Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/21/17

1. No, there is nothing “ironic” about Rep. Steve Scalise being shot. I finally lost my restraint and pointed out to a gaggle of left-wing Facebook friends that their writing that Scalise’s shooting was “ironic” because he opposes gun control, or because one of his rescuers was gay (because he opposes gay marriage) was as much a of a hateful comment as saying that it was “karma” (another popular sentiment from progressive friends) or that he “reaped what he sowed” (yet another). They protested loudly and angrily that this was an unfair rebuke on my part, that they were not cheering the crime, just observing that the shooting was “ironic” which, they insisted, it was.

Disingenuous and evasive.

The seriousness,  criminal, hateful and absolutely inexcusable nature of Scalise’s shooting had absolutely nothing to do with his political beliefs unless you agree with the shooter, who used those beliefs as his motive. Karma, “reaped what he sowed” and irony (which implies an amusing or humorous nature) all signal and are intended to signal the same sentiment in the Facebook echo chamber—“It’s a shame that he got shot, but in a way he asked for it.” Oh, how those who sought to signal their virtue and their dislike of Scalise just hated to be called on the ugly impulses behind their words, and how they wriggled and spun to deny it.

What made the shooting ironic? Why, Scalise opposes gay marriage, I was informed. That’s neither a logical nor a justified answer. Although gays find it satisfying and expedient to automatically attach the label of  homophobia to those who haven’t yet adapted to one of the fastest cultural paradigm shifts in U.S. history, there is no evidence that Rep. Scalise believes that LGBT individuals cannot or should not be medical or law enforcement professionals. Scalise’s position on gay marriage is irrelevant to his shooting, unless that position—the same position Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton held for a very long time—makes you think his shooting and the subsequent assistance of gay citizens is somehow deserved and funny. Similarly, the fact that Scalise was shot does not undermine the justification for his support of the Second Amendment, except in the closed minds of Second Amendment opponents. Nor does that make his shooting “ironic,” except to those whose gut reaction was “He was shot? Serves him right. Let’s see how he likes it.”

So many progressives have become so instinctively hateful and bitterly partisan that they are incapable of realizing it.

2. Are there any ethics takeaways from last night’s Republican victory in Georgia’s 6th District? Pundit Charles Glasser wrote that “Ossoff raised $23.6 million to make a symbolic run against President Trump, most of it from Marin County, California and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Running the numbers, Democrats might have been better off considering that same amount would have bought 855,072 school lunches (at $2.76 each); 236,000 elementary school textbooks (at $100 each) or even 956 Priuses (at $24,685 each). Max Weber said that the purpose of a bureaucracy is to maintain or expand its own power. Who cares about children, education or the environment when there’s power to be grabbed?”

As a rule I object to the “spending money on A is unethical because you could have spent it on B” line of reasoning, since it can be applied to almost any purchase. Nonetheless, that’s a lot of money to be used by outsiders to influence a local election, particularly when the donors also decry the effect of money in politics. And as with Hillary Clinton’s defeat, this result suggest that money isn’t nearly as decisive as those who want to constrain political speech think it is.

3. Here’s a flat-out awful headline in the Washington Post: “Ossoff chose civility and it didn’t work. How do Democrats beat Trump?”

One answer: Not behaving uncivilly, violently, hatefully, and thuggishly would be a good start. Yes, I think the Alexandria shooting probably did cost Ossoff votes. Good. Maybe that will make Democrats and the news media reconsider their “resistance” tactics.

4. The personal information of almost 200 million registered U.S. voters was accidentally exposed online due to an improperly configured security setting by the Republican data firm Deep Root Analytics and two other Republican contractors that assembled the database. The exposed information included names, birth dates, addresses, voter registration details and social media posts. This level of incompetence is unethical. If you can’t protect the Big Data you gather, then it is unethical to gather it. The firms should be sued and put out of business so other firms get that message, and if the message still isn’t receieved, then criminal penalties must be put in place. When ethics fails, the law steps in.

5. I know ridiculing  creationist huckster Ken Ham is like shooting fish in a barrel, but the creator of the Creation Museum and  Ark Encounter  has dedicated his fortune and his life to making people who lack critical thinking skills even dumber and less functional than they already are, and that’s not good, even if he fervently believes the nonsense he peddles. Of all the Bible stories to pick as a hill to die on, Noah and the Ark has to be one of the most hopeless. Science writer PZ Myers recently visited Ark Encounter  and provided a fascinating critique of the silly place.

But it was Ham’s promotion of a new children’s book that caught my eye. This one:

Dinosaurs are the proven scientific fact that renders the Ark story impossible, and the various explanations creationists and fundamentalists come up with to get around this inconvenient truth have always amused me.  I was once instructed (by a D.C. trade association executive with a Masters Degree) on the “fact” that dinosaurs never existed, and that God had placed all those fossils in the ground to test our faith. (I slooowly backed out the door…) Ham has an even more entertaining theory: he believes that Noah did have dinosaurs on the Ark. Now his website Answers in Genesis is promoting the newly released  book Noah: Man of Resolve, the second installment in “The Remnant Trilogy.”

As you can see, the book’s cover art shows Noah facing off with a T-Rex in what appears to be a Roman Colosseum.

If you are serious about making people  ignorant, gullible and stupid, you have to get them early.

149 Comments

Filed under Animals, Arts & Entertainment, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Literature, Religion and Philosophy, Science & Technology, The Internet

149 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/21/17

  1. valkygrrl

    5: Looking forward to Chuck Tingle’s take on the book. Pounded in the butt by all of God Creatures?

    In Robert Heinlein’s Job A Comedy of Justice, The Earth really was 6000 years old (while the universe was 13 billion) and the fossils really were put there to test faith basically because Earth’s god was a jerk, and eventually gets called to task by a higher up god for treating His creations so unfairly.

    The deaths of Egypt’s firstborn after hardening Pharaoh’s heart makes me personally believe the Yahweh was asshole theory, but not the young earth one.

    • valkygrrl

      Second posting after reading the PZ Myers article. A recent episode of Nova (Secrets of Noah’s Ark) had them build the coracle version from the older Gilgamesh translation, they got it to float but it’s never take rough waters.

    • I’ve heard the argument plenty of times before lamenting God’s killing of the first-born of Egypt over the abuse and enslavement of the Israelites.

      1) it’s a complete denial of the ramping up of consequences prior to the final plague that the Egyptians completely ignored. From minor discomforts through economic woes up to fully devastating the economy of Egypt. Before essentially engaging in war. Sounds reasonable to me.

      2) I wonder how many 1st born sons and 2nd born and 3rd born sons. Hell entire male halves of families we killed while devastating the South’s economy which freed the African American slaves? Do you bemoan that? No?

      Ok then.

      3) we make the mistake of presuming God is unjust when doling out punishment to what would be considered by the Bible an evil people. This is the wrong perspective as it presumes we aren’t an evil people and fear the Egyptians are just another set of ordinary guys. Nope. The real perspective takeaway is twofold-
      a) either we are (and everyone is) as evil as the Egyptians and we should then think “wait. He destroyed them? He must be incredibly patient and merciful with us then”
      b) the Egyptians must’ve been really really abjectly horrible if God’s patience and mercy ran out.

      • valkygrrl

        1: You’re denying that god hardened Pharaoh’s heart. There’s an agent and agency thing involved. Free will was removed and then people were punished for it. God’s the cop who breaks a taillight with his nightstick and then writes a ticket for a broken taillight.

        2: There’s a difference between the tragedy of what happens in and as a result of war and the deliberate targeting of non-combatants. God committed a war crime.

        3: The children were evil? Moreso than any child anywhere? At least in Jericho and later with Saul and the Amalekites, the slaughter was done by human agents who could have refused

        • There is no removal of agency. A hardening of the heart occurs many times we have what we think we are entitled to threatened and we double down on our sense of entitlement despite its abject rebellion against authority, and not only that but a rebellion in the form of an abject wrong. This is a human flaw.

          War crime. That’s cute. Keep ignoring how many chances the Egyptians were given to release the Israelites. They refused. 9 times they were given pretty blatant and obvious signs that things would get worse with each refusal. Each time they rebelled deeper and harder.

          Like I said. It’s a perspective issue relating not just the Egyptian’s moral standing, but the rest of mankind’s.

          • valkygrrl

            Exodus 7:1-5 KJV

            And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.

            Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

            Yes a war crime, it wasn’t a siege where some starved or subsumed to disease, it was a decimation, roman style. The Eqyption on the street didn’t control policy, it was in the hands of the monarch who had his agency taken away so Yahweh could stroke his own ego.

            • There are several burdens born by people making these situational arguments.

              1) People who simply don’t believe in God or just don’t believe in the God of bible taking an episode from the Bible and arguing against it as though it were a factual proof of some injustice trap themselves. If one takes an atheist stance or at a minimum a non-judeo Christian stance against this, the argument really ought be: “this either didn’t even happen, or it happened as a result of some fickle chance of nature and ancient man merely interpreted it thusly”.

              However, to actually go inside the Bible and argue this from a stance that the event actually occurred as an argument against the God that effected it is dishonest. If you want to pretend this event occurred then you have to pretend the whole narrative of the Bible. And if you, being honest, wish to do so, then you have to have a solid understanding of the whole story before you can take a crack at interpreting a single paragraph of the whole story.

              At least be honest and merely say “didn’t happen”. Otherwise, don’t make cherry picking arguments.

              2) War crime. Cute. This is a Bronze Age people we’re dealing with here. Understanding seriousness of a situation was a bit more…involved. Like I said, keep pretending like the Egyptians weren’t given 9 pretty solid and increasingly severe opportunities to release the enslaved Israelites.

              3) your quoted passage still doesn’t quite undermine the clear understanding that Egypt’s rebellious and stubborn pride were an issue here. And yeah, God did use that to glorify his own power. Sounds awful (until you bother understanding the whole story. But you don’t want to do that).

              Perspective matters. But you’ll continue to pretend like it doesn’t. By all means.

              Then again, you have to pretend like perspective doesn’t matter when you make cherry picked arguments.

              • valkygrrl

                Some being’s pride was at issue…

                1: It doesn’t actually matter if the events happened or not, history, fable or parable, the story is used to teach. There’s no trap.

                And according to the story no choice.

                2: And if the bronze age justifies mass slaughter then certainly the whole event that led to baby Moses in the rushes was just as justified?

                3: Egypt as in Pharaoh, the royal we. While the bulk of the punishment landed on the potters and the basket waves. With divine power, there’s no excuse for collateral damage, it can be avoided.

              • Chris

                Wow, tex. I had no idea you were such a fundamentalist.

                2) War crime. Cute. This is a Bronze Age people we’re dealing with here. Understanding seriousness of a situation was a bit more…involved. Like I said, keep pretending like the Egyptians weren’t given 9 pretty solid and increasingly severe opportunities to release the enslaved Israelites.

                Where are you getting the idea that slaughtering children isn’t a war crime as long as you give nine warnings first? Where in the Geneva conventions does it say that?

                I’m pretty certain the entire point of constituting something as a war crime is that it’s always wrong, no matter what?

                As to “This is a Bronze age people we’re dealing with…” Well, no. It’s God we’re dealing with. God is supposed to be perfectly moral, and here you are applying moral relativism to him in order to defend his actions in what is pretty clearly a myth.

                Why are you doing this?

                • “I had no idea you were such a fundamentalist.”

                  And you still have no idea about my religious beliefs, so don’t play this juvenile game.

                  • Chris

                    Sorry; is “apologist” a better term? You certainly seem to be taking an apologetic position.

                    As I understand it, valkygrrl’s argument is “Killing children is wrong, and if the Old Testament God is real and really did that, then he’s a dick.” Your argument is “No he isn’t, the Egyptians brought it on themselves and left God no choice but to kill their children.”

                    I’ve never heard anyone but devout Christians make such an argument, which is what led me to speculate about your beliefs.

                    But I could have misunderstood your arguments.

                    • I’ve never heard anyone make either argument, but Tex is right that this is war ethics, which means essentially no ethics. Moses/God was fighting Egypt for the freedom of the whole race. It’s no different from dropping the atom bomb, indeed better: “I’ll kill your first born” is a lot more restrained than “I’ll wipe out Cairo.” The US killed many German children while waging war on the Germans, and knew they were doing so. The Germans could have saved their civilians by surrendering. How is this different?

                    • Chris

                      I’ve never heard anyone make either argument, but Tex is right that this is war ethics, which means essentially no ethics. Moses/God was fighting Egypt for the freedom of the whole race. It’s no different from dropping the atom bomb, indeed better: “I’ll kill your first born” is a lot more restrained than “I’ll wipe out Cairo.” The US killed many German children while waging war on the Germans, and knew they were doing so. The Germans could have saved their civilians by surrendering. How is this different?

                      Well, for one thing, he’s God; a being with the ability to part the red sea could have easily found a better way to free the slaves. If he has the power to immediately kill, why not kill the adult men responsible for the enslavement in the first place? (The answer is “That’s how the myth goes;” but within the context of the myth, we can say the character God’s actions are clearly immoral.)

                      I’ve no problem saying that the U.S. committed war crimes during WWII. And since when do you believe “war ethics” means “no ethics?” You oppose torture during times of war.

                    • 1. That’s why I said “essentially” no ethics.

                      2. “Well, for one thing, he’s God; a being with the ability to part the red sea could have easily found a better way to free the slaves.” He’s God…you can’t second guess him.

                      3. “If he has the power to immediately kill, why not kill the adult men responsible for the enslavement in the first place?” That’s easy: what he did hurt more.

                    • valkygrrl

                      Jack, Egypt’s firstborn were not collateral damage. The deliberate targeting of civilians is a war crime.

                      This is after Yahweh chose to harden Pharaoh’s heart so it isn’t as if he even had the option of surrendering. His free will was taken away.

                      It is like dropping an atom bomb… When you already have a sniper on a nearby roof looking through an open window into the throne room.

                    • There was no such thing as a war crime. This was an era when raping the women and killing the male children was SOP in warfare. You can’t cross time and culture by declaring that today’s laws and rules applied thousands of years ago.

                      Besides, if God does it, it’s automatically right.

                    • valkygrrl

                      Besides, if God does it, it’s automatically right.

                      14. Self-validating Virtue

                      A corollary of the Saint’s Excuse is “Self-validating Virtue,” in which the act is judged by the perceived goodness the person doing it, rather than the other way around. This is applied by the doer, who reasons, “I am a good and ethical person. I have decided to do this; therefore this must be an ethical thing to do, since I would never do anything unethical.”

                    • valkygrrl

                      3. “If he has the power to immediately kill, why not kill the adult men responsible for the enslavement in the first place?” That’s easy: what he did hurt more.

                      So deliberate cruelty in excess of what might be needed to achieve the goal.

                      And that’s ethical because?

                    • 1. Because war is hell, and the faster you end it, the better it is for all concerned. This was Sherman’s theory. Sherman was a very compassionate man, but he thought it was idiotic to extend war by half-measures. He was right.

                      2. Because the cultural ethics involving war and non-combatants were completely different then, and we can’t apply 21st century values to 1446 BC.

                    • valkygrrl

                      1. Because war is hell, and the faster you end it, the better it is for all concerned. This was Sherman’s theory. Sherman was a very compassionate man, but he thought it was idiotic to extend war by half-measures. He was right.

                      Who hardened Pharaoh’s heart? Who extended the conflict for His own ego?

                      (hint https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+7%3A1-5&version=KJV )

                    • Chris

                      1. Because war is hell, and the faster you end it, the better it is for all concerned. This was Sherman’s theory. Sherman was a very compassionate man, but he thought it was idiotic to extend war by half-measures. He was right.

                      Again, this argument does not work when talking about an all-powerful being. God could have ended the war with less violence, or no violence at all. He’s God.

                      2. Because the cultural ethics involving war and non-combatants were completely different then, and we can’t apply 21st century values to 1446 BC.

                      Again, we’re not applying our ethics to a culture, we’re applying them to what is allegedly an all-perfect God. If cultural relativism applies to God, that would seem to undercut many of the claims about him made by Christians. Besides, “don’t kill children unless you have no choice” is a pretty timeless ethical virtue, and as already established, God did not have to.

                      Of course, this is just a myth, created by a culture that did not share many of our current ethical values. But tex’s argument was that within that myth, God’s actions were ethical. They were not. And you can’t just argue that they were ethical because he’s God, as valky already pointed out.

                    • Zanshin

                      Another way at looking it.based on karma and reincarnation

                      a. Firstborns have not build as much negative karma as the adults involved in this mess.
                      b. If you kill the adults, they are, so to speak, at the top of their negative karma, with no time left to redeem themselves
                      Therefore, by killing the firstborns the total suffering is lowest ==> the most ethical.

                  • Free will was removed and then people were punished for it. God’s the cop who breaks a taillight with his nightstick and then writes a ticket for a broken taillight.

                    This is representative of many assertions made on this topic. I can only point to our limited understanding of God, the Universe, and ourselves.

                    God himself answers this in Job 38, saying in part:
                    “Were you there when I made the world?
                    If you know so much, tell me about it.
                    Who decided how large it would be?
                    Who stretched the measuring line over it?…”

                    In Romans chapter 9 Paul talks about this, quoting God from Exodus to say the He will determine who gets mercy and who does not, as he is sovereign. He states that He knows more and better than mankind, period.

                    The faith part is: do you believe Him? Salvation itself is based on belief: that God himself lived and died as a man to redeem those who would believe he did so, and as a consequence change their lives accordingly.

                    • Chris

                      This seems to be saying that we have no choice but to hold God to a lower ethical standard than we hold human beings too.

            • Some context is necessary here. If you read through the story Pharaoh only lets them take portions of their people/things. The hardening of the heart is necessary to make sure all will go (and the Israelites don’t take the crappy deal because they are a fickle people). However, by chapter 8, it is the Pharaoh hardening his own heart.

              Some scholars who prescribe to retribution theology believe the 10 plague is a result of Pharaoh’s act of killing the children under 2.

              • It’s all a context argument.

                A disgruntled Bible hater refusing the context of the whole story to focus on a micro-episode.

                All it will lead to are two sides talking past each other.

                It doesn’t even require “retribution” theology to understand. Though there are aspects of the covenant with Abraham involved here.

                • I agree it is all a context argument. Sort of how non-Christians will use the judge not passage against Christians.

                  “All it will lead to are two sides talking past each other. ”

                  It took me a while to figure out what your meaning was here.When I wrote my comment, your other comment wasn’t there valkyrl wasn’t there. I think the same could be said about any disagreement if there are not any grounded assumptions (is this why debates rarely change minds?).

                  “It doesn’t even require retribution theology to understand.”
                  I wasn’t even arguing it does. I was just pointing out that scholars have shown a connection to Pharaoh killing the babies and in turn, the Egyptians losing their first borns. I’m not convinced that is the argument made.

                  “Though there are aspects of the covenant with Abraham involved here.”
                  Are you arguing that God’s promise to Abraham is retribution theology or is this a general statement? Ultimately, the purpose of the plagues and the exodus is to get the Israelites back on track to fulfill the promise of Abraham.

                  Per the article above, I think it is actually more about creationism. If you’re interested there is a scholar who argues that the events of the Bible (from creation to Jesus) is God creating, recreating and de-creating.

                  If you’re interested look at the works of Terence Fretheim. I quoted him quite a bit when I wrote my Thesis on Solomon and his building projects.

        • Rich in CT

          In order to credibly accuse Yahwey of a “war crime”, one must prove his actions are unethical from his perspective at the time he made those actions. To accuse him of murder, one must understand death from his perspective. To understand death, one must understand life.

          Every firstborn he killed, was born because God allowed him to be born. Every child that is born will die. Is it it unjust that we die? Or are we blessed to live?

          God experiences all moments at all times. God is immortal. God is eternal. The moment we are born, and the moment that we die, are the same to God. Does God commit murder by killing a child, in the same eternal moment that an eighty year-end dies of natural causes?

          Finally, for God to have committed a “war crime”, he must have acted with actual malice towards the victim, or at least negligently allowed malice to ocurr.

          Do we know the date of the slaughtered firstborn? No! But much of this discussion presumes an unfavorable outcome from their perspective. That is not necessarily the case.

          God’s actions here were meant to convert the Egyptian people. They are described as a wicked race.

          When God created man, he created them with the intention that we join him in his eternal moment. The first men were chose to eat of the apple, to disobey and challenge God. They chose to leave that eternal moment. God gave us instead up to 120 years to change our minds and rejoin him. Should we chose not to, our fate is death.

          With a wicked race such as the Egyptians, God wanted to drive this point home. Continuing in their wicked ways would only destroy themselves. People may not care of their fate, but their children’going?

          What happened to those children. It is not certain. However, God may have chosen to take them into his eternal moment. Should the Egyptian nation have repented, they would rejoin the children they lost. (Incidently, the ancient Egyptian nation of the Bible may very well have repented; they survive today as the Coptic Christians of the middle east. The Old Testament documents the Hebrew nation, but they are not the only nation.)

          One final objection that may be raised: the hardening of Pharoa ‘going heart. God sees all the choices one voluntarily makes at once. He saw that Eve would eat the apple, but created her anyways so that her children might have a chance. God saw Pharoah’s choices, and hastened them, so that his people might have a chance.

          God wanted more than to let Moses’s people go.

          • Rich in CT

            *fate of the slaughtered first born. Ugg

          • Chris

            So much Authentic Frontier Gibberish here…

            In order to credibly accuse Yahwey of a “war crime”, one must prove his actions are unethical from his perspective at the time he made those actions.

            This makes absolutely no sense. One doubts that Adolf Hitler viewed his actions as unethical from his perspective at the time he made them; where on earth are you getting the idea that in order to constitute a war crime, the accused must know that what they did is wrong?

            Every firstborn he killed, was born because God allowed him to be born.

            I was born because my mother allowed me to be born. Ergo, according to your logic, it is her right to kill me, at any time, for any reason, long after I am born.

            I am sure you do not agree with the above argument; neither do I. Please explain how it differs from your own.

            Does God commit murder by killing a child, in the same eternal moment that an eighty year-end dies of natural causes?

            If he directly kills that child? Yes. Of course. How is this a question?

            Finally, for God to have committed a “war crime”, he must have acted with actual malice towards the victim, or at least negligently allowed malice to ocurr.

            I’d really like to know what definition of war crime you are consulting in order to come to these conclusions. Does it state this in the Geneva conventions? If not, what is your source for what constitutes a war crime? Are you just making this up as you go along?

            Do we know the date of the slaughtered firstborn? No! But much of this discussion presumes an unfavorable outcome from their perspective. That is not necessarily the case.

            I assume you meant “fate” here, and you seem to be implying that killing them doesn’t matter because they will probably go to Heaven. So that must mean that, according to your logic, if a mass murderer shoots up a church, it doesn’t really matter either.

            God’s actions here were meant to convert the Egyptian people. They are described as a wicked race.

            Ah, good old fashioned racism! Yes, that makes his actions much better. (Collective punishment is also a war crime.)

            What happened to those children. It is not certain. However, God may have chosen to take them into his eternal moment. Should the Egyptian nation have repented, they would rejoin the children they lost. (Incidently, the ancient Egyptian nation of the Bible may very well have repented; they survive today as the Coptic Christians of the middle east. The Old Testament documents the Hebrew nation, but they are not the only nation.)

            See “The Ends Justify the Means.” There is not a single argument you have presented here that is not a rationalization.

            One final objection that may be raised: the hardening of Pharoa ‘going heart. God sees all the choices one voluntarily makes at once. He saw that Eve would eat the apple, but created her anyways so that her children might have a chance. God saw Pharoah’s choices, and hastened them, so that his people might have a chance.

            “We totally have free will, except that sometimes God makes us do things before we would naturally do them” is certainly one of the more creative pieces of pretzel logic I’ve seen fundamentalists use to justify their irrational beliefs, I’ll give you that much, Rich.

            • Rich in CT

              So much Authentic Frontier Gibberish here…

              >> This makes absolutely no sense. One doubts that Adolf Hitler viewed his actions as unethical from his perspective at the time he made them; where on earth are you getting the idea that in order to constitute a war crime, the accused must know that what they did is wrong?

              Hitler is not God.

              >> I was born because my mother allowed me to be born….

              Your mother is not God.

              >> I am sure you do not agree with the above argument; neither do I. Please explain how it differs from your own.

              Your are arguing human ethics. God is not human. Every human exists because of God (because we are talking about the Bible). Humans require God’s positive effort. What obligation did God have to create humans? What obligation does God have to sustain Humans?

              >> >>Does God commit murder by killing a child, in the same eternal moment that an eighty year-end dies of natural causes?

              >> If he directly kills that child? Yes. Of course. How is this a question?

              In the Bible, and remember, we are talking about the biblical God, death is not created by God, but human sin (Genesis). If you do not interpret Exodus in light of Gensis, then we get nowhere.

              Life on earth is temporary, ended by death, which is a product of sin. If God removes someone from the physical earth, they either choose to go to Heaven or Hell. God never takes this free choice away, because God is just.

              >> I’d really like to know what definition of war crime you are consulting in order to come to these conclusions.

              A crime, by definition, requires mens rea and you know this. If God is not acting with bad will, and not using unethical means given his station (master of all life), then he is not committing a crime.

              >> I assume you meant “fate” here, and you seem to be implying that killing them doesn’t matter because they will probably go to Heaven.

              God does not interfere with free will. He also has omnipotent means to ensure that.

              >> So that must mean that, according to your logic, if a mass murderer shoots up a church, it doesn’t really matter either.

              A mass murder is not God.

              >> >>God’s actions here were meant to convert the Egyptian people. They are described as a wicked race.

              >> Ah, good old fashioned racism! Yes, that makes his actions much better. (Collective punishment is also a war crime.)

              God is omnipotent, and knows whether they are wicked or not.

              >> See “The Ends Justify the Means.” There is not a single argument you have presented here that is not a rationalization.

              This would fall into ethics incompleteness territory. If you have knowledge that will potentially prevent eternal suffering, do you with hold that knowledge?

              >> >>One final objection that may be raised:

              >> “We totally have free will, except that sometimes God makes us do things before we would naturally do them”

              Again, God is omnipotent and omniscient. Fundamentally different perspective.

              >> is certainly one of the more creative pieces of pretzel logic I’ve seen fundamentalists use to justify their irrational beliefs, I’ll give you that much, Rich.

              I am not a fundamentalist. I resent the assumption. Like Tex, I can discuss views that are not necessarily my own. I presented relevant arguments civilly, and you made this personal, jackass.

              • Chris

                What you’re saying in most of these responses is that none of the arguments you made in your first comment actually apply; your real argument is “God did it, so it’s OK.” Why didn’t you just say that in the first place?

                Your are arguing human ethics. God is not human

                I am arguing human ethics because that is all we have. If God lives by principles that do not consider the murder of children for the sins of their parents unethical, then on what basis can one say that God is ethically superior to humans? “Because he’s God” is not an answer, and makes you look stupid.

                Humans require God’s positive effort. What obligation did God have to create humans? What obligation does God have to sustain Humans?

                A parent does not have any obligation to create a child, but once that child is born, they do have an obligation to sustain them; I’d say an all-powerful being, upon creating someone, has even more of an obligation to sustain that creature. And of course, a parent cannot kill a child once they are born.

                Life on earth is temporary, ended by death, which is a product of sin. If God removes someone from the physical earth, they either choose to go to Heaven or Hell. God never takes this free choice away, because God is just.

                Oh, really? People get to choose between Heaven and Hell? Sweet! I choose Heaven.

                Oh, there’s a catch? You mean in order to go to Heaven and not burn in Hell I have to follow a particular religion, and if I make the choice to belong to any other religion, or no religion at all, I will be tortured forever?

                Why should I believe that, when it is a) a threat and b) backed up by literally no empirical evidence?

                That is not a a “free choice,” because it is not an informed one. If what you say about God is true, he deliberately withholds information about his existence and about which religion is true, then condemns people to eternal torment for not knowing whether he exists or that Christianity is true. And you call that “just?” That is psychotic. And if a human being did it, you would call it psychotic.

                But you hold God to a lower ethical standard than you do human beings. No, not just “different.” Lower.

                Love that comes with threats is not real love. It is abuse.

                A crime, by definition, requires mens rea and you know this.

                Dude, you don’t know what mens rea is. It does not mean you know what you are doing is wrong. It means you intend to commit the act in question. God slaughtering the Egyptian children would lack mens rea if he did not commit the act on purpose. But clearly, he did. Ergo, he committed a crime.

                This would fall into ethics incompleteness territory. If you have knowledge that will potentially prevent eternal suffering, do you with hold that knowledge?

                Irrelevant. In your belief system, God is the cause of the eternal suffering; he could change the (completely arbitrary and unjust) rules that cause non-believers to go to Hell any time he wanted to. He chooses not to. That is cruelty.

                Again, God is omnipotent and omniscient. Fundamentally different perspective.

                This is no way explains your incoherent view that God does not interfere with free will, but that he made the Pharoa take an action before he would have naturally done so. It is a dodge; a cop out.

                I am not a fundamentalist. I resent the assumption.

                You resent that you made absurd fundamentalist arguments, and then were thus fairly identified as a fundamentalist? Too bad.

                Like Tex, I can discuss views that are not necessarily my own.

                Cut the shit. Do you believe the arguments you made, or don’t you? Please tell me now; I do not like to argue with people who don’t believe the arguments they are making. It is a waste of time.

                I presented relevant arguments civilly, and you made this personal, jackass.

                You presented stupid arguments incoherently, and were called out for it. If you don’t like it, make better arguments.

                • Rich in CT

                  I believe my argument about what the author of Exodus is saying is correct. I resent that you assume these are my personal beliefs, and I think you are a jackass for how you reacted based on the assumption that these were my beliefs. I will argue the merits of my interpretation, and accept civil criticism. You seem more interested in making this personal, doubling down on assholish behavior, so I am personally done with you. Fuck off.

                  • Rich in CT

                    Please delete this comment made in anger. My apologies. I will try again with the civility I am calling for.

                    • Rich in CT

                      I would like to apologise to Chris directly. I may be reading your tone too harshly. I appreciate that you are engaging my argument. I am having a stressful week at work, and wrote the above yesterday to blow off steam. I had a few ideas that i thought were relevant to the previous discussion. I did not carefully craft my expression of these thought. I ended up writing in an angle that I was writing as the author of Exodus, although I made no explicit mention of such, so I can see why you thought I was expressing something more personal. I took it hard, because I had no vested interest in my argument, as it was under development. I reflect extensively on my beliefs, and took it personally I that something so half thought out was described as a “fundamental” belief. I would be happy to continue discussing, if it is understood that I am workshopping literary interpretations, not arguing dogmatic positions. My apologies once again.

                    • CT

                      Point of clarity, I wrote the Exodus argument to blow off steam. I wrote the FU comment this morning. I am apologizing for that, and taking the hostile interpretation of Chris’s reply that motivated it.

                    • Chris

                      Rich,

                      Your apology is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

                      I am often a bit more aggressive in my argumentation than I should be, and can come across as a judgmental know-it-all. I don’t blame you for snapping at me.

                      Thanks for clarifying that your arguments were being made “in character.” In the future I will try to respond to the arguments without personal interjections.

                      I still think they were bad arguments, but I would be curious to see your responses to them. I’d also be curious to know how much you agree with or disagree with the arguments you’re presenting, and why; for me, some clarity on how much distance you’re putting between your own beliefs and the arguments you’re presenting would help make your intent clearer.

                      Hope the rest of your work week goes better.

                    • Rich in CT

                      Hi Chris,

                      Thank you for being gracious. I have to admit, going back and rereading, this was a first draft that I really cannot defend. It was a stream of consciousness, written in a voice that presumed the argument’s true. I muddled several legal definitions and theological terms. It turned out weakly written, but written with such confidence that it begged to be knocked down a peg. My central argument is a that the author’s viewed God as having perfect knowledge, and thus can act with perfect justice. I would basically have to start over to defend it. You are not the first person to respond negatively to weakly written “first drafts” of controversial ideas, so that is certainly something I will be mindful of going forward.

        • Isaac

          Valkygirrl, you really have not put nearly the requisite amount of thought into this topic. It’s like listening to a teenager trying to explain to adults that 9/11 was totally an inside job because fire can’t melt steel. I don’t mean that in a rude way at all; that is the real equivalent of what you’re saying.

          I can’t possibly write anything that will take the place of the thinking you would have to do to really be ready to discuss determinism vs. free will, but here’s a primer:

          -Since a hypothetical God would have created everyone, knows everything, is outside of the timeline and not bound by it, AND can, if he so chooses, interfere in human events as much as he wants, then would you say that He is responsible for every single thing, good or bad, that happens? Including human choices? After all, nothing is outside His control.

          -Assuming the preceding is true (and Judaism and Christianity both do assume that) are humans also responsible for their wrong choices, or are they free of responsibility because God made them the way they are and didn’t stop them from being bad?

          -If God created Pharaoh, knowing from the beginning exactly what Pharaoh’s entire history would be, and created him as a person who was absolutely going to enslave the Israelites and harden his heart against them…and God allowed himself to create that person, then who hardened Pharaoh’s heart? God, or Pharaoh, or both?

          -How would you prefer that a sovereign God communicate such concepts as determinism and free will to the whole of humanity? If God just wanted Moses to know what was about to happen, would it be acceptable to you for Him just to say, “Look, I’m going to harden Pharaoh’s heart because I’m going to show my wrath. Get ready.” Or does he need to make diagrams out of drinking straws and talk philosophy with Moses for six hours, so that 3500 years later some internet commenter doesn’t assume He’s a big meanie for forcing Pharaoh to harden his heart and then punishing him for it?

          -If God created all of humanity to be mortal, and everyone will die, then who does God kill? A) no one B) everyone, or C) only non-combatants who God or his agents smite on a battlefield. (Hint: C is the dumbest answer.)

          -Is killing wrong because A. Death is horrible and most people never die, or B. No one but God has the right to determine when someone else dies, or C. killing isn’t wrong at all because we’re all just evolved mammals and mammals don’t hesitate to kill?

          Just something to get you started.

          • valkygrrl

            Since a hypothetical God would have created everyone, knows everything, is outside of the timeline and not bound by it, AND can, if he so chooses, interfere in human events as much as he wants, then would you say that He is responsible for every single thing, good or bad, that happens? Including human choices? After all, nothing is outside His control.

            Doesn’t matter, I have to operate under the assumption that humans make choices because if that’s not true then nothing changes, but if it is true then I’m responsible for my choices. I can’t justify abrogating that responsibility on a what-if.

            Assuming the preceding is true (and Judaism and Christianity both do assume that) are humans also responsible for their wrong choices, or are they free of responsibility because God made them the way they are and didn’t stop them from being bad?

            We must assume humans are responsible for actions under their control.

            If God created Pharaoh, knowing from the beginning exactly what Pharaoh’s entire history would be, and created him as a person who was absolutely going to enslave the Israelites and harden his heart against them…and God allowed himself to create that person, then who hardened Pharaoh’s heart? God, or Pharaoh, or both?

            If we take Yahweh at His word, He hardened Pharaoh’s heart. It doesn’t matter how Pharaoh might have behaved otherwise. If someone jumps off a building and you shoot them through the heart on the way down, you’re still a murderer.

            How would you prefer that a sovereign God communicate such concepts as determinism and free will to the whole of humanity?

            Skywriting that stays in place but chnages in response to misunderstanding? Booming voice from the aether that causes everyone to hear the same thing. Carve it into the face of the moon. Interactive hologram.

            If God just wanted Moses to know what was about to happen, would it be acceptable to you for Him just to say, “Look, I’m going to harden Pharaoh’s heart because I’m going to show my wrath. Get ready.” Or does he need to make diagrams out of drinking straws and talk philosophy with Moses for six hours, so that 3500 years later some internet commenter doesn’t assume He’s a big meanie for forcing Pharaoh to harden his heart and then punishing him for it?

            Pharaoh’s a jerk, there’s no way this is going to work but go through the motions anyway, no one will be able to say we didn’t try.

            But that’s not what He said. He said I will harden Pharaoh’s heart so I can put on a show and stroke my own ego. Yahwah’s insecure, they should have never written Asherah out of the story, dude needs to get laid.

            If God created all of humanity to be mortal, and everyone will die, then who does God kill? A) no one B) everyone, or C) only non-combatants who God or his agents smite on a battlefield. (Hint: C is the dumbest answer.)

            Those against whom He takes direct action or those He directs non-earthly agents against. When the answer is magic, blame the magician.

            Is killing wrong because A. Death is horrible and most people never die, or B. No one but God has the right to determine when someone else dies, or C. killing isn’t wrong at all because we’re all just evolved mammals and mammals don’t hesitate to kill?

            I do not accept that those three are the only possible answers to your question.

            • Chris

              Hell, I don’t even believe Isaac thinks those are the only three possible answers, unless he genuinely can’t conceive of why an atheist would think murder is wrong.

          • I would make this a Comment of the Day, but it would short out the blog. Maybe that’s what God wants, though…

  2. Jack,

    “Dinosaurs are the proven scientific fact that renders the Ark story impossible …”

    Miracles make the impossible possible. Noah’s Ark was a miracle. Ergo, no it doesn’t.

    • Miracles are not long, complex events. Walking on water is one thing—stuffing a finite sized boat will all existing species, stopping them from fighting, stomping on and eating each other, feeding them and dealing with tons of poop, etc. is not one miracle, but about 6 million. So is a humans and dinosaurs co-existing when they were separated by millions of years. Walking on water? Fine. Raising the dead? OK. Those are miracles. The Ark story isn’t claimed as a miracle even by its adherents.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Miracles are Elijah providing a bottomless jar of flour and oil and bringing the widow’s son back, or Constantine seeing a fiery cross and winning a battle, or the sun dancing at Fatima. The Ark story is impossible to accept even as a legend with a basis in fact.

        • Depends how small your God is, don’t it?

          God said it, I believe it, that settles it.

          • Chris

            How do you know God said it?

            • tongue-in-cheek alert.

            • God said it, I believe it, that settles it.

              That comment is an old fundamentalist Christian church ‘meme,’ if you will. It describes how much of what we believe is based on faith, as in ‘things we cannot experience with our senses, but believe to be true nonetheless.’

              Chris, everyone has faith. Not the religious kind, necessarily, but the ability to believe something without physical evidence. For instance, you have faith that other galaxies exist, even though you have never been there. (pictures can be misleading, or misinterpreted, or outright faked.) You believe that socialism will bring about a better society, regardless of the track record of every attempt that has ever been made. That is faith, and an almost religious one at that. Not a criticism, just stating my observation.

              Before 1900, scientists had faith that the atom was the smallest unit of matter. They did not KNOW, just believed it based on the evidence they had, even when there were anomalies with what they knew they could not explain. Were they wrong? Yes. But they had faith. Now we ‘know’ that even smaller particles exist than electrons. Can we prove it? No. This is a type of faith.

              We have faith, as human beings, in the reality of love, hate, and the relative value of both. Our society has faith that justice should be available to all, a position not taken by most societies of the past and many nations even today. Those on this blog (well, most of us) have faith that ethics should be debated and applied to our daily lives, as a construct that facilitates civil society. We have faith that flipping a wall switch will result in light, even during a power outage. (I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing the designated hitter, but that is another type of faith 🙂 )

              Now, on to your second question:

              How do you know God said it?

              Why, because he told me so.

              • Chris

                slick, every example of faith you bring up is based, in part, on empirical, observed facts. (Except the socialism one; I am not a socialist.) Your belief that the Bible is the literal word of God is not based on empirical, observed facts.

                I am not criticizing your faith, but I am saying that you’re drawing a false equivalence between faith and logic.

                • I am not criticizing your faith, but I am saying that you’re drawing a false equivalence between faith and logic.

                  Incorrect, Chris. You are assuming facts not in evidence, because you have not lived my life nor had my experiences. But I am getting ahead of myself.

                  By the numbers, then:

                  slick, every example of faith you bring up is based, in part, on empirical, observed facts.

                  The galaxy one is based on observation then hypothesis. You see something through a telescope then interpret it as a galaxy (I am not saying you are wrong, but showing the faith component) If you proceed from that hypothesis, you look for corroborating evidence, which is interpreted with the hypothesis in mind. But you still only have a working hypothesis that could be proven wrong based on new facts. You have faith in your hypothesis. How about this: eggs were deemed bad for you, as they contain cholesterol, therefore they must increase it in your blood, and cause heart problems. The science was ‘settled.’ This hypothesis was treated as fact for decades when it was actually an article of faith: that the science was correct. Today we ‘know’ that eggs are among the most healthy foods you can eat, and the cholesterol does not translate to blood cholesterol. Was the former opinion fact? No, even though they relied on ’empirical, observed facts.’ It still took a measure of faith to act on the mistaken hypothesis.

                  The love and hate example can be disputed if you believe that there is no God: the humanist point of view would hold that, while necessary for traditional societies, this value system conceivably could be negated given the right set of circumstances, as there is no empirical truth. Love and hate might then become of equal value in that society, or even reversed. We take it on faith that our value judgement is a universal truism, thus exercising faith.

                  Except the socialism one; I am not a socialist

                  I could go into this more than I will, but given the influence of socialism on progressive narrative and goals, and your defense of them, I tend to disbelieve you. You have a right to state so, so well enough. Take it, therefore, as a statement true of socialists that certainly exist in this country. What ’empirical, observed facts’ is their faith based on?

                  Your belief that the Bible is the literal word of God is not based on empirical, observed facts.

                  Sure it is. The Bible is full of observable facts. It describes the nature of humans, and I can observe if the description holds true. It tells stories from centuries ago that have been confirmed during archaeological digs. It describes the condition of my heart, and my nature without God. It talks about how and why people act as they do, giving specific situations that are common to the human experience. I have observed the changes in people’s lives (in MY life) that those words can bring. God is real, and my faith is also logical, based on my experience.

                  • Chris

                    Incorrect, Chris. You are assuming facts not in evidence, because you have not lived my life nor had my experiences. But I am getting ahead of myself.

                    I haven’t made any sort of comment on your life and experience, I’ve only addressed your argument.

                    The galaxy one is based on observation then hypothesis. You see something through a telescope then interpret it as a galaxy (I am not saying you are wrong, but showing the faith component) If you proceed from that hypothesis, you look for corroborating evidence, which is interpreted with the hypothesis in mind. But you still only have a working hypothesis that could be proven wrong based on new facts. You have faith in your hypothesis. How about this: eggs were deemed bad for you, as they contain cholesterol, therefore they must increase it in your blood, and cause heart problems. The science was ‘settled.’ This hypothesis was treated as fact for decades when it was actually an article of faith: that the science was correct. Today we ‘know’ that eggs are among the most healthy foods you can eat, and the cholesterol does not translate to blood cholesterol. Was the former opinion fact? No, even though they relied on ’empirical, observed facts.’ It still took a measure of faith to act on the mistaken hypothesis.

                    No, that’s not what faith is. And of course, the existence of God–specifically the Christian God–is not a testable hypothesis, unlike any of the examples you provided above.

                    Sure it is. The Bible is full of observable facts. It describes the nature of humans, and I can observe if the description holds true.

                    Uh…OK. So does Shakespeare. This does not in any way tell us that the Bible was dictated by God; there is not a single confirmable statement about human nature in that book that could not be made by mere humans.

                    It tells stories from centuries ago that have been confirmed during archaeological digs.

                    Such as?

                    It describes the condition of my heart, and my nature without God. It talks about how and why people act as they do, giving specific situations that are common to the human experience. I have observed the changes in people’s lives (in MY life) that those words can bring. God is real, and my faith is also logical, based on my experience.

                    Again, all of this can be done by men; none of it requires a literal God.

                    So only one of your points–the sentence about archaeological digs–alludes to an objective fact that could be confirmed by the Bible and points to the existence of a literal God-as-author. And you haven’t even supported that one.

                    • Chris, I have laid it out for you, and you refuse to hear me. Instead, you choose to play word games. So be it.

                      You dismiss facts you don’t like (as all progressives must) then say I haven’t any. If you will not take what I have written, then there is little else to talk about. Feel smug and superior if you wish. I pray one day you do understand.

                      Until then, we remain to each other the loyal opposition politically.

                    • Chris

                      I don’t agree that I’m playing word games or that I ignored any facts, but I’ll leave it here if you’d like. I look forward to sparring with you on a less personal and more fact-based topic soon.

              • valkygrrl

                That comment is an old fundamentalist Christian church ‘meme,’ if you will. It describes how much of what we believe is based on faith, as in ‘things we cannot experience with our senses, but believe to be true nonetheless.’

                Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. –Hebrews 11:1 KJV

          • Steve-O-in-NJ

            Wha? Are you a strict textualist? I’m a pretty ardent defender of faith and the right to believe, but even I don’t believe like that. I can buy God speaking through the mouth of animals (though it seems like a silly choice) or through a miraculous vision like the burning bush. I have a very hard time with the really early stories. Do you really think the early patriarchs lived 900+ years, and why did those long lifespans stop after the flood? Was the Garden of Eden just a fertile place which would have appeared dramatically different to nomads, or was there literally a perfect garden somewhere?

            • Were you speaking with me, Steve? I can answer, but not sure who you were asking.

              • Steve-O-in-NJ

                I was, yes.

                • I can buy God speaking through the mouth of animals (though it seems like a silly choice) or through a miraculous vision like the burning bush. I have a very hard time with the really early stories.

                  I don’t get how you can believe God went to the trouble to have people write these things down, and that He then would allow myths to coexist with His word. People copy the texts, and they can make mistakes, but ancient writings seem to validate that our Bible has not significantly changed since the second century BC. Different scholars’ (with different agendas) mileage may vary, but the documents exist. For my money, you cannot take it both ways: either God is who He claims he is, and thus the stories are true, or it is all fable, and why do you believe at all? A mixture of the two makes no sense to me.

                  Do you really think the early patriarchs lived 900+ years, and why did those long lifespans stop after the flood? Was the Garden of Eden just a fertile place which would have appeared dramatically different to nomads, or was there literally a perfect garden somewhere?

                  What did God say? Why does it matter how these things occurred?
                  Either you believe He is who He says, or this was produced by a liar who pulled off the greatest con job in history. This is where faith comes in, Steve. See my discussion with Chris in this thread about what faith is for more.

                  • Chris

                    The Bible is a collection of multiple books, many of which contradict each other, written by dozens of known and unknown authors over the course of multiple centuries.

                    Do you believe that God took away the free will of the men who wrote and compiled these texts? If not, why is it hard to believe that some parts of the Bible may be divinely inspired, while other parts may be the work of men?

                    • Chris,

                      As I explained to Steve, either you believe God is who he says He is, or you do not. This is about the integrity of your faith. Many do believe as you say, as is their right. But that position is not internally consistent, nor logical.

                      I do not claim to be an expert on this stuff, but I am explaining as best I can. I do not claim to be the unique holder of Truth: but I am pointing to One who is.

                    • Chris


                      As I explained to Steve, either you believe God is who he says He is, or you do not.

                      This is meaningless, and elides my arguments rather than addressing them. Why can one not believe that some parts of the Bible were directly dictated by God, while others were not? Unless you believe God removed free will from the Bible’s (many, many) authors, there is absolutely no contradiction in that belief.

                      But that position is not internally consistent, nor logical.

                      You have yet to explain why not.

                    • Why exactly is the divinely superintended work of divinely inspired, but individual men from individual cultural contexts being divvied up here?

                    • Chris

                      tex,

                      Please dumb that question down for me; I have no idea how to answer it.

                  • Steve-O-in-NJ

                    The question of who God is, is not what I am asking. I am asking if you believe that there were actually ten patriarchs who lived to be just under 1,000 years old each, including one who entered heaven alive, for reasons unclear. I am also asking if you believe the Garden of Eden was a real physical place. These are questions that can be answered with a simple yes or a simple no. I’m not an eight year old in CCD who’s asking too many questions who you can simply pat on the head and tell that it doesn’t matter, or it’s a mystery. I’m a grown man with some questions who isn’t going to accept glib non-answers. If you can’t give a straight answer and are just going to duck behind it being a matter of faith, then that’s your answer.

                    The question of Christ as liar, lunatic or lord is a separate question, and if we say we are Christians we have to accept the last of the three, but, even if we do that, we are taking that as a matter of faith. It is well-known that the Bible is a collection of writings by many individuals. There is no one author of the whole thing to pull off a big con job on humanity. Frankly, if we want to talk about con jobs, we are better off talking about Joseph Smith, who wrote a whole new testament with NO basis in history from golden plates that no one else ever saw, or about Mohammed, who claimed to converse with a God only he could see and hear, or about the founder of the Baha’i faith, who claimed to BE a manifestation of God.

                    All these people can’t all be right, and if you’re going to say your interpretation alone is the right one, you’d better be able to back it with more than a shrug.

                    • I am asking if you believe that there were actually ten patriarchs who lived to be just under 1,000 years old each, including one who entered heaven alive, for reasons unclear. I am also asking if you believe the Garden of Eden was a real physical place.

                      Sorry if I was unclear, Steve. I did not intend to talk down to you at all: I was attempting to focus on the real question that validates faith. My discussion of believing ‘all of it or none of it’ should have been answer enough.

                      So, to directly answer your questions:

                      1. Yes, I believe that the patriarchs in question lived as described in Genesis.

                      2. Yes, Eden was a real location somewhere on this planet.

                      3. Yes, there was a flood, and Noah rode it out with his family in a boat he built to God’s explicit specifications even though none such had existed before that time.

                      4. Yes, the sun was ‘held back’ so the Hebrews could have time to defeat their enemies in battle.

                      5. Yes, God caused a drought at the request of a prophet, and ended it at the same prophet’s request.

                      6. Yes, Jesus (God) healed the sick, fought demonic possession, and changed the lives of those who met Him. He still does all this today.

                      … if you’re going to say your interpretation alone is the right one, you’d better be able to back it with more than a shrug.

                      I am under no obligation to explain anything to you or anyone, Steve. I owe you nothing but the same love I owe anyone, as God directs. I do not report to you, nor anyone else in this life about my faith. I have made no claims to be an expert, just doing my best to explain my experience and conclusions.

      • “Dinosaurs are the proven scientific fact that renders the Ark story impossible”,

        How so?

        It would seem to me the quickest run around for young earthers are that dinosaurs died long before the flood.

        Seems to me the harder argument to make is the global nature of the flood.

        If such arguments even matter.

      • “The Ark story isn’t claimed as a miracle even by its adherents.”

        I think the most theologically abstract and academic argument is that ANY intervention in Nature from Supernature can be classified as some *type* of miracle. If one wants to take the Flood as an actual event, and if the Flood was not going to happen by any natural convergence of weather patterns, then God’s intervention in Nature to effect the Flood, would be a *type* of miracle.

        As C.S. Lewis calls them “We are going to be concerned with other invasions of Nature—with what everyone would call Miracles.”

        But in terms of the micro-level miracles that we use in common parlance, then yes, I think your objection is valid.

        But this isn’t a theology or metaphysics blog.

    • Dinosaurs are the proven scientific fact that renders the Ark story impossible

      How come there are human footprints beside Dinosaur footprint in Granbury, Texas? Had to be put down at the same time. The world is stranger than we know, and our hubris will become evident one day.

      Not trying to argue religion, just sayin’ we don’t know what we think we do.

      • “Some of the tracks were fake, carved by locals to sell during the Great Depression.[3] These footprints do not represent the way human footprints would look in mud; they also do not accurately reflect the changes in the way giant humans would walk as a result of their size.[6] Other footprints were genuine tracks, but showed features inconsistent with human footprints. Supporters of the human footprint theory claimed that the tracks showed authentic mud “push-ups” and that the time period for the human and dinosaur trackways had to be the same as the trails intersected. In 1986, Glen Kuban conducted research on the trackways. He found that most tracks formed a wide “V” at the end and showed grooves in places that were not consistent with those in a human footprint. Kuban determined that the tracks were made by bipedal dinosaurs with three toes. These particular tracks showed the dinosaur walking on the soles of its feet rather than on its toes, as is usually found in tracks.[7] Evidence based in human anatomy also refutes the claim that the footprints are of human origin. The foot length measurements were used to calculate approximate heights of the humans; the pace and stride lengths do not match these calculated heights, making it highly unlikely that the tracks are human in origin. The measurements do fit the known values for bipedal dinosaurs.[6]

        Other theories include random natural and erosion patterns resembling human footprints, trace fossils of burrows of small invertebrates, severely eroded or partial tracks, and other impressions known to occur in dinosaur trackways caused by different body parts.”

        From wiki – wretch – pedia (because I was too lazy to find a responsible source of material)

        “just sayin’ we don’t know what we think we do”

        I agree with this comment thoroughly.

  3. #4

    Wouldn’t a more emphatic way of saying 200,000,000 registered voters be to say “pretty much all of us”?

  4. I disagree about the applicability of the term “ironic” to the Scalise shooting, or, rather, to aspects of it. There’s no need for the term to imply humor, merely a form of closure that runs directly counter to expectations. The story of Oedipus is ironic because he precipitated his fate by his effort to avoid it. The story of Croesus is ironic because he did, indeed, destroy a great empire by going to war: his own. Neither of these tales is the least bit funny.

    Rep. Scalise opposed legislation that might (not to say would) have prevented that shooter from having that kind of weapon. And he was saved by the heroic actions of someone he would have denied a right he would have granted freely to the shooter.

    That doesn’t make Rep. Scalise’s political positions wrong. It doesn’t make the shooting anything but a crime. It doesn’t mean he reaped what he sowed, or any of that hogwash. It does, however, rise to the level of irony in my mind.

    • Emily

      Agreed on irony not implying humor, but like the Alanis Morrisette song, neither of those things were ironic anyway. If Scalise had argued that the 2nd amendment or a loophole through which the shooter got his gun would *prevent* shootings, then it would be ironic: his actions would have been taken towards one outcome while encouraging the opposite outcome. Similarly if, as Jack suggested, he had been an opponent of gays being emergency medical workers.

      As is, he felt that the risk of getting shot by a crazy person was not sufficient to remove a right from everyone, and he got shot. He felt that a social commitment was not a right and shouldn’t include some people, and one of the people that affected helped save his life. Neither of those were necessarily contrary to anyone’s expectations.

    • I agree that this gives the “irony” crowers plausible deniability. Irony usually implies humor, but not necessarily…but I’m not buying it, because I;ve read the threads, and seen the tone. Someone says “how ironic” and a reply is, “Yup! Karma’s a bitch!” Or someone says, “You reap what you sow!” and a response is, “Pretty ironic!”

      The guy was shot, period. Moving to alleged irony is designed to mitigate sympathy for the victim. I don’t like Scalise, but my mind would never go there, and I know of no one who doesn’t detest Scalise and Republicans whose reaction was to focus on “irony,” just as I doubt that anyone who didn’t hate Abe Lincoln immediately reacted to Abe’s shooting by saying, “How ironic that he was shot by an actor during a play!”

      My favorite example of an ironic death: Jason, old and crippled, comes upon the Argo, beached and wrecked. As he gazes on the prow of the ship that carried him on his adventures, the rotting hull collapses and falls on him, squashing him flat. An ultimate irony. Also hilarious.

      • “Moving to alleged irony is designed to mitigate sympathy for the victim.”

        That and also to segue into a “see, you should agree with strict gun control” argument.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Irony is Archie Bunker doing a pro-2nd Amendment rant on TV and then getting held up by a man with a gun while out with his family. It’s also a straw man, but to be expected from Norman Lear.

      • “Irony” is one of those words that we’re losing. It isn’t ironic that a gay man offered him assistance, even through he doesn’t support gay marriage. Irony would be if someone wasn’t able to help him, even though they normally would, because they were in court trying to prevent legislation he wrote… Or conversely, that the person who offered help had shown up with a picket sign that read: “Homophobic neo nazi white supremacists don’t deserve to play tennis or live.”

      • Am I just hung up on the Niggardly Principles of late, or is there something akin to that happening here? Person X applies the term “irony” in a perfectly standard sense of the term, but because of “tone” it can’t be said? Or the OP is blamed because someone else heads down the “karma” trail?

        I seriously doubt that I would have thought about the term unprompted, but the fact is that I don’t think it’s unwarranted. I’ll grant that there are those who think Scalise “deserved” to be shot. I am not among them, even a little bit. That doesn’t change the fact that I see certain elements of the incident to be, yes, ironic.

  5. Mark Putnam

    #5
    The thing about shooting fish in a barrel is that you need to know a bit about how the path a light changes when traveling through media of differing densities. Otherwise, you miss the fish, make a mess and make yourself look silly.

  6. Spartan

    Irony had nothing to do with the shooting, it had to do with who his rescuers were.

    • Nope. Nothing “ironic” about it. Unless you think Scalise wants to ban gay rescuers.

      Oddly, nobody who doesn’t loathe Scalise and Republicans makes the irony claim. Why is that, do you think?

      Sorry that I’m not fooled by the nasty little whispering game.

      • valkygrrl

        His attitude toward gays makes it like the parable of the good samaritan. Maybe he’ll learn to love his neighbor.

        • Spartan

          Exactly Valkygrrl!

        • Steve-O-in-NJ

          Not quite. The parable of the good Samaritan is to appreciate those who do good even though they don’t have to and are traditionally your enemy. It’s different from someone who’s different, but who has a duty to protect someone and fulfills that duty. The gay police officer who was on Scalise’s detail did what she did because it was her duty. The message of that parable is also that charity is more important than other priorities. The priest didn’t ignore the fallen traveler because he chose to be a jerk. The priest feared the man was dead, and to touch a dead man would render him ritually unfit to perform his duties until he went through a complicated and time-consuming purification. The Levite also didn’t choose to be a jerk, he was more likely concerned that the robbers who had attacked the fallen traveler would fall on him next if he stopped to help. The Samaritan didn’t have to stop, in fact the Jews were the enemy as far as he was concerned, yet he still did. The point was that charity is more important than ethnic division, worship, or self-interest. Love thy neighbor is elsewhere in the Bible.

        • So the shooting is a GOOD thing, in other words. As I said.

          • valkygrrl

            No. That there’s a chance something good will come out of it isn’t the same as calling the event good.

            Sloppy Jack, very sloppy.

        • Steve-O-in-NJ

          I’m sure you’d get great joy if I got caught in a fire and had a burning beam injure me, only to be saved by a Muslim fireman (we have a few) and prevented from having permanent injury by an LGBT physician.

          • Spartan

            No rational person experiences joy when another human being is injured Steve.

            I would find it ironic though if a gay man donated a kidney to save your life. Or, if you ended up married to a man years from now.

            • Steve-O-in-NJ

              The latter isn’t going to happen, I think by now I know I am not gay. Can’t speak to the first.

            • I’m not sure that’s irony either. It may be if Steve campaigned against homosexuals donating organs…

              • Steve-O-in-NJ

                It isn’t, at least not directly, and I’ve certainly never campaigned against donations of organs by gay people.

                • I don’t think you have. Discussions of what really is irony and what isn’t have plagued my discourses time immemorial. Anytime someone proposes an ironic situation, I try to examine if it is or not, then if it isn’t, I try to construct around the original proposition a story that *would* be ironic, to help clarify what irony actually is.

                • Hmmmm…. California has made the first move to allow HIV into the blood supply… if that begins to apply to organ donation being allowed, we might see a campaign to restrict the organ donations of gay people (as they have the highest incidence of HIV compared to other groups).

                  Then Steve could be set up for the irony.

    • Spartan

      Umm. Did you alter my comment Jack? I only wrote the first line.

      Tampering! Foul! I demand a recount! 🙂

    • Rusty Rebar

      This is like an Alanis Morissette level of understanding of irony, don’t ya think?

  7. Steve-O-in-NJ

    We’ll never know if the Alexandria shooting made a decisive difference, because at the end of the day Handel won by to decisive a margin for one event to have tipped the scales, I think. Still, I think it changed some minds, the same as Michael Moore’s gratuitous blather about Osama bin Laden’s video released prior to the 2004 election changed some minds. At least for some people, especially those at the center who are not dyed blue or red to the core, it’s as much what you are voting FOR as what you are voting AGAINST. It’s that much harder if you are objective to vote for the side snickering about how the sworn enemy of the US sounds like he is quoting THEM word for word or making excuses and even snickering a bit about one of their own trying to stage his own February 26th incident (assassination of ideological rivals in pre-WW2 Japan). It’s also that much harder if you are objective to vote for the guy who went gorilla on a reporter, but we already talked about that.

    As for the money dump, I agree that the argument of spending on x is not ethical is problematic, because it could apply anywhere. In fact I HAVE heard it applied way too many times to other spending: spending so much on law enforcement is wrong because if we put that money into treatment of addicts and rehabilitation we would do better and not have to lock so many people up, spending so much on the military is wrong because if we put that money into making sure no one in the word was poor then there would be peace and we wouldn’t need a military, etc. I also heard, right around the time a memorial to a local soldier killed in Iraq was put up, that we shouldn’t be putting up ANY new memorials to anything or anyone until someone can certify that not one child is going to bed hungry. Suddenly, though, the same libs making all these arguments and challenging you and me to “dig deep” or “give up one luxury” for charity’s sake come up with over 20 million dollars for the sake of one congressional race so they can create a false narrative that liberals are ascendant, and this is just the first still, small trumpet of many that will eventually sound a might clarion and hail a big, blue wave in 2018. Hypocrites.

    I know I played with a toy Noah’s ark as a child, five inches long by two wide and high, filled with 2 dozen or so animals cut from cheap wood with a jigsaw, but I never believed the story literally, especially in light of other flood myths such as Deucalion, Gilgamesh, etc. (I was a very well-read child), leave alone discarding science to believe it. Do I believe it might be based on real events, like a flood in the Middle East? Could be, there’s a lot of history that’s yet to be discovered. Do I believe the Ark is still up there on the mountain of Ararat? So far, nothing but smoke, mirrors, and myth. Of all the Bible stories, it’s the most far-fetched, and the ideas advanced by Ken Ham and prominent fundamentalist bigot Jack Chick – that once there was a mantle of water over the earth that made the climate perfect and allowed humans and dinosaurs to coexist until God made those waters condense and fall – take it into the realm of the out and out ridiculous. I can buy the stories of some of the heroes of Israel. If Mohammed was able to get the Arabs to believe his preaching another charismatic leader could certainly have preached the word of God and had it accepted by a much smaller population looking for something to believe in, which could be where we get Moses. It’s certainly possible for there to have been a physically powerful leader who was finally wrecked because he got involved with a beautiful but treacherous woman (Samson). There has even been archaeological evidence found for cities destroyed by eruption-type events that could have been the basis for the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. But a worldwide flood and the idea that the whole human race was reduced to 8 people and all land animals to 2 of each? Impossible. Leave alone the favored race myth that flows from Noah’s subsequent drunkenness, accidental nakedness, and condemnation of the “children of Ham” (the darker races) since Ham saw his father’s nakedness and did not do anything about it.

    • “Leave alone the favored race myth that flows from Noah’s subsequent drunkenness, accidental nakedness, and condemnation of the “children of Ham” (the darker races) since Ham saw his father’s nakedness and did not do anything about it.”

      An invention of the 19th century justifiers of black-slavery. Not even worth mentioning for the grand-scheme of your argument as it was based on clearly conjured eisegesis.

  8. On #4,

    Jack, would you have time to explore the ethics of voter databases such as the Republican’s rVotes Data Center and the Democrat’s VoteBuilder?

  9. #3

    ““Ossoff chose civility and it didn’t work. How do Democrats beat Trump?””

    If that’s the headline, the implication is that Handel chose incivility…did she?

    And did he actually choose civility?

    • He was pretty civil, and so was she.

      • If *both* were civil, then, in that math problem, the civility variable gets cancelled out on both sides of the equation and is a moot point to even mention (unless there was a clear difference in levels of civility – but that’s a bit too tedious).

        That being said, the headline is wrong on a couple levels.

        • Chris

          Yes, it strikes me as bizarre too. Where is the author getting the idea that an excess of civility had anything to do with his loss, rather than numerous other factors?

          • Because it smears a non progressive, and that is the total critical thinking required by today’s typical main stream journalist.

            • Chris

              How does the headline smear a non-progressive?

              • It implies that the progressive’s opponent was not civil.

                • Chris

                  Hm. I suppose I could see that implication, though it didn’t jump out at me. The rest of the article doesn’t imply that at all–in fact, its main point of comparison with Ossoff is not Karen Handle at all, but Bernie Sanders. That’s who the writer seems to be arguing ran a less “civil” campaign, though the author seems to be defining “civil” to mean “absent rage,” not necessarily to mean “respectful of one’s opponents.” I don’t think most of us would call Bernie uncivil, at least in the way the word is usually used.

                  So taken with the article, it seems like the headline is making an implication about other progressives, not about conservatives.

                  • “from his perspective at the time he made them”

                    I agree with your rejection of this, which also supports my position regarding the general irrelevancy of motive to determining whether conduct is ethical.

                    • Chris

                      I think you put this on the wrong comment thread, Jack.

                      But good point. I’d counter that an inherently unethical act is unethical regardless of motive. Intentionally killing children, and other war crimes, are inherently unethical; motive matters little if at all.

                      Some acts, however, are neither inherently ethical nor unethical. Firing someone is an example of this. For these types of actions, one has no choice but to consider motive when determining whether the action is ethical.

                  • Most low information voters don’t read the articles, as you well know. The headline is what sticks.

                    • Chris

                      Good point. Like I said, that implication didn’t jump out at me, and I don’t think it was the goal of the headline writer. But I agree that, like many headlines, this one was stupid. (I also think the entire premise of the article was stupid; there are so many other more convincing reasons he lost.)

                  • “Hm. I suppose I could see that implication, though it didn’t jump out at me.”

                    Except that your initial foray into this came as a reply to a comment that acknowledged this very implication.

                    This is a couple of times you’ve done this now, so it’s hard to assume these are casual mistakes and easier to assume you’re avoiding the obvious to try to muddy valid comments. Is this a feature or a bug?

                    • Chris

                      Just assume I’m always being dishonest from now on, if it helps you.

                    • Just an observation. Not sure if it’s a pattern or not. If it is a pattern then yeah, I’ll have to adjust my assumptions.

                    • Oh DAMN, Chris. You led with your chin, here. My personal shoulder angel is engaged with the shoulder devil who is screaming at me to take the obvious path…

                      Don’t tease me with straight lines like that 😉

      • Or as Jonah Goldberg puts it:

        “Nothing preps you for the next election more than concluding your team is too virtuous to win & voters are too evil or dumb to see the truth.”

      • So planned parenthood donated some $700,000+ to ossoff?

        How’s that for taxpayer money funding a Democrat’s campaign. Sounds fair to me.

        • Great, Tex. Now I will stew all day about that fact, which I could have gone the rest of my life not knowing!

          • Usually the DNC is better about its money laundering. Like when they funnel tax payer dollars through teachers into mandatory unions and THEN into the DNC… with the added benefit that right leaning teacher’s dues also get to the DNC.

  10. #2

    “Running the numbers, Democrats might have been better off considering that same amount would have bought 855,072 school lunches (at $2.76 each); 236,000 elementary school textbooks (at $100 each) or even 956 Priuses (at $24,685 each). “

    As in personally purchasing those items for GA-6 with DNC funds?

    Wouldn’t that be even more unethical?

    (But I know that’s not what you meant)

  11. Alex

    Re 4: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2016/03/data_is_a_toxic.html
    I have posted Schneier’s essay before and will post it again. And will continue pushing it until every single human who has to deal with other’s data has read it.

    Re 5: I can’t get over the fact that the book cover is the most badass I’ve seen in years.

    • I have to admit, I love the cover. That would sure have made a better movie than the lousy Russell Crow Noah.

      • Alex

        That one was terrible. The movie straddled between a reimagining of Judeo-Christian mythology and a Michael Bay style explosion fest. I could live with either and enjoy it (unpopular opinion: the Transformers movies are fun), but “Noah” did not commit and thus it sucked.

      • That cover reminds me of the old ‘John Carter of Mars’ book covers, circa 1955. The 1970s era John Norman Gor novels also use this art technique.

        That Noah movie sucked, on so many levels.

        • valkygrrl

          I hardly even notice cover art anymore unless it’s particularly ugly.

          I’m look at you 1990s editions form Baen Publishing. And I’m looking at you ugly orange text on current Baen editions.

          I’ve got the 1994 paperback of Field of Dishonor where Steadholder Harrington looks like a blowup doll that someone applied makeup to with a trowel.

  12. Gotta love Jonah Goldberg.

    Elizabeth Warren tweets: “I’ve read the Republican “health care” bill. This is blood money. They’re paying for tax cuts with American lives.”

    Goldberg’s response: “Good thing a bunch of GOP politicians weren’t just shot up and people worried about extreme rhetoric causing it… oh wait.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s