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Dec 12 2012

Answering Justice Scalia

Recently, during the Q&A period following his talk at Princeton, Justice Scalia asked the following…

“If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder?”

So, I thought I’d take a moment to answer his questions.

First of all, you can have moral feelings against homosexuality. You’re entitled to your feelings. I’d expect a Supreme Court justice to understand, though, that we’re simply not entitled to violate the rights of others based merely upon your feelings.

You see, Justice Scalia, your moral assessment of homosexuality might be correct, or incorrect. How do we tell? Which moral opinions win out, and why? It might also be the case that homosexuality is not a moral consideration and your question might be the rough equivalent of “If we cannot have moral feelings against people preferring and eating chocolate ice cream, can we have it against murder?”.

I happen to think that’s the case. Clearly, you don’t. And so, I’ll try to suggest some other questions that you might also consider, in your reducto-ad-scaliam world…

“If we cannot have moral feelings about divorce…”

“If we cannot have moral feelings about interracial marriages…”

“If we cannot have moral feelings about abortion…”

“If we cannot have moral feelings about lying…”

“If we cannot have moral feelings about using animals for food…”

I’ve specifically picked a list of things that many people are morally opposed to in order to demonstrate the absurdity of your implication. We simply don’t restrict rights based on moral opinions – even the a majority consensus on moral opinions – we restrict rights based on reasonable demonstrations of harm. We err on the side of freedom and we make use of this concept known as “due process”. Perhaps you’ve heard of it…

Here’s a thought…. why don’t you stop with the slippery slope arguments (“Oh noes, if we can’t stop teh gay sex, we have to allow murder!”) and the hyperbolic exaggerations that you’d like to falsely classify as reducto ad absurdum arguments and actually come up with a justification that isn’t just a smoke screen for your continued attempts to inject your antiquated religious opinions into the body of law that effects us all? Failing that, I’d like you to actually do your job.

Curiously, you seem to be the only Supreme Court Justice that continually gives the appearance of lobbying to a base – as if you’re wanting to win an election…or an award from the Pope.

 

 

386 comments

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  1. 1
    thomasbird

    I think Matt would make a more fair Supreme Court Justice than Scalia does, but thats not saying much.

    1. 1.1
      Lord Narf

      I think my snake would make a better Supreme Court Justice than Scalia, and we need to hit him in the head repeatedly, with the rat, to get him to eat it.

      … have to repeatedly hit the snake in the head with the rat, I mean, although it might be fun to try with Scalia.

      1. ericvon germania

        maybe your rat is just not hungry or he would prefer something else to eat :D

        1. Lord Narf

          The rats are dead. That’s kind of the point.

          As for the snake, which I think you meant … he’s freaking retarded. I mean that literally, not as a random pejorative.
          If we just dangle the rat by the tail, near him, he smells warm rat (it sits under a heat lamp for an hour or so, before feeding) and tries to eat what he seems to think is a rat … his own reflection in the side of his terrarium, his climbing branch, the handle of his water bowl, the pair of tongs that we’re using to dangle the rat, his own tail …

          It’s kind of like a prize crane-arm game, only in reverse. You’ve got this randomly striking thing down in the terrarium, and you try to stick the rat between him and whatever he’s striking at.
          The snake is just not very smart. He would not survive in the wild.

          1. ericvon germania

            oh, right! I meant the snake!! weird mistake I have made…I wonder what it is hiding..

            ah, ok!! you feed him dead rats?!! bwerk!! With don’t you try living rats or living mice? maybe he needs some challenge and he is bored with dead rats?

          2. Lord Narf

            No, he’s trying to eat the rats. He’s just too stupid to recognize where the rat smell is coming from. The dead rats are too much of a challenge for his tiny brain. If we tried to feed him a live rat, the rat would probably win. I’m not joking. It happens sometimes, if you feed a snake live rodents.

            He just strikes out randomly, not knowing what he’s striking at, thinking that it’s a rat and being so sadly wrong … kind of like Scalia and the Constitution.

          3. ericvon germania

            :DDD ok, seems a living rat would eat your poor snake…maybe the constitution will eat Scalia!

          4. Lord Narf

            We should be so lucky.

          5. Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

            Maybe your snake is blind and can’t tell where the rat is?

          6. Lord Narf

            Nah, the snake is only a year and a half or two years old. Too young for his vision to be going. I think he’s just too stupid to recognize the rat as the source of the smell.

          7. Alicia

            but–but …aren’t all snakes blind and they “see” with their tongues or some crap–I’m so confuuuuused….

          8. Lord Narf

            No, although I know what you’re thinking of. But what you’re thinking of also isn’t true.

            Yes, the most dominant sense on a snake is their sense of smell. That’s why he goes bug-shit once he smells the rat. They enhance their sense of smell by flicking their tongue to swirl scents into their row of several nostrils. That’s why they do that with their tongues.
            http://www.nigeldownerphotography.com/data/media/13/re-0022_royal_python_close_up.jpg

            Snake vision isn’t generally anywhere near as precise as that of most mammals, but it should be good enough to pick out a dangling rat from its surroundings. My snake is just “special”.

            What you’re thinking of is hearing. There’s a myth that snakes are deaf. They’re not. They just don’t have external ears, and they mostly use their hearing to detect vibrations through the ground.

          9. Alicia

            Ohhhhhhhhhh…thanks most kindly for the info.

          10. Lord Narf

            No prob.

            Also, I wasn’t entirely clear on the tongue/smelling thing. You could argue that some of what we would consider smelling is done with the snake’s tongue, itself, not just swirled into the nostrils. Smell and taste are tied up together into a complex blur.

          11. Alicia

            *shrugs* probably some misinformation I got as a kid–that and snakes feel vibrations on the ground which help them hunt prey–maybe I need to watch the nature channel more

      2. Zme

        Wut? Hit your snake with Scalia or hit Scalia with a rat?

        1. Lord Narf

          Hmmmmmmmmm. Maybe we could get my snake agitated with a warm rat, then toss him at Scalia.

          1. Alicia

            Hit Scalia with a snake AND a rat, WIN!!!!

    2. 1.2
      richardelguru

      Heh! Heh! Your Latin could be a bit better, but ‘reductio ad scalia’ would mean something like ‘reduced to a ladder’ whatever that means.

  2. 2
    runicmadhamster

    Isnt a supreme court justice a important role, with a great deal of power and responsibility? If so then why is there a supreme court justice that would ask such a dumb question and mean it.

    1. 2.1
      Lord Narf

      Because of freaking Reagan. We have Reagan to thank for both Trickle-Down Economics, which is the best way to turn the nation into a third-world country, and Scalia.

    2. 2.2
      baal

      Despite this particular display, he’s far from unintelligent. He knows the argument was crap and he did it anyway. I assume it’s Scalia’s way of making fun of the rest of us.

      1. Alicia

        thumbing his nose as it were–I can see that. The right has a habit of thinking the populace is a few cards shy of a deck when it comes to intelligence–sadly, in some cases, they are right…

  3. 3
    rilian

    I think he’s thinking it’s just the word of some people against the word of other people as to whether something is really wrong or just a valid alternative. I guess he really thinks morality is just determined by the majority opinion on something. Like supposedly there are societies where cannibalism is ok. In other words, he’s saying, “If you can deny the majority’s opinion on homosexuality, why can’t you deny it on murder?” Since supposedly there are some people who think murder is ok.

    1. 3.1
      sailor1031

      It’s a matter of law. The constitution gives you the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Consistent with this is teh right not to be murdered. The constitution does not, however, give you the right to police other peoples’ relationships even if you do find them “icky”.

      1. Alicia

        I do so hate the disingenuous, “What next–pedophilia–bestiality (insert absurdity here)?” arguments, as if homosexuality and these things can even be compared in a social context. We are talking about the nature of legal and moral consent and the difference between actual crimes and things someone may not be comfortable with personally.

      2. rilian

        The law isn’t handed down from g0d, ha. Just because the constitution says this or that doesn’t mean it should.

        1. Alicia

          Yes, but the document was drafted for a reason. It was, of course, crafted by MEN who were trying to structure a nation. They recognized the problems from the old world and tried to come up with a system that would be fair and equitable. They also put in provisions for amendments for things they could not possibly foresee or may have left out. At the end of the day, hey, it’s all we got and if we are going to live by it all men should be subject to its restrictions AND it’s freedoms.

          1. rilian

            A constitutionalist or whatever would probably say something about that line in it that says blah blah to the states and the people respectively. In modern-day english, that “respectively” makes no sense, since there was only one thing listed, but two groups of people. Anyway, those constitution lovers seem to assume that it goes down to the states first, then perhaps to counties, then cities then whatever, then finally the individuals. So while the federal gubment doesn’t have any restrictions on, like, eating cherries, supposedly a single state could decide to restrict it, with whatever methods that state government uses. I don’t know. I’m not one of those people, but I’m always hearing that stuff, about “states’ rights”.

          2. Alicia

            Yeah, like Ron Paul, who I actually liked. He was someone who truly understood that freedom was for everyone, even folks he did not agree with.

          3. Lord Narf

            Nah, his actual stances are quite destructive to our liberties. He just wants to let states take away our rights, since he knows it’s harder to do at the federal level. He’s an anti-abortion, Creationist nut-job who thinks we should shove religion into government.

            He wants to allow states to override the US Constitution, making things like sodomy laws enforceable, at a state level.

          4. Alicia

            Narf, there a were a few things I did disagree with the man on but he seemed consistent in this point–he believed abortion was taking of a life but he said he would not repeal Roe Vs. Wade or to make abortion illegal. He said at much during the Republican primary and was chastised by other Republicans. Since the man had a 30 year consistent voting record which included never voting to raise congressional pay or taxes on ANYONE., I was prone to take him at his word on this. Besides, we know how dishonest the media is. All Ron Paul had to say was “I do not believe in abortion” and they would edit it as a sound byte–forgetting to mention the “but” in the sentence. A lot of Ron Paul’s stances were misinterpreted because he would tell you want he believed but he was wise enough to know he couldn’t legislate his own morality. Example–he believed drugs should be legal ( even hard core ones) as well as prostitution. He also believed that homosexuals could marry and call it what they wanted to…he said, “Yes, it is against my personal beliefs but at the end of the day I wouldn’t want anyone to tell me who to worship so why would I tell someone who to live?” He also wanted to end all foreign wars and bring the troops home. This is why I respected him–his record showed him to be at least honest in his convictions–I respected that, which is why I voted for him even though I knew he would not win.

          5. Lord Narf

            What kind of judges would he nominate to the Supreme Court, though?

            During the primaries, I repeatedly heard him say, “That should be left to the states,” on almost every domestic social issue that I care about. In most states, that would mean the ultra-conservative position would win, without the federal government to kick them into shape.

            I agree with him on his foreign policy, but that’s about it. I don’t even want to think about what he would do to our social programs. He’d leave the corporations to rip apart the environment and destroy the standard of living in this country.

  4. 4
    Sonorus

    Thank you, Matt.

    It’s not about what he thinks about gay sex. who cares what he THINKS? I wasn’t planning on asking him what he thought about people having sex. Was anyone going to ask his permission first? It’s none of his business.

    The law is another matter. it isn’t my business what he thinks, but it is my business if his legal opinion affects what I am legally allowed or not allowed to do without being fined or imprisoned.

    For some reason a lot of Americans (not just on the right) have these two concepts confused. I would blame it on intellectual laziness, but I think the lines are purposefully blurred by certain religious and political figures in the media. I’m constantly having to explain to people that I don’t care if they approve of my “lifestyle” or not. I really don’t. I do care when they pass laws and constitutional amendments restricting how I live my life.

    If you don’t approve of gay sex, then don’t have the gay sex. Problem solved.

    And if you can’t tell the difference between private consensual activities and violent crimes, you should be removed from the bench (and probably disbarred).

  5. 5
    Thomas

    the author of the blog makes an ambigious assumption as if its a universal truth :
    “we restrict rights based on reasonable demonstrations of harm. We err on the side of freedom and we make use of this concept known as “due process”. Perhaps you’ve heard of it…”

    the term ” reasonable demostration of harm…”…has two facets that are determined by personal moral perspective…

    A. what one views as “Reasonable”…. and
    B.what an individual views as “Harm”….

    morals…stem from an internal theologic perspective at its core…How you internal view the universe and the order that exists within it ( right and wrong” comes from one of three perspectives
    A. You believe a specific “named” God created all things and the order of all things
    B. You believe a GOD in the generic sense created all things and the order those creations must abide by. or C, You believe NO GOD created all that has been created…and the order that arose from such creation is left to ambiguity ( in this case no true “right and wrong” can ever be established…as its up to the individual to use their own metric from which to measure right and wrong…and in the interest of equality…no one has the right to claim a moral superiority…even the morals as determined by the one who claims there is no god…cannot, logically…claim a Universal truth as a moral superior stance. because whether or not their is a god still comes down to personal beliefs…its a matter of one thought process canceling itself out in terms of moral superiority

    the only way for a moral base line to be established as to what is right and wrong…is to measure it outside a personal perspective…

    Much in the same way…the implimentation of laws…are always a downstream… a government…impliments laws that those living under the protection of the government …must abide by ….and the government…must abide by a set of regulations about right and wrong

    that are placed on it by an outside source in turn…

    lawlessness starts when we create our own rules for living without an outside system of checks and balances….Scalia brings up the issues that…the issue of homosexuality…has two aspects to it…moral/ spiritual ramifactions….and earthly, government, societal ramifications.

    and he is suggesting that the two are intimiately linked , as one…effects the other

    and the foundation for determining right from wrong….is a case of downstreaming.

    1. 5.1
      Matt Dillahunty

      “the term ” reasonable demostration of harm…”…has two facets that are determined by personal moral perspective…”

      False. The demonstration of harm isn’t determined by personal moral perspectives and they may not moral questions, at all. It’s not necessarily immoral to drive 80mph on the road in front of my house, but it is risky. We’ve concluded, reasonably, that barring exceptional circumstances, in order to reduce the risk of harm, we’re going to restrict driving rights to a far less risky speed of 40mph.

      We don’t restrict everything we find immoral – and everything we restrict is not based on moral position. You may be able to reduce them to moral positions (we generally find it immoral to unnecessarily risk harming others), but that’s neither necessary, nor consistent. As a matter of legal philosophy, we begin with a presumption of freedom (all rights) and then we limit rights when rights conflict. No moral opinion is required.

      “A. what one views as “Reasonable”…. and B.what an individual views as “Harm”…. morals…stem from an internal theologic perspective at its core”

      Wrong again. Reasonableness doesn’t require theology, it’s an assessment of rational consideration of evidence with respect to reality.

      Harm is a physical fact of the universe, and morals do not require theological perspectives. I don’t require theology to recognize that life is preferable to death, health is preferable to sickness, etc. Those are the foundations upon which we build morality.

      You already recognize this, which is why you tried to imply that atheism counted as theology or a view about theology; which means that your claim here is that ‘morals stem from thinking about the kind of things that theology addresses’ and you’re specifically narrowing theology to ‘moral questions’, which means you’re saying that ‘morals stem from thinking about moral questions’. Congrats on the hidden tautology!

      “You believe NO GOD created all that has been created…”

      Wrong again; on several levels. You don’t get to just label it “created” in order to smuggle in a creator – just as Justice Scalia doesn’t get to claim a moral feeling in order to smuggle in the claim that this is a moral question.

      “and the order that arose from such creation is left to ambiguity ( in this case no true “right and wrong” can ever be established…as its up to the individual to use their own metric”

      Wrong again. Nothing is intrinsically “right” or “wrong” but, situationally, moral evaluations can be made with respect to values and without spiraling into moral relativism. Just as we can objectively evaluate physical health by comparing ones state to an ideal or norm (which may change) and we can objectively evaluate a chess position with respect to the goals, we can objectively evaluate moral questions with respect to values. What about the values? Well…

      I’d recommend that you read Sam Harris’ “The Moral Landscape” or watch my own lecture on “The Superiority of Secular Morality”…your view on morality is rather narrow and largely irrelevant to the issue at hand.

      And I’d also recommend avoiding the overuse of ellipses. Your comment included no less than 32 of them over the course of less than 400 words. That’s remarkable, to put it mildly.

      -Matt

    2. 5.2
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      Let me break it down simple. This is where you went wrong.

      the only way for a moral base line to be established as to what is right and wrong…is to measure it outside a personal perspective…

      It’s called the Naturalistic Fallacy, closely related to Hume’s Is-Ought distinction. You are welcome to present to be an objective set of rules governing human behavior. You may also choose to call that “objective morality”. However, my question to you is “why should I obey that set of rules”? In other words, somewhere in there you went from “is” to “ought”, and that is a violation of Hume’s Is-Ought distinction, and it is the Naturalistic Fallacy. I’m sorry – any axiomization of a sane belief system is going to start out with some moral axioms, aka unjustified fiat “ought” statements. I start out with a couple, such as we ought to act in a way that increases everyone’s happiness and self determination. You evidently start out with “I should do what god says”.

      Saying “what god commands is good because god is good” gets you nowhere. It’s naked fiat. It’s definitionally equivalent to “we ought to do what god says”. It’s no “better” logically than my fiat starting position, and I argue we both know it’s worse morally. Classic Euthyphro Dilemma: There is surely some way that you could know that you are talking to god. What if that happened, and then god told you to rape someone because god was bored and wanted something to watch. Would you? If you say “but that can’t happen, it’s contradictory”, then I have to ask “wait, you mean you are a better moral judge than god?”

      I asked this following question of my Catholic friend yesterday, and at least he was honest enough to answer. “Why do you do what god says?” “To get into heaven.” “So, you just called me hedonistic and selfish. How is your position any different?” How would you answer?

      1. none

        thoamssteves is a waste of skin. I hope he shuts up before he screws up anybody elses life.

    3. 5.3
      Sonorus

      No, we don’t need theology in order to have morality. Morality can be based on empathy and compassion. Personally I find that far more moral than avoiding doing things that will make a deity angry and risk going to eternal damnation. I’m not afraid of going to hell since I don’t believe it exists. I’m still not going to kill or rape anyone, because those actions would harm others and would therefore be wrong. It’s pretty simple and doesn’t require belief in the supernatural.

      But it makes me wonder when I hear this line of argument…are theists telling us that the only reason they don’t do horrible things is that they believe that a supernatural being will punish them? That doesn’t sound very moral to me. (I also don’t think it’s true and that the vast majority of theists derive their morals the same way that I do.)

      1. Thomas

        ok…a couple of things…
        1. you do realise that this entire discussion….on the larger scheme of things….is the equivalent of gold fish in a fish bowl…constrained to that fishbowll…making defnitive statements as to what may or may not exist outside the fishbowl??

        morality..as an internal perspective and an outward expression…is the end result of outward influences impacting an individual in such a way that they , through their understanding determine with something is “acceptable to them” or not….morals dont grow in a vacuum…

        laws do appear of their own accord without some control…devising them…then instituting them for mass use…

        that being said…

        an atheist believes that the only valid “outside influence ” is either themselves or anotehr human and through personal “feeling”…those interaction are determined as acceptable ( right) or unnacceptable ( wrong)…

        The only reason any person refrains from doing something unnacceptable beyond themselves …is if they fear consiquences…either external ( legal or interpersonal)…or internal ( self esteem/ guilt)

        1. Sonorus

          I don’t know what lies beyond your metaphorical fishbowl and neither do you. The difference between us is that you pretend to while I do not. You make a good number of assumptions but you don’t offer any proof. You say you need outside influence to shape your morality but it seems to me that this influence almost always winds up being a justification for actions that are immoral if one uses the standard of empathy, compassion and reason.

          But your last paragraph is troubling. You state that people only avoid doing things that are immoral out of fear of the consequences. I don’t believe that’s true. Yes, that is why I drive under the speed limit. I’d prefer to avoid a ticket and the resulting increase in my insurance premiums. But there are plenty of things that I (and I’m not alone) choose not to do because I feel they are wrong and for which I will face no consequences. And you also ignore the many people who face consequences for doing something that they believe is moral.

          The main problem with your reasoning is that you offer no evidence. You can’t prove that this/these supernatural being(s) exist or that they have ever influenced anyone towards or away morality. We can, on the contrary, find numerous examples of people using supernatural justification to influence the public at large into committing atrocities of war, terrorism and genocide. You seem to want an outside force to prevent us from screwing up. I don’t see it nor do I find any evidence of it. If you have some, please present it.

        2. baal

          Thomas, go deal with Matt’s reply. Really, he did you a favor in taking you seriously and replying at length. Your refusal to do so supports the conclusion that you do not value Truth or that you’re seeking to play the martyr-witness. In that later case, spend some time reviewing strong and weak social signals and the role they play in group (tribal) identification aka Signal theory.

  6. 6
    Thomas

    matt…very simple and to the point…who is this “We” that you refere to???its completely subjective …( including ellipses lol) ..

    Morals and assessments shift culture to culture, person to person, era to era…as does risk.

    so indeed. your definition of “risk” and “harm” may not mesh with mine….and as such…the reasoning is that i may have information that you do not have that would lessen percieved risk…and vice versa.

    Harm…is a blanket statement as vague as the word love…not until a universally established definition of what it means to love or harm someone as an action , do either words even have any importance…

    Hello, middle eastern terrorists who blow themselves up…do so out of their own definition of what love is…they have concluded for themselves and their peers that love as an action is to kill those around them…

    in the interest of equality…who am i to tell them they are wrong….if i only use my definition of right and wrong…thats arroagnce at its most egregious

    driving 80 miles an hour is only risky to someone not as well trained to drive at that high rate of speed…

    so again…right and wrong..without an outside metric from which to measure as a non moving standard…is the only way to establish a universal truth…

    MAN does not determine the laws of physics….they exist outside of his realm of influence or control…those laws are placed upon him…and he has no choice but to abide by themm…or rebell and suffer dire consiquence in his attempt….

    example….100 out of 100 times you jump out of a plane from a height of 10,000 feet without a parachute….you will die…wether you believe it or not.

    so…to recap…unless a soldid metric outside of ones self can be utilized to determine what is right and wrong…NO ONE has the right, to eclipse someone elses moral standing…because….

    well. all things being equall. all humans would exist at the same moral level….the moment one group attempts to eclipse anothers morals ( be it theologian, atheist…or what ever)….but they use their own definitions as a tool to do so…their validity is automatically moot….

    1. 6.1
      Lord Narf

      example….100 out of 100 times you jump out of a plane from a height of 10,000 feet without a parachute….you will die…wether you believe it or not.

      Bullshit. People have done it. I believe the record is somewhere around 30,000 feet.

    2. 6.2
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      Morals and assessments shift culture to culture, person to person, era to era…as does risk.

      Demonstrably false in the universal. There are some moral universals among human cultures to the best of our ability to verify. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem

    3. 6.3
      serena

      Try reading this in Bill Shatner’s voice. The ellipses…. I can’t…. unhear… itnow.

      1. baal

        You’re eeeevil Serena, eeeeeviiil. Yep, it’s stuck.

      2. Alicia

        Ahhhh Ahhhhhh Ahhhh okay I’m all better now…lol

    4. 6.4
      B

      “the reasoning is that i may have information that you do not have that would lessen percieved risk…and vice versa”

      Ok, you are getting somewhere Thomas….you just described the basic process that Matt is talking about. We need a set of values that we agree on, and from those sets of values we can make a determination of what is harmful or not. In order for that to happen, an honest discussion must take place, and both parties have to be able to verify the honesty of the other party.
      What information do you have that I don’t have with respect to the morality of homosexuality versus murder?

  7. 7
    Thomas

    and the fact that a person attacks the verbiage of the statement over the actual substance of the statement further suggests a weak arguement…and an attempt to rabbit hole a discussion off point to one of character attack and rebuttal …( former competitive debate participant in collge and later instructor)

    1. 7.1
      Matt Dillahunty

      “and the fact that a person attacks the verbiage of the statement over the actual substance of the statement further suggests a weak arguement…”

      First of all, I didn’t attack the verbiage OVER the actual substance. I made a passing comment AFTER I addressed the substance. Your response to my comments was to spew a bunch of assertions that demonstrate the very lack of understanding I was talking about…and then to follow up with a display of dishonesty and irrationality.

      I directed you to resources, including my own lectures on morality – which might help you out. I don’t have the time or interest to debate this over and over, with dishonest and irrational people, in blog comments.

      You’ll receive no further replies. Bye.

      1. Alicia

        “and the fact that a person attacks the verbiage of the statement over the actual substance of the statement further suggests a weak argument…”

        I find it hilarious that Thomas picks up the last line of your dialogue to refute when there was a host of valid, hard to combat things you said prior to your outro. If anything suggests a weak “argument” it is that…

  8. 8
    JohnM_0

    > If you don’t approve of gay sex, then don’t have the gay sex. Problem solved.

    > if you can’t tell the difference between private consensual activities and violent crimes, you should be removed from the bench

    Agree 100%.

    I would add…

    If you can’t understand that the rules of your religion are not the basis for laws or the constitution, maybe you should consider a different profession.

    If you can’t separate your personal disapproval from your responsibility as a constitutional guide maybe it’s time to shuffle off…

  9. 9
    Thomas

    John….

    to restate :

    morals…stem from an internal theologic perspective at its core…How you internal view the universe and the order that exists within it ( right and wrong” comes from one of three perspectives
    A. You believe a specific named God created all things and the order of all things

    B. You believe a GOD in the generic sense created all things and the order those creations must abide by. or

    C, You believe NO GOD created all that has been created…and the order that arose from such creation is left to ambiguity. in this case, Man…determines for himself what right or wrong looks like….man cannot logically determine right from wrong for himself without FIRST making a concious decision to deny the fact that any other person or entity determined right from wrong first and influenced his perspective.

    ( in this case no true “right and wrong” can ever be established…as its up to the individual to use their own metric from which to measure right and wrong…and in the interest of equality…no one has the right to claim a moral superiority…even the morals as determined by the one who claims there is no god…cannot, logically…claim a Universal truth as a moral superior stance. because whether or not their is a god still comes down to personal beliefs…its a matter of one thought process canceling itself out in terms of moral superiority.

    in the end…a person that on one hand says they make up their own rules as to what right and wrong looks like…cannot logically rule over another and rob them of their right to their own definition…thats hipocritical and promotes circular reasoning to no end…

    it ends up coming off like that monty python Arguement Sketch lol…

    1. 9.1
      Lord Narf

      Go read the book and watch the video that Matt suggested. Those address a great deal of what you’re placing under C. If you keep repeating things that have already been responded to, you just look like a tool.

    2. 9.2
      Sonorus

      What is this “universal truth” and why should I want or need to claim such a thing?

    3. 9.3
      Raging Bee

      morals…stem from an internal theologic perspective at its core…

      Wrong. Morality tends to arise from OBSERVATION of what actions are beneficial, and what actions cause harm. Actions that are believed to be beneficial are deemed “right” and maybe “mandatory.” Actions that are believed to cause harm are deemed “immoral” and “wrong.” And yes, believers do this just about as much as atheists do: all humans have both the capacity and the tendency to observe objective reality, and draw conclusions about right vs. wrong based on the observable consequences of actions.

      Your claim that we can’t establish an objective set of moral principles without God is pure horseshit. Believers and nonbelievers do it all the time, with or without admitting it.

      1. Alicia

        as an addendum–the establishment of god’s moral code hasn’t stopped murder, theft, adultery, child abuse…in fact, crime rates appear to be lower in agnostic countries like the Netherlands, than in places where religion rules the day. What does that say for god imposed morality? I would wager that when a society is allowed to create moral codes without the oversight of gods, there is a greater probability of adherence. Why? Could be that humans by nature hate to be dictated to. Example. When I was young my dad was very frank with me about sex. Because I had the tools in place to make an informed decision I waited till was well out of high school to have sex. We see the opposite is true with overly strict parents who put down the hammer with kids about sex and drugs without attempting to educate them on the topics. Most rebel, even when they inherently understand there are sounds reason for staying away from certain things at a young age. When we are treated like capable adults who can make up our own minds (with the exception of the maladjusted, mentally ill or just downright evil), we tend to make the “right” decisions.

        1. Jamie

          You know there is actually evidence to support this (though none specifically, sorry; I think it’s mentioned in several of my texts, like “Building Classroom Discipline,” 10th Ed. by C. Charles). As someone working on a teaching credential currently, I’ve learned that it’s a lot more productive for the students to work together to set the class rules/guidelines. They feel a sense of ownership over the rules and are a lot more willing to follow something they’ve put forward.

  10. 10
    trucreep

    “I think there is a fundamental difference between arguing the Constitution does not protect gay sex, which is a defensible and legitimate legal position I disagree with, and comparing gays to people who commit murder or engage in bestiality,” – Duncan Hosie, a freshman at Princeton

    “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against these other things?” he said to Hosie. “Of course we can. I don’t apologize for the things I raised. I’m not comparing homosexuality to murder. I’m comparing the principle that a society may not adopt moral sanctions, moral views, against certain conduct. I’m comparing that with respect to murder and that with respect to homosexuality.”

    I understand Scalia is a divisive person, and this is a sensitive issue. However, as a skeptic, one should always try to stay calm and rational, no matter how intense or personal an argument can get. This post misconstrues the meaning of what he said. There are legitimate ways to disagree with his stance on this, but I don’t think attacking an idea with such vitriol and a condescending tone is very effective, especially when said idea being attacked is not the one Scalia holds.

    1. 10.1
      Matt Dillahunty

      I was calm, and rational. If you can show where I wasn’t rational, that’d be nice. With respect to calm, I really don’t care, though I was calm. Outrageous statements are, by definition, deserving of outrage.

      Did I say that he’s comparing homosexuality to murder? Nope.
      (And, if you want to nitpick anyone can compare anything to anything, the objection would be that he implicitly equated – he didn’t – or falsely positioned them as similar categories – he did.)
      Was I talking about the principles and his extension of them to legal positions? Yup.

      Hosie’s question was about why the justice felt the need to raise unrelated and incomparable (in the categorical sense, not the nit-picking sense) issues like murder and bestiality when discussing homosexuality. He’s painting with a very dishonest paintbrush when there is such a vast disparity between the two subjects.

      There is an implicit comparison there, despite the Justice’s denial. The people objecting here aren’t misrepresenting the Justice, they’re rejecting his denial as dishonest.

      1. F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

        At root, prohibitions on murder are not based on “moral feelings”, whatever those are, so Scalia is setting up a lie from the start. Feelings can certainly be aligned with morals, ethics, and laws, but they are not reasons. That’s how we get stupid laws, well-intentioned or not.

        I suspect moral feeling are: Ew, I’m not interested in that, in fact, I personally don’t like it at all, therefore, it is immoral and no one should do x.

        1. Sonorus

          We also don’t have any “absolute” standard. We agree that murder is wrong, but the punishment for all murders is not the same. We take into consideration whether or not it was premeditated, intentional, etc. We differentiate between 1st and 2nd degree murder, manslaughter, reckless endangerment, etc. We also consider self defense and even occasionally insanity. It’s not the least bit absolute. People who want absolute morality and bemoan situational ethics should ask themselves if they’d want to face the death penalty for self-defense. Of course our ethics are situational and even the people who say they don’t want any such thing would not like living in a world that did not include compassion and reason in the prosecution of crimes.

    2. 10.2
      SallyStrange

      However, as a skeptic, one should always try to stay calm and rationa

      I’m skeptical of this claim. Can you provide evidence that calmness and rationality are ALWAYS the best approach, and righteous anger, disgust, or impassioned appeals to empathy and compassion are NEVER appropriate and/or effective?

      1. Alicia

        Indeed, moral outrage is what earned ladies like me the right to vote and blacks like me the ability to be deemed “equal”…

    3. 10.3
      Raging Bee

      This post misconstrues the meaning of what he said.

      No, it did not. Scalia tried to compare two very different things, homosexuality and murder, and to say we could not condone one without condoning the other. The comparison is invalid, his “reasoning” is bogus, and he ignores the observable fact that, yes, lots of people can indeed be — and are — outraged about murder without being outraged about gayness. He was wrong, he was ignorant, and he deserves all the mockery he’s getting and more. It was an incredibly stupid, bigoted and dishonest thing to say, both in and out of context.

      I don’t think attacking an idea with such vitriol and a condescending tone is very effective…

      What, you think YOUR condescending tone is more effective?

      1. Alicia

        Shhh–you’re using logic, you might frighten him away.

        1. Lord Narf

          And that would be a pity …

          1. Alicia

            I don’t think I could ever get over it…

  11. 11
    MCB

    A little context for understanding Scalia’s point:

    There are a number of questions posed by the prop 8 case. One of those questions is what kind of scrutiny prop 8 should get. There is no doubt that it gets at least the lowest form of scrutiny called, which is usually called “rational basis.” There will also be some argument about whether it gets a higher level of scrutiny, and it is very conceivable that the decision will intermediate scrutiny. In fact, I think there is a very good chance that we will have a Kennedy written majority 5-4 decision that holds that laws which discriminate against homosexuals get intermediate scrutiny, and this would probably be the biggest possible win for gay rights we could get out of this case. I sure hope that happens, and it would be a great great day for this county to see such a decision.

    But, this law could also be invalidated under what is called a “rational basis” review. A rational basis review–and this is very very important to understand–is supposed to be highly deferential to the lawmaker (usually the legislature, though in this case a ballot initiative). The point of rational basis is supposed to be that you have to at least have some conceivable, arguable reason to pass the law. This particular law may very well have no rational basis.

    One question is whether moral outrage ought to be enough of a reason to pass a law. Scalia thinks it should be, and not just because it allows him to discriminate against homosexuals. This is not a trivial point because it would appear that many of our laws are based on morality.

    Consider, just as an example, another California law: the ban on foie gras. Now if we define harm as including harm to animals (which I do not think is what you mean), your test might allow us to defend the ban on foie gras. But barring that, I think it is fairly clear that foie gras has not been banned because it harms people. Now, I don’t think the ban on foie gras is good policy. But should it be unconstitutional?

    Remember that the point of rational basis is to be a very deferential review which ultimately gives the power to the legislature and not the court. Many conservatives and liberals are concerned about any doctrine which would appear to give the court too much power to second guess laws just because they are bad policy. The harm test that you propose here is, I think, a little too agressive in terms of subjecting the legislative branch to control by the judiciary.

    It also has no basis–as far as I can tell–in Supreme Court precedent, and consequently I doubt it would get much traction.

    However, there is another point that does have traction in Supreme Court precedent: bare animus towards some group cannot be the rational basis for a law. I think it will be difficult for the prop 8 defenders to explain precisely how their position does not come down the bare animus against homosexuals.

    Finally, I would just like to point out that as much as I dislike Scalia’s politics and much of his judicial philosophy, implying that he is an idiot as some of the responders has done is just silly. Most everyone who reads his decisions would admit that he is the best writer on the Court, and he is also probably one of the most intellectually consistent judges out there. The man may be many things, but stupid is not one of them.

    1. 11.1
      Sonorus

      Your summary of the Prop 8 issues is good. it’s not the only gay marriage question before the court this year, however. DOMA section 3 is also being challenged and that’s the cases they pretty much had to hear since there are conflicting lower court opinions that call for review.

      No, Scalia is not stupid. He’s an asshole, a bigot and a bully, but he’s definitely intelligent. Unfortunately he falls victim to a very twisted brand of logic. It’s probably unfair of me to blame that twisted logic on his Catholic upbringing but I can’t think of any other explanation. I realize he wasn’t LITERALLY comparing murder to sodomy. But he was implying that if we can’t outlaw specific sex acts that we can’t outlaw anything which is absurd. Scalia believes that he should be able to impose his religious beliefs on the rest of the population, one assumes in the misguided assumption that it’s for our own good. I find that appalling, but he’s hardly the first.

    2. 11.2
      Raging Bee

      There are a number of questions posed by the prop 8 case…

      That’s not what Scalia was talking about.

      1. Sonorus

        True, and remember that Scalia wrote a scathing dissent in Lawrence v Texas defending sodomy laws. His problem is not just with marriage. He’s anti-gay and proud of it.

        1. Alicia

          Which is why my fear is that he is digging around for the “gotcha” or “loophole” ideology backed by law that will allow him to take the civil rights away from a group he objects to on personal moral grounds. Coward.

      2. Alicia

        Correct me if I am wrong but I think he was referencing DOMA (and constitutional law) with his comments…?

      3. MCB

        He wasn’t talking about prop 8 in particular. He was talking about his view that morality is a good enough reason to pass a rational basis analysis.

  12. 12
    Thomas

    lol…Ok Narf..
    1. show me the data on your claim.

    2. for the sake of example….100 times out of 100 times that you remove your helmet and life support system from yourself while in space…you WILL die…

    in the same way 100 times out of 100 times a goldfish is left out of goldfish bowl indefinitely and placed on the ground …that golfish will die…

    laws, rules, right and wrong…are always downstreamed….a goldfish did not determine for itself…that its confined to the parameters same as a human confined to the parameters of earth…sure…he can leave earth…but NOT without setting up a series of systems that allow him to experience the environment of earth and its life sustaining qualities.

    thats pure science lol….

    I cant wait to hear the arguements against the laws of physics lol * waiting with baited breath *( using asterisks this time)

    1. 12.1
      Lord Narf

      1. Google is your friend. I found the results, on many different pages, with a simple, obvious question placed into Google. If you can’t be bothered to do the same, after making such a grand statement, I’m not going to help you.

      2. Of course I’m not going to say something about removing your helmet and life support in space. It’s not as sweeping and as inaccurate of a statement. You may want to add a time conditional, though. Humans can survive brief exposure to vacuum, although it certainly isn’t pleasant or healthy.

      “Indefinite”? Heh. If you’re going to propose that sort of timeline, how about we use a different example? 100 times out of 100, a goldfish is left in a tank of clean water, fed ideal food and given the best vet care you can give to a fish, for an indefinite (by which, I assume you mean definition #1, unlimited) period of time … that goldfish will die.
      You need to work on nailing down your parameters better. As Tyler Durden told us, over a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.

    2. 12.2
      F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

      It doesn’t even matter.

      Physical laws have nothing to do with morality or legislation, other than that you want to make a bad comparison between two completely different concepts labeled “laws”. You are attempting to compare facts and rules. (And strangely you use two human-centric examples involving imminent death for your comparison. Do you wonder why you do that?)

    3. 12.3
      Raging Bee

      laws, rules, right and wrong…are always downstreamed….a goldfish did not determine for itself…that its confined to the parameters same as a human confined to the parameters of earth…sure…he can leave earth…but NOT without setting up a series of systems that allow him to experience the environment of earth and its life sustaining qualities. thats pure science lol….

      No, it’s pure word-salad and non-sequiturs. The more of yoru comments I read, the more obvious it becomes that you have no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve heard more coherent-sounding bollocks from homeopaths, Larouchies and Pope Palpadict.

    4. 12.4
      baal

      STOP ABUSING THE ELLIPSES! Your expression of ideas is barely coherent as it is; don’t compound it by using ellipses to cover weakness in grammar. The solution there is to stick to shorter sentence which have subjects, verbs, and maybe 1 clause.

    5. 12.5
      Sonorus

      What on earth do the laws of physics have to do with who may marry whom? If it were impossible according to “natural laws” no one would be able to do it. Your argument is nonsense.

  13. 13
    Tax

    Morals and theology are simply not related.

    I have no belief in gods. My lack of belief in gods is unrelated to my understanding that my actions may cause others pain or suffering, which we would label “harm.”

    Even if something is not clearly labeled as harm, we have this concept of bodily autonomy. Which is to say, you don’t have the right to make use of my body in any way shape or form without asking me first. These are very simply concepts to grasp, and they have nothing to do with theology. You don’t touch me without asking, I won’t touch you without asking. Call me crazy, but I don’t see how that’s related to whether or not a god exists.

  14. 14
    Thomas

    TAX?

    C, You believe NO GOD created all that has been created…and the order that arose from such creation is left to ambiguity.

    in this case, Man…determines for himself what right or wrong looks like…

    .man cannot logically determine right from wrong for himself without FIRST making a concious decision to deny the fact that any other person or entity determined right from wrong first and influenced his perspective.

    an theistic perspective is STILL a theologic perspective as it derives its morals from a spiritual /pseudo-intellectical stance about something that may or may not ezxists outside of his or her physical being.

    Atheism…IS a theology…no way around that.

    1. 14.1
      MCB

      man cannot logically determine right from wrong for himself without FIRST making a concious decision to deny the fact that any other person or entity determined right from wrong first and influenced his perspective.

      Can you please explain how this statement is different from:

      “man cannot logically determine 1+1=2 for himself without FIRST making a concious decision to deny the fact that any other person or entity determined 1+1=2 first and influenced his perspective.”

      And then the conclusions that math is a theology?

      1. Thomas

        easy….you as a human being,,,were born into a system that was determined LONG before you were ever concieved…. your belief that the sky exist merey becuase you discover it….does not validate its existence..

        the law of order that determines 1+1=2 was established before mans existence…all man did was label that law it to his own understanding…

        its like saying…a chair only exists in a room as long as i visually see it. hold it it or sit on it…without my validation…universally…it MUST NOT exist…

        thats the arrogance of man…thinking they are the ultimate master and domain of their existence and perspective…when in realily…man is finite…in an infinite universe.

        1. MCB

          Well Thomas, two points:

          1) You did not actually explain why math isn’t a theology. In fact what you wrote makes you think that math is a theology.

          2) Full stop. It exists. Unlike god.

        2. Lord Narf

          This whole comment is a gross exercise in the confusion between prescriptive and descriptive laws. Nothing had to dictate descriptive laws. They’re explanatory systems for the way that we’ve observed the universe works.

          For that matter, though, the field of mathematics doesn’t even really count as something as complex as the laws of gravity or any other physical laws you might like to throw out there. It’s just a descriptive framework describing something inherent, like the laws of logic.

          1. MCB

            I picked mathematics specifically because it’s a-priori, just in case he was going to try to be clever about it and say that empirical things aren’t theology but non-empirical things are. Luckily, he wasn’t that clever.

            Maybe, at least, he learned about the magic of the full stop.

          2. Lord Narf

            Yeah, mathematics works because the system works. Sometimes, it’s just that simple.

        3. Sonorus

          Is the universe infinite? I thought the current understanding is that the universe is finite but expanding. I will be happy to be corrected by someone who understands cosmology better than I (and feel confident that there are quite a few of those on this board).

      2. Sonorus

        1+1=2? Sorry to be the insufferable know-it-all on this one, but in order for that to be accurate we have to assume some things that are constructs and not “truth”. Base 10, for example. In base two 1+1=10. Even the way we represent numbers using roman numerals must be accepted. (Arabic numerals actually took some time to be accepted in the West. That was hundreds of years ago, but they weren’t always the standard. They do make it easier to perform arithmatic. Try doing long division with Roman numerals!)

        No, I’m not claiming that the idea that one thing plus one more thing makes two things, but it involves a lot of things that aren’t necessarily universal, at least in terminology for us to express that idea.

        1. Thomas

          regardless of the actual system used to decipher the correct answer to 1+1=2…still, man did not create the equation to decipher the answer but rather uncovered it….

          the variables of perspective on how to determine the answer was put into play long before mans existence…

          its the equivalent that footblaa players on a playing field…didnt create the game build the staduim or the field they play on…those structures systems and rules etc. were built well before they ever existed on the field…they merely play on teh field…according to the rules establishe for them…making discoveries on the field based on their perspective…the commisioner owners and coaches…who are not directly in the game…created the structure call the larger shots…and have the ability to see things the players cant and have access to information players dont…and in the end…the coaches owners and commisioner have final say over the players playing on the field

          1. Sonorus

            How does that apply to our argument. Yes, there are physical laws in our universe and yes, there are physical limits as to what we can and cannot do. What does that have to do with the formation of morality and ethics? You keep referencing a creator without offering any proof of such. Please prove this assumption or drop the references.

    2. 14.2
      Tax

      I don’t have a belief in gods. It’s not that I believe gods do not exist. It’s simply that if they do, I know nothing of them. So for the purposes of making decisions, whether or not god or gods exist is irrelevant. Because as long as I don’t have hard information that proves a particular god exists, and information about the nature of that god, I can’t factor it into any decisions.

      Furthermore, even if there is a god I don’t have to agree with it about what is moral or immoral. What if god is a creature with thousands of prehensile penises and the whole point of the world is to organically develop souls with different size and quality anuses so that he can enjoy them for all eternity regardless of what they thought was right or wrong.

      To say that a gods opinion is the only one that matters is to say in essence might makes right. I disagree with that notion.

    3. 14.3
      Lord Narf

      Thomas, you’re ignoring a very important point, that morals can be absolute within the context of a set of defined goals. That’s an important distinction. This is the kind of thing covered in the book and lecture that Matt referred you towards. Go read up a bit more and learn.

    4. 14.4
      Lord Narf

      Atheism…IS a theology…no way around that.

      And that’s one of the most stupid statements I’ve read today.

      Atheism is the rejection of a positive belief in the existence of gods. Nothing more. If you want to get any sort of positive statement from atheism, you have to inject something additional. You need positive claims to create a theology.

    5. 14.5
      runicmadhamster

      Atheism…IS a theology…no way around that.

      No its not, Theology has a definition and atheism doesn’t fall under that definition. Here is that definition for clarity

      theology
      Noun
      The study of the nature of God and religious belief.
      Religious beliefs and theory when systematically developed: “Christian theology”.

      In short not atheism

    6. 14.6
      ericvon germania

      “Atheism…IS a theology…no way around that.”
      —You’re done!!

    7. 14.7
      F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

      Now you’re just high.

      Atheism is not a theology, and it doesn’t matter even if it were. (Although your proposed mechanisms are unsupported dreck.) Secular people, religious in their private lives or not, can and have derived morality from simple principles like fairness.

      Further, what god is giving the theists their morals? There are lots of gods giving various morals, sometimes they contradict themselves, and they apparently change over time. So I’m not sure how any given set of laws in a country like the US can be based on theologically derived morality.

  15. 15
    calladus

    “Atheism…IS a theology…no way around that.”

    I like to call this the “crab bucket analogy”.

    Some people escape from religion, we climb our way out of the bucket and out to freedom.

    But some crabs like it in the bucket, and hate it when others escape, so they work as hard as they can to drag the escaping crabs back into the bucket with them.

    I see this so often, religious people trying as hard as they can to equate atheism (the lack of a belief in a deity, or the belief that there is no deity) with religion (a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith).

    BTW, I changed the word “Theology” with “Religion” because I don’t think you’ve looked up the definition of theology in a dictionary… or else you would see it didn’t apply.

  16. 16
    Thomas

    Narf…I understand that point…but what people are not acknoledging is this…” The context” of absolutes”. as man define them are only as good as the paper that man writes it on…there is no true universal absolute MAN creates…that CANNOT be abolished by another man in a different context…so…

    The only thing Man CANNOT overcome…through deniel or what ever tool he desires…are absolutes that were created outside of his influence….

    I.E>…the absolute laws of physics… etc…man did not create these laws…just observed them, cataloged them and labeled them…

    Newton didnt create gravity Because he stumbled upon it and observed it…the law of gravity existed well before his validation…it just hadnt been labeled by man…

    1. 16.1
      Lord Narf

      So, you understand what a descriptive law is. Congratulations.

      I love the way you keep using MAN as a pejorative. Until you demonstrate another context, MAN is the best standard there is.

    2. 16.2
      Raging Bee

      The only thing Man CANNOT overcome…through deniel or what ever tool he desires…are absolutes that were created outside of his influence…

      Yeah, and one of those absolutes is that homosexuality is nowhere near as observably harmful as murder is, so no comparison between the two can ever be considered valid for any purpose.

      1. Alicia

        Thank you–that would be like me comparing a bee sting to rape

        1. Raging Bee

          Actually, even that comparison is more valid than Scalia’s, since, unlike just being gay, both a bee sting and a rape cause at least some demonstrable harm.

          1. Alicia

            Ahahahaha, true dat. Hummm. Eating chocolate cake and aggravated assault?

          2. TerranRich, Yet Another Atheist

            Alicia: High blood sugar levels, especially if you’re diabetic. Try again! ;)

          3. Alicia

            @TerranRich Well Dayum! LOL!

  17. 17
    Thomas

    as someone with a 20 year background in theology studies…Theology is the expansive understanding and observance of spiritual and philosphical thoughts or perspectiuves…Religion…is the physical execution of those thoughts and perspectives ( Religion is the physicla act of worship directed towards the focus of your theology)

    1. 17.1
      Lord Narf

      Theology is philosophical Onanism.

      1. steve84

        Theology is on the same level as smurfology or hogwartsology. It’s the study of made up stuff.

        1. Alicia

          dude you made me spit out my drink–that’s awesome.

    2. 17.2
      calladus

      As someone with access to Webster’s dictionary, theology is the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially : the study of God and of God’s relation to the world.

      Atheists don’t study something that doesn’t exist. However, some of us study religious people. If you want to say that we DO study God, or the “spiritual” – you are welcome to do so. However, you are still wrong.

    3. 17.3
      runicmadhamster

      as someone with a 20 year background in theology studies

      Then you must not have been paying much attention. To assert that atheism is a theology shows a shocking ignorance of the meaning of the word.

    4. 17.4
      MCB

      as someone with a 20 year background in theology studies

      Let me get this right: You are on an atheist website, and you are trying to make an argument from authority, holding yourself out as the authority. And you are an authority because of your “background in theology studies.” On an atheist website….. Really.

    5. 17.5
      Raging Bee

      Excuse me for being rude, but HAW HAW HAW HAW HAW HAW HAW!! You wasted TWENTY YEARS studying pure word-salad and sophistry that has “absolutely” no relevance to the reality of human life? And you think that’s supposed to impress anyone?

      You spent twenty years studying absolutely nothing. What a waste. I wasted less time smoking dope, and even then I was at least halfassedly studyng REAL things, like history and foreign affairs.

      You’re a sad piece of work. I’ll say a prayer to Odin for you.

      1. Alicia

        I am sorry but I just had to tell yah how I Lol”d at that one–excellent–and by my perspective–too true. But to be fair–I did this and did Matt…we woke up–maybe Thomas will as well.

  18. 18
    Thomas

    Narf…Satanism, santaria, all theological perspectives….i dont knwo where you got the definition that in order for theology to be valid it must have a positive quantifier …again…the term “positive” is subjective to your own understanding and may not be a universally applicable statement that is true for teh person standing next to you

    1. 18.1
      Lord Narf

      You’re misunderstanding the usage of the word ‘positive’. I’m not referring to moral positivity. I’m referring to assertion and negation.

  19. 19
    Thomas

    lol…let me get this straight… are you saying that Atheists live by the Ostrich approach to that which they find disagreeable???

    they stick their heads in the ground, cover their eyes…and then say…” if i dont believe in you , you dont exists??”….

    wow…how very intellectual.

    ya know…my 3 year old toddler did that same thing this very morning …lol

    1. 19.1
      runicmadhamster

      Urm who said that? I havent seen anyone say that here.

    2. 19.2
      Lord Narf

      Until something has been demonstrated to exist, it’s foolish to give it any significant belief value. Whether or not something is disagreeable is a completely separate question from that of its existence. The fact that I recognize that Yahweh is an immoral, petty monster is beside the point.

    3. 19.3
      steve84

      Why don’t you believe in Zeus or Odin? You have not studied them or made any effort to prove that they exist. You just dismiss them as mythology at best and nonsense at worst. We do the same with your god.

      As said, the null hypothesis is that there are no gods. Until you can prove that they do, it’s not worth considering and it’s outrageous to live our lives as if the are gods.

  20. 20
    Thomas

    Most Atheist…wish to deny the existence of anything beyond their validation becuase of teh rmification that go along with that awareness, and the causality the arises from that acknowledgement.
    by ignoring it…

    as if it doesnt exist…is in effect a way for the person holding that perspective to justify their actions and remove any culpability for actions that may have negative reprocussions.

    its like someoneone saying that since they dont believe in the laws or the government that places those laws…they are thereby not required to follow the mandates of that government under which they live.

    they want the best of both worlds….freedom without consiquence….thats the trapping of human arroagance and a fallacy….because of mans finite nature

    that…at its base level goes even againts logical thought as suggests that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”…is a fallacy..

    talk about living in denial lol

    1. 20.1
      calladus

      Most Christians are scared that a deity doesn’t really exist, but pretend that one does because they are too scared to contemplate their mortality.

      See? I can make unsupported statements as if they were fact.

    2. 20.2
      Lord Narf

      So, now you’re effectively saying that atheists deny God’s existence because we want to sin?

      Wow. You’ve devolved into the role of idiot and troll. Keep it up, and there’s a ban somewhere in your near future.

    3. 20.3
      runicmadhamster

      First dont pretend to know how “most atheists” think because you have not a clue. Secondly only believing in things that you have evidence for is most sane and rational way to live. Thirdly comparing not believing in God to not believing in governments is just stupid. Fourthly the idea that we are atheists because we want to live consequence free is also stupid, if i was to kill someone (because i believed that no god existed therefore no consequences applied to me) then i would quickly learn that consequence indeed do apply to me when i get thrown in jail.

      1. Thomas

        so run…you belief in an earthly government ( system of right and wrong)…just not a sppiritual government ( internal moral system of defining right from wrong)??/am i correct?

        government means system of order…it can be applied in earthly terms or non earthly ( universal ) terms

        1. Lord Narf

          Please define a spiritual government. Spiritual is the most fucking useless word in the English language.

          1. Thomas

            a “spritual governing system”…is the internal or “other than human”. system of determining right from wrong…

            as a hypothetical

            its that internal voice that urges a person to do this or that….great example…is a pedophile that molests a child and knows they can get away with it in terms of earthly governments but internally…is conflicted…ignores that internal gauge…and completes the act anyway…

            now mind you…they may have gotten away with the act….but internally…that conflict…and the positive or negative emotional/ spiritual ramifications will still stand… beyond external conviction

          2. Lord Narf

            is the internal or “other than human”. system of determining right from wrong…

            Please demonstrate the existence of a system for determining right from wrong, other than those created by humans.

            its that internal voice that urges a person to do this or that

            How do you differentiate that internal voice from schizophrenia?

            Even for those who are mentally healthy, that internal voice has nothing to do with spirituality. That’s empathy and societal training, built into us by evolution and honed by our social development.

            is a pedophile that molests a child and knows they can get away with it in terms of earthly governments but internally…is conflicted…ignores that internal gauge…and completes the act anyway…

            I don’t know that most pedophiles know they’re doing anything wrong.

            now mind you…they may have gotten away with the act….but internally…that conflict…and the positive or negative emotional/ spiritual ramifications will still stand… beyond external conviction

            This is word-salad crap. Will stand … beyond external conviction?

            How do you know there are any internal, emotional ramifications? The pedophile may feel just fine with what he’s done.

            Once again, what the fuck are spiritual ramifications? When you use a word in your explanation of what that word means, you should just give up and get your thoughts in order, first.

          3. Thomas

            spiritual ramifications…are ramifications that exist far beyond the initial participants inquestion….a great example of this…for the molestation analogy.

            the grandchild of a grandparent who was raped could experience the emotional , spiritual fallout from that initial experience two genrations before.

            in christendom…the term is.

            The sins of the fathers , being visited upon the children…for generations to come”…

            postive and negative actions have both immediate consequences and spiritual emotional consequences that can manifest moths or even years after the initial situation

          4. Lord Narf

            spiritual fallout from that initial experience two genrations before

            You just did it again. What the hell is spiritual fallout?

          5. Lord Narf

            And what the hell are “spiritual emotional consequences”?

          6. F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

            “The sins of the father” concept. We have finally arrived at a base assumption.

            Uh, nope. This doesn’t happen unless some human makes it happen, blaming some relation for the action of another and taking revenge.

            I also get the idea, which you seem to be taking great care to avoid, that the ramification is Hell. So why don’t you just lay your cards on the table. But I’ve got to tell you that atheists no more believe in posthumous punishments than in gods. And people of other faiths are not going to believe in your versions. And these things have nothing to do with ignoring consequences. Some religious people ignore consequences all the time, even from their supposed moral codes and their gods. Others act morally without believing any gods at all, without needing to worry about real or imagined negative consequences to themselves. Ethical people, religious or not, act morally because they consider the immediate consequences to others.

          7. Sonorus

            If only that “internal voice” actually stopped religious people from molesting children. Your example actually disproves your supposition. There are plenty of people who obviously believe it’s okay to harm children, fly planes into crowded buildings, kill people who don’t look like them and all other atrocities and feel their religion justifies these actions.

            Everyone feels their own actions are rational and moral. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t do them except under duress.

    4. 20.4
      steve84

      If you need a magical man in the sky to keep you in line, to reward you for good deeds and punish you for bad ones, then you don’t really have morals. In fact you have the moral development of a child.

    5. 20.5
      Sonorus

      Nope. I am responsible for my own actions because there is no supernatural force to clean up my messes for me. I must take responsibility because there is no other entity to do so.

      What I’ve always been curious about is this: over and over we find people who claim to believe in god who do horrible things when they think no one is looking. Presumably they believe god can see them do these things, but they are obviously more afraid of being caught by other people than in being punished by their god. Can you explain this? I find it odd and suspect that it demonstrates that they don’t really believe what they say they do. Am I wrong?

      But back to my main point, lack of belief does not absolve one of responsibility. It actually makes one solely responsible.

  21. 21
    Thomas

    narf…now your gainsaying and relying heavly on semantics in order to gain an angle…as for who is using the “ostrich approach…and i quote…

    TAX:
    don’t have a belief in gods. It’s not that I believe gods do not exist. It’s simply that if they do, I know nothing of them. So for the purposes of making decisions, whether or not god or gods exist is irrelevant. Because as long as I don’t have hard information that proves a particular god exists, and information about the nature of that god, I can’t factor it into any decisions.

    Furthermore, even if there is a god I don’t have to agree with it about what is moral or immoral. What if god is a creature with thousands of prehensile penises and the whole point of the world is to organically develop souls with different size and quality anuses so that he can enjoy them for all eternity regardless of what they thought was right or wrong.

    To say that a gods opinion is the only one that matters is to say in essence might makes right. I disagree with that notion.

    hes suggesting that his belief manifests the reality of a being greater than himself…or not..

    1. 21.1
      Tax

      Is what I am saying is that people have limited information to make decisions. Even if you believe god exists, unless you know something more about god then that you really can’t factor it into any decisions you make.

      “It is a contradiction in terms and ideas to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication. After this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner, for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.” From Thomas Paines the Age of Reason

      http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/thomas_paine/age_of_reason/part1.html

      I have been given no revelation in regards to any divinity, therefore I know of nothing that is of divine origins or nature, or even whether such a thing exists. All belief in gods has an origin in revelation. Until I have a revelation, I cannot believe in god, so when I make a decision the question “does god exists” is not a factor because I have no information to put into that.

    2. 21.2
      Lord Narf

      Dude, learn to comment. I can’t even see which comment of mine you’re trying to reply to.

      hes suggesting that his belief manifests the reality of a being greater than himself…or not..

      And no, that’s not at all what Tax is saying. Stop reading into what he’s saying and actually read what he’s saying.
      He’s making a statement about skepticism and rationality forming a foundation for our actions, based upon a likely model of reality. He’s not making any kind of statement about our beliefs affecting reality. Stop reading The Secret. It’ll rot your mind.

  22. 22
    Thomas

    no…you brought the word sin into play…i merely suggested that…according to the law of causaility….

    atheists want the best of both worlds…and will play an agle so they always have an out.
    \

    same as christians who continually commit heinious acts…then immediate go to church to confess and say” well im forgiven by god so i shouldnt be held accountable for my actions”.

    both perspectives are recklass, self serving and immature.

    1. 22.1
      runicmadhamster

      Oh please, he may have been the 1st to use the word but its what you meant. The argument you present, that atheists want “atheists want the best of both worlds” so dont believe in god to avoid punishment is just stupid. Stop trying to guess our motives for being atheists.

      1. Lord Narf

        Thanks you. Beat me to it.

        You brought the concept of sin into the discussion, Thomas. I just properly labeled what you’re dancing around.

      2. Thomas

        run…but arent you doing that to my perspective…assuming based on your perspective??? why are you not held to the same standard you want others to be held to??/see the hipocricy?

        1. Thomas

          the issue of spiritual ramifications, karma, yin and yang…cause and effect…have is not necessarily sin…because sin is a christian/ western theology term….

          negative spiritual ramifications have different definitions in different cultures

          1. Lord Narf

            Karma is also a stupid concept, in the “spiritual” (whatever the hell that means) way that they mean it.

        2. Lord Narf

          Your perspective of a universal lawgiver has no demonstrable evidence. Without the existence of a demonstrable god, the concept of sin is stupid and useless. That’s why your perspective deserves less credence.

          1. Thomas

            again…your belief in wether it is stupid or not…has NOT relivance as a universal assement apart from you…and as such…your assessment…may universally be false, regardless of your belief

          2. Lord Narf

            And you haven’t demonstrated that there’s any sort of universal assessment to be made. You’re the one making a positive assertion of the existence of some external authority, who can make a universal assessment. Provide evidence or give up.

          3. Thomas

            scienitic evidence for the proof that SOMETHING exists outside of mans influence and the system in which he resides…rest in this question.

            what existed before the creation of the the first cell, molecule or matter…and what was the process by which that/ those objects came into being??

            this open ended question does not definitively validate a SPECIFIC super intellectical being….nor does it SPECIFICALLY deny the existence of a super intellectual being.

            what it does suggest ….is an established system or process by which creation occurs….and we see both evolution and de-evolution appear in equality in the universe….

            the questin deals specifically with the fact that SOMETHING started the ball rolling…something like ” perpetual energy”>

            since perpetual ennergy does not exist in our known universe…does not automatically rulle out that it DOES NOT exist…just becuase we dont have the tools to observe perpectual energy yet.

            that “perpetual Energy” be it a being, force or what ever…is teh source of initial creation at the base level

          4. Lord Narf

            what existed before the creation of the the first cell, molecule or matter…and what was the process by which that/ those objects came into being??

            this open ended question does not definitively validate a SPECIFIC super intellectical being….nor does it SPECIFICALLY deny the existence of a super intellectual being.

            Like I said else where in this post, you clearly don’t understand skepticism and the null hypothesis. If you did, you would understand what a stupid statement that is.

            what it does suggest ….is an established system or process by which creation occurs….and we see both evolution and de-evolution appear in equality in the universe….

            Creation is a loaded word. Please demonstrate that something created what you claim as “creation”.

            If you understood evolution, you would understand why what you just said about it is completely nonsensical.

            the questin deals specifically with the fact that SOMETHING started the ball rolling…something like ” perpetual energy”>

            since perpetual ennergy does not exist in our known universe…does not automatically rulle out that it DOES NOT exist…just becuase we dont have the tools to observe perpectual energy yet.

            that “perpetual Energy” be it a being, force or what ever…is teh source of initial creation at the base level

            You seriously need to read up on your physics, before you start making wild-ass assertions like that. The top level physicists disagree with you completely. Nothing was needed to start the ball rolling. Go read up on Hawkings and Stenger, and go watch Lawrence Krauss’s lecture on a Universe from Nothing:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZiXC8Yh4T0

            You’re glomming extra shit onto a system that seems to work just fine without a creator, based upon our latest understanding. I don’t suppose you’ll bother to actually learn more on the subject, though, since it might shatter your smug agnosticism.

          5. Thomas

            wow…something automatically appearing without a “ramp up ” process??? lol.

            seems like atheists take greater leaps of faith than theists….becuase the “process” of ceation and destruction is evident all throughout the universe….

            molecule creation WITHout a ramp up process or external stressor is …as spock would say ” Highly illogical”…as it defies all known laws of order and denies causality.

          6. Lord Narf

            Like I said, your ignorance is showing. Go learn some more, and come back and try again. I don’t imagine you’re going to do that, though … in which case, I don’t particularly value your opinion.

          7. Sonorus

            So much wrong. Where to start. I’m a musician and I know more about physics than you do.

            What you are trying to argue is the “first cause” argument. You ask what existed before the universe. There are two problems with that question. 1) Since our current understanding is that time as we know it did not exist before the big bang, there can be no before because before would require time which didn’t exist. 2) What caused the big bang? No idea. No one else knows either, but “god did it” isn’t an example. 3) You keep changing your definition of god. If got id energy well then yes I’ll agree that energy exists. Love exists too. We already have words for those (hat tip to Matt) so why call them god.

            I can add many more unanswerable questions. Are there other universes out beyond our own? Are they like ours or different? Was there another universe “before” ours in the same “space”. (Note space didn’t exist before the big bang either.)

            I’m perfectly willing to admit that there are things I don’t know. In my own field (NOT physics and apologies if I got any of this wrong. I’m happy to accept corrections to my misunderstanding of cosmology.) when I don’t know I go about looking for the answer. but sometimes I have to admit that there just isn’t sufficient documentation to answer many questions. It sucks, but there are limits to what we can know. That doesn’t mean we don’t keep trying and searching. There’s certainly a lot we don’t know that we will know one day.

            Anyway, I got off track. Even if there some energy force that caused things to happen (which seems logical), that does not mean that this energy is intelligent. we have a tendency in our species to personify not only animals but nature and inanimate objects. It sometimes makes for interesting stories (see: Toy Story parts 1-3) but it has no basis in reality. The universe and its laws are indifferent to use. they are what they are and we just happen to coexist with them. Frankly, if the universe were designed with us in mind, whoever did the designing did a pretty sucky job.

            I stopped believing in the supernatural when I realized that I was having to do too much mental twisting to rationalize the irrational. Once I let go I could appreciate the wonder of our world more fully. I no longer have to ask why a loving god would allow 11 year old girls to be raped and tortured in Darfur. He wouldn’t . He doesn’t stop it because he’s not real. And what that means is that we have to stop it because there is no one out there who is going to save us from our own bad choices. That is morality, not lighting candles and waiting for some supernatural force to step in and save the day. No one can save us but ourselves.

        3. runicmadhamster

          I am assuming that that post was addressed to me? And no i did nothing to your perspective, Like Narf said you were dancing around the word (for some bizarre reason), you meant sin because what other word in this type of discussions could you have possibly been hinting at? For the record i think sin is a nonsense word, it labels certain actions as Always bad, which is slily

          1. Thomas

            again…your belief in wether it is stupid or not…has NOT relivance as a universal assement apart from you…and as such…your assessment…may universally be false, regardless of your belief

    2. 22.2
      F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

      What “law of causality” would this be, exactly?

      1. Thomas

        cause and effect…for ever action there is an equal and opposite reaction…..

        transfer of energy from one position to another etc.

  23. 23
    Thomas

    iItake the agnostic approach…as both Atheist ( definitive thought about god in the denial of existence) and Christian ( definitive thought about the absolute existence of god and who he/she is)….are both faith fbased.

    the agnostic approach says that it can go either way…as there is evidence to suggest both…in equality…based on how you want to build your arguement.

    1. 23.1
      Lord Narf

      Ah, so you’re one of those assholes. That explains so much.

      1. Thomas

        the first sign of losing credibility in any debate is to resort to name calling in lieu of substanctial rebuttal …suggest you look at proper debate tactics…character attacks never validate a position…just devalue the speaker in terms of credibility..

        hell look at modern day political debates and add campaigns as a great example…

        1. Lord Narf

          The snotty, superiority-complex agnostics are a well known phenomenon. I don’t care about your approval anymore, and most of the others around here will know exactly what I mean.

          1. Thomas

            irony much???lol

          2. runicmadhamster

            Yeah once i read his agnostic comment i instantly knew where he was coming from, he is one of the snobby elitist agnostics who think that atheists are just as fundamentalist as Christians.

          3. ericvon germania

            Hey ho!!!! Run and Lord Narf!! Don’t fall in his net!! Don’t start to give shit to the agnostics because of that troll!!
            Don’t you see that he wants to put shit between the free thinkers?? that guy is a troll..probably a fucking banana christian!!!

          4. Thomas

            your name calling, passion and vehemint assessment of me ..would , ironically subtantiate my irony observance…lol

          5. Lord Narf

            You’re one of a well-known sort of assholes, Thomas. You just put yourself into the category, with that statement.

          6. runicmadhamster

            Yeah im agreeing with Narf, you are just digging a deeper hole now

          7. Lord Narf

            ericvon germania

            Hey ho!!!! Run and Lord Narf!! Don’t fall in his net!! Don’t start to give shit to the agnostics because of that troll!!

            Don’t worry. I’m not saying anything about agnostics in general. I identify as an agnostic atheist, in terms of global claims of the existence or nonexistence of deities. You can only really take a gnostic position in reference to specific god claims, such as that of the Abrahamic god …. about which I do take a gnostic atheist position.

            This guy is just a specific sort of asshole agnostic who doesn’t understand the implications of the null hypothesis and gets all smug and snotty. Agnostics like that aren’t worth talking to. The bulk of people who embrace the agnostic label are just just fine, though.

          8. ericvon germania

            @Lord Narf

            Ok, great then!

          9. runicmadhamster

            Like i said further down the page…..

            Sorry if my comment came off as attacking all agnostics, that is not the case, in general i get along well with agnostics, its the ones that tell us that we are just as bad as the theists that really annoy me. Sorry if i caused any unnecessary offense

    2. 23.2
      Tax

      That’s silly. There are many gods that may or may not exist. For you to take any moral action with the system you describe you would have to factor it all in. Since you don’t know which one exists, you have to take them all into account, and even then there is no guarantee your going to get it right.

      You still haven’t explained what you would think morally, if you found yourself in a situation where there is a god but he is unconcerned with your actions. What if everyone goes to the same place when they die regardless of whether or not they were good or bad, and god doesn’t care what you think about things. If that was the case, what would right or wrong be then?

      1. Thomas

        then it begs the logical question…what is the purpose of a super intellectial being or entity creating a life with no purpose???

        as for teh “good and bad” assessment…the words good and bad have no meaning unless the definition is measured against a standard that is universal

        1. Tax

          Life had a purpose in the scenario I described, the purpose of life was to have sex with god. Or at least that was the purpose from god’s perspective. What do you think of that? Is it wrong for god to have sex with you even though you don’t want it to?

          Why does “good and bad” only have meaning if it has universal acceptance? Do we measure anything else by this standard? It seems contrived and arbitrary to me. How do you justify using this standard?

          What is good or bad will always matter to me. It will also matter to other people. and if you want people to respect your wants and needs, you should try to respect theirs. Even if there is no universal standard, we will always have personal standards. And if those personal standards are based on mutual interest of large groups of otherwise uninterested parties, well, you’ve got the basis for a society right there.

          1. Thomas

            your assuming that your value system applies as equally important to someone else…the person to which you compare yourself may have a different definition of right and wrong….whos definition is valid??/whos isnt…in the global/ universal sence…if…as human beings….your both equal….in that your human.

            thsi was teh arguement slave owners in teh civil war attempted to use as a way to rob slaves of rights…they tried to devalue their humanity…and claim they were less than human…so in effect …they could trumpt them with their value system,.

            its the same tool some christians use in government to deny the homosexual community the right to eqaulity of marriage under the law..

            see the implications?

        2. Sonorus

          Good and bad simply mean beneficial or harmful. it’s that simple. What is this absolute standard you keep crowing about? You’ve yet to define it.

    3. 23.3
      Sonorus

      Nope. That’s not how most atheists define atheism.

      I do not find the claims of supernatural influence on the physical world to be sufficient. (Actually I don’t find there to be any evidence at all, but the first way sounds a bit nicer, I think.) I don’t claim to know anything with absolute certainty. There is always the possibility, however remote, of some future discover of evidence or some logical argument that can prove or disprove something we currently assume. Our history is built on altering our view of the world because someone was able to prove something to be true, such as the heliocentric model of the solar system. I do not believe in things for which there is no proof, nor do I accept that in the lack of evidence that either a positive or negative claim is equally valid.

  24. 24
    runicmadhamster

    @ ericvon germania

    Sorry if my comment came off as attacking all agnostics, that is not the case, in general i get along well with agnostics, its the ones that tell us that we are just as bad as the theists that really annoy me. Sorry if i caused any unnecessary offense

    1. 24.1
      ericvon germania

      @Runic Cool!! That guy is a fake…he is not agnostic at all…I guess he has a poster of William Craig….

      1. runicmadhamster

        Hopefully no where near where he sleeps, who could go to sleep with a image of Craig starring at you……….

        1. ericvon germania

          Yep! I am almost gnostic about that :D

  25. 25
    Tax

    “your assuming that your value system applies as equally important to someone else…”

    Actually I’m not. You probably lack an understanding of what I’m saying. Both what I want, and what they want matters. Or in other words what I think about morality and what they think about morality is important. Which is why I don’t have the right to tell them what to do. If they want to agree to some sort of beneficial arrangement, we should discuss it. That is the basis of what I am proposing, that consent from people is important before you ask anything of them, or to do anything to them.

    We are allowed to disagree about what’s right and wrong. That is not a problem for my system of morality. It is a problem for yours. Can I ask, how do you honestly make a moral decision? What if god made you to be his sex slave, would you think it was right for god to do that? Would you consent no matter how painful or kinky the sex was because you value his system of morality and views more than yours?

    1. 25.1
      Thomas

      lets break it down:

      “Or in other words what I think about morality and what they think about morality is important. Which is why I don’t have the right to tell them what to do. If they want to agree to some sort of beneficial arrangement, we SHOULD discuss it.”|

      This proposed system for how to compromise is based on your definition of who an agreement SHOULD be agreed upon.

      What if…based on their way of doing business… THEY ARE HIGHLY suspect of your system proposal for even HOW they should meeyt ( I went through this in a business situation recently)

      “We are allowed to disagree about what’s right and wrong. That is not a problem for my system of morality. It is a problem for yours.”

      - but what if i want to engage in something you vehemently object to that MAY or MAY not impact you…why SHOULD your value system trump mine???what makes your morally supperior to mine…what “OUTSIDE METRIC or SET IN STONE CONSTANT are you invoking to validate your moral system over mine…

      if its just you saying now…or another man…its automatically negated…and “All men are created equal”,,its a conundrum.

      as for my personal morals….scrool all the way up…..to the options A., B. or C… I fluctuate between option A. and B.

      If a greater being…creates a lesser being for a specific purpose….and i believe that greater being to be good even when i dont understand it ( lets face it…say you had a great relationship with your parents…did you understand or agree with everything they asked or told you to do??? probably not…did you trust they were good people, who had your best interest in mind??/probably not at that very moment

      the parent/child dynamic is a great way to understand the god/man dynamic.

      now…somepeople…such as myself had terrible earthly parents…so , growing up…i equated god as a vengful god who didnt have my best interest in mind…especially when at a very young age…my parent was supposed to be my provider and they were sub par…i transferred my thoughts about my parents…onto my understanding of god…and said….if God is anything like my parents…i want NOTHING to do with him lol…

      becuase of my upbringing and envitronment….my perspective about spiritual things were clouded and/ or based in unrealities or illogical if/ then conclusions.

      1. Lord Narf

        Please demonstrate the existence of a god, if you expect any of us to take any of your ridiculous parent/child, man/god metaphors seriously.

      2. Tax

        “What if…based on their way of doing business… THEY ARE HIGHLY suspect of your system proposal for even HOW they should meeyt ( I went through this in a business situation recently)”

        Well obviously that’s an issue that should be discussed. Alternatively we could just not do business. If someone is suspect of my system, chances are they are not part of my target demographic and I wasn’t trying to sell to them anyways.

        As for the rest, it sounds like you came to a conclusion about god and your parents didn’t have anything to do with it. If you had bad parents it was because god was being mean, and if you had good parents it was because god is looking after you.

        I don’t think whether you have good or bad parents says anything about whether or not there is a god or how it feels about you. Even if it does, how do you know this? How would you even know that having bad parents doesn’t mean that god loves you?

        I think that you should really examine the reasons you believe. I recommend Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason

        The book is free at infidel.org.

      3. MCB

        Thomas,

        So, your “OUTSIDE METRIC” (it’s apparently important to yell that part) is God. And your complaint is that without that OUTSIDE METRIC we have no way to explain to someone else why our moral views are superior. That isn’t true, but let’s pretend for a moment it is.

        Let’s imagine you are confronted with someone who also has an OUTSIDE METRIC. Their metric is Islam. They reach different conclusions than you do. Please show me how your OUTSIDE METRIC allows you to persuade them they are right. (Hint: you can’t.)

        Back to my approach: I suggest trying to base ethics on reason, as virtually every moral philosopher since about the 17th century has. That way people who also have reason might be persuaded by my moral argument. Notice that this approach is a little bit different than pointing at a line in an old piece of fiction and shouting that it’s your OUTSIDE METRIC and it must be right, because if it isn’t right, then there isn’t an OUTSIDE METRIC.

        1. MCB

          The end of the second paragraph should read:

          “persuade them that they are wrong. (Hint: you can’t.)

          1. Thomas

            ok…so here we go…your finally starting to deal with the core issues…..”who’s moral perspective has greater validity ( universality ) and extends beyond the scope of the initial believer.

            in order to establish greater validity…you first have to establish the stance:

            Muslims ( Theists) = Allah is God. Mohhamud is the prophet
            Christians ( Theists)= Jesus christ is bod God and prophet.
            Athiest = There is no God , Man is his own God
            Agnostic= There may or may not be a god…and I have no definitive opinion on the matter

            the next thing you have to look at is ….what do they reference ( written historical documentation) to come to their conclusions abiout the attributes of their Gods, God or lack their of.

            Muslims ( koran)
            Christians ( The bible)
            Athiest ( ?)
            Agnostics ( All historical and philosophical documentation available)

            once you define what source material they reference to draw their conclusions…Then you study each text…as for christians and muslims…they considere their text to be historical documents…historical records.

            so by that account…there should be archelogical records and / or artifacts to corroborate the names, dates, places and occurances in each of these text. and unbiased ,3rd party historical documentation that is considered archelogically sound can be used to cross reference the recorded information in those text. ( ROman writings of historian Josephus, Dead Sea Scrolls)

            as for the athiest…the only text i am familiar with are scientific hypohetis and philosophy…which at its core is not tangible archeological and historical reference if you want to corroborate the attributes of a diety many consider a living being.

            as for agnostics…they …they look at all documents and still draw no definitive conclusion becuase they want to completely rule ofut the “faith issue” all together and waith for more conclusive evidence>

            by using this process of archeological discovery aand by starting your research from a neutral and unbiased position…you have the ability to remain object in your pursuit.

            if you start from any predetermined premise or conclusion out the gate…..they . by proxy…you will always dismiss that information you come accross that does not fir your preconcieved conclusions.

            this last approach betrays the very essence of scientific discovery. and taints results or scews findings

          2. Thomas

            Actuall…Athiest reference their own perception of God first as a test of its validity then reference only those like minds that validate said premise….

            this could also be said of some theists……the key is how far you go into your journey of discovery from an unbiased standpoint…the closer to the begininng of your search…or not at all… that you for a bias..you run the risk of stunted learning and or growth / enlightenment

          3. MCB

            Hey Thomas, you know how we atheists are: we love to test out hypotheses. Why don’t you head on over to an Islamic blog and see how far you get trying to sell the superiority of your third-hand accounts of Jesus to them?

            BTW: You still have not learned the art of the full stop. You see first you write a complete sentence. Then you hit the “.” on your keyboard, but instead of just hitting it over and over you just hit it one time. It’s one of those tricks us crazy atheists use to make us not sound like complete dolts.

            That, and not suggesting that all moral problems can be solved by careful reference to ancient fiction.

          4. Thomas

            be comepletely honest…no matter what form i type the message in…even with perfect grammar…you would find fault…because you find the very nature of what im presenting offensive…at least take ownership there…dont hide behind the faux attempt at superiority over a red hering such as grammar lol

          5. MCB

            Thomas, you seem to be confusing offended with amused. This is my happy face. Trust me.

          6. Sonorus

            Nope. I have never heard any atheist proclaim that man is his own god. Not one. I HAVE heard fundamentalist ministers claim that’s what atheists believe. I hardly think they are the credible source for defining atheism.

            Let me make this simple for you since you are still having trouble with basic definitions.

            These concepts involve dualities. They are binary: yes/no.

            Do you believe in a god. If you say yes, then you are a theist; if no, then you are an atheist.

            Do you believe that it is possible to know for sure whether or not there is a god. if you say yes then you are a gnostic; if not, you are agnostic.

            There are therefore four combinations of those two ideas. You could be a gnostic theist, gnostic atheist, agnostic theist or agnostic atheist. Not only are all of those possible, I think we can find people who will admit to any of those four positions.

            Also, you claim that agnostics use evidence and reason while atheists do not. Have you ever read any writings by atheists? Harris? Dawkins? Hitchens? That’s all they use. (What else could they use for evidence?)

            I suppose you could say that I am an agnostic atheist. I find no evidence of supernatural beings. I am open to hearing evidence but all I ever get are the same tired arguments, none of which offers any actual proof. And more and more I question how something could be true and yet unprovable. (Yes, I realize in some instances we just don’t have the technology available to see far enough out or at a small enough level to prove a hypothesis, but in this case since people claim that supernatural interventions happen all the time, I reject the idea that none of that leaves any evidence.)

        2. Thomas

          upfront bias….well…that betrays any sort of scientific discovery….and logical…as it substitutes feelings for fact….

          which , as we all know..is not a universal truth.

          1. Lord Narf

            which , as we all know..is not a universal truth.

            It’s kind of funny how when theists talk about universal truths, what they’re usually referencing is fevered brain malfunctions. Revealed truth from a “god” is pretty much the least likely “truth” out there.

            Yes, there is an ultimate reality out there. There’s the way that things actually work. The best we can hope for is an approximate understanding of the way things actually work.

            Science is just a way of building models that approximate the way the universe works. Science works. It produces useful results. Religion is inferior in every way.

          2. Thomas

            your confusing the term theology with the term Religion….there is both destructive theology…AND destructive religion….but to say this is a universal truth and applies to all theology AND all religion…is to throw teh baby out with the bath water and draw a false conclusion

          3. Sonorus

            And what is that universal truth? You keep avoiding the fundamental question.

          4. Alicia

            Wow–when has an atheist ever decreed that he was his own god? You are confusing the idea of absolute emancipation from theological ideology with man replacing himself as a god. I suppose in your world, a god has to be stuffed in their somewhere.

            The poem INVICTUS ends:

            I am the master of my fate:
            I am the captain of my soul.

            Where does it hint that I am my own god from this…? I can’t create miracles outside of birth and that is a sketchy one at best. Now, science can do miraculous, oh so wondrous things, as can modern technology, but does this rise to the level of magic and voodoo gods?

            Nah.

            You are suggesting that if man throws god away, or the idea of god away, he is now acting as god or thinking he is god. I cannot even begin to explain how big a logical fallacy this is. This line of reasoning indicates the subtle madness religion instills.

            I am so glad I walked away from that insanity–yet saddened I let it ensnared me for 20 years.

            I do not feel I am my own god Thomas, but I can tell you what, I have never breathed easier–loved easier–laughed easier and felt me in harmony with life than I do now.

      4. Sonorus

        I do not require that my moral and ethical system be superior to yours. I only require of you that your not harm other people. Aside from that, you are welcome to believe whatever you want. I am happy to debate your system with you, but so long as no harm comes from what you believe it is of no consequence to anyone other than yourself.

  26. 26
    Alicia

    What I find most interesting was a comment Scalia made about interpreting the law based on what was meant at the time the law was written. This of course never takes into account inevitable changes that come with time — social changes — technological changes, medical advances all of which have and can, at times, alter social constructs and interaction i.e., texting / facebook / artificial insemination. Laws can and do often become archaic. There used to be an 18th Century law for example, that accused men and woman of indulging in an an orgy if more than three individuals in a room had their shoes off. Would we attempt to apply these laws to a modern society because of the intentions when written? There is a reason why the forefathers allowed for constitution amendments…Once again folks like Scalia indicate that the extremist right wing is at a loss to understand the changing mores of society and are out of touch with a progressive world.

    1. 26.1
      Lord Narf

      There used to be an 18th Century law for example, that accused men and woman of indulging in an an orgy if more than three individuals in a room had their shoes off. Would we attempt to apply these laws to a modern society because of the intentions when written?

      Only if one of them has a major foot fetish.

      Or, to look at it another way … okay, yeah, let’s define that scenario as an orgy. Cool. Now, let’s see the courts try to prosecute them for having an orgy.

      1. Alicia

        LOL!!! Hey, stranger things have happened like, I dunno, trying to go after menfolk legally for sticking their wee-wees in alternative nether areas (not sure what I can get away with here–lol)

    2. 26.2
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      I’m sorry. I have to completely disagree. I would not want the foot orgy law enforced. I would want it repealed. But if we are to have rule of law you can’t just change the law to mean whatever you want, and you cannot just ignore bad laws. That’s definitionally destroying rule of law.

      1. Alicia

        Not entirely–a law can be interpreted a number of ways as intention can only really be implied (especially if it is vague and can be open to interpretations) hence the need for legal scholars and interpreters. In this way a law could quite possibly be reinterpreted to fit with modern definitions without having to be altered. Slippery slope–sure–Ripe for abuse. Yep..hey politicians do this all the time–Scalia was just trying to be a prick with his supposed adherence to the letter of the law. Besides, I’d bet, what with him being a conservative and all–he doesn’t buy the whole “the second amendment applies only to muskets” argument a tiny bit and will argue modern day weapons are also covered under the Constitution…

        1. EnlightenmentLiberal

          I do not know if I am a proponent of gun rights. I do know that I am a proponent of rule of law.

          When a bill is signed into law, the law does not magically change its meaning, its intent, its Aesop if you will, because of a change in the cultural zeitgeist. Applications can change to new unforeseen situations. We can revisit earlier bad decisions and fix them. But you cannot go from “You have the right to a gun” to “you do not have a right to a gun”, any more than you can go from “congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech” to “congress can pass laws outlawing hate speech” no matter how much the moral zeitgeist has changed, no matter what the perceived or real demand is.

          I’m sure you’re about to bring up slavery and women’s rights. That’s why we passed the fourteenth amendment and a few others, to ensure that non-white men get the right to vote. That’s why we passed the 19th amendment, to also give women the right to vote. We saw a deficiency in the constitution, and we fixed it. We didn’t just ignore it, and meander on our way, making up constitutional law as we went along.

          The intent and common understanding at the time of the writing of the second amendment is well understood, and disputed by no serious honest person who has studied it.

          The first and fourth amendments apply to emails, just like the second applies to a modern military rifles. Anything else is willful revision of history and abuse of the rule of law.

          Scalia is undoubtedly an ass, but he got at this much right:

          DC vs Heller decision:
          http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/07pdf/07-290.pdf

          We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this
          country, and we take seriously the concerns raised by the
          many amiciwho believe that prohibition of handgun
          ownership is a solution. The Constitution leaves the
          District of Columbia a variety of tools for combating that
          problem, including some measures regulating handguns,
          see supra, at 54–55, and n. 26. But the enshrinement of
          constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy
          choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibi­
          tion of handguns held and used for self-defense in the
          home. Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amend­
          ment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is
          the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces
          provide personal security, and where gun violence is a
          serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is
          not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to
          pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.

          The solution is not to pretend the second amendment doesn’t exist, or to perform torture on the English language and invent insane standards of jurisprudence. If you do, you will definitely have people like me in the middle come done decidedly against your antics.

          I invite you to actually read the opinions, linked above. After reading it several times, I am sadly forced to admit that Scalia has it right on almost every point, and the others are stretching their arguments to the point of dishonesty. The takedown is complete.

          1. Alicia

            I will, when I get a chance, check out the links. Thank you for them. My point however, is not that we should ignore rule of law–but rather that people have played fast and loose with interpretations and can, and will, continue to do so. Of course, when all else fails there will be a call to repeal unjust laws, but the former is the lazy man’s out. In some situations, not all, laws are malleable and have loopholes — prudent legal scholars have found them and used them…My husband has even done this is defense, of all things, a speeding ticket. He was able to locate and interpret a law that aided him in his case. Even the judge was unfamiliar with this particular law–and had to look it up! LOL.

            I’d have to tickle his grey matter to get the logistics, but the law itself was something he could somewhat “spin” in his favor. In some cases, interpretations are not rigid.

            But all that aside, my fear is that Scalia is trying use what he perceives as rigidity to hide behind a cowardly act. As it stands, there are no laws against gay marriage just as there are no laws against abortion –especially as it pertains to the US constitution. So, why even mention this supposed rigidity–to what purpose? Ah. the “don’t give me any crap deflector shield”. My hands are tied folks–I’ve found a loophole–this is LAW!

            At that point, I wouldn’t seek to challenge him or spin the law in question–I would simply call for either an amendment, a repeal or both depending on circumstances…in the end, I am not crafty enough to make the law dance for me.

          2. Alicia

            PS–I am not anti gun–proud liberal gun owner. *smiles*

          3. EnlightenmentLiberal

            Well then. That went surprisingly better than I anticipated. Thank you!

            “No laws against abortion” – By that, I assume you mean there are no constitutional rules against abortion, and there are no constitutional rules for abortion. If I were in the mood, I would argue from the 9th that there is a constitutional right to have abortions. Unfortunately, the 9th has been entirely gutted… So instead, we have lol-privacy Roe vs Wade. (lol because of the whole privacy doctrine, not the effect of the ruling.)

            “The Ninth Amendment obviously does not create federally enforceable rights” my ass. (Quoting one of the SCOTUS justices who ruled on Roe vs Wade.)

          4. Alicia

            “No laws against abortion” – By that, I assume you mean there are no constitutional rules against abortion, and there are no constitutional rules for abortion.”

            Thank you, yes–I did indeed mean that and realized after I posted my comment that I didn’t quite make my position clear in that regard. DOH!

            The latter part of your statement intrigues me: “If I were in the mood, I would argue from the 9th that there is a constitutional right to have abortions. Unfortunately, the 9th has been entirely gutted… So, instead, we have lol-privacy Roe vs Wade. (lol because of the whole privacy doctrine, not the effect of the ruling”

            I do want to take you up on that discussion at a later date but I gotta run due to the late (or early ) hour. If you see me on here again hit me for a chat — glad for the discourse…:-)

          5. MCB

            Hello Codemonkey,

            I have lots of problems with originalism, but since you bring up Heller, let’s start there. The second amendment says “right to bear arms.” Using some odd historical analysis, the majority basically concludes that “arms” more or less means “weaponry you can carry.” So the amendment says you have a right to have weapons you can carry.

            You with me so far?

            Ok, now in today’s world I can carry some pretty interesting arms. I can carry grenades, c4, biological and chemical weapons. Heller says that the amendment does not cover “dangerous and unusual” weaponry, but that is invented from whole cloth. Nothing in the text or history of the second amendment seems to justify that restriction.

            So, based simply on originalism, are you willing to say people have a right to carry anthrax and c4? If not, then we must be using something besides originalism to decide what kinds of weapons are too dangerous to let people own privately. But—that just begs the whole question we began with–what weapons are too dangerous? Handguns? Semi automatic handguns? c4? Knives? Where do we draw that line? And if originalism can’t draw it for us, what precisely is the point of originalism with respect to amendment two?

            And, just to give you something to ponder, I know you think the second amendment’s meaning is fairly clear in historical context, but I do not think many working historians would agree with you. Consider the problem of evidence you would have trying to unearth the “common understanding” of any complex political idea. We do not have written documents from the vast majority of Americans. How would we go about piecing together what the average late 18th or early 19th century American thought about the constitution? What evidence would we use?

            And what if there was no broad consensus on the meaning of important sections? Does it have no legal meaning in that case?

          6. Alicia

            Ah, now! You conveyed the point so eloquently ! My way was clumsy at best in comparison. As times change–technology changes and we advance in a number of ways that affect already established laws. In this way, certain laws can become somewhat archaic–but since lawmakers appear to be at loathe to alter or change existing law, they often play fast and loose with interpretation to make them fit a modern era. For Scalia to even say that there is an absolute strict adherence to the law is to disavow that this occurs. How often is debatable but it occurs. Scalia is full of it and trying to find a nice, shiny shield to hide behind.

          7. Raging Bee

            If you’re going to talk about the Second Amendment, let’s get one thing straight: unlike all other rights set forth in the Constitution, the right to keep and bear arms is explicitly set forth strictly as a means to an end. Read the amendment carefully: “a well-regulated militia” and “the security of a free State” come FIRST; the right to keep and bear arms comes SECOND. Thus the right to keep and bear arms is explicitly limited like no other right — governments can regulate, or prohibit, the availability and use of weapons to ensure that all militias are well-regulated and our democratic governments are secure. So yes, if a state decides that M-16s should be kept out of the hands of civilians, in order to keep the cops from being outgunned, there’s nothing unconstitutional about it.

          8. Alicia

            Thank you once again for underlining some of the points I was trying to make …:-)

          9. EnlightenmentLiberal

            @MCB

            A couple comments. First, let’s consider what they probably thought of the gunpowder treason plot. Guy Fawkes tried to use a large amount of explosive to blow up the English parliament. Of course that act of murder is illegal. I would even offer the olive branch that the right can be regulated and curtailed. There can be permits required for moving large amounts of explosives, and limits on where the explosives may be, just like there is an FCC. No right is absolute, not even free speech (though I’m about as close to absolute on free speech as you can get). For example, the right to drive is a right. I would argue so under the 9th. However, it can still be licensed for the safety of others.

            Now, there is another point, that the weapons have changed. I agree. High explosives didn’t exist yet. TNT was discovered a century later. Same for chemical and biological and nuclear weapons. I am not a proponent of allowing civilians to carry that stuff around. Nor would the founders. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t say that. I do want the law amended to clarify it, as it is ambiguous on CBN. That’s not saying the correct law is ambiguous. All sane people can agree that civilians shouldn’t have access to CBN. But the law is ambiguous. I am not against “reinterpreting” the law, aka the legislature inventing new law or the courts inventing new law, in the face of weapons of such unprecedented power and small size. Of course, I wish that such judicial rewriting of the constitution was seen as a bad thing, and that we ought to amend it and fix it instead of putting our fingers in our ears and our heads in the sand.

            But again, if the amendment is to mean anything, it is the right for civilians to have access to the latest military rifle. Constitutional rights lay out certain values. The first amendment free speech clause lays out the value that the speaker has the right to offend the listener. The fourth amendment lays out the value that we shall not live in a police state, and the police need a good reason to interfere in our lives, pry into our private spaces, etc. The second amendment lays out the value that the an individual may be armed in order to carry out self defense and armed rebellion. That is its purpose, its value. If we disagree with the stated value, then change it. Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist. Don’t “reinterpret” aka rewrite it by legislative or judicial fiat because you don’t like it, because then they can do the same to the rest of our rights.

            As an aside, let me bring up a little known section of the constitution, the power of congress to grant letters of marque and reprisal. This is authorizing privateers, that is civilians to carry out acts of war on their battleships, cannon and all. Surely this means that civilians at the time could own, maintain, and operate ships of war, which could later be called up by the congress to be privateers.

            @Raging Bee

            I’m sorry that your interpretation is wrong. The historical evidence is deadset against you. Also, due to changes over time of the meaning of words, you are misinterpreting it. “Well regulated” does not mean government controlled. It means in a state of good affairs. Well trained, well prepared, well armed, and of course well disciplined, which does carry the idea that they should know that they are subordinate to the states and congress when called forth. Remember, congress has the power to call forth the militia. The militia was presumed to pre-exist its organization and calling forth. The militia was simply all able bodied men. Check your local state constitution or laws. It’s likely that it’s still on the books. It is in mine, and a great many others. The militia was simply another name for the armed populace.

            We can argue legalese all day, whether the stated right of the people is indeed contingent on the stated purpose, or whether the “well regulated militia” part is just a fluff introduction that carries no weight. I don’t like such legalese when we have plenty of records surviving from the day, including various other state constitutions and their laws on the subject, and it is evidently clear that this is an individual right separate from any forming training or organization in a state controlled militia. I’m not a fan of legalese when the well understood, very commonly understood, reasonable and unambiguous, intent is known and well documented.

            Again, I invite you to read the DC vs Heller opinions.

          10. Raging Bee

            The historical evidence is deadset against you.

            Examples, please? The first half of that sentence is pretty clear “historical evidence” in support of my position.

            Also, due to changes over time of the meaning of words, you are misinterpreting it.

            Examples, please?

            “Well regulated” does not mean government controlled.

            Yes, actually, it does. I’m pretty sure the Founders did not intend to allow militias that were not supportive of the laws and government they wanted to establish.

            And are you actually saying that elected governments have no right to restrict access to sarin, antiaircraft weapons, or nuclear materials? No right to disarm a violent criminal gang?

          11. Raging Bee

            The militia was simply another name for the armed populace.

            In that case, the constitution says the armed populace have to be well-regulated, to guarantee the security of a free State. That means they have to comply with the law, respect the legal rights of individuals, and serve the state according to the will of the people. And if they don’t, then they’re not a “well regulated militia,” and the state may have to restrict their firepower.

          12. EnlightenmentLiberal

            @Raging Bee.
            I suggest you actually read for comprehension. I’ve already addressed your points. For evidence, please see the linked DC vs Heller opinions. I’ve also already addressed your simply wrong understanding of the term “well regulated”, your common sense arguments not withstanding. Just because you think it’s a bad idea doesn’t give you the right to redefine English, intent, and the rule of law. I’ve also thoroughly addressed up-thread your points about nuclear weapons et al. I feel no need to repeat myself.

            One specific point:

            Yes, actually, it does. I’m pretty sure the Founders did not intend to allow militias that were not supportive of the laws and government they wanted to establish.

            In a certain sense, why yes, yes they did want an armed populace who could overthrow the government by force. That was one of its primary purposes.

            Thomas Jefferson: (Emphasis in original AFAIK.)

            God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. … What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

            In short, I suggest a remedial education into the values of the founding fathers before you blithely and ignorantly rattle off fictions. I’ve tried already to help you out by providing links to good evidence and argument with plenty of citations, apparently the best the country could offer, the relevant SCOTUS decisions.

          13. Raging Bee

            I haven’t read the entire Heller ruling, but I did read some bits, like the one where the court explicitly said this ruling was NOT meant to overturn any significant number of gun control laws or set any major precedent. Why don’t you stop bluffing and quote the actual text in the ruling that allegedly supports your position?

            In a certain sense, why yes, yes they did want an armed populace who could overthrow the government by force.

            They wanted people to be able to overthrow the republican form of government they had created? That’s pure bullshit. The whole purpose of democracy is to enable people to effect change and resolve disputes without violence. And in fact, the Constitution is chock full of safeguards against mob rule, rebellion, majority tyranny, and general lawlessness. Besides, the Constitution was written in response to a rebellion the previous regime was too weak to handle, so it’s pretty damn stupid to insist the Founders wanted a weak government.

            And if all you have to back your assertions up is a single quote from Jefferson — which is clearly more rhetoric than reasoning — then you got nothing. Jefferson was just one of the Founders, and he opposed ratification of the Constitution, based on reasoning that history has since proven wrong. So I see no reason to consider him authoritative.

            I’ve tried already to help you out by providing links to good evidence and argument with plenty of citations, apparently the best the country could offer, the relevant SCOTUS decisions.

            You’ve done nothing of the sort.

          14. MCB

            @Raging Bee and CodeMonkey

            So, I am not trying to say people should believe me because of this, but I think I should disclose a little background on myself to show where I am coming from. I was a Ph.D. candidate in history, and changed my career goals. I will be graduating from law school this year. My focus in history was early American history, and I was particularly interested in intellectual history. So, I’ve done a fair amount of reading and thinking about these topics.

            With that said, I am not all that interested in “debating” per se, so I will just point at a few things about history and law that I think are worth thinking a bit as you ponder these issues yourselves.

            The Heller opinion’s use of history is a little strange. Courts do not tend to use history the way historians do. Part of this is just because of what courts need to do: they need to make a decision. The answer has to be yes the plaintiff wins or no the plaintiff uses. Historians try to render the ideas of the past in all of their complexity with a minimum of anachronism. It is very hard to answer a question like “what did the framing generation think about the right to bear arms” with an answer that yields a clear rule of law. This is one of the many problems with originalism.

            As an example, one of the main things the court in Heller does it refer to old dictionaries. This strikes me as particularly odd, and I do not know of a single working historian who studies the period that would give the same weight to dictionaries that the court does. The English language did not even have a truly standardized spelling at the time, to say nothing of an authoritative dictionary. It isn’t clear that the people who wrote or read the constitution even had access to the dictionaries the court cites or viewed them as authoritative.

            To understand the second amendment in context, you need to understand a little bit about what life was like in early America. There were no police forces. There were no fire departments, The military was small and underfunded (the way the framers wanted it to be). There was no national guard. There were no emergency workers of any kind in most settlements.

            So everything from fire control, to basic policing to defending against small scale raiding was done by the militia. And the militia was usually highly disciplined with officers from the upper social strata of the location. It was lightly and irregularly armed, and was utterly necessary for daily life.

            Also, given the paltry size and training of the standing army at the time, a sufficiently determined milita could hold out against the federal government for quite some time. Dozens of militas working together could form a plausible rebellion. None of that would work well today.

            So what do laws made for that time have to say about today? I am not sure. But I do not think the history alone can answer that question. Ultimately it will depend on what goals and aspirations for human liberty we have in today’s world.

            As to the notion that the main thing the founding generation would have thought of was the Guy Fawkes rebellion, I highly doubt it. I think the American Revolution, Bacon’s Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion would have been fresher in people’s minds. Not to mention the need of southerners to be heavily armed to respond to slave rebellions rapidly.

          15. Raging Bee

            As an example, one of the main things the court in Heller does it refer to old dictionaries.

            To look up the word “militia?” Are you serious? That’s not just “odd,” that’s batshit ridiculous. Whatever was labelled “militia” back then, probably doesn’t exist now; so if we want the Second Amendment to have any meaning today, we have to use today’s meaning, not yesterday’s. And today, “militia” tends to mean “the armed security forces,” including cops, national guard, etc.

            And regardless of what we take “militia” to mean, “the security of a free State” is still THE paramount objective here, and we don’t need no stinkin’ 18th-century dictionary to understand what that means.

            So what do laws made for that time have to say about today? I am not sure. But I do not think the history alone can answer that question. Ultimately it will depend on what goals and aspirations for human liberty we have in today’s world.

            History can help — as long as we’re including history AFTER the Civil War as well as before. And we’ll also need a hefty dose of common sense about how to ensure the security of a free country.

          16. Raging Bee

            Yo, guess what — our gun-fetishizing excuse for a culture just had another shoot-em-up in a grade-school. At least 27 dead.

            So, Codemonkey, is that your idea of a “well-regulated militia?” Maybe if the kids had brought their own guns things would have worked out better, right?

          17. EnlightenmentLiberal

            @MCB

            Yes, he focused heavily on Blackstone, and the dissenting justices didn’t like it. However, Scalia did have plenty of other historical evidence. For example, the existing state constitutions of the time nearly all had a provision for individual right to keep and bear arms, and many did not have the “militia” and “security of the state” clauses. It was evidently clear that the people had the right to keep and bear arms independent of any military service to the state.

            You have to remember, at the time it was written, the bill of rights was wanted by the anti-federalists to expressly limit the power of the federal government. The federalists who were “in charge” at the time wanted to compromise, but did not want anything terribly significant. So they threw a bone to the anti-federalists and only ratified completely non-controversial rights that everyone already agreed to. (The history is slightly more complex, and this is why we got the 9th amendment because of some of the Federalists, but that’s neither here nor there.)

            The right clearly has its basis in the disarming of Protestants in England in 1780 by the king in order to suppress them. The notes from the English parliament debate also clearly show that this is a right independent of military service in order to check the power of the government.

            Finally, I can agree that there is a sensible argument that the right makes little sense in today’s age. One can also make an argument that the right for habeas corpus makes little sense in today’s day and age where an enemy combatant can be a terrorist. I personally do not make either such argument, and I do not throw away the values and protections clearly stated in the constitution simply because I don’t like them, nor because I think there’s better ways today. If I felt that way, I would try to get the law changed. One of the only things standing between us and a theocratic state is the rule of law and the protections offered by the constitution, and I’d prefer to support this rule of law. I am against revisionist jurisprudence which can allow the law to say anything.

            @Raging Bee

            I’m sorry. I cannot continue this conversation with you. You admit your ignorance, and you refuse to educate yourself – such as by reading the opinions. Have you even read the Federalist Papers? Your adamant refusal to accept reality on reality’s terms is annoying.

            Your “if all you have is a single Jefferson quote” is bullshit and manifestly unfair. What do you expect me to do? Copy and paste the entire decision and the entire contents of the Federalist Papers, the state constitutions of the time, the relevant laws, the recording of the English parliament on gun rights, a history of the disarming of the Protestants by the English king, and so on, into this comments section? Please. I’ve given you plenty of the tools to educate yourself.

            I cannot and will not continue this discussion with someone who thinks that the law is a word game where you can use modern meanings for words to make the law say something completely different from the writer’s intent and the writer’s population’s common understanding. I refuse to accept any standard of jurisprudence that allows a law to change from “You have the individual right to have a firearm” to “You do not have the individual right to have a firearm”. I also refuse to accept any standard of jurisprudence that includes new novel information well past the writing of the law to interpret the law. That is similarly insane.

          18. EnlightenmentLiberal

            Yo, guess what — our gun-fetishizing excuse for a culture just had another shoot-em-up in a grade-school. At least 27 dead.

            So, Codemonkey, is that your idea of a “well-regulated militia?” Maybe if the kids had brought their own guns things would have worked out better, right?

            I have argued the historical facts of the second amendment. I have argued for sane methods of jurisprudence. That is not the same as arguing that we need and want and desire gun rights. This is a common equivocation I get whenever I talk about this subject. Whenever someone disagrees with the gun control viewpoint, the gun control people immediately pigeonhole the other person as a gun nut. Why – I do not know. I have never owned a gun. I have never fired a gun. I do not foresee ever buying a gun. This pigeonholing and refusal to take part in the conversation and instead invent a new red herring conversation impedes useful discourse. I ask you again, please, can you try to read for comprehension?

          19. Alicia

            @ All — I saw the news about the CT killings and I am crying as I type this–I have two kids– I adore them. I cannot imagine hearing that my kid got killed just for going to school. That Mofo better be glad his ass is dead…

            As President Obama said however, with tears in his eyes, this is NOT a time for us to go back an d forth on gun politics–people died–let us be there fro the families in any way we can.

            Not sure what else to say just…

            just Dammit.

            https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=140736329411514&set=a.107172759434538.17599.100004254434438&type=1&theater

          20. Raging Bee

            Yes, he focused heavily on Blackstone, and the dissenting justices didn’t like it. However, Scalia did have plenty of other historical evidence. For example, the existing state constitutions of the time…

            What does any of that have to do with reconciling the security of a free state with individual ownership of guns? That’s the main issue raised by the wording of the Second Amendment, and you’re dodging it.

            The right clearly has its basis in the disarming of Protestants in England in 1780 by the king in order to suppress them.

            Actually, I thought the Second Amendment was mostly a response to laws made in London restricting the colonies’ ability to raise and arm their own militias. IOW, it was mostly about COLLECTIVE local self-defense, not unrestricted availability of firepower to anyone at all. The Founders merely wanted to keep the US government from unreasonably restricting states’ ability to deal with their own security needs in a timely manner.

            I’m sorry. I cannot continue this conversation with you.

            Of course you can’t: I called your bluff, and now you’re folding, because you got nothing — just like all the other Second-Amendment absolutists I’ve tried to reason with.

            What do you expect me to do? Copy and paste the entire decision and the entire contents of the Federalist Papers, the state constitutions of the time, the relevant laws, the recording of the English parliament on gun rights, a history of the disarming of the Protestants by the English king, and so on, into this comments section?

            No, I expect you to quote certain passages in a court ruling you’ve already cited, to support a case you’ve alraedy tried to make. That was ALL I asked you to do, and you know it. And instead of doing something that should have been fairly easy, you’re now pretending I’ve made outrageous and unreasonable demands.

            Whenever someone disagrees with the gun control viewpoint, the gun control people immediately pigeonhole the other person as a gun nut. Why – I do not know.

            Because their arguments tend to be nutty; as in, irrational, dishonest, and/or lacking in common sense. Like, oh, I dunno, quoting hyperbole from Jefferson like it’s a valid guide for constitutional interpretation purposes, just sayin’.

            I also refuse to accept any standard of jurisprudence that includes new novel information well past the writing of the law to interpret the law. That is similarly insane.

            Well, so much for that newfangled Air Force thing. No mention of an Air Force in the Constitution, therefore the US can’t have one, right? And I gless we also can’t accept any evolution in the meaning of “due process of law”…

          21. Raging Bee

            Oh, and…

            I also refuse to accept any standard of jurisprudence that includes new novel information well past the writing of the law to interpret the law. That is similarly insane.

            What “novel information?” I was talking about the wording of the Second Amendment itself. Are you saying the first half of that sentence was stuck in after the Bill of Rights was ratified and its authors dead?

          22. MCB

            @Codemonkey

            I am not going to talk about today’s tragedy. It’s a pretty emotional event for everyone, including me. But I will write just a little about some of the things you said.

            A few quick thoughts and points:

            1) I’m not talking about Blackstone, though that is another problem with the specific reasoning of Heller. I’m talking about dictionaries net legal treatises.

            2) You have said several times something along the lines of the second amendment being about “the latest rifles.” You are aware that the Heller decision (a) is about handguns and (b) probably doesn’t give people the right to own the latest military grade rifle right?

            3) You have taken the position that without originalism we are lost in interpreting the constitution. I am reminded here a little bit of religious folks who think there is no morality without god. There are lots of different methodologies we could use to interpret and use the constitution besides originalism.

          23. EnlightenmentLiberal

            2) You have said several times something along the lines of the second amendment being about “the latest rifles.” You are aware that the Heller decision (a) is about handguns and (b) probably doesn’t give people the right to own the latest military grade rifle right?

            Yes.

            3) You have taken the position that without originalism we are lost in interpreting the constitution. I am reminded here a little bit of religious folks who think there is no morality without god. There are lots of different methodologies we could use to interpret and use the constitution besides originalism.

            I didn’t argue exactly that. There’s a lot of nuance and baggage which Scalia’s “originalism” brings to the table. However, I do think it insane to adopt any standard by which the law can have one meaning today, and 10 years from now it can have the exact opposite meaning. I would think this is noncontroversial. Do you disagree? Do you want a standard by which your constitutional protections exist and are enforced today, but 10 years from now because of a change to the moral zeitgeist, but without a change to the law, that legal right simply no longer exists? Do you want to lose your protections against religious encroachment on the state just because some people like O’Reilly play semantic word games and argue that christianity is a philosophy, not a religion?

            Put more eloquently than me:
            http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060665/quotes

            William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
            Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
            William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
            Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

          24. MCB

            No, I don’t find the idea that the law changes over time insane. In fact, I take that to be a necessary consequence of the common law legal tradition. The law it seems to be should be stable enough to rely on day by day, but flexible enough to keep touch with our changing values.

          25. EnlightenmentLiberal

            What would you say to someone like me, who wants to rely on the right to say that certain books are malicious fiction? I want to rely on the fact that the court is obliged to use the usual understood meaning of the first amendment, and that my speech is not prosecutable. The only sensible interpretation I can make of your world view is that somewhere along the line, a legislature passes a law that would outlaw that blasphemy, and then the courts decide for whatever declared reason that the first amendment doesn’t apply, or isn’t a good law anymore, or that the harm of my blasphemy outweighs the benefits of my free speech. Thus putting me into proverbial legal limbo – Before my action, I had a reasonable expectation that my behavior was legally sanctioned, but I was charged anyway. This is not how the rule of law should work. I understand that it does sometimes, but that’s no reason to say it should happen. Are you going to try to make this ok by arguing that such events happen only rarely?

            That’s the one thing that I don’t get. How can it remain “stable enough” day to day, but flexible enough to change with our changing values. There is no continuum of possible legal interpretation of my right to blaspheme publicly. Either you can charge someone for blaspheming, or you can’t. It’s a discrete set of choices, not a continuum. Admittingly, you might be able to carve out a couple more discrete steps, but you’re not going to get anywhere close to a continuum. Thus, at some point, some person is going to act as though he enjoyed the protections of yesterday, until he is taken into court and charged until tomorrow’s interpretation. I do believe this is wholly unfair, unreasonable, and uncomprensible why anyone would be for this lack “fluid” aka lack of rule of law.

            I think my biggest problem is some of the exact details of what you propose to implement. How the justice system work in your world? How long does it take between the writing of a rule that says congress shall not pass laws establishing a state religion and when congress can require that you be a christian to be elected to public office and have the right to vote? Who decides when that legal protection is no longer required or wanted? The legislature alone? Presumably not. So, the legislature and the courts working in concert?

            In a certain sense, the only thing restraining the christianity majority today from attempting some of that nonsense is their own self restraint. The constitution is only so many words on paper. However, I feel that if we agree to certain established rules, we have a better chance of preventing tyrannies of the majority. In your scheme, you seem to be weakening that to quite scary levels. I don’t even see what sort of informal criterion you could even verbalize which could be shared with judges as to how long before they and the legislature can erase constitutional protections when they deem them no longer good. Just whatever they think is best? That seems to me to be a most horrible method of jurisprudence.

            Finally, I think you’re misusing terms and equivocating ideas here. Common law is the idea that court decisions are binding. Thus, you get an accumulation of decisions that becomes effective law for later generations. This does have the effect of changing, or refining, the law from day to day. However, the false conflation occurs when you assume this is synonymous with the courts deciding these issues based on current consensus instead of on the writers of the law and the population at the time of writing understood the law to mean. You can have common law without this legal revisionism.

            I’m sorry, but I must politely disagree with the whole of your argument.

          26. MCB

            @Codemonkey

            Why do you presume that originalism is the only judicial philosophy which would protect free speech? Note my comment about religion and morality again.

          27. EnlightenmentLiberal

            I read it, and I just read it again. I see a bad argument by analogy (arguments by analogy are fraud), and a hand wave as to which method of judicial interpretation you would like.

            I see again that you call my position originalism, which I strongly disdain. Again, I’m advocating a very fuzzy notion of what I want, and not the specifics of Scalia’s originalism:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Originalism

            For example, if a law was written which guaranteed that all men have a right X, and the original meaning and intent was understood to include only white male landowners, then Scalia has been known to argue the legal equivalent that it includes only white male landowners, even if we have extended our legal notion of “men” and “rights” in that context. I am not advocating such a silly judicial standard of legal interpretation like originalism. So please, stop calling my position originalism. It is a very specific term with a very specific meaning.

            I fear I need to expound further. I am all in favor of applying the Aesops of old laws to new technologies and new situations. I am all in favor of extending legal protections in old laws which were originally targeted at ex: white male landowners when we extend the definition of what is a worthy class of protection, such as women, transgendered, gay, etc.

            I am not in favor of values of individual liberty guaranteed by the constitution being declared defunct by the legislature or the courts.

            I ask you again to please answer my questions, specifically:

            I think my biggest problem is some of the exact details of what you propose to implement. How the justice system work in your world? How long does it take between the writing of a rule that says congress shall not pass laws establishing a state religion and when congress can require that you be a christian to be elected to public office and have the right to vote? Who decides when that legal protection is no longer required or wanted? The legislature alone? Presumably not. So, the legislature and the courts working in concert?

          28. MCB

            You started here defending the majority decision written by Scalia in one of his most famous and most originalist decisions. Now, you say that you aren’t defending “the specifics of Scalia’s originalism.” Well, if you don’t like the specifics of Scalia’s originalism, and you don’t want people to think that you do, defending one of his most classic originalist decisions is probably not the best place to start.

            Arguments by analogy are not “fraud.” I have no idea why you think they are. As to what I think may be somewhat fraudulent, I’ll cite your question to me:

            How long does it take between the writing of a rule that says congress shall not pass laws establishing a state religion and when congress can require that you be a christian to be elected to public office and have the right to vote?

            That is a bit like asking me how often I beat my wife. That is why I declined to answer it the first time. For some reason you seem to have decided that because I don’t think that “history alone can answer [the question of the meaning of the second amendment” and that any answer we provide will necessarily depend “on what goals and aspirations for human liberty we have in today’s world” that I have no reply to those who want to restrict public office to Christians only.

            I have no idea why you believe my position is that any interpretation is fine. I can only conclude that you are arguing that someone who rejects the idea that “history alone” is enough to give meaning to the constitution and thinks that the law can, does, and should change over time must necessarily accept the arguments of fundamentalist Christians about the constitution. And as I said before–to explain the argument from analogy–that claim is wrong for the same reason that the claim that morality can’t exist without the bible is wrong: there are lots of ways to skin that cat.

            If you want to know the skinning method I favor in law and elsewhere, I like the concept of “public reason.” You should read up on that if you haven’t already; I think you would like it too. The essential idea is that the justification for rules of law should always be in reasons accesible to the general public. So religious reason are right out, since they are not generally accesible. There are other arguments one could make. I just don’t happen to favor arguments for interpreting the constitution based solely on history.

            You also–for some reason–demand that I expound an entire judicial philosophy. I have no idea why you think I should do that or need to in order to make my point. I have simply provided a few of the reasons I do not like originalism generally, and specifically in Heller.

            I should add that I don’t actually care much about gun ownership in particular. The best statistics I have seen are still entirely inconclusive on whether gun ownership increases crime, and it is even possible some pro-gun laws could reduce crime (again, no conclusive research on this as far as I know). Consequently, I don’t care that much as a policy matter. In terms of holding off the tyranny of the federal government, I don’t think guns are enough, though I do think the American civil rights movement provides some reasons to think guns would help to defend against more local tyranny.

            As to your “fuzzy” originalism, I really can’t tell how exactly it’s supposed to work. If your purpose is to defend some new theory of judicial interpretation distinct from Scalia’s originalism, then good luck doing that. I am not especially interested in trying to argue about some new judicial philosophy that currently has one proponent, particularly where it isn’t all that clear what that philosophy is.

            You also write frequently as if you have a great deal of confidence about what fundamental values and rights are embodied by particular amendments, and then apparently intend to apply those fundamental values to new situations. Here is an example:

            The right clearly has its basis in the disarming of Protestants in England in 1780 by the king in order to suppress them. The notes from the English parliament debate also clearly show that this is a right independent of military service in order to check the power of the government.</

            I have no idea why you think this is “clear.” We have very limited direct evidence on the second amendment. even for the erudite framers themselves. For the common folk whose will is supposed to be expressed in the constitution, we have even less evidence. I do not know why notes from an English parliamentary debate would “clearly show” the meaning of American legal texts.

          29. Raging Bee

            I am not in favor of values of individual liberty guaranteed by the constitution being declared defunct by the legislature or the courts.

            No one here is advocating anything of the sort, and you’re being transparently dishonest when you try to imply we are. All I did was point out that the specific right you’re on about, the right to keep and bear arms, was not as absolute as you seem to think it is; and I referred to the actual wording of the amendment when I did so. You responded by freaking out about horrible onerous demands that no one made, and then looking for excuses to ignore those points of mine that you could not honestly address.

            As to whether or not it’s fair to call you an “originalist,” here’s something you said earlier:

            I also refuse to accept any standard of jurisprudence that includes new novel information well past the writing of the law to interpret the law. That is similarly insane.

            This is an originalist position — one that has been easily discredited, I must add — whether or not you choose to accept that label. Again, you’re being dishonest when you try to run away from your own arguments after they’ve been discredited.

          30. EnlightenmentLiberal

            @Raging Bee – Not talking to you anymore. I’ve already dealt with you claims, and you’re not adding anything new.

            @MCB – I feel you are being inconsistent, and you know that you are, and because of that you are refusing to talk about the specific details. Let’s try this one more time. Do you or do you not want the courts to be able to decide that a constitutionally protected right is no longer important and no longer binding? In other words, do you want the courts to be able to decide one day that a law means one thing, and X time later that it means the exact opposite thing? If anything, such jurisprudence is the exact opposite of common law, which I find odd that you would invoke that name in your own defense. I can be against such radical changes to the understanding of law without being a Scalia’s originalist. I can defend the decision as reaching the correct conclusion without defending Scalia’s originalism.

          31. MCB

            Codemonkey:

            I don’t appreciate your accusations. I especially don’t appreciate them when presented with the same false dichotomy I have corrected you on four times now.

            Do you or do you not want the courts to be able to decide that a constitutionally protected right is no longer important and no longer binding?

            The entire phrasing of your question here is ridiculous. What the court is determining is precisely whether a right is constitutionally protected. Of course I think that if a right is constitutionally protected it should be constitutionally protected. What we are discussing is how we determine whether a right is constitutionally protected or not. And what I have argued is no more or less than that history alone is not sufficient to answer that question.

            Furthermore, I have argued consistently that the law can, should, and does change over time. That is why–for example–in 1873 the 14th amendment didn’t incorporate the Bill of Rights against the states. So free speech and anti-establishment did not apply to state governments.

            The first amendment is says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” It says nothing about states. History alone, it turns out, is much less helpful than you might hope for showing that the 14th amendment applied that to the states, and the court struggled with this for decades. I am unwilling to cede to those who want to roll back our most robust constitutional protections, the idea that the law cannot change over time. A secular government is, in my view, “fundamental to the concept of ordered liberty” and I will not give it up because of the limitations of 19th century law makers.

            In other words, do you want the courts to be able to decide one day that a law means one thing, and X time later that it means the exact opposite thing?

            Yes. I want courts to be able to decide in 1873 that the 14th amendment did not incorporate the Bill of Rights against the states, and in 2012 to decide that it did. Do you?

            If anything, such jurisprudence is the exact opposite of common law, which I find odd that you would invoke that name in your own defense.

            No, it isn’t. The common law is not consistent with the absurd idea you keep wanting to ram down my throat that the court should just throw away constitutionally protected rights willy nilly. But it IS consistent with the idea that the law evolves gradually over time. The whole idea of the common law is that the body of law is built up slowly, gradually, and carefully out of precedent.

            Please don’t reply again with the absurd notion that anyone who rejects originalism, or your “fuzzy” judicial philosophy must therefore be willing to accept the abandonment of all our modern rights.

          32. EnlightenmentLiberal

            Semantic word games? Really? I would appreciate if you argued in good faith, please.

            I ask again, consider a right which was well understood to be constitutionally protected, and was constitutionally protected. By what standards do you want it to later be decided no longer a right, no longer constitutionally protected? What process of reasoning? Is it really as simple as the court deciding that it’s not really a good idea, and it’s not really needed anymore? Or the court decides on the basis that the public feels the right isn’t worth protecting anymore? You want every court to reconsider every issue every time it’s brought up? I suspect your answer is in some ill-specified middle area where you want them to be bound be precedent, except when they think that precedent is bad law. Is that a fair assessment of your position? Am I missing any important nuance?

            I think my position is fundamentally different. I want them to be bound by precedent, except when a case can be made that the precedent was decided badly.

            The distinction is that I want the courts to do their damn job, which is to interpret law, and not ascertain material fact, weigh consequences, and write new law based on the public good. That is the job of the legislature, which apparently you would also give to the courts, and moreso would give such legislative power to the courts over the constitution itself.

            Do I want the court to invent rights independent of history? Why yes, yes I do. It’s called the ninth amendment. Sadly, the courts have decided to take a different schizophrenic approach, which IMHO results in worse case law than if they just did the ninth. But I’m not opposed to judicial activism inventing rights when they should exist.

            However, I am still against judicial activism deciding that certain rights, especially explicitly enumerated rights, are no longer rights. This is not how you guarantee a free state. That is how you invite tyranny. It is never the purview of the court to decide if a constitutionally protected right is still really worth having. That is the job solely of the legislature and the people combined, or of the people alone.

            The distinction I draw is wholly whether they’re guaranteed individual natural rights, or removing them. The court is not the proper avenue to remove well enshrined constitutionally protected individual rights.

          33. MCB

            I suspect your answer is in some ill-specified middle area where you want them to be bound be precedent, except when they think that precedent is bad law. Is that a fair assessment of your position?

            No, it isn’t.

          34. EnlightenmentLiberal

            Can you explain then, please? From where I sit, it looks like you want to give the power for the courts to consider modern popular opinion, to consider questions of material fact, and to weight goods and harms. In other words, you want the court to have legislative power. Can you please explain how your position is not giving legislative power to the courts, or can you please explain why you are in favor of this revolutionary approach of giving legislative power to the courts? Anything except considering the history surrounding the text, the values specified in the text, the original meaning as understood by the people at the time, and the original intent of the writers – anything other than that is giving legislative power to the courts. And that is not what the courts are for.

            I believe that is our primary difference. You keep focusing on legislative arguments. The common good. Public reason. Goods and harms. Changing moral opinion. I find it most distressing that a up and coming lawyer doesn’t understand this critical difference between judicial and legislative power, or that you think that we should give such unbounded legislative power to the judicial branch.

          35. MCB

            Anything except considering the history surrounding the text, the values specified in the text, the original meaning as understood by the people at the time, and the original intent of the writers – anything other than that is giving legislative power to the courts.

            I have thoroughly replied to this argument here. This is the most extreme originalist position possible. It’s actually more extreme even than Scalia. So, maybe you should go back to the point where you said I was wrong to call you an originalist and start thinking from there.

            I find it most distressing that a up and coming lawyer doesn’t understand this critical difference between judicial and legislative power, or that you think that we should give such unbounded legislative power to the judicial branch.

            Notice that you use the same false dichotomy again here. Either you are an originalist or you want “unbounded legislative power [in] the judicial branch.”

            Do you consider Brown v. Board to be an example of “unbounded legislative power” because of how much it relies on social science about the effects of segregation on blacks?

            I also find your whole “how can you be so stupid and be a lawyer” thing a little hilarious. I’ll frighten you even more: I don’t know any professors or law students at my law school who would define the role of the courts as insanely narrowly as you just did.

          36. MCB

            I’ll just quote som language from Brown v. Board

            In approaching this problem, we cannot turn the clock back to 1868 when the Amendment was adopted, or even to 1896 when Plessy v. Ferguson was written. We must consider public education in the light of its full development and its present place in American life throughout *493 the Nation. Only in this way can it be determined if segregation in public schools deprives these plaintiffs of the equal protection of the laws.

            Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.

            We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other ‘tangible’ factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does.

            [...]

            ‘Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to (retard) the educational and mental development of Negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial(ly) integrated school system.’

            So wadya think Codemonkey? Suprised Earl Warren graduate from law school?

          37. EnlightenmentLiberal

            Well, if you wish to continue this chain of personal attacks, ok. I think you will not (graduate from law school).

            This is what happened:

            An earlier decision found that they could uphold the value of equality for all citizens via separate accommodations.

            Then, the court revisited this issue. They changed their minds on an important point. They did not change their position based on new popular sentiment (- officially, at least). They did not change their position based on new moral zeitgeist. They did not arrive at their new conclusion because different material facts necessitated that they add a new value to the constitution, or remove a previously established value from the constitution. Instead, what happened was the court did ascertain material fact, and saw that “separate but equal” did not fulfill the constitutional value of “equality for all citizens without regard to race”, and thus struck down its previous ruling as unjustified. This is not an addition of a new value. This is not a removal of an old constitutional value. It is a reversal of a value of precedent, not of the constitution. It is a new finding of fact that “separate but equal” is actually false, and cannot be supported by the “original” meaning / intent / plain text meaning / whatever have you. This is not legislative power.

            This is something radically different than what you propose: The court previously held that the constitution had the value that the people may be armed for the purpose of self defense, repel foreign invasion, and armed rebellion. Under this condition, you propose that the court may evaluate new public opinion, modern evidence, and decide that this value protected by the constitution isn’t really worth having anymore. Your proposal is for the court to have legislative power in deciding that we need a new value, and the old value needs to go.

            You’re reading far too much into some of the fluff and missing the core of the ruling.

            I hope that in your continued education as a lawyer that you will learn this important difference.

          38. EnlightenmentLiberal

            Minor correction:

            The court previously held that the constitution had the value that the people may be armed for the purpose of self defense, repel foreign invasion, and armed rebellion.

            Sorry, the court never actually held that. Instead, it was merely common knowledge that that was the intent, original meaning, plain text meaning, etc.

          39. MCB

            Did you read the passage I quoted? If not please do so, and then tell me whether you think Earl Warren is basing his decision solely on:

            Anything except considering the history surrounding the text, the values specified in the text, the original meaning as understood by the people at the time, and the original intent of the writers – anything other than that is giving legislative power to the courts.

          40. MCB

            Really, have you thought very clearly about this subject before? Because re-reading your post you just seem to be thrashing around madly here. You said, very very clearly that the court could only consider your list of things, else it had legislative power. I quote just one of literally thousands of examples I could quote of the court considering factors not on your list, and you flail about madly by explaining what it’s not.

            This is because your entire thinking on this subject is filled with the same ludicrous false dichotomy: either they consider nothing but originalism or else they half-hazardly invent a new constitution day by day based on whatever they feel like. There are other options. I just quoted one of the more famous ones.

            What I have said, very goddamn clearly, is that the history of the constitution is not alone enough to tell us how rights should work in the modern world. I have said it over and over and over again, and you have responded to that actual argument not a single time.

            Instead you want to play “MCB tell me in precise detail what judicial philosophy judges will have, or else I will continue to pretend like you said that the court should rule based on its bowel movements.”

            Stop being so fundamentally dishonest. Stop trying to make yourself feel right by pretending that I said things I never said. Take a deep breath and admit to yourself that this is simply not an easy issue and that you aren’t going to answer the question with a ridiculous list of 5 factors courts can consider.

            Now, that you have cleared your head. Are you or are are you not an originalist any more? You seem to go back and forth on this.

          41. Raging Bee

            Anything except considering the history surrounding the text, the values specified in the text, the original meaning as understood by the people at the time, and the original intent of the writers – anything other than that is giving legislative power to the courts.

            So if the Supreme Court says it’s okay to create an Air Force, working from language in the Constitution that says absolutely nothing about “air forces,” it’s taking legislative power for itself?

          42. Raging Bee

            Are you or are are you not an originalist any more? You seem to go back and forth on this.

            Just like Scalia.

          43. EnlightenmentLiberal

            @MCB

            You propose that the courts have the power to overturn values and rights enshrined in the constitution wholesale because of new public opinion and arguments from the common good which were largely known to the writers of the law. Thus, you would have the court revisit the core decisions of the legislative branch, which is legislative power, and that is precisely what the court should not have.

            You are right that my listed things constitute perhaps too narrow a list for standards by which to interpret laws. I thought I included “et cetera” in most of those lists. Apparently I did not. My apologies.

            There are many standards by which you could interpret law which are compatible with my desire to not give legislative power to the courts. For example, original intent, original meaning, textualism, and so on. I do not know if you know of such things. If you do, then you are willfully dishonestly putting words in my mouth, lying about what I’m saying, constructing a strawman, when you say I am arguing for originalism. This makes you no better than a presuppositionalist who argues that everyone believes in god and some just lie about it to avoid responsibility. You ought to give more weight to what a person actually says beliefs are.

            I’m sorry. I cannot continue this conversation with you either MCB. I feel you are being fundamentally dishonest. You have not even attempted to answer my core questions. Namely: Is it true that giving the courts the power to re-decide questions of clearly stated and understood values are that of legislative power? Isn’t this especially true when the courts are acting on arguments of the common good and on new public opinion? How is this not full legislative power? Do you want the courts to have this legislative power? Can’t you at least give the separation of powers is a good thing?

            I doubt I will reply further.

            PS: Elsethread you especially scare me when you think that there are some good laws on the books that violate J.S. Mill’s Harm Principle. I believe that we are simply completely out of touch on everything. There is no such thing as a good law which violates the Harm Principle (when properly understood to also include positive externalities). Quoting Mill:

            The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

            The writers of the constitution also recognized this. Quoting Jefferson, who basically wrote the Harm Principle a century before Mill:

            The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

            (Again, Jefferson would probably include positive externalities too. Let’s not falsely portray him as a libertarian.) Of course, we could probably spend weeks arguing this too (but I won’t, because we are at a point where I doubt any constructive dialogue could happen). I am for liberty and freedom. You evidently are not. It’s just a complete values disconnect. Moreover, IMHO this is the (original) purpose of the ninth, before it was gutted as just scenery.

          44. Raging Bee

            You propose that the courts have the power to overturn values and rights enshrined in the constitution wholesale because of new public opinion and arguments from the common good which were largely known to the writers of the law. Thus, you would have the court revisit the core decisions of the legislative branch, which is legislative power, and that is precisely what the court should not have.

            First, NO ONE here proposed any such thing (I notice that allegation isn’t preceded by a quote from any of MCB’s comments); and second, the Founders themselves proposed a Judiciary that could review laws and overturn them when they were found to be in violation of either the Constitution or other basic values of decency and fairness. “Judicial review” is a concept OLDER than this country, not some new and alien idea made up by commie integrationists from Kenya or Mars.

            You’re just upset and flailing about because we’ve looked at the actual text of the Constitution (yeah, we’re TEXTUALISTS, dude), and found that the one right you’re banging on about, isn’t really what you want to pretend it is; and when we point out this glaringly obvious fact, you accuse us of wanting to “overturn” your imagined “right,” while ignoring the actual substance of what we’ve said.

            I am for liberty and freedom. You evidently are not.

            Even by argument-by-labelling standards, that’s just lame. If you really cared about liberty and freedom, you’d understand that a huge amount of the freedoms we take for granted today, were achieved by Federal courts “revisit[ing] the core decisions of the legislative branch, which is legislative power.”

            I’m sorry. I cannot continue this conversation with you either MCB.

            …because I didn’t agree to argue from within your phony bubble-verse, and now MCB isn’t doing it either. So now you’re learning what I learned at age ten: having your own private reality sucks when no one else wants to be in it with you.

            I feel you are being fundamentally dishonest.

            …says the guy who completely ignores fundamental and relevant points that don’t fit in his script.

            You have not even attempted to answer my core questions.

            Your “core questions” are based on false premises and dishonestly worded, and both MCB and I are perfectly capable of making our points without allowing ourselves to be constrained by your manipulative rhetoric. (Yes, we know you’re being manipulative here — we’ve seen the same tactics used by con-artists, demagogues, and empty religious evangelists. You’re not fooling anyone here.)

          45. MCB

            @Raging Bee

            The real irony of Codemonkey’s dismay over my apparent rejection of the harm principle is how badly he missed the point in that thread. My entire point was that I thought an analysis that says “any law not justified on the basis of the harm principle shall fail a rational basis test” would give too much power to the court over the legislature. Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.

            I’d also note that one of the most common reasons to reject consequentialist ethics like Mill’s is precisely because it does not provide a robust enough defense of individual rights. That is one of the primary reasons some folks are deontologists. Hence, saying that I am against “liberty and freedom” (and puppies!) because he has decided that I reject utilitarianism is a pretty hilarious non-sequitur.

          46. Raging Bee

            MCB: he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and probably doesn’t care. It looks (to me at least) like his entire line of legal reasoning is crafted for the sole purpose of backing up his dishonest and pseudo-absolutist interpretation of the Second Amendment; and to resist any attempt to bring reason and common sense to its application in the real world of today.

          47. EnlightenmentLiberal

            Novel points.

            @MCB: Where did I claim that the Harm Principle is the only starting axiom in my theory of government or morality? Where did I say I was such a naive consequentialist? I made the simple claim that any law that violates the Harm Principle is a bad law. I never said that all laws which agree with the Harm Principle are good laws. And you very clearly explained elsethread how you think that you can indeed, and ought to be able to, legislate morality into law when it does not involve others, aka in direct violation of the Harm Principle. More dishonest strawmanning. You excel at that. You missportray both my argument and your own.

            I am for plans that will increase the self determination and happiness of people. Apparently you are not, given that you’re willing to use force against someone when his actions affect no one else.

            And you think it would give too much power to the courts to enforce the rule that the legislature may not arbitrarily restrict an individual’s freedom without good cause? And you’re strawmanning me for adopting a position that doesn’t adequately guarantee civil liberties? Yea, right. Do we even live in the same world? Can you speak English? Do you understand how to apply the rules of basic logic?

            @Raging Bee: I am in this conversation to change minds, mine or yours. I figured I had a better shot with MCB over you. I think I’m sunk with both though, and it seems neither of you is willing to engage in the conversation without painting my argument into whatever you want it to be.

            Is there anything I can say to demonstrate that I am genuine that I couldn’t give two shits about gun rights and gun control? I’m much more concerned about guaranteeing my other rights – free speech, no establishment, no unreasonable searches or seizures, free assembly, etc.

            For example, the other day I called into a public radio talk program to “bitch out” (kindly and politely) the spokesperson for the Oakland city police department. They were talking about using civil action to do gang injunctions, preventing “known” gang members from hanging out. Last I checked, you cannot restrict someone’s constitutionally guaranteed rights without a criminal proceeding. Apparently they do in several states. The spokesperson sounded very much like MCB here, and invoked the usual “good of the majority” arguments, common sense, etc., and actually made an argument from common law (quote: “it’s the same idea as a restraining order”). I quickly and calmly explained that they have the first and fourteenth, and that would prevent these kinds of shenanigans. Luckily the human rights lawyer they had on their largely agreed, and said it might be overturned if it ever got to SCOTUS. Up to that point, the conversation on the radio didn’t even involve talking about the constitutional rights and focused on other issues. I find that amazing, and worrying. Freedom of assembly is one of the basic rights required for a democracy / democractic republic, and here we are abridging it to US citizens on US soil with the standards of evidence of civil court.

            Also in the line at the airport, I usually cuss out the TSA, especially when they swab my hands for bomb chemical residue. I actually got pulled aside once for half an hour, until their manager came down. It was funny – he initially thought I resisted the test, when I had complied and had my hand swabbed. I actually overhead their conversation that I was pulled over because I told them to fuck off for not carrying about our civil liberties at all. The manager came over and told me that it was a crime to do that to a federal officer, and he could call the police. My response: “What? I call your bluff. Call the police.” I was free to go on my way 10 minutes later. — Similarly, I am sure to take the patdown, and “sexually harass” the officer who feels me up.
            – Sure, you can argue it’s completely ineffective, but hell if I know of a better way to raise public awareness besides these childish antics when I already give to the ACLU, try to vote properly, write letters to my representatives for important issues, and engage online with random people like here.

            Again, my problem is that your bullshit reasoning would utterly destroy any constitutional guarantees that we have, ensuring that we have no individual rights. You don’t get to pick and choose which civil liberties you like without putting them all on unstable ground. Adopting a “common sense” approach puts you at the mercy of the tyranny of the majority. They are constitutionally guaranteed precisely to put them beyond the “common sense” of the tyranny of the majority. That’s the distinction between constitutionally guaranteed “congress shall pass no law” vs a law passed by congress. Did you even pay attention in your high school civics class?

          48. Raging Bee

            You don’t get to pick and choose which civil liberties you like without putting them all on unstable ground.

            IIRC, I asked you this before, and you failed to answer: which civil liberties have any of us decided we didn’t “like?”

            Adopting a “common sense” approach puts you at the mercy of the tyranny of the majority.

            The fact that you would so closely equate “common sense” with “tyranny of the majority” strongly implies you’re suffering from paranoid delusions. What the Hell do you think courts at all levels, criminal and civil, do every day? They gather facts, evidence and reason, and try to decide how to apply general principles of law to particular real-world situations. In other words, they interpret the law using (among other things, of course) common sense. That is, in fact, how many unjust laws get ruled unconstitutional: a court looks at how things work in the real world, and finds that, regardless of a law’s stated intent, its actual effect is to hinder certain people in the exercise of certain rights. Your refusal to understand this pretty much proves you have no idea what you’re talking about.

      2. Alicia

        @MCB agreed. I think all laws are somewhat breathable depending on how they are structured–hence why they can be “interpreted”. For example, we could all agree that a color falls into he category of “red,” but that doesn’t mean that it can’t also be regarded as fuchsia, dark pink, crimson or scarlet. A law can be “red” but be interpreted in varying shades depending on what a legislator wants to get out of it. If laws could be strictly interpreted–why do we need legal scholars to interpret them? That said, I do think the easier course of action is to amend or repeal laws when they become too archaic. to be applicable..

        1. MCB

          Thanks Alicia. It’s nice when people agree with me :).

          1. Alicia

            Easy to agree with the argument is coherent and clear…

  27. 27
    Alicia

    “Atheism…IS a theology…no way around that.”

    Why are people even wasting time arguing with an individual who doesn’t even understand what the word theology means?

    1. 27.1
      Lord Narf

      I’m not anymore. I’m done with him. Look at his new post that just came in:

      Athiest = There is no God , Man is his own God

      Seriously?

      Yeah, this guy’s a complete waste of otherwise useful carbon atoms.

      1. Thomas

        so then…tell me..what does an athiest believe? if not that he is the master of his own destiny alone?

        1. Lord Narf

          Master of his own destiny? Dude, there’s society, the effects of the world around us … all the other bits of reality. To conflate an atheistic worldview with being your own god is ludicrous.

          I don’t create worlds. I don’t do magic. I don’t even create my own morality from scratch. A great deal of it was given to me, through evolution and my upbringing.

          On top of that, like I’ve said over and over again, atheism tells us one thing that we DON’T believe in. It’s a purely negative stance. If you want to achieve a positive belief, you need to add another element.

          And yes, I know you’re going to fuck up your understanding of the words positive and negative, in this context, and equivocate them to mean morally positive and negative.

          1. Thomas

            your refusing to understand and or sidestep the concept of government= God , citizen = subjugate.

            what ever you submit to in life or process…in effect has become a defacto lord over you…as you have allowed it to govern your actions…

            be it friend, parent, government official or other…..

            synonyms for god? lord – deity – divinity – godhead – idol.. ( any person and or thing with sets a series of rules or parameters the governed must follow

          2. EnlightenmentLiberal

            Protip: Here’s a fun quote you might not have heard of: government of the people, by the people, for the people. Go look up who said that. The people are not slaves to the government. The government is a slave and a tool of the people. It exists at the people’s convenience and consent.

            I’m sorry that you want to be a slave, and you cannot imagine any other way of living than to be a slave. We atheists recognize that slavery is bad, and that everyone deserves the right to make their own choices, as long as it doesn’t harm other people. (Though they can be compelled to do actions for the good of others in limited cases too – I’m not advocating libertarianism here.) We atheists embrace the freedom from not being a slave, and because of our empathy and humanity, we try our best to bestow this wonderful gift onto others.

          3. Sonorus

            Now we’re getting somewhere:

            “your refusing to understand and or sidestep the concept of government= God , citizen = subjugate.”

            Nope. I don’t accept that at all. that’s a pre-enlightenment view of the world as as Americans we upended that by asserting our rights first to be free from the English crown (thereby defying the Christian doctrine of the divine right of kings) and then establishing a representative democracy as our form of government. We tell the government what to do and if we don’t like it we can change it. We can elect new representatives and presidents (which happens sometimes though not, IMHO, nearly often enough), we can amend our Constitution, etc. It is not our God, however. it is subject to us, not the other way around. And honestly I find your line of thinking undemocratic, un-American and more than a little bit creepy.

      2. MCB

        Just think: his carbon atoms could be filtering my water right now. And my water tastes terrible.

      3. Alicia

        “Athiest = There is no God , Man is his own God”

        *****

        Uhm…yeah….All I can do–I mean…what the…*sigh* Why?

  28. 28
    Thomas

    to say aan ethiest believes anything other than their own understanding and system of definig right from wrong…then by proxy…what ever their adapt or acquiese to…becomes the defacto “god” whos isntruct and guidance they must follow upon and rely.

    be it…a parent, teh local government or themselves…every man…submits to something…what ever they submit to…in essence becomes greater than the one in subserviance…as they are now held to rules that authority sets forth…..

    that…in teh greater sense…is the god/ authority dynamic.

    1. 28.1
      MCB

      I know. I’m just surrounded by gods! For example: the official in the basketball game is obviously a god because he makes up rules, and is powerful. I even worship the Chicago Manual of Style; since it has lots of rules in it, it must be written by God. That’s how I learned about the power of the Full Stop. It died for our sins!

      Please stop blaspheming the Full Stop by connecting random incomplete thoughts with ellipses! For the wrath of the Chicago Manual is terrible to behold.

      1. Thomas

        there are writers and editors…

        the purpose of an editor… well.

        the purpose of an editor is not to create a perfect piece; the purpose of an editor is to minimize the number of mistakes in a written piece.

        seems like this blog is full of more writers than editors…as they are focusing on punctuation over message….

        ya might wanna stay away from the collected works of E.E. Cummings….it will drive you crazy!!!

        1. Lord Narf

          If the writer can’t make himself coherent, because of his stuttering, half-baked style, then he isn’t much of a writer.

          1. Thomas

            hmm….again…read the works of ee cummings…and , well…consider each of my posts “first drafts”…lol

          2. MCB

            Mr. Thomas, you are no E.E. Cummings.

          3. Thomas

            lol…Red herring alert…red herring alert!!!!

            you never know…as your moral perspective about my not being akin to ee cummings is subjective and not a universal truth …I WIN!!!!! lol :P

          4. MCB

            Actually everything I say is a Universal Truth. You can tell because my name appears in Josephus. It’s in my copy of the Jewish War, in blue pen.

            Also, my mom is a virgin and I was murdered last Tuesday.

            (Yes. Your argument really is that stupid.)

          5. Thomas

            holding a theory or believing in a theory as absolute fact without 100% certainty…. at its core is faith….

            theist or athiest….its all the same…faith…at its core….

            and an atheist is just as devout a believer in their theology as a theist is….

            and both make leaps of faith without certainty 100%

        2. Sonorus

          In the pre-post-modern era, editors actually worked on content with the author. What you are describing is a proofreader, not an editor. A couple of weeks ago I submitted a draft for a paper related to a seminar I am taking. There were some style notes but most of the suggestions concerned my thesis and how to better make my argument. I appreciated the remarks. They caused me to rethink some of what I said, to clarify what was not clear and look for more examples to prove my point. That’s what a real editor would do. These days printed material (or it’s electronic equivalent) is barely proofread much less edited. And we are much the poorer for it.

          Off topic but years ago I saw an interview on Dick Cavett (his short-lived PBS show) with an editor who had worked with Salinger and Hemingway. It was fascinating and revealed why the standards for books and articles was once so much higher than it is today. Editors. We need more of them.

    2. 28.2
      jacobfromlost

      Theists usually argue that morals are absolute.

      [Absolute: something that is not dependent upon external conditions for existence or for its specific nature, size, etc. ( opposed to relative ). ]

      So what happens when one absolute moral comes into conflict with another absolute moral? What happens when one absolute moral comes into conflict with itself?

      These are called “moral dilemmas”, and they describe situations that can, and do, exist in reality (because the “morality” is not really absolute).

      I’ve never heard of any other “absolutes” coming into conflict with themselves. We never have the Law of Identity coming into conflict with itself–a thing is never not itself. We never have a situation where a contradiction isn’t a contradiction.

      Morals are by definition relative–relative to the situation, the context, the circumstances, the likely outcomes, the available information. If you don’t know any of these things, it is impossible to make ANY moral decision, much less any moral judgment about the decision.

      Also, as Martin has pointed out before, many Christians say salvation is through faith and not works–so moral (ie, works) are totally irrelevant to the most important goal of existence. And if morals are totally irrelevant to salvation, who cares if morality is god given or not? They don’t matter, theologically speaking.

      1. Thomas

        a few points…
        1. see my post about how to determine the validity of opposing moral perspectives.
        2. in terms of conflicting aboslutes…depending on what filter you use to determine your moral perspectie..one persons abolute can easily conflict with another. contradictions are ONLY contradictions if they are viewed from ONE perspective…view a contradiction from a different perspective…and you might find those contradicions validate one another….often…its our filter that prevents the ability to see a subject from multiple angles of objectivity.

        3. as for works and salvation……salvation is the end result of initial belief….works are the end resul of belief and salvation working together to produce results…

        1. jacobfromlost

          ” 1. see my post about how to determine the validity of opposing moral perspectives.”

          Eh. I don’t want to read through this thread again. If you had a valid point, you’d make it.

          “2. in terms of conflicting aboslutes…depending on what filter you use to determine your moral perspectie..one persons abolute can easily conflict with another.”

          You’re missing my point. I’m talking about from ONE perspective, ONE moral position can conflict WITH ITSELF.

          ” contradictions are ONLY contradictions if they are viewed from ONE perspective”

          Well sure. That’s what “absolute” means. If you pose that morals are absolute, then that supposed ONE perspective would be it.

          “…view a contradiction from a different perspective…and you might find those contradicions validate one another”

          I don’t think you understand what a moral dilemma is.

          “….often…its our filter that prevents the ability to see a subject from multiple angles of objectivity.”

          There are not multiple angles of “objectivity”, nor of absolutism. If there were, they wouldn’t be objective or absolute. If you want to give up the terms objective and absolute in describing morality, fine. But you’ve just admitted that morals are relative and subjective–relative to the context, situation, available information, etc, and subjective to our values (ie, do we value life, health, etc, or do we not, and what are the objective consequences of valuing life, health, etc or NOT valuing life, health, etc).

          “3. as for works and salvation……salvation is the end result of initial belief….works are the end resul of belief and salvation working together to produce results…”

          But works are not necessary for salvation, thus morality is not necessary for salvation, thus the only thing necessary for salvation is faith. Therefore morality is totally beside the point, theologically speaking–and that IS how you are speaking, right? Theologically?

    3. 28.3
      Sonorus

      I don’t believe in any supernatural entities. (Not just gods, but also ghosts, demons, unicorns, pixies, elves, etc etc.) I don’t have any need to replace your delusion in a deity with something else. That’s a theistic fantasy. We hears this argument over and over. “You have to believe in something.” If by “believe” you mean accept something without evidence, then no, I don’t.

      1. ericvon germania

        Hey Sonorus, you make me think again about something about “believe” and “theists”. I wonder how many “theists” really “believe” in god? I am pretty sure many “theists” don’t “believe” in god but hope that their god exist. It would reduce much more the number of “theists”. i wonder if we can measure that or it already happen a disctinction between “true believer” (theists) and let’s say.. “hopists”.

        1. ericvon germania

          oops…I only have wanted to darkened “hope”. the preview didn’t work and it darkened everything starting at “hope”…

        2. Sonorus

          I think a lot of them like the idea of a deity. Their actions reveal a lack of belief, of course. But they definitely believe in belief and freak out a bit when confronted with someone who admits they don’t believe.

    4. 28.4
      Alicia

      Getting back to this:

      “Athiest = There is no God , Man is his own God”

      That comment can be structured this way:

      A. I believe in gods, you don’t believe in gods
      B. Gods exist
      C. You believe you are your own god

      or

      A. Some humans don’t believe in gods
      B. Humans must believe in gods
      C. Some humans believe they are their own god

      Does that even make sense…?

      Why can’t a person simply believe there are no gods and understand their “place in the universe”, without having the insert a god figure replacement, i.e., himself. I am an agnostic atheist so I don’t claim to be all knowing but from what I can see in the observable universe, there appears to be no gods…

  29. 29
    jacobfromlost

    Aw. I missed out on all the fun.

    The more often people like Thomas completely ignore opposing positions by redefining them and then denying dozens of corrections, the more often people who hold positions similar to Thomas’s will dwindle.

    You simply can’t redefine someone’s personal position by fiat no matter how much you may want to do so–and, therefore, you can’t redefine the personal positions of a whole mass of people who all say they hold the same position.

    Besides, I’m a doubting Thomas as to Thomas’s theism–although the numerous spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors suggest theism. I’ve honestly never had an online debate with a theist who didn’t misspell every other word. I often wonder what it would be like. (If you can’t figure out 6th grade English, are you *really* an authority on cosmology? Again, I’m a doubting Thomas…although I am aware that 4 year olds can be experts in theology. ;-) )

  30. 30
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Ok, round of shots for all those battling the idiocy in this thread.
    ****
    Thomas:
    Where is the proof of your god?
    Why should he be worshipped over Loki or Apollo?
    Why should any god be worshipped?
    How do you know you aren’t delusional?
    Why can you not accept ‘I do not know’, rather than ‘god’ when asked “how was the universe created”?

    1. 30.1
      Alicia

      Tony I’ll take a diet coke *teetotaler here* LOL

  31. 31
    Thomas

    there are writers and editors…

    the purpose of an editor… well.

    the purpose of an editor is not to create a perfect piece; the purpose of an editor is to minimize the number of mistakes in a written piece.

    seems like this blog is full of more writers than editors…as they are focusing on punctuation over message….

    ya might wanna stay away from the collected works of E.E. Cummings….it will drive you crazy!!!

    1. 31.1
      jacobfromlost

      You know, we already have a low opinion of you. Why not put a little effort into capitalizing your sentences? Cleaning up your spelling? It might actually help your message as a few of your sentences were so sloppily composed as to obfuscate the meaning.

      Come on, man. Show a little effort.

      1. Thomas

        youre assuming I need you to validate me or I am here to make friends…i’m merely here to debate a topic. that I happened to come accross through a freinds repost on FB….

        The moment I try to get people to like me…and engage them for that purpose alone…I look no different than a politician….who says anything he can and acquesces…just to be liked…

        now, to get back on topic…

        Either ya get past the punctuation issues to deal with the topics…or further rabbit hole, throw red herrings and gainsay just to find an angle where there otherwise would be none..:)

        1. MCB

          No. He’s assuming that you are typing things so that people can understand them.

          Most of what you write appears to me to be a series of straight up non-sequiturs with elipses between them. I have no idea why you even think 95% of what you have written is the least bit reasonable or persuasive. And nobody else here does either.

          So maybe it’s worth changing up your tactics?

          1. Thomas

            Heres the premise….this blog/ thread….was created from a biased perspective….as if that biased perspective was in effect, an absolute.

            the fallacy of the predominat thought on this tread and the initial post is that its suggested there are no universal and moral truthsapart from the establishment of what the original author posts…

            this is an ironic statement….

            the entire emphasis of everyone of my posts was to point out the irony of those claiming there is no god , with utter certainty and that only their moral perspective is the the pure one…

            and the hipocracy of…my perspective trumps yours becuase there are no truths…EXCEPT that which i deem valid….

            that predominant ironic thought…on this thread…is what im trying to figure out…

            what disconnect is it …where people think they can compartmentaize themselves soo much…that by compartmentaizing themseves…it some how….grants them the ability to have the social cake an eat it too…without consiquence…

            ohhh the irony…..lol

          2. MCB

            This is a good example. You are throwing out words like “bias” and “absolute” without any apparent attempt at rigor, and then connecting them with a series of ellipses.

            Let’s say Gaus is a mathematician. Let’s say he is biased and thinks proposition Y is true. Then he decides to see if he can produce a valid proof of Y. And he does.

            Do you see the problem yet? Someone can be both biased and correct. In fact, criticizing someone’s argument just by saying they are biased is a logical fallacy. It’s a variety of argumentum ad hominem.

          3. Thomas

            your confusing theory with bias. theory asserts a premise, collects data then draws a conclusion either confirming or denying the theory. Bias rejects all informationin discovery that contradicts the premise in an attempt to manufacture a desired result reardless of information collected.

          4. MCB

            Oy vey.

            First of all, you just made those definitions up. For no particular reason.

            Second, you have not demonstrated that anyone here “rejects all information” contrary to their beliefs.

            Third, even if you did demonstrate that, it would still be a argumentum ad hominem. IE, you have no actually replied to my point. At all.

          5. Lord Narf

            Thomas, you moron, that’s how CREATIONISM works, which is why it isn’t science. Real science gathers evidence and data and tries to construct a model that fits the data. Then, other scientists try to find holes in the new theory and tear it down.

            Religion starts with a conclusion and goes searching for evidence to back it up, ignoring contradictory evidence.

            One of those methods is clearly superior.

        2. Lord Narf

          Then why are you here? Just about everyone on the site is better versed in logic than you, apparently, and we can see through all of the shit you’re shoveling. When we point out the two or three fallacies in each of your posts, you just jump on to new ones or repeat the same ones in slightly different wording.

          1. Thomas

            really?? you can see the irony of ones such as yourself asserting with difinitive clarity that ” there is NO GOD” and no truth unless I deem it so??? loI

            thats a HUGE leap of faith with minimal evidence to substantiat that belief other than philosophy.

            and if you ask me to prove there is a god…again…I will ask you to scroll up and be enlightened as to the process of how you truly determine if there is one or not…

            but again…i really see that those with their heels fermly planted in the ground…like their staug=ch right winged christian conservative counterparts…

            stick to their guns regardless of what objective information is presented them..ignorance is …as ignorance does…..

            Im seeing on this thread…as evidenced by the name calling etc…the athiestic equivalent of the Westboro baptists… lol

            Irony indeed…

          2. runicmadhamster

            Not only that but everyone here is better versed in grammar and spelling than he is.

          3. runicmadhamster

            Did you just compare people on this thread to the Westboro Baptists? So first you display a ignorance of the definition of the word theology (and then claim you have been studying it for 20 years……yeah right), then you display ignorance about what atheists believe, then you try and second guess our motives, all the while displaying a terrible sense of grammar and spelling. And now after displaying all the ignorance above, you dare compare us to Westboro because some of us are getting annoyed at your dribble and insulting you???

          4. Lord Narf

            And once again, you’re apparently completely ignorant of the basics of the null hypothesis. The default position for the supposition of something existing is disbelief until there is sufficient evidence to accept its existence. You have failed to justify the claim that a god exists, so we don’t buy what you’re selling. It would be irrational to believe something as unjustified as all of the proposed gods that are in every holy book out there.

            There’s no leap of faith in rejecting a ridiculous proposition that hasn’t been backed up with evidence.

            stick to their guns regardless of what objective information is presented them..ignorance is …as ignorance does…..

            So, tell me, where is this objective information? I’ve looked through every argument I could find, and all I see is a bunch of nonsense pedaled by a class of holy men who want to spread gullibility for their own profit.

            You have the floor. What is this amazing, objective evidence for a god existing? All I’ve heard from you is lame arguments that have already been refuted a dozen times, because they’re full of horrible logical holes.

          5. Thomas

            if you truly know anything about how they derive their moral perspective…they only selectively read from the biblical text, quote out of context ideas with vehemce to support their perspective and then berate those who disagree with name calling….

            so in terms of how certain athiests on this thread have conducted themelves and how they arrive at their conclusions….

            in terms of comparing and contrasting the two groups ” westboro baptists” and “vehement accusatory athiests”.

            why , yes…they are quite similiar in both their approach and tactics…

            same reason republicans and democrats in government are identical nowadays……equal ignorance, equal vehemence…same words and actions…different sides of the aisle…

            if the shoe fits…lol

          6. Thomas

            objectivity …starts from a position of ” there may or may not be a god”…..lets reserach and seek the answer.

            the question remains open ended as no decision either way can be made with certainty..

            atheists draw a conclusion that since onot enough evidence is available….then DEFINITELY…there is no god until proven otherwise.

            thats an opinon without merit as it draws informmation solely from one perspective and bias…

            thats equivalent of say that since we have never encountered life from other planets…that must mean it doesnt exist…when the only information we have is collected from a very small portion of our vast universe.

          7. MCB

            I will also point out–for the record and not Thomas benefit–that in addition to being confused about what Narf just posted about, Thomas also confuses belief with certainty. For example, I think it is very unlikely that Thomas is really Matt Dillahunty just pretending to be a tool. But I cannot exclude the possibility.

            Thomas seems to think that anything atheists believe about god, they must believe with absolute certainty. This is such a common projection on the part of theists. I really think that the best place to start a rational discussion about atheism with a theist is to start by explaining open-mindedness and skepticism.

            I don’t believe Thomas is Matt, but I am willing to consider evidence. That is pretty much where I stand on all empirical questions.

          8. Thomas

            religions plural of re·li·gion (Noun)
            Noun
            1.The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.
            2.Details of belief as taught or discussed.

            the·ol·o·gy
            /THēˈäləjē/
            Noun

            1.The study of the nature of God and religious belief.
            2.Religious beliefs and theory when systematically developed: “Christian theology”.

            Theology focus on the nature and attriibutes of diety. Religion focuses on the outward display of worshiping those attributes of diety

            ag·nos·tic
            /agˈnästik/
            Noun
            A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena;…

            a·the·ism
            /ˈāTHēˌizəm/
            Noun
            The theory or belief that God does not exist.

            pretty straightforward…athiests believe or hold a theory as fact that “god does not exist\’until further notice

          9. Lord Narf

            Go on, give us the other definition of atheism.

          10. Thomas

            http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism

            anything else is a bill clinton tactic of gainsaying and attempting to definie what ” Is” is…lol.

            there a reason they called bill clinton slick willy and richrad nixon…tricky dick…you could never get a straightforward answer…

            they always had to find an angle that would leave an escape hatch open so as to relieve culpability…lol

          11. Thomas

            atheism
            noun (Concise Encyclopedia)
            Critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or divine beings. Unlike agnosticism, which leaves open the question of whether there is a God, atheism is a positive denial. It is rooted in an array of philosophical systems. Ancient Greek philosophers such as Democritus and Epicurus argued for it in the context of materialism. In the 18th century David Hume and Immanuel Kant, though not atheists, argued against traditional proofs for God’s existence, making belief a matter of faith alone. Atheists such as Ludwig Feuerbach held that God was a projection of human ideals and that recognizing this fiction made self-realization possible. Marxism exemplified modern materialism. Beginning with Friedrich Nietzsche, existentialist atheism proclaimed the death of God and the human freedom to determine value and meaning. Logical positivism holds that propositions concerning the existence or nonexistence of God are nonsensical or meaningless.

          12. Lord Narf

            Try again with another definition that isn’t complete bullshit.

          13. Lord Narf

            More to the point, go to any basic dictionary and give us definition #2.

          14. Thomas

            miriam webster disctionary.::
            definition #2

            a: a disbelief in the existence of deity

            b: the doctrine that there is no deity

          15. Thomas

            the fact that i have given you commonly accepted definitions and you reject them as bullshit proves 2 things.
            1. that it affirms my assertion that athiests belief that man is is how determinent for moral discernment.
            2. your response supports the “ostrich ” theory of Freidrich neitzche of logical positivism as anything dealing with the discussion of theologic matters is meaningless..

            did I stutter????

          16. Lord Narf

            And that definition 2a, as you listed them, is the operative definition in use by the atheism movement and 99% of all atheists. And you’re a dishonest piece of shit for straw-manning us at every turn.

            And actually, if you had stuttered through most of your comments, you would have been a lot more coherent than you actually were, I think.

          17. Thomas

            wow…no straw man here…my definition of atheist and view of athiest has been consistent all the way through…

            athiests want no rule other than the rule of their own devising or that which they deem permissive to their bias…so since they view god as a potential adversary or opposition to self rule ( logical positivism)…they will seek to deny existence by holding onto an issue of faith…where there may be no certainty to back up their theory of faith..

            did i stutter that time????

          18. Nathair

            1. that it affirms my assertion that athiests belief that man is is how determinent for moral discernment.

            did I stutter????

            Stutter, no? You vomited incoherent, ungrammatical “word” salad at us. Lest you miss the point I put “word” in scare quotes because “determinent ” is not one in the English language. You vomited forth word salad with a nasty little “determinent” crouton on the top.

            As to the substance, lemme ‘splain. No, there is too much, lemme sum up:
            1) Any statement beginning with “atheists believe” (or belief, as you style it) anything is always going to be wrong. The only thing which all atheists share is a lack of belief in a god or gods.

            2) Many atheists, myself included, do believe that morality is entirely a construct of human beings fueled largely by our evolution as a social species and our cultural evolution. There is no evidence whatsoever for an absolute morality or for a source for such a morality.

            3)The big one: Evidence. You offer none. Show me sufficient evidence and I will consider any hypothesis you want to offer, even God. Sadly, as a substitute for such evidence your barely literate, almost completely incoherent blather is entirely insufficient. So again: Evidence, put up or please, please, please shut up.

          19. Lord Narf

            Not an actual stutter, but your point was similarly stupid. Your first paragraph was formed from half-composed thoughts, as most of your comments have been.

            I’ve never said that your view of atheism has been inconsistent. But it’s completely false.

          20. Thomas

            to reply …

            #1… awwww. your pulling a bill clinton/ richard nixon tactic…for shame!!!! lol…looking for a slick willy escape hatch for fear of being definitelively labeled..lol

            #2. you are correct…from a human to human frame of reference , morality is completely subjective…and not a universallly definitive perspective…only until an outside metric is used from which to measure…and universally agreed upon…can moral perspectives be validated as universal…this is not to say the univeersal truths do not exist…but the moral perspectives regarding those thuths are subjective.

            #3. since your window “of acceptible evidence” is limited to one perspective and lacks objectivity…you are starting from a bias…and will automatically dismiss evidence presented to you as false is it doesnt meet your personal bias and filter…so in effect. there is no way i can enlighten a closed and bias mind….. now…if you were to start from a subjective place and draw no conclusion, leaving bias behind…then…as a scientific method…we can uncover great truths beyond your limited frame of reference…

            so…in the end…i answered this question…

            do you consider yourself enlightened, intellectual and open mined??

            or closed minded, fix. and determined to belief nothing more that what you can specifically filter based on your own limited perspective???

            the choice is yours.

            did i stutter that time?

          21. runicmadhamster

            Damn well said Narf, A vomited word salad is exactly what we have been subjected to here.

          22. Thomas

            and if your soo infatuated with my punctuation…its just another instance of missing the forrest , through the trees….

          23. Thomas

            to make a variation on a quote from that hysterical fim ANIMAL HOUSE..” Fat, Lazy, biased, closed minded Athiest and ignorant…is no way to go through life, sons…” lol…*drops mic- exits stage*

          24. Nathair

            Damn well said Narf, A vomited word salad is exactly what we have been subjected to here.

            Actually, ’twas me.

          25. roggg

            Thomas, I don’t know if you’re a troll or not, but I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and try to help you out here. You’ve gotten so much wrong. Here’s a crash course:

            1) Atheism as it is currently used by the vast bulk of the atheist community refers to a rejection of the positive claim that god or gods exist. This is not a positive belief. 20 years ago I had a view similar to yours of what atheism and agnosticism meant, but those views are no longer representative of how they are used today. In short, most people calling themselves atheists do not believe with certainty that god does not exist. The fact that you can find a dictionary that gives you a definition you can go to battle with is irrelevant. Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive, so if you insist on doing that, you are tilting at windmills. That may be entertaining to us, but it doesn’t do anything effective.

            2) Agnosticism as used by you seems to mean having no opinion without absolute certainty. Here lies madness, as we can descend into solipsism where virtually nothing is proven to exist, and so everyone’s philosophy must be a blank slate. Agnosticism as it is commonly used now is not a neutral view on the existence of god. It’s a position that the truth values of certain claims are unknown or unknowable. It is independent of atheism/theism. not an alternative to either.

            3) You’re missing an understanding of justified belief. This is the subject of epistemology, and ties in with agnosticism. Even if I go beyond atheism (a rejection of positive claims about gods) and affirm a positive belief in their non-existence, that doesn’t mean I’m claiming absolute certainty. It means I assess the claim to be justified. For what it’s worth, this is a position I tend to take with regards to gods.

            Anyway, I speak only for myself, but I think I’m pretty typical. I am a skeptical agnostic atheist. Skeptical in the sense that I think positive claims require evidence to justify belief and that the weight of the evidence required is proportional to the magnitude of the claim (had tuna for lunch? Your word is enough evidence for belief. Invisible dragon in your garage? I’m going to need a little more). I’m agnostic in the sense that I dont think that absolute knowledge is always possible. And atheistic in the sense that my skepticism prompts me to reject existential claims about the existence of gods since the required evidence has not been supplied to justify belief.

            Anyway to wrap it up, this is not remotely analogous to the Clinton “is” debate. You think atheists are all gnostic anti-theists, and you are arguing against that position. The problem is that few if any modern atheists hold those gnostic anti-theist viewpoints. That is why you are engaging in a straw-man argument.

            I can live with the bad grammar, but your views on what atheists think or believe is laughable, and it makes you look silly to be arguing against them.

    2. 31.2
      Kevin

      You managed to not capitalize anything except the name of the man who was famous for not capitalizing his name?

      How lame are you?

  32. 32
    Carlos Sutter

    Reading the Bible as the word of God chips away your ability to care for others. Eventually, you can end up like the psychopaths who wrote it.

  33. 33
    Lord Narf

    Alright guys, I’m done with this idiot. I’ve wasted enough time on him. I’m gonna go get some work done. Have fun with him.

  34. 34
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Scalia

    JS Mill’s Harm Principle. Straightforward clear distinction. You are legally welcome to your moral outrage against homosexuals, but we’ll call you an asshat. However, the intent of people to limit or injure homosexuals in some way is done out of mere outrage and malice. It is not done because of a calculation of preventing harm to others, nor is it calculated to grant benefits to others. Thus, it runs afoul of the Harm Principle. Thus it makes you wrong. And thus it makes you a complete asshat for suggesting it should be allowed in a country that values freedom and limited government.

  35. 35
    And How

    I have a question for Thomas. Is it your position that man cannot have morals if he was not created. I know this is not a direct comparison, but is along the same lines that a painting cannot be infused with color if there was no painter?

  36. 36
    ericvon germania

    Holy Belzebuth!!! I just woke up and have over 100 unread mails from AE!!! It is an all time record for my hotmail..hahahaha

    That Thomas guy has some good points though…but not well developed or inside some insipidities….We have to give him that he has a high stamina to debate at the same time like 5-6 atheists. But still I don’t believe that guy is for real…maybe is put here by AE to entertain or to look who will be his best opponent and reward that blogger with a price like assisting at the show as a guest…

    Anyway, is it just me or his example of Writers and Editors is reversed? The writer is the one who is looking for content focusing on ideas and the editor is the one who is looking for a perfect product focusing on presentation (spell check, album cover, etc) and not the other way around as he said.

    Matt should write more often here, he seems to be a good inspiration. :D

    1. 36.1
      Alicia

      You are correct regarding the writer/editor relationship. Steven King once indicated that his manuscripts often returned to him covered in red ink. With advancements in literary technology I am sure his reams are now e-forwarded with red notations in margins. As a creative spirit I wear many hats–one of them is freelance writer. I thank EOS for spellcheck and my editors–kind, patient souls who guide me through the process and help me convey my thoughts concisely and with coherency…too bad I can’t carry them around with me on forums and blogs ;-)

      1. ericvon germania

        any links to give us where we could read your things? :)

        1. Alicia

          My animations are here as well: http://youtu.be/4qD76RDoIBs

  37. 37
    Jern

    I think the point Scalia was trying to make has been lost on everyone here.

    1. 37.1
      Raging Bee

      And that point was…?

    2. 37.2
      Kevin

      No, we got it completely. He’s trying to make a case for the moral equivalence between murder and homosexuality.

      See, not difficult at all.

      Except they’re not equal, not in the eyes of the law or the Constitution he’s sworn to uphold. Only in the extremely narrow, religious sense are the two “equivalent” because in his primitive religion’s opinion, homosexuality is a “sin”, the same as murder.

      But so is eating shrimp, wearing clothes made of two different types of fabric, and shaving your sideburns.

      In modern times, eating shrimp is just fine and dandy…not a sin at all, and clearly not against anyone’s law. Homosexuality is in that in-between place — considered by some to be a sin (though not all agree), and not against the law.

      So, the stake here is just how much of a religious bigot is Scalia going to be in his decision-making with regard to the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America. Given his past opinions and his public statements, the answer is “quite a lot, actually.”

    3. 37.3
      Alicia

      Scalia himself may even be confused–poor thing…

    4. 37.4
      Sonorus

      No, we understand Scalia’s point quite well. He wrote the dissent in Lawrence v Texas. He thinks the government should be allowed to bust into your home and arrest you for engaging in unapproved sexual activities.

  38. 38
    Raging Bee

    If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder?

    I certainly can, and so can nearly everyone I’ve ever known in my entire life so far. Not sure what Scalia’s problem is here. Seriously, has Scalia actually met anyone who can’t condone gayness without condoning murder?

    What a stupid useless buffoon.

  39. 39
    Sesoron

    The word you want is “reductio”, not “reducto”. “Reducto” is a spell from Harry Potter, the frequentative version of “reduco”, and the masculine/neuter dative/ablative singular of the perfect passive participle of the same word. “Reductio” is the one that means “reduction”. Otherwise, brilliant post.

  40. 40
    Kevin

    I only take consolation that Scalia is 76 and morbidly obese, so is due any second now for his stroke. And that it’s quite likely that Obama will be nominating his replacement.

  41. 41
    Alicia

    I pray to whatever gods may be–ahahaha!

  42. 42
    Kes

    Just wanted to point out something Andrew Sullivan said about Scalia’s latest… vocalization: Yeah, you sure can have moral feelings about both homosexuality and murder, but your own court has held that even murderers have a right to be married, even while in prison, even while on death row, when there is no possibility of a conjugal visit to consumate the union. And this is a right that you, Justice Scalia, would deny homosexual couples because you have “moral feelings” that require them to have fewer rights than convicted murders. You dick.

    1. 42.1
      Alicia

      Ohhh high five, high five baby, HIGH FIVE!

    2. 42.2
      And How

      Excellent point !!!

    3. 42.3
      And How

      But I was wondering did Scalia himself vote that inmates should have a right to marry in prison or just the court he happens to be part of ?

      1. Alicia

        Not sure–for as long as I have been alive intimates have had the right–NOT telling you my age however–*ahem*

      2. steve84

        The case was Turner v. Safley in 1987:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turner_v._Safley

        Scalia voted with the majority

        1. And How

          Thank you for the information.

          I have asked several gay friends about their attraction to the same sex.

          They all gave very similiar answers in saying that homosexuality was not something they chose. They all said they simply were not sexually attracted to the opposite sex, but were sexually attracted to the same sex. All but one, had stories of terrible rejections by parents, siblings, friends, and co-workers.

          Does anyone out there believe that heterosexuals make a choice to be attracted to the opposite sex? Why can’t we wrap our minds around that homosexuality is an anomaly and that homsexuals do not make a choice to be attracted to the same sex and stop with the bigotry.

          I am not going to get into the Bible’s stance on this matter. I do not judge the people who lived in that day, they were doing the best they could with what they had to work with. But, let us get real we are talking about a culture that condoned slavery. Can we not accept that some of their prohibitions are not relevant for modern man as well.

          The tide is turning, and I see legalized marriage as something that will happen in the US. I think it will be a positive thing for gays and I think once everyone gets used to it that we’ll all wonder why this was such a big ordeal about nothing. I also believe America’s youth are much more understanding and accpeting of homosexuality. I see this as a positive thing.

          1. Alicia

            Thank you! My dad came out of the closet when I was a girl. This was in the early 70′s when it wasn’t in vogue to be gay and “out”. He was ostracized by his strict, religious, military dad. My father got into drugs and even attempted suicide. I have always asked those who said my dad made a choice that , if this was so, why not go back to being straight? He could have his father’s love–maybe not feel so depressed and elect suicide and drug use to dull the pain.

            In fact, of the men who commit suicide, a great majority are gay (something like 1/3rd if I am not mistaken). If it was choice–why not chose mainstream sexuality and live?

            This argument is just a way for homophobes to justify their hate…

            My dad’s bravery gave me the strength to be bi-sexual and proud. I only wish he could have lived to see gays marrying in Washington and abroad ( he died in 2004 of AIDS)…

          2. And How

            Alicia:

            I am sorry about the loss of your Dad. My heart goes out to that you had to deal with the chaos your grandfather caused your father as well.

          3. Alicia

            It was a mixed bag, but I credit the experience with becoming a free thinker later in life…and thank you :-)

          4. Sonorus

            “I remember well being in jr high and thinking, ‘What could I do to get myself beaten up even more! I know! I’ll be GAY!’” said no one ever.

          5. Alicia

            @Sonorus and don’t you just love the modern day advice of not acting gay so you won’t be bullied. Kind of like that whole, don’t wear that dress so you won’t get attacked. That’s right everybody–let’s all live in fear as opposed to telling the folks who bad shit not to do bad shit (or at least not justifying it when they do and locking their tookuses up)…SMH.

  43. 43
    Gretchen

    I don’t understand why the comment thread is all about atheism. Nowhere in this post was the existence or non-existence of God mentioned. Nor is there any reason why this post could not have been written, word for word, by a theist.

    1. 43.1
      Raging Bee

      The reason for all the talk of atheism is that some airhead named Thomas spouted a huge heap of theosophistry to try and prove…um…well, I’m not sure what the hell he was trying to prove, ’cause none of it went anywhere in any way.

      And besides, we’re now on a Second Amendment thread-jack. Do try to keep up.

      1. Alicia

        ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!

      2. Lord Narf

        He went off on some tangent about how we can’t have morality without some sort of external (by which he seems to mean external to the universe) authority that also legislates the laws of physics. It’s typical apologist bullshit which was ripped apart hundreds of years ago.

        1. Alicia

          which only makes you want to go off all the more, dude, how many times have we heard this–I mean, Really.? REALLY?

          No wonder Matt goes off as much as he does…

    2. 43.2
      Sonorus

      1) It’s an atheist blog.

      2) The only argument against same sex marriage is a religious one, therefore, the discussion will inevitably become about belief or lack thereof.

  44. 44
    ivarhusa

    Well said, Matt.

  45. 45
    dukeofomnium

    How about, ““If we cannot have moral feelings about gun possession…”

    1. 45.1
      Alicia

      perfect!!!!

    2. 45.2
      MCB

      It’s important to keep those elipses. They show that you are the second coming of E.E. Cummings.

    3. 45.3
      MCB

      The E.E. Cummings thing was actually my favorite moment of the whole exchange. I love how every troll who is either too lazy, stupid or ignorant to write a complete sentence defends themselves by pretending to be a poet. As if E.E. Cummings wrote poetry by slapping the first random thought that crossed his mind onto a page with no regard for clarity, precision, or beauty.

      1. Alicia

        Hey, I resemble that remark–not the whole comparing myself to E.E. Cummings thang, but via literary laziness. I write for a living so when I got into forums I tend to let myself go. My biggest thing is “–” . Years of writing screenplays have me placing “–” everywhere in after thought, including where commas and periods should be. I try to correct it when I notice it.

        1. MCB

          It’s one thing to spend less time on a forum post than on your professional work. I wouldn’t turn the typo laden drivel I have posted in here in to a judge. It’s another thing to write incomprehensibly and then expect you reader to do the work for you because you are fighting the man just like E.E. Cummings.

          1. Alicia

            ROFLMAO!!!! I hear yah…

          2. Alicia

            LOL–I hear yah…:-)

          3. Alicia

            Doh! @#%$!!! Frickin computer…

  46. 46
    Alicia

    HEADS UP–Facebook has stared a KEEP PRAYER IN SCHOOL PETITION that already has over 100K signatures on it–can we start a counter–keep prayer out of schools petition and promote it on TAE???

    http://www.causes.com/causes/786688-put-prayers-back-in-our-schools/actions/1661603?causes_ref=email&recruiter_id=152511460&template=activity_invitation_mailer%2Factivity_invitation&utm_campaign=invite&utm_medium=email&utm_source=causes

    1. 46.1
      Alicia

      *started

      1. Misty

        I just started one. Keep Prayer and church out of public schools.

    2. 46.2
      Misty

      Thank you, I still have 2 children in school and do not want this in schools, they have church and homes for that.

      1. Alicia

        Misty you be awesome–post a link and I will sign up. I know online petitions don’t have much power–however, I want to symbolically show that religious punks can’t bully agnostics and atheists around! We will not allow them to take us backwards!

        I am raising my ids agnostic and I certainly don’t want religion hit over their heads in school. Folks have the right to pray privately–they just don’t have the right to make everyone bow to their god over the loud speakers.

    3. 46.3
      jacobfromlost

      Prayer has NEVER been outlawed from schools. At appropriate times and places that do not disrupt classes, students can pray individually or in student led groups voluntarily.

      If a group of students voluntarily get together before class, in the hall, on the front lawn, around the school flag pole, in the cafeteria, ANYWHERE that doesn’t disrupt classes or the learning environment, it is perfectly legal (just like any other activity, like talking to each other, reading a book, or staring into space).

      If a student wants to silently pray in class after his or her work is completed, LEGAL.
      If a student asks others to meet him or her at lunch for a prayer, and the others agree and show up, LEGAL.
      Even if a student, at appropriate times, wants to engage another student in reasons why that student should join Religion ABC, LEGAL, as long as the other student is receptive/willing. As soon as the other student says, “Not interested”, they must stop. (It’s harrassment after that And if this behavior becomes a disruptive problem–such as going through every student in the school and asking them if they heard the good news of Jesus until the learning environment is disrupted–it must also stop.)

      If a student decides to pray instead of doing his or her work in class, ILLEGAL.
      If a student demands anyone pray with him or her, ILLEGAL.
      If a teacher leads a prayer for students, ILLEGAL.
      If an administrator leads a prayer for students, ILLEGAL.
      If a coach, cafeteria worker, or janitor leads a prayer for students, ILLEGAL.

      The laws, as they are, exhibit everyday common sense, allow for everyone’s equal freedom and certainly does NOT outlaw prayer in schools.

      It outlaws adults in authority (under employ of the state) from forcing particular prayers on students who may not share the same views or religions.

      And I have a feeling those people signing those petitions would suddenly agree with the law as-is when the Muslim teacher decides to have everyone pray in the direction of Mecca 5 times a day, Allah Akbar!

      1. Alicia

        Yep, that is the point we need to make over and over again. We should also ask them to look up the law if they are in doubt. I am sure intelligent theist will back off then. Then there will be that subset who think blacks, illegals, working women and gays are destroying good ole fashioned Amarika…these folks will never be swayed with logic or reason. Let’s hope they are the minority of the fringe.

  47. 47
    mamba24

    You should be worried when a supreme court justice uses logic like this.

  48. 48
    Misty

    I don’t really know where to go here, but this is about your debate with Abdu Murray, awesome job you did. but something has been nagging me since i watched it on you tube. proven fact: sharks may not rape other sharks, But Dolphins do. Dolphins will kidnap females, kill their calf’s, hold them captive for months at a time and yes rape them. it’s something someone would not have to dig to far to find. you can actually watch it happening and taking place on animal planet. so if that ever comes up again, no sharks not not, but Dolphins, all sorts of chimps, monkeys, apes, and cats. a male cat has to rape a female cat, that’s why they make so much noise. I think Abdu was a much nicer guy than the other debate I watched, I forgot his name. “is god real” . my point animals us included do, do a lot of the same things that are wrong. big thank you to you Matt for all you do, along with everyone else from The Atheist Experience. you guys Rock

    1. 48.1
      sonorus

      Too many people’s ideas about animal behavior comes from Disney cartoons and not from first hand knowledge or documentaries showing how animals truly interact.

  49. 49
    Willy

    Actions that endanger our species or our social order are most of the time labeled as wrong. Humans are a social species and as such, social order provides us with better survival odds than anarchy.It was easier for our ancestor to kill a threatning tiger in a team than doing it alone. The same for hunting. People that could work and live with others survived better than solitary people that were easy prey in the savannah with few places to hide.

    Therefore, gene patterns that permit a brain capable of establishing moral codes necessary for social order are passed along generations. To evolve complex societies demands we evolve complex moral codes.

    There’s no need for gods, theologians, or some voo-doo stuff to do that job, nature does it by itself. Be informed that morals are not even unique to humans (some theists may argue that only humans have morals and that if evolution did it, there ought to be other species with morals as well). But only humans have complex morals because they are the only ones that live in complex societies. See this article for more info
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/09/0917_030917_monkeyfairness.html

    There are other reasons as well as why we develop complex morals such as the economy or even techonology (cloning, stem cells), but evolution seems to be the fundamental one. Unfortunately for theists, religion or god isn’t one. On the contrary, religion is a danger to our civilization rather than being a solution for our problems.

  50. 50
    Misty

    I should have added this to my comment above, i did not mean animals are bad, I was just naming some that does some of the same things bad people do. there are animals that do and feel sadness and loss just as we do. when i see an elephant cry, I cry. when they lose one of their own they do very many heartbreaking things that you can’t help but feel their sadness. they literally cry, each one will touch and pretty much say their goodbyes for a while before moving on, and each year they will return to that very site. other animals do some of the same. I had 2 ferrets for 8 years, one died of brain tumor, my other grieved her self to death and nothing we could do to help or save her. we’re all animals some people just can not except that . you don’t have to post this on here since it’s off the subject of this blog, I just wanted to correct myself. Thanks

  51. 51
    AtheistSteve

    Happy New Year Everyone.

    That whole exchange above with Thomas was painful. I just got around to reading this post today. But during this downtime between episodes of TAE I have been watching Scott Cliftons’ YouTube videos, thanks to you Matt, and I think he nailed it on the morality issue and yes he did credit Hume on the Is-Ought problem.

    Thomas is trying to argue what OUGHT be moral. Moral oughts don’t exist. Every example we can point to, theistic included, states or describes what IS moral. Secular moral conclusions, I hesitate to use the term absolutes, are arrived at using facts, reason, empathy, compassion, ameliorating harm and an evaluation of costs/benefits to society and the individual. What IS moral is predicated on the analysis and determination of what we ought or ought not do, not the other way around.

    The Bible tries somewhat unsuccessfully to describe what IS moral. The problem for Thomas is that he can’t come up with a coherent explanation for why a biblical moral OUGHT must be. “God wishes it” is an appeal to authority and totally ignores doing a situational evaluation of the possible consequences. Thus God can decree that something is morally “good” despite it being demonstrably harmful or deleterious to general well-being. In fact the Bible has numerous examples of God doing exactly that
    Thomas might argue that history shows whole societies have held standards of morality that are appalling to us today. The practice of cannabalism for instance has been raised. Did people who partook in cannabalism believe their actions were morally good? Possibly although I would lay odds that many were just going along with the rest out of fear of ending up as lunch. In any case the reasoning behind their actions were clearly not based on the examination and evaluation of consequences to general well being. Absorbing the power of their victims or appeasing some deity remains, just like with the biblical God, divorced from providing an ought or ought not explanation based on facts, reason, empathy, compassion, ameliorating harm or an evaluation of costs/benefits to society and the individual.

    This is just one example of how secular morality is superior. Using the above mentioned evaluation methodology ensures that we can justify and have quantifiable reasons for labelling something as moral or immoral. Under the worldview held by Thomas the justification for what we ought or ought not do is ambiguous and arbitrary. Gods’ whim as it were. The secular method of determining what is or isn’t moral provides a path of clarity and specificity to what is actually true and that is a very reassuring foundation for my worldview. My moral center is determined by tangible, predictable causes and effects based in reality. Something that my Catholic upbringing failed utterly at providing.

    Well that’s my rant. Can’t wait for Jan. 6 and the return of TAE. Alas I’ll have to wait a bit longer for the uploaded video because the live stream is too choppy on my internet connection. For those of you who didn’t catch Matt mentioning Scott Clifton I highly recommend checking out his YouTube channel Theoretical Bullshit. He’s a smart guy too but I still prefer your style, Matt.
    Aaaaand—You’re done!

    1. 51.1
      AtheistSteve

      Oh….and the Atheist Experience ought to have Scott on as a guest host.
      Just sayin’

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