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Thread: Reason, religion, logic, and morality

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    Reason, religion, logic, and morality

    From the thread http://www.4forums.com/political/rel...-religion.html

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    Value judgements change with changing culture, logic does not.
    How exactly do you arrive at the idea that logic is enough to make moral judgments? (That's the term you're using now, and if I'm misunderstanding you, please say so.) Logic can't tell you whether or not to apply ethical consideration to scientific work, or to what extent to do so. It can't tell the nuances of morality that determines when the needs of the few may be important than the needs of the many (to use a 'trek-ism'). Logic is objective, and you're talking about issues that are often subjective. I don't see how you can argue logic is sufficient. Call it reason, call it logic--whichever you think of it as--it needs morality to temper it. I simply don't want my morality dictated only by cold logic. you may feel differently for yourself, and that's your choice of course. I don't want to live that way. My points about this still stand even if you refer to it as "logic." If everything were CLEARLY logical, there wouldn't be any controversies in our culture. These forums wouldn't exist because it would all be cut and dry and there would be no disagreement. Standards of logic are easy with things like mathematics; not so standardized when it comes to sociological issues. (Edit: reading down through your post further, it seems that you don't advocate logic-only after all, and so I think we may agree in some ways on this. If I'm understanding you correctly.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I gave my examples of what I thought was illogical about the Holocaust - examples which I repeat here in the hopes that you will address them this time:
    Where the Nazis and 6 million murdered Jews were concerned, they blamed Jews for all of the problems ....
    Please explain how those are not examples of lack of logic?
    Where I think you're misguided here is in assigning logic or lack thereof as a causality. If they had only applied benevolent morality to their logic, it wouldn't have happened, after all. Again, what they did was no doubt completely 'logical' in their own thinking.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    Even many of the most evil people in the world will think twice about their approach to a situation if they themselves are put in that situation. That is a type of reasoning that counters them - the reasoning of reciprocity of morality.
    IMO, that's not "logic" though. What you just described isn't 2+2=4, it's simply a way of conducting morality. It's no more than saying one should think of a situation with himself in the place, so if anything, it's an appeal to self-preservation emotion, in a sense. Not really logic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I think morality needs to be based on both, where it is mainly the difference in value judgements that make morality not fixed but relative to a culture.
    Alright. And I think if you review my points, that's largely what I'm saying too. After all, I've said quite clearly that logic needs to be tempered with morality. I think we're saying much the same thing here, just in different ways.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    Reason and logic are not the same thing. Where morality is concerned, I would say that reason contains (or should contain) both logic and value judgement.
    Again, I think religious people do indeed use reason, and in that sense I have to agree, based on my observation and experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    It is hard to exclude value judgment completely from moral reasoning
    I'd go farther than that and say it shouldn't be excluded. Again, logic needs to be tempered with morality. One can't feel cold hard logic toward their fellow human beings. But one can feel compassion, for instance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I have already said that there are many religious moral laws in which the reasoning is illucidated. So, any claim on your part that I do not aknowledge any reasoning in religion is disengenuous.
    I'm not making that point in rebuttal towards you. I'm simply making the point in general because I think it is an extremely important one. IMO religion is somewhat looked down upon in this forum, wrongly so, and so I think it needs to be emphasized that religious people generally use reason as well. It's not an either/or scenario.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    However, as I have stated, there are also examples of religious moral laws (that probably draw more attention since they are usually the most contraversial onces) where the reasoning behind a moral law is not illucidated but expected to be accepted on faith.
    I think your parenthetical statement hit the nail on the head. A religious nutcase gets far more PRESS than the many, many more who are reasonable people. Then we have some who think they champion reason who believe religion is bad in ANY case. Or that it's bad to have religion inform morality. That view in and of itself is unreasonable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    Faith does not inherently contain reason. Faith, instead, expects one to accept something as true without question.
    I think there needs to be a distinction made here between the term "faith" and religious belief. Of course 'faith' is about accepting something--a leap of faith, after all. I've studied much of the evidence pro and con, for instance, in terms of the early church and New Testament writings. I don't NEED faith to believe they are legitimate; the evidence suggests they are, and there is a lack of evidence to disprove them. That's reason, not just faith. That's what I mean by saying you don't own reason. I may have come to different CONCLUSIONS than you have, but that doesn't mean I'm not thinking through it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    Reason is the very asking and answering of those questions, and further asking questions based on those answers, ad infinitum.
    Do you not think many religious people do this? I certainly do, as do most Christians I know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    When something, such as gay rights, is accepted on faith without a full open-minded discussion being allowed, then I would say that very little or simply very faulty reasoning is being used. Again, when one uses reason, it means that one doesn't automatically assume truth but, instead, one tries to get at it through nested questions, answers and debate.
    So, if a debate takes place, and continues to take place, but someone comes to different CONCLUSIONS than you, you're ok with that? You're satisfied that reason has been utilized? Again, I think anyone who assumes religious people aren't wrestling with this issue in society has no idea what's really going on in religion. Trust me, there's PLENTY of debate and questioning going on about that subject.

    I'm sorry, but to be perfectly honest, I find the call from skeptics for more 'debate' and 'questioning' to be somewhat humorous, if not disingenuous. If you're satisfied with someone questioning and debating, but then coming out of it with conclusions DIFFERENT than yours, then very well. But most of the time, I find on such issues that calling for people to "question" and "debate" to more be code words for accepting the views of the one calling for questioning. IMO it's the height of arrogance for anyone to associate one side's views and conclusions with a lack of questioning. With all due respect, my religious views HAVE come about through questioning and debate, thank you, even if they are not the same views you have.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    Very well then, how about if we extend it to the last fifty years - which covers most of our lifetimes. That is the world we live in - the world that we have experienced in our lifetimes.
    Alright then ... the excesses of the sexual revolution, for example. It's not like STDs and the effects of drugs weren't well-known, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find religious motivation behind it. Logically, why NOT sleep around? It's fun and harmless when taking precautions. But wait .... it seemed to cause a lot of problems nonetheless. Apparently logic wasn't enough to ensure they WOULD take precautions.
    “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” - Reagan

    "A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading."
    - C. S. Lewis

    "I suffer more harassment as a former homosexual than I ever did as an out and proud homosexual." - Greg Quinlan, PFOX

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    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu View Post
    IMO, that's not "logic" though. What you just described isn't 2+2=4, it's simply a way of conducting morality. It's no more than saying one should think of a situation with himself in the place, so if anything, it's an appeal to self-preservation emotion, in a sense. Not really logic.
    In a way it is logic. Its a conditional statement. If I like this done to me, I should do this to others. Determining what you like done to you may be subjective, but the overall rule is a logical one.
    So, if a debate takes place, and continues to take place, but someone comes to different CONCLUSIONS than you, you're ok with that? You're satisfied that reason has been utilized? Again, I think anyone who assumes religious people aren't wrestling with this issue in society has no idea what's really going on in religion. Trust me, there's PLENTY of debate and questioning going on about that subject.

    I'm sorry, but to be perfectly honest, I find the call from skeptics for more 'debate' and 'questioning' to be somewhat humorous, if not disingenuous. If you're satisfied with someone questioning and debating, but then coming out of it with conclusions DIFFERENT than yours, then very well. But most of the time, I find on such issues that calling for people to "question" and "debate" to more be code words for accepting the views of the one calling for questioning. IMO it's the height of arrogance for anyone to associate one side's views and conclusions with a lack of questioning. With all due respect, my religious views HAVE come about through questioning and debate, thank you, even if they are not the same views you have.
    If you're approaching a debate with a conclusion iin mind already then you're there to preach, not to debate. You're not there to discover something new, you're there to defend what you already think is the truth. There's no debate there. Of course we all have preconcieved notions, but if you treat your notion as a fact, and not as a hypothesis, then you're missing what's best about debating.
    when man tried to understand nature, theism was born
    when man tried to understand God, atheism was born

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    unkerpaulie, thanks, but I created this thread to converse with Another Opinion, if he's still willing.
    “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” - Reagan

    "A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading."
    - C. S. Lewis

    "I suffer more harassment as a former homosexual than I ever did as an out and proud homosexual." - Greg Quinlan, PFOX

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    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu View Post
    How exactly do you arrive at the idea that logic is enough to make moral judgments? (That's the term you're using now, and if I'm misunderstanding you, please say so.) Logic can't tell you whether or not to apply ethical consideration to scientific work, or to what extent to do so. It can't tell the nuances of morality that determines when the needs of the few may be important than the needs of the many (to use a 'trek-ism'). Logic is objective, and you're talking about issues that are often subjective. I don't see how you can argue logic is sufficient. Call it reason, call it logic--whichever you think of it as--it needs morality to temper it. I simply don't want my morality dictated only by cold logic. you may feel differently for yourself, and that's your choice of course. I don't want to live that way. My points about this still stand even if you refer to it as "logic." If everything were CLEARLY logical, there wouldn't be any controversies in our culture. These forums wouldn't exist because it would all be cut and dry and there would be no disagreement. Standards of logic are easy with things like mathematics; not so standardized when it comes to sociological issues. (Edit: reading down through your post further, it seems that you don't advocate logic-only after all, and so I think we may agree in some ways on this. If I'm understanding you correctly.)
    As you noticed reading further in my post, I do indeed say that moral reasoning does need to include value judgments as well.

    Overall, I would say that morality needs to be composed of at least three things:
    1. Value judgments
    2. Logic
    3. A full understanding of the facts underlying the situation about which a moral judgment is being made.

    Granted that point 3 can be considered related to point 1 but it is different enough that I put it in its own separate category. It is also a highly important point since moral judgments are VERY often made by people who do not have a full understanding of the facts underlying a case. It is far easier to broadly categorize people into good and bad and to jump to conclusions. Reality is rarely that simple.

    So, lets see if we at least have some starting point to discussion. Namely, do you agree that moral reasoning needs to be composed of at least those three aspects? If not, then what would you exclude. Otherwise, what else would you add?
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    Where I think you're misguided here is in assigning logic or lack thereof as a causality. If they had only applied benevolent morality to their logic, it wouldn't have happened, after all. Again, what they did was no doubt completely 'logical' in their own thinking.
    Again, how are the two points that I mentioned not a question of absolute logic:
    1. The Nazis blamed Jews for all of the problems that the Germans had experienced between the wars - an unreasoned conclusion based on emotional scapegoating, not firm facts.
    2. The Nazis assumed that all Jews were bad people - an unreasoned conclusion based on stereotyped generalizations from what might have been a few bad eggs to a whole population.

    What arguements could they have made to counter those logical points? I would argue that they didn't even bother making counterpoints or presented other unsupported points in defense (ex. stating anecdotal examples and pretending that that supports their point). Since anyone who was sufficiently outspoken against the Nazi policies risked getting killed, any real debate on the subject did not truly exist. My main point in bringing up these examples is to say that, if such a thorough debate had been allowed to exist, then these logical points and others would have decimated their position. That is why it is so critical to aknoweldge that logic does have to form a part of moral reasoning. Do you disagree? If so, why?
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    IMO, that's not "logic" though. What you just described isn't 2+2=4, it's simply a way of conducting morality. It's no more than saying one should think of a situation with himself in the place, so if anything, it's an appeal to self-preservation emotion, in a sense. Not really logic.
    Well, it is one of the rules presented by many secular morality theories - ex. that of Kant - where he arrived at those rules through secular reasoning. Since I don't have the time to look up his reasoning to get to that rule, I can leave that for now.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    Alright. And I think if you review my points, that's largely what I'm saying too. After all, I've said quite clearly that logic needs to be tempered with morality. I think we're saying much the same thing here, just in different ways.
    Morality and logic are not opposites. I would agree that logic needs to be tempered by value judgments (or what you call morality). However, I would also claim that morality needs to be tempered with logic. Do you disagree?
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    I'm not making that point in rebuttal towards you. I'm simply making the point in general because I think it is an extremely important one. IMO religion is somewhat looked down upon in this forum, wrongly so, and so I think it needs to be emphasized that religious people generally use reason as well. It's not an either/or scenario.
    Yes, religious people use reason as well. However, I would claim that the reason used is more compartamentalized than the reason used in discussions on secular morality. In a way it is a type of reason that is constrained in a box. Granted, all reason should be constrained within the box of logic (that determines certain limits), but religious reasoning also constrains it within the box of faith. There are some directions in reasoning that religious people just will not cross since it contradicts their faith - ex. questioning the very existence of God or the truth of the Bible. Some religious people are more open-minded in not having as strict walls of faith set up around their reasoning. However, there are others who are so fixed in their views, that no reasoning can shift their view - their box of faith surrounding their reason is very tight indeed. The proportion of religious people who hold such strictly confined views seems to be growing - which is part of the reason for the reaction of the left against such trends. That was not always the case.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    I think your parenthetical statement hit the nail on the head. A religious nutcase gets far more PRESS than the many, many more who are reasonable people. Then we have some who think they champion reason who believe religion is bad in ANY case. Or that it's bad to have religion inform morality. That view in and of itself is unreasonable.
    However, issues such as Gay Rights have helped swing elections. So, these are not just marginal issues that can be ignored. They are used by the religious right to energize their constituency to vote for far-right Republican candidates. If these issues did not effect politics, then they would be far less visible.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    I think there needs to be a distinction made here between the term "faith" and religious belief. Of course 'faith' is about accepting something--a leap of faith, after all. I've studied much of the evidence pro and con, for instance, in terms of the early church and New Testament writings. I don't NEED faith to believe they are legitimate; the evidence suggests they are, and there is a lack of evidence to disprove them. That's reason, not just faith. That's what I mean by saying you don't own reason. I may have come to different CONCLUSIONS than you have, but that doesn't mean I'm not thinking through it.
    I don't claim that you are not thinking through it. I would surmise, however, that you are not completely open minded in your thinking in that there are some barriers in reasoning that you just will not cross and will take on faith - such as the very existence of God. However, I do not know you well enough to know that for sure. I have just had enough experience with people of reasonably strong religious belief to see that they always stop the discussion at some point once it starts reaching into uncomfortable directions.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    So, if a debate takes place, and continues to take place, but someone comes to different CONCLUSIONS than you, you're ok with that? You're satisfied that reason has been utilized? Again, I think anyone who assumes religious people aren't wrestling with this issue in society has no idea what's really going on in religion. Trust me, there's PLENTY of debate and questioning going on about that subject.
    I am only fully satisfied if a reasoned discussion is fully followed to its end. If, after everyone's points have been addressed in all of the nested loops of questions and answers, and we still end up disagreeing, then so be it. I have often agreed to disagree on issues. Most often, that happens when both opponents lack knowledge in a particular situation. I have even changed my mind on occasion on an issue during debate - usually, when the opponent presents a piece of evidence that I was unfamiliar with. However, if reason is only partly used in a discussion and the opponent, instead, ignores uncomfortable points, the I would remain unsatisfied.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    I'm sorry, but to be perfectly honest, I find the call from skeptics for more 'debate' and 'questioning' to be somewhat humorous, if not disingenuous. If you're satisfied with someone questioning and debating, but then coming out of it with conclusions DIFFERENT than yours, then very well. But most of the time, I find on such issues that calling for people to "question" and "debate" to more be code words for accepting the views of the one calling for questioning. IMO it's the height of arrogance for anyone to associate one side's views and conclusions with a lack of questioning. With all due respect, my religious views HAVE come about through questioning and debate, thank you, even if they are not the same views you have.
    Then you should have no problem in presenting your rational views when they do come under question, and you should have no problem, then, in giving rational rebuttles to all of your opponents points. However, if you ignore some of their points, then they have every right to criticize you for it. That is true for all of us. Our opponents have every right to criticize us if we ignore their points.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    Alright then ... the excesses of the sexual revolution, for example. It's not like STDs and the effects of drugs weren't well-known, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find religious motivation behind it. Logically, why NOT sleep around? It's fun and harmless when taking precautions. But wait .... it seemed to cause a lot of problems nonetheless. Apparently logic wasn't enough to ensure they WOULD take precautions.
    I would claim that they didn't even try to use logic. As I said in an earlier thread, there are many people who don't even bother thinking through their moral stance. These people exist both in the religous and secular sphere. When comparing religious to secular morality, then, I would think it only fair to compare the views of those who have actually thought through their respective morality. Otherwise, I could argue that suicide bombers, the Klu Klux Clan, even the Nazis all fall under religious morality since they all used distorted views of religious morality to justify their actions.
    Last edited by Another opinion; 08-03-2009 at 11:21 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    As you noticed reading further in my post, I do indeed say that moral reasoning does need to include value judgments as well.

    Overall, I would say that morality needs to be composed of at least three things:
    1. Value judgments
    2. Logic
    3. A full understanding of the facts underlying the situation about which a moral judgment is being made.

    Granted that point 3 can be considered related to point 1 but it is different enough that I put it in its own separate category. It is also a highly important point since moral judgments are VERY often made by people who do not have a full understanding of the facts underlying a case.
    These sound like a good 3-point standard for arriving at a moral position to me too. Though I think realistically speaking, anything like this is more a matter of ideal than absolute. In other words, it's something to strive for, and because there's no definitive outside standard for what constitutes a 'full' understanding of facts, people can only do the best they can. I'd say rather the facts as they can know them up to that point at least.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    So, lets see if we at least have some starting point to discussion. Namely, do you agree that moral reasoning needs to be composed of at least those three aspects? If not, then what would you exclude. Otherwise, what else would you add?
    Yes, I think those three are adequate in terms of something to strive for. I think religion fits under point one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    Again, how are the two points that I mentioned not a question of absolute logic:

    2. The Nazis assumed that all Jews were bad people
    Because logic is an objective concept, and the example you gave is a subjective one. In reality, what you cited fits under the 'value judgment' category. How do you logically judge good and bad? How does one apply things like 2+2=4 to such an eye-of-the-beholder concept? I think logic (in any standardized sense) can't go very far in determining morality. it can help, which is why I have no problem with it being in your 3 points. But I think it very well may be the weakest of the three in being beneficial.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    My main point in bringing up these examples is to say that, if such a thorough debate had been allowed to exist, then these logical points and others would have decimated their position. That is why it is so critical to aknoweldge that logic does have to form a part of moral reasoning. Do you disagree? If so, why?
    I can't agree that logic would have prevented their position. I think purely logically, it could very well might make sense for a people to wipe out another. that's why logic does need to be tempered with ethics. It's something beyond logic that tells us it's wrong to kill other people if it is beneficial to do so. I hate to use an example from a movie, but it does illustrate what I'm talking about. Have you ever seen 2001:A Space Odyssey"? The computer in that movie--Hal--kills off most of the crew because it's the only way to logically complete its mission. Now, I realize AI like that is fictional, but a computer (something that runs COMPLETELY on logic) might determine that the best way to preserve society would be to eliminate its weakest members, for instance. (Indeed, this is actually an argument the Nazis used in killing handicapped people, for instance.) That might be logical, but it's not ethical, and it's not moral, because our morality is determined by far more than merely logic. But I think to some degree you've agreed with this, in that logic isn't the only one of your three variables for morality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    Morality and logic are not opposites. I would agree that logic needs to be tempered by value judgments (or what you call morality). However, I would also claim that morality needs to be tempered with logic. Do you disagree?
    Yes, I can agree with that. However, I think the need for logic to be tempered with morality is the far more common problem of the two.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    Yes, religious people use reason as well. However, I would claim that the reason used is more compartamentalized than the reason used in discussions on secular morality. In a way it is a type of reason that is constrained in a box. Granted, all reason should be constrained within the box of logic (that determines certain limits), but religious reasoning also constrains it within the box of faith. There are some directions in reasoning that religious people just will not cross since it contradicts their faith - ex. questioning the very existence of God or the truth of the Bible.
    I think that is less of the case that you may realize. I think most religious people do indeed question the existence of God; they may not do so publicly, but they do. I would be willing to venture there's not a religious person ALIVE that hasn't questioned God's existence, for instance. I can't prove that, but they are human, and humans aren't automatons. Even the most hardened fundamentalist has questioned it at some point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    Some religious people are more open-minded in not having as strict walls of faith set up around their reasoning. However, there are others who are so fixed in their views, that no reasoning can shift their view - their box of faith surrounding their reason is very tight indeed.
    But such compartmentalized thinking exists the other way too--we see scientists, for example, that want to conduct logical science set apart from ethics. So I think what you're describing isn't so much a product of religion as it is a tendency of some in humanity to compartmentalize, as you say.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    The proportion of religious people who hold such strictly confined views seems to be growing - which is part of the reason for the reaction of the left against such trends. That was not always the case.
    And yet society is getting more 'progressive' all the time, which suggests religion is actually moving somewhat in the other direction. Surely you realize that religion in general is far more tolerant of things like gay rights than it was 20-30 years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    However, issues such as Gay Rights have helped swing elections.
    Well I never said that something being a matter of getting more press wasn't a powerful influence. If someone is in a produce department in a grocery store, the presence of one rotten potato in a bag of them is plenty enough to sway a buyer against grabbing that whole bag. But if we approach these issues as if the problem is just religion (rather than understanding it's NOT religion at large at all), we TOO have abandoned logic. So I emphasize the importance of avoiding generalities.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I don't claim that you are not thinking through it. I would surmise, however, that you are not completely open minded in your thinking in that there are some barriers in reasoning that you just will not cross and will take on faith - such as the very existence of God.
    If I've weighed the issues, and come to the conclusion God exists, how is it that I've not been open? At what point do we change the phraseology here from 'not being open' to 'having concluded'? Because I certainly have been open to that. If you've concluded that the earth is round, is it really that crucial to 'be completely open' to the idea that might still be flat? I don't think so. I think you're elevating one conclusion over another here, and it's not really fair to associate one with the idea of lack-of-questioning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I am only fully satisfied if a reasoned discussion is fully followed to its end.
    But does that ever really happen with most moralistic issues? I think that if we put off making a moral judgment/stance until discussions are at their end, society is pretty much going to stall. The reason many such issues are controversial is exactly THAT it's a complex issue that isn't going to end anytime soon, and no one side owns it. Logic can go either way on it, such as the issue of abortion. It's logical both to avoid abortions AND to give women choice. So both sides can claim that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    As I said in an earlier thread, there are many people who don't even bother thinking through their moral stance.
    I agree with that. And we both agree that people should indeed think through things.
    “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” - Reagan

    "A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading."
    - C. S. Lewis

    "I suffer more harassment as a former homosexual than I ever did as an out and proud homosexual." - Greg Quinlan, PFOX

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    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu View Post
    These sound like a good 3-point standard for arriving at a moral position to me too. Though I think realistically speaking, anything like this is more a matter of ideal than absolute. In other words, it's something to strive for, and because there's no definitive outside standard for what constitutes a 'full' understanding of facts, people can only do the best they can. I'd say rather the facts as they can know them up to that point at least.
    Yes, I would agree that one might never know everything significant about the situation underlying a moral judgment. I mainly listed this goal since many people don't even try to first ask about all the underlying circumstances and, instead, simply jump to conclusions. I would be happy if everyone at least tried to look into the details before making moral judgments - that would be progress over the current status quo. This can be true for all political spectra - more so for far right or far left but occasionally also from those at the center.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    Yes, I think those three are adequate in terms of something to strive for. I think religion fits under point one.
    I would agree. Many religious laws are simply value judgements.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    Because logic is an objective concept, and the example you gave is a subjective one. In reality, what you cited fits under the 'value judgment' category. How do you logically judge good and bad? How does one apply things like 2+2=4 to such an eye-of-the-beholder concept? I think logic (in any standardized sense) can't go very far in determining morality. it can help, which is why I have no problem with it being in your 3 points. But I think it very well may be the weakest of the three in being beneficial.
    I think there is a misunderstanding about what I was calling illogical in that statement - i.e. that Nazis thought that all Jews were bad. My point was that it was illogical to think that "ALL" Jews are bad, as opposed to a point about thinking that all Jews are BAD. Certainly, one can point to innumerable examples from any race of people who behave badly - Jews included. I am sure that the Nazis could name a number of individual Jews who did act badly. However, their illogic lies in the extention of that judgment to ALL Jews. It is illogical because they cannot have individually examined each and every Jew to come to this conclusion. Their pronouncement that all Jews were bad was completely unsupported by any evidence. If they said that some Jews are bad, then they would have been right (some portion of every race and ethnicity are bad just because of the spread of human personalities). If they had been forced to justify their pronouncement, then that pronouncement would have been easily shown to be false and could no longer have been used to draw support of the German people to their anti-Semitic cause.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    I can't agree that logic would have prevented their position. I think purely logically, it could very well might make sense for a people to wipe out another. that's why logic does need to be tempered with ethics. It's something beyond logic that tells us it's wrong to kill other people if it is beneficial to do so. I hate to use an example from a movie, but it does illustrate what I'm talking about. Have you ever seen 2001:A Space Odyssey"? The computer in that movie--Hal--kills off most of the crew because it's the only way to logically complete its mission. Now, I realize AI like that is fictional, but a computer (something that runs COMPLETELY on logic) might determine that the best way to preserve society would be to eliminate its weakest members, for instance. (Indeed, this is actually an argument the Nazis used in killing handicapped people, for instance.) That might be logical, but it's not ethical, and it's not moral, because our morality is determined by far more than merely logic. But I think to some degree you've agreed with this, in that logic isn't the only one of your three variables for morality.
    Yes and no. I agree that one can have logical positions that are completely heartless - such as the desire of a group to kill all people of a particular group. Theoretically, such moral systems are possible. However, they do not work in reality without there existing some illogical pronouncement that is used as propaganda to convince the mass of supporters. That is because people, on average, are not completely heartless but do have a sense of compassion. If one were to state, without any such propaganda, that the state wanted to kill everyone of a particular group (ex. in order to take their land for the benefit of the people of that state), then such a stated goal would meet with a lot of opposition - even in totalitarian states. That is why propaganda has so often been used in history to support extreme acts - from the Nazi propaganda against the Jews, to the Hutus propaganda against the Tutsis, to propaganda that is always used in times of war to vilify the enemy (not just individuals in the enemy but all members of the enemy), to the propaganda about the savageness of Native Americans that was used to justify their mass slaughter, to propaganda about the abilities of people of African origin that was used to justify slavery. If one looks at every heartless act in human history, there is nearly always propaganda underlying the support for those actions. Propaganda can easily be countered with logic - as long as that honest discussion is allowed to happen and as long as both sides are forced to abide by the result of the discussion. Of course, those in power prevent such honest discussions from happening in the first place so that their propaganda remains unchallenged. That is why freedom of speech is so important. The Nazis propaganda about the Jews let them gain supporters to their cause. If that propaganda had been successfully challenged, then their cause might never have grown and/or the Holocaust might never have happened.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    I think that is less of the case that you may realize. I think most religious people do indeed question the existence of God; they may not do so publicly, but they do. I would be willing to venture there's not a religious person ALIVE that hasn't questioned God's existence, for instance. I can't prove that, but they are human, and humans aren't automatons. Even the most hardened fundamentalist has questioned it at some point.
    I might disagree with you about EVERYONE having questioned God's existence, but I would agree that a lot more people have questioned it than one may think. However, very few believers are willing to expose themselves to a full rigorous test of their faith in God by non-believers. It is just too uncomfortable to have such an honest discussion. I would admit, however, that, outside of rational arguements against certain beliefs in God, many non-believers are just too abnoxious in such discussions to let them happen (Their goal is to insult people of faith more than it is to discuss) so both sides can often be at fault there.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    But such compartmentalized thinking exists the other way too--we see scientists, for example, that want to conduct logical science set apart from ethics. So I think what you're describing isn't so much a product of religion as it is a tendency of some in humanity to compartmentalize, as you say.
    Where scientists are concerned in conducting science apart from ethics, I think that is a matter of passing on responsibility. If a technology they develop is misused, then they blame those that misused that technology - not they themselves, who developed it. I would say that they are partly right and partly wrong. The responsibility over a particular dangerous technology is spread numerous ways - including both those that use it and those that develop it. In not recognising that they ALSO carry that responsibility, they do indeed demonstrate compartamentalized thinking.

    When I encounter compartamentlized thinking on either side, I try to counter it. One cannot say that one side should be allowed to use compartamentlized thinking because the other side occasionally engages in it. The goal should be to block compartamentalized thinking WHEREVER one sees it.

    So, I am also against compartamentalized thinking when I see it in the secular sphere. Are you against compartamentalized thinking when you see it in the religious sphere or is your criticism of compartamentlized thinking directed only one way?
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    And yet society is getting more 'progressive' all the time, which suggests religion is actually moving somewhat in the other direction. Surely you realize that religion in general is far more tolerant of things like gay rights than it was 20-30 years ago.
    I would say that there are two trends. The first is that society in general (on average) is moving in a more "progressive" direction. However, at the same time, there is an ever growing minority of the population - that now constitute about 30% of the US population - that are labelled the religious right that hold on tightly to older less progressive views and that often use distorted claims to try to convince moderates of their cause. That is the minority that largely disrupted President Clinton's presidency, that were able to gain power through the Bush administration, and who are trying to cause havoc through exagerrated or distorted arguments now during the Obama administration. It is the tactics of that 30% minority in their quest for power that leaves many on the left cynical and angry. Many Democrats I know regret these changes in the Republican party - a party that used to be more moderate and which used to have spokesemen such as William Buckley, where now Rush Limbaugh is a major spokesman - big difference.

    Unfortately, many people who resent the tactics of the religious right let that resentment and anger spill over into criticism of ALL religious people. They are blind to the fact that there are a wide range of religious views and, given that the great majority of the people of the US call themselves religious, that means that most are far more moderate in their views than are the religious right. In trying to paint all religious people with the same critical brush, they are not only wrong but they risk alienating the very moderate religious groups that should otherwise form their allies on many issues. So, this is my warning to those who are strongly non-religious to be more selective and politically savy in their attacks.

    ---On Edit---
    As an example of more moderate religious groups potentially forming alliances with Democrats on political issues, here is an article about religious groups that support health care reform and wish to counter the strong anti-health care reform rhetoric from the far right: Faith groups launch campaign in favor of health care reform - CNN.com . I am sure that there are many social and political issues on which moderate religious groups could form strong alliances with the center-left.
    Religious groups in favor of health care reform have launched a national campaign to offset the loud opposition to President Obama's plan to overhaul the nation's health care system, organizers announced.

    "This is as much a crisis of faith as it is a crisis of health care," said the Rev. John Hay Jr., senior pastor of West Morris Street Free Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

    "We just believe there is a better way."

    He and others spoke in a telephone news conference Monday announcing the campaign.

    "As a pastor, I believe access to health care is a profoundly moral issue," said the Rev. Stevie Wakes of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Kansas City, Kansas.

    The campaign, called "40 days for Health Reform," includes a national television advertisement, a "sermon weekend," prayer meetings and a nationwide call-in with Obama on August 19, organizers said.

    Prayer meetings emphasizing health care as a moral issue were taking place Tuesday in 45 cities across 18 states, organizers said. They expected about 4,000 people to participate.
    --------------
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    Well I never said that something being a matter of getting more press wasn't a powerful influence. If someone is in a produce department in a grocery store, the presence of one rotten potato in a bag of them is plenty enough to sway a buyer against grabbing that whole bag. But if we approach these issues as if the problem is just religion (rather than understanding it's NOT religion at large at all), we TOO have abandoned logic. So I emphasize the importance of avoiding generalities.
    The issues of gay rights and abortion help drive the power of the far-right - both of which are issues that are very often argued in a religious light. I can't see how one can not see these issues as being driven by the religious right. However, I would agree that these issues are not the ONLY ones that define religion (if that was your point) and that is something that the left has to be more careful about.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    If I've weighed the issues, and come to the conclusion God exists, how is it that I've not been open? At what point do we change the phraseology here from 'not being open' to 'having concluded'? Because I certainly have been open to that. If you've concluded that the earth is round, is it really that crucial to 'be completely open' to the idea that might still be flat? I don't think so. I think you're elevating one conclusion over another here, and it's not really fair to associate one with the idea of lack-of-questioning.
    Like I said in a previous post, I do not know you well enough to know how open you are to thinking outside of the box of faith. So, you might well have been open to questioning the existence of God. However, I find many religious people only partly open to such questioning and often back away once arguements start being presented that test their faith too strongly (even if those arguements are presented in a respectful, non-flaming way). That may not be the case with you, I just don't know. Perhaps you are willing to fully sit through a thorough debate about the existence of God.

    As for the flat earth arguement, there is so much evidence surrounding a spherical earth that I would be perfectly happy conducting a full discussion about a flat vs round earth - as long as it stays both rational and respectable. There have occasionally been discussions on certain uncomfortable topics where I myself have opted out but, in nearly all these examples, it was because I needed to verify for myself the evidence presented to me before continuing with the discussion. Otherwise, I often even enjoy discussions that challenge my beliefs - as long as they are respectable and rational - and have often enough changed my mind.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    But does that ever really happen with most moralistic issues? I think that if we put off making a moral judgment/stance until discussions are at their end, society is pretty much going to stall. The reason many such issues are controversial is exactly THAT it's a complex issue that isn't going to end anytime soon, and no one side owns it. Logic can go either way on it, such as the issue of abortion. It's logical both to avoid abortions AND to give women choice. So both sides can claim that.
    I am not saying that people should wait to have moral views until all discussions are complete. Indeed, I think people have every right to hold moral opinions. However, before they try to impose those opinions on others through law, then I think it should be their responsibility to at least partly test out those moral views through debate with those on the opposition. I believe this should be the case for both sides of the political spectrum.
    Last edited by Another opinion; 08-11-2009 at 04:25 PM. Reason: Added link to religious groups supporting health care reform

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    AO, I'll try to respond soon; tonight if possible.
    Thanks for the patience.
    “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” - Reagan

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    If you post early enough today, I might still be able to respond. Otherwise, I am going away for a long weekend and might not be able to respond until Monday.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I think there is a misunderstanding about what I was calling illogical in that statement - i.e. that Nazis thought that all Jews were bad. My point was that it was illogical to think that "ALL" Jews are bad, as opposed to a point about thinking that all Jews are BAD. Certainly, one can point to innumerable examples from any race of people who behave badly - Jews included. I am sure that the Nazis could name a number of individual Jews who did act badly. However, their illogic lies in the extention of that judgment to ALL Jews. It is illogical because they cannot have individually examined each and every Jew to come to this conclusion.
    I agree, but to play devil's advocate, I've heard people make similar generalizations about religion right here in there forums. Is there EVER a case where the actions of some speak to the whole? This is particularly the case on behavioral based issues. If a neo-nazi says something racist, is it bad to assume neo-nazism is a bad thing in general? Neo-nazis might say no.

    I only use this analogy to point out the problems with associating lacl-of-logic with Nazism here. There's no outside overarching standard that says logic supports the point of view you're taking. Why should we assume that logic wouldn't support the idea of generalizing the actions of some to the whole?

    I think the better approach is to more go by benevolence and compassion, rather than logic, in terms of morality. I think it's a safer bet. Compassion would have prevented the holocaust, and with it, it doesn't matter what standards of logic one uses.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    Yes and no. I agree that one can have logical positions that are completely heartless - such as the desire of a group to kill all people of a particular group. Theoretically, such moral systems are possible. However, they do not work in reality without there existing some illogical pronouncement that is used as propaganda to convince the mass of supporters. That is because people, on average, are not completely heartless but do have a sense of compassion.
    Then that only supports my point, that logic has to be tempered with compassion. If not for compassion, logic could be a dangerous thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I might disagree with you about EVERYONE having questioned God's existence, but I would agree that a lot more people have questioned it than one may think. However, very few believers are willing to expose themselves to a full rigorous test of their faith in God by non-believers.
    With all due respect, it seems to me you're slowly moving the goalposts here. Now we're not just talking about questioning, but a "full rigorous test of their faith in God by non-believers"? What constitutes a "full rigorous test" here? What does that MEAN? And why should we assume "non-believers" are better equipped to provide the test anyway? There's nothing that says non-believers provide a better standard here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I would admit, however, that, outside of rational arguements against certain beliefs in God, many non-believers are just too abnoxious in such discussions to let them happen (Their goal is to insult people of faith more than it is to discuss) so both sides can often be at fault there.
    I appreciate you making that point. Sometimes religious people can certainly be insulting too.

    [QUOTE=Another opinion;364891]When I encounter compartamentlized thinking on either side, I try to counter it. One cannot say that one side should be allowed to use compartamentlized thinking because the other side occasionally engages in it. The goal should be to block compartamentalized thinking WHEREVER one sees it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    So, I am also against compartamentalized thinking when I see it in the secular sphere. Are you against compartamentalized thinking when you see it in the religious sphere or is your criticism of compartamentlized thinking directed only one way?
    Like I said, I think logic should be tempered by compassion (both are present). And value judgments should be tempered by logic, though I think the need for the former is usually far greater.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I would say that there are two trends. The first is that society in general (on average) is moving in a more "progressive" direction. However, at the same time, there is an ever growing minority of the population - that now constitute about 30% of the US population - that are labelled the religious right that hold on tightly to older less progressive views and that often use distorted claims to try to convince moderates of their cause.......... Many Democrats I know regret these changes in the Republican party - a party that used to be more moderate and which used to have spokesemen such as William Buckley, where now Rush Limbaugh is a major spokesman - big difference.
    I don't think Rush Limbaugh is an example of the "religious right." He may be on the 'right', but he's not religious, and the phrase encompasses both aspects. The RR may be growing (I don't know for sure if that's so or not), but I think it's safe to say that it's influence is waning. Its heyday was back in the 1980s. Bush wasn't nearly as controlled by the RR as his critics tend to portray him as. He certainly didn't mind wearing his religion on his sleeve, but that's not the same thing IMO.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    As an example of more moderate religious groups potentially forming alliances with Democrats on political issues, here is an article about religious groups that support health care reform and wish to counter the strong anti-health care reform rhetoric from the far right: Faith groups launch campaign in favor of health care reform - CNN.com . I am sure that there are many social and political issues on which moderate religious groups could form strong alliances with the center-left.
    FWIW, in my experience, everyone wants health-care reform of SOME kind. It's really more of a question of whether or not we want govt. intrusive into the issue. As someone said on television recently--people complain about govt. being in their bedrooms, but some of those same people don't seem to mind the idea if the govt. being by peoples' deathbeds. IOW, healthcare reform isn't only a 'left' issue. Government-controlled healthcare is, however.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    Like I said in a previous post, I do not know you well enough to know how open you are to thinking outside of the box of faith. So, you might well have been open to questioning the existence of God. However, I find many religious people only partly open to such questioning and often back away once arguements start being presented that test their faith too strongly (even if those arguements are presented in a respectful, non-flaming way). That may not be the case with you, I just don't know. Perhaps you are willing to fully sit through a thorough debate about the existence of God.
    Yes, I am, but I don't consider it something that is needed for religious people to be considered open. Would you consider it equally as important for atheists to be open to thinking outside their box? To an equally important extent?
    Besides, at some point, one has to consider themselves convinced. Again, I see no reason to continue to be 'open' to the idea of a flat earth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    As for the flat earth arguement, there is so much evidence surrounding a spherical earth that I would be perfectly happy conducting a full discussion about a flat vs round earth - as long as it stays both rational and respectable.
    I think you may have missed my point. I'm saying that one may get to the point where there is compelling evidence to the point that the discussion really is not necessary. It's not because I haven't considered the existence of God that I have become convinced He's real. It's because I HAVE considered it and gone through that process.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I am not saying that people should wait to have moral views until all discussions are complete. Indeed, I think people have every right to hold moral opinions. However, before they try to impose those opinions on others through law, then I think it should be their responsibility to at least partly test out those moral views through debate with those on the opposition. I believe this should be the case for both sides of the political spectrum.
    But that's the first time you've brought that up. Imposing and believing are two very different things. In my experience, often in these forums when someone is challenged on the issue of believing religious BELIEF is irrational, they switch to defending imposing belief. That's otherwise known as moving the goalposts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    If you post early enough today, I might still be able to respond. Otherwise, I am going away for a long weekend and might not be able to respond until Monday.
    Sorry, it took longer than I hoped. Hope your weekend is well.
    “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” - Reagan

    "A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading."
    - C. S. Lewis

    "I suffer more harassment as a former homosexual than I ever did as an out and proud homosexual." - Greg Quinlan, PFOX

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    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu View Post
    I agree, but to play devil's advocate, I've heard people make similar generalizations about religion right here in there forums. Is there EVER a case where the actions of some speak to the whole? This is particularly the case on behavioral based issues. If a neo-nazi says something racist, is it bad to assume neo-nazism is a bad thing in general? Neo-nazis might say no.

    I only use this analogy to point out the problems with associating lacl-of-logic with Nazism here. There's no outside overarching standard that says logic supports the point of view you're taking. Why should we assume that logic wouldn't support the idea of generalizing the actions of some to the whole?

    I think the better approach is to more go by benevolence and compassion, rather than logic, in terms of morality. I think it's a safer bet. Compassion would have prevented the holocaust, and with it, it doesn't matter what standards of logic one uses.
    I would say that generalizations are nearly always wrong. One almost never encounters someone who is all bad or all good, or an organization or group that is all bad or all good. Lets take a look at the Nazis. Prior to World War II, the rise of the Nazi party was praised by a very wide range of American and European politicians. After World War I, Germany was a country that was in desperate poverty due to that war and due to the repression that was imposed on it by the winning powers - it had tremendous unemployment, inflation - its society and economy were in shambles. Despite all of their future horrors, one thing that the Nazis did which was beneficial was to pull their country out of those deep economic problems - which is why it was so praised abroad at the time. Of course, those politicians were naive since they didn't see the evil that loomed around the corner, but that still doesn't subtract from the fact that there was something that the Nazis did that was good, not just bad. Also, when you compare individual Nazis, many of those of higher rank were forced to join the Nazi party, despite not holding true to their ideology. They were simply soldiers trying to defend their country. So, not all Nazis were bad. That is why the Nurembourg trials, and those like it, only concentrated on the ringleaders who committed war crimes, not on the rank and file Nazis or on those higher up who did not commit war crimes. So, even where the most evil organization of the 20th century is concerned, there are many shades of gray. One cannot fully generalize (ex. saying that ALL Nazis where bad, or that Naziism was ALL bad).

    When people generalize, it means that they haven't bothered looking into the details and, instead, take the illogical easy way out by painting everyone with the same brush. Logic can counter such generalizations and, by doing so, can help reduce the great majority of evils in this world - as long as such logic is followed and respected.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    Then that only supports my point, that logic has to be tempered with compassion. If not for compassion, logic could be a dangerous thing.
    I think that you seperate the two too much. Logic and compassion can work together. As in the point I made in my last post, logic can be used to combat the propaganda that forms the basis to nearly all acts of evil - propaganda that would not be necessary if not for the compassion that people do occasionally feel. Compassion on its own can also be used to combat propaganda but it is often not as successful since people have to be open to feeling compassionate - which is very difficult to do when discussing a group which has individuals who have hurt your group. If someone from a particular group killed your family, it would be very hard for you to feel compassionate to anyone from that group and you (or at least most people) would very likely hate everyone from that group. However, it might be more successful for someone to sit down with you and point out all the inconsistencies in your logic in thinking that ALL the people in that group are evil.

    Logic is a universal tool that is independent of mindset - as long as it is given an honest hearing. Most people know when they are being illogical. That is why the most frequent tactic of those that hold at least partly irrational views is to avoid the logical points being addressed - so that they will not have to face or admit to the illogic of their views. Even the most angry person can realize when someone has outmaneuvered him with logic, though he might never admit it. Compassion, on the other hand, more often works with minds that are calm enough to feel it. You cannot force someone to feel compassion - especially if they are angry. Nevertheless, despite its limited enforceability, I think that compassion is an important thing to try to teach, along with logic, as a general guiding moral principle. Most people are capable of feeling empathy. With compassion and logic working together, a lot can be accomplished in using that empathy to combat evil acts.

    I would, however, want to bring up one point about compassion. Namely, sometimes there are opposite beneficiaries to compassion that continue to lead to conflicts. For example, take the issue of abortion. Generally speaking, those that are pro-choice have compassion for the woman who is pregnant with an unwanted pregnancy while those that are pro-life have compassion for the fetuses (a.k.a. pre-born, etc.). Many on the pro-life side don't have compassion for the women who are pregnant with unwanted pregnancies since they view them as being immoral for having the sex leading up to that pregnancy (which is why they only support rape and incest as exceptions, since it was not the woman's fault). Meanwhile, many pro-choice proponents don't have compassion to early fetuses since those early fetuses don't yet have any minds, cannot suffer, etc. My main point here is that compassion itself is not the only answer since there can be vast differences in how one directs that compassion that leads to major differences in moral rules.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    With all due respect, it seems to me you're slowly moving the goalposts here. Now we're not just talking about questioning, but a "full rigorous test of their faith in God by non-believers"? What constitutes a "full rigorous test" here? What does that MEAN? And why should we assume "non-believers" are better equipped to provide the test anyway? There's nothing that says non-believers provide a better standard here.
    Then let me expand that to believers being able to accept a full-rigorous test by anyone ready to challenge their beliefs - be they believers or unbelievers. My main point was that, in my experience, believers nearly always stop short of full debate once it starts being uncomfortable (even when the debate contains no flaming or otherwise rude behavior). Granted, that is true of many people on both the secular and religious sphere - they stop the debate once the opponent starts introducing very difficult to counter points. However, though I have found such closed-minded people in both secular and religious spheres, strongly religious people seem to have a much higher percentage of closed-mindedness than moderate or non-religious people. When you couple that with the political power that the strongly religious have wielded in the last couple of decades, one can understand the anger of the left and left-of center moderates.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    I appreciate you making that point. Sometimes religious people can certainly be insulting too.
    That is why I think it is important for all sides to try to calm down and actually talk, not flame. Even if there is no resolution, at least one benefits by gaining a better, truer understanding of the opposite side. Rarely do entire groups fully fit a particular characature.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    I don't think Rush Limbaugh is an example of the "religious right." He may be on the 'right', but he's not religious, and the phrase encompasses both aspects. The RR may be growing (I don't know for sure if that's so or not), but I think it's safe to say that it's influence is waning. Its heyday was back in the 1980s. Bush wasn't nearly as controlled by the RR as his critics tend to portray him as. He certainly didn't mind wearing his religion on his sleeve, but that's not the same thing IMO.
    I think that there are nuances to the power of the religious right. I suspect that, to some extent, the religious right is being used by the far right ideologues to get those far-right ideologues into power. All those far-right politicians have to do is claim that they are pro-life, pro-gun and use distorted propaganda against the left, and many on the religious right will see them as leaders that they can follow and vote for them. Meanwhile, with their emphasis on deregulation, reduction of taxes on the wealthy, etc. - they vote against the economic best interest of the majority of their supporters while supporters are largely concentrating on the social issues.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    FWIW, in my experience, everyone wants health-care reform of SOME kind. It's really more of a question of whether or not we want govt. intrusive into the issue. As someone said on television recently--people complain about govt. being in their bedrooms, but some of those same people don't seem to mind the idea if the govt. being by peoples' deathbeds. IOW, healthcare reform isn't only a 'left' issue. Government-controlled healthcare is, however.
    (Note: I suspect that we could get into deep discussions on this issue alone so, if you want to reply in a lengthy way, then it might be worth joining or starting another thread on health care. That being said, I will add my lengthy answer...)
    What is frustrating for those of us who are left-of-center to hear is the gross distortion about the current health care plans. There are no death panels planned that would "kill Grannies" - there are just options to pay for VOLUNTARY counceling of the elderly on end-of-life issues (ex. do they want to have a living will) while they are still in their right mind. Why is that a bad thing? Also, the number of Democrats that actually want REAL Socialism is a tiny minority - I personally have only met three in my life. As for a government beaurocrat deciding what health procedures will be funded, I don't see that as being much worse - and likely would be far better - than the current status quo of insurance beaurocrats deciding what health procedures will be funded. At least the government beaurocrat is not trying to make a profit off of you. As for efficiency, Medicare is more efficient (less overhead) than any private insurance company. Also, people on the right so often forget that this health care plan will NOT replace their current work-sponsored insurance. If you have insurance that you are happy with, you get to keep it.

    However, given the fear (rational or not) of people on the right about any government run health care (though they forget that Medicare and military health care are all government run), then I hear that the health care reforms might concentrate on introducing some not-for-profit insurance carriers instead of a government plan. At least that is the main proposal that is being worked on in the Senate. I would be fine with that. I mostly want to know that everyone in the US can have access to health care - including the poor and those with pre-existing conditions, and I want to feel very confident that, when I eventually get sick, that I will be able to count on my health insurance paying for that and not denying any of my reasonable claims. I have little trust in the system as it is.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    Yes, I am, but I don't consider it something that is needed for religious people to be considered open. Would you consider it equally as important for atheists to be open to thinking outside their box? To an equally important extent?
    Yes, I think that atheists need to be open to anyone who comes in with a rational arguement - especially if they have evidence to back it up. I bemoan the current state of affairs where any real discussion on the supernatural is considered taboo in most scientific circles. If any evidence did surface, then I would suspect that it would be ignored because of that taboo. However, many people try to make claims without a rigid rational basis and without any evidence. I think that atheists have every right to ignore such unsupported claims. Everything comes down to the rationality and support in evidence that someone brings to the table. Rational, supported arguements on either side should not be ignored.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    Besides, at some point, one has to consider themselves convinced. Again, I see no reason to continue to be 'open' to the idea of a flat earth.
    Yes, since it is extremely unlikely that the flat earth theorists could come up with anything to counter the mountains of evidence about a spherical earth. However, if the nearly-impossible did happen and they did come up with such evidence, then they would deserve a hearing.
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    I think you may have missed my point. I'm saying that one may get to the point where there is compelling evidence to the point that the discussion really is not necessary. It's not because I haven't considered the existence of God that I have become convinced He's real. It's because I HAVE considered it and gone through that process.
    I think, however, that we always have to remain at least partly open minded on any of our views since the rational process that we have gone through on any issue might be flawed in that we might have left something out. That is why we must always be open to rational debate. This is true for all of us - those who are strongly religious, moderately religious, agnostics, or atheists. We are all imperfect in our reasoning skills so our views should never be COMPLETELY final but open to new rational arguements (as opposed to irrational arguements that it makes sense to ignore).
    Quote Originally Posted by jyoshu
    But that's the first time you've brought that up. Imposing and believing are two very different things. In my experience, often in these forums when someone is challenged on the issue of believing religious BELIEF is irrational, they switch to defending imposing belief. That's otherwise known as moving the goalposts.
    I don't know of many people who resent those who hold strongly religious views but who don't impose those strongly religious views on others. Yes, I have met some people who are secular purists that would try to convert all people away from religion for principles sake. However, the great majority of the people I have met who argue against those who are strongly religious argue against it because of their fear and/or resentment about strict religious practitioners trying to impose their morality on the rest of us or on innocent victims of their own inner societies (ex. children of bigamists Mormons or women in particularly strict Muslim societies). Those are just my observations. It is the anger and/or fear about the power that these groups have in imposing their views on others that is the main drive of the left. I personally think that everyone has a right be untormented in keeping to their own view. However, when that view comes into the public sphere (in determing laws, etc.), then those that hold views need to be able to defend them.

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    Hmm... eleven days and no response to the last post.

    Looks like we can declare a winner on this debate.
    McKown's Law: "The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike."

    "We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don't know"
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrWriteLA View Post
    Hmm... eleven days and no response to the last post.

    Looks like we can declare a winner on this debate.
    To be honest, I prefer to think of this more as a discussion than as a debate. My goal here is not as much to "win" as it is to have a discussion with someone of a different worldview in order to better understand their point of view, whether or not I agree with it.

    I do enjoy trying to present a solid rational argument supporting my views, and then debating it. However, I also enjoy hearing new rational arguments that I might not have previously heard or considered and have often enough adapted my own views to take such new rational arguments into account. Also, even if nothing new is presented, I feel that I gain from such discussions in better understanding where the other person is coming from.

    So, I hope that jyoshu does decide to continue this discussion since I think that it would benefit us both.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I also enjoy hearing new rational arguments that I might not have previously heard or considered...
    An admirable attitude, to be sure, and one much to be lauded.
    So, I hope that jyoshu does decide to continue this discussion since I think that it would benefit us both.
    I hope so, too. But frankly, given his history here (and possibly a belated realization on his part that his stance is insupportable), I wouldn't hold my breath.

    "Those who invalidate reason ought seriously to consider whether they argue against reason with or without reason; if with reason, then they establish the principles that they are laboring to dethrone: but if they argue without reason (which, in order to be consistent with themselves they must do), they are out of reach of rational conviction, nor do they deserve a rational argument."
    --Ethan Allen, "Reason, the Only Oracle of Man"
    McKown's Law: "The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike."

    "We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don't know"
    --Dietrich Bonfhoeffer

    "I don't go to mythical places with strange men." -- Douglas Adams

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    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I would say that generalizations are nearly always wrong.
    Well that's pretty much my point. I think the fact that generalization is nearly always wrong also shows us that there is no over-arching standard for reason, and that it's not really valid to only associate it wth good. Where do we get the standard that says Nazism is generally a bad thing? We get it simply because the Nazis did bad things--if they hadn't, Nazism wouldn't be associated thus.

    The idea that reason equates to good rather than possibly also bad is a form of the no-true-scottsman fallacy. What I'm trying to get you to tell me is ... why should we assume reason is to be equated to good and not potentially bad? From whence comes the idea that if something good happens, we should chalk it up to reason, but other things like religion may be NOT be thus? You base your idea of reason = good on nothing more solid than your opinion of what reason should constitute. And that's subjective, not objective. Unless, of course, you can adequately explain the objective basis for that view.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I think that you seperate the two too much. Logic and compassion can work together. As in the point I made in my last post, logic can be used to combat the propaganda that forms the basis to nearly all acts of evil
    I don't separate them so much as I think logic needs compassion. Moreso than the other way around. At least compassion is, well, compassion. Logic may tell us the solution to a math problem, but it can't FEEL for the plight of people. I can feasibly imagine a world of compassion without much logic. I cannot feasibly imagine a world of logic without much compassion.

    Re. your point about propaganda ... I agree that's a good ideal role for 'logic', although if logic ALONE was employed, I'm not sure it could do any more than say whether something is truly correct or incorrect. Remember, propaganda isn't automatically a falsehood simply on the basis of being propaganda. (There's nothing in its definition that requires the word to refer to something false.) So that's only valuable, IMO, in the case of false propaganda (that can be logically disproven). I think propaganda is often subjective, and therefore by nature difficult to disprove, to begin with. That's exactly WHY it's propagandist--people who create propaganda naturally aren't going to create something that logic can just shoot down. It's usually stuff that's not really 'disprovable' to begin with--you know, 'beat-your-wife' type allegations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I would, however, want to bring up one point about compassion. Namely, sometimes there are opposite beneficiaries to compassion that continue to lead to conflicts. For example, take the issue of abortion. Generally speaking, those that are pro-choice have compassion for the woman who is pregnant with an unwanted pregnancy while those that are pro-life have compassion for the fetuses (a.k.a. pre-born, etc.). Many on the pro-life side don't have compassion for the women who are pregnant with unwanted pregnancies since they view them as being immoral for having the sex leading up to that pregnancy

    (which is why they only support rape and incest as exceptions, since it was not the woman's fault). Meanwhile, many pro-choice proponents don't have compassion to early fetuses since those early fetuses don't yet have any minds, cannot suffer, etc.
    It strikes me that we seem to see this differently--I think you may be taking more of a glass-half-empty approach here in arguing these examples as cases of not-showing-compassion, when I'd say they both do show them, and therefore see it as a glass-half-full perspective. In my experience, both sides do tend to be compassionate. They just have different areas of focus. (choice versus life) Which may be another way of saying what you're saying, so I don't say this in disagreement necessarily. However, the allegation that many on the pro-life side or pro-choice side don't show compassion sounds exactly like the sort of thing that comes from propaganda--the very thing you've talked at great length about here. I have no interest in debating abortion here, but I tend to think it's a little unfair when people argue that either side isn't being compassionate. It's sort of like saying that anti-death penalty advocates aren't being compassionate toward crime-victims'-families.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    My main point here is that compassion itself is not the only answer since there can be vast differences in how one directs that compassion that leads to major differences in moral rules.
    I have not argued at ALL that compassion should be the answer without logic. I think I've made clear, multiple times, that both are necessary. The thing is here, that proponents of "logic" and "reason" tend to think that there's some SET standard to those concepts or the way they are applied. As if those standards don't vary from person to person. As if there's some over-arching standard there. There's not. We accept, I think, that compassion is subjective. But people throw around terms like "reason", with their Jefferson quotes (often without qualification) and what not, as if that too is not nebulous and inconcrete. Has logic really done anything to resolve the abortion issue? I don't think so--the abortion controversy is as alive as ever. Every side thinks logic is theirs. Every side thinks theirs is the logical approach. Such controversies as abortion tend to be unsolvable by compassion OR logic, but for sure whatever side one takes, they naturally think both is on their side! So my point is that logic is really subjective TOO, because there's no overarching standard for how logic can apply in situations like these. It's easy to say we should apply logic to something like abortion, but it gets much more sticky in society coming to consensus on what that means. Why? Because not everyone applies logic the same way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    Then let me expand that to believers being able to accept a full-rigorous test by anyone ready to challenge their beliefs - be they believers or unbelievers. My main point was that, in my experience, believers nearly always stop short of full debate once it starts being uncomfortable
    So? In cases where such a debate pertained to harmful behavior, I would find the point pertinent, but that's not the case with most religious belief. I also think that often tends to happen because they see little point in carrying on. There comes a point in such debates where it becomes clear that neither side is going to budge--the issues get boiled down to the levels that people can't retreat from. And frankly, I suspect religious people just tend to less feel the need to question in the first place. Unless it can be shown a belief is truly harmful, there's little need to question it. And I think anyone is pretty hard pressed to show where most religious belief is truly harmful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    When you couple that with the political power that the strongly religious have wielded in the last couple of decades, one can understand the anger of the left and left-of center moderates.
    Then it seems to me what should be opposed or debated is whether or not one should use religion for harm from a position of power, not religion in and of itself. Like most anything, there's ideology, and then there's harmful ideology. It's the harmful that should be questioned.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    That is why I think it is important for all sides to try to calm down and actually talk, not flame.
    Sounds good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I think that there are nuances to the power of the religious right. I suspect that, to some extent, the religious right is being used by the far right ideologues to get those far-right ideologues into power. All those far-right politicians have to do is claim that they are pro-life, pro-gun and use distorted propaganda against the left, and many on the religious right will see them as leaders that they can follow and vote for them.
    What you just described is what happens all the time in politics, religious or not. IOW, it's a political reality, not so much a religious one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I think, however, that we always have to remain at least partly open minded on any of our views since the rational process that we have gone through on any issue might be flawed in that we might have left something out.
    I think there comes a point where it's practically an exercise in wasting time. The flat-earth thing, again. I'm sorry, but there really is no point in giving that the time of day.

    I also think part of the problem is that you're applying empirical standards to things that aren't empirical questions, to begin with. The existence of God, for instance, isn't in the realm of the provable/disprovable. It's not a scientific question, IMO.

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    That is why we must always be open to rational debate. This is true for all of us - those who are strongly religious, moderately religious, agnostics, or atheists. We are all imperfect in our reasoning skills so our views should never be COMPLETELY final but open to new rational arguements (as opposed to irrational arguements that it makes sense to ignore).
    I do think I need to point out that you're moving your goalposts here. We've gone from questioning to being open to rational debate. I think everyone questions, and I think everyone thinks they are being rational. And that's largely my point. You say you think people need to be open to rational debate ... but by who's standards for what's rational?

    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    I don't know of many people who resent those who hold strongly religious views but who don't impose those strongly religious views on others.
    I was wondering how long it would take before the "imposing" thing came up. Again, I think you're moving the goalposts. Of course people shouldn't "impose" on others, for religious reasons or otherwise. You're talking to a libertarian for the most part, so you're not going to get any argument from me about people imposing. But I'm encouraged in this discussion by the fact you're now focusing on 'imposing' rather than just religious belief.
    “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” - Reagan

    "A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading."
    - C. S. Lewis

    "I suffer more harassment as a former homosexual than I ever did as an out and proud homosexual." - Greg Quinlan, PFOX

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    Quote Originally Posted by Another opinion View Post
    To be honest, I prefer to think of this more as a discussion than as a debate.
    Same here. It seems someone here must seriously have a need to go and get them some prize-fight tickets. This isn't an 'out-to-win discussion from either of us in that I think we're both simply trying to have a conversation. I appreciate your discussion.
    “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” - Reagan

    "A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading."
    - C. S. Lewis

    "I suffer more harassment as a former homosexual than I ever did as an out and proud homosexual." - Greg Quinlan, PFOX

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