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DCTravelAgent
06-21-2007, 10:33 AM
Interesting implications:

http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/06/20/donating.embryos.ap/index.html

More than 2,000 couples surveyed
They chose nine fertility centers around the United States and randomly selected more than 2,000 couples to be sent questionnaires.
Of 1,020 people who responded by saying they still had embryos in storage, 49 percent said they were likely to donate some or all of them for research. When asked specifically about stem cell research, the portion willing to donate embryos rose to 62 percent.
"It suggests that people are more willing to pursue research when they know more about it and how it might benefit their fellow citizens," Lyerly said.

bodega
06-21-2007, 10:57 AM
It appears that American's have more heart and understanding than our President!

Ned
06-21-2007, 01:22 PM
B., as you know, I am an unabashed critic of President Bush, nevertheless, I would not accuse him of having little heart. I don't think he has a real understanding of a whole lot, with regard to this issue, or any other, which he perceives doesn't fit into his philosophy of life. To me it's a lot like evolution. Most of the people who believe evolution and the Bible are incompatible know almost nothing about evolution, and how it's actually worked. It's the same story with embryonic stem cell research. Their minds are closed. I have found very few people against this reasearch who are willing to discuss it, and try to understand the other side of the issues. There are a few here at Tripso who are definite exceptions to that, but in the rest of the world, my experience is as described.

I also resent his decisions to run the government which are based on his religious principles. I think that's happening here with stem cell research. I think that the President of the United States needs to leave religion at his residence quarters at the White House. Clearly, we don't want ethics and morals left there, but religion, in my opinion should not be a factor in running the government, and right now I think it is one of the main factors, if it's not #1.

It appears that American's have more heart and understanding than our President!

clarkef
06-21-2007, 02:03 PM
I think that position needs to be flushed out with more nuance.

Granted, we do not want to force anyone to believe in one faith or another, or any for that matter. Whether you worship God, Allah, or even whales, thats your business and your right. But, religion, ethics, and morals are all appropriate basis for social discourse and change and have been used historically to shape American culture.

The wonderful millions of blacks, jews, and gentiles who marched with the Reverend Dr. King understood that -isms are an offense to God himself and ultimately bad for a democratic, multi-ethnic nation.

The American abolitionist as well as the great Parliamentarian William Wilburforce, believed that slavery made a mockery of God's commandments and strived to end slavery.

Western style government social welfare programs are an outgrowth of Jewish and Christian traditions of helping people as compared to a belief in eastern Karmic pre-destination.

I would argue that Bush's use of religion to shape his positions on abortion and stem cell research are perfectly compatible with a long American history of using religion, as well as morals and ethics in debating social issues.

Of course, people of good conscience may disagree with Bush's positions, but that's just democracy

Ned
06-21-2007, 04:32 PM
Debate is one thing, but using religious principles to set governmental rules, regulations and laws is quite another.

I think that position needs to be flushed out with more nuance.

Granted, we do not want to force anyone to believe in one faith or another, or any for that matter. Whether you worship God, Allah, or even whales, thats your business and your right. But, religion, ethics, and morals are all appropriate basis for social discourse and change and have been used historically to shape American culture.

The wonderful millions of blacks, jews, and gentiles who marched with the Reverend Dr. King understood that -isms are an offense to God himself and ultimately bad for a democratic, multi-ethnic nation.

The American abolitionist as well as the great Parliamentarian William Wilburforce, believed that slavery made a mockery of God's commandments and strived to end slavery.

Western style government social welfare programs are an outgrowth of Jewish and Christian traditions of helping people as compared to a belief in eastern Karmic pre-destination.

I would argue that Bush's use of religion to shape his positions on abortion and stem cell research are perfectly compatible with a long American history of using religion, as well as morals and ethics in debating social issues.

Of course, people of good conscience may disagree with Bush's positions, but that's just democracy

bodega
06-21-2007, 05:54 PM
I only hope that the President never has a family member that would benefit from stem cell research and the use of stem cell's to treat their disease. He is allowing his religious views to interfere with something that could benefit thousands of Americans. I have looked into this for personal reasons and the President's stand is wrong. However, I do not believe he thinks for himself and allows others to tell him what to think and what to say. He is stupid, dumb, heartless and a lousy President.

Yes, I feel better and I hope my family member can get feeling better, too!

clarkef
06-21-2007, 06:29 PM
Debate is one thing, but using religious principles to set governmental rules, regulations and laws is quite another.
You cannot make that a blanket statement. It really depends on the law.

If the law is based upon first principles, then religion is a proper source. For example, if we take the first principle that life is precious, then we can forbid murder. It doesn't matter whether your belief that life is precious arises from a philisophical viewpoint, a religious one, or even an economic one.

By converse, a law requiring school prayer is not based upon any generally accepted first principle and thus would be improper.

That is why the example of civil rights, abolitionist, and the like are generally admired in history.

JNS
06-21-2007, 06:59 PM
You cannot make that a blanket statement. It really depends on the law.

If the law is based upon first principles, then religion is a proper source.

Here's something that takes me way back to history class- Separation of church and state. For various reasons, I agree with the concept.

Ned
06-21-2007, 07:25 PM
I could not disagree more Clarke. I make this blanket statement. "Religion does not belong in government." Religion has an important place in life, but not as the basis of governmental laws, or in the government in any way.

We already see in decisions about how precious "life" is, according to the government, and it is appalling, where the government has made a law based on strictly religious principles. The horrible, I repeat horrible, I repeat horrible, law which forbids last trimester abortions under any circumstance, upheld by the Supreme Court, now has set the Court and Government as essentially being God. That law says that the mother's life in the third trimester of pregnancy is worthless, compared to the unborn at that point, and would kill the mother by bringing life to a person who isn't. That is a religious point of view, period. That laws states that a living, breathing human being is not precious, and devalues a woman's life to zero. This is an example of precisely why religion does not belong in government.

Now I'm not getting into an abortion debate here. I've made my point about religion and government. This to me is as absolute a principle about how government should work in this country, as there is. Not permitting religion to be the basis of law, and part of government, is the only way we can continue to have religious freedom here.

Oh, yes, I fully support your right to disagree.

You cannot make that a blanket statement. It really depends on the law.

If the law is based upon first principles, then religion is a proper source. For example, if we take the first principle that life is precious, then we can forbid murder. It doesn't matter whether your belief that life is precious arises from a philisophical viewpoint, a religious one, or even an economic one.

By converse, a law requiring school prayer is not based upon any generally accepted first principle and thus would be improper.

That is why the example of civil rights, abolitionist, and the like are generally admired in history.

tdew
06-21-2007, 07:30 PM
I don't think you can make the assumption that religion is the deciding factor when you say we don't want ethics and morals left out of the process.
If it feels morally wrong to you that's the deciding factor, it doesn't have to be part of any particular religion.

pezmanffx
06-22-2007, 08:09 AM
When a politician uses a religion to guide their decisions, don't they ultimately end up infringing on the rights of others? Here is a good example. Many religions believe that same sex marriage is wrong. My religion does not. It sees sexual misconduct(for same and opposite sex couples) as wrong.

clarkef
06-22-2007, 05:21 PM
Now I'm not getting into an abortion debate here..

But you did. Drive by postings, not allowed:p .

When I first learned about intact dilation and extraction aka partial birth abortion from an elder at my church, I chuckled. I told him to stop hanging out on the far right websites. Imagine my surprise to learn that it was for real.

Back on topic:

Regarding the separation of church and state, we need to understand governmental power. There are things that the government can do, and things that it is forbidden from doing by the Constitution and oftentimes because of the Bill of Rights.

Within the proper exercise of government authority, the democratic process must prevail. The voters choose what to do and what not to do based upon their personal political beliefs. These beliefs are shaped by any number of factors including religion, ethics, morals, experiences.

Religious folks have just as much rights in the marketplace of ideas as anyone else. They are held to the same standards as everyone else. Does the law, regulation, etc. infringe on the right of anyone else such that it unconstitutional. If it is, the law must be stricken. If not, the law remains. This is the same standard that we hold others to. Otherwise we make many religious people into second class citizens.

Ned
06-22-2007, 07:14 PM
The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.Justice Hugo L. Black

clarkef
06-22-2007, 07:55 PM
FYI: Some generally accepted legal principles on religion.

"Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion" US Constitution, Am. 1. Note, the prohibition is on Congress, not the establishment of religion"

That means that Churches are protected from governmental interference. The converse is not true.

A church's inability to engage in the political arena is based primarily on its status as a tax exempt organization. This is proper. Nonprofit, tax exempt entities as a rule cannot engage in politics. This is a perfect example of the church being treated in the same regards as others.

Of course, a religious group without non-profit, tax exempt status, is perfectly free to engage in politics, support a candidate, or even nominate their own candidiate for public office in the same manner as any other entity. In such a case its a simple matter of convincing the voters that you are the best guy.

Just because they are a religious group will not disqualify them from running for office or otherwise politicking.

Ned
06-22-2007, 08:25 PM
Clarke, I believe you're missing my point. You're talking about what can be and what is. I'm not, but I am aware of what can be and what is. I wouldn't be so upset with the current state of affairs otherwise.

I am acutely aware that religious entities can and do participate in government making rules, regulations and laws. I am acutely aware that many people use their religious ideas and principles to write governmental rules, regulations and laws. This is the problem.

My point is that I am against the use of religious principles in government, as it causes serious harm to portions of our body politic over and over again. My point of view is religion does not belong in government.

clarkef
06-23-2007, 02:52 AM
Nope,

I got your point perfectly. The problem is that there are multiple themes here. I had to also address the question about whether the use of religion is illegal.

My point is that it is unfair and discriminatory to single out religion as a bad or inappropriate reason to pass laws. I presented numerous occassions where religion influenced movements and laws which were radical in the day, but well respected today.

Under your paradigm, you would be required to rebuke the American abolitionists, William Wilburforce, and the Reverend Dr. King himself, because all used religion as the primary basis in making their political stands.

I would also go so far as to say that in a country like the US, which is easily the most religious western nation, by far, religion is so pervasive in day to day life, that to attempt to divorce religion from politics is a fool's errand.

Most laws which affect the average person on a day to day basis are the result of morality. Prime examples would include the justice system, the tort system, and Civil rights. But what is the basis of morality? For one person it may be an economic system (my college roomate). For another it may be a philoophical perspective. For a third, it might be religion. There is simply no getting away from it.

But lets leave theory alone for the moment and use a real life example.

Suppose the government wants to pass a welfare program. I think its a good idea. Why? Because I believe that we have a moral obligation to help the poor. The basis of that belief. My religion. I therefore vote for the program. My friend votes for it because he sees it as a means of reducing crime and thus a net financial gain to society.

Under your paradigm, my rationale is bad because its religiously based.

But lets bring it back to the original question about third trimester abortions. You've suggested that religion is basically screwing women in this regard. My question is simply, since you have opined that religios belief is a improper basis for deciding to ban third term abortions, what would be an acceptable underlying basis by which someone could ban this procedure?

Ned
06-24-2007, 07:49 PM
I've been doing a lot of study recently about three of our founding fathers; George Washington, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. Today I was reading from a collection of letters of George Washington.

In a letter to the United Baptist Churches of Virginia, George Washington wrote, ďIf I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.Ē

bodega
06-24-2007, 11:16 PM
Clarke, do you feel people need religion to determine right from wrong?

Using your example: Why does there need to be a law regarding late term abortions? When a law like this one goes into effect, is it really a law based all on facts or have emotions come into play, which religion could be influencing?

clarkef
06-25-2007, 06:45 AM
Clarke, do you feel people need religion to determine right from wrong? Why do you ask that? I neither said that nor implied that. My posts were very clear. Religion is one of the many factors that influences one's concepts of right and wrong. I also gave specific examples of philosophy and even economics.

Using your example: Why does there need to be a law regarding late term abortions? Perhaps its because its murder? If you agree with my premise, then a legal prohibition is necessary and uncontroversial.


When a law like this one goes into effect, is it really a law based all on facts or have emotions come into play, which religion could be influencing
I can argue against abortion, and specifically late term abortions, factually, morally, ethically, and spiritually. So the answer is yes and yes. Murder is a both factual and emotional.

But looking at your larger question, the supposition that you are making is that emotions are invalid or inappropriate in social discourse. Nothing could be further from the truth. Emotions have a reasonably large part to play in all three branches of government. The specific exception (theoretically) is during the guilt phase of a criminal trial or a the liability phase of a civil trial. Now, emotions should have some factual basis and be well tempered, otherwise they lead to extremism and fanaticism.

clarkef
06-25-2007, 06:48 AM
In a letter to the United Baptist Churches of Virginia, George Washington wrote, ďIf I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.Ē

Yes, I believe that is known as the First Amendment. Religious persecution = bad.

Ned
06-25-2007, 07:05 AM
Precisely. When laws are based on religious principles, someone will be suffering religious persecution.

Yes, I believe that is known as the First Amendment. Religious persecution = bad.

DCTravelAgent
06-25-2007, 08:33 AM
I think everyone has to keep in mind that religion does inform our decisions. Those people on the Hill who make our laws and enact and enforce them can not separate out those parts of themselves. To ask it is really unrealistic. I believe the idea of separation of Church and State is really to make sure there is no "official" Church of the nation - and you'd be surprised to hear me say that I think the law is for the "protection of religious freedom, not protection from religion".

Having said that, I am glad to say that from my religious perspective - Judaism - the legal ruling that one must always protect the life of the mother first is actually an ancient one - from well before Christianity ever existed. That being the case, I can use my religious feelings/committments to support a right to choose. It's not okay to use religion to come to this conclusion if it's not okay to use it to come to the other.

Ned
06-25-2007, 09:12 AM
You make excellent points. For many, religion is an integral and intrinsic part of their being. Nevertheless, there is a difference, in my opinion, between making a law, a rule or regulation based on religious principles and making them on general ethics and morals which are a part of religions. Try as they might to co-opt ethics and morals, as religious principles, these principles are not, and never have been, their exclusive domain, but are the domain of good people everywhere.

We do have laws, regulations, and rules today in this country which are based religious principles, and we need to stop that and repeal those laws. I don't ask our governmental leaders to separate themselves from their religion when passing laws, I ask them to not pass laws based on their religious, or anyone's religious principles. Not only do I think it's possible, I think it's incumbent on them to do so.

Religious freedom protection includes the right not to take part in any religion too, by the way. That's one of the reasons, in court, we no longer have to swear to G-d that we will tell the truth. We now affirm that we will tell the truth.

I think everyone has to keep in mind that religion does inform our decisions. Those people on the Hill who make our laws and enact and enforce them can not separate out those parts of themselves. To ask it is really unrealistic. I believe the idea of separation of Church and State is really to make sure there is no "official" Church of the nation - and you'd be surprised to hear me say that I think the law is for the "protection of religious freedom, not protection from religion".

Having said that, I am glad to say that from my religious perspective - Judaism - the legal ruling that one must always protect the life of the mother first is actually an ancient one - from well before Christianity ever existed. That being the case, I can use my religious feelings/committments to support a right to choose. It's not okay to use religion to come to this conclusion if it's not okay to use it to come to the other.

bodega
06-25-2007, 10:04 AM
Suppose the government wants to pass a welfare program. I think its a good idea. Why? Because I believe that we have a moral obligation to help the poor. The basis of that belief. My religion. I therefore vote for the program. My friend votes for it because he sees it as a means of reducing crime and thus a net financial gain to society.
************************************
I asked if you need religion to determine right from wrong based on this statement. I do not have a religion and I also believe that taking care of our neighbors in need is a priority, just as we take care for our own family.

As to later term abortions, is your belief based on your religion or your own innate feeling?

For those who live a life with religion and are in the position of making and passing of laws, it must difficult to not have their beliefs sufface. Yet, they are serving all the people of the US, so they have be very careful how they allow their religion to dictate their decisions on our behalf.

clarkef
06-25-2007, 10:10 AM
Precisely. When laws are based on religious principles, someone will be suffering religious persecution.

Perhaps that is our disconnect. There is a difference between a law based on a religious principles such as Islamic Sharia, and a law which was influenced by relgious beliefs such as Civil rights. The former is a theocracy, the later is a democracy.

DCTravelAgent
06-25-2007, 10:25 AM
As to later term abortions, is your belief based on your religion or your own innate feeling?


I am not sure these can be separated. I am not the most observant Jew, yet I think that deep down things I learned as a young child in Hebrew School will always be there. AND I suspect that most of the time I don't even conciously know that these ideas are informing my decisions. And this from a person who had to take several semesters of Medical Ethics courses through school and served on the Ethics Committee of a major University Hospital.

clarkef
06-25-2007, 10:32 AM
Suppose the government wants to pass a welfare program. I think its a good idea. Why? Because I believe that we have a moral obligation to help the poor. The basis of that belief. My religion. I therefore vote for the program. My friend votes for it because he sees it as a means of reducing crime and thus a net financial gain to society.
************************************
I asked if you need religion to determine right from wrong based on this statement. I do not have a religion and I also believe that taking care of our neighbors in need is a priority, just as we take care for our own family That's the point. You and I both came to the same reasonable position from different perspectives. Why is your position on welfare valid because it came from a non-religious viewpoint and not subject to further scrutiny, but because mine came from a religious viewpoint, all of a sudden, its somehow less valid? And let me be clear, you do not need to be a religious person to know right from wrong.


As to later term abortions, is your belief based on your religion or your own innate feeling?
A false dichotomy. My belief against abortion, including late term abortion, is based on all of the above as well as critically thought out positions on science, social justice, welfare reform, economics, etc. What's the point?

For those who live a life with religion and are in the position of making and passing of laws, it must difficult to not have their beliefs sufface. Yet, they are serving all the people of the US, so they have be very careful how they allow their religion to dictate their decisions on our behalf.
Well, yes, of course. That's why we have the first amendment. You will NOT be required to go to church on Sunday, read the Bible, or swear allegiance to Jesus. You may abstain from all of these activities and still hold office, hold employment, shop, buy and sell land, and basically do anything that you want.

NO ONE IS SUGGESTING A THEOCRACY, LEAST OF ALL ME.

Here is the rub. We have been sold a bill of goods which suggest that non-religion is somehow a neutral or default position that government must adhere to. I submit that there is not such thing.

Consider religion's triplet sisters economics and politics. There is no such thing as a neutral economic position nor a neutral political position. There is simply a continuuum in which there are a variety of opinions and consequences thereon.

I submit that their sister religion is the same way. There is a continuum where each person falls. Even the non-religious folks. Therefore, the best that we can do is to protect each person's rights, but to suggest that religion or its absence does not influence day to day life is ridiculous.

Food for thought.

bodega
06-25-2007, 10:38 AM
I still ask, can humans know right from wrong if they do not have religion in their upbringing?

I see we had entries at the same time.

For welfare, we share the same belief, perhaps reaching it from different direction and I never made any judgement on how you obtained yours. I just question as to whether those with religion believe believe that those without can know right from wrong.

DCTravelAgent
06-25-2007, 10:41 AM
I would answer that "right from wrong" - the ideas of, actually do come from "religion". As atheistic or agnostic as one may be, there is still "religion" at the bedrock of our morals and ethics. I believe there is no escaping that at all.

clarkef
06-25-2007, 10:51 AM
I am not sure these can be separated. I am not the most observant Jew, yet I think that deep down things I learned as a young child in Hebrew School will always be there. AND I suspect that most of the time I don't even conciously know that these ideas are informing my decisions. And this from a person who had to take several semesters of Medical Ethics courses through school and served on the Ethics Committee of a major University Hospital.
DC

Your point is well made. The simple truth of the matter is that societies are shaped though many forces including religion. At the end of the day, the societal norms become so ingrained that we don't even notice.

An example: A friend of mine from an Eastern Country (which shall remain nameless) told me that he was impressed with the West. In the West, lying is generally considered a bad thing. (think: THOU SHALT NOT LIE). In his country, lying was the norm. If the recipient of the lie was too stupid to know any better, he deserved to be taken advantage of. That was how his culture developed.

By contrast, in the West, our society has developed around a belief that lying is wrong. Being caught in a bald faced lie makes you untrustworthy and immoral. However, american culture also has a strong culture of forgiveness( again from religion). Both of which are embodied in the law.

What I am trying to get at is that religious thought influences societal decision in such subtle and nuanced way, yet without infringing on the rights of others.

clarkef
06-25-2007, 10:54 AM
...

For welfare, we share the same belief, perhaps reaching it from different direction and I never made any judgement on how you obtained yours.
Poor communications before breakfast on my part. I was addressing the general issue of religious influence in politics.

bodega
06-25-2007, 10:56 AM
DC, I think it can be separated, but it isn't easy. Edward Kennedy is Catholic, yet he supports issues that go against his church.

I went to church until I was 19. Through living life, I have come to some of my beliefs through my upbringing, being a woman in a male world, raising kids, being married and just from those gut feelings. Some beliefs I can tell you exactly where I was when I felt it was right.

DCTravelAgent
06-25-2007, 11:55 AM
I would say this about Edward Kennedy - that he votes on issues that "against his church" absolutely does NOT mean that he is not influenced by his religious morals/scrupels. He still makes his personal decisions based upon his religious upbringing and for instance, while he is Pro-Choice, I would BET that he would tell you that he believes abortion is wrong but that as there is rooms for discussion he can accept that "wrong" in this case is not an absolute. On the other hand, his championing immigration reform most likely is deeply rooted in his religious convictions - so why is that okay?

AND I know he would say that his desires to help the poor and disadvantaged are also deeply rooted in his religious convictions - so why would that be okay?

Maybe Ted's a bad example - for Goodness Sakes, this guy took his First Holy Communion in the 1930s from the Pope while in Rome with his family!

Bottom line - religion informs our decisions and has a lot to do with where we land on a given issue.

Ned
06-25-2007, 03:50 PM
B., is doing good based on your religion, or is it really based on the quality of your humanity? Take away your religion, and isn't doing good for others a basic tenet of being a good human being? Don't you think that atheists and agnostics could believe the same thing? Isn't this as much your upbringing as anything else? Is helping others a religious principle, one that comes directly from religious beliefs, or is its basis ethical? If you're enacting a bill to help the poor is that a religious doctrine? Personally, I don't think so.

If you need religion to tell you what's right and what's wrong then I think something is wrong.

With regard to the issue of late term abortions, I do think the law in question is based on specific religious principles, not on general moral and ethical beliefs. This law makes a value judgment as to who is more valuable to society, the mother or the unborn potential human. Everything I've read of general ethical and moral beliefs pegs the value of all humans the same (my belief, and I don't believe in capital punishment, and don't understand how a "pro-life" person could believe in capital punishment), but some religions make it paramount to save every soul and those souls have to be born to be saved. That's another reason I don't understand the belief that an unborn potential human, is a human being. If it was, it could be saved anyway. (I must immediately say that I may or may not necessarily understand all the nuances with the "pro-life" beliefs in this area.) I do know this, I don't believe in sacrificing a living breathing woman to save a yet to be human.

You said a mouthful when you said, "Yet, they are serving all the people of the US, so they have be very careful how they allow their religion to dictate their decisions on our behalf."

Suppose the government wants to pass a welfare program. I think its a good idea. Why? Because I believe that we have a moral obligation to help the poor. The basis of that belief. My religion. I therefore vote for the program. My friend votes for it because he sees it as a means of reducing crime and thus a net financial gain to society.
************************************
I asked if you need religion to determine right from wrong based on this statement. I do not have a religion and I also believe that taking care of our neighbors in need is a priority, just as we take care for our own family.

As to later term abortions, is your belief based on your religion or your own innate feeling?

For those who live a life with religion and are in the position of making and passing of laws, it must difficult to not have their beliefs sufface. Yet, they are serving all the people of the US, so they have be very careful how they allow their religion to dictate their decisions on our behalf.

bodega
06-25-2007, 04:57 PM
Ned, my question stems from the comments I keep hearing from TV and radio commentators. There is also a country music song that questions a parent's decision not to send their child to Sunday school and without it how would the child know right from wrong.

I believe certain things are innate and some are learned. My born-again friends seem to need to be told what they should believe in, which I find very worrysome. My view on religion is not negative, in fact I think that religion is a great comfort and a social asset for the most part. But to push a religious belief onto another is wrong. Govenment need to let doctors do what is best for their patients. This also goes for diginified dying as well as abortions.

Ned
06-25-2007, 05:23 PM
I agree with your comments. I've just wanted to stress that one can separate what are religious principles from general ethical and moral principles. I don't buy the argument that they are the sole source of ethics and morals, or that they are so intertwined, they can't be separated.

The First Amendment of the US Constitution speaks more about freedom of religion than just the establishment clause. It states, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

I don't buy the claim that the imposition of a strict barrier between government and religion prevents anyone from the "free exercise of religion". Too many people don't understand a simple "freedom of religion" concept, which is "Stopping someone from oppressing others due to the exercise of their religion, isnít oppressing that person.

If a group wants monuments to the Ten Commandments, they should pay for them, without public tax dollars, and put them on personal, not public, property, as a free expression of their religious ideas. If someone wants to pray in school, then pray. This is everyone's freedom, but donít use public school teachers to coerce others to pray to someone else's god or pray at all, for that matter. Above all, laws should not be passed which intrude on the lives of others, and force them to live as some want them to, based upon their religious principles.

The bottom line is that the government itself canít be pious. Individuals may express their religion as they wish, but canít use the government as their sounding board.

Ned, my question stems from the comments I keep hearing from TV and radio commentators. There is also a country music song that questions a parent's decision not to send their child to Sunday school and without it how would the child know right from wrong.

I believe certain things are innate and some are learned. My born-again friends seem to need to be told what they should believe in, which I find very worrysome. My view on religion is not negative, in fact I think that religion is a great comfort and a social asset for the most part. But to push a religious belief onto another is wrong. Govenment need to let doctors do what is best for their patients. This also goes for diginified dying as well as abortions.

clarkef
06-25-2007, 06:43 PM
B., is doing good based on your religion, or is it really based on the quality of your humanity? Take away your religion, and isn't doing good for others a basic tenet of being a good human being? Don't you think that atheists and agnostics could believe the same thing? Isn't this as much your upbringing as anything else? Is helping others a religious principle, one that comes directly from religious beliefs, or is its basis ethical? If you're enacting a bill to help the poor is that a religious doctrine? Personally, I don't think so. The answer is different for different people. There is no broad answer. For different people its different. For me, passing a law to help the poor is an expression of my Christian faith. In fact, giving a mosque tax exempt status is also an expression of my Christian faith.

If you need religion to tell you what's right and what's wrong then I think something is wrong. Then you condemn most of Christianity. The historic faith is that as one comes closer to God, one becomes a better person in thought and deed. The theological phrase is being conformed to God's likeness. Think Paul on the road to Damascus.

With regard to the issue of late term abortions, I do think the law in question is based on specific religious principles, not on general moral and ethical beliefs No, you've defined it thusly. That is not a truism at all. If so, all atheists would be pro-choice.

This law makes a value judgment as to who is more valuable to society, the mother or the unborn potential human. Everything I've read of general ethical and moral beliefs pegs the value of all humans the same That is one perspective although demonstrably untrue.

(my belief, and I don't believe in capital punishment, and don't understand how a "pro-life" person could believe in capital punishment), That's only because you defined the issue as above. Its really very simple.

but some religions make it paramount to save every soul and those souls have to be born to be saved. Again, there is no religious consensus about that.


That's another reason I don't understand the belief that an unborn potential human, is a human being. If it was, it could be saved anyway. (I must immediately say that I may or may not necessarily understand all the nuances with the "pro-life" beliefs in this area.)
If you are interested in understanding thre pro-life paradigm and nuance, I am happy to send you an e-mail. Your difficulty is that your underlying assumptions are not the same as the average pro-life person and thus the difficulty.

I do know this, I don't believe in sacrificing a living breathing woman to save a yet to be human.Neither do most pro-life people. Most pro-lifers make an exception for the life of the mother.

Ned
06-25-2007, 07:43 PM
I think this is backwards, at least according to my Christian friends, including a wonderful Jesuit Priest with whom I am friendly. They would say, the better one becomes in thought and deed, the closer one comes to G-d. It is not up to G-d, they say, to make someone a better person, it is up to the person to become better, and thus climb closer to G-d.

Jewish tradition follows a similar, but somewhat divergent theme. Jewish do Mizvot (Mizvah), commands, all 613 of them (they are listed in the Bible), because they are part of G-d's law. Jewish also do Mizvot (Mizvah), good deeds, because they are the right thing to do. The interplay between the meanings of Mizvot (Mizvah), command and good deeds, is an interesting one, and it is connected to our concept of "free will." We do good deeds, not because we expect to receive something in recompense, but because it is the right thing to do. Striving to be a better person, is its own reward, we believe. To worry about how G-d fits in the equation, would cancel the quality of deed for us, as it would introduce the idea of lagniappe into the equation. We do commands because they are the laws we live by, transmitted to us, and agreed to be abided by us, as per the covenant agreed to by our foreparents, and ourselves, as we reach the age of maturity, and "sign on the dotted line" in our B'nai Mitzvah ceremony.

Within this belief is an important tenet of a reverse nature to doing good deeds. It has to do with sin. When we sin against G-d, we ask G-d's forgiveness, but when we sin against another human being, we ask their forgiveness. We atone to whomever we have wronged. G-d does not presume to allow the hurt of our sins against another person, to be washed away by G-d's actions alone. That would mean G-d could or would value one of G-d's "children" over another, and is not consistent with the covenant.

I don't think my statement in anyway would condemn any part of Christianity, unless Christianity actually believes it is the origin of all moral and ethical concepts, and the final arbiter of the same, and that humans are incapable of free thought, free will, and moral concept. I would submit, that as much older religions and civilizations (Babylonian, Egyptian and Greek civilizations comes to mind), and Judaism comes to mind too, had many of the identical concepts of ethics and morals, long before Christianity ever existed, that that idea makes no sense on its face. I don't believe that Christianity does believe that. Clearly there are many other places for anyone to learn of these ideas and concepts, and there is no need for a priest, minister or any clergyman to "tell" people how to act or behave.

Then you condemn most of Christianity. The historic faith is that as one comes closer to God, one becomes a better person in thought and deed. The theological phrase is being conformed to God's likeness. Think Paul on the road to Damascus.

DCTravelAgent
06-26-2007, 08:18 AM
If one goes back to the beginning of human "thought" - to ideas of right and wrong, I think one can argue that those ideas come from "religion" or some sort of "spirituality". It is true that one does not "need" religion to tell us what is right or wrong, but I believe it is also true that our ideas of what is right or wrong originally come from "religion". It is so ingrained in our societies that it as though we are "hard wired" for it!

Ned
06-26-2007, 09:21 AM
Ancient and modern ethical theories differ in three main respects: the subject matter of ethics; the basic ethical concepts they appeal to; and the relationship between the ethical and the political. Ancient ethics is concerned with what makes for a good human life (i.e., it is fundamentally self-regarding); while modern ethics, is other-regarding in that it is concerned with the constraints or requirements that others are capable of placing on us. These differences lead to an understanding that ancient ethics appeals to virtue and character to give an account of the good life; whereas modern ethics appeals to standards of right conduct and obligation. In ancient ethics the state is taken to have an active role in cultivating the virtues in those citizens most capable of developing them; while in modern ethics the role of the state is liberal (i.e., individuals are left to pursue their own good) and citizens are conceived as fundamentally equal.

The history of ethics is a long and rich one extending as far back as the history of philosophy itself. Socrates was primarily interested in ethical questions and ethics comprises an important part of the work of both Plato and Aristotle. An understanding of the history of ethics is important to understanding and appreciating many debates and theories, including contemporary ones. For example, ancient philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle focus on the question of what makes for a good life and this, in turn, has led them to develop theories of virtue and character. Modern philosophers, on the other hand, have tended to focus more on the ethical requirements others place on the individual and so have been led to develop theories of duty, obligation, and right conduct. This contrast has recently been the locus of an important debate in contemporary ethics.

In the ancient world, ethics and morals were the milieu of philosophers, while commandments were the milieu of religion. As time went on, and society became more educated, commandments morphed into something more akin to suggestion, except for fundamental commandments controlling the interaction of people which became laws. Suggestions and philosophy more or less morphed into ethical and moral concepts then adopted by religion to teach "commandments." And so eventually ethics and morals became the milieu of religion.

The above is certainly a simplified and shortened history of ethics and morals, however, the grist is there. It's pretty clear to philosophers and theologians that the origins of ethics and morals are found outside of religion, but were eventually adopted by it, as fundamental building blocks of religious teaching. Of course, there's no accounting for what the precise morals and ethics taught by each religion, as there are huge differences between the various religions of the world in this area, and their societies.

clarkef
06-26-2007, 03:12 PM
I think this is backwards, at least according to my Christian friends, including a wonderful Jesuit Priest with whom I am friendly. They would say, the better one becomes in thought and deed, the closer one comes to G-d. It is not up to G-d, they say, to make someone a better person, it is up to the person to become better, and thus climb closer to G-d.
In fairness to your Christian friends, there are many Christian traditions, but the one that I articulated is the prevailing one within the Evangelical community. This may be a Catholic/Protestant issue, but the position articulated by your friend would need to be flushed out for nuances. As articulated, it's more of a Mormon position, which is one of the big issues why Mormons and Christians tend to have mutual enmity between them.

Within this belief is an important tenet of a reverse nature to doing good deeds. It has to do with sin. When we sin against G-d, we ask G-d's forgiveness, but when we sin against another human being, we ask their forgiveness. We atone to whomever we have wronged. G-d does not presume to allow the hurt of our sins against another person, to be washed away by G-d's actions alone. That would mean G-d could or would value one of G-d's "children" over another, and is not consistent with the covenant The Christian thought on this is that all sin is against God. It may also be against a person as well, but that is secondary. Forgiveness is freely available for anyone who is repentent. However, a person who claims to want forgiveness but then does the same bad act or fails to try to make it right, is probably not truly repentent, (there are nuance that I am ignoring for brevity) and thus not forgiven.

I don't think my statement in anyway would condemn any part of Christianity, unless Christianity actually believes it is the origin of all moral and ethical concepts, and the final arbiter of the same, and that humans are incapable of free thought, free will, and moral concept. I would submit, that as much older religions and civilizations (Babylonian, Egyptian and Greek civilizations comes to mind), and Judaism comes to mind too, had many of the identical concepts of ethics and morals, long before Christianity ever existed, that that idea makes no sense on its face. I don't believe that Christianity does believe that. Christianity claims none of the above. What Christianity claims is that good and evil are concepts that are revealed to us by God. However, that does not suggest that one must be a Christian to be good, or even have any knowledge of Christianity to know what is good. In Christianity, there are the dual concepts of general revelation and specific revelation. General revelation is God revealed through nature. This would be the source of various codes of ethics, morality,etc. that are not specific to Christianity. Then there is the concept of specific revelation which is God revealed through the Bible.

The point that I was making about condemning Christianity is that Christians believe that man, as a flawed being, will inevitably make some level of incorrect conclusions about what is good and evil, which ultimately relates to the nature of God. Thus, coming from the perspective that God's will is revealed in the Bible, Christian, at least Evangelicals, rely heavily on the Bible in determining what is good and evil.


Clearly there are many other places for anyone to learn of these ideas and concepts, and there is no need for a priest, minister or any clergyman to "tell" people how to act or behave

That's the million dollar question. And it really depends on which tradition one adhere to. It can be the singlest biggest dividing issue in the church. In the Evangelical tradition, the Bible, as the final arbiter of God's word determines behavior and world outlook. Any fights would be over interpretation, not authority. The term is sola scriptura. Other churches have different opinions.

DCTravelAgent
06-26-2007, 03:51 PM
The Christian thought on this is that all sin is against God. It may also be against a person as well, but that is secondary. Forgiveness is freely available for anyone who is repentent. However, a person who claims to want forgiveness but then does the same bad act or fails to try to make it right, is probably not truly repentent, (there are nuance that I am ignoring for brevity) and thus not forgiven.



I want to address this - this is a very important distinction between Juduaism and Christianity - G-d does not forgive sins other than those against G-d. If you hurt another person, you must seek forgiveness from him/her. Where G-d comes into this is the sincerity of your atonement - this is what matters vis a vis G-d. In other words, there are consequences to all your actions, it is the severity of the consequence that may be mitigated based upon the sincerity of your atonement. It's really all about your life in this lifetime - not about an "afterlife". (It is not about how wealthy your are monetarily, but how wealthy you are in spirit and happines - that's they real reward for living "right".)

During the Days of Awe (between Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur) we think about our actions over the past year and we seek out those we may have hurt in order to apologize. We also say to all those in our "realm", "if I have hurt you, I hope you know that I never meant to and that you will forgive me" - we understand that in our daily lives we may have caused hurt we are unaware of. It's this concept that makes murder unforgiveable - while you can apologize and seek the forgiveness of say, the murder victim's family, you can never seek the forgiveness of the person whose life you have taken. G-d will not "forgive" you in that person's stead. However, that sin will be measured in context of your entire life....

Ned
06-26-2007, 04:54 PM
I'm learning a lot. Thanks.

With regard to Sola scriptura. It is my understanding, to take it a little further, that it is the assertion that the Bible is G-d's written word and as such is self-authenticating, and perspicuous to the rational reader, its own interpreter, and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine.

I pull from this that those who believe in this concept don't need a priest or minister to tell them what to do religiously, or explain right and wrong. They can do it for themselves.

On another note with this, I must tell you that for people who believe that the Bible was written by G-d, I have bunches of questions. The Bible has significant numbers of serious contradictions, such as the two stories of Adam and Eve, which have serious implications to the roles of men and women, and their independence/dependence from/to each other.

Forgetting that for a moment, there are the obviously different writing styles, grammar, idiomatic usage, etc. of the written words in the first 5 books of the Bible, that no one who believes the Bible is the written word of G-d addresses, nor the clear interweaving of style in some passages section by section. (Take my word for it please, that only if you read these passages in Hebrew, can you tell what I'm saying is true. When you read the translations, most of these readily apparent characteristics completely disappear, replaced by the translator's style.)

Forgetting that for a moment, we then get to the point that after the first 5 books of the Bible, we generally know who wrote the rest, and it sure wasn't G-d. Therefore how can anyone say G-d wrote the entire Bible.

As Jews, even the Orthodoxy believe that only the Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible were written by the hand of G-d and are the revealed truth of G-d, to Moses and to Israel. We all believe, I think it's fair to say, that no matter who actually wrote it, who actually dictated it, or put pen to paper, that the Torah is the revealed truth of G-d, as transmitted to Moses and to the Prophets, ultimately to Israel. (Where Israel means the entire Jewish people, whether living in Israel itself, or anywhere in the Disaspora (everywhere outside of Israel).

In fairness to your Christian friends, there are many Christian traditions, ...

Ships 'N' Trips Travel
06-26-2007, 10:21 PM
With regard to Sola scriptura. It is my understanding, to take it a little further, that it is the assertion that the Bible is G-d's written word and as such is self-authenticating, and perspicuous to the rational reader, its own interpreter, and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine.

I pull from this that those who believe in this concept don't need a priest or minister to tell them what to do religiously, or explain right and wrong. They can do it for themselves.

On another note with this, I must tell you that for people who believe that the Bible was written by G-d, I have bunches of questions. The Bible has significant numbers of serious contradictions, such as the two stories of Adam and Eve, which have serious implications to the roles of men and women, and their independence/dependence from/to each other.

Forgetting that for a moment, we then get to the point that after the first 5 books of the Bible, we generally know who wrote the rest, and it sure wasn't G-d. Therefore how can anyone say G-d wrote the entire Bible.

And this is why I've always had a problem with many organized (as in man-made) religions in essence. I personally believe the Bible is the word of G-d as interpreted by Man. And as Man is fallible, some of the interpretations may be a tad bit "off" so to speak.

weblet
06-27-2007, 07:22 AM
This is such an interesting conversation. I'm sorry I can't really contribute, but I'm learning a lot...

clarkef
06-28-2007, 04:57 AM
I'm learning a lot. Thanks.

With regard to Sola scriptura. It is my understanding, to take it a little further, that it is the assertion that the Bible is G-d's written word and as such is self-authenticating, and perspicuous to the rational reader, its own interpreter, and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine.

I pull from this that those who believe in this concept don't need a priest or minister to tell them what to do religiously, or explain right and wrong. They can do it for themselves. Mostly correct. It should be thought of as a spritual doctrine. Basically, it means the the clergy does not have any special spiritual understanding of the Bible that is denied to the laiety. This doctrine is designed to be in direct contradition to the catholic doctrine that the Church interprets the Bible.

On another note with this, I must tell you that for people who believe that the Bible was written by G-d, I have bunches of questions. The Bible has significant numbers of serious contradictions, such as the two stories of Adam and Eve, which have serious implications to the roles of men and women, and their independence/dependence from/to each other. 2 stories? Please elaborate?

Forgetting that for a moment, there are the obviously different writing styles, grammar, idiomatic usage, etc. of the written words in the first 5 books of the Bible, that no one who believes the Bible is the written word of G-d addresses That's just not true. Please give Christians some credit. Do you really believe that you have some questions that have not been considered within the last 2000 years of Christianity?

Forgetting that for a moment, we then get to the point that after the first 5 books of the Bible, we generally know who wrote the rest, and it sure wasn't G-d. Therefore how can anyone say G-d wrote the entire Bible. Again, please give us some credit. You're confusing Mormon doctine with traditional Christianity. Mormonism believes that God actually penned the Bible and presented it to Joseph Smith along with gold glasses to read it. That is considered a heretic notion among Christians. When Christians say that God is the author of the Bible,what we mean is that the various authors, both Old and Testaments, wrote under the divine influence (plenary inspiration) of the Holy Spirit. However, the tenet of free will is a bedrock of Christianity. It would be a great heresy for a Christian to suggest that God somehow possessed the writers, or subjugated their will to his. As such, the personality and style of the various writers remain intact, yet because of the influence of the Holy Spirit the Bible is theologically considered the inerrant word of God. Basically, if God is remotely as powerful as Jews and Christians believe, he would certainly be able to communicate his inerrant words.

Ned
06-28-2007, 08:12 AM
Clarke, I give Christians all the credit in the world, but you have to remember that most of what I know about Christianity is from Catholicism, and most of that from Jesuit priests and writings.

OK, the two stories of creation, and more specifically, the two stories of the creation of Adam and Eve.

In the first chapter of Genesis we have the following passage:
And G-d said, "Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth." And G-d created man in His image, in the image of G-d He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and God said to them, "Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth."In the second chapter of Genesis we have the following passage (This will be a little disjointed as I'm leaving out the irrelevant parts for this particular discussion:
the Lord G-d formed man from the dust of the earth. He blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being...

The Lord G-d said, "It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him."...So the Lord G-d cast a deep sleep upon the man; and, while he slept, He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that spot. And the Lord G-d fashioned the rib that He had taken from the man into a woman; and He brought her to the man...In the first chapter (the first story), G-d creates a man and woman in G-d image together, simultaneously. G-d blesses them together and gives them instructions together, thus putting them on equal footing. However, in the second chapter (second story), man is created by G-d of the earth and woman is later created, from "the rib" by G-d. This passage intimates the "second class" nature of women. In the male dominated, ancient world, this was the story latched on to, in order to assert male dominance, not the philosophy of the first.

So, the traditional viewpoint is that the second chapter is a further explanation of the first. The style and grammar, etc. show these passages are written by different people and intertwined. Many scholars point out the overwhelming difference between the philosophical implications of the two narratives. Many believe that like many other portions of the Torah, these stories were political motivated. We see all over the Torah the tension between the competing Israel and Judah, and we see the competing points of view concerning Aaron and Moses, all with political overtones, and with that politics we see the different and competing philosophies about the relationship of men and women throughout the Torah.

DCTravelAgent
06-28-2007, 01:11 PM
Mostly correct. It should be thought of as a spritual doctrine. Basically, it means the the clergy does not have any special spiritual understanding of the Bible that is denied to the laiety. This doctrine is designed to be in direct contradition to the catholic doctrine that the Church interprets the Bible.

2 stories? Please elaborate?

That's just not true. Please give Christians some credit. Do you really believe that you have some questions that have not been considered within the last 2000 years of Christianity?

Again, please give us some credit. You're confusing Mormon doctine with traditional Christianity. Mormonism believes that God actually penned the Bible and presented it to Joseph Smith along with gold glasses to read it. That is considered a heretic notion among Christians. When Christians say that God is the author of the Bible,what we mean is that the various authors, both Old and Testaments, wrote under the divine influence (plenary inspiration) of the Holy Spirit. However, the tenet of free will is a bedrock of Christianity. It would be a great heresy for a Christian to suggest that God somehow possessed the writers, or subjugated their will to his. As such, the personality and style of the various writers remain intact, yet because of the influence of the Holy Spirit the Bible is theologically considered the inerrant word of God. Basically, if God is remotely as powerful as Jews and Christians believe, he would certainly be able to communicate his inerrant words.


Clarke -

Christians have redacted the Bible - taken much out of the so-called "Old Testament" and in fact have added into it that which was not there - including changing the 10 Commandments (just a little). If you were to buy a Jewish Version, you would note that there are two Creation Stories and they appear one right after the other - they are somewhat contradictory. You also would pick up the differences in The 10 Commandments.

You would be interested in a book called "Misquoting Jeses" - written by a man trained in Evangelical Bible Colleges - it is a very scholarly work and it portrays how much was changed/added to/redacted by Scribes and others both purposely and inadvertantly.

Also, another good book is "Who Wrote the Bible" - entirely from an archeological perspective - even down to style of writing and what eras that error coincided with - it only addresses the so-called "Old Testament".

DCTravelAgent
06-28-2007, 01:13 PM
Clarke, I give Christians all the credit in the world, but you have to remember that most of what I know about Christianity is from Catholicism, and most of that from Jesuit priests and writings.

OK, the two stories of creation, and more specifically, the two stories of the creation of Adam and Eve.

In the first chapter of Genesis we have the following passage:
In the second chapter of Genesis we have the following passage (This will be a little disjointed as I'm leaving out the irrelevant parts for this particular discussion:
In the first chapter (the first story), G-d creates a man and woman in G-d image together, simultaneously. G-d blesses them together and gives them instructions together, thus putting them on equal footing. However, in the second chapter (second story), man is created by G-d of the earth and woman is later created, from "the rib" by G-d. This passage intimates the "second class" nature of women. In the male dominated, ancient world, this was the story latched on to, in order to assert male dominance, not the philosophy of the first.

So, the traditional viewpoint is that the second chapter is a further explanation of the first. The style and grammar, etc. show these passages are written by different people and intertwined. Many scholars point out the overwhelming difference between the philosophical implications of the two narratives. Many believe that like many other portions of the Torah, these stories were political motivated. We see all over the Torah the tension between the competing Israel and Judah, and we see the competing points of view concerning Aaron and Moses, all with political overtones, and with that politics we see the different and competing philosophies about the relationship of men and women throughout the Torah.

And Ned (and correct please if I am wrong but I think this is in Torah, not the Commentaries) in one version of Genesis, there is a woman created before Eve (later called "Lilith") but the relationship was unsucessful, so
G-d then created Eve!

clarkef
06-28-2007, 01:50 PM
So, the traditional viewpoint is that the second chapter is a further explanation of the first. The style and grammar, etc. show these passages are written by different people and intertwined. Many scholars point out the overwhelming difference between the philosophical implications of the two narratives. So whether you are in the camp that accepts that response or not, it shows that the previous point is incorrect, specifically, that people who believe that the Bible is God's word have answered these questions.

Now, though I am fairly knowledgeable about Christianity, I am not a Hebrew or Greek Scholar, primarily by choice. There are other aspects of faith that are more interesting to me, so I leave the nuance of those issues to those people who find such things interesting.

clarkef
06-28-2007, 01:53 PM
You would be interested in a book called "Misquoting Jeses" - written by a man trained in Evangelical Bible Colleges - it is a very scholarly work and it portrays how much was changed/added to/redacted by Scribes and others both purposely and inadvertantly.

I am of course familiar with that book and others of its ilk. The problem with such scholarship, is that they rarely stand up to the rigorous examination. Specifically, the author inevitably makes either assumptions or leaps of logic which support his position.

clarkef
06-28-2007, 02:06 PM
I was thinking about the original question relating to abortion and stem cell research. The argument is that Christians are legislating religion. Here is a quote from the original Hippocratic oath.

I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion
400B.C.

These concepts predate Christianity.

Ned
06-28-2007, 02:17 PM
No, I don't know that the questions were answered, or merely not asked. I think that many people, Jews and Christians alike don't even realize there may be a question to ask. I tend to think that the vast majority haven't done the analytical work and careful analysis to ask.

So whether you are in the camp that accepts that response or not, it shows that the previous point is incorrect, specifically, that people who believe that the Bible is God's word have answered these questions...

DCTravelAgent
06-28-2007, 02:30 PM
I am of course familiar with that book and others of its ilk. The problem with such scholarship, is that they rarely stand up to the rigorous examination. Specifically, the author inevitably makes either assumptions or leaps of logic which support his position.


Not quite in this one - read it, it's really interesting and I would say actually not threatening to even the most ardent Evangelist. But it does point out how mistakes are made, words misinterpreted, etc... Now I have to admit it's not the most engaging book - kind of "dry"....

DCTravelAgent
06-28-2007, 02:31 PM
I was thinking about the original question relating to abortion and stem cell research. The argument is that Christians are legislating religion. Here is a quote from the original Hippocratic oath.

I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion
400B.C.

These concepts predate Christianity.

Yes, they are very "European" - not sure but is it the Maimonides Oath?

DCTravelAgent
06-28-2007, 02:35 PM
Oath of Maimonides



The eternal providence has appointed me to watch over the life and health of Thy creatures. May the love for my art actuate me at all time; may neither avarice nor miserliness, nor thirst for glory or for a great reputation engage my mind; for the enemies of truth and philanthropy could easily decieve me and make me forgetful of my lofty aim of doing good to Thy children.
May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain.
Grant me the strength, time and opportunity always to correct what I have aquired, always to extend its domain; for knowledge is immense and the spirit of man can extend indefintely to enrich itself daily with new requirements.
Today he can discover his errors of yesterday and tomorrow he can obtain a new light on what he thinks himself sure of today. Oh, God, Thou has appointed me to watch over the life and death of Thy creatures; here am I ready for my vocation and now I turn unto my calling.

Ned
06-28-2007, 03:42 PM
Lilith is a fictional character, created by Rabbis in Midrash. The Midrash are commentaries on Tanakn (The Jewish Bible).

In Jewish tradition, the sacred texts of the Torah have been kept adaptable to changing social circumstances through a form of story called midrash - stories invented to fill gaps or to explain apparent inconsistencies in the Torah. Midrash is actually a way to change the frame or context of the stories in the Bible. It does not have the authority granted to the Torah texts, of course, but it is encouraged as a way to explore the rich meanings of the Torah.

The fairly famous passage of midrash which features Lilith, concerns an apparent inconsistency in Genesis: first, God created humans "male and female." Then, a few verses later, we are told the story of it not being good that Adam was alone and God creating a helpmate. How could this be? Could this holy story be flawed?

Not really, says this particular midrashic writing. When God first created humans, God created Adam and the first woman, Lilith. Lilith refused a subordinate role, however, and fled the garden to bear the children of demons. Only then did Adam ask for a helpmate.

In the brief version of this midrash given in the previous paragraph, the meaning of Lilith's refusal of a subordinate role remains ambiguous. In centuries past, however, the rabbis were quite clear: Lilith becomes a homeless outcast, jealous of Eve's ability to bear human children. In envy, Lilith comes to the bedside of all newborns with the intention of killing them. In response, God has set three angels to guard infants against her. (In the middle ages, Jewish mothers hung amulets near their babies, inscribed with these angels' names.) In this midrash, then, the result of Lilith's insubordination is that she becomes an evil force.

Thus, the addition of a midrash to the story of Adam and Eve has the ability to change the meanings of the Bible story. The Lilith story makes Eve's disobedience to God more tragic and reprehensible, for it was preceded, and made even more destructive of human life, by Lilith's insubordination to Adam. The negative consequences of female disobedience are more strongly represented.

Of course, we have to look at this Midrash in historical context. While not as ancient as the Torah itself, it was written in times when the power of men over women was almost absolute, and the politics of the day included ensuring that the subservient relationship of women to men endured.

In modern society, where a more feminist view is considered to be real, and equality of the sexes is slowly being accepted, the story of Lilith is dismissed, and the questions of the two stories of G-d's creation of woman are being freshly discussed.

And Ned (and correct please if I am wrong but I think this is in Torah, not the Commentaries) in one version of Genesis, there is a woman created before Eve (later called "Lilith") but the relationship was unsucessful, so
G-d then created Eve!

DCTravelAgent
06-28-2007, 03:53 PM
Lilith is a fictional character, created by Rabbis in Midrash. The Midrash are commentaries on Tanakn (The Jewish Bible).

Lilith refused a subordinate role, however, and fled the garden to bear the children of demons. Only then did Adam ask for a helpmate.

Has always reminded me of the Vashti story in The Book of Esther. Vashti will not obey when the King Ahasuerus commands her to show herself to the men of his Court (unheard of for a sequestered woman to - someone kept in the confines of the Harem with the only males around being eunuchs). So she must go and make way for a more "compliant" wife - this time Esther. And of course, through her compliance Esther manages to save all the Jewish people living in the Persian Empire.....

Ned
06-28-2007, 05:28 PM
DC, this isn't quite the way I recall the story, but it's certainly an interesting take, and one to consider. Maybe over the weekend I'll reread the Book of Esther, while keeping this in the back of my mind.

Has always reminded me of the Vashti story in The Book of Esther. Vashti will not obey when the King Ahasuerus commands her to show herself to the men of his Court (unheard of for a sequestered woman to - someone kept in the confines of the Harem with the only males around being eunuchs). So she must go and make way for a more "compliant" wife - this time Esther. And of course, through her compliance Esther manages to save all the Jewish people living in the Persian Empire.....

clarkef
06-29-2007, 12:52 AM
No, I don't know that the questions were answered, or merely not asked. I think that many people, Jews and Christians alike don't even realize there may be a question to ask. I tend to think that the vast majority haven't done the analytical work and careful analysis to ask.
A bit of clarification. These questions have been asked of Christianity as a whole and have been answered mostly 1700 years ago. Individuals within the religion may or may not know the answers. However, the religion itself has specific, concrete, and generally accepted responses.

This is in contradistinction to some of the small cultic sects within Christianity with new and novel interpretations of scripture. I have had the misfortune of dealing with several. Ask a simple logical question and they have no answer; frosty, if not downright hostiile reception afterwards.

One of the indicators of a healthy, well-balanced church, is the willingness to be questioned; to be put through rigorous, critical examination.

I have no respect for a religion that does not permit questions.

Ned
06-29-2007, 05:03 AM
A bit of clarification. These questions have been asked of Christianity as a whole and have been answered mostly 1700 years ago. Individuals within the religion may or may not know the answers. However, the religion itself has specific, concrete, and generally accepted responses.

To be honest, this sounds like Orthodox Judaism. About the last time, Orthodoxy seriously questioned the interpretations of the Torah and Halakha (Jewish Law) in what I consider a meaningful way was in the first century CE., around the time of Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Gamaliel. It's not that they don't discuss or question at all, it's that the context has already been self limited. It is why I have continued to not only be a part of the Reform Jewish movement, but really at the forefront of the movement, with study and work on modern translations of Torah and the Prophets, as well as a reexamination of our services, in the hope of making them both more spiritual and intellectually more satisfying.

This is in contradistinction to some of the small cultic sects within Christianity with new and novel interpretations of scripture. I have had the misfortune of dealing with several. Ask a simple logical question and they have no answer; frosty, if not downright hostiile reception afterwards.

It's one thing to not have an answer, but entirely another to be angry or upset with the question. Questions without answers should really result in further study and examination, not hostility.

One of the indicators of a healthy, well-balanced church, is the willingness to be questioned; to be put through rigorous, critical examination.

Agreed.

I have no respect for a religion that does not permit questions.

Neither do I.

pezmanffx
06-29-2007, 08:19 AM
I just think it is amazing how this tread is growing. This is kind of proof to me that this country has a problem seperating religion from politics. My question is, what can be done to resolve this problem.

DCTravelAgent
06-29-2007, 08:54 AM
DC, this isn't quite the way I recall the story, but it's certainly an interesting take, and one to consider. Maybe over the weekend I'll reread the Book of Esther, while keeping this in the back of my mind.


Ned - what I'm trying to say is that Esther became "beloved" of the King by being a more compliant or malleable wife. Do re-read. You'd probably be surprised by my "take" on the Onan (The Harlot by the Side of the Road) as well as Hagar and Sarah ......

DCTravelAgent
06-29-2007, 08:56 AM
I just think it is amazing how this tread is growing. This is kind of proof to me that this country has a problem seperating religion from politics. My question is, what can be done to resolve this problem.


I think this is a fascinating conversation and I would ask you to reconsider what I posted earlier - that in fact, "religion" is so deeply rooted that you can't truly separate it from decision-making. I think it is totally unconscious, in fact.

pezmanffx
06-29-2007, 09:01 AM
When the president vetos a bill because he feels it is against his religious beliefs and also wants an admendment passed because of his religious beliefs, then we have an issue.

Ned
06-29-2007, 09:39 AM
Harlot is a terrific book. It's just that it's been years since I've really read the Book of Esther.

For the last several years I've been concentrating on Torah and Haftorah portions for the High Holy Days and the other fall holidays. I've been doing "modern" translations, which while accurate, use more modern language, and speak better to teens and young adults, than the passages we generally read today. The task has been fun, but not easy. We are using these in our new alternative holiday services at my synagogue.

Ned - what I'm trying to say is that Esther became "beloved" of the King by being a more compliant or malleable wife. Do re-read. You'd probably be surprised by my "take" on the Onan (The Harlot by the Side of the Road) as well as Hagar and Sarah ......

Ned
06-29-2007, 09:40 AM
I can only say one thing in reply to your post P-man. YES.

When the president vetos a bill because he feels it is against his religious beliefs and also wants an admendment passed because of his religious beliefs, then we have an issue.

DCTravelAgent
06-29-2007, 09:56 AM
Harlot is a terrific book. It's just that it's been years since I've really read the Book of Esther.

For the last several years I've been concentrating on Torah and Haftorah portions for the High Holy Days and the other fall holidays. I've been doing "modern" translations, which while accurate, use more modern language, and speak better to teens and young adults, than the passages we generally read today. The task has been fun, but not easy. We are using these in our new alternative holiday services at my synagogue.


As for the readings during the Days of Awe - I think we should (you and I) have a conversation about why we read about Sarah (and Abraham, but most importantly Sarah) during that period - I think I have kind of an "unorthodox" view - at least in respect to other Jews but not necessarily in respect to a scholar.

clarkef
06-29-2007, 11:46 AM
When the president vetos a bill because he feels it is against his religious beliefs and also wants an admendment passed because of his religious beliefs, then we have an issue.
That's an unfortunate way of framing the issue. That make as much sense as saying that the abolitionist were violating southerners rights by working to abolish slavery because it was against their religion, or that r. King who believes that discrimination was against God should have kept his opinion to himself

The President veteod the bill because he believes that it was murder. Plain and simple. I for one wholeheartedly support him.

mercwyn
06-29-2007, 01:10 PM
That's an unfortunate way of framing the issue. That make as much sense as saying that the abolitionist were violating southerners rights by working to abolish slavery because it was against their religion, or that r. King who believes that discrimination was against God should have kept his opinion to himself

The President veteod the bill because he believes that it was murder. Plain and simple. I for one wholeheartedly support him.

Part of the appeal of the works of Dr. King is that he not only appealed to those people of his faith, he appealed to the ideas of logic and justice and thus his ideals, while strongly motivated by his religious beliefs were not exclusively based on his religious beliefs. I believe that this makes his ideas much more acceptable to those who do not share his religious beliefs.

Part of the issue with stem cells is that the various sides seem to be unable to agree on the most basic issue, which is when does life begin in a legal sense. On one hand you have people who say that life begins at conception and on the other hand you have people saying that life doesn't begin until birth. In my view, until this issue is resolved and the law states clearly when life begins, I don't see anyway that this can be resolved.

I am very aware that many people feel that their beliefs should trump that of other individuals however that will always raise the specter of whose beliefs should be used in the end. I'm sure that some people see folly in this absolute approach while others are perfectly comfortable with it, as long as it is their belief system that is being used.

I would like to add an aside to this and thank everyone for his or her view point and the fact that everyone has remained polite and civil in this discussion.

DCTravelAgent
06-29-2007, 04:48 PM
I'm not sure you can pick and choose - it can't be okay to accept religion informing some ideas - just the ones we like, while it's not okay for it to inform those we detest.

clarkef
07-01-2007, 08:52 AM
Part of the appeal of the works of Dr. King is that he not only appealed to those people of his faith, he appealed to the ideas of logic and justice and thus his ideals, while strongly motivated by his religious beliefs were not exclusively based on his religious beliefs. I believe that this makes his ideas much more acceptable to those who do not share his religious beliefs. Agreed. Religion and religious conclusions do not have to be completely divorced from logic and justice as in the case of Dr. King. For example, my pro-life stances are not religiously based whatsover.

Part of the issue with stem cells is that the various sides seem to be unable to agree on the most basic issue, which is when does life begin in a legal sense. On one hand you have people who say that life begins at conception and on the other hand you have people saying that life doesn't begin until birth. In my view, until this issue is resolved and the law states clearly when life begins, I don't see anyway that this can be resolved. Agreed, as it stands, the issue is framed in civil rights v. murder, two uncomprising positions.

I am very aware that many people feel that their beliefs should trump that of other individuals however that will always raise the specter of whose beliefs should be used in the end. I'm sure that some people see folly in this absolute approach while others are perfectly comfortable with it, as long as it is their belief system that is being used. But isn't that what democracy is all about. Majority rules as long as the end legislation is constitutional.

I would like to add an aside to this and thank everyone for his or her view point and the fact that everyone has remained polite and civil in this discussion Ditto.

clarkef
07-01-2007, 08:55 AM
I just think it is amazing how this tread is growing. This is kind of proof to me that this country has a problem seperating religion from politics. My question is, what can be done to resolve this problem.

"We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution."

-JFK in his Civil Rights address,
June 11, 1963

Thank God that JFK had a problem seperating religion from politics

Ned
07-01-2007, 09:52 AM
Actually Clarke, I think JFK did a remarkably good job of separating running the government and requesting legislation, from his Catholicism. I think he clearly understood the problem of using religious principles to do either, as president.

"We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution."

-JFK in his Civil Rights address,
June 11, 1963

Thank God that JFK had a problem seperating religion from politics

clarkef
07-01-2007, 03:59 PM
Actually Clarke, I think JFK did a remarkably good job of separating running the government and requesting legislation, from his Catholicism. I think he clearly understood the problem of using religious principles to do either, as president.
Yet he felt very comfortable invoking scripture as a basis for civil rights. That's the point. One does not legislate religion, yet its principles and precepts are as valid a source of first principles as any ethical, philosophical, or moral code.

tiredtravelagent2
07-01-2007, 10:33 PM
I have a question regarding stem cell research here.

I have been following this thread and reading with interst those parts dealing with stem cell research. I am curious to know how many others (myself included) believe[d] that stem cell research required fetus's?

Ned
07-01-2007, 11:36 PM
I sure didn't!

I have a question regarding stem cell research here.

I have been following this thread and reading with interst those parts dealing with stem cell research. I am curious to know how many others (myself included) believe[d] that stem cell research required fetus's?

DCTravelAgent
07-02-2007, 08:26 AM
Never a fetus, but the preferred place to get stem cells from is, I believe, an embryo.

Ned
07-02-2007, 09:05 AM
Embryonic stem cells have shown the most promise, thus far, and clearly they come from an early stage embryo, known as a blastocyst. Human embryos reach the blastocyst stage 4-5 days post fertilization, at which time they consist of 50-150 cells.

There are also adult stem cells, which are found in adult tissues, and cord blood stem cells found in the umbilical cord. These are increasingly showing more and more promise in research too.

Never a fetus, but the preferred place to get stem cells from is, I believe, an embryo.

tiredtravelagent2
07-02-2007, 01:48 PM
Ned: There are also adult stem cells, which are found in adult tissues, and cord blood stem cells found in the umbilical cord. These are increasingly showing more and more promise in research too.

See this is why I posted my question. I have always believed that this research could and was only performed with embryo's (I called them fetus's earlier). That was until I met a gentleman a couple of weeks ago that underwent the procedure (stem cell harvest) to try and help save his brother from cancer last year. It was really sad to hear, and the side effects to him (the donor) were making me cringe. The point being we need to hear more about the whole concept of this, not just what the media will allow us to hear. BTW for all the gallant effort to help his brother, his brother lost his battle with cancer last December.

DCTravelAgent
07-02-2007, 03:29 PM
An "embryo" and a "fetus" are not the same.

The brother may have had a better chance with embryonic stem cells or stem cells from cord blood (from his sibling or child if it was available), but adult stem cells are not showing great results - yet. (The one form of adult stem cells that seem to be working best so far are when one's own stem cells are harvested, preserved, and then after massive chemotherapy to the patient himself are re-introduced to the body.)

clarkef
07-02-2007, 04:20 PM
I think you statement about adult stem cells would have been true few months ago. But today, we are finding great promise with adult and other non-embryonic stem cells.

Ned
07-02-2007, 05:37 PM
Clarke's right. As I mentioned in an earlier post in this thread, Adult stem cells are beginning to show some real promise now. A number of the top researchers in stem cell research are pursuing this.

I think you statement about adult stem cells would have been true few months ago. But today, we are finding great promise with adult and other non-embryonic stem cells.

DCTravelAgent
07-03-2007, 08:07 AM
Clarke's right. As I mentioned in an earlier post in this thread, Adult stem cells are beginning to show some real promise now. A number of the top researchers in stem cell research are pursuing this.


Clarke is sort of right - the operative words are "beginning to show" and "some promise". To date, we still have the most efficacy (in the few situations where we have mastered this) with embryonic and cord blood cells.