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Author: Bonhoeffer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 195639  
Subject: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 9:05 AM
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Out of respect for Pam, i'm moving the discussion from here:
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=19507976
to here.

Then why didn't you quote it accurately? I can only read your words, not your mind.

I never quoted it at all. I put "freedom from religion" in quotation marks because it is a "catch phrase" (<--notice the quotation marks around this phrase) with a particular meaning. I referred to the "freedom from religion" application of the first amendment, not the "freedom from religion" clause or anything similar that would have indicated i was quoting directly from the amendment.

No. That's not my religion. I am a member of the Roman Catholic faith...

Petty semantics are not advancing the substance of this debate.

Then you should not have a problem, in principle, with a moment of silence.

I don't have a problem with it from a separation of Church and State point of view (except that there is a lot of danger for misapplication of it leading to the endorsement of prayer to a specific god... it's playing with fire, IMHO). I do have a problem with it in that it seems a waste of time. Why bother with a forced "moment of silence?" If a kid wants to bow his head and say a prayer at the start of his school day, he can; let him do it. If another kid wants to spend that time finishing up his homework or catching up with a friend about what he did over the weekend, let him. I don't see a point to a mandatory moment of silence, except as an implicit state-sponsored prayer time.

Not over a great many years. Over the last 40 years, pretty much beginning with Griswold. Every constitutional scholar I have read, even the really liberal ones, think that Roe v. Wade was very badly decided and does not rest on firm judicial footing.

Sorry, i'm still fairly young. 40 years is "a great many years" by my reckoning (my apologies to all the 40+ people in the audience : ). In any case, i wasn't in any way attempting to allude to Roe or anything similar. The very last thing i feel like doing right now is getting into more mudslinging in an abortion debate. Let's avoid that one, please. I was specifically thinking of things like government phone taps and various forms of surveillance. Would you be happy to see the "right to privacy" interpretation struck down such that anyone anywhere is free to record your every word or watch everything you do inside your own home?

We now have a situation in which no public mention of any higher being can be made in many public places.

What is your evidence for this claim? I live in a country where the President of the United States makes frequent references to his faith and the Christian God, where most politicians i see get elected in large part because they publicly profess belief in God, and where those who do not share the majority's religious beliefs are loudly and frequently lambasted by both public officials and the press. It looks to me like the majority in power want to make this a "Christian Nation" to the detriment of all those who believe differently.

There are lots of examples of cases that don't make any sense and they are all over the map.

Citations, please. You don't have to provide links to the cases on the web; i have access to Westlaw.

It's not for the judicial branch to make new law. It is their job to interpret laws that already exist.

Exactly. And the judicial branch has interpreted the existing laws and come to the conclusion that we have a right to privacy and that there should be separation of church and state. I agree with them.

If I have to respect atheism, than others can damn well respect my beliefs too. Yes, it does go both ways. That's entirely the issue.

Good, we agree. Why were we arguing to begin with?

Unless you can prove for a fact that a supernatural creator does not exist (which you can't), atheism is just as much a belief system as any affirmative belief in a god. You can neither prove the negative nor the positive of this proposition. That makes an atheist's beliefs just as much faith-based as anyone else. Most atheists would never admit this. It is nonetheless true.

Sigh. I recommend going over to Atheist Fools and reading the entire FAQ. Don't post, if you can help it. You will experience an exceptionally cold reception if you try posting anything similar to your comments above, which reveal a profound lack of understanding of atheism. But do read the FAQ.

At the risk of boring the masses and taking this thread in a completely different direction than it should be headed, i'll summarize.

No, atheism is not "faith-based." The very definition of atheism is an absence of faith in any supernatural being. The atheist sees no reasonable evidence that any god exists, so the atheist simply doesn't believe. How anyone can claim that involves faith is beyond me. You and i have faith. We make the extraordinary claim that an invisible, intangible being exists outside the confines of this universe, and not only that, but it cares about us and takes an interest in our everyday lives. We make that claim in spite of the absence of any objective, falsifiable evidence that can be scientifically tested. Thus we have faith. Those who choose not to join us in that belief are simply leaving faith at the door and choosing to accept only that which is based on objective evidence.

But that's really beside the point, because i'm not arguing that government should endorse atheism. Government should neither mandate nor prohibit any religious belief that does not harm others. It should be religiously neutral.

Bon
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Author: katinga Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Ticker Guide Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99598 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 9:33 AM
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Bon. No, atheism is not "faith-based." The very definition of atheism is an absence of faith in any supernatural being. The atheist sees no reasonable evidence that any god exists, so the atheist simply doesn't believe. How anyone can claim that involves faith is beyond me. You and i have faith. We make the extraordinary claim that an invisible, intangible being exists outside the confines of this universe, and not only that, but it cares about us and takes an interest in our everyday lives. We make that claim in spite of the absence of any objective, falsifiable evidence that can be scientifically tested. Thus we have faith. Those who choose not to join us in that belief are simply leaving faith at the door and choosing to accept only that which is based on objective evidence.

Atheism as a non-exclusive belief is not "faith-based". Atheism as an exclusive ideology is faith-based. As an ideology, actively promoting itself and seeking to exclude other belief systems, it can certainly do harm.

Ideology kills. That is just as true in a theocracy (inquisition Spain and modern Iran) as it is in an atheocracy (national socialist Germany and Communist China, Cambodia, USSR, Cuba, etc.).

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99602 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 10:11 AM
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I never quoted it at all. I put "freedom from religion" in quotation marks because it is a "catch phrase" (<--notice the quotation marks around this phrase) with a particular meaning. I referred to the "freedom from religion" application of the first amendment, not the "freedom from religion" clause or anything similar that would have indicated i was quoting directly from the amendment.

Uh, when you put something in quotes, your "quoting" it. The reader has no idea from the context that this was intended to be a "catch phrase." I can't read your mind. Only what you write. So you agree that the Constitution doesn't say "freedom from religion". You also agree that it is only an application of the First Amendment.

Petty semantics are not advancing the substance of this debate.

It is certainly not petty to me. Nor is it to a great many other people whatever their faith.

... I don't see a point to a mandatory moment of silence, except as an implicit state-sponsored prayer time.

Setting aside a short block of time of a couple of minutes for a child to say whatever prayer they want to say is not sponsorship. It is acknowledgment of the faith that the child is being raised in.

Sorry, i'm still fairly young. 40 years is "a great many years" by my reckoning (my apologies to all the 40+ people in the audience : ). In any case, i wasn't in any way attempting to allude to Roe or anything similar.

You were talking about the right to privacy. You can't talk of the development of that right without talking about Griswold and Roe among others. Something that has occurred within my lifetime doesn't really qualify as a long period of time in the grand scheme of things. If it's time that matters, and not substance, than we have had more years without this alleged undefined right than we have had with it.

The very last thing i feel like doing right now is getting into more mudslinging in an abortion debate. Let's avoid that one, please.

As you wish. See above.

I was specifically thinking of things like government phone taps and various forms of surveillance. Would you be happy to see the "right to privacy" interpretation struck down such that anyone anywhere is free to record your every word or watch everything you do inside your own home?

What part of this did you not understand:

Please understand that I am not arguing for a wholesale elimination of privacy. I am only saying that any right to privacy must also sometimes be balanced against other rights. Like most rights, it is not an absolute.

You continued:

t is your evidence for this claim? I live in a country where the President of the United States makes frequent references to his faith and the Christian God, where most politicians i see get elected in large part because they publicly profess belief in God, and where those who do not share the majority's religious beliefs are loudly and frequently lambasted by both public officials and the press.

I've already cited a few examples. If the President, Democrat or Republican, can talk about God in a speech to the people, why can't valedictorians of graduating classes in public schools do the same thing? Why do they have less freedom of speech than the President?

Citations, please. You don't have to provide links to the cases on the web; i have access to Westlaw.

In that case, you can find them yourself. :) They are too numerous to list. Better yet, I recommend reading the Constitutional Law hornbook by Rotunda & Young. It's a classic. It lists quite a few cases that don't make any sense at all.

Why were we arguing to begin with?

Perhaps because you assume I intend more than I do? This is a discussion that tends to press a lot of hot buttons in people.

I recommend going over to Atheist Fools and reading the entire FAQ.

No thanks. I can think for myself.

The very definition of atheism is an absence of faith in any supernatural being. The atheist sees no reasonable evidence that any god exists, so the atheist simply doesn't believe.

In other words, they believe that God doesn't exist. It is a belief because they can not prove it. The absence of natural evidence means that there is no proof.

I have never met an atheist, my husband included, who would not say "There is no god." Honesty would require not taking a position on the matter one way or another. In other words, you would have to acknowledge the possibility. This is something that my husband and every other atheist I have ever met and talked to refuses to acknowledge.

CCSand

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Author: HisDelight Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99608 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 10:45 AM
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I'm not sure I'll have time to have a dog in this fight or not (I've always wanted to use that phrase), but just a few quick observations in passing:

"Uh, when you put something in quotes, your "quoting" it."
No, not always. Look at it this way: who were you quoting when you put the word "quoting" in quotes?

"In that case, you can find them yourself" It's common courtesy and generally expected by everyone here, regardless of the topic of conversation, to provide citations to information we claim bolsters our argument. People are constantly asked to provide them and doing so is rarely a problem.

"Honesty would require not taking a position on the matter one way or another." I disagree. When I say "There is no tooth fairy" or "There is no planet Kolob on which God resides" I am not now or have I ever considered either statement to be an acknowledgment on my part that either exists. I've never understood this argument.

Pam

Pam

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Author: stockemup Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99612 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 11:01 AM
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Kat,

I guess the one way you could accurately phrase it is that atheists have faith that God does not exist since they obviously cannot know for sure. So, to that degree it is faith based and a belief system only different in that they fall on the other side of the fence.



Stockemu

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Author: Bonhoeffer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99618 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 11:31 AM
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Uh, when you put something in quotes, your "quoting" it.

Look, you made a mistake. Admit it and move on. Please stop trying to dogmatically insist you were justified in your assumption. You're not less of a person for misunderstanding what i wrote. People misunderstand what other people write all the time on these boards. I've been guilty of it many times. It is not a meaningful capitulation to say, "Oh, now i see what you meant."

Quotation marks have more than one use. The mere act of putting a phrase in quotation marks does not in and of itself mean that the phrase is directly quoted from another source. Sometimes a phrase that needs to be set off for clarification is put in quotations marks. That is what i did. If you are unfamiliar with that practice, you should begin to acclimate yourself to it, as it is frequently employed on discussion boards.

It is certainly not petty to me. Nor is it to a great many other people whatever their faith.

Regardless of what flavor of Christianity you subscribe to, the fact remains that when the President gives props to "God" in his speeches, he is referring to the same God that you believe in. His beliefs about the fundamental nature of God that he acknowledges in his speeches are substantially similar to your own, if not an exact mirror. The same cannot be said for Muslims, Hindus, Wiccans, atheists, etc.

You can't talk of the development of that right without talking about Griswold and Roe among others.

I never had any desire to discuss the development of that right. My only point in mentioning it was to illustrate that we have rights which are not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution but which have been inferred from it nonetheless. That was in response to your assertion that the first amendment does not guarantee freedom from religion. I was simply giving another instance of a right that has been justly found in the interpretation of the Constitution without being declared in as many words. The finer points of how each right developed through case law is beyond the scope of this board.

I've already cited a few examples.

Sorry, i missed them. Could you link to the post(s) where you cited them?

If the President, Democrat or Republican, can talk about God in a speech to the people, why can't valedictorians of graduating classes in public schools do the same thing?

Well first let me say that although i think it is Constitutionally permissible for the President to acknowledge his God in a speech, it is poor form to do so. Once again i point out how such an act works to marginalize the beliefs of the citizens of this country who do not share his beliefs. As a Christian, his frequent references to God merely annoy my sense of the importance of separation of Church and State. But if i stop and imagine him as a Muslim, frequently praising Allah for his Providence, i feel quite uncomfortable. As a Christian, if the president were Muslim, i'd very much prefer he leave Allah out of his speeches altogether. Therefore i desire the same thing on behalf of the people of different faiths with regard to our Christian president.

The most prominent case regarding a valedictorian's speech is Cole v. Oroville Union High School Dist., 228 F.3d 1092. While i think the general issue of whether any acknowledgement of God is permissible in such a speech is up for debate, Niemeyer's (never delivered) speech is a clear cut example of crossing the line. From the opinion in that case:

Niemeyer's proposed speech was a religious sermon which advised the audience that "we are all God's children, through Jesus Christ [sic] death, when we accept his free love and saving grace in our lives," and requested that the audience accept that "God created us" and that man's plans "will not fully succeed unless we pattern our lives after Jesus' example." Finally, Niemeyer's speech called upon the audience to "accept God's love and grace" and "yield to God our lives." Cole's proposed invocation referred repeatedly to the heavenly father and Father God, and concluded "We ask all these things in the precious holy name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

That's not acknowledgement of God, that's overt proselytizing. Talk about trampling on the beliefs of others. The school district was ultimately responsible for the content at the graduation ceremony and thus had every right to prevent him from delivering such a sermon. At least Bush isn't actively proselytizing in his speeches.

The opinion clarifies that upon submitting his speech for approval, Niemeyer wasn't even asked to completely avoid any mention of God whatsoever--

When Cole and Niemeyer finally submitted their proposed remarks for review by the principal's office, the principal told them to tone down the proselytizing and sectarian religious references. (emphasis mine)

In other words, they basically said, "We'll let you acknowledge God, just don't preach for Pete's sake." Niemeyer wouldn't agree and thus was prevented from making his speech.

In that case, you can find them yourself. :) They are too numerous to list.

Proper etiquette in such discussions as these is for the person who claims to have evidence to support his/her assertions to present that evidence. Asking the people who disagree with you to go find the evidence themselves is not the best thing to do. I don't want to spend time searching for the cases you claim to already have knowledge of. I'm not asking for a comprehensive list. A handful of significant cases would be satisfactory. If you are so familiar with them, why not mention a few?

Perhaps because you assume I intend more than I do?

Possible. If you would like to post a synopsis of exactly what you believe about the "mention of God" in public/governmental formums, i'd be happy to read it. So far i feel like i've only gotten a little bit here and a little bit there, creating various dots outlining your beliefs. Feel free to connect them for me.

No thanks. I can think for myself.

I post a suggestion that you read an FAQ detailing what atheists have to say about their beliefs, and you refuse, asserting that you "can think for [your]self?" That's pretty incredible. Taking that statement to its logical conclusion, it follows that you think you should never read anything that explains a belief system different from your own because you can decide for yourself what other people believe without ever listening to what they have to say. That's hubris of a magnitude i haven't encountered in quite some time.

I'm the last person who would ever discourage anyone from thinking for himself. But reading what other people have to say about their beliefs is not letting other people think for you. By all means, listen to what they have to say and then use your own cognitive skills to evaluate its merits. But don't simply decide in advance what other people believe and then refuse to read anything that might contradict your preconceived notions.

In other words, they believe that God doesn't exist.

No. In this case, the semantics involved are critical. Atheists do not actively believe in the nonexistence of anything. They do not believe in the existence of something.

Do you actively believe in the nonexistence of purple dragons or the tooth fairy? Or do you simply not believe in such things because you see no evidence at all that they exist?

If you really think that you have "faith" that purple dragons do not exist, then i guess you can say that atheists have "faith" that God does not exist. But then you will have redefined "faith" to mean something other than what most people understand it to mean.

In other words, you would have to acknowledge the possibility. This is something that my husband and every other atheist I have ever met and talked to refuses to acknowledge.

Then your husband is confused about the nature of atheism. All the atheists i've talked to "acknowledge the possibility" that a god of some sort could exist. They simply see no evidence for such a thing and thus withold any belief in it.

These are nuances that are explained in the Atheist Fools FAQ, if you ever diegn to read it.

Bon

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Author: andryia Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99619 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 11:39 AM
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I could make a strong argument that government-endorsed/sponsored Christianity is BAD NEWS for the church. Look at Western Europe. Church attendance is pathetic, and in many countries, the majority of people are either atheist or agnostic. Yet the governments of these nations were historically much more involved in religion than ours is. Even now, some churches are kept open only through government funding.

On the other hand, look at many countries with a history of anti-Christian government. China, for example, has a church population that is growing rapidly. So does Cuba. So do many former Soviet countries. I doubt very seriously that government sponsorship is playing a role in this growth!

The United States is arguably the most spiritual nation in the industrialized world. Some say this is in spite of our separation of church and state. I say it's BECAUSE of our separation of church and state.

Andrea

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Author: wolferd1 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99621 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 11:47 AM
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Bon,

I think you are trying to redefine words.

Whatever the FAQ on AF says, in common language, an atheist is a person who actively believes that God does not exist.

The agnostic believes that ultimate reality cannot be know -hence neither can God.

If an atheist is just someone waiting for something conclusive, then what word do we use for someone who says God doesn't exist?

Robert

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Author: BONDJAMES007 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99623 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 12:29 PM
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<lurk mode off>

Greetings,

I have never met an atheist, my husband included, who would not say "There is no god." Honesty would require not taking a position on the matter one way or another. In other words, you would have to acknowledge the possibility

Wrong.

Occam's Razor.

Occam's Razor underlines that the simpler solution should held until such time when a better solution is demonstrated.

By your own admission CCSand, you will never be able to demonstrate the existence of god, and in so doing never reverse Occam's Razor.

That is why Atheists are comfortable with denying god. It is the null hypothesis. Demonstrate that it is false and we will switch.

The key word is demonstrate. Claiming is one thing. Demonstrating is another.

Cheers,

<lurk mode on>

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Author: andryia Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99625 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 12:46 PM
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<<The agnostic believes that ultimate reality cannot be know -hence neither can God.

If an atheist is just someone waiting for something conclusive, then what word do we use for someone who says God doesn't exist?>>

I realize these words have meaning for some people, but as Christians, why should we care? Maybe I'm wrong here, but doesn't God just see us as believers and unbelievers? God offers his love and grace to everyone. A believer is someone who accepts it; an unbeliever is someone who doesn't. Unbelievers have many reasons for not accepting God's love. These reasons are deeply rooted, individually specific, and go way beyond the labels "atheist" and "agnostic."

When I was in graduate school, most of my friends and classmates called themselves atheists, agnostics, or members "in name only" of one religion or another. But whenever we actually discussed our beliefs, I found out that everyone's belief system and reasons for belief/unbelief were different. Some who claimed to be agnostic actually believed in a supreme power but were disillusioned by religious hypocrisy. Others had gone through traumatic life events and couldn't see how a loving God could let them go through that. We had several smart, kind, nurturing professors who were unbelievers. Many graduate students bonded with them and were influenced by them. Some of my friends mentioned the lack of scientific evidence for God, but this was an English/Cultural studies department, heavily steeped in postmodernism. Science wasn't cool because it came too close to looking for Truth.

People have lots of reasons for not accepting God. I think these are much more crucial than the distinctions between atheists and agnostics.

Andrea

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99644 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 1:43 PM
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Pam wrote:

No, not always. Look at it this way: who were you quoting when you put the word "quoting" in quotes?

Of course not always, but there was no way for me to know that from the context.

It's common courtesy and generally expected by everyone here, regardless of the topic of conversation, to provide citations to information we claim bolsters our argument. People are constantly asked to provide them and doing so is rarely a problem.

There are simply too many to provide. I've already mentioned several examples, some of which I'm personally familiar with. The book that I mentioned goes into great detail on the various free exercise/establishment cases. So I referenced that.

I disagree. When I say "There is no tooth fairy" or "There is no planet Kolob on which God resides" I am not now or have I ever considered either statement to be an acknowledgment on my part that either exists.

Isn't that exactly the point?

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99663 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 3:08 PM
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Bon wrote:

Quotation marks have more than one use.

Sure they do, when the context shows otherwise. In this case, it didn't.

Regardless of what flavor of Christianity you subscribe to, the fact remains that when the President gives props to "God" in his speeches, he is referring to the same God that you believe in. His beliefs about the fundamental nature of God that he acknowledges in his speeches are substantially similar to your own, if not an exact mirror. The same cannot be said for Muslims, Hindus, Wiccans, atheists, etc.

They are not an exact mirror of my beliefs, while they may be substantially similar. I don't know. I haven't asked him. :)

Having said that Clinton talked a lot about god too. But I'm absolutely 100% positive that he couldn't possibly have been talking about the same god I believe in. (NB: This is a JOKE!)

I never had any desire to discuss the development of that right.

If you're not interested in talking about the development of the right, you wouldn't be talking about its interpretation over a great many years:

You know what, nowhere in the Constitution does it say we have a "right to privacy" either, but a whole lot of judges over a great many years have interpreted various parts of the Bill of Rights to imply that such a right exists.

You continued:

My only point in mentioning it was to illustrate that we have rights which are not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution but which have been inferred from it nonetheless.

As I said, you can extrapolate/infer anything from anything. There's always a rationale. That doesn't make it right. We have a legislature so judges will not be required to make such huge extrapolations. That's where the law should be made. In the legislature, not in the courts. We have limited federal government for a reason. We have a limited federal judiciary for a reason. The problem is that they haven't been as self-limiting as was expected.

What's a "right?" This may sound like a stupid question, but I think upon deeper examination you'll find it a lot more complicated to answer than you may expect.

That was in response to your assertion that the first amendment does not guarantee freedom from religion. I was simply giving another instance of a right that has been justly found in the interpretation of the Constitution without being declared in as many words. The finer points of how each right developed through case law is beyond the scope of this board.

You and I would disagree over the use of the word "justly". I do not think what they did in Roe v. Wade was in any sense of the word "just". It was a bad decision.

While i think the general issue of whether any acknowledgement of God is permissible in such a speech is up for debate, Niemeyer's (never delivered) speech is a clear cut example of crossing the line.... In other words, they basically said, "We'll let you acknowledge God, just don't preach for Pete's sake." Niemeyer wouldn't agree and thus was prevented from making his speech.

As he should have been. That definitely crossed the line. We agree.

If you are so familiar with them, why not mention a few?

Because this discussion doesn't belong here, it would be way too much "homework" and take far too much of my time. I really do have other things that I need to do besides post here. I've already referred you to a pretty good book that discusses this stuff in detail.

Once again i point out how such an act works to marginalize the beliefs of the citizens of this country who do not share his beliefs. As a Christian, his frequent references to God merely annoy my sense of the importance of separation of Church and State. But if i stop and imagine him as a Muslim, frequently praising Allah for his Providence, i feel quite uncomfortable. As a Christian, if the president were Muslim, i'd very much prefer he leave Allah out of his speeches altogether. Therefore i desire the same thing on behalf of the people of different faiths with regard to our Christian president.

If our president were Muslim, I'd have absolutely no problem with him/her (well, probably him, but that's another discussion) mentioning Allah. It wouldn't bother me in the least. So long as it wasn't the pan-Islamist extremist fundamentalist stuff that Al Qaeda spews, which can't truly be called either Muslim or Islamic. I'd be similarly upset with extremist Christian groups that preach hate.

Would I feel marginalized? Not really. My President would just be a Muslim.

God reveals himself to us in different ways. My husband the atheist sees the wonder of the universe. A Muslim sees Allah, etc., etc., etc. If there is a creator, who created all of us, than it's the same one, no matter what we may think about it or what name we each call him by, or what definition we give to him.

I post a suggestion that you read an FAQ detailing what atheists have to say about their beliefs, and you refuse, asserting that you "can think for [your]self?" That's pretty incredible. Taking that statement to its logical conclusion, it follows that you think you should never read anything that explains a belief system different from your own because you can decide for yourself what other people believe without ever listening to what they have to say. That's hubris of a magnitude i haven't encountered in quite some time.

I have read about many belief systems, including atheism. I stand by what I said. Even Madeline Murray O'Hair wrote in her essay on Atheism:

Atheism is based upon a materialist philosophy, which holds that nothing exists but natural phenomena.

By the way, the dictionary definition of an atheist is "one who denies the existence of god".

This makes atheism a belief system. It is the logical error/fallacy of affirming the null hypothesis. Even the Atheist Fools FAQ admits it is a belief.

Atheists do not actively believe in the nonexistence of anything. They do not believe in the existence of something.

Madeline Murray O'Hair would appear to have disagreed with you.

CCSand


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Author: AdvocatusDiaboli Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99664 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 3:18 PM
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Ideology kills. That is just as true in a theocracy (inquisition Spain and modern Iran) as it is in an atheocracy (national socialist Germany and Communist China, Cambodia, USSR, Cuba, etc.).

I don't understand where people get the impression that the Nazi regime was atheistic, like for example the communist.
Hitler invoked God a lot.
The Nazi ideology had a strong component of both Christian themes as well as Germanic mysticism. It was anything but atheist.

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Author: Bonhoeffer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99666 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 3:58 PM
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Looks like this one is finally petering out. I'm sure many people will be glad to see it end : )

Sure they do, when the context shows otherwise. In this case, it didn't.

I'm taking one last shot at this and them i'm shaking the dust off my feet with regard to this little bit. Here are my exact words that caused this dispute:

That is only fair, and if your particular religion is ever one that is being marginalized for preference of another, you would understand how important the "freedom from religion" application of the first amendment is.

You know the wording of the first admendment with regard to religion. Most educated people in the United States know the general wording of the "Establishment Clause," as it is commonly referred to. This website (TMF), with a subscriber base of middle class to upper class people interested in investing their income, features posters that the vast majority of have at least a bachelor's degree; many have graduate degrees. At the risk of sounding prideful, i think i come across online as a fairly intelligent and educated person.

With all of that context at your disposal when reading my original post, i think it was entirely reasonable of me to expect you to understand that i was not attempting to quote directly from the amendment, assuming you had some knowledge of the use of quotation marks to set off a particular phrase. Furthermore, i must admit that i was a little insulted that from the very beginning of our discussion you had already underestimated me so severely that you assumed i was incapable of looking up the text of the first amendment online and then copying and pasting it into my post if i wished to quote it. I have been partaking in this sort of discussion here at TMF for about three years--a fact available to anyone who bothers to click on my profile.

I'm sorry this was such a contentious issue in our discussion.

If you're not interested in talking about the development of the right, you wouldn't be talking about its interpretation over a great many years...

Yes, in fact, i would be. I mentioned it's interpretation "over a great many years" simply to point out that it is now widely accepted case law. We need not go into the details of the cases simply to acknowledge that it is now caselaw with a substantial history. One need not take a magnifying glass to every bit of terrain before one can get a bird's eye view of the land.

...it would be way too much "homework" and take far too much of my time.

Reiterating what i have now requested in another post, just give me one case. Your tone in this discussion was such that it appeared you believe that the cases are widespread and easy to find. You also appeared to have specific examples in mind that you just weren't citing. Now you appear to be saying that you never actually had any evidence in mind at all, you were just waving this mysterious body of cases at me without knowing of a single specific example.

The general rule for high-level discourse here at the Fool is that if you claim to have evidence supporting your views, be prepared to present that evidence. If you refuse to present it, then the other poster(s) is/are justified in assuming that no evidence exists.

Even Madeline Murray O'Hair wrote in her essay on Atheism:

Atheism is based upon a materialist philosophy, which holds that nothing exists but natural phenomena.


That's all well and good, but a one-sentence quip from a famous atheist is a long way from exploring the finer nuances of atheistic belief/non-belief. Since atheism is not an organized religion with a well-defined list of tenets, it is difficult to pin down exactly what it is. It can have different meaning for different people.

I was explaining atheism as i understand it from the explanations of the many atheists i know. I'll concede that it can be defined differently by different people. And i'd probably be better off letting them speak for themselves, anyway : )

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Author: katinga Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Ticker Guide Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99672 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 4:56 PM
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I don't understand where people get the impression that the Nazi regime was atheistic, like for example the communist.
Hitler invoked God a lot.


It's in Hitler's Table Talk. Well documented in PA.

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99677 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 5:10 PM
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By the way, the dictionary definition of an atheist is "one who denies the existence of god".

No it isn't. It is "One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods."

You may consider the words you left out insignificant, but they're not. Look up disbelieve. It is not the same as believing the opposite.

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Author: JDCRex Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99690 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 6:10 PM
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What is your evidence for this claim? I live in a country where the President of the United States makes frequent references to his faith and the Christian God, where most politicians i see get elected in large part because they publicly profess belief in God, and where those who do not share the majority's religious beliefs are loudly and frequently lambasted by both public officials and the press. It looks to me like the majority in power want to make this a "Christian Nation" to the detriment of all those who believe differently.

Exactly.

As an outsider who has spent some time in America, I can tell you that the US is, in fact, an extremely religious place. And people profess their religion often and, in my view, often quite cynically as an electoral ploy when it comes to politicians.

Politicians in Australia seldom bring God into the argument. It would be looked on as culturally very weird, because here religion is a much more private matter and less stridently professed. For instance, atheists like myself are not seen as oddballs or potential fifth columnists like they are in many parts of America.

The irony is, of course, that here in Australia we do have a sort of defacto state religion (although not completely). The titular head of state (the monarch of Great Britain) can only ever be an Anglican. We don't have any suppression of religion here, but faith certainly isn't as in your face or trumpeted loudly as the US.

On balance I think it's fair to say that the religious of America who gnash their teeth and wail that their freedom of faith is being eroded are being ridiculously hyperbolic.

I realise that as Christians many of you see proselytising as part of your mission. By and large, no one stops you doing that. But part of the admitted genius of your constitution is that you have what amounts to a codified separation of church and state. And it's hard to argue, unless you are a stark raving lunatic like Jack Chick, that it has done the religions of America any harm at all. Faith rates are amongst the highest in the world. Church (and other) attendance figures are globally high.

Just because some bee-in-his-bonnet activist judge can't put a graven image in a court foyer doesn't mean that America is not one of the most religious places on earth.

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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99695 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 7:07 PM
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Bon,

CCSand: It's not for the judicial branch to make new law. It is their job to interpret laws that already exist.

You: Exactly. And the judicial branch has interpreted the existing laws and come to the conclusion that we have a right to privacy and that there should be separation of church and state. I agree with them.

The Constitution must mean what its authors/adopters intended it to mean, and laws must mean what the legislature that enacted them intended them to mean. Any court that construes any provision of the constitution or any law in any other way is in fact legislating -- and, in so doing, is exceeding its rightful authority.

I would welcome a national debate as to how we should construe the protections of privacy that the Fourth Article of Amendment in the "Bill of Rights" embodies, as well as several other provisions that our courts have read into our constitution. Nonetheless, the proper forum for usch a debate is the process of proposing and ratifying articles of amendment or, if the legislators of enough states deem it appropriate to convene one, a constitutional convention, as provided in the constitution. Likewise, if laws are to mean something other than what the respective legislature intended, the proper forum for such a discussion is the debate of a bill to amend the law or, in most states, an initiative petition to enact a law by referendum -- not a judicial fiat. If the courts are free to construe our constitution and our laws to mean something novel, bypassing the proper constitutional procedures, none of us have any certainty as to what the laws mean or when some court may capriciously find that we are in violation thereof. This is precisely the situation that enfolds in George Orwell's classic novel Animal Farm -- which is very worthwhile and highly recommended reading for anybody who has not read it.

Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99696 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 7:17 PM
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Bon,

Sorry to have missed this in my earlier reply.

No, atheism is not "faith-based." The very definition of atheism is an absence of faith in any supernatural being.

1. A "religion" is a complete and self-consistent set of beliefs about the character and nature of a deity, or of deities, together with whatever cult, worship, or observances may follow from that set of beliefs.

2. Atheism is indeed a religion whose set of beliefs consists of the single tenet that there is no deity, and which therefore also holds that worship or observance is impossible because there is no deity.

As I have noted before, it takes a lot more faith to be an atheist than to be a member of any theistic religion -- and Pascal's Wager explains why. If an atheist is wrong, the consequences are severe -- hell for all eternity. If an atheist is right, there's no gain. By contrast, the followers of all theistic religions lose nothing if the atheists are right and have hope of infinite gain if the atheists are wrong. The followers of theistic religions have hope that their quest for truth will lead them to the right way even if their chosen theistic religion is not right on all points.

Norm.


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Author: rbednarski Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99698 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 7:35 PM
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"Occam's Razor underlines that the simpler solution should held until such time when a better solution is demonstrated."

Occam's Razor is not a natural law or anything. And in this case, where it essentially assumes what you are trying to demonstrate it is just a rhetorical tool, nothing more.

God bless,

Rich

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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99701 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 7:47 PM
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Bonhoffer,

Most educated people in the United States know the general wording of the "Establishment Clause," as it is commonly referred to.

Do you know the first six words of the "Establishment Clause" in the first amendment? "The Congress shall make no law..." Note that there is nothing in this amendment to prohibit any state from making such a law. In the founding days of our nation, one typically had to be a male over 21 years of age who owned land and about half of the states also required that one be a member of an official church or denomination designated by the state in order to vote or to hold any office or position within the government.

Historically, all of the states that had official churches at the time of the adoption of the constitution repealed the laws making those churches official over the course of several decades. By the time of the Civil War, there were no official churches anywhere in the United States.

Some years after its adoption, the U. S. Supreme Court construed the fourteenth amendment, the second of the "reconstruction" amendments adopted after the Civil War, to prohibit each state from establishing an official church several decades after its adoption. That construction seems to be a stretch, though, as there's no indication whatsoever in the historical record that the proponents and the adopters of that amendment had any such prohibition.

Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99703 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 7:58 PM
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Kazim,

No it isn't. It is "One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods."

You probably could look in a dozen different dictionaries and get a dozen definitions that differ in subtle ways.

Literally, the word "atheism" -- which is from Greek -- means "belief in no deity" and the word "atheism" -- which also is from Greek -- means "one who believes in no deity." The sense, in both cases, is an affirmative belief that there is no deity rather than an absense of belief about a deity.

In the definition that you quoted, even the word "disbelieves" does not allow an absence of belief. Rather, the word "disbelieves" means that one believes what follows (in this case, the existence of a deity) to be false. Thus, it's wholly consistent with the derivation of the word "atheist."

Norm.


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Author: JAFO31 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99706 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 8:07 PM
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rev2217:

CCSand: {{{{It's not for the judicial branch to make new law. It is their job to interpret laws that already exist.}}}}

Bon: <<<Exactly. And the judicial branch has interpreted the existing laws and come to the conclusion that we have a right to privacy and that there should be separation of church and state. I agree with them.>>>

"The Constitution must mean what its authors/adopters intended it to mean, and laws must mean what the legislature that enacted them intended them to mean."

As if every law ever passed is so self-evidently clear. As you well know, there are very fex texts of any length that obtain universal agreement as to meaning. If the Bible were that clear, then there would not be so many sects within Christendom, some with more or less 180 degree opposing views.

"Any court that construes any provision of the constitution or any law in any other way is in fact legislating -- and, in so doing, is exceeding its rightful authority."

Is not every act of of construing (or construction) exactly that? If there were no dispute as to meaning, then the case would not even be in court because there would be no question to be resolved.

And these days, the authors of the Constitution are not around to depose to with respect to flyovers, heat signature searches, interception of wireless communication (or wired communication for that matter), etc. These matters are not "persons, houses, papers, and effects,".

It would be especially interesting to hear there thoughts as to the Patriot Act and the current administration and exectuive branch officers who believe that declaring a citizen an "enemy combatant" means that you can lock the citizen away incommunicado indefinitely, withhold legal representation, and never charge them with any specific crime. "Nor [shall any person] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Executive findings are not due process of law.

JAFO



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Author: khalou Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99708 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 8:11 PM
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Atheism is belief like bald is a hair color. (I love that line. Its in the AF Faq)

Literally, the word "atheism" -- which is from Greek -- means "belief in no deity" and the word "atheism" -- which also is from Greek -- means "one who believes in no deity."

Belief in no deity implies that the entity "belief in no deity" is a thing. Is it a thing? What does the atheist 'believe' in? A thing called "no deity"? Just what is that thing?

Perhaps "no belief in a deity" would be more appropriate. It doesn't describe a 'thing', only the lack of one.

If 'belief' doesn't exist by adding "no" in front of it, then there is no belief.

k



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Author: JAFO31 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99709 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 8:23 PM
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rev2217 Date: 8/27/03 7:17 PM Number: 99696

Bob: <<<<No, atheism is not "faith-based." The very definition of atheism is an absence of faith in any supernatural being.>>>>

"1. A "religion" is a complete and self-consistent set of beliefs about the character and nature of a deity, or of deities, together with whatever cult, worship, or observances may follow from that set of beliefs.

2. Atheism is indeed a religion whose set of beliefs consists of the single tenet that there is no deity, and which therefore also holds that worship or observance is impossible because there is no deity."


From the FAQ that Bob referenced:

Q. Is atheism a religion?

A. Only in the loosest sense of the word. If "religion" means "belief system" then it kind of is, but then again, so is capitalism and number theory. Most real religions have a centralized source of authority and a system of organized worship. Atheism doesn't. There are also no tenets or laws that atheism proscribes; you are free to make up your own. Saying that atheism is a religion is something like saying that bald is a hair color.

JAFO --- Norm is writign about the the strong form of atheism, but ignores totally the weak form of atheism.

It is also odd to describe the lack of "cult, worship, or observances" as evidence thereof.


"As I have noted before, it takes a lot more faith to be an atheist than to be a member of any theistic religion -- and Pascal's Wager explains why. If an atheist is wrong, the consequences are severe -- hell for all eternity. If an atheist is right, there's no gain. By contrast, the followers of all theistic religions lose nothing if the atheists are right and have hope of infinite gain if the atheists are wrong. The followers of theistic religions have hope that their quest for truth will lead them to the right way even if their chosen theistic religion is not right on all points."

Not hardly.

Q. What is Pascal's Wager? Is that a good argument for believing in God?

A. Pascal's Wager says that you should believe in God, because even if there is a small chance that he exists then you don't want to risk losing eternal life and receiving eternal punishment. It is not all that persuasive, because it can be equally applied to any number of other beliefs, such as "If you don't send me $10 in the mail right now, you will go to hell."

For a more detailed discussion:
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=12710286
http://www.jhuger.com/pascal.mv


Not from the FAQ, but a little quiz stolen from AF

http://www.ffrf.org/bquiz.html


Regards,

JAFO










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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99712 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 8:37 PM
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You probably could look in a dozen different dictionaries and get a dozen definitions that differ in subtle ways.

Be that as it may, the working definition that I use is "someone who does not believe in any gods." Very few valid definitions exclude this non-assertive form of atheism.

Literally, the word "atheism" -- which is from Greek -- means "belief in no deity" and the word "atheism" -- which also is from Greek -- means "one who believes in no deity." The sense, in both cases, is an affirmative belief that there is no deity rather than an absense of belief about a deity.

No it doesn't. "Theism" is belief in gods, and the suffix "a-" means "without." To assert the opposite is not included within the definition.

In the definition that you quoted, even the word "disbelieves" does not allow an absence of belief. Rather, the word "disbelieves" means that one believes what follows (in this case, the existence of a deity) to be false. Thus, it's wholly consistent with the derivation of the word "atheist."

Wrong again. "Disbelieve" means: "To refuse to believe in; reject." It most certainly allows "absence of belief". That's precisely what it does mean.

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Author: BONDJAMES007 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99713 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 8:39 PM
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Greetings,

Occam's Razor is not a natural law or anything.

Oh my my...Occam's Razor reduced to nothing according to Rich.

Occam's Razor is a core principle in logic and science. If two competing theories equally explain all observable facts, you choose the simplest of the two. You opt for the more complex when the more complex is shown to better explain the facts or additional facts previously unknown that the simplest one fails to explain.

That in my book is something.

Cheers,

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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99714 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 8:40 PM
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JAFO,

As if every law ever passed is so self-evidently clear. As you well know, there are very fex texts of any length that obtain universal agreement as to meaning. If the Bible were that clear, then there would not be so many sects within Christendom, some with more or less 180 degree opposing views.

Yes, but there is a paper trail that courts often use when interpreting laws. In the case of the Constitution, we have the Federalist Papers, in which the authors of the document expounded what they meant. In the case of the articles of amendment and of legislation, we also have the records of the congressional committees that drafted the amendments and the records of the debate in both houses of Congress. We also have the historical and cultural context of our knowledge of the times in which the constitution and our laws came into being and the evidence of the practices that followed their adoption. By way of example, an interpretation of an article of amendment that would have prohibited a practice that's known to have continued, without challenge, for several decades after its adoption probably is not the correct interpretation because those who proposed and adopted it msot certainly would have acted to stop a contrary practice that existed in their day.

Is not every act of of construing (or construction) exactly that? If there were no dispute as to meaning, then the case would not even be in court because there would be no question to be resolved.

In many cases today, there was no dispute until somebody decided to create one by making an argument that clearly would have been laughed out of court at the time of adoption of the provision that they claim to justify their argument.

And these days, the authors of the Constitution are not around to depose to with respect to flyovers, heat signature searches, interception of wireless communication (or wired communication for that matter), etc. These matters are not "persons, houses, papers, and effects,".

In many cases, the intent of the constitution is pretty clear -- and indeed I would argue that the courts have gone too far in allowing searches of persons entering certain public buildings and of persons who are going to gate concourses at airports to board airplanes. Nonetheless, adoption of constitutional amendments to address these details would not be a bad idea. Unfortunately, the courts seem to deem this sort of "inspection" not to be a "search" within the meaning of the fourth article of amendment to the Constitution.

It would be especially interesting to hear there thoughts as to the Patriot Act and the current administration and exectuive branch officers who believe that declaring a citizen an "enemy combatant" means that you can lock the citizen away incommunicado indefinitely, withhold legal representation, and never charge them with any specific crime. "Nor [shall any person] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Executive findings are not due process of law.

Article I, Section 9, Second Paragraph: The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

There's a clear argument that the so-called "Patriot Act" simply suspends the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus due to an invasion by foreign terrorists, and that the public safety requires it, as clearly authorized by the Constitution itself. It will be interesting to see which way the courts will rule on this issue.

Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99715 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 8:53 PM
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Khalou,

Atheism is belief like bald is a hair color. (I love that line. Its in the AF Faq)

Translation: The person who wrote the Atheist Fool FAQ is totally clueless.

Me: Literally, the word "atheism" -- which is from Greek -- means "belief in no deity" and the word "atheism" -- which also is from Greek -- means "one who believes in no deity."

You: Belief in no deity implies that the entity "belief in no deity" is a thing. Is it a thing? What does the atheist 'believe' in? A thing called "no deity"? Just what is that thing?

The point that you are missing here is that the null set is still a set, just as the null hypothesis is still a hypothesis.

Perhaps "no belief in a deity" would be more appropriate. It doesn't describe a 'thing', only the lack of one.
If 'belief' doesn't exist by adding "no" in front of it, then there is no belief.


Unfortunately, the linguistic construct of the words requires the groupings (a-the)-ism (belief that there is no deity) and (a-the)-ist (one who believes that there is no deity), clearly disallowing what you suggest. The prefix takes precedence, so these words necessarily refer to a positive belief in the absence of a deity rather than any absence of belief. The prefix a- ("no") attaches to the root theos ("deity") rather than to the suffix -ism ("belief in") or -ist ("one who believes in").

Note, BTW, that a belief does not have to be in a thing. It can be in the absense of a thing instead.

Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99717 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 9:02 PM
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JAFO,

From the FAQ that Bob referenced:

Q. Is atheism a religion?

A. Only in the loosest sense of the word. If "religion" means "belief system" then it kind of is, but then again, so is capitalism and number theory. Most real religions have a centralized source of authority and a system of organized worship. Atheism doesn't. There are also no tenets or laws that atheism proscribes; you are free to make up your own. Saying that atheism is a religion is something like saying that bald is a hair color.


This proves that the author of the FAQ is in denial about the meaning of the words "Atheism" and "Atheist."

JAFO --- Norm is writign about the the strong form of atheism, but ignores totally the weak form of atheism.

If whatever system of beliefs you mean by "the weak form of atheism" does not hold the tenet that there is no deity, it is not Atheism. It may be Agnositcism (many people do confuse the two), but it is not Atheism.

It is also odd to describe the lack of "cult, worship, or observances" as evidence thereof.

Please note the wording that I used -- A "religion" is a complete and self-consistent set of beliefs about the character and nature of a deity, or of deities, together with whatever cult, worship, or observances may follow from that set of beliefs. -- which implies that cult, worship, and/or observances are only part of a religion if that religion's system of beliefs requires them. When the system of beliefs says that a particular custom is of no consequence, the custom is not a part of the religion.

Not hardly.

Q. What is Pascal's Wager? Is that a good argument for believing in God?

A. Pascal's Wager says that you should believe in God, because even if there is a small chance that he exists then you don't want to risk losing eternal life and receiving eternal punishment. It is not all that persuasive, because it can be equally applied to any number of other beliefs, such as "If you don't send me $10 in the mail right now, you will go to hell."


That does not alter the fact that there are no Atheists in heaven!

Norm.


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Author: Fallout2Queen Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99718 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 9:04 PM
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Occam's Razor is not a natural law or anything.

http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=58133
Excerpt:
Ockham's razor
also spelled Occam's razor, also called law of economy, or law of parsimony, principle stated by William of Ockham (1285–1347/49), a scholastic, that Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate; "Plurality should not be posited without necessity." The principle gives precedence to simplicity; of two competing theories, the simplest explanation of an entity is to be preferred.


http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/dictionary/DictionaryResults.aspx?refid=1861684439
Ock·ham's ra·zor or Occ·am's ra·zor

rule of philosophical simplicity: the philosophical and scientific rule that simple explanations should be preferred to more complicated ones, and that the explanation of a new phenomenon should be based on what is already known.
Also called law of parsimony








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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99719 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 9:09 PM
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Kazim,

Be that as it may, the working definition that I use is "someone who does not believe in any gods." Very few valid definitions exclude this non-assertive form of atheism.

The absence of belief is not Atheism (see below).

No it doesn't. "Theism" is belief in gods, and the suffix "a-" means "without." To assert the opposite is not included within the definition.

Note that the prefix a- attaches to the root theos rather than to the suffixes -ism and -ist so atheism (atheist) has to mean "belief (believer) that there is no deity." Your misconstruction is not linguistically valid.

Wrong again. "Disbelieve" means: "To refuse to believe in; reject." It most certainly allows "absence of belief". That's precisely what it does mean.

There's a big difference between doubt and rejection. In rejecting a tenet, one explicitly holds that tenet to be false. One cannot reject a tenet and still admit the possibility that it might be true.

Norm.


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Author: khalou Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99721 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 9:27 PM
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Note, BTW, that a belief does not have to be in a thing. It can be in the absence of a thing instead.

Norm.


Fine. You win.

Since you believe you are not Napoleon because you've never seen any reason to do so then you subscribe to the 'belief system' of Non-Napoleonics.

If you agree to that, then I can adjust to your definition of a belief.

k


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Author: khalou Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99723 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 9:41 PM
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Atheism is belief like bald is a hair color. (I love that line. Its in the AF Faq)

---------------------------------

Translation: The person who wrote the Atheist Fool FAQ is totally clueless.


I think you might wanna rethink that response.

After all, you could be Napoleon.

k

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99730 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 11:05 PM
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Translation: The person who wrote the Atheist Fool FAQ is totally clueless.

At your service.

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99731 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/2003 11:13 PM
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The absence of belief is not Atheism (see below).

It is (see dictionary).

There's a big difference between doubt and rejection.

Luckily for me, the definition in the dictionary says that either one is valid, hence "refuse to believe in."

In rejecting a tenet, one explicitly holds that tenet to be false. One cannot reject a tenet and still admit the possibility that it might be true.

No. In rejecting a tenet, one rejects a tenet. One does not automatically accept its opposite.

It might do you some good to actually look in the dictionary for the real definitions of terms, instead of insisting that they mean whatever you say they mean.

re·ject, tr.v.:
1. To refuse to accept, submit to, believe, or make use of.

Not defined as:
To regard as false.

Example: If you tell me that you are eleven feet tall, I would reject it. But I admit that it is not LOGICALLY impossible for you to be eleven feet tall, I simply refuse to believe it unless you give me a compelling reason to do so.

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Author: rbednarski Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99735 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 12:43 AM
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"Oh my my...Occam's Razor reduced to nothing according to Rich."

Yikes, talk about twisting what someone says. It may be a core principle in science and logic, but when it is used to assume what is being claimed it is no more than a rhetorical device. Good things can be misused. And notice the subtle little assumption that science and logic are the only paths to truth.

God bless,

Rich

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Author: rbednarski Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99736 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 12:48 AM
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"Occam's Razor is not a natural law or anything.

http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=58133
Excerpt:
Ockham's razor
also spelled Occam's razor, also called law of economy, or law of parsimony, principle stated by William of Ockham (1285–1347/49), a scholastic, that Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate; "Plurality should not be posited without necessity." The principle gives precedence to simplicity; of two competing theories, the simplest explanation of an entity is to be preferred.

http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/dictionary/DictionaryResults.aspx?refid=1861684439
Ock·ham's ra·zor or Occ·am's ra·zor

rule of philosophical simplicity: the philosophical and scientific rule that simple explanations should be preferred to more complicated ones, and that the explanation of a new phenomenon should be based on what is already known.
Also called law of parsimony"

Thank you for proving my point. These definitions clearly show that it is a man made principle, not a natural law.

God bless,

Rich



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Author: BONDJAMES007 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99737 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 1:16 AM
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Greetings,


but when it is used to assume what is being claimed it is no more than a rhetorical device.

Talk about missing the point.

Let's rewind a bit.

Author: CCSand Number: 99602 of 99736
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/27/03 10:11 AM

I have never met an atheist, my husband included, who would not say "There is no god." Honesty would require not taking a position on the matter one way or anotherIn other words, you would have to acknowledge the possibility. This is something that my husband and every other atheist I have ever met and talked to refuses to acknowledge.


CCSand assumes that atheists can only function as she imagines and assumes that the only "honest" vision would be limited to expressing doubt.

I responded that atheist's can and do use occam's razor. I never claimed that is should be the subtle little assumption that science and logic are the only paths to truth.


If you use occam's razor, and atheist do, then it is quite an honest and forthright position to accept that there is no god until proven otherwise. This becomes our null hypothesis. Prove me wrong and I will reject it in favour of your alternative and demonstatedly better view.

But you must come up with a very solid demonstration.

There is no need to acknowledge the possibility of god as CCSand demands, and there is no loss of honesty. It is also not surprising that every atheist that CCSand has met shares this view.

That you opt to use a different view to understand the world is your personal choice along with CCSand.

But CCSand is wrong to accuse atheists of a lack of honesty because they use Occam's razor and adopt a different null hypothesis.

Cheers,

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Author: Bonhoeffer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99740 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 8:31 AM
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The Constitution must mean what its authors/adopters intended it to mean

IMHO, the adherents to the Original Intent view of the Constitution fail to acknowledge some basic limitations on human understanding and some inescapable characteristics of social and technological progress.

It sounds very noble to insist on upholding the meaning of the Constitution that its authors/adopters originally intended, but at the most basic level you encounter the difficulty of divining exactly what it was they intended. I know there are secondary sources that record some of the debate about the inclusion of various provisions, and that certainly helps, but the human mind is very complex. There is no guarantee that you'll come away with the author's exact intent, and there's certainly no guarantee that all the adopters had the same intent upon agreeing to the provision. That's tricky business.

But even assuming it is possible to hold to Original Intent, i don't think it is a wise rubric for interpreting the Constitution. It ignores all of the social and technological progress that has occurred in the last 200+ years.

I believe our judicial system has two primary goals. Neither can be safely divorced from the other; they must go hand in hand. The first is to uphold the Constitution. The second is to uphold Justice. After all, the very purpose of the Constitution was to ensure a framework for Justice for the American people. I think it is very safe to say that the Founders would not have approved of a judicial system which routinely denied people Justice.

By insisting on applying a strict interpretation of the Constitution to circumstances the Founders couldn't have imagined in their wildest dreams, you ensure that justice will not be done. Thomas Jefferson never imagined that someday the privacy of American citizens would be threatened by tiny video cameras that could be hidden almost anywhere. If you insist on a strict interpretation, then since the Constitution doesn't expressly prohibit secret video monitoring of private citizens by the government, such an act would have to be allowed. However, if a more liberal reading of the Constitution is used, the right to due process can serve to prohibit governmental surveillance without a warrant.

Call me crazy, but i don't want FBI agents tapping my phones without probable cause that has been presented to a judge. Thanks.

Bon

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Author: Bonhoeffer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99745 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 8:54 AM
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As I have noted before, it takes a lot more faith to be an atheist than to be a member of any theistic religion -- and Pascal's Wager explains why. If an atheist is wrong, the consequences are severe -- hell for all eternity. If an atheist is right, there's no gain. By contrast, the followers of all theistic religions lose nothing if the atheists are right and have hope of infinite gain if the atheists are wrong. The followers of theistic religions have hope that their quest for truth will lead them to the right way even if their chosen theistic religion is not right on all points.

The AF FAQ contains the following link, which explains how nutty Pascal's Wager really is:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=12710286

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Author: Hubris Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99765 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 10:40 AM
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rev2217: The person who wrote the Atheist Fool FAQ [Kazim] is totally clueless [about atheism]

On the off chance that you don't realize how condescending or insulting this statement is, perhaps you'd pause a moment to think about it.

IMO you're going about this backwards. Each person has her own personal philosophy, and this will be too complex to fit generic societal labels. When that person publicly takes on a "label", it doesn't mean that her intrinsic belief system suddenly morphs to match the dictionary. So, e.g., when Kazim take on the "atheist" label it means what he thinks it means, not what you or Merriam Webster say it does. Now, I'd agree that if someone's personal definition were dramatically at odds with the generally accepted definition it would tend to make the term meaningless, like if Kazim called himself "Christian". However this case is nothing like that.

The core tenet of atheism, at least among people I've encountered here at the fool, is there is no evidence to support the existence of a God, and there is evidence to counter many specific claims of various religions. If you want to call this a "religion" that's your perogative, but you shouldn't be surprised that others don't feel the same way.

I believe you owe Kazim an apology for your gratuitous insult.

Hubris

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99768 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 11:19 AM
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007 wrote:

That is why Atheists are comfortable with denying god. It is the null hypothesis.

You can not affirm (or deny) the null hypothesis on no evidence.

That's why it's a belief system. <sigh>

CCSand

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Author: Hubris Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99769 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 11:24 AM
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CCSand: You can not affirm the null hypothesis on no evidence.

That's why it's a belief system. <sigh>


You cannot "affirm the null hypothesis" on any amount of evidence. What's your point? Atheists believe there is insufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis. Is that better for you?

Hubris

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99772 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 11:46 AM
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Bon wrote:

This website (TMF), with a subscriber base of middle class to upper class people interested in investing their income, features posters that the vast majority of have at least a bachelor's degree; many have graduate degrees. At the risk of sounding prideful, i think i come across online as a fairly intelligent and educated person.

You do, but have you ever hung out on the PA board? <grin> I've seen a lot of really stupid thoughtless posts over my years here. Better than Yahoo! certainly, but just because one posts here, doesn't necessarily mean anything.

Furthermore, i must admit that i was a little insulted that from the very beginning of our discussion you had already underestimated me so severely that you assumed i was incapable of looking up the text of the first amendment online and then copying and pasting it into my post if i wished to quote it. I have been partaking in this sort of discussion here at TMF for about three years--a fact available to anyone who bothers to click on my profile.

Here's the real source of the friction, IMO. I had no intention of insulting you. I don't click on a poster's name and find out all about him/her before I post either. I just respond. In my experience, most people who discuss constitutional issues are talking out their hat, even attorneys. There are a lot of reasons for this, but suffice it to say that I no longer make the assumption that even most educated people know what the Constitution actually says about anything. Let alone what the cases say. Sheesh! There are people who don't even know the name of the current vice-President and Secretary of State, let alone the exact wording of the Constitution. So don't take this as a slam on your intelligence. There is an entire culture that has grown up around what people think the First Amendment, among other provisions, says; not what it actually says. I get really, really tired of this, so I probably answered out of frustration and irritation rather than anything else. Sorry for that. :)

We need not go into the details of the cases simply to acknowledge that it is now caselaw with a substantial history.

Yes, but you're using its development as some sort of justification for its reasoning. I don't think that's any kind of a justification.

Reiterating what i have now requested in another post, just give me one case.

If you want to go "chapter and verse" on this, you're going to have to wait. I have a meeting tonight after a horrendous work schedule and then I have to pack up for the long weekend during which I'm going to be out of town. And do all the baby stuff I have to do. If you want any kind of detail on this I'm going to have to do my homework and that will take hours. I don't have the time right now.

Since atheism is not an organized religion with a well-defined list of tenets, it is difficult to pin down exactly what it is. It can have different meaning for different people.

That makes me correct.

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99773 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 11:49 AM
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Kazim wrote:

You may consider the words you left out insignificant, but they're not.

I didn't leave them out as the dictionary I used didn't contain them.

In fact, using the word "disbelief" rather proves the point. That it is a BELIEF.

CCSand

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Author: BONDJAMES007 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99774 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 11:51 AM
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Greetings,

You can not affirm (or deny) the null hypothesis on no evidence. That's why it's a belief system. <sigh>

I disagree, given that this null hypothesis is actually belief neutral: i.e. until proven otherwise I won't believe in the god you propose, be it JHC, Allah, YWYH, Vishnu,Gaia, Odin or whatever.

A belief system usually can be described as having tenets that are commonly acknowledged by all adherents.

Since you are convinced that atheism is a belief system, please describe in detail this system and how all atheists agree on its components.

Christians may disagree on several points, but they acknowledge a god, Jesus is his son, his death and resurection were to take away the sins of the world, and I'm sure there are several more that are common to all denonminations of christians.

Differences arise when discussing issues like the cult of Mary, salvation through grace or works.

Please describe the atheist belief system, since you perceive it to be so.

Cheers,





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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99776 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 12:03 PM
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JAFO asked:

It would be especially interesting to hear there thoughts as to the Patriot Act and the current administration and exectuive branch officers who believe that declaring a citizen an "enemy combatant" means that you can lock the citizen away incommunicado indefinitely, withhold legal representation, and never charge them with any specific crime. "Nor [shall any person] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Executive findings are not due process of law.

This should answer a lot of your questions:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=16482448

However, this discussion does not belong here, so I request that if you wish to discuss it, some other board would be more appropriate.

CCSand

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Author: rbednarski Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99783 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 12:42 PM
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"If you use occam's razor, and atheist do, then it is quite an honest and forthright position to accept that there is no god until proven otherwise. This becomes our null hypothesis. Prove me wrong and I will reject it in favour of your alternative and demonstatedly better view."

Honest and forthright only to the extent that you acknowledge that you have assumed your conclusion and that your reasoning has only to do with human logic and that human logic is not synonymous with truth. Let's do a thought experiment and assume for the moment that God does exist and for His own reasons chooses to create a universe within which His existence cannot be proved. In this case Occam's Razor cannot guide you to the truth. And that is why Occam's Razor, used as you say atheists use it, is assuming what you are trying to conclude. The truth can be exactly opposite the atheist position, as in my thought experiment, yet by applying Occam's Razor there is no possibility that you could ever know the truth. Maybe you find that a satisfactory state of affairs?

There is also the problem that when you cannot allow the possibility of God existing you are effectively saying that only those things that can be proven to exist actually exist. To which I reply "Says who?". To demonstrate such an overarching claim would require quite a bit of doing, to my way of thinking, and is certainly not something one can blithely just assume.

So I ask, on what basis do you assert that only those things that can be proven to exist actually exist? And if you do not assert this, then how can you disallow the possibility of God existing?

God bless,

Rich

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99784 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 12:46 PM
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In fact, using the word "disbelief" rather proves the point. That it is a BELIEF.

I see.

So what you are saying is that
"dissimilar" means "similar"
"disrespect" means "respect"
"disenfranchise" means "enfranchise"
etc.

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Author: rbednarski Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99788 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 1:07 PM
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"I disagree, given that this null hypothesis is actually belief neutral: i.e. until proven otherwise . . ."

Seems to me your actual null hypothesis has nothing to do with God but rather with the notion that only those things that can be proven are true. Goedel dispelled that long ago so you are left with a discredited null hypothesis as I see it.

God bless,

Rich

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99791 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 1:24 PM
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007 wrote:

But CCSand is wrong to accuse atheists of a lack of honesty because they use Occam's razor and adopt a different null hypothesis.

No. I'm not. You can neither affirm nor deny the null (or the affirmative) hypothesis on no evidence. That simple little fact is what makes atheism a BELIEF system.

References to Occam's Razor proves nothing as this is a principle of logical argument that assumes there are facts to start with from which principles can be rationally deduced. Since we have neither facts nor evidence, i.e., what exist only in the natural world, you can not say with certainty that either proposition is true.

You can only believe it.

Put another way, scientific inquiry only attempts to answer questions concerning the natural world. Science neither makes nor can make claims to prove or disprove anything in the supernatural world, which is by definition, SUPERnatural.

So, where an atheist denies the existence of God based on the lack of evidence for same, yes, I would accuse that atheist of a lack of honesty.

J'Accuse! :)

I've had this discussion with my husband. He was forced to admit that he doesn't know any more than I do about the supernatural world, and therefore a) that his is a belief as is mine and b) that he could be equally wrong about his belief as I could be about mine.

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99792 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 1:35 PM
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Bon wrote:

It sounds very noble to insist on upholding the meaning of the Constitution that its authors/adopters originally intended, but at the most basic level you encounter the difficulty of divining exactly what it was they intended.

This is the reason we have legislatures. Furthermore, the thoughts of 9 people on the meaning of justice is no substitute for democracy. This is exactly why the judiciary was intended to have such a limited role.

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99793 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 1:43 PM
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Hubris wrote:

Atheists believe there is insufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis. Is that better for you?

No, because this is not what many atheists belief. They affirm the null hypothesis.

Madeline Murray O'Hair is a case in point.

Further, using Occam's Razor leads you to the ASSUMPTION that the null hypothesis is true, which is just another way of saying that you believe something.

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99794 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 1:46 PM
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007 wrote:

I disagree, given that this null hypothesis is actually belief neutral....

No it is not neutral. The null hypothesis is "There is no god." The affirmative hypothesis is: "There is a god."

Neither can be proven true or false.

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99795 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 1:47 PM
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rbednarski wrote:

Honest and forthright only to the extent that you acknowledge that you have assumed your conclusion...

EXACTLY!!!

There IS evidence of intelligent life on the planet!!! :)

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99796 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 1:48 PM
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Kazim wrote:

I see.

No, you apparently don't.

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99797 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 1:49 PM
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Rich wrote:

Goedel dispelled that long ago ...

Please explain. Who is Goedel?

CCSand

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Author: Bonhoeffer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99798 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 1:57 PM
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Furthermore, the thoughts of 9 people on the meaning of justice is no substitute for democracy.

He!! yeah, it is. The 9 justices on the Supreme Court are there for life, or until they decide they've had enough. There is no impending election looming over their heads, making them follow whichever path is most popular. They get to make decisions regarding what is Just and Unjust based solely on their own consciences and knowledge of the law. That is a beautiful thing. The Framers knew what they were doing when they made Supreme Court Justice a lifetime appointment.

Your beloved legislature, on the other hand, is constantly worrying about getting reelected. Keeping the paycheck coming is far more important to them than Justice. Justice Shmustice. They want to stay in office.

So if enough ignoramuses scream at their representatives in Congress that they are so scared of terrorist attacks that they are willing to sacrifice enormously important civil liberties and move the country towards becoming a police state, then the legislators respond by passing the PATRIOT Act and drafting the PATRIOT Act II, no matter how flagrantly it flouts the most fundamental principles of the Constitution.

Thank God we have a strong Judicial branch of government that can call a spade a spade and strike down unconstitutional legislation when it is challenged in court.

Until, of course, the horses' @$$es in Congress decide to amend the Constitution to bend to the will of the ignorant masses. Then the Judicial branch's hands are tied until the ignorant masses finally realize how stupid they have been and force Congress to repeal the amendment. A la Prohibition.

Bon

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99799 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 1:59 PM
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Kazim wrote:

I see.

No, you apparently don't.

CCSand


At least one of us doesn't, that much is clear.

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99810 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 2:36 PM
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Bon wrote:

He!! yeah, it is. The 9 justices on the Supreme Court are there for life, or until they decide they've had enough. There is no impending election looming over their heads, making them follow whichever path is most popular.

The independence of the judiciary was never intended to be a substitute for democracy. You are aware of the principle of "deference" to the legislature, are you not?

Your beloved legislature, on the other hand, is constantly worrying about getting reelected.

Yes, just as they should be. That means they are accountable to me. The Supreme Court is accountable to no one. That is it's biggest flaw.

Kings weren't accountable to the people either. That's why democracy was invented and the kings tossed off their thrones. Or at least out of the country.

I rather think most people do not want to substitute the rule of judges for the rule of kings.

So if enough ignoramuses scream at their representatives in Congress that they are so scared of terrorist attacks that they are willing to sacrifice enormously important civil liberties and move the country towards becoming a police state, then the legislators respond by passing the PATRIOT Act and drafting the PATRIOT Act II, no matter how flagrantly it flouts the most fundamental principles of the Constitution.

Until, of course, the horses' @$$es in Congress decide to amend the Constitution to bend to the will of the ignorant masses.


It seems you would believe that everyone who holds an opinion different than your own is an ignorant fool. I submit to you that this is arrogance at its worst. This is also the reason why we have democracy. If your opinion is a valid one, then put it to the test and see if the people agree with it. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. spoke of the marketplace of ideas. That means ideas will be tested which also means that some of them will be discarded after being found wanting.

Your opinion of the legality of the actions that have been taken in the wake of 9/11, similarly, is not the only one out there. There is support in the Geneva Conventions, the Constitution, as interpreted in such cases as Ex Parte Quirin and Ex Parte Milligan to take the actions that have been taken. We have had lengthy discussions about this on the Current Events board. I've already posted one of the links to that discussion. Feel free to enjoy it.

CCSand

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Author: andryia Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99817 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 3:09 PM
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Bonhoeffer wrote:
<<Then the Judicial branch's hands are tied until the ignorant masses finally realize how stupid they have been and force Congress to repeal the amendment.>>

Uh, Bon . . .If We the People are just "ignorant masses," then why bother with democracy at all? I mean, in a monarchy, future leaders can be educated and prepared to rule, right?

Andrea


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Author: Bonhoeffer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99818 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 3:12 PM
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The Supreme Court is accountable to no one. That is it's biggest flaw.

Actually, that's its greatest strength. We're just going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

Kings weren't accountable to the people either. That's why democracy was invented and the kings tossed off their thrones. Or at least out of the country.

I rather think most people do not want to substitute the rule of judges for the rule of kings.


Lucky for us, our judges aren't monarchs with absolute power. Their power has been carefully limited by the brilliant minds who drafted our Constitution. There are checks and balances in place to keep a demigod judge from having too much of an adverse effect on our freedom.

It seems you would believe that everyone who holds an opinion different than your own is an ignorant fool.

It seems you are wrong. There are some very educated and intelligent people who have very different views from my own. My comments which you quoted and emphasized reveal my lack of faith in mob rule.

You can amass a large number of people that may contain many intelligent, restrained individuals, but when you bring them together, they collectively form a reckless mob. I may have a great deal of trust in a number of specific people, but i am downright afraid of a single mass of people, even if it is partially made of some persons i trust.

Your opinion of the legality of the actions that have been taken in the wake of 9/11, similarly, is not the only one out there.

Really? I don't hold the only opinion that exists about the legality of our government's action in response to 9/11? Why didn't someone tell me this sooner?

Seriously, i'll peruse the Current Events discussion you posted when i get time. Hopefully you're still keeping your eyes peeled for that one case that will be the evidence for your earlier claims about the censoring of the mention of God in public places. I'm specifically most interested in your assertion that there are several cases prohibiting the inclusion of a "comparative religions" class in public schools that simply educates the students about the nature of various religions without endorsing any particular one.

Thanks

Bon

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Author: katinga Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Ticker Guide Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99821 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 3:24 PM
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Their power has been carefully limited by the brilliant minds who drafted our Constitution.

And the Constitution is being changed in front of your eyes by elitist minds.

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Author: Bonhoeffer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99823 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 3:32 PM
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And the Constitution is being changed in front of your eyes by elitist minds.

No. Fortunately, it is actually somewhat difficult to change the letter of the Constitution (although once again the Prohibition debacle makes me shake my head in wonder).

The last amendment passed was in 1992, so i find it difficult to believe your claim that it is changing before my eyes.

If you are referring to judicial interpretations of it, that's a very different thing. Today's precedent may be tomorrow's "bad law." That's the beauty of judicial interpretation of the Constitution: it can change to reflect changes in our society and in technology.

But that still doesn't "change" the Constitution itself; it merely changes the current application of it.

Well, i gotta be somewhere. May or may not make it back to a computer before tomorrow morning... See y'all later : )

Bon

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99826 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 4:07 PM
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Bon wrote:

Lucky for us, our judges aren't monarchs with absolute power.

Really? Their conduct over the last 40 years has not convinced me of the truth of this proposition.

What power limits them from making law where the legislature has not yet acted? What power limits them from striking down laws that the legislature has enacted?

There isn't one. You could say that the President has the power to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court, but so what? Many a president has been fooled only to find that the justice didn't share the same philosophy. An example of that would be Teddy Roosevelt and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. You could say impeachment, but the only one who came close to that was Abe Fortas and he resigned. You could say the legislature could pass yet another law, but so what, if the Supreme Court has the final say? It means nothing. The legislature can pass whatever law it likes, and the Supreme Court has the ultimate authority to say yea or nay.

This is precisely why many of the big battles are now fought in the courtroom rather than in the legislature, where they should be fought. The judiciary is making the legislature irrelevant.

This system worked in the early history of this country not because there was any real limits on power in the Constitution, but because judges actually exercised judicial restraint, leaving it to the people to clarify with further legislation. That, however, has gone out the window, along with any notion of original intent or strict construction.

In the same way, our country worked in its infancy not because the institution of democracy was strong, but because the men who founded our country were virtuous. I refer you to "Founding Brothers" which has an excellent discussion of this subject.

This was certainly not the intended result of the founding fathers. The case by which the Supreme Court made its first and biggest power grab, Marbury v. Madison standing for the power of judicial review, wasn't even decided until 1803, long after the Constitution was written.

Why is it solely the Supreme Court's province to decide that one person's right of privacy trumps another person's right to life? If the "justice" of that decision is so blatantly obvious, why is there still such upset over it today? Surely all the people out there who disagree with such "justice" are not all ignorant uneducated thugs. And so they aren't.

You can amass a large number of people that may contain many intelligent, restrained individuals, but when you bring them together, they collectively form a reckless mob.

Then why bother with democracy at all? Why not just eliminate the legislature and have the rule of judges - 9 allegedly wise people so that they can decide for the rest of us what "justice" should be.

Just exactly how long do you think that would last?

This form of government is known as oligarchy. It's been seen before and it has a tendency not to last.

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99827 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 4:11 PM
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Bon wrote:

No. Fortunately, it is actually somewhat difficult to change the letter of the Constitution ... If you are referring to judicial interpretations of it, that's a very different thing. Today's precedent may be tomorrow's "bad law." That's the beauty of judicial interpretation of the Constitution: it can change to reflect changes in our society and in technology.

Who needs to change the letter when its so easy to change the interpretation? As you well admit above.

If the Constitution is to mean anything at all, the application of it must be consistent with the words that are used in it and the intent that the founding fathers had when they wrote it.

Otherwise, that document is simply and utterly meaningless and not worth the paper its written on.

CCSand



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Author: Hubris Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99828 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 4:32 PM
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CCSand: this is not what many atheists belief. They affirm the null hypothesis

Actually, I'd wager most atheists aren't hung up on the semantics. I have not encountered many atheists who state that they believe it is categorically proven that there cannot be a "God" (of course the answer will depend on your definition of what "God" means). Your experience may well differ. I don't really care what Ms. O'Hair's beliefs were.

I suggest that if you really are interested in a more general cross-section of what atheists believe, you simply ask. Failing that, you may want to listen to the opinions of someone who has done that (e.g. Bonhoeffer). At any rate, I feel that AF is perhaps the more appropriate venue to discuss the beliefs of atheists, and suggest that you perhaps conduct this part of your discussion there.

Hubris

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Author: rbednarski Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99829 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 4:35 PM
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"Please explain. Who is Goedel?"

Goedel is a mathemetician who proved that any system sufficiently rich contains within it propositions that are true but that cannot be proven within the confines of the system.

God bless,

Rich

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99831 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 4:45 PM
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Hubris wrote:

I suggest that if you really are interested in a more general cross-section of what atheists believe, you simply ask. Failing that, you may want to listen to the opinions of someone who has done that (e.g. Bonhoeffer). At any rate, I feel that AF is perhaps the more appropriate venue to discuss the beliefs of atheists, and suggest that you perhaps conduct this part of your discussion there.

No. I'm not really interested. I've been down that road, as an inquiry, earlier in my life. I didn't find it convincing or satisfying. But thank you for the invitation.

CCSand

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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99839 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 5:57 PM
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Bonhoeffer,

It sounds very noble to insist on upholding the meaning of the Constitution that its authors/adopters originally intended, but at the most basic level you encounter the difficulty of divining exactly what it was they intended. I know there are secondary sources that record some of the debate about the inclusion of various provisions, and that certainly helps, but the human mind is very complex. There is no guarantee that you'll come away with the author's exact intent, and there's certainly no guarantee that all the adopters had the same intent upon agreeing to the provision. That's tricky business.

There's also two hundred years of very clear precedent. It's said that "custom is the best interpreter of laws."

BTW, the examples that you cite in your post actually point to a lack of understanding of the clear intent of our constitution's authors -- but I'll address specific points below.

To be sure, we have seen many developments that our founding forebearers could not have envisioned -- but their intent is nonetheless clear. By way of example, the constitution is silent about air forces because the authors of the constitution could not have envisioned the development of the airplane and the adaptation of the airplane for combat. We can construe an air force to be an army, or a component of an army, as we have for the past fifty-five years or so (it was the Army Air Corps in World War II), we would have lost nothing if the Congress had proposes a simple amendment ("The Congress shall have the power to raise and support Air Forces, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than Two Years.") and submitting it to the legislatures of the several states for ratification before establishing the U. S. Air Force as a separate service. I suspect that the legislatures of nearly all of the states would ratify such an amendment within a month of its receipt, with minimal debate, since it's clearly consistent with the intent of the original document.

But even assuming it is possible to hold to Original Intent, i don't think it is a wise rubric for interpreting the Constitution. It ignores all of the social and technological progress that has occurred in the last 200+ years.

The authors of our constitution were well aware of the need of the government to keep up with progress. That's precisely why they provided provisions for amendment. My issue is with either the Congress or the Supreme Court circumventing of the process of amendment by simply deciding that the constitution now means something different than what its authors intended it to mean and everybody in the country has long understood it to mean.

It's quite clear that our nation's founders did not intend that the federal government would establish and operate social programs. Rather, they saw this as the clear role of state and local governments. There is no guarantee that the U. S. Supreme Court won't issue a ruling next week, or next month, or next year that declares, for example, the Social Security program to be unconstitutional and thus that forbids further expenditures for its benefits. I'm sure that a lot of senior citizens would howl in teh face of such a ruling, but it probably would stick. Again, it would have been prudent for the Congress to propose an amendment and submit it to the several states that would provide explicit authorization for such a program, thus allowing proper debate as envisioned by our forebears, before adopting such a program.

I believe our judicial system has two primary goals. Neither can be safely divorced from the other; they must go hand in hand. The first is to uphold the Constitution. The second is to uphold Justice. After all, the very purpose of the Constitution was to ensure a framework for Justice for the American people. I think it is very safe to say that the Founders would not have approved of a judicial system which routinely denied people Justice.

In fact, the authors of the constitution saw "we, the people of the United States of America" as the primary guardians of justice -- which is why they guaranteed to every defendant the right to a "speedy and public Trial" (emphasis added). It's also why they included an explicit prohibition of ex post facto laws -- the principle being that justice demands that we know what the law allows and what the consequences of violation will be before we act. If a court is free to construe both the constitution and our laws to mean something different from the intent of those who adopt them, as generally understood, we lack that assurance. I see this as a more grave danger to justice than the fact that the constitution may be silent about certain issues.

By insisting on applying a strict interpretation of the Constitution to circumstances the Founders couldn't have imagined in their wildest dreams, you ensure that justice will not be done. Thomas Jefferson never imagined that someday the privacy of American citizens would be threatened by tiny video cameras that could be hidden almost anywhere. If you insist on a strict interpretation, then since the Constitution doesn't expressly prohibit secret video monitoring of private citizens by the government, such an act would have to be allowed. However, if a more liberal reading of the Constitution is used, the right to due process can serve to prohibit governmental surveillance without a warrant.

You need to reread the fourth article of amendment. It's quite broad, and it's quite clear from the founders' writings that they intended it to be quite broad. It says, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, homes, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...." (emphasis added) -- and I would argue that the courts have historically applied it too narrowly because it states explicitly that the right "to be secure" extends to one's home, papers, and effects -- which would include, for example, one's computer. Note that this article, correctly construed, would prohibit any intrusion, even by electronic means.

I don't see this as a "liberal" reading of the constitution at all. In fact, I see it as the strictest possible reading!

Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99840 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 5:59 PM
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Bonhoeffer,

The AF FAQ contains the following link, which explains how nutty Pascal's Wager really is:

Only in the minds of those who really don't understand it.

Norm.


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Author: cevera1 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99842 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 6:05 PM
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By way of example, the constitution is silent about air forces because the authors of the constitution could not have envisioned the development of the airplane and the adaptation of the airplane for combat.

Whew, if they could have envisioned an airborne fighting force, do you think the NRA would be fighting for the right for people to keep and bear f-16's????

maybe its time for some humor?

cliff


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Author: ReccingBall Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99844 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 6:13 PM
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The AF FAQ contains the following link, which explains how nutty Pascal's Wager really is:

Only in the minds of those who really don't understand it.

Oh Ho Ho! I beg to differ, as Kazim understood it just fine when he pointed out (in Bon's link) that:

Even if you buy into Pascal's wager and decide you should believe, that doesn't give any basis for choosing which religion to believe in. Fundamentalists often use the wager to prove that you should be a Fundamentalist, but of course, Pascal was Catholic and was using it to prove you should be a Catholic! This just highlights the whole problem of which religion is the right one. Since many Fundamentalists believe that Catholics are going to go to hell, Pascal's not much better off than an unbeliever. We don't know if the Jews are correct, or if reincarnation is right, or worse, if there's a perverse God who only lets atheists into heaven! It's not impossible, right? For all we know, maybe God exists but he doesn't care at all whether people believe in him.

That's why it's a nutty proposition.

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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99845 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 6:25 PM
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Hubris,

On the off chance that you don't realize how condescending or insulting this statement is, perhaps you'd pause a moment to think about it.

I take the word "atheism" at its face value. The person who wrote the FAC obviously did not.

IMO you're going about this backwards. Each person has her own personal philosophy, and this will be too complex to fit generic societal labels. When that person publicly takes on a "label", it doesn't mean that her intrinsic belief system suddenly morphs to match the dictionary. So, e.g., when Kazim take on the "atheist" label it means what he thinks it means, not what you or Merriam Webster say it does. Now, I'd agree that if someone's personal definition were dramatically at odds with the generally accepted definition it would tend to make the term meaningless, like if Kazim called himself "Christian". However this case is nothing like that.

The fact remains that the words "atheism" and "atheist" have a very specific and explict meaning -- the belief that there is no God. It cannot correctly refer to any other set of beliefs or absence of beliefs.

The core tenet of atheism, at least among people I've encountered here at the fool, is there is no evidence to support the existence of a God, and there is evidence to counter many specific claims of various religions. (boldface in original)

The word "atheism" does not admit the belief that "there is no evidence" within its scope. You are in fact describing a form of agnosticism, which is basically the belief that we, as humans, cannot know whether there is a deity or not.

If you want to call this a "religion" that's your perogative, but you shouldn't be surprised that others don't feel the same way.

Agnosticims is indeed a religion (that is, a self-consistent and complete set of beliefs about the existence and nature of a deity), but it's a religion that brings no hope whatsoever to its adherents. Approaching it from Pascal's perspective (which admittedly has its deficiencies), you gain absolutely nothing if you're right and lose either nothing or everything, depending upon whether there really is a deity or not, if you are wrong. I can't imagine the horror of going through life wondering if I'm overlooking some clear piece of evidence that there's a deity out there and that a judgement awaits me, and having no certainty whatsoever. Even Atheists have certainty!

I believe you owe Kazim an apology for your gratuitous insult.

You're free to hold whatever beliefs you wish, just as you are free to adhere to Atheism, or Agnosticism, or any other religion. The fact that you believe something does not mean that I will agree with you, or that I will act according to your beliefs.

As I see it, I spoke the truth -- and I see no reason whatsoever to apologize for doing so.

Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99846 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 6:41 PM
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Kazim,

No. In rejecting a tenet, one rejects a tenet. One does not automatically accept its opposite.

It might do you some good to actually look in the dictionary for the real definitions of terms, instead of insisting that they mean whatever you say they mean.

re·ject, tr.v.:
1. To refuse to accept, submit to, believe, or make use of.


That's my point exactly. When you reject a hypothesis, you exclude the possibility that it is true -- thus implicitly admitting only contrary hypotheses. Now, the rejection of some hypotheses is more conclusive than the rejection of other hypotheses. By way of example, the rejection of the hypothesis that "this object is red" still admits the hypothesis that "this wall is green," the hypothesis that "this wall is blue," and any ohter hypothesis that the wall is any color other than red. However, the rejection of the hypothesis that "there is a deity" admits only the contrary hypothesis that "there is no deity" because the problem, at this point, is binary.

Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99847 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 6:46 PM
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Hubris,

You cannot "affirm the null hypothesis" on any amount of evidence. What's your point? Atheists believe there is insufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis. Is that better for you?

Not to split hairs, but the belief that there is insufficient evidence is Agnosticism -- not Atheism.

Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99848 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 6:54 PM
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BONDJAMES007,

A belief system usually can be described as having tenets that are commonly acknowledged by all adherents.

Since you are convinced that atheism is a belief system, please describe in detail this system and how all atheists agree on its components.


Gladly. Atheism has a complete and self-consistent set of tenets about the nature and existence of a deity. That set happens to contain only one element -- the tenet that there is no deity.

The belief that we can't know whether or not there is a deity is not correctly called Atheism. Rather, it's Agnosticism. This is basic definition of terms. If a person who believes that we can't know whether there is a deity or not identifies himself or herself as an atheist, that person proves only one thing -- that he or she is lying. The lie may be due to either ignorance or will to mislead, but it is a lie nonetheless.

Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99849 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 7:01 PM
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BONDJAMES007,

Sorry for the second reply. I missed this detail the first time around.

I disagree, given that this null hypothesis is actually belief neutral: i.e. until proven otherwise I won't believe in the god you propose, be it JHC, Allah, YWYH, Vishnu,Gaia, Odin or whatever.

Actually, the "null hypothesis" would be "A deity may or may not exist."

Norm.


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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99850 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 7:03 PM
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ReccingBall quoted and then wrote:

Even if you buy into Pascal's wager and decide you should believe, that doesn't give any basis for choosing which religion to believe in. Fundamentalists often use the wager to prove that you should be a Fundamentalist, but of course, Pascal was Catholic and was using it to prove you should be a Catholic! This just highlights the whole problem of which religion is the right one. Since many Fundamentalists believe that Catholics are going to go to hell, Pascal's not much better off than an unbeliever. We don't know if the Jews are correct, or if reincarnation is right, or worse, if there's a perverse God who only lets atheists into heaven! It's not impossible, right? For all we know, maybe God exists but he doesn't care at all whether people believe in him.

That's why it's a nutty proposition.


Perhaps, but this also seems to me to be a misstatement of Pascal's Wager, as I understand it. The wager is binary, as Norm would write. It is between belief in the existence of god vs. belief in the non-existence of god. All forms of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and a variety of other faiths all have at core the belief in a god. So they would be included on the one hand. Atheism would be included on the other hand. You only get to make the choice of which religion once you admit the existence of god. Otherwise, why bother?

CCSand

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Author: Hubris Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99852 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 7:09 PM
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rev2217:

The person who wrote the FAC obviously did not [use the correct definition of "atheism"].

Well, there it is.

So according to dictionary.com "Christian" is:

Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.

So by that definition apparently anyone who says they're a Christian is one.

Oh wait, there's another:

Showing a loving concern for others; humane.

Ooh, that's tougher. Based on that definition I feel confident saying many atheists are more Christian than you are. Since I'm basing it on my dictionary definition, it must be true.

Agnosticims is indeed a religion...but it's a religion that brings no hope whatsoever to its adherents.

Well, don't just tell atheists what they think, tell agnostics how they feel.

Approaching it from Pascal's perspective, you gain absolutely nothing if you're right and lose either nothing or everything, depending upon whether there really is a deity or not, if you are wrong.

Unless, of course God, is willing to understand an honest effort to do the right thing and an honest quest to understand life through reason. Of course, given some ofthe people who are sure they'll be in heaven, perhaps hell isn't so bad in comparison. Maybe I'll get a bunk next to Gandhi.

I can't imagine the horror of going through life wondering if I'm overlooking some clear piece of evidence that there's a deity out there and that a judgement awaits me, and having no certainty whatsoever.

Just because you are unable to deal with uncertainty doesn't mean everyone is. If fear of judgment is what is motivating you, then I understand your zeal, but I truly pity you your fear.

As I see it, I spoke the truth -- and I see no reason whatsoever to apologize for doing so.

Then I doubt there is much to be gained from further discourse here. If you can't see the difference between stating your opinion and belittling others, I'm not sure I can help you. Unfortunately, something about conversing with you brings out the less civil side of me, and for that I apologize to you and to the board. I'll leave you the last word...

Hubris

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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99853 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 7:11 PM
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Bonhoeffer,

Lucky for us, our judges aren't monarchs with absolute power. Their power has been carefully limited by the brilliant minds who drafted our Constitution. There are checks and balances in place to keep a demigod judge from having too much of an adverse effect on our freedom.

The problem comes in when the judges get to decide that the Constitution means something other than that which its authors and adopters intended and understood it to mean. At that point, the Constitution becomes rubber -- or, worse, fluid -- imposing no bounds whatsoever on the abuse of judicial power. The nine justices on the Supreme Court thus become Orwell's pigs sitting around the table in the farmhouse in place of the farmer.

It's unfortunate that Orwell chose the pigs to rule in his novel, as porcine creatures really do deserve better....

Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99854 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 7:13 PM
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Bonhoeffer,

If you are referring to judicial interpretations of it, that's a very different thing. Today's precedent may be tomorrow's "bad law." That's the beauty of judicial interpretation of the Constitution: it can change to reflect changes in our society and in technology.

But that still doesn't "change" the Constitution itself; it merely changes the current application of it.


If you and many others keep telling yourselves that, we all will be slaves of the courts within twenty years.

Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99855 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 7:16 PM
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CCSand,

If the Constitution is to mean anything at all, the application of it must be consistent with the words that are used in it and the intent that the founding fathers had when they wrote it.

Otherwise, that document is simply and utterly meaningless and not worth the paper its written on.


Very well said. In fact, this deserves to be repeated!

If the Constitution is to mean anything at all, the application of it must be consistent with the words that are used in it and the intent that the founding fathers had when they wrote it.

Otherwise, that document is simply and utterly meaningless and not worth the paper its written on.


Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99856 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 7:20 PM
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Hubris,

I suggest that if you really are interested in a more general cross-section of what atheists believe, you simply ask. Failing that, you may want to listen to the opinions of someone who has done that (e.g. Bonhoeffer). At any rate, I feel that AF is perhaps the more appropriate venue to discuss the beliefs of atheists, and suggest that you perhaps conduct this part of your discussion there.

We know what an Atheist is because the word means "one who believes that there is no deity." What is there to discuss?

BTW, it really would help matters if you would stop confusing "Atheism" with "Agnosticism." You have indicated repeatedly that many people who identify themselves as Atheists really are Agnostics. Proper usage of these terms would bring a lot less conflict because everybody would understand your meaning on the first try.

Norm.


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Author: JAFO31 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99857 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 7:36 PM
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rev2217: "Atheism has a complete and self-consistent set of tenets about the nature and existence of a deity. That set happens to contain only one element -- the tenet that there is no deity.

The belief that we can't know whether or not there is a deity is not correctly called Atheism. Rather, it's Agnosticism. This is basic definition of terms."


And were do you place those who believe that we can know whether there is a deity (with sufficient evidence), but that insufficient evidence has been brought forth to make the determination?

But your definition, they are not atheist, because the do not hold that tenet that there is no deity, nor are they agnostic, because they not belief that we can never no whether there is a deity?

JAFO


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99858 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 7:40 PM
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Cliff,

Whew, if they could have envisioned an airborne fighting force, do you think the NRA would be fighting for the right for people to keep and bear f-16's????

The second article of amendment actually is that broad as written. The text of the amendment states:

The order of a militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

This text begs several questions -- and, by way of anecdote, I'll mention that the political left took great umbrage at Professor Lawrence Tribe, whose scholarly research the justices of the U. S. Supreme Court have often cited in their opinions, when the latest volume of his work provided substantially the following answers.

>> 1. What's meant by the term "the order of a milita" in the text?

At the time of adoption of the Constitution, the "militia" in various towns were groups of citizens who organized themselves into combat units and procured their own arms and munitions to defend their communities and their rights.

>> 2. Why did the authors perceive this to be necessary to ghe security of a free state?

The framers of the constitution had lived through not only the American Revolution, but also the abuses of government power that led to the American Revolution. They saw the abuse of power by the government as the principle threat to liberty, and thus saw the ability of the citizens to defend themselves against the abuse of government power as the only guarantee that a state would remain free.

>> 3. What arms can the people "keep and bear" within the rights recognized in the text?

The framers clearly intended that the people should be able to procure all arms and munitions of war so that they would be a credible force against the armies of the government.

>> 4. What does the word "infringed" mean?

Any restriction or regulation whatsoever that impairs the ability of the people to keep and bear arms constitutes an infringement, in violation of the intent of the second amendment.

*****

Indeed, to buy an Abrams Tank or an F-16 is your right, though you would have trouble getting the classified "black boxes" therein and the classified manuals without a security clearance and a need to know.

The fact that we have so many laws restricting gun ownership -- and that the courts habitually tolerate them -- is an example of just how thoroughly the U. S. Supreme Court can shred the Constitution without changing a single letter of the text.

Norm.


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Author: JAFO31 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99859 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 7:43 PM
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"Perhaps, but this also seems to me to be a misstatement of Pascal's Wager, as I understand it. The wager is binary, as Norm would write."

But that is the problem. It is a false construct.

"It is between belief in the existence of god vs. belief in the non-existence of god. All forms of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and a variety of other faiths all have at core the belief in a god."

But not the same god. And if the real god is a vengeful god --- one who would say:

"I am your God, you shall have no other gods before me. I am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me."

Pick the wrong god and you are no better off than those who took the "other side" of the wager.

"So they would be included on the one hand. Atheism would be included on the other hand. You only get to make the choice of which religion once you admit the existence of god. Otherwise, why bother?"

Because you could still pick wrong and be no better off. IOW, it is not truly binary.

JAFO


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99860 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 7:47 PM
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Reccingball,

Even if you buy into Pascal's wager and decide you should believe, that doesn't give any basis for choosing which religion to believe in. Fundamentalists often use the wager to prove that you should be a Fundamentalist, but of course, Pascal was Catholic and was using it to prove you should be a Catholic! This just highlights the whole problem of which religion is the right one. Since many Fundamentalists believe that Catholics are going to go to hell, Pascal's not much better off than an unbeliever. We don't know if the Jews are correct, or if reincarnation is right, or worse, if there's a perverse God who only lets atheists into heaven! It's not impossible, right? For all we know, maybe God exists but he doesn't care at all whether people believe in him.

What Pascal actually proved was that both disbelief (Agnosticim) and Atheism are utterly worthless. Pascal's Wager does not address what one should believe. You have to work that out for yourself.

Of course, it's important to note that many of the world's theistic religions either believe in the same deity (Judaism, Christianity, and Islaam), albeith with some differences, have very beliefs about the nature of the deity that are very similar thereto (the "Great Spirit" of indigenous American faith, the supreme deity of the Polynisian indigenous religion, etc.), or have beliefs that are at least compatible with that notion of a deity (Buddhims, etc.) -- so much so as to give rise to Syncretism (the belief that all theistic religions are the same).

Norm.


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Author: JAFO31 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99861 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 7:53 PM
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rev2217: "Any restriction or regulation whatsoever that impairs the ability of the people to keep and bear arms constitutes an infringement, in violation of the intent of the second amendment."

I do not much care to debate 2nd Amendment, I prefer to discss the first.

"Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; . . . ."

By your plain language, original intent argument, one would also suggest that libel and slander laws are mistaken and that one could shout "Fire" in a crowded theater without fear of redress, because attaching any penalty to any of those things is clearly verboten because it "abridges the freedom of speech".

If that is not the position, then please elaborate.

JAFO



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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99862 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 7:56 PM
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Hubris,

Ooh, that's tougher. Based on that definition I feel confident saying many atheists are more Christian than you are. Since I'm basing it on my dictionary definition, it must be true.

You can say whatever you want. Since you are not my judge, it does not matter.

Just because you are unable to deal with uncertainty doesn't mean everyone is. If fear of judgment is what is motivating you, then I understand your zeal, but I truly pity you your fear.

I have no problem dealing with undertainty. In fact, I deal with uncertainty all the time. When it comes to divine presence and divine love, however, I have no uncertainty at all. Rather, I have the experience of a living relationship.

Then I doubt there is much to be gained from further discourse here. If you can't see the difference between stating your opinion and belittling others, I'm not sure I can help you.

I could explain the hypocricy in this...

Unfortunately, something about conversing with you brings out the less civil side of me, and for that I apologize to you and to the board. I'll leave you the last word...

... but there's no point. It would be an exercise in futility.

Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99863 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 8:03 PM
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JAFO,

And were do you place those who believe that we can know whether there is a deity (with sufficient evidence), but that insufficient evidence has been brought forth to make the determination?

But your definition, they are not atheist, because the do not hold that tenet that there is no deity, nor are they agnostic, because they not belief that we can never no whether there is a deity?


There are two questions that I would ask such an individual.

>> 1. Where might one get the information necessary to make such a determination?

>> 2. Are you actively persuing that information?

The first question tests the assertion that it might be possible to obtain the information. If there were no answer to the first question, I would say that the person is really an Agnostic and that the statement is a smokescreen. If there's a clear answer to the first question and the answer to the second question is negative, I probably also would regard the person as an agnostic because the person obviously does not believe that it's possible to know. If the answer to the second question were positive, OTOH, I would regard the person as an inquirer.

Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99864 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 8:08 PM
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JAFO,

By your plain language, original intent argument, one would also suggest that libel and slander laws are mistaken and that one could shout "Fire" in a crowded theater without fear of redress, because attaching any penalty to any of those things is clearly verboten because it "abridges the freedom of speech".

These matters usually are state laws rather than federal laws. The prohibition of the first amendment ("Congress shall make no law...") does not restrict the legislatures of the several states from doing so.

Note, also, that the first amendment does not grant the right to cause injury to another. The law does not prohibit slander or libel, but rather allows the injured party to obtain redress of the injury from the person who caused it.

Norm.


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Author: Fallout2Queen Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99865 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 8:16 PM
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I take the word "atheism" at its face value. The person who wrote the FAC obviously did not.


Norm,

You're out of line trying to tell the Atheist Fools board who is or isn't an athiest. I doubt you'd appreciate it if they came over here telling us who's a Christian.

-- Fran



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Author: JAFO31 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99868 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 8:23 PM
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rev2217:


JAFO --- <<<<By your plain language, original intent argument, one would also suggest that libel and slander laws are mistaken and that one could shout "Fire" in a crowded theater without fear of redress, because attaching any penalty to any of those things is clearly verboten because it "abridges the freedom of speech".>>>>

"These matters usually are state laws rather than federal laws."

Make a joke about a bmb the next time you are in line in an airport and you will find out about federal law on the issue. One could also poiont to the old Sedition law for another example.

"The prohibition of the first amendment ("Congress shall make no law...") does not restrict the legislatures of the several states from doing so."

I would suggest that is not true since the late 1860s.

"Note, also, that the first amendment does not grant the right to cause injury to another. The law does not prohibit slander or libel, but rather allows the injured party to obtain redress of the injury from the person who caused it."

Redress is only obtained because the law permits it. And permitting redress then is in fact a law abridging free speech. To argue otherwise is to suggest that for every harm redress should be allowed. Also, libel or slander does not necessarily cause physical harm to the person, and the mental harm is hardly different from the mental harm caused by watching your spouse be killed and for which redress was often lacking if the surviving spouse suffered no physical injury. (I am well aware that tort law in many states has moved away from that standard).

JAFO



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Author: khalou Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99869 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 8:33 PM
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I'm an atheist and every definition of God I've ever heard cannot be so. I listen with great intent to those who would describe their God and find them impossible to be.

While I'm sitting here wondering about it, someone comes along and tells me that I have a belief. They say it is the belief that there is no God.

What makes it important that there needs to be one in the first place? There is no natural requirement that is fulfilled by a God. There are no questions that can be sensibly answered by a God. I remain neutral on the subject, not agnostic because agnostics believe there could be a God.

There isn't even evidence that points to the idea of God except the imagination of man.

I'm not saying all this to dis the group here, but only to tell you why there is no belief involved in my observation that there is no God.

If I actually, pro-actively 'believed' there was no God, I wouldn't be so open to proof of the existence of one. I've not seen that proof. When I do, I'll believe in something.

Till then, I just don't.

k



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Author: BONDJAMES007 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99872 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 9:17 PM
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Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State
Author: CCSand Date: 8/28/03 7:03 PM Number: 99850


All forms of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and a variety of other faiths all have at core the belief in a god. So they would be included on the one hand. Atheism would be included on the other hand. </i.

And which hand holds the Hindi ?

You only get to make the choice of which religion once you admit the existence of god. Otherwise, why bother?

Quite true, but the wager is motivated by an expectation of gain: avoiding "hell" and hoping for "salvation"; for instance, Islam allows polygamy; Judaism and most christian denominations do not. The hindi frown on eating cattle. Islam and Judaism frown on pork. Your choice of monotheism and its approved lifestyle can have a major impact on whether you get the anticipated reward or not. How is this handled in the context of the wager ?


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Author: cevera1 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99875 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/28/2003 11:51 PM
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What Pascal actually proved was that both disbelief (Agnosticim) and Atheism are utterly worthless. Pascal's Wager does not address what one should believe. You have to work that out for yourself.

Norm,

you're getting carried away. Pascal 'proved' nothing..... He bases his wager (his 'proof', if you will) on several tenets that are themselves unprovable. It's all in the setup: If I talk nice about Bill Gates and buy the newest version of Windows XP, he might reward me with a few billion dollars (not a bad reward). I don't really have anything to lose but $199 and some restraint when I talk about him. Now, I could use the same wager about my redneck programmer friend, Bubba. If I talk nice about Bubba and buy the latest release of Redneck tic-tac-toe for DOS, he might reward me with a few billion dollars...... the problem is, Bubba doesn't have a pot to piss in.... He doesn't have a few billion dollars. It's not within his power to give me the reward. In fact, I have never met Bubba, the only proof that I have of his existence is a story that some old punch card programmer told me. The wager (or proof)is still valid with Bubba, but I see no reason to even consider it.

Pascal's wager has been bandied about for so long, that what is now presented as his wager is more urban legend than fact. It is amusing to listen to non-catholics use the wager as a protelysizing tool. Pascal was ONLY proposing whether it was prudent to embrace Catholocism or not.

If I am not mistaken, on that wager, you are safe? You are Catholic, right?

cliff









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Author: 2195501y Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99877 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 12:00 AM
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Atheism has a complete and self-consistent set of tenets about the nature and existence of a deity. That set happens to contain only one element -- the tenet that there is no deity.-rev2217

Norm,

I, personally, represent a subset of atheists to whom your statement is inapplicable.

I think that:

1. God(s) exist(s).
2. God(s) exist(s) in your mind. He exists there pretty much like your ideas exist there, or like your ego exists there.

In plain English, I believe that your God is the by-product of your cognitive processes. As such, your God is every bit as real as other intangible products of your mind (e.g., dreams, self-consciousness, memories, ideas, etc.). Your God is as real as your feelings, probably even more so, given the volatile nature of human feelings and the rigid structure of religious belief.

However, the properties that you ascribe to your God are, of course, completely inapplicable to him. He may seem omnipotent to you. But he does not appear as such to me. I can share your God no more than I can share your feelings.

2195501y



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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99879 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 12:44 AM
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JAFO wrote:

And were do you place those who believe that we can know whether there is a deity (with sufficient evidence), but that insufficient evidence has been brought forth to make the determination?

What evidence could you possibly bring to the table? How can you have natural evidence of a being which is, by definition, supernatural?

I think this gets us into the realm of miracles, but that would not be the ordinary course of events. Ordinarily, it would not be possible to produce any evidence at all.

Again, this is why it's called faith.

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99880 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 12:57 AM
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JAFO wrote:

Because you could still pick wrong and be no better off. IOW, it is not truly binary.

Would a monotheist buy this? If there is one god, than what we have is a multiplicity of appearances only. Not more than one.

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99881 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 1:10 AM
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JAFO wrote:

By your plain language, original intent argument, one would also suggest that libel and slander laws are mistaken and that one could shout "Fire" in a crowded theater without fear of redress, because attaching any penalty to any of those things is clearly verboten because it "abridges the freedom of speech".

The original intent makes clear that what the founding fathers were talking about was the notion of prior restraints. Not suits after the fact for libel.

Further, Congress has not acted in a lawsuit for defamation. That is an action between private parties.

Further I would note that a libel suit occurs AFTER the speech has already occurred. Not BEFORE. So the only restraint on speech is that you have to suffer the consequences of your own speech. If you commit fraud by telling someone a lie which causes damage, you will suffer the consequences.

In the case of shouting "fire" in a crowded, the speech has already happened. It has not been the subject of a prior restraint. But if your speech happens to cause a panic and subsequent death of theater patrons, and there's no fire, you can bet that you will be held accountable.

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99883 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 1:16 AM
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JAFO wrote:

Make a joke about a bmb the next time you are in line in an airport and you will find out about federal law on the issue.

In which case you've already spoken, haven't you? There is no prior restraint.

Redress is only obtained because the law permits it.

State law. The First Amendment is talking about Congress - federal law. Even so, libel laws only act after the speech has occurred. Not before. As such, it is not a prior restraint.

Also, libel or slander does not necessarily cause physical harm to the person,...

If it does not cause harm, then there's no reason to sue. In fact, you cannot maintain a suit without damages.

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99884 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 1:24 AM
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khalou wrote:

There is no natural requirement that is fulfilled by a God.

What would give you the idea that God exists solely to fulfill any natural requirement?

There are no questions that can be sensibly answered by a God.

Of course there aren't. If there were, you wouldn't have faith.

I remain neutral on the subject, not agnostic because agnostics believe there could be a God.

The word "agnostic" comes from the Greek a- and gnoth-. A- means the "absence of"; gnoth- is the root for the word meaning "knowledge" or "knowing". The word literally means one who does not know. That would seem to include you within its scope. It is the not knowing that implies neutrality on the subject.

Socrates mantra, BTW, was "Gnothi se auton" or "Know thyself."

If I actually, pro-actively 'believed' there was no God, I wouldn't be so open to proof of the existence of one. I've not seen that proof. When I do, I'll believe in something.

I think that makes you an agnostic, not an atheist.

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99885 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 1:29 AM
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007 wrote:

And which hand holds the Hindi ?

The same one that holds Christianity, Islam, Judaism and every other faith that believes in a god.

Your choice of monotheism and its approved lifestyle can have a major impact on whether you get the anticipated reward or not. How is this handled in the context of the wager ?

There is such a thing as carrying something too far. :) I don't think the wager addresses this. Again, I don't think you even get to that point unless you admit the existence of a god as a precondition.

CCSand

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Author: Bonhoeffer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99887 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 8:15 AM
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Because you could still pick wrong and be no better off. IOW, it is not truly binary.

Would a monotheist buy this? If there is one god, than what we have is a multiplicity of appearances only. Not more than one.


But the whole point to the wager is that your eternal fate rests on belief or disbelief in God. And from Pascal's Christian perspective, placing your belief in the wrong god would not secure your eternity of bliss. As JAFO said, it may present itself as a binary wager, but the reality that Christians believe in removes any possible binary nature of the choice. The wager is a false dichotomy.

The wager essentially says "Believe in God and go to heaven if He exists, lose nothing if He doesn't; or do not believe in God and go to hell if He exists, gain nothing if He doesn't." But since traditional Christian doctrine says you have to believe in a particular version of God to to heaven, the choices presented by the wager are false. Per Christianity you can believe in "god," but still go to hell.

Ergo, the wager is worthless (and nutty).

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Author: khalou Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99893 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 9:54 AM
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The word "agnostic" comes from the Greek a- and gnoth-. A- means the "absence of"; gnoth- is the root for the word meaning "knowledge" or "knowing". The word literally means one who does not know. That would seem to include you within its scope. It is the not knowing that implies neutrality on the subject.

Socrates mantra, BTW, was "Gnothi se auton" or "Know thyself."

-----------------------------------------------------------

If I actually, pro-actively 'believed' there was no God, I wouldn't be so open to proof of the existence of one. I've not seen that proof. When I do, I'll believe in something.

-----------------------------------------------------------

I think that makes you an agnostic, not an atheist.

CCSand


My point is very subtle. Let me try it again.

I do not believe there is an invisible purple dragon at the south pole. Neither do you. We do not require a belief to do this- simply the absence of one.

Now, if 45 million people believe that there's a purple dragon at the south pole, and believe it because they'd been told that he's there, I still would not require a pro-active belief that he is not.

I just plain don't believe there is, and neither do you.

Now, on the subject of Allah, who has no son or holy spirit, there are millions who believe he's there and they believe that because they've been told that he's there. Once again, neither you nor I believe that.

Vishnu is not, Ra is not, the Great Spirit is not, Zeus is not.

Allah is not, Jehovah is not, the invisible purple dragon is not.

What I believe you are trying to say is that I'm agnostic on the subject of the Christian God- am I also agnostic on the purple dragon?

Are you?

k




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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99894 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 10:18 AM
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Bon wrote:

But since traditional Christian doctrine says you have to believe in a particular version of God to to heaven, the choices presented by the wager are false.

That is not what Catholics believe. At least I think this is certainly true, post-VII. It is not what C.S. Lewis thought or wrote in his book Mere Christianity.

I believe this is also the root of the ecumenical movement.

CCSand

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Author: Ga1Dawg Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99899 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 11:32 AM
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Doesn't the constitution say what the Supreme Court proclaim it to say?

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Author: Bonhoeffer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99900 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 11:45 AM
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That is not what Catholics believe. At least I think this is certainly true, post-VII. It is not what C.S. Lewis thought or wrote in his book Mere Christianity.

The main issue is what Pascal believed when authoring his wager. Do you think Pascal honestly believed that a Hindu worshipping Vishnu was heaven-bound? Do you?

I don't know for certain what Pascal believed on this point. I'll look into it.

Bon

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99912 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 1:43 PM
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Bon wrote:

The main issue is what Pascal believed when authoring his wager. Do you think Pascal honestly believed that a Hindu worshipping Vishnu was heaven-bound?

I have no idea what Pascal believed. I've only read what has been written about this subject over the last few days. Although I know of Pascal, I had never before heard of his wager. Or at least by that name.

Do you?

Sure, why wouldn't I? Christians have neither a monopoly on god, nor a monopoly on goodness. Our experience of god may be different and to that extent our experience of heaven will also be different. One of the things that CS Lewis wrote about in Mere Christianity was that to the extent that a non-Christian shares the same values as a Christian, you get the same result. (Something like that, I'm paraphrasing).

Seems pretty reasonable to me.

CCSand


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Author: cevera1 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99915 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 1:53 PM
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Sure, why wouldn't I? Christians have neither a monopoly on god, nor a monopoly on goodness. Our experience of god may be different and to that extent our experience of heaven will also be different. One of the things that CS Lewis wrote about in Mere Christianity was that to the extent that a non-Christian shares the same values as a Christian, you get the same result. (Something like that, I'm paraphrasing).

Great, lets get some buy-in on this from the regulars on this board.

If its that easy to get to heaven, it really doesn't matter what religion you are..... and if the standards are really that loose, whose to say God even cares if one believes he exists. Agnostics and Atheists will have a different experience of heaven.

Heck, I'm a deist. I'm in! Why are we even arguing over any of this?

cliff



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Author: JAFO31 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99916 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 1:55 PM
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CCSand:

Bon: <<<<The main issue is what Pascal believed when authoring his wager. Do you think Pascal honestly believed that a Hindu worshipping Vishnu was heaven-bound?>>>>

"I have no idea what Pascal believed. I've only read what has been written about this subject over the last few days. A lthough I know of Pascal, I had never before heard of his wager. Or at least by that name."

Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd discussed it on the "Moonlighting" TV series back in the 1980s, IIRC (without using the name). Interestingly for the characters in the show, the Bruce Willis character was a believer because of the wager but the Cybill Shepherd character was not.

Regards, JAFO



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Author: Bonhoeffer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99918 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 1:57 PM
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I posted a reply here:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=19519743

I hope everyone will move the discussion to that thread, for the sake of the FAQ : )

Bon

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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99934 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 4:43 PM
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Fran,

You're out of line trying to tell the Atheist Fools board who is or isn't an athiest. I doubt you'd appreciate it if they came over here telling us who's a Christian.

How so? I simply stated the meaning of the word, and thus the beliefs that one must hold for the label of "atheist" to fit. I did not apply that label to anybody.

Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99936 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 4:48 PM
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2185591y,

I think that:

1. God(s) exist(s).
2. God(s) exist(s) in your mind. He exists there pretty much like your ideas exist there, or like your ego exists there.

In plain English, I believe that your God is the by-product of your cognitive processes. As such, your God is every bit as real as other intangible products of your mind (e.g., dreams, self-consciousness, memories, ideas, etc.). Your God is as real as your feelings, probably even more so, given the volatile nature of human feelings and the rigid structure of religious belief.

However, the properties that you ascribe to your God are, of course, completely inapplicable to him. He may seem omnipotent to you. But he does not appear as such to me. I can share your God no more than I can share your feelings.


In that case, you are misusing the word God (or deity) -- which means a supreme infinite, eternal, omnipotent, and omniscient being (in the metaphysical sense of that term) whose existence does not depend upon human recognition thereof.

Norm.


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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99937 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 4:57 PM
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Khalou,

I'm an atheist and every definition of God I've ever heard cannot be so. I listen with great intent to those who would describe their God and find them impossible to be.

While I'm sitting here wondering about it, someone comes along and tells me that I have a belief. They say it is the belief that there is no God.

What makes it important that there needs to be one in the first place? There is no natural requirement that is fulfilled by a God. There are no questions that can be sensibly answered by a God. I remain neutral on the subject, not agnostic because agnostics believe there could be a God.

There isn't even evidence that points to the idea of God except the imagination of man.

I'm not saying all this to dis the group here, but only to tell you why there is no belief involved in my observation that there is no God.

If I actually, pro-actively 'believed' there was no God, I wouldn't be so open to proof of the existence of one. I've not seen that proof. When I do, I'll believe in something.

Till then, I just don't.


The crux of the whole matter is how one answers the question, "Does a deity (that is, a supreme eternal, omnipotent, omniscient being) exist?" That question has three possible answers.

>> Anybody whose answer is "No!" is an atheist.

>> Anybody whose answer is "Yes!" is a theist.

>> Anybody whose answer is "I don't know." is an agnostic.

I'll let you choose the label that fits you best.

Norm.


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Author: khalou Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99939 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 5:18 PM
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>> Anybody whose answer is "No!" is an atheist.

>> Anybody whose answer is "Yes!" is a theist.

>> Anybody whose answer is "I don't know." is an agnostic.

I'll let you choose the label that fits you best.

Norm.


The answer, if the question were "Is there a dollar in my wallet?", would be "I don't know" because there could be.

I'm having trouble making my point here. The only reason there is anything remotely resembling the concept of God on the earth is because, once upon a time, people decided there was one. Depending on where you live on the planet, you will be told of His nature in a different way and have lots of stuff happen to you that seems like evidence.

But the initial concept of a God was an idea that some people had before they knew anything different. There isn't really a void of understanding that requires a god to fill. It's like the invisible purple dragon residing at the south pole in my other post- do I believe in it? Can't say I do. If there were suddenly proof of its existence I suppose I'd have to. I would look to those who believe in it for such proof.

But I am not agnostic toward the invisible purple dragon residing at the south pole- I really don't believe there is one and it has nothing to do with 'faith'.

k


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Author: katinga Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Ticker Guide Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99945 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 10:00 PM
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But the initial concept of a God was an idea that some people had before they knew anything different.

Your thesis, I think, is as follows. For a God (non-)concept to be valid, it must be a radical departure from previous thinking about God.

Two examples, then, of valid God-concepts.

1. Socrates.

He knew of something different (polytheism of limited, fallible, but powerful beings), but argued for a God concept (especially, transcendence) that was radically different from what people had thought of before.

2. Jesus and Paul of Tarsus.

They took Jewish monotheism, added democratic immanence (that is, a God who is available to everyone, not just via a prophet, priest, or king), and arrived at a God that was trinitarian, immanent, and transcendent all at once.

Then there seems to be what seems to be your preference (at least in the post), atheism. Its God concept is either that God is so transcendent that God is meaningless, an extension of Socrates, therefore invalid; or a denial of any sort of ideals such as truth, goodness and beauty, which is unattractive.

What's missing?

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Author: khalou Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99948 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/29/2003 10:21 PM
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Your thesis, I think, is as follows. For a God (non-)concept to be valid, it must be a radical departure from previous thinking about God.

I'm sensing a superior intellect in you, and therefore will only respond to this-

No.

For a god concept to be valid, it would have to have a very different history than any other god concept thus far speculated.

k (stoopid)


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Author: katinga Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Ticker Guide Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99951 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/30/2003 10:14 AM
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For a god concept to be valid, it would have to have a very different history than any other god concept thus far speculated.

==============

The Socratic god concept was a complete break. Replacing immanent and limited gods with a transcendant all-powerful one is like replacing purple monsters at the south pole with apples on a apple tree in Vermont.

Or are you trying to say that the apples and the monsters must be replaced by dachshund puppies, denying the existence of all of the former for your claim to be valid? In this case, it sounds like you are begging the question.

The Pauline concept, too was a complete break. Ask any Jew. Paul in their eyes went from monotheism to polytheism. The Romans felt the same. IIRC, they even called his spiritual descendants atheists for not venerating the emperor!

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Author: mapletree7 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 99954 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/30/2003 11:21 AM
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I'll let you choose the label that fits you best.

And then we'll all look at each other and say 'so what?'

Atheist, agnostic, whatever - the point under discussion was how holding the belief system that can be loosely grouped under those TWO terms creates conflicts when people who hold other, theistic beliefs, wish to express those beliefs in a government-sponsored environment, and vice versa.

Get on with it already!

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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 100013 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 8/31/2003 7:39 PM
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Khalou,

I'm having trouble making my point here. The only reason there is anything remotely resembling the concept of God on the earth is because, once upon a time, people decided there was one. Depending on where you live on the planet, you will be told of His nature in a different way and have lots of stuff happen to you that seems like evidence.

But the initial concept of a God was an idea that some people had before they knew anything different. There isn't really a void of understanding that requires a god to fill. It's like the invisible purple dragon residing at the south pole in my other post- do I believe in it? Can't say I do. If there were suddenly proof of its existence I suppose I'd have to. I would look to those who believe in it for such proof.


I guess I misunderstood what you were after. If you are sincerely looking for proof, I recommend taking a course in classical realism to study the writings of Plato and Aristotle, who basically deduced, purely by human reason and empirical evidence, that a deity must exist. From your perspective, I suspect that their work would be more convincing than, say, Acquinas and Aristotle because they lived in a pagan society that was not part of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The philosophy departments at most Catholic universities and schools of theology do offer such courses, and philosophy departments at secular institutions also must do so if they represent the whole spectrum of human thought. Thus, you probably can find an institution near you that would offer such courses.

Norm.


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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 100029 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 9/1/2003 11:30 PM
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cliff wrote:

If its that easy to get to heaven, it really doesn't matter what religion you are..... and if the standards are really that loose, whose to say God even cares if one believes he exists.

Whoa, cowboy! I never said it didn't matter. What experience of heaven do you want? It is that question that will drive the answer.

However, this all presupposes a belief in a god.

Agnostics and Atheists will have a different experience of heaven.

Since an atheist doesn't believe in heaven - or hell - they would likely get exactly that.

Perhaps the appropriate thing to say at this point is "Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it." :)

CCSand


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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 100030 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 9/1/2003 11:51 PM
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JAFO wrote:

Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd discussed it on the "Moonlighting" TV series back in the 1980s, IIRC (without using the name). Interestingly for the characters in the show, the Bruce Willis character was a believer because of the wager but the Cybill Shepherd character was not.

I was in college during the 1980s. I didn't watch much TV then and I watch even less now. :)

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 100034 of 195639
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Date: 9/2/2003 12:48 AM
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khalou wrote:

The only reason there is anything remotely resembling the concept of God on the earth is because, once upon a time, people decided there was one.

Sure. People just invented the concept of god for no reason at all. We all completely understand how matter came to exist from nothingness all by itself.

Yes, I'm am being sarcastic. :)

It's like the invisible purple dragon residing at the south pole in my other post- do I believe in it? Can't say I do. If there were suddenly proof of its existence I suppose I'd have to. I would look to those who believe in it for such proof.

But I am not agnostic toward the invisible purple dragon residing at the south pole- I really don't believe there is one and it has nothing to do with 'faith'.


I've been thinking about your invisible purple dragon metaphor all weekend long. Here's the problem with it.

If the invisible purple dragon is in the supernatural world, than no one can prove it's existence or non-existence by means of scientific proof. Science is not capable of proving or disproving anything in the supernatural realm. The invisible purple dragon is god and you can choose to believe whichever way you do.

If the invisible purple dragon is alleged to be in the natural realm, then we can say with a high degree of certainty that it does not exist, although not with 100% degree of certainty because if ever someone was able to prove it, we would have to accept it.

CCSand

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