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Jesus loves you, but not the networks
December 1, 2004 1:43 AM   Subscribe

The United Church of Christ seeks to welcome all people, regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstance or sexual orientation. But that message, when shown in a TV advertisement is apparently too controversial for CBS and NBC.
posted by bashos_frog (136 comments total)

 
Screwed up my linkage. I meant to link "that message" to a page about their philosophy and inclusiveness.
cutting and pasting is the devil's work...
posted by bashos_frog at 1:47 AM on December 1, 2004


It's nice that they're willing to be inclusive, but let's be honest here. We're still talking about a bunch of people who like to get together in a big room to discuss their invisible friend and how much they love him.

Of course, it becomes more amusing when they start arguing amongst themselves who's invisible friend is better.

Humans are such idiots. 40,000+ years and we've still barely gotten past the stage when Grok argues that the Thunder God is more powerful than the Wind God that Grugnuk prays to.
posted by mstefan at 2:01 AM on December 1, 2004


Their inclusiveness isn't really the point here. The fact that not even a Christian church can get out a message of love and tolerance in this climate is insane. And their reasoning is that it is because GWB has proposed a marriage ammendment, therefore any gay-positive message, no matter how obliquely referred to, is verboten.
But Will and Grace are still OK, I guess.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:10 AM on December 1, 2004


fuck off, mstefan, we already have a skallas and he's wittier than you.

/not christian
//still hates people spouting shit.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:11 AM on December 1, 2004


On preview: what bashos_frog mentioned.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 2:49 AM on December 1, 2004


it is really not about invisible friends. it's about that horribly lib'rul media killing a perfectly nice ad that carries a message of inclusiveness.
and as such, the situation deserves a 72-point Bodoni "WTF?"
posted by matteo at 3:15 AM on December 1, 2004


It's really sad. This is a church that was pivotal in assisting the civil rights movement, and an example of practicing religion in a way that's not fundamentalist or extremist, but actually adheres to most religions' basic tenets of peace and inclusion. And we can't have that on the teevee, can we. Bring on Falwell telling us the earth's going to hell for wanton acts of faggotry!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:52 AM on December 1, 2004


Have they tried the Washington Post?
posted by dash_slot- at 3:52 AM on December 1, 2004


Space, what caused that? Do you curse all whose views disagree with yours?
posted by dash_slot- at 3:54 AM on December 1, 2004


Here you go, matteo.


posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:01 AM on December 1, 2004


It's nice that they're willing to be inclusive, but let's be honest here. We're still talking about a bunch of people who like to get together in a big room to discuss their invisible friend and how much they love him.

Belief != deserving of contempt.


Your contempt, however, is.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:11 AM on December 1, 2004


Applause, Civil_Disobedient.
posted by eriko at 4:17 AM on December 1, 2004


And here we see exhibit 9,248,712,157 in the case against media mergers (or any mergers, for that matter)... What's especially amusing/disgusting (pick one) is that one of the stations is CBS. At least I find that amusing given that among the fanatic rightists CBS is the new byword for "Liberal Media". I'd love to see even one channel as liberal as Fox is conservative, just one. I'd settle for one as liberal as CNN is conservative.

Oh, and mstefan, its that kind of BS that makes liberals look like anti-religious bigots. I'm an agnostic because I see no evidence one way or another. IMO, atheism is just as much a belief as theism; you both claim to know the answer, and neither of you have any evidence. More to the point, anti-religious bigotry is still bigotry. I'm not religious, but I will not belittle those who are. Finally, from a purely realpolitik standpoint, its a bad idea to disparage religion.

I especially love the argument that since the executive branch has proposed an anti-freedom constitutional amendment they won't show ads that disagree with that proposal. Because we all know that dissent is bad, right?
posted by sotonohito at 4:18 AM on December 1, 2004


I'm an agnostic because I see no evidence one way or another. IMO, atheism is just as much a belief as theism;

Please, can we refrain from debating this point again? Great, you're agnostic. But I still can't see evidence that anyone gives a shit.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled thread.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:33 AM on December 1, 2004


I only mentioned it because of mstefan's invisible friends and cavemen line. He's expressing certianist bigotry, I mentioned my own beliefs simply as a comparison to his certainism. I don't expect anyone to give a shit about my personal religious beliefs; though since this is a thread about religion, bigotry, and censorship it hardly seemed like an out of place comment.

On spellcheck: I hadn't known that "shit" isn't in the spellcheck's dictionary. Weird.
posted by sotonohito at 4:45 AM on December 1, 2004


Apparently neither is 'certaintist' :)
posted by Space Coyote at 4:50 AM on December 1, 2004


Funny, if there being no evidence for God (although theists are the ones making an assertion, not atheists) means we should suspend judgement, does that mean we should do the same for Bigfoot, supply-side economics and the Utah cold fusion experiment? After all, there's no evidence for them either. And we know those scientists that debunked Pons and Fleischmann were just anti-cold fusion bigots and anyone who is arrogant enough to dismiss bigfoot because there's no evidence is simply close-minded.

Or is this a special "I have no evidence, so therefore it's a tie" exemption that applies only to theism?

Is The United Church of Christ right? Are CBS and NBC wrong? Is their reasoning suspect? Well, I guess if we can't make a judgement about the existence of God, especially the narrowly defined Judeo-Christian version of it simply because there's no a scintilla of evidence, we can't really judge anything, can we?
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 4:50 AM on December 1, 2004


"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations," reads an explanation from CBS, "and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks."

No matter how many times I've tried to see the logic in the above statement, I can't. Does this mean they can't show Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer this year because you see there's this little reindeer with a red nose and the others won't let him join in their reindeer games ....

ah shit, I weep for my country.
posted by marxchivist at 4:51 AM on December 1, 2004


Well, Reverent Mykeru, I can't speak for anyone else, but I'll mark Bigfoot as false, likewise the Loch Ness Monster. In both cases there is a limited area to search that has been searched extensively with no positive results.
Similarly, I'll be happy to pass judgement on CBS.
posted by sotonohito at 5:10 AM on December 1, 2004


This is sad.
posted by amberglow at 5:23 AM on December 1, 2004


I'm with Marxchivist. This just doesn't make sense... The president proposes a constitutional amendment that a lot of people don't agree with so networks can't run an ad for a church because it doesn't specifically state that it will discriminate against gay couples?

So if the voiceover at the end said that "All are welcome! Unless you're gay, in which case don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you" the networks would run the ad? Do toothpaste commercials have to put at the end that gay couples will still get cavities and should brush with baking soda like the infidels they are? Does McDonald's have to say "I'm lovin' it. Unless I'm gay. Then I'm barred from dining at the golden arches."

It's a nice ad. What the world needs now is love sweet love, not thickheaded network wankers who pick on churches when they don't discriminate against gay couples.
posted by jennyb at 5:29 AM on December 1, 2004


What's particularly sad is that the CBS letter actually invokes the Bush administration's proposal of the gay marriage amendment. Think about that: policy proposals by the executive branch are now to be considered prescriptive for advertising decisions by the fourth estate.

When do we get America back?
posted by felix betachat at 5:32 AM on December 1, 2004


There are reasons, and there are excuses.

This looks like an excuse. Someone at the network(s) doesn't like gay people, and decided that he/she now has a basis for refusing the ad. They can't be a proper church anyway, or they'd know butt sex is an abomination!

Also, Thunder God totally beats Wind God.
posted by cell at 5:40 AM on December 1, 2004


**sign**

I think it's all been said, but Amberglow said it best...

"This is sad."
posted by Doohickie at 6:04 AM on December 1, 2004


**sigh**

(Why is that I see the typos right after I hit post?!?)

$^*(()*&%$##!
posted by Doohickie at 6:05 AM on December 1, 2004


It's nice that they're willing to be inclusive, but let's be honest here. We're still talking about a bunch of people who like to get together in a big room to discuss their invisible friend and how much they love him.

i have no idea what relevance your comment has to this thread, other than as a troll, but welcome to metafilter, mstefan.

a tip: your life will be richer if you embrace the fact that people all have different ways of viewing the world, instead of putting yourself up on a pedestal because of your inability to have faith in anything you can't prove in a test tube.
posted by glenwood at 6:13 AM on December 1, 2004


Uhm...the church did that, the politician did that, the starlet did whateveh.....still no cure for cancer I guess ?
posted by elpapacito at 6:21 AM on December 1, 2004


Apparently the LDS and Lutherans have gotten ads on television. I don't recall them excluding anybody or wishing anybody ill will. Is it simply viewer homophobia backlash the networks fear? My guess is yes.

The networks can decide what they will air for better or for worse. They don't accept money if they think it will cost more in the long run. One can look at various political and anti-consumer groups as proof.
posted by infowar at 6:31 AM on December 1, 2004


I can actually appreciate the occasional Christian who practices his religion through his acts, and eschews sanctimony. I'm also deeply saddened to see that these relative few Real Christians are being shouted down by the intolerant bigots who seem to have risen to prominence in the churches, the White House and the corporate executive offices everywhere.

The all-out attack on reason, enlightenment and intellectualism that American culture is undergoing from the far-right may yet prove to be our undoing, and I think proof is in the pudding when you see this kind of struggle being lost by the moderates within the structure.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:42 AM on December 1, 2004


The problem is that we moderates are, well, moderate. We don't want to "sink to the level" of the extremists by adopting their tactics. That would make us as bad as what we don't like about them. So how do you counter that? The old saying comes to mind about wrestling with a pig: "You both get muddy, but the pig likes it."
posted by Doohickie at 6:57 AM on December 1, 2004


glenwood-why should anyone have "faith" (blind adherence to unprovable and arbitrary beliefs). Is one's life richer because you just decide to believe some tribal oral history without any proof whatsoever?
Or does that just make you dangerously naive?

just asking

OTOH, this censorship trend is very disturbing
posted by kamus at 6:59 AM on December 1, 2004


sotonohito wrote:

Well, Reverent Mykeru, I can't speak for anyone else, but I'll mark Bigfoot as false, likewise the Loch Ness Monster. In both cases there is a limited area to search that has been searched extensively with no positive results.
Similarly, I'll be happy to pass judgement on CBS.


Yes, there may be some small corner of the universe where the omnipotent, omnipresent deity is lurking.

Of course, has anyone explored every square meter of the miles long, mile deep Loch Ness? No. Has anyone explored every bush bigfoot could be hiding behind? No. Yet in these cases you seem to think absence of evidence is evidence of absence. But not for the deity who is everywhere, because since we don't find him here, he might be there.

I'll mark you down as one for "Yes, as theists we do get a special exemption from the very same epistemic rules even we apply elsewhere."

Now, back to the issue: Since we are discussing who has the proper view and the right way of worship for an ineffable, incorporeal, unknowable, damn mysterious entity, exactly what is the criteria for claiming anyone is wrong with how they apply this religious slant. Maybe CBS is doing the will of the God off in some unexplored corner of the universe, as silly as that image is. Maybe God really does hate gay people. How do you know?

Although the theists here dismiss criticism as bigotry, they simply forfeit any right to judge or presume to apply rational argument for something entirely irrational. This is, in a nutshell, why mixing politics and religion is such a bad idea. Politics is irrational enough without any help from people who have made themselves stupid and gullible by sheer force of will.

Flame away, god-boggled.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 7:07 AM on December 1, 2004


Space Coyote, that's the first time I'm surprised by you. Why the "fuck off" thing? I'm not patronising; I'm trying to understand.

As for the post: Some people who work the religion market saw an opening and tried to capitalise. They then find America is not as tolerant as it was rumoured to be. Add this to the rest of the stories.
posted by acrobat at 7:09 AM on December 1, 2004


the United Church of Christ seeks to welcome all people, regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstance or sexual orientation.

pity that Title VII of the civil rights act is not as inclusive.
posted by three blind mice at 7:09 AM on December 1, 2004


It's profoundly disappointing to hear that a message of acceptance is too controversial for the majority of Americans.
posted by Bear at 7:14 AM on December 1, 2004


if you are not visible on television, the popular assumption is that you do not exist. This effort shows the world that we have a bold and dynamic message to proclaim."

Huh. So that explains why people are killing themselves to be reality show contestants.!

Also, Thunder God totally beats Wind God.

Maybe, but Wind God can raise quite a stink.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:15 AM on December 1, 2004


We're still talking about a bunch of people who like to get together in a big room to discuss their invisible friend and how much they love him.

Crap like that is exactly why some people hate liberals. It's been said a bunch of different ways on this thread already, but it's worth repeating. As a staunch liberal (and church-going mainline protestant) myself who is still incredulous and intensely depressed about the results the past election, the arrogance, ignorance and insensitivity expressed in the above quote helps me understand a little bit better why people can vote for Republicans, even if it runs counter to their economic and social self-interest. Why would you want to hang with people that would deign to insult your core beliefs like that?

I don't know if this comment was intended to be cute or what, but I'll wager that just as many people in this country (smart or stupid, intellectual or coarse) that believe in a higher power as don't. Probably even more that do.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 7:19 AM on December 1, 2004


Gnosis, I feel confident that a much greater number of people in this country believe in a higher power as don't. Remember: this is a surprisingly religious nation for the level of affluence and development. You don't find a similar commitment in many of the European states.

That being said, perhaps CBS is overcompensating for the forged memo affair... but what is NBC's excuse? Hopefully this will generate some controversy, and these cats will get free advertisement on CNN, MSNBC, et c. Not that I am advocating the United Church of Christ... just their message of inclusion.
posted by Tullius at 7:34 AM on December 1, 2004


Tommy Gnosis wrote:

Crap like that is exactly why some people hate liberals.

Ah, atheist=liberal.

Be sure to pass that observation along to the objectivists. Ayn Rand was such a bleeding heart, wasn't she?

[Disclaimer: I'm not an Objectivist, nor an admirer of Ayn Rand, who I consider to be little more than an amusing quasi-philosophical joke]

Crap like that is why I think so many theists are simply varying degrees of moron.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 7:47 AM on December 1, 2004


Tommy Gnosis, and others: One person, who may or may not be a liberal, expressed an anti-religious point of view. I'm confused as to how this became a left vs. right or liberal vs conservative issue. These words are being thrown around WAY too much recently, which is part of the reason the US population is currently more polarized than it has been since the Civil War. We need to stop seeing things in such a black and white manner, and realize that there are many more political philosophies than you can fit on a 1-dimensional graph!

On topic: This is really sad, but it's just more of the same. I'm not surprised at all anymore.
posted by knave at 7:53 AM on December 1, 2004


Goodness me, it must be scary living in America at the moment.

felix betachat hit the nail on the head for me: Think about it: policy proposals by the executive branch are now to be considered prescriptive for advertising decisions by the fourth estate

So, to mstefan et al - for those of us who don't believe in a God, it is indeed very, very hard indeed to avoid seeing those who do as a few wafers short of a communion. I would hope to express that view more eloquently in a thread about the existence of God, but as far as I can make out this post has absolutely nothing to do with that. Just thought I'd have a pop at you for being off-topic instead of being outraged at your anti-faith views ; )
posted by jack_mo at 8:15 AM on December 1, 2004


Can you just have another goddamn civil war and get it over with so that we can welcome some common sense back into the world? Quite obviously neither side can come to any agreement at all and the rest of us are awaiting the return of sanity.

I honestly believe this is worse than living through the Cold War. I long for the time when we had two superpowers and the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction. At least back then there had to be two groups of idiots with their fingers hovering over the red button.
posted by longbaugh at 8:22 AM on December 1, 2004


glenwood-why should anyone have "faith" (blind adherence to unprovable and arbitrary beliefs). Is one's life richer because you just decide to believe some tribal oral history without any proof whatsoever?

Faith isn't "blind". It's seeing something other than with your eyeballs. It's a beautiful part of being human, to believe in something because you feel it's right. It's also beautifully human to long for truth and seek it via scientific methods. The two CAN co-exist you know, and those of us who believe there's something more out there we can't see with a telescoope aren't all drooling idiots.
posted by glenwood at 8:28 AM on December 1, 2004


Crap! We forgot to say Red State/Blue State! There's some severe slacking going on here.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:30 AM on December 1, 2004


Goodness me, it must be scary living in America at the moment.

Man, you guys are dramatic. TV Execs have ALWAYS been idiotic and skittish. This is not new.
posted by glenwood at 8:31 AM on December 1, 2004


At least back then there had to be two groups of idiots with their fingers hovering over the red button.


On the bright side, our current idiots have no real target for the nukes.
posted by norm at 8:33 AM on December 1, 2004


Given how the TVMedia appears to overreact hysterically to the slightest show of viewer interest, I would suggest that people who find the CBS and NBC stance on these advertisements annoying write to the networks complaining about it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:41 AM on December 1, 2004


Not only did we forget to say "Red State/Blue State" but nobody's said:

a) "This would never happen in Canada"

and

b) "Hitler was an atheist" (or, conversely, "Hitler was a Christian")
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:43 AM on December 1, 2004


we are, Sid.

Ads tho, are treated differently than programming. Many 527 ads were rejected by the networks during the election too--also for invalid reasons.
posted by amberglow at 8:44 AM on December 1, 2004


And yet, CBS didn't have any problem with describing a gay couple as married.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:49 AM on December 1, 2004


glenwood wrote

Faith isn't "blind". It's seeing something other than with your eyeballs. It's a beautiful part of being human, to believe in something because you feel it's right. It's also beautifully human to long for truth and seek it via scientific methods. The two CAN co-exist you know, and those of us who believe there's something more out there we can't see with a telescoope aren't all drooling idiots.

First, should I mention that folks like me are not atheists because we peered through a telescope and failed to see the big guy.

Now, faith. Can I have "faith" that black people are inherently inferior? You bet. Can I have "faith" that Jews killed Jesus and have it coming? Yup, I can, if I "feel" it is "right". You will protest, but "faith" in a theological sense (as opposed to the ordinary usage of having "faith" in people, which theists love, I say love, to equivocate on) means believing in something not only despite a lack of evidence, but in the face of contrary evidence. It's not a beautiful thing, it's simply being recalcitrant in the face of facts.

One can have "faith" if one "feels" something is "right". Well, what the hell, everything is permitted. Boo Yah!

Again, with this sort of thinking you can have gay-bashing fundie nutcases who "feel" it is "right". And the networks, you think they are twirling their moustaches euphoric over their evil? Of course not. They "feel" what they are doing is "right". So, isn't that a beautiful thing too?

And if it isn't what's the standard? Just things you feel are right? Now there's a philosophical position that threatens to suffocate the bearer with their own sphincter.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 8:52 AM on December 1, 2004


I was going to resist but I couldn't contain myself any longer. Forgive me metafilter.

Reverend Mykeru: You will protest, but "faith" in a theological sense means believing in something not only despite a lack of evidence, but in the face of contrary evidence. It's not a beautiful thing, it's simply being recalcitrant in the face of facts.

I would be greatly interested to see your contrary evidence.

Can I have "faith" that black people are inherently inferior? You bet.

I'll take that wager, or make it it's hard to tell what you are challenging. In order to maintain a faith in anything, be it a deity or the empirical world, you need to buttress your faith against falsification. This is most expediently accomplished by making the object of your faith the central axiom. Anything assumed at such a core level is essentially unarguable. Truth is nothing more than tautology and though it may go through many incarnations it always returns to its identity in the end. In order to make something true through faith one must place it at such a fundamental level. This also means that any syllogism must include this principle as one of its propositions. Then this truth is reinforced by repeated consistency. Of course is this axiom is incorrect it would make all syllogisms false. In order to have faith that black people are inferior you would have to preclude many other beliefs which you could simply not fit into the framework of that belief. You would have to revaluate superiority to always place black people in the inferior position. So for example superiority in track events could no longer be based on time because of Jesse Owen. You would need a new metric, perhaps something based on standing around being white although that hardly qualifies as a race(the pun was intended). I think that over time you would find it quite unwieldy to maintain such a system. That is why both religion and science have so many adherents. They are sufficiently basic and elegant that they fit very easily into most belief systems.
posted by Endymion at 9:20 AM on December 1, 2004


okay, totally off-topic, here's something i don't understand:

people look at what mstefan wrote and say that such things cause people to judge and hate all liberals (leaving aside the question of whether our mate here is in fact a liberal).

...but if i were to proclaim how i'm going to judge all conservatives by the behavior of the dude in the suv with the bush/cheney sticker chatting away on his cell phone who almost ran my car off the road this morning, those same people would no doubt jump all over me for judging the many by the actions of just one jerk.

instead of berating mstefan for poorly representing liberals, shouldn't we be asking red-voters why they judge all of us blue-voters by the actions of the most extreme liberals even as they go on pretending -- insisiting really -- that there are no extremists of any type under their tent?

on preview, endymion, people who have "faith" that black people are inferior don't even bother to try to fit things like jesse owens into their view; they just ignore the evidence, or, if they can't ignore it completely, belittle it: "he ran fast b/c blacks are basically animals", or "track and field accomplishments are no true measure of how great a people are, etc." i'll leave it to those more passionate about the topic of "faith vs. science" and more articulate than i to explain how that process also works for religionists (the "fossils are planted by god (or the devil) to confuse us" line of reasoning springs immediately to mind...).
posted by lord_wolf at 9:38 AM on December 1, 2004


Think about it: policy proposals by the executive branch are now to be considered prescriptive for advertising decisions by the fourth estate.

Dear CBS--

Congratulations on your most corageous act of self-castration. It's media coporations like yours that make me glad to be an American. The Internet can't bury you sad clowns fast enough.

With warmest regards,

--Zen
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:43 AM on December 1, 2004


Crap like that is exactly why some people hate liberals.

Ah, atheist=liberal.

Tommy had a point. The point is that discussions like this polarize. The conservative right would take Reverend Mykeru's opinion and label it "liberal". This is how the right works. They put a person like Tommy (or for that matter, myself) into a no-man's land, where if we side (vote) with the left, we are painted as godless, even though we believe, but can't really vote (speaking for just myself, I guess, Tommy), right either. Your raising such dissent, Reverend Mykeru, is playing right into the hand of the religious right.

You may not like what I have to believe, Reverend Mykeru, but you should defend my right to believe it, because we (atheists and liberal Christians) need each other in a political sense.

Damn... my first political post- let's see what fallout it generates.
posted by Doohickie at 9:49 AM on December 1, 2004


mstefan, between this article and your posts on the Duggars, you're my new bestest intarweb buddy.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:02 AM on December 1, 2004


Endymion wrote:

I would be greatly interested to see your contrary evidence.

For an article of faith in general or God in particular? As far as God goes, you already have an ace in the hole. No matter what negation of the definition of God I point to you can claim that's not what you mean by God. But since not only are you probably reluctant to, not to mention incapable of, defining what you mean by God, we'll just go for the Judeo Christian God. Of course, you can make up your own God as you go along. I like to make up six before breakfast myself.

But anyway, contrary evidence for an article of faith: Let's begin at the beginning, with Genesis and some help from the Skeptics Bible:

God creates light and separates light from darkness, and day from night, on the first day.
Gen. 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years
That's nice. Problem is God didn't make the sun and the stars until the forth day, so there were several days where light was coming from nowhere, or at least not the places light comes from.

It's patently absurd, so that article of faith is refuted. Of course, I'm sure your faith will find a way around that. You know, find a way to be recalcitrant in the face of facts.

For the concept of God itself there's the Problem of Evil, the Euthyphro dilemma for you divine command theorists, and the paradox of omnipotence, among others. Lots of rationalistic refutation. You see, you don't even have to bother with empirical refutation because God fails on internal consistency alone.

But what the hell, means nothing when you've got faith.

Me: Can I have "faith" that black people are inherently inferior? You bet.

You: I'll take that wager, or make it it's hard to tell what you are challenging.


I'm not asserting I can prove black people are inherently inferior, even if I believed that, which I don't. However, all anyone needs to have faith in that proposition is to believe it and should contrary evidence come along (like statistically and culturally valid IQ testing), just discount it. Faith (again, in the theological sense) is merely believing in something come what may, because you believe it. Secondarily confusing belief with knowledge is helpful, but not essential.


In order to maintain a faith in anything, be it a deity or the empirical world, you need to buttress your faith against falsification.

"Buttress your faith against falsification", what a lovely way of saying "Believing something despite whatever the fuck the facts are".

This is most expediently accomplished by making the object of your faith the central axiom.

I.e., confuse belief and knowledge.

Anything assumed at such a core level is essentially unarguable.

This is crap. You are simply restating the same thought again, dressing up the concept of believing in something no matter what in pomo-babble language.

Truth is nothing more than tautology

Wrong. Analytic truths are tautological, things that are "true by definition" such as "a bachelor is an unmarried man". Synthetic truths, that make claims about the world, such as "that car is red" are not true by definition, and are empirically verifiable. The car may not actually be red. You want to treat the existence of God as an analytic truth, true by definition, which you can't because 1. It doesn't stand on rationalistic grounds and 2. The claim isn't an analytic truth anyway, it's a synthetic truth, a claim about an external, empirically verifiable state of the world. The car may be red, it may be green, there may be a God, there may not.

Well, the car can be red or green, but God fails as both an analytic and synthetic truth.


and though it may go through many incarnations it always returns to its identity in the end.

Again, you are invoking a law of identity (A=A) as if that represented the sum of all truths. How about when A doesn't equal A, such as when there is light without suns? How about when I say a car is red when it's green?

In order to make something true through faith one must place it at such a fundamental level. This also means that any syllogism must include this principle as one of its propositions. Then this truth is reinforced by repeated consistency. Of course is this axiom is incorrect it would make all syllogisms false.

Blah, blah, blah: How many different ways can you restate the same idea?

In order to have faith that black people are inferior you would have to preclude many other beliefs which you could simply not fit into the framework of that belief.

Nope. All a racist needs to believe black people are inferior is to believe it and ignore any evidence to the contrary, you know, buttress their faith against falsification. The ways that one can believe in the face of fact include a variety of fallacies including confirmation bias.

You would have to revaluate superiority to always place black people in the inferior position. So for example superiority in track events could no longer be based on time because of Jesse Owen.

No, a racist would just believe black people are inferior no matter how fast they run. Horses run fast too, after all. Doesn't men you'd want your daughter to marry one. Come on, you've seen bigoted dodges in the face of facts, it's just a matter of "faith".

You would need a new metric, perhaps something based on standing around being white although that hardly qualifies as a race(the pun was intended). I think that over time you would find it quite unwieldy to maintain such a system.

Well, even assuming it's "unwieldy", so what? A cathedral is unwieldy and when you're buttressing your faith against falsification, it doesn't seem to prevent anyone from building great sloppy towers of theology.

That is why both religion and science have so many adherents. They are sufficiently basic and elegant that they fit very easily into most belief systems.

Thank you for that breathtaking non sequitur.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 10:11 AM on December 1, 2004


Oh, where to start.

First, for those who said my post up there was off-topic, it was in the vein of "why is this even an issue?". Like I said, it's nice that they're being inclusive, but they're being inclusive over something that I see as fundamentally silly. Believe what you want to believe, of course. I'm all for being silly if that's what amuses, entertains or inspires you. But after watching that ad, I'm left shrugging my shoulders, saying "so what?"

Second, contrary to some opinion, I'm agnostic. I don't claim to know with certainty that a "god" of some nature doesn't exist. If it does, however, it is so beyond our limited comprehension that it's not really worth discussing anyway. Personally, I believe that religion (or any other act of self-delusion that pleases you, I'm not limiting it strictly to religion) should be a private affair and really has no place in the public sphere.

Thirdly, I'm not a liberal. At least not in the traditional sense. But I do tend towards wanting to live in a world that is reality-based, not the fantasy world that organized religion actively promotes.
posted by mstefan at 10:11 AM on December 1, 2004


Hey, this thread sucks, so I offer a new derailment:

I'm not Christian (I'm Just Not), but I'd like to show my support for progressive and open-minded churches, such as the UCC. How can I do this?
posted by Eamon at 10:15 AM on December 1, 2004


Your raising such dissent, Reverend Mykeru, is playing right into the hand of the religious right.

This seems to be many a persons favorite reason why I should not disagree with them.

Eventually though, even if I play into their hands (and you know radical right Christians hang on my every word...oops, the Pope just popped up on my call waiting...OK, got rid of him) , it's just to sucker them into playing into my backhand.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 10:16 AM on December 1, 2004


instead of berating mstefan for poorly representing liberals, shouldn't we be asking red-voters why they judge all of us blue-voters by the actions of the most extreme liberals even as they go on pretending
WTF is a red voter and a blue voter? Wake me up when the Bloods and Crips are political parties.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:17 AM on December 1, 2004


I'm not Christian (I'm Just Not), but I'd like to show my support for progressive and open-minded churches, such as the UCC. How can I do this?

Come on, that's easy. Do for them what all churches want: send them money. In fact, thinking about it, I think that they ought to bring back the idea of buying Indulgences. At least that's a fundamentally more honest approach towards the whole thing.
posted by mstefan at 10:25 AM on December 1, 2004


Eamon, I think that a) writing to CBS/NBC about these ads, and b) remembering, when people say "Christians hate teh gay, bla, bla, bla" to say "Actually, there are many Christian denominations that are very supportive of same-sex relationships" might do for a start.

Now thomcatspike has made me think of the "Jets' Song" from West Side Story:

When you're a red, you're a red all the way
From your first cigarette to your last dying day
When you're a red, let 'em do what they can
You've got red states around
You're a family man!

You're never alone, you're never disconnected
You're home with your own; when company's expected
You're well protected!

posted by Sidhedevil at 10:28 AM on December 1, 2004


mstefan, I look forward to seeing you at the Atheists' Food Pantry tonight. Oh, I'm sorry, I guess my church just feeds homeless people as PR.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:29 AM on December 1, 2004


WTF is a red voter and a blue voter? Wake me up when the Bloods and Crips are political parties.

i try to avoid saying "red state/blue state" b/c i live in a red state, but did not vote for bush; i know people who live in blue states who did vote for bush. obviously not everyone who votes for any candidate shares the same political view, but i feel saying "red voter/blue voter" is better than treating entire geographical regions as if everyone there voted in the same manner. (and yes, i'm aware that there are, for example, people who vote democrat who are very homophobic, racist, religionist, etc. i just have "faith" that my way of referring to the split is better. ;-) )

btw, the bloods and crips would probably vote republican if they voted: they recognize kindred spirits (game recognize game, as we said in the old neighborhood).
posted by lord_wolf at 10:37 AM on December 1, 2004


mstefan, I look forward to seeing you at the Atheists' Food Pantry tonight. Oh, I'm sorry, I guess my church just feeds homeless people as PR.

Yes, we all know there's no such thing as a secular, non-religious organization that helps the poor. Nope, none at all.

Oh, and by the way, it is public relations if, while helping the downtrodden, you decide to give them a good dose of Jesus. Wanting to "fill their spirits" before filling their stomachs is nothing but promoting religious ideology at the end of a chicken drumstick.

On the other hand, if your church feeds the homeless and doesn't bring matters of faith between them and their dinner plate, then good for you.
posted by mstefan at 10:40 AM on December 1, 2004


I agree with everything Rev Myerku has had to say. The odd thing is that I happen to believe in God. I, however, recognize that this is an irrationally based belief, not to be trusted in the slightest, something that is private to me and something that musn't be prosleytized to others.

It's all too clear what horrible suffering and misery has been unleashed as the result of the mindset behind It's a beautiful part of being human, to believe in something because you feel it's right. i.e. organized religion.
posted by kamus at 10:50 AM on December 1, 2004


Reverend Mykeru: Just to continue the derail here, I had a class earlier, so... First, I'm not a theist so putting me in a box with theists isn't the best classification. As far as specific deities go, I'll wager that Jehovah isn't in charge (if he was I'd have been mauled by bears a long time ago). Neither do I exempt theistic questions from the standard rules. Let me produce an analogy.

We have a box that we currently cannot open (maybe one day we'll have the technology to, but not today). Person A says "There is a butterfly in that box". That's the theist, he's certain that he knows what is in the box. Person B says "There is not a butterfly in that box". There's an atheist, he's also certain that he knows what is in the box. But they are both missing the point, we don't know what's in the box, we can't open it yet. The atheist is likely right, out of the billions of things that could be in the box, its pretty unlikely that its a butterfly. But they're both guessing.

There are myriad things that we don't know. Science concedes this, and plugs away trying to find ever more answers. A century ago we didn't know why the sun worked, today we've got a pretty good idea. But back then the only reasonable answer was "I don't know".

That's my answer to the question: "is there a creating deity?" I don't know. Jehovah, Shiva, Amaterasu, and the rest I'll say "probably they aren't real", but the question of deities in general I'll plead ignorance on.

For those who don't like the derail, sorry. If I'd known that mentioning agnosticism drew this much fire I'd have criticized mstefan without bringing it up.

On topic, I'll simply repeat what I said earlier: this spineless BS coming from the media is utterly revolting and needs far wider publicity. Let the myth of the "Liberal Media" crash and burn, this is an outright pro-government media.
posted by sotonohito at 11:06 AM on December 1, 2004


something that is private to me and something that musn't be prosleytized to others.

well said, kamus. i wish more persons of faith felt that way. i sometimes think that (supposedly) swahili proverb applies perfectly to religion: "a bad thing advertises; a good thing sells itself."

back on topic, what do cbs and nbc gain from this? do they think it curries favor with the fcc, so that they don't get fined for some "questionable" (to the son of powell) material? do they think it will increase viewership among homophobic, bigoted religionists? i don't understand. these companies usually think with their checkbooks, so for them to turn down money must mean they think they'll get even more money as a result.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:12 AM on December 1, 2004


Thanks doohickie, Reverend Mykeru apparently stopped reading my post after the first sentence. I'm just saying that as the "Party of the Big Tent", we define ourselves by tolerance for other people's views, whether we are agnostic, atheist, Christian or Muslim. When we belittle people in our own ranks in such a manner, we are alienating them, and the group of people who are actually listening to what we might have to say shrinks, and we lose another 12 elections as a result.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 11:13 AM on December 1, 2004


Belief != deserving of contempt.

I disagree. But I do agree that that's not what this particular thread is about.
posted by rushmc at 11:15 AM on December 1, 2004


I'm just saying that as the "Party of the Big Tent", we define ourselves by tolerance for other people's views, whether we are agnostic, atheist, Christian or Muslim. When we belittle people in our own ranks in such a manner, we are alienating them, and the group of people who are actually listening to what we might have to say shrinks, and we lose another 12 elections as a result.

Democrats aren't losing elections because they're belittling people of faith. They're losing elections because they're chosing not to engage in the politics of faith. It's not about acceptance for people in "red states", it's about wanting a religious perspective enshrined in law and ultimately the end of a secular society to be replaced by a more "godly" one that espouses "traditional, family values".

No wonder Democrats are getting their asses kicked. They don't even seem to understand the fundamental sea-change that's occurred in American politics.
posted by mstefan at 11:23 AM on December 1, 2004


There are, of course, lots of secular organizations that feed the poor. But there aren't any atheists' organizations that feed the poor (as far as I know). See the difference?

And, no, my church doesn't do anything except provide food for people who need it. That's one of the reasons I joined that church.

Like most Christians in the United States, I believe in the separation of church and state. To suggest that one cannot be a Christian and believe in a secular society is ridiculous.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:29 AM on December 1, 2004


I misspoke, mstefan. I think the people that want to live in a more "godly" society (aka fundies) comprise only about 18% of the population. The rest of us, I think, can be pursuaded to vote purely on secular issues or issues of political philosophy. Just when we use rhetoric that reduces all people of faith to buffoons worshipping the invisible sky God, we're pissing people off unnecessarily. It's part and parcel of this elitist stereotype that is perpetuated about liberals.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 11:33 AM on December 1, 2004


Like most Christians in the United States, I believe in the separation of church and state.

I'm seriously starting to doubt that most Christians really believe in secularism, particularly when pressed about their own personal hot-button issues be it abortion, homosexuality, women's rights or other competing religions (particularly Islam, these days).

They probably tell some pollster what they want to hear: that they're tolerant, open minded and believe in the separation of church and state. But when they're home in bed, they're muttering to themselves about how the world has gone to hell in a handbasket and only if people would get right with The Lord, things would be better.
posted by mstefan at 11:45 AM on December 1, 2004


I'm seriously starting to doubt that most Christians really believe in secularism

In my limited northeast mainline protestant world, most Christians I know care more about issues of social justice than they do about teh Gay or abortion for that matter. Admittedly, this is somewhat of a narrow blue state Christian view, to be sure, but I still have a hard to believing that there is a fundamental sea-change is anything other than media hype. The reactionary view you depict has certainly been getting a lot of media play lately, but it's always been prominent amoung certain religious groups throughout this country's history.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 11:55 AM on December 1, 2004


The reaction to this makes me think many of you are some of the most intolerant people on the planet. This church is certainly not a reactionary, fundamentalist church.
Do unto others is not a harmful message.

BTW I'm still waiting for that Ann Coulter blow up doll... doesn't anyone love me?
posted by dancingbaptist at 12:08 PM on December 1, 2004


This issue hits a little too close to home for me. Not only am I one of those people that likes to get together in a big room to discuss my "invisible friend", but I grew up in the UCC and my closest family member works in one of their churches. The church has been a large part of my life and has defined my socially liberal beliefs.

Over the past few years, the past few months in particular, there has been a very strong anti-Christian sentiment on mefi (and elsewhere). This is often due, in my opinion, to a blind intolerance and ignorance that is so unbecoming of people, especially self-proclaimed liberals. When 9/11 hit and there was a fear and misunderstanding of Islam, people were quick to point out that it was the extreme fundamentalists that were responsible and that we shouldn't judge the others that practice the religion. Why is it that it is so difficult for many to exercise that same philosophy with Christians and Christianity? As a member of the UCC and a socially liberal Christian, it has been very frustrating and, at times, I feel the need to downplay my spiritual ideologies. I've attempted to mention my experience with the UCC (openly gay staff, acceptance of pro-choice, a strong stance on the separation of Church and State, etc etc) only to have it met with dead ears in a desire for some to hold on to a belief that all Christians believe in the same philosophies as the fundamentalists and/or a need for a group to rally against. There is no explaining to many that it was my spiritual upbringing that provided me with a compassion and understanding for a wide variety of people, that it was my spiritual upbringing that provided me with the ability and desire to support things such as equal rights for all which includes gay marriage/unions (in fact, the new minister at my church wrote a very nice "Covenant of Union Service" for a gay couple at his previous church in 1998).

When I was first told that this ad would air nationwide (they've had ads air in select markets), I was elated. I felt that I had something that supported what I've been saying. Finally people might listen. For me, it is not about pushing my spiritual beliefs on others. It is not just about reminding some that Jesus' message was about love and not judgment. For me, it is a message that not all Christians are right-wing fundamentalists and that there are many Christians out there that believe in inclusiveness and equality. If it brings people into the UCC, a spiritual institution that I do believe can provide strength and support to many, or allows them to feel as though a Christian church can and will accept them as they are, that is just an added bonus.

I believe in the right for television networks to refuse to air ads and/or programs for whatever reason. That said, I am extremely disappointed in their decision. They state that it is about controversy with gay rights, yet in many ways the network has embraced that controversy. Of the major minority groups, the gays have an extraordinarily large presence on network television. There are very few Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, and even Blacks. However, many networks and shows have embraced gays and gay couples (NBC in particular with Will & Grace and ER). Not to mention the fact that by refusing to air the ads, they have, in fact, created a controversy. While I suppose that is ultimately good as it has not only allowed me to write this post but it has opened similar discussions, it just highlights that the controversy goes deeper.

To me it points out the power of the fundamentalist movement which, in many ways, is given that power by those that are afraid to believe and/or support the idea that not all Christians are fundamentalists. Over the past few months, people have needed an enemy. This was even more true after the election as we saw many pundits focusing on the religious vote instead of other patterns and irregularities. So, by refusing to air the ads, the networks have not only not avoided controversy; they are supporting that dynamic. They are not only acting out of a fear of a backlash from the fundamentalists, they are acting out of a need for many to have Christianity as an enemy. What is most frightening is that it is that dynamic power that could ultimately lead the loss of freedoms, including the freedom of the press.

While I typically frown on church based advertising, I do support the UCC ads. Not because I am a member of the UCC, but because I believe that these ads can help remind us of the diversity of not only Christians, but of Christian churches. So, while these ads may be controversial, it is not only because of the message of inclusion it is because they serve to highlight that Christianity is not the enemy. They remind us that intolerance is not just present in the fundamentalists but in those that need to believe in that enemy.

mstefan: I have never been told that my invisible friend was better. In fact, one of the ministers that had a large impact on my life was very supportive when I began studying other religions and philosophical beliefs. He also actively encouraged those in his congregation to visit other churches/religious houses. It was never about fighting over which invisible friend was better and was always about finding the spiritual home that was the best fit and provided the most personal and spiritual support. Sure, the underlying message has always been that Jesus was the Son of God, but there was and is a strong acceptance and willingness to listen to and learn from those that don't believe in that... including atheists. Theologians are philosophers and while they believe in the doctrine that they preach, most are fascinated by other doctrines and the lessons that they can provide. I think that this openness and understanding is one of the things that keeps taking me back to the UCC and Christianity after all these years. Your ignorance of the UCC and their beliefs and yet making such a statement in a post about the UCC (as well as your later statements) just confirms my belief that there is a need for people to be intolerant of Christianity and religion in order to have some sort of enemy to lash out on, currently, because of the election results.
posted by imbri at 12:10 PM on December 1, 2004


kamus wrote:

I agree with everything Rev Myerku has had to say.

Of course you do. I mean, why wouldn't you? Only stupid people disagree with me. Oh yes, and goat fuckers. There seems to be a disproportionate number of goat fuckers that disagree with me. Of course, half the trick is demarcating between the stupid people and the goat fuckers.

Not to mention the stupid goat fuckers.


The odd thing is that I happen to believe in God. I, however, recognize that this is an irrationally based belief, not to be trusted in the slightest, something that is private to me and something that mustn't be prosleytized to others.

I have far, far more respect for people like Martin Gardener, noted skeptic and CSICOP member who is a theist and believes as credo consolans. That is, he believes in God simply because the idea of universal purpose, afterlife, and what-have-you is comforting. I don't have a problem with that. People can believe any number of things that are stupid, fattening and wrong, and as long as they don't impose it on me, and yes, claiming they can prove it, or that I'm closed minded for evaluating the claim and rejecting it, is an imposition, then they can do as they wish. When anyone makes a claim that there's something rational about their god-boggled prattling, or, even worse, verifiable, then they are playing in my backyard.

Yes, lots of suffering and misery caused by religion. What's less obvious is what a monumental waste of effort it is. If you think about medieval cathedrals, as I alluded to earlier, imagine the time, expense and dedication to building a cathedral, especially by people often ill-able to afford the expense and labor. Imagine what other things can be done with that time, money and effort other than kissing hank's ass.

Now look at this issue. Isn't the time, effort and pure calumny of being bigoted against gay people, as if their union would destroy civilization as we know it, a monumental waste of time and effort? The only purpose it serves is to unite religious bigots who need enemies and a maintenance doses of outrage.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 12:18 PM on December 1, 2004


Reverend M, I agree with your line of reasoning, if not its smugness, but I think your example,

"a bachelor is an unmarried man"

is a bad example of an analytic truth. It's totally off topic to the CBS hoo ha, but it's a personal pet peeve (link to old comment). A better example is "a trriangle has three sides" or some other mathematical description. There are lots of unmarried men who are bachelors... And many (though fewer) men who are married, but are still bachelors. QED.
posted by zpousman at 12:24 PM on December 1, 2004


Over the past few years, the past few months in particular, there has been a very strong anti-Christian sentiment on mefi (and elsewhere)

it never ceases to amaze me that despite winning both houses of Congress and the Presidency, that people can still say with a straight face that Christians are being persecuted or are losing the culture wars.

there is a need for people to be intolerant of Christianity and religion in order to have some sort of enemy to lash out on, currently, because of the election results.


I think this is what the psychologists call "projection."*

*please bear in mind that yes, I hear what you are saying and no, I know you are one of those damnable fundamentalists that many here will admit hating. but on the other hand, I think the persecution complex is so tired and I really hope that the broad mainstream wises up to the tactic.
posted by norm at 12:26 PM on December 1, 2004


Do unto others is not a harmful message.

If that were their only message, there would be no problem. Don't oversimplify.
posted by rushmc at 12:30 PM on December 1, 2004


No matter what negation of the definition of God I point to you can claim that's not what you mean by God.
An interesting way to start a refutation. How Sisyphean and noble of you to persevere.
But since not only are you probably reluctant to, not to mention incapable of, defining what you mean by God, we'll just go for the Judeo Christian God.
The name that can be named is not etc.
Of course, you can make up your own God as you go along.
Thank you for your support.
Problem is God didn't make the sun and the stars until the forth day, so there were several days where light was coming from nowhere, or at least not the places light comes from.
If a God can create something out of nothing than surely he can create light from nothing. Unless light isn't something. If one accepts that God creates then he surely must do some creating, and at some point in that process things will come from nothing.
For the concept of God itself there's the Problem of Evil, the Euthyphro dilemma for you divine command theorists, and the paradox of omnipotence, among others. Lots of rationalistic refutation.
The Problem of Evil no more disproves the existence of God than the Liars paradox disproves truth or Zeno's paradoxes disprove continuity and discreteness. There are several dissolutions of the each problem. Actually all of your links include resolutions most of which are centuries old and which I 'd hate to have to repeat here. Furthermore to assume the non existence of something because of an inexplicable property is a staggering leap of logic. If light begins sometimes acting like a wave when we thought it was a particle formerly we don't jump to the conclusion that light does not exist. Most reasonable people would reevaluate their assumptions about the predicted behavior before assuming nonexistence. Furthermore I have noticed that many arguments against God are based not upon some intrinsic nature but rather assumed behavior, ie why isn't God smiting sinners etc.
Faith (again, in the theological sense) is merely believing in something come what may, because you believe it. Secondarily confusing belief with knowledge is helpful, but not essential.
Faith isn't so simple and easy. If it were, I would simply choose to have faith, in your theological sense, that I was emperor of earth and discard all evidence to the contrary. You seem to have discarded the suffix, perhaps you were blinded by your condescension for the theo and never got to the end. There is order to religious belief structures. One needn't even be a religious person to engage in theology, it follows similar rules to its cousin philosophy. By your approach to faith as willful ignorance, there would be no crises of faith; no one would lose their faith in the absence of God becuase they could just keep discarding contrary evidence. Faith needs reinforcement just like any other belief and is not undertaken so capriciously.
"Buttress your faith against falsification", what a lovely way of saying "Believing something despite whatever the fuck the facts are".
Not at all. It means to find verification for and be vigilant to any contradictions that may arise and invalidate the system in the future.
I.e., confuse belief and knowledge.
If I remember correctly Plato thought that knowledge was true belief. However, that is irrelevant because truth would imply a possible dis-correspondence which itself implies a lower foundational level from which to be in discordance. Such fundamental propositions as God are not residents of this higher plane and so nothing can be said about their truth or falsity.
This is crap. You are simply restating the same thought again, dressing up the concept of believing in something no matter what in pomo-babble language.
When choosing a belief structure at some point you need a ground. Truth is not infinitely regressive at some point you are going to need to pick an unprovable axiom; a first principle.
Wrong. Analytic truths are tautological, things that are "true by definition" such as "a bachelor is an unmarried man". Synthetic truths, that make claims about the world, such as "that car is red" are not true by definition, and are empirically verifiable. The car may not actually be red. You want to treat the existence of God as an analytic truth, true by definition, which you can't because 1. It doesn't stand on rationalistic grounds and 2. The claim isn't an analytic truth anyway, it's a synthetic truth, a claim about an external, empirically verifiable state of the world.
God is a analytic truth just as my existence is an analytic truth. If such were in fact empirically verifiable you would have finally disproved solipsism after all these years. Descartes's first principle rests on rationalist grounds, eg, thinking is a definition which manifests itself. And similarly God's existence is posited as a rational definition. I don't know what you mean by "fails on rationalistic grounds" it is rationally unprovable certainly but no definition, save an oxymoronic one, can fail rationalistic grounds. Just as "a bachelor is an unmarried man" God is prime mover. Some like to point to miracles and other supernatural phenomena as evidence but they are not the basis for the assumption of God, and are anathema to codes such as deism. Although there are some who say the existence of cars and green are empirical evidence enough, God is not generally conceived of as a synthetic truth.
Again, you are invoking a law of identity (A=A) as if that represented the sum of all truths. How about when A doesn't equal A, such as when there is light without suns?
A will never not be A so I'm not sure what contingency you are contending could happen. Furthermore you are forgetting which thing is subordinate. If I see light without a sun it does not mean that there is no light or that there are no suns.
No, a racist would just believe black people are inferior no matter how fast they run. Horses run fast too, after all. Doesn't men you'd want your daughter to marry one. Come on, you've seen bigoted dodges in the face of facts, it's just a matter of "faith".
We were talking about a logically tenable belief structure built on an article of faith not some random bigot.
Thank you for that breathtaking non sequitur.
The fact that you think it a non sequetur demonstrates that you missed my point, which is that most arbitrary articles of faith will become inconsistent in large scale. The fact that both science and religion have such remarkably consistent arguments is evidence of their robustness and evinces their probability.
posted by Endymion at 12:44 PM on December 1, 2004


Your ignorance of the UCC and their beliefs and yet making such a statement in a post about the UCC... etc. etc.

I suppose I'm left to wonder why it is important to tolerate fantasy-based thinking in the public sphere. Privately, you may believe whatever you want and I'm pefectly fine with that. Believe your god (or gods), bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, alien abductions or worship at your local oak grove. Great. Wonderful. More power to you. But when you start injecting your bizzare belief systems into the public realm -- through ads, political speech, or whatever -- then don't complain when I criticize it.

If you choose to publically hold up your object of worship for others to admire, then don't complain about intolerance when someone questions the validity of it.

I'm sorry, but your "god" and his so-called message to humanity doesn't get a pass from me any more than some guy proclaiming that aliens have sexually abused him with a rectal probe. It's all the same stripe of fantasy-based thinking, it's just some people's fantastical beliefs are considered more legitimate than others. I don't buy into it. If you want to believe that there's some omnicient, omnipresent power that's watching over you, judging your actions and intimately involved with your day to day life, then more power to you. But in my mind, you're as incredible as a person who stands on the street corner proclaiming that the rock he's holding in his hand is proof that we're about to be invaded by reptilian monsters from Mars.

So, I guess I'm intolerant of lunacy. Sue me.
posted by mstefan at 12:56 PM on December 1, 2004



God is a analytic truth just as my existence is an analytic truth.


Your existence isn't an analytic truth. It's a synthetic truth. You do not exist as if your existence is an obligatory part of the whole idea, the definition, of existence. You exist as a state of affairs in the world. There's no contradiction or paradox in imagining a state where you didn't exist in a way that would be like a four-sided triangle (there you go, zpousman). So I would have to agree with you that "God is an analytic truth just as your existence is", which is to say, not a bit.

If you maintain that "God exists" is a tautology (despite the fact that existence isn't an attribute anyway), then why bother saying anything else? Once you go on to continue to make the case you actually refute your own claim of God's existence being true by definition by your own actions.

If such were in fact empirically verifiable you would have finally disproved solipsism after all these years.

The standard "disproof" (if you can call it that) of solipsism is that it's perverse. Like Gilbert Ryle's take on the problem of other minds (that is, how do we know everyone isn't a robot without conscious thought, except for us, which is a form of solipsism) is that we'd need a special reason for thinking people did not have minds like our own. The problem with solipsistic arguments is that they "do no work" and just piggy-back on any observation one can make without adding anything. It's like trying to prove that things don't move on account of the action of invisible puppeteers. You see why it is up to one making the assertion (God, solipsism, invisible puppeteers) to prove their case. Not stand around like they've said something meaningful until such time as they are disproved.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 1:00 PM on December 1, 2004


Christians aren't being persecuted on MeFi.

However, Christians are being insulted on MeFi. There's a big difference between pointing out that one is being insulted and complaining that one is being persecuted.

mstefan, I believe that most Christians in the United States believe in separation of church and state. You believe they do not. Polls suggest that I am correct, but you seem to imply that Christians are lying to the pollsters. Apparently, there is no way to convince you because the stuff you "know" through your own intuition is correct.

Why is it that you object to religion, again?

And, Reverend Mykeru, don't even try. Smarter atheists than you have tried to talk me out of believing in God. You're just exercising your jaw muscles. I'd love to set up tag-team matches between evangelical atheists and evangelical Christians and charge money to watch them on pay-per-view.

Here is the thing. Organized religions have done a lot of harm in the world, it is true. But organized religions have also done a lot of good.

Even if I didn't believe in any of the metaphysical stuff, it still feels to me like a good idea to get together with a bunch of people for an hour each week, sing some songs, and talk about how we can help each other.

I like the idea that there are groups of people who work together to set up organizations and programs that care for the poor, sick, disabled, elderly, imprisoned, etc. Some of my heroes, like Cardinal Romero, Dorothy Day, Matthew Fox, Ann Hutchinson, Father Berrigan, William Sloane Coffin, Gustavo Gutierrez, Rubem Alves, and others, have been able to use the networks/communities/social credibility of organized religion to help people in remarkably effective ways.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:14 PM on December 1, 2004


I would simply choose to have faith, in your theological sense, that I was emperor of earth and discard all evidence to the contrary.

And some people do exactly that. Check the number of "Napoleons" in mental institutions. Delusion comes in degrees, and simply limiting oneself to the lower, more socially prevalent end of the scale is nothing to be proud of.

Even if I didn't believe in any of the metaphysical stuff, it still feels to me like a good idea to get together with a bunch of people for an hour each week, sing some songs, and talk about how we can help each other. I like the idea that there are groups of people who work together to set up organizations and programs that care for the poor, sick, disabled, elderly, imprisoned, etc.

It may well be a good idea, but it is irrelevant to either a belief in God or to organized religion.
posted by rushmc at 1:22 PM on December 1, 2004


imbri, thanks for a thoughtful and heartfelt post. You've elevated the conversation considerably and I hope that mstefan takes time to consider it commensurate with the effort you've put into it.

I disagree on only one point:

I believe in the right for television networks to refuse to air ads and/or programs for whatever reason.

This is true from a business standpoint but it's also the case that the airwaves are a public good. It's possible to make the argument that, through editorial and journalistic choices that give pride of place to reactionary and divisive pundits, the networks have created a cultural climate in which mainline protestants of a left-leaning bent are inadequately represented in the current debate. Since they're our airwaves, we have a right to demand that these suppressed perspectives get heard, whether through better reporting or running these ads.

This is the real point, I reckon. I don't give a rat's ass if some network exec is afraid of losing points on the bottom line. The UCC should take a hard stance that these stewards of the public airspace are in active abrogation of their compact with the people and that they can help get back on track by running this ad.
posted by felix betachat at 1:27 PM on December 1, 2004


Your existence isn't an analytic truth. You do not exist as if your existence is an obligatory part of the whole idea, the definition, of existence. You exist as a state of affairs in the world
I think you missed my stunning demonstration of thinking. And you missed the entire gist of solipsism. All the world is doubtful and could either exist or not exist, the only thing that must absolutely exist is me. You have displayed a stunning act of philosophical hand-waving. The fact that I must absolutely exist, in order to even ask the question of whether there is truth or existence places me beyond truth, at a more fundamental level. I can't doubt that I am doubting without doubting.
If you maintain that "God exists" is a tautology (despite the fact that existence isn't an attribute anyway), then why bother saying anything else? Once you go on to continue to make the case you actually refute your own claim of God's existence being true by definition by your own actions.
The actual example of an analytic truth I gave was "God is prime mover." An oldie but a good. If God is, again regardless of factuality, then as prime mover he created himself. If the statement can even be said then existence abounds and the creator of that is God in his position as prime mover. And actually existence is very much an attribute and I defy you to name something which does not possess it.
The standard "disproof" (if you can call it that)
You can't. All that trying to disprove solipsism will get you is a stubbed toe.
The problem with solipsistic arguments is that they "do no work" and just piggy-back on any observation one can make without adding anything.
You have it backwards, all things are based on your thinking and all observations piggyback on this simple fact.
posted by Endymion at 1:30 PM on December 1, 2004


Sidhevil:
Separation of church and state is not in the constitution.... READ IT!
The concept was invented by liberal activists.
posted by dancingbaptist at 1:42 PM on December 1, 2004


Thomas Jefferson, Liberal Activist.
posted by felix betachat at 1:47 PM on December 1, 2004


me: Even if I didn't believe in any of the metaphysical stuff, it still feels to me like a good idea to get together with a bunch of people for an hour each week, sing some songs, and talk about how we can help each other. I like the idea that there are groups of people who work together to set up organizations and programs that care for the poor, sick, disabled, elderly, imprisoned, etc.

rushmc: It may well be a good idea, but it is irrelevant to either a belief in God or to organized religion.


It's not "irrelevant" to organized religion, because organized religions spend a lot of time doing those things. For most people in the United States, the only places they can find regularly-meeting groups of strangers who discuss questions of ethics and participate in organized volunteer charitable activities are church, temples, mosques, and Meetings.

One could certainly organize such groups absent any religion. However, there aren't a lot of non-religious groups of this ilk out there. I am actually a big supporter of the American Humanist Association, but it doesn't have what I would call "traction".

They do have a good magazine, though.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:47 PM on December 1, 2004


Sidhedevil wrote:

And, Reverend Mykeru, don't even try. Smarter atheists than you have tried to talk me out of believing in God.

Is that what I'm trying to do? I doubt it, because if a large economy bag of squirrel bait such of yourself who holds onto the irrational like a crack-head lobster holds onto the warm pipe with his big claw could be talked out of it, I would utterly revolutionize the mental health industry.

And quite frankly, if I could do that, it's not very fucking likely that you'd get a freebie.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 1:53 PM on December 1, 2004


it never ceases to amaze me that despite winning both houses of Congress and the Presidency, that people can still say with a straight face that Christians are being persecuted or are losing the culture wars.

I never laid the claim that Christians are being persecuted and/or are losing the culture war. I simply stated that there is a growing and vocal anti-Christian sentiment which I don't think can be denied. I would readily agree that a large part of it is due to the fact that we have a fundamentalist in office and there is a need to lash out against the fundamentalist beliefs. They are, for better or worse, "the enemy" to many people, not just because of Bush but because of most of their political and social ideology (which I, like many here, find scary and wrong).

By stating "despite winning both houses and the Presidency," you prove my point. First of all, I know that I didn't vote for Bush and, like many other Christians, my candidate is not going to be inaugurated in January. Not all Christians are Republican and not all Republican Christians are fundamentalists. The inability (?) or unwillingness (?) to recognize that was part of the point that I was attempting to make. Christians come in all shapes and sizes as well as political and social ideologies. By ignoring that fact or implying that all Christians are Republicans, we just inflate the number of the Fundamentalists which, in turn, helps to give them more political power, something which I think that we can both agree is a bad thing.
posted by imbri at 1:53 PM on December 1, 2004


mstefan, I believe that most Christians in the United States believe in separation of church and state. You believe they do not. Polls suggest that I am correct, but you seem to imply that Christians are lying to the pollsters. Apparently, there is no way to convince you because the stuff you "know" through your own intuition is correct.

I'll be the first to admit that my "evidence" is entirely anecdotal. Your claim that I hold it on faith is... well, kind of humorous.

Like I said, believe what you want. But as soon as you start talking about your invisible buddy in public, explain to my why I should cut you any more slack than the guy down the street talking to the imp on his shoulder?

The only difference I see between the two is that -- through an exercise in collective agreement -- one is told that his invisible friend is really there, while the other is told that he needs to refill his prescription for Haloperidol.
posted by mstefan at 1:53 PM on December 1, 2004


Thomas Jefferson, Liberal Activist.

That's total bullshit. The constitution prevented the establishment of a religion, like Englad did with the Anglican church. This has nothing to do with SEPARATION of church and state.
The thing that scares me the most about America's future is the trend of activist judges legislating... the constitution did provide for separation of branches of government, and that, more than anything, is what is eroding.
posted by dancingbaptist at 1:57 PM on December 1, 2004


If separation of church and state was good enough for Thomas Jefferson (good links, felix betachat), Madison, and Washington, it's good enough for me.

(Note: I am, apparently, a much more devout Episcopalian than Washington was. And cherry trees are safe near me.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:58 PM on December 1, 2004


Separation of church and state is not in the constitution.... READ IT!
The concept was invented by liberal activists.


*twitches*
posted by norm at 1:59 PM on December 1, 2004


In an 1802 letter to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptist Association, Thomas Jefferson, then President, declared that the American people through the First Amendment had erected a "wall of separation between church and state."

Jefferson's Danbury letter has been cited favorably by the Supreme Court many times. In its 1879 Reynolds v. U.S. decision the high court said Jefferson's observations "may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the [First] Amendment."

In the court's 1947 Everson v. Board of Education decision, Justice Hugo Black wrote, "In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between church and state.'" It is only in recent times that separation has come under attack by judges in the federal court system who oppose separation of church and state."

James Madison, considered to be the Father of the Constitution, said in an 1819 letter, "[T]he number, the industry and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church and state." In an earlier, undated essay (probably early 1800s), Madison wrote, "Strongly guarded...is the separation between religion and government in the Constitution of the United States."


So much for the "recent trend of activist judges", dancingbaptist.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:02 PM on December 1, 2004


See, here's the problem, mstefan and Reverend Mykeru--when you yell at people like me and imbri and others who keep our religion in its own place (our hearts, our own homes, our houses of worship), you make us less interested in battling people like dancingbaptist who want to impose their religion on you (and us).

That can't be a winning strategy.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:05 PM on December 1, 2004


dancingbaptist wrote:

The thing that scares me the most about America's future is the trend of activist judges legislating... the constitution did provide for separation of branches of government, and that, more than anything, is what is eroding.


I totally agree. And what judicial activism was scarier than Bush v. Gore? It wasn't just "judicial activism", it was treason.

Why do "conservatives" (i.e., radical right-wing Christo-fascist lunatics) hate America?
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 2:05 PM on December 1, 2004


Whether a belief in God is logical or not, the fact is that there are some Christian groups that advocate killing gays, and there are some that advocate loving them.

We should encourage the latter groups, so that even those who might need religion as a crutch, can get their crutch without an attendant dose of poison.

I am agnostic in my beliefs, but I respect the right of others to believe what they want. That includes vile, irrational, hateful beliefs. However, when those beliefs become harmful actions, I think we should do everything in our power to stop the actions, whether or not we can change the beliefs.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:08 PM on December 1, 2004


Sidhedevil write:

See, here's the problem, mstefan and Reverend Mykeru--when you yell at people like me and imbri and others who keep our religion in its own place (our hearts, our own homes, our houses of worship), you make us less interested in battling people like dancingbaptist who want to impose their religion on you (and us).

That can't be a winning strategy.


Should I try to "reach out"? Considering not only the intolerance of the religious right, but the smarmy patronizing of the rest of the god-boggled, all I can say is: Fuck that.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 2:11 PM on December 1, 2004


...you make us less interested in battling people like dancingbaptist who want to impose their religion on you (and us).

The battle has already been lost. I'm just making fun of the winners.
posted by mstefan at 2:12 PM on December 1, 2004


As far as I can see, all the smarmy patronizing that has been done on this thread has been done by atheists. Neat!
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:20 PM on December 1, 2004


The battle has already been lost. I'm just making fun of the winners.


Not until every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. They ain't done yet.
posted by norm at 2:22 PM on December 1, 2004


Here's Busybusybusy.com on the very figure of a of the godly political religionist. posted by Reverend Mykeru at 2:22 PM on December 1, 2004


As far as I can see, all the smarmy patronizing that has been done on this thread has been done by atheists. Neat!


glass houses, stone throwing, etc.
posted by norm at 2:25 PM on December 1, 2004


Sidhedevil wrote:

As far as I can see all the smarmy patronizing that has been done on this thread has been done by atheists. Neat!

True only so far as it's qualified.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 2:25 PM on December 1, 2004


norm, I guess it's a thin line between "pot v. kettle" and "giving them a dose of their own medicine". I don't always get that one right, of course.

I think that this is a very smart essay about the tremendous irony of Evangelical Christians calling for an end to the separation of church and state doctrines that were, in fact, set up to defend them from the kind of discrimination that was going on from the "established churches" in both old and New England.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:33 PM on December 1, 2004


Is it an absolute necessity to derail every single thread about religion with the same stupid, pointless dust-up about whether religious belief is wholly delusional or merely a personality flaw? Hello, atheists? We get it, okay? We understand that you think religion is loopy. We get that you think it’s a harmful, pernicious deception and that the world would be a better place without it. We get that you think that any intelligent individual who really thought about it would be unable to sustain the delusion. And you know- that’s fine. It does me no harm. And to my fellow delusional lunatics: get over it. It isn’t entirely necessary to rise to the bait every single time. When you say God, they hear “giant invisible man in the sky.” When you say faith they hear “utterly baseless and unexamined belief.” Whatever you say, they’ll hear what fits the model of religious belief that is comfortably ensconced in their minds. Can we at least mix it up, argue about UFOs or something? This could have been a somewhat interesting discussion about whether (and if so how) a particular aspect of the public face of religion manages to claim a higher profile than its actual representation in the population should justify, through devious manipulation of the media. If it hadn't been immediately claimed by a bunch of people with fucking axes to grind.
posted by nanojath at 2:47 PM on December 1, 2004


nanojath is right. I need to step away from this grindstone and take my axe with me.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:50 PM on December 1, 2004


"The letter was the subject of intense scrutiny by Jefferson, and he consulted a couple of New England politicians to assure that his words would not offend while still conveying his message: it was not the place of the Congress or the Executive to do anything that might be misconstrued as the establishment of religion"
posted by dancingbaptist at 2:51 PM on December 1, 2004


And here is the figure of the church mention in the post:

# Thinks the nice teachings are less just as important than as believing the supernatural bits.

#Rejects Accepts homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle, for others.

# Actively markets his religion to non-believers.

# Approves Disapproves of retributive killing.

# Asserts Does not assert dominion over a pregnant woman's uterus.

# Most importantly, believes that all worldviews but his own are basically worthless are worthy of examination.

So, how can you lump them in with fundamentalist right wing churches without looking like you are ignorant, or stupid?

I'd also like to see some evidence of 'smarmy patronizing' from the UCC, or would you like me to take that on faith?
posted by bashos_frog at 2:52 PM on December 1, 2004


dancingbaptist: What part of "building a wall of separation between church and state" is unclear?

The fact that the letter was intensly scrutinized and still says: exercise your religion freely, but don't expect the government to get involved, is just more evidence for the intent of separation, not against.
posted by bashos_frog at 3:03 PM on December 1, 2004


Jefferson asked the Attorney General, Levi Lincoln, to review his letter to the Danbury Baptists with the following cover letter:

Averse to receive addresses, yet unable to prevent them, I have generally endeavored to turn them to some account, by making them the occasion, by way of answer, of sowing useful truths and principles among the people, which might germinate and become rooted among their political tenets. The Baptist address, now enclosed, admits of a condemnation of the alliance between Church and State, under the authority of the Constitution. It furnishes an occasion, too, which I have long wished to find, of saying why I do not proclaim fastings and thanksgivings, as my predecessors did. The address, to be sure does not point at this, and its introduction is awkward. But I foresee no opportunity of doing it more pertinently. I know it will give great offence to the New England clergy; but the advocate of religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from them. Will you be so good as to examine the answer, and suggest any alterations which might prevent an ill effect or promote a good one, among the people? You understand the temper of those in the North, and can weaken it, therefore, to their stomachs; it is at present seasoned to the Southern taste only. I would ask the favor of you to return it, with the address, in the course of the day or evening. Health and affection.

I think that "admits of a condemnation of the alliance between Church and State" is pretty damned clear.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:23 PM on December 1, 2004


One could certainly organize such groups absent any religion. However, there aren't a lot of non-religious groups of this ilk out there.

Perhaps because so many people are wasting so much time and money on the former rather than buckling down to address real, serious problems? In any case, the fact that there may not be as many such secular organizations as you would like (and there are some) again says nothing about the validity of religious belief. Anyone can, at any time, start such a group without couching it in going-to-hell terms, as you have already conceded.
posted by rushmc at 3:57 PM on December 1, 2004


nanojath wrote:

Is it an absolute necessity to derail every single thread about religion with the same stupid, pointless dust-up about whether religious belief is wholly delusional or merely a personality flaw? Hello, atheists? We get it, okay? We understand that you think religion is loopy. We get that you think it’s a harmful, pernicious deception and that the world would be a better place without it. We get that you think that any intelligent individual who really thought about it would be unable to sustain the delusion. And you know- that’s fine...

We interrupt this quote to bring you the Universal Subtext Translator:

...Shut up! Just shut up you atheists. It's a big old bad world and without the idea of a universal purpose I would have to get off my duff and read up on Sartre or something and that shit's depressing. You know, actually growing up is totally overrated. You can make me grow up physically, make me get a job and be responsible, but intellectually I'm holding onto the idea that there's some big paternalistic psychotic Santa Clause who sees you when you're sleeping and knows when you've been bad or good and puts flaming coals up your ass if you've been bad. Some day I'm going to die and I just can't imagine the universe actually getting on without me. I mean, it must be part of the plan to keep me around in one form or another --even with flaming coals up my ass-- otherwise what's the freaking good of the universe anyway? OK, so God has been drying up like a puddle over the millennia and we don't actually believe being mental is caused by demons or that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. But the purpose, the afterlife, you're gonna hafta pry that concept out of my cold dead fingers.

I hate you atheists. I hate you! You're no fun. You're scaring me. Go away.

Booo-hooo.


There, how's that for being constructive?
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 4:42 PM on December 1, 2004


this thread is made almost entirely of straw.
posted by glenwood at 4:51 PM on December 1, 2004


  1. I am an atheist.
  2. I am not just tolerant but loving towards my religious brethern. And sisters. And my mom.
  3. To get back to the topic at hand -- I'm guessing that the reason the networks wouldn't air the ads had absolutely nothing to do with the FCC or Bush, and had EVERYTHING to do with the massive boycotts, letter writing and bashing they would take at the hands of radical right Christian extremists when they began to denounce them for airing an "attack" on Christianity itself (i.e., the ads, which implies that other churches/denominations are intolerant and/or openly bigoted.
  4. dancingbaptist: repeatedly stating something like "there is no separation between church and state!" does not make it true.
  5. Please note re: language: "radical right Christian extremists" does not refer to anyone participating in this conversation...at least not as far as I have seen. This is my personal choice to identify those who are at the fringes of Christianity. I find it far less loaded than other terms.
  6. I will be writing a long letter to the networks and contacting GLAAD regarding these ads. Who's with me!?
P.S.: In the interest of full disclosure, I used to be a "professional homosexual" for GLAAD (communications director.)
posted by ltracey at 5:18 PM on December 1, 2004


There, how's that for being constructive?

You know the world's going to shit when a Reverend says this kind of stuff.

Oh, and spot-on.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:22 PM on December 1, 2004


You know the world's going to shit when a Reverend says this kind of stuff.

Praise be to Bob, brother. Give your $30 or fry when X-Day finally comes.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 6:49 PM on December 1, 2004


ltracey: I'm with you, and there's also more information relavant to the original point, at Talking Points Memo

And I want to emphatically second everything nanojath just wrote, except that I'm saying it as a grown-up agnostic with no need for a universal purpose, a santa claus, or an afterlife.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:50 PM on December 1, 2004


argh! - relevant.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:53 PM on December 1, 2004


Oh well. I tried.

But, you know, when God speaks to people, I guess it's better not to insult them by questioning their faith.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 8:27 PM on December 1, 2004


Disclaimer: I'm not a Christian. But this was annoying and narrow.

That's nice. Problem is God didn't make the sun and the stars until the forth day, so there were several days where light was coming from nowhere, or at least not the places light comes from.

God. I didn't even read the rest of the posts to see if you were called out for this, but Christ. How superficial of you! You're pointing out something that everyone from Enlightenment era children to Stephen Daedalus yelled at one point.

(Mock on, Voltaire)

Do you think the writer of Genesis wasn't at all aware of that superficial fact? Even if you want to study the text alone, and ignore authorial intent, why not consider the idea expounded instead of mocking? Perhaps the text is expressing an idea that you can't accept Christianity could expound. Perhaps the creation of dark and light prior to the sun is not to be read in the physical sense, you condescending wonder, but in the conceptual sense, the idealist sense. Perhaps Christianity is an idealist philosophy. Perhaps God first created the idea of creation, erected a dualism (for creation to God is really a sundering, a destruction of his unity), so that he might create. Perhaps you need to understand that religion is determined by cultural forces, and, while you might find certain aspects of certain religious systems absurd, that does not mean that there is nothing to be learned from them, or experienced through them.

I understand that you're merely reacting to what you perceive to be the crimes of Christianity. But, praise be to John's reinterpretation of the Jewish creation myth with Logos, one does not need to see the world at odds with God. Religion is not, in itself, out to kill religion. Go read Kierkegaard, and see how the two can operate together. Go read FDos's "The Idiot" or "Notes", and see a decent argument, very balanced, between logic and spirit. And be a little more openminded.
posted by NoamChomskyStoleMyFace at 8:56 PM on December 1, 2004


and had EVERYTHING to do with the massive boycotts, letter writing and bashing they would take at the hands of radical right Christian extremists when they began to denounce them for airing an "attack" on Christianity itself

I'm not so sure, ltracey. You'd think Will and Grace is probably enough fodder for those "radical right Christian extremists" to be on NBC's case as it is. To be quite frank I don't know what's up these networks' asses. If the ad seemed likely to incite that kind of reaction you'd think you'd get the same response from networks who are running it like ABC Family, Fox or Hallmark, which would seem more likely to attract conservative viewers.

CBS' explanation is totally bizarre and NBC doesn't even bother to offer one. The ad itself is incredibly innoccuous conspicuously avoids the direct confrontation of "controversial" issues, focusing on a simple and mostly whimsically presented, with its image of a church as some upscale snob bar, message of acceptance. But in any event yes, I'll join you in expressing my opinion on the decision to some factotum of the organizations in question.
posted by nanojath at 9:47 PM on December 1, 2004


NoamChomskyStoleMyFace wrote:

Perhaps Christianity is an idealist philosophy. Perhaps God first created the idea of creation, erected a dualism (for creation to God is really a sundering, a destruction of his unity), so that he might create. Perhaps you need to understand that religion is determined by cultural forces, and, while you might find certain aspects of certain religious systems absurd, that does not mean that there is nothing to be learned from them, or experienced through them.

Well, that's nice, but the specific example was brought up to show how an article of faith could be refuted, with the specific prediction that some idiot like you would be able to blather their way out of it. To remove it from that context and then act all surprised that I wasn't "called out on it" is self-servingly intellectually dishonest on your part.

Oh, wait...

New flash: The concept of something being just plain old fucking wrong determined to be passé, replaced by Reader's Digest condensed Derrida lit-crit pomo-babble. In related news, losses in truth value replaced by gains in truly stupid fuckwits endeavoring to seem clever.

Updates as events unfold.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 12:01 AM on December 2, 2004


Go read Kierkegaard, and see how the two can operate together.

P.S. Anyone who invokes Kierkegaard, inventor of the "knight of faith" (crusades anyone?) as a solution is -- and this is giving benefit of the doubt here -- a nutcase.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 12:04 AM on December 2, 2004


I'm seriously starting to doubt that most Christians really believe in secularism, particularly when pressed about their own personal hot-button issues be it abortion, homosexuality, women's rights or other competing religions (particularly Islam, these days).

They probably tell some pollster what they want to hear: that they're tolerant, open minded and believe in the separation of church and state. But when they're home in bed, they're muttering to themselves about how the world has gone to hell in a handbasket and only if people would get right with The Lord, things would be better.


You're taking this on faith, right?

See, it's possible to be a Christian without being an asshole. It's equally possible to be an atheist without being an asshole.

However, from my (admittedly liberal Xian) perspective, in this thread it seems like the people behaving most like assholes are the atheists, hands down.

(Not, I should emphasize, because of the viewpoints they espouse, but in the way they express them.)
posted by Vidiot at 2:32 AM on December 2, 2004


Perhaps dancingbaptist is being willfully ignorant about the history of the Baptists. It would be, however, correct to point out that the current Southern Baptists are far, far, from the traditions of Baptists (bunch of haters.) It is true that the Baptists are the ones who strongly insisted on the separation of church and state, and with good reason. The Baptists were also the very first to insist that the business of the church was and should be recognized as separate from affairs of the state. So, dancingbaptist, here's one more history lesson for you:

Thomas Helwys, one of the first Baptists, died in jail because he had the audacity to tell the King of England that it was not his business to try to enforce all ten of the ten commandments. Here’s the way he said it:



“Mens religion to God, is betwixt God and themselves; the King shall not answer for it; neither may the King be judg between God and man. Let them be heretikes, Turks, Jewes or whatsoever, it apperteyenes not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure.”

posted by nofundy at 6:33 AM on December 2, 2004


Also reference http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/36946 for more on the subject.
posted by nofundy at 6:37 AM on December 2, 2004


Reverend, can we just hug and forget our troubles?
posted by NoamChomskyStoleMyFace at 9:23 AM on December 2, 2004


NBC's own PSA site (for The More You Know spots) says: Addressing the roots of prejudice in our communities, workplaces, and houses of worship sets an example of courage and hope for the future of our society, the future that our children will inherit.
posted by amberglow at 12:10 PM on December 2, 2004


amberglow: A response to your post by my wife:

"NBC- what a bunch of hypocrits!"
posted by Doohickie at 7:05 PM on December 2, 2004


For anyone still nominally interested in the actual topic of the post, and at least making some sort of comment to the networks about their craven decision, I'm forwarding this from my friend Perry -

To contact CBS, call 212/975-4321, or email Diversity@cbs.com
, or go to http://www.cbs.com
(scroll to bottom - hit Feedback).
To contact NBC, call 212/664-4444, or e-mail the CEO at
robert.wright@nbcuni.com , the President
at jeff.zucker@nbcuni.com or the
Advertising Sales President at keith.turner@nbcuni.com
.

Thanks to Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for most of the contact info.
~p

posted by nanojath at 12:39 PM on December 3, 2004


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