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November 04, 2008

Comments

I am finding watching the results far more exciting than I expected. Naturally given the work my family has put into it, I have hoped for an Obama victory, feel the security and future of our country depends on it (which I know is the opposite of how many Republicans feel), but for the last 8 years, we have heard the results and had our hearts sunk when we have lost to the Bushies. Now, could it be, the country is ready for a change, for new ideas? Is this country ready to vote for someone based on ability, not skin color? Has fear quit working? I sure hope so. Fear is no way to run a country or a life.

>>>Is this country ready to vote for someone based on ability, not skin color?<<<

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Thats why I voted for McCain.

7:30 AM Wed: YES WE DID!!!! Brook, Zack and I all campaigned in Indiana yesterday and I guess it helped as he as of a few minutes won IN!!! I've still got a concern though, Al Franken's race is still too close to call, guess it will depend on early sent in and maybe even provisional ballots still uncounted.

it looks like Franken might lose by a few hundred votes and for Oregon, worse is we still have Smith. I wasn't happy that Michelle Bachman in Minnesota won again also. And Stevens in Alaska leading us to have to hope he doesn't get kicked out of the Senate because if he does, Palin could appoint herself his replacement! Good grief.

And then I felt bad about gay marriage going down in California. Religion still has a powerful hold on a lot of people, some of whom don't even know why they vote as they do. Still there is more of a feeling of joy this morning that the country didn't buy the fear tactics. Maybe in the future we could have elections around the issues. Is that too much to ask for? Probably...

Mr. Vanderpool is completely correct. While I voted for Obama it was not his skin that defined my choice and I'm glad Mr. Vanderpool voted for whom he wanted to, regardless of racial background.
My commitment now is to work together with Mr. Vanderpool and others who may not necessarily agree with me (or I with them) to make this country and world a better place. There are many things I'm sure we agree on, and those we do not, we will have intelligent discussions to come up with solutions.
Republicans (and other parties) keep Democrats honest; Democrats (and other parties) keep Republicans honest.
My respects to John McCain for a truly gracious and generous speech.

Harry Vanderpool, you nailed it exactly.

Rain, your comment that "religion still has a powerful hold on a lot of people" is true. Likewise, your religion of atheism (or whatever you choose to believe) has a powerful hold on you. Everyone believes in something, even if they have faith that there is no god. Your beliefs influence your thinking just as surely as my beliefs influence mine. Neither of us can definitively prove that our beliefs are correct.

Brian and others, now that your man has won and your party has gained full control of both the House and the Senate, the Democrats have the freedom to pursue their goals without hindrance. let's see if they live up to expectations. There are a lot of sky-high hopes for a new utopia.

I sincerely hope that Obama does well, since he will be my President and I want him to lead my country wisely.

I am not an atheist, Erik. Why would you assume that? Possibly because I believe that our religion doesn't have to make laws to force our concept of morality (assuming it hurts no one else) onto others. Your religious beliefs should impact your choices, not mine. Incidentally, I am also not a lesbian. I just see it as unfair and selfish to thrust our beliefs onto others

While the Democrats and Barack Obama won big yesterday, even coming close to a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Obama will find their options substantially constrained by reality.

Their handicap is the financial condition of the nation they’ll inherit. Think of a trustee or conservator of a bankrupt company.

Those who fear a radical Obama miss the point of the lack of maneuverability of the next president. Behind the mortgage crisis looms the credit-card crisis, the student-loan crisis and the car-loan crisis. Sweating this mess out of the system will take two years of zero growth or contraction.

The government will attempt to stave off a Great Depression by irrigating our economy with money, and this may work for a time, but we’ll surely have stagnation, followed by inflation.

So Obama will take office with unlimited political power but highly circumscribed practical power. He will be unable to indulge his ideology. This will put him in hot water with the far left who helped get him in office and who expect the expensive entiltlement programs he promised.

To increase the already gigantic deficit with more deficit spending will sink the economy and the value of the dollar.

This irony will be bitter for the Democrats. Finally able to rise above the political limits they’ve faced, they’ll encounter new limitations in the fundamental problems of the economy.

The Republican Party’s role is to rebuild in the shadow of the frustrations of the Obama presidency. Just as MoveOn.org built the massive grass-roots base that yesterday impelled the Democrats to victory, so Republicans must go down to their grass roots, get in touch with their base and rebuild an opportunity to win national elections.

Power has been bad for the GOP, sapping the party’s soul and eroding its fundamental values. But when a socialist like Obama wrestles with the practical problems of capitalism, it will be an opportunity for republicans. The conservative movement can be reborn in opposition in a way they never could have been as the governing party.

For political historians, it’s worth noting that Obama hasn’t scored the knockout that many predicted. It appears McCain will lose by six or so percentage points in the popular vote, but not by the double digits so confidently predicted in the media polls. The fact is that most of the undecided voters went to the Republicans.

In the face of a mandate limited by reality and undermined by his inability to sweep the nation as had been predicted, Obama will face a difficult situation. As the economy falters, he’ll find himself unable to raise taxes as he wants and stymied in his plans for government takeover.

A very tough future, for a man who won such a heady victory.


Actually it's a good thing Obama does not have that unlimited authority you think he has, Condor. I suspect he's glad of it also. He does not have a filibuster proof majority and therefore cannot have pressure from the left to do everything they might want. If you read his website, his programs, he doesn't promise unlimited anything. I suggest you take a look at his ideas. They are NOT socialist and a lot more in the middle than the far right has been trying to get people to believe.

If all Republicans care about is building back up their power base, they deserve to lose again and again. They should put what is best for this nation ahead of their partisan desires. They should work on becoming a real conservative ideology which is hardly what they have been the last eight years.

The country benefits from two strong political ideologies who have to argue with each other and work out compromises. Neither should put their own parties ahead of this nation and the good of the individual people within it.

We have seen a lot of partisanship the last 8 years as the Republicans have often had total control as well as the majority in the Supreme Court. McCain bragged about voting with Bush 90% of the time, then claimed to be a free agent. And Republicans somehow believed him until now that they blame him for not being a radical conservative all along.

Now Republicans say it's bad to have control of the presidency and the Congress? Amazing what hypocrisy does. I would like to see both parties work for the best of this country. That seems highly unlikely where it comes to Republicans and we shall see with dems now that they finally have some power.

What is ironic is that around the world people see what a rare gift we have in this new leader and yet in our own country all some can do is plot how to blow apart anything he tries. Don't call that patriotism.

Erik,

You stated, in your above comment,

".... Likewise, your religion of atheism (or whatever you choose to believe) has a powerful hold on you. Everyone believes in something, even if they have faith that there is no god. Your beliefs influence your thinking just as surely as my beliefs influence mine. Neither of us can definitively prove that our beliefs are correct."

----Interesting statement regarding the Religion of Atheism. You are the first, I have encountered, that has evidence of a religious Atheism. Are you aware of a particular denomination of religious Atheism? What the specific beliefs are, than can be found in this religious form of Atheism. Any clues, as to where the foundation of "faith" lies, that originates from this religious form of Atheism.

I personally have nothing for or against Atheism, however, I am fasinated with how Atheism is represented by different groups.

I'm not trying to find fault with your statements, just interested in more information.
Thanks for a reply,
Roger

Condor, are you Dick Morris? I liked your post, but today I read an article that is almost identical to it: http://townhall.com/Columnists/DickMorrisandEileenMcGann/2008/11/05/president_obama_a_trustee_in_bankruptcy

Roger, I said that atheism is religion because it asserts certain unknowable truths, the first among which is there is no god (or that god is unknowable). With that premise, I can then throw off certain moral restraints that many religions impose. Abortion, homosexual rights, capital punishment are all issues that arise from the disagreement between those who claim to follow God and those who claim to follow no god. Whether all atheists are united in a denomination is irrelevant, just as all "Christians" are (unfortunately) not united.

Rain, I apologize if I offended you. Laws always impose some sort of values on others. If the law says that homosexual marriage is to be socially accepted, then that value will be imposed on others who believe that behavior to be morally wrong. Churches, adoption agencies, the military, and others will be impacted. If the law says that homosexual marriage is not allowed, then that value will be imposed on homosexuals who want to marry. The real question is: Which option is better for society?

Erik,

Thanks for your reply.

You stated,

"I said that atheism is religion because it asserts certain unknowable truths, the first among which is there is no god (or that god is unknowable)."

---where does the "assertions of no god" come from? Is there an atheist bible? In addition, the faith issue of atheism, how is faith created from atheism?

Again, not finding fault with your comment. Thanks for any continued responses. Roger

Roger, what is your understanding of atheism? I'd like to hear your point of view.

My understanding pretty much matches Wikipedia's entry: "Atheism, as an explicit position, can be either the affirmation of the nonexistence of gods, or the rejection of theism. It is also defined more broadly as an absence of belief in deities, or nontheism."

If we take the broadest definition of atheism as "the absence of belief in deities" one could still argue that the atheist believes that either (a) deities don't exist or (b) deities, if they do exist, are unknowable. Otherwise, the person would believe in them. Both of these positions assert a truth that is unprovable; therefore, faith is required.

A "bible" is not a requirement for a religion. Illiterate people groups almost always have some sort of religion, misguided though it may be. (I'm not implying that atheists are illiterate).

Erik,

You stated,

"Your beliefs influence your thinking just as surely as my beliefs influence mine."

---Are you aware of any studies that confirm the degree in which a belief system influences Ones thinking? Why would my belief system influence me the same amount or degree, as your belief system would influence your thinking?

That is,

Are all belief systems the same, for everyone?

Again, thanks for your responses. I'm not finding fault with you.

Erik,

Not sure if I have a complete understanding of Atheism. However, I can relate to,

"It is also defined more broadly as an absence of belief in deities, or nontheism."theism."

Hmmmmm.............the absence of belief.......

So, the Religion of Atheism is the absence of belief? Erik.........I'm confused.

Roger, I think that you're trying to lead me to your desired conclusion through a series of questions.

Regarding your question about belief systems, let's say that I believe that the earth is flat (I don't). As a result of my thinking, I will reach all kinds of strange conclusions to explain the movement of the sun and stars in the sky, the wind, etc. You believe that the earth is a sphere. As a result of your belief system, you will end up with more consistent explanations for natural phenomena. This is not a perfect example because the earth's shape is scientifically verifiable, but my point is that everyone has beliefs that influence their worldview.

I've already addressed your question about the absence of belief in the third paragraph of my 12:32 pm post. In order to reach absence of belief in deities, some prerequisite assumptions must be believed.

Why don't you expound on your viewpoint?

I believe in god and have a lot of knowledge about Christianity having been in churches for most of my life although i am today not in a religion. What Christ said was don't judge others. Take care of your own sins, quit looking at your brother's and don't stone that woman unless you are without sin. Basically religion should be for us-- not for us to impose on others. Morality laws, like prohibition have been proven wrong and they are definitely not spiritual. They are self-righteous.

There is no way you will stop people from being homosexual. It is in nature. If you lived close to other animals, you'd know it's just a certain percentage of births. We are born what we are born for the most part. So what you want to do is deny homosexuals normal family lives.

It would be easy to make the law such that the government contract for co-habiting spouses would be a civil union. Let churches call it sin if they wish, don't demand they have religious services (to be married under the state laws, you don't have to have it religiously performed or validated-- you just have to be of age, not married to anyone else, and of opposite sexes).

What is happening now is one group is being unfairly treated because of how they were born. So what people who think like you appear to believe, is to force gays to live either immoral lives with going from partner to partner or be celibate or marry someone of the opposite sex and live a lie. The idea that they can be like everybody else offends your religion but that is supposed to be for you, not for the guy down the block who is not of your faith or interprets it differently than you do.

It didn't offend me that you thought I was an atheist. It just shows that you don't get what spirituality is. It is not necessarily part of a religion. People can care about the rights of others even if they aren't themselves impacted by an unfairness. At one time that unfairness was about skin color. The day will come when people will realize that homosexuality doesn't have to be immoral anymore than heterosexuality. Many desire to live in families and be monogamous and it's a shame that religions are so fearful that it will appear normal that they try to block it. It's selfish.

Erik,

Thanks again for your reply.

You stated,
"Roger, I think that you're trying to lead me to your desired conclusion through a series of questions."

---I want you to think the way you want to.
I'm guessing that Atheism is a word that can take on many different meanings or definitions. I'm interested in your (Erik's) definition. I don't have a belief system that I can use to direct you to another definition of Atheism.

---I'm just curious to explore the Religion of Atheism, as you described in a previous comment. I would like to redirect you back to your statement of a Religion of Atheism.

---If you could, describe or list a set of beliefs, that exist in the Religion of Atheism. Then, describe how faith is used to bolster these beliefs, that are found in the Religion of Atheism. Hopefully, your discussion would be free of social and political issues. Just pure Atheism.

---Again, I am not for or against any definition of Atheism.

Just think of me as an inquisitive Joe the Nobody. Thanks for a reply....Roger

Roger, I would describe atheism this way. Perhaps my description is incorrect; if so, feel free to point out any errors.

Starting premise:

1. There is no god (requires faith, because the absence of a god is unprovable)
2. If there is a god, he/she/it is unknowable (requires faith, because the absence of an unknowable god is unprovable)

Derived beliefs:

1. Man is the product of evolution.
2. I exalt nature.
3. I am not accountable to a higher authority.
4. There is no absolute truth - all truth is relative (since there is no absolute "plumb line" of right/wrong beyond ourselves).

Logical conclusions from #4 above:

1. What's right for me is not necessarily right for you.
2. What's wrong for me is not necessarily wrong for you.
3. You cannot impose your values on me.
4. I am generally intolerant of those who claim that there is absolute right and wrong. I accuse them of intolerance.
5. I support abortion because you have no right to impose your values on me.
6. I support gay marriage because you have no right to impose your values on me.
7. I support physician-assisted suicide because you have no right to impose your values on me.
8. I oppose capital punishment because you have no right to impose your values on me.
9. I support polygamy because...oh wait, maybe I don't support that.

The whole structure is derived from the starting premises. Despite the fact that I cannot be certain that the starting premises are true, I accept them as articles of faith.

Erik,

Thanks for your reply.

You stated,

"Roger, I would describe atheism this way. Perhaps my description is incorrect; if so, feel free to point out any errors."

---I'm not trying to find incorrectness in your description. Your description is your description. The information in your description is your information in your description.

---Is your description of Atheism, your description of the Religion of Atheism?

---Your starting premises of the Religion of Atheism are,

1. There is no god (requires faith, because the absence of a god is unprovable)
2. If there is a god, he/she/it is unknowable (requires faith, because the absence of an unknowable god is unprovable)

and, derived beliefs of the Religion of Atheism are:

1. Man is the product of evolution.
2. I exalt nature.
3. I am not accountable to a higher authority.
4. There is no absolute truth - all truth is relative (since there is no absolute "plumb line" of right/wrong beyond ourselves).

----Ok, you have given your description or understanding of the Religion of Atheism.
That's all I was asking for. I'm not trying to find correctness or incorrectness with your information.
--- One last question. Are you aware of a website, that has been established by atheist, that have officially form a Religion of Atheism? I'm curious to examine the topic further at that site.

Thanks again for your time,
Roger

Erik, I can't resist jumping into this comment conversation, especially after seeing your initial premises. That's where your argument falls apart.

You're attempting to use the discredited "absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence" reasoning. Or rather, non-reasoning.

This isn't the way science works. Or, everyday life. We don't go around thinking to ourselves, "There's no evidence a pink elephant isn't in my living room... there's no evidence a unicorn isn't in my back yard... there's no evidence the Tooth Fairy isn't hiding under my bed."

Your argument that atheism is "faith-based" relies on this sort of flawed reasoning. Flawed, because living in the real world requires affirmative evidence of something. Nobody, not scientists and not regular folks, goes around assuming that invisible, unknown things are there when there's no evidence of them (mentally ill psychotics sometimes do, though).

So the rest of your premises fall apart once we recognize that the first premises don't hold water. You've mistaken a belief that reality should be real -- that there should be verifiable substantial evidence of something beyond a mere thought about it -- as blind faith akin to that of religiosity.

Actually, the two are completely different. Saying "there is no evidence of this" is not at all the same as saying "I believe in this without any evidence."

Never hurts to review the definitions of,

Simple truth-
Absolute truth-
Testimony-
Proof-
Facts-
Evidence- (and how it points in a particular direction)

---In the absence of evidence, does One need to automatcally go to a belief system, or could One simply state, "I don't know."

---If I don't Know, then I don't have to believe, "I will never know." I just don't know.

---Nothing wrong with believing in something. However, should I desire to know something more than I desire to believe in that something? Is one better than the other?

---Should I keep a separation between; believing and knowing. Or do these two terms mean kinda sorta the same, in some kinda way?

---If I were to now, Absolutely Know, then where does the role of believing and faith
now play? Does belief/faith just disappear?

This makes interesting conversation.
Thanks for the comments,
Roger

The thing is nobody is asking anybody to support gay marriage for themselves. You believe it's wrong for you to marry a guy. Don't do it (unless you fell in love with a guy, you won't be tempted to do it anyway so it's easy to resist).

This is about letting others do what is right for their lives. You can say gay marriage is a sin but still allow someone else to do it as you could with drinking alcohol, dancing, gambling, partying, going to movies and a host of other things that some religious people think is sinful. Just don't foist that belief onto others. That's what freedom is about.

The support for gay marriage has nothing to do with atheism. It's about equal rights. You could be an atheist and still not believe in gay marriage; but mostly it's religious people who want to make laws to suit their religious beliefs.

So sodomy, which is just oral sex, is a felony or was in some states because it didn't suit some people's ideas of morality. I have read a treatise put out by a pastor in the 1800s where he said no child should be conceived in lust and that means in marriage. How that works for a man is beyond me but hey women can just lay there and feel no lust and still get pregnant. Adultery has been illegal and still is a felony in Arizona. Sexual laws are usually out of religion. To me we should stay out of the business of consenting adults unless they hurt others with what they do-- and gay marriage hurts no other marriages.

Brian and Roger, I believe in God because of certain evidences that convince me of his existence. I wouldn’t say that my belief is equivalent to believing in an invisible elephant in my living room. It’s more like believing in the wind. However, I freely admit that faith plays a crucial role. The reasons I believe include:

1. The complexity of biological life, which I feel has not been adequately explained through naturalistic causes.
2. The origin of life, which I also feel has not been adequately explained.
3. The origin of matter, energy, and the natural laws governing them.
4. The existence of moral absolutes.
5. The prophecies in the Bible that were later fulfilled.
6. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
7. The transformation in my life as a result of following Jesus.

I expect that you will counter my first points above by pointing out that we can’t attribute to God whatever we don’t understand. This is true. Let’s say that I return from a vacation and find that my house has changed color. I can assume either that someone painted it while I was gone or that it changed color through natural processes. Belief in a Creator is like believing that someone painted the house. Sure, there’s probably an argument one could make that somehow natural processes conspired to change the house from green to red, but I’ll go with what I consider to be the more likely explanation, especially since the painter left a written note. Someone with an atheistic position toward painters would be inclined to believe that natural processes caused the house to change color and that the note is not real, not true, or has been corrupted.

When presented with the evidence of God’s existence, I have one of two choices. Either I believe that he exists or I believe that he doesn’t exist, in which case I must substitute another belief in its place. To use your example, Brian, I am faced with the same two choices when I notice teeth disappearing from under my pillow and am told that it is due to the tooth fairy. Either I believe that the tooth fairy exists or I do not, in which case I substitute another belief: that my parents snuck in and took the tooth while I was asleep.

Neither belief in God nor belief in a substitute (natural processes) is completely verifiable. Faith fills in the gap.

Erik, you have a thoughtful faith, which is praiseworthy. However, I still disagree with you (as you'd expect).

Evolution is a lot different from your painter analogy. Evolutionary processes have been, and are, observed in action. This isn't the case of a mysterious hidden painter (or watchmaker). Rather, the situation is just the opposite from your analogy.

The supposed creator is hidden; natural processes are evident. So it doesn't make sense to explain something by an unseen, unknown process, when an observable, known process is right in front of us.

Yes, faith fills in the gaps. But this means that "God" is whatever we can't explain at the moment through science and reason. If that's your God, great. But you might as well call him "Question Mark," because what he means to you and other believers is an imagined answer to currently unanswerable questions.

Erik, you might as well save your breath.
All of history, time, philosophy and thought cannot equal the counterpoint here!
However, BELIEVE in Barry H. Obama.
WHAT?!!! You dare to question??
How dare you! Who do you think you are?
:P

Can pure Atheism exist in the total absence of topics such as, abortion, gay marriage, evolution, big bang theory, and suicide?

Does Atheism disappear, with the disappearance of the above mention topics?

I was hoping that we could keep the conversation narrowed down to just the basic beliefs of a Religion of pure and simple Atheism. Oh well, maybe not.


Erik,

You stated,

"When presented with the evidence of God’s existence, I have one of two choices. Either I believe that he exists or I believe that he doesn’t exist, in which case I must substitute another belief in its place."

---I don't see a problem or fault with making a choice. One's choice is One's choice. Why does One need to automatically employ a belief system to make One's choice? Explain the required need for a belief system mechanism?


"Neither belief in God nor belief in a substitute (natural processes) is completely verifiable. Faith fills in the gap."

---How does Faith fill the gap? What happens if Faith doesn't fill the gap? Is failure automatic, when faith is not present?


Dear Erik,

As a Jew once explained to me: "Either I believe that he [YHWH} exists or I believe that he [YHWH] doesn’t exist, in which case I must substitute another belief [like Jesus] in its place." And since - for him - it was quite clear that "[t]he resurrection of Jesus from the dead" was clearly a lie, he kept to his belief in YHWH. (All quite "Biblical" in his view.)

I've had similar sorts of conversations with Muslims also.

Robert Paul Howard

Brian, thanks for the intelligent discussion. As I said above, I am not convinced that the evolutionary processes adequately explain life's origin or complexity. We can leave that debate for another time.

Roger, my discussion about atheism's pure beliefs was in the first part of my Nov. 7th, 9:27 am post. Examples 5 through 9 were merely the logical outflow of the original premise. If you'd rather leave them out, the discussion would be largely unchanged.

Are you trying to say that you go through life with no opinions, no convictions, no beliefs? Is all truth relative in your view?

There is another option-- mystery. If someone is willing to accept not knowing, they can go through life doing good works, spiritually exploring this or that but not try to come up with some ultimate explanation for what is or is not true. Maybe not all minds can do that?

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