In hopes of helping people understand Orson Scott Card

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In hopes of helping people understand Orson Scott Card

Postby Albert on Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:31 am

Hi everyone. My name's Albert, obviously.

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As is Orson Scott Card. I've also been reading his essays for over half my life. And I like to think I've learned a bit about how the man thinks.


This is going to sound crazy to a lot of you. Orson Scott Card is not emotionally prejudiced against gays.


Are you done staring at me in disbelief? Good. :) Let me explain.

Part of our religious doctrine - and when I say doctrine, I mean canonical scripture, as in "not going to change" - is that our spirits, as well as our bodies, have gender. Furthermore, the unification of male and female - marriage, explicitly sanctified by the delegated authority of God - is essential for the highest degree of fulfillment in the hereafter.

For various reasons, sexual intercourse and even heavy sexual foreplay are forbidden outside of marriage. We are talking excommunication-level offense, once you come of age. (BTW, civil marriages _are_ considered binding in the eyes of God according to our understanding, but only in this life.)


So, religiously, Card sees sex outside of marriage as a _very_ bad thing, spiritually, for the participants, and homosexual marriages as not counting as marriage, spiritually.

On the other hand, he's always been extremely tolerant of gays, for a Latter-Day Saint. _Extremely_ tolerant. He believes that active homosexuality is a route to self-destruction, and that's a sub-theme in one of his novels, but he has no trouble believing in the capacity of gays to be decent people. Sheesh, the guy's been in theatre a lot of his life. You _have_ to see gays as individuals to survive there.


So what has changed?

I'm not sure. But I think that Bill Clinton and the famous case of the gay kid who was mugged and killed some 10 years ago have a lot to do with it.


Clinton:

Orson Scott Card is a Democrat. He takes absolutely moronic positions on guns, for example. He is utterly disgusted by the remnants of the 'Moral Majority'. (I happen to agree with him here, those guys are either misguided fools or fiends.) He doesn't like tobacco. He doesn't like Big Business.

Then Clinton came along. We all saw eight years of the Left - including the feminist wings - idolizing and defending a man who is provably A) a liar, B) a thief, C) a rapist, and D) a traitor. Who _might_ also be a murderer. Card witnessed the impeachment. Anyone my age and up(I was either 16 or 18 when it all started - I'm blanking on '97 or '99 as the year) had ample opportunity to witness it.

We all know what happened - Clinton behaved worse than Nixon ever had, and exhibited less moral spine than Nixon managed. And he got away with it. Sort of. History's not going to be nice to him.

Thus was Clinton's role in the matter - he disillusioned Card greatly.


Now we come to the gay mugging/murder incident. Or, rather, the reaction to it.

What are the Boy Scouts? A civic-minded organization that's helped boys grow up for most of a century. They aren't open to everyone - you must be willing to profess a belief in God, forex, but they are pretty damn inclusive.

However, the in the aftermath of the mugging/murder, the Boy Scouts came under relentless assault by the Left for not allowing gay members and masters. Due in large part to continuous lawsuits by the ACLU, the US government has been discriminating more and more against the BSA. A revered institution is being strangled out of what seems like spite and malice.

Look, gays as scout-masters is a _bad_ idea. Think "NAMBLA-bait". Pedo-predators actively _seek_ positions like this. As for gays as scout-members, we don't allow chicks in the program either. This is supposed to be a sex-free set of activities. If a teenager has figured out that he's gay (as opposed to merely wondering) then he probably isn't too thrilled at the idea of sleeping chastely next to a few dozen members of the sexy gender. He's a teenager, after all. I remember what it was like.

Not that the Left cares about a nuanced position like this.


Oh, and the Left being all, well, leftist over the War on Terror didn't help matters.


Card hasn't gotten intolerant, he's grown bitter and disillusioned. (Me? I started out cynical. A bit like Davan, I think.) Now throw in all the various statistics. Not going to list them, but you can manipulate the numbers to come up with any result you care to see.

For the moment, Card trusts the Right a _bit_, and the Left not at all. That's where he got the data he used in his infamous essay.



If you got this far, you may be wondering what _I_ think. I'm not sure why, I'm no famous author, artist, or blogger, but maybe you want to get a feel for how skewed I am.

So.

I think that reflexive erotic arousal is controlled by the brain. I think the brain is an extremely complicated instrument. I believe that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of neural paths that lead to reflexive erotic arousal in any adult brain. Everyone's paths are different, because everyone grows up differently.

Some of these paths are hardwired by genetics. Some of them are developed during childhood. Some of them are developed later. Many of them are developed by sexual activity, and sexual activity will tend to strengthen the paths that are exploited by the activity. Likewise, paths that aren't exploited will tend to atrophy.

Also, there are thousands of paths that aren't primarily sexual, but have an influence on arousal.

Finally, I believe that our spirits aren't nearly so dysfunctional when it comes to gender identity.

Derive from that what you will.

-Albert

PS. Getting back to Card - is the data he used bad? Some of it, almost certainly. That's the nature of biased statistical manipulation, no matter who does it. But is it all bad? Who knows? Wait two generations and I might have an answer for you that doesn't rely on religious doctrine.
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Postby communist trees on Sat Apr 02, 2005 9:43 am

What are the Boy Scouts? A civic-minded organization that's helped boys grow up for most of a century. They aren't open to everyone - you must be willing to profess a belief in God, forex, but they are pretty damn inclusive.


It's slightly more inclusive than even that. It can be God, gods, or even something less definate like "the power of nature." Just wondering, were you a scout? You use both "they" and "we," so it's a bit uncertain. I happen to be an Eagle Scout, for the record. Thus why I'm usually interested in finding out who else was or is active in the BSA.

Oh, and the actual reason the Scouts were able to pull off the Supreme Court win were the lines "To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight," from the Scout Oath. It always seemed like a huge stretch to me, since I'm sure "morally straight" couldn't have been intended to mean "not gay," but whatever. It worked.

Then Clinton came along. We all saw eight years of the Left - including the feminist wings - idolizing and defending a man who is provably A) a liar, B) a thief, C) a rapist, and D) a traitor. Who _might_ also be a murderer. Card witnessed the impeachment. Anyone my age and up(I was either 16 or 18 when it all started - I'm blanking on '97 or '99 as the year) had ample opportunity to witness it.


First, the impeachment ran from December of '98 to February of '99. Google is your friend.

Now then, most people will agree with you on point A). We all know the details of the sex scandal.

What are you refering to in point B), exactly? Other than the Whitewater scandal (which Clinton was cleared on), I can't think of anything at this time that would fit.

Point C), rapist--oh come on. Sexual harassment, yeah. If you believe Paula Jones, anyway. However, that's a far cry from rape, and what he did with Lewinski was consensual. Rape is an extreme charge, to say the least, and I find it appaling that you are willing to make it so easily.

Lastly, who exactly did he betray in your point D)? Unless you're speaking of his political actions which you do not agree with as being traitorous, perhaps to some American ideal or whatnot, I fail to see where you can possibly have grounds to invoke such language. Then, if you are raising the flag of treason on actions taken while following the proper processes dictated by American law which just happen to advance a political agenda other than your own, I don't even know what to say. That sort of emotional appeal is one of the worst logical fallacies one can partake in, in my opinion.

I'd appreciate a bit of clarification in these things you say are "provably" true.

We all know what happened - Clinton behaved worse than Nixon ever had, and exhibited less moral spine than Nixon managed. And he got away with it. Sort of. History's not going to be nice to him.


This depends on what you view as being "worse." If you view consensual sexual actions taken out of wedlock to be worse than tax fraud, conspiracy, burglary, and concealing evidence, mostly with the intention of interfering with the Democratic process, then sure. Oh, Clinton did have the one instance of sexual harrassment as well, sorry, forgot that. The laws of the land treat Nixon's crimes as far worse than any of Clinton's misdeeds. So what behavior were you refering to, exactly?

I will admit the potential for the moral spine bit, due to varying views of how bad certain actions are.
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Postby communist trees on Sat Apr 02, 2005 2:19 pm

By the way, I hadn't read the essay in question before now. I rather doubt that this was a reaction to Clinton era politics, as Hypocrites of Homosexuality, which seems to be at least his most famous essay on the subject, was published in 1990, precluding any possibility of it being a reaction to the events you suggested. More likely is that he's been prejudiced for years now. His faith, it would appear, is the reason he sees for his hatred of gays.
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Postby Ambystoma4 on Sat Apr 02, 2005 11:04 pm

communist trees wrote:Lastly, who exactly did he betray in your point D)?


I think he is talking about the incident with the Chinese.
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Postby Ambystoma4 on Sat Apr 02, 2005 11:23 pm

I think it's funny in the way a drug addled Rush Limbaugh could be funny if he was less in touch with reality.

As far as gay marriage goes, marriage is an entirely religious event that the government started exploiting for money. The first marriage licenses were issued for interracial couples, which is where the license part comes from.

I feel it's up to the particular religion to decide what to do about the issue, and that the government should not be able to say what is a valid marriage. Doing that show preference to relgions. Don't take this the wrong way, but this country was designed to cater to atheists not the religious.
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Postby communist trees on Sat Apr 02, 2005 11:44 pm

Hm. The other thread has brought to my attention another essay of Card's on the same subject published in '04. Well, it still stands that, given the date of his previous work, it was not a reaction to the above referenced political situation.
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Postby MetaLuna on Sun Apr 03, 2005 2:31 am

Don't know if anyone cares, but I somehow got involved in a debate about this essay with Orson Scott Card personally. *erk*

*link removed*

Apparently he's been bitched out plenty of times about his opinions, and I touched a nerve. Oops.

Anyway, everything I think on this subject can be read there, but I personally don't think that his somewhat silly beliefs on homosexuality have an effect on my enjoyment of his fiction.

Edit by Aeire: I don't really think we need a link to his forum from here, as I'd really rather not see a zerg rush on his forums of outraged readers. Thanks.
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Postby walking spanish on Sun Apr 03, 2005 7:23 pm

Hi, how's it goin'. I think this is only my second or third post here.

The strange part is, I slightly agree with you on both the points you angered me over. Someone already took care of the Clinton thing, so I'm going to dig a little further into the boyscout thing.

I'm all for a private organisations being allowed to exclude anybody they choose (whether or not the boyscouts are an actual private organisation in my book is another issue entirely) BUT your justification for it bothers me a little.

Yes, you're right. Paedophiles actively seek out jobs involving children. I know this because my babysitter (from a service, with professional qualifications) turned out to be a child molester.

What you're discounting is the fact that he was an adult, heterosexual male who liked to molest little girls.

Scientists have tried long and hard to link paedophila to sexual orientation and all it takes is a five minute search on google to find out that they FAILED. It's a well known fact among many councelling centres for sexually abused children that TOO MANY elementary schools, boys and girls clubs, and child care services reserved the most rigorous background checks for admitted gay men, and because of this many female and straight (and not to mention gay men that lie) are allowed into the system.

I know that on many levels that doesn't apply to the boyscouts, but if we've learned anything from this recent Catholic Church fiasco, it's that the gay men who are more likely to molest little children are probably the gay men who are willing to lie about their sexualities to get into such a position. Banning gay men from a place involving children will probably do very little to prevent molestations.
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Postby Symok on Sun Apr 03, 2005 7:58 pm

Ok, a bunch of points to make here, all somewhat (or completely) disjointed from one another.

First, Scouts: I was a member of Scouts Canada for 7 years. 3 in Cubs and 4 in Scouts proper.

During that time, I had both male and female leaders. As well, in the 2nd or 3rd year, I believe, of Scouts Canada began allowing female members. Yep, thats right. :) Naturally, they slept in seperate tents. But I thought it was a good thing. (IIRC it was left to the individual troop to make the final decission, though)

And "gays as scout masters" is no worse an idea that "women as scout masters" (Or do you not have that either down there?) Personally, I see no problem with either. I find it extremely disturbing that you would generalize all gays as being pedophiles. Pedophiles seeking out possitions of power could be applied ANYWHERE - teachers, sports coaches, whatever. Should homosexuals be denied ANY of these kinds of jobs? You also seem to be ignoring the fact that not all pedophiles are gay - some of them persue young girls too. So, how do we keep everyone safe? Shall we go back to the days of segregated classrooms?

The main issue I see with people being against homosexuality and equality for homosexuals is fear. "There's an unfortunate tendency in most cultures to fear what they don't understand." The current state of affairs in our society is clear proof of this.

There's probably more I could add to that, but I think I've gone on long enough about it, so I'll move on

I didn't read the essay in question, but I did skim over the first part of it a bit. Card seems to be making a point that the deffinitions of words cannot (or should not?) change.

To this, I have to point out that the deffinition of "person" has changed a number of times - Black people were once not considered people. Nor were women. "People can be very frightened of change.", however, as we evolved as a species we realized the errors of our ways and CHANGED. The same thing can - and WILL eventually, I am certain of it - happen again.

Also on the subject of dictionary deffinions, I would like to mention that atheism is still defined as "imorality". Do you think that atheism necesarily leads to imoral behaviour? ....Maybe you shouldn't answer that, I probably wouldn't like the answer.

Hmm... I thought there was another point I wanted to raise, but I can't seem to think of what it was now. Oh well, I think I've ranted enough anyway.

Some final words: "[We] know from [our own] history [...] that change is difficult. New ideas are often greeted with skepticism...even fear. But sometimes, those ideas are accepted...and when they are, progress is made...eyes are opened."

Some recomended viewings about the issue of prejudice:
Star Trek TOS: "Let That be your Last Battlefield" and Star Trek DS9: "Far Beyond the Stars" Both incredibly powerful and moving pieces.
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Postby communist trees on Mon Apr 04, 2005 9:31 am

Okay guys, seriously. I'd really appreciate it if you had any idea, whatsoever about what you were talking about before you claim to be able to speak about how "right" or "wrong" an action is, expecially when you're talking about the BSA, due to my personal interest in it.

I grossly oversimplified earlier when I talked about why the BSA were actually able to exclude gays. However, it still has absolutely nothing to do with the threat of pedophilia. Pedophilia is just another red herring that gets thrown in by people who either don't know what they're talking about or are trying to intentionally misrepresent the situation (thus defining red herring, yeah, I know). The actual Supreme Court decision, instead, was based entirely on the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and association. You can read the full decision here.

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Postby GabrielTane on Tue Apr 05, 2005 7:38 am

Ambystoma4 wrote:Don't take this the wrong way, but this country was designed to cater to atheists not the religious.


First, I'm staying out of the rest of this thread because I haven't been, nor am I interested in, keeping up with the whole situation. I have never read Card and I don't really care about any one person's views on gay marriage.

Second, Amby, I have to disagree with the statement I quoted from you. The whole reason we declared independance from England was for taxation issues and that we were being ruled without having a say in those rules. The religion thing was another way to distance ourselves from what we saw as a corrupt system of government. The "freedom of religion" thing was our answer to all the problems that were had in England (and I'm sure many other places) where one king would be a certain religion and would make it a crime to be any other religion (sometime punishable by death). Then the successor to the throne would be a different religion and the populace would have to change thier religion or face persecution, prosecution and all othe other fun "cutions" that come with it... i.e. executions.

The whole idea of "freedom of religion" is that the populace was supposed to be free to choose whatever religion they wanted... without intervention by the governing body.

In my opinion, as long as a marraige is a legal institution (which, right or wrong, it is), then the government can ligitimatly have a say in whether or not gays can be married as long as thier motivations are not religiously influenced. Since I'm not naive enough to believe that this is the case, then I don't think the goverment should be allowed to say yes or no on the issue. Unfortunatly, since marraige is a legal institution, the government must take a stance one way or the other.

The only solution I can see is to remove the legal standing of a marriage. But then we have a whole new slew of problems. There are protections and benefits of marraige that would be lost, such as tax status, continuation of estate upon death, etc.

After saying all of that, I think that the only workable solutions would be to tell the religious groups to shut the hell up and stop trying to make thier dogma into local, state, or federal law. It is these groups (still, in my opinion) that are trying to subvert and destroy our country's institution of "freedom of religion".

Well, that's about it.

Oh, wait... I got so off-topic that I forgot to defend my disagreement with Amby's statement... poop. Amby, this country was supposed to have been designed to cater to all religions or no religions (depending on how you look at it), not to those who choose not to have a religion. Actually, now that I think about it, the goverment was supposed to have been designed to not cater to anyone in regards to religion.

There. That about does it.
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Postby walking spanish on Wed Apr 06, 2005 5:17 pm

GabrielTane wrote:The only solution I can see is to remove the legal standing of a marriage. But then we have a whole new slew of problems. There are protections and benefits of marraige that would be lost, such as tax status, continuation of estate upon death, etc.


The reasonable solution would be to replace everywhere that it says "marriage" in the legal documents with "civil union" or "partnership".

That way it wouldn't jepordize the benefits that married couples already have, and you could get an official marriage in a church if you wanted, and if the church would let you.
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Postby GabrielTane on Thu Apr 07, 2005 9:26 am

walking spanish wrote:The reasonable solution would be to replace everywhere that it says "marriage" in the legal documents with "civil union" or "partnership".

That way it wouldn't jepordize the benefits that married couples already have, and you could get an official marriage in a church if you wanted, and if the church would let you.


Now that you mention it, that would seem to work. If we treat marraiges like we do business partnerships, I think we could make some head-way here. In a business partnership, the two partners are a recognized entity. The municipal authorities don't care about the gender of the partners. Hey... that could work!
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Postby Ambystoma4 on Thu Apr 07, 2005 9:04 pm

There are states that have their marriage definitions worded like that, but people threw a fit just becasue they want to define the word marriage to mean between a male and female partner.

Which is why I propose to get rid of all but the religious ceremony.

Either we need to take a much more extreme view of separation of church and state, or decide that government cannot be biased one way or the other. If one group has privledges then everyone should have that privledge.

I wrote a response to your post about my comment Gabe, but my session times out losing it. I didn't feel like rewriting it, but you didn't miss much. Basically I probably should have used agnostic more then athiest since athieism is a religion in its self.
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Postby GabrielTane on Fri Apr 08, 2005 8:02 am

Ambystoma4 wrote:I wrote a response to your post about my comment Gabe, but my session times out losing it. I didn't feel like rewriting it, but you didn't miss much. Basically I probably should have used agnostic more then athiest since athieism is a religion in its self.


Meh, no biggie. That's why I always copy the text before hitting buttons. I had some nice, juicy posts going up here and there that I lost the whole thing. I'm talkin' full-on soap box here. But, once you've taken that breath at the end, it's gone. ::shrugs:: oh well.

Man oh man, the arguments I've been in about whether athiesm is a religion or not. But, again, the government was designed to not cater to anything in regards to religion. I say "designed" because it's not hard to see religious influence all over the place... i.e. "one nation under god". Yup.
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Postby Ambystoma4 on Fri Apr 08, 2005 4:13 pm

My post addressed that. That phrase was added later in an effort to chrisitanize our government.

The founding Fathers were diests and participants in the age of enlightenment. They believed in god, but they didn't necessarily believe in religion. Which is where our religious tolerance comes from. Not any great plan against the Brits, just the idea that everything should be put through scientific methods to test whether it's true or not.

God articles here, [urlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_enlightenment]here[/url], here and here.
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Postby thegameiam on Mon Apr 11, 2005 3:11 am

Ambystoma4 wrote:My post addressed that. That phrase was added later in an effort to chrisitanize our government.

The founding Fathers were diests and participants in the age of enlightenment. They believed in god, but they didn't necessarily believe in religion. Which is where our religious tolerance comes from. Not any great plan against the Brits, just the idea that everything should be put through scientific methods to test whether it's true or not.

God articles here, [urlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_enlightenment]here[/url], here and here.


sigh.

The founding fathers had a nice variety of religious beliefs and expressions of those same religious beliefs. Regarding references (under God) to God in formal documents, "added later" is a red herring:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, ...


Clearly it was important to the author(s) of this document to consider themselves as having God-given rights, in addition to human-granted secular rights and responsibilities.

There is no evidence that the founding fathers were people who attempted to determine whether religions were "true or not" - religion was often a private matter which provided guidance and wisdom to their political activiites.

continuing on, (bit of a digression here)
Symok wrote:Also on the subject of dictionary deffinions, I would like to mention that atheism is still defined as "imorality". Do you think that atheism necesarily leads to imoral behaviour? ....Maybe you shouldn't answer that, I probably wouldn't like the answer.


That's what you get for using the American Heritage dictionary ;)

Webster says:
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Postby Symok on Mon Apr 11, 2005 7:18 am

thegameiam wrote:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, ...


Clearly it was important to the author(s) of this document to consider themselves as having God-given rights, in addition to human-granted secular rights and responsibilities.


I don't know about you, but MY "creator" is nothing other than evolution, NOT an all powerful being for which there is NO scientific justification.

There is no evidence that the founding fathers were people who attempted to determine whether religions were "true or not" - religion was often a private matter which provided guidance and wisdom to their political activiites.


I agree. Religion should be a private matter. I read somewhere recently that Jesus told the people to pray in private rather than in public. So why does the Catholic Church need all that money, etc?

continuing on, (bit of a digression here)
Symok wrote:Also on the subject of dictionary deffinions, I would like to mention that atheism is still defined as "imorality". Do you think that atheism necesarily leads to imoral behaviour? ....Maybe you shouldn't answer that, I probably wouldn't like the answer.

It seems pretty clear that the existance of God is something which is a matter of faith, not proof (especially if you have read H2G2). For a person to say that s/he is an "Atheist" s/he has, by definition, affirmative knowledge about the non-existance of God.

When I studied logic, I remember exactly how hard it was to PROVE the non-existance of something (other than by definition or tautology). If a person says that s/he has no evidence or proof or faith in God's existance, that person is correctly called an "Agnostic" - literally "no experience of God"

(/end digression)


I haven't taken a course in logic, but consider this:

Assumption: God exists, and wants us to be happy.

P(1) : God is perfectly good
P(2) : God can stop suffering
P(3) : There is suffering

If 1 and 2 are true, 3 is false
If 2 and 3 are true, 1 is false
if 1 and 3 are true, 2 is false

Since we know 3 is true, either 1 or 2 must be false, or our initial assumption is false (in which ase 2 and 3 become irrelevant, and 3 remains true).

Christians will say this is not true becaus God wants us to have free will. But to that I have to point out that he is perfectly willing to take away our free will when he's pissed off at us, by causing floods and so on and so forth. So why would a good god only interfere on a large scale to cause suffering and never something good?

Not quite as clear as I would like, and you may find some logical fault that I overlooked but I think my general point is clear enough. An easier way to prove the non existance of God is just to call him out. If he *REALLY* wanted everyone to believe in him and worship him, why does he not give solid proof to those that need it? This allegedly 'good' god wants everyone to be saved, but will only save those who have faith without proof, condeming those who DON'T to an eternity of torment.

Last week I actually had the opportunity to talk with some Christian recruiters who were around on my campus. I asked how they could reconcile the idea of a "good" god with all the slaughters he ordered "his people" to commit.

The response? "Well, those people were just so evil..." The only "evil" that we KNOW those people commited was worshiping different god(s). There is no evidence anywhere that they were responsible for anything else.

Ok, this is swinging wildly off topic so I'll just make one more remark...

I've NEVER heard any good evidence of how the Christian god could be considered good. Even if he did some things that were good, it DOES NOT negetate all the evil that was also done, just like the good Hitler did for Germany doesn't negetate the evils he commited.

Ok, this post has gone on long enough, and I have a class to get to anyway :lol: I look forward to reading your rebuttals :D
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Postby GabrielTane on Mon Apr 11, 2005 8:13 am

thegameiam wrote:The founding fathers had a nice variety of religious beliefs and expressions of those same religious beliefs. Regarding references (under God) to God in formal documents, "added later" is a red herring:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, ...


Clearly it was important to the author(s) of this document to consider themselves as having God-given rights, in addition to human-granted secular rights and responsibilities.

There is no evidence that the founding fathers were people who attempted to determine whether religions were "true or not" - religion was often a private matter which provided guidance and wisdom to their political activiites.


The point of my statement on the founding-father's intentions was just that the original purpose of the "freedom of religion" was that there was to be no "official religion" of the nation, nor was religion to be enforced by the government. The "under god added later" is not so much of a red-herring as you'd think. It's may not be the "taking over by the Christians" as some opponents may claim, but it is a sign of... well, for lack of a better lable: Mainstream Christianity's increased influence as our country matured. Yes, Christianity is the largest-practiced religion in our nation, but I still think that the early modifications to our original government should have left the religion out of it.

in your quote of the... Declaration of Independance?... it does mention "the creator, et. al." in very vague terms. The adding of "under god" is a bit more specific. Hell, it's captialized. Ergo, a name- not a title.

I have no great hatred of having to say "under god" while reciting the pledge... I just don't like the modification of something as national and government-endorsed as the Pledge of Allegance into something more-christian than it was originally.

thegameiam wrote:One thing in the discussions of Card's beliefs which is quite frustrating to me is that many, many people have equated having a political opinion on whether marriage should be expanded to include homosexuals with opinions about tolerance/bigotry, etc.

It's entirely possible to be a tolerant person, and a reasonable person, and have divergent views on a divisive issue. We should all try to respect each other's opinions. Disagree, yes, attempt to convince, absolutely. Should we generalize from one stated opinion to a non-stated opinion? no.

OSC's stated opinion is that he's against expanding the definition of marriage. He has also stated (and demonstrated, if one reads certain novels or knows his personal circle of friends) that he is a tolerant person who does not judge people for the worse for not being like him or sharing his views or personal orientation on this issue.


I actually did get around to reading most of OSC's essay (I had said that I wasn't getting involved in that part of this thread because I hadn't read it)... not all of it. C'mon.. it was so long! heh.

From what I could discern, it seems that Card didn't bash the idea of gay-marraige, he was opposed to the idea that one could be gay and be a Latter Day Saint. He was simply defending his interpretation of his doctrin. I'm not a LDS, I'm not even christian, so I can't call him out on his interpretation. I simply don't care if the doctrin says yes or no on that matter.

The following is not an accusation that anyone here has acted this way. To my knowledge, no one here has. I've just had a shift of perspective and want to share what I have seen.

I respect the fact that Card feels one way or the other in his religious beliefs. It's his perogative to voice those feelings. We, as the receiving audiance to his essay, cannot and should not immediatly say "OMG! He's Gay Bashing!!!!!!!" No. He's... say it with me people... Voicing His Opinion. By calling him a biggot or a hate-monger... people are falling prey to one of the errors-in-logic that I actually remember from school: attacking the person, not the idea (there was a really nifty latin word for it, but I don't recall it off-hand).

[/rant]

The following is my opinion on the recent discussions on religion and the existance/goodness of the Christian God.

Since I hold that the creation of religion was Man's attempt to get a better hold on the reality around him, I can easily say, from that view point how god can be evil, good, indifferent, napping, out to lunch, etc. If it has already been established (which, from my experiance with the general christian populace, it has) that "God works in mysterious ways"... well, you can pretty much explain away anything that happens in God's percieved jurisdiction. The "God has a plan" thing is just as catch-all.

Fictional Example:

Q: Why was I born with 3 arms?!?
A: God has a plan for you.

Q: OK... you mind filling me in on it a bit?
A: Who are we to know the intentions of God?

Q: Well, that's bloody convenient.
A: He does work in mysterious ways.

In the whole proof-of-existance vs. proof-of-non-existance battle... well, that's never going to be resolved until god steps up and says "sup! Here I am!". In an infinate (or nearly-so) universe, you cannot prove that something doesn't exist. Even with all of the logical word-games you can play, such as:

Symok wrote:Assumption: God exists, and wants us to be happy.

P(1) : God is perfectly good
P(2) : God can stop suffering
P(3) : There is suffering

If 1 and 2 are true, 3 is false
If 2 and 3 are true, 1 is false
if 1 and 3 are true, 2 is false

Since we know 3 is true, either 1 or 2 must be false, or our initial assumption is false (in which ase 2 and 3 become irrelevant, and 3 remains true).


The problem is that these are assumptions. They are not evidences or facts or measurable in any way. Therefore, you cannot use such things as proofs either way.

Well, I'm running out of gas on this one, so I'm ending it.
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Postby Symok on Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:36 am

GabrielTane wrote:
In the whole proof-of-existance vs. proof-of-non-existance battle... well, that's never going to be resolved until god steps up and says "sup! Here I am!". In an infinate (or nearly-so) universe, you cannot prove that something doesn't exist. Even with all of the logical word-games you can play, such as:

Symok wrote:Assumption: God exists, and wants us to be happy.

P(1) : God is perfectly good
P(2) : God can stop suffering
P(3) : There is suffering

If 1 and 2 are true, 3 is false
If 2 and 3 are true, 1 is false
if 1 and 3 are true, 2 is false

Since we know 3 is true, either 1 or 2 must be false, or our initial assumption is false (in which ase 2 and 3 become irrelevant, and 3 remains true).


The problem is that these are assumptions. They are not evidences or facts or measurable in any way. Therefore, you cannot use such things as proofs either way.

Well, I'm running out of gas on this one, so I'm ending it.


Propositions 1 and 2 are based on Christian dogma. Show me a Christian who says that their god *ISN'T* all powerful and perfectly good. Proposition three is obvious. Just look at the people in S. Africa, the tsumani victims, all the OTHER third world countries where people are startving.

Technically you're right to say we cannot PROVE there is or is not a god or gods, given an infinite universe. But it is, based on observable eveidence, more likely that it/they DON'T exist, because we have made numerous observations about the way the universe functions which remain consistant. At the very least, if there are gods around, they are remaining 100% uninvolved in our lives and with the functioning of the universe within our observable range (which essentially amounts to the same thing)

There is also the matter of you decide something is a "god". Take, for example, an entity such as the Q from Star Trek. These beings could be (and certainly would be by many less advanced civilizations) as gods. The Q we're familiar with once posed as the god of Christian mythology. But would you think of them as a god, or just an advanced life form? As the saying goes, "Any sufficently advanced form of technology is indistinguishable from magic."
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Postby communist trees on Mon Apr 11, 2005 8:44 pm

thegameiam wrote:It seems pretty clear that the existance of God is something which is a matter of faith, not proof (especially if you have read H2G2). For a person to say that s/he is an "Atheist" s/he has, by definition, affirmative knowledge about the non-existance of God.

When I studied logic, I remember exactly how hard it was to PROVE the non-existance of something (other than by definition or tautology). If a person says that s/he has no evidence or proof or faith in God's existance, that person is correctly called an "Agnostic" - literally "no experience of God"

(/end digression)


You're actually wrong here, you know. An atheist, beyond the silly, archaic "immorality" definitions, is defined as someone who believes that god(s) do not exist. The sheer fact that religions exist shows that belief does need proof or facts to exist. I love logic as much as the next guy (I'm taking it under the title of Discrete Mathmatics right now, actually), but logic is not something that is at all applicable (except in trivial examples, when the "belief" is just another variable) in issues of belief.

OSC's stated opinion is that he's against expanding the definition of marriage. He has also stated (and demonstrated, if one reads certain novels or knows his personal circle of friends) that he is a tolerant person who does not judge people for the worse for not being like him or sharing his views or personal orientation on this issue.


Of course, Aerie has stated that she believes that Card's literary demonstration of tolerance does not reflect his actual viewpoints, bringing us all the way back to the initial April second commentary.

Symok wrote:I haven't taken a course in logic, but consider this:

Assumption: God exists, and wants us to be happy.

P(1) : God is perfectly good
P(2) : God can stop suffering
P(3) : There is suffering

If 1 and 2 are true, 3 is false
If 2 and 3 are true, 1 is false
if 1 and 3 are true, 2 is false

Since we know 3 is true, either 1 or 2 must be false, or our initial assumption is false (in which ase 2 and 3 become irrelevant, and 3 remains true).


You're making another assumption here--you just haven't explicitly stated it. It does need examination, though. You assumed that because God wants us to be happy, ending suffering would be a desireable action for him/her/it to take. The "it's part of God's plan" bit of reasoning has already been brought up. Don't most religions state that God tests his people? Suffering may exist, but it can be posited that perhaps allowing a certain degree of suffering can lead to a greater good and eventual happiness than eliminating it entirely.

Oh, and then people talk about free will, but I don't even want to start getting in to the whole omnipotent diety forcing a purely deterministic universe, thus precluding freewill thing. Too tedious for even my tastes (and I program in Fortran, so that should tell you something).
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Postby Ambystoma4 on Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:15 pm

Symok wrote:Show me a Christian who says that their god *ISN'T* all powerful and perfectly good.


Come down to the Southern United States, and I could probably find a fire and brimstone preacher for you. They're all into the smiting and damnation. They'll still agree that god is all powerful, and they will more then likely also tell you that you are going to burn in hell for something arbitrary and non-sensical, like being Canadian.

This kinder gentler Christianity is a recent fad.
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Postby Ambystoma4 on Mon Apr 11, 2005 10:46 pm

thegameiam wrote:The founding fathers had a nice variety of religious beliefs and expressions of those same religious beliefs. Regarding references (under God) to God in formal documents, "added later" is a red herring


It is not a red herring. The specific statement that was quoted was not originally part of the document in it's beginning. Just like our money originally didn't have any reference to god on it. They were both added later in one of the religious revivals our country has gone through making them little bits of propaghanda.

It's only a red herring if you want to conceal it's origins, intent, and purpose. Dismissing evidence will illogic is a good head-in-the-sand tactic to remove facts from the table but not a valid one in discussions.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, ...


There is no evidence that the founding fathers were people who attempted to determine whether religions were "true or not" - religion was often a private matter which provided guidance and wisdom to their political activiites.


Being a deist means people believe in a diety, but not necessarily in organized religion. A diest attempts to understand the diety mainly through nature. That definition is in the links I provided, in fact it's the first one.

The founding fathers were participants in the age of enlightenment which put an emphasis on logic and reasoning above superstition and blind faith. I'm not saying that they attempted to determine the true anture of religions. I'm saying that they were heavily influenced by the thoughts of their day more so then any religious ideology.

Another interpretation would be rights granted by nature. Creator referencing our source of life which would be the Earth. It's not religious influence in anyway, although some people would like us to believe it is.

Also you're quoting from the Declaration of Independence. First off it doesn't form the basis of our Government the Constitution, which has no reference to any sort of diety, does. Secondly, the Declaration has a passionate romantic bend to it. Finally, it details the reasons that the US separated from Great Britain not the direction of the country. It talks about equal station meaning we were not going to be subordinate to Britain without having the same rights as British citizens living in the UK. At the point the Declaration was signed the colonists just wanted to have a say in English Parliment. They weren't too interested in starting a new country.

The US Constitution, of course, has no references to God or to Christianity, which was considered a major flaw in the document by many of the fire and brimstone preachers and political theocrats of the late 18th century. They put forth proposals to change the wording to declare official fealty to God, or to declare the US a Christian Nation. The anti-separationists of that day thundered that this would bring down the wrath of God upon us all, but they lost the votes on all of those efforts and the constitution remained free of all such references, despite over a century worth of efforts by the National Reform Association to change it.
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Postby thegameiam on Tue Apr 12, 2005 12:20 pm

Ambystoma4 wrote:Being a deist means people believe in a diety, but not necessarily in organized religion. A diest attempts to understand the diety mainly through nature. That definition is in the links I provided, in fact it's the first one.


nitpick: a "Deist" attempts to understand the Deity mainly through nature. A deist is one who believe in the existance of a Deity. Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus are all deists.


Ambystoma4 wrote:Another interpretation would be rights granted by nature. Creator referencing our source of life which would be the Earth. It's not religious influence in anyway, although some people would like us to believe it is.


You've got to be kidding - not religious? If we disagree on the plain meaning of the text to this degree, it's unlikely that either of us will change our minds. In my reading, anything which talks about rights which were "endowed by [our] Creator" is obviously influenced by religion.

Ambystoma4 wrote:First off it doesn't form the basis of our Government the Constitution, which has no reference to any sort of diety, does.


I never said it did. However, it should inform the debate regarding the state of mind of the founding fathers - they obviously were people who used religious metaphor and language to a tremendous effect. It was either sincere, implying that there was at least some amount of genuine faith, or it was insincere, with the resultant implications for their work.


Ambystoma4 wrote:At the point the Declaration was signed the colonists just wanted to have a say in English Parliment. They weren't too interested in starting a new country.


I beg to differ:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_revolution
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolutionary_War

While there were a significant number of Tories, the balance of popular opinion had been shifting against the crown for quite some time, and the Declaration was the final straw.

Communist Trees wrote:You're actually wrong here, you know. An atheist, beyond the silly, archaic "immorality" definitions, is defined as someone who believes that god(s) do not exist. The sheer fact that religions exist shows that belief does need proof or facts to exist.


I was not clear - I apologize.

First, I could believe that the Universe is shaped like a Hostess' cupcake, and then I could create holy books which would extoll the virtues of the creamy filling. No proof or facts needed. Religion does NOT require facts or proof, although most religions lay claim to a large number of facts, and many use reason to derive second principles from the faith-based first principles.

Second, Atheists I have encountered have rarely been willing to accept the idea that their Atheism is in fact a belief which is based on faith. The Atheists I have met (and with whom I've discussed the subject) have tended to argue the following syllogism:

a) I have no evidence of God
b) I can explain via science many things which people who believe in God point to as evidence of His existance
c) therefore, there is no God.

i.e. a "proof" based on lack of evidence. The failure there is that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. An example of this is that the absence of a variety of intermediate forms in the fossil record is not evidence that those forms did not exist.

Inherently, Atheism has the exact same arationality as any other religion - notice "arationality": that is, faith.

For the same reason that I cannot PROVE the existance of God, another person cannot PROVE his non-existance.

Now, it is POSSIBLE that God would show Himself in such a way that doubt would become impossible (although the Biblical account of Sinai in Exodus points to people's nature as being quite fickle and resistant to proof of this type), but it is not even possible that something could prove that God does not exist.

Anyway,

back on topic, I think we must be reading different posts in the OSC forum for reference - I haven't found anything he said to be intolerant, per se.
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Postby Tab on Tue Apr 12, 2005 3:47 pm

Ambystoma4 wrote:
Symok wrote:Show me a Christian who says that their god *ISN'T* all powerful and perfectly good.


Come down to the Southern United States, and I could probably find a fire and brimstone preacher for you. They're all into the smiting and damnation. They'll still agree that god is all powerful, and they will more then likely also tell you that you are going to burn in hell for something arbitrary and non-sensical, like being Canadian.

This kinder gentler Christianity is a recent fad.


well, you're right, and you're wrong.

Everything you say is factually accurate, but I believe how you've applied it to the problem of evil to be in error.

First off, The kinder, gentler, Christianity may be a recent fad, but a kinder gentler Christianity is not necessary for the problem of evil to be relevant. After all, Peirre Bayle was writing on it back in 1696, hardly modern era. (Though Bayle formulated it as omnipotence, benevalence vs evil, rather than omnipotence, benevalence vs suffering, and I believe Bayle's formulation is a much stronger logical path).

Secondly, I have never seen a Christian claim that God was not completely good. Sure, The fire and brimstone stuff doesn't sound too cool, but the fire and brimstone preacher will just tell you that He's only smiting evil guys, and bringing justice to the world, He's still the good guy.

I mean if you don't claim that God is good, then what's the difference between God and Satan?

(or rather the modern misinterpretation of Satan, but let's not get into that)
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