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Mormons in Politics
Posted: 22 September 2012 11:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]  
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buybuydandavis - 22 September 2012 11:20 PM

Notice that we didn’t hear a peep from them about Obama’s racist church, with it’s “Marxism in Stained Glass” of Black Liberation Theology.

Why? Because they want Obama to win, and their collectivist assumptions are largely in line with the Black Liberation Theology besides.

You had a brilliant post going up until this point.  Now you just sound partisan.  Obama thoroughly threw Jeremiah Wright under the bus for the exact same reason he began attending his church in the first place.  It was politically expedient.  Let’s not come with any of this nonsense about Obama being a racist, or a Muslim, or a foreign national, or a socialist.  I have a lot of problems with Obama’s policies, but these attacks are garbage. 

buybuydandavis - 22 September 2012 11:20 PM

Yes, the religious bigotry being stirred up against Mormons by some atheists is rather odious. But it’s really just your mistake to be surprised that your atheist heroes engage in it. Let this be a lesson - the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend.

I’m not surprised by their attacks against Mormonism, they are perfectly valid.  I’m simply irritated that they make a transparent logical error when they say that Mormonism is worse than any other brand of evangelicalism, with which I group it.  In truth, it is indistinguishable.  Like the Seventh Day Adventists.


I’m glad you brought up the Adventists.  I know close to nothing about them except that they are similar in many respects to the Mormons in their practices and perhaps in their origins.  I don’t think you’ve lived until you’ve had a Mormon explain to you how ridiculous it is to be an Adventist.  Such delicious irony; it could feed a tribe for a year. 

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Posted: 23 September 2012 12:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]  
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TheCoolinator - 22 September 2012 11:51 PM
buybuydandavis - 22 September 2012 11:20 PM

Notice that we didn’t hear a peep from them about Obama’s racist church, with it’s “Marxism in Stained Glass” of Black Liberation Theology.

Why? Because they want Obama to win, and their collectivist assumptions are largely in line with the Black Liberation Theology besides.

You had a brilliant post going up until this point.  Now you just sound partisan.  Obama thoroughly threw Jeremiah Wright under the bus for the exact same reason he began attending his church in the first place.  It was politically expedient.

You’ll have to tell me what part of that was inaccurate.

About the only mistaken impression you might get is that I think our Mormon denouncing atheists share the racism of Black Liberation - I don’t think they do.

Is it a racist church?
Is Marxism in Stained Glass a basically accurate description of it?
Do the atheists you point to want Obama to win, or at least prefer him over Romney?
Are they collectivists, and is their collectivism largely in line with that of Black Liberation Theology?

I think the answer to all of those is yes. Maybe I should clarify that I don’t think any of them believe in government ownership and operation of the means of production, but that’s hardly all of Marxism.

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Posted: 23 September 2012 12:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]  
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buybuydandavis - 23 September 2012 12:06 AM


You’ll have to tell me what part of that was inaccurate.

very well

buybuydandavis - 23 September 2012 12:06 AM


Is it a racist church?
Is Marxism in Stained Glass a basically accurate description of it?

What does Jeremiah Wright’s church have to do with anything?

buybuydandavis - 23 September 2012 12:06 AM


Do the atheists you point to want Obama to win, or at least prefer him over Romney?

I should hope so.  Their commitment to reason would seem to require it.

buybuydandavis - 23 September 2012 12:06 AM


Are they collectivists, and is their collectivism largely in line with that of Black Liberation Theology?

No.  This boarders the line of fringe lunacy.

buybuydandavis - 23 September 2012 12:06 AM


I think the answer to all of those is yes.  Maybe I should clarify that I don’t think any of them believe in government ownership and operation of the means of production, but that’s hardly all of Marxism.

Do tell.

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Posted: 23 September 2012 01:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]  
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TheCoolinator - 23 September 2012 12:34 AM

What does Jeremiah Wright’s church have to do with anything?

What was Obama’s church for most of his adult life, and was only abandoned when it was politically expedient to do so, is about as relevant as Romney’s church.

TheCoolinator - 23 September 2012 12:34 AM
buybuydandavis - 23 September 2012 12:06 AM


Do the atheists you point to want Obama to win, or at least prefer him over Romney?

I should hope so.  Their commitment to reason would seem to require it.

So the Democratic Party is the Party of Reason? Any rational person would prefer Obama’s policies over Romney’s?

TheCoolinator - 23 September 2012 12:34 AM
buybuydandavis - 23 September 2012 12:06 AM


Are they collectivists, and is their collectivism largely in line with that of Black Liberation Theology?

No.  This boarders the line of fringe lunacy.

So they’re not collectivists, and it is fringe lunacy to suggest they are?

Sam is as explicitly collectivist as they come. He wrote a whole book on it. Someone who believes that serving the Well Being of Conscious Creatures is the standard of morality is a collectivist. That’s not fringe lunacy - that’s just an accurate observation.

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Posted: 23 September 2012 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]  
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The is a clear double standard with regard to Obama and Romney and their respective religions.  I’ve had this discussion on boards and in-person with friends.  The consensus and media spin is that Obama is really a rational atheist but had to attend a black church to keep his ‘black’  street credentials while Romney is a true psycho who literally believes his faith.  I argue that Obama’s rhetoric and policies are much truer to Christianity than Romney’s proposed agenda.  I’ve read that Obama has conjured the name of Jesus, faith and “brother’s keeper” nonsense more than George W.

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Posted: 23 September 2012 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]  
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mormovies - 23 September 2012 06:04 AM

The is a clear double standard with regard to Obama and Romney and their respective religions.  I’ve had this discussion on boards and in-person with friends.  The consensus and media spin is that Obama is really a rational atheist but had to attend a black church to keep his ‘black’  street credentials while Romney is a true psycho who literally believes his faith.  I argue that Obama’s rhetoric and policies are much truer to Christianity than Romney’s proposed agenda.  I’ve read that Obama has conjured the name of Jesus, faith and “brother’s keeper” nonsense more than George W.

Redistribution of wealth is no less delusional than wearing underwear for personal protection.

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Posted: 23 September 2012 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]  
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mormovies - 23 September 2012 06:04 AM

The is a clear double standard with regard to Obama and Romney and their respective religions.  I’ve had this discussion on boards and in-person with friends.  The consensus and media spin is that Obama is really a rational atheist but had to attend a black church to keep his ‘black’  street credentials while Romney is a true psycho who literally believes his faith.  I argue that Obama’s rhetoric and policies are much truer to Christianity than Romney’s proposed agenda.  I’ve read that Obama has conjured the name of Jesus, faith and “brother’s keeper” nonsense more than George W.

What a sad state of affairs when the population actually considers electing a cult member, but an atheist still can’t get elected to anything above class prez.

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Posted: 23 September 2012 11:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]  
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Ice Monkey - 23 September 2012 10:35 AM
mormovies - 23 September 2012 06:04 AM

The is a clear double standard with regard to Obama and Romney and their respective religions.  I’ve had this discussion on boards and in-person with friends.  The consensus and media spin is that Obama is really a rational atheist but had to attend a black church to keep his ‘black’  street credentials while Romney is a true psycho who literally believes his faith.  I argue that Obama’s rhetoric and policies are much truer to Christianity than Romney’s proposed agenda.  I’ve read that Obama has conjured the name of Jesus, faith and “brother’s keeper” nonsense more than George W.

What a sad state of affairs when the population actually considers electing a cult member, but an atheist still can’t get elected to anything above class prez.

We are all cult members.

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Posted: 23 September 2012 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]  
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buybuydandavis - 23 September 2012 01:08 AM
TheCoolinator - 23 September 2012 12:34 AM

What does Jeremiah Wright’s church have to do with anything?

What was Obama’s church for most of his adult life, and was only abandoned when it was politically expedient to do so, is about as relevant as Romney’s church.

I have argued that neither is relevant. 

buybuydandavis - 23 September 2012 12:06 AM


So the Democratic Party is the Party of Reason? Any rational person would prefer Obama’s policies over Romney’s?

No to the first question.  Yes to the second.  As I’ve said, I have no love for Obama’s policies, though he is better by far than most of his party.  Romney leads a fringe party of psychopathic extremists and, though like Obama he is better than the bulk of his party, one must travel a great deal more distance to get to rationality when one departs from the Republican base camp instead of the Democrat camp. 

buybuydandavis - 23 September 2012 12:06 AM


So they’re not collectivists, and it is fringe lunacy to suggest they are?

Yes.

buybuydandavis - 23 September 2012 12:06 AM


Sam is as explicitly collectivist as they come. He wrote a whole book on it. Someone who believes that serving the Well Being of Conscious Creatures is the standard of morality is a collectivist. That’s not fringe lunacy - that’s just an accurate observation.

col•lec•tiv•ism/Noun:
1. The practice or principle of giving a group priority over each individual in it.
2. The theory and practice of the ownership of land and the means of production by the people or the state.


Being a philosophical collectivist and a political collectivist is not the same thing. One does not imply the other.  In fact, they can be shown to be incompatible since the best known economic model for producing the most good for the most people is Capitalism.


But you’ve mischaracterized Sam, since he is clearly not a collectivist in either sense of the word.  He explicitly sides with the Existentialists in stating the people should be free to define and to weight well being according to their own criteria, so long as they are not psychopaths or otherwise incompatible with social life.  This does not even rule out Randian ethics which are manifestly absurd.

[ Edited: 23 September 2012 03:33 PM by TheCoolinator]
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Posted: 23 September 2012 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]  
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mormovies - 23 September 2012 06:04 AM

The is a clear double standard with regard to Obama and Romney and their respective religions.  I’ve had this discussion on boards and in-person with friends.  The consensus and media spin is that Obama is really a rational atheist but had to attend a black church to keep his ‘black’  street credentials while Romney is a true psycho who literally believes his faith.  I argue that Obama’s rhetoric and policies are much truer to Christianity than Romney’s proposed agenda.  I’ve read that Obama has conjured the name of Jesus, faith and “brother’s keeper” nonsense more than George W.

Though we’d all love for an atheist to be President, you have to go really far in order to qualify him as one.  He doesn’t speak like one, he doesn’t act like one, and he expressly rejects those that indicate he may be one.  Even though he is a politician, I’ll take him at his word on this point.


Those who argue that he is an atheist are either Republicans looking to weaken his support among his base, or secular liberals who are engaged in wishful thinking.

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Posted: 24 September 2012 01:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]  
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TheCoolinator - 23 September 2012 03:17 PM
buybuydandavis - 23 September 2012 01:08 AM
buybuydandavis - 23 September 2012 12:06 AM


So the Democratic Party is the Party of Reason? Any rational person would prefer Obama’s policies over Romney’s?

No to the first question.  Yes to the second.
...
Being a philosophical collectivist and a political collectivist is not the same thing. One does not imply the other.
...
But you’ve mischaracterized Sam, since he is clearly not a collectivist in either sense of the word.  He explicitly sides with the Existentialists in stating the people should be free to define and to weight well being according to their own criteria, so long as they are not psychopaths or otherwise incompatible with social life.  This does not even rule out Randian ethics which are manifestly absurd.

1) Ok. You have concluded that no rational people prefer Romney’s policies over Obama’s. It’s mighty convenient to conclude that all the rational people agree with your politics. For my part, I’ve concluded that it is fruitless discussing politics with such people.

2) Never claimed that Sam or the Obama supporting atheists denouncing Romney believe in government ownership and operation of the means of production. In fact, I’m pretty sure I explicited stated the contrary.

3) Sam argues for Objective Morality, where the objectively moral is that which maximizes the well being of conscious creatures. Somehow, you’ve interpreted Sam as taking Objective well being to mean whatever people subjectively choose to define it as. That’s a rather interesting interpretation of Objective.

But you say he has “explcitly” done so. Please provide quotes. I would be most interested to see quotes from Sam where he completely reverses the whole point of his book.

[ Edited: 25 November 2012 07:25 PM by buybuydandavis]
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Posted: 24 September 2012 08:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]  
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buybuydandavis - 24 September 2012 01:09 AM

1) Ok. You have concluded that no rational people prefer Romney’s policies over Obama’s. It’s mighty convenient to conclude that all the rational people agree with your politics. For my part, I’ve concluded that it is fruitless discussing politics with such people.

There is plenty of room for rational disagreement.  There is simply no rationality in positions which advocate expanding the defense budget, denying women access to reproductive care, criminalizing abortion, and refusing equal rights to homosexuals.  If Republicans would drop these manifestly irrational ideas which are core to their platform, I think I would prefer them to the idiotic Democrats.

buybuydandavis - 24 September 2012 01:09 AM

2) Never claimed that Sam or the Obama supporting atheists denouncing Romney believe in government ownership and operation of the means of production. In fact, I’m pretty sure I explicited stated the contrary.

By what criteria do you label them collectivists?  Perhaps you’re just confused about the definition of the word.

buybuydandavis - 24 September 2012 01:09 AM

3) Sam argues for Objective Morality, where the objectively moral is that which maximizes the well being of conscious creatures. Somehow, you’ve interpreted Sam as taking Objective well being to mean whatever people subjectively choose to define it as. That’s a rather interesting interpretation of Objective.  But you say he has “explcitly” done so. Please provide quotes. I would be most interested to see quotes from Sam where he completely reverses the whole point of his book.

He doesn’t reverse the point of the book, you simply mischaracterize it.  Methinks intentionally.  It’s a simple semantic trick to call Sam’s positions collectivist as you’ve shown, but he doesn’t argue for that as far as I am aware.  Perhaps you could provide a quote where he does.


As far as Sam’s position on Morality, the gist of it is this:


“the difference between the Good Life and the Bad Life could not be clearer: the question, for both individuals and groups, is how can we most reliably move in one direction and avoid moving in the other?”
Harris, Sam (2010-10-05). The Moral Landscape (p. 22). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.


He does not offer any hint of a suggestion anywhere that I have found as to whether collectivism or individualism is a better strategy for a society.  He limits himself to observing that it is possible for scientific inquiry to illuminate the correct answer to that question.  To wit:


“The fact that it might be difficult to decide exactly how to balance individual rights against collective interests, or that there might be a thousand equivalent ways of doing this, does not mean that there aren’t objectively terrible ways of doing this.”
Harris, Sam (2010-10-05). The Moral Landscape (p. 42). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.


Finally, you requested that I back up the following; “He explicitly sides with the Existentialists in stating the people should be free to define and to weight well being according to their own criteria.”  Here you go:


“One of the most refreshing ideas to come out of existentialism (perhaps the only one) is that we are free to interpret and reinterpret the meaning of our lives.”
Harris, Sam (2012-03-06). Free Will (p. 40). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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Posted: 20 November 2012 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]  
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Thought provoking thread.  I do, though, have a minor nit to pick with TheCoolinator’s original post.  I think it is a bit unfair with respect to Dawkins and possibly Harris, or at least their positions.


The premise, as I understand it, is that once we reject the first of the two propositions advanced by TheCoolinator – that there is an interventionist or at least interested god – then debate over the second proposition is debate over angels dancing on pins.  Perhaps.  I’m not sure I agree, but am not yet ready to defend my position on it.  My nit is that some of the people TheCoolinator seems to be criticizing have not necessarily rejected his first proposition out of hand. 


For example, as I understand Dawkins’ position and possibly Harris’, it is that the existence of an involved god is simply a hypothesis that must be tested like any other.  Thus, he takes a Popperian view.  If one is this type of atheist, then I think it is entirely appropriate to draw distinctions between various faiths, because the question is one of plausibility.


Thus, imagine that carbon-tested manuscripts are discovered at a time when science can say they are contemporaneous with the alleged life of Christ, and they contain seemingly dispassionate accounts of some part of the mainstream Christian legend.  “Hey, Rebekka – just writing with some interesting news.  Remember that Jeshua kid from Bethlehem who could do magic tricks?  He’s still at it.  Loaves to fishes again, and I have no idea how he does it.  Saw it myself, with dozens of others.  Ate the fish.  Bizarre.  Oh, and I also was asked to help his mother with a medical issue.  She’s gynecologically intact.  WTF?”


This would go some distance in bridging the gap that must be bridged to establish the veracity of claims of certain non-Mormon Christians.  It would also bridge some of the gap that must be bridged to establish the veracity of claim of Mormons.  But, and this is the point, the latter’s gap remains larger, because they heap even more supernatural claims on top of the original.


Put another way, let’s say some people believe a superhero lived in the 1920s who could bend steel bars with beams from his eyes.  Let’s say that others believe that zombies ate his bones and developed not only the power to bend steel bars with their eyes but also the ability to time travel.  I think TheCoolinator’s original premise is that once one says, “I don’t believe in superheroes,” there is no difference between these two belief systems.  Again, I’m not sure I agree, but let’s say I do.  My point still stands.  It is that, if instead of the affirmative non-belief in superheroes one’s position is, “the existence of superheroes is a proposition that must be supported, if it can, by science,” then there is a quite a difference between the two belief systems.


In short, Mormonism is less plausible than some forms of mainstream Christianity.  Now, one might say this is all a silly debate, because you’re talking about the difference between a religion that has a 1x10-30 chance of being correct and one that has a 1x10-40 chance of being correct.  While this is a difference in order of magnitude of 10 trillion, who cares when we’re talking about two infinitesimal possibilities?  I think this would be a fair point. 


But I think I disagree with what I think is Coolinator’s implication that it is gratuitous for an atheist to criticize one religion (Mormonism) more than another (regular Christianity) with respect to the details of their beliefs.  It is not gratuitous when (1) the debate is about relative plausibility of the hypotheses advanced by each religion, and (2) offered by they type of atheist who does not affirmatively disbelieve in god but views it as an exceptionally remote possibility based on current evidence.  Now, perhaps the language used for Mormonism is more strident than it could be, but I do think it’s necessary to put comments like those of Dawkins and perhaps Harris into the proper context.


Edit:  Typos.  Clarification.

[ Edited: 20 November 2012 10:16 AM by regularguy]
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Posted: 20 November 2012 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]  
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Thanks for the thoughtful post RegularGuy, but I’m afraid you’ve made a fundamental error in your logic.  You imply that you are the “type of atheist who does not affirmatively disbelieve in god but views it as an exceptionally remote possibility based on current evidence.”  But we aren’t talking about the esoteric idea of some God existing.  We are talking about a specific testable God hypothesis in which the same spirit responsible for the creation of our planet some 6 thousand years ago authored the book which describes that event.  The probability of that Christian God existing is exactly 0, not 1x10-30 as you estimate – which may be a good estimate for some God existing, I don’t have the skills to attempt any kind of probability analysis on the point, but I won’t object to your offer since seems small enough to be feasible. 


The Mormons pile additional 0 probability suppositions on top of the Christian God hypothesis, but this doesn’t hurt their outcome in the bayesian analysis Dr. Harris offers in the quote I used in my initial post, since the product of any number and 0 is 0.  If I may illustrate by belaboring the point: they could found their religion on the supposition that the Earth is less massive than the Sun (1) and that the Bible is word of God (0) and arrive at the exact same outcome as they do by founding their religion on the supposition that the Book of Mormon is the word of God (0) and that the Bible is also word of God (0).


So, we are not quibbling about “a 1x10-30 chance of being correct and … a 1x10-40 chance of being correct.”  However, even if we were, my point would still stand.  It would not serve any useful purpose to point out that the guy that is making financial plans for the funds he will acquire with his 3rd lottery jackpot win is objectively more crazy than the guy who is planning for the funds he’ll get in is 2nd such win (assuming neither has already hit one such jackpot).  We can content ourselves with the statement that they are both bound for disappointment. 


I propose we drop all of this non-sense and get back to the real meat of my critique which, if memory serves, only one poster has so far addressed.  This issue isn’t how probable are the beliefs of Mormons and Christians, but how dangerous.  I give them nearly equal and appallingly poor marks on that important point.  I’ve not yet heard a single compelling reason from anyone about why I should be more leery of Mormons than of other denominations of Christians.

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Posted: 20 November 2012 04:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]  
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TheCoolinator - 20 November 2012 11:34 AM

The Mormons pile additional 0 probability suppositions on top of the Christian God hypothesis,

From my understanding of Mormonism, this is actually false. Mormons don’t have the same views of God as other sects, plus some extra ones, they have a fundamentally different view of God and Christ than the usual trinitarian suspects, such as the Catholic Church. They don’t have the “ineffable, indescribable, beyond the universe” mumbo jumbo. No 1 in 3, 3 in 1 gibberish as well. As such, I find it fundamentally more rational than most other forms of Christianity.

This place details differences from a Christian apologetic (non Mormon) viewpoint.
http://carm.org/comparison-between-christian-doctrine-and-mormon-doctrine

Sam’s argument that Mormonism is more likely to be false because it entails more is just factually incorrect. Mormonism doesn’t entail all of any other major Christian sect. Mormonism isn’t Catholocism plus extra claims, or Lutherianism plus, or any sect of Christianity plus.

Feel free to snicker about magic underwear, but personally, I’m more creeped out by ritual cannibalism.


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