Monday, March 26, 2007

Well it appears Hugo Chavez needs to have "rule by decree" to get his socialism ramped up. But of coarse "rule by decree" is a lot better than dictatorial powers! Yess! Um ..can someone tell me the difference? But anyways it will be fun watching this little socialist experiment unfold. What will be even more fun is listening to the socialist and their excuses as to why it didn't work.

Monday, May 08, 2006

All the facts you need to win any separation of church and state debate.

It really is a broken record I hear day in and day out from coworkers, people on the radio call in shows, even a guy standing in line behind me at a Neal Boortz book signing the Friday before Katrina struck in New Orleans.

"There's no separation of church and state in the constitution. Those words were made up by activist judges with their warped interpretation of the first amendment."

Normally I'm not a confrontational guy unless I think I may need to protect myself , someone with me, or my property but I just couldn't help it. Standing in line at the Borders book store in new Orleans waiting for Neal Boortz to sign my FairTax book I turned to the guy and said .

"You know the people who typically make that argument that you just made usually believe in the holy trinity. Yet the phrase holy trinity doesn't even appear in the bible."

He just kind of nodded his head and grinned. I continued by saying that I can write a poem describing a beautiful day and never once use the phrase " It's a beautiful day".

I typically refer to people like this as "theocrates". A Person who ( rather they know it or not or admit it or not) support theocracy.

He seemed like a nice intelligent guy and I'm sure he was. However I am just amazed at how people can willingly accept such fallacious arguments without even thinking about them . It's as if when people hear something that reaches a conclusion that they already agree with they are less likely to be skeptical of the premises that lead to the conclusion. If an argument is fallacious it is fallacious even if it comes to a conclusion I think is true for some other reason.

Just as I can write a poem about a beautiful day and never once use the phrase "it's a beautiful day", the Constitution has a separation of church and state even though that actual phrase is not even there.

The argument comes down to what does "respecting an establishment of religion mean"?

Another broken record argument we hear from theocrates is that the first amendment means that there will be no national church and that's it. Nothing else, faith based initiatives are ok, graven images on public land are ok, organized prayer in school is ok, etc.

Now one would have to wonder how far these people made it in English class because that is not what the first amendment says. The word establishment is clearly a noun. This means an institution or a place. There will be no law respecting a religious place or an institution! That's what it says. It's plain freakin English!

Now let me drive some more nails in the coffin of their fallacious reasoning. James Madison authored the first amendment so who else better to turn to than James Madison when looking to what the first amendment means?

In 1811 as President, James Madison vetoed a bill that was intended to support financially a church to help the needy. ( The first faith based initiative was vetoed!)

Not only was it vetoed but it was vetoed by the man who authored the first amendment and in the explanation of the veto refers back to the (gasp!) FIRST AMENDMENT! Madison said in part. ( emphasis added by me)

"Because the bill exceeds the rightful authority to which governments are limited by the essential distinction between civil and religious functions, and violates in particular the article of the Constitution of the United States which declares that "Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment."

There you have it ladies and gentlemen. It's really cut and dry isn't it? Notice the bold portion of the quote there. You see that it not only is congruous with my explanation above of how establishment is used in the first amendment, it is referenced in regard to an attempt at supporting religion in a way that contradicts the thoecrates broken record claim that the first amendment is only there to stop a national church from being established.

Another paper Madison wrote is called, "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments."

This was his rather lengthy explanation as to why he remonstrated against a bill that would have funded the salaries of Christian school teachers and it is a very good read. I highly recommend that everyone take the time to read this because it is worth it.

But why am I picking on James Madison so much and not any of the other founding fathers? As I do agree that there are many quotes and acts by the other founding fathers that support the separation of church and state as it is in the Constitution, James Madison is after all the man who authored the first amendment. As I stated above, who else better to turn for an explanation of what it means than the man who authored it?

Theocrates will often find obscure quotes and even early violations of the separation of church and state and posit that as proof that it doesn't exist. But that is not proof that there is no separation of church and state. It only proves that it was as contentious an issue then as it is now.

Look at it this way. Alexander Hamilton wanted a strong central government instead of the small limited government that the Constitution calls for. Suppose I then quote from Hamilton and then conclude that there should be a large government because of this quote? Would that over ride what the constitution says? Of course not. Ultimately of coarse what matters is what the Constitution says. James Madison wrote the first amendment and I have clearly shown what it means and backed it up with Madison's own words and actions as President.

Now if any theocrate ever mentions to you ( for example) that the national day of prayer proclamation proves there is no separation of church and state. All you have to do is call that what it is , a red herring. You know what the first amendment says and any theocrate pointing to early violations of it does not prove or lend any credence in any shape or form to their fallacious argument.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Finally I get to post again. Actually I've been busy with my bass guitar lessons and other hobbies. I've written two letters to the editor in the past week on two different topics. One on evolution and one on free trade. If they don't get published well then at least they will be here! So with out further adieu here they are.

Dear editor ,
The only way creationist can attack evolution is to first set up a strawman of what a scientific theory is, juxtapose that with their view of intelligent design, and then proclaim that they are on equal footing with evolution ergo their view should be taught along side of evolution.
A scientific theory is in part defined as an observation based on a set of observed facts. OBSERVED FACTS being the key words there. A scientific theory is not any arbitrary ad hoc assertion dreamed up by someone. The observed fact of gravity is described by Einstein's theory of relativity. The fact that microorganisms cause disease is explained by germ theory. Quantum theory explains the nature of subatomic particles. And lastly, the observed fact of increased complexity in organisms over time is explained by the theory of natural selection.
On December the second you printed a letter from Mr George Luce in which he stated that evolution was "wildly counterintuitive". Even if it is, how does that make it untrue? The fact that time is relative is also wildly counterintuitive. Mr Luce continues by saying...

"It is "unscientific" to assume a priori that only the naturalistic theory can correctly explain the data."

Well what other types of explanations are there? Could Mr. Luce give us an example that does not beg the question? I doubt it.

Science deals with what can be tested, not unprovable assertions detached from reality. Saying "god did it" tells us nothing. It makes no predictions and does not help in organizing collected data.

Mr Luce then goes onto claim that teaching evolution in schools violates fundamentalist Christians first amendment right to the free exercise of religion. Mr Luce seems to be oblivious to the hierarchical nature of rights. I have the right to practice my religion but not on Mr Luces property if he tells me I can't. Mr Luce also has a right to practice his religion as he wishes. But the last time I checked, the government takes taxes away not just from fundamentalist Christians, but from everyone regardless of what philosophical outlook they have. We could use Mr Luce's own argument and say that we should also teach the native American view of creationism, and everyone else who has views to the contrary.

In fact I'm not against teaching creationism in the schools. I would be all for an, "Archaic Myths and Fairy Tales" class. But the science room is not where it belongs.

And speaking of fairy tales. Mr Luce claims that evolution is "scarcely more plausible than a bizarre fairy tale." What bizarre fairy tale would he be talking about? The man inside the whale, the talking donkey, or the talking snake and magic apple?

Dear Editor,

People who rail against outsourcing need to go back to high school economics class. They start from the flawed premise that the jobs belong to the employees when in fact they belong to the ones responsible for creating the job. There is no such thing as a right to a job.

On December the sixth you printed a letter from Mr. Jim Atteberry in which he expressed his disdain for Chinese goods purchased by Americans. He referred to China as communist and as our enemy. The communist part is true to a degree. However in the past ten years China has been opening up it's markets. They are really a mixed economy which is party capitalist and party communist. Mr Atteberry seems to be concerned about China mentioning that they are our enemy. The fact of the matter is that the more two nations are finically tied to one another the less likely they are to war with each other. If Mr. Atteberry is concerned about China being our enemy then why is he not for making them our friends without even firing a shot? This is what free trade accomplishes. Not only does it accomplish that , but the goods produced in china and other nations give Americans more buying power with their money. What would a television cost if it were made here in America? Two times more or maybe three? And what exactly do you do with that extra money you saved because that television was produced cheaper in another country? You probably save it, invest it, or spend it someplace else thus creating new kinds of employment. But people seem to take the simplistic approach when thinking about this issue. People reason, no jobs is bad, outsourcing means fewer jobs in America, therefore outsourcing is bad. This is fallacious reasoning because they fail to take into account the far greater benefit of increased purchasing power to the entire country. This allows for higher standards of living for both Americans and their manufacturing counterparts in China and elsewhere.

And lastly, Mr Atteberry suggest that the fact that Japan is now number two in car sales in America is a bad thing. How is stiff competition a bad thing? This is good for the consumer. What does Mr Atteberry suggest we do about this alleged problem of Japan taking over the car market? Implement totalitarian force and stop Americans from freely choosing the products they want? Or does Mr Atteberry suggest that Japan move their manufacturing jobs back to their country for the same reasons he rails against American companies manufacturing overseas?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

As an atheist, my world view is constantly under attack by people whom I reveal to them that I do not believe in fairy tales. One of the most common misconceptions about atheist is that we all share a common view on ethics. The thought is that this supposed atheist view of ethics is that there are no moral absolutes. Whenever a theist makes this claim I know automatically that I am dealing with someone with a very myopic view of philosophy. Surely there are atheist who hold such a view. But this view of moral subjectivity is not a requisite for being an atheist. Normally theist have lived their entire lives being told about other world views from the mouths of their theist leaders and have not actually undertook a fair and objective assessment on their own to validate the claims they posit. Claims such as the assumption that all atheist view ethics as subjective. In fact the theist leaders more than likely have not undertaken an objective study into the claims and philosophies of other points of view themselves. It's really a seemingly endless regurgitation of specious claims of other world views supposed conclusions that are asserted as true but never supported as being true by the theist. This falls right into the philosophy inherent with Christianity of the sheeple being told what to think and how to think. The thinking has been done for you. Here it is in a package ready made for your convince. No thinking required! I'm reminded of the lyrics written by Neil Peart in a Rush song titled 'The Big Wheel".

"I placed no trust in a faith that was ready-made.Take no chances on paradise delayed"

You need not go out to think for yourself. Don't worry about validating any of these assessments of other philosophies for yourself. Joyous is he who believes with no proof yes? (ie, faith). It's the root of their irrationality and it permeates deep into their philosophy of mysticism that it is held as virtuous to not use your own mind. Though they don't hold that premise explicitly. It is however a logical necessity of other irrational premises they hold to explicitly.

Working from the false assumption that since I'm an atheist therefore I must view ethics as subjective, the question the theist thinks they have me cornered with goes something like this. "How can you say that what Hitler did to the Jews is wrong if ethics is subjective?" Normally I would try to undertake the arduous task of explaining to them that not all atheist view ethics as subjective and then the reasoning behind the non-theistic view of the Objectivist ethics. But this creates many problems because it requires me to be too verbose and the point seems to get lost in the process. Instead of going in to that with them I have discovered a much more effective way of defusing that question and simultaneously turn the tables back onto the theist thus shinning a glaring spot light onto their own view of ethics and how it is in fact subjective.

(If you are interested in a cursory view on Objectvist ethics you can go to...

...and click under the appropriately named link, "ethics".)

Many (but not all) Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven and all those who do not accept him will perish and suffer in hell for an eternity. Since Jews do not believe in Jesus Christ as a saviour then this rule would also apply to them. So I ask the theist after they pose the question to me. "Tell me why is it wrong for Hitler to have done what he did?" Their eyes light up as if they think I have just taken their bait hook line and sinker. They state the obvious horrors of doing such things to innocent people and thinking they are going in for the intellectual check mate they say. "Ah ha! You cannot say what Hitler did is wrong. Your world view cannot claim that such things are atrocities!" I then ask them. "After the Jews suffered and died because of Hitlers concentration camps, what is it your supposedly all good god did to their souls if Jesus is the only way to heaven?" Um..blank out..One Christian actually said to me that Hitler was wrong because he did not have the authority to do what he did but god does because he created us. The implication from that statement is that the acts of torturing the Jews itself is not wrong. It was only wrong because Hitler did not have the authority to do such a thing! "Might makes right?", I ask. The back stepping and the clamoring starts as I point out to them that they in fact hold two views of ethics. Their god according to them has done nothing but pick up where Hitler left off. In fact if we accept the Christian view that hell is the worst punishment, then in fact not only does he continue where Hitler left off, but he steps it up a notch or two!
No matter what "reasoning" they use, (and when I say "reasoning" I mean "cop outs") it serves as nothing but a red herring. The inescapable fact remains that the theist hold two standards of ethics. One for man, the other for their magic fairy tale guy in the sky.