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Unread postby Topher » Thu May 22, 2008 12:59 am

OK, I'll bite.

I'm a non-materialistic atheist.

I have very little interest in personal belongings, except where they are necessary for the survival and minimal comfort of myself and my family. I am interested in making sure my daughter is well-prepared for life by giving her plenty of opportunities to learn and experience new things. I take her on a road trip pretty much every month so that she can go somewhere she hasn't been and learn about it.

I used to be a materialist, but after numerous natural disasters and two divorces, I had lost so much stuff so many times that I finally realized that memories and experiences are all we really have. That's what really matters. If I can make good memories and experiences for myself and those around me, I'm happy.

Is that so wrong?

<sarcasm>Of course it's wrong. I'm not devoting my life to Jesus Christ, so I'm doomed to eternal damnation, and if I don't change my evil ways, I'll drag my daughter down with me.</sarcasm>

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Unread postby CWNelson79 » Thu May 22, 2008 2:04 am

wow topher, you answered your own issue. The sarcasm lent itself to truth.
"Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?"
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Unread postby Topher » Thu May 22, 2008 11:31 am

Just thought I'd save you the trouble of thinking for yourself.

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Unread postby WeaponOfMassInstruction » Thu May 22, 2008 6:37 pm

Topher wrote:Weapons--

Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I thought I had responded, but apparently my response didn't take.[/quote}

>nods<

The same thing has happened to me on occasion. I blame the NSA wiretapping program. :wink:

I wasn't so concerned about CW's quotes as I was about his habit of just taking the arguments of other websites and posting them here in response. You, on the other hand, seem to put a lot more thought into yours. :D


I try to make sure that those I'm having a discussion with can easily tell my opinion from empiricle fact. I always try to support my opinion by quoting fact from the most objective- or least subjective- sources I can find. The worst thing you can do in an argument with someone is to pull "facts" out of your own rectal orifice.

I think Hitler's actual religious beliefs will never be known, since he said and did so many contradictory things. How about if we just agree that he's neither an atheist or a Christian and be done with it?


Fair enough.

Kinda understanable why neither side is all that eager to claim him as one of their own.

I do think that the "secular progressive" group you oppose is a phantom enemy. I have yet to find someone who calls themselves a SP, and I'm pretty sure I only fit half of the term (I have no interest in reforming the government to help people, so I'd be more of a "secular radical" if anything). It seems like SP is a catch-all for anyone who opposes any part of the conservative Republican agenda, when in fact it's really a bunch of disparate groups who only have the ire of the Republicans in common.


Sort of like the Left that invokes "neoconservatives" when it wants to ID a boogeyman (although there are those such as Bill Kristol who self-identify themselves as being neocons).

I admit that I do not know of a group that identifies themselves as Secular-Progressives, but I think it very correctly describes a group that is dedicated towards removing Christianity- but not other religions- from the public square while also embracing a radical liberal (maybe "neomarxist" is the correct term) agenda. There is no doubt that there are militant atheists who are seeking to remove any mention or representation of the Christian God from everyday life- seeking to ban the Pledge of Allegiance, removing "In God We Trust" from our money, etc. Equally, there is no doubt that there are those who advocate collectivism and redistribution of wealth on an even larger scale than we already see. Where the two agendas overlap is where you'll find secular progressives, even if they won't call themselves that.

As such, anyone who appears to do things contrary to the Republican standards looks like an SP, if that's what you expect to find. I'd argue that most people who fit the SP profile seek to place people before God, while Hitler wanted to place himself before God. A subtle difference, to be sure, but the difference between good and evil.


Good point re: Hitler

I'd say though that SPs want to replace God with themselves because it removes the last innate barrier to the acceptance of any and all behaviors. If you can convince people that there is no higher judgement than themselves and can further convince them that, so long as they find something OK, then it is OK, then you're well on your way to establishing an amoral or immoral society (assuming society survives).

I oppose some of the GOP standards, both traditional and, especially, those of the present incarnation. I've said that legalizing pot wouldn;t bother me and that I think people are born homosexual. Neither place me within typical GOP orthodoxy. Yet I don't think anyone here would call me a secular progressive. Yiu've got to have far more disagreements with GOP orthodoxy than I do to warrant that label.

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Unread postby Topher » Thu May 22, 2008 10:52 pm

Neocons:Right::SPs:Left? I like it!

I do have issues with the Pledge of Allegiance, but "under God" is about the least of them.

First, the Pledge was written by Christian Socialist and Baptist minister Francis Bellamy for two reasons:

* To help a flag company sell more flags
* To teach obedience to the state as a virtue

I'm not a big fan of either of those reasons, but I'll continue. In 1940 there was a court case in which it was ruled that children could be forced to recite the Pledge, even if there were religious reasons for them not to do so. I'll get into that later.

A breakdown of the text:

I pledge allegiance - Promising my loyalty. OK, no problem so far.
to the flag of the United States of America - Whoa. Hold on a minute. I'm promising my loyalty to a piece of cloth. It's a nice piece of cloth and all, but it's still a symbol.
and to the republic for which it stands - OK, now we're back on track. Promising my loyalty to the country. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of that, since given a choice between my country and a number of other entities, the other entities (like my family and my friends) would win. Religious people normally put a higher power before the country. Marines put "Unit" "Corps" and "God" before "Country." Mandating loyalty oaths (like GWB at the 2004 Republican Convention) for ordinary citizens bothers me.
one nation - A simple statement of fact
under God - This has been done to death, but I believe the 1954 law adding this was unconstitutional.
indivisible - A wishful thought, but the U.S. Civil War showed that it is divisible, and the country is very often divided in spirit.
with liberty and justice for all - A worthwhile goal, but it is certainly not the reality of the situation. It has been argued that this phrase nullifies the rest of it, since the "one nation" does not have "liberty and justice for all."

So, in my opinion, the Pledge could be narrowed to "I pledge allegiance to the United States of America" and have the same validity. Personally, I'd rather have people promise to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, rather than just a promise of loyalty to the country itself. If the country becomes an evil dictatorship, I'm not planning on being loyal to it until the situation is corrected.

Furthermore, once you say this, do you really need to say it again and again and again. Are we afraid that people will forget? And having children recite it every day? How many grade school kids understand "pledge," "allegiance," "republic," "indivisible," "liberty," or "justice" to the extent that they could reasonably understand what exactly they were saying? This seems to me like it should be something done at a high school graduation rather than the indoctrination it seems to be currently.

I just don't get it. I understand that it means quite a bit to a lot of people, and, for the sake of tradition, it makes some sense, but if you take tradition out of the equation it's a bit authoritarian for my tastes.

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Unread postby CWNelson79 » Fri May 23, 2008 12:43 am

Topher who forces legal adults to say the pledge? The pledge is not something anyone has to say. Not to mention you don't have to recite what you do not agree with. Infact the 1940 case you talked about was reversed. In 1943 the Supreme Court reversed its decision, ruling in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette that "compulsory unification of opinion" violated the First Amendment.

The pledge of allegiance does not say anything about puting the country above your family or anything else. Just says allegiance, nothing about above anything or more than anything else. As for under God, it is not unconstitutional since God does not represent a specific religion. The plegde is not Congress setting up a specific religion. There isn't even any seperation of church and state in the constitution to begin with.
The country is often divided, but the indivisible statement is trying to get pass differences and show people united as Americans. Liberty and justice for all is what the constitution was about. America may not always get there right away, but America was set up for liberty and justice for all.


The country itself cannot become an evil dictatorship, the ruler could be, the government, but not the country made up of American people.


Again no adult has to say the pledge of allegiance. And if someone has a religious problem with it, they do not either. If kids have a problem with certain words, then maybe parents should teach them those words or the teachers.
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Unread postby Topher » Fri May 23, 2008 8:17 am

No one forces adults to say the Pledge, but many people get very offended if you don't say it.

Technically, "under God" doesn't represent a specific religion, but it does limit things to monotheistic religions. But I'm not terribly concerned about the religious aspect of it--I'm more concerned that it was added as a knee-jerk anti-communist piece of propaganda. The argument can be made that the law adding these words constituted establishing a religion, which would violate Amendment I. But, like I said, that's about the least of my concerns about the Pledge. You can continue to harp on that point if you like, but it's really not my fight.

Using "country" as a short version of "the government of the country" is common speech. People often say "The U.S. is a republic" when what they really mean is "The government of the U.S. is a republic." This is what I meant when I said "If the country becomes an evil dictatorship...."

I'd love it if parents could teach the difficult words to their children, but, unfortunately, most of the words I mentioned are complex or abstract concepts, which most children aren't capable of understanding until they are much older. In most cases, by the time they have the education to be capable of understanding the Pledge, the schools have stopped making them say it.

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Unread postby CWNelson79 » Fri May 23, 2008 5:53 pm

offended does not mean anything. Its about legal or not legal.


Under God may limit to one God, but its still not pointing to a specific religion. There is no unconstitutionality to it. What religion is congress promoting with under God? Only atheists make these absurd claims.
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Unread postby Topher » Fri May 23, 2008 6:32 pm

I agree that offense shouldn't mean anything--but many people are concerned about such things. I had a falling out with a soldier friend of mine over me not saying the Pledge. It took a while for me to explain my position, which he, after the fact, actually liked. :D

"under God" is a singular term, so it points toward religions with one god (like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism), and away from religions with multiple gods (such as Hinduism) or no gods (such as Buddhism).

Only a narrow-minded Christian would think that "under God" covers all the possibilities.

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Unread postby CWNelson79 » Sat May 24, 2008 1:34 am

I never said anything about God covering all pagan possibilities. But it still does not support a certain religion, its generic and not religious. Thats why atheists lose when they bring ridiculous claims up in the supreme court.


I think you avoid saying the pledge to be contrary. Most atheists like to be contrary even when its not a personal thing.
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Unread postby Topher » Sat May 24, 2008 5:32 pm

My atheism has nothing to do with my reluctance to say the Pledge. It has everything to do with me being independent, and not believing that the U.S. is about conformity, socialism, or indivisibility. Like I said before, "under God" is mostly irrelevant to the discussion.

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Unread postby CWNelson79 » Sun May 25, 2008 3:04 am

Do what you want. Its still being contrary.
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Unread postby JKersting » Sat Jun 14, 2008 2:40 pm

CWNelson79 wrote:Do what you want. Its still being contrary.


Topher is being contrary.

That has to be a first. :roll: :roll: :roll:
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Unread postby Topher » Sat Jun 14, 2008 3:08 pm

Well, my Wii tells me that I'm 480m from popular opinion, which, from what I can tell online, is pretty far out.

CW thinks that I'm being contrary just to be contrary, I think. He just doesn't know that I really am that weird. ;)

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Unread postby JKersting » Sat Jun 14, 2008 3:14 pm

Topher wrote:CW thinks that I'm being contrary just to be contrary, I think. He just doesn't know that I really am that weird. ;)

Topher


Even his mother says so.

And most of his family, but that doesn't mean much. Especially, once you get to know them. :roll:
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