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Q: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . . ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   71 Comments )
Question  
Subject: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
Category: Science > Social Sciences
Asked by: timespacette-ga
List Price: $12.00
Posted: 27 Nov 2004 23:33 PST
Expires: 27 Dec 2004 23:33 PST
Question ID: 434964
What is the psychological coping mechanism needed for a person to
reconcile two wildly disparate personal values?

For example (from my perspective) someone who supports the Bush
Administration and it's movement toward ongoing war, juxtaposed with
this same person identifying himself or herself as a devout Christian
and striving to live by the central message of the Prince of Peace?

What does such a person have to do psychologically to accomplish this
and maintain some semblance of personal integrity?

I would like a researcher to answer because I am asking out of real
curiosity, not just as a rhetorical exercise . . . but, of course,
there's always the peanut gallery . . . commentary is welcome from GA
Holy Rollers and 'militant athiests' alike . . .

Request for Question Clarification by omnivorous-ga on 02 Dec 2004 12:37 PST
Timespacette --

I actually have an explanation of humans ability to rationalize
seemingly conflicting views. It's based on Antonio Damasio's work,
best represented in "Descarte's Error":
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0380726475/102-9567084-2762523?v=glance

Note that I'm not a neurologist (like Damasio) but rather a computer
marketing guy.  But if you think that it would be interesting reading,
I'll whip up an answer.

Best regards,

Omnivorous-GA

Clarification of Question by timespacette-ga on 02 Dec 2004 21:13 PST
sure, why not?  

I'm just back to being able to access my computer

quite an interesting thread going here

will write more tomorrow; exhausted tonight.

ts
Answer  
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
Answered By: omnivorous-ga on 03 Dec 2004 09:49 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
 
Timespacette --

In fiction writers have explored what life is like when "logic" alone
directs us.  Commander Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) in the Star
Trek series was created to represent what a character would do in a
life led by logic, not emotion.

Startrek.com
"Aliens," (Undated)
http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/library/aliens/article/70753.html

However, Spock notes:

"Vulcans do not LACK emotion. This is an all too common misconception.
It is merely that our emotions are controlled, kept in check. This
adherence to principles of logic offers a serenity that humans rarely
experience in full."
Spock
"Quotations" (Undated)
http://www.marketaz.co.uk/StarTrek/Vulcan/Spock.html

So the writers had to create a later character, Data, who really
represented life without emotion, as the Startrek.com link above
notes.

But the reality is that life is stranger than fiction.


THE NEUROLOGISTS
==================

Over the past 15 years, three neurologists have written about how
different centers of the brain function.  They are carrying on the
work started 150 years ago by Paul Broca in France and Carl Wernicke
in Germany by looking at people with brain damage due to accident or
disease.  As a result, we've learned quite a bit about how each
section of the brain works.  The best-known are Harold Klawans, a
Chicago neurologist who died in 1997, who was the author of:
"Defending the Cavewoman"
"Toscanini's Fumble"
"Newton's Madness"
"Why Michael Couldn't Hit"

And Oliver Sacks, author of "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,"
"An Anthropologist on Mars," and "The Island of the Colorblind."

And finally, the neurologist whose work comes closest to a scientific
explanation for human decision-making: Antonio Damasio, head of the
University of Iowa College of Medicine.  Damasio's book, "Descartes
Error," describes what happens to people when a small part of the
fontal lobe of the brain is damaged and their emotions are lost.

Conventional wisdom, honed by years of watching Star Trek, would be
that they would become a bit colder but that they would shift
emotional energy into stronger reasoning skills.  The reality is very
different.


FRONTAL DAMAGE TO THE BRAIN
=============================

People with damage here turn into "rational fools."  The lose
emotions, reacting the same to bad news as to good news, becoming what
we'd call "flat" emotionally.  Yet, they test as well in psychological
and intelligence tests, suffer no reduction in memory or change in
speech.

Still, they become socially dysfunctional, losing inhibitions and the
strangest of all -- they become paralytically indecisive.  In becoming
so cold-blooded about weighing all of the facts, these patients cannot
make up their minds.

In Damasio's book he opens with the description of Phineas P. Gage, a
25-year old railroad foreman who is injured in a construction
explosion in Vermont in 1848.  After damage to the frontal lobe of the
brain, Gage goes from being "the most efficient and capable" man in
the railroad crews, to being "fitful, irreverent, indulging at times
in the grossest profanity which was not previously his custom,
manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of
restraint or advice when it conflicts with his desires, at times
pertinaciously obstinate, yet capricious and vacillating, devising
many plans of future operation, which are no sooner arranged than they
are abandoned."

Gage goes from a life of prosperity to one where his life unravels. 
Damasio says, "The problem was not lack of physical ability or skill;
it was his new character."

And Gage's symptoms are reflected in modern patients that Damasio has
seen: he tells an amusing story of a patient who arrived by car in an
ice storm, wholly unaware of the danger of the trip -- though he'd
seen countless cars and truck spin off into the ditch.  It was because
they were "not following these proper, rational procedures" for
driving on ice, the patient told him.  And when a woman ahead spun
into a ditch, the patient continued on (driving rationally) rather
than stopping to lend assistance.



WHAT EMOTIONS CONTROL
========================

Damasio's book, written in 1994, starts to address the issue from
medical research and gaming.  He notes that the "frontal" patients are
notoriously bad at risk assessment in card games, not seeing the
penalties of high-risk bets that are normally seen by others.  They
also seem to be poor at envisioning potential risks, so would not
perceive any threat to being followed down a dark street by a
stranger.

And, of course, their lack of emotional response makes social
interaction difficult.

Matt Ridley, an English science writer, takes the ideas a little
further in his 1996 book, "The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and
The Evolution of Cooperation."  Ridley's book, which is much more
readable, reviews some of the same research as Damasio and comes to
many additional conclusions:
?	human beings are programmed to judge others by their altruism
?	people are risk-averse, particularly with respect to their personal reputation
?	humans are very sensitive to "cheating" in social situations, more
sensitive than even to "logical" choices


CONFLICTING ISSUES
===================

This brings us back to your original question: "What is the
psychological coping mechanism needed for a person to reconcile two
wildly disparate personal values?"

My conclusion, based on the research, is that it's an emotional
decision coming from the frontal lobe.  While neither Ridley nor
Damasio go as far as to pin down all of the aspects of those emotional
decisions, it's what guides us instantaneously when we face a
controversial or conflicting issue.  And, of course, that's what makes
for different reactions even among those who share the same religion
and political party or perhaps the same family background.

Ridley notes that people often don't make the rational decision and
uses the example of "should we fly or should we drive" as an example. 
Most people would choose the "drive" option because of the fear of
flying, though statistically commercial flights are FAR safer than
driving.

Note that there are some clues in the research about why our political
campaigns are so emotional:
?	the human sensitivity to "cheating" makes attack campaigns extremely
logical from the standpoint of political advantage.
?	wrapping a campaign in political symbols and "code words" is an
effective way of communicating with potential supporters
?	body language is important, particularly in the world of mass media

Google search strategy:
"descarte's error" damasio
Ridley "origins of virtue"


Best regards,

Omnivorous-GA

Clarification of Answer by omnivorous-ga on 04 Dec 2004 08:57 PST
TS --

I'd highly recommend Ridley's book "The Origins of Virtue" for a start
in this area of human reasoning, the brain and emotion.  Lots of this
correlates with the real-life experience of advertisers, not just
campaign managers (mothers, babies and bunnies are known to be
evocative).  I suspect that this area of brain has enjoyed the benefit
of additional research in the last 8 to 9 years but I haven't seen
another good overview.  And I don't mean to scare you off Damasio's
book: it's really well-written and draws in literature to explain the
"emotion of reasoning."

Thanks for your kind comments.  I certainly found this research
interesting -- and the explanations counter-intuitive.

Best regards,

O.

Request for Answer Clarification by timespacette-ga on 05 Dec 2004 12:39 PST
hi crythias,

yes, I realize that.

my question is really "is it ethically right" rather than legally right.

often there's a difference

ts

Clarification of Answer by omnivorous-ga on 05 Dec 2004 16:05 PST
!
timespacette-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Hey Omni!
I'm finally back in the saddle here, probably with a few less brains
cells because of our problem with paint fumes in the house. (I hope
they weren't cells from the frontal lobes!)
Thanks for your contribution here; it's a good start, and a very
interesting conclusion, one that every good campaign manager
understands innately. It's quite a trick though, to appeal to people's
emotions AND their sense of integrity . . . and it seems to me that an
election in times like these is a kind of litmus test of the national
psyche.  I wish we had a way of gauging many more complex indices (. .
. way beyond I.Q.) of our society as a whole, but that seems to be
beyond the scope of humans because our emotional drivers are so in
control!
Speaking of drivers, if it were an option, I would choose to walk over
either driving  or flying!
Anyway, thanks for your contribution and I think the conversation will
continue . . .  below . . .
five cheers!
ts

Comments  
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: frde-ga on 28 Nov 2004 04:13 PST
 
How about militant an-theists ?

I figure that the 'books' are a bit like a bran barrel.

You fish around for something that supports your objective, and after
a few goes one is bound to come up with the goods.

It is just a matter of being selective.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: augusta-ga on 28 Nov 2004 05:22 PST
 
OK. Here is my shot at it...

Perhaps at some point these people make an important shift in their
identity. They attach themselves to these systems and groups and
derive ego gratification from this relationship.

They ascribe to these systems inherent goodness and even divine
sanction. It then becomes unnecessary to analyze in detail the
activities and contradictions of these inherently good systems. They
relax intellectually and take comfort in the simplistic notion that
they are "on God's side".
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: timespacette-ga on 28 Nov 2004 08:25 PST
 
thanks augusta!  it's a start . . .

frde, are you referring to the 'books' of the Bible? Or . . . ?

ts
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: nelson-ga on 28 Nov 2004 08:28 PST
 
Obviously these people (about 1/2 of the populace) are in need of professional help.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 28 Nov 2004 09:56 PST
 
You could ask me, personally. I would rather not be the subject of a
Question, directly or indirectly.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: frde-ga on 28 Nov 2004 10:21 PST
 
<quote>
frde, are you referring to the 'books' of the Bible? Or . . . ?
</quote>

Yup - the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud, any printed material will do,
Marx is useful and the I Ching is nifty.

Augusta made an interesting point - not exactly what you are asking -
but roughly translated
  'the prodigal son becomes priest on re-admittance to the tribe'

Or in the vernacular - 'there is nothing as nasty as a convert'
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 28 Nov 2004 10:24 PST
 
Respectfully, it is an easy justification for *me*. As *I* understand
the values that a candidate holds, those values align with mine, thus
I support that candidate. Those values also happen to align, more or
less, with my belief system. They aligned with one party a lot more
than the other party, who did not seem to represent the beliefs that I
hold important.

If the belief system is extrapolated to war vs. peace... That is, the
supposition that one who brings war is in contrast to "the Prince of
Peace", I need only point to the King who has a history of bringing
war against other peoples. Since the Prince is self-identifying with
the King, the two cannot be in conflict. Also, I believe that those
who bear the sword do not wield it in vain. If you do no wrong, you
have nothing to worry about. If you do wrong, then consequences must
occur. How then should justice be meted out? An act of God? Locusts?
Plagues? Boils? Or by the governments that have been set in place, as
some believe (as I do), by God.

If a reasearcher wants the money, they are welcome to copy and paste
this comment as an answer. However, I think an Editor should consider
whether a Question like this should be on GA.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: pinkfreud-ga on 28 Nov 2004 11:13 PST
 
It baffles me that many non-Christians (and a few professing
Christians, too) assume that one must be a pacifist if one is a
Christian. The "turn the other cheek" dictum does not necessarily
apply to nations.

When Jesus spoke directly to a Roman centurion (at Capernaum), He had
an excellent opportunity to assail the sinfulness of being a soldier.
However, He said nothing of the man's occupation, nor of the evils of
war, but spoke instead of the centurion's great faith.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: pinkfreud-ga on 28 Nov 2004 11:22 PST
 
There's a well-written essay here about the question of whether
Christians must be pacifists:

http://www.davidwarrenonline.com/SunSpec/Jan02/index18.shtml
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: digsalot-ga on 28 Nov 2004 11:53 PST
 
Your question is not a new one.  You are not the first to ask it.  The
way it is phrased makes the assumption of a "clearly defined" set of
values.

Regardless of how much we wish to believe our values 'are' clear cut, they are not.

Our values are most often 'blends'- and the way we tie them together
often makes up the philosphical gulfs we find between us.

It would seem that in the US, many Christians have melded their faith
in God with a faith in the absolute righteousness of the nation in
which they live. In this country, what has been a long-standing belief
in America's exceptionalism and superiority endures.  It has become a
national hubris. We have perhaps reached the point where, the timeless
message of the Gospels is subordinated to the self-interest of
American citizens and their nation.  Quite an interesting concept in a
country whose political structure was designed to prevent the
government from establishing an official religion.

So it would seem that many American Christians filter their faith
through their allegiance to the country - through their patriotism. 
Forgiveness is tied together with retribution. Mercy, is tied with
recrimination. Our claim to being open and hospitable, tied with our
vilification of immigrants. Our hope, tied to political prudence.
Perhaps even our stewardship, wedded to the concept of cultural
domination. The dignity of the individual bound with co-modification
of human life. Justice, often equals privatization. Violence,
frequently equals patriotism. And last but certainly not least, the
Reign of God, with international economic power.

Now while this may strike some as arcane political theory, it can
simply be called the "Americanization of Jesus" with the subsequent
blending of faith and patriotism as though the two were one and the
same.

It may very well be the question itself which is the elephant in the room.

It is also not just an exclusive question for Christians.  Many of us
who are not Christian are facing the same evolution of our beliefs,
ethics, and divinities due to the unique pressures of American
religious culture being tied to patriotic duty.

I am not trying to give an answer.  Just trying, to perhaps, suggest a reason.

Cheers
Digsalot
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: pinkfreud-ga on 28 Nov 2004 12:46 PST
 
Another thing to consider is that, in the recent presidential
election, there were issues other than the war in Iraq.

Several Supreme Court appointments may be looming. The influence of a
President often lives far beyond his term in the decisions of his
appointees to the Supreme Court. The prospect of possibly overturning
Roe v. Wade was, I think, a factor for many of the "values" voters.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: timespacette-ga on 28 Nov 2004 18:27 PST
 
Pink,
I know the 'values voters' do have that issue, but the numbers don't add up:

quote: " . . . the results of a Zogby poll of 10,000 voters conducted
after the election and released Nov. 9. . . . In that poll, when
surveyed voters were asked to list the moral issue that most affected
their vote, the Iraq war placed first at 42 percent, while 13 percent
named abortion and 9 percent named gay marriage." Apparently 42% or so
thought the war in Iraq was a top priority. If we're going to discuss
this, I would like to stick to this one issue: that of professed
Christianity and voting in favor of a party that pushes a war agenda.
(the general question still remains . . .)

In David Warren's article he says at the end: "Must a Christian be a
pacifist?" I am not trying to answer this question, because it cannot
be answered. It is as fatuous as the question, "Must a Christian be a
warmonger?"   Sounds like he's ducking the question to me. As a few
commenters have pointed out, we all look for what will justify our
deeply-held desires.  Fatuous?  I don't think so. It's like saying
'oh, THAT elephant!  pay no attention to HIM . . ."

He also says:  " Nowhere in the Gospels, nor in the rest of the New
Testament, will you find any consideration at all of the great issues
of war and peace; of what constitutes a legitimate authority; even of
what are the limits of the state (except by inference). Christ did not
come to give us civics lessons. He came to be crucified, and
resurrected; to show us "the other side of the coin" -- the love we
owe to God and to our neighbour."

Again . . . I really wonder about this writers selective
interpretation of Jesus' message . . . .  even within this paragraph
he contradicts himself - - "he came to show us the 'other side of the
coin'  -- the love we owe to God and to our neighbor"  . . . . 
couldn't this be logically interpreted to mean "hey, don't bomb the
living daylights out of them!"     I don't want to get into a game of
'site the scripture', but it seems to me that the basic tenets are
pretty clear cut . . .  even though, as disalot pointed out, we may or
may not actually truly value those tenets.

seems like crythias just wants to disappear the elephant . . . at
least off of Google Answers

ts
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 28 Nov 2004 20:29 PST
 
I'm sorry, I just don't think that specifying that I need a
psychological coping mechanism to justify my belief set is a necessary
and proper use of Google Answers. That I take personal offense to, and
rightly so.

You, timespacette-ga, are so smug about this question, and I am really
appalled that my personal thought processes are fodder for discussion
on a site that otherwise has real value to people.

Further, the problem that I have in presenting any position is that
you, timespacette-ga, ignore it completely. It is futile to debate
when ones opponent  changes the subject constantly.

Do I want "to disappear the elephant"? No. Someone once said, "it is
the sickening grammar that they use  . . ." ack.

My position is quite simple, really. A soldier's job is to kill people
and break things. Jesus recognized that a job is a job, and it was
important to obey one's  employer. Jesus didn't do anything to
dissuade the government from doing its job of raising armies to kill
people and break things.

There is a true difference between diplomacy and community. Diplomacy
is the art of telling someone that they have an open mind, instead of
telling them their head is full of holes. Community is the art of
working together for the purpose of the common good.

One person's view of insanity is doing the same thing over and over
expecting different results. I cannot expect that any discussion I can
bring in an orderly fashion will positively affect the fears and
animosity you, timespacette-ga, have toward me. The difference is that
I'll call you to task for using this inappropriate forum to criticize
my viewpoints. I will name you directly, and not refer to you in an
offhanded third-person remark, and I will not use GA to ask,
essentially, "How can timespacette-ga be so obnoxious and dumb?"
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: timespacette-ga on 29 Nov 2004 15:11 PST
 
dear crythias,

I apologize for speaking about you in the third person. Your comment,
which ended with "I think an Editor should consider whether a Question
like this should be on GA." gave the impression that you had said your
piece and wished it would all go away.

the thing is, crythias, every time we have an exchange you can't seem
to refrain from some form of name-calling, and who needs that?  no
one, myself included, is obligated to engage you in this discussion .
. .

a few points:
a) the question wasn't aimed at you personally. If you identify
yourself in it, then that's your problem. I know plenty of people who
fit the bill, believe me.
b) it was a valid and honest question and the example I used comes
from my own personal experience of being baffled by what to me looks
like a disparity of values.
c) I would prefer to have a dialogue in which I am not automatically
seen as an adversary or an opponent; we're all learning to do this,
okay?  (thank you Pink, for pointing this out)
d) obviously the answer to this particular conundrum is that, for
Christians who do think Jesus was a pacifist, probably the
explanations that augusta and digsalot offered hold true. For
Christians who have interpreted the Bible in a way that they beleive
Jesus' message does not include very definite guidelines about how we
treat each other in this world (or somehow, justiifies it to mean that
we can continue to kill each other) then it's a moot point, isn't it? 
They don't have the problem of disparity of values.

We all find what we need in the 'bran barrel' !

ts
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 29 Nov 2004 18:56 PST
 
I didn't think I called names. I mean I guess "smug" was a name.
Actually, I think it was an adjective (adverb?) instead of a noun, so
... well, whatever. The last sentence was an example as (I felt, in my
sense of defensive paranoia) a simplified version of the current
question posed.

Nope, I guess you're right. You have no obligation to respond to me. 

If I may ... there is an interesting something else. Why would any of
us Christians need police? I mean, if according to some experts, evil
is relative, then what do we need police for?

I know this is beyond the scope of the question. It just came to me
that on a neighborhood scale, police need to exist to keep order. Of
course, this has nothing to do with military and killing people. Or
does it? Is the safety of an individual home different from the safety
of a country? If police raid a known crackhouse on the best
information they and the surrounding jurisdictions have, and the house
has nothing bad at the time of takedown, what should I do as a
Christian? Should I be mad that the crackhouse was seized even though
no crack was found on the property? I know it's a crackhouse. I see
users go in and out. I see the smoke. I see the surrounding
neighborhood gripped in fear of being robbed or murdered. In the
process of taking down the crackhouse, there was a shootout. Some
users were killed and the owner of the crackhouse was found and taken
into custody. But while this event was occurring, there were 50% of
the people in the crackhouse district who didn't want the crackhouse
to be taken down. I'm a Christian. I don't want a crackhouse in my
neighborhood. I vote to keep a strong sheriff who will continue to
take down this and the next crackhouse, even if it means some users
will die in the process, protecting the crackhouse, even if it means
some gang members who are in neighboring districts will come in to the
area to fill the void left by the outgoing crack ownership.

All this and no illegal drugs found. That's the neighborhood. As a
Christian, what then is my position to be? I don't like the influence
that crack has in that neighborhood, but I'm in two neighborhoods
over. It doesn't really affect me, but it might sometime soon.

Meanwhile, the gangs fight the cops. It's an ongoing battle for
territory in a small area totally scarred by the infighting... more
gang members come in to take turf. ...

In the mean time, what am I to do with my Christianity? I can love the
gang members all I want, even try to start communicating with the
fringe. Be there for them. Provide food and comfort for them while
they fight the police. At some point, I have to choose to be father to
my children, husband to my wife, and allow the police to do a job that
will keep me safe.

All that I take very logically on the micro scale and apply "Sheriff"
to "President" and "Police" to "Military" in the macro scale and find
it not that hard to hold both religious and national belief sets.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: fractl-ga on 29 Nov 2004 20:31 PST
 
Timespacette, I have also wondered how one can justify, through
religion, something that directly opposes it.  I don?t subscribe to
any faith; if it can?t be proven it does not exist, in my mind.  From
this vantage point it difficult to understand the reasoning behind
many ?religiously? based decisions.  One of the reasons I voted
against bush was because I was scared off by the idea of this country
being led not by a President, but by his religion.  That may be a
comfort to those who are familiar with that religion, but for me its
terrifying to hear words like ?God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I
struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam?
[http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A37944-2003Jun26?language=printer]
I?m sure you would feel a little nervous if I were the president and I
claimed that my deity told me do something that puts the lives and
reputation of this country at risk.

On the other hand, I disagree with the tactless way this question was
stated and the context from which it came about
[http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=434100].  Although I
find it difficult to understand the concept of ?faith??to blindly
follow what is told to you.  I do NOT consider those who have a
religion to be stupid (which seemed to be the indirect implication of
some of the charts/dialogue between that question and this one)!  The
thing I detest most about religion is that it seems to breed
intolerant people.  This isn?t something that is taught or encouraged;
it?s a natural human response to the feeling that they are ?right?
that they have the answer!  For this reason I have found that atheists
are the least tolerant of all.

Here is my view of this religion vs. violence paradox:  The one
central theme to all the worlds? major religions IS peace and
tolerance.  ?Love thy neighbor?, ?do unto others?? there are a
countless number of sayings, rules and stories that spell out the same
moral.  Yet, students of these religions envy, hate, and kill other
people in the name of their god(s).  My theory is: we?re only human.

 I look upon the teachings of various religions as I would a fairy
tale.  I assume the characters to be fictitious, the plot can be on
the extreme side, but the moral of the story is usually unmistakably
clear.  The morals are what constitute a religion, Adam, Eve, Jesus,
God, Noah?if all of these characters were just a myth the morals (and
thus the religion) would still survive, the rituals would suffer a bit
however.
My interpretation of the story of Jesus is much different than what
most others see it as.  To me the moral was ?peace only works if
everyone is peaceful?otherwise the pacifist dies first?.  If Jesus did
die for the sins of the next generations it was because he knew that a
sinless life would kill them all.  If anyone lived strictly by all the
morals set by a religion they would be cutting off their own fingers
to feed the starving.

Peace is a dream, and not a bad one.  But it is important to be able
to know when the dream stops and reality begins.  Those that
contradict their own religion should not be criticized; they are the
ones that are capable of making their own decisions.  It?s the people
who use religion as a weapon, people who try to defend their actions
by hiding behind religious ideals; people who intentionally misread
those morals that make my skin crawl.  And people like that seem to be
contagious.

If I heard the president say ?My religion tells me not to kill?my
religion teaches tolerance?but for the best interests of the people I
have to take action? I would respect that decision and, of course,
listen to the rest of that imaginary speech explaining,
point-by-point, why these steps are unavoidable.  Sadly that?s not
what I hear, I hear from our president, and from many of his
supporters, that God defends this decision and one should not question
God.

I understand the frustration a non-Christian has in this country,
especially now when the lines between patriotism, violence and
religion are beginning to look like a Celtic knot.  I know many people
who support the war because they never liked people from the
middle-east and I feel that the jump from Afghanistan to Iraq
capitalized on the mindset of those people.  It is not appropriate,
however, to allow that frustration to justify insulting those with
faith.  The wording of this question is inappropriate and it says, in
so many words ?how can you be so stupid??  I?m sure the poster was
aware that asking for a ?psychological coping mechanism? is not the
most pleasant way to put that.

As I said before I am interested in hearing from a ?Holy Roller?
regarding this question.  I hope this can turn into a serious
discussion and not a medium to insult each other.  Perhaps a
clarification of the question to something like ?How can a religion
that teaches peace be used to justify war??  or ?Is it possible to
follow the teachings of Christianity and the decisions of the Bush
administration without contradiction??.  Even these seem to stating my
opinion rather than asking for others? ?if you can think of a better
way to introduce this question this may become a very enlightening
conversation.

-Fractl
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: timespacette-ga on 30 Nov 2004 17:30 PST
 
(same comment I posted on 'church and state')

dear fractl,

thanks for your great comments

I hope to continue this conversation, but we're remodelling and this
week the house is wreaking of oil-based paint, causing headaches,
nausea . . .  can't stay in to work on my computer.

I hope you stay tuned; I should be back in action by the end of this week

cheers!

ts

p.s.  I like the Mandelbrot set . . .
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 30 Nov 2004 23:36 PST
 
fractl-ga, I'm interested if you might expand on the logic flow of
your paragraph, "The thing I detest most about religion is that it
seems to breed intolerant people.  This isn?t something that is taught
or encouraged; it?s a natural human response to the feeling that they
are ?right? that they have the answer!  For this reason I have found
that atheists are the least tolerant of all."

I just wanted to make certain that you meant to use the word
"atheists" before I further comment.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 30 Nov 2004 23:47 PST
 
I really would like, seriously, to know if the expectation is that
Christians must sit on their hands and not defend themselves against
atheists as well as other religions who intend to wipe out or silence
Jews and Christians.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 01 Dec 2004 02:04 PST
 
A further thought. We probably wouldn't have or be able to have this
conversation if George Washington and the rest of the US founding
fathers were pacifists. I'm not necessarily saying that "All" of them
where Christian, mind you. Just a few of the noteable ones.

What kind of psychological coping mechanism must George Washington
have had to lead troops to fight against the British? How could he
have possibly maintained some semblance of personal integrity?
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: fractl-ga on 01 Dec 2004 07:35 PST
 
Crythias, I would be glad to expand my thoughts here.


I did mean to say ?atheists?; I am one.  Let me explain the paragraph:

?The thing I detest most about religion is that it seems to breed
intolerant people.?

First note the word ?seems?, I am not implying that religion breeds
intolerance or that religious people are intolerant.  I am saying that
from the perspective of an outsider it appears that way.  When I use
the word religion I refer to any set of theological beliefs, in that
sense atheism is also a religion.  Some religions keep to them selves
and teach tolerance, others encourage people to ?spread the word?. 
The ones that praise converting others tend to appear as more
intolerant than the more introspective (usually, but not always,
eastern) religions.
  

?This isn?t something that is taught or encouraged; it?s a natural
human response to the feeling that they are ?right? that they have the
answer!?

While intolerance is never a foundation for a religion it can usually
be found if you read between the lines.  Many of the saints and heroes
of Christianity are so because they converted people of other
religions to worship Christ.  I can see how, if you believe that hell
awaits all that don?t, one can think that a missionary is saving all
these people.  Once again from the view of an outsider this is
arrogant, intolerant and harmful to the culture of these people. 
Quite frequently missionaries give aid to disadvantaged parts of the
world, thus disguising their agenda with charity.
Here are a few definitions of a ?missionary? found with google.  This
is a perfect example of how Christians see themselves versus how
others see them.
://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&oi=defmore&q=define:missionary
(to contrast I have places similar ones together)

Is a person who, in response to God?s call and gifting, leaves his/her
comfort zone and crosses cultural, geographic or other barriers to
proclaim the Gospel and live out a Christian witness in obedience to
the Great Commission.
http://www.dsbf.org/glossary.htm 

The ability to move beyond race, culture, faith tradition,
nationality, or lifestyle to meet the physical and spiritual needs of
neglected peoples.
http://www.fbchsv.org/ministries/discipleship/gifts_definition.html

The gift of Missionary is the special ability God gives to certain
members of the body of Christ to minister whatever other spiritual
gifts they have in a second culture. (see 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, Acts
8:4, Acts 13:2-3, Acts 22:21, Romans 10:15)
http://www.mcctoronto.com/volunteering/sg_definitions.htm 

The ability to minister whatever other spiritual gifts one has in a
second culture. Acts 8:4, Acts 13:2-3, Acts 22:21, Romans 10:15, I
Corinthians 9:19-23
http://www.bethany-ca.edu/mygifts/sgdefs.asp 

Someone sent on a mission--especially a religious or charitable
mission to a foreign country
http://www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn
 
n. person sent on a mission, esp. on a religious mission 
http://www.cyberhigh.fcoe.k12.ca.us/CyberHigh/course_samples/gloss1.htm
 
someone who attempts to convert others to a particular doctrine or program 
http://www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn
 
one sent to spread his religion or philosophy in a foreign land. 
http://brt.uoregon.edu/cyberschool/history/glossary.html
 
...now how can one who ?attempts to convert others to a particular
doctrine or program? ?move beyond race, culture, faith tradition,
nationality, or lifestyle to meet the physical and spiritual needs of
neglected peoples?.  This is just one of many issues that those within
a religion may be blind to.  I?m sure it?s done with the best of
intentions and I do not want to belittle the efforts of those who help
others in need...but must it be done so with religion?

When you are ?right, when you have convinced yourself that you have
the answer (especially the answer to answer to something like the
origin of life).  It is only natural to try to share that answer with
others.  If you feel that they have arrived at the wrong conclusion
you may attempt to convince them otherwise.  Religion offers such a
feeling of correctness without supplying proof.  You just have to
?believe? its right and it will make sense...it is difficult to change
someone?s mind using faith as your evidence.  When a person of one
faith tries to convert another it appears to be arrogant,
condescending, intolerant and ignorant.  It?s the same as saying ? am
right and you are wrong...and I because of that you need to change?. 
This is a bold and abrasive statement even when the person in question
has proof he/she is in the right, when it?s not backed by facts it
simply becomes derogative.

Please don?t respond to this with a list of evidence of Gods
existence.  There exist forms of proof for all religions and I could
easily counter with a list of my own.  I don?t want this conversation
going down this path for the reasons described above.  Let sleeping
dogs lie.

 ?For this reason I have found that atheists are the least tolerant of all."

This line has a duel meaning; I wish to convey the fact that atheism
is as much a religion as anything else (Just as white is a color and
silence is a sound).  I also wanted to assert that atheists as a whole
have an especially strong sense of the ?I am right you are wrong?
complex.  There are a number of reasons I feel this way:

1)Because of the nature of religion it is much easier to prove   
  something is wrong than it is to prove it right, atheists can 
  march into a religious debate and almost always come out
  unscathed.  They have nothing to defend and can go on the
  offensive (in many ways) throughout the discussion.
2)The trends of the scientific and international communities seem 
  to be challenging religion.  It is becoming increasingly 
  difficult for one to find a balance between the current accepted 
  theories (big-bang, evolution) and ones religious beliefs.
3)It seems more politically correct to preach atheism than to 
  preach any other major religion (Christianity is especially 
  vilified, Eastern religions are accepted with open arms).
4)Those without a religion (some at least) have a feeling of 
  bitterness for those with.  Wars we have fought, laws we live 
  under, policies and customs we have had to bear all in the name 
  of a God some of us do not believe in.  It is certainly 
  frustrating and it drives many to be the Militant Atheist 
  mentioned earlier.I admit to trying on many occasions to knock 
  those with faith of their high horse out of this frustration, 
  what I did was wrong but it?s nothing that hasn?t been done to me.

The way religion is practiced and the interaction between religions is
dependant on the region.  I am from Massachusetts, and live near an
especially liberal town (Northampton).  I have been to Florida and was
shocked to see streets with seven or more churches.  I realized that
in these areas it might be better keeping my mouth closed about my own
beliefs.  My father took me to what he described as a ?bible thumping
southern Baptist church?...he had recently found God and wanted to
share his experience.  My brother and I both went with him to see what
he was so excited about.  Aside from the atmosphere of the place (very
energetic and up-beat) I felt quite uncomfortable with what the
speaker was saying.  In my area he couldn?t say these things without
having a group of very offended people in his face.  I looked around
and saw everyone agreeing with his statements.  At that moment
religion scared the crap out of me!

 I respect the culture, the music, the beliefs the experience.  It is
important for people with similar views to be able to join together
and strengthen each other?s opinions.  But if you divide a nation into
teams you will get a battle.  Organized religion eliminates the gray
areas it ties someone theological theories to their morals and tries
to make all those in its group think alike.  Given the state of things
altercations between those of differing values is unavoidable.  The
stronger those values the more severe the confrontation.  For someone
without a belief, the thought that you are being dragged kicking and
screaming into a Holy War is terrifying.

I?ll stop here before I go off on another tangent.  If you would like
me to clarify any more points just ask.

-Fractl
(yeah, TS...the Mandelbrot set rocks!)
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: frde-ga on 01 Dec 2004 07:50 PST
 
Well, if I remember correctly the British employed a fair number of
German mercenenaries.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 01 Dec 2004 08:21 PST
 
fractl-ga: I just wanted to say that I agree nearly 100% with what you
said in your expanded post, even in spite of having a difference of
religious belief set than do you. Thank you for that.

frde-ga: I respectfully agree with your comment, and did not intend to
make the context of mine to be anti-British, even though I understand
how there really couldn't be a lot of other ways to interpret my
comment, except in the context of the question at the top of the page.
To be fair and polite, I should merely have said "lead troops to fight
battles for the independence of the colonies." Without equivocation, I
hold no animosity, but rather much love, toward the British people and
the UK.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: mast-ga on 01 Dec 2004 18:00 PST
 
There is a difference between true Christianity and most peoples?
concept of Christianity. Please bear with me while I explore this
slight tangent to your discussion somewhat. Hopefully my lengthy
preamble to answering your question will show its merit by the end of
this post.

Every interaction between God and humanity, as recorded by the Bible,
has been in some way supernatural. A few examples would be: God
showing His presence to Moses through the burning bush (it burned
without being reduced to ashes); the walls of Jericho falling;
Elijah?s sacrifice before the prophets of Baal; Jesus healing the
sick; Christians speaking in tongues.

The Bible states that God is a spiritual entity. Therefore it is
logical to expect that any contact people have with God must have a
supernatural aspect. There is no other way for it to happen. The Bible
backs this viewpoint:

(Jesus speaking) . . . but if I do them [miracles], though you do not
believe Me, believe the works [miracles], so that you may know and
understand that the Father is in Me . . . (John 10:48).

(Jesus speaking) "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me,
the works [miracles] that I do, he will do also; and greater works
[miracles] than these he will do; because I go to the Father. (John
14:12).

. . . and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of
wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your
faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1
Corinthians 1:4-5).

But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out,
not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. For the
kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. (1 Corinthians
4:19-20)

My point is that true Christianity results in effective displays of
supernatural power; i.e., instant healing of the sick, etc. The
stereotypical right-wing, I?ll-vote-for-Bush-because-he?s-a-Christian
has no such occurrence in their lives. Therefore they are no more
Christian than your stereotypical left-wing, pro-abortion atheist. So
if you think that they are avoiding an elephant in their
seemingly-contradictory views of religion vs. politics, then, boy, you
ain?t seen nothin? yet! They first have to reconcile the fact that
their Christian beliefs don?t harmonise with the Bible. Fortunately
for them, they have people in authority to stroke them into not
changing. Their lies the keys to your answer:

1. People trust those in authority and don?t think for themselves;
2. People will rather reinforce their existing beliefs than build new ones.

The latter is the crux of your answer. Most people are resistant to
change, and that is especially true of those who have right-wing
leanings. After all, the right is the side with a stronger penchant
for rules and authoritarianism, which are by nature more structured
and inflexible. To question the rules is to go over to the other side.

When people are faced with something that contradicts their beliefs
they usually make one of two choices: they seek to disprove the new
item, or they seek to prove it. Most people will automatically embark
on the first route. People are resistant to change, especially when it
may involve a change in lifestyle, political affiliations, and/or
social interaction. If the new item cannot be disproved then the
person must either change or ignore it. When seeking to ignore new
information, people will seek to justify themselves. There are as many
ways of justification as there are people, but there are some common
threads:

1. Peer or authority reinforcement. In the face of an undesirable
choice, people will seek backup from those whom they respect or
admire. One of the best examples is smoking. People know that it?s
harmful and has other undesirable features, so they align themselves
with the positive viewpoints, such as peer acceptance, role-models who
smoke and are cool, and so on. These do not detract directly from the
negative facts, but bring about enough counterarguments in order for
the person to validate their habit. The chances are good though, that
if the negative arguments are brought up they will become defensive,
since they cannot easily refute them; they can only provide a
different viewpoint based on different arguments.
2. Power. Pure and simple; might is right. There are people who, in
their minds, assign superior authority to those who have what they
perceive as superior strength. This can be power in the form of money,
physical size, etc. If the people in power tell them something is
right, they believe it. Or at least, they use the perceived superior
authority of those people to justify their non-resistance. They might
respond thus to your arguments: ?What do you know? Mr. X says that A
is right and he?s an expert. I?ll trust him before I trust you?. These
people are probably the most aggressive when defending their stance.
3. Avoidance of loss. The ?if this is right, then I?ll lose a great
deal? idea. Examples include: ?If your theory of salvation is correct,
then my dead granny isn?t actually in heaven after all? and ?If I
subscribe to your point of view then I have to give up a lifestyle
that I enjoy?. Again, this includes more a focus on how bad the
negative outcome of adhering to the new viewpoint may be, rather than
an objective realization of what is right or wrong. These people
become the most emotional when considering changes, since their
justifications are primarily based on how they will feel if they do
change.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: mast-ga on 01 Dec 2004 18:05 PST
 
By the way, I hope my answer wasn't overly rambling and confusing. I'm
utterly exhausted today, but I wanted to reply.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: fractl-ga on 01 Dec 2004 19:47 PST
 
Amen!

Mast, you managed to put into words (quite well formed ones at that)
what I was tip-toeing around for a while.  Religion that one is born
into always seems a little less solid than the morals one learns in
life, and this is why.

I forget where I heard this but it was once said (perhaps it was
Stephen Hawking) that peoples work to arrive at a conclusion first and
then justify it.  This flaw in human thought can be blamed for nearly
all the worlds social problems.  I had mentioned on a few occasions in
my previous post that it was 'human nature' to assume one's self to be
right.  This inflexibility (mental blindness may be more accurate) is
what I ment by that nature.

Anxiously awaiting more developments here,
         Fractl
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: alex101-ga on 02 Dec 2004 17:16 PST
 
You don't understand Christianity or what it means to be a Christian. 
With respect, your understanding is extremely simplistic.  I would
suggest further study.  However, to take a stab at your question,
people who claim to be Christians turned out in record numbers for
Bush.  Defending one's country, self, or others, is completely
consistent with the teachings of the Bible...Old Testament and New. 
You can dispute whether a specific means accomplishes a specific end
but that's just disagreement about the facts.  The values you think
are disparate are, in actuality, not.  To reconcile disparate values,
I think people must convince themselves that the views they hold are
really not disparate at all (which is probably what you will conclude
about me).  People often convince themselves of what they want to
believe.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 03 Dec 2004 05:32 PST
 
Alex101-ga, I don't think you helped the case of Christians too much,
even if the statement is true "People often convince themselves of
what they want to
believe." Although, if you want to state that, then that's as good an
answer as any to the question at the top of this page.

I believe it's a cop out answer and relegates thoughts,
contemplations, experiences, goals, wishes, dreams, desires,
experimentation, activity, and the influences and observances of
others to nothingness, attributed to a pithy statement.

However, I do believe the question at the top of the page is as flawed
as the standard questions "If God is __x___, then why __z__?" -- The
standard of x is weighed in human terms and attributed to God, or a
hyperbole of x is attributed to God. Sometimes x is even completely
wrong (eg, 'good' and 'benevolent' used interchangeably).

Can I get back to the question, though? If we take the implication of
the Q@ttotp to its extreme, and force all Christians to not vote and
to not fight, then who is left to defend the country from military
attack?  And who of those actually wants to? If the Christians are
taken to task for their nationalism, what does that reflect from the
ones (US citizens) who are angry at the Christians for their position?
Are the others envious, spiteful, or simply indignant that Christians
as a whole made any impact whatsoever on the election?
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: fractl-ga on 03 Dec 2004 07:58 PST
 
Crythias, 
alex101?s statement is solid. It dosent cast Christianity into a bad
light at all in my opinion.  Correct me if I?ve misinterpreted but I
think the heart of alex101?s comment was that things aren?t black and
white.  The question here, and those of a similar ilk, seems to assume
that one bases every decision on one?s religion.  The fact is that
(for the reasons mentioned by mast-ga) many personal decisions are
influenced by religion or by being surrounded by people who reinforce
your beliefs.  Any statement can be proven true or false using
different interpretations of the bible...this entire discussion could
most likely be replaced by various verses of the bible.  The  English
translation if the words in the bible were intentionally ambiguous
(perhaps to allow the faith to be flexible as the thoughts of the
times change).  In the end someone decides  what to think on his/her
own.  This seems to be an elaboration on mast-ga?s statement about
reinforcing decisions one has already made using religion.  I may be
adding a bit of a tint to what alex101 said, but  I think I?m on the
right track.
Crythias,  does individual thought paint a bad picture of Christians? 
Should we be viewing them as unthinking robots?
Although I?m not sure what you mean by ?Q@ttotp? (question at the
top?) but you seem to be restating what I said earlier...pacifists
cant survive in this world.  The bible does teach peace ?Thou shalt
not kill? certainly goes against war...but this can be interpreted as
?thou shall not kill unless provoked? or ?thou shalt not kill unless
ones own life is threatened?.  I know a few people who take this to
mean ?thou shalt not kill animals? and for that reason refuse to eat
meat.  The bible seems to have a great way of backing you up,
regardless of what you are trying to do.  THIS statement dosen?t help
Christians too much....but am I wrong?


Proud to play the devil's advocate,
    Fractl
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 03 Dec 2004 15:28 PST
 
To fractl-ga, re alex101-ga's comment: According to some Christians,
it is the work of God via the Holy Spirit that shows the reason of
faith. I'm not articulating the concept very well, but the idea of
Chrisitianity is not 100% of Christianity is what you convince
yourself to believe. There is a spiritual element, a transforming and
renewing of your mind and soul. I will struggle to be able to bring
this distinction in light of a very blanket concept because the
argument of self-convince-belief is a done deal, and nigh impossible
to prove or show otherwise. If I say that Christianity is more
spiritual than doctrine, the response of, "It is if you convince
yourself that it is" is futile to argue. After the
self-convince-belief statement is said and believed, there can be no
standards for right and wrong, good and evil, truth and lies. It's all
then about relevatism and your belief set is not my belief set, your
morality isn't my morality, your truth isn't my truth...

Re: Thou shalt not kill. Almost every major translation besides the
King James Version translates the word "kill" as murder. Check
www.biblegateway.com Exodus 20:13.

How can anyone follow "Do not kill" and then follow the other
punishments in the same breath? As you read the laws laid down by God,
again and again the punishment for abhorrent behaviour is death,
sometimes by stoning. If "Do not kill", then why is David such a hero?

Q@ttotp: question @ the top of this page ...

Re: individual thought. Nope, not bad for Christians. Taken to
extreme, though, "self will" versus "God's Will" will probably not
make life easy for a Christian. ref: Jonah.

Re: Official Answer: I think the point is missed completely. First,
I'd want to know if the supposition of the question (disparity of a
specific belief versus the given action) is correct before determining
if a coping mechanism is necessary to explain any rationalization of
difference, if it does exist. (HUH?) Basically answer the following:
1) Is it correct that support for the Bush Administration means "ongoing war"?
Corollary: Is it really clear that the opposition would have ceased
conflict immediately?
2) Can there possibly be other reasons to vote a certain way, that may
have nothing to do with war?
3) Does a view on war trump all other reasons?
4) What is the central message of the Prince of Peace? 
5) Does the central message conflict with reasons to vote for Bush?

Then, after all that, if the conflict exists, tell what coping methods
are necessary to deal with the difference.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: timespacette-ga on 04 Dec 2004 09:08 PST
 
hello,

I've just spent an hour looking over this thread, it's quite a read!

work obligations are taking me away for the time being but I would
like to continue this afternoon...

thanks for all, to all,

ts
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: timespacette-ga on 04 Dec 2004 13:28 PST
 
Crythias . . . in response to your last post, it's a tall order to
resolve "all that", and maybe dang near impossible but here's my
response (not a resolution, just a response):

1) Is it correct that support for the Bush Administration means
"ongoing war"? Corollary: Is it really clear that the opposition would
have ceased conflict immediately?

I doubt that Kerry would have ceased conflict immediately, but he
seemed more disposed toward ending the conflict, rather than inciting
more violence, and creating even more disdain for Americans across the
globe. What I gather from the Project for the New American Century and
it's succeeding documents is that, yes, military dominance of the
world does involve ongoing conflicts of some kind, and they want to be
thoroughly prepared for that expectation.

2) Can there possibly be other reasons to vote a certain way, that may
have nothing to do with war?

Yes, we went over this on another thread . . .

3) Does a view on war trump all other reasons?

No, it seems to depend on one's world view (if one has a world view . . .) 
I was just wondering how conservative Christians justify this particular point.

4) What is the central message of the Prince of Peace? 

If the central message is not peace, both personally and globally,
then this is news to me.

5) Does the central message conflict with reasons to vote for Bush?

If the central message is to love thine enemies as thyself, and
variations on that theme, then voting for either American political
party is a grave ethical decision (if one purports to be a Christian
or a member of any other major world religion, all of which seems to
teach some form of the Golden Rule, which is: do unto others as you
would have them do unto you).  Then, for me, it becomes a question of
looking at both parties and figuring out who will do the least damage,
cause the least suffering in both the short and long term. Or,
conversly, who will create reforms, do the real work of diplomacy, and
generally move in a positive manner toward tolerance (not destruction)
of other cultures and peaceful resolutions.

But, to reframe the question (again), fractl's concerns stated above
about a government policy based on particular religious convictions
are ones that I share.
 
Crythias, you mentioned above:
"if the expectation is that Christians must sit on their hands and not
defend themselves against
atheists as well as other religions who intend to wipe out or silence
Jews and Christians . . . ."

I wonder (I really don't know this, but I wonder . . .) how many other
religions (including athiests) practice active evangelism?  Do the
athiests have a global network of missionaries and a televangelist
corporation like Trinity Broadcasting Network that reaches umteen
different countries?  It seems to me that the people of the Islam
faith would like to preserve their religious tradition intact, and
they probably feel a similar sentiment toward evangelical Christians .
. . (at least that's what Osama seemed to be saying, in part, in his
last sound bite). I've never heard of Muslims systematically going
into poverty-stricken areas and offering food and aid in exchange for
a conversion of faith, although you will probably somehow catch me up
on this one . . . it's the *systematic* and widespread nature of this
practice on the part of evangelical Christians that I'm referring to.

So, are we as a nation, and now as a nation that seems to be merging a
political agenda with a religious one . . . are we just reaping what
we've sown?  The last 30-40 years of American foreign policy during
both Republican and Democratic presidencies would seem to point to
this. I personally see this on a global level and very much in my
immediate daily experience (see:
http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=435721)  where my dear
neighbor seems to think that this country welcomes people of all
faiths ONLY so that they may all eventually be converted to
Christians!

I mean, really . . . excuse me?

Back to the main question: 

I thought omni presented a very succinct and well-rounded answer, as
well as the interesting comments of fractl, frde, mast, digsalot and
augusta . . . . . . but as crythias pointed out, if the conflict
doesn't exist, then there's no need for a 'coping mechanism'.  alex101
offered this:
"To reconcile disparate values, I think people must convince
themselves that the views they hold are really not disparate at all
(which is probably what you will conclude about me).  People often
convince themselves of what they want to believe."  Yup.

 Looks like it's come full circle, and this particular question seems
to come down to how the Bible is interpreted.  What else is new?   My
related concern remains, though: is it right that all of us should be
subjected to what is basically a religious/cultural war, when a whole
lot of us don't subscribe to either side's belief system at all?  This
is a huge question! . . .  especially since President Bush literally
has the power to annihilate large portions of this planet and cause
unimaginable devastation.

I am not an athiest, and someday I'd like to ask fractl about his 'if
it can't be proven, then it doesn't exist' theme!    :-)

let us pray,

ts
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 04 Dec 2004 20:42 PST
 
Which is worse, timespacette-ga, providing food and medicine under the
guise of religion or homicide bombings under the guise of religion?
Somehow, 'here's some food, water, and medicine, and listen to us talk
about why we're doing this as the will of God' seems less damaging to
a country than 'believe or I'll kill you, infidels'. This global
community of ours leaves little room for allowing cultures to be
untouched by any viewpoint, Christian or other. It is the great
commission of Christians to 'Go and tell every nation about the
gospel.' It is the goal of the Islamic extremists that no non-believer
shall live, and killing nonbelievers brings virgins in the afterlife.
It is the goal of activist atheists to make certain that Christians
have no ability to tell others about Christ. It is the goal of the
rest of the world to allow radical Islam to use its force and presence
to convert the world by force and intimidation, especially the US, and
its intolerant Christian base.

The atheists don't need to have a TBN, they own the movies, airwaves
and print media anyway, so there isn't necessary a discussion, unless
you feel there is. The media convinces the populace that things like
premarital and extramarital sex is ok, abortion is ok, how to dress,
how to look, how to act, how to get money, how to spend money, how to
blow up buildings, how to work with other people while plotting behind
their backs, how to be unafraid to say anything as long as it's not
'Merry Christmas' or 'God bless you' or 'Endowed by our Creator', ...
show anything except morality and consequences for actions.

Don't forget that the US was founded on religious and speech freedom,
by militant Christians who left a tyrannical church that had a power
of taxation without representation. The concerns of people who don't
want any religious influence merely have to get the right judge to
destroy the constitutional right of unabridged belief and speech.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: timespacette-ga on 04 Dec 2004 22:20 PST
 
hi crythias!

the question of 'which is worse' is all very debatable, ad nauseum . .
. it's a matter of whose facts you want to believe .. .

I always find it a bit amusing that the left thinks the media is owned
by the right, and the right thinks the media is owned by the left . .
. . who is this 'media' anyway?   Maybe that's a good place to start.

can you address this question though?: 

" . . .is it right that all of us should be subjected to what is
basically a religious/cultural war, when a whole lot of us don't
subscribe to either side's belief system at all? "

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I hope you don't confuse me
with "people who don't want any religious influence".  There are many,
many belief systems that don't fall into the catagory of either
Christian or Islamic faith.  I'm fine with 'religious influence' when
it's voluntary . . . I support and appreciate religious diversity in
our culture; I just don't want someone else's foisted on me, and I
don't want my president inappropriately speaking on my behalf and
calling me part of his 'mandate' because he supposedly got a whopping
51% of the vote in some states.

to repeat:
" . . .is it right that all of us should be subjected to what is
basically a religious/cultural war, when a whole lot of us don't
subscribe to either side's belief system at all? "

ts
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 05 Dec 2004 12:10 PST
 
" . . .is it right that all of us should be subjected to what is
basically a religious/cultural war, when a whole lot of us don't
subscribe to either side's belief system at all? "

Yes. Because if you believe in the representative form of government,
and believe in the vote being demonstrative of the will of the people,
then failure to get the votes means "a whole lot of [you]" isn't a
majority, even if you are a loud minority. Therefore, you are subject
to the will of the majority.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: timespacette-ga on 05 Dec 2004 12:41 PST
 
hi crythias,

yes, I realize that

what if I were to pose the question differently:

is it ethically right, rather than legally right?

ts
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 05 Dec 2004 12:57 PST
 
I don't see this as an ethical question, really. That is, I think I'm
not understanding what part of the question is the ethical part.

Is it ethical to obey the vote of the people? Yes.
Is it ethical to go to war? Depends.
Is it ethical to do something against the will of a loud minority?
Yes, probably, and in most cases. If the minority can convince the
majority, then see the first question.
Is it ethical for those who lost the vote to keep complaining that
their voice wasn't heard? Legally, yes. Ethically? I don't know that
it's a case of ethics as much as sour grapes.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: fractl-ga on 06 Dec 2004 07:35 PST
 
Yikes....Crythias, I have been less than impressed with your last few
posts.  Are you arguing for arguing?s sake or do you actually stand
behind everything you said?

It seems here as if the topic has shifted from  problems in religion
to problems in democracy.  The beauty of your thinking is that it
embodies what I feel to be the negative stereotype of an American. 
Democracy is a work in progress, it?s a good system if the majority
and minority are able to strike a compromise, but since the birth of
the party system the issues have become increasingly polarized.  Since
Kerry and Bush clashed on so many topics there would have been many
unhappy voters regardless of the decision.  In a close competition
like that it makes me wish there were more candidates...people who
didn?t have a (D) or (R) after their name.   Sadly, the damage has
been done and you need to be rich to campaign.  Even people rolling in
money like Bush and Kerry need the backing of a party to finance their
run.  The system sickens me but I feel it?s beyond repair.
	Is it ethical to obey the vote of the people?  If you feel that the
system is ethical, yes.  I don?t.
	Is it ethical to go to war?  In this case, no.  America seems to be
playing the part of a missionary of a different kind, spreading the
word of democracy in the name of freedom.  This may not be a holy war
in that we are fighting for God but the same idea holds true.  We
invaded them, captured the leader (who was put there by America years
back) killed his sons, and force fed them democracy...all in the name
of freedom.
We freed ourselves from the British empire because we thought they
were overbearing...we are now committing far greater crimes to other
nations.   Early American rebels committed crimes against English
representatives and tax collectors just as the Iraqi rebels are
committing crimes against us.  We have become the power we had been
formed to prevent.  The question I feel is most important here, and
one that ties to the origin of this discussion is: Is hypocrisy
ethical?
 Is it ethical to do something against the will of a loud minority? 
Yes, given that what you are doing is ethical.  Who is loudest and who
won the most votes are irrelevant.  If you do something unethical with
the majorities support, you are unethical.  If you do something
ethical regardless of those who protest, you are still in the right. 
I guess the ethical thing to do is to discuss the issues and determine
what the ethical thing to do is.  Of course, for the reasons mentioned
in many previous posts, there will be very few converts.  People, from
both sides, are not receptive to hearing the views of the other.
	Is it ethical for those who lost the vote to keep complaining that
their voice wasn't heard? It is absolutely ethical (and legal) to
fight for your cause.
Once again this is one of the foundations of this country, to let
those that aren?t represented in government have a voice.  Otherwise
the system won?t change.  This is far from sour grapes, in a
government that represents the people those that feel inadequately
represented have the right and the obligation to state their case.  If
the losers always resign themselves to silence the idea of democracy
would deteriorate even more.

The arrogance that I feel the Christian religion displays towards
others and the superciliousness America has towards countries of
lesser economic power or different ?values? both seem to be reflected
by the way you address those who lost the election by inches.  If your
nation was doing things you thought was immoral wouldn?t you feel you
deserved to state your case? Would you still think of it as sour
grapes if you knew you were in for four years of being vilified for
something you aren?t supporting.  I am not proud to be an American, I
am not proud to be represented by those who oppose what I believe in
and I will do whatever I need to in order to regain that pride.

-Fractl
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: timespacette-ga on 06 Dec 2004 08:31 PST
 
whew, thanks fractl . . . for a while there I was speechless (an
unusual occurance) and what with the holiday season (with sweetbreads
to bake, funds to raise, and other obligations) I was weighing the
wisdom of continuing this thread ...

I agree . . . it is amazing how the so-called minority is being
marginalized in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Right after the
election there was a spam email going around to many of the 'lefty'
sites from someone who's handle was 'stoopnow' . . .  really nasty . .
. gloating about all the many ways the conservatives would now run
with the momentum they'd gained . . . with the implication being that
we (the Dems) should 'stoop now' . . . to them.

Weren't we all taught in kindergarten (not to mention Sunday School .
. .) that 'might (in numbers or physical strength) does not make
right'?  That we should 'use words' instead of fists?  It is this
strange inversion of values that just wrankles me, because the trend
seems to be imbuing our policies to the very top levels of government.

ts
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 06 Dec 2004 09:39 PST
 
The difference is that I was relegated to 8 years of actions and
inactions of a President that did not represent the majority of the
people. I did not claim that election was invalid.

4 million votes isn't "inches", in my opinion.

I see what you're saying and hear it out, but I have to respect the
process. Yes, the US government was built on a great compromise. The
problem to be compromised was representation.

As with a court case, the jury has delivered a verdict, it is up to
you as dissenters to appeal. THAT is the process. If you don't agree
with the process, if you don't feel the process is ethical, then
leave. If you agree with the process, if you are concerned about the
way things are going, then make a stand, grab powerful backers and go
forth. In the end, though, it wasn't all about the money spent why one
candidate won and the other didn't (of the viable parties). The
electorate was split pretty darn even across the board from the
beginning, and neither side had a real edge, except that the President
was incumbent and the opposition was the defacto 'not-the-President'.

Now, if your concern of the 'Process' is that there aren't more than
two candidates from which to choose, and that is what makes the system
invalid, I can't really say much that will change your mind. The
problem that does come out is that we will have a president that will
potentially carry the vote of significantly less than half of the
electorate. So, the will of, perhaps, 65% of the people is ignored
versus the will of 49%. I hope that is ethical enough for you.

To me, it's simple... you have a vote and you cast it. If you have
enough votes, that's what occurs, unless it gets denied by a judge.
Inches or miles, though, the point is to move beyond the loss and work
to the next time you have a say in the matter. The point is not to
declare that you weren't heard and that concessions need to be made to
the losing vote. You're welcome to do that, of course, in the process
of gathering support for your position.

If you want to blaim Christians as the source of the problem, good,
that just endears you to the rest of the world. The viewpoint of the
rest of the world is, quite frankly noted and taken with all the
importance of a populace that has no say in the electoral process of a
sovereign nation.

The difference between Iraqi Rebels and American Rebels ... Believe it
or not, Americans are actually trying to give Iraq back to the people,
not oppress them, not colonize them, not force them to be under a
foreign leadership (foreign government type, maybe...). Iraq is not
going to be an American colony. Iraq is definitely not being forced by
Americans to be Christian or under a foreign church that has the
ability to tax them, although that may be the result of the
elections... Besides, if the rebels would stop fighting, I truly
believe that we would leave. If the Americans would have stopped
fighting, the British would have owned America.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: fractl-ga on 06 Dec 2004 11:26 PST
 
Before I respond let me give you some data:

Election results:

**1992**
Candidate   Electoral Vote   Popular Vote   Pct
Clinton     370              44,908,254     42.93% 
Bush        168              39,102,343     37.38%
Perot       0                19,741,065     18.87%

**1996**
Candidate   Electoral Vote   Popular Vote   Pct
Clinton     379              47,402,357     49.24  
Dole        159              39,198,755     40.71  
Perot       0                8,085,402      8.40

**2000**
Candidate   Electoral Vote   Popular Vote   Pct
Bush        271              50,456,002     47.87% 
Gore        266              50,999,897     48.38% 

**2004**
Candidate   Electoral Vote   Popular Vote   Pct
Bush        286              61,683,787     50.8%
Kerry       252              58,465,081     48.2%

Looking at these statistics (courtesy of wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._presidential_election) it appears as
if Bush just barely skated by both times.  I think ?inches? is a fine
term to describe 34 electoral votes.  If 3.2 million (not 4) is a
substantial number what do you say to the 2000 data?  I think the best
way to look at this, to avoid arguing about 200, is to go by electoral
votes...of which Bush has had very tight wins.

In response to the issues in 2000 we did ?appeal?...and we were told,
in so many words, to stop whining.  If that is the way the process is
supposed to work then I?m afraid the system needs a look.

?If you don't agree with the process, if you don't feel the process is
ethical, then leave.?
There is only one way I can respond to that: ?SHUT THE F*** UP!?
That mentality makes me want to leave, and if this system keeps
spraling down I plan to.  But you have no right to tell me that I
either like it or leave it.

My concern with the two party system is that the people elected are
figureheads for the party rather than for the nation.  If an un-backed
candidate won he would be free to do what he felt the majority wanted.
 Since there are party politics behind it the president must be
polarized and inflexible on many issues.  My ideal president wouldn?t
have a stand on every issue; he would be open to the opinions of the
public and to the circumstances in which the problems arise.  I don?t
want more candidates so more people lose...I want more candidates so
it?s not black and white.  Would you prefer a president that 50% of
the populace loves and 50% hate?  Or would you prefer one that
everyone half-likes.  I think the second is a better scenario for all.

I love your next line that denounces the opinions of the rest of the
world.  If the US were an isolationist nation I may even agree.  But
we muddle in their politics and they deserve their say on the matter. 
Once again...if 3,200,000 is more than inches what do you call
6,000,000,000?

Sure we?ll give Iraq back to the people...when we?re done with it. 
But by then it?ll be so smashed and broken they may not even want it. 
Iraq was not a perfect country but it was certainly a better place
then than it is now.  We may be uniting Iraq against a common enemy:
us. ?Besides, if the rebels would stop fighting, I truly believe that
we would leave.?  If we stop fighting they would have no one to rebel
against.

-Fractl
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 06 Dec 2004 12:33 PST
 
:) OK, so you have the legal and ethical right to complain about the
way that the party in power isn't compromising, and have the legal and
ethical right to tell me to STFU, and I will allow you that, as long
as you allow me the right to tell you to leave or change the process
that you don't like.

The difference between 3.2 million and 6 billion is the fact that 3.2
million have the right to vote in US elections and 6 billion do not.
If you would like that to change, then by all means ... Besides which,
we're entering an interesting parallel whereby the majority of a
minority point of view is pressing its ethical mindset on the majority
who doesn't want to hear it. Extrapolate that on a micro scale or a
macro scale.

"If we stop fighting they would have no one to rebel against." Except
their own people.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 06 Dec 2004 13:24 PST
 
To answer another question posed: I'd rather be lead by a leader
supported by the majority of the people who the leader leads than by a
leader that has no firm following by any group (or all groups). This
is the issue of representative government versus a pure democracy. The
representative government is designed to handle the leadership based
upon the mandate of the people, and if the people vote a certain way,
that is the way that the President should go. If it's ethically wrong,
then it is up to the people to vote an ethically right person in the
first place. Except... as I have inferred before, the leadership is a
reflection of the people's view, right or wrong. It's why there is a
balance of powers and why people can elect legislative members to make
laws, etc. The pure democracy brings all the issues to all the people
all the time. It is a very inefficient way to accomplish tasks in as
large a body as exists in the US. It is also why dictatorships are
perhaps the most efficient form of government.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: timespacette-ga on 06 Dec 2004 21:02 PST
 
ooooohh-wee!

okay, crythias, you really should pat yourself on the back.
you've proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that you ARE in fact our very
worst nightmare!
You get the prize!!  Yay !!!

and now . . .  for something ENTIRELY different . . .  ! ! !

here's a letter from the state of California to our fearless mis-leader:

Dear President Bush:
 
Congratulations on your victory over all us non-evangelicals.
Actually, we're a bit ticked off
here in California, so we're leaving you. California will now be its
own country. And we're
taking all the Blue States with us. In case you are not aware, that
includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan,
Illinois, all of the North East States, and the urban half of Ohio.
 
We spoke to God, and she agrees that this split will be beneficial to
almost everybody, and especially to us in the new country of
California. In fact, God is so excited about it, she's going to shift
the whole country at 4:30 pm EST this Friday. Therefore, please let
everyone know they need to be back in their states by then. God is
going to give us the Pacific Ocean and Hollywood. In addition, we're
getting San Diego. (Sorry, that's just how it goes.) But God is
letting you have the KKK and country music (except the Dixie Chicks).
 
Just so we're clear, the country of California will be pro-choice,
pro-gay marriage, and anti-war. Speaking of war, we're going to need
all Blue States citizens back from Iraq. If you need people to fight
in Falujah, just ask your evangelical voters. They seem to be  willing
to send their kids to their deaths for absolutely no purpose, and they
don't seem to care if you don't show pictures of the caskets coming
home.
 
So, you get Texas and all the former slave states, and we get the
Governator and stem cell research. (We would love you to take Britney
Spears off our hands, though. She IS from the south, right?)
 
Since we get New York, you'll have to come up with your own late night
TV shows because we get MTV, Letterman, the Daily Show, and Conan
O'Brien. You get... well, why don't you ask your people at Fox News to
come up with something entertaining? (Maybe you should just watch
Crossfire. That's a really funny show.)
 
We wish you all the best in the next four years and we hope, really
hope, you find those missing weapons of mass destruction. Seriously.

Sincerely, 
California 

[editors note: . . . never mind about the Governator, you can have him.]
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 07 Dec 2004 00:03 PST
 
Hee :) Gosh, I can't believe that the sentiments of the founders of
this country are our (who are our? timespacette and fractl?) worst
nightmare. Whodathunkit?

Frankly, except for the money, I think the red states get the better
deal. Although I'm not quite certain the states, especially
California, can be self-sustaining. Commercialism versus idealism.
Late night television is something you *want*? Keep it. Actors without
education? Keep 'em.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: fractl-ga on 07 Dec 2004 05:50 PST
 
*sigh*

I think I need to give up on both of you....

The key to this is compromise; if both (ar all) parties here just keep
asserting their view to it?s extreme this turns from a discussion to a
head-butting match.  Take a look at the earlier posts, somewhat
intellectual, all opinions are accompanied by a disclaimer...it had
potential.  Things have gotten a bit ugly here.  First Crythias
abandoned diplomacy (I may have slipped a bit in my response to that)
and now Timespacette.

Btw...how do you plan on making the east and west coast into one
continuous nation (perhaps empire would be more appropriate)...do you
plan on building a bridge over the breadbasket?  I saw that California
uses EST...does that mean that those on the east coast are better?  I
sense some hostility in Calachusetts York already.  Should we invite
Virginia?  Are quarters from the red states still legal currency? 
Would

We are a divided nation.  But this isn?t the first time and the events
today are certainly nothing like those that lead to the Civil War
(...War of Northern Aggression :P ).  There may be some resentment
against another region, in a country as large as the United States
it?s not surprising at all.  Look at the proximity of countries in
Europe, and the variance of cultures Italy, France, Spain, Germany,
England; they all have much different values.  Now imagine a single
country nearly the size of the entire European continent.  I find it
amazing that we are capable of communicating at all.  While the role
of the media and modern transportation has acted to unify the nation
there are some things (namely religion and morals) that are a product
of your direct surroundings.  These seem to be the issues that we?re
torn on.

I accept that this nation will never be of one mind, that there will
never be a president that can accurately represent everyone.  But I
would like one that can at the very least pretend he is doing things
for the greater good and not just enforcing Texas law.  Perhaps it
would be best if we had a President and Vice-President from opposing
parties, to keep both views represented on the top level.  I?m
sticking to my belief that the president must be able to compromise
his own beliefs for the good of the nation...I feel that Bush cannot
do that.

-Fractl (Definitely running to Canada if the Californians invade)
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 07 Dec 2004 06:23 PST
 
Please understand, I was talking about process, not result. Since the
result has every likelihood of change at any given election, leaving
because of a result of one election is silly. Since the process is not
likely to change, one has not much option but to accept (even
grumblingly), move for change, or leave (Honestly, those are the
choices, so while I may have not been diplomatic in suggesting the
other two, I believe that you also understand that the process is
unlikely to change). BTW, your statistics above did show that we had a
President for 8 years that roughly 58% and 51% of the people did NOT
vote for.

Side note: I don't know good or bad, but I think red gets Walmart (AK)
in the deal... but lack of a California (west coast) shipping port
from China would be problematic. Both get Disney, both get Orange
Juice, but cheese and beer might be difficult. What about airspace? NY
might have to fly over Canada to get to LA :)
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: fractl-ga on 07 Dec 2004 07:02 PST
 
Clinton was more of a grey area guy.  Those who didnt vote for him did
so (for the most part) because they liked the other guy.  The majority
of the people who voted against Bush did just that, voted AGAINST him.
 There is a difference between not winning an election and losing it. 
In '92 and '96 the republicans didn?t win.  In '00 and '04 the
democrats lost.
Bush?s strong opinions on many tough moral topics polarized the
country.   I would like to think that Clinton would have been more
diplomatic about that sort of thing.  He seemed to try to reach a
middle ground whenever possible.  It seems after that whole
?flip-flop? campaign that Bush is proud of being stubborn an
opinionated...but I would have enjoyed a president that makes
decisions after the information is received, not before.

I think the air space should be free.  This allows travel between East
and West Calichusetts York  as well as offering those in the middle a
way to get over the pacific (other than through Mexico or Canada). 
How shall we deal with Hawaii and Alaska?  I guess since Hawaii was
blue we get it (YAY!) and you guys can poke as many oil holes in
Alaska as you want.  I think that once we separate the governments of
the two nations we may become quite friendly.  Assuming the split
didn?t get too hostile.

-Fractl (still planning on watching this all play out from Canada)
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: frde-ga on 07 Dec 2004 14:19 PST
 
crythias-ga 

I saw you using 'inferred' in a way that made me cringe

<quote>
Except... as I have inferred before, the leadership is a
reflection of the people's view, right or wrong. 
</quote>

You did not mean 'infer' - you meant 'imply'

I get a bit picky about that, as once I did not know the difference,
and got mocked - hence I neutralize that little barb (simple - tell
everyone).

Back to the original question:

  Something that is just plain dumb - is dumb
  Overtly messing with Iraq is another Vietnam

Wait until the next British election, and watch what happens, it is
unlikely to be bombs in the UK as we are pretty used to those, but
seeing our 'contribution' massacred could swing things
- especially if it is 'friendly fire'

Iraq is untenable - but it could be broken up
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: timespacette-ga on 07 Dec 2004 15:26 PST
 
well, I just thought that letter to Bush would be fun since you,
crythias, are so fond of 'extrapolating'   :-)     . . . just what
*would* happen *if* . . . ???

just to clarify:  I did mean fractl and me, in referring to 'our',
since it seemed to be a three way conversation at that point (and
fractl seemed to concur, or infer, or imply, or . . .?)  but then
frde-ga chimed in with a grammatical suggestion and a view from
Britain!

I'm not sure 'the sentiments of the founders of this country' exactly
match yours either crythias, and I often wonder at the logic of those
who make statements like that.  I went online recently a worked out my
complete genealogy; found out I'm a direct descendant not only of the
leader of the Mayflower pilgrims, but soldiers in the Rev war, the
Civil war, WWI and etc, etc, etc,  I also found out my great great
grandmother died giving birth to her *nineteenth* child (!)  Should I
follow her example too?  Times and values change, my friend. 
Democracy is meant be a structure that rolls with that fact and
somehow keep the humanity intact in the process.

cryth, you don't need to keep harping on the 'sour grapes' idea; this
is not a normal case of sour grapes ( I can deal with my candidate
losing an election, fer gawd's sake) . . . . it's the WHOLE ENCHILADA,
don't you see?  Perhaps you don't, or don't want to.  As fractl made
reference to in suggesting that the VP and P be from different parties
(not gonna happen  . .. ..) the point is that the overall balance of
power is way OFF balance in just about every sector of our society,
and we have a ruling party that holds a set of values that literally
endanger the well-being of, not just the rest of the voters, but the
whole population of the earth. You may think I'm exaggerating; well,
that's an easy way out. Here's a president who's intention seems to be
to fight to the end with the end with however many Islamic insurgents
appear in their way, who apparently believes in armageddon, who
doesn't seem to give a whit about the health of the global
environment, etc, etc, etc.  One nation, and one party of that nation,
is literally endangering the rest of the world in many more ways than
I could possibly list here.

that said, I am taking leave here; will stay tuned, but I'm bowing out
of the conversation.  I've got a life outside of GA that I enjoy very
much and would like to get back to!

crythias . . . . Merry Christmas!
fractl . . .  see you around the campus  ; -)
everyone else . . . . thank you for sharing

cheers,
ts
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 07 Dec 2004 19:15 PST
 
Wow, the whole world is in jeopardy? Hyperbole, anyone?
I love moral relavitism. It's so nice to say that 'times change'. Yep.
Easy to say, it means that anything is right if we feel that it is.

I suggested, hinted, and indicated as per www.m-w.com (infer), so
please don't gripe at the word choice. You can, if you want; I mean,
it probably has changed meaning since I used the word, because the
past is completely irrelevant.

"Democracy is meant be a structure that rolls with that fact and
somehow keep the humanity intact in the process."

OK, so when we live in a democracy, this is relevant. Since we do not,
as I have been indicating, this is not relevant.

Merry Christmas!
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: fractl-ga on 07 Dec 2004 21:04 PST
 
We don't live in a democracy, as you say.  But the supposed goal of
our war in Iraq is to spread our democracy (?freedom?,
'values'...whatever they call it).  If that is the case we're going
there under false pretenses; false many times over because there
aren't WoMDs nor is there a Saddam-AlQueda link.

Given these facts you can't argue that this war is morally right...I
would love to hear you try!  Although there are many other issues
surrounding Bush's election you must also admit that the war was one
of the hottest.  Its impacts also affected not only the lives of our
countrymen and those of the Iraqis and those of the Coalition of the
willing (most of whom have seen what?s down the road and bailed out). 
We have sacrificed our reputation as a country by going against the UN
and showing general disregard to international policy.  Our economy is
going down the pipes, our people are dying for an unjust cause and our
name is being tarnished?yet people seem to be more patriotic than
ever.

September 11 started all this patriotism crap.  It made sense then to
unify as a nation and lick our wounds.  When I noticed then that you
couldn?t throw a rock without hitting the stars and stripes I didn?t
think anything was wrong with that.  The stigma of the US patriot has
changes though.  Those who once flew the flag to remember those that
died are now flying it to kill more.  I feel that the Bush
administration took advantage of the unified America when it walked
down the path to war.  The jump from mourning to capturing those
responsible was natural.  I would have expected any president to have
gone after the Taliban.  What started as a series of small tactful
operations to find those that attacked us has somehow jumped to an all
out war on Iraq.  But the flags still fly.

The more pride I see people show toward this nation the less I am able
to muster.  In the end of this all, who will win?  If you don?t give a
damn about the opinions of other countries why do you fell it?s worth
going to all this trouble for Iraq?  There are obviously other issues
(oil) at play.  We have dug a hole too deep.  I?m sure the President
knows it.  The oil offers no economic benefit anymore, the soldiers
are ill-equipped and there are whispers of another draft.  The only
reason we fight now is because we can?t change our minds and go home. 
Not because the other nations would think we were weak, not because
that would leave Iraq in absolute chaos, but because the flags are
still flying and the war-drums are still pounding back home.  A war
that started from lies and misinformation cannot be ended because Bush
is too stubborn to admit to the people he messed up.  We won?t win, we
won?t admit defeat and, for 4 more years, we won?t admit we were
wrong.  I hope that in 2008 you read this again and realize how blind
you were.
 
We are doomed.

-Fractl

"He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows
if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake."
Much coal do dish out this year...
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 08 Dec 2004 09:07 PST
 
"If that is the case we're going there under false pretenses; false
many times over because there aren't WoMDs nor is there a
Saddam-AlQueda link."
This is not a logical conclusion, and it is based upon opinion. The
supposition that existence of WMDs equates to a country that needs
freedom is just wrong. The supposition that a Sadam-Al Queda link
doesn't exist is wrong. The supposition that a Sadam-Al Queda link
equates to a country that needs freedom is wrong.

"most of whom have seen what?s down the road and bailed out" Spain
bailed out. Guess what happened to it?

"September 11 started all this patriotism crap" The battle for
Independence started all this patriotism crap. Apathetic atheists
would like it never to have existed.

"I would have expected any president to have gone after the Taliban"
... and given Afghanistan a real election and a real presidency?
Which, in case you haven't noticed.. has happened, and is likely to
happen for Iraq as well. And, guess what? The US will help rebuild
Iraq. It does this. It has a history of doing this. Iraq is a mess
because the rebels make it a mess, and will continue to do so even
long after the US leaves, unless a strong government is in place.

About oil: It isn't the US who is after the oil, it is the UN who
doesn't want the US to fight the hand that feeds the UN.

US wants stability, rebels want instability. 

"Whispers of draft" ... Yes, because among other things, armed forces
recruitment offices are being forced off of liberal college campuses.
First, one makes it hard if not impossible to recruit (VOLUNTARILY!),
then enrollment falls as a natural result, then the whispers start, by
the liberals.. "See .. now they have to have a draft. We warned you!"

Nice. A country will not receive any more respect for power by other
countries than it perceives itself to have. When unstable countries
begin to perceive the powerful countries are weakening within, it is
an apt time to attack. The concern for doom is when the strongest
country in the world isn't perceived as a world power, even by its own
people.

The difference is still that the growing *radical* Islamic belief is
that all non-believers must die. The American belief is that people
should have the right to choose and not be subjugated by religion or
non-voice of the people. There is no moral equivalence here. Americans
aren't trying to kill people for the sake of killing, and we're not
trying as a country to impose CHRISTIAN belief sets on the rest of the
world. We are trying to give PEOPLE the ability to choose their
leadership. The radical Islamists are trying to impose ISLAMIC belief
sets and ISLAMIC leadership and Islamic rules, period. No choice. They
won't leave, and they won't take 'no' for an answer.

The difference is that the United States is fighting to keep your
right to dissent and complain without the possibility of your being
beheaded for your dissent. I doubt you will have the same options
under radical Islam.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: fractl-ga on 08 Dec 2004 13:29 PST
 
I never claimed that that existence of WMDs or a Sadam-Al Queda link
equate to a country that needs freedom.  Those were simply two of the
half justifiable reasons we were given as to why we went to war.  If
what we are doing now is giving Iraq it?s freedom, I don?t think they
want it.  War does not equal freedom, being forced into the political
system of another country does not equal freedom.  That should be easy
enough to understand.

I am aware of when patriotism itself began in America.  What I meant
to say (and what you should have been able to infer from the context)
is that Sept 11 started the current resurgence of a new brand of
patriotism.  ?Apathetic Athiests? as I guess I am now branded in your
view, have no problem with ones views if it is justified.  My
religious and political views are consistant: I wont allow the
pressures of a religion or a movement (such as this new patriotism) to
compromise my own morals.  Those of you who blindly trust the bible
because of ?faith? or blindly trust the President because of ?pride?
are, in my eyes, wasting the mind that God may or may not have given
you.

I said I would expect any president to retaliate against the
persons/group that committed a crime against the US.  But I would not
expect that president to feel the need to reorganize the government of
the nation those people came from...and while we were at it we also
got the country 2 blocks over.  You said yourself that our version of
democracy is not perfect and frequently does not represent the peoples
opinion, why do you support hoisting this on others?  If an American
extremist group attacked China would they be justified in coming here,
attacking our nation and converting it to communism?  And Canada too,
just ?cause?

One doesn?t ?fight? the hand that feeds it...one ?bites? it.  The UN
is not ?fed? by Iraq at all.  The UN does not have an economy to
protect, it looks out for the common interest of all countries within
the United Nations, including us.  Due to its nature as a medium of
communication between countries the UN is very diplomatic in its
approach, especially in regards to war.  The Bush administration
apparently didn?t have the time for diplomacy.  We rushed in, against
the UN without cause.  And we are still fighting without a cause. 
Have you noticed that the reason we were told he had to go to war then
is much different than the reasons we?re being given now?  Do you find
that a little odd?

When we first went into Iraq we seemed to be only after possible
weapons facilities and terrorist groups.  Then we were after Saddam
and his officials.  Then we were after Saddam?s supporters.  Now we?re
after the radical ?Islamists? (I believe the word is Muslim).  What?s
the next target?

Let me bring this topic back to its roots, hypocrisy.  Supporting, in
this war, something that goes against your beliefs.  At this point I
have heard many of your personal views so I don?t need to restrict the
question to a generalization about your religion.

You said that ?The viewpoint of the rest of the world is, quite
frankly noted and taken with all the importance of a populace that has
no say in the electoral process of a sovereign nation? yet you feel it
is just to not only play a part in a foreign countries government but
to completely destroy it.  If the concerns of the nations of the world
don?t mean anything to you why do you think our opinion should matter
to Iraq.

Why are we changing their system for them? ?If [they] don't agree with
the process, if [they] don't feel the process is ethical, then [they
should] leave? right? If they hated Saddam so much why didn?t they go
somewhere else?

You also said ?My position is quite simple, really. A soldier's job is
to kill people and break things. Jesus recognized that a job is a job,
and it was important to obey one's employer. Jesus didn't do anything
to dissuade the government from doing its job of raising armies to
kill people and break things.?
We seem to be contradicting Christ?s sentiments when we destroyed the
?soldiers? of the taliban that came to America, killed people, and
broke things.

You said ?the governments that have been set in place, as some believe
(as I do), by God.? Yet you oppose ?trying to impose ISLAMIC belief
sets and ISLAMIC leadership and Islamic rules?.  Should god play a
role in religion or not?  Or is it that it?s only okay when it?s your
religion?

?As with a court case, the jury has delivered a verdict, it is up to
you as dissenters to appeal. THAT is the process.? And the United
States disobeyed a similar process when it defied the UN and waged
war.

How do you justify this contradiction?  

I will offer three guesses: 
Pride (keeping ones opinions in the face of contrary evidence to keep
from losing face)
Pressure (compromising your values because they oppose those of people you respect)
Patriotism (As one believes in a religion on faith alone you believe
in America through a similar faith)

-Fractl

(If you can?t tell...I?m trying to bring this to a close.  I agree
with TS that this is too time consumins.  I also feel that our
opinions do not offer a common ground for compromise.  Without a
foothold like that neither of us has the ability to truly reach the
other.)
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 08 Dec 2004 14:02 PST
 
I said "fight" and I meant -- fight. The members of the UN were being
paid off by Iraq via the oil for food program. The US were fighting
the origin of that payoff and so I used the term correctly, even to
obscure a well-known phrase.

12 years of UN sanctions only kept the UN countries being paid off
while continued "Show compliance or bad things will happen" UN
resolutions were being passed against Iraq. 12 years is a lot of time
to come into or show compliance. It was a useless slap on the wrist.

The evidence, like religion, seems to be in the eye of the beholder.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: capitaineformidable-ga on 08 Dec 2004 17:30 PST
 
Why Iraq? The CIA and MI6 both told their respective governments there
weren't any WMD's before the decision to invade was taken. Why did our
Mr. Blair push President Bush into it ( You can just hear him saying
"You're not going to let them do that to you are you?"). Not that he
needed much pushing.

When our Tone and George were chery picking their list of leaders to
depose, why pick on Sadam? We all know he wasn't good and he didnt
have democracy but he didn't pretend to. Far better, (in my mind), to
go after someone who pretends to have it but doesn't. Why am I the
only one asking why we didn't invade Zimbabwe and depose Mugabe? After
all, everyone knows he kills the opposition party leaders and then
rigs the ellections, the international fair play observers say so. So
why do we let him do it? That would have been an easy war to win. But
wait a minute,....what am I saying, our Bob went to an English public
school, that makes him one of us. Oh that's all right then we will
find someone else to depose. What about Sadam? He had a serious
talking to, over Kuwait and he has been playing us like a fish on a
line over the WMD's. Let's show him he has Jaws on the hook.

There again why did we have to do it at all? 

Why did we need to go into the former Yugoslavia. (sounds like the
artist formerly known as Prince). What did it have to do with us? It
wasn't our argument. Why not sit back and let them fight it out
themselves. The Serbs would have won, the others would have lost, it
would have been quicker over and life would have gone on. Or did we
want more groups in the UN that owed us one.

I think the real answer lies in the hobby of collecting. Some people
collect stamps, some people collect coins and our Tone collects wars.
He really wants to go down in the history books as being the greatest
statesman of all time with more wars sorted out than Margaret
Thatcher, Winston Churchill and all the other Prime Ministers put
together. He realy is a kleptomaniac for them, he cant seem to get his
nose out of the trough. So much so that we have a Foreign Minister
that doesn't have a job.

I seem to have strayed somewhat from the point here, as have all the
rest of us. We seem to have caught a dose of the President Nixon's,
whereby the answer has been expanded so much, in such an entertaining
way that everybody has forgotten what the question was.

As I seem to remember, way back, the original question was about
psychology and that politics and religeon were only used to examplify
the question.

The question that I think still needs to be addressed is how the mind
can justify holding two diametrically opposed views at the same time.
For insance

 A pacifast buying a Siemens GSM or Computer knowing Siemens are
engaged in research into electronic warfare

 People in the West buying cheap goods form China knowing that it
will ultimately put them out of work.

 An American car worker buying a Japanise car.

 Somebody who does work for the RSPCA owning a fur coat.

 Say 20 yrs. ago somebody who is opposed to aparthied owning shares
in a South African fruit farm or mining company

The list is endless. Did anybody address this question?
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: fractl-ga on 08 Dec 2004 18:45 PST
 
The question was addressed at various times by various people
throughout the thread.  I like mast's answer best.

Rather than simply analyze the problem of conflicting viewpoints we
ended up demonstrating it (using timespacette's religion vs. war
example).  I believe Crythias and I were the guinea pigs...

The moral of the story is that morals are overrated if they exist at all.
(At which point the story realizes how useless it is and implodes in upon itself)

My conclusion is that one?s values are too easily compromised by one?s
environment, religion and pride.  Because of this every person?s
values are different.  Without an unbiased omnipotent observer to form
a foundation for this experiment there is no basis to determine right
and wrong.  They are simply irreconcilable differences of opinion.

For those who believe in God he may be the unbiased spectator one
needs to decipher who is morally right and wrong.  For those who don't
believe we must simply do what our morals guide us to do, usually
something beneficial to both one's self and others (in that order). 
The argument can be made that God is not unbiased at all and should
not be used as a point of reference.  If that is the case, and we have
no then up is down and hot is cold and whoever questioned God becomes
both right and wrong; God, then, gets the benefit of the doubt and
becomes right again.

I hope I cleared this all up for ya, I sure confused myself.
-Fractl
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: timespacette-ga on 08 Dec 2004 20:29 PST
 
here!  here!

five twinklies for fractl!

cheers!

ts
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: capitaineformidable-ga on 09 Dec 2004 00:16 PST
 
Thanks for clearing that up Fract1. The only problem I now have is
that after the story has imploded on itself, both God and George Bush
will still be there. Do you think they could be one and the same?

I reinforce timespacette's final comment.

Well done all.    cf
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: fractl-ga on 09 Dec 2004 06:53 PST
 
Are God and George W. one in the same?  That is an interesting question.
Your argument for them being the same is based on the idea that they
exist only in the story.  If it goes so should they.  Sadly the tale
we just played out is based on real* people and events.  The only
thing that left with the story was it?s moral, which ironically and
paradoxically is what we are left discussing.

IF GEORGE BUSH WAS GOD:

He would then be the final word on what is right and what is wrong. 
That would explain why he rarely changes his mind once he makes a
decision, if God changed his mind that means that he was wrong about
something.  If God is no longer infallible what kind of God is he
anyhow?

Jesus may be the ?Prince of Peace? but God never claimed to be as
such.  He seems to be a very petty and spiteful guy from what I?ve
read.  Although Bush did seem a little taken aback about Sept. 11, God
could have prevented it.  Either a force stronger than God attacked
the towers, which then makes God the Vice-God.  Or God wanted the
towers to be hit, which would make it tough for him to get reelected.

If Bush were God I have to give Kerry props for running such a close
race against him.  I also have to thank Bush for not summoning a
plague of locusts, blood or whatnot upon Massachusetts (although his
2nd term is not over yet).

Any war he waged would become a Holy War.  And any law he made would
be a religious one.  The people that would normally be concerned or
offended by this wouldn?t be, however, because God dictates what is
right and wrong, the ex-protesters would wave their 1st amendment
rights and concede defeat in the face of Gods faultless logic.

Every time we thought the president misspoke we were actually mislistening.

Perhaps this has really become one nation under God, although I won?t
comment from ?indivisible? on...

Sadly as with all logical proofs, one good counterexample ruins the
batch.  I found a definition of God at
http://www.carm.net/dictionary/dic_g-h.htm.  It states ?[God is] the
supreme being of the universe. He is the creator of all things (Isaiah
44:24). He alone is God (Isaiah 45:21,22; 46:9; 47:8). There have
never been any Gods before Him nor will there be any after Him (Isaiah
43:10). God is God from all eternity (Psalm 90:2). In Exodus 3:14, God
revealed His name to His people. The name commonly known in English is
Jehovah. This comes from the four Hebrew consonants that spell the
name of God. (See Tetragrammaton.) God is a Trinity, knows all things
(1 John 3:20), can do all things (Jer. 32:17,27 - except those things
against His nature like lie, break His word, cheat, steal, etc.), and
is everywhere all the time (Psalm 119:7-12).?
God can not lie.  Bush admitted that he did not know if there were WMD
in Iraq and trusted the questionable information he received.  If God
knows everything and Bush claimed he didn?t know something means one
of two things either Bush isn?t God or God just lied (de-Goddifying
him and once again making Bush a non-God).

Never fear, though...for those of you who would like to keep to
possibility that Bush is God open!  During my search for a definition
of God I found an argument that there can be no definition (of course
it uses the definition of god to claim there isn?t one):
?Obviously, this is an impossible word to define. After all, to
"define" a thing means putting boundaries around it, and God is
Infinity, the very absence of boundaries. Further, being Infinite, God
is by definition (!) beyond the capacity of our egoic minds ("I am me,
and you aren't") to understand. That is, despite our protestations to
the contrary, most of us perceive God as being "out there" (or "up
there", even "in here"), as somewhere or something other than
ourselves. And that's the problem! In Truth, there is no such thing as
a "God out there". Once again, being Infinite, God is everywhere and
no where, everything and no thing. God is our very Self which itself
is The Very Self. Thus, at TZF we often say: There is no God but God,
and God is All There Is.?
http://www.zoofence.com/define4.html

Assuming this argument holds true and there is no definition for God,
the idea that Bush is God is no longer a debatable topic.  Without a
definition it can neither be proven nor disproved, making the Bush=God
theory scientifically invalid.  Or can it be?  If one went to Bush and
asked him to define what God is the answer could be found.  If he
stays silent God remains undefined and this fuzzy logic continues.  If
he defines god, he has just placed boundaries on what he, as God, can
do.  If he spoke the truth in his definition then God is no longer God
and just something (albeit a pretty impressive something) matching his
description.  If what he said was wrong God is wrong and the whole
argument from which this theory began is debunked.

Long story short: It would be easier to prove he is the devil.

-Fractl
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: capitaineformidable-ga on 09 Dec 2004 15:54 PST
 
Well I don?t know where to start with this. It?s like trying to pick
up a barrel load of bosoms. I must say I have not been so
intellectually entertained for a long time.

?Either a force stronger than God attacked the towers, which makes God
the Vice-God. Or God wanted the towers to be hit which would make it
hard for him to get re-elected.?

If God was the Vice-God and there was a higher God and also if God is
a Trinity then the trinity would comprise God; Vice-God and?? The Holy
Spirit would have to play the Prince of Peace to see who was relegated
to play with the Angels.

?Bush did seem a little taken aback about Sept 11?

I thought he looked more as if he had been caught with his hand in the
cookie jar and was afraid that he wouldn?t get to serve a second term
as God. I think this is a more likely explanation, although that
square bulge in the back of his jacket has me puzzled. If God made man
in his own image, none of the people I know have a square bulge in
their backs, or the most powerful person in the universe has a pretty
crappy tailor. Maybe it?s only the Vice-God that has the square bulge
and the all knowing God knew what Kerry was about to say and was
forewarning the Vice-God.

?Any war waged would become a holy war?.

 Not necessarily! If God acts through people and God has given people
free choice in weather to do good or evil. God could act through a
world leader to start an evil military war by influencing their free
choice. In fact, during the last world war both England and Germany
claimed to have God on their side. However there is an inconsistency
inherent here. If God works through us for the power of good then it
is consistent that he gives us his values. It then follows that both
sides in WW2 were in conflict over the same set of values. This whole
discussion started over the conflict one person can have by holding
conflicting values at the same time.

?Any law he made would be a religious one? so long as it was endorsed
by both houses which kind of knocks his omnipotence a bit sideways.

?Bush admitted he did not know if there were WMD in Iraq??.?

Entirely consistent if Bush was the Vice-God and the Duracells had run
out in his square box.

?God is everywhere and nowhere? 
 
Either God can travel faster than light or he is very fat. I threw
this in because the original question was posted in the science
section of GA, but we will have to be careful otherwise we will have a
comment from Niel saying something like, God only exists in waves of
singularity propagated perpendicularly to the centre of God. I think I
would prefer to stay with God is everywhere and nowhere.

?Assuming??. there is no definition for God, the idea that Bush is God
is no longer a debatable topic. Without a definition it can neither be
proved or disproved making it scientifically invalid.

If you subscribe to the view that there are no unknowable things, only
things which are unknown then the conclusion that it is scientifically
invalid is non sequitur, we just haven?t found the answer yet, (or
maybe you don?t).

Personally I think that the whole thing is nonsense. I believe that
the real power behind the throne of the God President is Dan Quayle.

By the way fract1, the next time I make a rhetorical throw away line
I?m going to warn you in advance and if you try to prove the devil
theory I?m going to knock over my king at the beginning of the game.

Thanks for the mind games.    cf
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: fractl-ga on 10 Dec 2004 08:53 PST
 
There cannot be two Gods, if there were it would compromise the title of God.
One of the two must be faking.  Since God has decreed that ?You shall
have no other gods before me? and that ?I the LORD your God am a
jealous God? the real god will not allow a Vice-God.  I have also had
long standing questions about how juch a jealous God could be a
constructive team player in the trinity.

Regarding the bulge...here?s what God had to say:
This morning, in part two of his interview with Bush on ABC's "Good
Morning America," Charlie Gibson spit it out. Brandishing a copy of
the photo, he asked: "Final question. What the hell was that on your
back, in the first debate?"
Bush chuckled. 
Bush: "Well, you know, Karen Hughes and Dan Bartlett have rigged up a
sound system -- "
Gibson: "You're getting in trouble -- " 
Bush: "I don't know what that is. I mean, it is, uh, it is, it's a --
I'm embarrassed to say it's a poorly tailored shirt."
Gibson: "It was the shirt?" 
Bush: "Yeah, absolutely." 
Gibson: "There was no sound system, there was no electrical signal? There was --" 
Bush: "How does an electrical -- please explain to me how it works so
maybe if I were ever to debate again I could figure it out. I guess
the assumption was that if I was straying off course they would, kind
of like a hunting dog, they would punch a buzzer and I would jerk back
into place. I -- it's just absurd."
So it's the shirt? Sure doesn't look like a shirt. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A63949-2004Oct26.html

If Bush was God:  We would have to take his word that it was the
shirt.  God doesn?t lie.  God knows everything, though, and he claimed
not to know how a sound system worked.  So Bush cannot be God.

If Bush was the Vice God:  God would have killed him before the primaries.  

If Bush was just some guy:  He either had a bad tailor (unlikely
because he has a team of overqualified people making sure he looks
just right on camera) or he was poorly wired (more unlikely because he
has a team of overqualified people making sure he looks just right on
camera AND a team of people who specialize in covert operations,
discrete surveillance and protecting the president).  Perhaps he has a
bible strapped to his back to channel God through osmosis.

If Bush was the devil:  His feigned ignorance during the GMA broadcast
could have been to cover up what the bulge really was (it could have
been anything).  Satan is a smart guy, he must have known about the
bulge as well as what people would assume about it.  Perhaps he
planted it there just so the opposition would look like a bunch of
crazies when they accused him of having a ?hunting dog buzzer?
(whatever that is).

Further thought into the idea of a Holy war makes me concluded that
any war waged by America is a Holy war.  We claim to be ?one nation
under god?, meaning that America believes its actions to meet with
Gods approval.  Any time someone fights for America he fights
(indirectly) for God.  This is a shaky logical bridge, but if you then
suppose that the president WAS God.  You have yourself the golden
gate, so to speak.
If God influences someone to fight, it is not necessarily a Holy war. 
Only when it is in His name is it Holy.  If God=Bush...then Americas
wars would be holy wars.

I don?t understand your free will argument.  God cannot influence us
(for good or evil) if we have free will.  God apparently gave us that
free will, though...and what the lord giveth the lord can taketh away.
 Is free will free if we still have to answer to him for our actions? 
Is it free if God knows everything that you will say or do before you
say it?

As for the question on my ?scientific validity? statement:  Thanks to
your friend and mine, Kurt Godel, there is a proof that there are
unprovable things.  This said, I still assert that any of these
unprovable things are not scientifically valid arguments.  What I
meant by that statement is that science (Boolean logic and math
included) cannot coexist with God.  If science is valid the set of
rules the universe operates on is set in stone.  If that were the case
divine intervention would break science in two.  Divine intervention
covers not only things like miracles and the Virgin Mary appearing in
toast, but also things such as prayer reaching gods ears, ghosts (or
souls in general), and certainly a supreme being winning a country?s
election.  What created the universe is beyond the scope of modern
science, God may have intervened there (but we won?t be able to have
known that without subsequent intervention). ?What created the
universe? may not have a provable answer...that does not rule out that
the answers we hear are not disprovable.

One can believe in ?faith? or in ?logic? (mathematical, not intuitive
logic)...but I?m afraid that if one supports both 100% they will,
under enough scrutiny destroy each other.

-Fractl

P.S. If Quayle is God, I?ve been spelling ?potatoe? wrong all these years!!!
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: capitaineformidable-ga on 10 Dec 2004 16:28 PST
 
I think that there are hardly any constructive team players, anywhere. 
If we mean by a team, a group of people working together to achieve a
common end or goal and also in most of modern society by dint of ones
efforts to be further up the social greasy pole than before, then this
extra quality which enables one to rise above the rest of ones
colleagues also means that one must to some extent at least, work
against the spirit of the team. Otherwise this extra something which
makes one stand out would be shared with the rest of the team in order
to be a team player. Maybe true altruism exists in people who do God?s
work, some missionaries, Mother Theresa and the like but it doesn?t
sit well with God, who has already professed he is jealous. There is
not much altruism here, God is the boss and he is staying the boss.
Maybe it?s a similar case to the middle classes conducting themselves
in a way they perceive the upper classes to behave.

Maybe God is so used to bellowing commandments and having others avert
their eyes and tremble in his presence, he doesn?t need to know how a
sound system works.

Hmm, God killing the Vice God before the primaries, again there is not
much altruism here from the God of love.

Satin playing the double game, it?s a bit tenuous, I will have think
about that one.

So we need to decide if effecting an administration change in Iraq and
not finding WMD was a holy war, in order to test if Bush is God. There
is a logical thread here but how do we do it?

I took the free will argument a syllable too far and got my hand
slapped for it. The underlying idea was that God gave us free will to
do good or bad or anything in between. If we decide to do ?bad?, then
we have exercised our 'free will' to break the faith and turn our back
on God. If we do good then that is not us exercising our 'free will'
to do ?good?, instead it is God working through us. If God was a true
God then he would not need to have it both ways.

Maybe some scientific phenomena are un-provable. Maybe they will
always remain un-provable or maybe at some time in the future a
scientific rationale will be found for them. Here we have to decide.
We can either say they are, as yet unproven scientific phenomena,
behaving in a scientific way that that we don?t understand, or we can
say they are God?s will. You pays your money and you takes your
choice.



I have a sneaking suspicion that secretly; both of us knew President
Bush wasn?t God.

However, If he was a direct descendant of the ?Burning Bush? that
would mean he is a ?Divine Intervention?, he would have the ability to
set the world on fire whilst remaining indestructible. There is a
thought!

On the other hand, I am not altogether sure that God is God. What do you think?

No! No! That was a rhetorical question ? it doesn?t need an answer. 

capitaineformidable
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: capitaineformidable-ga on 13 Dec 2004 16:00 PST
 
A serious topic seems to have finally blown itself out (I think) and
we have ended on a note of half serious, half fatuous levity.

The first half, in my view, was well discussed and then it got a bit
personal. I came in right on the end with the illogical futility of
Iraq and a reference back to the original question and it finished
with a bit of fun between fract1 and me.

However, for those of you who might want an explanation (not mine) of
how the elephant first came to be grazing on the Axminster, I think it
is worthwhile dipping into the Changing minds.org website (links
below). They claim 1,500 pages and still growing, so it is something
to be selective about. The links I have given are a good place to
start.

Here is the way their section on ?Conversion Techniques? starts.

?Conversion to a different way of thinking and different beliefs
appears in many different situations. Although the techniques here are
drawn from studies of brainwashing and cult conversion, they are
surprisingly common, at least in more acceptable forms, in many other
groups and organizations.?

The sections on ?Changing Values? and ?Consistency Principle? are
particularly worthwhile. Most of the important points raised are here,
somewhere: timespacettes-ga?s original question; digsalot-ga?s dual
values; fract1-ga?s fear of how a religious group might influence the
President?s decision making; mast-ga?s analysis of the trust placed in
authority, reinforcement of existing beliefs, peer pressure, power and
the fear of loss and alex101-ga?s point on people convincing
themselves that their conflicting views are not disparate.

http://changingminds.org/index.htm

http://changingminds.org/techniques/conversion/conversion_techniques.htm

Good reading.

capitaineformidable
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: crythias-ga on 13 Dec 2004 16:31 PST
 
The elephant is dead, I realize it. I just have a simple question: How
can a religion of peace be reconciled against its insistance on
continued aggression?

Of course, in this case I am asking about the affect of Islam and
their attrocities under the name of "Islamic Jihad". I also have to
ask how the President of the United States should possibly be
influenced by the actions and response of this Holy War against the
US, by a religion of peace?

Oh, I'm sorry... are Christians the ones who have a monopoly on peace
and religious warfare?
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: timespacette-ga on 13 Dec 2004 16:58 PST
 
the elephant may be dead, but he's beginning to smell bad . . . and
who's going to haul him away?

I think both Christian and Muslims have the monopoly on the rest of the world . . .

two wrongs don't make a right, as we all have been reminded again and again . . .

still watching,

Happy Holidays!

ts
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: capitaineformidable-ga on 14 Dec 2004 05:00 PST
 
Hi Crythias,

We have not talked directly before so here is a written handshake.

I seem to remember a teacher at school (many years ago) saying that
somebody had done a study and that in all of recorded history, there
was less than ten years of world peace. I don?t know if this is true
but sadly, I think that it is in human nature to quarrel, and indulge
in conflict and John Lenon?s sentiments are not going to change this.

The Chinese had a solution that was good for their time. They built a
wall around their country to keep the undesirables out but in our so
called, Global Village, this is not possible anymore.

There are hundreds and hundreds of small divisions but the big groups
of our time seem to be the largely Christian West, the largely Islamic
East and the Chinese communist bloc. The Christian West wants more of
the world for its economic markets and the other two want more of the
world for their respective ideologies. I have heard that President
Johnson knew for certain sure the Vietnam War was unwinnable before
America even went in. The effect it had was to prevent Malaysia and
the Antipodes falling in a domino effect and thus keeping them open
for free trade.

China, at present, seems to have an ambivalent stance, maintaining
communism in its own country whilst trading with the West to provide
economic growth. Fundamental Islam is the present day religious
aggressor and America (largely), the present day economic aggressor.
America does not want to own Iraq and the like; it just wants to
control its economy and the indiginous people seem to resent this.

It is interesting to note how the rules changed after the war of
Eastern aggression (Sept 11) became the war of Western aggression. If
you go to the second link on my previous post and look up the section
on ?Confession? you will find this:

Agreement over rules typically starts with generalized rules with
which it is hard to disagree, for example 'people should help one
another'. There are many such common human values that provide an easy
starting place
These rules may then be gradually tightened over time. As people
accept the basic premise, additional judgement criteria are added.
Thus, for example, 'people should help one another' becomes 'people
should help one another at every opportunity' to 'you must always put
the interests of other people before your own interests' to 'you are
inferior to everyone'.

Compare this with fractl?s comment:

When we first went into Iraq we seemed to be only after possible
weapons facilities and terrorist groups.  Then we were after Saddam
and his officials.  Then we were after Saddam?s supporters.  Now we?re
after the radical ?Islamists? (I believe the word is Muslim).  What?s
the next target?

To answer your question it would appear that America tries to expand
its economy first (yes I do know it?s on a downturn at the moment) and
protect its religious values second whilst the Middle East tries to
expand its religious values first and protect its economy second.

A peaceful yuletide to all commentators and all at ?ga?.

Capitaineformidable
Subject: Cognitive Dissonance
From: aksophist-ga on 27 Dec 2004 09:12 PST
 
The poster's original question about a psychological principle made me
think of the psychological principle of "cognitive dissonance". 
Cognitive dissonance theory proposes that people need to reconcile
acts that contradict their beliefs, or new beliefs that contradict
their beliefs.  This reconciliation can take many forms (google
"cognitive dissonance" to find more) but in the case of Bush and war,
the reconciliation may look something like: "Bush is warlike, but I
believe in peace.  Bush is only warlike towards terrorists and friends
of terrorists.  I do not believe in peace towards terrorists."

This particular line of thought may conflict with detailed analyses of
the war with Iraq and Afghanistan, but anyway, my point was mainly
just to put the words "cognitive dissonance" on this page, since that
is the psychological principle that seems most applicable to the
poster's question.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: airspace-ga on 06 Jun 2005 15:40 PDT
 
All you knowledgeable people throwing around what you know.
Christianity is man's interpertation of the teachings of Christ, is it
not. Therefor man made. I completely agree with Christianity, so this
is not where I see the problem. Here you have asked a question of all
time. Why does man kill man for other people. The responsiblity for
such an action inevitably falls on the individual, as much as we don't
like to addmit it. You see, had Jesus established his church on earth,
I beleive it would been the church of understanding. Through the life
of Christ I understand that the objective truth in life is "I am equal
in this world when I choose to be." From this truth I get these
truths; "I am solely responsible for my own actions." "I can judge no
other." "I must judge myself." Now when I mix this with life is
governed by belief and choice, how can I not take full responsiblity
for my actions. By the way, choice is an action, (explains why a rich
man is unlikely to get into heaven.) Scary when you think that man
operates all day making choices based on what he believes but also
gets to choose what to believe. I see the reason our world is in such
a mess is because at the core level of belief we all actualy believe
in nothing. Understanding this gives me 3 very solid things to believe
in I can give you a rational explianation of this. Also, I understand
human nature where it applies to this question. In high school I
learned about the first teacher, learner test conducted after the
second world war. It proved that 70% of all humans will kill when
directed to do so by a preceved athority.
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: timespacette-ga on 06 Jun 2005 16:54 PDT
 
Are you referring to the experiment discussed in Question # 422421?
Subject: Re: the elephant in the living room that no one talks about . . .
From: airspace-ga on 06 Jun 2005 20:20 PDT
 
How am I suppost to know, don't you understand that the facts or even
knowledge of these various issues are not that important if you
understand how they all work.

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