Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Economy and Scared Little Bunnies

    Everyone who has paid the slightest attention to the recent economic turmoil knows about Fannie and Freddie; we know about the reckless, indecent, and sometimes immoral behavior that has occurred on Wall Street; we know about the “housing bubble” and its infamous pop. All of these reasons and more are responsible for the turmoil, but these have all been talked to death on every talk-show. We have also had economic reform, which, though not perfect, indicates and awareness of the practices that caused all of this. All of this information, however, is not terribly practical for the average person. The primary question is no longer what caused the turmoil, but rather why is it taking so long for it to get fixed.
     If I could stand face-to-face with these people when they asked that question, I would happily respond, “You!”, while pointing at them. The current struggle to regain what we have lost is, in many ways, a self-fulfilling prophecy of stagnation. We so often hear about Consumer Confidence Reports, which indicate how the consumers are feeling about the economy. To skip a lot of analysis, they are scared. Why are they scared? They are worried that the economy will get worse, or that it isn't recovering quickly enough. So, what do they do? They take their money out of the stock market, they don't buy luxury items, even small ones, they don't buy that new house or car, and they don't hire that promising potential employee. What is the result of all of this? Production does not recover as quickly as it could, the housing market remains soggy, unemployment stays near record level, and the stock market looks weak (which, go figure, sends confidence lower, thus making the process repeat all over again). Let's go through this again without all of the details. Consumer worried economy will falter → consumer does not buy → the economy falters.
    This frightened rabbit attitude of the average consumer is what is making theirs lives so difficult. If people would go out an get that new house or new car, buy that TV, invest in a new business, or hire that employee, we would be able to help the economy, one person at a time. Of course, there is a risk. But it is better to take a risk at improving one's position than to resign oneself to the lot one has, especially when that lot has the potential of getting worse.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thank you, Facebook

A neverending font of moronic argument full of non sequitur and ad homs.

The start of the argument: someone said that he "believes in amnesty for "illegal" immigrants... Anglo-Europeans ended up here in rather illegal ways (well, perhaps more like "un-legal"). Like it or not, English is NOT a language native to North America... it immigrated here... like our foreparents."

T, the oh-so-smart one, begins the argument:  But it is standard and every country has their own language. When in France you do not speak English without being shunned. I don't feel we should deport everyone, but they are capable of becoming legal. Simple steps. We all have rules and laws to abide by, so should they. That being said I do believe we are overpopulated and the immigration needs to stop somewhere. Maybe if they put forth the effort in their country they too could prosper?... 
I am Cherokee and German. I have many Mexican friends who are LEGAL immigrants. I lost my last two labor jobs to ILLEGAL immigrants. We took the land? Every piece of land on the planet earth was taken by someone. How far do we have to go back? If everyone would live in the present and not the past maybe we could work towards a future? My grandfather worked in steel mines. If we were a self sufficient country and quit importing cheap labor and goods and tried employing our legal residents maybe there would be less war? Maybe if illiegal aliens had to go to war to fight for the country they live so FREELY in? But the rules are different because people are afraid to offend them. Why should we speak Spanish? Because the Germans and Russians have a harder time getting here illegally?! Facts and statistics should prove to you that they are winning. And if you feel China has every right to own us, which they will by 2025, and believe its only fair? Then you should learn Chinese so you have a job not Spanish."

Me: "Interesting conversation we have going. If I provide my humble opinion. As someone who intends to be a lawyer, I must say that that which is illegal is something with which I disagree. However, as a freethinker, as a lover of Jefferson and Thoreau and Emerson and Dr. King and Lennon, some things which are illegal should not be, and some laws need to be updated. One of those includes facilitated the legalization and acceptance of those from other countries, other backgrounds, and other histories. I cannot help but agree with what Betty said about the ethnic factor involved with all of this. The simple fact is that the immigrant should not have to be here illegally, but should be welcomed into our country, the melting pot of the world which has succeeded because of the multitude of backgrounds and experiences of which we are composed.

Now to address several points that have been made. Terrie, I am sorry that you lost your job, but many people have lost more jobs to legal Americans than to illegal immigrants. Let's be blunt: illegal immigrants are not taking jobs at IBM, they aren't taking jobs at Microsoft or high ranking positions at Bank of America. They are assuming labor jobs that many do not want: working in 102 degree weather picking grapes, collecting and sorting trash. There are many Americans who are here legally who do not contribute to our economy, so if someone wants to come in and help the American economy become competitive, fantastic. China provides extremely low wages, allowing them to produce goods for extremely low prices. American good, for the same quality, cost nearly twice as much. It simply won't work.

Next you said "Maybe if illiegal aliens had to go to war to fight for the country they live so FREELY in?". No American *has* to go to war. Everyone gets the option...oh, aside from openly homosexual Americans. Should they be thrown out since they are not allowed to fight for the country they live in or do they get a free pass since our system is built on bigotry and superiority. What about when women weren't allowed in the military? I guess that means that they shouldn't have been legal citizens either, eh?

"Facts and statistics should prove to you that they are winning. And if you feel China has every right to own us, which they will by 2025, and believe its only fair? Then you should learn Chinese so you have a job not Spanish." Pure and utter fear is one of the best means of control. People said the same thing about French, then Russian, then it was Spanish, now it's Chinese. Winning? Winning what? If you are referring to the economy, then yes they are. And guess what, it isn't the liberal government that is dragging our economy down. It's the unwillingness to put our money out there and maybe allow for some cheap labor. The fact are that with illegal immigrants, the legal ones still get the best paying jobs. Look at the average income of an illegal immigrant. You couldn't survive on their year's wages for 6 months."

T: "E, i went to school for international busines with a lawyer too. i realized it is a job for scum. Your arguments are biased and based on ignorance. cheap labor does leave willing legal citizens without jobs. and while you may be afraid to get your hands dirty, i am not. besides overpopulation is the issue, not the language and most nonresident aliens have papers they legally obtained to be here. i work with them daily to assist their transition. if they wish to become doctors or biochemists, that's great they did it honestly. also, i worked for a company that save a penny per item by using child laborers in China. you praise that? don't tell me about free thinking.....i've been around a lot longer than you and your words, while well written sound like a read from fox news. i hope as a lawyer you get to represent the illegal immigrants and get paid with their cheap wages. and China becamse the second richest country this past week, and will soon be the richest. i refuse to buy anything but american made. but preach to your choir, i am bowing out of the uninformed forum of nonsense."

Me: "Wait, wait, wait, T. Did you just say *my* opinions come from Fox news? Now that's humor. Actually, Beck and Palin agree with you, not me. 

"It's a job for scum". Wow, that's kind. I know, there are no good lawyers out there. Jefferson 
was a bastard, and every single one that has ever done anything good is scum, too. Damn them all!

"...biased and based on ignorance." Well, as Tyson said, here come the ad homs. I am far from ignorant, as I always go my research before I state an opinion. Biased? Perhaps. But if you're making an argument, you are naturally biased to believe the side for which you are arguing. I am biased for the under-represented, for those who are constantly suffering abuse by those hard working Americans who refer to the immigrants as scum and trash and want them to get out. If they leave here, their family's will likely starve back home, because even the $4 an hour jobs, which no American will take, as they legally cannot, is more than they would make if they return home.

No, I don't praise the company that uses child labor, and I never said I did. However, you worked for that company, and thus helped it continue its campaign founded on blood and sweat of little children. On the upside, those children are providing money for their families and helping them survive. It's horrible but true. And you worked for them, not me.

"don't tell me about free thinking.....i've been around a lot longer than you and your words" Actually, the majority of the words I used are older than you, and age does not make you right. Age does not always make you wise. Just because you've been around longer does not mean that you've practiced freethinking or currently do.

"i'm just a rude little bitch with an education." I find this interesting. Rude, yes. Bitch, some might say. Your writing and frequent attacks in the ad hom fashion do not give justice to your education, however. Now, I am not calling you stupid, I am saying that you are not acting as one of you age and education more than likely should. I am much younger than you and still behave in a more dignified fashion.

By the way, I feel inclined to mention that not a single point you made addressed my argument or supported yours. It was all non sequitur of "I'm older, educated, and you're dumb", which, though a frequent tactic by master-thinkers of our day, such as Glenn Beck, does not justify your position.

"i'll just sit back and laugh now" The classic final actions of one who does not like having to defend his views. "I'm done, you're dumb. I'm right, you're wrong." See how I just made myself look good? Now, if I don't respond to your argument, it's not because I'm outclassed, it's because I'm better! I wish that my education in argumentation, international politics, and debate allowed be such an easy maneuver, but it doesn't. It requires that I actually attempt to coherently state my case without resorting to logical fallacies and personal attacks."

T: " hahahahahahahahahahahahaha
haha!! no, really hahahahahah!!!! you'll make a great lawyer :)...
you do not even know who i really am, but i got you going and it made my day! your post is now part of my blog, would you like the address?"

Me: " If you'd like mine where your rants are, T."

This is, if nothing else, an example of how to argue and how not to argue. I leave it to you to guess which is which.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

F*ck Hope

Interesting thought process here.

I was just watching The Neverending Story, and one of the characters says "People who have no hopes are easily controlled, and he who has the control has the power."

I couldn't help but relate this to modern politics. Obama campaigned on Hope, and the Tea Party seems to disagree with everything he says, wanting to stay stagnant.

George Carlin once offered a slogan for uber-conservatives: "F*ck hope".

Perhaps Gmork knew this best. Maybe taking away hope for a better future, filling the people's heads with delusions that the past was some grand and perfect device that Hope has destroyed, has made these people easily controlled. And he who has the control (Beck, Rush, Palin) does have the power.

Our Founding Fathers Wanted America to be Christian! (Well, not really)

No fancy rants here, folks. Plain and simple:

"The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion" from the Treaty of Tripoli signed by John Adams and often attributed to George Washington.


Response to the Facebook Argument: Militant Atheism

I think Unreasonable Faith posted a comic that summed the entire argument up perfectly.

Unreasonable Faith


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Another Facebook Argument: Radical Religion vs. Radical Atheism

No commentary is needed. Here's the transcript. Leave your comment to add to the conversation.

Yes, radical atheism is equally as evil as radical christianity. Its why I'm a negative atheist and not a positive atheist like dawkins

James, I wouldn't necessarily agree that radical atheism is equally as "evil" as radical Christianity. I wouldn't even necessarily agree with either being morally "evil". But, were we to replace the word "evil" with "dangerous", I still would not agree. Atheism has not created events like The Spanish Inquisition. Even atheism such as Dawkins's would not result in that. This is not a battle-cry you would often hear: "You must not believe in anything!"

It fits the definition of evil perfectly. It is a perversion of a philosophical or religious view that manifests itself in a manner than causes harm to the society around it. For instance, with radical evangelical christianity you have countless examples of the belief system being used as a tool of suppression throughout history. In the modern age however, both radical atheism and radical religion generally functions as a method of challenging social rules and laws to unbalance the system in their own favor. E.g. Faith based initiatives and reinterpretation of the first amendment. 

Its pretty unfair to compare the two side by side in the manner you are doing. Religion has the disadvantage of existing in a time period that is much bloodier than any other age and existing as an organized force for much longer. I wouldn't even consider atheism an organized force even today. 

A religious action will always be viewed as religious because its action has a active modifier. Atheistic actions have the advantage of merely being secular and not associated with atheism. 

In the modern age both are equally as evil. Ancient comparison where an equal form never existed is a straw man if there has ever been one.

Actually, atheism has been around as religion has. Do you really think everyone on the planet always believed in a god? And the comparison is not unfair. You say that it is something that "causes harm to the society around it". What harm has atheism truly caused? A shaking up of the status quo? I am not asking this as a method of disproving your assertion, but rather asking you to back up your assertion.

You just misrepresented my entire argument. Notice how I clearly am talking about their ideologies as an organized movement. Atheism is that regard is very, very modern.

Radical atheism has abridged freedom of religion by instigating a campaign of legal terrorism that limits the free expression of alternative beliefs. Because of the legal force behind radical organized atheism, government is erring on the side of safety instead of the side of preserving the maximum of free expression.

I myself am an atheist, so its not like I'm pro religion. Radical atheism however seeks to undermine religious protection. For instance the right for Muslims to be excused to pray was argued as unfair by radical atheism as there wasn't a secular alternative. Etc etc.

The modern form of radical ideology is supression not aggression.

Also the linguistic advantage atheism has is absurd. Religious acts are religous always whereas atheism isn't bound and is redefined as secular. Thus all non secular acts are relgious where all non religious acts are not religious. This makes comparison hard at best.

Well, there have been ancient atheist ideologies that were clearly organized, but oh well.

Actually, in the cases that I can think of, the attempt of the atheists was towards equality. "One nation under God" does not represent all of America. The most recent example I can think of with the cross put up on park land by the VFW has many problems: it was public land and a Buddhist shrine was not allowed to be built. This clearly shows favoritism. And do you honestly think that any atheist organization wields as much legal force as the Catholic Church?

I understand your position, but I feel you are misinterpreting intentions. There are not attempting to destroy protection of religion but rather to enforce protection from religion. The example you give is obviously absurd and I disagree with it absolutely, but I also know very few others who agree with it. That is beyond radical atheism and would be better classified as stupid. Forcing praying, on the other hand, should be argued against.

Atheism is secular, in the sense that it is not religious. Additionally, atheism has no dogma or proscribed activities, thus there cannot truly be atheistic activities, unless everything not involving a religious is declared as such. Oh well.

Ok give me one that was politically active. As far as I can recall there was never an active influential atheist based kingdom. You can't just say "nuh uh" and expect that to hold as an argument. The closest I can think of was the Stoicist movement which wasn't really politically active. Pretending there have been equal representation through history is simply wrong.

One nation under god is a great example of ridiculousness. I have absolutely no issue with it existing as a representation of historical discourse. It is not supressive in any fashion. Its about as supressive as the language of the Declaration of Independence. The VA case was legit. Its the other cases involving christmas displays that are silly. Yes atheism, for its size, has a powerfully unbalanced legal power and influence.

Forced prayer is equally as stupid and non-representational of religion. Hence the radical stupidness of both sides are equally as bad. You can't dismiss away radicalism on one side as stupid without doing so for the other side. The movement I have issues with are atheists cases and threats of legal action against community who hold christmas parades and put up nativity scenes or help fund religious adoption centers. I have no issue with government helping with the government facilitating with the celebration of a religion as long as equal access is given to other religions as well in terms of representational help.

That is the advantage of atheist discourse as opposed to religion. You are trying to compare an organized dogmatic system to a nonorganized un-dogmatic system. Hence comparison will always be skewed and unfair to one. Thanks for proving my point.

You never said the organization had to be politically active. I repeat, you never listed that as a requirement And I am not simply saying "nuh uh". Here are some examples: Lokayata in India and the teachings of Democritus.

What "historic discourse" does that phrase represent? The phrase has been there for 56 years. Lots of history, huh? And I never said it was suppressive, I simply said that it was not representative. I personal say the phrase when reciting the pledge, but it cannot be denied that it does not represent America holistically.

Odd that you accuse me of misrepresentation when you seem to be doing it often. I never said that radical atheism wasn't stupid. I am arguing against your use of the word "evil" or "dangerous". I also would not say attempting to battle things through the legal system are "evil" actions. Sorry. I do want to be a lawyer.

I won't deny that atheism and religions are on different spheres, but that did not prove your point. Your initial point involved calling it "evil". You still have not proven that. And you won't.

I make it very clear that the method of the modern age is supression through governmental intervention. Plus any analysis of religions evils must be done politically. That's really basic sociology right there. Power structures are always political in nature. That's the standard all academic thought on power systems is based upon, excluding some very outlying systems that you and I aren't using. For instance all the issues you take with religion have a political modifier. So I'm perplexed why you think you've gained any kind of ground by trying to so I'm switching standards when its clear I am not.

Yep its been part of america for a good 20% of the nations existence, does not specify a religion, and does not mandate prayer to a diety and no one is compelled to say the pledge nor is anyone punished for leaving it out. 

Nothing represents all of america. There are vegitarians who want meat consumption outlawed. Not doing so excludes their views in the system, doing so excludes carnivores. Removing the phrase is not something all americans want, not removing the phrase is not something all americans want. Neither are holistic. At that point you go off of reasonable harm. As money and monuments have had references to religion as did the declaration, the arguments for comparative harm are silly at best.

I define evil very plainly. I also explain why things down to manipulate the legal system as a form of oppression is bad. You never really answer any of my arguments. I too plan on doing law. However, I differ from you insofar as I see both radical atheism and christianity abusing the adversarial system to their advantage. Changing laws to gain an advantage over another worldview is in fact a corrosive method which by definition is evil.

I've very clearly proven my points. You haven't answered the majority of anything I've said and all you have done is make claims to the effect of, "I'm right and you can't prove me wrong" and not really responding to anything.

BTW Lokayarta was fine with rape and sexual abuse as sensual indulgence as fine. In fact it highly encouraged it as women were not equal in discourse (found in the Sarva-darsana-samgraha) or logic. Seriously, that's one of the worst examples you could have chosen. It shows that sexism and abuse are universal to humans, not inspired by religion itself.

Democritus (and his mentor) were philosophers who didn't really even spark influential movements. Its like me pointing to x random christian scholar and going, "SEE HE IS FAIR THUS RELIGION IS FAIR". People are never synecdoche, that's another basic logical fallacy.

I am not attempting to gain any advantage by saying so, I am simply stating that you never before stated that a political association was a requirement. You also state that all of religion's evils are slightly political in nature; I, however, disagree. For example, the issue with Catholic priests is not political, but I would say it is evil. 

No, it does not specify a religion, but it alienates a great deal: Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Atheism, Humanism, etc. It's true that it is, in most cases, not a requirement to recite the pledge, but it is America's pledge. You have to recite it to become an American citizen. Should not something like that represent America as holistically as possible?

Your vegetarian example is fallacious. No one has meat eating representing America, it simply occurs within America. Going to church occurs in America, but no one is trying to outlaw going to church. The *removing* of the phrase may not represent everyone, but the pledge, upon having the phrase removed, *does* represent everyone. 

I take exception with your definition of evil, by the way. I associate murder, torture, and oppression of people as bad. And before you get all excited that I said "oppression", allow me to clarify something. The radical atheists, even if I were to grant you that they are attempting to oppress (which I won't), are doing so within the legal structure. Radical religion has used violence, terror, hate, and forced oppression. Again, even if I were to accept that radical atheism fits your definition of evil (which I won't), the two are beyond compare in terms of evil. Religion wins every time. Murder and torture vs. legal action. Hmmm... You want me to respond to your claim? The one example you have so far provided about atheism oppressing, the example about praying not being allowed because there is no secular alternative, it an alienated example of an oppressive attitude. You have so far not provided proof for a oppressive attitude on the part of the radical atheists. Wanting there not to be religious mention in public and government property is not oppressive-- it is egalitarian. Do I believe that the tombstones at Arlington Cemetery should be allowed to have crosses? Absolutely. Do I think courts should have monuments of the Ten Commandments? No.

With the Lokayata example, I was not using them as an example of goodness, but rather an example of ancient atheist organizations. Most people in 7th century India, by the way, were okay with those things. I also agree that sexism and abuse are not alienated to religion. Certain modern religions, however, make sexism dogma. Atheism, casual or radical, does not.

Again, I did not bring up Democritus to show the goodness of atheism, but rather the existence of ancient groups. This also includes Epicurus. And though Democritus did not spark a large following, he did still have a following with "an organized movement".

The catholic priest sandal has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with individual perversion. That's like saying murder is the fault of the democrats being in power. Sure they could pass strict laws and be invasive with their power, but the fact is, is that people still commit crime no matter who is in office. Same goes for whether you are atheist or religious. That example was silly at best, and betrayed your overt prejudice at worst.

You just alienated buddhism...most who follow it believe in a diety. You should open a text before you try to represent a religion. 

Shintoism isn't a religion, its a native spirituality. Most Shinto followers are in fact buddhist as shintoism deals with life and buddhism deals with death... beyond that shinto accepts the divine. I mean...it means the way of the gods...

Hinduism believes in a unified diety on the ultimate plane of reality.

Sure it doesn't represent atheism or secular humanism. However, neither does the declaration of independence, does that mean somehow the document is exclusionist because it references a diety? Assuming so is silly. Its already holistic. They also have to sign a document that says they agree with the declaration. Plus they can omit the phrase if they want. Further, what if people disagree with a pledge as a form of forced worship of a symbol and thus idol worship? Which some do. Do we err on the side of caution, or when do we just call some things stupid.

Again you should brush up on your religion.

Hitler used the legal system...thus his oppression was ok. See what I did there. Assuming legal neutrality is dumb.

Onto your analysis. I don't designate in levels of evil. Evil is evil is evil. All you have said is "Ahhhh sensationalized islamic hate!", without understanding its reason for existing. Secular societies attempts to forcibly modernize (mainly the atheistic soviet union) created neo-kharijitism. 

I think this argument is dumb so since you are already doing it, I have to answer. Considering radical islam to be a product of religion is like considering mao and stalin to be the voice of atheism. Both examples are examples of cults of personality, where a single individual warps people into following their banner. If you want to claim radical islam, then religion gets to call stalin and mao's purges on you.

Atheism for the longest time was very elitist. They only indocrinated elite wealthy members into their enlightened clubhouse. As religion was for the poor. Don't pretend atheism is clean.

You still haven't shown any organized athiestic group that rivaled the size of any major religious player.

Your arguments need some fine tuning. You still seem to be in your angry atheist phase. You'll grow out of it.

" The catholic priest sandal has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with individual perversion." Seriously? You don't think it has anything to do with the position of power that the priest has, the threats of damnation towards the child if he or she does not submit, and the requirement of chastity? Those don't even factor in? Because if they factor in at all, then you are wrong that all of religion's evils are political. I can also come up with a few more examples, such as the Catholic Church saying that condoms should not be issued in Africa. Now, I am sure you will say that is political, and it may have political aspects, but what you said was "*any* analysis of religions evils *must* be done politically". That is simply false.

"You just alienated buddhism...most who follow it believe in a diety. You should open a text before you try to represent a religion." I have. My father is Buddhist. Buddhists may, though are not required to, believe in a supernatural power, but it is not often addressed as God. And also, you admitted something here, though you may not have realized it at the time. "Most who follow it believe in a deity (I corrected the spelling for you)". That means that some do not. Again, the pledge does not include all.

"Shintoism isn't a religion". That depends on whose qualification you go by. According to most scholars, including but not limited to, William James (religion is “the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine"), Tylor, Freud, Marx (religion is an illusion divorced from reality), Durkheim, and Geertz (religion is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic), Shintoism is a religion. All of these websites agree:http://www.religionfacts.com/shinto/index.htm --http://www.religioustolerance.org/shinto.htm --http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Shinto/index.aspx

Whether or not we agree that it is a good idea or not to remove the phrase "under God" is honestly a non-sequitur. What is important is asking whether or not the attempt to remove it is "oppressive" or "evil". I do not see how an attempt to make your country all-inclusive through legal action (not violence or dogma or threats of damnation) can qualify. I cannot see how you can honestly throw killing and removing two words from a pledge into the same category, since you are unwilling to distinguish between varying degrees.

"you should brush up on your religion." I'm a Religious Studies major at WashU, thank you for playing.

"Hitler used the legal system...thus his oppression was ok. See what I did there. Assuming legal neutrality is dumb." Poor argument. He assumed control of the legal system and dissolved its fundamental principles, such as murder = bad, in order to suit his goals. The same cannot be said for radical atheism. And, by the way, does Gott mit uns sound familiar?

Actually, for clarification, I never said anything about Islam. I was focusing on Christianity when I was talking about sexist dogma, specifically Catholicism -- the whole no female priest thing. Also orthodox Judaism, where the men and women are separated in the synagogue. In fact, I believe that Islam, per se, specifically the Qur'an, is more peaceful than the Bible. Do not assume you know the argument that I am making and attempt to destroy it before I have made it. Strawman. 

"Atheism for the longest time was very elitist. They only indocrinated elite wealthy members into their enlightened clubhouse. As religion was for the poor. Don't pretend atheism is clean." Atheism does not have indoctrination. There may have been societies that were atheistic that had indoctrination, but you don't need anyone's approval to be an atheist. Don't believe that God exists? Congratulations, you're an atheist. No further tests needed. Also, I am not saying that atheism is "clean", but rather than it is not "evil".

"You still haven't shown any organized athiestic group that rivaled the size of any major religious player." I never claimed I could or would. I said that atheistic organizations have existed just as long and theistic ones. I never said that they rivaled in size, though the American Atheist Association has quite a large support group.

The "you'll grow out of it" is an ad hominem and you should be ashamed for using it, though you have used several in an attempt to bandage your wounds. Your argument has fallen apart at the seams and you cannot even consistently define your own terminology. Your refusal to see varying degrees of evil appears to be simply because it's not convenient. The phrase "lesser of two evils" did not come out of nowhere.

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Rapture Ready", Not Logic Ready

Ladies and gentlemen, if you have not seen or heard about this website, consider yourselves lucky. "Rapture Ready" (RR) is a well-known Christian forum full of Millennialists. In case you don't know, a Millennialist is "someone who thinks that the end of the world is at hand, that it will come with terror and destruction, and that a small group of the 'elect' will be saved from it by being taken directly into heaven. Millennialists typically speak of the destruction of their oppressive and cruel enemies, of salvation from this coming destruction by the miraculous return of a seemingly dead savior figure, and they usually believe that this will happen very soon...” (Keith Ward, “Understanding Biblical Teaching About the Coming of Christ in Glory”)

To put it very, very lightly, these people are scary. To be more accurate, these people are terrifying to the extent that I fear interacting with my fellow Man. I cannot take you through the entire website to show you this, though I invite you to do so. However, I feel I can show you all what I mean with a quick look at the rules of this website. Shall we?

[01] No Inappropriate language or pictures of cursing, cussing, foul, rude, crude words, or materials, including websites or videos. No slang such as OMG, Geez, Sheesh, etc...

Okay, this isn't so bad. I understand not cursing and not wanting annoying internet slang. Though I don't understand the 'Sheesh' one.

 No blasphemy of the Holy Spirit in mocking God, His character, or using God's name in vain. God is referred to as God and/or Jehovah, Yahweh, etc.... When discussing Allah we refer to the Muslim god, not the Jewish/Christian God of the Old and New testament.

I understand not wanting to take God's name in vain. Fine. But I find it interesting that the website requires the distinction between the 'Muslim' and 'Jewish/Christian' God. In fact, this figure is known as the Abrahamic God, regardless of whether it is address Islam, Judaism, or Christianity. Oh, by the way, did you notice that the word 'God' is not capitalized after the word 'Muslim'? Interesting, eh? 

 Defend the Faith and God's infallible Word, not the ways of the world, homosexuality, liberalism, socialism, false translations, false theologies, Mysticism, or deceptive cults and other heresies. We believe in only one true gospel of saving grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone in His shed blood for our atonement, Old Testament looked forward to God's provision of the sacrifice, New Testament looks back to God's provision of the sacrifice. Do not promote, two gospels, hyper Dispensationalism, Arminianism, hyper-Calvinism, nor other ideologies of religious legalism. Do not play 'devil's advocate' for the sake of argument.

Let me tell you what to believe. Oh, and don't attempt to increase our logical understanding by playing devil's advocate, probably because it involves the word 'devil'. I like how homosexuality and liberalism are here.

Okay, these aren't that crazy. Let's find some freshly made nutcakes!

No liberal left wing political agendas, pacifism, socialism, libertarianism, fascism, scientism, Tax Dodging, Anti-American Conspiracies, Anti-War Propaganda, or that the United States is Israel or Mystery Babylon. No "Financial Fear and panic, store ammo and cans" threads stressing America is going down the tubes and Jesus is leaving us stranded. No plotting to overthrow the American government. No Conspiracy theories such as FEMA camps....Practice your faith through prayer trusting God always providing our needs and never forsaking us. Hebrews 13:5 Psalms 37:25

Ah. There we go. So, no being a democrat. That's a bad democrat! As a matter of fact, you're also not allowed to think, contemplate, be logical, or make your own conclusions. Is there any way that we could turn you into a mindless drone controlled by an ancient book filled with evil, contradictions, and fantasy in order to control you to do what we like and give us your money? There is? How? Religion, huh?

There was a guy who was recently removed from RR because of his violation of this rule, along with others. Do you want to know what he said? He said that he agreed that homosexuals should be able to have the right to see their loved ones while in the hospital, because he viewed it as a human right. That bastard.

 No dispensing of medical or financial advice on the board. We realize that at times you need a second opinion concerning ailments and prescription medications or monetary budgeting, but this is something you should receive from your doctor or financial adviser, not from people (strangers) online. Consult your local doctor for medical advice or an emergency response team for any serious condition. And consult your own personal financial adviser for financial decisions. Rapture Ready is not responsible for failure in not following this simple guideline.

No medical or financial. Nothing practical, you know. But, we can tell you how to live your life, how to get into heaven, how to get to Hell, and play judge and jury.

 Do Not Judge In An Unrighteous Manner - Determining that someone is less of, or not truly a Christian because of a perceived lack of spiritual gifts, worship style, observance or non-observance of holidays, divorced or remarried, political affiliation, not voting for a specific candidate, dressing a certain way, believing in free will, experiencing various trials, or because someone who confesses they are saved by grace through faith in Christ, is not judging righteously. All members are encouraged to examine and judge doctrine in light of Biblical truth, but their eternal salvation is judged only by Jesus Christ. (John 7:24Matthew 7:1-2John 5:25-29,I Corinthians 4:5)

I included this one just because of the wording. "Do Not Judge In An Unrighteous Manner". You are, however, still allowed to judge in a righteous manner. Also, do not judge whether or not someone is less of a Christian than you, but please feel free to judge those damned Atheists, scientists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Scientologists. After all, those Scientologists are crazy! Their whole religion is based off a fictional book and involves and aliens an spirits that live inside us. Ours, on the other hand, is also based off of a book and involves an invisible, flying, Jewish zombie and a land of eternal fire where our loving father will send us if we work on Sunday.

 No posting in foreign languages. This is an English speaking board, please communicate in English, type proper english with correct letters, use a dictionary when necessary. Greek and Hebrew words are an exception for clarifying scripture. Any other foreign words must be associated with their definition. Informal writing is allowed.

"type proper english..." By the way, English is capitalized. God bless irony.

 No Cultic material

Aside from Christianity, of course.

 No statements supporting renewed (Inter-spirituality) - the blending of contemplative prayer and uniting of all religions (Ecumenism) including any suggestions the church needs a mystical (Emerging/Emergent) myth Gospel, that Jesus Christ is not the only way to salvation, or the Interfaith beliefs that all religions and faiths lead to heaven (Universalism), or any other universalistic concepts of "salvation" (that all the sincere find heaven) are usually regarded as "finding the god within you," (Panentheism) and god is in everything (Pantheism).
The Admin team reserves the right to determine what constitutes ecumenical emergent teachings and promotions.

No tolerance! I refuse to let you express tolerance. I am right and you are wrong. That's it! How do I know I am right? Well...look over there! What could that be?! (Runs away to avoid presenting a coherent argument)

I present a challenge to all theists of a particular religion. Prove to me that Pastafarianism is undeniably wrong in a way that cannot also be used to disprove yours. I will pay you $20. I'd offer more, but it doesn't make much of a difference.

[32] This board fully supports 
Israel occupying the Middle East, Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount area. Posts in support of Islam, the Muslim religion, or factitious Palestinian rights are not tolerated. The world nations are against Israel because the world system is under Satan's control. Posts against Israel defending herself are not tolerated.

Wait, politics? You're saying what politics your members must support (or if not support, cannot vocally oppose)?

The world nations are against Israel? Actually, more support Israel than oppose it. Under Satan's control. Right. Absolutely. I see what you mean now.

[33] No posts supporting 
issues on pacifism: Continuous wars will exist on this planet until the Prince of Peace establishes His Kingdom on earth, and only after a great and bloody war that Jesus Himself will wage against His enemies. Laws and governments (with armies) are established to restrain evil, if left unrestrained, evil would take overtake peaceful countries, including "pacifists". "Pacifist Christians" would be persecuted, oppressed, slaughtered... Romans 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that practices evil. With this issue settled, pacifist ideals and liberal positions, which are weakening this country, are not necessary nor allowed on this board.

I just have to say, I had to put my computer down upon reading this for fear of breaking it in my convulsions of laughter. This line of thought completely goes along with the aforementioned definition of Millennialist. People have been saying this for a very, very long time.

Let's break some of this down. "Laws and governments are established to restrain evil". False. The Third Reich (wait, the Jews, handicapped, and Gypsies are evil), the Khmer Rouge, Stalin's Soviet Union, etc. What evil did these governments attempt to restrain?

If this line of logic were to hold true, the level of militancy in a country would have an inverse relationship to the amount of "evil" in that country. Since I don't know what "evil" is supposed to mean, I will substitute this word with "crime". However, seeing as how America is one of the most militant countries, we can see that is not true. Other countries which have banned the individual citizens from possessing any weapons are much more peaceful.

Yes, pacifists are weakening this country. Was our country better off before we entered Iraq and Afghanistan or are we better now? Be honest. That's what I thought.

I encourage make your own decisions, and you are welcome to do so about Rapture Ready. However, in my not humble opinion, these people are crazy, possibly clinically. To give a final few pieces of evidence, allow me to quote some posts on RR that have not been deleted, and thus are acceptable:

"Climate Change is a religion and it's holy sacrament is Abortion."

"Hubby and I both bawl all day long!!!

Hubby says that while he is working (he owns his own paint contracting company), and starts to think about Jesus and His return and the tears start to flow. Or while He is saying the Lord's Prayer, he breaks out in tears. He says he sobs when thinking about Jesus' return and seeing Him face to face. He says also when he remembers certain passages, like John 14:6, "Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

I too have been breaking down in tears and literally sobbing. My heart is overwhelmed and it is overflowing with the love that Jesus has for me. I can barely listen to a song that praises Jesus without bawling. Reading the Bible yesterday had me in tears. Reading some of the threads on this board make me break down.
But I think it is because the Holy Spirit is quickening our hearts. He is talking to us, now - more than ever and is calling us home. He is warning us and preparing us. Jesus IS coming. I think the entire Bride has heard His voice. He is giving us the urgency of the imminent return of Jesus for His Bride, and how important it is that we witness to as many as we can.

These tears are tears of joy IMHO. We long to be with our Father, and our Father has given us this yearning. I can only imagine that God is looking around the place that Jesus is/has prepared for us and is making sure everything is perfect. God is ready to tell His Son to, "Go get your Bride"!!!!

It won't be long now. Shout it from the rooftops!! Jesus is coming soon. He is Lord and Master and is getting ready to show Himself like never before!!!

Come Lord Jesus!!!"

"That's the beauty of Heaven... we can leave our brains behind."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Our Language is two or more standard deviations away from the average IQ score of 100.

I recently got into a debate with some one online about the use of the word "retarded" as an insult: I believe that the word is acceptable to be used, though it may offend, while my opponent disagreed. Here is the transcript of our conversation (along with the moderator's), with all names being altered with the exception of my own:

Ms. Y: That's insanity!! The use of the word "retard" is wrong, no matter what context, unless the use is clinical. You would think a mother of a child with special needs would feel as strongly about it as anyone else. How dare she excuse it at all, much less in one place and criticize the other. Maybe one day she'll remove her head from her butt.

Ethan: Hmmmm, I kind of disagree. The words "stupid", "moron", and "idiot" were clinical terms as well, yet we use them as a description. Let's not forget the use of the word "gypped", which has racist roots, but we use it. A word is just a word, the intention is what makes it evil, neutral, or good. I could make the word "bread" evil if I tried.

Moderator: hmmmm...I kind of disagree with your kinda disagree. Many words have been used historically that most of us would be uncomfortable using in most circumstances...the "N" word and the "K" word (for Jews) being the two that come to mind first...yet cultural sensitivity and caring about other peoples feelings make these words inappropriate (most of the time).

Ms. Y: Oh Ethan, I do see your point but I also have to disagree with your disagreement. Mentally Retarded is a clinical term and is defined as two or more standard deviations away (lower than) from the average IQ score of 100. It's a recognized classification of disability. Much like the racist terms that make my stomach churn even thinking of them, using the word retard, or a form of the word, is wrong, unless it's a clinical diagnosis. Using the word retard as a descriptor of anyone/anything is just as offensive as the slurs that have the potential to see legal prosecution under hate crimes.

Ethan: I can appreciate from where your arguments stem, however I subscribe to the George Carlin view of words being innocent and the meaning being guilty. For a simple example, people often use the word lame to describe something that is disliked, however the word lame can also mean disfigured or crippled. However, the meaning is different. Also a number of my gay friends use the word gay in the same fashion as lame. I am also an egalitarian and think it is illogical and discriminatory for society to approve of one group using a word and condemn it for another. That is the definition of discrimination. Finally to you, Moderator. Your examples of those two words is not a good comparison. The original and nearly sole intent of those words is hate and discrimination, while the word retarded is not. If you wish to make a comparison the juxtaposed words should actually be comparable beyond the fact that they are composed of letters.

Ms. Y: George Carlin had many valid points, I'm a fan of his. Words are innocent and the meaning is guilty, then where exactly does that put using the word retard (or any other you see fit)? I'm all for freedom of speech (thought I'd throw that inthere before you attempt to use it against me) but when in life has it become okay to say and do whatever you like because you adopt famous people's views of language? We were not created to be and operate as islands. We are all interconnected and have been created to serve one another. Where exactly does using any word in a slanderous way move the Kingdom forward? When did we stop caring about others? When did it become "cool" and "a right" to insult one another? When did philosophy adopting give us the perspective that words don't hurt? Keep trying Ethan. OH, and Ethan, can you explain to me exactly how calling someone a retard is not discriminatory and hateful? Just wondering....

Ethan: Okay. First of all, the reason I cited George Carlin was not to say "Hey, someone famous said it, therefore I am right." It was more to give an example so I didn't have to explain the whole thing here on Facebook. The entire point of his statement is as follows: those who get offended at the word X, which they believe has the implication of Y, areoffended by the definition, not the word itself. So, when the definition is different, offense should not be found. I was under the impression that English was one of those cool languages where words could have multiple definitions. I am not denying that people take offense, as that is quite evident in the fact that we are having this conversation. Now, I shall try to go through my points sequentially so I don't lose my path: 1) You are correct, we are not islands, and we thrive through social interactions. However, social interaction is a two-way street. It is not simply, "I'll say I'm offended, and you will stop what I say offends me." It involves give and take from both sides, such as people working on not getting offended at things that have no offensive intention whatsoever. 2) "We ...have been created to serve one another." I could see using this mentality as a justification for slavery. And I will not agree with this statement for many reasons, not the least of which is "created". 3) As for your question about how this moves us forward, I would like to do a little thought experiment about where the path of politically correct censorship leads, and I can't help but see Orwell's Double Speak at the end of the tunnel. 4) Words can hurt. Any word can hurt. But words are simple devices for conveying a definition, a larger concept. Thus, with words that have multiple definitions, a single word can convey many different concepts; only in cases such as this are all of the definitions connected no matter what the intended implication. A thought comes to mind: the word retard does have other uses, ie. "Don't retard the process." Is this sentence acceptable? It does not use the definition of "a generalized disorder, characterized by significantly impaired cognitive functioning...", nor does it follow the definition of "an insult to describe some one acting in an illogical way". 5) Finally, can I explain how calling someone a retard is not discriminatory or hateful? Yes. First of all, do physicians still use the word "retard" to describe someone with "a generalized disorder, characterized by significantly impaired cognitive functioning"? If YES: Then the word is not always used to discriminate. If NO: Then the word is not used clinically to describe those with "impaired cognitive functioning", and thus is free for other definitions. Regardless of which is true, the discriminatory and hateful senses of a word comes from its definition, its implication, a sentiment that you agreed to in your previous post. Thus, if the word is used with no intention of hate, no intention of discrimination, then it is not hateful.

You told me to keep trying. I will.

Moderator: I don't find words themselves insulting...but when a word used to describe one group is used to insult another then it's as if we are saying the characteristics of the first group are inferior and therefore to say you are like them is an insult. Using the word Jew to describe me is fine...saying to someone else that "you jewed me" (meaning took financial advantage of) is saying to be like a Jew is bad and therefore I'm using it to insult you and insulting me at the same time...it's the use of the word...when both Limbaugh and Emmanuel used the word "retard" they said you are behaving like a person with a particular disability and therefore it's an insult to both the person it was used against and the people it refers to. It is, of course, ok to hurl an insult at someone, but I don't think it's ok to implicate, and potentially hurt others, while hurling it.

Ms. Y: Ethan, our philosophies on creation are not important here, so you're right, we need not go into that. I respect whatever your belief on that is. However, serving one another is far different then enslaving. You're a young boy and as you grow and mature that definition will become much broader than a likeness to slavery. Serving one another in love has absolutely nothing to do with slavery. 
George Carlin did have a point, but it's not the only point and it's not entirely correct. Let's remember: he made his living doing comedy, not matter how timely his comic routines may have been.
Your alternate definition of the word retard also has no bearing on this discussion as the use is correct but completely unrelated to humans or human behavior. There are also flame retardent clothing. Also, no bearing here.
People who are classified anywhere on the scales of mental retardation, which yes-is still a diagnosed disability, not "impaired cognitive functioning", that would be a definition, not a diagnosis present with many challenges. When that is used to insult another, it is insulting both sides.

The moderator did a fantastic job of saying exactly what the rest of my argument was going to be, so I don't feel I need to say it all again.

Ethan:  ...I have stated it before, I am not using George Carlin as an appeal to authority; I don't know why you keep saying that I am. I was taught in school to cite people, maybe I was wrong. 

1) Now, the most important concept we have to keep in mind is something known as the Euphemism Treadmill, where words and titles constantly change in an attempt to reduce offense: retard was a replacement designed to reduce offense. One of the key principles to this concept is that if a word has both a neutral meaning and a negative meaning, the negative meaning will eventually win out at the word will become taboo.
2) Also, you both seem very focused on the etymology of the word retarded being used as an insult, where it came from. It is true that the original intent of the word as an insult was to associate the person being insulted with someone who was clinically retarded. However, that is no longer the intention. At all. By saying someone is retarded, the person is not attempting to use the word that is labeled to one group and throw it on another. That is not the point. That is a different definition. We are also not attempting to say that some materials have "two or more standard deviations away (lower than) from the average IQ score of 100", because the definition is different. Whether you would like to admit it or not, the definition used as an insult is different in the mind of the user.
3) This brings me to my next point: the difference between "being offensive" and "taking offense". You have a choice to be offended. You have a choice in whether or not you get mad. No one makes you angry, you get angry. It is you, not me. Maybe the malfunction lies with those who take offense, not those who use the word.
4) Frequent usage of a word separates it from its origin. A quick example: "God bless you". Now, if I am an atheist and someone tells me after I sneeze "God bless you", it would be illogical of me to take offense because the person does not literally mean "I hope that my God bless you and helps you". Though the original intention of the phrase did involve a God literally blessing someone, that is no longer the case, much as it is no longer the case that someone using the word retarded is associated with "two or more standard deviations away (lower than) from the average IQ score of 100". Another example: "Eric Clapton is a God!" Now, I am not saying that Eric Clapton is a divine being who has the power to turn water into wine or judge others for eternity, because it is a different definition of the word. Both describe people, both describe qualities of people, but the meaning is different, and most people can recognize that. How about "Damn you"? If I say that to someone, I am not actually hoping that that person is damned to an eternity of hellfire, but it is simply a way of expressing displeasure. What about when someone, who knows me very well, calls me "stupid"? That person and I both know that I am not, and both of us know that that person is not trying to say that I truly am, it is simply an expression.


Ms. Y: 1. Citing people is a sign of citing authority. You don't get to dodge that. 
2. How is it you've come to this conclusion, "However, that is no longer the intention. At all. By saying someone is retarded, the person is not attempting to use the word that is labeled to one group and throw it on another. That is not the point. That is a different definition." What other way is that possibly used??!! You can't make generalization to that degree on something you are not an expert.
3. I'm not sure why your anger discussion is included. Other than people, all people, any people SHOULD be angry and get involved when there are wrongs in this world that need our attention. And yes, this is one of those items that needs/deserves attention. I encourage to you to speak with people who have family members who are Mentally Retarded and/or educators who work with students with this diagnosed disability. I am sure you will find we all agree that the use of the word is absolutely unacceptable.
4. How do you know people don't want God to truly bless you when you sneeze?
5. Don't fall back on friendly (yet still offensive) banter. That also has no part in this argument.

Ethan: Okay, Ms. Y. 
1) Your first statement is false and misleading. Citing someone is CITING authority, but I denied APPEALING to authority. There is an obvious difference as defined in the types of logical fallacies. You are accusing me of APPEALING to authority, while I do not deny CITING it.
2) How did I come to this conclusion? Simple observations. I use the phrase. I do not use it with that intention. My brother uses the phrases. He does not use it with that intention. My girlfriend uses the phrase. She does not use it with that intention. So far the odds are looking good. Ask anyone who uses the phrase "When you say someone is retarded as an insult, are you intending to demean the community of those who are clinically retarded?" They will say no. I admit that I am not an expert on this subject, but you are not either. I haven't seen your PhD and series of published studies into the field of how people intend the phrase while using it. Please do not insult my authority while you, though being a teacher of those with clinical retardation and having taken courses and read books, are not an expert. You also do not know how much reading and studying I have done on the issue.
3) Need me to speak with people who have Mentally Retarded family members? Okay. Done. One of my close friends at school and another at work. I have spoken to them about this issue before writing a paper on the topic for a 400 level course at
Washington University in Saint Louis about the history and evolution of the English language (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I have in fact done my research). No, they don't all agree with you. And even if they did, you misunderstood my point. People do not make others angry, you get angry. It is not I who makes anger, it is you who creates it.
4) Really? Did you just ask this? You need proof? I don't mean it. There. Also, the origin of it involves the expelling of demons and the stopping of the heart at the moment of sneezing, both of which could lead to premature death. These have been scientifically disproved and are not on people's mind when they say "God bless you". How about 
Eric Clapton is a God? Do you think someone means he is actually divine?
5) If my banter offends, I do apologize, but you have used two phrases to deliberately demean me, as well. "You're a young boy and as you grow and mature..." The implication of this statement is that my disagreement with you stems from my age and my lack of "maturity". How about "You can't make generalization to that degree on something you are not an expert"? I never claimed to be. After all, I am arguing on 
Facebook. If I were an expert, I would be writing essays in journals and conducting studies. My banter is friendly, and with no intended offensiveness. Once again, you are finding offense where none was intended."

The Moderator cut us off here (something I promise to never do). Please pitch in, either with me or against me, or even a third view!