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31 March 2004 — Whose Rules? (62)

Which rules, Tammy?

God's rules? Which god? Whose interpretation of these rules? Your interpretation? The Pope's interpretation? Your sister's interpretation? My interpretation?

The rules that your god lays down in the Old Testament or the ones he lays down in the New Testament? All of the rules he lays down? Are some more binding than others?

Which are more important? Are the rules about sex more important than the rules about worship? Than the rules about violence?

Can you safely ignore some rules? Do you eat unclean animals? If so, why? Why is this rule okay to ignore? Is it not a sin, too?

How do you reconcile contradictory rules that your god has given?

Who is the arbiter of these rules? You? Your church? God? If your god is going to judge everyone eventually, why is it necessary for you to judge people now? Did he not admonish you to be in the world but not of the world? Then why worry about the sin you perceive all around you? Let your god send those sinners to hell; live an exemplary life, following your set of rules, and don't worry about those around you.

Why these rules and not another set of rules?

For a moment, ask yourself: "What if my set of rules is wrong?" I know you think they're right. I don't care. Ask yourself, "What if I'm wrong?" Just do a thought experiment. If your assumptions are wrong, then what do you believe? Do you choose another god? How do you know which god to choose?

Another thought experiment — just play along: what if there are no gods? Whence then your morality? Must one have a god in order to have a moral center? If there were no god, would the world descend into anarchy? Would it be a riot of hedonistic orgies?

Imagine for a moment — humor me — that you had to construct a moral life without somebody else to guide you. How would you derive your morals? Do you think that all atheists flounder, are without a moral center?

Which rules, Tammy? Why yours?

On this day at foldedspace.org

2005Sunrise/Sunset   Kris and I recently watched the films Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. We liked them.

2003Welcome to the House of Leaves   This connection of book to music is a fun idea. I only hope that the book can live up to the elaborate edifice which has been created around it.

Comments
On 31 March 2004 (09:39 AM), tammy said:

Why anybodys? Lets just live in a lawless and "ruless" society.


On 31 March 2004 (09:46 AM), Amanda said:

Excellent questions, J.D., questions that many "Christians" should seriously, seriously consider. I'm a reformed fundamentalist so I believe I have a lot of room to talk on this subject. And perhaps I will...


On 31 March 2004 (09:48 AM), J.D. said:

No, Tammy: That's much too cute and much too evasive. It might be sufficient as a side-thought in a longer answer, but I'm serious. I'm looking for serious, honest answers to my questions, not obfuscation.

I'm not trying to change your mind, I'm not trying to advocate any particular position, I'm wanting to know what your responses are to these hypothetical situations.

Perhaps you're simply unwilling to even participate in this kind of thought experiment...


On 31 March 2004 (09:57 AM), tammy said:

First let me go look up the meaning to "obfuscation" then maybe I can answer. :)

No I have a lot to say but I just don't have time right now. When I write and don't have the tiem I end up with half baked thoughts. I have Wally and Hailey her right now and Jordan will arrive in a minute. With two preschoolers and an infant it behooves me to be on my toes around here. But I can assure you at napttime I will be here! (If somebody aggravates me enough I may even be here before then!) :)


On 31 March 2004 (10:14 AM), Dana said:

Sigh.

Why anybodys? Lets just live in a lawless and "ruless" society.
Let me see if I understand you -- since no rules is a bad thing, we should follow your rules. Is that about it?


I think what JD is asking is, "What makes your rules the right ones?" And how can somebody other than you tell that yours are the right ones? How do we determine that your version of Christianity is "more right" than other versions of Christianity? And why do some sins (ie, homosexuality) require censure and exclusion, while others (ie, premarital sex, divorce, alcoholism, gambling, usury, and murder) require understanding and compassion?"

To paraphrase a disagreement we've frequently had here: You can't declare something to be fact simply because you want it to be fact. You may believe it to be fact all you want, but you should expect no right to force others (through laws, policies, or through constitutional amendments) to accept your belief as fact.

If you can't convince them, and their disagreement with you presents no discernable or provable harm to you (or anybody else), then you have no grounds under the US system of government to change the situation.

Tammy, you believe many things to be a certain way. Your reasons for believing them to be that way generally arise as a corollary that your faith is a correct one, and that the dogma of that faith are also correct.

I disagree. So do other people. I have reasons for disbelieving what you do, for the most part. Those reasons do not spawn from my personal beliefs or faith, they spawn from information that I actually have, and largely rest upon facts and opinions that can be shown empirically to be true. You can actually walk out and run tests and get results about almost everything I believe to be true.

I can't get that kind of verification of your positions, Tammy. If I get three religious people of different creeds together, and I ask them all about some social position based on their beliefs, I'm going to probably get three completely different answers that each of those three people believes fervently to be true. But if I also ask them about gravity, I'm likely to get the same answer from all three.

This is a simple fact. Beliefs vary from person to person, creed to creed, and place to place. Facts are things that a) everybody agrees on and b) if someone has a doubt there is a way for them to empirically check as to whether their doubt is right or wrong.

Our founding fathers recognized the fact that science, while contentious and fractuous, could agree on things and explain to other people where that agreement came from -- it was repeatable without regard to who did it and who interpreted it. At the same time, they also recognized that faith and religion varied wildly.

Their solution? Freedom of religion -- a wall between the civil government, which was run for the common good, and which promoted no particular creed, and the churches, of which there were many. Governmental positions were not limited to one or more acceptable creeds, nor were the laws of the land set up to be explicitly founded on the principles of any one religion -- doing so would enshrine one religion, creed, or church as more correct than another, and the founding fathers felt that such matters were best left up to individuals, not governments. They did not want any one religion to use the government to force believers of other religions into having to obey the restrictions of religions they did not belong to.

At the same time, the founding fathers realized you needed some rules or else you don't have a society. They put together rules which limited things in certain ways that everybody could agree on and that did not depend on the unproveable and disagreed upon moral authority of any religion. They depended on the moral authority of the people themselves, acting in their own collective best interest, balanced against the rights and interests that each lone individual is entitled to as a human being, rights and interests that the government explicitly has no authority to infringe upon.

Or, to put it another way, "The right to swing your arms ends where my nose beings".

We do not live in a theocracy. There is a reason for that, and it's not the plotting of GLBT people, just as it wasn't the plotting of the Communist Menace, or the Civil Rights movement, or the pro-slavery interests. It's because the founding fathers didn't want a theocracy.

And neither do I.



On 31 March 2004 (10:16 AM), dowingba said:

I would like to use myself as Exhibit A. I am an atheist, and I have quite a healthy "moral center", thank you very much.

On a completely unrelated topic, I'm going to see The Passion tonight.


On 31 March 2004 (10:32 AM), kaibutsu said:

I'll be exhibit B. I'm an agnostic. I don't even believe that there isn't a god. Furthermore, I'm an anti-imperialist postmodernist, meaning I don't believe in absolute belief systems, and have serious issue with those who do. I only occasionally go on muderous rampages through the streets, and spend a lot of time yelling at people for sanctioning running around in other people's streets on murderous rampages. Iraq is a good example. The crusades another. Rules don't insure civility - some think they actually hinder it.


On 31 March 2004 (10:36 AM), Dana said:
Furthermore, I'm an anti-imperialist postmodernist, meaning I don't believe in absolute belief systems, and have serious issue with those who do.
Yay! It's not just me! =)

On 31 March 2004 (10:40 AM), mart said:

JD: offtopic, this, but why not fix the copyright blurb at the bottom so it's center aligned with the main text cell immediately above it. that's the obvious structural relation for it. even if it weren't bumping into that 2nd red separator (which it in fact is) a non-full width centering would still be a better option.


On 31 March 2004 (10:53 AM), Nikchick said:

This oft-forwarded e-mail "to" Dr. Laura highlights some very specific biblical "rules" that are not upheld as law for modern practicing Christians.


On 31 March 2004 (11:23 AM), Tammy said:

To qoute something like that is old and tiring. It also shows a complete ignorance of the Old and New Dispensation. Those laws were only for the Jews. Jesus did away with salvation through keeping the Jewish laws when he died on the cross. The laws that were relevant to how we now live are restated in the New Testament.


On 31 March 2004 (11:39 AM), dowingba said:

Tammy (and this is the umpteenth time I have quoted this in response to your "Old and New Dispensation" nonsense:

"I did not come to abolish, but to complete. I tell you this: so long as heaven and earth endure, not a letter, not a stroke, will disappear from the Law until all that must happen has happened. If any man therefore sets aside even the least of the Law's demands, and teaches others to do the same, he will have the lowest place in the kingdom of Heaven."
-Jesus, PHD.


On 31 March 2004 (11:46 AM), J.D. said:

Hold on, Chris. That's an argument for another place. Tammy is a New Testament-only kind of gal. Fine. That's a fair interpretation of the Bible, one that many people share.

My question is "which rules?", and Tammy's rebuttal to Nicole's comment gives a small piece of that answer.

I want to know from which rules Tammy operates. I also want to see her responses to the thought experiments...


On 31 March 2004 (11:46 AM), dowingba said:

Oh and J.D., I checked out this page on IE. This is happening because IE adds borders and padding within the width of the box, and every other browser on Earth adds borders and padding to the width of the box. You need to do some "CSS hacks" in order to get it to work on IE.

Putting html>body .classname means it won't render on IE. So design your site for IE and then add copies of the classes using that method. Browsers will use the "copies" instead of the normal class, and IE will just use the normal class.


On 31 March 2004 (11:48 AM), dowingba said:

But J.D., the New Testament asserts that all the laws of the Old Testament are to be followed, as is confirmed by my quote above. How can someone be "New Testament-only kind of gal"?


On 31 March 2004 (11:56 AM), dowingba said:

P.S. I'm by no means a CSS guru. There might be better methods. It looks like just a case of some trial-and-error pixel editing. But keep the classes you already have but put html>body in front of the names.


On 31 March 2004 (11:57 AM), J.D. said:
The New Testament asserts that all the laws of the Old Testament are to be followed.

Maybe so, but many brands of Christianity choose to believe otherwise. My point is this: for once, I'm trying to exercise a bit of moderatio. I don't want this discussion to get sidetracked into and argument over Biblical doctorine. (Yet.)

I'm wanting to know how people — especially Tammy — choose which rules to follow, why they choose these rules, and what they think might happen if, hypothetically, those rules were unavailable or blatantly wrong.


On 31 March 2004 (12:16 PM), Dana said:

"When somebody persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?"
-- John Maynard Keynes

That pretty much covers me, and what I try to do. Pretty much standard Mills' Marketplace of Ideas.


On 31 March 2004 (01:38 PM), Tammy said:

Which rules do I follow? The rules laid out in the New Testament.

Why do I choose these rules? Because I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God and to obey these rules allows me to recieve blessings that God has promised to those who follow the rules.

What might happen if I do not follow the new Testament rules? The wages of sin is death... Romans 3:23

If the rules were blatantly wrong? There not so there's no debate. This is what Dana hates about fundamentalists. He says you can't reason with us and there's a little bit of truth to that. Why bother the mind with what ifs? God said it I beleive it and that settles it.

Actually I'm one of the lucky ones. I know that I know that I know that the rules I live by are time tested and God honored rules. I never wander around with a vague sense that something must be amiss in my life. I never wonder about the feeling the forest evokes or the feelings that swell in ones breast when one is touched by a particularly beautiful sunset or lighening storm or what ever.(I'm referring to a post by JD a long time ago) I know the Creator of heaven and earth. I know He lives in my heart. And because I feel Him in the deep stirrings of my soul, I know when I do domething against Gods "rules".

The Holy Spirit daily convicts and leads and guides me into truth. The Holy Spirit tells me when I'm wrong. He tells me when I'm right.He governs my very life.

As a Christian I dare not go the what if route. It's a waste of precious time. And with God there are no what if's.


On 31 March 2004 (01:48 PM), Betsy said:

As I've gotten older, I've learned that sometimes, what's needed is to live by the spirit of the law, rather than the letter of the law. And that there are often compelling reasons (in a larger context) to live one's life in direct opposition to one of God's laws or rules (if one believes that those laws apply, that is.)

Let me give you an example: my ex-husband and I are not yet legally divorced, even though we are 'ex' in every sense of the word and there is no possibility or desire by either party for reconciliation.

Why are we not yet divorced? Well, we both have been unemployed at different times over the past year or so, and it made much more sense to preserve health benefits and other protections for the party out of work. It was certainly a kind thing to do, a fiscally-responsible thing to do, and went a long way towards fostering a peaceful relationship between two people who will always be parents to our children, no matter what else happens (if we get along and work together, it is much better for the kids as a result.)

Does this mean that I should not date? Should not become involved with another person? Not according to my own code of morality (nor the people I interact with.) I've been honest, responsible, and clear about my goals (which don't include remarrying anyone any time soon, even after I'm legal to do so) and intentions. I'm clear that my 'marriage' is in name only (and everyone else is very clear about that fact as well, including my children.) And so I am in a healthy, loving, mutually-supportive relationship with 'another man.'

According to the rules of Tammy's God, I am an adulteress. I should be working harder to preserve and restore my marriage, even though everyone's lives - including my children's lives - are much, much better served by having that not happen.

And you know, I can live with that judgment. I know differently. And I know that I'll be judged as much for my intentions and my motivations as I was for my ability to toe an arbitrary line.


On 31 March 2004 (01:57 PM), Courtney said:

The golden rule is endorsed by all the great world religions - treat others as you want to be treated. That's the rule I try to follow.


On 31 March 2004 (02:33 PM), Denise said:

Hmm...one rule I follow:

Never discuss religion or politics.


On 31 March 2004 (02:56 PM), Johnny Doe said:

I have discovered a set of golden tablets. They are the divinely inspired word of God. I know this because God himself has told me that he has inspired the writings on these tablets. At God's instruction I have added to the scriptures.

Fortunately for all of you, the divine word of God says that I am now in charge of everything. The first thing you must do is send me all of your money. I will accept only cash or bearer bonds. I am contacting my attorney to set up a tax exempt organization so that you can receive from Cesear what was formerly yours to begin with. WHen I have the tax exempt organization set up I will report. In the meantime, please send the cash directly to JD and he'll get it to me. Make sure you email me with the amount so that I can make sure JD's not skimming from the offering plate.

Next, you must understand that I am God's emissary on this world. No one can get to God except through my wisdom. Trust me and I will save you from the coming eternal doom. You can start showing your absolute trust by referring to the prior paragraph.

The next thing that you must do is realize that it is in your best interest that you agree to follow what is in the golden tablets. I will tell you what you need to know about them, because God has told me that I am the only one that really needs to look at the tablets at the moment.

Next, prepare yourself for the list of things that I will publish. You must be able to sing the praise of Johnny Doe Song and make a joyful noise. If you cannot sing in tune, unless you are really attractive on some other level, you will be terminated. God has told me that I have this authority.

You will respect mah authority! Why? Because God has said so and he speaks to me in so many ways that I just simply cannot count them.


On 31 March 2004 (03:26 PM), Dana said:
This is what Dana hates about fundamentalists. [S]He says you can't reason with us and there's a little bit of truth to that. Why bother the mind with what ifs? God said it I believe it and that settles it.

The fundamental problem I really have, Tammy, is that God is pretty vague on a lot of things that modern Christianity is pretty specific about.

Take the Wages of Sin: The wages of sin is death... Romans 3:23

Unless I'm mistaken, Romans is in the Old Testament, not the New, and you follow the New, right?

I know, I know, you mentioned this earlier:

It also shows a complete ignorance of the Old and New Dispensation. Those laws were only for the Jews. Jesus did away with salvation through keeping the Jewish laws when he died on the cross.

Dang. I don't remember the books of the Bible you mention here -- Old and New Dispensation. Are they in the New Testament, or are they interpretations of Scripture? Are they more or less divinely inspired than the actual books of the Bible? It sounds to me like an interpretation of the Bible of the sort that Johnny (I think) was asking about, an interpretation that allows you to pick and choose between Old and New Testament bits.

But, as I say, I'm not familiar with them, so I can't say anything but speculation on my part.

I can offer an historical anecdote.

Up until the Reformation, Christianity and the Catholic Church were largely synonymous (not really, because there were plenty of heretics even then, but most of the protestant faiths I'm aware of are descendants of the Catholic mothership).

The Catholic Church declared that it was God's Word that the Sun went around the Earth. It was wrong. But at the time, if anybody said they were wrong, their defense was the equivalent of, "But it's the word of God. He said it. I believe it. And that settles it." Their reading of the vague bits in the Bible was seen as proof of their correctness.

Turns out, they were still wrong, even though they believed they weren't, and even though their belief in the word of God was strong.

That's the core problem I have, Tammy. It's not just that your belief trumps your reason, it's that it trumps it to a delusional level, where even empirical proof that you are or might be wrong is rejected in favor of your belief.

In any area other than religion, we would consider this delusionally dangerous behavior.

You see a great difference between yourself, as a Christian, and someone who is a Moslem. Aside from the differences in doctrine and culture, you believe you are correct and the Moslem is incorrect. The Moslem believes the opposite to be true, just as fervently as you do.

To those of us who disagree with both of you, there seems little difference between you.


On 31 March 2004 (03:57 PM), nate said:

"Unless I'm mistaken, Romans is in the Old Testament, not the New, and you follow the New, right?"

You are indeed mistaken. Since the Romans did not yet exist at the time that the Old Testament was written, it follows that Romans, written to the people of the same name, falls inside of the New Testament.

One thing about old biblical law vs. new biblical law: the old laws were in place as a means of salvation for the Jews. With the coming and death of Christ, God "cut out the middleman", so to speak, rendering strict adherance to the laws of Leviticus and the like irrelevant. Animal sacrifices are no longer necessary; Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. Old Testament law also excludes non-Jews from salvation, yet the New Testament directly contradicts that.

Now, if one was to make the arguement that following the Old Testament law might translate into a better standing in the afterlife -- as dowingba's quote from Matthew says, "If any man therefore sets aside even the least of the Law's demands, and teaches others to do the same, he will have the lowest place in the kingdom of Heaven", not that he loses salvation -- I could co along with that.


On 31 March 2004 (04:19 PM), Tiffany said:

Courtney has it, when she says ‘The golden rule is endorsed by all religions’ and I think it works well for those us that are not religious.

I think that this answers most of Jd’s questions from my point of view. If you are not satisfied by my answers, please let me know and I will try to clarify.

I do not murder others because I do not want them to murder me. I do not steal from others because I do not want them to steal from me. I do not have sex with other people because I do not want my husband having sex with other people.

HOWEVER, if a friend is in a relationship where both people are OK with them having sex with other people, them I am OK with it.

I am OK with gay marriage because it, in no way, affects the happiness of my marriage. I will not stand in the way of another person happiness if their happiness done not affect me.

I am OK with abortion, because I do not wish to have or adopt any children. There are too many unwanted children in the world, outlawing abortion will only result in more unwanted children.

‘What if my rules are wrong?’ Then I guess I will go to hell, assuming that there is one. That only affects me and I am willing to take that chance.

‘What if there are no gods?’ I am OK with that; my way of life will not change.

‘Must one have a god in order to have a moral center?’ I do not think so. I would like to point out that many people that claim to believe in God do things that I consider immoral; Hitler, the 911 terrorists, the Boston Strangler, even the heads of Enron.

Feel free to attack, I will check back in later.


On 31 March 2004 (04:34 PM), Dave said:

Sorry Dana, Nate's right. The Book of Romans is actually a letter of the apostle Paul to the church in Rome. It is the sixth book of the New Testament and is quite definitely NOT in the Old Testament.

You've got me on the Old v. New "Dispensation", however, unless it refers to the "Jesus came to fulfill the law, not destroy the law" line of reasoning.


On 31 March 2004 (04:40 PM), Eryk said:

I think this discussion is an important one but I'm not sure that you're going to get the answers you want from the people you want to get them from. Believing, truly believing, is having the courage to question those beliefs. If religion is more than just a crutch the answers to the simple questions you have asked would not be difficult to come by. I also think that by participating in such an experiment would only serve to strengthen one's faith. If I were a Christian I couldn't image that being a "waste of precious time."

I don't waste my time with people that quote scripture in response to social issues. I don't find taking the words of men, written 2000+ years ago, with their own biases, culture, and upbringing and applying them to modern situations word-for-word very helpful.

Questions are important, especially for younger people. It is easy to be swept up in the frill and lace of a religion without having the opportunity to really examine the guts of it. Never stop asking questions or searching for answers. If I were to fancy a guess, this is the purpose of life.


On 31 March 2004 (04:41 PM), Mom (Sue) said:

In addition to the Golden Rule, what I would like to make part of my life is "erring on the side of kindness." This despite a lifetime of seeing the opposite lived both by religious people and non-religious people all too frequently. And I have a hard time envisioning that those who act in this way will go to "hell", whether they claim to be religious or not.


On 31 March 2004 (04:48 PM), Betsy said:

Exactly, Sue. Exactly.


On 31 March 2004 (04:52 PM), Nikchick said:

To qoute something like that is old and tiring. It also shows a complete ignorance of the Old and New Dispensation. Those laws were only for the Jews.

I take it from this comment that you don't believe that as a Christian you're bound by the Ten Commandments? I've known an awful lot of Christians in my life, and the ones I've known generally seem to hold the Ten Commandments to be pretty central to their religious beliefs.


On 31 March 2004 (05:02 PM), Tammy said:

Dispensation is term referring to the Old and New Testaments in the frame of a time line. It is not another set of books it's just another term.

When I say it would be a waste of my time I mean that every one here knows how I believe and to spend time with what if's will get me nowhere. I have a house to clean and kids to take care of. To sit here and dabble in hypothetical situations is a waste of my time. I have many other things that need done


On 31 March 2004 (05:05 PM), tammy said:

The Ten commandments were repeated by Jesus in the New Testament. Therefore I hold to them. The Old Testament is good for lessons and types and shadows and undersandign better what Jesus really did on the cross but it is not our rule book.

A lot of this debate would not even be taking place if people were a little better skilled in what the Bible actually does say.


On 31 March 2004 (05:09 PM), mart said:

sadly, this "golden rule thingie" keeps us from collectively beating tammy about the head until she's bloody, or, at the very least, keeps JD from dumping her blog and banning her IPs.

ahhh JD, bless his soul. seems he lives a much more moral and tolerant life than i do (or tammy does for that matter). (i AM blessed with hipness though.)

but as they say: "it takes all types..." except intolerant and poor-spelling christians. it doesn't take them at all...


On 31 March 2004 (05:11 PM), J.D. Roth said:
Every one here knows how I believe.

I don't think this is true. I for, one, don't know what you believe. I know that you subscribe to some form of Christianity, but that's a very broad system of belief. What I'm asking for is a clarification of which flavor of Christianity and why? Why not others? I'm not trying to attack you in any way, and I'm trying to keep others from doing so.

And I don't think hypothetical sitations are a waste of time in any event — they help us understand what you think.

Tammy, I challenge you to give my questions serious thought and response.

This is not an attack. It's a request.

(And Mart, my life is far from moral — bring on the whiskey and the dancing girls!)


On 31 March 2004 (05:17 PM), tammy said:

Sue said: And I have a hard time envisioning that those who act in this way will go to "hell", whether they claim to be religious or not. It is not kindness that determines who goes to hell and who doesn't; the destiny of an individual is determined by whether or not he has accepted the saving blood of Jesus to cover hi sins. Paul says "it is not of works lest anyman should boast. God says all our righteousness is as filthy rags. You can be ever so kind and still end up in a very real hell.


On 31 March 2004 (05:41 PM), mart said:

nothing immoral about whiskey or dancing girls JD. and that's my point... tammy and her kind have a skewed view of morality based on worthless ancient texts (and are trying to pass it off on the rest of us). have any of you tried reading an old computer manual or textbook? know how out-of-touch and sad they always seem? now dial that back another 2000+ years (depending on which half of the bible tammy's uncritically soaking in at any given moment) and you have some clue as to how out of touch with human civilization and cultural advancement she is. and i'm not even talking specifically about tech stuff either. all sorts of advancements in psychology, cosmology, spirituality etc. have been made since then but these blind twats refuse to see... i'm convinced they're the ones holding us back.

we really should just let them get on with this whole "rapture" thing, get whisked away to heaven or wherever the fuck they imagine they're going, and then get down to the business of REALLY evolving.


On 31 March 2004 (07:49 PM), Mom (Sue) said:

I'm aware of what the Bible teaches about salvation, Tammy, and I'll readily admit that I have a problem with some of those verses. To me, it goes back to what Jesus said about judging -- that we will be judged as we have judged others. I'm not going to get into a scripture war here, so won't quote anything directly, but it's there and you can look it up readily with the help of any good concordance. I grew up in a very judgmental religion and I am now on the receiving end of the very judgment that I learned to dish out as a young person growing up. (I remember how as a child in Utah, I saw someone outside of the car I was riding in standing there and smoking quite openly on the sidewalk beside the road, and I had nothing but contempt for that person -- he had to be bad because he was doing something against my religion.) I have tried not to just trade one form of dogmatic religion for another. Where I am is at wanting to affirm others in their beliefs, because who am I to take away something that supports them, even if I don't agree? (Even if it's my Mormon mother?) I don't see Jesus's words about judging giving me that right.


On 31 March 2004 (07:58 PM), Nikchick said:

A lot of this debate would not even be taking place if people were a little better skilled in what the Bible actually does say.

Actually, I have a pretty good idea of what the Bible does say, I just don't go around spouting off about it as a course of my daily life.

More to the point, I was asking leading questions to see if we could get you to give JD the thoughtful answer he was looking for, instead of bumper-sticker-esque quips.

The Ten commandments were repeated by Jesus in the New Testament. Therefore I hold to them. The Old Testament is good for lessons and types and shadows and undersandign better what Jesus really did on the cross but it is not our rule book.

Now *that* is a much more reasonable response.

Keeping in mind that so much of the New Testament comes through Paul, do you believe God is speaking directly through Paul, that Paul was divinely inspired and true? Does it matter to you what politics might have been involved, or how much personal power Paul gained when he was in the position to so define modern Christianity?

I think what JD is getting at is that these things are't neutral. Either you have thought about any number of things like this, or you haven't. We all come to our beliefs through issues like this: you may decide it doesn't matter to your faith if X happened one way and Y happened another way, but you're making decisions about what you believe and why you believe as you do.

As for me, Tiffany pretty well summed up my position. I try not to treat others in ways that I find repulsive myself. If I am wrong for making that the frame of my moral life and you're right and I burn in hell regardless of how nice I've been or what good works I've accomplished, I'm the one who will burn while you're dancing with the angels, and that's that.


On 31 March 2004 (08:03 PM), Dana said:
You are indeed mistaken. Since the Romans did not yet exist at the time that the Old Testament was written, it follows that Romans, written to the people of the same name, falls inside of the New Testament.
Dang!

I wasn't sure, so I googled. Unfortunately, I didn't read through the link I checked it against very carefully.

I think the core of my argument still stands, though, despite this particular gaffe.

Tammy: Dispensation is term referring to the Old and New Testaments in the frame of a time line. It is not another set of books it's just another term.
Dave: You've got me on the Old v. New "Dispensation", however, unless it refers to the "Jesus came to fulfill the law, not destroy the law" line of reasoning.

So Dave is basically right, then? Saying that we were ignorant of the Old and New Dispensation is equivalent to saying that we are ignorant of the Old and New Testament?

I certainly am largely bible-ignorant, although i attended a number of years of Sunday School.

Nate: With the coming and death of Christ, God "cut out the middleman", so to speak, rendering strict adherance to the laws of Leviticus and the like irrelevant.

"We cut out the middleman, and pass the savings on to you!"

Is this discussed in detail in the Bible somewhere? I assume yes, but after my 'Romans' debacle, I want to be sure.

Tammy: A lot of this debate would not even be taking place if people were a little better skilled in what the Bible actually does say.

I think you're wrong there, Tammy. If we knew the Bible better, and how your faith interprets that Bible, well, then we'd probably just be arguing about the same things in a different way.

Since I am basically an Athiest, the contents of the Bible are only useful to me insofar as they allow me to attempt to provide logical arguments to you using a text you find authoritative.

I don't find it authoritative, no matter what's in it, since I don't believe it to be Holy or Inspired. Knowing it's contents better would not increase my faith any.


On 31 March 2004 (08:20 PM), Dana said:
Nikchick: Keeping in mind that so much of the New Testament comes through Paul...

Not to mention the fact that what exactly went into the bible involved a certain amount of picking and choosing:

The Protestant Bible consists of 66 books. The Roman Catholic version, including the Deuterocanonical books, counts altogether 76 books, while the Eastern Orthodox version includes 77 or 78. (4 Maccabees is sometimes included in an appendix, sometimes not.)

(There's lots more here.)


On 31 March 2004 (09:01 PM), Kris said:

In a mostly unrelated topic, I highly recommend that anyone who can listen to last week's "This American Life" titled "The Sanctity of Marriage". You can access the streaming audio through the npr.org site. The first part is about a psychologist/mathematician's fascinating research on what enables married couples to stay together vs. what behaviors predict divorce. (His prediction success rate is 94% after observing couples talking for one hour!) Then, a great sarcastic piece from Adam Felber on the whole "constitutional amendment banning gay marriage" idea. As a double bonus, musical segues include pieces from the soundtracks of both "Amelie" and "Rushmore". Public Radio just may be an absolute good.


On 31 March 2004 (10:27 PM), Tammy said:

I have the kids in bed and so I decided to come reread this entry and see if I could respond in some intelligent way to these questions. I feel though like you all are waiting around for me to hang myself so you can move in for the kill.

There are so many questions I scarcely know where to begin. You all must understand one thing. I live my life by faith and that doesn't lend itself to questioning and requestioning everything I know to be true about the Bible and about the existence of God. To tell you the truth this is by far the hardest debate that I have entered into on this blog because it's hard to describe and to prove a feeling in your heart. How do I know my God is the true God? Because He lives inside of me. See? You guys don't like that answer but I'm sorry, that is how I know.

Jd says to ask myself what if I'm wrong? Well if I'm wrong than I just die and decompose like the animals. I say ask yourselves what if you are wrong? If you are wrong you burn in hell for all eternity. I would sooner believe what I believe and be proven wrong in the end then to risk believing like you do only to find out there is a God and I have to face Him on the judgement Day. Jd have you asked yourself, what if you are wrong?

If my assumptions are wrong would I chose another god? No I would not. What would be the point? Every other religion openly says there god is dead. Why would anyone want to worship a dead god? That would be the height of stupidity.

What if there are no gods? Where would my morality come from? I think that if there were no gods there would be no morality. The animals have no god and they have no morality.

Does one need a god in order to have a moral center? God put in mankind a living soul. He gave man the ability to know right from wrong, good from evil. Because of that even atheists have a moral center. But your question is if there are no gods would humans have a moral center? Again no they would not. They would live their lives like the animals; they would operate out of instinct not from some moral center within. I restate that the reason you have a moral center is because there is a God whether you want to recognize that or not.

If there was no God would the world descend into anarchy? If we assume that since there is no God then there is no devil the answer would be no. We would all go about our daily lives with no purpose. With no devil and no God we would not do anything on the basis of right or wrong. We would operate on base instincts; if we were hungry or threatened we would kill. Not because we are evil but because we have no moral base. Now if there is no God but the devil still existed then, yes, we would sink to the depths of deprivation. Or as you put it we would sink to hedonistic orgies.

Do I think that atheists are without a moral center. I believe I answered that. No I do not believe they flounder without moral guidance.They, like all mankind were created in the image of God. He breathed into them a living soul like anyone else. He gave them a free will like everyone else. He gave them the knowledge of good and evil like everyone else. Because of this they have a moral center. What they do with their Creator is the more important question. A person can have all the morals in the world and still not make it into heaven. It's not our morals that determine our salvation. It's a simple recognization that we are all sinners and in need of a Saviour, and as a result of that recognition asking Him to forgive you and come into your life. You see, jd, there is only one difference between my sin and that of a murderer and that is that my sins are covered by the blood of Jesus. That murderer can ask Jesus into His heart and life and then he too will stand blameless before His Creator for God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Your last question asks, "which rules" my rules? I readily admit that I may have some rules mixed up or misinterpreted. But there are other rules that I know are truth. Some of those rules are the ones I just spelled out above.

Now why don't I like this discussion? Because I have set my feet on a certain path and the path is very narrow. The Bible says it is so narrow that there will be few that find it. The Bible also says that "no man, having put his hand to the plow and looking back shall inherit eternal life." This is an anology of a farmers inability to walk a straight line if he's always looking behind him and questioning the way that he is going.

I have set my hand to the plow and I am not looking back.

Jd, whether you agree with my answers or not, does not matter. They are my answers to your questions. Some one elses answers may be entirely different. But you specifically asked these of me so I specifically answered albeit with great reluctance.


On 31 March 2004 (11:34 PM), Desiree said:

J.D., ... great questions you pose(to the gal on the self-made pedestal)!

With no devil and no God we would not do anything on the basis of right or wrong. We would operate on base instincts; if we were hungry or threatened we would kill. Not because we are evil but because we have no moral base.
-- I can not believe that as there are people that believe there is no God, they do not operate on base instincts but do have morals and values and do know right and wrong --- ooops, there goes your theory, Tammy!
That murderer can ask Jesus into His heart and life and then he too will stand blameless before His Creator for God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
So... according to you, we could all give up our morals for a while -- kill, steal, have sex with the neighbors spouse, and when we are done having fun we should ask Jesus into our heart and life and all is well? Sorry, that sounds so far out of touch---that, my dear, would lead to a very lawless society if that were the case.

On 31 March 2004 (11:44 PM), J.D. Roth said:

Tammy, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I appreciate it. I don't mean for you to feel attacked.

Everyone else: Tammy has done her best to answer these questions. I ask that for this thread only you do your best to restrain yourself and not pick at her answers. Save it for another thread, or take it to her site.

I've never asked my readers to limit their contributions before. This is a special circumstance. Respond if you must, but do not turn this into an endless circle of doctrinal debate.


On 31 March 2004 (11:47 PM), Desiree said:

oh... I guess I missed (before posting that comment) that Tammy does say we have our moral centers because of God --- uh, Tammy, how do you explain the lawless ones, the Sociopaths? What did your God do wrong with them?


On 01 April 2004 (01:59 AM), Sheilah said:

Wow...I am shocked at reading this string of dialogue.

The "bigger" person in me is losing, as I know I shouldn't even be stooping to this level and engaging in this conversation...but, I am.

I'll touch on the few things that bother me the most about this.

1. J.D.-this is not a personal attack, but being that you are TAMMY'S FAMILY, don't you think it was kind of rude to put your questions to her out there, knowing that you're readers would react in this way. It just "feels" like it was intentional to me...my feeling that I got from reading it. I'm glad I know that my family members would not do this to me.

2. Desiree-Why is Tammy the "gal on the self made pedastal"? Because she has a web log on which she states HER beliefs, and responds to those who chose to debate her beliefs? Isn't that what everyone else in this discussion is doing....I guess we better make the pedastal a little bigger, huh?

3. All of this quoting of bible verses from people who don't believe in God , why bother if you don't believe anyway?

4. Have any of you heard of "Faith"? As a Christian, that is what I rely on to know that God's word is THE word I should follow. I think J.D's own mother couldn't have said it better:
"I'm sure there are reasons that I can't even begin to conceive of for the laws and commandments that have been given. I do know (and this answers in part questions on J.D.'s blog) that one reason I maintain a faith in Jesus is because I become very unhappy when I start entertaining doubts. And despite those times when I have wondered if God has any purpose for me or is working in my life at all, I have found that I can look back and see where he has been with me as "all things have come together for good" in most ways in my life."

5. Again, I ask...if you all have so many problems with Tammy and her blog...why do you come back, day after day? Why is one of them most "travelled" personal weblogs in Oregon?


On 01 April 2004 (02:20 AM), nate said:
mart: sadly, this "golden rule thingie" keeps us from collectively beating tammy about the head until she's bloody, or, at the very least, keeps JD from dumping her blog and banning her IPs.

You present quite the fine example of a non-religious person to a religious onlooker -- "too bad this whole morals thing gets in the way of me beating the shit out of everyone who has a different woldview than me!"

mart: but as they say: "it takes all types..." except intolerant and poor-spelling christians. it doesn't take them at all...

It's flippant remarks like that that cast a lingering shadow over the true intentions of those who push for tolerance. If anything, the tone of your comments does more to support Tammy's case than detract from it.

Tolerance should include tolerating the intolerant (there's a mouthful), just as free speech covers those who use it to call for limitations on the same. Christians are called not to tolerance -- tolerance is far too little -- but to compassion. Compassion, however, does not equate acceptance. Thus the dilemma.


On 01 April 2004 (06:06 AM), J.D. Roth said:

Sheilah,

I can understand why you think it was rude of me to pose my questions in a public forum — and maybe it was — but let me assure you that I had no intention of attacking Tammy, and I've tried my best to prevent others from attacking her in this thread while at the same time encouraging Tammy to respond.

The nature of Tammy's posts, and her attitude, invite dissent. She seems to always feel attacked, and frequently complains that she's misunderstood. And, frankly, I often do not understand where she's coming from. (When she says "let's live by the rules", I really don't understand what she means; apparently she means by her rules, which is what I thought.) The brand of Christianity by which I lived when I was younger, wasn't nearly so bold and, well, intolerant.

What I intended to do here was give Tammy (and others — see Tiffany's response) a definitive place in which to lay down their belief system. I also wanted to see if Tammy was capable of exploring hypothetical situations in which her belief system might not be invalid. (Answer: not really. Edit: On a second read, she tries harder than I gave her credit for initially.)

I disagree with Tammy almost all the time. I think that the fact I continue to host her weblog says more about my respect of the familial bond than the fact that I posted a series of challenging questions for her. I actually think both are signs of respect. I could have just launched into a series of ad hominem attacks, couldn't I?


On 01 April 2004 (06:53 AM), tammy said:

Jd, I do not take offence at this entry. However, I do appreciate Sheilah looking out for me. :)

You say: The brand of Christianity by which I lived when I was younger, wasn't nearly so bold and, well, intolerant. I don't think it's the brand of Christianity that is bold as much as it is the person that is bold. Most of Chrisitanity today is still decidedly not bold on a personal level. But I make no apologies. If it were not for bold Christians who dared to be different there would be no stories of Daniel in the lions den, or Paul and Silas imprisoned In Ephesus. There would be no D.L. Moody or Billy Graham. And as far as the intolerant part goes, well, nate said it best when he said, "Compassion does not equate with acceptance." That is profound and so very true for the Christian.

You said, I also wanted to see if Tammy was capable of exploring hypothetical situations in which her belief system might not be invalid. (Answer: not really.) NOw frankly I think I did a good job of exploring the hypothetical. (for me anyway) :) Love ya jd.


On 01 April 2004 (07:34 AM), Amanda said:

Having been raised in a fundamentalist Baptist church, I feel I have a fairly broad understanding of Tammy's beliefs and views. I used to live that life (albeit not of my own choice) and at age 16 made the decision to turn my back on Christianity and religion. Through the years I have explored various reasons for doing so, although in truth it was an emotional decision, not a logical one. I lived for too many years hating everyone and judging them and basically feeling miserable about myself and everyone else.

I no longer feel this way.

Is it because I have forsaken religion? Perhaps. All I know is that from a very early age I was taught to hate, not love. I was taught to judge, not accept. I was taught that anyone who was even slightly different from me was evil and would go straight to hell--even the Southern Baptists and other Protestant religions. But now I know that "their" way was not "the" way, nor was it God's way, at least not the God who teaches love and acceptance.

For me, learning one crucial piece of information made all the difference in how I view the Bible and Christianity and, in some ways, helped solidify the logical reasoning behind my teenage emotional decision. That crucial piece of information is about King James and his translation of the Bible that the vast majority of Christians (including Tammy, if I'm not mistaken) read, quote and believe in wholeheartedly. But King James had his own agenda. He hired scholars to translate the Bible according to his own skewed views and beliefs. This is a proven, historical fact. The original Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic and random other languages that the books of the Bible were written in were translated by individuals who King James hired and directed, hence the "King James version" of the Bible. That's exactly what it is, too--his version of what the original texts say.

So that's why I cannot study, quote or believe in the sanctity of the Bible. Unless I want to learn Hebrew, Greek, et al and study the original texts myself, which I don't, I'll continue to view the Bible as an interesting book full of fascinating stories with some guidelines for living life, but certainly not as God's divine text.


On 01 April 2004 (08:12 AM), Jeff said:

Mart-

I, for one, would pay good money to see your IPs banned from foldedspace weblogs.

If your real life is anything like your online persona, then you need to take advantage of some of those advancements in psychology and get a little professional help.


On 01 April 2004 (11:52 AM), Anthony said:

J. D. , I think your questions are valid and important. Only those whose beliefs are logically sound can ask others to agree with them. So here are some of the answers I have found in my own spiritual journey. I will attempt to summarize your questions and address them in order.

"Whose interpretation of those rules?"
IF the Judeo-Christian scriptures are, as they claim, a message from God to each of us, we would expect the message to be written so that an uneducated pagan or a child could grasp the essentials by a straightforward reading. In addition, the common person would be more likely to approach the message honestly; the guy that sorts cans and bottles at the local dump has much less to lose by a change of belief than the pope does. IF this is so, we could expect to see widespread agreement among Christian movements of the lower classes through time, with increasing confusion as you move up the scale to the religious elite. My knowledge of history confirms this scenario.
Which interpretation is correct? Probably the interpretarion you would end up with if you didn't know better!

"Old or New Testament rules? "
Most Christians, when they say "Old Testament law," are actually referring to the law of Moses. This was a limited law, intended to prepare people for the coming of Jesus. Many of its rules were symbolic of greater things to come. This law didn't change people's basic nature; Mr Smith wouldn't have an affair with Mrs. Jones, because he might get stoned, but he wanted to, just as much as his pagan neighbor.
Jesus fulfilled that law by offering us the power to actually want what God wants. If Mr. and Mrs. Smith prize each other above anyone else, and the Joneses do likewise... the stone pile just gathers moss.
If I truly love my neighbors, I won't need an old rule about restoring sevenfold to prevent me shooting their witless yapping pomeranian. God's higher law of love keeps me from destroying something that is precious to them. Likewise, if I live all week in the presence of God, I no longer need to set aside one sacred day in seven for worship. Life itself is a Sabbath now.
The law of Moses was a good fence, and it kept people from falling into the canyons and quicksands of sin.
Some people think Jesus cut the fence. Some think He left us inside it. He did neither. He gave us wings.

"Which rules are more important?"
I hope my previous statements can illuminate this question. A person who truly loves God is looking for ways to please Him. Such a person gladly does whatever God asks, whether it seems important or not. ( Many Christians try just obeying the "important" rules. But why squeeze under the fence and get stuck in the quicksand, when you could grow wings?)

"Can you safely ignore some rules? What about unclean animals?"
As I have said, some parts of the law of Moses were symbols, to prepare people for the arrival of Jesus. Dietary laws were first given to Moses, and they were both new and temporary. God had earlier given Noah permission to eat all kinds of animals. So with the rules forbidding mixed crops and mixed fabrics. In contrast, the institution of marriage between 1 man and 1 woman dates to the garden of Eden. Reverence for all forms of life, and for the earth itself, is also based in Genesis; humankind's first assignment was to nurture the garden. Such laws did not begin with Moses; thus they did not end with the arrival of Jesus. They were part of the original creation.

"Who is the arbiter?"
Because the New Covenant lives in the hearts of people, it has no earthly rulers, brandishes no earthly sword, and centers on no earthly shrine. God enforces His own rules, and each of us is personally accountable to Him. People who try to marry the church to the state in the name of Christ have done more damage to Christianity than the most vocal enemies of Jesus could have.

"Why these rules?"
Among the world's sacred writings, the Bible is remarkable in its testability. It makes hundreds of specific references to rulers, places, and events. It also makes statements concerning all major branches of science.
Wherever it makes such testable statements, it has been found to be absolutely unique in its accuracy. For example, it is commonly alleged that the writers of Genesis borrowed the story of Noah's flood from the Gilgamesh Epic. Yet the dimensions Genesis gives for the ark are known by modern naval architects to be remarkably stable on heavy seas, whereas Utnapishtim's "ark" was cube-shaped, with cargo distributed evenly on seven decks. Picture the hapless Utnapishtim and his family plummetting to and fro among mounds of desperate animals, as the cube-shaped craft tumbles over and over.
This accuracy is even more astonishing when you consider that many of the writers of the Bible were common laborers, with little or no education, and that it was written over thousands of years. No other sacred writings can claim these characteristics. Thus I have found it reasonable to accept the divine authorship of the Bible.

"What if my set of rules is wrong?"
If I claim to love the truth, this question is not only fair, it is necessary. I was asking this question by the time I was five or six years old. Of course the answers that satisfied me then were simpler than what I require now. I recently read a quote, which I can't find now, stating that true belief begins with doubt. I think there is truth in that concept. If my set of rules turns out to be wrong, I will become an agnostic, an atheist, a Buddhist, or whatever turns out to be right.

"What if there were no gods?"
I feel that an honest look at the real world, including the laws of physics, the makeup of humans, the record of history, etc, leads one by paths of simple logic to the inescapable conclusion that God is the Prime Mover. Thus I logically conclude that if God did not exist, nothing else would.

"What if you had to construct a moral life without somebody else to guide you?"
J. D., you have said that your current morals are influenced partly by your Mormon and Mennonite upbringing. I believe there are many non-christians, including atheists, who are unconciously operating at least partly on God's principles, if only because our society still encourages it. But if I had to operate without a belief in a revealed Creator, I would find my existence absolutely meaningless, and I would quite likely respond as many in my generation have and end my life before someone else does it for me. I think that would be the only way to avoid living with a dual reality.


I am entirely open to honest questions regarding what I have written here. Many of you will no doubt be disgusted at my willingness to accept Genesis as literal history. However, I believe I am more familiar with the theory of evolution than many evolutionists are, and I have found a literal belief in Genesis to be much more intellectually satisfying and more believable as well. If you want to challenge that issue, I suggest as a resource for further study the website . The articles there are for the most part written by highly educated and well credentialed scientists, and everything I have read in the evolutionary literature confirms what these experts are saying.

Finally, I answered J.D.'s questions because I believe he is honest. Do not expect me to respond to anyone who is simply angered that their beliefs are being challenged. I am never afraid to answer honest questions, even if I have to simply say "I don't know".


On 01 April 2004 (12:18 PM), Anthony said:

I see the website I included did not post. Here it is again. www.answersingenesis.org


On 01 April 2004 (02:51 PM), mart said:

JD: I could have just launched into a series of ad hominem attacks, couldn't I?

nah. that's what you pay ME for...

jeff:
bah.

nate:
bah. reread my comment again and then detect the hint of irony in it this time. a literal reading of everything is tammy's territory, are you challenging her for her spot?

i've said it before and i'll say it again: until JD tells me i've crossed a line, i'll continue to express myself as i see fit. lighten up you two...

sorry to get in the way of the 300th annual foldedspace dana vs. tammy bible battle.


On 01 April 2004 (05:12 PM), nate said:
mart: reread my comment again and then detect the hint of irony in it this time.

Irony or no, you should at least try to maintain an air of civility in your posts if you expect to be tolerated yourself. It is possible to conduct an arguement without resorting to petty attempts at character assassination, you know.


On 01 April 2004 (06:12 PM), Dave said:

Although raised in a Conservative Southern Baptist church and later attending a fairly liberal Mennonite church (well, as liberal as Mennonites get, I suppose), much like Amanda I abandoned my religious connections at the age of 16. This was not because of any internal change at the age of 16, but primarily because that's when I got a car and a job that would let me have a decent excuse for not going with the parents to church on Sunday morning. Long before then I had abandoned my religious convictions.

I did so, among other reasons, because I could not make "the leap of faith." I was not willing to blindly believe something because a book told me to believe it. I heard no voice of God echoing in my head and I had no numinous experience to convince me that although there was no intellectual justification for the position there was a "spiritual" basis for the belief. Subsequent education confirmed my original conclusions about the text of the scriptures. They were written by men, with man's agenda. Perhaps they justified their actions with the claim of divine inspiration or divine right, but generally speaking the interpretations of the translations of the original texts fit with a particular historical context that explained them far better than did divine inspiration. Even the original Hebrew texts were drawn from different historical perspectives and include obvious fragments of Babylonian myths, for example. Perhaps God inspired the ancient Babylonians as well, although I've not heard a modern Christian make that argument.

Nor could I find a basis for concluding that one religion was superior to another in the sense that one was correct and all others were wrong. If Christianity was correct, Jews, God's chosen people, were going to hell. They'd have good company with several billion Chinese, Japanese, Indians, and American Indians who'd been born after the time of Christ but had never heard the word. Every Buddist, every Shintoist, Confucian, animist, "pagan" and Zoarastrian: hell, hell, hell, hell, hell and, you guessed it, hell. Conversely, if they were right then the Christians weren't making it to the promised land.

What was it that distinguished each of these? Many things. What was it that they all had in common? They each believe that they are the right way to salvation, heaven, Nibbana, etc. What says that any one is correct over the other ones? Each point to their own teachings as a basis for their superiority. None can point to any basis beyond what is ultimately in Christian terms, the leap of faith.

As for "the rules", certainly I do not take issue with anyone's interpretation of their own faith, regardless of whether I personally believe that they withstand scrutiny. I have a more than passing familiarity with the Bible and I may take issue with a theological interpretation simply because I enjoy a good argument, but why would I bother to tell Tammy or anyone else how she should live if she is comfortable with her beliefs and her life that she has as a result of those beliefs? And if Tammy wants to use her blog (or JD's for that matter) to preach, that's her business. I'm free to ignore her or not as I see fit. My expectation, however, is that if she's going to present herself as a target then she, like anyone else doing the same thing, had better be prepared to take their lumps.

The place at which I do find legitimate issue, however, is when "Tammy" (I'm using Tammy as a convenient name for a class of people, it's nothing personal Tammy) expects everyone else around her to conform to her belief system. The expectation is that we should conform because that is self-evidently the appropriate thing to do (because God said so), not because there is any particular objective basis for the belief. Perhaps all belief systems can agree on certain specific things, ie. don't kill each other, but why should Tammy's belief system dictate how I dress, or what type of sexual relationships I choose to have? Thus far the only answer I've seen is that "God says so", or rather, "Because my interpretation of what God says says so."

That's never been good enough for me.

In fact, however, I do believe that some rules are very beneficial. They enable us to survive as a species. We've generally agreed not to kill each other. Most of the time. We've generally agreed not to take other people's property. Most of the time. In as much as religious institutions perform the function of ingraining certain behavior patterns like not stealing or not killing, then they are performing a valuable function and they should continue to perform that function. But it should be a matter of choice. My choice for my life. Not someone else's choice for my set of beliefs and how I should choose to live.

To answer JD's original question- OUR rules, not just your rules. Because we need rules upon which we all agree, not upon which just the most vocal agree.


On 01 April 2004 (07:29 PM), mart said:

ahhhhhhh but nate, there is no "conducting an argument" with tammy, at least not according to any of the accepted guidelines of discourse (as dana can well-attest).

sometimes when all else fails, you can turn to people like, well... me.


On 01 April 2004 (07:37 PM), mart said:

dave: some nice points in there put more calmly than i could ever hope to. why do christians piss me off so bad? because they tend to attempt to legislate their morals on the rest of us (be it through voting, missionary work, etc.)


On 02 April 2004 (08:12 AM), Jeff said:

Someone posted this a while back:

It's just sad that people can't express their opinions in a way that keeps others from feeling hurt.

And my response was:

...and pretty soon all the comments read something like this:

Of all the weblogs JD has written, this is definitely one of them.

True freedom of speech does not need to be tempered by political correctness - whether the opinion is liberal or conservative.

So... Mart,

While the majority of your comments are rude, irrelevent personal attacks; I dont't think JD needs to censor them. I would expect you to have a little bit of maturity and restraint - that is if you have truly evolved as far as you seem to think you have.

You take issue with Tammy's intolerance, and yet you are equally as intolerant to anyone's opinion other than your own. The only difference is that Tammy is able to present herself without resorting to the vulgarity of a 12 year old school boy.

If you choose to continue this immature behavior, that's fine - you will just continue to be perceived as a complete ass.

Good day sir.



On 02 April 2004 (09:51 AM), mart said:

yeah good day... i think i'll let this one die and back away until i reach my next tammy threshold.


On 24 April 2004 (09:08 PM), Scott said:

JD, trying to catch up on your blog. I can't say that I read what led to this post yet except that when reading yours I think I counted over 40 questions.

Pilot too asked Jesus a question, "What is truth?"
and for years there have been politicians, scientists, theologians, philosophers, poets, ans so on to tell him. The sound they make is like the sound of crickets chirping.

Jesus doesn't answer Pilate's question. He just stands there. Stands, and stands there.

We can break things/people down. It's really quite easy to do. We can all make people question their belief systems or ethics or morals and to some degree it's valuable and necessary.

But sometimes, too many questions become like crickets chirping.


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