[Vision2020] Earmark and intial comments on Ralph's Religion and morality

Chasuk chasuk at gmail.com
Sun Oct 2 01:06:44 PDT 2005

I apologize for not responding to this earlier, but life intervened.

> Hardly.  If one posts an article, it is most common to show the authority of
> the person who is postulating an argument.  You are not likely to go to your
> plumber to get advice on medicine are you?

I acknowledge that this is probably common, and in some cases possibly
even desirable.  However, I have observed its use more often as an
insincere gambit to dismiss the words of an opponent without actually
having to examine the substance of those words.  That is too easy, and
it disgraces intelligent discourse.

> You ask, Chas, that we not look at Paul's other loony notions.  Do you
> commonly give credence to authors who make otherwise crazy statements?  If,
> for example, Charles Manson or John Hinckley Jr. were to write a piece
> supporting atheism, would you deal with their writings in the same light as
> a real scholar?

First, Phil, I would have to know what this gentleman's "loony
notions" were before I could judge them.  I don't remember that you
presented them, except for dismissively, and only in passing.  I did a
fairly thorough search on Google, and I found very little material on
Paul at all, other than mention of his work as a palaeontologist and
an illustrator.  If I missed the wealth of information documenting his
looniness that you apparently discovered, please share it with us.  I
thank you in advance.  Second, if Charles Manson were to write a book
on horticulture that appeared, based on an examination of said work,
to be sound and true, I would accept it as readily as I would a work
by any other man.
> Mr. Paul hides who he is under the banner of being a 'secular humanist', yet
> in all of his articles he is far from open and is in fact a very dogmatic
> atheist.  Ralph seems to share his exclusivist atheist dogmas and therefore
> chooses to credit a person with otherwise very nutty ideas, because he
> supports some of the same dogmas that Ralph does.

Being a secular humanist and being a dogmatic atheist are not
necessarily mutually exclusive.  Indeed, I could argue that atheism is
dogmatic by its very nature, and I know many secular humanists who are
atheists, generally making no effort to disguise the fact.  Mr. Paul,
an atheist, publishes a report favorable to atheism.  Jerry Falwell
publishes reports favorable to theism every day.  Are you implying
that the converse should be true?

> A real secular humanist would be more scientific in his or her approach.
> This particular screed by Paul is no more than an atheist evangelicalism
> which starts with the premise that religious faith will result in bad
> societal results.

Show us the evidence on which you base this statement.

> I ask you Chas, was lack of morality, murder, abortion, violence and gun
> play the mark of Orthodox Jewish Communities?  There can be little doubt
> that within any number of religious orthodoxies, moral values are high and
> society is not falling apart at the seams.  Yet Paul's thesis seems to be
> that because a Hassidic community is orthodox, it will by its nature result
> in very nasty behaviors including such anti-social activity as robbery rape
> murder gun violence and a host of other ills.

I know that your Jewishness will predispose you to trumping anything
that I might say about Judaism, as you obviously possess more
authority on the subject than I do.  Still, I am not completely
ignorant of Judaism.  You might even discover that I am more
knowledgeable about your faith than the average goy, if you were to
engage me in conversation.  I preface my response with this
information to indicate that I am not replying out of my ass.  Here
goes:  I don't believe that the example of Judaism contradicts Paul's
assertions because Judaism is demonstrably different, in what I
perceive to be a positive way.  Judaism is not a proselytizing
religion.  If you are a Reform Jew, it isn't even a given that you are
monotheistic.  Judaism is more of a way of life -- and it is concerned
primarily with THIS life, not the hereafter -- than practically any
other religion on the planet (Buddhism possibly excepted).  It is this
tolerance (borne of what, I am not qualified to speculate) that makes
all of the difference.

> Please note that Paul does not even get the stats right.  The religious
> affiliation of the Brits almost exactly mirrors that of the US.  There is
> 15% of the population of the USA who are not affiliated with a faith or are
> atheists and the number in England is 17%.

> Paul compares numbers of people who say they are affiliated in the USA with
> figures for who actually attend churches, mosques or synagogues in England
> and then suggests that lower rates for abortion, rape, murder and violence
> in the two societies are related to the amoralism of the 'more' religious
> nation.

> The truth is that about the same numbers of people actually go to services
> in both nations and Paul was comparing apples to oranges.  America is no
> more or less religious than Great Britain.

I don't know where you get your statistics from, but my own life
experience contradicts it utterly.  I lived in the UK for 15 years.  I
have only been back in the U.S. since 1996.  One of the things I
adored about the country was its tremendous religious apathy.  I have
traveled all over the world, and never encountered a population who
cared less about religion than residents of the UK.  I can state
absolutely that America is more religious than Great Britain.

> Further, the reasons for higher levels of violence in American Society from
> the very beginning of our country are not likely to be laid at the door of
> religious faith.  Initially in our very diverse US religious base, we had
> more atheists and theists and humanists than did Britain, but even in the
> beginning we had a culture with a greater acceptance of drinking, dueling,
> whoring and the rest.

My knowledge of U.S. history is poor, so I will refrain from possibly
sticking my foot in my mouth on this subject of early U.S. religious
practices.  You write much more to which I could respond, and perhaps
I will later, but the hour is late.  I'm growing too tired to string
logical sentences together.

I really don't think that Ralph is anti-Semitic.  He may interpret
data from a secular viewpoint, but I believe that you misinterpret
him.  I don't believe in a deity, personal or otherwise, but religion
has always been intensely interesting to me.  I have followed your
various squabbles carefully, and you seem prone to find anti-Semitism
where others might find only a difference of opinion.  If Hitler had
composed a lullaby that I liked to hum to my children, that wouldn't
make me an anti-Semite.  I don't care for rap music, but that doesn't
make me a racist.



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