Thursday, October 20, 2011

"...somebody who actually understands the spirit and ideals of American freedom."

Regarding the ACLU suit by the high school girl in Rhode Island about the school prayer mural:

Commentor RickK:
I was going to comment, but KW is doing such an excellent job that I've nothing more to add other than this:
Everybody please re-read KW's comments word for word. They're the only thing on this thread that is written by somebody who actually understands the spirit and ideals of American freedom.

Here's KW's insight, with my commentary:

KW to CrusadeRex: 

You suggest that bullying of this girl was because she asked for it,
I don't know to what extent she has actually been bullied. She has admitted lying-- she claimed in a radio  interview a while back that she really wasn't offended by the prayer, but now she claims that she suffered much and that she lied back then to deflect bullying.

So the bottom line is that she is an admitted liar. The question now is: what part of her story is a lie?

If she's being threatened physically, or seriously harassed, that's very wrong. If kids and others are just telling her what they think of her tactics, that's fair game. She sued them. They were minding their own business. If she's entitled to feel 'ostracized, harassed and intimidated' or whatever by an innocuous prayer on a wall, they're sure as hell entitled to feel 'ostracized, harassed and intimidated' by a federal lawsuit. She basically called the police to censor her classmates and friends. Blowback, cupcake. Censorship ain't free.

If you sue somebody, expect blowback. If you don't, you're too stupid to be suing anybody. But the little Fraulein isn't stupid. She's disingenuous, pretending to be a victim to elicit sympathy.
and if she doesn’t like the giant prayer in her school she can go somewhere else.

Millions of Christian kids, and Jewish kids, and Muslim kids are in private school or homeschooled, at great sacrifice to their families.  Why are atheists exempt from seeking other educational venues?
As if that wasn’t enough, you then go on to suggest segregated schools for atheists.
If you want Christianity (which is what you actually mean by "religion") sandblasted from schools, get your own schools. You can have censorship and scientism and narcissism ten periods a day. "Trofim Lysenko High School of Science". Has a ring.
Is this your idea of religious liberty?
Yep. Free choice. The government can't establish a religion, and can't interfere with free exercise of religion or with freedom of speech. A non-compulsory prayer in a school doesn't establish a religion, anymore than the President saying "God Bless America" establishes a religion or any one of the thousands of prayers and invocations of God by government officials establishes a religion.

The ACLU/atheist use of federal power to censor prayer does violate the right to free exercise of religion and the right to freedom of speech.
If a public school painted a giant mural of the Bakunin quote “He who desires to worship God must harbor no childish illusions about the matter but bravely renounce his liberty and humanity”
There is no Constitutional issue with such a mural, if assent to it was not compulsory.

So let's take a look at what I'd do if my school put up the Bakunin quote:

1) I'd go to the principal and I'd ask him to place a quote next to it that refuted Bakunin (e.g. "We hold these truths to be self-evident..."). I'd ask him to include an analysis of Bakunin and the subsequent expression of his ideas in the history curriculum, and to ask the kids to compare and contrast the expression of Christian ideas. This would be a wonderful opportunity to discuss the political manifestations of atheism and Christianity.
2) If he didn't, I'd get my friends and neighbors to go with me, and ask.
3) If he didn't, I'd go to the next school board meeting and ask.
4) If someone at the school board meeting stood up and said "Take down the quote",  I'd disagree emphatically. I'd point out that Bakunin's ideas were very important, and that this was a superb opportunity for the kids to take these issues seriously. I would only ask that opposing views be presented as well.
4) If they didn't, I'd get involved in the next school board election, and work for candidates who agreed with me.
5) If that didn't work, I'd tell my kids that the quote was a lie, I'd tell them what I thought the truth was, and I'd tell them a lot about Mikhail Bakunin and anarchism and atheism and materialism. I'd tell them that this experience with the school is a good lesson about living in a democracy. Learn to deal with ideas you don't like, without using force.

Not only would my approach be the right thing to do, but my kids would learn a lot from it. They'd learn a lot more than if I sued the school.
,would it be fare to say that the offended students deserve to be bullied, or should find somewhere else to go to school? Of course not.
A Christian student who sued in federal court to censor people would deserve harsh critique by the people he was suing. I'll say it again: censorship has a price.

A giant mural that offends the religious sensibilities of the minority is no more appropriate than one that offends the majority.

No one has a right not to be offended. If you're offended, tough sh*t. You have the right to reply with your own idea. No one has the right to censor.

Using force (e.g. a federal suit) to censor someone who "offended" you is itself a violation of the Constitution, which prohibits the government from regulating speech.
Neither one of them belongs in a public school because we all share the same rights.

They both belong in public school, because we all share the same rights. It's a free country. Ideas should be challenged with ideas, not censorship.

Why is your default always to silence ideas? Why not insist on expression of all ideas?
It’s not up to you or anyone else to decide the level of offense a religious minority should be forced to suffer. 
There's no "suffering" from reading someone's opinion. There is no force in a wall prayer or in a Bakunin quote. None whatsoever. It is merely an expression of an idea, and you have no right to silence that idea by force. You do have a right to express your own idea.
Public schools must remain absolutely neutral on the subject of religion to protect the religious liberty of all students,
What a stupid thing to say. There is no such thing as "neutral" in religion. "Religion" is a menagerie of beliefs, not points on a line. Catholicism isn't at 10 to the right of zero, and Buddhism isn't at 4 to the left of zero. There's no "neutral". There are just different religious viewpoints, related to each other in complex and unquantifiable ways.

What you really mean by "neutral" is no religion, which is atheism, functional or explicit. But "no religion" isn't neutral. The Soviet eradication of religion from Russian life wasn't "neutrality" about religion. The eradication of religion from schools isn't "neutrality" about religion.

What arrogance to call eradication of religion "neutral". Atheists have been trying to eradicate religion for a couple of hundred years, and it's been anything but "neutral".

and in the case of the youngest students, the right of the parents to teach their children whatever religious conviction they want without completion from a public school.
Public schools teach kids countless things that don't coincide with parents' views. My kids are indoctrinated in left-wing cr*p in history class all the time. My options are to take it to the teacher and discuss it, to go to the school board, or to take my kids out of public schools.

I have no business going to federal court to silence left-wing instruction in schools. I despise leftism, but I have no right to silence it by force, invoking the First Amendment that guarantees freedom of speech.
If you feel it’s absolutely necessary to have overtly religious expression by your kid’s school, it’s you who can pull them out and stick them in a private school.
If you feel it’s absolutely necessary to have overtly irreligious expression by your kid’s school, it’s you who can pull them out and stick them in a private school.
Until then, don’t expect non-believing students and their parents to sit idly by while you fight to have your public schools send unwanted messages of religious inspiration.
Until then, don’t expect believing students and their parents to sit idly by while you fight to have your public schools send unwanted messages of irreligious inspiration.

Welcome to freedom, pal. 

53 comments:

  1. Michael,

    The more I think about it, 'blathering' describes you to a 'T'.

    The 'Trofim Lysenko High School of Science'?

    Lysenko was very much anti-science and anti-evolution, distorting real science and making life hell for scientists, in some cases causing them to be dragged off to prison or gulags, where some died. All for political reasons.

    Rather similar to the way you and your friends at the Discovery Institute behave. You don't have scientists imprisoned but you certainly are intemperate, referring to many as engaging in 'junk' science, and criticizing them on the basis that you don't have a clue as to what the science indicates. Big bang cosmology, global warming and evolutionary biology are just three areas in which you excel in ignorance.

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  2. Dr. Egnor,

    I appreciate how you would handle my hypothetical Bakunin quote mural, and I have no doubt that in a majority Christian community your efforts to remove the mural would be successful. In a purely democratic system it’s easy for the majority to get their way, and in this case that would mean easy censoring of the minority view. Fortunately, our constitution is designed to protect the rights of minorities from the tyranny of the majority.

    Given the level of animosity toward atheists promoted by conservative Christians like you, I would be surprised if the mural survived un-vandalized until the next school board meeting. If it did, and your non-litigious efforts to remove the hypothetical mural where unsuccessful, undoubtedly some members of the Christian community would go running to the ACLU or some other pack of lawyers as fast as any atheist.

    The idea of allowing our public schools to promote any and all religious opinions based on the whims of elected school board members is a recipe for turning our public schools into far more viscous culture war battlegrounds than they already are. We would all lose in that scenario.

    -KW

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  3. @KW

    Colleges are free to promote religion, irreligion, etc. Are they religious battlegrounds? Have fundamentalist Christians taken them all over and driven atheists out?

    The "battleground" happens when you prohibit free expression. People get pissed.

    The best way to foster social harmony is to let everyone have their say, and to respect, not censor, opposing views.

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  4. @KW:

    [I appreciate how you would handle my hypothetical Bakunin quote mural, and I have no doubt that in a majority Christian community your efforts to remove the mural would be successful.]

    I said clearly that I wouldn't attempt to get it removed. I'd attempt to get other opinions expressed as well, and discuss it.

    [In a purely democratic system it’s easy for the majority to get their way,]

    That's what "democratic" means. When minorities rule, it's an oligarchy, dictatorship, etc.

    [and in this case that would mean easy censoring of the minority view.]

    Censorship in this context is the use of government force to prevent speech. You censor, we don't.

    If by "censorship" you mean that elected school districts get to set curricula according to ordinary procedures, that's not censorship, that's just making curricula.

    [Fortunately, our constitution is designed to protect the rights of minorities from the tyranny of the majority.]

    You have no right to censor. You have no right not to be offended. You have a right to free expression. You don't have a right to prevent the free expression of others.

    Your status as minority or majority is irrelevant to First Amendment rights. We all have the same rights.

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  5. @bach:

    [Lysenko was very much anti-science and anti-evolution]

    Lysenko was anti-Mendelian, not anti-evolution. He believed in environmentally acquired traits. His views were Lamarckian. His error was in genetics. He had no problem with evolution, understood as changes in species over time.

    [distorting real science and making life hell for scientists, in some cases causing them to be dragged off to prison or gulags, where some died. All for political reasons.]

    Lysenko's perversion of science wasn't so much that he was wrong about genetics. Lots of scientists have been wrong about important things, even a few good scientists.

    Lysenko's perversion of science is that he used government force to censor his scientific critics. Lysenkoism is the government imposition of an 'official approved' theory in science.

    That's exactly what Darwinists do when they use federal courts to impose strict Darwinism on pubic schools.

    When Darwinists quote federal judges to defend their science, Lysenko would approve.

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  6. @bach:

    [Big bang cosmology, global warming and evolutionary biology are just three areas in which you excel in ignorance.]

    I'm ignorant in a lot more things than just that.

    [Rather similar to the way you and your friends at the Discovery Institute behave. You don't have scientists imprisoned but you certainly are intemperate, referring to many as engaging in 'junk' science, and criticizing them on the basis that you don't have a clue as to what the science indicates.]

    ID folks are interperate? Dragging a school district into federal court to enforce Darwinism is pretty damned intemperate. Disagreement is not Lysenkoism. The use of government force to enforce scientific orthodoxy is Lysenkoism.

    You own Lysenko, comrade.

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  7. In respond to KW - pt 1,

    "You suggest that bullying of this girl was because she asked for it, and if she doesn’t like the giant prayer in her school she can go somewhere else."
    I suggest that simply calling confrontation bullying does not make it so. This girl has lied to the press already. Are we supposed to now accept her cry of victim? I don't buy it.

    "...you then go on to suggest segregated schools for atheists."
    I suggest that of atheists wish to segregate themselves, they should do so at their own expense - not the public's.

    "Is this your idea of religious liberty?"
    Yes. Choice is freedom when it comes to religious matters. Censorship is oppression. I am not trying to silence anyone, and you are not defending anyone's rights. Don't try to paint your Red Star white, KW.

    ""If a public school painted a giant mural of the Bakunin quote “He who desires to worship God must harbor no childish illusions about the matter but bravely renounce his liberty and humanity”,"
    First off the likelihood of someone posting such a mural outside of a communist regime is minimal. Comparing the Soviet Revolutionary's quote with a school boy's well wishes CLEARLY displays what a PHONEY argument you have advanced. Feigned offence buttressed with politically charged bullshit. Really WEAK stuff, Kw.
    Such a comparison is just silly, and you know it. It is like comparing a kids painting of a dinosaur with an Al Capone or Pablo Escobar quote.
    Very simply put: The 'Prayer Mural' under discussion is NOT A FAMOUS QUOTE by a political agitator .
    Rather This 'mural' is a STUDENT'S creation connected to the story and philosophy of that school...get it? A≠B. You're comparing apples and depleted uranium.

    "would it be fare to say that the offended students deserve to be bullied, or should find somewhere else to go to school?"
    I am sorry...Am I missing something here?
    This commie sign is bullying children now?
    The mural bullied the girl?
    This sign makes no references to atheists, leftists, or self absorbed pretentious little tools. No mention of her at all - save to wish her well in her education as a student of Cranston HS.
    It is a tame, and generic. It is barely a prayer. This girl's offence is clearly engineered, and you are clearly grasping at straws, KW.
    Bullying signs? Come on...

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  8. pt 2 - CNTD from above
    "A giant mural that offends the religious sensibilities of the minority is no more appropriate than one that offends the majority."
    What religious sensibility is offended by this mural? No one of religious sentiment has complained. The only complaint is from someone who has willingly removed themselves from the conversation and who looks down upon all religion as superstition.
    Your little equivocation of whiffs of intolerance, KW.

    "Neither one of them belongs in a public school because we all share the same rights."
    A students work belongs on a school wall, a tirade by a notorious political gangster does not. You do not have the right to be intolerant of other and/or protected from offence caused by that offence. You do have the right to get over yourself and get on with your life.

    "It’s not up to you or anyone else to decide the level of offense a religious minority should be forced to suffer."
    Suffer? Do you read this stuff over, KW? 'SUFFER'? Please...
    The word you are looking for is TOLERATE; and you're wrong. I am the guy who decides that. I vote and I serve my country.I am directly involved in preserving the (Christian) traditions of tolerance in my country in several ways. Sit on boards, I attend a meeting here and there. I write. I educated. There are literally hundreds of thousands, even millions, just like me. Subjects, citizens, 'the people', the voters and TAXPAYERS.
    We pay the salary of the politicians and judges who codify such matters, and adjudicate the current laws.
    We say the atheists must tolerate their peer's beliefs, or be seen as intolerant.
    Maybe some 'diversity training' for these Atheist elitist types.

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  9. Pt 3 - CTND FINAL
    "Public schools must remain absolutely neutral on the subject of religion to protect the religious liberty of all students, and in the case of the youngest students, the right of the parents to teach their children whatever religious conviction they want without completion from a public school."
    Even if I were to accept this notion of absolute neutrality - and I do NOT - what does this mural do to offend such a dystopian neutrality? How is this mural competition to their own beliefs? It does not. Your comment seems to suggest a need to CENSOR the other students in order to INSULATE a minority from WHAT? From 'offence'....
    From being offended by their own intolerant views. Again, some diversity training is in order here. Some outreach.


    Again, intolerance is what you speak of - not liberty or freedom to express. You seek to censor the ideas, culture, and history of this school to protect a few intolerant people from offence. Let them be offended.

    "If you feel it’s absolutely necessary to have overtly religious expression by your kid’s school, it’s you who can pull them out and stick them in a private school."
    We do have such schools. So should atheists. If you want a faith based or faith devoid curriculum then private / home schooling is the only way to achieve that. 'Public' schools reflect ALL the ideas, and do not put one group above another - or silence one group to suite another.
    Again, do you read this stuff through, KW?
    You just feigned moral indignation in the lines above because I suggested the same for Atheist children who are offended by their peers' very existence.
    What a hypocrite.

    "Until then, don’t expect non-believing students and their parents to sit idly by while you fight to have your public schools send unwanted messages of religious inspiration."
    The school are defending a piece of their history. Messages of inspiration are what schools are for... Your comment is SO selfish it staggers the mind. The religious children have the RIGHT to be inspired, led on, made happy, and become a valuable part of their culture. They should not have to sacrifice all that because one little girl is sad.
    Cynical minded adults exploiting this kid's loss in order to shove a censorship lawsuit up a high school during a recession is DISGUSTING.

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  10. @mregnor
    Lysenko's perversion of science is that he used government force to censor his scientific critics. Lysenkoism is the government imposition of an 'official approved' theory in science.

    That's exactly what Darwinists do when they use federal courts to impose strict Darwinism on pubic schools.

    When Darwinists quote federal judges to defend their science, Lysenko would approve.


    Exactly. That's why evilutionists sent Dr Hovind to jail.

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  11. Dr. Egnor,

    Fine, you’d be perfectly happy with the Bakunin quote as long as you had an opportunity to ask that your favorite religious philosophy be given representation as well, and regardless of the outcome you would live with it, but do you really think the majority of your fellow Christians would agree? I doubt it.

    Why you suggest that everyone should have the right petition to have their own religious beliefs represented in public school facilities is beyond me. How exactly do you think that would go? Christians get the lobby, Jews get the auditorium, atheists get the gymnasium, Islam gets the cafeteria, Hindus get the second floor hallway, etc.? That’s crazy impractical. Where do you draw the line? I think our school boards have far more important issues to deal with than apportioning school property for religious representation.

    As it stands now, nobody is being discriminated against because the prohibition of religious expression by public schools affects everyone equally. There is no tyranny here. Feel free to teach your kids whatever religious tradition you want to without interference from the government, and I’ll do the same. That’s religious Liberty.

    -KW

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  12. KW:

    [Why you suggest that everyone should have the right petition to have their own religious beliefs represented in public school facilities is beyond me. How exactly do you think that would go? Christians get the lobby, Jews get the auditorium, atheists get the gymnasium, Islam gets the cafeteria, Hindus get the second floor hallway, etc.? That’s crazy impractical. Where do you draw the line?]

    Are you nuts? There are thousands of educational institutions in the US that have complete freedom of religious expression. Colleges and universities. They have free choice regarding religion. Some colleges are quite godless, some are very religious, some are a mixture. Religious conflict in post high school education is very rare.

    Freedom of expression diminishes conflict, because people get their say in a way that is basically fair.

    [I think our school boards have far more important issues to deal with than apportioning school property for religious representation]

    School boards have more important things to do than defend their districts from the ACLU.

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  13. @KW:

    [As it stands now, nobody is being discriminated against because the prohibition of religious expression by public schools affects everyone equally.]

    Don't you proofread your stuff? "Prohibition of religious expression" doesn't affect everyone equally. It censors theists, and empowers atheists. Why would you make the batshit assertion that imposition of your viewpoint by force "affects everyone equally"? Are you that much of a totalitarian that you don't even see it?

    [There is no tyranny here.]

    A federal judge deciding what people are allowed to say about God in a school is raw tyranny.

    [Feel free to teach your kids whatever religious tradition you want to without interference from the government, and I’ll do the same. That’s religious Liberty.]

    How dare you. You drag people into court to silence them, and call it "religious Liberty".

    I really can't stand atheists.

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  14. CrusadeRex,

    It’s nice to see your position evolve from suggesting organized harassment campaigns to suggesting that perhaps she wasn’t bullied at all. It’s good to know that I’m getting through to you a little bit at a time.

    I agree that the mural in question isn’t really offensive. It’s perhaps as mild an endorsement of monotheism as is imaginable, on top of a very positive message. I personally wouldn’t even think about complaining to the principle, never mind making a federal case out of it. My argument is generic.

    -KW

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  15. “A federal judge deciding what people are allowed to say about God in a school is raw tyranny.”

    That’s not what’s happening here. We’re discussing what the school says about God in a permanent display.

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  16. “Are you nuts? There are thousands of educational institutions in the US that have complete freedom of religious expression. Colleges and universities.”

    Good Doctor, I’m not nuts, I simply know the difference between a public school run by government, paid for by tax dollars, and open to all members of the community, and private institutions of higher learning.

    Also, I have never heard of a public school display overtly advocating atheism or denying the existence of God in the same way that overtly religious prayers acknowledge the existence of God. If you can find one I would be happy to fight for its removal. I suppose you could reasonably argue that the curriculum itself supports atheism with the teaching of critical thinking skills and all those facts about history, geography, astronomy, and biology, and you would have a point, but it’s not up to the scholl to provide a faith based counterpoint to the facts; that’s the churches job.

    -KW

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  17. As I follow this thread, I’m not sure if I should cry or laugh.

    The bottomless abyss of Christian thinking is an intellectual disaster. They - and GOP - are in the thralls of dogma and ignorance so colossal they fail to notice how close they have become to Taliban philosophy.

    .. and not a peep on Bishop Finn. Finally I understand where Dr. Egnor’s priorities lie.

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  18. @KW,
    Typically, you have it back ass-wards.
    "It’s nice to see your position evolve from suggesting organized harassment campaigns to suggesting that perhaps she wasn’t bullied at all."
    I stand by my position that praying for the happiness and tolerance of others is not harassment. Nor is being critical of her position is somehow 'bullying' this girl.
    Using her grief as a political tool is, on the other hand, far less than savoury.

    "It’s good to know that I’m getting through to you a little bit at a time."
    I read your comments, KW. True.
    But, the info filter works both ways...and I have moral gravity on my side.

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  19. @KW:

    [Good Doctor, I’m not nuts, I simply know the difference between a public school run by government, paid for by tax dollars, and open to all members of the community, and private institutions of higher learning.]

    Don't change the subject. You asserted that free expression in schools would lead to chaos. I pointed out that colleges and universities allow free religious expression, and they're quite harmonious.

    QED.

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  20. @iko:

    [.. and not a peep on Bishop Finn. Finally I understand where Dr. Egnor’s priorities lie.]

    I've posted on the abuse crisis in some detail (http://egnorance.blogspot.com/2011/07/atheist-takis-konstantopoulos-wry.html).

    I'll wait on the Finn allegations until the facts are in.

    Bottom line:

    1) The most dangerous place for a child in America today is in his mother's womb.

    2) The safest place is a Catholic Church.

    Any questions?

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  21. @KW:

    [Also, I have never heard of a public school display overtly advocating atheism or denying the existence of God in the same way that overtly religious prayers acknowledge the existence of God. If you can find one I would be happy to fight for its removal.]

    You don't think that the court-ordered eradication of any reference to Christianity in a school has any atheist inferences?

    Imagine this: a court orders that any references to African Americans be removed from schools. No murals quoting MLK, no discussion of the Civil Rights Movement. Complete non-existence of reference to black people.

    Would blacks be crazy to interpret this as a government ordered bigoted affront to them? Would it make any difference if you argued that it was merely neutral-- that it removed all references to black people, and didn't either praise or insult them. Just neutral.


    [I suppose you could reasonably argue that the curriculum itself supports atheism with the teaching of critical thinking skills and all those facts about history, geography, astronomy, and biology, and you would have a point, but it’s not up to the scholl to provide a faith based counterpoint to the facts; that’s the churches job.]

    I'd be delighted to hear about atheism's central role in the genesis of modern science. How many Enlightenment scientists were athiests? What scientific advances have been made in atheist cultures? Do tell.

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  22. Imagine this: a court orders that any references to African Americans be removed from schools. No murals quoting MLK, no discussion of the Civil Rights Movement. Complete non-existence of reference to black people.

    Would blacks be crazy to interpret this as a government ordered bigoted affront to them? Would it make any difference if you argued that it was merely neutral-- that it removed all references to black people, and didn't either praise or insult them. Just neutral.


    The main difference is that black people, unlike your god, actually exist.

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  23. “Don't change the subject. You asserted that free expression in schools would lead to chaos.”

    You’re arguing against a straw man. I’m all for free expression of religion in the school, but not by the school. Can you see the difference? Wear a cross, bless your friends and enemies, say God bless you when people sneeze, read your bible out loud, and festoon the inside of your locker with crosses. I don’t care, have at it.

    “Imagine this….Complete non-existence of reference to black people.”

    Another Straw man. I’m not suggesting that schools pretend that Christianity or other religions don’t exist, only that they don’t give the impression that the school favors one religion over another (I’m including atheism because Christians keep telling me it’s a religion).

    “I'd be delighted to hear about atheism's central role in the genesis of modern science.”

    Whatever. Most people relying on the Bible for their understanding of the world where perfectly happy to imagine the world was like giant snow globe, less then 10,000 years old. Science contradicts this regardless of the religious beliefs of the scientist.

    -KW

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  24. @KW:

    [You’re arguing against a straw man. I’m all for free expression of religion in the school, but not by the school.]

    "Schools" don't talk. People do. What you mean is that you think that it is illegal for government officials to invoke or endorse religion in their official capacity.

    So: does the president violate the law when he speaks of God?

    [only that they don’t give the impression that the school favors one religion over another (I’m including atheism because Christians keep telling me it’s a religion).]

    Censoring reference to God in school "gives the impression" of favoring atheism. It IS favoring atheism.

    [Whatever. Most people relying on the Bible for their understanding of the world where perfectly happy to imagine the world was like giant snow globe, less then 10,000 years old. Science contradicts this regardless of the religious beliefs of the scientist.]

    Modern science arose from Christian culture, and only from Christian culture.

    Explain.

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  25. No word can express how insane religious people sound to me.

    This debate should not even exist. When the president talks about God, people should only point and laugh. As a non-American, I'm scared that the guys who run the most powerful country of the planet talk to invisible beings.

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  26. @anon:

    [As a non-American, I'm scared that the guys who run the most powerful country of the planet talk to invisible beings.]

    So, refuse any help from us. You won't be missed.

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  27. What "help" would I need?

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  28. Michael,

    'I'm ignorant in a lot more things than that' (big bang cosmology, global warming and evolutionary biology).

    But it doesn't stop you from waffling at length about them, along the line mangling the definition of 'imaginary' and not doing the slightest bit of fact checking in asserting that prayers were part of the Constitutional Convention.

    The Dover trial arose because the school board decided to promote Intelligent Design (about which they didn't have the slightest idea because they didn't have any idea about biology) by having the science teachers read a statement to their classes casting doubt on evolutionary biology and promoting the book 'Of Pandas and People' which a local church had 'mysteriously' donated to the school library at the request of one of the board members. When the teachers refused to read the statement, the board had the superintendent come in and read it.

    There was also a related incident concerning a mural painted by a student on human evolution which was taken out and burned at night, approved after the fact by two of the board members.

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  29. Wow, my little non-comment cost you some major time last night. Sorry 'bout that.

    Let's be clear about one thing:

    You say: "Censoring reference to God in school ... is atheism."

    No, it is not. That is false, and you know it. You know that the very same laws that can be used to take down the prayer can also be used to take down atheistic statements against God.

    Stop sacrificing your intellectual integrity to try to score blog points.

    A wall that is unadorned with prayers is not irreligious or atheistic, Michael.

    My toothbrush is not atheistic because it bears no hymns or verse or Byzantine halo. My Prius has never been blessed, but that doesn't make it atheistic. My train just passed a street lamp that had no cross on it - but that doesn't make the lamp an ally of Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris.

    Removing a prayer from a public school wall is not an act of irreligion, nor is it a religious act. It is nothing more than returning that wall to a state free of any statement whatsoever about religious or spiritual or anti-religious or agnostic or atheist belief. It returns to being a wall, in a public school. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Just so we're clear, these are some examples of statements that would count as atheistic and would not be allowed on the school wall:

    "Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned."

    "I still say a church steeple with a lightning rod on top shows a lack of confidence."

    "Science is evidence without certainty. Religion is certainty without evidence."

    "The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."

    "Believing is easier than thinking. Hence so many more believers than thinkers."

    "When one person suffers a delusion, it is called insanity. When many suffer from a delusion, it is called religion."

    "No man believes that the Bible means what it says; he is always convinced that it says what he means."
    -- George Bernard Shaw

    "If God has spoken, why is the world not convinced?"
    -- Percy Bysshe Shelley

    "I’m not convinced that faith can move mountains, but I’ve seen what it can do to skyscrapers."

    "Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of 10 things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these 10 things he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry for ever and ever until the end of time...but he loves you."
    -- George Carlin

    "You can safely assume that you've created God in your image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."
    -- Anne Lamott

    "Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear."
    -- Thomas Jefferson


    The same courthouse you pictured in your earlier post would be your ally in removing these statements from a public school wall. And that would be right and legal.

    So you go ahead fighting against a good law. But be careful what you wish for.

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  30. @RickK:

    Quite a list of things you endorse censoring.

    Here's my list of things I endorse censoring:

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  31. @bach:

    [There was also a related incident concerning a mural painted by a student on human evolution which was taken out and burned at night, approved after the fact by two of the board members.]

    Good point. You only support the destruction of murals if they're destroyed by federal courts.

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  32. @anon:

    What "help" would I need?

    Where are you from?

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  33. @RickK:

    [The same courthouse you pictured in your earlier post would be your ally in removing these statements from a public school wall. And that would be right and legal.]

    I don't want the federal government to help me remove any statements from anywhere.

    Why would you assume that I'd welcome federal help censoring people I disagree with? It's neither right nor legal.

    Why is your default option so totalitarian? Why do you fear free expression?

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  34. As far as I am concerned, the Universe is a prayer!

    If you don't believe me, just replay the Yentl DVD.

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  35. "Why do you fear free expression?"

    The school wall isn't a student. The government isn't a person. The same rights that apply to an American citizen do not apply to a public shool administration, or building, or wall.

    A student has the right to say "I prefer white people". The government doesn't. Nor does the school administration.

    A student has the right to say "People who believe in God/Vishnu/Xenu/Thor are stupid." The school doesn't.

    A student has the right to say a prayer. The school doesn't.

    See, it is that kind of difference that PREVENTS the totalitarianism you're so afraid of.

    You understand the difference even though you're acting like you don't.

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  36. I just want to say congratulations to President Obama. Now that’s the way you fight a Mid-East war.

    Bravo

    -KW

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  37. @RickK:

    Does the President have the right to say "God Bless America". DOes he have the right to pray?

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  38. @KW:

    [I just want to say congratulations to President Obama. Now that’s the way you fight a Mid-East war. Bravo]

    Gaddafi was a monster. I'll never forget Pan Am 103. He deserved what he got.

    That said, I think that the people who replace him will be worse, in that they will be Muslim Brotherhood or the equivalent. The only thing worse than a crazy murdering thug is crazy murdering Islamist thugs.

    And I don't know that this was our war to fight. We fight too many wars. We have enough of our own issues.

    My approach: let 'em rot, and build a moat. The Atlantic and the Pacific are a good place to start.

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  39. @RickK:

    [A student has the right to say a prayer. The school doesn't...You understand the difference even though you're acting like you don't.]

    Of course I understand the difference. I understand that the First Amendment makes no reference to "government" rights at all, except to say that government may NOT do things, such as establish a religion, prevent free exercise of religion, or restrict free speech.

    The question is whether the 'establishment' aspect of school prayer outweighs the 'free exercise' and 'free speech' aspect of school prayer.

    No one actually believes that a school prayer is an establishment of religion, as long as no compulsion is involved.

    Free exercise and free speech are very important, and federal court injunction against free exercise and free speech cannot be justified on the ridiculous argument that voluntary school prayer is an establishment of religion.

    If that were the case, then you would have to argue that we had an establishment of religion from 1786 to 1962, when school prayer was permitted. Are you making that argument?

    [See, it is that kind of difference that PREVENTS the totalitarianism you're so afraid of.]

    You miss the irony that forced removal of religion from public life was integral to totalitarianism in the 20th century (Soviets, Communist Chinese, etc)

    Free public exercise of religion is a powerful bulwark against totalitarianism. That's why totalitarians hate it.

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  40. “A wall that is unadorned with prayers is not irreligious or atheistic, Michael.”

    Great point Rick. I thought of that earlier today but needed to get some work done. I couldn’t help noticing that all my co-workers, with one exception, where openly endorsing atheism with their irreligious office walls. It made me happy to be around so many kindred spirits.

    Now that I think about, nobody at work seams to be overtly religious, the habitual post-sneeze “God bless you” from across the hall is about as religious as it gets. Some time you just got to be a grownup and keep your unwanted religious pleas to yourself. Not here though!

    -KW

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  41. “You miss the irony that forced removal of religion from public life was integral to totalitarianism in the 20th century (Soviets, Communist Chinese, etc)”

    And you sir miss the irony that the infusion of religion into public life has resulted is suicide bombers, religious wars, and a dark age of intellectual stagnation exemplifies by your Aquinas worship

    -KW

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  42. KW:

    [And you sir miss the irony that the infusion of religion into public life has resulted is suicide bombers, religious wars, and a dark age of intellectual stagnation exemplifies by your Aquinas worship]

    Islam, like atheism, uses force to control public expression of religion. The Christian prayer mural would face censorship in a Madrassa in Saudi just as it faces censorship in Rhode Island. Theocratic totalitarians share much in common with atheist totalitarians. Both seek to reduce speech to protect their own views from scrutiny.

    I am advocating no censorship. Free speech.

    As regards religious wars, there have been many. There have also been many secular wars. Mankind seems predisposed to war.

    What is unprecedented about atheists is that atheists in power wage war on their own people. Atheism is the only ruling ideology in history that kills its own people at rates normally only found in wars between nations. In the 20th century, atheists killed 100 million people-- their own people-- without war.

    Regarding intellectual stagnation and Aquinas, your comment is astonishing. Aquinas represented the pinnacle of the High Middle Ages, one of the most intellectually productive eras in human history. It was the seed of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

    What an ignorant thing to associate Aquinas--Aristotle's greatest commentator-- with intellectual stagnation.

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  43. “Regarding intellectual stagnation and Aquinas, your comment is astonishing. Aquinas represented the pinnacle of the High Middle Ages, one of the most intellectually productive eras in human history. It was the seed of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.”

    I see your point, and concede that Aquinas was an important figure in the development of western intellectual tradition in that he was one of a small handful of intellectual luminaries from a period that lased for hundreds of years. It took 1500 years to go from Aristotle to Aquinas, most of that time under intellectual domination of the church. Hardly break-neck progress.

    The point I was trying to make is that the intellectual stagnation of religion is evident in your constant reference to 600 year old metaphysics as your go-to intellectual defense of your beliefs.

    -KW

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  44. @KW:

    [The point I was trying to make is that the intellectual stagnation of religion is evident in your constant reference to 600 year old metaphysics as your go-to intellectual defense of your beliefs]

    Metaphysics isn't empirical science, so old metaphysics is no less likely to be true than new metaphysics. Perhaps more likely to be true, because it's been tested for a very long time.

    Do you doubt Euclidean geometry, because it's old? There have been updates, but the basic assumptions hold quite well.

    Thomism has never been superseded as a metaphysical system in its comprehensiveness and its explanatory power. Even more recent metaphysical views-- the mechanical philosophy of the Newtonian era and the philosophy emerging from the oddities of quantum mechanics-- owe much to Thomism, and may be understood as special applications of it.

    Much of modern Western law and government emerged from Thomism. The law of justifiable homicide is entirely Thomist (the principle of double effect), Aquinas' just-war theory has guided international politics for centuries, and human rights movements have often depended critically on Aquinas' teaching. Martin Luther King's Letter from the Birmingham Jail is a long treatise on Aquinas' teaching that 'unjust law is no law.'

    You're ignorant.

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  45. Michael,

    In Australia, civil court cases are often fought because the law is uncertain. Once the decision is handed down, it becomes a precedent, and similar court cases are avoided.

    It might be that the present case will be very useful. The federal court might decide that the mural is unconstitutional, and order it to be taken down. It might also decide that it's constitutional, in which case you'll be rejoicing.

    I doubt that the court would order it to be burned. There's nothing to stop someone taking it and displaying it elsewhere, in a church for example.

    If the mural has been there for a very long time, then perhaps it's time to replace it with something more contemporary? Not that being old is a drawback. There are plenty of publicly funded art galleries displaying religious art, for example the garden of Eden, and I have no objections to that sort of thing (although I prefer impressionist paintings), provided the technique is good.

    Atheists don't slaughter people in large numbers. Politicians or rather ideologues with an ideology predicting a future utopia kill large numbers of people.

    Religious fanatics predicting a future heaven on Earth or Communists and National Socialists predicting a future communist or nationalistic utopia insist that in the future millions, billions of people will be ecstatically happy, and that anyone who opposes their plans must be evil, deserving of harsh punishment, even death.

    Atheists are no more likely to have an ideology than anyone else. If I worry about AGW, it's not because I'm predicting a future utopia, it's just that I'm worried that things will get worse, very much worse, than now.

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  46. @bach:

    [Atheists don't slaughter people in large numbers. Politicians or rather ideologues with an ideology predicting a future utopia kill large numbers of people.]

    Atheism became a governing ideology in the late 18th century, and then again in the 20th century. State atheism is astonishingly lethal.

    Of course ideologues have killed for all sorts of reasons. Atheists are uncommonly effective and prolific killers.

    I would have more respect for New Atheists if they were willing to do some soul-searching about atheism's remarkable violence.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I thought y'all might enjoy a change of topic.

    A skeptical physicist ends up confirming climate data.

    "Back in 2010, Richard Muller, a Berkeley physicist and self-proclaimed climate skeptic, decided to launch the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project to review the temperature data that underpinned global-warming claims. Remember, this was not long after the Climategate affair had erupted, at a time when skeptics were griping that climatologists had based their claims on faulty temperature data.


    Muller’s stated aims were simple. He and his team would scour and re-analyze the climate data, putting all their calculations and methods online. Skeptics cheered the effort. “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong,” wrote Anthony Watts, a blogger who has criticized the quality of the weather stations in the United States that provide temperature data. The Charles G. Koch Foundation even gave Muller’s project $150,000 — and the Koch brothers, recall, are hardly fans of mainstream climate science."

    ReplyDelete
  48. Egnor:

    "What is unprecedented about atheists is that atheists in power wage war on their own people."

    Yup, unprecedented. Like an atheist (not) once said: kill them all [including the Catholics], let God sort them out.

    As usual, Egnor is just making it up as he goes along. A good lying soldier for Jeebus.

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  49. I first came to this blog because I thought it would be funny trolling idiots, but in fact I'm tired of Egnor and his friends comparing atheists to mass murderers.

    ReplyDelete
  50. @anon:

    I'm boring to trolls. I'll have to crank it up!

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  51. @anon:

    [but in fact I'm tired of Egnor and his friends comparing atheists to mass murderers.]

    I'm not "comparing" atheists to mass murderers. In the past century, a wildly disproportionate fraction of atheists in power have been mass murderers.

    Discuss.

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  52. Michael said: "Free public exercise of religion is a powerful bulwark against totalitarianism. That's why totalitarians hate it."

    And when have you been prevented from going to church? Which religious icons on your property has the government removed? What religious clothing or jewelry are you prevented from wearing?

    I see you avoided the point of my earlier post, so I will restate it.

    If your definition of free speech includes allowing a school adminstration to express a preference for a particular religion, does it also allow a school administration to express a preference for a certain race, gender, sexual orientation, culture, ancestry or other personal attribute? If the school can post a prayer, does a teacher have the right, by your rules, to post the 10 Commandments in their classroom? Does a science teacher have the right to post the Genesis creation story on the wall behind their desk? Do that teacher have the right to jot under the text of Genesis "This is the TRUE story of human origins, whatever we may discuss in class."

    Just how far does your noble defense of free speech in public schools extend?

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  53. dude simmer down. she tried to go to the school but they ignored her, and when they kept ignoring her she got fed up and sued them. chill out

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