pageok
pageok
pageok
"And It's Dangerous for Our Children to Even Know That Your Philosophy Exists!"

"Get out of that seat!" "You have no right to be here!" That's from Illinois Assemblywoman Monique Davis berating a witness:

Davis: ... What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it's dangerous--

[Witness]: What's dangerous, ma'am?

Davis: It's dangerous to the progression of this state. And it's dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you'll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat!

[Witness]: Thank you for sharing your perspective with me, and I'm sure that if this matter does go to court---

Davis: You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.

What's the philosophy that is dangerous for Illinois children to even know about? Advocacy of child molestation? Of mass suicide?

No, it's the belief that there's not really much evidence for the existence of God, and that we shouldn't believe things for which there's that little evidence. This belief (also known roughly as atheism), besides being an eminently serious challenge to theistic beliefs, is also a belief that has to be known about in order to understand vast chunks of history and philosophical thinking (just as Christianity or Islam must be known about in order to understand vast chunks of history and philosophical thinking). Yet Rep. Davis thinks her children (and apparently the people in the House State Government Administration Committee hearing) need to be shielded from this Dangerous Thinking.

For more of the transcript, see here; for the audio, see here; for the story related to the specific object of the witness's testimony (which doesn't seem to be the target of Rep. Davis's tirade), see here.

The story was apparently broken Thursday by Eric Zorn, a Chicago Tribune metro columnist on his blog. The witness was atheist activist Rob Sherman, who continued with his testimony. I have found no mainstream media coverage of Rep. Davis's outburst other than in the Tribune on Sunday.

NickM (mail) (www):
For those who would turn this thread into an opportunity to bash the "religious right", Assemblywoman Davis is a Democrat.

Nick
4.7.2008 8:00pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Eugene Volokh, et al.
RE: Heh

Whenever I see this sort of behavior—Ms Davis'—and I see quite a bit of it these days, I'm wondering just how confident such people, who behave such, are in their core values and beliefs.

I don't care if you're a christian or moslem or hindu or democrat or republican or atheist. If you go ballistic over something like this, it's readily apparent to the observant individual that you don't have much confidence in your 'faith'—whatever that may be.

We see it almost ever week, in one form or another, from our friends of the moslem persuasion. The latest being their adamant desire to kill Mr Wilder for his temerity.

I'm sure there are people who call themselves christians who would do the same, given the (1) opportunity and (2) authority. Likewise, I'm sure there are atheists cut from the same bolt of cloth.

Personally? I'm a born-again christian. And something of a 'fundamentalist' at that. [Note: The crucial point being I believe in the allegorical aspects of that old Book.]

I'd LOVE to meet the 'witness' and witness to him; preferably over fine scotch and tobacco; another A. Fuente, compadre? It would be a pleasant meeting of the minds, I am certain. [Note: It doesn't matter to me whether or not he—or any other who believes as he does—accepts what I have to say. Not my problem. My 'duty' is to express my understanding. Nothing more....and nothing less.]

Furthermore, I'd like to meet Ms Davis and explain to her why this diatribe was (1) out of ignorance, (2) counter-productive, and (3) possible evidence why women should NOT be in positions of authority in this land. [Note: Maybe someone could forward this thread's URL to her.]

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. I don't hate women, I'm married to one. But I have noticed—of late—a tendency on the part of a number of them to really foul things up.
4.7.2008 8:02pm
Oren:
People that need to prevent their children from being exposed to contrary views must not have much faith in the power of their message.
4.7.2008 8:07pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Oren
RE: Either That....

"People that need to prevent their children from being exposed to contrary views must not have much faith in the power of their message." -- Oren

....of they're not very good teachers, themselves.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Teach;
Your children well..... -- Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young]
4.7.2008 8:10pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Democracy Chicago style. When Davis said, "You believe in destroying what this state was built upon ..." I thought he's trying to destroy corruption. That sure is threatening to the state of Illinois. Keep this man away from our children.
4.7.2008 8:10pm
TRE:
It is like telling a kid that Santa isn't real!!!
4.7.2008 8:19pm
Archon (mail):
I don't get the negative reaction to her outrage. Christians have long been marginalized, ostracized, and discriminated against because of their beliefs. She has been subjected to so much hate that her rage came out at a flash point when she just couldn't take anymore abuse.

If this was a black doing the same thing but targeting an opponent of affirmative action, she would have throngs of supporters defending her and patting her on the back.
4.7.2008 8:20pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Archon
RE: For What It's Worth

"I don't get the negative reaction to her outrage. Christians have long been marginalized, ostracized, and discriminated against because of their beliefs. She has been subjected to so much hate that her rage came out at a flash point when she just couldn't take anymore abuse." -- Archon

We all have our 'limits'. I know that for a fact; from personal experience. But, nevertheless, christians are counseled to mind their limits. And, if we should overstep them, apologize.

As I like to put it....

The only Guy I know who was perfect, got nailed to a tree for His 'temerity'.


Seems that we just mourned His murder and celebrated His triumph just a fortnight ago.


"If this was a black doing the same thing but targeting an opponent of affirmative action, she would have throngs of supporters defending her and patting her on the back." -- Archon

True. The hypocrisy should be self-evident.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[A tree is known by its fruit. -- some Wag, about 2000 years ago]
4.7.2008 8:25pm
Archon (mail):
No historically this is what Christians do when pushed to the edge.
4.7.2008 8:29pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Archon
RE: Really?

"No historically this is what Christians do when pushed to the edge." -- Archon

I thought it was more like THIS...

http://journal.cowpi.com/2006/01/i_love_you_this_much

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Greater love hath no man than this..... -- some Wag, about 2000 years ago]
4.7.2008 8:34pm
Loophole1998 (mail):
It's just showboating by a political hack.
4.7.2008 8:41pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
No historically this is what Christians do when pushed to the edge.


Sure, blame 'em all for the actions of the few. Might as well blame Karl Marx for Stalin's purges.
4.7.2008 8:43pm
Joe C. (mail):

Furthermore, I'd like to meet Ms Davis and explain to her why this diatribe was (1) out of ignorance, (2) counter-productive, and (3) possible evidence why women should NOT be in positions of authority in this land.


Chuck(le): Speaking of counter-productive, it seems odd that your comments include this attack on women. I don't see what Ms. Davis' sex has to do with the discussion any more than the fact that she is from Illinois. Perhaps this is possible evidence why people from Illinois should NOT be in positions of authority in this land?
4.7.2008 8:45pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):

Perhaps this is possible evidence why people from Illinois should NOT be in positions of authority in this land?


I was about to ask if Lincoln wasn't from Illinois, but then I remembered he was born in Kentucky, so I guess your point still stands.
4.7.2008 8:48pm
Archon (mail):
Joe C. -

Do you seriously think that gender makes absolutely no difference in how humans think and react?

If so, then you are either a fool, political idealogue, stupid, or a member of a monastic order that does not interrelate with the opposite sex.
4.7.2008 8:50pm
Brian K (mail):
Christians have long been marginalized, ostracized, and discriminated against because of their beliefs.

how so?
4.7.2008 8:52pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Joe C.
RE: Attack On Woman

"Speaking of counter-productive, it seems odd that your comments include this attack on women." -- Joe C.

Your comment reminds me of an episode of Bablyon 5 where Lennier says to a fellow Mimbari—who questions HIS motives—

Other Mimbari: Whose side are you on?

Lennier: The truth. Is there another?

"I don't see what Ms. Davis' sex has to do with the discussion any more than the fact that she is from Illinois." -- Joe C.

It's an aside....if you will. Or if you won't.


"Perhaps this is possible evidence why people from Illinois should NOT be in positions of authority in this land?" -- Joe C.

Not so sure about that. Then again, considering Illinois predilection for corruption....

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The Truth will out.]
4.7.2008 8:54pm
wm13:
Gee, I think it would be great if Christians were allowed to expound their philosophy in public schools, and atheists were allowed to expound theirs. Is that what the witness and Prof. Volokh are advocating?
4.7.2008 8:57pm
Oren:
Christians have long been marginalized, ostracized, and discriminated against because of their beliefs.
how so?
It's fairly clear, they've been marginalized by being in the majority for the history of this country and from only have 43/43 presidents that openly profess their Christian faith. Their donations will be so oppressively large that their pastors have been ostracized into private jets .
4.7.2008 8:58pm
Scote (mail):

Archon (mail):
I don't get the negative reaction to her outrage. Christians have long been marginalized, ostracized, and discriminated against because of their beliefs. She has been subjected to so much hate that her rage came out at a flash point when she just couldn't take anymore abuse.


Take abuse? That's more of the "we Christians are a poor oppressed minority," which is utter BS in this country. Christians are the vast majority but many still like to play the oppressed minority card as if it were true.

Ms. Davis is unable to differentiate between a non-sectarian government, which is a level playing field for all religions and people with no religion, and a secular, Christian government. She doesn't believe in civil rights for a group that doesn't believe as she does about god and had the unmitigated gall to tell Rob Sherman that he literally had no right to set foot in the state Assembly House. She is an intolerant religious bigot.

Let's put those same words the other way around. Say Ms. Davis was an atheist and told a Christian "You have no right to be here!" "I am fed up! Get out of that seat!" Think you might just change your tune in that case? If you would, I would posit it might be based on double standards (perhaps even religious bigotry...)
4.7.2008 9:03pm
Crane (mail):
Archon said...

Christians have long been marginalized, ostracized, and discriminated against because of their beliefs.


Really? I must have missed the part where it was unacceptable for candidates for political office to be Christian, or hold events at Christian churches. In fact, last I heard, most of the population of the United States adhered to some form of Christianity.

Oh, wait, are you one of those people who thinks its persecution when a store clerk says "Happy Holidays"? Yeah, that's just one step away from rounding up Christians and feeding them to lions.
4.7.2008 9:05pm
federal farmer (www):
Well, there is no excuse for Davis.

However, I do not like Sherman myself, and I'm not even religious. He is the type of guy that likes to move into a religious community just so he can challenge them in court.
4.7.2008 9:06pm
James B. (mail):
It's fairly clear, they've been marginalized by being in the majority for the history of this country and from only have 43/43 presidents that openly profess their Christian faith.

Not quite 43 out of 43:

"I do not believe in the divinity of Christ and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe."

William Howard Taft, US President and Chief Justice (1857-1930).
4.7.2008 9:06pm
Scote (mail):

wm13:
Gee, I think it would be great if Christians were allowed to expound their philosophy in public schools, and atheists were allowed to expound theirs.


All I'd ask in return is equal time in churches and private parochial schools to teach science, logic and reason.

BTW, you are mischaracterizing the idea of equality in religious education as a dualism. Instead of Christianity vs. Non-Theism, you'd have to teach comparative religion/philosophy, including a litany of religions and non-religious philosophies, including poly-theistic and non theistic religions.
4.7.2008 9:13pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
I think a lot of people have misunderstood what I took to be Archon's quite obvious sarcasm.
4.7.2008 9:21pm
Joshua:
NickM: Assemblywoman Davis is a Democrat.

Maybe she just got God confused with Barack Obama. She wouldn't be the first Democrat to do so. ;)
4.7.2008 9:21pm
PersonFromPorlock:
EV:

No, it's the belief that there's not really much evidence for the existence of God, and that we shouldn't believe things for which there's that little evidence. This belief (also known roughly as atheism), besides being an eminently serious challenge to theistic beliefs....

Oh, hardly serious. I can't see God in the workings of the World and I can't see you in the workings of your body. So, is nobody home but me?

Whoever says there's no physical evidence for the existence of a God has to face up to the fact that there's none for our existence, either... and yet, here we are.
4.7.2008 9:25pm
Scote (mail):

bornyesterday (mail) (www):
I think a lot of people have misunderstood what I took to be Archon's quite obvious sarcasm.


That's the risk one takes using sarcasm in written form.

Perhaps if Archon had used a special font, such as Sarcastica Oblique, it would have been more obvious.
4.7.2008 9:26pm
Mark F. (mail):
"I do not believe in the divinity of Christ and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe."

William Howard Taft, US President and Chief Justice (1857-1930).


Taft was a Unitarian. The question is do you have to believe in the divinity of Christ to be a Christian? I don't believe Jefferson believed in the divinity of Christ either, but he had respect for many Christian ethical teachings.
4.7.2008 9:31pm
Vinnie (mail):
Atheist don't usually strap on suicide bombs, or for that matter bomb abortion clinics. We don't go door to door recruiting. Many of us keep our beliefs to ourselves because its just not worth the grief that religious people will inflict on you trying to save you. The outright attacks like Davis spewed are somewhat rarer, but not unusual.
4.7.2008 9:32pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"It's fairly clear, they've been marginalized by being in the majority for the history of this country and from only have 43/43 presidents that openly profess their Christian faith. Their donations will be so oppressively large that their pastors have been ostracized into private jets ."

It's always good to choose your examples carefully. Perhaps you should also look at how Christians are treated in countries that are explicitly atheistic, such secular paradises as the Gulags of the Soviet Union, the Killing Fields of Cambodia, the enlightened atheism of North Korea, the rational paradise of China. Or, perhaps, you might look at any of the Islamic states. Or, for that matter, the strongly Hindu states. In all of these, Christians are killed for their beliefs.

People who like to bash Christianity seem to forget that in the large sense, the only things more repressive than societies based on Christian principles are those that are not.
4.7.2008 9:37pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Scote
RE: Minorities R Us

"...'we Christians are a poor oppressed minority,' which is utter BS in this country. Christians are the vast majority but many still like to play the oppressed minority card as if it were true." -- Scote

Actually. REAL christians are much fewer than you seem to think.

Sure. A lot of people CLAIM to be such. But very few actually understand, let alone PRACTICE, the faith. I'll bet that Ms Davis calls herself a christian. However, as I stated above, she's got a lot to learn.

Maybe you should do a bit more study on the concept. You know....like Sun Tzu said in his famous work, The Art of War; "Know your enemy and know yourself....."

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[If they only, actually, knew.....]
4.7.2008 9:39pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
P.S. If you'd of asked me, 18 years ago, I'd have told you that I was a chrisitan.

But I was ignorant. I wasn't. I was just going through the motions. Much as I suspect the vast majority of others who call themselves 'christians' do every day.

It requires something much deeper than just calling yourself something. Especially with christianity.

Hope that helps....
4.7.2008 9:43pm
c.gray (mail):

If this was a black doing the same thing but targeting an opponent of affirmative action, she would have throngs of supporters defending her and patting her on the back.


Monique Davis happens to be black.

As a current resident of Springfield, IL, and an on-again off-again resident of IL since 1993, I must say that I am shocked, shocked, _SHOCKED_ to hear of obnoxious grandstanding by a state assemblyman in Illinois. Next we'll find out that Illinois residents rise from the dead to vote, and that there's gambling at Vic's club in Casablanca.
4.7.2008 9:45pm
Germanicus:
While there have certainly been many historical examples of intolerance towards Christians, and in many parts of the world there is still severe intolerance, it is incomprehensible to me that Christians in this country would claim to be persecuted for their beliefs in any meaningful way.

Archon suggested that if this had been a black legislator shouting at someone arguing against affirmative action, she would have had throngs of supporters. I don't know how many people would have supported her, because there are many, many stupid people out there of all colors, genders, ideologies, and affiliations, but as far as I'm concerned, it's always unconscionable for an elected official to shout down a witness who has been called to testify, and who is expressing his or her views in a civil manner.

As for Chuck Pelto's comment regarding the fitness of women to lead, I would point out that the list of men who have behaved like jackasses when given power is far longer than the list of women, though I suspect the discrepancy is the result of differences in opportunity. Poor thinking and bad behavior know no boundary in gender. There is good reason to think that women as an aggregate tend to think about things differently than men, there is no reason I've ever seen to suppose that those differences are so severe, or that the way women think is so inferior, that one ought to count being a woman as a negative factor in choosing a candidate for office. I have no doubt that Chuck loves his wife, and I have no reason to think he hates women, but his comments don't reflect a lot of respect for women, and I would ask him to reflect on how much of that attitude is founded on good reasons, and how much on inherited prejudices.

I respect and share his sentiment that the only right and obligation we have is to share our views as best we are able, and to respect the right of others to do the same.
4.7.2008 9:50pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Germanicus
RE: Ignorance, Eh

"...his comments don't reflect a lot of respect for women...." -- Germanicus

Careful how you talk about my Mother, buckie. Or my sister. Or Madam Currie. Or Margaret Thatcher. Or ad nauseum.

Maybe YOU should read more of that old Book yourself. Your ignorance—about me and about what's in that Book—is showing.

Try not to demonstrate it as 'stupid'.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Stupid, adj., Ignorant and proud of it.]
4.7.2008 9:54pm
Oren:
Sure. A lot of people CLAIM to be such. But very few actually understand, let alone PRACTICE, the faith. I'll bet that Ms Davis calls herself a christian. However, as I stated above, she's got a lot to learn.
Good to know that we have a resident Inquisitor to tell us who is and is not a true christian. I was starting to get overwhelmed by the workload.
4.7.2008 9:55pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Oren
RE: Not Very Bright

"Good to know that we have a resident Inquisitor to tell us who is and is not a true christian." -- Oren

Not my job, buckie. Nor would I want it. It's HIS position to pass that kind of judgment. I just point out a definite difference between what someone says and/or does and what is in that old Book.

You don't like that? Sounds like a personal problem. I recommend seeking professional counsel. [Note: Know any good priest?]

Again. I counsel you to 'know your enemy'. Otherwise, you're just being a rather stupid person.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
4.7.2008 10:02pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):

Whoever says there's no physical evidence for the existence of a God has to face up to the fact that there's none for our existence, either... and yet, here we are.


Careful you don't put Descartes in front of the horse.

The only existence you have physical proof of the existence of is your own (Cogito, ergo sum). Beyond that, you have no proof that what you observe as being the world around you exists other than in your own mind. From there, you can go on to being a solipsist, an idea much more dangerous to the minds of our children than atheism, but as a solipsist, that shouldn't bother you at all!
4.7.2008 10:07pm
Scote (mail):

[by]Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
Again. I counsel you to 'know your enemy'.


Hmm...I hope you aren't speaking Biblically again...sort of puts a new meaning to "turn the other cheek."
4.7.2008 10:20pm
Crane (mail):
bornyesterday-

Trouble with sarcasm on the internet is, there are too many trolls and wackos running around saying ludicrous things in all apparent seriousness. I've certainly seen enough people who really do seem to believe that Christianity is under attack in America that a post like Archon's, at first glance, looks to me like it could plausibly be one of them.

The Internet really does need some kind of generally recognized sarcasm tag.
4.7.2008 10:27pm
EH (mail):
I just point out a definite difference between what someone says and/or does and what is in that old Book.

This is an important point, given the level of agreement in the interpretation of its passages. The words of holy books have never been considered to advocate anything bad, except maybe by those fake Christians.

BTW, the whole "real Christian" distinction is a favorite of an old born-again friend of mine, applied to Christians of power, evangelists, fundamentalists, and so on. Pretty much everybody he disagrees on scripture with.
4.7.2008 10:30pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):

The words of holy books have never been considered to advocate anything bad, except maybe by those fake Christians.


I think stoning an adulterer in this day and age might be considered "bad"
4.7.2008 10:40pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):

Trouble with sarcasm on the internet is, there are too many trolls and wackos running around saying ludicrous things in all apparent seriousness. I've certainly seen enough people who really do seem to believe that Christianity is under attack in America that a post like Archon's, at first glance, looks to me like it could plausibly be one of them


I'm halfway expecting him to post to say he was serious. I won't know if he's joking or not unless he tosses the [/joking] tag on it.

A sarcasm tag would be a bad thing, since generally if you have to explain that you're being sarcastic, the statement you previously made loses it's effect.
4.7.2008 10:42pm
randal (mail):
I think it would be great if Christians were allowed to expound their philosophy in public schools, and atheists were allowed to expound theirs.

That would be awesome to do in a philosophy class. But something tells me you want this to happen in science classes.

Science is what it is. It is neither athiest nor christian. It's too bad that christians have gotten tied up in knots about it. They would be way better off arguing that either a) we shouldn't be teaching science at all or b) science is not incompatible with religion. Arguing that we should teach religion in science classes should be an obvious non-starter.

I'm sad for religion when it claims to be incompatible with science. Although that is nothing new. Some pope 300 years from now will be forced to apologize to Darwin. Christians got over the earth being round, one day they will get over evolution.

My (public) high school taught much more christianity than athiesm. We had a bible lit class. We tought evolution in biology, but not in some sort of athiestic way. I don't even know what that would look like. "Fossils indicate that birds evolved from dinosaurs, and by the way there is no god." What do you think is going on exactly?

Quite a bit of math could be perceived as incompatible with the bible, just not as viscerally so as evolution. I wonder if soon school boards across the country will be under pressure to implement a christianized math curriculum which avoids discussions of chaos theory... (unfortuantely for the christians, there's no room to maneuver within the definition of "theory" in math, you pretty much have to just reject math all up).
4.7.2008 10:58pm
MarkField (mail):

Next we'll find out that Illinois residents rise from the dead to vote, and that there's gambling at Vic's club in Casablanca.


Or even gambling at Rick's.
4.7.2008 10:58pm
Scote (mail):

A sarcasm tag would be a bad thing, since generally if you have to explain that you're being sarcastic, the statement you previously made loses it's effect.


There is an old SNL bit where a witness at a criminal trial mocks the prosecutor's questions by sarcastically confessing to the crime, to great effect. After he's done, the court reporter is asked to read back the testimony, which, with out the hilarious sarcastic tone of voice, becomes a damning confession.

Written sarcasm is a dangerous thing. Use it at your own risk. ;-)
4.7.2008 11:01pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
federal farmer said:


However, I do not like Sherman myself, and I'm not even religious. He is the type of guy that likes to move into a religious community just so he can challenge them in court.


I'm an atheist and I understand that going out to challenge other people's beliefs often seems like being needlessly offensive. However, the this sort of "rude" behavior is necessary when the social conventions are rigged up to deem demands for fair and equal treatment as rude.

The fundamental problem is that people parse the expression of atheist beliefs as unnecessery personal attacks/disparagement in ways they don't for religious beliefs. When someone says they believe in some other religion (maybe when demuring to participate in some prayer) people don't interpret this as a criticism of their own faith even though belief in most major world religions is logically incompatible with each other. However, when someone explains they don't believe god exists people tend to take this as an attack on their beliefs. From a logical perspective this doesn't make the slightest sense since Judaism is at least as much a denial of Christ's status as Mesiah as is atheism.

The consequences of this are severalfold. Primarily it means that atheists who decide they ought to be polite and avoid offending people relegate themselves to second class status since they must avoid expressing their beliefs the way the religious must not. Just consider how most people are likely to react to someone non-aggressively explaining how they came to realize Christ is the risen lord versus non-aggressively explaining how they came to realize belief in god is irrational.

Secondarily, however, it means that atheists have no choice but to block governmental religious expressions because they have no serious option of merely responding in kind. A jew might respond to a manger scene on city hall by asking for a menorah on their holidays and other religions can request for their own beliefs to be celebrated. City hall would never display a flying spaghetti monster to celebrate atheist's beliefs at some time of the year since too many citizens would find it to be directly offensive and mocking of their beliefs. Thus atheists have no choice but to be the killjoys because they are denied the chance to have their beliefs positively represented. If we flatly refused to celebrate/recognize the belief systems of certain non-christian religions in public life you better bet they would start being a lot less friendly to public celebrations of religious belief.
4.7.2008 11:23pm
H Bowman, MD:
I always feel a certain sense of sympathy for people who's faith is so fragile that the mere discussion of anothers (or their lack of faith) scares them so....

Courage, Ms. Davis.
4.7.2008 11:24pm
PostNoBill:
If Athiests are wrong and Christians are right, then Athiests go to hell when they die. That appears to be pretty dangerous to me.
4.7.2008 11:38pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):

If Athiests are wrong and Christians are right, then Athiests go to hell when they die. That appears to be pretty dangerous to me.


Pascal's Wager is just as empty now as it was when he made it.
4.7.2008 11:41pm
Oren:
TruePath, philosophically Jews and Christians and Muslims are a lot closer than you give them credit for. Despite differing on minor questions of who/where/how of divine intervention, they are really quite similar belief systems when you compare them to dysteleological atheism.
4.7.2008 11:41pm
Oren:
If Athiests are wrong and Christians are right, then Athiests go to hell when they die. That appears to be pretty dangerous to me.
Unless the Muslims are right, in which case I'm in for an eternity of banal arguments between Christians and atheists!

Allah seems quite merciful all of a sudden . . .
4.7.2008 11:43pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Comic Book Guy on "The Simpsons" (in a sarcastic tone of voice): "Oh, a sarcasm detector? That's a really useful invention!"
4.7.2008 11:49pm
Waldensian (mail):

Sure. A lot of people CLAIM to be such. But very few actually understand, let alone PRACTICE, the faith.

Thank God, so to speak.


If Athiests are wrong and Christians are right, then Athiests go to hell when they die. That appears to be pretty dangerous to me.

Of course, as a Christian, you face precisely the same danger when you deny the divinity of Zeus. Don't forget, when it comes to Zeus, you're an atheist too.
4.7.2008 11:53pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Very good post, TruePath.
4.7.2008 11:55pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
the belief that there's not really much evidence for the existence of God, and that we shouldn't believe things for which there's that little evidence.

Is that what the hearing was about? I thought it was about government funds mismanaged by a church. She probably just had a grudge about atheist activists like Mr. Sherman.

The modern understanding of the separation of church and state began in downstate Illinois, by the way, when an atheist mom objected to religious educators being allowed to teach children of their respective faiths for a half hour a week, if their parents signed a card -- in the public school building, during the regular school day. Apparently she was the only parent who did not sign such a card, so her son was made conspicuous. Mrs. McCollum then took her case to state court, the appeals court, the Illinois Supreme Court, and, after losing up to that point, finally, to the US Supreme Court. Now of course, public school children sing "Winter Carols" before "Winter Holiday", and draw pictures of bunnies and colored eggs before "Spring Holiday," as if we lived in Red Russia.
4.8.2008 12:02am
glangston (mail):
If we had real school choice we could mostly avoid this non-sense.

Are we supposed to believe affirmative action is not part of a belief system?
4.8.2008 12:39am
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
"[I]t’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!"
All censorship starts the same way. "We can't let this guy say that; he might convince someone!"
4.8.2008 12:46am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Pascal's Wager is just as empty now as it was when he made it.

Yeah, but I am glad someone advocated it. For all the professions of devout belief, I have a feeling that much of American religiosity is, when you get deep into people's heart, nothing more than a cynical version of it.
4.8.2008 12:49am
John Enright (mail):
By the way, she's a member of Trinity UCC, Obama's church:

'Illinois State Rep. Monique Davis (D-27th) is a member of Wright's former congregation. She says that some comments like using a profane expletive invoking God have been taken out of context. "I don't think he meant God d—- America but I think he feels disappointed sometimes in the way America has acted in the past," Davis said.'

cbs2 chicago story (scroll down)
4.8.2008 1:29am
MXE (mail):
Well, if Monique Davis hates both freethinkers and guns, I must be...like...her arch nemesis or something.
4.8.2008 1:35am
Elliot Reed (mail):
TruePath has put the basic point quite well. There's also a lot of anti-atheist bigotry on top of that, which Prof. Volokh has blogged about before.

Also, Rep. Davis is making me wish I lived in Chicago so I could vote against her.
4.8.2008 2:10am
Frater Plotter:
Well, if Monique Davis hates both freethinkers and guns, I must be...like...her arch nemesis or something.

"Worst nightmare", I do believe, is the appropriate cultural reference. :)
4.8.2008 2:10am
TruePath (mail) (www):
Oren:


TruePath, philosophically Jews and Christians and Muslims are a lot closer than you give them credit for. Despite differing on minor questions of who/where/how of divine intervention, they are really quite similar belief systems when you compare them to dysteleological atheism.


Sure, they may have similiar general outlooks, similar moral theories whatever. That's not the point. The core articles of faith are incompatible. Jesus either was the son of god or he was not. Which is it?

As an aside I'm baffled by the sort of attitude I often get from theists that somehow it's vitally important that they believe in their religion but that it's not bad that people in other religions believe the wrong things. Religious BELIEF in religion is called belief for a reason. It consists of actually thinking that certain things are true not merely living your life a certain way or having certain feelings. I've met soo many people who will both insist that their sure that christ is the son of god/mohammed is the prophet/whatever and they are absolutely justified in their confidence but yet won't say that they are sure that religions whose beliefs entail the opposite are mistaken or that the believers in those religions are being unreasonable in holding their beliefs in the face of the evidence justifying your own.

The probabilities always have to add up to 1 !
4.8.2008 4:25am
Malvolio:
I usually oppose the death penalty for blasphemy but I may be moved to make an exception in this case:<blockquote>
Next we'll find out that Illinois residents rise from the dead to vote, and that there's gambling at Vic's club in Casablanca.</blockquote>Mark Field made an attempt to correct this error:<blockquote>Or even gambling at Rick's.</blockquote>This is technically correct in some sense, because the establishment that has gambling belongs to Rick (Rick Blaine, of course), but it is not <i>called</i> Rick's (Mr Field might have been misled by his own erudition: the original play was called <i>Everybody Comes To Rick's</i>). It is the Café Américain.

The other nightspot is Signor Ferrari's Blue Parrot, but its side-venture is smuggling, not gambling.

Sorry to go off topic, but I would hate to see minutia like the existence of God cause any confusion about such an important subject as <i>Casablanca</i>.
4.8.2008 5:37am
Erick R (mail):
I'm not defending the representative at all, but Rob Sherman is a complete manic freak and media whore. Eric Zorn has loved Sherman for years now for whatever weird reason. Maybe he makes for an easy column.

Atheists might want to find another standard bearer. Sherman will just fill churches and temples up.

I can't find it at the moment but the Chicago Reader had a feature on him from years ago. I wish I could find that story or remember whether he was convicted or just charged with child abuse.
4.8.2008 9:27am
Jay D:
No, it's the belief that there's not really much evidence for the existence of God, and that we shouldn't believe things for which there's that little evidence.
That's a fluffy-puff definition of atheism. It sounds reasonable. But I doubt that is the kind of atheist Davis was questioning.

People who think there's "not really much evidence for" something generally aren't activists against it.
4.8.2008 9:38am
PersonFromPorlock:
bornyesterday:

The only existence you have physical proof of the existence of is your own (Cogito, ergo sum). Beyond that, you have no proof that what you observe as being the world around you exists....

True enough, but since I'm a courteous fellow I assume that other people exist. The rest of the argument follows from that.
4.8.2008 9:50am
PersonFromPorlock:
TruePath:

Sure, they may have similiar general outlooks, similar moral theories whatever. That's not the point. The core articles of faith are incompatible. Jesus either was the son of god or he was not. Which is it?

Too easy. The Geocentric and Ptolemaic theories of the solar system were both wrong but the Solar System nevertheless exists. Likewise, false beliefs about God don't touch the matter of his existence.
4.8.2008 10:00am
Joe Bingham (mail):
Christian here who's annoyed with outbursts like this. Were her kids in the room? Doubtful. Sure, protect your kids from atheism for awhile. You should also protect your kids from uncontrollable screaming women for awhile... :)
4.8.2008 10:16am
Bob from Ohio (mail):

The question is do you have to believe in the divinity of Christ to be a Christian?


Not a hard question though.

Did not know that Taft was a Unitarian. Some Unitarians are Christians but others are not. There is no creed whatsoever as I understand it. It is the religion for those who believe in nothing but like to sing hymns and have pot luck dinners.
4.8.2008 11:12am
Elliot Reed (mail):
Bob—the 19th-century Unitarians actually were a Christian church, as were the Universalists. In the 20th century they slowly stopped being Christian churches in any noticeable sense, which is why they merged. You're right that today the Unitarian Universalists are not a Christian denomination at all, and would object to being so labeled.
4.8.2008 11:26am
Elliot Reed (mail):
Incidentally, Eugene's definition of atheism ignores the people who have bought into one or more of the arguments that the notion of God is self-contradictory, or contrary to established fact. Atheism is more of a belief that no gods exist (or a lack of belief in any gods, depending on whether you're talking about strong or weak atheism) than a particular rationale for that belief. Eugene's (and my) preferred "lack of evidence" rationale is very popular today but historically the other rationales have been popular as well. Popular among atheists, at least, since atheism has long been unpopular in European-derived cultures.
4.8.2008 11:52am
Smallholder (mail) (www):
I find it particularly interesting that the audio captures Davis proclaiming that "this is the land of Lincoln" in defense of a pro-Christian government. Lincoln is another president who was not a Christian. Oh, old "honest Abe" may have mouthed Christian platitudes but in private he was quite melancholy about his unbelief. Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" brought a tear to my eye when it quoted Lincoln's confession to John Hay after his boy's death. (I'm paraphrasing from memory) - "Don't be too hard on Mary - the spiritualists bring her comfort. But I know I will never see my son again."
4.8.2008 11:57am
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Scote
RE: [OT] Know Your Enemy

"Hmm...I hope you aren't speaking Biblically again...sort of puts a new meaning to "turn the other cheek."" -- Scote

Actually. I do beleive there are passages in both the old and new parts of that old Book that speak that way.

In the old part, something in Proverbs about a king going to war knows the strength of his enemy.

In the new part, Christ sends His disciples into the land telling them to be "as wise as serpents".

However, I was speaking from Sun Tzu—required reading for all infantry officers at Benning School for Boys; back when I was last there, 1980.

The biggest problem people who hate christians have is that the VAST MAJORITY of them speak from utter ignorance. They know nothing about how their 'enemies' think and behave; or should think and behave.

If they did know what they were talking about they wouldn't be so ineffectual in dealing with the real ones, let alone the ones that behave like Ms Davis (above).

Hope that helps...

Chuck(le)
[Ipsa scientia potestas est. -- Bacon]
4.8.2008 12:00pm
c.gray (mail):

Sorry to go off topic, but I would hate to see minutia like the existence of God cause any confusion about such an important subject as Casablanca.



Personally, I appreciate the corrections. My memory for proper nouns has always been poor, and as I get older I've found its gotten worse. I can barely remember the name of the street I live on.
4.8.2008 12:02pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
P.S. On that 'turn the other cheek' business....

Yeah. That's in there too. But please show me where that contradicts knowing your enemy?
4.8.2008 12:05pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Sure. A lot of people CLAIM to be such. But very few actually understand, let alone PRACTICE, the faith. I'll bet that Ms Davis calls herself a christian. However, as I stated above, she's got a lot to learn."

OK. So, can we dispense with the notion that this is a Christian country?
4.8.2008 12:27pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
Re: Sherman being obnoxious

I think we're mixing apples and oranges. I distinguish between agnosticism (belief that no evidence regarding the possible existence of god exists) and atheism (belief no god exists). Atheists are more likely to rub people than agnostics and can be as strident and difficult as any other person with a belief about god.
4.8.2008 12:33pm
Jiminy (mail):
I liked Einstein's response to the child who asked if scientists prayed:

I have tried to respond to your question as simply as I could. Here is my answer. Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and therefore this holds for the actions of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a supernatural Being. However, it must be admitted that our actual knowledge of these laws is only imperfect and fragmentary, so that, actually the belief in the existence of basic all-embracing laws in nature also rests on a sort of faith. All the same this faith has been largely justified so far by the success of scientific research.

But, on the other hand, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.
4.8.2008 1:04pm
A. Nony Mouse:
HipposGoBerserk:

Atheism means, simply, "without gods." Either you believe in god/ess/es/s or you do not. It is a binary solution set. If you do not, then you are an atheist. If you do, then you are a theist.(which does not necessarily make you a religionist)

An agnostic is intellectually dishonest - this person is claiming to not know what he believes. In reality, a person who says that he is reserving judgment on the existence of god/ess/es/s because he does not yet have evidence is almost certainly an atheist, but is unwilling to admit it. If he claims the converse, that he provisionally accepts the existence of some sort of god/ess/es/s pending evidence to the contrary, then he is a theist, but is likewise unwilling to admit it.
4.8.2008 1:06pm
Jiminy (mail):
A Nony, I disagree. I liken the atheists and theists to political identity - a set of beliefs or assertions that you support.

The "democrat" or "republican" has decided the facts for themselves and have their minds made up. The agnostic is the undecided. It is not as simple as the endless panoply of binary arguments that have been foisted on us since Aristotle said you can only have it one way or the other, and thank God for that. It is not dishonest - Mr. Agnostic wants to understand and learn more information about the different arguements before feeling like he can identify with one side. And for those of us who crave knowledge over our lifetimes, there never needs to be a final answer to: "God? Yes or No?".

I hate binary arguments, if you couldn't tell - they are always too simplistic and overlook the useful nuance in the center gray area of a discussion. What if there was only a Hell and no Heaven?
4.8.2008 1:16pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Elliot123
RE: Dispensing

"OK. So, can we dispense with the notion that this is a Christian country?" -- Elliot123

I guess that depends on several factors:

[1] What is your religious beliefs.
[2] Are you determined to repress other people's religious beliefs.
[3] Are you determined to repress other people's Freedom of Speech.

Anyone can call this country a 'Christian' country. Likewise, if they feel such, they can call it a Jewish country or a Muslim country.

I have no qualms with them calling it what they like.

Do you?

RE: Is this a 'Christian' Country?

Certainly a good number of the men know as the Founding Fathers felt they were doing what they did based on Christian ethics.

Likewise a number of them didn't think of themselves as Christians in the first place, e.g., Thomas Paine.

I think they make a fine example of how politics makes for strange bedfellows. But, nevertheless, they did find common ground based on mutual respect for each other's matters of faith.

It is my personal opinion that the Bill of Rights is probably the most profound document in Human history.

The problem is that a lot of people have begun to use the legislative and judicial branches of the government to subourne the principles laid down in it.

RE: For Ms Davis

This need to respect each others' beliefs is something that Ms Davis seems to have forgotten in her walk of Faith. [Note: Someone should gently point that out to her. Maybe she'll learn something.]

However, there IS something of a 'limit'. That such 'limits' are a double-edged sword. If others don't respect your beliefs, you should be able to defend yourself in a manner that is warranted.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.]
4.8.2008 1:17pm
the other anonymous:
Cthulhu for president!!!

Why choose the lesser of two evils?
4.8.2008 1:32pm
MarkField (mail):
Malvolio, you're technically right, of course. But everbody refers to it as "Rick's".


Well, if Monique Davis hates both freethinkers and guns, I must be...like...her arch nemesis or something.


And that would make the rest of us her arch nemisises...ses. /Buffy joke.
4.8.2008 1:38pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
A Nony,

I think you are wrong both technically and with regards to common usage.

I also find nothing intellectually dishonest about answering the question, do you believe something exists, by answering I lack the data to give a meaningful answer.

HGB
4.8.2008 2:06pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
. . . to common usage ADD regarding the meaning of "atheism".
4.8.2008 2:06pm
ray_g:
Quoting TruePath "When someone says they believe in some other religion (maybe when demuring to participate in some prayer) people don't interpret this as a criticism of their own faith even though belief in most major world religions is logically incompatible with each other. However, when someone explains they don't believe god exists people tend to take this as an attack on their beliefs."

I noticed this a long time ago, that theists seem to find that a belief that there is no god more objectionable that a belief in the wrong god. This has always struck me as backwards. It would seem to me that worshiping a false god is worse than not worshiping the true god. Now, I have a theory of why this is, but I would be curious for the theists (or at least those who feel this way) to explain this.
4.8.2008 2:36pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: ray_g
RE: There Is No God??!??!?!?!!!!!

"I noticed this a long time ago, that theists seem to find that a belief that there is no god more objectionable that a belief in the wrong god. This has always struck me as backwards....I have a theory of why this is, I would be curious for the theists (or at least those who feel this way) to explain this." -- ray_g

As I stated in an earlier post on this thread, I think that people who get upset about the nature of God, or even whether or not He exists, have serious problems with their level of confidence. And I agree that it seems that people get more upset about the former than the latter. The why, I think, lies with (1) the concept that if people accept the wrong concept of godhood, at least they've taken the first step in recognizing Him, i.e., they are not atheists and, more importantly, (2) they aren't out to hinder the worship of God; as the atheists seem to be.

I think the latter is much more important. After all, if someone worships God, even in the 'wrong' manner or 'form', they aren't going to go out of their way, supposedly, in THIS country, to deny you the right to worship Him as you see fit.

On the other hand, the atheists seem hell-bent to stop the very idea that God exists and therein stop those who believe in Him from expressing their worship, in any way, shape or form.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[God may be subtle, but He is not plain mean. -- Albert Einstein]
4.8.2008 2:54pm
Jiminy (mail):
Chuck, I think the point of that last Einstein quote that you referenced is integral to why atheists act out in such a manner to try to stop the beliefs of others in God. Those who are attacked by atheists are the same people who use their ideas of faith to force other people towards changes in law or how people live, like being against gay rights or abortion.

The same loud people who don't always act as good Christians or polite human beings - those are the ones attacked by the atheist activists. And unfortunately, many atheists copy the same strident tones and force laws or court decisions on others where they see lax enforcement of church/state separation, becoming the mirror image of the loud persecuted Christian with poor listening skills.

I'm not a religious person. I don't feel that a greater power is directly or indirectly making decisions or casting judgement on my actions. Yet I believe in the humanity of Jesus and the living lessons he gave to those who listened. He preached equality, tolerance, understanding, love before hate, forgiveness, and how people always have more in common with each other than a stereotype ever could. I don't need any religion to understand the fundamental truth in those statements. I just need my humanity.
4.8.2008 3:41pm
ray_g:
"..they aren't out to hinder the worship of God; as the atheists seem to be."

Define "hinder". I agree that lawsuits about nativity scenes or a cross on a city's seal are silly. But if you think that not allowing prayer in schools or creationism in science class is "hindering", then there is no point in further discussion.

And that is not what I get from discussions with theists. That does not seem to be their concern. No, they seem to find the lack of a belief in any deity more objectionable on general principles than a belief in a deity other than the one they believe in. Again, that strikes me as strange, that no god is more threatening than a false god.
4.8.2008 3:43pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
I'm of the personal opinion that atheism is a dangerous idea, not because it is in any way bad or wrong, but because it is an attractive idea to a child for reasons the child cannot appreciate. When you propose to a child, who appreciates that to be religious is difficult, that it is possible to be an atheist which is terribly easy... that's an attractive notion.

Where christianity has historically tolerated other religions is in the lack of missionary activity; ONLY the christian goes to people of other religions and proposes that the religion they follow is wrong, so they should come be a christian instead. Muslims and Jews and Hindus and Buddhists don't normally do that, and when other religions do - the Hare Krishna comes to mind - they tend to be labeled "cults" and ostracised as deviant.

Atheism, however, is viciously missionary. It is no secret that the atheist not only believes he is right, but that you are stupid for not agreeing with him. The atheist will often say that in those exact terms. The christian objects to this not only because the philosophy is unacceptable, or because their children may come to believe it, but because the atheists do not construct logic to show their own correctness - they construct it to show the flaws in theism. They are, in a very real sense, an anti-christian religion.

Which is why I'm not bothered by them. I think my children should know about atheism because, being Jewish, my religious beliefs are not founded on the flawed logic expounded by some missionary. I'm confident that my children will be smart enough to understand what is right and wrong, and why I remain Jewish even though I'm the last practicing Jew in my family. If they decide to walk off and be atheists, or even christians, that is for them to decide - and it will be my own failure. But I will not stack the deck to make sure I win.

And that, too, is faith.
4.8.2008 3:47pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
The why, I think, lies with (1) the concept that if people accept the wrong concept of godhood, at least they've taken the first step in recognizing Him, i.e., they are not atheists and, more importantly, (2) they aren't out to hinder the worship of God; as the atheists seem to be.

I think the latter is much more important. After all, if someone worships God, even in the 'wrong' manner or 'form', they aren't going to go out of their way, supposedly, in THIS country, to deny you the right to worship Him as you see fit.

On the other hand, the atheists seem hell-bent to stop the very idea that God exists and therein stop those who believe in Him from expressing their worship, in any way, shape or form.
Obviously. Why else would we be pushing to have all the synagogues, churches, mosques, and temples seized and razed, arguing that SCOTUS should add "religious expression" to the categories of unprotected speech, and assassinating politicians who end their speeches with "God bless America"?
4.8.2008 4:06pm
Vinnie (mail):
they aren't out to hinder the worship of God; as the atheists seem to be.

I actually resent that. As an atheist I for one am not offended by "merry christmas" etc. I am offended that Sundays are set aside as days I cant buy scotch.
The only times I start to object is when religion comes to public schools in anything but comparative religion classes. It has no place in a science class.
When you propose to a child, who appreciates that to be religious is difficult, that it is possible to be an atheist which is terribly easy

OK so I get to sleep late on weekends.

And for the record:It is all right by me if you want to put 9 of the 10 commandments up on public property. That me first thing gets to some of us.
4.8.2008 4:14pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
Atheism, however, is viciously missionary. It is no secret that the atheist not only believes he is right, but that you are stupid for not agreeing with him. The atheist will often say that in those exact terms.
Evidence, please? No doubt some atheists think theists are stupid for not agreeing with them, just as some theists think atheists are stupid for not agreeing with them.

As for being missionary, you're right on that one. Otherwise we wouldn't spend our time knocking on people's doors looking for converts and distributing evangelical tracts.
4.8.2008 4:15pm
Chimaxx (mail):
A Nony:
An agnostic is intellectually dishonest - this person is claiming to not know what he believes.


HipposGoBerserk:
I think you are wrong both technically and with regards to common usage.

I also find nothing intellectually dishonest about answering the question, do you believe something exists, by answering I lack the data to give a meaningful answer.


...And that furthermore I simply don't care, don't intend to waste my time trying to find out, and get tired of dealing with the obnoxious dogmatism of everyone who does care.
4.8.2008 4:19pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
I actually resent that. As an atheist I for one am not offended by "merry christmas" etc. I am offended that Sundays are set aside as days I cant buy scotch.
The only times I start to object is when religion comes to public schools in anything but comparative religion classes. It has no place in a science class.
I think people who don't celebrate Christmas have more reason to be annoyed at "Merry Christmas" than I do, since I've grown up celebrating it as a secular holiday. I don't like kids being asked to swear allegiance "under God" every day, though it bothers me far more that they're being asked to swear allegiance to the State.
4.8.2008 4:22pm
Burt Likko (mail) (www):
Chuck, I'm not aware of any incidence in which an atheist attempted to deny a theist the ability to worship as he or she chose. I am aware that some atheists have lampooned theists for worshipping, which was rude on their part but did not prevent the worship from taking place.

Of course, my understanding is based upon the idea that failing to support someone else's worship is not the same thing as obstructing it.
4.8.2008 4:45pm
A.C.:
John Enright -

I was going to ask what on earth was going on in the black churches in Illinois, but it sounds like it is just the one. At least I hope so.

Although I'm not sure. I don't know Illinois, but I do remember talking to some black COLLEGE STUDENTS in Detroit. They were solidly on the creationist side in the creation vs. evolution debate, but the real kicker is that they didn't even know the other side was out there. I'm not sure how people can function in the modern world when the holes in their education are that big.
4.8.2008 4:46pm
Romra (mail):
A Nony:

An agnostic is intellectually dishonest - this person is claiming to not know what he believes.



HipposGoBerserk:

I think you are wrong both technically and with regards to common usage.

I also find nothing intellectually dishonest about answering the question, do you believe something exists, by answering I lack the data to give a meaningful answer.



...And that furthermore I simply don't care, don't intend to waste my time trying to find out, and get tired of dealing with the obnoxious dogmatism of everyone who does care.



And you still all either have a belief in a god or gods, or don't.

The question that obtains is not "Does a god exist?" but rather "Do you believe a god exists?" That is an infinitely knowable proposition at any point, and the idea that one could "lack the data to give a meaningful answer" - short some mental illness - is laughable. Are you all in the throes of similar ontological angst over Zeus or the Easter Bunny? Certainly you know whether or not you believe; as was said, "not enough data" means "not yet".
4.8.2008 5:19pm
D Palmer (mail):
Monique Davis is an idiot, but Rob Sherman is worse.

He, and now his daughter, cannot avoid any apportunity to proscelytize his personal religion of the lack of a god.

The Illinois Silent reflection act is stupid. We no more needed a state mandated moment daily of silence than we need a state or federal "Protection of Marriage" act.

But Sherman is a tiresome blow hard who willfully pretends to not understand that the establishment clause is NOT a 'separation of church and state' clause. The prohibition against a single state religion is not the same thing as permitting the mention or practice of religion on government property.

The Act in question does not require prayer nor does it establish any one religion, therefore it does NOT violate the Constitution. It certainly violates good sense, but unfortunately just because a law is bad doesn't make it inherantly unconstitional.

Sherman has forced schools in Illinois and elsewhere to waste thousands of their limited dollars to defend against his pointless lawsuits. The man is an a**wipe and I wish he would shut up and go away.
4.8.2008 5:25pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
The Assemblywoman was correct. There would be no State of Illinois without the (presumably Christian) God. It says so right here:


We, the People of the State of Illinois - grateful to
Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty
which He has permitted us to enjoy and seeking His blessing
upon our endeavors - in order to provide for the health,
safety and welfare of the people; maintain a representative
and orderly government; eliminate poverty and inequality;
assure legal, social and economic justice; provide
opportunity for the fullest development of the individual;
insure domestic tranquility; provide for the common defense;
and secure the blessings of freedom and liberty to ourselves
and our posterity - do ordain and establish this Constitution for the State of Illinois.


There are a lot of people who don't like litigious atheists.
4.8.2008 5:26pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
D. Palmer

I blame the legislature for passing a meaningless, posturing act they knew would be challenged for the wasted assets, not the person who challenged it.

HGB
4.8.2008 5:54pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
Romra,

I don't agree with you about what the key question is. What I believe seems a lot less interesting - that the shot clock and the DH are ruining basketball and baseball; that chocolate cake is always better than ice cream; that beer is superior and more interesting than wine; etc. While I don't believe in the Easter Bunny, I grant Zeus the same courtesy I grant every God - I have no opinion about his proposed existance, lacking data on which I should make such a judgment.

HGB
4.8.2008 5:57pm
MXE (mail):
Hair-splitting between atheists and agnostics and so forth gives me a headache. In practical terms, the distinction (however you want to draw it) isn't all that useful. As far as I know, it's a hair usually split in an effort to make self-described atheists either 1) sound crazy to other people or 2) "admit" that they're actually agnostics, which is seen as a less forceful position.

But it's an inevitability that all comment threads, given enough time, end up getting into a debate about the distinction between atheism and agnosticism. Maybe we should call it Dawkins' Law.

P.S. Monique Davis is pretty much a Nazi.
4.8.2008 6:00pm
MXE (mail):
Why choose the lesser of two evils?

I always liked the campaign slogan, "What part of 'Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Chtulhu R'lyeh wgah-nagl ftaghn' don't you understand?"
4.8.2008 6:03pm
Vinnie (mail):
Romra
And you still all either have a belief in a god or gods, or don't.

Does that mean that I have firm beliefs about aliens and gravitons too?
4.8.2008 6:35pm
gasman (mail):

I'm sad for religion when it claims to be incompatible with science. Although that is nothing new. Some pope 300 years from now will be forced to apologize to Darwin. Christians got over the earth being round, one day they will get over evolution.

Actually the Roman Catholic church is quite OK with the whole Darwin thing. They got their nose all bent out of shape back in Gallileo's time, but eventually came to accept the commonly view that the early is not the center of the universe. Further, the church is fine with big bang, inflation, string theory and other ideas about the mechanism by which our current universe came to be. The key point is the church figured out that science will never be able to tackle the Big question, why is the universe here in the first place, why would there be matter and antimatter in the first place, etc. By ceding scientific inquiry to science and admiring the wonder of it all they have largely avoided the pitfalls of the various protestant sects that find themselves at odds with observations of the observable universe.
4.8.2008 6:37pm
Scote (mail):

Duncan Frissell (mail):
The Assemblywoman was correct. There would be no State of Illinois without the (presumably Christian) God. It says so right here:

Well, if it says so in print it must be true, for surely the state could not exist without that exact preamble, instead there would be an amorphous void where the state now is.

There are a lot of people who don't like litigious atheists.

Damn litigious atheists. How dare the ask the state not to force other people's religion on them through state sponsored Christianity. Don't they know that they are second class citizens and that the Bill of Rights does not apply to them? Don't they know this nation was founded by diests and Christians????
4.8.2008 6:55pm
dejapooh (mail):
Nony Mouse:

Funny thing that. I had always believed that Atheists were intellectually dishonest claiming to KNOW that which is widely accepted it be unknowable.
4.8.2008 7:31pm
Scote (mail):

dejapooh (mail):
Funny thing that. I had always believed that Atheists were intellectually dishonest claiming to KNOW that which is widely accepted it be unknowable.

Then you misunderstand atheism.

If I tell you there is a colony of invisible pink unicorns in orbit around Pluto will you believe me? Unless your mind is so open that your brains are spilling out, the answer is no. You'd want proof, real, incontrovertible proof because what I claim is extraordinarily unlikely. You'd be an aunicornist, in spite of the fact that the existence of invisible pink unicorns is unknowable.

All Christians are atheists. Here is a handy partial list of the gods they don't believe in.

There is no scientific reason to believe in the Christian God any more than a colony of invisible pink unicorns. I only know that god doesn't exist to the extent Christians "know" that other gods, and invisible pink unicorns, don't exist.
4.8.2008 7:42pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
The people who claim one can never know that there are no gods are advancing an untenable claim, since we regularly claim to have established that existential claims are false. We know there are no N-rays, no Martians, no witches, and no Santa Claus, even though it's possible (in some sense) that they're out there, just so well-hidden that we've just missed them. I am not obliged to remain agnostic as to every poorly-evidenced hypothesis someone might care to raise merely because it's not logically impossible. (Though I think the Christian god is logically impossible).
4.8.2008 8:43pm
David Schwartz (mail):
Does that mean that I have firm beliefs about aliens and gravitons too?

Presumably, you do not believe they exist. I can't understand what it would mean for a lack of belief to be "firm".

An "atheist" is someone who does not believe in god. Specifically, it is a considered rejection of theistic religious belief. They may be open to possible future belief, they may not.

An "agnostic" is someone who believes that no evidence in support of or against god's existence is available. The term is generally only used to refer to someone who refuses theistic belief on that basis, but a theist could argue that he is agnostic because he does not "know" that god exists and simply chooses to believe it as an article of faith.

One can argue that all Christians who believe in god as a matter of faith are agnostic, but this is no more useful than arguing that all rocks are atheists or that a newborn baby does not believe we should have invaded Iraq. (He doesn't, but ...)
4.8.2008 8:59pm
Gil (mail) (www):
Is this the same Rob Sherman to whom George H.W. Bush said this?:

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."
4.8.2008 11:40pm
John Enright (mail):
Yes, it's the same Rob Sherman who elicited the response from GHWB.
4.9.2008 12:32am
David Schwartz (mail):
I think the latter is much more important. After all, if someone worships God, even in the 'wrong' manner or 'form', they aren't going to go out of their way, supposedly, in THIS country, to deny you the right to worship Him as you see fit.

On the other hand, the atheists seem hell-bent to stop the very idea that God exists and therein stop those who believe in Him from expressing their worship, in any way, shape or form.
I recognize that people might feel this way, and that it's perfectly valid to point out that they do, but it's totally irrational.

With respect to the Christian god, Jews are atheists. With respect to the Jewish god, Hindus are atheists. A Moslem is no more or less likely to oppose Christian prayers in school than an atheist is. And a Christian wouldn't be particularly happy if the football team wanted to precede the game with a Wiccan prayer circle or the valedictorian wanted to discuss the positive benefits of worshipping Satan at commencement.

People with different religious views from yours will view your religious practices as worse then a typical atheist will. At least an atheist doesn't think you are offending his god, or leading people to or going to an actual Hell.
4.9.2008 12:43am
Mark Buehner (mail):
The real disgrace of this whole thing is the underlying political issue- our esteemed and soon likely to be indicted governor (maybe he can share a cell with our former governor) pumped over a million bucks to some random church that burned down just because he felt like it... well more likely he did it to put up a smokescreen against his inability to pass a budget and corruption investigations.

Personally i'm as outraged by the blatant pork as i am by the church/state problems.
4.9.2008 1:33am
c.gray (mail):

If I tell you there is a colony of invisible pink unicorns in orbit around Pluto will you believe me?


I find the "flying spaghetti monster" argument even lamer than Pascal's wager.
4.9.2008 3:15am
Scote (mail):

I find the "flying spaghetti monster" argument even lamer than Pascal's wager.


Well, actually, its Bertrand Russell's celestial teapot argument. And, unlike Pascal's wager which falsely presumes a dichotomy--Catholic Christianity vs. Atheism (among other invalid assumptions)--the celestial teapot argument is valid and shows the vacuousness of Pascal's presumption. It clearly shows that belief on faith is not a choice between Catholicism vs. atheism but all possible things and things you can prove. Pascal's wager requires that you presume that proposition with sufficient cost/benefit ration requires belief--making Pascal the ideal sucker for every get rich quick and lottery scam, not to mention belief in gold-bearing Leprechauns and every religion with every afterlife known or unknown--which obviously isn't possible, reasonable or desirable. So, it is odd that you would reject the very argument that invalidates the Wager you find lame.

Anyway, asserting that you find the "argument even lamer than Pascal's wager" is, unfortunately, not a valid argument against its validity.

Dawkins expands on this (via wikipedia):


...unlike belief in Russell's teapot, religion is powerful, influential, tax-exempt and systematically passed on to children too young to defend themselves. Children are not compelled to spend their formative years memorizing loony books about teapots. Government-subsidized schools don't exclude children whose parents prefer the wrong shape of teapot. Teapot-believers don't stone teapot-unbelievers, teapot-apostates, teapot-heretics and teapot-blasphemers to death. Mothers don't warn their sons off marrying teapot-shiksas whose parents believe in three teapots rather than one. People who put the milk in first don't kneecap those who put the tea in first.
4.9.2008 3:50am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
While I can't imagine any good reason to respond so rudely, let me point out that the Illinois Constitution of 1970 is pretty clear about the basis of Illinois government:

We, the People of the State of Illinois - grateful to
Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty
which He has permitted us to enjoy and seeking His blessing
upon our endeavors...
For those who are prepared to trade religion in the classroom for atheism in churches, there is a big difference: churches are private institutions; public schools belong to everyone, including that vast majority of theists.
4.9.2008 1:58pm
David Schwartz (mail):
public schools belong to everyone, including that vast majority of theists
The numerical preponderance doesn't matter. The vast majority of Americans could prefer racially segregated water fountains and bathrooms and that would still not be appropriate for public buildings.
4.9.2008 2:48pm
Scote (mail):

For those who are prepared to trade religion in the classroom for atheism in churches, there is a big difference: churches are private institutions; public schools belong to everyone,


Indeed, and that is precicely why I proposed it, because you know it is in appropriate for scientists to demand to come and teach where they don't belong--in a private church, just as it is wrong for theists to demand to advance their religion where it doesn't belong, in the public schools that belong to everybody.

People are free to pray in public school, but on their own. What is not permissible is for the school to have anything to do with it. And why would you want it to? Schools aren't churches...and the only way to accommodate all religious views equally is for the school to be secular, so that each and every person can be treated on a level playing field.

Of, course, I notices that Mr. Cramer is happy to cite Christian endorsements by the state, but I'll bet that he'd be quite annoyed if the school lead prayer 5 times a day and faced east.
4.9.2008 4:07pm
ejo:
if we arenn't allowed to criticize and, in fact, all sorts of excuses are offered to black preachers preaching jew hatred and white hatred, why is it that we aren't coming up with all sorts of excuses to explain away, on ethnic grounds, Ms. Davis' statements. it seems we should be explaining and contextualizing her attitudes based on the long history of racism in this country.
4.9.2008 4:50pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


public schools belong to everyone, including that vast majority of theists


The numerical preponderance doesn't matter. The vast majority of Americans could prefer racially segregated water fountains and bathrooms and that would still not be appropriate for public buildings.
There's a constitutional provision about that, you know. There is no constitutional provision that prohibits religion in public schools. The establishment clause was never understood to mean that until the 1940s.
4.9.2008 5:09pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Indeed, and that is precicely why I proposed it, because you know it is in appropriate for scientists to demand to come and teach where they don't belong--in a private church, just as it is wrong for theists to demand to advance their religion where it doesn't belong, in the public schools that belong to everybody.
And therefore do not have the option of excluding some perspectives.

People are free to pray in public school, but on their own. What is not permissible is for the school to have anything to do with it. And why would you want it to? Schools aren't churches...and the only way to accommodate all religious views equally is for the school to be secular, so that each and every person can be treated on a level playing field.
The Constitution doesn't require this. At least, the real Constitution, not the one that the Supreme Court has imagined in cases such as Lemon.

Of, course, I notices that Mr. Cramer is happy to cite Christian endorsements by the state, but I'll bet that he'd be quite annoyed if the school lead prayer 5 times a day and faced east.
The ACLU doesn't object to publicly funded schools having such--only to Christian influences.
4.9.2008 5:12pm
Scote (mail):

And therefore do not have the option of excluding some perspectives.

State sponsored Christianity goes far beyond mere inclusion and, of course, naturally excludes "some perspectives," or more like "all perspectives" that aren't Christian. As does, for instance, "under god" in the revised, anti-cold war version of the Pledge of allegiance. That specifically excludes polytheists like Hindus, non-deific religions like Buddhism and all non-theists. Your own position in that comment actually favors secularism, if you were to be intellectually honest about it rather than dogmatically sectarian.
4.9.2008 5:35pm
David Schwartz (mail):
There's a constitutional provision about that, you know. There is no constitutional provision that prohibits religion in public schools. The establishment clause was never understood to mean that until the 1940s.
That argument is absurd. Would you argue that there are no constitutional protections for modern forms of speech such as the Internet?

If the Constitution requires, say, "due process", then it requires whatever process is due. Not whatever process someone once thought was due, but whatever process is *actually* due. As our understanding of what constitutes due process improves and evolves, how this provision is enforced will change. There's nothing wrong with that.
4.9.2008 6:50pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Jiminy
RE: The Einstein Quote

“....I think the point of that last Einstein quote that you referenced is integral to why atheists act out in such a manner to try to stop the beliefs of others in God.” -- Jiminy

Interesting twist on the concept. But such twists are common amongst those who hate Christ. I recall seeing how the comment by Him about the concept of the ‘rapture’, were twisted by the homosexual community to say that Christ supported homosexuality; “...two men are sleeping in a bed....”.

RE: Those Who Attack

“Those who are attacked by atheists are the same people who use their ideas of faith to force other people towards changes in law or how people live, like being against gay rights or abortion.” -- Jiminy

There is an interesting dynamic.

Yes. Christians are opposed to homosexuality and abortion. However, there is a difference between ‘rights’, as the homosexuals and abortionists would like us to believe and ‘rights’ as the Constitution lays them forth.

For example...show me in the Constitution where it is a ‘right’ to be a ‘sexual pervert’? Or where in the Bill of Rights it is a ‘right’ to murder an unborn child? [Note: Be advised, I’m well prepared to discuss the egregious decisions of the United Supreme Court.]

“The same loud people who don't always act as good Christians or polite human beings - those are the ones attacked by the atheist activists. And unfortunately, many atheists copy the same strident tones and force laws or court decisions on others where they see lax enforcement of church/state separation, becoming the mirror image of the loud persecuted Christian with poor listening skills.” -- Jiminy

Actually, the atheists attack christians wherever they find them. I’ve been kicked/banned/killed on more atheist-operated blogs than on others. Why is that? As I’ve done nothing more, nor anything less, that what I’m doing here. Indeed, I’ve been informed that if I keep up my activities HERE, I’ll be so treated.

RE: As for You

“I'm not a religious person.” -- Jiminy

Gee....I’d never have guessed.

“I don't feel that a greater power is directly or indirectly making decisions or casting judgement on my actions.” -- Jiminy

As the Newsboys put it in their song....
Ignorance here is less than bliss.


RE: About that Guy

“Yet I believe in the humanity of Jesus...” -- Jiminy

Good start. But even the Scientologists will admit to that. Though they won’t to admit to much else about Him. And therein lies the proverbial ‘rub’.

“....and the living lessons he gave to those who listened. He preached equality, tolerance, understanding, love before hate, forgiveness, and how people always have more in common with each other than a stereotype ever could.” -- Jiminy

Hard to be ‘tolerant’ when people decide to silence someone on their blog because of their honestly held beliefs. Even an ‘intellectual’ blog...operated by a wunderkinter.

RE: What You Need

“I don't need any religion to understand the fundamental truth in those statements. I just need my humanity.” -- Jiminy

There are people like that. Doing God’s will without the ‘benefit’ of someone teaching it to them. They’re even mentioned in the newer part of that old Book

As for needing your personal ‘humanity’, you’re welcome to it. But not everyone is a observant as you claim to be.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Jesus astonishes and overpowers sensual people. They cannot unite him to history, or reconcile him with themselves. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson]
4.12.2008 2:49pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Burt Likko
RE: Unaware R Us

“...I'm not aware of any incidence in which an atheist attempted to deny a theist the ability to worship as he or she chose.” -- Burt Likko

Where do you live? What means of communication with the outside world do you use? What sources of information are you watching? Or did you just come out of a long coma?

Additionally, what do you mean when YOU say “worship as he or she” choose?

I ask because within the last few months there have been numerous instances of christian beliefs being suppressed in public venues where other people are allowed to express their beliefs.

See:

One Example
Another Example

“I am aware that some atheists have lampooned theists for worshipping, which was rude on their part but did not prevent the worship from taking place.” -- Burt Likko

Heck....todays news reports that homosexuals, i.e., people who oppose what is written in that old Book, are causing states to charge christians for NOT going against their religious beliefs.

Another Instance, even more egregious

“Of course, my understanding is based upon the idea that failing to support someone else's worship is not the same thing as obstructing it.” -- Burt Likko

If only others felt that way....eh?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. Before....

....you offer the argument that telling people that they are doing something wrong is...well...wrong....

Tell me why we per/prosecute people who drink and drive? Or, better yet, deny people TOP SECRET security clearances because of what their sisters have done?

Or...if your buddy were drunk in a bar and was reaching for his car keys, as he staggered towards the door....why you wouldn’t stop him? After all....it’s his decision to endanger himself...and others. And it IS a ‘free country’.
4.12.2008 3:23pm