On Sat, Dec 04, 2004 at 09:10:57PM -0500, Mark J. Reed wrote:
> On Sat, Dec 04, 2004 at 11:33:00AM -0800, H. S. Teoh wrote:
> > Right-wingedness and the Bible have nothing to do with each other.
> With all respect, they most certainly do.  I do not wish to paint
> all Bible-believers with the same brush, as you do later with
> scientists, but the politics of the right in the United States
> are currently dominated by fundamentalist Christians.  More moderate
> conservatives variously regret and decry this dominance; some go so far
> as to deny its existence.  Nevertheless, it is clearly the case.

The Bible itself has nothing to do with right-wingedness. Perhaps most
people who believe the Bible happen to take a right-wing stance, but
the Bible itself says nothing about it and has nothing to do with it.

> It is, of course, only a one-way implication, and a rather weak one at
> that; it would be absurd to claim the inverse, that most Christians were
> right wingers, even in the US.  But to say that the concepts have
> nothing to do with each other is an overstatement.

Perhaps it is so, that most people who hold right-wing views also
believe the Bible (or vice versa). But in my view, to believe the
Bible does not imply right-wingedness or non-right-wingedness, and to
be right-wing does not imply one believes or not believes the Bible.
Many people who believe the Bible may also take right-wing views, but
the two are unrelated in themselves.

> > that comes their way and deride the Bible without having even read it,
> > basing their accusations on faith in what their science-priests tell
> > them.
> I know this was directed at Mr. Kramm in particular, but now you are the
> one being inflammatory.

I'm sorry, that statement was meant as a parody of what Kramm posted.
My intention was to show by way of a ridiculous parallel the illogic
of what he posted. But alas, sarcasm is a dangerous thing on the Net,
and is often lost in the process of transmission.

> The phrase "science-priests" draws a false equivalence between
> science and faith.  The claims of faith are not testable; after all,
> if they were, no faith would be required.  I thought this very lack
> of proof was considered a virtue by the faithful, in fact.

I do not, in fact, conflate the two. But just as Kramm was implying
that believers in the Bible are illogical people who blindly believe
things, I played alongside with a ridiculous parody to show the
fallacy in such a stereotype.

> I also don't necessarily agree that one needs to have read the Bible in
> order to doubt its validity.  I feel no need to read a book on the
> details of tarot-reading, astrological prediction, or any of the various
> "magickal" systems, in order to be quite thoroughly convinced that they
> are 100% malarky.  That doesn't mean I'm not interested in reading them;
> in fact, such things fascinate me for some reason.  But I'm not about to
> assign any credence to them.   The key point, and please note that I
> mean no offense here, is that *to many people who were not raised
> religiously*, the Bible is in precisely the same category as the above.

And my point is that, having not examined the thing for yourself,
while it is perfectly fair to look at it with distrust based on
peripheral observations, one ought not to be so confident as to state
as a fact that the thing is a fabrication. It is one thing to be
skeptical---we have not enough time in our lives to examine in detail
everything that may come our way, so to be practical we have to make
heuristic judgments. But it is totally another thing to confidently
state, as though one knew it for a fact, that something is false, when
one has in fact not established it directly, and has not even looked
at the matter closely. This latter is what I'm reacting to.

Even though I am convinced otherwise, I fully understand why some
people may be skeptical about the Bible. That is OK with me; I do not
insist that everyone in the world must agree with me. But when someone
who hasn't even bothered to examine the matter at all comes and
vehemently pronounces it false, as though he has actually examined all
the evidence (but it is clear that he hasn't), then it strikes me as
blatantly ignorant and inflammatory. Wouldn't your reaction be the
same, if I came along and imposed upon you in no uncertain terms that
everything you believe is false even though I can't prove it, and I
haven't bothered to look into your beliefs because I don't care, but
it is absolutely false anyway because I think so, and you're an idiot
to think otherwise?

> A brief detour into full disclosure: Now, I was raised a Christian, and
> I have since moderated my beliefs somewhat.  For instance, although I
> don't see any requirement that a god exist, I don't find it
> inconceivable that one does.  Perhaps our universe is actually a
> simulation being run by a higher being to some experimental purpose.  Or
> maybe it's just a video game like "The Sims".  In any case, if there is
> any god, I would be quite surprised to find out that it had any
> resemblance to the Judeo-Christian God, or even any awareness of what
> humans were up to at an individual level.  And regardless, I certainly
> don't believe in any sort of life after death.

Your belief is up to you. I cannot, and have no wish to, dictate what
your belief should be. I am very willing for frank, courteous
discussion on the matter, but if you choose to disagree, that's your
choice. I could present you with what I think is compelling or
suggestive evidence for the existence of God, but this list is
obviously the wrong place to do it, as this particular topic has
nothing to do with conlanging.

In any case, if you choose to disagree, I won't flame you. What ticked
me off was that some people appears to think that it's their job in
life to impose their beliefs on everyone else, and to deride whoever
disagrees as an illogical fool. Is it really too much to expect basic
human respect from fellow human beings? And is it not the pot calling
the kettle black, if one vehemently accuses others of blindly
following their beliefs when it is clear that he only has respect for
his own?

> I've also come to realize that religion in general, and even
> Christianity in particular, has done some good in the world along with
> the bad.  I'm still not convinced that it's a net negative, but it's
> kinda too late to worry about that.  "They're here, God they fear, get
> used to it."

My personal stance is that what the Bible actually reveals is not
quite the same as what many people practice. Having studied it myself,
I have come to conclude that its message constitutes a very compelling
case for the existence of a God whose purpose involves human beings in
a very deep way---and I have also observed that parts of its actual
message differs from how people practice Christianity. (And there are
many diverse ways Christianity is being practiced.)  I am actually a
very skeptical person myself.  It is very easy for anyone to claim to
be acting on God's behalf, but are they really? I mean, Osama bin
Laden claims to be acting on Allah's behalf by killing Americans. Is
this what the Quran actually says? I am not convinced that the actions
of people represent what they claim they represent, unless they can
prove to me that everything they do has a solid basis in a balanced
interpretation of the text in question---be it the Bible or the Quran
or anything else. They could claim that their interpretation is the
right one, but I remain unconvinced until I see it for myself in the
actual text.

Because of this attitude of mine, I have come to realize that the
message conveyed by the Bible is very potent and very much bears the
mark of a being beyond human intellect and existence. What is actually
practiced, sadly to say, is not always in sync with this; hence I
fully sympathize with the deep skepticism of people, esp. those who
saw the actions of some who claim to represent the Bible and the
consequences of such actions.

But anyway, this is very, very off-topic, and I write this without any
intention to impose my views on anyone else. It is just a frank
disclosure of my point of view. Further discussion should be continued
in private email, should anyone feel compelled to do so.

> The main thing, though, is this: many of my closest friends and
> colleagues are Christian, some even of the fundamentalist variety (I am
> in Georgia, after all), and while we have had some, er, lively
> discussions on theological topics, none of us holds those who disagree
> with him or her in any sort of contempt.  I mean, it is the ultimate topic on
> which "reasonable people can reasonably disagree".  And they do!
> A lot!

Exactly. I think contempt is what set me off. I had abstained from
this thread for a while, but the blatant disrespect and contempt being
shown just got to me this morning.

> So please, be nice.  Heck, take a page from the book in question and be
> nice even when folks are non-nice to you first; the list will be better off
> that way.

I apologize if my parody in the last message was misunderstood, or
stepped over the line. It was not intended to be dogmatic or
offensive, but just my way of holding up a mirror so that one may,
hopefully, see the unfounded contempt for what it is. I hope people
won't take it at its literal value, as that does not represent my
actual stance.


Never wrestle a pig. You both get covered in mud, and the pig likes it.