won’t continue the argument:

    I like to think I’m funnier than I am, but I have no illusions that HBO will be calling any time soon

    Though have you read "Unskilled and Unaware of it" by Dunning and Kruger? They found that people really bad at a task often think they are very good at it. It’s
    here.

    According to their research, because you are reasonably funny, you have the metacognitive skill to realize that you are not, for example, the lost member of Flight of the Conchords. Someone who is hideously unfunny might be waiting for that call from HBO. It’s hardly a definitive piece of research, but it would explain Rob Schneider.

  182. 182

    Cud it out.

    The pressure is on, I am getting cow flop sweat.

    Apparently you haven’t herd enough.

  183. 183
    Ecks says:

    The evidence is that humans are sometimes irrational, but often rational. It all depends on context.

    No. Simply no. Humans are pervasively irrational when making decisions under risk.

    ROFLMFAO.

    So, "under risk" would be… a… well, a situation context… no?

    Just something to ruminant on.

  184. 184
    TenguPhule says:

    Apparently you haven’t herd enough.

    Never let me be accused of buttering you up.

  185. 185
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @demimondian:

    Trust me

    Demi, no one trusts you like I trust you. No one. So I’ve included this link so you can be even more trustworthy in the future.

    edit: Be sure to read through to #6.

  186. 186

    That’s a load of manure.

    Oh, moo hoo. There’s no use crying over spilt milk.

    Some things are just butter left unsaid.

  187. 187
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    I do hereby declare this thread well done.

  188. 188
    TenguPhule says:

    Some things are just butter left unsaid.

    Is that a vealed threat?

  189. 189

    @Ecks: Uh…um..pretty much, yeah. No, the irony isn’t lost on me, nor on Luce.

  190. 190

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Tell ya what. Ask Mrs. Fuckhead about all that.

  191. 191
    TenguPhule says:

    I do hereby declare this thread well done.

    My reputation is at steak here.

  192. 192

    @Stuck in the Funhouse: Yeah, time to put a steak through its heart.

  193. 193
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    Some things are just butter left unsaid.

    I burger say it then.

  194. 194
    Ecks says:

    but it would explain Rob Schneider.

    Nice. Yeah, I saw the Dunning paper (and if you ever get a chance to see Dave Dunning talk, go – he’s a lot of fun). It’s a great idea, and probably true, but their data isn’t so convincing because they have problems with a ceiling effect. Here’s the thing:

    Lets imagine they’re wrong and everyone has the same tendency to inflate their abilities – we all want to claim we’re, say, 30 percentile points better than we are. So if you’re really on the 30th percentile, hey, you say you’re on the 60th, no problem. But if you’re really on the 80th? You can’t say you’re on the 110th… so you say, maybe 95th… So now low scoring people are "overestimating" their abilities by more than high scoring people. You see the problem? There’s a ceiling on how good you can say you are.

    I wonder if they ever followed it up with a better method that isn’t based on percentiles. I bet the effect really is true.

  195. 195

    @demimondian: Oh, and for clarity: all decisions are made under risk, and without complete information. That’s why the irony isn’t lost on me. "A situation" is indeed equivalent to "under risk".

  196. 196
  197. 197
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @demimondian: You win.

  198. 198
    Ecks says:

    @demimondian: As someone pointed out, it’s the difference between clinical and social psychologists. Social psychologists think that people are really easy to change, because they do all these experiments where you make some tiny change and people start electrocuting each other to death, while clinical psychologists think people are really hard to change because they spend their whole lives trying to stop people from doing messed up things, and mostly failing.

    I’m sure the truth is totally one of those extremes and nowhere in between :)

    UPDATE

    Ah, I see your "everything is under uncertainty and risk". Eh. Not so much. For all practical purposes there is little uncertainty or risk in ordering your meat-like-substance between two soggy sponges at McDonalds… You know what it is your getting and how much it will cost. Risk is a big continuum, it goes all the way from "OMSFG" to "yawn"

  199. 199
    slightly_peeved says:

    Good point. It’d be good to see a follow up. A theory on why unfunny people think they’re hilarious is sorely needed. I mean, Rob Schneider could Loin a lot just from this thread.

  200. 200
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    @demimondian: You win.

    I want a recownt.

  201. 201
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse: This ain’t yer beef, cowboy.

  202. 202
    Ecks says:

    I want a recownt.

    Bull.

  203. 203
    TenguPhule says:

    How …. tender of you.

    Don’t be a jerky.

  204. 204

    Don’t be a jerky.

    Me? That’s rare. You’re the prime example.

  205. 205
    TenguPhule says:

    Me? That’s rare. You’re the prime example.

    Are you still stewing over that?

  206. 206
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    This ain’t yer beef, cowboy.

    My sinsteer apologies.

  207. 207

    Are you still stewing over that?

    Until we get to the meat of the matter, or you stop raking me over the coals, yes.

    The fat’s in the fire now, my friend.

  208. 208

    I think this is how OJ must have felt when he realized his robbery had gone terribly wrong.

  209. 209
    TenguPhule says:

    Until we get to the meat of the matter, or you stop raking me over the coals, yes.

    You know I love to rib you, T-bone.

    The fat’s in the fire now, my friend.

    Searing as ever.

  210. 210

    Stick a fork in me, I’m done.

    One of the worcestershire experiences in my life.

    I thought I was a seasoned blogger, but I found out, I’m chopped liver.

    Good night.

  211. 211
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    The wingnuts lose their only corruptocrat foil tonight.

    La. voters oust indicted Rep. William Jefferson

    Good riddance.

  212. 212
    anonymous says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    I also expect that religion has been survival-positive over most of our evolution, and that that’s a primary reason that it exists.

    But it’s very possible that religion is an outgrowth of a sum of traits, each of which is survival-positive. Which doesn’t say religion itself is.

  213. 213
    grandpajohn says:

    On the subject of fundamentalist and abortion I found this

    Copyright (c) 1998, 1999, 2000 T.F. Barans / Word Wizards communications — all rights reserved

    The Bible is Pro-Choice

    Why are some conservative Christians, who claim the Bible as their sole moral authority, so opposed to abortion? While abortion was well known and written about in ancient Hebrew times (some in favor, some against), the BIBLE is COMPLETELY SILENT on the subject of abortion. None of these other writings, including those cited by those opposed to abortion, made it into the Bible (and citing such sources only reiterates that abortion WAS known and still unmentioned by the Bible writers).

    No specific passage in the Bible encourages or discourages abortion, although the Law of Moses specifically authorizes it in the case of a married woman impregnated by a man other than her husband (Numbers 5:12-28). Which is the way it should be left: don’t go to either extreme, to outlaw or forbid abortion (like the religious extremists) or mandate abortion (like the Communists in China on the extreme left). It should be left to each individual to decide in her own situation.

    There ARE passages in the Bible that speak of birth, conception, accidental miscarriage, pregnancy, the formation and creation of life, extremely detailed descriptions of what constitutes murder, etc., any one of which would have been a PERFECT OPPORTUNITY the Bible writers to include the simple statement that abortion is a sin, or is forbidden, or is murder, or whatever. BUT THEY DIDN’T.

    Hmmm so if the bible doesn’t specifically call abortion a sin or murder, then who did decide the christians should call it murder or a sin? Since the fundamentalist insist that the bible is to be taken literally, where is the basis for their rabid anti- abortion stance, its not found in the bible.

  214. 214
    binzinerator says:

    stuck on oogedy-boogedy

    That’s a damn fine online handle there, just waiting to be taken.

  215. 215

    […] Daniel Larison thinks it unreasonable to ask religious conservatives to put theology to one side when prescribing to the rest of us on public policy. John Cole has one response. […]

  216. 216

    […] the links you can read an interesting back and forth on the merits, and lack of merits, of using religious arguments to advocate public policy.  The gist: Here is the deal, folks. No one is saying you can not or […]

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  1. […] the links you can read an interesting back and forth on the merits, and lack of merits, of using religious arguments to advocate public policy.  The gist: Here is the deal, folks. No one is saying you can not or […]

  2. […] Daniel Larison thinks it unreasonable to ask religious conservatives to put theology to one side when prescribing to the rest of us on public policy. John Cole has one response. […]

  3. […] December 6, 2008, 3:13 pm Filed under: morality, philosophy, politics, religion John Cole responds to Daniel Larison on the issue of religious reasons in public discourse: Until social conservatives […]

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