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May 26, 2005

Comments

Maybe the Indiana Bar Association has lower standards than others.

Well, this is probably the only time you'll ever find common ground with a Director at RS.

Well, this is probably the only time you'll ever find common ground with a Director at RS.

It's not the only time...there have been others. Although I would have been shocked if we hadn't agreed on this one.

Best interests of the child means best interests of the child, parents and religion be damned.

Though maybe not the Constitution.

Ugh,

I'd submit that what's in the best interests of the child includes growing up in a country that values freedom of religion, no?

Wow. Talk about someone who should never again be allowed near a courtroom as anything other than a defendant.

I'm sympathetic to the urge to prevent parents from inflicting religiously-inspired delusions on their children and patterning them for the rest of their lives with "junk". As far as I'm concerned, religion in general (as opposed to a sense of spirituality, of healthy connection with the world) falls into this category. But it can't be done--not with respect to the Constitution, and certainly not without turning this country into somewhere we wouldn't want to live anymore.

I'd submit that "best interests of the child" relate, as far as the court is concerned, only to physical and emotional neglect or abuse. Otherwise you're going to see the courts deciding whether letting the kid go out for the soccer team might be too academically stressing. Or that the kid's choice of music isn't emotionally nurturing enough.

A ridiculous decision by the judge, destined to be swiftly reversed let us hope ...

... but I still think it's hilarious that the Wiccans are sending their kid to Catholic school! It sounds like a sitcom plot.

I'd submit that what's in the best interests of the child includes growing up in a country that values freedom of religion, no?

Yes, I was just thinking that when the overwhelming focus is on the best interests of the child, people seem to forget that there might be some limits on what a judge can do in pursuit of that.

I'm a single Presbyterian dad who sends his kid to a Jewish school and has him play baseball on a Catholic school baseball team.
Guess I'm not moving to Indy anytime soon.

Unless of course they have a good Hindu basketball program my son can play on.

Edward: The Judge's argument boiled down to insisting that because they send their son to a Catholic school, teaching him Wicca beliefs at home would cause confusion in him as he ages.

Hm. So, does this mean that parents who believe in Creationist theories ought not to be allowed to expose their children to their beliefs, since their children will be taught biological science in public school and this will "cause confusion in them" as they grow up?

You understand, I'm just being silly about this. As Slartibartfast observed: I'd submit that "best interests of the child" relate, as far as the court is concerned, only to physical and emotional neglect or abuse.

It's always odd, yet strangely satisfying, when Slarti post something that I wholeheartedly agree with.

Edward_:
Not to carp about your post, or anything (for me, I agree 100% with the ICLU person who charcterized the probable striking of this provision as a "slam dunk" and fervently wish it so) - but the recap of the case you give misses a couple of points (which, to be fair, are not even immediately apparent even in the Indianapolis Star article in the link).

First, this "decision" is several months old: the Star's piece recapping the issue in the case seems to have been prompted by the impending hearing of the father's appeal of Judge Bradford's ruling, filed in January. So it's not as if this just popped up out of the blue.

Secondly (and in IMO, more importantly) the article points out that the "non-exposure to non-mainstream religion" proviso in the divorce/custody agreement was not the Judge's decision on his own, but was the recommendation from an (presumably official State) outside agency, who had "reviewed" the Jones/Bristol divorce agreement, and inserted the Wicca-bashing bit themselves. Not that that excuses the judge for going along with this nonsense, of course - but it is. I think, an important point overlooked.

Of course, that would make your post less a case of "Proselytizing from the Bench" than one of "Proselytizing by Unelected and Unaccountable Social-Service Bureaucrats abetted by Sloppy Jursiprudence" - so I guess the snappier title works better!

Oh, and one carp: no first "t" in "Proselytizing". Remember, Spellcheck Is Your Friend. ;)

".. but I still think it's hilarious that the Wiccans are sending their kid to a Catholic school! It sounds like a sitcom plot."

I'm sure Agnes Morehead is still ticked that Samantha and Davin or Daikon or whatever his name was sent Tabitha to the local public school, too. I think she favored vouchers.

Actually, in places like the Philippines, where Catholicism is the dominant faith, there is a syncretism between the various Animist worldviews and Catholic practice. Same, same all over.

The comment by Trevino at Redstate says O.K. to legal tolerance but NOT to social tolerance. I don't know what this means in this particular case. Should the Catholic school conduct an exorcism on the kid every morning in homeroom, or conversely, should the parents feed the kid some witch's brew and cookies to purify him or her after school each day? Why not social tolerance? Will it kill ya?

Now I know how the Munster and Addams Family kids felt.

JayC...thanks for the clarifications and spelling corrections...

So, I pop back over to check the Trevino post at Redstate and the last sentence regarding social tolerance is not there. Did I imagine it?

Checked again. It's back. Must be a loading delay.


Never mind.

I still think it's hilarious that the Wiccans are sending their kid to Catholic school! It sounds like a sitcom plot.

Title that sitcom!

Title that sitcom!

"Bewitched, Baptized, and Bewildered."

"Macbeth"?

I don't know what this means in this particular case.

Probably nothing -- I see no purpose in advocating a shunning of the unfortunate child. However, on a broader scale, I do see a great deal of purpose in generalized social ridicule of the likes of Wicca, Scientology, et al.

Title that sitcom!


Salem!

Out, damned blockquote! Out, damned italic!

Social tolerance is a good thing: only those who have lived entirely privileged lives would think otherwise.

"However, on a broader scale, I do see a great deal of purpose in generalized social ridicule of the likes of Wicca, Scientology, et al."

Well, me too. I get this from my Protestant grandmother who, if I remember correctly, spat on the kitchen floor when I announced, against my mother's shushing, that my high school girlfriend was Catholic.

Jesurgislac's comment is flatly absurd. There are certainly things that society ought not tolerate. While we disagree on what those things are, the needed existence of mores and prohibitions on certain behaviors are not, I would think, in dispute among people of ordinary sense.

thanks Jes...I hate when that happens...anyone with typepad experience know how to prevent trackbacks from doing that

btw...totally agree with this: Social tolerance is a good thing: only those who have lived entirely privileged lives would think otherwise.

Tac,

I think we're using "tolerance" in different ways. Jes and I more generically, and you more specifically.

I don't think you do, Edward, given your disapproval of social tolerance -- indeed, your expressions of social intolerance -- for those who declare homosexuality intrinsically disordered. You, like most of the rest of us, have your preferred set of social mores that you wish to advance and see become common.

We're not using it differently at all. You're expressing support for a broad tolerance-as-intrinsic-virtue, and I'm using specifics to shoot that down.

Title that sitcom!

"The Wicked Virgin of the West"

Sorry

You're shooting it down without offering an alternative...only this or that behaivor/set of beliefs is worthy of tolerance? Can't you agree that tolerance, as a Christian virtue, should be supported?

"However, on a broader scale, I do see a great deal of purpose in generalized social ridicule of the likes of Wicca, Scientology, et al."

Does et al include Christianity? I find it at least as silly as Wicca, although perhaps a little less so than Scientology. I'm not sure of the social value of ridiculing any of them, however. People seem to need religion and one is probably as good as another, with the exception of those religions that declare themselves to be THE religion and demand that their followers convert or kill all nonbelievers. That vision I think deserves social ridicule.

Tac: Scientology, sure. Diehard supporter of Operation Clambake here. Wicca, though? What have they done that's so censurable?

Mores:

1. The accepted traditional customs and usages of a particular social group.
2. Moral attitudes.
3. Manners; ways.

Translation of "the needed existence of mores and prohibitions on certain behaviors are not, I would think, in dispute among people of ordinary sense." into ordinary English:

Libertarians are stupid. Non-conservatives are crazy. People who disagree with me are wrong.

I'm not intending this as a comment on this particular case, but can there be any legitimate discrimination between long-established religions, which are often tied to ethnicity, and new religions, especially those centered on individuals? Should they always be treated identically? I'm not sure.

Also, in this case we have the issue of parents' decisions about child raising being overruled by the government, which offsets the church-state issue, so I think it's unlikely to have political resonance. I'm more worried about the political consequences of cases like the one about the Wiccan asking to give the opening prayer. The only logical resolution for that seems to me to be to prohibit the opening prayers entirely, which I'd favor but which is a political loser for the left. The alternative of allowing anyone who wants to to give the prayer would be even worse. If these are the sorts of church-state cases that keep coming up, I fear that the right will only become more energized and we'll end up moving backward on the issue.

I should think the alternative is "social disapproval"; and indeed, I can't see that what Tacitus is saying is even remotely controversial. While that disapproval need not be expressed in hostility towards individuals -- particularly, in this case, children -- nor as any sort of legal sanction, I don't think there's anything wrong with publicly saying, in general, "This behavior/set of beliefs is wrong, misguided or harmful." (Or with society at large adopting it as a general proposition.) I seriously doubt that either Edward or Jesurgislac would disagree that there should be broad social disapproval of, say, the belief that blacks are genetically inferior to whites, or that women should be subservient to their husbands; nor with our respective socities actively opposing those beliefs.

It's simply contrarian to state otherwise in a misguided aspiration towards some ideal.

You're shooting it down without offering an alternative...

The alternative, of course, is the exercise of your own conscience and powers of reason on the world around you. "Tolerance" as set forth by Jesurgislac is indistinguishable from total moral and intellectual abdication. Dianne, for example, finds Christianity absurd. I disagree; but when I argue with her on the subject, my task is to argue the merits of Christianity -- not insist that she suspend her rational processes for tolerance's sake.

Can't you agree that tolerance, as a Christian virtue, should be supported?

Tolerance as a Christian virtue is an exercise in personal behavior, not an exercise in suspension of personal judgment.

Tac:
I'll agree with you insofar as this: social intolerance cannot be prevented in any meaningful way, so measures to prevent it would almost certainly have unintended consequences worse than the ills they seek to end. I would also say that since - as you note - social mores vary, any effort to stamp out "social intolerance" is doomed to end in the same yapping arguments about what is and is not worthy of social censure. If you think that the Catholic Church is a useless ossuary of troglodytic pederasts, or that wicca is right up there with Kwanzaa as a politically engineered pseudo-observance, there's nothing the state can or should do about that.

Mind you, I'm talking about social intolerance, not downright bigotry or discrimination, which shade back under the strictures of the legal tolerance that we both may agree is appropriate.

Rilkefan summarizes my thoughts well enough, but that summary is not a paraphrase of the passage he quotes.

Wicca, though? What have they done that's so censurable?

Depends on what you find censurable. For my part, a demonstrably falsified "religion" is pretty censurable. That's all. We probably agree that Scientology is the more directly pernicious.

a useless ossuary of troglodytic pederasts

When I become a world-famous musician, I want Pitchfork to review my first album this way.

Another quick note:

Tacitus: I don't think you do, Edward, given your disapproval of social tolerance -- indeed, your expressions of social intolerance -- for those who declare homosexuality intrinsically disordered.

Although it's often misused -- often by people who should know better, especially those who espouse this belief -- the virtue of tolerance is not and has never been an absolutist position. Depending on how one defines it, there's a vast spectrum of potential "tolerances" out there, some of which are what is meant by "tolerance is a virtue" and most of which are not. The position isn't contradictory nor, to be specific, does it fall prey to the supposed contradiction you've inflicted on it above; this is a linguistic, not a moral or logical, failure in the way it's been rendered into a bumpersticker.

Oh, one other thing: when you say "intrinsically disordered" it's not clear whether you mean in a moral or biological way. If you purely meant the former, your point stands; if you meant to include the latter then there's a category error at work. I'd recommend rephrasing that in future to avoid any potential confusion.

Depends on what you find censurable. For my part, a demonstrably falsified "religion" is pretty censurable.

Insofar as it makes any falsifiable claims, one could say the same thing of Christianity, no? [Ditto Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc; nothing particularly unique about any of the religions here.] And yes, it's the pernicious aspect that, to me, makes Scientology far less acceptable -- qualitatively less acceptable -- than Wicca.

Phil:
I predict that you will find this incredibly funny.

I don't think you do, Edward, given your disapproval of social tolerance -- indeed, your expressions of social intolerance -- for those who declare homosexuality intrinsically disordered.

Further on this point. If, as Tacitus argues, "Tolerance as a Christian virtue is an exercise in personal behavior, not an exercise in suspension of personal judgment," does that personal behavior extend to voting to deny someone else marriage? I mean, you can judge for yourself that gay marriage is wrong, but doesn't tolerance in this Christian sense demand you don't stop others who think it's not only right, but actually a right, from pursuing means to secure that right?

a demonstrably falsified "religion" is pretty censurable

well, that's no good. "demonstrably falsifiable" pretty much encompasses the whole lot of them.

Depends upon the brand of Christianity you adhere to, Anarch. Some denominations do adhere to falsifiable tenets as points of doctrine. Obviously I don't find mine to.

And yes, we agree on the basis for the qualitative degraded status of Scientology.

Tacitus: "Tolerance" as set forth by Jesurgislac is indistinguishable from total moral and intellectual abdication.

Excuse me? In this thread I have not set forth any definition of "tolerance": nor I am certain exactly where you are deriving your summary of my views from. Can you cite where, exactly, I "set forth" my ideas of tolerance that you summarise here?

Don't be silly, cleek -- if you can disprove the existence of God, you'll have achieved a first in human history. Moving on.

Edward, please note I didn't say that Christian tolerance is an exercise in suspending all personal behavior. Christianity is not at its core reclusive monasticism: you still must engage in the world you live in, and do your best to be "salt and light," to paraphrase the Gospel of....Matthew, I believe.

Tacitus: There are certainly things that society ought not tolerate.

There are indeed. But I don't quite get why you think Wicca is one of them.

(Scientology? I think scientology is more than a little absurd, a religion invented by someone who couldn't make it as a sci-fi writer. But many people believe in absurd things, and so long as they don't insist that other people live by their absurd rules, I see no reason why they should not.)

Forgive me for assuming you expressed yourself coherently and in full, Jesurgislac. I should have assumed otherwise.

Jesurgislac's comment is flatly absurd.

*blinks eyes*

Among people of ordinary sense, I would think that 'social tolerance' usually doesn't really extend to anti-social acts (unless you are the CEO of a major company? ;^)).

About Scientology, that's an interesting question. While I think it is waaaay out there, there are a number of very talented people who seem to have been able to pull something of value from it. How they did it, I have no idea, especially given that there is no small measure of responsibility for the movie 'Battlefield Earth' in there.

Of course, tolerance is a two barreled world, in that saying that you 'tolerate' someone is not really high praise. But it does indicate that you aren't going to bully someone just because they worship in a different way, choose to believe in things you can't believe in, or make some sort of funky clicking noise to signal agreement with you.

At any rate, a libertarian view is most amenable to me, in that behavior that doesn't harm others should be tolerated. Beliefs as well, as long as they don't harm others and they are not walled off but are forced to freely compete in the marketplace of ideas. fwiw

....I would think that 'social tolerance' usually doesn't really extend to anti-social acts....

Well, here's the absurdity of tolerance per se, yes? What defines an "anti-social act" except that which you or society won't tolerate?

Edward, please note I didn't say that Christian tolerance is an exercise in suspending all personal behavior.

Actually, Tacitus, you didn't say anything about suspending personal behavior...merely that "Tolerance as a Christian virtue is an exercise in personal behavior." I took that to mean that although a Christian may not like the fact their neighbors drink alcohol, for example, they don't try to physically stop them when they pop the top off a cold one. With regards to the case example, anti-gay voters are not "suspending" anything...they are actively working to deny someone else something. This goes beyond merely engaging in the world and enters the realm of repression.

For my part, a demonstrably falsified "religion" is pretty censurable.

What does "dmonstrably falsified" mean here? What central tenets of doctrine of a religion have been demonstrably falsified?

Tacitus: Well, here's the absurdity of tolerance per se, yes?

No: it is merely the absurdity of assuming that if social tolerance is declared to be a social good, it means one must tolerate all anti-social acts - murder, theft, child abuse, torture.

st, that's great. I've seen Cross live -- opening for Aimee Mann and Michael Penn on the "Acoustic Alchemy" tour they did -- and he was superb.

Jes, are you aware of the, er, extralegal (and legal but harrassing) means to which Scientology sometimes resorts to silence its critics? Or its tendency to hold members captive and abuse them?

Edward, you're right -- I didn't originally say anything about suspending behavior. Quite so. Because I never thought all behavior should be suspended.

I'm pretty sure there's nothing meaningful I can say to counter, in your mind, the contention that actively disapproving of a radical and unprecedented redefinition of the basic unit of society constitutes "repression." Although I suppose, in a strict sense, it is repression inasmuch as my wife's refusal to accede to my redefinition of my marriage to include Angelina Jolie is an example of her repressing me according to my redefinition of the term. (Sadly, it appears that Angelina Jolie is also refusing to accede and is therefore repressing me as well.)

See reply to LJ above, Jesurgislac. Covered ground. I'd backtrack on this one.

Edward: "Tac, I think we're using "tolerance" in different ways. Jes and I more generically, and you more specifically."

Tac: "We're not using it differently at all. You're expressing support for a broad tolerance-as-intrinsic-virtue, and I'm using specifics to shoot that down."

I don't think virtues, in general, work the way Tac suggests. Take an obvious virtue like generosity: trying to be a generous person does not mean accepting some claim like: whenever I can offer help to anyone, I should. And it is not falsified by pointing out particular counterexamples like: suppose you saw Hitler struggling with some very difficult problem about how to successfully prosecute genocide, and you saw the answer; would you "help" him? What if, in 1938, you were walking along the beach and saw Hitler drowning; would you help him then? Etc. You can answer 'no' to any of these questions and still be in favor of generosity as a general virtue. Likewise, being in favor of justice, in general, does not rule out thinking that it should, on occasion, be tempered by virtue.

If this is right, then being in favor of tolerance as a general virtue is not falsified by specific counterexamples of the sort Tac provides.

Besides, many virtues involve what you might think of as built-in requirements for the exercise of judgment. To stick to uncontroversial virtues again: consider courage. Courage involves the willingness to risk your life, if necessary. But the 'if necessary' part is key: courage does not involve being willing to run any old risk to your life that crosses your path (as in: oh look, here's a hand grenade, I would display courage by pulling out the pin and lying on top of it!), but only those risks that you need to run in order to achieve some worthwhile purpose. (As Aristotle said, the exercise of judgment is what separates courage from rashness.)

Tolerance, I would think, is a willingness to let others act on their sincerely held beliefs, when those beliefs do not harm others, and a commitment to making sure that something does harm others before trying to forbid it. (Accepting that the burden of proof is on those who would forbid others from acting on their sincerely held beliefs.) In the case of Christianity, at least, I would also think it involves an unwillingness to use to coercive power of the state to enforce rules designed to prevent harms that can be seen to be harms only through revelation, not through natural reason. (I limit this to Christianity because the relevant terms are taken from straight Christian theology, and i don't feel like translating them into other idioms just now.) Thus, if one's reason for thinking that e.g. Wicca was harmful essentially required the truth of Christianity as a premiss, a tolerant Christian would not seek to legally proscribe or penalize it; whereas one would be willing to outlaw e.g. a religion involving human sacrifice.

social intolerance -- for those who declare homosexuality intrinsically disordered.

I hide my wallet and start paying particularly sceptical attention when someone claims that a behavior is "intrinsically disordered". If one can show that a behavior is harmful to the actor or to society, that is useful to know, and it may be reasonable to assert that such behavior is disordered, but asserting that something is just intrinsically disordered without being willing or able to actually show, to actually use evidence, shows a profound abdication of what I consider to be a fundamental social and moral duty to actually consider your own moral standards, consider the evidence that supports them and consider the harm that your standards cause, as well as the harm that is caused by not following such standards.

As far as I can tell, each of us have a duty to learn enough about others that we do not unthinkingly apply our unconsidered moral standards to others in a way that harms them because of our indifference or ignorance. That, as I understand it, is what Jesus and the Buddha and other great teachers have taught. Sadly, there are many people who consider themselves to be Christian who refuse to treat others with honor or dignity, who don't care how badly they stray from the teachings of Jesus.

Tac again: "What defines an "anti-social act" except that which you or society won't tolerate?" Actually, there are lots of ways. An act that harms another person, in ways discernible through the use of natural reason, for one. But there are lots of others.

Tacitus--I would argue that "a radical and unprecedented redefinition of the basic unit of society" is a fairly good description of Christianity for the first several centuries. How would you differentiate the (for the time) anti-family and severely socially debilitating practice of Christianity in pre-Constantine Rome from someone choosing to practice Wicca or some other "non-mainstream" religion today?

Social tolerance might to be tied into 'judge not, lest you be judged', which is also from the Gospel of ... Matthew, I believe, though I like Luke 6:37 better...

At any rate, Gary does this stuff with a lot more panache and flair.

Phil: Jes, are you aware of the, er, extralegal (and legal but harrassing) means to which Scientology sometimes resorts to silence its critics?

I had read about this happening, yes. I am not clear that Scientology has been demonstrably worse than most other religions in this regard.

Phil: Or its tendency to hold members captive and abuse them?

I had also read about this happening, but wasn't sure how seriously to take the reports - they seemed to be on a FoaF level (those I'd read). If Scientological churches are in the habit of holding their members captive - whether or not they abuse them - this falls easily into the category of "anti-social behavior", if not actual criminal assault.

I seriously doubt that either Edward or Jesurgislac would disagree that there should be broad social disapproval of, say, the belief that blacks are genetically inferior to whites, or that women should be subservient to their husbands; nor with our respective socities actively opposing those beliefs.

I only wish that there were also broad social disapproval of the belief that Islam is inferior to Christianity, that gays are inferior to straights, that parents have a right to abuse and bully their gay children in order to persuade them into appearing straight.

But I'll take the social tolerance that says Christians and Muslims and Jews each have a right to worship the same God in their different ways: that Wiccans have a right to believe "An' it harm none, do what ye will": that Scientologists have a right to believe that L. Ron Hubbard is a great writer: that I have a right to believe that there is no God. And that, assuming all of us had children going to the same school, no teacher would be allowed to ridicule any child or their parents for their beliefs.

(All religions have some tenets, I suppose, that have been disproved as a matter of fact, and in such cases all the school can do is teach the facts: America was not first populated by a wave of immigrants from the Middle East, whatever the Book of Mormon says; Wicca as a religion developed in the early 20th century; and Creationism is religious fantasy, not scientific fact; and so on. If this leads the child to question his/her parents' beliefs, that's unavoidable.)

Hilzoy, I don't find much to disagree with in your characterization of virtues, except where we come to tolerance-as-virtue -- it's been so badly abused that in the modern context, it virtually demands qualification.

I'm not at all convinced that Christianity equals libertarianism.

I do think you need to elaborate further on your definition of an anti-social act, though: in the one example you give, I can think of many acts that bring harm to persons that societies would tolerate.

Don't be silly, cleek -- if you can disprove the existence of God, you'll have achieved a first in human history. Moving on.

i look around, i don't see a god. i don't find evidence there ever was a god. i don't see anything that requires a god. good enough for me.

the fact that the typical 'god' needs to reside in a place logic and rhetoric can't touch does little to help his followers' cause.

"Rilkefan summarizes my thoughts well enough, but that summary is not a paraphrase of the passage he quotes."

Tac, still not sure if you knew what "mores" meant. In some ideal world I could write "Quo usque tandem abutere Tacite patientia nostra?" knowing everyone would understand the relevance to "mores". Sadly, standards have slipped (mine, too - guessing on the vocative - any help there, Anarch?).

Anyway, your comment gave me a good laugh, thanks. What you wrote didn't say what you meant, but you write that what it says is what you mean. Priceless.

Nous, I don't see much difference between the familial views of early Christianity and the Roman ideal (as opposed, of course, to the Roman practice) of family as espoused by Augustine.

LJ, I believe that passage is an admonition against personal pride versus others rather than a call to suspend moral faculties wholesale.

I am not clear that Scientology has been demonstrably worse than most other religions in this regard.

Wow. I guess this goes to follow, though.

good enough for me.

Indeed. Don't labor under the illusion that what satisfies you equates to proof.

Tac, still not sure if you knew what "mores" meant.

Okay.

cleek-

If you read various religious texts, these gods were ongoing actors in life, up to the point that people discovered the natural explanation for what has happened and then the god was relegated more and more to position that was out of nature, until the major gods that survive today are almost completely divorced from the gods that they were when the storytellers were inventing them.

Of course, there is no reason to disprove any gods. Tac won't try to disprove Jove or Thor because he knows it's a fool's errand. Things that do not exist cannot be proven not to exist.

Tac: true; I was just trying to make the general point that there are ways of explaining what societies ought not to tolerate other than: "what we won't tolerate". (I mean, there are arguments to be made about what society should or should not tolerate, which your remark seemed to imply couldn't be made.) I was just wondering whether making this rather minor point required me to go on and say: of course, one needs to ask about the costs and/or harms of prohibiting something, the intrusiveness of the prohibition, etc., etc.; especially since I was just trying to give one example of what, other than 'I don't feel like tolerating X', one might say, not a fully worked out view... when the phone rang, and I hit 'post'. Oops.

I didn't think I meant to say that Christianity = libertarianism. (Certainly I can't see what in my post implied e.g. that it would be wrong to tax people in order to pay for social services, etc.) I do think (speaking as an ex-serious Christian who remembers how she tried to act at the time) that it's always important for Christians to distinguish those actions s/he takes to be wrong, but whose wrongness is not and should not be apparent to non-Christians, from those actions whose wrongness is apparent to them.

I always thought, for instance, as a Christian I had to think that sex outside marriage was wrong, since any remotely plausible reading of the Bible yielded that conclusion; but I could not for the life of me see why. That wasn't a problem for me: it was just one more illustration of the fact that God is omniscient and I am not, from which it obviously followed that I should not expect to understand everything. But it did mean that I did not condemn non-Christians who had sex outside marriage. (More precisely: I might think they were doing other wrong things by doing this, in specific cases: lying to their spouses, for instance, or acting with a lack of charity; but I thought that extra-marital sex per se was not wrong in any way that ought to be clear to them.)

I remember when I was a Catholic, and I wanted to leave the church...they kept me locked in the basement for months. Honest, true story. Plus, the Pope sues practically anyone who has a bad word to say about Catholicism.

Wait...hang on, I've got to go answer the door

Things that do not exist cannot be proven not to exist.

See: ether wind.

(Sadly, it appears that Angelina Jolie is also refusing to accede and is therefore repressing me as well.)

Can I just say (and I hope Bambino's not reading), but that woman is h-o-t hot! I know I'll get kicked out of the gay club (and a few others) for this, but in the same way that many of my straight friends admit an attraction to Johnny Depp or Rob Lowe, I find Ms. Jolie simply irresistible. Tacita is being totally unprogressive about this... ;-p

sorry...back to my PC liberal rantings...

Don't labor under the illusion that what satisfies you equates to proof

i won't if you won't

I have to go now. So if a fight breaks out, the answer to the question 'where is hilzoy?' is: not here.

I don't think that's an unreasonable approach to living one's Christianity, Hilzoy. I don't think it completely covers all things -- for example, if you adhere to Catholic teachings on life at conception, you're pretty much compelled to act regardless of non-Christians' perception -- but it's a pretty good rule of thumb for daily life.

Besides, many virtues involve what you might think of as built-in requirements for the exercise of judgment.

Your Kant is showing...

And, in a completely non-patronizing sense, if you worked that rule of thumb out on your own, I'm pretty impressed.

"they kept me locked in the basement for months."

Did you at least have a cask of amontillado for company?

LJ, I believe that passage is an admonition against personal pride versus others rather than a call to suspend moral faculties wholesale.

You might want to note that the Golden Rule occurs right before that. I've never heard the Golden Rule described as an admonition against personal pride.

If you read various religious texts, these gods were ongoing actors in life, up to the point that people discovered the natural explanation for what has happened and then the god was relegated more and more to position that was out of nature, until the major gods that survive today are almost completely divorced from the gods that they were when the storytellers were inventing them.

and they're not at all happy about it (Gaiman, American Gods).

LJ, isn't Scientology more or less infinitely more compatible with an educated worldview than Christianity? It has only one point of supernaturalism - souls, something I guess I can imagine science surviving - whereas the Mormons and Catholics and so forth believe in an omniscient omnipotent entity, which makes all of physics a joke. I'd say it's more reasonable than astrology too for that matter, though much less so than UFO worship.

Slarti: I remember when I was a Catholic, and I wanted to leave the church...they kept me locked in the basement for months. Honest, true story.

Priests and nuns, the former students said, routinely whipped them with razor strops and beat them with paddles, sometimes until their shorts were bloody. At times, they said, older children were made to hit younger ones. For such infractions as wetting the bed or speaking in Lakota, their native language, children were locked in closets for hours, made to kneel on boards or forced to eat lye soap. cite
The details of many of these crimes remain, to this day, locked in church files, warehoused in a so-called “secret archive” which must be maintained, according to centuries old canon law, by every diocese in the world. The civil law guards these files as well, at least in Wisconsin, where two state Supreme Court rulings in the 1990’s immunized religious organizations from civil lawsuits due to sexually abusive clergy. These decisions determined that holding the church accountable for its conduct in civil courts—as church officials in Boston and the rest of the nation are—would amount to an unconstitutional interference with the free exercise of religion.

Sufficient documentation of church duplicity, however, has escaped its keepers and form, along with the testimony of victims, the heart of this report. These documents confirm, beyond doubt, the depressing truth that Archbishop Weakland knew that the sexual abuse of children was occurring in his archdiocese. Yet he repeatedly decided to place the safety of “the church”--a handy rationale for placing himself, archdiocesan managers and clergy sex offenders under the same liability free tent--before the safety of children. The archbishop’s reputation--as a foe to Vatican backwardness and obfuscation, the champion of enlightened religious intelligence and liturgical practice in a theologically dark time--is revealed for all its grand insignificance, at least for those children who were raped and sodomized by the clergy under his authority. It is, as William James would have said, a difference that made no difference.cite

Should I therefore conclude the Catholic Church ought to be condemned in its entirety? I don't think so, even though I disrespect its inability (or unwillingness) to put the safety of children first, ahead of the reputation of the Church.

I will condemn those who were involved in abuse, or in covering-up for abuse, and more widely, those who believe that their Church gives them a right to abuse. Whether Scientologists, or Catholics, or Mormons, - or any other religion.

But I see no reason to condemn an entire church or an entire religion and its adherents, because some members of the church have committed horrible crimes, and others have systematically covered up for them.


Things that do not exist cannot be proven not to exist.

See: ether wind.

Okay, smarty -- things that do not exist cannot be proven not to exist to people who are attached to the idea of their existence. They will always needlessly multiply entities, Occam be damned.

Jesurgislac, I would suggest, in cases like those, examining to what extent the malign behavior is a logical outgrowth of that faith's orthodoxy.

As for Scientology only having a single point of supernaturalism....oy.

Slart-

It is true that scientists do not bother with the concept of liminiferous ether any more, but that is not because the ether itself was disproven, but because the mechanism that required ether to exist was shown to be an inaccurate understanding of the way light was propagated. Once scientists no longer needed a luminiferous ether to explain the propagation of light, they discarded the hypothesis of the ether, rather than try to redefine ether by giving it other characteristics.

Ether was not proven not to exist, it was merely discarded when it was no longer necessary using the principle of parsimony.

Tacitus--I don't see much difference between the familial views of early Christianity and the Roman ideal (as opposed, of course, to the Roman practice) of family as espoused by Augustine

Augustine was late in the game as far as Roman ideals are concerned and he tends towards radical redefinition when viewed against his predecessors. He himself is a figure of institutional revolution which won out in the long run (one can argue) because it mitigated the more anti-social tendencies of the 200+ years of Christian theology which preceded it and allowed it to co-exist with secular and temporal politics.

What I am talking about is primarily a feature of pre-Augustinian Christianity, though I include several centuries post-Augustine because it took a while for the relative positions to settle into anything like an internally consistent argument.

Specifically, what I'm talking about is the way in which Christian rhetoric drove a wedge between the traditional family authority (the paterfamilias) and his children. This is more than just a societal shift in Roman eyes, since it is also an attack on the very idea of the family as a continuous expression of the various ancestral spirits. Christianity espoused a radical break with this practice of ancestor veneration and eroded the social institutions which had grown from these familial practices.

But this is all getting rather esoteric for the question at hand. My main point is that the very viewpoint you defend was itself once a huge disruption of social practice and that to censure those who now exercise a similar individualist and anti-societal choice is to ignore this. Christianity was once where Wicca is today, still sorting out details and getting its story and theology straight.

Personally, I think the point Jes is making with regards to Scientology and other newer religions vs. Catholicism or other relatively older religions (where's our Jewish friends?...my business partner who is Jewish simply laughs each time a Christian calls another religion a cult) is valid and reveals that social mores have ways of curbing religious excesses just as much as religions have ways of curbing social excesses over time. Three centuries from now Scientology might stand as the most idealistic and human of all religions for all we know. Which isn't to say we can't criticize its excesses now, but that suggesting it's "junk" because of them misses the forest for the trees here.

"Things that do not exist cannot be proven not to exist."

My thesis proved that a theorized class of Z-coupled particles of a certain mass do not exist.

The stuff literalist Christians have to believe - witchcraft, magic powers from forgotten gods, pig-possessing spirits, etc etc - can of course not be disproven in the above sense.

LJ, isn't Scientology more or less infinitely more compatible with an educated worldview than Christianity?

I don't know, I just know that Chick Corea is a Scientologist, and if I could play the piano like that, I would be down at the local recruiting office singing the praises of L. Ron post haste. But that might just be my foolish pride speaking.

Tacitus: Jesurgislac, I would suggest, in cases like those, examining to what extent the malign behavior is a logical outgrowth of that faith's orthodoxy.

Certainly.

It is an orthodox belief in the Catholic church that an ordained priest is God's representative on earth. It is an orthodox belief among many Christian sects that all are guilty of "original sin".

It is a logical outgrowth of that orthodoxy to believe that children are more likely to be sinful than priests - because all are wicked from infancy: further, that women are more innately sinful than men. And that, because all priests are God's representatives, even when a priest is proved to be a child abuser, it is more important to protect the reputation of the priesthood than it is to protect the children who may be abused by this priest in the future.

The malign behavior of the Catholic Church towards the children in the care of priests and nuns, who were physically and sometimes sexually abused, is indeed a logical outgrowth of that faith's orthodoxy. That still doesn't mean condemning every Catholic without reference to whether they support or are horrified by this aspect of their church's beliefs.

It is true that scientists do not bother with the concept of liminiferous ether any more, but that is not because the ether itself was disproven, but because the mechanism that required ether to exist was shown to be an inaccurate understanding of the way light was propagated. Once scientists no longer needed a luminiferous ether to explain the propagation of light, they discarded the hypothesis of the ether, rather than try to redefine ether by giving it other characteristics.

Ether was not proven not to exist, it was merely discarded when it was no longer necessary using the principle of parsimony.

Let's walk though this slowly, shall we? Luminiferous ether was supposed to have some effect on light propagation. That effect was shown to be indistinguishable from zero, and much smaller than the effect predicted. Since its effects on light propagation was the only predicted property of luminiferous ether, the hypothesis that there was such a thing was negated. If your point is that there may be some undetectable thing out there called luminiferous ether, my point is that ain't it, and even if it were, it's indistinguishable from nonexistence.

Ditto phlogiston.

I only wish that there were also broad social disapproval of the belief that Islam is inferior to Christianity, that gays are inferior to straights, that parents have a right to abuse and bully their gay children in order to persuade them into appearing straight.

Me too. I do what I can.

Edward, Scientology isn't junk because of its excesses. It's junk because it relies on demonstrably falsifiable premises, e.g., that alcoholism or heroin addiction can be cured by having addicts hold on to a couple of tin cans hooked up to a multimeter and watching the needle jump. (And then using the publicly-perceived status and insight of celebrities to lure people to this load of crap.) It also proposes that salvation, as it were, can be purchased by its adherents, and that the more you spend, the more "clear" you become.

We won't even get into the alien-spirits-inhabiting-human-bodies stuff.

I just know that Chick Corea is a Scientologist

Beck, too. which sucks, because i don't like knowing that someone as clever as that would fall for something a non-clever as Scientology.

oh well.

It's junk because it relies on demonstrably falsifiable premises,

My presumption about those Phil, as moronic as they are, is that if the rest of what attracts people to Scientology can withstand and evolve past those premises, it may emerge as another valuable faith.

It's junk because it relies on demonstrably falsifiable premises
No, it's junk because it is a massive scam, a huge pyramid scheme cynically (and, occasionally, violently) manipulated for obscene profit by a handful of very, very rich con men. Given this, I profoundly doubt that it will "emerge as another valuable faith," unless one intends "valuable" to mean "owning many many things of great value."

Ok, I'll concede that Scientology may never evolve out of its junk status...but my point is that religions do evolve from cult status into mainstream respectability and it behooves us to remember that with regard to declaring cults invalid. In other words, simply follow the First Amendment.

"Remember, Spellcheck Is Your Friend. ;)"

If you mean "using a program," and that's all, nah, it's the enemy. It consistently leads to properly spelled homonyms that are the wrong word choices. The only way to spell properly and consistently is to learn to do so, and to be patient enough to look up anything that inspires the slightest doubt. A program can't yet check if a word is the wrong word properly spelled.

"Excuse me? In this thread I have not set forth any definition of 'tolerance': nor I am certain exactly where you are deriving your summary of my views from. Can you cite where, exactly, I 'set forth' my ideas of tolerance that you summarise here?"

A challenge you find utterly unfair when put to you, you issue in regard to others. Noted.

A thought applicable in many directions: someone said: "The straw that is in thy brother's eye, though seest; but the beam that is in thine own eye, thou seest not! When thou hast cast out the beam that is in thine own eye, then thou wilt see to cast out the straw from thy brother's eye."

Tacitus asserts "the contention that actively disapproving of a radical and unprecedented redefinition of the basic unit of society."

Using "society" as a singular here is an interesting choice, since it omits any discussion of whose society, where, and when, and when used in conjunction with "unprecedented," opens up a world of precedent for discussion, comparison, and contemplation, from the society of the ancient Greeks to African and Polynesian societies, to societies where polyamy has been a norm, and so on. The idea of a heterosexual, dualistically-based, strictly nuclear, family, is hardly the only "precedent" in history, and alternative schema have, on the contrary, perfectly normal over the past 50,000 years, or even 10,000, as measured descriptively, rather than prescriptively, or by choosing a preferred sample set.

Phil: "I am not clear that Scientology has been demonstrably worse than most other religions in this regard."

There are a number of good books detailing the history; I'd suggest looking into them. Or reading up on the Internets. Few "religions" have such extremely detailed histories of being such a simple and direct money-scamming scheme, from conception through today. (If you buy concepts that arise from articles in Astounding Science Fiction, I suggest also looking into and defending the "Hieronymous machine" and, of course, the Dean Drive, as valid "religious" beliefs.)

Oh, sorry, that was Jes, not Phil.

Er . . . that's like saying, "If Christianity can get past the ideas of virgin births and resurrections and invisible men in the sky and whatnot, it may turn into something worthwhile." A religion is its premises. I mean, I can see your point in a real general "whatever gets you through the night" kind of way, but other than that, I'm not really sure what you're getting at. If we could take all the woo-woo stuff out of all religions, I guess they'd all be equally valuable, in that they'd all be equally superfluous. Well, more so.

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