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Creationism Museum To Open Next Summer 1570

Posted by kdawson
from the example-of-intelligent-design dept.
Aloriel writes to point out a story in the Guardian (UK) about the opening next year of the first Creationism museum in Kentucky, just over the Ohio border. From the article: "The Creation Museum — motto: 'Prepare to Believe!' — will be the first institution in the world whose contents, with the exception of a few turtles swimming in an artificial pond, are entirely fake. It is dedicated to the proposition that the account of the creation of the world in the Book of Genesis is completely correct... The museum is costing $25 million and all but $3 million has already been raised from private donations." A lot of that money is going into the animatronic dinosaurs, which are pictured as coexisting with modern humans before the Fall. According to the article, up to 50 million Americans believe this. The museum has a Web presence in the Answersingenesis.org site.
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Creationism Museum To Open Next Summer

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:35AM (#16947058)
    The book of Job describes a creature called a 'behemoth' whose description can be interpreted as that of a dinosaur.
  • by Kris_J (10111) * on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:36AM (#16947068) Journal
    How any public money can go into something so farcical is beyond me. Well, not quite beyond me, but seriously depressing -- even though it isn't actually my public money.

    I'm just glad I live in Australia, where education is valued [news.com.au].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:49AM (#16947156)
    Some people understand religion in one way and some people in another, but most of the religious beliefs are in contradiction with science.

    Can you justify this? No anecdotes please.

    It might help if you clearly define a scientific observation and a scientific theory before you proceed. Anything that is not observable has nothing to do with science and therefore cannot be contradicted by science. Statements like God created the world in 6 days are obviously contradictory. But statements about having a soul are not. Nor is the existence of a God contradictory. Imagine a computer simulation of a world. You don't have to implement the same physical laws as exist in your (in fact you can simplify things if you wish and place maximum limits--i.e. quantum theory and relativity). If intelligent life (effectively AI) formed in your world, they would think the computer programmer was a God--and they would be right.
  • Re:NO! Don't link. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drgonzo59 (747139) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:14AM (#16947358)
    Most Christians would also regard these people as crazy. The Bible was not meant to be a science textbook, and it was never meant to be read literally. A simple reading of the early church fathers (2nd century or perhaps a little later) would reveal this fact. In other words the Fundamentalists claim that they know better what the Bible means than the people who wrote and selected the books to include in it. Even side-stepping the whole "God exists -- God doesn't exist" issue, and just re-framing this in terms of a Christian perspective, they will still be wrong.

  • by AceJohnny (253840) <jlargentaye@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:30AM (#16947456) Journal
    While I agree on the negative impact of such an endeavor, I don't think religion as it is used in the USA corresponds to Marx's definition.
    Marx meant it as a means to tame an oppressed class "Suffering in this life guarantees you Paradise in the afterlife!".
    We can hardly call the american middle-class "oppressed" in any way.

    Actually, come to think of it, I have no idea how come religion (specifically, christianism) is so powerful in such a developped country as the USA...

    I wonder if it has anything to do with protestant evangelists taking up the methods of capitalism. Hmm...
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:33AM (#16947488) Homepage

    Hell if we are going there then there are lots of things that could be interpreted in the bible to be dinosaurs, after all it doesn't say the scale of any elements, so take genesis itself.

    The snake (a reptile) has legs at the start of genesis, we know this as the punishment from god is to have no legs and slither on its belly, a snake with legs is a lizard and the bit with the apple and the tree was pretty terrible, so the snake was in fact a terrible lizard. A quick translation of that is "terrible lizard" so in fact the dinosaurs didn't become extinct it was just that god turned them into snakes.

    See its easy if you are trying to prove something.

    The biggest problem with all of this is the damn Egyptians, they've got around 6,000 years of continuous history and at no time have we found any hieroglyphics that say

    "Damn it was wet this year, I don't mean a little bit it absolutely pissed down and everybody died"
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:34AM (#16947492)
    Nonsensical as it may be, it is what you're up against. The more you whine about how theists dodge the issue, the more pathetic you look.

    As for your discounting of historical beliefs through science, please notice that science disproved those beliefs. The earth is not flat and we know because we proved it to be round. The sun does not circle the earth (or does, depending on your perspective) because we developed a better model to more accurately describe the movement of celestial bodies.

    Now you get to use science to disprove God. That, as difficult as it is for you to understand, is how it works. Established beliefs get to stick around until disproved. Theism has been around a long time, so it's up to you to dethrone it. (Well, I wouldn't leave the fate of atheism to *you* specifically. Atheism has more to fear from its proponents than it does from its opponents.)
  • May I point out.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by codeButcher (223668) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:53AM (#16947628)

    the account of the creation of the world in the Book of Genesis is completely correct...

    The problem is not with the account, the problem is with some people's interpretation of the account. When I read the first 2 chapters of Genesis, it does not preclude evolution (yeah, go read it). It also does not demand a 7x24 hour creation period (since the Hebrew word for "day" has many meanings).

    In fact, Genesis is NOT a scientific treatise on the origin of the world. The book is clearly about the origin and early history of Israel. The first 2 chapters only provide some context for Adam.

  • by HansF (700676) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:54AM (#16947638) Journal
    Except they didn't kill out of atheïsm, but they found communist reasons to kill and oppress those of different persuasions. There actions found it's base in the communist ideology which has no respect for the life/rights of the individual.

    Don't blame the atheïsts for the horrible communist regime.
  • by Lisandro (799651) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:55AM (#16947644)
    Some of my favorite comedic quotes about religion were from the great late Bill Hicks. This one is priceless too:

    "A lot of Christians wear crosses around their necks. Do you think when Jesus comes back, he's really going to want to see a fucking cross? Ow! Maybe that's why he hasn't shown up yet...it's like going up to Jackie Onassis wearing a sniper rifle pendant... Just thinking of John, Jackie. We love him. Trying to keep that memory alive, baby.

    [mimes shooting a rifle]

    I did that routine in Fyffe, Alabama, and after the show these three rednecks came up to me. 'Hey, buddy! C'mere! Hey Mr. Comedian! C'mere! Hey buddy, we're Christians and we don't like what you said!'

    I said 'Well, then forgive me.'

    Later, as I was hanging from the tree..."
  • by RoundSparrow (341175) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @07:56AM (#16947648)
    Next time in vegas [pinballmuseum.org]
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:09AM (#16947744) Homepage
    So what you are saying is that 6,000 years ago the Egyptians had a legend that before their recorded history there was a legendary flood. Still doesn't mean they recorded one happening, which for new earth creationists is a problem as the Egyptians pre-date their creation date.

    The difference is between legend (Bible and the enscription you quote) and recorded history. There are no elements in recorded history of a world wide flood, and we have recorded history dating back over 6,000 years.
  • by SamSim (630795) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:13AM (#16947772) Homepage Journal
    Well, there's the videogaming exhibit [sciencemuseum.org.uk] at the Science Museum, if you happen to be in London sometime.
  • by drgonzo59 (747139) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:17AM (#16947790)
    People will take long ways to create illusion around them that something they believe in actually exists or have existed. Poor people, still linger to last leftovers of "belief".

    I assume that was directed towards the people who believe in a traditional religion. But doesn't that apply to anything that people do?

    Look at the String Theorists, they have spent the most productive part of their lives claiming that their results represent reality (if they didn't believe that, they would probably be doing something else). Yet for all these years, there was no experimental evidence that any such strings exist. But there is a whole cult formed around it, there are a countless number of PhD's given in that area. Are they weak and very selective to reality? Some other physicists would claim so...

    Or how about the illusion that democracy is the ultimate utopia. I presume you are an American , doesn't it sound like heresy to "knock" democracy? It does to me, because it is so ingrained into my brain that our way of life is the best, and we are prepared to go and spread our utopia to other countries whether they want it or not... Are we being selective to our reality? Probably so -- we see what we want to see.

    I believe in God, however, I don't think it has anything to do with Bible or this physical world.
    But if you believe in God, why wouldn't God want to have anything to do with the physical world?

    Why do you think the Bible is out of the equation as far as God is concerned? Have you read it, have you talked to a priest or are you discounting it because it is the "popular" thing to do?.

    It is known from historical accounts that many Christians were killed for their beliefs during the early centuries of Christianity (even before the Bible was completed). That was done in public view, in an arena for example. Quite often, all that a Christian would have to do is deny their belief, pay tribute to the Roman gods and their life would be spared, but many didn't do that, and chose to die a horrible death instead. What's your take on it? (I am not being sarcastic, it is just that I am a Christian and I believe, that is why I can see why they did what they did, but I would want to know what someone who is not a Christian would think of it). If the Christians knew that Jesus didn't die/rise from the dead/perform miracles and that everything was made up, why didn't they just admit that if it could save their lives? Granted the terrorists are also willing to blow themselves up for their beliefs, but here I am talking about the so called Apostles, the ones who would have had a first-hand experience of the story of Jesus. If it was bogus, why die for it?

  • by LarsWestergren (9033) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @08:38AM (#16947968) Homepage Journal
    Now you get to use science to disprove God. That, as difficult as it is for you to understand, is how it works. Established beliefs get to stick around until disproved. Theism has been around a long time, so it's up to you to dethrone it.

    You failed to answer the grandparents question, how the hell is he going to come up with proof for the nonexistance of a being?

    Believer: Worship the invisible pink unicorn.
    Atheist: Sorry, I don't believe he exists.
    Believer: Prove it.
    Atheist: Huh?? Why should *I* come up with proof? Ok, I can try: I don't see him.
    Believer: That is because he is invisible. Also he is pink. That is one of his divine properties.
    Atheist: I don't hear him.
    Believer: He only speak to believers. I hear him answer when I pray to him, I'm convinced of that.
    Atheist: Ok, here I have an infrared camera. I don't see anything.
    Believer: He doesn't emit heat.
    Atheist: Ok, I throw around flour and see if anything stick to him, or if we see any footprints appearing.
    Believer: Sorry, he is immaterial.
    Atheist: Ok, what is the difference between a totally undetectable creature and one that doesn't exist?
    Believer: When rain falls, the invisible pink unicorn caused it, whenever a child laughs, the IPU caused it. Also 6000 years of belief shows I am right.
    Atheist: ...whatever.

    What could possibly be enough "evidence of nonexistance" for you - do you want a signed death certificate from his doctor? Face it, if you want us to believe something, it is up to YOU to give us some evidence.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:09AM (#16948210)
    In the same way murderous actions by those who claim a religion are usually found in some other base, for example, political, financial, geographical, racial or otherwise. It gets old to keep repeating it, but blaming an entire religion for a murderous action is silly unless you can point to justification for the action in the foundational religious text/s.
  • Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ingolfke (515826) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:12AM (#16948254) Journal
    Seriously... who cares? So some people built a museum... why is this news? If you got a distinct sense of pleasure in ridiculing these people and their museum maybe you should evaluate yourself and question why your world is so small.
  • by CrazyBrett (233858) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:28AM (#16948428)
    Don't forget that atheism is a religion too. "Militant atheists", as described above, believe that God does not exist, despite having no direct evidence to support that belief. No one gave them an exclusive peek outside the universe to see that nothing is out there. Holding an unsubstantiated belief is the definition of religion, and like any other religion, it can be used to justify extremism.
  • by kfg (145172) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:42AM (#16948598)
    Now really, would you even trust someone who goes around cuckolding someone else, never mind worshiping them and their bastard kid?

    Worked for Zeus and Herakles. Of course they were Gods of cuckolds and bastard kids. When asked about adultery in Sparta the reply was "There isn't any," because Sparta had a culture of wife "sharing" and children as the property of the city.

    Think about that the next time someone says, "It takes a village to raise a child." Read a history of Sparta - and ants.

    KFG
  • Re:wtf (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chikanamakalaka (218733) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:48AM (#16948652)
    Job 40:15-24 NIV 15 "Look at the behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. 16 What strength he has in his loins, what power in the muscles of his belly! 17 His tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. 18 His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron. 19 He ranks first among the works of God, yet his Maker can approach him with his sword. 20 The hills bring him their produce, and all the wild animals play nearby. 21 Under the lotus plants he lies, hidden among the reeds in the marsh. 22 The lotuses conceal him in their shadow; the poplars by the stream surround him. 23 When the river rages, he is not alarmed; he is secure, though the Jordan should surge against his mouth. 24 Can anyone capture him by the eyes, or trap him and pierce his nose?
  • Aaargghh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FuzzyDaddy (584528) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:55AM (#16948738) Journal
    I have a MA in physics from Berkeley, and I understand only very little of what we currently understand about the creation of the universe. I certainly couldn't explain what parts of it I know it to my wife, a smart, well educated but not technically inclined woman. So how would a guy with an ancient egyptian education be able to understand the creation of the world? What value would there be in trying to tell it to him literally?
  • by MECC (8478) * on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:09AM (#16948966)
    Actually, as a friend of mine once said, "you can't argue people into believing what you believe." It might be more useful to point out that they themselves change the modes with which they interpret the bible. In some places, they claim not to be 'interpreting' it - they say they're just 'reading it' when they quote passages which say the only way to heaven or to be 'saved' is to believe in jesus. Yet in other places they don't take scriptures so literally. Good examples are Deut 23:1 that says you can't go to church with damaged testicles or if your penis has been cut off and Deut 23:2 that says if you're a bastard (even ten generations out) you can't go to church. Also, god is powerless against automobiles (iron chariots) - Judges 1:19. fundamentalists will claim that you can violate Old Testament laws all you want, and Christ's sacrifice will deliver you from judgment if you believe in him. Yet, Christ said that not one bit of OT law will be given exception to - Matt 5:17-19. In other places, christ's sacrifice does supersede OT laws - Luke 16:16/ Eph 2:15/ Rom 7:6. Do OT laws still hold? Or not? If I hit god with my subaru, will he be able to get back up?

    Those are just theological contradictions. Then there are places where a story is told one way and accounted for differently in another. In Matthew, christ was taken into egypt (Matt 2:14,15,19,21,23) but in Luke he wasen't (Luke 2:22, 39). In Matthew, jesus gave the beatitudes on a mountainside (Matt 5:1,2) and in Luke he gave the beatitudes on a plain (Luke 6:17,20). The list of course goes on and on. The point is that fundamentalists and evangelicals take the bible as a unified authority and believe its contents have been carefully arranged by god to tell us how to live and what to believe. And just by reading it, this isn't the case which pokes holes in their claims to the be the only true religion, and in most of the founding theology they live by. You can't let them get away with "we're not interpreting the bible - we're just reading it factually." (which they'll fall back on to avoid complex theological discussions) Point out they do in fact interpret the bible, and their is just one on many interpretations. You might even need to point out that the bible wasn't even written in english or even one language, so by definition they are reading an interpretation. There are lots of good examples of contradictions at evilbible.com.

  • The why questions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:19AM (#16949170)
    Um... I don't know if you'd noticed, but the question "why does blah blah" has an implicit assumption. It assumes that there is intent. It assumes that there was a reason for "blah blah blah". It assumes that god exists.

    By asking "why" you are already assuming that god exists. There's no other alternative.

    What I'm saying is that "why" questions are circular.

     
  • by jjn1056 (85209) <jjn1056@yahoo.EULERcom minus math_god> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:29AM (#16950512) Homepage Journal
    There are also quite a few post Marx theories that suggested the Revolution would be permanently postponed since the industrialized west coul shift the oppression to undeveloped nations. As long as the West could carefully balance developing the third world enough to produce useful labor but at the same time keep them undeveloped enough to prevent the critical mass for Revolution. So that's what gave the justification to many of the communist leaders of the 20th century to act in such fascist ways, they felt unless they could break the cycle by any means necessary they would never be free.

    I do think we see aspects of this playing out in the world. For example in India, during the last election cycle, the poorer people in the country expressed their unhappiness with the fact that properity from outsourcing and other things seemed unequally distributed. And as India develops more, you see Western nations turning to other countries for outsourcing. The issue is will we ever get to the point were the whole world is developed enough that local labor has no disadvantage?

    Complicating this is the degree to which some countries will embrace aspects of socialism. For example, in the USA most automobile companies are in big trouble because they can no longer afford retirement and health care benefits for their already retired workers. This is a HUGE expense for them. Many of their overseas competition doesn't have to worry about this, because the gov't provides healthcare and retirement benefits. In this case a gov'ts degree of socialism can provide an advantage to a particular industry by removing a large category of expense.

    The question of which direction competition between countries will drive work rights is still undecided. The India example is heartening, but most other developing countries don't have such a democratic institutions. Will workers in China start to demand more involvement in gov't? After living there for 3 years I am not sure anymore.
  • Re:NO! Don't link. (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:39AM (#16950706)
    > People never co-existed with dinosaurs.

    Well, there is evidence of fossilizes footprints of dinosaurs next to fossilized footprints of a human-like creature with toes. That evidence of course is hardly mentioned in textbooks, but highly fought about among scholars - unfortunatly only a few books actually discuss those findings which CONTRADICT majority of findings or particular darwinistic approach to evolution. The point is, the scientist slowly become believers in their own domain, and whoever challenges them with evidence, they act like Christians, they say this is the way. Science is about developing theories, and those are subject of change, adjustments or even exposed as non-sense.

    That "Creationism" museum is non-sense is a gross simplification - it really depends if they want to show 6000 years took it to create the world (universe + earth), or that there was a creator with intent and a goal, then it crosses over to cosmology and theology (not particular solely Christian theology) - and here comes another criticism of mine, due to expertism, and narrow thinking, issues are not longer discussed or even looked at in a broader perspective, interdisciplinary - but then again I see this kindergarden discussion about ridiculing the Creationism with "science" facts, which only are a set of facts denying counterprooving facts as mentioned. The point is, the Bible is a far more interesting book that what the Christian fundamentalists make one (with common sense and spiritual interest) may make believe: it is a summary of vast knowledge, and the multiple translation made it worse, yet coherent for the reader. To study the originals, the sumerian, the egyptian prayers which were all adapted in the old-testament, you realize there are three genesis embedded, and those come from three different sources. When you would take the time to study them individually and with an open mind, they might reveal a vast depth of cosmological understanding than you might think reading 2nd or 3rd re-translated and changed versions of Genesis stories. And when looking beyond the Judaic border of religious spiritual teaching, e.g. to Vedic/Hindu cosmology there things are even more complex and describe meta-universes with deities and large cosmic cycles, where creation and destruction is discussed in an epic manner. Of course, as long you approach such scriptures with the narrowness of science alone, you won't get far indeed.

    Life can't be explained with Science, only a very small portion can be. If you think Science is the way to tell about Life is all facets, then you are really dumb or believe we are all biological machines and life has no purpose and all is an accident some sort - anything else, purpose, meaning or other consideration are not backed up by science (not even modern psychology). And so on...

    Anyway, to keep myself short, be careful to replicate what you were told in school by darwinists, saying there were no human among dinosaurs, there is evidence.
  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:37PM (#16951828)
    There was a serious proposal to add it to the federal constitution too. Constitutions are normally used to keep governments in check and to GIVE rights to the people, not take them away.
  • by StoatBringer (552938) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:48PM (#16952058)
    Do you believe that there are mile-high monsters made of orange marmalade living on the moons of Jupiter?

    Unless you do, by your own reasoning you are a member of the religion which denies the existence of the Great Jovian Marmalade Monsters.

    Or do you have direct evidence to support your otherwise unsubstantiated belief that such beings do not exist?

    Do you see the problem here?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @03:06PM (#16955108)
    located in the heart of gods country, Santee California. you might recognize the from the high school shootings a few years back, or perhaps the town having an unusually high concentration of white supremacists. I'm sure those little details are just a coincidence and have nothing to do with this fine learning institution.

    http://www.icr.org/discover/index/discover_museum/ [icr.org]

    oh, and Pen & Teller featured this "museum" on an episode of bullshit, which I'd highly recommend.
  • by jafac (1449) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @03:32PM (#16955568) Homepage
    For some, yes - it's boredom, and the "meaning of life thing" - (packaged up in a neat little book that just about anyone can understand, for the same reason that a McDonald's Cheeseburger is packaged into a neat little box that just about anyone can enjoy).

    At least in America, anyway, I think that over the past 40-50 years or so, there's been a growing sense of loss of control of our country, our laws, and our governments. The Evangelical movement has arisen primarily as a tool, a corporate tool, to make money, and keep people distracted from the real problems that affect their lives and make them angsty. Don't worry about Sony installing rootkits on your computer, Jesus is Coming! Don't worry about Wal Mart tracking you with RFID tags, Jesus is coming! Don't worry about nightclubs scanning your driver's license, Jesus is Coming! Don't worry about the bank giving your purchasing information to the FBI, Jesus is coming!

    (then there's - Worry about the evil terrorists, Mohammad is coming!)

    The nature of this movement is evident when you look at the sheer ruthless industrial efficiency of the new suburban "mega church". A tax-free enterprise, with relatively low operating costs; all they need to do is tell sweet stories a couple hours, one day a week, 2000 or so believers at a time, and sit back and rake in the tithing. Occasionally sponsor a mission or a soup line. And all those angsty people learn is; don't associate with those heathen hippies and their commie ideas.

    This is coming from someone who DOES believe in a God, and Jesus.

    I used to go to my local suburban megachurch, after I relocated to a different part of the country. What they're teaching, is not the Christianity I was raised with. A whole new set of memes has taken hold. A set of memes that used to be relegated to lunatic fringe wingnuttery. For example: The official stance of the Catholic church, as long as I've been aware, was that Evolution was God's way of making Mankind on Earth - and if it took hundreds of millions of years - well, that's how long it took, and don't hold the scripture to perfect inerrancy, because some parts are allegorical. That shit's just out of style now.

    I don't really know what, if anything, can be done to stop this trend. Maybe after a few more scandals, people will stop realizing that their leaders are not God's Messengers. If nothing else, this has brought their leaders great power, and power always always corrupts. (and stealing God's power is "absolute power"). And from that corruption comes arrogance. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
  • I know of two fans (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Brad Eleven (165911) <brad.eleven@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @05:22PM (#16957338) Homepage Journal
    My father-in-law and his wife. In every other aspect of life, I admire the man, but his stubborn adherence to anything that comes out of Pat Robertson's mouth is very troubling. I don't care what he believes, as long as he doesn't waste our time trying to convince me of it--and stays away from my children with that nonsense.

    He's been talking about this "museum" for at least five years. He gets way too excited about it, like an Amway distributor inviting you to something that features his personal Amway hero.

    This weekend should be interesting; first time we'll have spoken at length since the mid-term elections.

    PS: Did y'all know that The Rapture Is Not In The Bible? I think I'll research this factoid thoroughly before we drive to Northeast Texas to celebrate Thanksgiving in an RV park.
  • by sasami (158671) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:04PM (#16960024)
    This is a fact that seems to escape most Americans, when it should be scaring them shitless! Why is there not much being made of the fact that 7 (or 8?) states amended their state constitutions to make same-sex marriage illegal? [snip] This legislation based on religion needs to be stopped! We are headed for a theocracy, and it frightens me.

    I think you need to clarify some definitions.

    During the last election, I read a bunch of comments on some CNN blog about "moral issues." Perhaps one out of three was a shocked or indignant complaint about "separation of church and state," typically along the lines of "get your morals/religion out of politics." Let's clarify these muddy notions, shall we?

    Every issue is a moral issue.

    If you think that it is unfair to deny marriage to same-sex couples, you have made a moral judgment of exactly the same category as those who oppose same-sex marriage. More generally: if you believe (as most of us do) that all people deserve equal treatment, regardless of race, gender, religion, etc., then you have taken a moral position. Further: if you believe that the US should intervene in other countries and cultures to defend these and other universal human rights, then you have taken a moral position.

    In fact, any time you use the word "should" or any of its synonyms -- such as, "the government should permit abortions" -- then you have taken a moral position.

    If you are offended that someone would guide their vote based on a moral position... then you have taken a moral position! Moral neutrality is a fashionable myth.

    Now we can properly define the "separation of church and state," which is that the state does not have legal authority over the church. And the church has no legal authority over the state -- that is the definition of theocracy. The establishment clause [humanismbyjoe.com], in its original meaning, prohibits government dealings with religious organizations.

    It does not mean that the government is supposed to make perfectly objective, neutral decisions that are completely severed from any religious viewpoint. This is impossible, because moral neutrality doesn't exist, remember? This was also the understanding of the founders; even Jefferson writes of "the moral principles on which the government is to be administered."

    In other words, the government carries out the moral position of the voters, within the limits of the constitution -- which, among other things, partly guards against the tyranny of the majority.

    By the way, this understanding is completely consistent with the Treaty of Tripoli, cited earlier. Remember that the other party in that treaty was a theocracy; the language should be interpreted in the context of assuring them that we are not a theocracy. This does not, in any way, diminish the role of the government as a moral agent. Jefferson, again, says: "Moral duties [are] as obligatory on nations as on individuals."

    --
    Dum de dum.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 23, 2006 @02:39AM (#16962088)
    Wrong. When people bring up the subject of God, they don't mean merely that there is a god. Instead, they mean that there is their God, who expects certain things from us. (Otherwise, why would they even bother explaining their belief to others?) At the point that they bring up any specific god (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Norse, whatever), there are thousands of ways to prove that that specific belief is a contradictory and stupid fairy tale.
  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Thursday November 23, 2006 @02:53AM (#16962144) Homepage Journal
    >> in the case of atheism, there is no religious incentive, these are humanitarian acts.

    >It's called serving your own pride.

    Welcome to the "Lincoln's Pigs" paradox. I'll give you the short version (the story is apocryphal, but the lesson is not). One day, future-President Lincoln was walking down the street around a small town. He walked past a farm, with a pig sty, and in the sty he spotted a small piglet that appeared to be drowning in the mud. Without heed to his expensive clothing, he climbed into the sty and pulled the piglet from the mud, saving it. On exiting the pen, someone exclaimed what a truly kind and generous person he was, to do such a selfless act. Quickly, he replied that his act was not selfless, but exactly the opposite: merely selfish. "Had I simply walked past and let the piglet drown, I wouldn't have gotten any sleep tonight, thinking about it. In order to make sure that I would, I had to save the pig. I did it purely for my own benefit."

    The onlookers thought about this for a few moments, until someone said "But, Mr. Lincoln, that doesn't make sense. If you were as selfish a person as you say you are, then why would you care about the piglet at all, enough to have lost sleep over it, if you had just kept on walking?"

    My point here, is that it doesn't really matter if the immediate motivation for a virtuous act is 'selfish,' such as alleviating one's own conscience, or stroking one's pride or ego. A truly selfish person wouldn't need to help others in order to have pride in themselves, or to sleep better at night -- they wouldn't care.

To be awake is to be alive. -- Henry David Thoreau, in "Walden"

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