spikegifted - Random thoughts
November 5, 2004
Well, Bush won, and alot of people are angry. The United States is feeling very fractured right now, and I'd say there's a reason:
Democrats think Republicans are ignorant and Republicans think Democrats are cretins. If we could just accept that we feel differently about things instead of being angry that someone feels differently than we do, good things could happen. People seem to be very angry that some people think gay marriage should be banned, and other people seem to be very angry that some people think gay marriage is acceptable. But you know, there's a positive way to channel your anger, and calling the other side a bunch of fundamentalist retards isn't it.
You may not like that 51%/49% of the population, but you do have to live with them.
November 6, 2004
1. i know for a fact that map is inaccurate. both boulder and denver counties, in colorado, voted democrat by 71%. neither of which are marked in blue on that map. if they didnt get those 2 counties right, how many others are wrong?
2. see below. those littel black dots are population markers. one dot = 7500 people. consider the (unreliable) chart in relation to population density...
it all looks purple to me.
Amazing... If you don't me making a sweeping statement, they look pretty good match.
Well, what do you know, eh?! I'll allow you to draw you own conclusions.
November 8, 2004
I hear what you say about the 'standard of living' argument. Unfortunately, while government statistics are good (meaning: extensive), they are not often 'innovative' meaning putting two and two together and come up with something truly profound and insightful, but mere statistics...
November 12, 2004
You folks need to help me out here, I'm really struggling with this whole idea about what the Bible says and what the law has to say...
First of all, how can a book that was last updated nearly two thousand years ago dictate what we do or don't do in the 21st century? I'm not saying that it is irrelevant, but things has changed and time has moved on. Obviously we now have things that did not exist back then. One of the best example is that of spamming and sending junk mail. There is not a single Bible passage that even suggest spamming and sending junk mail. Yet spammer can be prosecuted but not junk mailers. What gives? There is a very good reason why not everything that was said in religious literatures, and I don't just mean the Bible, is not taken by the literal meaning. Otherwise the world's population would be a lot smaller and 'hell' would be bursting.
For all intent and purposes, religious literatures teach people who bother to read them how to be 'nice guys and gals'. They were written as a guide and should be taken as a guide. No more and no less. Or we'd all be still be living in the Middle Ages.
The problem with dealing with everything from a religious angle is that religion teaches about 'right' and 'wrong'. You come to an impasse in your life, you ask for 'guidance' and you get the 'answer' in the shape of 'do this' or 'don't do that'. It's easy: It's like day and night and 'black 'n white'.
That's all fine at a 'micro' level: 'rights and wrongs' work very well in relatively close groups, like families, small companies, your close friends, etc. However, 'rights and wrongs' don't work at all in large groups, like a population or, moving a little further beyond, people from different cultures. If you gather ten strangers from different backgrounds and ask them for their opinions of ten different, unrelated, statements which they can either agree or disagree with you, you'd probably find less than half agreeing with you in every one of them. Why? You're now in the territory of binomial theorem and random walk theorem. The problem is that if you present rights and wrongs to enough people and you give them choices, you're not going to result in 'black and white' opinion, but a mass of gray. This is the problem with 'values' - it's all relative.
So if you care to apply 'black and white' type approach to the world you're going to people disagreeing with you.
That leads to my second point: You cannot have a government or an administration that govern or passes laws based on religious convictions. There is and has to be a clear separation of church and state. That's why Iran is such a mess. That's why Afghanistan was/is such a mess.
The very fact that the American Declaration of Independence said "All men are created equal" means that there should not be any barrier that separates those who practice Christianity, and all the trimming that comes with living by the word of the Bible, and those who don't (either because they don't believe in it or because they believe in something else). The statement didn't have an 'addendum' which said "as long as they're Christians".
The statement "All men are created equal" was made because the Founding Fathers wanted to acknowledge that everyone is unique and the person's race, sex, believe, etc, should not be used as a form of discrimination against him or her. It is about as inclusive as you can get. Passing laws or exercising the law based on religious conviction is being exclusive and that is not the way to 'move forward'.
Moving on to my last point and this is not related to religion... Whether you like it or not, power comes with responsibility. So being the most powerful country on the planet, at the moment at least, means that the United States has to behave in a responsible way. "[P]ower corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." I would imagine one of the more responsible way of exercising American power is via the UN, not unilateral action. Power can be impressive, yet the most impressive form of power is not what you can do, but what you might do.
While the US is the sole super-power in this day and age, it may not be forever (other than in your own imagination). One day, all the power and might is going to disappear and all America has left to hang on to is 'history'. How will history treat you? The answer is along the line which can be found in many public toilets - "Please leave this facility in the condition that you'd like to find it in" - How do you want history to you?
November 13, 2004
First of all, I have said this many times before in other threads: If you are going to reply to what I write, don't reply to each of the sentence. What you're doing is simply picking at what I wrote - you're not putting your argument across. You're choosing to pick at the sentence that you don't like but yet choose not to make comment on others. You're not arguing on the ideas I'm (and others are) trying to put across, but merely showing you own inability to put across a cohesive train of thoughts together. This, as far as I'm concern, is disrespectful. I don't want or need your respect, but at least show some towards what I write. You're doing yourself no favors and just show that you're bordering on illiterate.
The following is a prime example: You picked on my question querying why "a book that was last updated nearly two thousand years ago dictate what we do or don't do in the 21st century?" and suggested that "based on the idea that morality is unchanging". Well, if you bother to read a little further, I said: "religious literatures teach people who bother to read them how to be 'nice guys and gals'".
Just look at what you're writing:
"But the reality is that anyone who does not share the convictions that drive law will be displeased, no matter if they are motivated by religion or not."
"Absolutely, this is why we have the First Amendment;"
The first statement suggested that those who don't believe/share the convictions will be 'displeased'. You're only scratching the surface here. What you don't dare to write is this is actually a form of discrimination or marginalization. Yet, in your second statement (which following immediately, after quoting another one of my statements) you suggested that something about the 1st Amendment. The 1st Amendment says nothing for or against making of laws based on religious believe: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".
"All men are created equal" is a statement which cannot be subjected to interpretation, there is only one meaning: in the eyes of the constitution and the state, everyone is the same, no matter age, sex, color, race, religious belief, etc.
You're choosing to pick on one statement of mine and broad-bushed it with people being 'displeased', yet you threw the Amendments to the Constitution at me on another. You're not presenting a balanced argument and you're not showing any chain of thoughts.
What I'm particularly curious is that in which part of the Declaration of Independence was there specific or implied address on slavery? At the same time, can you please point out in which statement in the Constitution that suggested likewise?
November 13, 2004
Hmmm... I spend some time thinking about this and I think I've an explanation:
There are people who associate "wearing of a cape" with "ability to fly". Now this association is not restrictive or limited - they actually think having a cape will allow them to fly, and that's any cape and all capes (as long as it was bought through one of the 'official channels') - hence the warning/disclaimer on the costumes. It just happens that the costume is one of Batman, but not Superman or others who can fly.
November 13, 2004
Very well pointed out, JEC252.
As I understand it, the Constitution, unlike the Declaration of Independence (which was more a set of ideals and anything else), was a long list of compromises to bring the various states into the Union.
As far as I know, the parts of the Constitution that you mentioned was not like by many, particularly those who have pro-abolition leaning - Benjamin Franklin, for example. There is one quote which I find particularly interesting:
This has been used by many in the past to refer Franklin's pro-abolition stance. Whether it was true or not, it's obviously subject to debate.
November 13, 2004
I agree. Point taken.
(Dragging things back to my earlier post) Just because it is not perfect, it doesn't means that adding religion to the Constitution or interpreting the Constitution in a religious light will make things better. On the whole, there is, and should continue to have, a clear separation of church and state. Religion and politics should not be mixed, and when they do, things usually end in a mess. One of the more recent example is Rocco Buttiglione - who has a fairly conservative/personal view on certain issues, but the EU parliament members 'confused' this personal standpoint with his political stance.
November 13, 2004
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's law. I have learned a great deal from you, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can.
When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.
When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. How should I deal with this?
I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as it suggests in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
Lev. 25:44 states that I may buy slaves from the nations that are around us. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans but not Canadians. Can you clarify?
I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?
A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 10:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?
Lev. 20:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear prescription glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident
you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is
eternal and unchanging.
Sorry, for the digression.
That is exactly what I've in mind when I was writing my post. I've trying to find this letter in the forum as I'm certain that I've seen it somewhere before (as in a long ago, not recently). Thanks for posting it here.
November 13, 2004
Well, three out of four isn't bad.
I can certainly agree that the Ba'th Party's politics was very close to those of the Nazis'. Along the same vein, the Iraqi regime under Saddam was certainly filled with murderers - if not directly participating the act of murder, a lot of them certainly ordered or transmitted the orders. With a track record like that, it would not been difficult to conclude that they were thugs.
However, I'm having a little trouble recognizing your assumption that Saddam's Iraq has much, if any, connection with terrorism, at least in the shape and form of al Qaeda and it sympathizers. In fact, there were warnings before and after the action against Iraq that removal of Saddam would increase the threat of terror to the West.
November 14, 2004
Well, first of all, apologies for the misspelling(s). I knew I should have ran it pass the spell check first. On the other hand, to be completely honest with you (and myself), spelling is not my strong suit, so I should have known better. I have to agree that by implying that you're 'illiterate' in the way you nitpicked my post is inaccurate. I think the more precise phrase I was looking for was 'bad manners'.
I made an incorrect assumption that you've seen other posts that I've contributed in the past, where I've made my displeasure of how other people have replied to my posts sentence by sentence. As far as I can understand how English language is presented, single sentences are often just part of a train of thought, and when individual sentences are picked apart and presented on their own, they will lose some of their meaning or even out of context. On the other hand, what do I know?
With regards to the history of development of 'equality' in the US Constitution, I find it interesting that if 'the emergence of a guarantee of equality' can be traced back to 1868, why are we still struggling with all kinds of discrimination in the 21st century?
Yes, I recognize that many laws and regulations are based on our prejudice against what we consider as 'undesirable' behavior. By and large, these laws and regulations are what make the countries that you and I live in (and others) 'civilized, modern states'. However, these rules and regulations have often little to do with religion. Your example of age of consent is particular interesting because I don't think that has anything to do with religion. The age for consensual sex are there to protect the 'under-aged'. This is base on an assumption by most adults, that before such an age, teenagers are not in the best position to 'think for their own best interests' or to protect themselves against older people. They are not there to discriminate - unless we refer to those who have particular interest in young teenagers.
When I wrote about discrimination, I was referring to racial and religious discrimination. I was hoping that this would have been obvious in the context that I was writing. However, it would appear that I didn't spell it sufficiently or explicitly. That's the problem when one's sentences are being taken one at a time or are being taken out of context.
I completely agree that convictions can be religious or otherwise. However, if you weren't so busy pulling apart my previous post sentence by sentence, you would have noticed that (and you quoted me on this also, but you've apparently forgotten about it) "[y]ou cannot have a government or an administration that govern or passes laws based on religious convictions". If you bother to read the post that you so skillfully pulled apart, I would hope you would have notice that I said religious conviction has no place in law making, or something to that effect.
November 14, 2004
We've finally come to a point where we're speaking the same language.
My problem with law making based on religious conviction is not limited to what and how you can or cannot do to/with/for homosexuals, or whether abortion should/should not be outlawed/accepted. However, they can be taken as examples and they're fairly obvious examples.
The problem, from my own personal point of view (and since I'm not a US citizen, this is just an intellectual exercise, no more, no less) is that while certain laws that have been designed and passed, they are not necessarily based on religious believes. However, these same laws are being 'hijacked' by religious zealots and then used to 'extrapolate' to other areas that governs how lives should be lived. There is little or no difference to how Sharia Law is being applied to certain Muslim/Islamic countries. Is this how a modern, civilized, democratic, liberal society should be governed?
My point is, and always has been, that religions and religious believes may be a good moral base for modern behavior, they have absolutely no right to be the sole driving force behind the making of laws. Over and above religion-defined 'rights' and 'wrongs' (which, of course, are subject to interpretation of some kind), we have other areas of concerns we need to consider: human rights, 'choice', social context, welfare, etc. Law making based solely on religious conviction is like making important decisions by flipping the coin - there is no reason, no logic, no consideration and lack clarity.
P.S.: To add to the above, in my opinion, law making based on religious conviction is unsophisticated and lazy.
November 14, 2004
Stop the presses, because *EVERY* law is a definition of what the government puts forth as right and wrong, and it is a subjective judgement.
The idea that murder is wrong is universally accepted, but it is a *subjective* judgement in the context of a law passed by a government.
People making decisions based on religious conviction are using logic, you just happen to not like it. Their logic is "Because of my belief, I believe that this is right/wrong, and I am making a decision in accordance with it.". To assume that they don't have any other justification for their decision is honestly a poor attempt at mind reading.
People of a religious conviction are going to vote and act in accordance with those convictions. You can either accept it or marginalize them in the same way as you feel they marginalize others.
In all honesty,
spikegifted, I have a hard time believing that your argument is
motivated by anything other than an apparent disdain for religion. I
think this is very apparent by the whole concept that you are more
specifically lobbying against their motivations rather than the actions
themselves, which you may individually disagree with.
I'm not sure whose posts you've been reading, but your replies, at least to me, don't seem to be referring to what I've written.
I'm just rather curious where in my posts have you got the idea that religion is the sole source of convictions. Religions would not be acceptable if it is not, at least to a good extent, compatible with the world nor the believe system of the would be converts are living in. Well, at least to begin with. It amazes me that in a way that I've to conclude that you're reading my post in some weird color lenses.
I hate quoting myself, because I am not a great believer of hearing echoes. However, in light of your apparent inability to read what I wrote, I'll quote myself - just for clarity.
I feel like a dumb a$$ repeating myself but there you have it. Do you understand the word "sole"?
Moving further on in your post, you mentioned that people make decisions based on religious convictions are using logic - which I think is completely contradictory to what and how religious conviction is understood. The whole point about religious conviction is that you believe in the teachings and the morals of the teachings that a certain religion derives. There is no logic. There is teachings and hence you do or don't do. Simple.
For example: Why are Sundays rest days? Well, the Lord says so. He worked for six days to create the world and on the seventh, he rested. So, in that light, we who live in a Christian-dominated society should rest on the seventh day. Well, as far as I know, for a significant portion of people, the week starts on Sunday, so shouldn't we be resting on Saturday, like those in the Jewish faith? Also, the seventh day is the rest day, the Lord says so, so are all those people who work on Sundays, or the Sabbath for the Jewish faith, be damned? These folks are breaking the word of the Lord - surely that guarantee a good stoning.
On the other hand, we, as humans, are not machines and we need time to rest and recharge our 'batteries'. Also, we have families and loved ones that we want to share time with. So, a rest day here or there would seem a good idea to keep people happy. Hmmm... On the other hand, it would seem that a lot of people like having time off at the same time so that they can share their time together. Now, working prolonged periods and then having a prolonged periods of rest is not efficient. A better idea may be to have regular short rests. This should allow the body and mind to recover sufficient for another bout of work. Hmmm... Now, we have this repeating pattern of days (don't even try dare ask how humans came up with seven-day week), so why don't we mark a day or two as rest days? Seem logical enough, no?
To use another example. The famous Exodus passage which went along the lines of "thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth", etc. So you are suggesting that we should practice that? I guess that's why there are such thing as road rage.
Well, so if little Johnny gotten tripped up at play school by his classmate and little Johnny hit the corner of a table and suffered a brain hemorrhage and will be disabled for the rest of his life. So, what does the law says about this? Well, clear little Johnny's classmate has to suffer the same fate, right?
In light of the all knowing God, we should simply stop all scientific researches and get all the scientists to pray, because as we collectively spend more time praying, surely we'd be getting closer to God, right? Obviously, as we, or least for the lucky ones, being closer to God will be in a position to ask Our Father how this physical world we engage in should function. Of course, all those science text books should be corrected to eliminate the blasphemous suggestion that the Earth was created from a swirling cloud of gas and rocks 4.5 billion years ago and suggested that we humans were evolved from other primates. No, God created the world and He created us. Damn you unbelievers!
Contrary to your suggestion, I dispute your idea that people who based their decisions solely on religious convictions are logical. They are anything but logical. They're using a short cut. It is worst than saying "It's not nice." At least saying that certain act is not nice is based on a personal position rather than relying on a much translated ancient book.
No, decisions should be made based on a combination of logic, understanding, training and believes. Otherwise decision making would be as easy as opening a book and finding the right chapter and verse. If a personal believe or a religious believe is the over-riding factor in a decision, contrary to, or in support of, other factors, you should say so - just like you would defined (to yourself and others) how you arrive at such based on other factors.
On another point: Where did I mentioned about voting based on religious conviction? Please don't try to put word to me that I did not write. Voting my religious conviction has no place in this discussion.
My whole argument has been religious conviction can work very well on a 'micro' scale - a person or a small group of people. However religious conviction has no place in politics and law making.
You accusation that I'm motivated by my disdain for religion is rather interesting. I am just curious you make this connection in my writing? Or have you just imagine you read that somewhere? Have you problems following my writing? Or do you actually read and understanding what I wrote in my post?
November 15, 2004
There’s a lot of ground we need to cover here and I'm still at work, so I’ll try to be as brief as possible, but still try to answer the points you raised.
Referring to the statement: “There is a system of reasoning employed. The reasoning is "God (or gods) is good, therefore what he commands is good. God commands this, therefore it is right that I do this”, you have to forgive me for being ignorant, but I just can’t connect which bit of ‘command(s)’ would involve reasoning.
May be I’m just plain dumb, but the whole point about commands is that you obey. There is no reasoning in it. Well, the reasoning is very simple: “God commanded it, therefore...” So where is the logic in simply obeying a command? For me, it is rather hard to believe that you'd need reasoning to do something since you’ve been ‘commanded’ to do so. Moreover, because the command is from the Almighty (or derived from the Words of the Almighty) and therefore not subject to questioning, so you don’t question. These lead me to conclude that reasoning by religious conviction only is in fact an oxymoron.
Moreover, it is contradictory to the definition of logic that you’ve quoted: “1. The study of the principles of reasoning, especially of the structure of propositions as distinguished from their content and of method and validity in deductive reasoning.” There is no 'principles of reasoning' other than the Word of God. The 'structure of proposition' is that of a conviction based on religious believe: God rulez! The only bit of 'deductive reasoning' is: "God says so, therefore I do so." Simple.
(Hey, I can cut and paste from web sites with clever quotes, too. Watch this...) Seeing that you brushed aside my arguments by claiming that my examples are just ‘dogma’, I used Dictionary.com’s Thesaurus and searched for ‘dogma’. You would never imagine what showed up in the first item:
English may not be my mother tongue, but I think I’ve a reasonable command of it.
There were two reasons why I didn’t raise any non-Christian/Jewish examples is: 1) we happen to live in societies that the dominated by these religions and 2) I’m not as familiar with other religions as Christianity, although I’ve read certain sections of the Koran and have some understanding of Buddhist/Taoist teachings.
There are many difficult situations where you may need to vote: you can vote for a political party/candidate, you can vote for a new chairman to a company that you own stocks, you can voting for a new representative in a work place, even a new team captain in your local baseball/hockey/football team. If you choose to pull the meaning of my post as far from context as you want to, you can have all kinds of fun with them. And I congratulate you on amazing ability to take a shot at me. Boy, I look so dumb.
Now, try this:
So if you care to apply 'black and white' type approach
to the world you're going to people disagreeing with you.
I think my writing was sufficient clear. Take it apart if you like to, but I can see that my example above said "ten different, unrelated, statements"... This is not a single-issue question or group of similar questions. It is 10 (count 'em) different ones. Unless you've a relatively close group of people, you're not going to have all of them agreeing to you. Can you explain to me which bit of the above you've problems with and I'll see if I can explain further because it is clear to me.
Regarding my comments about Sundays, I'm not going to even bother to reply to you, as you are hell bent on taking my arguments out of context, or just acting dumb or superior or choose not to understand what I wrote. I'm obviously too stupid to put an idea across clearly, so I don't see much point guessing what a clever person like you can't understand. So why don't you tell me which part of my comments you've difficulties with and I'll see if I can pick some more intelligent form of wording to make it palatable to you.
November 20, 2004
Sorry about the delay in getting back to you. I've been rather busy for a number of days and haven't had the opportunity to spend extensive amount of time in front of the PC.
Obviously I’m either completely dumb or incapable of putting my points across. I’ve been trying to convince you of my point over a number of rather lengthy posts and we’re still not that far from square one. May be I’ve been making assumptions in my writing, but then again, this is what dumb people do: we assume other people can follow our logic. Well, actually, I’m not sure if I’m really that dumb or you’re not reading what I write. Or have you been busy with my grammatical errors? Either way, here we are, again.
Anyhow, I think I can recall I said something along the lines of “religious literatures teach people who bother to read them how to be 'nice guys and gals'". See, easy. That’s moral decisions made easy. However, you may also recall I said something like: ‘black and white’ is easy to achieve at a micro level, but if you apply the same logic to a population (at a macro level), you’ll get a mass of gray. Or something along those lines anyway. Well, I’m too dumb to come up with a different way to say it, so may be you can intelligently dissect my argument again.
Now, returning to my argument that religious conviction has no place in law making. In addition to that, I have expressed that religious conviction may form part of the basis of law making, but it cannot be the sole driving force behind the making of laws. I think we have went through that once or twice already. Moreover, you’ve very helpfully pointed out that laws base on religion (at least the ones that I’ve picked) are “dogma”; and very conveniently, we found out that “dogma” is a simile for “conviction”. So let me ask you: Where does dogma has to do with law making?
November 20, 2004
voltron has kindly pointed out that it is a motto and not a policy.
However, if you really want to have a glimpse of what your country would be like by placing all your decision making "in God", then you should take a look at Iran and the northern (Muslim) part of Nigeria. Better yet, you should look at Afghanistan under the Taliban.
November 20, 2004
I'm so glad you use the word "affect" instead of "determine". As I have suggested and argued previously, religion and religious conviction should not be the sole driving force in a country's policy making.
Oh, by the way, yes, it has worked out all very well, hasn't it? So what happened to all those Indians (original Americans) who used to live in vast stretches of what you now call your country? Is that another fabulous result of "in God we trust"?
November 21, 2004
(1) Not that I can remember...
November 22, 2004
I've said it before and I'll keep saying it until I'm either out of breath, lost the ability to express myself or dead. It is very simple: All you have to do is to find the heart to agree that religious conviction cannot be the sole source of 'logic' to law making and policy making. It really is that easy. That's all it boils down to.
November 26, 2004
And when you say
sole source, do you mean the sole source for an individual policy maker
in government, or for the entire government?
This is getting so pointless - it’s close to unbelievable. I can’t understand why I’m even replying to your pointless nit-picking of my post...
First of all, I trust you’ve helped me in making a complete fool of myself. I think with all the posts I’ve made in this thread, I’ve clearly demonstrated that I can’t even put across some very simple ideas or if I can’t express myself in a sufficient level of clarity to make them understandable. Or else, why do you having trouble understand what I write?
Or is it the case that you refuse to understand my points?
It really doesn’t matter any more. As you've clearly demonstrated in your replies to my posts that you’re vastly more intelligent, linguistically more talented and you have a superior understanding of how the world functions. As things stand, further input from me will simply make me look more stupid. Something which I think I should avoid from now on.
You can call me whatever you want to call me and to be completely honest with you: I really don’t care. You’ve refused to see my point of view and it is clear that I’m incapable of explaining it to you. I hope it has been entertaining for you.