Friday, June 29, 2007

Vacation... Time to Get Away.

I will be going on vacation (Bermuda) next week so I won't be checking in on the blog until around July 10th or so. But I thought I'd leave you with a fiew links and thoughts before abandoning y'all for a bit.

First of all, Yahoo News reports that the Democrats are going to try to reintroduce legislation for pulling our troops out of Iraq. I won't hold my breath, but I'm glad they are going to keep trying to roll that boulder up the mountain. After all, that is why the Dems won the last election -- the majority of the people in the USA want us out of Iraq. But as long as the majority is slim and GWB is president nothing Congress does will matter.

Next item of interest, the Supreme Court will hear appeals by Guantanamo prisoners on their right to challenge their indefinite confinement. I would hope so! Gitmo is an on-going black eye to the USA's reputation and we, as a nation, need to work hard to fix that oozing suckhole of human right's violations. Of course, it is quite feasible that the right-leaning court will simply vote to allow GWB's administration to continue doing as it has done for 7 years and violate the human rights we used to hold dear. And, who knows, if Romney gets elected he has stated he would double Gitmo! It makes me shake my head sadly for our lost dignity.

And finally, let's talk about a recent Supreme Court decision that highlights why I have so little "faith" in them to think properly and make the correct decisions. Earlier this week the Supreme Court upheld the legality of faith-based initiatives that push federal funds into religious charities. By a 5-4 vote, a conservative majority concluded taxpayers did not have "standing" to challenge in court the discretionary spending authority of the executive branch for its Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. I hope the FFRF finds another way to challenge the unconstitutional movement of tax money to religious charities.

27 comments:

Ceroill said...

Have fun!

csm said...

Thanks Bob!

Bermuda was great. I heartily endorse it as a vacation destination. I especially enjoyed that building restrictions make it such that there are no large, multi-story resorts clogging up the shoreline. Oh, there are resorts, but for the most part, they are tastefully integrated into the island's ambiance.

The weather was incredible - low '80s all week with no rain to speak of. When I got back to TX I learned that it rained every day of the week when I was gone... so I unwittingly made a nice choice of which week to get-away!

Anonymous said...

Yeah! Heaven forbid some christians get a little assistance helping out the drug addicts, unwed mothers and abused wives and children!! How dare they!

csm said...

Hello anonymous. I choose to read your statement straight (that is, without the sarcasm that you seem to intend) and then, wow, I agree.

As an atheist, my tax money should never be given to religious causes. Doing so violates this thing called the constitution.

Anonymous said...

Ok, no sarcasm. Just honest to goodness confusion. How exactly does aiding a Christian (or muslim, or hindu, or Jewish, or atheist for that matter) organization to assist people in need constitute making a "law respecting an establishment of religion?" And before you call me a mindless, idiotic, can't think for myself Christian (just speaking from experience), just remember that the Supreme Court (whom most liberals find convenient for supporting other legislation such as Roe v. Wade) is on my side.

In my opinion, totally removing any semblance of faith in a supreme being from any public place in order not to offend the atheists (please show me the amendment in the constitution which gives us freedom from offense because I'd personally like to use it to remove a good bit of the language in this blog and a lot of what I see in public) (sorry to ramble) is establishing religion. You can call it a(anti) theism, or humanism, or secularism, but most "atheists" worship at it's altar daily.

By the way, a few observations about atheism. I seriously doubt that any true atheists exist. By definition atheism is denial of the existance of God. Can you without any doubt say that you have absolute knowledge? Do you know without a doubt that you know everything there is to know about everything? Of course not. None of us does. Do we know 80 percent? 50? 20? I doubt we know 10. Is it even remotely possible that God exists in the 90 percent we don't know? If it's even remotely possible, then you can't call yourself an atheist. Agnostic at best. Now, if you still are without doubt, you must be the only truly "omniscient" being.

Truly sorry to ramble, but I doubt I'll post again. The whole "pearls before swine" thing. Certainly not to call anyone a swine. I just have better things to do.

BAWDYSCOT said...

I am so happy you have something better to do. But in response to your post(and as an avowed atheist)your personal beliefs are as valid in my eyes as mine. I do not go around telling others they are ignorant or evil for what they believe. Maybe that makes me a rarity in this world, but I believe what you believe is YOUR personal truth and I would defend to the death for your right to believe it. My problem is with all those people out there who wish to change my mind on what to believe and who disparage what anyone else wants to believe, even other atheists.

I guess I am also a rarity in that I could care less if "In God We Trust" is on our money(some think money is the root of all evil, kinda ironic in my view) or some religious gibberish garnishes some public buildings or some person's wish to put a Nativity scene in some park somewhere. These to me are not important(in the grand scheme of things). What is important to me is that most religions have as one of their main goals to spread their beliefs to all corners of the earth. It is done by force. It is done by guilt. It is done by guile. And it is done by denigrating other forms of religious thought. And again, I am not excluding atheists, they do it too.

csm said...

Well, anonymous, Bawdy touched on the point I want make. Most religious organizations have as part of their charter the goal to convert the masses. It is usually right there in their religious books. As such, more often than not, part of the charity work they do is coupled with the goal to convert those at whom their charity is aimed.

And yes, I know that many christians will say that this is not the case for their favorite charity... and maybe not, at least not as overtly as "If you take this money/clothing/food then you must become one of us," but it is most certainly part of the equation at a softer level. This is fine as long as it is not my money that they are using to do this. And there are many, many, many non-religious/secular charities that could use the money and will have no underlying agenda.

csm said...

Another thought anonymous: think of it this way. Say that there really were such a thing as a satan worshipper. Let's give the satan worshipper tax money for their charitable causes - that is, your christian tax money goes to the satan worshipper.

csm said...

Now, to tackle some of the other ridiculous notions in the anonymous post:

anon: "the Supreme Court...is on my side"

csm: Barry Lynn notes that it "is important to note that this ruling applies to only a few situations. Most church-state lawsuits, including those that challenge congressional appropriations for faith-based programs, will not be affected." And basically, the SCOTUS rules that taxpayers do not have standing to challenge. This is absurd and it goes to show why we need to elect a Democrat to keep the right wing and religious nonsense out of our laws.

anon: In my opinion, totally removing any semblance of faith in a supreme being from any public place in order not to offend the atheists (please show me the amendment in the constitution which gives us freedom from offense because I'd personally like to use it to remove a good bit of the language in this blog and a lot of what I see in public) (sorry to ramble) is establishing religion.

csm: No one is talking about offending anyone here. It is all about the protection of the minority at the hands of a majority run amok. This is part of the genious of the founders of this country.

anon: You can call it a(anti) theism, or humanism, or secularism, but most "atheists" worship at it's altar daily.

csm: There is no worship in atheism that I have ever seen - though I readily admit that there are many, many atheists I have yet to meet and each and every one of them is a bit different and thinks differently than the others.


anon: By definition atheism is denial of the existance of God.

csm: No, atheism is the recognition that there is no evidence of any god(s) and as such no reason to believe in any god.

anon: Can you without any doubt say that you have absolute knowledge? [...followed by a lot of rambling I will omit here, browse up if you want to subject yourself to it...]

csm: Your logic is flawed. Can you without a doubt say that there are no unicorns? leprechauns? flying invisible weasels of love? If not, you better believe in them!

BAWDYSCOT said...

Goddamn it, csm, you have uncovered my identity; I AM an invisible flying weasel of love(oh, my lucky wife)! And alas, I was hoping to keep it a secret. Shit!

lou said...

Atheism noun [U]
the belief that God does not exist

The definition even has belief in the descriptor. Evidence is not included since evidence is in the eye of the beholder. In view of the fact that God cannot be proven or disproven, the question remains. There is a notable propensity here to add and take away to sustain accepted beliefs.

I will not even get in to the pitiable analogy with unicorns.

Bawdy as an atheist, how is your belief in the great cosmic energy field surviving underneath this new revelation?

Adios

csm said...

Atheism: the absence of belief in deities

Atheism is characterized by an absence of belief in the existence of gods. This absence of belief generally comes about either through deliberate choice, or from an inherent inability to believe religious teachings which seem literally incredible. It is not a lack of belief born out of simple ignorance of religious teachings.

Atheist Net

Please note how I provided references instead of just serving up my own definition.

BAWDYSCOT said...

Lou,

Would you agree with me that the word "God" generally denotes an intelligent being who has some sort of control over what happens on this planet and it's surroundings?

I do believe in a life force energy(and again, I personally don't like the idea of even mentioning my personal beliefs as they are just that, personal, but am doing it because you brought it up), but I also believe there is no intelligence tied to it. I believe life is a crapshoot and that everything, even life here on the planet is by chance. Does that answer your question.

Some might call what I am describing as "God", but I do not. I call it "life force energy". Great cosmic energy field just doesn't do it for me.

jan said...

someone with no name:
"Just honest to goodness confusion. How exactly does aiding a Christian (or muslim, or hindu, or Jewish, or atheist for that matter) organization to assist people in need constitute making a "law respecting an establishment of religion?"

imo, if an organized religion's God doesn't "answer prayer" and present all the money a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Jew needs to help less fortunate people, maybe God doesn't think they are doing a very good job helping less fortunate people in the name of God.

I see absolutely no reason that their funds should augment the federal gov't; the federal gov't's funds shouldn't augment them. Thus, I call for organized religions to pay community property taxes.

jan said...

In addition, I would like to point out to my atheist friends -- and I could be wrong on this (as Bob has so gently taught me to say) but --

I believe only Christians prosetylitize (sp?).

Some religions beg, so you see them out and about.

But I know for a fact that Jews do NOT attempt to convert people.
Muslims have as a pillar of Islam that all religions are to be tolerated and I do not believe they attempt to convert either.
Hindus have the re-incarnation/caste thing.
Etc.

In my personal experience, only Christians have attempted to convert me, and only Christians have sent me out to convert others.

And when the rest of don't like Christians trying to convert us on public property, they whine to our gov't that THEY are the ones being being persecuted.

Anyway, just a thought.

jan said...

Oh, and I prefer "Great Cosmic ELECTRO-MAGNETIC Seven-dimensional Energy Field" for mine. :)

jan said...

Opps! I got my parallel structure diskabobulated.

CORRECTION --
NOT: I see absolutely no reason that their funds should augment the federal gov't; the federal gov't's funds shouldn't augment them. Thus, I call for organized religions to pay community property taxes.

INSTEAD: I see no reason why their [organized religion's] funds should be augmented by the federal gov't. If anything, they should augment the federal gov't's funds. Thus, I call for organized religions to pay community property taxes. These taxes could be offset by expenses used to help the community, like food banks.

Bootm line, If churches believe in God, can't God help churches... without our federal gov't having to?

[ok, back to my mind altering substance]

csm said...

"I do believe in a life force energy"

Just what I would expect an invisible flying weasel of love to say!

csm said...

And Jan, Mormons attempt to convert folks, too. But then again, they call themselves christians (it is the other christians who do not want the LDS to be called christians).

BAWDYSCOT said...

csm,

I hate to disappoint!

lou said...

CSM,

Did you just use atheist.net to back your atheist definition? I am in utter disbelief.
Try Merriam Webster as I did. Even marginal grad students know better than to use partial sources. You wouldn't want a Christian quoting the Bible to prove God exists?

Bawdy,

What you have is faith that a source exists that cannot be confirmed. I fail to follow how that faith is any different than someone who believes in a God? That was my only point. For my part, I have no quandary. Csm makes the case that atheist only believe in what can be proven with science. I presume he should have used the word most, some or few?

csm said...

My point would be that most atheists I have known rely on the scientific method for knowledge.

BAWDYSCOT said...

Lou,

Are you saying living things do not have a spark of electricity which runs through their bodies; what I call "life force energy"?

Like I posted before, I don't beleive there is any intelligence behind this energy, I just believe it exists and that life is just one big crapshoot. This is where I think I get away from any religious dogma or intelligent design. You could call this "God" if you want, but I do not want to.

lou said...

Bawdy,

It has been my experience in the origins deliberation that proponents become so emotionally engaged that they fail to engage rationally on the positions of opposing views. It’s not just a matter of creationism vs. evolution but variant forms of both are engaged in this heated clash. I have found it de rigueur to incorporate science, religion and philosophy when studying the issue of origins. In due course, I believe the answers we seek lie within the framework of the three and not at odds as so many contend.

Specifically to your question, clearly life does undeniably sustain itself for a time nevertheless as to the source of life I have available many possibilities but no bona fide answers. I persist in the quest, most recently Hugh Ross PhD, and envisage the possibility that a century from now humanity will look humorously upon our contemporary war of steadfast tenets.

Ceroill said...

Ok, I'll weigh in a bit with some additional references about the basic definition of 'atheism'

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) -
a·the·ism /ˈeɪθiˌɪzəm/ Pronunciation Key - [ey-thee-iz-uhm]
–noun
1.the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
2.disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
[Origin: 1580–90; < Gk áthe(os) godless + -ism]

American Heritage Dictionary -
a·the·ism (ā'thē-ĭz'əm)
n.
1. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
2. The doctrine that there is no God or gods.
[French athéisme, from athée, atheist, from Greek atheos, godless : a-, without; see a-1 + theos, god; see dhēs- in Indo-European roots.]

WordNet -atheism
noun
1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God [ant: theism]
2. a lack of belief in the existence of God or gods

American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition -
atheism [(ay-thee-iz-uhm)]
Denial that there is a God. (Compare agnosticism.)

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

atheism

SYLLABICATION: a·the·ism
PRONUNCIATION: th-zm
NOUN: 1a. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods. b. The doctrine that there is no God or gods. 2. Godlessness; immorality.
ETYMOLOGY:French athéisme, from athée, atheist, from Greek atheos, godless : a-, without; see a–1 + theos, god; see dhs- in Appendix I.

From Encarta online:
atheism
a·the·ism
noun Definition:
unbelief in God or deities: disbelief in the existence of God or deities
[Late 16th century. < French athéisme< Greek atheos "godless" < theos "god"]

Wikipedia:
Atheism is the disbelief in the existence of a deity or deities. It is commonly defined as the positive denial of theism (ie. the assertion that deities do not exist), or the deliberate rejection of theism (i.e., the refusal to believe in the existence of deities). However, others—including most atheistic philosophers and groups—define atheism as the simple absence of belief in deities(cf. nontheism), thereby designating many agnostics, and people who have never heard of gods, such as the unchurched or newborn children, as atheists as well. In recent years, some atheists have adopted the terms strong and weak atheism to clarify whether they consider their stance one of positive belief no gods exist, or of negative unbelief. Many self-described atheists share common skeptical concerns regarding empirical evidence for supernatural claims. They cite a lack of evidence for the existence of deities. Other rationales for atheism range from the personal to the philosophical to the social to the historical. Additionally, while atheists tend to accept secular philosophies such as humanism, naturalism and materialism, they do not necessarily adhere to any one particular ideology, nor does atheism have any institutionalized rituals or behaviors.

Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia:
atheism (ā`thē-ĭz'əm), denial of the existence of God or gods and of any supernatural existence, to be distinguished from agnosticism agnosticism
..... Click the link for more information. , which holds that the existence cannot be proved. The term atheism has been used as an accusation against all who attack established orthodoxy, as in the trial of Socrates. There were few avowed atheists from classical times until the 19th cent., when popular belief in a conflict between religion and science brought forth preachers of the gospel of atheism, such as Robert G. Ingersoll. There are today many individuals and groups professing atheism.

Hutchinson:
atheism

Nonbelief in, or the positive denial of, the existence of a God or gods. A related concept is agnosticism. Like theism, its opposite, atheism cannot be proved or disproved conclusively.


There.Just thought I'd toss out a few other references than those used before.

BAWDYSCOT said...

I guess I AM an atheist. Thanks, ceroill.

Ceroill said...

not a problem, Bawdy, glad to help. I have long considered myself an agnostic.