Barack Obama, Scripture & Secular Humanism…

James:
In the following link (http://hankhanegraaff.blogspot.com/2008/08/barack-obamas-twisting-of-scriptures.html)
Hank Hanegraaff corrects Obama’s misguided understanding of scripture; among others that are served include: Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins.

JB:

What’s his take on McCain?  Just want to put in context since those are the two candidates?

James:

McCain wasn’t arogant enough to make such silly statements concerning the Creator of the universe or was smart enough to know his limitations (i.e. knowledge of scripture); take your pick (this is not to suggest that McCain has never said anything akin to the statements at hand, he may very well have) !

BTW, Obama is like a lot of so-called Christians who think they are allowed to harmonize the bible with thier sinful view of the world but don’t realize that Christianity is a narrow road (e.g. no difference in believing in Christ and believing in the Bible). It is hard to believe a man (like Obama) who states that he has put his trust and faith in an ogre (the biblical God) who “supports slavery” and is petty enough to call eating “shellfish” an abomination!

TA:

I agree with James in that I would be curious to see his take on McCain. To me he is a man who seems truly indifferent and phony on all things spiritual. I know we’re all sinners and all that, but what he did to his first wife was disgraceful. And he called his current wife a c**t publicly, in front of a reporter no less. I don’t know how y’all wives would take that, but rest assured I’d be single if I did that. McCain doesn’t speak about scripture because he has never been remotely interested in such matters. He only engages to the extent that he has to politically; i.e, pro-life, against gay marriage, etc. James E., I won’t pretend to be in the same universe as you in regards to Biblical knowledge, but I recall when I was doing my best to read scripture, it talked a lot about helping those less fortunate. Do the Republicans truly govern in accordance with scripture? And I do remember you telling me that all sins are equal, right? So assume I’m correct in assuming that the Republican party would not pass muster as a  scripture based party, then it seems obvious that it is a Christian person’s duty to vote for who he or she believes is most competent to govern this nation. In issues of war and peace, economics, and strategic planning on issues like energy and America’s antiquated infrastructure, would McCain/Palin or Obama / Biden do a better job. My choice is Obama / Biden. I feel he has the intellectual gravitas and brilliance rarely seen in a public servant, and coupled with Biden’s experience they make a hell of a team. We can’t afford to waste another 8 years being governed by folks that don’t think it’s all that important to do it effectively. I had the fortunate experience of going to China for a week this summer and let me tell you, America may be the most “powerful” nation in the world, but I can’t tell. Shanghai is more advanced than any city in America, period. It’s time for America to get back on it’s game.

James:

All sins are equal in that no matter which kind of sin you commit it is still a transgression against God’s will. However, sins do have certain weights attached to them in terms of seriousness. For example, in the Bible, homosexuality is dealt with by stoning due to the agregious nature of that particular sin; however, there are other sins do not require the immediate death of the transgressor. Therefore, all sins are not equal. There is actually a sin in the bible for which there is no forgiveness available either in this life or in the life to come (the ressurection).

I appreciate your comments about McCain if in fact they are true, however, your argument about the republican party not taking care of the “poor folks” is unfortunately without merit. Both administrations do an equally good and bad job in that arena depending upon where you want to shine the spotlight. I would actually argue that republicans do a better job but that is a converation for another email.

The biggest problem with injecting Christianity into the criteria is that the Democratic party in general is overtly an anti-God party. What I mean by this assertion is, despite the fact that God specifically states that he hates the homosexual lifestyle and the killing of millions of innocent babies, and the redefinition of the first institution he created (marriage) etc. the democratic party embraces these sins while at the same time trying to present themselves as “Christians.” Unfortunately for democrats that like to play Christian, most people understand that anyone who calls themself a christian but do not believe in God’s laws (regarding homosexuallity, murdering of the innocent, redefining marriage), is really lying. In scripture there is actually no distinction between believing in God and believing in his Word; the two are really the same thing.

RR:

I actually agree that both sides are pretty bad at taking care of any poor folks b/c their execution sucks.

I mean, let’s face it. Poor people can vote, but can’t really contribute to society as much by their very defintiion. They don’t have the $ to make an impact on others b/c people usually only respect guns or $, which most of the world has figured out one way or the other…

Really, it’s the lobbyists, left unchecked, that are the ones that take care of the rich folks.. although allow legislation to create and sanction loopholes & tax breaks definitely help their cause more than the “poor folks” cause, so I think the ideal democratic argument that the republicans “don’t care about the poor & are out for the rich” is probably based more upon the legislatory impact of focusing on the rich in an effort to reach the poor. (traditional trickle down econ theory). I think most people sitting at the end of a Thanksgiving dinner table would tell you that trickle-down economics may be a good idea on paper, but you usually end up finding most of the stuffing missing by the time it gets to you. 🙂

I was curious at the comment “the democratic party embraces these sins while at the same time trying to present themselves as ‘Christians'””. Namely, that this is internally consistent. The accepted democratic ideal is to associate personally but make decisions agnostically (specifically: in the absence of any religious influence). The challenge is to convince someone with strong religious conviction that doesn’t care about agnostic decision making (e.g. faith-based decision making in its place) that this is a GOOD idea, so I believe the complexity comes in with the extent that they have to be persuasive (politicians) but agnostic (“ideal”).

I can see where they might get clotheslined with some hypocrisy there. To someone making faith-based decisions, the logic of agnostics is going to fall short, so even the argument that “I’m personally Christian” would fall short of being a successful conversion, which is why I think most of the time they don’t really try TOO hard to make the case… It’s definitely a tough job for them either way, though… I wouldn’t want that job!

James:

I would argue that both sides have the “lobbyist” problem you refer to so I’m not sure if it is sensible to attribute this only to the republican party. Also, I’m not sure that I agree with you definition of the democratic ideal and must ask where you derived this definition. Even so, “secular humanism” (even according to the supreme court) is a religion, so I would argue that they have done a bad job at keeping to your “democratic ideal.”

RR:

Man, this is really making me think… I’m glad I don’t have to make these responses real-time, b/c I’m “out of shape” when it comes to this arguing thing… Let’s see if these make any sense to you.

In response to sentence one, I did not make the claim that lobbyists are only a problem of the republican party, but it appears you raised it as a claim. If you wish to refute this unspoken claim, you may, and I would heartily agree. 🙂 I think your intended argument would be, in terms of lobbyists, perhaps republican lobbyists are lobbying for better causes and being more successful in general than democratic lobbyists, as you insinuated in your response to Travis earlier. I suspect there are numerous examples and counterexamples that could be offered on both sides to explain success, failure, and compromising of either sides ideals, so I won’t approach the topic further. Usually in a traditional 2-sided debate, this is where either party would start lobbing numerous examples and expect them, like grenades, to deter or obliterate the other side. I just see it as a waste of time, really.

In response to sentence two, the democratic ideal I referred to (“…democratic ideal is to associate personally but make decisions agnostically…”) is frankly common knowledge. Furthermore, you were utilizing this same common knowledge by assumption in your argument, “[the] Democratic party in general is overtly an anti-God party.” So to the extent that it is common knowledge, at least common enough for you to agree to, and utilize it in argument against Democrats, I see no benefit in defining it and question why you would even ask for a definition… Anyhow. That only leaves me with 3 conclusions.

1) If you would like to take back that you didn’t intend that in your earlier message, that’s ok.

2) Otherwise, if you would like to disagree with yourself, then that would be even MORE interesting than refuting a claim I actually didn’t make, but agree to.

3) Finally, if 1 & 2 fail, I suspect you may have the urge at this point to “clarify” your message. That’s OK. Even McCain had to do that regarding his most recent analysis of the economy, so at least you’ll be in good company! 🙂

With respect to your comment on secular humanism, I would ask you to clarify your argument with a citation, but I decided to bring more out of the “argument” experience and actually do some research. What I found was that there are sites that claim the Supreme Court recognizes SH as a religion by way of a footnote in which it was bundled in by reference to including it in a category of likeness with non-God religions. Notwithstanding the court’s consistent denial of this explicilty and publically, people are free to read too far into this interpretation of a comment as they will. Even if you are willing to believe in and defend the “footnote fallacy”, you should be aware that in the case of the law, the last rule standing is the one that overrides predefined rules. (And, of course, thanks to Roe v. Wade, we are all painfully aware of this affect in our desire to overturn and/or not overturn it.) With that in mind, please read the following, which was established and explicitly identified in the BODY of a case (not as an indirect comment-by-footnote) and done so in 1994, not 1961… It also refers to their previous concurrence of this philosophy in another court case before 94 and after 61…

We reject this claim because neither the Supreme Court, nor this circuit, has ever held that evolutionism or secular humanism are “religions” for Establishment Clause purposes. Indeed, both the dictionary definition of religion(4) and the clear weight of the case law(5) are to the contrary.

If you still wish to claim that secular humanism is respected as a religion by the supreme court, I simply ask for a citation. I would love to entertain one, as I would surely learn from it. Otherwise, I would recommend you (personally) should discontinue this claim as I know you would, since you are a person that demands proof and defensible logic from your positions.


And in this case, unfortunately, the supreme court rulings are not in any religious text, so faith-based backing for this argument will not hold, although I would respect it if did/could. 🙂

*pong*

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.
Source: Ecclesiastes (ch. IX, v. 10)

James:

First of all, let me start out by commending you for actually examining the response I sent out earlier and checking whether the statements I asserted are so. In the scriptures (Act 17:11), God commends the Bereans because instead of simply taking the Apostle Paul at his word they actually searched the scriptures to see if the things he told them had any factual basis. You are truly remarkable in that sense. Ok, moving right along:

The “lobbyist” comment, after re-examining your sentence, I agree was not aimed at republicans strictly. I naturally thought that your next thought in the same sentence regarding “legislatory [sic] impact of focusing on the rich” referred to the effects of lobbying.

As for the “democratic ideal” piece, at first I thought you were referring to the general definition of “democratic” and not the definition of the actual party know as “democratic,” an unintended equivocation on your part I guess. Anyway, point taken.

Lastly, you seem quite intent on demolishing the parenthetical comment made about the Supreme Court’s acknowledgment of Secular Humanism as a religion and less intent on actually verifying whether or not Secular Humanism resides in the semantic range of the word “religion”; incidentally, it does.

Now, despite all what you have “dug up” regarding the S.C. comment, the rules of language and writing compel us to accept that this acknowledgment was in fact made by the Supreme Court in Torcaso vs Watkins, 81 S.Ct. (albeit in the footnotes) which was all that my statement originally implied, nothing more.

I am quite aware that the Supreme Court has (on more than one occasion) supported diametrical assertions inconsistently over time. Nevertheless, history doesn’t allow the S.C. to change the historical record of that revealing utterance just because the S.C. expediently decides to adopt a contravening stance in defiance of precedent. In summary, if James asserts that the S.C. said the “affirmative” and RR asserts that the S.C. said the “negative”, both are correct (if both are in the record) despite the fact that today the Supreme Court may only espouse its most recent declaration as the official position. Certainly, you must agree that logic allows for this conclusion. If you still disagree, in my next response I will put the argument into categorical form to demonstrate that it is logically valid (keep in mind that arguments are only ever ascertained for validity; unlike a statement, an argument cannot have the characteristic of truth or falsehood.)

In actuality, however, the S.C. still to this day undeniably defines Secular Humanism as a religion “for free exercise” purposes (i.e. they are granted tax-exempt status and allowed to appeal to the religion of Secular Humanism as a conscientious objector) while out of the other side of their mouth, the S.C. asserts that Secular Humanism is not a religion that would violate the “establishment clause” (this way they don’t get kicked out of schools—BTW, look closely again at the quote you sent me in order to catch this slick addition.)

RR, now is a good time to look at the document I have attached in order to understand exactly what I’m trying to convey. What all this basically means is that (and as the attached document asserts) “when Secular Humanists want the benefits of a religion, they get them.” However, as a religion, they are not allowed to be scrutinized according to the ramifications of the establishment clause.

The document attached (http://vftonline.org/Patriarchy/definitions/humanism_religion.htm) firmly demonstrates that this S.C. admission was not merely “dictum” as many humanist sites (and consequently yourself) have suggested especially because the footnote is actually a reference referring to the “important 1957 case of Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia (101 U.S. App. D.C. 371) in its holding that Secular Humanism is a non-theistic religion within the meaning of the First Amendment.”

Also, I am not aware of any “footnote fallacy” within formal or informal logical fallacies so you may have to educate me with a reference. Either way, it is astounding that you can claim I’m “reading too far into” a piece of information that is ultimately part of the S.C. decision. I was not aware that the proper use of a footnote is to deemphasize content that is not meant to be taken seriously. Perhaps this conjured definition of a footnote should have found its way into a reference book of common usage (i.e. the dictionary, MLA). The most extreme designation you could validly assign to the footnote in question is a “digression” which still provides semantic warrant to consider it part of the Supreme Court decision.

Ultimately, I believe you need to do more research so that you truly understand what the S.C. meant by religion in the context of the establishment clause vs. religion in the context of free exercise. Only then you will have an appreciation for just how inconsistent the Supreme Court really is (at least on this issue.)

P.S. I’m actually more interested in how you feel about the second half of the verse you quoted from Ecclesiastes 9:10 considering your worldview (Hinduism)

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